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21 Day Retreats Plum Village Retreats

Nirvana In the Here and the Now

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June 13, 2012. 124-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the ninth dharma talk (of 15).

Investigation of the phenomenonal and noumenal worlds. We use our mind of discrimination to investigate the conventional truth. If we use the practice to look more deeply, we can see the ultimate truth of the same object. We use the mind of non-discrimination for the ultimate truth. And in Buddhism we take care of the mind. We need to train our mind so to create a strong instrument for investigation. The yogi has to be skillful.

The teaching of the Dharma as a finger. A skillful practitioner should not be caught in notions.

The Wisdom of Adaptation. Being and nonbeing. A flower is made of non-flower elements and this principle applies to everything. In the 2nd paragraph of the Heart of Perfect Understanding. Form is emptiness and Emptiness is not form. Form is free from being and nonbeing. They are neither produced nor destroyed. We can apply the Law of Thermodynamics – the conservation of matter and energy. We look then at the Discourse on the Adaption of Conditioned Genesis Connected with Emptiness (Samyukta Agama 293).

Thus have I heard.
Once the Buddha was staying in Kalandaka’s bamboo grove at Rajagrha.
Then, the World-Honored One (the Buddha) said to a monk coming from
another tradition, “I have transcended doubt, got away from uncertainty, dug out
the thicket of evil views, and will turn back no more. Since the mind has nothing
to which to attach, where could there be a self ?
“The Buddha offers the Dharma, offers the teaching on the adaptation of
conditioned genesis connected with emptiness, a holy and supramundane truth.
“That is to say: Because this is, that is; because this is, that arises.
“That is to say: Conditioned ignorance, formations arise; conditioned by
formations, consciousness arises;
conditioned by consciousness, name and material form arise; conditioned by
name and material form, the six sense-spheres arise;
conditioned by the six sense-spheres, [sensorial and mental] contact arises;
conditioned by contact, feeling arises;
conditioned by feeling, craving arises; conditioned by craving, attachment
arises;
conditioned by attachment, becoming arises; conditioned by becoming,
birth arises;
conditioned by birth arises the suffering of aging, death, sorrow and
affliction. Thus is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. And in the same way
is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”
He taught like that, but the monk still had doubt and uncertainty.
He could not at first gain the perception that is to be gained, obtain the
perception that is to be obtained, achieve the perception that is to be achieved.
The Buddha then asked the monk, “Why does someone after having listened
to this dharma, find that sorrow, regret, loss and obstacles arise in his mind?
“Profound indeed is this, namely conditioned genesis; even more profound,
more difficult to see is this, namely the extinction of all attachment, the destruction
of craving, the fading away of desire, the cessation of all suffering: nirv?na.
“These two dharmas are namely the compounded and the uncompounded.
“The compounded is arising, persisting, changing, passing away. The
uncompounded is not arising, not persisting, not changing, not passing away.
“Monks, this is to say: All formations [compounded things] are suffering,
and nirv?na is the cessation of all suffering.
“When the causes of suffering are there, suffering arises; when the causes
cease, suffering ceases.
“All routes are cut off, all continuums cease. The cessation of the continuums
is called the ending of suffering.
“O monks! What is it that ceases? It is any remaining suffering. When this
ceases, there is coolness, tranquility, namely the extinction of all attachment, the
destruction of craving, the fading away of desire, the cessation of all suffering,
nirv?na.”
When the Buddha had finished this discourse, all the monks, having heard
what the Buddha said, were delighted and put it into practice.

Perception. We are caught immediately by our perceptions by what we see and what we say. In Zen, it is said that thinking and speech should be cut off. The subject and object both exist. In Buddhism, there is no reality outside of the mind. True Mind. The object of your mind is suchness. The ultimate. Nirvana. This can remove fear.

There is no “self” in Buddhism. We don’t need a self to be reborn. The notion of reincarnation.

Enjoyment of What is Beyond Time and Space (reads verses #6, #13). The visible nirvana. You can see it! We don’t have to die to reach nirvana. Be like the deer and the birds. Nirvana is the realm of freedom. Free from our notions.

6. The deer take refuge in the forests. The birds in the clouds of the sky. The manifestation of phenomena depends on the discriminating mind, those who practice the truth depend on nirvana to live in freedom.

13. O monks, in the world there is the born, the becoming, the made and the compounded, But there is also the not born, the non-becoming, the not made and the not compounded For these are the way out of the born, the becoming, the made and the compounded.

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