Monthly Archives: June 2013

Using our Breath brings Mindfulness

June 9, 2013. 100-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. This is the fifth dharma talk of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

We do not need to call ourselves a Buddhist to practice Buddhism. We can use practice verses, little poems, to help us with our practice. Thay shares a number of these verses for us to memorize.

Mindfulness is an energy that lets us do at least two things. The first is to be there – to be truly here in the present moment. The second is to be aware of what is going on – such as your in breath. We can use mindfulness to take care of the body. In the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing, the Buddha gave a set of exercises on mindfulness of the body.

  • Aware of my breath
  • Follow your in breath all the way to the end
  • To beware of your body
  • Release the tension in the body

These are simple exercises and anyone can practice. After we take care of our body, we can move on to our feelings.

  • Generate a feeling of joy
  • Generate a feeling of happiness
  • Awareness of the painful feeling
  • Calm the painful emotions

After the body and the feelings, we move to taking care of the mind. In particular, working with mental formations. What is a mental formation? Thay also shares a little about the Shining Light Ceremony and how we can use this with our practice.

  • gladdening the mind
  • aware of mental formations
  • concentrating the mind
  • liberating your mind

The last four exercises of the sutra have to do with the objects of mind. We conclude with teachings on birth and death, being and non-being.

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Working with our Relationships

June 8, 2013. 91-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. This is the fourth dharma talk, a session of questions and answers, of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

Following two chants by the monastics, the questions begin at 15-minutes into the recording. 

  1. Question about the Third Mindfulness Training as it relates to sexual behavior and consumption. How can we integrate and explore our sexual behavior as true love or as consumption?
  2. Another question on true love. Can true love exist between every person I meet and in every relationship even after a relationship ends? Is there something else or can I cultivate true love for every person?
  3. One of the four elements of true love is inclusiveness. How do I combine love and career choices?
  4. In my relationships, I’ve always had a difficult time committing and my partner doesn’t feel I am there for her. What can I do?
  5. I like the statement of being able to always generate a feeling of joy. This hasn’t been my experience and so I need help knowing more about generating joy.
  6. Question about the First Mindfulness Training especially in regards to compassion and relieving the suffering of animals, especially for those who are dependent on us. Is it okay to end the suffering of an animal?

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Cultivating Brotherhood and Sisterhood

June 7, 2013. 106-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. This is the third dharma talk of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

This talk begins a few minutes into the recording and we listen to two chants from the monastic sangha. The main talk begins at 16:49 on the recording.

We begin with some history on the Plum Village monastic community. Though most monastics ordain for life, we also hear about the 5-year monastic program. What is the process for becoming a monastic? There are four aspects to monastic life: to study, to practice, to work, and to play. The monastics seek to find joy in all these aspects. We cultivate brotherhood and sisterhood. If you’re under forty, you may want to try monastic life in our 5-year program.

So far in this retreat we have only spoken of negative and destructive emotions. But there are also constructive emotions such as lovingkindness and compassion. They are very powerful emotions that have the power to heal and transform. True love is made of four elements:

  1. Lovingkindness (maitri) – friendship.
  2. Compassion (karuna)
  3. Joy (mudita)
  4. Equanimity or inclusiveness (upeksha)

On the other side we have emotions such as fear, anger, despair, and discrimination. This is the kind mud that can help grow the lotus of the four kinds of love. We can come to understand the nature of our own suffering. The Buddha has also spoken on nourishment – “Nothing can survive without food.” – your love also needs to be fed or it will die. The Buddha taught on the Four Nutriments.

  1. Edible Food
  2. Sensory impressions
  3. Volition
  4. Consciousness

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Working with Fear

June 6, 2013. 59-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. This is the second dharma talk of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

Thay begins with a story of when he first came to the west to teach and shares his ideas of what he thought he would do in the west. Thay shares about when he began to ordain students and why. When we create a connection with our teacher or our sangha we can use that energy to support us.

During this retreat you are invited to master your method of walking so that you can arrive in the here and the now. If you can accomplish this, you can bring this back home with you. The Kingdom of God is available in the here and now. Suffering has a role and an importance in our kingdom. Thay teaches of the goodness of suffering, just like a lotus needs the mud. We need to know how to use our suffering. A good practitioner never tries to run away from suffering. We use the energy of mindfulness to recognize and to hold our suffering. We can ask our friends to help us with this practice. This is why it’s so important to have a sangha in your practice. One of the most noble things we can do is build a sangha. The sangha create a powerful energy that can heal and transform.

Thay shares the story of his teaching tour at the time of 9/11 and how much fear was present in America. How do we calm down our fear? In the Buddhist tradition, there is a practice called compassionate listening. This can help people suffer less. We also have the practice of loving speech.

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Retreat on Understanding Our Emotions

June 5, 2013. 53-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. This is the first dharma talk of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

Editor’s Note: We had a number of technical difficulties with the recording for this talk and so portion of it are missing. 

Handling emotions. Using mindfulness. Recognizing fear and anger. Using our breath and step to practice mindfulness.

In Buddhist psychology, we speak of seeds. Seeds in our consciousness. What are they? Store consciousness and mental formations.

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Healing through Reconciliation

June 2, 2013. 67-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The sangha has just returned from a couple of months in Asia and will be at the EIAB for a month offering retreats. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into German. This is a Day of Mindfulness.

The dharma talk is rain that can penetrate into the soul of our mind. Our mind is a garden with many good seeds within it. Seeds of happiness and compassion. The dharma talk is not a set of ideas to get and keep but is a rain that can let the good seeds sprout. To allow these seeds to spring up.

With mindfulness, we can create a feeling of joy and happiness. It is simple and easy. We just need to pay attention to our breath. We just need to pay attention to every step we take. It only takes 2-3 seconds to see that you are alive. The first enlightenment is that you are alive! You can become a free person.

How do we become aware of our body? How do we become aware of our feelings? Mindfulness functions to recognize and embrace. And the energy of mindfulness carries with it the energy of concentration and insight. How does this work with love an reconciliation?

Mindfulness of compassion, especially in regards to listening.

Thay gives instruction and application of walking meditation and eating meditation

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Happiness is the Way

May 27, 2013. 69-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Hong Kong Coliseum. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Chinese. This is the Public Talk.

Thay has a few questions to ask the audience and the questions might touch something very deep in you and provide you with insight to see the way to go. Allow the question to penetrate into your heart.

  • Are you in love? 
  • Are you still in love? 
  • Do you want to reconnect with the person you used to love? 
  • Do you think that he or she is happier than you are now? 
  • Do you have the time for each other or are you both to busy? 
  • Have you been able to preserve your freshness and beauty for yourself and for the other person? 
  • Are you capable to offer him or her freshness and beauty everyday? 
  • Do you know how to handle the suffering within yourself? 
  • Are you able to help handle the suffering in the other person? 
  • Do you understand your own suffering and the roots of that suffering? 
  • Are you able to understand the suffering in the other person? 
  • Do you have the capacity to help the other person suffer less? 
  • Have you learned the way to calm down your painful feelings and emotions? 
  • Do you have the time to listen to yourself, your suffering, your difficulties, and your deepest desire? 
  • Do you have the time to listen to him or her and help him or her to suffer less? 
  • Do you know the Buddhist way of restoring communication and bringing about reconciliation? 
  • Are you capable of creating a feeling of joy and happiness for yourself? 
  • Are you capable of helping the other person to create a feeling of joy and happiness? 
  • Do you really think you have a clear spiritual path to go? 
  • Do you have the feeling of peace and contentment within yourself? 
  • Do you know to nourish your love everyday? 
  • Have you ever met a person who is truly happy? 

During the most recent retreat at the YMCA camp in Hong Kong, we learned about walking meditation. How can we arrive with every step in the here and the now. We also learned how to breatha and sit in order to transform our suffering. In order to understand and recognize the suffering in ourselves and the other person. We only need a short time of practice to gain understanding.

What is compassionate listening and loving speech? How can we create reconciliation?

Making the Five Precepts relevant to our time. The precepts and noble eightfold path are based on the insight of Right View and allow you to transcend all discrimination.

The first training is protecting life. The second is about true happiness. Next we have true love. We’ve already touched on deep listening and loving speech, the subject of the fourth. The last training is about consumption. We cover the Four Kinds of Nutriments.

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To Connect

May 26, 2013. 86-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Hong Kong. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Chinese. The theme of the retreat is Happiness is the Way.

How do we connect with the Buddha? How do we bow to the Buddha? Emptiness. Right View is the ultimate aim of practice. To gain insight into Interbeing and emptiness. What is emptiness? How does this help us remove anger and discrimination?

Concentration allows us to discover this insight. These three practices (samadhi) to Right View are available in all Buddhist traditions. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness. These are the Three Doors of Liberation.

Mindfulness. Concentration. Insight. A good practitioner can generate these three kinds of energy. If we practice, we can produce Right Thinking and the Noble Eightfold Path. We are free if the notions of being and non-being. We hear the story of Anapindika when he was dying and how Sariputra helped him understand no birth and no death.

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To Meditate is to Look Deeply

May 25, 2013. 87-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Hong Kong. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Chinese. The theme of the retreat is Happiness is the Way.

To meditate is having the time is to look deeply. We first take the body. This is the object of our meditation. Mindfulness of body. We review briefly the realms of  the exercises on breathing: Breath, Feelings, and Mind.

The focus of the talk is on the mind. We start with the concept of mental formations. How do we work with and identify our mental formations. To meditate also means we sit at the river of mental formations and recognize each as they go by. What is store consciousness and mind consciousness? We can water the good seeds in our consciousness. Let us vow to water the good seeds in ourselves and in the other person. The practice of selective watering. The practice of Right Diligence.

This brings us through the for ten exercises from the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Mindful Breathing. There are six more but we’ll continue another day.

The talk shifts to the Fifth Mindfulness Training (35-m) on consumption. The Sutra on the Flesh of the Son illustrates consumption. It speaks on four kinds of Nutriments. The first is edible food.

The second is sensory impressions. How do we consume media, products, etc. The third is volition. What is your deepest desire? The fourth food is consciousness.

The teaching of Interbeing.

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The Other Person

May 24, 2013. 84-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Hong Kong. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Chinese. The theme of the retreat is Happiness is the Way.

Thay has a few questions to ask the audience and the questions might touch something very deep in you. It is about the “the other person” in your life.

Are you in love? Are you still in love? Do you want to reconnect with the person you used to love? Do you think that he or she is happier than you are now? Do you have the time for each other or are you both to busy? Have you been able to preserve your freshness and beauty for yourself and for the other person? Are you capable to offer him or her freshness and beauty everyday? Do you know how to handle the suffering in yourself? Are you able to help handle the suffering in the other person? Do you understand your own suffering and the roots of that suffering? Are you able to understand the suffering in the other person? Do you have the capacity to help the other person suffer less? Have you learned the way to calm down the painful feelings and emotions? Do you have the time to listen to yourself, your suffering, your difficulties, and your deepest desire? Do you have the time to listen to him or her and help him or her to suffer less? Do you know the Buddhist way of restoring communication and bringing reconciliation? Are you capable of creating a feeling of joy and happiness for yourself? Are you capable of helping the other person to create a feeling of joy and happiness? Do you really think you have a clear spiritual path to go? Do you have the feeling of peace and contentment within yourself? Do you know to nourish your love everyday?

It is possible to create a meditation hall on a bus or train and then use the time to nourish and heal yourself. You can use the exercises from the Anapanasati Sutta. The first exercise is to become aware of your in-breath and your out-breath. We can cultivate energy to help heal and nourish. The first energy is mindfulness. This energy can be cultivated with just one in-breath. The second energy we can generate during breathing is concentration. The third energy is insight. This is a kind of vision/wisdom that will help liberate you from suffering. This is enlightenment itself – it can come in just a few seconds! To be alive is a true wonder, a true miracle.

I am alive. Stop the thinking. Enjoy breathing.

The second exercise is to follow your in-breath and your out-breath all the way through. With the third exercise, you become aware that you have a body. Next we calm our body and release the tension and restore peace. Even if we only have a few minutes, we can use these exercises to restore ourselves. Generating joy is the fifth exercise. Next we become aware of the painful emotion that in us – we don’t try to run away from our pain. From here we calm down the pain.

Understanding suffering always bring compassion. We can restore communication with the other person and end suffering.

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