Discovering Non-Discriminative Wisdom

November 24, 2013. 116-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village. This is the third talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. We begin with two chants (17-minutes) from the monastics. The talk was given in Vietnamese and this is an English translation by Sr. Tue Nghiem.

Shares a little about the chant in Vietnamese; it’s about love. The purpose of the practice is to generate joy/happiness and to take care of our suffering. How do we do this? We do tis with mindfulness, concentration, and insight. The foundations of the Four Noble Truths in Plum Village. Walking and sitting meditation should be viewed as a privilege. Freedom can be found in our busyness. Every action can bring happiness, it is a path of happiness.

A mental formation such as contact is present when three things are present. The organ, object, and consciousness. All three must be present. Mind and consciousness. When is consciousness active? The mind still works when there is no consciousness. This is the store consciousness.

The eighth consciousness that comprise the store consciousness. The store consciousness can learn good things and bad things; it is neutral. Door consciousness can be both individual and collective.

Interdependent co-arising; Interdependent nature of phenomenon. One thing gives birth or arising to another thing. Suchness. Transcending the idea of being and non-being. Inter arising of suchness.

Inter arising of all phenomenon. Where is store consciousness? Example of H2O to illustrate.

The characteristics of manas. Manas. The lover. The seventh consciousness. What are the dangers of manas? Manas does not know the goodness of suffering. The sixth consciousness is the gardener and can bring Mindfulness to the seventh consciousness.

No self, so no complex of inferiority for superiority or quality.

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Individual and Collective Manifestation

November 21, 2013. 93-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet of Plum Village. This is the second talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. We begin with two chants from the monastics. The talk was given in Vietnamese and this is an English translation by Sr. Tue Nghiem. 

Story of a poet Thay met in the 1940s in Saigon. Shares a poem called the Dalia. Another poem from the 60s called  Song of April. A flower in the poem is used to teach on manifestation-only and the dharma body. This is the work of Mahayana Buddhism. We can hear the dharma in everything. The Buddha is the flower. Where does the flower come from in manifestation-only? 

We can apply this same teaching to our own seeds, such as anger. We don’t always see our anger until it manifests, but to say that it is not there is incorrect. It’s just hidden. 

Text of the 30 Verses of Vasubandhu

Consciousness has two parts. The subject and object. The two parts rely upon one another to manifest. 

Can our mind see the object of reality? The object and the subject rely upon one another order to manifest. Cognition.  Understanding this alcan free us from the idea of birth and death, being and non-being. 

The mental formation contact. The relationship between subject and object and the mental formation of contact. We also look at the second mental formation of attention. This teaching is illustrated by the sound of the bell and other distractions that may be occurring at the same time. Appropriate attention. As a practitioner, we can choose the object of our Mindfulness. With practice this can become automatic. No effort.

The cells of the body and the collective energy of a group of people. Can we sit peacefully? Individual manifestation and collective manifestation. The collective is comprised of the individual. Our practice can affect other people. 

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Our Spiritual Ancestors in Vietnam

November 7, 2013. 93-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet of Plum Village. We begin with two chants, one French and one Vietnamese, from the monastics. The talk is originally given in Vietnamese and this is an English translation by Sr. Chan Khong. 

Just let the dharma talk simply go into our store consciousness. No effort needed. You can be surprised later when the seeds of the dharma sprout. 

Noble path. Suffering and happiness are deeply linked. 

Waking up this morning, I smile. No judgement. Compassion. Gatha practice. Every second, every minute, every action. Insight can arise from simple practice. Walking. Sitting. Eating.  But it doesn’t mean we ignore our suffering. 

Story of Vietnamese patriarch – One Concentration. A history lesson on our spiritual ancestors in Vietnam. 

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Rebuilding our Health

November 17, 2013. 82-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Stillwater Meditation Hall, Upper Hamlet of Plum Village. This is the first talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

Rebuilding our health – mental and physical. Our society seems to be not very healthy. Some come to our retreat to heal and mindfulness can help you heal. If we are mindful, we may see that we are running. Running into the future. We have a habit of running.  So our mindful breathing can help us to stop the running. Breathing is an art.

Mindfulness has to go with insight. Insight can get you out of your suffering. This winter we will look at the 51-mental formations. The first five are called universal.

  1. Contact
  2. Attention
  3. Feeling
  4. Perception
  5. Volition

Then we have five particulars.

    1. Intention
    2. Determination
    3. Mindfulness
    4. Concentration
    5. Insight

Right now we are talking about mindfulness. Our consciousness has two parts – store and mind. Our mental formations can move from one part to the other. Each formation is known as a seed in the store consciousness. There are conditions that cause a seed to manifest in your mind. Mindfulness is the capacity to see what is going on in your feelings, your perceptions, and around you. We can also use the mindful waking to heal and stop the running. We can allow nature to heal us.

The earth is not just the environment, the earth is ourselves.

A good mental formation is ease. We need to practice to cultivate this kind of energy. This is one of the seven factors of enlightenment.

An opposite mental formation is called restlessness. Mental excitement. This prevents out mind from applying itself to good mental formations. Our society suffers from restlessness and that is why we run after the consumption, the internet, work, etc.

Mindfulness to release stress is good, but it is not enough. We need the insight in order to be able to truly release. Without the insight we will not stop running.

Time is more than money, time is life.

In this winter retreat, we will look with a critical eye at the manifestation-only.

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The Practice of Compassion

November 3, 2013. 101-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Stillwater Meditation Hall, Upper Hamlet of Plum Village. We begin with two chants from the monastics followed by a talk on the theme of compassion.

Thay begins with a follow-up on the visit to Stanford University where we had the topic of compassion. Sr. True Dedication is asked by Thay to begin the sharing. The talk at Stanford was sponsored by the organization CCARE, The Center for Compassion And Altruism Research And Education

Empathy. Research of the human mind. Compassion, empathy, and altruism are innate in us. The nature of compassion is like thunder, according to the lotus sutra.

First lesson: There is a relationship between suffering and compassion. Interbeing is the ground of meta-ethics. Compassion is born from understanding. Understanding what? Suffering. And if you know how to suffer then you suffer much less. Second lesson: Compassion should be directed to yourself first. Our civilization has a tendency to want to run away from ourselves. But we can go home to ourselves without fear. Third lesson: As a community, you can generate energy of compassion. This power can help others much more quickly.

There were a number of unanswered questions from the event that Thay spends time on now. Here’s a few of the questions:

  • Research has shown that compassion has extraordinary Health benefits, including a longer and have your life. From your perspective as a teacher, have you noticed this benefit of compassion?
  • Research suggests that the desire for compassion to help someone behavior is seen in primates and children. On the other hand we hear of adult capable of atrocious crimes. If compassion is innate, why do we not always display our compassion as we become adults?
  • Scientists have observed when compassion is more likely to manifest. The more similar then the more compassionate we may be.
  • Why are we able to feel more compassion when one person is in need of help versus a whole group of people in need of help?
  • What are the hindrances to compassion?
  • Is there such a thing as too much compassion, for example empathy fatigue?

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The Horse is Technology

Editor’s Note: This talk is being posted out of order, and very soon after the last post, because it is a powerful teaching on technology and gives very specific instructions to those participating in the 90-day winter retreat that begins today in Plum Village. I will squeeze in the five missing talks (three from Mississippi and two from Plum Village) in the coming weeks.

November 10, 2013. 94-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Stillwater Meditation Hall, Upper Hamlet of Plum Village. The sangha is preparing for the upcoming 90-day winter retreat. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

It is five days before the winter retreat begins at Plum Village. The great ordination ceremony this coming year will take place beginning May 23, 2014 and the 21-Day retreat, starting on June 1, 2014, will have the theme What happens when you die?

For the monastics, during the winter retreat we will stay within the boundaries of Plum Village and this includes not going out on the Internet. There will be no individual email communication and all emails can be sent to one address only and be delivered to you. There is no need to check email. There is absolutely no Facebook too. Facebook is neither good nor evil but we will not use it during the winter retreat.

Making good use of technology. Thay relayed the story of visiting Google this last month and some of the questions they wanted to hear answers.  How can we innovate in order to take good care of ourselves? What is the interplay between intention, insight and innovation? How can technology be a force for integration rather than destruction?

How can we detach from our work? Thay shares about what he heard and observed at Google. What is the emotional health of Googlers? They want to use technology to solve what appears to be a technological disease. Technology is taking away our time. We need to look for the path to transform our ill being.

We begin with intention, by asking, what do we want? If technology can help us create happy and joyful feelings then we can make good use of technology. Can we reduce the amount of stress within ourselves?

Thay offers ideas for corporate and technology leaders. Good methods to use and apply technology. As part of the teaching, we look at two specific Mental Formations – contact and volition.

Four aspects of monastic life include learning to study, learning to practice, working, and playing. And yet these all interare.

For the practitioner, if we are doing it exactly like the people in the world then we may not be able to help the people in the world. No email and no Internet and no Facebook can be attractive and to allow us to become a real practitioner. It can be an awakening.

 

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Tour Reflections

October 31, 2013. 70-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Stillwater Meditation Hall, Upper Hamlet of Plum Village. The sangha has recently returned from the North American tour. The talk was given in Vietnamese and this is the English translation by Sr. Chan Khong.

We begin with a summary of the 3-month teaching tour of North America that has just ended. Thay shares about the dry earth at the centers in North America and yet the rain came to each during the tour. Because we travel in so many buses and cars, Thay reminds us to be aware of our trip. Walk with the Buddha. Drive with the Buddha. Sit with the Buddha. Be aware of the Buddha with every breath and every moment.

How can we have the Buddha in our lives? Example of the bell master, even on the bus, and if that person is the only one with mindfulness and then that person and the energy of the bell can help carry into the sangha.

There are many who are thirsty for the practice is large and all our events sold out. We were able to stream the talk in Oakland with the support of Sounds True [video] and 35k listened online. We don’t have the capacity to meet all the needs but we are able allow for many to listen online, even with our retreats. We need more monastic and lay dharma teachers.

Suffering and happiness are two sides of one reality – like two sides of a piece of paper. If we know how to suffer, then we suffer very little and can enjoy our happiness. Just because we become a Buddha does not mean we do not suffer; it is because suffering and happiness Interare. For example, because we have a body then we will have disease. If we know how to suffer, we don’t let the second arrow cause us to suffer more.

We all have to practice something – to find a spiritual dimension for our lives. We must find time for this in our lives. Shares about the 2-day visit to the World Bank for their employees. Some thought it strange to have this monk and his students come to the World Bank but people discovered the value and were appreciative.

The four nutriments, especially for the business person; how to make money without being evil. Of particular importance is the fourth nutriment: volition. But don’t run away from your body and your mind.

We were also invited by Harvard University and Stanford University [video] to offer a teaching on mindfulness and compassion. Why is compassion important?

 

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Nutriments for Healing

September 25, 2013. 130-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the first dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Healing Ourselves, Healing the World. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

Try the BetterListen Version of this entire retreat – click the image below

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We bring our mind and body together and come back to ourselves in order to be truly there and be able to stop our thinking. We can get lost in our thinking. When we are mindful and concentrated of our in breath them our mind only has one object. Just breathing in mindfully we can get freedom from the past l, the future, and our projects. Freedom is possible and the healing can start.

Topics:

  • Conditions of happiness
  • Habit of running after fame, power, wealth, sensual pleasures
  • Deep looking – insight can release the tension and bring healing
  • Mindfulness is a method to insight using our in breath and out breath
  • Inviting our ancestors to listen to the bell and practice walking meditation with you.
  • Our presence is the most precious gift for those we love – to be there is a practice.
  • Freshness, beauty
  • Mountain, solid
  • Space, free
  • Sutra on Full Awareness of Breathing
  • Four domains – body, feelings, mind, objects of mind
  • First 8 exercise
  • Sangha – collective energy
  • You are not one emotion
  • The art of happiness and the art of suffering
  • Happiness and suffering interare
  • Happiness is made of non-happiness elements
  • The Four Noble Truths
  • The Four Kinds of Nutriments

 

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Introduction and Chanting in Mississippi

September 24, 2013. 120-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the orientation for the 6-day retreat with the theme Healing Ourselves, Healing the World.

Try the BetterListen Version of this entire retreat – click the image below

Better Listen

Creating a healing environment in our physical and spiritual spaces. How do we produce a thought that is filled with understanding and compassion? Building a sangha or a practice center is one method. In our tradition, we begin by looking at our suffering. We can then recognize the suffering in the other person. This is the first and second noble truth. With this, the energy if compassion arises because you have touched and understood suffering.

Tonight, the monks and nuns will chant the name of Avalokitesvara in order to get in touch with suffering and help relieve the pain and suffering of others. As we listen, we should stop our thinking and be concentrated on our breathing. The chant begins at 19:44.

The talk resumes at 48:30 with an orientation to the practice with Br. Phap Dung and Sr. Dang Nghiem.

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