Monthly Archives: December 2013

Where is the Year 2014 Right Now?

This talk by Thich Nhat Hanh is from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village on Sunday, December 29, 2013. It is the thirteenth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. This talk is in English and is available below as an audio download or online video. In this talk we are preparing for the end of the year 2013 and the teaching is on no birth, no death, and coming home to our island of self.

00:00-14:35 The Year Ending and the Year Coming
14:35-25:09 No Birth. No Death.
25:09-49:10 Coming Home and the Island of Self
49:10-56:30 Sangha
56:30-1:06:10 The Practice in an Organization or Company
1:10:30-1:23:15 Taking Refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha

When we focus on our breathing, we can really be there. Breathing mindfully we can know that we are alive and that we have a body. Just breath in and out and we can touch the wonders of life. With mindfulness we can be in touch and that can help nourish and heal us. This comes from walking, sitting, breathing, doing everyday things. Is the year 2013 going to die and go away? Can we speak of a birth or death of a year? The notion of month, day, hours, etc. are invented by us and are conventional designations. What does it mean to die? From being to non-being? Where is the year 2014 right now? The answers really depend on us.

What have I done in the year 2013? Have I learned to produce a feeling a joy, a feeling of happiness? We can produce a moment of joy, a moment of happiness at any time, for us and for the people we love. Have we been able to take care of the painful feeling and emotions during the year 2013? If we do not learn these things then we will end up repeating this in the next year. This is why we have our practice phrase for next year: “New Year New Me” and “Joy Within, Joy all Around.” The new year is time and it is linked to space and action. If we know how to deal with our pain and sorrow then we can improve the quality of our days, months, and years. Right now it is winter and when we do walking meditation, we do not see butterflies. But that does not mean the butterflies are not there already. In spring they will manifest; they are only hidden waiting for conditions. The same is true with the year 2014.

Has the little boy or the little girl you once were died? No, it is still there. This teaching corresponds with the first law of thermodynamics. Nothing is born. Nothing dies. We can transfer energy and matter but we cannot produce or destroy anything. In Buddhism we say no birth and no death. Where are our ancestors? They are in every cell of our bodies and we carry them into the future. To meditate is to have the time to look deeply and see the nature of no birth and no death. The story of the cloud and Mother Earth.

Society today is running away from itself and we don’t know how to handle a feeling of pain, sorrow, loneliness. We are running away from ourselves. And electronic devices that we buy and use help us run away but the practice of mindfulness is helping us take care of our feelings. Mindfulness can restore peace and harmony in our body and our feelings. That is the practice of coming home. We can establish understanding. We can transform our anger into understanding and compassion. It is impermanent. Last week we started to speak about true home. True home is available anytime and we have to build for ourselves. The Buddha told us that everyone has an island within ourselves where we can feel calm, safe, and happy. We should take refuge in that island. Our body is the first element of our true home. The third exercise of mindful breathing suggested by the Buddha. Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. The fifth and sixth exercises of mindful breathing help us cultivate a feeling of joy and happiness. This is the art of happiness. And the seventh and eighth help us to handle the painful feelings and emotions. We can generate the energy of understanding and compassion. This is the third element of coming to our true home. We also know that a group of people, a sangha, can help us cultivate the collective energy of peace, joy, and happiness. Sangha is also home.

If we know how to create a home for ourselves, the we can create a home for our partner and for our work environment. You can help each to create their own home. Earlier this year we visited the World Bank and we discussed this practice. The World Bank can be a place that reduces suffering in the world. They have this intention and this is a source of energy that can be nourished. We start with ourselves and then it can be applied to our companies and organizations. The work of Plum Village.

When we sit together like this, there is nothing to do and nowhere to go. The sangha is a jewel. If you want to realize your dream, then you want a sangha. We can take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. This is inside of you as in your island of self.

Note from the Editor
Thay has offered us a vision of building an online monastery, or online temple, where practitioners may come not just to receive information, but to practice online: to follow their breathing, experience guided meditation, interact with monastics and lay practitioners, etc. This archive of Thay’s talks is a component of tis vision.

We are using a new service (Patreon) that allows for you to become an ongoing patron for this archive. Each patron can make a donation, as little as $1 per talk, to be donated automatically on a monthly basis. Payments are made by credit card and patrons can be anywhere in the world. When you visit the site, you identify the amount you want to give for each talk, identify a maximum amount per month, and provide your mailing address. If you are in the United States you can have a tax deduction through the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation.

Please visit our Patreon page: Thich Nhat Hanh is Creating Happiness.

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Volition and Functions of Alaya Consciousness

This talk is taken out of order as there was a little difficulty in getting the English translation to share with you. In this talk, Thich Nhat Hanh focuses on the theme of volition as it relates to our relationships and to being a monastic followed by a teaching on the functions of alaya consciousness.

It was originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai,  the talk from New Hamlet, Plum Village is dated Thursday, December 19, 2013 and is the tenth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Chan Duc.

00:00-10:30 Volition Food
10:30- 14:40 The Mind of Love – Bodhicitta
14:40-21:00 Volition and Marriage
21:00-28:48 The Path and Realizing the Dream
28:48-57:47 The Functions of Alaya
57:47-end Ripening and Impermanence

Last time we learned the alaya consciousness are tied to the five universal mental formations. What does alaya want to realize? In the teachings we talk of the four nutriments and the third is volition. Alaya wants to live  the good of volition should always be there – not temporary. Volition can be a positive nutrient and give us a lot of energy but it can also be unwholesome. What is my deepest desire? What do I want to do with my life? What is the source of volition food?

The Buddha had a desire to end suffering, worries, fears – to find a path. He had a desire to become a monk. The mind of love – bodhicitta. We must have this commitment to be a monk or a nun. This is our volition food as a monastic in the sangha.

People in the world may do something similar when they get married – what is the volition food of my partner? Do we share the same direction and the same ideal?  What do I want to realize in my life? We can also look at our parents and see their dreams and aspiration. Have they realized their dreams?

There is a path to realize our dream. The path is not different from the end. Every step has the dream for it to be reality in every moment of daily life. Don’t wait. We look to see our source of energy – our volition food – and we nourish it every day.

We have learned the self nature of alaya and that it is unobstructed, indeterminate, not good or bad, neutral. The 11 nature of seeds are the characteristics of the store. Now we talk about the function. First, the main function of alaya is to maintain and preserve – it is all the seeds. Second, alaya learns and manage the information it stores. Third, it has the capacity to make/ripen things. Fourth, it has the capacity to nourish and heal. Alaya is self directing and can behave in an automatic way. It has the capacity to sustain life.

The body and mind rely on each other and the basis are the seeds in alaya. Matter and spirit arise together because of alaya.

From the 30 Verses of Vasubandhu, we look at the 19th verse.

Consciousness is the totality of the seeds.
Transformation takes place in the way it does
because of a reciprocal influence; out of this, the
different constructions arise.

The alaya consciousness is also impermanent and birth/death is always taking place. Impermanent in every instant. There is also cyclical impermanence – we are born here and we die here. Maturation is cyclical.

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Have I Got a True Home?

This talk by Thich Nhat Hanh is from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village on the occasion of Christmas Eve (Tuesday, December 24, 2013). It is the twelfth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. In this talk we learning about our True Home and Sangha.

Christmas is always an opportunity to meditate on our true home. The Buddha  did not have a home when he was young; he was unhappy even with all the material conditions. And Jesus Christ was born a refugee and was also trying to find a home. But both the Buddha and the Christ practiced and they found a True Home. Have I got a true home?

A place of comfort and ease. When you come to Plum Village you are offered a practice to help you find a home. And home is not located in space and time. Our first fruit of the practice is “I have arrived. I am home.” Our true home is in the here and the now in every breath and every step.

The practice of mindful breathing brings our mind in touch with our body. Our body may be our first home. Are you in conflict with your body? Do you hate your body? We are all flowers in the garden of humanity. Do we know how to take care of our flowerness? Getting in touch with our body is the first step.

We may notice tension in our body and the Buddha offered us exercises to reduce the tension. An act of reconciliation. Very practical. We can smile to ourselves and release the tension.

Why, in some instances, have we abandoned our body? Do you have a feeling of loneliness?are we covering up suffering in our life? We don’t know how to handle the suffering inside of us and we cover it up with consumption. The practice of mindfulness can help you reverse this to take care of your body and your feelings. If you can, then you are creating a true home for yourself.

24-m Consumption and Loneliness
27-m The Art of Happiness (Exercises 5 & 6)
31-m The Art of Suffering (Exercises 7 & 8)
37-m Practicing with a Sangha
43-m Building a Sangha
47-m The Plum Village Sangha
50-m What do I want to do with my life?

The year is ending and it is a good time to ask what we want to do with our life. If you are a couple, you may wish to sit down and discuss your dream and see how to support each other. Jesus had a dream. Buddha had a dream. Can we look at our other relationships and see how they might be improved?

Wherever we go, the sangha is with us. Sangha is our home. We can practice in such a way that our family is our sangha. We should devote our time and energy to building our true home so that we can realize our dream.

Merry Christmas.

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Being #1 and/or Being Happy

This talk by Thich Nhat Hanh is from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village and is dated Sunday, December 22, 2013. It is the eleventh talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. In this talk we use the practice of walking meditation to explore themes of enlightenment, secularization of mindfulness, technology, schools, and the corporation. Both the audio recording and the video are available in this post.

02:22-12:18 Chanting
16:38-28:50 The practice of walking meditation
28:50-32:30 Enlightenment
32:30-40:01 Reflection on our Life in 2013
40:01-53:50 Coming Home to Ourselves and the Corporation
53:50-61:01 Secularization of Mindfulness and Being #1
1:01-1:06 Making Good Use of Technology
1:07-1:15 Intentions for Year 2014 – Walking Meditation
1:15-1:19 Mindfulness and a Sangha
1:19-1:32 UNESCO, Wake Up Schools, and Politics

Today during our Touching the Earth practice, we promised to the Buddha that we would enjoy the practice of walking meditation in our daily life. Every breath and step can generate a feeling of joy and a feeling of peace. Our body is a wonder. We don’t need to be in a hurry, looking for something. In Plum Village we practice walking mediation. Why do we practice walking meditation? The same question is asked of sitting meditation. How does Thay practice mindful movements? Why does Thay practice mindful movements? It is not only for better health. It tells Thay that he is alive and strong enough to do the movements. Thay shares about those astronauts who return to the earth and walk again – how long do they maintain this awareness? Mindfulness of being alive and walking on the earth is a wonderful thing. To enjoy walking meditation is not difficult.

Everyone can have mindfulness of breathing. Enlightenment can arise in a few seconds with awareness of our breath and that we are alive and we have a body. Buddhism is not exactly a religion but it is a way of living. You don’t need to be a Buddhist to practice mindfulness. We can even generate this while we brush our teeth.

Many of us have searched for material comforts and many of us do have many material comforts but we may still not be happy. Time is something we should treasure. When we wake up in the morning, we can breathe and be aware that we have 24-hours to live. Thay teaches the waking up gatha. With the end of the year, it may help us to think about the way we live our life. How did we spend 2013? What have we done with our life? Can we live with more joy?

This year we had the opportunity to visit Google and spend a whole day practicing with the employees. We noticed the people there practiced whole-heartedly – they did walking, sitting, and eating mediation. A company like that wants to succeed and be #1 but there is also so much suffering. They do not have the time to take care of their body, feelings, emotions, families, etc. They see a need for a spiritual practice so they can suffer less. Time is no longer money. Time is peace. Time is life. Thay shares further about the visit to Google and how we can suffer less through our practice. Going home to ourselves. We are running away from ourselves and we do not take the time to take care of ourselves. If we cannot take care of ourselves, how can we take care of the person we love? Is technology helping us run away from ourselves? Thay sees a struggle within corporate culture – they have stress, guilt, etc. They want to learn ways to deal with these issues.

Is it possible to be #1 and be happy? This is the dilemma. There are people who are victims of their success, but there is nobody is a victim of their happiness. Which is #1 priority? The bottom line in the corporation is still thinking of being #1 in their area. And some practice mindfulness to become #1 and not to become happy. Are they using mindfulness to do the things to be more successful in business? Can you use mindfulness to make money? It is the same question/issue of those who teach mindfulness but don’t practice mindfulness. Thay’s answer is “don’t worry” because if you practice true mindfulness it always brings joy, happiness, and compassion. If it doesn’t bring these things then it isn’t true mindfulness. How can you teach mindfulness if you do not practice mindfulness?

Five monks and nuns spent two hours talking with engineers of Google. We proposed they think about building something to help people to learn and practice mindfulness. We can make good use of technology to help people go home and take care of ourselves without fear. Some of our monastic brothers and sisters also visited Facebook to explore new opportunities to help people to suffer less. From now until the end of the year, we can spend our time practicing walking and sitting and meditate on these teachings.

Setting an intention for the coming year. Maybe you make a promise for the year 2014 that you will practice walking meditation every day when walking from the parking lot to your work. Thay shares about a retreat in Hong Kong where he shared about walking meditation, having a connection to a teacher, and about not using the telephone and still feeling connected. Walking meditation can be your connection to Thay – as you walk, know that you are walking with your teacher and the sangha. Mindfulness practice is not difficult.

The support of a sangha can help with your intention of mindfulness. If you are not close to a sangha, you may want to get in touch with an online sangha. It is possible to change our life. If we practice well, we can handle the painful feelings and emotions inside ourselves. With mindfulness, we can listen to the other person with compassion. We can practice loving speech if we have mindful breathing and mindful walking to restore communication.

Reflection on Thay’s visit to UNESCO in 2006 where he made a proposal for an institute a training of teachers on mindfulness. Bringing this practice into schools to help young people deal with their suffering and the violence in schools. Though we weren’t able to bring this to reality with UNESCO, we have created the Wake Up Schools program and we are training teachers in the practice of mindfulness. These same ideas and teachings can be established in our political entities.

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Foundation for All Phenomena is Store Consciousness

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village is dated Sunday, December 15, 2013 and is the ninth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem.

00:00-10:00 Chanting
10:35-25:42 UNESCO and Violence in Schools
25:42-44:30 The Seed on the Inside and the Seed on the Outside
44:30-55:40 The Seed of Pure/Impure
55:40-end Different Schools of Thought on Store Consciousness

In 2006, Thay gave at a talk at UNESCO in Paris where he suggested that UNESCO organize retreats for teachers from across the globe so that teachers can bring the practice of nonviolence into their classrooms. At the time, the manager at UNESCO was very supportive because in that year there had been 88,000 acts of violence in classrooms in France in 2006. The energy of violence is there is our young people and many parents and children don’t have methods for dealing with the anger in themselves. In our practice, we begin with generating peace in our body and mind to better manage our energy of anger and violence. We want to share these practices with others. If teachers can learn this practice, they will know how to help their students. Plum Village agreed to create documents and materials to support this effort of reducing violence. Two books – Anger and Cultivating True Peace – both teach on this theme. We have led retreats to Wake Up Schools. We have reached out to UNESCO again to see how can we better support UNESCO again to help train teachers? We have also drafted the Manifesto 2000 (which are based on the Five Mindfulness Trainings) with them, but it seems to have been forgotten. The United Nations have accepted some of our practices for nonviolence with the young people. In Spain, there has been an effort to bring this practice to schools.

One characteristic of seeds that we need to discuss is no-inside/no-outside – this is the tenth characteristic of seeds. There is a distinction between inside and outside – inside our mind and outside in the environment. This is a dualistic view and is double-grasping. In the four establishments of mindfulness there are four domains: body, feelings, mind, and objects of mind. In our mind is the phenomena. There are also teachings on karma and retribution in Buddhism. Our actions lead to retribution. The environment is where the body lives. The environment is ourselves also. These two things cannot be separated. This is the best teaching of manifestation-only teachings.

The eleventh characteristic of seeds is pure/impure – this is a teaching of Mahayana Buddhism. In manifestation-only teachings, different sutras explore this theme. The Five Skandhas and the Twelve Localities (Six Sense Organs and Six Sense Objects). The domains of existence – 18 realms. Thay is teaching on a specific verse where all phenomena are in store consciousness. There are six different pathways but there is also a seed of nirvana. The wholesome seeds are there too in the store consciousness. Nirvana is not outside of birth and death. This characteristics leads us to the teaching of the Heart Sutra where there is no defilement and no immaculate.

Neither wholesome/unwholesome, pure/impure. It is indeterminate. You can choose one of the six paths or you can choose nirvana. What do different teachings say about the different mental formations? The Five Particular Mental Formations. More teachings on store consciousness.

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Is our nature goodness?

In this talk we take a deep look at dualistic thinking, the theology and challenges of seeing the world as pure and impure, and more about the seeds.

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village is dated Thursday, December 12, 2013 and is the eighth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem.

00:00-09:50 Chanting
09:50-30:50 Synchronization of Breathing
30:50-48:00 Dualistic Thinking
48:00-1:02 Theology
1:03-1:23 Seeds
1:23-1:48 Pure and Impure

Hearing the sound of the bell, we stop thinking. We breath gently and pay attention our breathing. Simple and easy. An important habit energy. If we do this together, we are a collective and not a separate individuals. This is synchronization. It’s like when water becomes ice – the molecules come together.  Like the photons of a laser beam. The bell is the stimulation to help us stop thinking. In our body there are cells – all the cells work together in synchronization.

We have the habit of dividing reality into wholesome and not wholesome. Well being and ill-being. Right and wrong. Beauty and ugliness. Permanence and impermanence.  Happiness and suffering. Purity and impurity. This is dualistic thinking. If god is goodness them who will take care of the other side? Is our nature goodness?

Manifestation only teaching and this dualistic thinking. Our nature is indeterminate – neither wholesome nor unwholesome. Reality is indeterminate. Discussion on theology and suffering and natural disasters in the world. And I Ching too. In Buddhism we still say nature is neither pure nor impure.

Good seeds, bad seeds, and neutral. And they’ve been there since the beginning. This is a big issue in manifestation only teachings because some see the seeds are determinate. It has a nature that is organic – even love is organic and so is hate. More on the characteristics of seeds (a review).

Seeds that are pure and impure.  The 22 organs referred to in the Shastra.

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Mother Earth Has All the Seeds

The sangha held a monastic ordination ceremony on this day and so Thich Nhat Hanh spent some time talking about being a monastic. The second part of his talk is fantastic and touches deeply on his revolutionary nature and how Buddhism must be progressive and change. We conclude the talk with the winter retreat by learning more about the characteristics of the seeds.

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village is dated Sunday, December 8, 2013 and is the seventh talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem.

00:00-06:40 Chanting
06:40-13:45 New Monastics Introduced
13:45-34:30 Being a Monastic
34:30-54:28 Renewing Buddhism
54:28-1:06 Poetry and Walking
1:06-1:41 Sutra Study

Thay introduces the verses for the new year. New year, new me. Joy within, joy all around.

Being a Monastic
Purpose of the new monastic family. A new life. When we become a monastic, we let go of everything. The accomplishments and difficulties belong to the sangha. There is no individual future. We must take care of the entire family. How is this different from lay dharma teacher? The needs are great and we need more monastics and dharma teachers. Importance of organizing and leading retreats. We are a practical community; not theoretical. We also have the Five-Year Program as a dharma door for young people.

Renewing Buddhism
Buddhism is an art and must be progressive otherwise it stands still. We can modify the teachings so it’s applicable to society. New sutras, training,  precepts. New findings and new research. If we don’t renew then Buddhism stands still and we don’t honor the ancestors. It must be appropriate for the people and era otherwise it is not true Buddhism. See how the Five Trainings or Ten Novice Precepts of Plum Village are very different from traditional and much better. We must have courage to renew. Can we reduce the number of monastic precepts? A new Buddhism.

Poetry and Walking
Thay shares a poem he uses for walking meditation down and back from Son Ha.  Nourishing the sangha with mindful breathing and mindful walking. Can we be a cell of the sangha and if the Buddha?

Sutra Study
Review of the first ten characteristics of the seeds. Are the seeds innate? We need to sow and water the seeds. To cultivate the seeds. If we don’t have happiness then we need to plant it so it’s possible. Mother Earth contains all the seeds and we must protect the environment. The insight of manifestation only is non-duality. No double grasping. Subject and object are not different.

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What is the Purpose of this Human Life?

In this 2-hour dharma talk, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches how and why we can live our lives deeply and provides methods such as gatha practice. We also continue the theme of the winter retreat by learning more about the characteristics of the seeds.

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from New Hamlet, Plum Village is dated Thursday, December 5, 2013 and is the sixth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem.

00:00-14:30 What is the purpose of human life?
14:30-23:00 Practice gathas
23:00-41:35 Spirituality and Plum Village practice
41:35-end Store consciousness and characteristics of seeds

Some trees live thousands of years and certain turtles can live hundreds of years. A human span is about a 100-years. What is the purpose of this human life? We should live deeply so the time here doesn’t go to waste. We should not wait to answer this question. The quality of life; not just living it to pass the days. The quality depends on how deeply we live each moment and not the emotional and material comforts. Money, power, prestige may not provide this quality or happiness.

In Vietnam we had king who had given his throne to his son in order to become a monk. This gave him more time to live more deeply. He wore the color brown, the color for monastics. In Vietnam, it represents simplicity and humility. It’s the color of those who work in the fields.

When we become monastics, we learn the gathas to practice mindfulness. This Sunday we will ordain seven aspirants in Plum Village. There are about 60 Gathas to memorize and the first gatha to memorize is the walking up gatha.

Waking up this morning, I smile. 
Twenty-four brand new hours. 
I vow to live deeply each moment
And look at all beings with the eyes of compassion and love. 

Every breath and every step is legendary. The quality of life is awareness and our capacity to live deeply.

Science and philosophy both study our humanity. There is also Tao – spirituality. It is also a branch of research to understand our own suffering and happiness. Spirituality is not to run away from life and it is not religion. It is a path to understanding and love to live deeply our lives. We can use the discoveries of science and philosophy. We come to Plum Village to learn how to live life. We look for elder brothers and sisters to guide us. We don’t practice for merit in the future but to live deeply in this moment. For example, walking meditation is not a mean to an end. It’s a daily practice. It is the path of happiness.

The same with sitting meditation  First we need calmness and stillness in our body and mind. The sixteen exercises of mindful breathing can help us calm and still our body and mind. If we don’t know how, we ask a dharma teacher for help.

These practices liberate us.

We’re learning the 8th consciousness – Store. We begin with a review of The first three verses of 30 Verses of Vasubandhu  What is a self? There are also dharmas and phenomena. All this manifests from the same route – store consciousness. Store both receives and maintains the seeds. It also holds the body and the environment in which we live in. What goes into our store consciousness? There are three different kinds of seeds that go into store: the image of the objects of phenomena, the names of the objects, and the last is discrimination (habit of discriminating). That was the review of previous weeks.

Characteristics of the Seeds
The first characteristic of a seed is that it changes every millisecond. They are changing all the time. Another characteristic is that it’s also continuous, like a steam. It maintains the nature of the seed over time. Every seed is waiting for the conditions to manifest. Manifestation only teachings. Individual and collective manifestation

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What has Buddha-Nature?

December 1, 2013. 93-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village. This is the fifth 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.

An issue in Christianity has been the question whether God a human or not a human. Theologians have said, though God is not a person but God is not less than a person.  In Buddhism, there is the idea of sentient beings that suffer and Buddha’s who have enlightenment. But when we become a Buddha, we continue to be a sentient being. I’m Mahayana Buddhism, these two are not separate. Sentient beings and Buddha’s are not different but two pairs of opposite. One cannot be without the other. Humans are composed of non-human elements. This is a non-dualistic insight. Interdependent co-arising.

Everything is impermanent, including enlightenment and Buddha. We must continue to cultivate happiness and insight. Can the Buddha be recognized in another form than a human? Consider what is written in the Diamond Sutra. We also need to remove the dualistic thinking regarding inanimate objects. Even a rock has Buddha-nature. We have to transcend the idea that Buddha must be a human.

Applying this teaching using sitting and breathing. Thay provides instructions.

At 58-minutes, we continue with the winter retreat teachings from the 30-verses of Vasubandhu with the 3rd verse.

Its appropriations and its manifestation of locality
cannot be known intellectually. It is always
associated with contact, mental attention, feeling,
perception, and volition.

Seeds. Form. Signs. Consciousness. Names.

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A Sense of Contact

November 28, 2013. 140-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet of Plum Village. This is the fourth 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.

Today we continue studying the Five Universal Mental Formations – they happen in a split of a second. It is everywhere, anytime. This is why they are universal. The first is contact – we spend most of the teaching on this mental formation. It’s a vibration in our sense organs. It’s a modification of the organ when it comes together with the object and consciousness and prepares for the arrival of feeling. This is the traditional definition. Contact is the base for feeling or impression. How can consciousness occur without organs?

The second universal is attention. There is appropriate and inappropriate attention. This is followed by feeling, perception. What is the function of perception? What are the options in terms of volition? Grasp, chase after, run away, fight, or to punish. The example in traditional texts is the magnet. What is appropriate attention? How does this relate to contact?

We can bring in mindfulness – this is one of the five particular mental formations. Mindfulness is the third of the five particular. Stephen Levine defined it as memory; to recall a past experience. Mindfulness is not forgetting. Definitions of mindfulness.

Where there is mindfulness, we can recognize the five universals and not go down the path of suffering. How do we react when we have a feeling or a perception? We can interfere, by pausing and creating a new pathway, with mindfulness and this is a very important practice.

A teaching on the eight consciousnesses, in particular mind and manas and how they are different than the first five sense consciousnesses.

Seeds. Characteristics of a seed. We cannot separate the cause and the effect. There are two, but they are really one. Subject and object cannot be separated.

 

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