Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Sunday, January 26, 2014 and is the twenty first talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem. The first 45-minutes of the talk focus on connecting our body and mind through our practice of returning. The second half returns to the sutra study and the characteristics of seeds.
Every time we have difficulties with another person, what can we do? Why do we have these difficulties? Why can we not communicate? Do we blame the other person or are we able to see that both sides have difficulties? We have to look at ourselves. The most basic difficulty is that we can’t communicate or understand ourselves. It’s so easy to just run away from ourselves through reading novels, watching television, go on the internet, etc. But, there may be loneliness, grief, sadness, anger, and emptiness that we cannot bear. We are not at peace with ourselves. Therefore, we cannot easily communicate with the other person because we cannot communicate with ourselves. We can’t blame the other person or ourselves but we try to understand ourselves. This is a courageous act. We can use a friend, a co-practitioner, a sangha to support us to come back to ourselves and recognize our suffering and despair. Our breathing can help us bring our mind back to our body. This is the practice of returning. The method and practice are really simple. With concentration we can cultivate an inner strength. The third exercise from the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing is bringing our full attention to our body and let go of the tension in our body. Mindfulness of the body. Breathing can be the object of our mind to help us return to our body. How is our breathing? We can use the gatha “In. Out. Deep. Slow.” This is the practice of peace.
When Thay taught at university, another professor asked Thay what do we do to sit in meditation? The most basic practice is to harmonize our breathing. When we sit down, the first thing we do is calm down and harmonize the breathing. The second is to harmonize the body with our posture. These two go together – the breathing and the body. This may take a few minutes and then we can go deeper into contemplation. Being aware that we have body and our breathing, this is life.
We can see the miracle if our energy and practice is strong. The Mother Earth is present in our body. We carry in our body the presence of all our ancestors. They continue to live in us. If we are peaceful and joyful then our ancestors are also peaceful and joyful. And so this gatha of practice can be a very deep practice. This is awakening and can come today and can come continuously.
Freedom of in breath and out breath. If the breathing is peaceful then our body is peaceful. We calm our breathing, our body, and then our feelings.
What is that that prevents you from having joy? What is it’s true name? How do we let it entangle us? Plum Village practice is very simple. The energy of mindfulness let us see miracles in every moment. Mindful breathing and mindful steps. To calm down. We can have help
From fellow practitioners.
The characteristics of seeds is Momentary impermance.
Moons and stars are the objects of our consciousness. Everything has a mark or sign. It can be either collective or individual. All these phenomenon are from seeds. There are three kinds of conciousmess in manifestation-only teaching. Store consciousness, Manas, and Perception of Reality along with five sense consciousness plus mind. Store consciousness maintains three things: seeds, our body, and our environment. And the seeds manifests as signs or marks.
What is the fabric of reality?
The fourth characteristic of seeds. And this teaching is a different from the traditional interpretation. The seeds in the store consciousness are neither also door unwholesome because store consciousness is undetermined and unobstructed. Therefore, the characteristic of the seed is undetermined.
The fifth characteristic of seeds is that they wait for conditions to manifest. Interdependent co-arising. And the sixth is neither being nor non-being. In manifestation-only teaching, these are true mental categories and cannot be applied to reality. And that subject and object cannot operate independently.
No sameness, no otherness.
No coming, no going.