Our Ultimate Concern

October 12, 2013. 100-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, California during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the first dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Finding Our True Home. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

This morning we heard the Sutra on Knowing a Better Way to Live Alone. What does this mean? Is this a practice of solitude? To live alone means not to have a second person in you. Maybe an object of desire or craving. To live alone is to be completely satisfied with the here and now. There is no need to run anymore. This is the practice of aimlessness.

I have arrived. Enlightenment. Happiness. Joy. They are all right here and right now. Walking meditation. What prevents us from arriving? Recognizing habit energy and why is this important. We all have habit energy that push is to do or say something. We can name it and not have to push it away using our mindfulness. We can create a new habit of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something – the object of our mindfulness. As we are mindful, concentration is born. Where there is mindfulness there is the beginning of concentration. And with these two energies, we can have insight.

We touch our true home in every moment. Touching the present moment. We can use walking meditation to learn more about touching the present moment.

The Buddha taught about four kinds of food (Nutriments) and that nothing can survive without food. Edible food is the first. We eat I’m a way to retain compassion in our heart. We can practice mindful eating to reduce the suffering in the world. The second kind is sense impressions. It’s what we “eat” with our eyes, ears, nose, and mind. We have to careful what we consume in ourselves and in our society. The third is volition – the will to act. Our deepest kind of desire and can give us a lot of energy. More of an ultimate concern for our life, something meaningful. What is our volition? This can be a good nutriment or a negative nutriment. This is a topic Thay will offer to Google and other corporate leaders next week.

Mindful Breathing. The first exercise of mindful breathing is awareness of our breathing, and the second is following our breathing. This brings concentration. The third is being aware of my body and the fourth we calm our body. With the fifth and sixth we get to the domain of feelings – joy and happiness. What are the conditions of happiness. The seventh is recognizing our suffering and the eighth is calming our suffering.

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Breathing and Interbeing

September 18, 2011. 115-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the second dharma talk for the Vietnamese “Opening the Heart” retreat. The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this is the English translation provided by Sr. Dang Nghiem (except the first few minutes).

We begin with a guided meditation and see our father as 5-yr old child. We cannot take the father out of the son. Today, we continue learning about the breath by using the Sutra on Full Awareness of Breathing. Thay walks us through the first eight exercises; the first two being about right mindfulness. The fifth and sixth are about joy and happiness. We get there by letting go. Let go of our ideas. We can also look for conditions of happiness. concentration can also bring. Then insight.

The talk ends with a few stories on Interbeing nature of our families, true love, and understanding.

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Full of Wonder

September 17, 2011. 96-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the first dharma talk for the Opening the Heart Vietnamese Retreat. The talk was given in Vietnamese and translated into English by Sr. Dang Nghiem.

We begin with a guided meditation on our parents. Opening the Heart. Thay teaches the corn story to illustrate the concept of continuation. This practice not just for us. It is for our parents, our children. This is non-dualistic way of thinking. We have both blood and spiritual ancestors inside of us. Where do you look for the Buddha? We all have Buddhanature. Do not look for the Buddha on the outside. We also have the dharma jewel. We have a method to practice. If the jewel is not shining than we need to learn how to polish. The third jewel is the sangha. What does a sangha practice? Mindfulness, concentration, and insight.

What is the relationship between the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha? Ate you a true cell in the body of the sangha and the dharma? What is continuation? The nature of things? The cloud and the tea. The child and the father. The corn seed and the corn plant. How do we live deeply? Enjoying each wonderful moment. To use our conditions of happiness. Practicing to generate Mindfulness, concentration, and insight.

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An Orientation to Practice

September 16, 2011. 60-minute orientation with Thich Nhat Hanh and two senior dharma teachers at the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the first activity for the Opening the Heart Vietnamese Retreat. The talk was given in Vietnamese and translated into English by Sr. Lang Nghiem. This is a great introduction to the basic practices of walking meditation, eating meditation, noble silence, and breathing.

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Free from Notions: The Diamond Sutra

September 25, 2011. 100-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the last day of mindfulness held at the monastery. The in-person attendance is a record high with an estimated 1200 people in attendance.

Today’s talk will be on right view. The practice of mindfulness based in right view can heal ourselves and heal the world. But we have to work to practice right view. The tea is the continuation of the cloud and this is the practice of no-birth and no-death. Your own nature is the nature of no-birth and no-death.

In The Diamond Sutra, we are asked to let go of the idea of self and we can be free from any discrimination. The second notion to let go of is the notion of man. We are made of animals, vegetables, and minerals. if we see this, we can see out Interbeing with the planet. The third notion is the notion of living beings. The final notion is the notion of a life span.

If you have not seen the non-Buddha elements than you have not seen the Buddha. The safest method to see the Buddha is to look inside yourself.

The sangha now travels to Mississippi for a retreat.

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When You Breathe You Can Already Celebrate Life

September 11, 2011. 120-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the final dharma talk for the Together We Are One retreat.

We begin with a guided meditation looking deeply at ourselves and our ancestors.
We need to cultivate love and compassion. Love and compassion are an essential element of happiness. Maitri has the power to bring happiness. We must understand our suffering, we cannot understand the suffering if others. We must begin with ourselves.

In true live there is no individual suffering; you can’t say it’s not my problem. Understanding is the foundation of love and mindfulness and concentration are the two elements that can bring about understanding.

The roots of terrorism ate wrong views, wrong perceptions. We use loving speech and compassionate listening to help get rid of wrong views. This too is the practice of true love. The path proposed by the Buddha is a noble eightfold path. It has Mindfulness, concentration, and insight. We can travel to the shore of liberation and non-fear. Paramita.

Right view is an element of the noble eightfold path. The Five Mindfulness Trainings are a very concrete method to have right view. Thay talks about being and non-being as it relates to out way of thinking. Right thinking is another part of the path. To continue the explanation, Thay tells a story of a cloud. The nature of a cloud is no-birth, no-death. Our cloud has not come from non-being. A cloud can never die. Being and non-being are just notions. When conditions are sufficient, I manifest myself. My nature is non-local. Right view can liberate us from fear, despair, anger.

In the mind of discrimination, we always want to choose only happiness. We want to ban the suffering and only have happiness. But happiness and suffering inter-are. It is the understanding of the suffering that compassion/happiness can arrive. We do not discriminate against suffering. Birth is now. Death is now. We can touch that fact. Being and non-being are notions and cannot be applied to reality.

Right speech, the next in the path, means speech without discrimination. Next we look at Right Action. What we do with our body should reflect our right view. No discrimination. The same can be said about Right Livelihood, Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.
Finally, Thay talks about karma.

In addition to the audio, a video version is available.

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What is the Purpose of People and Life?

September 10, 2011. 95-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the fourth dharma talk for the Together We Are One retreat. Today we have a session of Questions and Answers.

Some questions: What is the purpose of people and life? Why is Thich Nhat Hanh so special? How can I bring these memories home without the other kids in the neighborhood thinking that it is not real? What do you do for your entertainment? In Plum Village, were you ever on the kitchen staff before? Could you talk to us younger people about following our dreams while staying in the present moment, and how to not get pulled away by ambition? Am I practicing correctly? As a survivor of rape, how do I forgive my attackers? How do we deal with nightmares? How can I create peace in my relationship with my father?

In addition to the audio, a video version is available.

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Hello, my Anger

September 7, 2011. 118-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the first dharma talk for the Together We Are One retreat.

Usually in our retreats, children learn how to invite the bell. The bell is a kind of friend, so we have a chance to practice. The bell master is responsible for inviting the bell and should be calm and solid. It should inspire people to practice. There are four lines to learn when inviting the bell.

Body, speech and mind in perfect oneness.
I send my heart along with the sound of the bell.
May all who listen awaken from forgetfulness.
And transcend all anxiety and sorrow.

Thay continues providing instruction on inviting the bell followed by instruction on listening to the bell. Listen, listen to this wonderful sound of the bell, calling me back to my true home.

Thay shares with us the about the practice of mindfulness of breathing. Awareness of our in-breath and our out-breath. It’s quite simple. This can helps us to release the past and release the future. This can become the only object of our mind. We get some freedom right away. It is always true that mindfulness and concentration bring insight; and insight is something that can liberate us. We do not practice like a machine: we are alive. We are not caught in the form of the practice. That is why every moment we experience nourishment and healing. Each exercises is included in each of the subsequent ones. This teaching is from the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing (Anapanasati Sutta). In this talk we look at the first eight breathing exercises.

In Buddhist psychology we see the mind as having two parts: mind consciousness and store consciousness. Your store consciousness is part of your body and it can operate without mind consciousness. The first four breathing exercises has to do with mind. Mind and store should function well together. This brings us to a discussion of mental formations cittasamskara and it manifests in the form of a seed bija.

He goes on to talk about the four practices of right diligence: 1) recognize the negative seeds and make sure they don’t come up, 2) if a negative seed has already come up, embrace the formation and invite it to go back down, 3) invite good seeds to come up, 4) maintain the good mental formations for a long time.

When looking at the fifth and sixth exercises, producing joy and happiness, we have to be aware of our ideas. We all have our ideas of happiness, and that idea may be an obstacle to our happiness. This is very deep practice. That object of craving, object of desire, may be an obstacle. Have the courage to let go.

He also discusses in detail how we can embrace our difficult mental formations just like a mother embraces her crying baby.

The talk is available below. During a middle portion of the recording, the sound is listenable but degraded. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and hello my anger.

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Jesus is the Bread

September 4, 2011. 91-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the first Day of Mindfulnss during a month-long stay in Escondido.

This is a happy moment. When you love someone, you want him or her to be there for you. How can you love if you are not there? To love is a practice. To practice mindful walking and mindful breathing. You can then offer yourself. You are truly there. The most precious gift is your true presence.

Children are flowers in the garden of humanity. Each of us are born as a flower. We need to preserve our flowerness. To be a true lover we need to know how to take care of ourselves. This is a Buddhist practice.

The First Mantra is “Darling, I am here for you.” And, when you want someone to know of your love then you can practice the Second Mantra. “Darling, I know you are there and it makes me happy.

Thay also teaches on listening to the bell, and the establishment of a breathing room for the family to restore your flowerness.

Thay shares with us the about the nature of bread, that contains the whole cosmos: the Buddha, Jesus, all things are in the bread. “You don’t need to think, there is just awareness. Awareness and insight, but no thinking. No thinking is the secret. We can eat every morsel of our lunch in that way.”

He continues to share about the story of the young couple in the Sutra on the Son’s Flesh who decide to move to another country with their son. Faced with starvation in the desert, they decide to kill their little boy and eat his flesh, crying and beating their chests as they do so. “After the Buddha told this story to the monks, he turned to them and said, ‘Dear friends, do you think the parents enjoyed eating the flesh of their own son?’ ‘No, it is impossible that they could enjoy it.’

The Buddha said, ‘Let us eat in such a way that we preserve our compassion and mindfulness, otherwise when we eat it is like we are eating the flesh of our own son.'” “We should be the aware that many of the items that we consume, with the eyes, the ear, the body, the mind, can be very toxic. A television program, an article, may be full of anger, hate and violence. If we allow our children to consume these items, the toxins will go into their consciousness. Even conversations can sometimes be very toxic.”

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and Jesus is the Bread.

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