Category Archives: Types of Posts

Spiritual Evolution

An 88-minute dharma talk from the New Hamlet, Plum Village on November 27, 2005.

Building on the previous dharma talk on biological evolution, we begin with the topic of sensual pleasures. We know that sensual pleasures are very fleeting and they don’t last. Do we want survival or do we want happiness? Happiness and survival, these two things go together. What is this drive for survival. This drive for sensual pleasure. The Buddha does not speak about survival. The Buddha speaks of a way out of suffering.

The Buddha teaches us to recognize our anger and our fear. Our fear causes us to act in a very destructive way. Is there a way to transform our fear. We are also invited to look at our delusions (confusion). We don’t know where to go. What to do. We can become desperate because of our confusion. We should also look at the nature of our craving. This too pushes us in the direction of wrong action. In the teachings of the Buddha, these are called poisons.

As we look into the world, we can see that confusion and anger are destroying us. This is why we need spiritual evolution. To give survival another way. Another meaning.

Not only can we purify our mind, through the training of meditation, we can also purify and transform our body. We learn a new way of dealing with events that happen in our lives. The practice can create new patterns of behavior and our body can learn to behave differently. We can replace the old patterns of our body and our mind.

Transmission of the practice. We can transmit the practice to our children, our friends. It doesn’t need to be genetic. This is spiritual evolution. If we are going to survive as a species, we need to bring in this dimension of spiritual evolution. It can be realized.

Thay explores different elements of the practice. Listening to a dharma talk. Walking meditation. Listening to the bell.

In the last segment, we learn practices for dealing with anger. We need a spiritual immune system to treat these poisons. When we’ve been able to transform these poisons, then we can help many people.

During the talk, Thay illustrates with the following stories

  • Young man with terminal illness
  • Pirate in Thailand raping refugees
  • A nun who was arrested in Vietnam

If you are able to support this project financially, please visit our account on Patreon where you can make a donation for as little as $1 per dharma talk.

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The Practice for Engaged Buddhism

This is the final dharma talk of the 2000 21-Day Retreat, The Eyes of the Buddha, offered from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh on June 20, 2000. The primary theme of the dharma talk is the Noble Eightfold Path.

In Part I, we begin with an introduction to deep listening – protected by compassion – followed by a teaching on the Noble Eightfold Path threaded with teachings on the Five Mindfulness Trainings

  1. Right View
  2. Right Thinking
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Diligence
  6. Right Livelihood
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

In Part II, beginning at 1-hour and 8-minutes we turn to the topics of violence, nonviolence, UNESCO’s Manifesto 2000, and dependent co-arising.

Live your life as a bodhisattva.

If you are able to support this project financially, please visit our account on Patreon where you can make a donation for as little as $1 per dharma talk.

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The Eyes of the Buddha – Interbeing

2000-06-13. This is the 9th dharma talk of the 21-Day Retreat, The Eyes of the Buddha, offered at the Lower Hamlet, Plum Village.

Our practice is to go back to the present moment in order to be aware of what is going on – whether they are positive or negative. The sangha eyes is the instrument in which we use to practice deep looking. And the Buddha eyes is the instrument we use in order to practice deep looking. We don’t only look as individuals.

The first issue we face is loneliness. The disintegration of the family. Individualism. Our families need to be rebuilt. Our communities need to be rebuilt. Our society need to be rebuilt. Our church need to be rebuilt. The second issue we need to look at is violence. There is so much violence. Violence leads to despair. What we consume feeds us with more violence, with more fear, with intolerance, anger, and despair. The dharma should be effective in helping us deal with violence and hatred. The teaching of the Buddha on consumption has much to do with the nurture of violence. The third issue is of fear/uncertainty. We are afraid of what will come in the future. Division and alienation is destroying our happiness. We should get together and build sangha. To learn again how to live as a community. The dharma should address real issues of our time. The dharma is not something for the future. The dharma is now. To take care of the present.

Anytime we hear the teaching of emptiness, interbeing, aimlessness, nirvana, we should bring our suffering in order to understand our suffering. Ask the question, what does this teaching have to do with our suffering – both individual and collective.

Interbeing. This teaching is an antidote to the situation of division, discrimination, alienation. It should be the medicine for individualism. Thay teaches on a gatha on dependent co-arising – pratitya samatpada.

* Dependent Co-Arising
* Emptiness
* Conventional Designation
* The Middle Path

In the second half of the dharma talk, we turn our direction towards the reality of birth and death. Burning a sheet of paper to illustrate the teaching. We cannot kill Gandhi or Martin Luther King. We need to let go of the idea of form. We can transcend the notions of birth and death. This is a training.

Madhyamikakarikasastra

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Being Free from Dogma

This 58-minute dharma talk is the second half of a talk offered on November 17, 2005 at the New Hamlet, Plum Village.

Thay continues a discussion from the earlier dharma talk. When we make a statement in Buddhism, it should help to transform and to present the truth. Buddhism is not a philosophical position. Zen is free from notions, statements. For example,

Space is a conditioned dharma. Space is not a conditioned dharma.
Dharma and the non-dharma.

Does Buddhist fundamentalism exist? Are there those who have gotten dogmatic about the dharma. Buddhism should be free from dogma, but there is some dogmatism in Buddhism too. Why isn’t this a good thing?

The truth of interbeing. At the cellular level and in nature. In heart of reality there is cruelty, violence, and a struggle for survival. In the heart of reality there is also wisdom, compassion, and togetherness. And this is the foundation of reality.

We conclude with a brief teaching on Buddhism and science.

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Relaxing in the Present Moment

The 58-minute dharma talk offered by Thich Nhat Hanh took place at the New Hamlet of Plum Village on November 10, 2005. The audio is linked below and video is available for our donors on Patreon.

Please note, the recording begins with a few minor sound issues, but the dharma talk doesn’t begin until it is resolved by the sound team. We left it in the recording because it adds some character.

When we speak about dwelling in the present moment, we mean living deeply in every moment of our daily life. Do we know how to live in the present moment? It begins with relaxing ourselves and to stop running. To release our worries. Our tensions. Stopping our mental discourse. Do we know how to rest after a long day of work? To relax our mind and body? Mindfulness tells us the conditions for testing are there for us.

Awareness of breathing is exactly what we need to stop our mental discourse. To touch the conditions of happiness that are there. This is not hard work. We can free from our thinking and our body begins to relax, and to heal itself. Simple. We have to stop the mental discourse so we can be free in the present moment.

Walking to be present and aware of the present moment is also possible. We can relax during walking meditation too.

This practice is a practice freedom. 

A teaching on the historical and ultimate dimension as illustrated through drinking our tea, our coffee. Can you drink your tea in the ultimate dimension? Avata?saka S?tra.

In China, there was a time when they tried to bring Zen and the Pure Land together. In Plum Village, we practice Zen using the energy of mindfulness and insight but we also say the Pure and is available in the here and the now. The pure land is now or never. Thay shares a koan from that time that is still practiced today.

Who is the person invoking the name of the Buddha? 

This is the subject of our mediation. Both Zen and Pure Land practice this. Thay teaches on this koan – what is the purpose of this koan? This koan is an invitation. Thay then shares a Chinese story of two philosophers contemplating fish swimming. Are the fish happy?

Ni?m – mindfulness, recollection

We should always ask ourselves with any teaching, what does this teaching have to do with my suffering? It is not intellectual.

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Healing Oneself Healing the World with Thich Nhat Hanh and Friends

Better ListenIn addition to our regularly offered talks, we are happy to share this 2013 packaged set from Better Listen! Check it out.

Healing Oneself and Healing the World featuring Thich Nhat Hanh and practice with Br. Phap Dung and Sr. Dang Nghiem

These 2013 recordings by Thich Nhat Hanh are from Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi during a 6-day retreat in 2013 with the theme Healing Ourselves, Healing the World. The program has been digitally remastered and has 12 hours of wonderful material.
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.

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.

Touching Life – Come Home to Yourself

The 53-minute dharma talk offered by Thich Nhat Hanh took place at the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village on November 3, 2005. The audio is linked below and video will be available for our donors on Patreon.

What does it mean, “I take refuge in the Buddha.” Buddha is the one who is mindful, awake, enlightened. Taking refuge is not believing in a God or deity. We all have a seed of mindfulness, understanding, and love. We can become a person who is fully awake, enlightened, just like the Buddha. Taking refuge is confirming the fact that you can be enlightened. You are a Buddha. This is not a declaration of faith, but a commitment to practice. In every breath we are taking refuge. In every mindful step we are taking refuge.

The way in is also the way out. Our spiritual life should be established in that vision – being truly ourselves. Practicing to bring a spiritual dimension into your life. Through drinking our tea, preparing our breakfast, or brushing our teeth. These are spiritual acts. Not being caught by the future or the past. This is being a Buddha.

Going home to ourselves. How is this act accomplished? Practicing in a community like Plum Village, everyone is supported by the sangha. This is taking refuge in the sangha. We have faith in the community. Helping to build this refuge for others.

Story of when the Buddha was about 80-years old and how he offered the teaching on taking refuge in the island of yourself. Here we can encounter the foundation of ourselves – the island includes the Buddha, dharma, and sangha. This is the practice of Plum Village also.

How do we respond when we are lonely, not feeling like ourselves? Our feelings of fear? Do we know how to practice going home to ourselves? Walking meditation is a method. Can we walk like a Buddha? Enjoying every step. This is a miracle.

The Buddha-nature is within you and through mindfulness, concentration, and insight it is you that is performing a miracle.

It is a practice of enjoyment.

Editor’s Note: If the play button or download link doesn’t work, please try again shortly. We are testing out a new service and there may be caps on the downloads. Thank you for the patience. 

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Non Fear

The Retreat on Buddhist Psychology continues in Key West, Florida. The date is November 9, 1997. This is the final talk in the series. Audio is linked below and video will be available for our donors on Patreon.

Thay jumps immediately to the teachings on the verses of consciousness, the topic of this retreat, beginning with the thirtieth verse.

Self and nonself. Interbeing. Consciousness is always flowing and evolving. Conditioned dharmas (36). Space and time are not separated entities. The only dharma that can be considered “unconditioned” is nirvana. Suchness (36). No coming. No going. Tathagata.
Verses 37-40, we learn about the four conditions. Primary cause. Object cause. Supporting causes. Immediacy of continuity. These four conditions are necessary for manifestation. Deluded mind and true mind. Codependent arising.

Paratantra (41). Samsara and suchness are no different. It is deluded mind to think they are different – they have the same ground.

The flower is already present in the garbage (42). We see one in the other. They are not two. There is no need to run away from birth and death (43). We can understand that the kingdom of

God is at hand; available in the present. Conscious breathing and Right View (44). Mindfulness can transform all mental formations (45).

Mindfulness is the energy of God. And mindfulness is not an idea, but something we can cultivate and allow to grow. To be alive in the presence of God.

Transformation at the base is down there at the depth of our consciousness. This is where the real transformation takes place and our internal knots are slipping (46).

The present moment contains the future (47). The secret to transformation at the base is how well we handle the present moment. And practicing with a sangha can help it occur more easily. Affliction and enlightenment are the same (50). Ride on the waves of birth and death. With no fear.

There are three kinds of gifts: material gifts, gift of the dharma, and nonfear (this is the greatest gift to give). The practice of nonfear can let I’d look into the light of interbeing. When we chant the Heart Sutra, we see that Sariputra has been able to transcend fear.

Understanding our MindHistory of Buddhist Teachings
Many have asked who is the author of these 51 Verses. After the Buddha passed away, a few decades after, there was a need to systemize the teachings of the Buddha. This is known as the Abhidharma – super dharma – and it contains many many teachings. Thay offers the background on the abidharma teachings over time. Some of these teachings have been translated into English so it can be available to you. For example, the Path of Purification, the Twenty verses on Manifestation only (or mere manifestation – it is a very difficult teaching), but the 51 verses are much easier. You can listen to these talks again or purchase Understanding Our Mind: 50 Verses on Buddhist Psychology.

Two Stories on Dying

Story of Anapindika and Sariputra with the practice on the Recollection of the Three Jewels.

Story of Alfred Hassler. About 8-years ago, on the way to the Omega Institute for a retreat, we learned our dear friend Alfred Hassler was dying in a hospital nearby. Sr. Chan Không and Thay decided to stop and visit him along with Alfred’s wife and daughter. Thay recalls some of the work done with Alfred and his family.

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Reconciliation

The Retreat on Buddhist Psychology continues in Key West, Florida. The date is November 8, 1997. This is the seventh talk (115-minutes). Audio is posted below and the video is available for our donors on Patreon.

We begin with the story of David, an America who came to Plum Village and was given he assignment to write a Iove letter to his father. He thought he couldn’t do this to reconcile with him father. Thay had him practice as a 5-year old boy for a week so to touch the vulnerability and fragility in himself. We smile and identify the little child inside of us. This practice is followed by seeing our parent/father as a 5-year old child as well. Maybe we need a picture to help us truly visualize this our parent.

The teaching of emptiness of transmission. Everything depends on everything else. It always includes a transmitter, an object, and a receiver. But these three elements cannot be separated.

Another story, this one of Michael, another American, where he was asked to list the wholesome qualities of his father and mother. He had a challenge doing this for his mother because of some anger and resentment. This exercise can help repair our resentment and anger. And he was able to write a beautiful love letter to his mother. The practice has the power to liberate and bring non-fear and joy.

When we feel that we have been abused, when people have treated us with violence, anger, hatred, discrimination then a block of suffering is within us. The negative energy is in us. And if you don’t know how to handle and transform the violence within us then that violence will destroy us and the people we love. The criminals, the terrorist, they have not been able to transform the violence. We have to learn how to handle and transform the violence in us and to help others do the same. In our schools, in our prisons, and in our police departments. Mindfulness practice must be offered to society and it can be done in a non-sectarian, non-religious form.

Thay shares his idea for an Association of Mindfulness Practice Centers and what that would look like in practice and reality. He shared about three mindfulness practice centers taking shape in America (DC, Vermont, and California). Living according to the Five Mindfulness Trainings. We need to be affiliated with a group of people, a sangha. It is essential to our practice. The sangha is our refuge.

At 58-minutes we resume the teaching on the 50 Verses. We begin with verses 15-22 – about the seventh consciousness of manas. Then verse 23 is about the sixth, mental consciousness. Thay repeats a little on the three modes of cognition – the realm of things in themselves, the realm of representation, and the realm of mere image. Verses 25-27, the root of all actions. With verses 28-30, we move to the five consciousnesses of sensations.

Historical Perspective
During this talk, Thay announces the 21-Day Retreat planned for May 23, 1998 that took place at St. Michaels College in Burlington, Vermont. The theme of that retreat was the Sutra on Mindful Breathing. This was the first time the 21-Day occurred in North America. He also announced that 200-acres are being donated in Vermont for a practice community.

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Handling Strong Emotions

The Retreat on Buddhist Psychology continues in Key West, Florida. The date is November 7, 1997. This is the sixth talk (96-minutes) offered as an audio recording below. If you wish to view the video, please make a small donation on our Patreon account.

Seed of anger. Mindfulness of anger. How do we practice with this energy of anger? How do we make peace with another in which we are angry? One method is to use the practice of deep looking. First, we generate our energy of mindfulness. Then we recognize our anger. Finally we look deeply into the nature of our anger. Teaching on the four mantras, deep listening, and loving speech. We can restore communication.

Thay shares the text of a song he wrote to help us with our practice.

It rains softly outside, and yet I feel the sadness and the sorrow coming up in me.
Please go to sleep my little pain and let my in breath and out breath embrace you tenderly.
I know you are there and I do my best to take good care of you.
You know I am trying to plant and water the seeds of harmony and loving kindness everyday so tomorrow from the soil of my consciousness flowers of peace and joy and forgiveness will bloom for everyone.
Please go to sleep my little knots. My little pain.

With this practice there will be transformation and tomorrow we will be able to accept and love each other.

How are we watering our store consciousness through our consumption? Are we intoxicating ourselves with seeds of craving and despair? Thay shares his excitement about mindfulness being applied in legislation (smoking) and in what we can buy in the supermarket (tofu). The five mindfulness trainings are a concrete practice to help us to become more mindful of our consciousness.

We continue with a deeper teaching on the first aspect of meditation: stopping.

In the concluding 15-minutes, we return to the teaching on the verses of consciousness. We are on verse 13 exploring inter-penetration.

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