No sameness. No otherness. That is the nature of all that is.
The retreat theme is “What Happens when we die?” at Plum Village, France. This is a 26-minute portion of the talk offered from the Stillwater Meditation Hall at Upper Hamlet on June 12, 2014. Both the video and audio are available below.
In this talk we return to many common teachings of no-birth, no-death as illustrated by the corn seed and the corn plant, the cloud and the cup of tea, and seeing ourselves as a 5-year old child. We are reminded that we carry all our ancestors in our body. When we walk, our ancestors walk with us at the same time. We don’t just walk for ourselves, but we also walk for our ancestors. The same is with our spiritual ancestors – we are the continuation of these ancestors too. The teaching also reminds us how to work with our more difficult ancestors in order to discover healing and transformation. We can turn our anger into compassion.
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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
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.
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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.
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.
With Thay’s gentle and compassionate humor, we discover the teaching of Right Diligence. This is the eighth talk during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme Path of the Buddha. The date is June 11, 2009 and we are at the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village.
The Four Noble Truths are an exact science – there is right view and wrong view. For the Fourth Noble Truth, the Path and well being, we have Right View. For the Second, ill being, we have Wrong View. They are opposites. Thay reviews Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood in the context of well being and ill being.
In this talk we continue with a teaching on Right Diligence. What is the difference between diligence and effort? Intensive versus regularity. Why is diligence better (easier) than effort? How does Right Diligence bring well being? What is Wrong Diligence and why does it bring ill being? Practical tips for practice are offered.
The story of Frederick, a businessman, and his wife Claudia and their son Phillip. The story concludes with a wonderful teaching on walking and carrying peace in every step.
True Diligence is often described in four steps.
First, the unbeneficial seeds are in us. Be skillful to not let these seeds arise in us. Thay teaches on consciousness – store and mental consciousness. We can practice to lullaby these seeds of suffering to sleep.
Second, if by chance that seed of suffering has manifested then we need to do something to let it go back to store consciousness. Don’t allow it to stay too long. Not suppressing but helping it to go back. This is appropriate attention.
Third, we invite the beneficial seeds to come up. Like a good friend who you have not seen in a long time. Send an invitation to dissipate the darkness. Joy and happiness are always possible and give them a chance to manifest. How? One method is a sangha.
Fourth, when those beneficial seeds are present then we try to keep them present as long as possible. Help them to be strong. Again, what is a method for practicing this step?
We continue the talk with a teaching on the second mindfulness training and how we consider the revision. The second mindfulness training is about generosity. How does it relate to right diligence? What is practicing generosity? Stealing?
Is it possible to have no more desire? Are you aware of your conditions of happiness? The talk concludes with a short teaching on the Sutra of the White Clad Disciple.
June 20, 2012. 79-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the fifteenth dharma talk (of 15). No chanting. This is the final dharma talk of the retreat.
We are all cells in the sangha body. Sangha building.
Suffering and happiness.
The mind of non-discrimination.
Four pairs of opposites
Scientists and practitioners can let go of notions.
Thay reads from The Paramartha Gathas of Asanga Gathas on the Absolute Truth. This is because that is – Condition Genesis
Both the self and the elements that give rise to the self are empty. They are just constructions of our perverted (confused) mind. The separate-self nature ofall the sentient species is also empty. The only thing that is, is the causing andconditioning of one dharma upon another.
And the following from The Discourse on the Adaptation of Conditioned Genesis Connected with Emptiness
Profound indeed is this, namely conditioned genesis; even more profound,more difficult to see is this, namely the extinction of all attachment, the destructionof craving, the fading away of desire, the cessation of all suffering: nirvana.
June 20, 2012. 70-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the fourteenth dharma talk (of 15). No chanting, but began with some mindful movements.
True Happiness comes from understanding and compassion. I am capable of understanding. The seeds of Buddhahood are there. Right Thinking is the kind of thinking that can produce compassion. One in-breath can create compassion and we can create new habits.
The Four Attainments are the fruits of our practice.
Dwell peacefully where you are. Froglessness.
I have arrived.
Does the soul exist?
Thay reads from The Paramartha Gathas of Asanga Gathas on the Absolute Truth, verse 44, on Birth. Death. Nirvana.
Living beings is the name of a continuous stream and all phenomena as theobject of perception are only signs. Therefore there is no real change of birthinto death and death into birth and no person who realizes nirvana.
June 19, 2012. 117-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the thirteenth dharma talk (of 15).
Thay announced the names of apprentice Dharma Teachers for the coming year. There will about 50 from the monastic Sunflower family and about 15 lay students (Belgium, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, and USA). We are reminded that a dharma teacher can create happiness for those around them and can handle a painful/unpleasant feeling. Even with some suffering, dharma teachers can discover this is a happy moment.
Climbing a mountain, arriving with every step. Illustrated from a story of traveling China with the sangha.
Five Universal Mental Formations.
Always present and always together. A neural pathway that can lead to happiness or suffering. Creates a habit. We don’t need to focus on our suffering. Create a habit of happiness.
Contact – eyes, ears, etc.
Attention – To be able to select the object of your attention. This is good practice. Appropriate attention.
Perception / Conception
Five Particular Mental Formations
Desire / Intention
Resolution / Determination
Types of Consciousness
Mind (this consciousness can instruct manas – the work of meditation)
Manas (the ground the first six lean upon – wrong view; seeks pleasure)
Store (everything manifests from here – all the seeds)
June 17, 2012. 93-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the twelfth dharma talk (of 15). This talk is a session of Questions and Answers.
I want to go home because cooking materials needed for my special diet is being stolen from my tent in Lower Hamlet. I feel unsafe here. What should I do?
How do we handle training people in mindfulness to address concerns of global warming, food shortages, war, etc.? How fast should we go? How much practice do we need before we can teach?
Can you help me understand the new language in the revised Third and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings, especially the line about “being known to my family and friends” as it relates to LBGT community?
I have my own ideas/understanding, I’ve been using the practice of “no” (koan) as you described in Zen Keys. Is this good practice?
How to practice letting go?
Three written questions on transmission and karma of illness through the family. For example, suicide.
What role does Parallax Press and your books have in sharing the dharma and the mindfulness Trainings?
How do I work with internal anger (maybe manifested via external illness)?
June 16, 2012. 99-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the eleventh dharma talk (of 15).
Four (six) Mantras of Love (45-minutes)
Darling, I am here for you.
Darling, I know you are there and it makes me happy.
Darling, I know you suffer.
Darling, I suffer, please help.
(This is a Happy Moment.)
(Darling, you are partly right.)
The last one is new and for when someone congratulates or criticizes you.
Perception and our mind. Subject of cognition and object of mind. The mind can be both the observed and the observer.
Three parts acting together. The notion of superposition. Three but one.
The third part is the base, the foundation, for the observed. Thay has used the example of a piece of paper. The first two are the right and left side and the third is the paste (the paper itself). The third part has many names – different types of consciousnesses. For example, store consciousness.
June 14, 2012. 86-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the tenth dharma talk (of 15).
The Four Recollections
Joy and happiness with the three kinds of energies: mindfulness, concentration, and insight. When we focus on our breath, we are only our breath. We are not our sorrow or our regret.
Joy while breathing
Happiness while sitting
Joy is the breathing
Happiness is the breathing
Thay tells a story of the Buddha visiting a disciple who was very attached to the Buddha, but was now dying. His name was Vakali to help him die peacefully. The story illustrates the concept of the dharma body (dharmakaya). Our practice is our dharma body. The sangha and our teacher can help is develop our dharma body. Our practice also creates the living dharma.
We also have a sangha body (sanghakaya); a community of practice. The sangha body is in yourself.
We also learn the last two of the Four Recollections: Buddha body (buddhakaya) and the Mindfulness Trainings (silakaya). We practice to cultivate these four bodies.