Nirvana In the Here and the Now

June 13, 2012. 124-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 ninth dharma talk (of 15).

Investigation of the phenomenonal and noumenal worlds. We use our mind of discrimination to investigate the conventional truth. If we use the practice to look more deeply, we can see the ultimate truth of the same object. We use the mind of non-discrimination for the ultimate truth. And in Buddhism we take care of the mind. We need to train our mind so to create a strong instrument for investigation. The yogi has to be skillful.

The teaching of the Dharma as a finger. A skillful practitioner should not be caught in notions.

The Wisdom of Adaptation. Being and nonbeing. A flower is made of non-flower elements and this principle applies to everything. In the 2nd paragraph of the Heart of Perfect Understanding. Form is emptiness and Emptiness is not form. Form is free from being and nonbeing. They are neither produced nor destroyed. We can apply the Law of Thermodynamics – the conservation of matter and energy. We look then at the Discourse on the Adaption of Conditioned Genesis Connected with Emptiness (Samyukta Agama 293).

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The Ground of Right View

June 12, 2012. 111-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 eighth dharma talk (of 15).

Seven Factors of Enlightenment (relaxation, joy, investigation, etc)
Separate investigation of phenomena and noumenal

We should not mixup the two dimensions of conventional and ultimate. When considering the Four Noble Truths, the first two must be investigated in the realm of conventional truth. Conditional Dharma. The same cloud can be both investigated from conventional truth and ultimate truth.

The Second Noble Truth and the Fifth Mindfulness Training can be described in terms of food. Nutriments. The Sutra of the Son’s Flesh gives this teaching on nutriments. Thay explains the Four Kinds of Nutriments: edible foods, sensory impressions, volition, and consciousness. Discusses Mencius’ Mother (China); also known as Meng Ze.Thay would like to see the Sutra on Four Kinds of Nutriments in the next edition of chanting book.

Mindfulness in schools.

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There is Action but no Actor

June 10, 2012. 102-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower 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 seventh dharma talk (of 15).

We begin with two chants: Les Vision Profond (French) and Hien Tien Thanh Tinh (We are Truly Present). Interbeing of the entire cosmos. The flower is interacting with the entire cosmos.

Topics

  • Suffering and happiness
  • Being and non-being
  • Fourth Mindfulness Training – deep listening

Readings

From The Discourse on Emptiness in its Ultimate Meaning

Monks, when the eye arises, there is no place from which it comes; when it  ceases, there is no place to which it goes. Thus, the eye, without any real substance,  arises; having arisen it will finally have to cease. It is a result of some action but  there is no actor at all.

And from The Paramartha Gathas of Asanga Gathas on the Absolute Truth

5. All conditioned things undergo change at every instant. Their abiding is not something real, much less their function. All we can say is that their arising is their function and their arising is also the agent.

6-7. Eyes cannot see form, ears cannot hear sound, the nose does not smell scent,  the tongue does not taste an object, the body does not feel touch, the mind  does not recognize objects of mind. However in the organs and objects of  sense there is no one who maintains or begins the perception.

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The Temple of Brotherhood

June 9, 2012. 127-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower 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 sixth dharma talk (of 15).

Just prior to this session, those attending the retreat received a 86-page booklet with sutras and a Letter to a Young Scientist.

Three energies of practice

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Concentration
  3. Insight

The practice of looking deeply along with a discussion of zen history. Tang Hoi, a vietnamese monk, brought zen to China. Zen. Chan. Thien. Dhyana.

Four Notions of Letting Go (from Diamond Sutra)

  1. Self
  2. Man
  3. Living being
  4. Life span

Thay spends the majority of talk teaching on self. A similar teaching is also found in Sutra #296 from Samyukta Agama.

We read from The Paramartha Gathss of Asanga Gathas on the Absolute Truth (verses 1-2)

1. There is absolutely no subject, no agent and no one who enjoys the fruit of action (no one who feels). No dharma (phenomenon, object of mind) has any function. Nonetheless the passing on of one effect to another does take place.

2. There are only the 12 limbs of existence, the aggregates, the realms (ayatanas) and the worlds (dhatus) that are always changing. When we observe thoroughly and contemplate these things we shall not find a separate self anywhere.

Twelve Ayatana

  • Eyes (form)
  • Nose (smell)
  • Tongue (taste)
  • Ears (sound)
  • Body (touch)
  • Mind (objects of mind)

There is no “self” in this. The 18 dhata includes all the twelve above plus the following:

  • Eye consciousness
  • Nose  consciousness
  • Tongue consciousness
  • Ears consciousness
  • Body consciousness
  • Mind consciousness

Why do you think the “self” doesn’t change when everything else does?

At 1:28, Thay reads (not provided in the book) the Sutra #300 from Samyukta Agama. We continue with verse 44 from the same text above, followed by a portion of the “Discourse on the Middle Way”

44.  Living beings is the name of a continuous stream and all phenomena as the object of perception are only signs. Therefore there is no real change of birth into death and death into birth and no person who realizes nirvana.

At the end of talk, Thay provides commentary on why the Buddha had to continue the practice beyond enlightenment.

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The Impermanence of Consciousness

June 7, 2012. 99-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 fifth dharma talk (of 15).

This is an excellent session of questions and answers.

Questions

  1. What is the difference between feelings and mental formations?
  2. Is euthanasia okay? Is it Right Action? Can we relieve physical Pain?
  3. How do I practice with the teaching of inferiority and equality complexes?
  4. How can we support out dharma teacher when s/he is not so skillful?
  5. How do I practice with the last four exercises from the sutra on the full awareness of breathing?
  6. Question on consciousness and impermanence.
  7. What happens to the mind after the body dies?
  8. How can you take refuge in the sangha if you don’t trust? How can we build trust?
  9. Severe mental illness, such as bipolar, requires medicine to balance emotion. Can you clarify this as it relates to the practice?
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Your Mother’s Hand, the Nectar of Love

June 6, 2012. 114-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 fourth dharma talk (of 15).

We begin with chanting followed by the main talk about 10-minutes into the recording.

Topics of the Talk

  • Harmonizing body, breath, and mind.
  • Sangha
  • Subject | Object
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Time is Only Made of Non-Time Elements

June 4, 2012. 185-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 third dharma talk (of 15).

We begin with 10-minutes of chanting followed by the main dharma talk by Thay. After some mindful movements, we continue (at 2:10 into recording) with University of Virginia Astrophysicist Professor Trinh Xuan Thuan interviewing Thay.

Topics of the Talk

Obstacles of Buddhist Practice 

  • Knowledge
  • Afflictions

Four Foundations of Mindfulness

  1. Body
  2. Feelings
  3. Mind (51 mental formations)
  4. Objects of Mind (‘nature’ for the scientist)

From the objects of mind we have “double grasping” and the “perceived and perceiver” – entanglement.

Two Realities

  • Ultimate
  • Historical

A=A?B (science)

A?A=A (Buddhism)

Interview

Question 1: Buddhism says that one has to get rid of all previous knowledge, to have a clear mind. I think in science one has to know things that were done before, but keep a clear and open mind. Does Thay agree with this?

Question 2: You said something about inanimate matter has intelligence. I’m not sure this is the current scientific view now. Even if you claim that an electron has consciousness, then I say that we have to say there are varying degrees of consciousness. I would say that an electron is very different from a human being. An electron has mass, its electric charge, and its spin, that’s it. Once you’ve seen an electron, you’ve seen them all. Also, a flower. Chimpanzees have some human notion, so close to us in genes. I think there are different degrees of consciousness, and we cannot put everything on the same level. What is your response to that?

Question 3: What is the concept of time in Buddhism? We have the impression that time passes, from the past to the present to the future. In science we learn that past, present and future are always there, and time is not the same for everyone, depending on the movement of the observer. Although there is a psychological time that seems to be there. That is the physical conception of time. So what is the Buddhist concept of time?

Question 4: I like Buddhism not only because I was raised in it, but because it is very logical. It has the spirit of experimentation that a scientist would accept. The mind is the instrument. Objective and subjective reality, that’s something true. As a scientist I realize that an observer is very important as part of what he sees. If you say that there is no objective reality independent of the mind, do you think, for example, that if you do not look at the moon, the moon does not exist? Do you really believe that an alternate universe without consciousness would not exist, if no one could be conscious of it?

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The Science of Happiness

June 3, 2012. 103-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower 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 second dharma talk (of 15).

Topics

  • Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing – exercises 5-8
  • Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path
  • Three Concentrations
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The Degree of Freedom

June 2, 2012. 82-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower 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 first dharma talk (of 15).

Topics

  • Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing – the first four exercises
  • Walking Meditation – arriving in the here and now

Our teacher and the sangha feels very relaxed. In no hurry. We have 3-weeks to practice and learn.

0:00 The Practice of Listening to the Chant
21:30 Namo’valokiteshvaraya Chanting by the Monks and Nuns of Plum Village
43:30 Main Talk

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