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Plum Village Retreats

The Production of Happiness

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January 12, 2012. 108-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.
Suffering

Happiness is something that we need to produce. Suffering is part of this producing. Suffering and happiness are one. We can discover happiness every day by being in touch. See the moon. See the flowers. We can use the second mantra. I know you are there and it makes me happy. We also learn the other four mantras of Plum Village. In this section of the talk, we also learn about the three different kinds of feelings.

We continue the sutra study (@ 72-minutes) with gatha 34-36. We are studying the Paramartha Gathas, from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra of Asanga. This is the eleventh talk on this sutra.

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Plum Village Retreats

The View of a Self

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January 8, 2012. 75-minute dharma talk from New Hamlet of Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

After a teaching on the nature of suffering, Thay continues the sutra study begins (at 34-minutes) with gatha 29-33. We are studying the Paramartha Gathas, from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra of Asanga. This is the tenth talk on this sutra, the last one being on December 21, 2011.

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Plum Village Retreats

Applied Mindfulness of Breathing

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January 4, 2012. 102-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat, but within that retreat is the 6-day Applied Ethics and Teachers Retreat. This talk is given in English. During the past six days we have practiced together as educators.

We begin with a teaching on the first eight steps of the Sutra on Mindful Breathing. Belly breathing. Rising and falling of the abdomen. We are much more than one emotion and with this practice we can realize this.

Thay continues (at 1:03) to share about the practices of loving speech and deep listening. Many of us suffer from our family relationships. If we can master these practices, we can transmit to our students and help them.
He also shares (at 1:25) the practice of how to die happily and peacefully.

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Plum Village

Foundation for a Cosmic Religion

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December 31, 2011. 97-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat and this is talk was given in English on New Year’s Eve.

Let’s visualize the new year coming as a giant bird; coming from the far east and traveling west. We are going somewhere; where are we going? When mindfulness and concentration are present, then we can gain insight to not be carried away by afflictions. The practice of mindfulness can help us enjoy life deeply and also help us to handle difficult emotions and feelings.

The Four Noble Truths and Right View for the transformation of suffering. The science of no birth and no death. The energy of thought and action.

The earth as bodhisattva. Freshness. This year we have an opportunity to continue our experiments, experiments with our insight, particularly as it relates to science. In 2012, we can lay the foundation for a cosmic religion (Einstein reference). The scientists and us can do this together.

There is no soul. No self. There are only the five Skandhas (aggregates) – body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, conciousness. But these do continue in other forms.

Editors Note: some periods of silence exist in audio, but the listener is not missing any part of the talk.

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Plum Village

Appease the Suffering

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December 28, 2011. 105-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat and this is talk was given in French with English translation provided by Sister Pine.

Thay teaches on the Noble Eightfold Path, and how concrete practices can help us to cultivate this path. “Thought can make us suffer; we need to be able to stop our thinking in order to be capable of happiness. If we look at the sun but cannot get deeply in touch with it in the present moment, we only see suffering, we cannot see all the conditions of happiness that are already present. If you can see all thoughts just as notions, you can penetrate the reality of no-birth and no-death.”

Right View And it’s relationship to Concentration and the practice of Mindfulness. Right Thinking is characterized by non-discrimination. We also learn of the three practices of concentration (Three Doors of Liberation) present in all Buddhist traditions: emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness. He also teaches on the nature of karma (body, speech, and mind) – Right Action and Right Livelihood. Finally, the four practices of Right Diligence.

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Plum Village Retreats

God Can Be A Person

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December 24, 2011. 105-minute dharma talk and chanting with Thich Nhat Hanh as he gives the annual Christmas Eve talk from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat and this is the first talk in English. The talk was also enjoyed by over 550 people live via the Internet.

The practice of Plum Village is “I Have Arrived. I am Home.” We can breathe in a feel alive right here and now. We stop all our thinking and focus our mind on our in breath and get established in the here and the now. Mindfulness is a kind of light to know what is happening in the present moment. With mindfulness we can become a Saint, a Buddha, a Bodhisattva . With this light. One day science will be able to measure the type of energy created by mindfulness practice. The collective energy of everyone. We can send waves of mindfulness, compassion and peace, we create interference and enhance the energy of everyone. All of us are looking for our true home. We may only feel happy when we are home. Our practice is to go home in every moment. Breathe and you are alive. Many of us have succeeded in that practice. When we do this, we also become the home for other people.

When we practice like this, we may get in touch with planet Earth. In Plum Village we look at the planet Earth as a bodhisattva. You do not have to be a person to be a bodhisattva. Everything has a buddha nature. During walking meditation, we may see that the Earth is the most beautiful bodhisattva. Patience, stability, creativity, and love – these are some of the qualities of this bodhisattva. We are a part of her. With mindfulness of walking and breathing, we can connect with our body. Your healing must go together with the healing of the planet earth. The earth is not our environment, the earth is us.

We have spoken about two kinds of vertical theology and the horizontal theology. With vertical, we try to get in touch with the absolute; the ultimate dimension of reality. When cannot arrive in our true home without touching this ultimate reality; we have to touch God. What are we? Where do we come from? We want to know our true nature.

In the Christian tradition, we learn that Jesus is the Son of God. It means that through Jesus you can touch the Ultimate Dimension, the ultimate reality, the ground of being, the almighty. We also learn that Jesus is the Son of Man. As the Son of Man, he belongs to the historical dimension where there is being and non-being, birth and death, sameness and otherness, good and evil. Notions that make us suffer. These can the foundation of our fear, anxiety, and suffering. But Jesus is not only the Son of Man, he is also the Son of God. If we get in touch with Jesus deeply enough, then we can see this ultimate dimension. We have to see Jesus as both. In the Buddhist tradition, it is very clear that everyone belongs to the historical dimension and we also belong to the ultimate dimension. This is our nature and we can learn to transcend our notions.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Watch live streaming video from plumvillage at livestream.com
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Plum Village Retreats

The Revolution of Buddhism

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December 21, 2011. 97-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the ninth talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation.

We begin with the First Noble Truth. Why did the Buddha begin with suffering. Suffering and happiness are rooted in our own mind and are two sides of the same coin. With the Second Noble Truth, the Buddha saw the cause of suffering. From here we have the Noble Eightfold Path. It starts with Right Thinking. Suffering or not suffering all begins with our mind. It is not because of the environment. We need to have peace inside of us first before we can change (see!) the outer environment. This is the revolution of Buddhism. This is important for the social activist.

We resume the sutra study at 53-minutes with Gatha 26-29.

26. Because of the difference between previous and present life and because the cause is found in the effect, we do not say that the one who acts and the one who enjoys the fruit of the action are different from each other.

27. Because the process of cause (and effect) is uninterrupted the process of action is due to completion. These two processes contain their own cause and also the object of the action.

28. When the cause is the delight in the proliferation of ideas then there is action that is wholesome or unwholesome. With the ripening of all the seeds comes a desired or undesired fruit.

29. Relying on the ripening of seeds, the view of self arises. At that point there is a recognition of an inner knower which is formless and invisible.

The next dharma talk will be our annual Christmas Eve talk on the topic of God Can Be a Person.

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Plum Village Retreats

Dharma Happiness

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December 18, 2011. 117-minute dharma talk from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village, France.  This is the eight talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

We learn of a new prayer that Thay has been working on for the past several months. It is called Prayer for the Pure Mother Earth but the full text is not available yet. We also learn a new chant. A teaching on happiness and joy is illustrated through several stories on bread making, soybean collecting, walking under the moon, getting teeth removed, washing clothes, sewing.

At 49:45 minutes, we resume Paramarthah Gathas of Asanga’s Yogacarabhumi sutra study at Gatha 22-25.

22. The present disintegrates immediately. The past does not remain anywhere. The unborn depends on conditions to be born. The mind evolves in accordance with the three times.

23. In absolute terms there is association or disassociation. Whether mind is associated or not associated with all formations, it is said to evolve accordingly.

24. in this stream there is no ending, no same and no different. Everything is in accord with the view of a separate self resulting from the relative truth and it is not inexistent.

25. If our physical form is subject to destruction, then our psychological form is also subject to destruction; still it is said that in this life we lay down the cause and in the next life we enjoy the fruit.

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Plum Village Retreats

The Five Aggregates Are Empty

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December 15, 2011. 101-minute dharma talk from New Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the seventh talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

Insight from touching the earth. Truth is a kind of insight and the object of our religion is truth, goodness, and beauty. We pay respect to Buddha, to God, to Allah in order to gain this insight. When we bow down, we don’t need to personalize the statue but rather something concrete. Understanding. Compassion. Wisdom. Everyone can keep their own religion; touching the earth is not something inanimate. Mother Earth is a great Boddhisatva.

With medicine and health, we can’t just rely on one thing. The same is true in regards to religion. We have to pay attention to our body. Bring out mind back to our body. You have time for your computer, but not time for your body? We are organizing a Health Retreat to restore the well being in your body and your mind (April 2012). If we can breath in, and bring our mind back to our body, then we can stop the alienation created by external forces such as computers, tv, cell phones, etc. Stopping. Calming. Concentration. The breath can be the object of your mind and stop the situation from being dispersed.

About an hour into talk, we resume the Paramarthah Gathas of Asanga’s Yogacarabhumi sutra study with Gatha 17-21, particularly focusing on the verses dealing with the ephemeral nature of all things we think of as ourselves.

17-18. The physical body is like foam. Feelings are like bubbles on the surface of the water. The perceptions are like a magic city. The mental formations are like the stem of a banana tree. The consciousness is like a magic show. That is what the Buddha has taught.

19. Ignorance does not make ignorance ignorant, nor does it make others ignorant. Another does not make ignorance ignorant. Nevertheless ignorance is not non-existent.

20. Ignorance is born from inappropriate attention. Inappropriate attention arises in the ignorant person.

21. Merit, lack of merit and immovability; these formations are imagined in a threefold way. All things have three kinds of karma and these karma’s are not compatible with each other.

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Plum Village Retreats

Mother Earth Accepts All

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December 11, 2011. 87-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the sixth talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

We learn of mother. The buddha is the son of his mother, his foster mother, the mother earth. We learn of the story Suddana in Avatamsaka Sutra where each of us can birth a Buddha. We can meet the mother of the Buddha. She is the mother of all the Buddhas in the present and in the past. She is one with the planet earth. Mother earth is so large and can accept everything without discrimination.

The autumn leaves are still on the ground here at Plum Village. They are in transformation, but some still remain on the tree. The leaves live a short life, but they enjoy being whereas humans have lot of worries, anxiety, etc. it is the price of being human. To be a pine tree is beautiful. Maybe next life we can be a tree or a bird.

We always have a need for a place to return. Every part of us will return to the earth. As Buddhists we need to see things in a non-duality way and that we are one with the planet earth. The planet is the mother of every being. The nature of reality is no coming, no going; no birth, no death. If we look deeply, we can see everything continues. The earth is alive.

At 49-minutes into the talk, we continue learning the sutra beginning with Gatha 14. Sub-atomic science still cannot grasp the nature reality. In Buddhism, we have the concept of non-attainment. You cannot grasp the true nature. We cannot grasp in time and space. In quantum science, they try to grasp the nature of every particle. They see forces/fields such as gravity, electromagnetism, and nuclear. But science rarely speak of our mind and the force of karma. For example, the destruction of the Twin Towers was a force of the mind – hatred. The mind can also be positive with just as much power. In this Gatha, there are these fields we cannot grasp even if they have manifested.

14. It is not inside, nor is it outside. It is not something between inside and outside. Before (samskaras) conditioned things have arisen it is not possible to grasp them (in terms of time and space).

15. Moreover after conditioned things have arisen it is not possible to grasp them. The future does not have any sign (by which we can grasp it). The past can be an object of our discriminating mind (imagined).

16. We are able to discriminate the things we have been in touch with, we can also discriminate the things we have not yet been in touch with. Although there is no beginning of samskaras, the discriminating mind can still use the concept of beginning.

17-18. The physical body is like foam. Feelings are like bubbles on the surface of the water. The perceptions are like a magic city. The mental formations are like the stem of a banana tree. The consciousness is like a magic show. That is what the Buddha has taught.