Using our Breath brings Mindfulness

June 9, 2013. 100-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. This is the fifth dharma talk of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

We do not need to call ourselves a Buddhist to practice Buddhism. We can use practice verses, little poems, to help us with our practice. Thay shares a number of these verses for us to memorize.

Mindfulness is an energy that lets us do at least two things. The first is to be there – to be truly here in the present moment. The second is to be aware of what is going on – such as your in breath. We can use mindfulness to take care of the body. In the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing, the Buddha gave a set of exercises on mindfulness of the body.

  • Aware of my breath
  • Follow your in breath all the way to the end
  • To beware of your body
  • Release the tension in the body

These are simple exercises and anyone can practice. After we take care of our body, we can move on to our feelings.

  • Generate a feeling of joy
  • Generate a feeling of happiness
  • Awareness of the painful feeling
  • Calm the painful emotions

After the body and the feelings, we move to taking care of the mind. In particular, working with mental formations. What is a mental formation? Thay also shares a little about the Shining Light Ceremony and how we can use this with our practice.

  • gladdening the mind
  • aware of mental formations
  • concentrating the mind
  • liberating your mind

The last four exercises of the sutra have to do with the objects of mind. We conclude with teachings on birth and death, being and non-being.

Play

Working with our Relationships

June 8, 2013. 91-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. This is the fourth dharma talk, a session of questions and answers, of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

Following two chants by the monastics, the questions begin at 15-minutes into the recording. 

  1. Question about the Third Mindfulness Training as it relates to sexual behavior and consumption. How can we integrate and explore our sexual behavior as true love or as consumption?
  2. Another question on true love. Can true love exist between every person I meet and in every relationship even after a relationship ends? Is there something else or can I cultivate true love for every person?
  3. One of the four elements of true love is inclusiveness. How do I combine love and career choices?
  4. In my relationships, I’ve always had a difficult time committing and my partner doesn’t feel I am there for her. What can I do?
  5. I like the statement of being able to always generate a feeling of joy. This hasn’t been my experience and so I need help knowing more about generating joy.
  6. Question about the First Mindfulness Training especially in regards to compassion and relieving the suffering of animals, especially for those who are dependent on us. Is it okay to end the suffering of an animal?

Play

Cultivating Brotherhood and Sisterhood

June 7, 2013. 106-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. This is the third dharma talk of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

This talk begins a few minutes into the recording and we listen to two chants from the monastic sangha. The main talk begins at 16:49 on the recording.

We begin with some history on the Plum Village monastic community. Though most monastics ordain for life, we also hear about the 5-year monastic program. What is the process for becoming a monastic? There are four aspects to monastic life: to study, to practice, to work, and to play. The monastics seek to find joy in all these aspects. We cultivate brotherhood and sisterhood. If you’re under forty, you may want to try monastic life in our 5-year program.

So far in this retreat we have only spoken of negative and destructive emotions. But there are also constructive emotions such as lovingkindness and compassion. They are very powerful emotions that have the power to heal and transform. True love is made of four elements:

  1. Lovingkindness (maitri) – friendship.
  2. Compassion (karuna)
  3. Joy (mudita)
  4. Equanimity or inclusiveness (upeksha)

On the other side we have emotions such as fear, anger, despair, and discrimination. This is the kind mud that can help grow the lotus of the four kinds of love. We can come to understand the nature of our own suffering. The Buddha has also spoken on nourishment – “Nothing can survive without food.” – your love also needs to be fed or it will die. The Buddha taught on the Four Nutriments.

  1. Edible Food
  2. Sensory impressions
  3. Volition
  4. Consciousness

Play

Working with Fear

June 6, 2013. 59-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. This is the second dharma talk of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

Thay begins with a story of when he first came to the west to teach and shares his ideas of what he thought he would do in the west. Thay shares about when he began to ordain students and why. When we create a connection with our teacher or our sangha we can use that energy to support us.

During this retreat you are invited to master your method of walking so that you can arrive in the here and the now. If you can accomplish this, you can bring this back home with you. The Kingdom of God is available in the here and now. Suffering has a role and an importance in our kingdom. Thay teaches of the goodness of suffering, just like a lotus needs the mud. We need to know how to use our suffering. A good practitioner never tries to run away from suffering. We use the energy of mindfulness to recognize and to hold our suffering. We can ask our friends to help us with this practice. This is why it’s so important to have a sangha in your practice. One of the most noble things we can do is build a sangha. The sangha create a powerful energy that can heal and transform.

Thay shares the story of his teaching tour at the time of 9/11 and how much fear was present in America. How do we calm down our fear? In the Buddhist tradition, there is a practice called compassionate listening. This can help people suffer less. We also have the practice of loving speech.

Play

Retreat on Understanding Our Emotions

June 5, 2013. 53-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. This is the first dharma talk of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

Editor’s Note: We had a number of technical difficulties with the recording for this talk and so portion of it are missing. 

Handling emotions. Using mindfulness. Recognizing fear and anger. Using our breath and step to practice mindfulness.

In Buddhist psychology, we speak of seeds. Seeds in our consciousness. What are they? Store consciousness and mental formations.

Play