Joy and Ease for Enlightenment

This is a 82-minute dharma talk with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh from Hanoi during the “Engaged Buddhism” retreat. This is the third talk on May 7, 2008 and the talk is offered in English. 

Walking Meditation

How can we enjoy walking? How can we use breathing?

Every step is life. 
Every step is a miracle. 
Every step is healing. 
Every step is freedom. 

We learn how to use this gatha with our walking – whether alone or in a group.

Walking in Hanoi with Thay on May 12, 2008.
Photo by Paul Davis

Seven Factors of Awakening

The Buddha taught of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. Buddhism is about enlightenment and mindfulness is already enlightenment. Awareness of breathing is already enlightenment.  

We explore mindfulness, joy, and ease. How does this link with the Four Noble Truths? Ill-being and well-being. Relaxation, lightness, and peace. We have methods for reducing stress. This is the path – The Path of Well Being. We have very concrete practices to assist.  For example, the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing. In this talk, we touch on several of the methods for breathing. This is a Noble Path.

You don’t have to be a scholar, you simply need to be a practitioner. We have all experienced ill-being. How can we do this as practitioners? 

Engaged Buddhism in Vietnam

About 39-minutes into the talk, we turn back toward the history of engaged Buddhism. In the 1950s, Thay began writing about religious belief and society. In the mid-60s, we established the Order of Interbeing arising out of war and ideologies.  We can look at the precepts of the Order as a direct response. What is the teaching on views from the Buddha? To be free from views is a basic foundation of Buddhism. In 1965, I wrote the book Lotus in a Sea of Fire. The war in Vietnam was raging. Our enemies are not man, it is hate and violence. We needed more international support to hear us say we don’t want this war. The peace movement in Vietnam was the lotus. The book was released underground in Vietnam. Sister Chân Không was arrested for having the book. In 1964, we also establish the School for Youth and Social Service to focus on education, health, economics, and organization. 

Thay shares of the creation of a new group for today’s youth – now known as Wake Up!  And there are also new courses coming from the Institute of Applied Buddhism. These are building upon these early days in Vietnam. 

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The Popularity of Mindfulness

The second dharma talk of the Understanding Is Love Retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. In this talk on August 21, 2014, Thay teaches on the noble eightfold path, the five mindfulness trainings, and applying mindfulness in the world. Both the audio and the video are available below.

Topics

  • Living in Plum Village and living in brotherhood and sisterhood. What is life like at Plum Village?
  • Story of a Bell and Thay’s Dream
  • Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma – the Buddha’s first dharma talk. The noble eightfold path.
  • The popularity of mindfulness in the world today. Is it an instrument to make more money and to kill better?
  • The Five Mindfulness Trainings
  • Applied Buddhism in schools; our experience in France.
  • Learning how to understand, communicate, and reconcile

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Applying Buddhist Teachings to the Classroom

April 2, 2012. 115-minute dharma talk given at The American School in London by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is part four (and final part) of the Educators’ Retreat: An Exploration of Mindful Education.

Memorizing gathas to help us establish mindfulness. There are four domains of mindfulness: body, feelings, mental formations, and objects of mind. Mindfulness can help us be together in these four realms. Once we have established mindfulness, we can have concentration. The final kind of energy is insight – this can liberate you from your fear. This is not the product of your thinking, it is the insight of Interbeing. True education should be based in this insight of Interbeing.

In order to see things, we need an organ (for example, the nose to receive oder). The organ of thinking it is called manas, and there is a lot of mis-perception in this organ. For example, the view of a separate self – this is at the base of all our complexes (inferiority, superiority, and equality). We can use mindfulness to gain the insight of non-discrimination. In the field of education, it is the same thing. The happiness of the students is the happiness of the teacher. We need non-discrimination to enjoy the teaching and the learning.

In the teaching of the four noble truths, the first truth is there is suffering. In education, the first thing we should do is identify the suffering and acknowledge it to each other. We have to see the truth so that real change can happen through a collective awakening. Thay continues with the application of the second, third, and fourth noble truth in our lives.

We learn about what is meant by sangha and how it can be applied to the community of teachers. What is suffering and why is it important? The last part of the talk looks closely at the Five Mindfulness Trainings.

Happy teachers will know how to generate understanding and love that will help the younger generation change the world.

A video version may be available.

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Energies of Buddhism

September 3, 2011. 101-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the only Public Talk in California. For those who regularly read this podcast, we are posting this talk now as we have not completed preparing the last two talks from the retreat at Deer Park – they will be posted soon.

Mindfulness, concentration, and insight are the energies of Buddhism similar to the Holy Spirit being the energy of God.

We all have the capacity for understanding and love. It comes from the inside and comes with the practice of Mindfulness and concentration. This is the Buddha nature in us. We can generate a feeling of joy, a feeling of happiness in any moment. The Sutra on Mindful Breathing offers sixteen-exercises. Breathing in and breathing out with Mindfulness is a practice of resurrection. Thay takes us through the first eight exercises.

For me, the word wonderful means full of wonder. This is a wonderful moment. Our body is a wonder, and it belongs to the kingdom of God. We can touch the kingdom of God. In the Christian gospel, there is a story of a farmer who discovers a treasure on a piece of land and he sold everything except this piece of land. This is the kingdom of God. This is all you need. Happiness is possible in present moment. A good practitioner can generate happiness.

The importance of sangha. Taking refuge in the sangha. How do we handle suffering? A painful feeling? With a sangha.

True happiness needs suffering too. No mud. No lotus. They interare. This is right view. We should make good use of suffering.

How can we be liberated from despair and anger?

Applied ethics. Mindfulness in schools. How to handle painful or difficult emotions.

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Handling Strong Emotions

August 9, 2011. 68-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from War Memorial Gym at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this talk is the first dharma talk.

Thay speaks about the first few steps of the mindfulness of breathing sutra: 1) in/out breath, 2) follow the breath, 3) aware of body, 4) release tension in the body, 5) generate joy, 6) generate happiness, 7) recognize pain, 8) embrace pain. To support the cultivation of mindfulness, we should find a community of practice. Thay also shares about the Wake Up movement for young people. “We have the conviction that parents and teachers have to master the practice, so that they can transmit it to their students and children.” He also shares about a new program to bring Applied Ethics into schools through school teachers.

The talk is available below. There is a video version available too.

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Cooling Down the Fire of Anxiety

May 19, 2011. 92-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the third Dharma talk offered by Thay in the German Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

We learn about verses of practice — Gathas — many are taken from Avatamsaka Sutra. Later, Thay wrote Gathas for modern society such as using the telephone and riding a bicycle. We continue the discussion on right view with a presentation on the opposites: being/non-being, birth/death, coming/going, and sameness/otherness. The last 15-minutes of the talk, Thay provides some instruction for education and mindfulness.

The talk was given in English and German at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

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Applied Buddhism, or Applied Ethics

May 17, 2011. 120-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the first Dharma talk offered by Thay in the German Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

Being present with walking. Every step is to celebrate that you are alive. Walking meditation can be a festival. You can be in the Kingdom of God, I’m the Pure Land. When you can do this, you don’t need anything else. The Kingdom is love; it is understanding; it is freedom. Then you can offer it to others.

There are two aspects to this freedom. The first is to stop. To stop running into the future. Happiness is possible in the here and now. The second aspect is to calm. To release. The Buddha offered a number of exercises to stop and calm.

Mindfulness, Concentration, Insight. Happiness and suffering – these are linked. The Buddha talked about suffering and happiness in his very first dharma talk through the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha offered the Sixteen Exercises of Mindful Breathing.

Thay teaches pebble meditation, mindfulness of breathing, and on the practice of applied ethics.

The talk was given in English and German at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

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Walking in Nirvana

May 5, 2011. 87-minute Dharma Talk given in Vietnamese by Thich Nhat Hanh at the new Lotus Pond Temple in Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. This recording is translated by Sr. Dang Nghiem and is the third talk from this temple (Editors note: I have been unable to get a recording for the first two talks given earlier in the week on April 28 and May 1).

Renew Buddhism is really necessary in Buddhist countries to make it relevant to the younger generation. We have been trying to teach Applied Buddhism. This is doable. We want to do that here in Hong Kong and we believe young people will come as they have in Vietnam, Thailand, and France. We are trying to establish a way if life that is beautiful.

In Buddhism we talk about Nirvana but many still think it is something after death. But Nirvana is a state that is present now. We can enter nirvana in the present moment. This is wonderful. Nirvana means cooling off.

Happiness and suffering. Without suffering you cannot generate happiness. Now, how can happiness be present without the two elements of understanding and love?

People are longing for understanding. Many are so lonely. If we can understand the other person will suffer less right away. The more we understand, the more we love. The First Noble truth is there is suffering and the Second is to understand the suffering.

Right View. No more misunderstanding. No more hatred. This is nirvana. Then we have Right Thinking. This is thinking that goes in the direction of understanding and compassion. This is followed by Right Action. The fruit of the action is karma. Actions of body, mind, and speech.

The kingdom is now or never. Buddhism is not a promise of the future. It is to manage the present moment.

The talk was given in Vietnamese with English translation and is available below. There is a Vietnamese recording as well as video version too.

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Understanding Our Mind: Supercomputer

March 28, 2011. 138-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into Thai, with Thich Nhat Hanh on the fourth day of the Understanding Our Mind retreat at Mahachulalongkornrajavidhayalaya Buddhist University (MCU) in Bangkok, Thailand.

Today Thay speaks about keeping a bell in our home to remind us to come back to ourselves, and he transmits the Second, Third, and Fourth Mantras: “Darling, I know you are there, and I am happy.” “Darling, I know you suffer, that is why I am here for you.” “My dear I suffer. Please help me.”

He also shares about the nature of store consciousness, discussing specifically the first two verses of Vasubandhu’s Thirty Verses.

The talk was given in English and Thai at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

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The Eye of Compassion

January 2, 2011. 81-minute Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh, from the Stillwater Meditation Hall of the Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France.

“We know how to embrace suffering. We see immediately that the other person suffers too. You understand him or her. We see the other person with the eye of compassion. The eye of compassion exists within us. We see that the other person is a victim of his own suffering. He or she makes others suffer. And when we see that, we have no more anger.

“Let us listen to each other. Let us be there for each other. This is applied Buddhism.”

Listen deeply. Consumption. First noble truth. Accepting our suffering. No mud. No lotus. When we embrace our suffering, we suffer less. We can look with the eyes of compassion.

This practice of deep listening can be applied between political groups, in society, in the classroom, in the family.

Let’s listen to each other. That’s the slogan for the new year.

Let’s be there for each other. The second part of the slogan.

The talk was given in French with English translation and is available below (original French and Vietnamese audio are also available, as well as video version).

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