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Retreats

Orientation for Educators’ Retreat

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March 30, 2012. 64-minute dharma talk and orientation by Thich Nhat Hanh from The American School in London. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is the orientation for the Educators’ Retreat: An Exploration of Mindful Education. A video version may also be available.

We begin by learning about suffering. We begin with transforming our own personal suffering, followed by the suffering in the family, and finally the suffering in the classroom. The remainder of the talk focuses on the basic practices of breathing, walking, listening to the bell, and mindful eating.

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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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Blue Cliff Monastery Retreats

You Don’t Have to Die Just Because of One Emotion

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October 7, 2011. 109-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the second dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat. Over a thousand people are in attendance.

When the Buddha breaths, the quality of breathing is superb. When the Buddha sits, the quality of sitting is superb. And the Buddha is always inside of you and if you invite the Buddha to sit or breathe with you then you can benefit. High class breathing. Today we return to the mantras for being truly present and bringing happiness to yourself and to your loved ones. We should express our appreciate and this is the practice of mindfulness. This isn’t a Buddhist practice; anyone can practice the mantras.

Darling, I am here for you.
Darling, I know you are there and it makes me happy.

Thay offers the story on a grain of corn. In the grain of corn is also a plant of corn. This is a common story given to illustrate signlessness and is usually offered for the children. Meditation is to look deeply and see things that other people cannot see. Interbeing. Can we take the cloud out of the tea? Can we take the mother or father out of the child?

Continue with the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing.

Aware of our in breath and our out breath.
Follow our in breath and our out breath.
Aware of our body.
Releasing tension in the our body.

The importance of abdomen/belly breathing. It is the trunk. No thinking. You are much more than one emotion. We should memorize this, especially when strong emotions arise. Thich Nhat Hanh recently met with California Governor Jerry Brown to suggest bringing this practice into the public schools. It is non-sectarian. Emotions are impermanent.

The mind is a river with drops of water called mental formations. Meditation is sitting on the bank of the river and not being carried away by the mental formation. The 10th exercise of breathing is to cultivate the mind. To make the mind more beautiful.

Four aspects of the practice of Right Diligence. First, we don’t water the negative seeds. Second, if a negative seed arises we try to help it not stay to long in our mind consciousness. We don’t fight or supress, but invite up a good seed. The third aspect is to bring the good seeds to have many chances to arise in the mind. To beautify the mind. Fourth, once you have a good mental formation then we try to keep it as long as possible. This is transformation at the base.

The 11th and 12th exercises on breathing are concentrating the mind and liberating the mind. The last four (13-16) exercises are presented. These last four have three concentrations: emptiness; signlessness, and aimlessness. The Three Doors of Liberation. Finally, we learn about the Buddha-body, the Dharma-body, and the Sangha-body.

You may listen or download the audio from this site or watch the video.

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Public Talk

Energies of Buddhism

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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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Retreats

I Have Arrived, I Am Home

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August 21, 2011. 110-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the second dharma talk of the Body and Mind Are One retreat.

We begin with a brief guided meditation on breathing with our parents.

For the children, we are encouraged to create a breathing room in our homes. Every civilized home in the 21st century should have such a room with a bell and a flower. Breathing with the bell we can bring out mind and body together. Thay speaks about how we are the continuation of our parents, using the example of a seed of corn that cannot remember, once it is a plant, that it was once a seed. “When you practice mindful breathing, we can invite our mother inside of us to practice breathing as well. Our father also.”

Thay speaks about touching the Kingdom of God, the Pure Land of the Buddha, right in the present moment. When we walk, we can touch the Kingdom. If you can walk like that, you can walk like a Buddha. “I have arrived, I am home: this is the shortest Dharma talk.” We, especially parents, try to transmit only the best parts of us and that which still needs work we keep in order to transform. Thay advises us, when we share, to not only share about our suffering but also to share our joy and our happiness. “We need not only people with suffering to come on a retreat, we also need people with lots of joy, so they can help those who are suffering.” The importance and role of the sangha.

We continue with the Sutra on Mindfulness of Breathing, with a recap of yesterday’s teaching and continuing on with the 7th and 8th steps: becoming aware of a painful feeling or emotion and embracing it. We see this practice with parents and children. Thay would also like to see this applied in schools. Applied ethics. How do we teach ethics to school children. We can teach children to breathe and if the school teacher knows the techniques then it can be transmitted. This can be secularized.

The following steps are: 9) aware of mental formations, 10) gladdening the mind, 11) concentrating the mind, 12) liberating the mind. Thay shares about the practice of right diligence: not touching the negative seeds, making sure any negative formations go back down to store consciousness, watering the good seeds, and keeping the good mental formations manifesting as long as possible.

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and the shortest dharma talk.

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Retreats

Handling Strong Emotions

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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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Plum Village Questions and Answers Retreats

Our Nature is Non-Local

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July 12, 2011. 111-minute Dharma Talk in English given by Thich Nhat Hanh at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the first question and answer session of the Summer Opening Retreat.

Thay takes questions from the children, the young adults, and from other retreatants.

Why do people lie? Why does anger come with sadness? Why do we so easily mixup sexual desire and love? How can we reconcile with someone we’ve hurt? How practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings in the corporate world? Why would someone want to be born into a world of suffering? How do we practice when we still are caught in the idea of having a separate personality? Is Thay a realized Buddha? How do we practice to forgive ourselves? How can we maintain our practice when we live in a place lacking compassion, without a Sangha? How can we make sense of the death of a child before they are born? How can we find happiness again?

The talk was given in English and is available below. There is a video version available too.

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English/Dutch European Institute of Applied Buddhism Retreats

Discussing a Strategy of Consumption

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May 27, 2011. 86-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into Dutch, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the third Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Dutch Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

The Five Mindfulness Trainings can be seen as applied ethics. It is also a holy path. The profane and the sacred are of an organic nature. With Mindfulness and concentration, anything can become holy. Practicing the Five Mindfulness Trainings, we become a holy person.

The first concentration is impermanence. The first nine exercises in the Sutra of Mindful Breathing help us with the remaining concentrations. To touch the good and wholesome seeds. Selective watering. We then hear teaching regarding the remaining exercises.

Thay speaks about Right Mindfulness as part of the Noble Eightfold Path. “Mindfulness helps us to get in touch with the Kingdom of God, the Pure Land of the Buddha, which is present in the here and the now.” “In the old times, nirvana was a word that was used by people in the countryside. When they made a fire to cook their rice or their chapati, then they would leave the fire overnight so that by morning it was completely extinguished. They could put their fingers up to the fire and they would not be burned. So nirvana is a word to describe a state of cooling down, no more suffering. We can safely describe nirvana as the extinction of all notions, and of all the suffering that arises due to these notions.”

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