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Plum Village Retreats

The Joy of Simplicity

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December 4, 2011. 103-minute dharma talk from New Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the fourth talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

In the last dharma talk, we learned about walking mediation. Today will learn about the practice of sitting meditation. Sitting in the spring breeze – we should sit relaxingly, joyfully, happily. We don’t sit for enlightenment. No aim to become a Buddha. We sit straight, but relaxed. This morning, the Morning Chant was so beautiful and is different from when he was a young novice monk. Thay talks about the traditional way of offering the chants in Sino-Vietnamese and discusses the lines of the Morning Chant and the Evening Chant. He tells the story of sitting all night in meditation with Ananda and a group of new bhikshus – we just sit happily. We can apply this to sitting in the airport or the train station. If we can sit like this, the world can have a lot of peace and joy. We can apply this practice into other activities of the day, like sweeping or moping. Thay talks about his life as a novice where there were no toilets in the temple. “Having toilets to clean can be a source of great happiness.”

About one-hour into the talk, we continue the teaching on the Yogacarabhumi Sastra, Verses 9-12 of the Paramartha Gathas of Asanga. What does the absolute truth say about cause and effect? What is co-being, co-manifesting? The “twelve” links of co-arising.

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Plum Village Retreats

Non-Dualistic View of Bodhisattva Gaia

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December 1, 2011. 98-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the third talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

Thay shares about truly being present when we touch the Earth while practicing walking meditation, about not getting caught in a dualistic view of nature and the Earth. “The Earth has many good qualities: solidity, endurance, and the capacity to embrace all things. When we feel lost we can go back to our mother, the Earth. When can call her Bodhisattva Gaia. The sun is like Vairocana Tathagata. Aware of the Earth and Sun like that, every step is nourishing, every step is healing.”

At about 52-minutes into the talk, Thay continues his teaching on the Yogacarabhumi Sastra, explaining Verse 6-9 of the Paramartha Gathas.

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Plum Village Retreats

To Express Our Love For The Earth

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November 27, 2011. 100-minute dharma talk from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the second talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

Thay shares hows to practice when entering the meditation hall for sitting meditation: quietly, stopping our thinking, and at peace. “We want to express our love for the Earth, so we have to walk mindfully, with gratitude.” Entering the meditation hall and settling. Calmly. Mindfully. Paying attention to your breathing and your sitting position. This brings peace to your body and to your mind. Every breath. Every step. We can use the breathing sutra. We can see our mental and body formations. The entire cosmos is inside of you and inside the earth. What is bodhisattva? Enlightened being. An being who has awakening, peace, understanding, love.

At about 38-minutes, Thay continues sharing on the Paramartha Gathas from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra of Asanga. “Yoga means coming together appropriately.” He teaches how subject and object cannot be separated. “Don’t think there is a subject outside of the object. That is wrong thinking. They manifest together, like left and right. Without the left there is no right, and vice versa.”

“Self (?) has various meanings: 1) owner, 2) actor, 3) inheritor. We should understand correctly: There is rain, but there is nothing that rains. There is blowing, but nothing blowing. There is feeling, but there is no one feeling.”

We can let go of conventional designation. Father and son are born at the same time. Subject and object. We have this idea this is my home, my child, my bank account. But there is no owner. There is feeling, but no feeler. There is action, but no actor. There is thinking, but no thinking. The self has an ego that gives you the idea of a separate self. We are not our feeling. This is a construction of our mind. Your presence is your function.

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Plum Village Retreats

What You Know Could Be An Obstacle

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November 24, 2011. 95-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Full Moon Meditation Hall in New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the first dharma talk for the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk was given in Vietnamese and translated into English by Sr. Chan Khong [Vietnamese version].

Thich Nhat Hanh begins by talking about the importance of putting into practice what we learn when we study about Buddhism. Listen. Look Deeply. Put into Action. This is how we achieve the gate of liberation. We can also learn to think skillfully. Right Thinking and wisdom can arrive. The main teaching of Thay is to have arrived in the present moment. To be home. And yet, there are those who have heard this thousands of times but they have not reached a place of deep wisdom. It is not just an accumulation of knowledge.

“When we share the Dharma it should come from a place of happiness. Some people, including monastics, can give very good Dharma talks on ‘I have arrived, I am home,’ but they are not truly happy.”

We don’t need to use what we know when listening to a dharma talk. This leads to comparing. You just receive it. The Buddha said some students receive enlightenment just like that. Right away. Not the fruit of your knowledge. What you know, could be an obstacle. It is only intellectual.

He then begins study of the Paramartha Gathas, from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra of Asanga. Asanga is a very profound teacher who began in Theravada, but then followed Mahayahana Buddhism. This Gatha speaks about the Absolute Truth. It’s been translated three times from the Sanskrit. We have the Chinese texts as well as a Vietnamese translation by Thay. English is being produced for this teaching. [Note: When texts become available, they will be posted]

The first verse:

There is absolutely no subject, no agent and no one who enjoys the fruit of action. No dharma has any effect. Nonetheless, the passing on of one effect to another does take place.

Thay shares about physics in the light of this teaching: “What is the electron made of? All things are composite. There are many things that come together to make everything. When we look skillfully we see only action: we don’t see any owner, actor or inheritor.”