Professor Buddha and the Bell

The third 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 22, 2014, Thay teaches on using the bell and the noble eightfold path. Both the audio and the video are available below.

Topics

  • The Bell. How to use the bell in the family. (40-minutes)
  • Object of our mindfulness
  • Producing Mindfulness, Concentration, and Insight
  • Right Thinking
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Four kinds of nutriments
  • Right Diligence

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The Breathing Room

This talk from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Thursday, March 27, 2014. The talk on this day is in English.

14:44 The Breathing Room
22:54 Inviting the Bell
33:10 Conditions of Happiness
43:30 Mindfulness of Suffering

Thich Nhat Hanh begins with a recollection of a retreat for children. During walking meditation, we proposed they use “yes, yes” and “thanks, thanks” for each of their steps. We can say yes and feel thankful. There are so many things we can say yes to. We can appreciate these things – our body, our eyes, etc. With our eyes we can see the blue sky and the mountains. The practice is breathing in, I am aware of my eyes and am grateful they are in good condition. We do the same with other parts of our body. Like our heart. With this awareness, we can take better care of our body and allow it to be restored. In the “Sutra on the Contemplations of the Body” the Buddha taught us how to look at all the parts of the body. We use mindfulness to project light onto every part of our body. This can bring us happiness, love, and compassion. Thay provides more instruction on this practice.

If you are a leader of a corporation, you may wish to incorporate and offer a session of total relaxation. This is not a loss of time. The same can be done by a school teacher for the students. Parents too, if they know the practice, can offer a session for the family. In a civilized society this can be very good. We can also create a tiny meditation hall in the home; a space where the bell can be located and we can practice in a safe space. Every time you feel restless or confused or irritated, we can walk to that place – the breathing room – and stop all the thinking and calm our body and mind. Thay recalls a story of how to open/close the door when he was a young novice that he then relayed to Thomas Merton.

In our small breathing room, we should also have a bell. This is a territory of mindfulness. There are four lines to learn when inviting the bell after we breath in and out three times before Inviting the Bell. Thay teaches us how to invite the bell and why mindful breathing is so important.

There are many conditions of happiness. In Buddhism, we have many versus to help us practice mindfulness. For example, for when turning on the water faucet. Are you aware of your conditions of happiness? Teaching continues on how this related to the breathing room and why it’s important for the family. This is the art of happiness.

This is part of the 7th & 8th mindfulness exercises in the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Mindful Breathing. We should not run away from our suffering. We can learn from our suffering. This ties right into the Four Noble Truths. We can learn to listen to our suffering without fear without running away through consumption. With mindfulness we have the energy to take care of our suffering.

The practice of looking and listening deeply. Meditation is the time to look and listen to understand our suffering. This brings about understanding and compassion. If you know how to suffer, you suffer much less. You cannot take happiness out of suffering and cannot take suffering out of happiness.

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Introducing the Four Objects of Mindfulness

August 13, 2013. 91-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the second dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

Talk for children
Story of a dream Thay had 20-years ago. A dream of being a young university student with a famous teacher. A music class. This is followed by a teaching on how to be a good bell master.

Main Talk Topics

  • Practicing mindfulness in a meeting
  • Establishing space in the home for practice
  • Slow walking to arrive
  • Mental formations
  • Four Objects of Mindfulness (body, feelings, mind, objects of mind)
  • Selective watering (True Diligence)
  • Eating meditation

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Insight of No-Self

July 26, 2013. 90-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet of Plum Village during the 2013 Summer Opening. This is the twelfth talk of the summer.

The bell of mindfulness. In a short talk for children, this is something Thay wants us to bring home with us when you leave Plum Village. This can help to bring peace to the family. He then tells the story of Henry who was a math teacher in Toronto, Canada. How to be a bell master – Thay provides concise instructions for inviting the bell.

The main talk begins at 31-minutes. Karma, retribution, reincarnation teachings have been around a very long time. Before the Buddha. But this is not at the heart of Buddhist teaching. It is the insight of no-self. Teaching on the actor. Impermanence. Sameness and otherness.

To illustrate, we hear the story of a serial killer at the time of the Buddha who then joined the sangha. Transformation.

The self is only made of non-self elements. We don’t need to be dogmatic and caught by words – er can say “self” too. If you are not open then you are not Buddhist. Buddhism too is only made of non-Buddhist elements.

Non-self is Interbeing.

Right thinking is the element that goes along with this teaching. It has a lot of understanding and compassion. We continue with an explanation in several other aspects of the noble eightfold path.

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Listening to the Bell and Walking Meditation

July 15, 2013. 96-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village during the 2013 Summer Opening. This is the fifth talk of the summer and the beginning of the second week of the retreat.

Understanding suffering and listening to the chant. Invoking the name of Avalokiteshvara. The energy of compassion. Chant begins at 22-minutes followed by about 10-minutes of mindful movements.

The main talk starts at 55-minutes into the recording. We begin with a 20-minute instruction on listening to the bell. How do we use the bell to practice mindfulness?. No talking and no thinking and we go back to our breathing. The bell is the voice of the Buddha. The voice of the Buddha inside. One in breath is enough to be free. One mindful breath. The bell is here to help call us back to our true home.

Walking mediation  (1:17) is another foundational mediation practice. Every step is there to help you arrive in the here and the now. How can we walk on Mother Earth? Using a gatha to help us focus our concentration on walking.

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Ambassador of the Buddha

April 6, 2013. 92-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Mahachulalungkornrajavidyalaya University in Bangkok, Thailand. The sangha is in the 5-Day Applied Ethics Retreat as part of the spring Asian Tour. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Thai. This is the second talk.

Inviting the bell. The bell is the ambassador of the buddha to our home. How do we use the bell in our home? How do we listen to the bell? We can use the sound to calm our feelings. Using a breathing room along with the bell in your home environment. Listening and using the bell has been of great help to many families.

The story of Henry and his transformation of using mindfulness in the classroom. How he enjoys his class and his students. The whole school benefited from his incorporation of mindfulness. He wrote a book and became a dharma teacher.

How do we help the students suffer less? Compassionate listening and loving speech. Transform our classroom into a family, into a sangha. No Buddhist terms are needed. Then you can build a sangha of teachers. Using loving speech is a tool for teachers. How do we listen?

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Beginning of Fourth Week of Summer Opening

July 28, 2012. 93-minute recording given at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the sixteenth dharma talk of the Summer Opening and we are beginning the fourth and final week of the retreat. Please note, we have skipped the talk from July 26 here on this site; it may appear later.

Understanding of suffering. Compassionate listening. Embracing suffering brings relief. What are the monastics doing when they are chanting the name Avalokiteshvara?

Chanting begins at 18-m into recording. The main talk begins at 39-minutes.

Listening to the bell. Deep listening. Let peace and mindfulness penetrate into you. How do you feed your happiness? Where is your true home?

The Buddha proposed sixteen exercises of mindful breathing. What are the first four exercises? How can we use this for walking mindfully? This is applied Buddhism in our daily lives.

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Hello, my Anger

September 7, 2011. 118-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the first dharma talk for the Together We Are One retreat.

Usually in our retreats, children learn how to invite the bell. The bell is a kind of friend, so we have a chance to practice. The bell master is responsible for inviting the bell and should be calm and solid. It should inspire people to practice. There are four lines to learn when inviting the bell.

Body, speech and mind in perfect oneness.
I send my heart along with the sound of the bell.
May all who listen awaken from forgetfulness.
And transcend all anxiety and sorrow.

Thay continues providing instruction on inviting the bell followed by instruction on listening to the bell. Listen, listen to this wonderful sound of the bell, calling me back to my true home.

Thay shares with us the about the practice of mindfulness of breathing. Awareness of our in-breath and our out-breath. It’s quite simple. This can helps us to release the past and release the future. This can become the only object of our mind. We get some freedom right away. It is always true that mindfulness and concentration bring insight; and insight is something that can liberate us. We do not practice like a machine: we are alive. We are not caught in the form of the practice. That is why every moment we experience nourishment and healing. Each exercises is included in each of the subsequent ones. This teaching is from the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing (Anapanasati Sutta). In this talk we look at the first eight breathing exercises.

In Buddhist psychology we see the mind as having two parts: mind consciousness and store consciousness. Your store consciousness is part of your body and it can operate without mind consciousness. The first four breathing exercises has to do with mind. Mind and store should function well together. This brings us to a discussion of mental formations cittasamskara and it manifests in the form of a seed bija.

He goes on to talk about the four practices of right diligence: 1) recognize the negative seeds and make sure they don’t come up, 2) if a negative seed has already come up, embrace the formation and invite it to go back down, 3) invite good seeds to come up, 4) maintain the good mental formations for a long time.

When looking at the fifth and sixth exercises, producing joy and happiness, we have to be aware of our ideas. We all have our ideas of happiness, and that idea may be an obstacle to our happiness. This is very deep practice. That object of craving, object of desire, may be an obstacle. Have the courage to let go.

He also discusses in detail how we can embrace our difficult mental formations just like a mother embraces her crying baby.

The talk is available below. During a middle portion of the recording, the sound is listenable but degraded. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and hello my anger.

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I Have Arrived, I Am Home

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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