The River of Body and Mind

July 16, 2011. 85-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh in French, with English translation provided by Sister Pine, from New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

Our body is not static; it’s always changing. It is a river and every cell represents a drop in the river. To meditate is to sit at the bank and look at our body. Like the body, there is a river of feelings flowing day and night. We are learning about the five skandhas as the river of body and mind: form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.

Thay continues into the steps of practice based on the Mindfulness of Breathing Sutra. The first four help us with the physical form and the next four are to help us with our feelings: 1) recognizing the in and out breath, 2) following the in and out breath, 3) mindful of the body, 4) calming the body, 5) recognizing joy, 6) recognizing happiness, 7) aware of painful feelings, 8) embracing painful feelings. These eight are reviewed briefly.

There is also a river of perceptions. Is my perception correct? We also have mental formations. There are positive formations as well as those that make us suffer. Our mind is a river of mental formations. Finally, in Buddhism we speak of consciousness.

We continue with the sutra as it relates to perceptions. 9) selective watering of good seeds, 10) recognizing negative mental formations, 11) concentrate the mind, 12) free the mind. There are three principal concentrations that we practice. They help us transform fear, anxiety, and despair. There are three practices of concentration presented in Buddhist schools. They are 1) the concentration on emptiness, 2) the concentration on signlessness, 3) the concentration on aimlessness. These are also the Three Doors of Liberation and can be found in all schools of Buddhism. We learn of dualism and non-dualistic thinking.

What is happiness? Happiness is made of understanding and love. And with that comes compassion. But we must understand suffering. The First Noble Truth is about suffering. Suffering is essential to happiness.

Being and non-being. Signlessness. These are just notions and reality transcends all notions.

The third concentration, aimlessness, everything is already here.

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

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Embracing Emotions with Non-Violence

July 13, 2011. 74-minute Dharma Talk given in French, with English translation by Sr. Pine from Stillwater Meditation Hall in Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

Thay shares about the first eight steps of the practice of mindful breathing from the Anapanasati Sutta: 1) Recognizing the in and out breath. It’s not thinking; it’s an experience. The first exercise is the identification. 2) Following the in and out breath. 3) Breathing in, I am aware of the body. We get in touch with the physical body. We bring the mind back to the body. It is an act of reconciliation. We may become aware of tension or pain in the body. 4) Breathing in, I calm my body.

The next two exercises, the Buddha wants us to focus on pleasant feelings first – 5) Aware of joy, 6) Aware of happiness. If we can take a piece of paper and write down all the conditions of happiness we may discover that two sides of a piece of paper may not be enough. There are hundreds of conditions to see happiness.

The seventh exercise is (7) aware of mental formations – this is to recognize a painful feeling. These are zones of energy that manifest from deep in out consciousness. We can use the energy Mindfulness and concentration. The eighth asks us to embrace and soothe – 8) Calming mental formations.

Dharmakaya – the dharma body, bring wherever you go, you bring the practice with you. Like bringing your cell phone with you. We need a spiritual dimension in our daily life.

The Buddhakaya, the Buddha body. We all have a Buddha body. We all have a seed of Mindfulness. The Buddha nature. Mindfulness carries concentration.

The Sanghakaya – our sangha body. Without a sangha, the Buddha could nit accomplish his dream. Without a community, we cannot do very much. It’s a community, but it’s also a practice. How to build a Sangha near you.

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

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Our Nature is Non-Local

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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The Young Heart of Ethics

June 30, 2011. 52-minute Dharma Talk in Vietnamese, with translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong, given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Stillwater Meditation Hall, Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France.

Thay speaks about the tradition of monastic day in the Sangha, and as well about the Four Nutriments. Thay also shares about the Wake Up Movement, and how to build a Sangha of lay people, bringing the practice into schools. In particular, Thay focuses on how to bring the practice of global ethics into schools.

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

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Each Day I Choose a Joy

June 23, 2011. 100-minute Dharma Talk in Vietnamese, with translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong, given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France.

Thay speaks about the life of the Vietnamese anti-war songwriter and musician Trinh Cong Son, and the experience of Thay, Sister Chan Khong, and Thay Phap An in the 1960s. Experiences such as being a child in the war and others writing anti-war poetry. One book of 60-poems by Thay had to be published underground – Joining Your Palm in Order for the Dove to Appear. We need to be aware of this era and the despair it caused. Sr. Chan Khong sings a couple songs but the recording is not so good because we are listening to translation; you can turn it up during this period. He goes on to share about the Great Requiem Ceremonies in Vietnam in 2007.

The rest of the talk Thay continues teaching about practicing while touring with the Sangha.

  1. Touring from the Heart
  2. Touring as a Practice. Everyday and second is a practice.
  3. Sangha happiness. The aim is to be happy.
  4. We are not tourists.
  5. Keep our seatbelt properly tight. Precepts.
  6. Fine Manners
  7. Practice Second Body system.
  8. Caring for Second Body.
  9. Walking meditation. Every step.
  10. Stop to talk
  11. Precious moment. Attend all activities.
  12. Sangha confidence.
  13. We are not performers of the dharma. We practice and teach with our heart. It’s not the form.
  14. Mobile Monastery
  15. All activities are equally important.
  16. Time to rest. Especially Thay…one activity per day.
  17. Keep our togetherness.
  18. Mindful electronics. Be discreet.

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

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Touring from the Heart

June 19, 2011. 76-minute Dharma Talk in Vietnamese, with translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong, given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Stillwater Meditation Hall, Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France.

Thay speaks about mindfulness of taste and eating, and about three stages of our relationship to the path: seeing the path, practicing the path, and realizing the path. You can do this with everything you do – eating, walking, experiencing loss. Mindfulness is not unique to Buddhism. You only need to practice and then you realize.

Sutra #239 Agama. Thay had started it last time, but the message was not clear.

Happiness and enjoying friends around us. The text is a guide for those on the upcoming tour. Every hour of touring a joy of practice. How to practice as monastics during upcoming Summer Opening and the North American Tour this year. It is a part of our training. Fine manners. Second body. What makes a monastic different? Walking finely, beautifully. Sitting. Working. This inspires people. The purpose is to bring happiness. To yourself and to others.

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

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Discussing a Strategy of Consumption

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.

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