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Questions and Answers Retreats

Now is the Time: Q&A

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April 20, 2011. 124-minute question and answer session given in English, with consecutive translation into Mandarin, with Thich Nhat Hanh and others. This is the fourth day of a five-day retreat in Taipei, Taiwan.

Unfortunately, the first 8-minutes of the talk, the English can’t be heard very well. What you are missing is Thay Phap Dung introducing a few other monastics at the request of Thich Nhat Hanh. A few of the monastics he introduces are Phap Luu (Br. Stream), Sr. Pine, Sr. Purification (violinist), Sr. Dang N., and Sr. Lien N. (in Thailand). The introductions are very sweet and take about 30-minutes in total.

The remainder of the recording are the questions and answer. Thay reminds us to ask a question of the heart. Not about Buddhism, but about suffering and happiness.

Being present for those around us through touching the earth. Meditating on sad or negative emotions. Don’t we have enough different Buddhist groups in Taiwan. Question on the fourth mantra – please help.Asking for help. As adopted child, who are my ancestors? Who are my parents? Questioning a lesbian relationship; how do I work with my suffering?. What is relationship between happiness and sadness?

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

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English/French Plum Village Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers

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March 4, 2011. 111-minute Questions and Answers in French with Thich Nhat Hanh at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the fourth day of the 5-day French Retreat and the translation is provided by Sr. Pine.

Some of the topics include Sitting Meditation, Death, Euthanasia, Sex, Suicide, Non-action, Right Livelihood, Religion, Equality, Depression, and the Four Kinds of Nutriments.

There is a French recording as well as video version too – Part 1 and Part 2.

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Plum Village

The Eye of Compassion

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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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Plum Village

Make a True Home of Your Love

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December 26, 2010. 134-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Dharma Cloud Temple in Upper Hamlet in Plum Village on the theme of relationship and fidelity. The monastery is in the 2010- 2011 Winter Rains Retreat.

“We have said that sexual desire is not love, but our society is organized in such a way that sensual pleasure becomes the most important thing. They want to sell their products, and they make advertisements that water the seed of craving in you. They want you to consume in such a way that you have sensual pleasure. But sensual pleasure can destroy you. What we need is mutual understanding, trust, love, spiritual intimacy. But we don’t have the opportunity to meet that kind of deep need in us.

“Many young people in our society want to have cosmetic surgery in order to meet with the standard of beauty. There are fashion magazines that say in order to succeed you have to look like this, use this product. That is why many young people suffer very much. They cannot accept their body, because people expect another kind of body, so they want to have surgery to change their body. When you do not accept your body as it is, you are not in your true home. Our body is like a flower. Everyone in humanity is like a flower. And each flower are different from other kinds of flowers. And if she can accept her body, she has a chance to see her body as home. If you cannot accept your body, you cannot be home for yourself.
If you cannot be home for yourself, how can you be home for others? So in psychological circles we have to tell the young people that they are already beautiful as they are. You have to accept yourself as you are. And when you practice building a home in yourself, you become more and more beautiful. You have peace, joy, and people will recognize the beauty of your flower.”

“The monks and nuns, when they receive the bhikshu or bhikshuni precepts, they want to live a holy life. If you see that a monk is beautiful, it is because he has brought in the spiritual element into his life. Spirituality here means mindfulness, concentration, and insight. The Five Mindfulness Trainings are recommended for everyone, not only for monastics. Mindfulness is the kind of energy that can help you to go home to yourself, to the here and the now, so that you know what to do and what not to do in order to be home for yourself and for other people. The Five Mindfulness Trainings are a very concrete way of practicing mindfulness.

In the Buddhist tradition, holiness is made of mindfulness. Mindfulness, concentration, and insight make you holy. Holiness not only possible for the monastics, but also for the laypeople who practice the precepts. Holiness is not only possible with the practice of celibacy. There are those who live a conjugal life, but if they have the elements of mindfulness, concentration, and insight the have the element of holiness. A monk is like an astronaut, if you want to be an astronaut you should not be pregnant. It does not mean it is bad to be pregnant.”

“We have to learn how to treat beauty. Sexual intimacy can be a beautiful thing, if there is mindfulness, concentration, and insight. Otherwise it will be destructive.”

“To practice Buddhism as a monk is always easier than to practice as a layperson. In Vietnam we say, ‘To practice as a monk is easiest; to practice as a layperson is much more difficult.’ To practice not to have a sexual relationship is much easier than to maintain practice in a relationship, because in order to maintain mindfulness, concentration, and insight in a sexual relationship you need a lot of practice.”

“Love is not a kind of prison. True love gives us a lot of space. Whatever you enjoy, the other person enjoys; whatever is your concern is also their concern.”

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

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Plum Village

The Lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh

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Zen Master Li?u Quán (1670-1742)December 17, 2009. New Hamlet. Plum Village.

Thay tells the story of the beginnings of the Lieu Quán Dharma Line, of which Thich Nhat Hanh is the 8th generation of this Vietnamese branch. Our lineage is also traced to through the Lâm Te Dyana School (Linji), of which Thich Nhat Hanh is the 42nd generation.

The talk begins with the gatha given to our main root teacher, Zen Master Lieu Quán (1670-1742), by Zen Master Tu Dung in Thuan Hóa, Vietnam in 1702.

All phenomena rely on Oneness, what does Oneness rely on?

Thay then traces all the teachers through the generations and how they each received their name from a gatha of Zen Master Lieu Quán. The classical Chinese characters of the gatha represent the name given to each of the generations.

The English translation of the gatha is as follows:

The great way of Reality,
Is our true nature’s pure ocean.
The source of Mind penetrates everywhere.
From the roots of virtue springs the practice of compassion.
Precepts, concentration and insight –
The nature and function of all three are one.
The fruit of transcendent wisdom,
Can be realized by being wonderfully together.
Maintain and transmit the wonderful principle,
In order to reveal the true teaching!
For the realization of True Emptiness to be possible,
Wisdom and Action must go together.

Students of Thich Nhat Hanh are encouraged to memorize this gatha.

Editorial Note: not all the accent marks are correct in this post.
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