Practicing in the Present Moment

The monastic and lay community are practicing together during the 2004 Rainy Season Retreat from January 4 to March 14 at Deer Park Monastery. This 95-minute event took place outdoors at San Dieguito County Park, Solana Beach in the afternoon of Saturday, January 31, 2004. Because the event is outdoors, there is some wind noise on the microphone from time to time. Both audio and video versions are available with this post.

00:00:00 Slideshow of Alms Round (music)

00:01:51 Chanting

00:10:15 Introductory Words from Thay on Asking Questions

  • Are we supposed to spend all our time in the here and now?
  • How to help someone get rid of the anger?
  • How do we practice to do the right thing, even when it is difficult?
  • How do we practice when someone we love dies? 
  • Can there ever be a positive benefit to anger?
  • How do we keep a balance with the practice and personal fulfillment, especially in professional efforts?
  • How do I forgive myself? 
  • Sometimes I have difficulty in believing in myself; how do I believe in myself?
  • My son wants to marry a Catholic and I want him to be in front of our ancestors first; what can I do?
  • What do you think of humans living in this place and time; the wrong frequency?

00:19:25 Dharma Talk in Response to the Questions

The past is already gone, and the future is not yet here. There is only the present moment. Being in the present moment doesn’t mean you can’t learn from the past nor that you can’t make plans for the future. We can be grounded in the present moment and not get lost in the past or the future. The past can even be the object of your practice in the present moment. 

Suppose you have anger at your grandmother, in the past, and she is no longer alive today. But if you practice deeply you can see she is still alive inside of you – in every cell of your body. Nothing is lost. We can practice to heal our suffering and out anger. 

Understanding and compassion are the answer to our anger. Where does anger come from? It arises from the things we consume. We can practice mindful consumption to protect ourselves and our families from anger. This is the first thing to do when practicing when anger. The second second part is to work on transforming the anger that is already present inside of us. The fifth mindfulness training can help us practice with consumption. 

It is important to not suppress our anger; this can be very dangerous. We use the energy of mindfulness to recognize and embrace our anger. This is much safer. Then we can learn to use loving speech to better express our feelings. Thay shares how to go about skillfully responding to another person with whom we are angry. Some think the energy of anger is a powerful tool, but this can be dangerous. 

00:58:19 You might think your practice of meditation might contradict your eagerness to succeed in your career. How to practice and succeed in your business? These can come together perfectly. Business leaders suffer like any other person. And if they suffer less, they can succeed more in their business. Career does not need to be an obstacle for your practice. There are ways to practice in order to have time for your families, your practice, and your business and career. Thay shares a story of offering a retreat for members of congress and some methods for practicing mindfulness in the work environment — mindful walking and mindful breathing. Taking care of yourself is taking care of your career. Mindfulness brings about understanding and compassion. Happiness is possible only when we have good communication, mutual understanding. Employees should be taken care of in the same way we take care of our families. 

Practicing with our grief. Our true nature is the nature of no-birth and no-death. Illustrated by a cloud in the sky. 

The last story of the dharma talk is one of a Vietnam veteran who attended a retreat in the 90s and shared about having killed some children during the war. The transformation of the veteran can also be the transformation of our society. 

01:31:50 Sangha Practicing Walking Meditation (music)

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Universal Monarch

January 31, 2013. 83-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the twenty-fifth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk is given in Vietnamese and this is a translation provided by Sr. Chan Không.

We begin with an outline of the next few weeks at Plum Village. Following the winter retreat, the sangha will celebrate the lunar new year for four days. After the lunar new year, there will be a monastic retreat which concludes with a monastic lamp transmission ceremony in which our lay friends are welcome to attend. During the monastic retreat, all monastics will stay at Upper Hamlet and our lay friends will stay at other hamlets. We are fortunate to have the monastics from Germany and Paris join us for the monastic retreat. The lamp transmission ceremony will take place on February 21.

Last week we learned the sutra on the white clad disciple. We should practice the five trainings and the four recollection To be on the path of enlightenment. There is also something called the five powers. This is very helpful for the businessman or the politician. The first power is faith. The others are diligence, mindfulness, concentration, and Generosity. Thay talks about sutra called the Universal Ruler or Monarch and the seven treasures. Ruling with the Dharma.

The story of a couple of kings is shared. King Ashoka. King Milanda. Kanishka. We also listen to the transition from tribal society to Monarch society to democracy. Polytheism and monotheism. We conclude with the story from the Sutra Agama #2.

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