Full of Wonder

September 17, 2011. 96-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 Opening the Heart Vietnamese Retreat. The talk was given in Vietnamese and translated into English by Sr. Dang Nghiem.

We begin with a guided meditation on our parents. Opening the Heart. Thay teaches the corn story to illustrate the concept of continuation. This practice not just for us. It is for our parents, our children. This is non-dualistic way of thinking. We have both blood and spiritual ancestors inside of us. Where do you look for the Buddha? We all have Buddhanature. Do not look for the Buddha on the outside. We also have the dharma jewel. We have a method to practice. If the jewel is not shining than we need to learn how to polish. The third jewel is the sangha. What does a sangha practice? Mindfulness, concentration, and insight.

What is the relationship between the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha? Ate you a true cell in the body of the sangha and the dharma? What is continuation? The nature of things? The cloud and the tea. The child and the father. The corn seed and the corn plant. How do we live deeply? Enjoying each wonderful moment. To use our conditions of happiness. Practicing to generate Mindfulness, concentration, and insight.

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Energies of Buddhism

September 3, 2011. 101-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the only Public Talk in California. For those who regularly read this podcast, we are posting this talk now as we have not completed preparing the last two talks from the retreat at Deer Park – they will be posted soon.

Mindfulness, concentration, and insight are the energies of Buddhism similar to the Holy Spirit being the energy of God.

We all have the capacity for understanding and love. It comes from the inside and comes with the practice of Mindfulness and concentration. This is the Buddha nature in us. We can generate a feeling of joy, a feeling of happiness in any moment. The Sutra on Mindful Breathing offers sixteen-exercises. Breathing in and breathing out with Mindfulness is a practice of resurrection. Thay takes us through the first eight exercises.

For me, the word wonderful means full of wonder. This is a wonderful moment. Our body is a wonder, and it belongs to the kingdom of God. We can touch the kingdom of God. In the Christian gospel, there is a story of a farmer who discovers a treasure on a piece of land and he sold everything except this piece of land. This is the kingdom of God. This is all you need. Happiness is possible in present moment. A good practitioner can generate happiness.

The importance of sangha. Taking refuge in the sangha. How do we handle suffering? A painful feeling? With a sangha.

True happiness needs suffering too. No mud. No lotus. They interare. This is right view. We should make good use of suffering.

How can we be liberated from despair and anger?

Applied ethics. Mindfulness in schools. How to handle painful or difficult emotions.

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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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Touching the Wonders of Life

July 9, 2011. 45-minute Dharma Talk in French, with English translation by Sister Pine, given by Thich Nhat Hanh New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the second talk of the Summer Opening Retreat.

Thay shares about the practice of mindful breathing. With each breath, we can fully in touch with life. The first exercise is being aware of your in and out breath. The second exercise is –following. Mindfulness is coming into the present moment. This brings concentration.

We continue learning about dualism. Birth and death.

The talk was given in French, 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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Applied Buddhism, or Applied Ethics

May 17, 2011. 120-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the first Dharma talk offered by Thay in the German Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

Being present with walking. Every step is to celebrate that you are alive. Walking meditation can be a festival. You can be in the Kingdom of God, I’m the Pure Land. When you can do this, you don’t need anything else. The Kingdom is love; it is understanding; it is freedom. Then you can offer it to others.

There are two aspects to this freedom. The first is to stop. To stop running into the future. Happiness is possible in the here and now. The second aspect is to calm. To release. The Buddha offered a number of exercises to stop and calm.

Mindfulness, Concentration, Insight. Happiness and suffering – these are linked. The Buddha talked about suffering and happiness in his very first dharma talk through the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha offered the Sixteen Exercises of Mindful Breathing.

Thay teaches pebble meditation, mindfulness of breathing, and on the practice of applied ethics.

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

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Now is the Time: Both by nature empty

April 21, 2011. 104-minute question and answer session given in English, with consecutive translation into Mandarin, with Thich Nhat Hanh and others. This is the fifth day of a five-day retreat in Taipei, Taiwan.

The Sixteen Exercises of Mindful Breathing (Anapanasati Sutta) – we are encouraged to memorize these exercises. Here we review each of these again. For example, the concentration of impermanence (13th exercise) should not just be an idea.

In addition, there are other meditations (concentrations) that can help us liberate ourselves. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness.

Mindfulness brings about concentration and we gain wisdom of Right View and we can be liberated.

With signlessness we can see the impermanent nature of all beings.

No birth. No death.
Being and nonbeing.
No coming. No going.
No sameness. No otherness.

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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The Girl Without a Button

February 13, 2011. 76-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet, Plum Village. We begin with chanting – The Heart of Perfect Understanding in French and The Three Refuges in English.

Sitting here, we try to look deeply at the other person. The person we love. What are they doing? If we know how to sit quietly, then we see that person clearly even if they are not present. Sometimes we need to be far away in order to see the relationship more clearly. Thay shares a story by Hans Christian Andersen called A Great Grief.

We travel to space and look at the earth. It is so dark in space, but when we look back we see how earth is so beautiful. If we look deeply, we can see the billions of people and what they are doing to each other. Sometimes we need to go far away to see the value. This is what some astronauts have said upon return.

How do we treasure that person? How do we treasure the planet? That picture from space can be a bell of mindfulness. To understand and to see. To wake up. We need to teach our children the preciousness of the planet, of life.

Sutra of Flowers and Fragrance from the dhammapada. So far, we have learned three chapters from the Chinese texts and these only exist in the Chinese, but this sutra is also available in the Pali. However, the Chinese has 13 more verses. We have drafted an English text. today we learn the first four verses.

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

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