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Plum Village Retreats

Many Pairs of Opposites

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January 3, 2013. 110-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the seventeenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk is given in English and we begin with a chant.

There ia a sutra on the contemplation of the body and the body is a big subject of meditation. There is much suffering and misery in this world and some people want to get out of this world. Is there a way to get out of the world of suffering and misery by looking into your body? We can see the four elements – water, air, earth, and heat – in our body. There are six sense organs that can produce the six consciousnesses. When you look into the body deeply, you can see it is a community. Can you see all our ancestors by looking into the body? Is there a self? If we heal ourselves, we can heal our ancestors. We don’t just practice for ourselves, we practice for all our ancestors. Our body is a treasure and we should take care of our body. There is a Buddha in the body. How do we practice? The dharma and the sangha. We organize a “resistance” to keep our practice alive.

At about 30-minutes into the recording, we continue with the subject matter for the Winter Retreat. Pairs of opposites. We hear a teaching on the concepts of birth and death, being and non-being, ultimate and conventional truth, sameness and otherness. Interbeing and the path leading us to the ultimate truth. Everything is a formation, a conditioned dharma. Samsara and nirvana. You may wish to review the video, Thay wrote on the board quite a bit for this segment of the talk.

There is a way a path to this wisdom of adaptation.

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Day of Mindfulness Plum Village

Be Free From Fear

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November 1, 2012. 76-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is enjoying the Autumn Retreat and this is a Day of Mindfulness. This is the 8th, and final, dharma talk of the fall retreat. Thay begins with a short review of what’s been covered in the last four weeks.

Today we will look more deeply into the nature of our birth and our death. We begin with an analysis of a cloud. What is a cloud and when does it exist? We have to look at the cloud with eyes of signlessness. The rain is the new form of the cloud. How do we appy this to our own being? Is there really birth and death? There is only continuation.

Collective action. In Buddhism, the notion of action is very important. It is called karma. Triple action: thought, speech, and action. With mindfulness we can recognize our thoughts and make a decision that they produce healing and reconciliation. In order to so, we need Right View and Right Understanding. What is the connection between birth, death, and karma?

We need mindfulness and concentration to gain the insight if Right View. Birth and death inter-are with each other. Thay teaches briefly on each of the other elements of the Noble Eightfold Path.

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English/Dutch Retreats

Creating Freshness and Beauty

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August 14, 2012. 100-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into Dutch (though the Dutch is muted in this recording), with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the third Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Dutch Retreat on the theme Body and Mind Are One at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

Freshness and beauty are in you. If you know how to breath and how to walk then freshness and beauty can come out. we can also help others do the same because we all have it, but we don’t always know how to help it manifest. We all have a Buddha inside. That teaches what it means to bow to someone in a greeting. It’s not just a ritual, it is a practice.

How to use a mantra in your practice? The first is “Darling, I am here for you.” This one is to offer the other person your presence. The second mantra is to recognize the other person is something important to you. “Darling, I know you are there and I am very happy.”

Reconciliation. Mindfulness of compassion. Listening. Thay uses the story of Palestinians and Israelis coming to Plum Village on how to practice deep listening and loving speech.

Teaching on no birth and no death, being and non-being, coming and going, sameness and otherness. These are all notions. They are the ground of our suffering and our fear. These pairs of opposites can be the objects of our meditation.

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Plum Village Retreats

Question and Answer Session: Is there a life after death?

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July 24, 2012. 80-minute recording given at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the fourteenth dharma talk of the Summer Opening and this is a session of questions and answers.

Children

  1. How can you make new friends after moving to a new school?
  2. If there is no such thing as death, then why is it wrong to kill?
  3. I suffer a lot from my father. I don’t want to see him anymore. Can I stop trying to change him?
  4. Why did you become a monk?

Adults

  1. I am the last child in my family linage and there is lots of suffering to transform. How do I help my parents generation? Secondly, why is there still discrimination against women in Buddhism?
  2. Is there life after death?
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Plum Village Retreats

How does it feel when you’re dead? Question and Answer Session

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July 18, 2012. 88-minute recording given at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the ninth dharma talk of the Summer Opening and this is a session of questions and answers.

Children

  1. How does it feel when you are dead?
  2. Sometimes I feel nobody loves us and I’m all alone.
  3. A game the children are playing has something about killing. Is this okay? Help me understand.

Teens and Adults

  1. People seem afraid of silence. Is it because they are afraid of being with themselves?
  2. I experience extreme energies and sometimes feel as a victim with the energy.
  3. Husband is in a deep depression and then one of our daughters was seriously injured. He feels it’s unjust and he is suffering. How can I help him transform suffering he doesn’t see in himself?
  4. Difficulties with meditation. What happens during meditation and how can I improve?
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21 Day Retreats Plum Village Retreats

The Impermanence of Consciousness

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June 7, 2012. 99-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the fifth dharma talk (of 15).

This is an excellent session of questions and answers.

Questions

  1. What is the difference between feelings and mental formations?
  2. Is euthanasia okay? Is it Right Action? Can we relieve physical Pain?
  3. How do I practice with the teaching of inferiority and equality complexes?
  4. How can we support out dharma teacher when s/he is not so skillful?
  5. How do I practice with the last four exercises from the sutra on the full awareness of breathing?
  6. Question on consciousness and impermanence.
  7. What happens to the mind after the body dies?
  8. How can you take refuge in the sangha if you don’t trust? How can we build trust?
  9. Severe mental illness, such as bipolar, requires medicine to balance emotion. Can you clarify this as it relates to the practice?
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Retreats

The Noble Eightfold Path

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April 15, 2012. 106-minute recording given at Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney, Ireland by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is the third (and final) dharma talk for the Mindful Living Today retreat.

Thay begins with an explanation of no-birth and no-death, including a teaching on energies we produce in our daily lives. Thoughts of healing an compassion can heal the world. Thinking is already action. Karma has three kinds of action. We continue with a teaching on the noble eightfold path and mental/store consciousness. we conclude with the last eight exercises on the full awareness of breathing.

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Retreats

Hands Practicing Non-Violence

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April 7, 2012. 130-minute recording given at The University of Nottingham by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is second dharma talk for the Cultivating Happiness Family Retreat. We begin with the new chant by Br. Phap Linh called “Praising the Three Jewels,” followed by a short talk for the children. The main talk begins at 54-minutes into the recording.

Flower Fresh. Breathing in, I see myself as a flower. Breathing out, I feel fresh and I smile. The whole body of a child is a flower. We are all flowers in the garden of humanity. With meditation, we can keep our flowerness for a long time. Thay teaches us how to offer each other a greeting in mindfulness by offering each other a lotus flower.

“I don’t think that the Buddha is outside of me. He is inside of me. Because I got a lot from the Buddha, I learn a lot of the Dharma, if I have compassion, understanding and non-discrimination, that’s thanks to the Buddha, so the Buddha is in me. And my hand also contains the hand of the Buddha. This hand has been practising non-violence. My two hands have not for a long time harmed any living beings. They practise protecting life, not killing. There is a compassion, there is love in my two hands. So I know the Buddha is in my two hands. So every time I want the Buddha to touch me, that is easy. I just put my hand here and I see the hand of the Buddha touching me, it’s wonderful. Now you might like to try.”

The most tricky word is “to be” because nothing can be itself alone. Everything is composed of everything else. Interbeing. This is because that is. This is the foundation of Buddhist ethics. Both The Five- and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings are grounded in this concept of Interbeing. Birth. Death. Being. Nonbeing.

Thay outlines some important aspects and teachings from the five mindfulness Trainings. In particular, the fourth training on loving speech and deep listening.

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Hands Practicing Non-Violence from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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Day of Mindfulness Plum Village

“Breathing In” is not just for Beginners

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March 22, 2012. 80-minute talk from New Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The talk is given in English. We begin with 4-minutes of chanting in Vietnamese.

In Plum Village, our practice is to always go back to the present moment. We do this in many ways, like mindful breathing and mindful walking. Simple, but very important practices. We have the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing is one of the most important sutras. In this talk we review the first six exercises.

When going through a difficult situation can be supported with these practices. It can be your second body. That is the Buddha.

Thay briefly discusses the Abidhamma literature – super dharma. Stick to the sutras and what they stay and don’t venture into metaphysical speculation.

Though past, present, and future look different, they are actually the same.
They are ideas. Notions. This is Interbeing.

Nothing is born. From nothing you cannot create something. This removes the notion of creation. This is something stated by science. This is the product of the intellect and is equivant to our idea of no birth and no death. Nothing has a separate existence.

“Breathing In” is not just for beginners. It is the most wonderful thing to do.

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Plum Village Retreats

Letting Go and Nirvana

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January 19, 2012. 91-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong. This is the last talk on the Paramartha Gathas we have been studying this winter retreat.

Breathing in, I smile to life. We are present to life. And closely related: I am of the nature to die. I cannot escape death. Many people also fear growing old. I am of the nature of growing old. I cannot escape old age. I am of the nature to be sick. I cannot escape sickness. We can look deeply at sickness, old age, and death. We should also let go of all our titles, money, degrees, family, etc. Then when it’s time to die, you can go easily. The fruit of my thinking, speaking, and action is what will continue. Birth and death. Past. Present. Future. Nirvana is in life. In affliction.

We complete the sutra study (@ 52-minutes) with the last few gathas.

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