Evolutive Dharma

From the archives, this talk by Thich Nhat Hanh was given during the 2002-2003 Winter Retreat (January 19, 2003) from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village. The one-hour talk begins with a short chant in English by the monks and nuns.

The living Buddha. How do we get in touch with the living Buddha? When we think of the Buddha, we have a notion. We think of Shakyamuni. If we are caught by the notion of the historical Buddha we cannot be in touch with the living Buddha.

The practice of signlessness. With the eyes of signlessness, we can recognize the cloud in the tea or the ice cream. This is not something metaphysical or abstract. We see people and things in their new forms with the eyes of signlessness. We can be free from our ignorance. Impermanence makes life possible. It allows the Buddha to grow beyond his 80-year lifespan.

The living Dharma. The living dharma is something you can see for yourself, something that grows. The dharma needs to be offered in an intelligent way: it must be the right teaching for the right person, it must be flexible, and it must be able to grow.

The notion of the evolutive dharma. The nature of Interbeing can help us touch our true nature. Buddhism is only made of nonbuddhist elements. Buddhism has no fixed identity and is evolving. It’s like a Bodhi tree remains the same tree even as it grows in different directions. The living dharma is alive, moving, and growing.

And the living Sangha has the living Buddha and living dharma inside. Practice in an intelligent way and don’t be caught in fundamentalism. Even in the Buddha’s lifetime, the Dharma and Sangha were evolving. Fundamentalism is our enemy.

Thanks to our practice and our enlightenment, Mahayana Buddhism can grow. Different types of concentrations – impermanence, nirvana, no self – will help us grow in the practice.

 

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What You Know Could Be An Obstacle

November 24, 2011. 95-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Full Moon Meditation Hall in New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the first dharma talk for the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk was given in Vietnamese and translated into English by Sr. Chan Khong [Vietnamese version].

Thich Nhat Hanh begins by talking about the importance of putting into practice what we learn when we study about Buddhism. Listen. Look Deeply. Put into Action. This is how we achieve the gate of liberation. We can also learn to think skillfully. Right Thinking and wisdom can arrive. The main teaching of Thay is to have arrived in the present moment. To be home. And yet, there are those who have heard this thousands of times but they have not reached a place of deep wisdom. It is not just an accumulation of knowledge.

“When we share the Dharma it should come from a place of happiness. Some people, including monastics, can give very good Dharma talks on ‘I have arrived, I am home,’ but they are not truly happy.”

We don’t need to use what we know when listening to a dharma talk. This leads to comparing. You just receive it. The Buddha said some students receive enlightenment just like that. Right away. Not the fruit of your knowledge. What you know, could be an obstacle. It is only intellectual.

He then begins study of the Paramartha Gathas, from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra of Asanga. Asanga is a very profound teacher who began in Theravada, but then followed Mahayahana Buddhism. This Gatha speaks about the Absolute Truth. It’s been translated three times from the Sanskrit. We have the Chinese texts as well as a Vietnamese translation by Thay. English is being produced for this teaching. [Note: When texts become available, they will be posted]

The first verse:

There is absolutely no subject, no agent and no one who enjoys the fruit of action. No dharma has any effect. Nonetheless, the passing on of one effect to another does take place.

Thay shares about physics in the light of this teaching: “What is the electron made of? All things are composite. There are many things that come together to make everything. When we look skillfully we see only action: we don’t see any owner, actor or inheritor.”

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We Are the Cloud

January 23, 2011. 77-minute Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh, New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. We begin with 8-minutes of chanting.

“Sitting in this meditation hall, we perceive that the clouds are floating high in the sky. But in reality we are surrounded by clouds; there is water vapor all around us. When we have fog we see this clearly. We also have vapor in our body in the form of water. So we interare with the cloud. Science shows us this; Buddhism can also show us this.”

“According to our practice, mindfulness, concentration and insight are a source of happiness. And we as practitioners need to generate this energy. Breathing in mindfulness you generate the energy of mindfulness; we get in touch with the wonders of life that are all around us.”

“The tour this year will have the theme, ‘Now is the time: this is it.'”

The Path of liberation. We must know how to take care of the path to overcome our difficulties. The path of eight correct practices (Right View, Right Speech, Right Action, etc).

Body, Speech, and Mind
Mindfulness, Concentration, Insight
Right Livelihood, Right Diligence

These are the fruit of our practice.

For those of you interested, Thay mentions the 5-year monastic training for young people. At about 59-minutes into the talk, we transition to the sutra commentary we’ve been exploring. Here we here about verses 28-31.

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, the recording is cut off before it is completed and I am unable to get the missing recording at this time. It is cut off shortly after the sutra commentary begins. The video link below has everything.

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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