Happiness is Found in the Present Moment

In this December 10, 2006 dharma talk from Lower Hamlet, Thay reflects on the 2005 trip to Vietnam followed by a teaching on mindfulness of walking and eating. The sangha is in the Annual Winter Retreat and the talk is 77-minutes.

Walking Mediation in the WoodsIt was a warm winter at Plum Village in 2006 and Thay reflects on walking meditation on the grass and the leaves. We can enjoy every step we make on this planet. When a novice monk at the root temple in Vietnam, Thay did not know the practice of walking meditation. As a you don’t no Dharma Teacher, Thay still did not find the time for waking meditation. But when he returned to the root temple in 2005, it was wonderful to practice walking meditation on the hills with over 900 monastics. What is important, there is no need to make any effort and the practice is perfect. Only you can produce this step in mindfulness and concentration. Thay shares of returning to Vietnam and of bringing the monastic sangha together in harmony. The happiness and the joy of they incorporating some of the Plum Village practices, such as practicing as a fourfold sangha and gender equity.

Mindfulness is a mental formation – one of the fifty mental formations. When we are inhabited by the energy of mindfulness, we can have the eyes of the Buddha and the feet of the Buddha. We know how to generate the energy of mindfulness from our seed of mindfulness. Walking like a Buddha can happen right now. We don’t have to force ourselves. It is a pleasure.

Walking meditation is not a practice, it is an enjoyment. The best reason to do walking meditation is, because I like it! The same is true of sitting meditation. We don’t force it, but we enjoy it. It is an act of love.

Getting in touch with the food and our ancestors through eating meditation. Thay recalls his mothers cooking. A meal is a time to know who we are – through what we are eating and how we are eating. Eating can nourish our compassion. We can get in touch with the nature of reality. Are we eating in a way to nourish our compassion? We can get enlightenment just by eating. It should be a relaxing time, to eat as a sangha. To allow more time. For sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Plum Village tradition, eating is a deep practice. How?

Mindfulness is the kind of energy that has the power of knowing what is going on. Mindfulness is a miracle. It is like a light that allows us to see things, and everyone has this light of mindfulness. Mindfulness is mere recognition; we don’t try to grasp it. When mindfulness is there, everything will be different. Including your joy and your pain. And it is always for the better. When mindfulness is there, the Buddha is there.

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Nirvana and Samsara

December 27, 2012. Dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat) and this is the the fifteenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in French and this is the English translation.

What does it mean to have a spiritual dimension in our life? Why is it important for daily life?

The Four Noble Truths and the path in the second versus the path in the fourth. Two paths to choose. To well being or to ill being. We in Plum Village look at these two paths with the eyes of Interbeing.

What creates suffering? How do we take care of our suffering? The path leading to awakening. How and how much time does it take to reach enlightenment? Enlightenment is available in every moment. There is no way to enlightenment, enlightenment is the way. This is the teaching of Interbeing.

Love and reconciliation. What is nirvana? Is nirvana possible? What is the relationship to samsara?

The Buddha taught the Three Dharma Seals.

  1. All formations are impermanent.
  2. All things are without self.
  3. Nirvana

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The Uncultivated Mind Brings Suffering

October 25, 2012. 105-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is enjoying the Autumn Retreat and this is a Day of Mindfulness.

Last week we learned about the Four Kinds of Nutriments and having to do with the Fifth Mindfulness Training.

Power. Some people think if they have power, they will be happy. It takes a great deal of understanding. The mind of love; of enlightenment. Bodhicitta. This comes from the practice of mindfulness and concentration. Understanding your own suffering helps you understand the suffering of others around you. I’m the family and in the nation. Love and understanding. Understanding is the foundation of love. The mind left uncultivated will bring lots of suffering. We need a spiritual dimension in our daily life. This is our practice. Bodhicitta is a tremendous source of energy.

Mental formations. There are mental formations that make us suffer, but they can be transformed.
Samadhi. Maintaining awareness.

Meditation on impermance. We have to keep this alive in us. Treasure the moments we have. Impermanance is a characteristic of life.

The Three Doors of Liberation. Concentrations. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness. This teaching includes an exploration of birth and death. Being and non-being. Impermanance. Non-craving. Nirvana.

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Sitting is an Art

October 7, 2012. 105-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village. The sangha is enjoying the Autumn Retreat and this is a Day of Mindfulness.

Thay begins his talk today with reminiscences from Vietnam in the 60s. Forty-six years ago, Thay was invited by Cornell University to give a series of lectures on the conditions in Vietnam. The Vietnamese were fighting each other with foreign ideologies and foreign weapons. We were not allowed to use our voices for peace, but there was a peace movement in Vietnam. Thay wrote a book of poems and a book, Lotus in the Sea of Fire, that needed to be published and distributed underground. We also trained many social workers to help orphans and children. Those supporting peace were often threatened and murdered. We need a spiritual dimension in our life so we don’t lose ourselves to despair and to help sustain us.

What do you do when you’re practicing sitting meditation? Sitting isn’t “doing” but it’s more about “being” – harmony, joy, and healing are possible. Sitting is an art. There is no need to do anything. Mind and body must be together to live in the preset moment. One mindful in-breathe may be enough to come home. We don’t need to worry about the future. Teaching on mindfulness of body – it is a wonder, a mystery.

The Kingdom of God. Dharmachaya. The body of the cosmos. Suchness. Reality as it is. We cannot use our notions to describe God. This is available in the here and the now.

Exercises on mindful breathing. Enlightenment is not far away; it can be immediate with mindfulness. Breathing in you can have enlightenment. No thinking. No planning. No fear. Then your concentration becomes stronger. Brings insight to transform our suffering and bring happiness. This is not prayer, this is practice. Happiness does not depend on the outside, it depends on our way of looking at things.

Walking on Mother Earth. Samskara. Formation. We calm down the body formation.

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A Deep Volition of Practice

August 12, 2011. 85-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from War Memorial Gym at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this talk is a question and answer session.

Children

  1. How did it feel when you left your country?
  2. Where did you learn to become mindful and to breathe?
  3. Do you think you’ve reached the highest level of Buddhism? Oh, can you play soccer with the kids today?

Teens

  1. Do you believe you have reached the stage of enlightenment, and if not do you think you will at some stage in your life?
  2. What was it like being on the Oprah Winfry show?
  3. What is the goal of Buddhism?
  4. I have self doubt and negative thoughts that keep me from enjoying myself; how can I overcome this?

Adults

  1. What are the best ways to connect with my volition to offer love?
  2. My suffering comes from chronic illness with a lot of physical pain and I am also an activist who cares very deeply for the world which leads to despair. What practices do you suggest for this type of suffering?
  3. What would be a good way to bring mindfulness to the inner cities?
  4. Awakening of the Heart. Are we as a society moving from the intellect to the heart? Is there a shift in our collective consciousness?

The talk is available below. There is a video version available too.

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Making Plans in the Here and Now

July 19, 2011. 120-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat. This is the question and answer session.

Before we begin, Thay offers a teaching on ancestors because today is Ancestors Day. Every home in Vietnam, no matter how poor, keeps an altar for the ancestors. We have two kinds of ancestors: blood and spiritual.

Here are the questions:
1) If we are living in the here and the now, how can we make plans?
2) Why do I have nightmares?
3) How can I help my younger brother to be happy if he annoys me?
4) How to become enlightened?
5) What is freedom, and can you be free even if someone tells you what to do?
6) How can I be kind to myself when I lack confidence?
7) What to do when daughters are treated less equally than sons?
8) We are taught not to judge people and things, but how can we love them without judging?
9) I feel that I attract people who have difficulties. Where is the boundary between being selfish and protecting yourself?
10) I am very confused. I feel caught by impermanence. So when you become a full-time Buddha, you have a state of mind with ultimate freedom and true happiness. But doesn’t that state go against impermanence? When you become a full-time Buddha does the law of impermanence no longer apply to you?
11) I am 50 years old, and I have a 15 year-old son. I would like to become a nun. Can I leave him to take care of himself and come to live peacefully in the temple?

The talk was given in English and is available below. There is a video version available too.

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