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English/French Plum Village Retreats

Pebble Meditation: Children’s Talk

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July 16, 2011. 56-minute dharma talk for the children. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks in French, with English translation provided by Sister Pine, from New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

Four positions of the body. We should hold our body in order to have peace. How can we sit on a lotus flower. When we have peace, we can have freedom and happiness.

Happiness is also possible using mantras. The first is “My dear, I am here for you.” To be there is a practice. We can do this by bringing our mind and body together. The second is “I know you are there and I’m very happy.” It’s just as easy to apply as the first. The person you love is there. The first was to recognize our own presence and the second is to recognize the other.

The quality of our presence is also important. One practice we can use to help with quality is Pebble Meditation. Using a sack of four pebbles to practice a self-guided meditation on being fresh as a flower, solid as a mountain, reflective like water, and free as space. Specific instruction is given for each step.

In the concluding 15-minutes, we are led through the mindful movements.

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

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Plum Village Retreats

Miracle of Being Alive: The Greatest of All Miracles

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July 15, 2011. 86-minute dharma talk from Stillwater Meditation Hall in Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France with Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat and it is the second week.

Thay continues the teaching on mindfulness of breathing, summarizing the first eight steps of the Sutra on Mindful Breathing (he spoke of it during the July 13 dharma talk). The first four help us take care of our body. With the fifth, we touch the realm of feelings.

He teaches on dealing with difficult emotions, including how we can help those loved ones who feel they need to commit suicide because of an emotion. Belly breathing. Focus on your in breath and out breath, following the rise of abdomen. We should remember that emotions are impermanent. We have can peace, solidity, and freedom.

From the realm of body and feelings, we come to the ninth exercise which is the realm of the mental formations. Formation – samskara – is a technical term. The flower is a formation because it is made of non-flower elements. In the Buddhist tradition, there are 51 mental formations. We learn the relationship between mind consciousness and store consciousness and the concept of seeds (bija). We can practice selective watering. In a relationship, we can use a Peace Treaty. He tells the story of a couple whose love is revitalized by the practice of watering good seeds. The ninth exercise is about gladdening the mind.

At the end of the talk Thay shares about the four practices of Right Diligence. It means we should continue our practice. Don’t allow the negative seeds to become a mental formation. If a negative seed becomes a mental formation, we shouldn’t allow it to stay too long, but not by way of suppressing. When you recognize a good seed, try to touch it and bring up. Finally, try to keep the good seeds present as long as you can.

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

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Plum Village Retreats

Embracing Emotions with Non-Violence

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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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Plum Village Retreats

I am Here for You: Talk for Children

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July 13, 2011. 30-minute Dharma Talk given in French for the children, 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.

I am here for you – a mantra we can easily learn. We hear the story of the boy who wishes for his birthday the presence of his father. How do we truly be there? If the dad has been to Plum Village at least once, he will know what to do be there.

When we can be there for ourselves, then we can be there for others. We only need yo take one step to bring our mind back to the body. The most precious thing we can offer is our own presence and it only takes one mindful breath.

A second mantra we can learn is “I know that you are there, and I am happy.” – this is meditation. This is to recognize the happiness and to express it.

Please learn these two mantras.

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

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Plum Village Questions and Answers Retreats

Our Nature is Non-Local

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July 12, 2011. 111-minute Dharma Talk in English given by Thich Nhat Hanh at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the first question and answer session of the Summer Opening Retreat.

Thay takes questions from the children, the young adults, and from other retreatants.

Why do people lie? Why does anger come with sadness? Why do we so easily mixup sexual desire and love? How can we reconcile with someone we’ve hurt? How practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings in the corporate world? Why would someone want to be born into a world of suffering? How do we practice when we still are caught in the idea of having a separate personality? Is Thay a realized Buddha? How do we practice to forgive ourselves? How can we maintain our practice when we live in a place lacking compassion, without a Sangha? How can we make sense of the death of a child before they are born? How can we find happiness again?

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

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Day of Mindfulness Plum Village

The Young Heart of Ethics

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June 30, 2011. 52-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 the tradition of monastic day in the Sangha, and as well about the Four Nutriments. Thay also shares about the Wake Up Movement, and how to build a Sangha of lay people, bringing the practice into schools. In particular, Thay focuses on how to bring the practice of global ethics into schools.

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

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Day of Mindfulness Plum Village

Each Day I Choose a Joy

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June 23, 2011. 100-minute Dharma Talk in Vietnamese, with translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong, given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France.

Thay speaks about the life of the Vietnamese anti-war songwriter and musician Trinh Cong Son, and the experience of Thay, Sister Chan Khong, and Thay Phap An in the 1960s. Experiences such as being a child in the war and others writing anti-war poetry. One book of 60-poems by Thay had to be published underground – Joining Your Palm in Order for the Dove to Appear. We need to be aware of this era and the despair it caused. Sr. Chan Khong sings a couple songs but the recording is not so good because we are listening to translation; you can turn it up during this period. He goes on to share about the Great Requiem Ceremonies in Vietnam in 2007.

The rest of the talk Thay continues teaching about practicing while touring with the Sangha.

  1. Touring from the Heart
  2. Touring as a Practice. Everyday and second is a practice.
  3. Sangha happiness. The aim is to be happy.
  4. We are not tourists.
  5. Keep our seatbelt properly tight. Precepts.
  6. Fine Manners
  7. Practice Second Body system.
  8. Caring for Second Body.
  9. Walking meditation. Every step.
  10. Stop to talk
  11. Precious moment. Attend all activities.
  12. Sangha confidence.
  13. We are not performers of the dharma. We practice and teach with our heart. It’s not the form.
  14. Mobile Monastery
  15. All activities are equally important.
  16. Time to rest. Especially Thay…one activity per day.
  17. Keep our togetherness.
  18. Mindful electronics. Be discreet.

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

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Day of Mindfulness Plum Village

Touring from the Heart

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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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English/Dutch European Institute of Applied Buddhism Retreats

Discussing a Strategy of Consumption

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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.