Creating Freshness and Beauty

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.


Inclusiveness is the Love of Jesus

April 14, 2012. 95-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 second dharma talk for the Mindful Living Today retreat.

We begin with a new chant with the inviting the bell and listening to the bell Gathas. The chant is accompanied by traditional flute.

To meditate means to have the time to be calm and to look deeply. Anyone can learn and teach meditation. Connecting with our mother, especially if she is still alive, and we can use the second mantra to be happy she is still alive. Don’t wait. Darling, I know you are there and I am so happy. We can use this with our loved ones. And for those without our mother, we can look for her in the palm of our hand. Thay then uses the hand to illustrate the wisdom of non-discrimination. If we meditate deeply we can learn this wisdom.

The first mindfulness training is about protecting life. A human is made of non-human elements. To protect the environment and other species is to protect ourselves. This is deep ecology. This is a deep practice.

The second mindfulness training is about true happiness. We have to change our idea about happiness. The third mindfulness training is about true love. Kindness. Compassion. Joy. Non-discrimination. We can reduce the suffering with true love. The fourth mindfulness training is about deep listening and loving speech. This training can open up new possibilities. It is a real peace process. How can we heal deep division? Thay provides specific instructions. Last, the fifth mindfulness training is about mindful consumption. The five trainings are not teory. It is very practical. It is the deep teaching of Jesus and the Buddha. We should keep our Christian roots and meditation can make our roots stronger.



Repairing the Past

April 8, 2012. 115-minute recording given at The University of Nottingham by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is third dharma talk for the Cultivating Happiness Family Retreat. We begin with Br. Phap Trien singing with the children, Sr. Chan Khong sharing about the Thich Nhat Hanh Continuation Fund (UK Donation, US Donation), monks and nuns chanting “From the Depths of Understanding” and then a short talk for the children on people meditation and the first mantra. The main talk begins at 55-minutes into the recording.

With the three kinds of energies – mindfulness, concentration, and insight – we can produce Right View, Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action (karma), Right Livelihood, and Right Diligence. The Noble Eightfold Path.

What if yesterday I have produced a thought of hate, and I had the intention to punish? Is it too late, because I produced that thought yesterday, you may ask? It’s not good to produce such a thought. Because it is going on now. It is your continuation. And that is not a beautiful continuation. You don’t want to be continued like that. So today, looking back, I regret that I have produced such a thought of anger, hate, and what should I do? So the practice is to sit down and breathe and produce a thought of the opposite nature, a thought of non-discrimination, a thought of compassion, understanding, and as soon as the new thought is produced, full of understanding and love, that thought will catch up very easily with the other thought, and neutralise it. Right away. Because the nature of our thought is nonlocal. It doesn’t have to travel much, it can catch up the thought of yesterday very easily, and you can neutralise it. Everything comes from the mind. So it is possible to repair the past. The past is still available. And if you are established in the here and the now, you have the opportunity to repair the past. Even if our parents have done something regrettable, even if our ancestors had done something regrettable, the past is still there, and we continue to suffer, and our ancestors continue in us to suffer. So with the Dharma, with the practice, we sit down and we embrace that, and produce the kind of thought, of compassion, understanding, that can neutralise what was wrong, wrongly done in the past. It is possible. It liberates us, and liberates our parents and ancestors. This is possible. Our ancestors expect us to do that. It is nice to encounter the teaching and the practice, and with that practice, we can change the past. And of course, change the future.


Repairing the Past from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.


The Perception of Images

February 5, 2012. 92-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation. You may also listen to the French version.

In each of us we find an object to cover emptiness inside of us. We are like a pot without a lid, and we search for a lid thinking it will help us. As a baby we cried. Part of the reason for crying arises from fear. This fear comes into adulthood with us. We should reflect, use mindfulness, to realize we are no longer a baby. Our first mantra, I am here for you, it starts with ourselves. Being present for ourselves, what does that mean? Body and mind connects to recognize the miracles of life. We are an adult we can use out mindfulness to be present and let go of our fear. We can take refuge in the three jewels: the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha.

At 38-minutes we continue studying Dignaga’s Alambana-pariksa shastra, begun on February 2 dharma talk, with the third and fourth gatha. The things we see, they contain the four basic substances. When the atom comes together, it manifests these elements. Harmonizes. They are not only the production of conciousness, but the real thing. Fourth gatha. Images perceived. They are not something real. The accumulation of atoms are not different with the different sizes of the objects. For example, a dot can be made into a circle or into a square. The object is only a mental construction. This relates to the “universal” and the “particular” and their Interbeing. The images that we perceive in various forms are not real, but only a conventional designation.



The Atom of your Consciousness

February 2, 2012. 82-minute dharma talk from Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation by Sister Chan Khong. You may also listen to the Vietnamese or French versions.

I am here for you. This is a mantra of love. This is also taking care of yourself. If we can’t do this – our own presence – we can’t be there for another person. Invite yourself to be fresh. We entrust ourselves to the sangha. We don’t try to hide our weaknesses.

At 25-minutes, we begin looking at a shastra, or commentary. Thay provides instruction, corrections, and analysis of Dignaga’s shastra, a student of Vassubandhu’s, also of the Yogacara school. Buddhist logic. The commentary is Dignaga’s Alambana-pariksa, discussing substantialism, the nature of svabhava, and realism. The object of our Conciousness. We can only see the object, not the the smallest elements – dust, atom.



One Step is Enough

October 6, 2011. 117-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the second dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat. Over a thousand people are in attendance.

Thay begins by sharing about how we can be truly present for our loved ones. “You can look into the eyes of the other person and say, ‘Darling, I am here for you.’ That is the first mantra. And it works! When you say it, you and she will be happy right away. And you don’t have to practice it in Sanskrit or Chinese, you can say it in English.”

Thay continues by teaching the first few steps of mindfulness of breathing. He then goes into the teaching on store consciousness and mind consciousness. “The contents of store consciousness are seeds. In nuclear physics they speak of matter being made of subatomic particles; in Buddhist psychology we say that consciousness is made up of bijas, seeds. Very tiny–you cannot see them. We have a seed of mindfulness, and if we are a good practitioner, the seed of mindfulness grows everyday. Then, when we need mindfulness, it is available, right away. We also have a seed of anger, in store consciousness. And when someone comes and says something or does something that touches off the seed of anger in us, it manifests in mind consciousness as a mental formation.”

You may listen or download the audio from this site or watch the video.



Jesus is the Bread

September 4, 2011. 91-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 Day of Mindfulnss during a month-long stay in Escondido.

This is a happy moment. When you love someone, you want him or her to be there for you. How can you love if you are not there? To love is a practice. To practice mindful walking and mindful breathing. You can then offer yourself. You are truly there. The most precious gift is your true presence.

Children are flowers in the garden of humanity. Each of us are born as a flower. We need to preserve our flowerness. To be a true lover we need to know how to take care of ourselves. This is a Buddhist practice.

The First Mantra is “Darling, I am here for you.” And, when you want someone to know of your love then you can practice the Second Mantra. “Darling, I know you are there and it makes me happy.

Thay also teaches on listening to the bell, and the establishment of a breathing room for the family to restore your flowerness.

Thay shares with us the about the nature of bread, that contains the whole cosmos: the Buddha, Jesus, all things are in the bread. “You don’t need to think, there is just awareness. Awareness and insight, but no thinking. No thinking is the secret. We can eat every morsel of our lunch in that way.”

He continues to share about the story of the young couple in the Sutra on the Son’s Flesh who decide to move to another country with their son. Faced with starvation in the desert, they decide to kill their little boy and eat his flesh, crying and beating their chests as they do so. “After the Buddha told this story to the monks, he turned to them and said, ‘Dear friends, do you think the parents enjoyed eating the flesh of their own son?’ ‘No, it is impossible that they could enjoy it.’

The Buddha said, ‘Let us eat in such a way that we preserve our compassion and mindfulness, otherwise when we eat it is like we are eating the flesh of our own son.'” “We should be the aware that many of the items that we consume, with the eyes, the ear, the body, the mind, can be very toxic. A television program, an article, may be full of anger, hate and violence. If we allow our children to consume these items, the toxins will go into their consciousness. Even conversations can sometimes be very toxic.”

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and Jesus is the Bread.


Freeing Ourselves From Notions

August 22, 2011. 109-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the third dharma talk of the Body and Mind Are One retreat.

After a short guided meditation, Thay speaks to the children about how to play in such a way that we maintain our joy and happiness during the whole time of playing, not letting anger overcome us. If we play and we are angry we always lose. “Learn to play in such a way that neither the winner nor the loser suffer. That is the highest way of playing.” Next we learn the third mantra. It is about love. As your love grows, your happiness grows. Darling, I know you suffer and I am here for you. We also learn about the wisdom of non-discrimination.

Thay shares with us the 4th mantra – “Darling, I suffer and I want you to know. I’m doing the best I can. Please help.” If we can’t do this, it may because of our pride. You may eant to prove you can survive by yourself. We don’t let others know about our suffering, or let them help us, because of our pride, because of our anger. A practitioner knows that when anger arises they should take good care of themselves and their anger with mindful breathing until their anger calms and they can see into the wrong perception behind their anger.

Thay then shares about the 11th and 12th exercises of mindful breathing – 11) concentrating the mind and 12) liberating the mind. There are many objects of concentration but three are found throughout Buddhism – emptiness (sunyata), signlessness (animitta), and aimlessness (apranihita). These are also called the three doors of liberation. In the Sutra on Mindful Breathing, we are given four other objects of concentration – impermanence, non-craving, cessation, and letting go. We use these concentrations to free ourselves from the notions of being and non-being, birth and death, coming and going, sameness and otherness, and the four notions of self, man/human, living beings, and lifespan that the Diamond Sutra recommends that we remove. Freeing ourselves from these notions we are able to touch reality, to touch nirvana and realize our true nature – the nature of no-birth and no-death.

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and Freeing Ourselves from Notions.


Make Yourself Available

August 10, 2011. 22-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 the first dharma talk for the children.

Thay speaks about how to be truly present for our parents, and how to ask our parents to be truly present for us, using the four mantras. The first one: “I am here for you.” “In order for the mantra to work, you have to be there. ‘I am here’ is not a declaration; it is a practice.’ Sometimes your body is there, but your mind is not there: you are not really there.” “You may like to pat your father on the shoulder and ask, ‘Is anybody home?'” The second mantra: “I know you are there, and I am happy.” The third mantra: “Darling, I know you suffer. That is why I am here for you.”

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


I Know You Suffer

July 27, 2011. 93-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh, translated from the French by Sr. Pine, from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat

Thay teaches four mantras that can help us resolve difficult situations with our loved ones: 1) I am here for you; 2) I know you are there, and I am happy; 3) I know you suffer, and I want you to know that I am here for you; 4) I suffer, please help.

Thay also teaches the story of Mr. Truong and Nam Xuong, who lose their love, and her life, due to actions based on a wrong perception. “In our society we have a fear of suffering, but to understand the suffering in ourselves and in the other person is very important. When we are able to understand the suffering inside, we suffer less. And we can see more easily the suffering in the other person; we can understand them.” To go deeper into how we nourish the seeds of anger inside,

Thay explains the teaching on the Four Nutriments: 1) edible food, 2) sense impressions, 3) volition, 4) consciousness.

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