What is the Fabric of Reality?

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Sunday, January 26, 2014 and is the twenty first talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem. The first 45-minutes of the talk focus on connecting our body and mind through our practice of returning. The second half returns to the sutra study and the characteristics of seeds.

Every time we have difficulties with another person, what can we do? Why do we have these difficulties? Why can we not communicate? Do we blame the other person or are we able to see that both sides have difficulties? We have to look at ourselves. The most basic difficulty is that we can’t communicate or understand ourselves. It’s so easy to just run away from ourselves through reading novels, watching television, go on the internet, etc. But, there may be loneliness, grief, sadness, anger, and emptiness that we cannot bear. We are not at peace with ourselves. Therefore, we cannot easily communicate with the other person because we cannot communicate with ourselves. We can’t blame the other person or ourselves but we try to understand ourselves. This is a courageous act. We can use a friend, a co-practitioner, a sangha to support us to come back to ourselves and recognize our suffering and despair. Our breathing can help us bring our mind back to our body. This is the practice of returning. The method and practice are really simple. With concentration we can cultivate an inner strength. The third exercise from the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing is bringing our full attention to our body and let go of the tension in our body. Mindfulness of the body. Breathing can be the object of our mind to help us return to our body. How is our breathing? We can use the gatha “In. Out. Deep. Slow.” This is the practice of peace.

When Thay taught at university, another professor asked Thay what do we do to sit in meditation? The most basic practice is to harmonize our breathing. When we sit down, the first thing we do is calm down and harmonize the breathing. The second is to harmonize the body with our posture. These two go together – the breathing and the body. This may take a few minutes and then we can go deeper into contemplation. Being aware that we have body and our breathing, this is life.

We can see the miracle if our energy and practice is strong. The Mother Earth is present in our body. We carry in our body the presence of all our ancestors. They continue to live in us. If we are peaceful and joyful then our ancestors are also peaceful and joyful. And so this gatha of practice can be a very deep practice. This is awakening and can come today and can come continuously.

Freedom of in breath and out breath. If the breathing is peaceful then our body is peaceful. We calm our breathing, our body, and then our feelings.

What is that that prevents you from having joy? What is it’s true name? How do we let it entangle us? Plum Village practice is very simple. The energy of mindfulness let us see miracles in every moment. Mindful breathing and mindful steps. To calm down. We can have help
From fellow practitioners.

The characteristics of seeds is Momentary impermance.

Moons and stars are the objects of our consciousness. Everything has a mark or sign. It can be either collective or individual. All these phenomenon are from seeds. There are three kinds of conciousmess in manifestation-only teaching. Store consciousness, Manas, and Perception of Reality along with five sense consciousness plus mind. Store consciousness maintains three things: seeds, our body, and our environment. And the seeds manifests as signs or marks.

What is the fabric of reality?

The fourth characteristic of seeds. And this teaching is a different from the traditional interpretation. The seeds in the store consciousness are neither also door unwholesome because store consciousness is undetermined and unobstructed. Therefore, the characteristic of the seed is undetermined.

The fifth characteristic of seeds is that they wait for conditions to manifest. Interdependent co-arising. And the sixth is neither being nor non-being. In manifestation-only teaching, these are true mental categories and cannot be applied to reality. And that subject and object cannot operate independently.

No sameness, no otherness.
No coming, no going.

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Mindfulness is a Source of Happiness

May 2, 2012. 94-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village during the 12th annual Francophone Retreat. The talk is given in French with English translation. This is the third dharma talk.

Continuing with the idea of practice as the cultivation of our mind. We need to now how our mind operates to practice well. In Buddhist psychology we talk about seeds in our consciousness. We learn of our store consciousness and our mind consciousness.

The first role of mindfulness is simple recognition. If it is anger arising, we recognize the manifestation of anger. Secondly, we embrace the emotion non-violently.

Right Diligence. There are four aspects of right diligence. First, we organize things so the negative seeds don’t have the opportunity to be watered. Second, if negative seeds do arise then do something right away to invite good seeds to manifest. The third aspect is helping the good seeds to manifest. And the fourth is to try keeping good seeds present as long as possible.

More teaching on mind consciousness. Manas.

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Dharma Talk Francophone Day 4 from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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Nottingham Retreat: Question & Answer Session

April 9, 2012. 118-minute recording given at The University of Nottingham by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is the question and answer session for the Cultivating Happiness Family Retreat. After the monastics do chanting, the questions begin about 12-minutes into the recording. A good question can help many people, so we should ask a question of the heart.

Questions from the children

If feels as if my mother treats my brother better than me; how can I make it feel fair?
Have you ever hurt someone on purpose?
Where do get ideas for your books?
When you started learning meditation, did you suffer?
What is it like in Plum Village?
From your point of view, why is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?

Questions from teens and adults.

Do you have a special object?
What are the benefits of being a monk?
What are your views on assisted suicide?
Is there a difference between engaged Buddhism and applied Buddhism?
What is consciousness? Mind?
How can I build confidence without external substances?
How do I help a family with four children whose father committed suicide?
What is the importance of dreams?
What is the role of competition within mindfulness?
How can we be free in our thinking?

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Nottingham Retreat: Question & Answer Session from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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Psyche and Soma Are Not Separate

December 8, 2011. 103-minute dharma talk from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the fifth talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

The happiness of the dharma. When listening to a dharma talk, walking, eating, cleaning the toilet, or sitting meditation, this is dharma happiness. When you put the practice into your daily activities, then you can have happiness. We just need to look a little deeper with concentration. Today we can learn about eating mindfully. A piece of bread contains the body of the cosmos. We also learn how to sit correctly.

At 38-minutes we switch to sutra study. The Paramartha Gathas of Asanga from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra. He shares in particular about the 12 Links of Interdependent Origination as a new theory of knowledge, or epistemology. When we look at them deeply we see there is no subjective observer; we are participants in what we observe. Without this insight we fall into the wrong perception that body and mind are separate.

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Body and Mind Are One

March 10, 2011. 96-minute Dharma Talk in French given by Thich Nhat Hanh at Assembly of Stars, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France.

The body and the mind. Two sides of the same thing. Both the mind and body are aspects of our being. Both belong to the same thing. One supports the other. So, to take care of your mind is to take care of your body (and vice-versa).

We can contemplate our body, and it begins with mindfulness. Sutra on Mindful Breathing has sixteen exercises. The fourth exercise is about resting. This is something we have forgotten how to do and it is very important. Relax. Tension and pain exist both in body and mind. We only hear of the first four.

How do we eliminate toxins in our body and mind? Toxins like hatred, anger, greed. We can learn with our practice. Deep breathing is one method. There are four kinds of nutriments – these are explained. Thay focuses on what we consume and how it impacts us, our well being.

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

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