Self and Non-Self: The Evolving Consciousness

The Retreat on Buddhist Psychology continues in Key West, Florida. The date is November 5, 1997. This is the fourth talk (99-minutes).

Teaching on the Three Dharma Seals

  • Impermanence
  • No-self
  • Nirvana

The authentic teachings of the Buddha must contain all three of these. They are not only a description of reality but a way of seeing things.

Impermanence and nonself also contain the teaching of rebirth. What is impermanence? Is it the cause of our suffering? How do we practice with impermanence?

Impermanence and no-self are two sides of the a coin. And nirvana is the metal. The base. Nirvana is extinction. Extinction of notions/ideas. All the pairs of opposites.

Other topics covered in this talk:

  • Teaching of the Three Natures of Reality
  • 18 Realms of Being
  • Universal mental formations
  • Verses 23-25, 39-42 of the Fifty Verses of Consciousness

In the last 15-minutes, Thay offers suggestions for practice during the lazy afternoon and also outlines formal lunch.

Metaphors: a coin, the wave

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Cultivating Peace

Thich Nhat Hanh in Vietnam (2007)In this 2007 dharma talk, we go back to the Vietnam trip (February 21 to May 9) that focused on the Great Requiem Ceremonies across the country. The purpose of this trip was to to heal the last wounds of the war. The date of this recording is May 7, 2007 and it is the last talk of the Vietnam tour.

It is possible to cultivate peace as individuals, as families, and as nations. We need to begin with understanding and love – this is the foundation of peace. Our peace begins with our in-breath as we bring our mind back to our body. The breathing is the bridge connecting our mind and body. Do we know our conditions of happiness to live happily in the present moment? There is also the wisdom of non-discrimination in Buddhism.

Four elements of true love – maitri, karuna, mudita, and upeksha. The wisdom of non-discrimination (29:45) – a topic that is very crucial for our own peace and for peace in the world – a very important element of true love.

The Three Kinds of Powers (49:55). We need to discover that the Buddha was a human being. The source of wisdom in Buddhism can help us overcome our despair. Spiritual power can be attained through our daily practice. The first is to cut-off. For example, to cut off from our craving, our anger, our despair. We do this by looking at the nature of suffering. The Buddha did this and you can to. The second power is insight. We cultivate this through our meditation. The third kind of power to cultivate is the power to love, to forgive.

The practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking allows us to be present in the here and now. When you practice like this, each breath and step can bring you to the pure land of the Buddha and touch the wonders of life.

Thay responded to a series of questions from the audience.

  1. How do you practice offering love to someone who does not want that? (55:02)
    Can you teach us how family can practice beginning anew? The practice of deep listening and loving speech. Practicing peace. (58:02)
  2. A question about impermanence. Is nirvana achievable and is it permanent? (1:11:52)
  3. A question about anger. Working with children in the classroom caused me to lose my temper often because I couldn’t control the class. (1:23:52)
  4. How do we help people to live in peace when they live in poor environments. (1:29:27)
  5. What is the difference between “non-discrimination” and “forgiveness” when defining the fourth element of true love (upeksha)? (1:39:07)

At the conclusion of the questions (1:41:42), Thay shares a little bit about the prayer ceremonies that were organized during this tour for those who died in the war and for those who died at sea. There were three ceremonies – one in the south, one in central, and one in the north of Vietnam where we practiced sitting meditation, reciting the sutras, and doing charity work. We transferred the merit of our practice to the dead people. The sharing concludes with an English translation of the readings used during the ceremonies.

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Nirvana Walking

January 27, 2013. 76-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the twenty-fourth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk is given in Vietnamese and this is a translation provided by Sr. Chan Không.

In first 17-minutes, we arr reminded how to be in touch with yourself. Through walking meditation and no thinking. When we walk, we walk relaxingly and solidly. Every step is solid and every step is freedom. And with Freedom you can arrive in Nirvana. Nirvana is extinction of all the affliction. Walking meditation can be very profound.

Three Dharma Seals. Impermanence. No self. Nirvana.

The island of self. There is no way to Nirvana,  nirvana is the way.

At 45-minutes, we look at the Four Noble truths and noble eight fold path. The five mindfulness trainings are a concrete manifestation of this path to Nirvana. What are the five mindfulness Trainings? Includes a discussion of the four Kinds of nutriments.

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Home is the Way

December 31, 2012. 120-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village in English. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat) and this is the special New Years Eve dharma talk (and the sixteenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha?).

Dear friends, please smile. You are online.

How do we go home? Home is in the hear and the now. It is the practice of healing. Every step is healing. Every breath is healing.

Nirvana is available in the here and now. Nirvana is cooling down. Cooling the fire of fear, afflictions, and wrong views. This is the Third Noble Truth. We do not need to die in order to touch nirvana. Nirvana is a state of no heat. We use the noble eightfold path. How do see the path? We need our six sense organs and our mind to experience nirvana. The Five Mindfulness Trainings help us experience the path.

Right View. Notions of being and non-being. Notions of birth and death.

Right Mindfulness. This allows you to be fully alive. It is an art of living.

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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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Arriving Home is Truly Enough

December 16, 2012. 88-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the twelfth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

Go home and heal yourself. Where is your home? Only there any heal yourself. To some extent, we all have a sickness. We need to totally bring ourselves into the present moment with everything that we are doing. It is a training And we do it together with our community and our ancestors. We can touch the ultimate dimension. Arriving home is truly enough.

At 23-minutes we resume the sutra study and commentary. Dharma seal. The criterion for the teachings of the Buddha. Impermanence. No self. Nirvana. What is the road from relative truth to ultimate truth?

There are a number of Buddhists who are obsessed by the idea that impermanence is suffering. Life is suffering. So many have used “suffering” as the third dharma seal. But we need to remember also that if there is suffering, there must also be happiness. See the Chanda Sutra, #262 that clearly says nirvana is the third dharma seal.

Why is impermanence important? This too is related with the 12 links. Thay highlights a few errors from the sutras and provides a new teaching that better reflects the true teaching.

We also cover Agama #293.

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Two Hands Clapping

December 9, 2012. 110-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the tenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

In the first 40-minutes of the dharma talk, the focus is arriving in your True Home. What is our true home? What are the instructions to arrive? What is the island of self?

Following the instruction on coming home, we turn to a series of sutra commentaries. We begins with Agama #273 and another sutra (didn’t get the name) chapter Two, Sutra #17-19. Topics include the six bases, eighteen realms, and the twelve links of co-arising.

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What is dualism and nirvana?

December 6, 2012. 105-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the ninth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

When we speak of spirituality, people often think I the east. And when speaking of science, people think of the west. Today these two ideas can come together. Even Christianity is from the east and has non-dualistic elements. In the first half of the dharma talk today, Thay answers the following questions:

What is dualistic/non-dualistic thinking?
What is nirvana?

About an hour into the recording, the teaching shifts into the sutra commentary as it relates to the twelve links of co-arising, the ultimate dimension, teaching on non-action, and the prajnaparamitas.

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Body and Mind Are One

August 24, 2012. 100-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the fifth Dharma talk offered by Thay on in the German Retreat, theme of Body and Mind Are One, at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

Can the body be without the mind? Can the mind be without the body? By looking deeply, we see this is not possible. Without the body, we cannot take care of the mind. And vice versa.

The sixteen exercises on the full awareness of mindful breathing. Teachings on impermanence and nirvana (story of the wave). Three doors of liberation.

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Foundations of Mindfulness

August 16, 2012. 91-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 fifth (and final) 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.

Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. An object. The first object of mindfulness is our body. Our body includes our in-breath and out-breath. There is a sutra on the contemplation of the body. The second object of our mindfulness is our feelings. Pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings. The third object is our mind. It is comprised of mental formations. The fourth is the objects of our mind.

After a brief review of the first 8 exercises on the Full Awareness of Mindful Breathing, Thay moves ahead with the remaining exercises. Also, a teaching on impermanence, non-self, and Interbeing. Contemplating a cloud. The three concentrations. Emptiness. Aimlessness. Signlessness. Also known as the Three Doors of Liberation. Dwelling happily in the present moment.

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