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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Conditioned Genesis

June 20, 2012. 79-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the fifteenth dharma talk (of 15). No chanting. This is the final dharma talk of the retreat.

Topics

  • We are all cells in the sangha body. Sangha building.
  • Suffering and happiness.
  • The mind of non-discrimination.

Four pairs of opposites

  • Birth/Death
  • Being/Non-being
  • Coming/Going
  • Sameness:Otherness

Scientists and practitioners can let go of notions.

Thay reads from The Paramartha Gathas of Asanga Gathas on the Absolute Truth. This is because that is – Condition Genesis

Both the self and the elements that give rise to the self are empty. They are just constructions of our perverted (confused) mind. The separate-self nature ofall the sentient species is also empty. The only thing that is, is the causing andconditioning of one dharma upon another.

And the following from The Discourse on the Adaptation of Conditioned Genesis Connected with Emptiness

Profound indeed is this, namely conditioned genesis; even more profound,more difficult to see is this, namely the extinction of all attachment, the destructionof craving, the fading away of desire, the cessation of all suffering: nirvana.

Signlessness

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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.

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Hands Practicing Non-Violence

April 7, 2012. 130-minute recording given at The University of Nottingham by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is second dharma talk for the Cultivating Happiness Family Retreat. We begin with the new chant by Br. Phap Linh called “Praising the Three Jewels,” followed by a short talk for the children. The main talk begins at 54-minutes into the recording.

Flower Fresh. Breathing in, I see myself as a flower. Breathing out, I feel fresh and I smile. The whole body of a child is a flower. We are all flowers in the garden of humanity. With meditation, we can keep our flowerness for a long time. Thay teaches us how to offer each other a greeting in mindfulness by offering each other a lotus flower.

“I don’t think that the Buddha is outside of me. He is inside of me. Because I got a lot from the Buddha, I learn a lot of the Dharma, if I have compassion, understanding and non-discrimination, that’s thanks to the Buddha, so the Buddha is in me. And my hand also contains the hand of the Buddha. This hand has been practising non-violence. My two hands have not for a long time harmed any living beings. They practise protecting life, not killing. There is a compassion, there is love in my two hands. So I know the Buddha is in my two hands. So every time I want the Buddha to touch me, that is easy. I just put my hand here and I see the hand of the Buddha touching me, it’s wonderful. Now you might like to try.”

The most tricky word is “to be” because nothing can be itself alone. Everything is composed of everything else. Interbeing. This is because that is. This is the foundation of Buddhist ethics. Both The Five- and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings are grounded in this concept of Interbeing. Birth. Death. Being. Nonbeing.

Thay outlines some important aspects and teachings from the five mindfulness Trainings. In particular, the fourth training on loving speech and deep listening.

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Hands Practicing Non-Violence from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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A Cultivated Mind Can Bring Happiness

April 5, 2012. 125-minute dharma talk given at The University of Nottingham by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is orientation for the Cultivating Happiness Family Retreat.

We begin with an introduction to chanting. By recognizing the suffering in ourselves and the world, we can gain understanding and compassion. The Avalokiteshvara chant begins about 23-minutes into the recording.

About 46-minutes into the recording, a short dharma talk is given by Thay. A cultivated mind can bring a lot of happiness. This is the practice that can transform the suffering. How do we cultivate? Awareness of breathing is a form of enlightenment. We are practicing to come back to the here and now. Following this talk, the monastics (Brother Phap Ung and Brother Phap Lai) continue with some of the basic practices such as listening to the sound of the bell, eating, noble silence, and listening to dharma talks.

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Cultivating the Mind: Nottingham Retreat Orientation from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

 

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Applying Buddhist Teachings to the Classroom

April 2, 2012. 115-minute dharma talk given at The American School in London by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is part four (and final part) of the Educators’ Retreat: An Exploration of Mindful Education.

Memorizing gathas to help us establish mindfulness. There are four domains of mindfulness: body, feelings, mental formations, and objects of mind. Mindfulness can help us be together in these four realms. Once we have established mindfulness, we can have concentration. The final kind of energy is insight – this can liberate you from your fear. This is not the product of your thinking, it is the insight of Interbeing. True education should be based in this insight of Interbeing.

In order to see things, we need an organ (for example, the nose to receive oder). The organ of thinking it is called manas, and there is a lot of mis-perception in this organ. For example, the view of a separate self – this is at the base of all our complexes (inferiority, superiority, and equality). We can use mindfulness to gain the insight of non-discrimination. In the field of education, it is the same thing. The happiness of the students is the happiness of the teacher. We need non-discrimination to enjoy the teaching and the learning.

In the teaching of the four noble truths, the first truth is there is suffering. In education, the first thing we should do is identify the suffering and acknowledge it to each other. We have to see the truth so that real change can happen through a collective awakening. Thay continues with the application of the second, third, and fourth noble truth in our lives.

We learn about what is meant by sangha and how it can be applied to the community of teachers. What is suffering and why is it important? The last part of the talk looks closely at the Five Mindfulness Trainings.

Happy teachers will know how to generate understanding and love that will help the younger generation change the world.

A video version may be available.

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A Bodhisattva in Every Step

November 13, 2011. 80-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha has just returned from the North American Tour and this is the first dharma talk. I am a little hesitant to post because the sound is a bit challenging. The talk is given in Vietnamese and with consecutive translation into English by Sr. Chan Khong. The challenge being you can hear Thay very clearly and it is occasionally difficult to hear the English clearly. It is a lovely talk and a slightly fresh view from his typical dharma talk, so I hope you enjoy it despite the sound issues.

Thay shares about the practice of sitting meditation, and about the beauty of what the Earth offers to us when we are able to overcome our human pride.

You are very proud of your science, your math, but if you look at one petal of a flower you realize that you would have to be an extremely talented mathematician and artist to create such a thing. Human beings are very proud to be the heroic soldier who can do everything, but the Earth is also very powerful. It has created millions of species. Mother Earth offers us air to breathe, water to drink. We have to recognize the planet Earth as a wonderful mother who can host us, who can give us everything we need.

“In every speck of dust there are countless Buddhas. During walking meditation we can touch the Earth in us. We have to be realistic. Don’t search for a bodhisattva in your imagination. It is there in every step.”

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