The Flower is Full of Everything

August 14, 2011. 86-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 is the final talk of the retreat.

Exercises of mindful breathing from the Anapanasati Sutta: the first four are (1) identify your breath, (2) follow your breath, (3) aware, and (4) release. From here we move to the feelings. They are (5) generate joy, (6) generate happiness, (7) aware of painful feelings, and (8) embrace the painful feeling. We then (9) recognize joy, (10) gladdening the mind, (11) concentrating the mind, (12) liberate the mind.

There are at least three types of concentration in Buddhism known as the Three Doors of Liberation: Emptiness, Signlessness, Aimlessness.  Thay provides an detailed explanation of each door.

The next four exercises are concentrations proposed by the Buddha, but we do explore these in depth during this talk. We also hear about no birth/no death, being/non-being, coming/going, and sameness/otherness.

Emptiness does not mean non-existence. A glass can be empty or full of tea, but in order to be empty or full the glass needs to be there. So emptiness does not mean non-existence. This glass is empty of tea, but it is full of air. So it is helpful for us to ask, ‘Empty of what?’ To be empty is always to be empty of something. When we contemplate a flower like this, we see the flower is full of everything: the cloud, the sunshine, the Earth, time, space, the gardener—everything has come together to help the flower to manifest. Why do we say it is empty? It is empty of only one thing: a separate existence. A flower cannot be by herself alone. A flower is full of non-flower elements. It is clear that the flower has to be interbe with everything in the cosmos. She cannot be by herself alone. To be by oneself alone is impossible. So we begin to see the interdependence of everything.

He uses the example of a match which requires the action of us striking it for a flame to manifest. In life we are the same: when we ask ‘Where do we come from?’ or ‘Where are we going?’ we see that we do not come from anywhere. “When conditions come together sufficiently, I manifest. My nature is the nature of no coming and no going. When conditions are no longer sufficient, I just stop manifestation and wait for a chance to manifest again. My nature is no coming, no going.”

This concludes the retreat in Vancouver. After a public talk on August 14, the sangha will travel to Colorado for a retreat at Estes Park.

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

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A Deep Volition of Practice

August 12, 2011. 85-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 a question and answer session.

Children

  1. How did it feel when you left your country?
  2. Where did you learn to become mindful and to breathe?
  3. Do you think you’ve reached the highest level of Buddhism? Oh, can you play soccer with the kids today?

Teens

  1. Do you believe you have reached the stage of enlightenment, and if not do you think you will at some stage in your life?
  2. What was it like being on the Oprah Winfry show?
  3. What is the goal of Buddhism?
  4. I have self doubt and negative thoughts that keep me from enjoying myself; how can I overcome this?

Adults

  1. What are the best ways to connect with my volition to offer love?
  2. My suffering comes from chronic illness with a lot of physical pain and I am also an activist who cares very deeply for the world which leads to despair. What practices do you suggest for this type of suffering?
  3. What would be a good way to bring mindfulness to the inner cities?
  4. Awakening of the Heart. Are we as a society moving from the intellect to the heart? Is there a shift in our collective consciousness?

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

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Miracles of Reconciliation

August 11, 2011. 60-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 the third talk of the retreat.

Today we continue with the Noble Eightfold Path. Right Speech. Deep listening. The purpose of deep listening is to allow the other person, or group of people, to have a chance to speak out. Maybe nobody has listened to them and you may be the first person. They can empty their heart. Compassion can protect you, even if the other person is full of accusations, bitterness, and wrong perceptions. When we sit down and listen, we can follow our in breath and out breath to help the other person suffer less. The is the role of a bodhissatva. Every one of us has the seed of compassion inside. We can all benefit from this discipline of deep listening – we all have the seeds of compassion and understanding.

The dharma talk comes from the living experience of the teacher. The best way to listen to a dharma talk is not with your intellect – send your intellect on vacation and allow the dharma rain to penetrate the soil and it will water the best of the seeds in us. One of those seeds is awakening; enlightenment.

Right Diligence has four aspects. We need a little understanding of our mind in order to practice  true diligence. The mind has two layers: store consciousness and mind consciousness. The practice of diligence is to not allow those negative seeds inside of our store consciousness to manifest. In Buddhist psychology, there are 51 varieties of seeds. A seed can manifest as a mental formation.

The talk is available below.

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Growing Corn

August 11, 2011. 26-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 especially for the children.

Story of corn seeds. Grain of corn to be planted and remember to water everyday. And when it becomes a plant of corn, maybe 2-3 leaves, you come and ask the plant a question. “My dear little plant of corn, do you remember when you were a tiny seed?” The plant may not remember, but you do. The plant of corn is only a continuation of the grain of corn. You too were like the grain of corn and we don’t remember, so we need a friend in the dharma to help us. We believe that our father and our mother are outside of us, but that is not true. In addition to being outside of us, they are inside of us; every cell of our body. We are a continuation of our father and of our mother and we can make our father and mother more beautiful into the future. We can bring them into the future.

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

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If there is no death, there is no life

August 10, 2011. 52-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 second dharma talk.

Thay speaks about the nature of life and death. “We think that now is life, and death will be later. But in fact, left and right manifest together, above and below manifest at the same time… Death is happening right here in every moment. Why are we afraid of dying?” He goes on to talk about the nature of happiness: “If a father does not understand the suffering of his son, then it is impossible for that father to love and make his son happy. So understanding is very crucial to happiness. To love means to understand.

Right view is non-discriminative thinking. “In Buddhism, thinking is already action: by your thinking you can destroy the world, by your thinking you can save the world.” Thay goes on to share about the relationship between the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths.

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

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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.

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Handling Strong Emotions

August 9, 2011. 68-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.

Thay speaks about the first few steps of the mindfulness of breathing sutra: 1) in/out breath, 2) follow the breath, 3) aware of body, 4) release tension in the body, 5) generate joy, 6) generate happiness, 7) recognize pain, 8) embrace pain. To support the cultivation of mindfulness, we should find a community of practice. Thay also shares about the Wake Up movement for young people. “We have the conviction that parents and teachers have to master the practice, so that they can transmit it to their students and children.” He also shares about a new program to bring Applied Ethics into schools through school teachers.

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

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Open Mind Open Heart Retreat: Orientation

August 8, 2011. 45-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.

This retreat launches 3-months of touring in North America. We have over 800 people attending the retreat here in Vancouver and this is the first gathering where we are provided with an orientation. Thay speaks about the practices of breathing and walking meditation, and about how we can recognize the conditions for happiness that are already present in the here and the now.

The talk and chant are available below. There is a video version available too.

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Listening to the Chant

August 8, 2011. 35-minute talk and chanting with Thich Nhat Hanh from War Memorial Gym at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. The sangha is on the North American Tour.

After a greeting and welcome, Thay introduces how to listen to chanting. We then hear the Namo’valokiteshvaraya chant.

The talk and chant are available below. There is a video version available too.

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