Move Toward the Absolute Truth

November 18, 2012. 92-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha had just begun the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the fourth 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.

Everyone already knows that the heart of the Buddha’s teaching is the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. People seem to remember reincarnation, retribution, and karma but these three are not the core of his teachings. These three teachings existed before the time of the Buddha. If you believe in samsara then you believe in the immortal soul, but this is not the true teaching of the Buddha. The Buddha did not deny samsara, but he did teach that we do not have a separate self. He also accepted karma, but that too is also relative. Buddhism is made with many elements, including non-Buddhist elements. Thay continues explaining the influences on Buddhism and the similarities and differences among the different traditions present in India at that time.

You don’t need any spiritual beliefs to follow the Noble Eightfold Path and you can live happily and free. It all begins with Right View. We continue with The Four Noble Truths, Absolute truth and conventional truth, suffering and happiness.

At 1:01 into the recording, we continue with the sutra commentary. We start with the third Chinese line of the gatha. The sutra has been translated into French and English and will be distributed soon.

It is unreasonable to think that the self nature lies in the conditions.
The self nature that is born from conditions would be something that is made.
Without self nature and other nature, how can we have a phenomena.
Only with self and other nature can dharma be possible.
When there is no possibility of being, how can non-being be possible.
Only when there is being can it end and become non-being. 

When something is made, it is not self nature. What is self nature? A flower has no self-nature. A baby has no self-nature. Everything has no self-nature. Transcend all the notions of being and non-being. We need to transcend them. Slowly move toward the absolute truth.

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[vimeo http://vimeo.com/54079399]

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Embrace the Whole Cosmos

November 15, 2012. 97-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha had just begun the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the third 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.

Reviewed the four (psychic) powers from the last talk (11/11/12). We also review mindfulness, concentration, and insight. How do we practice these? Practicing Right View. Right Speech. Right Action. These things are preparing our karma. Karma doesn’t mean bad. Practicing generosity. Dana. Enlarge your heart and accept yourself and others. A bodhissatva has the capacity to enlarge their heart. Embrace the whole cosmos. But this depends on your Right View obtained from mindfulness, concentration, and insight. Interbeing. The most important teaching from the Buddha is Right View and it comes from your practice. It isn’t about reincarnation, retribution, etc.

Today we now discuss a sutra with commentaries on the middle path. Chapter 15, the first two Gathas. All the dharma has no self. Nothing has a seperate self. Everything is a notion. The Dharma Seal is the true teaching of the Buddha and contains impermance, no self, and nirvana. Is there a permanent soul? Thay continues further with these teachings of the dharma seal.

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[vimeo http://vimeo.com/54079304]

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Be Free From Fear

November 1, 2012. 76-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is enjoying the Autumn Retreat and this is a Day of Mindfulness. This is the 8th, and final, dharma talk of the fall retreat. Thay begins with a short review of what’s been covered in the last four weeks.

Today we will look more deeply into the nature of our birth and our death. We begin with an analysis of a cloud. What is a cloud and when does it exist? We have to look at the cloud with eyes of signlessness. The rain is the new form of the cloud. How do we appy this to our own being? Is there really birth and death? There is only continuation.

Collective action. In Buddhism, the notion of action is very important. It is called karma. Triple action: thought, speech, and action. With mindfulness we can recognize our thoughts and make a decision that they produce healing and reconciliation. In order to so, we need Right View and Right Understanding. What is the connection between birth, death, and karma?

We need mindfulness and concentration to gain the insight if Right View. Birth and death inter-are with each other. Thay teaches briefly on each of the other elements of the Noble Eightfold Path.

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The Principle of Identity

September 3, 2012. 107-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into Italian, with Thich Nhat Hanh at the Italian Retreat with the theme Peace in Action. The retreat took place at Fraterna Domus in Rome, Italy.

Using the pebble in our work and in school, practicing love for others, and the first two mantras of Plum Village.

Darling I am here for you.
Darling, I know you are there and it makes me happy. 

In the Buddhist tradition, we speak of two kinds of truth: conventional and ultimate. There is a connection between these, just like between happiness and suffering. In seeing this, we can move away from the principle of identity. Our mind wants to see things in a dualistic way.

Right View. Which is Interbeing. We can create thought that is understanding and has compassion. Thay teaches the noble eightfold path. Recognizing our mental formations. Right Diligence. Selective watering.

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Basic Teachings in Italian and English

September 2, 2012. 84-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into Italian, with Thich Nhat Hanh at the Italian Retreat with the theme Peace in Action. The retreat took place at Fraterna Domus in Rome, Italy.

How do we let freshness and beauty arise? The teaching on the seed of corn.

Listening to the bell to get in touch with every cell in our body. The noble truths and noble eightfold path. Right View is the foundation of the othe seven. The topic of no-birth and no-death are examined. The wisdom of non-discrimination.

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The Line of Life Meditation

July 22, 2012. 97-minute recording given at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the twelfth dharma talk of the Summer Opening and the talk was originally given in French. This is an English translation.

We start with a 22-minute talk for the children. How we can share meditation with our friends when we go back home from Plum Village? What does it mean to love? Freshness of a flower. We can offer this and using pebble meditation to teach us about freshness. We also have mantras such as “I am here for you.” Solidity. Space.

What is the deep connection between suffering and happiness? In Buddhism, we speak of Interbeing. What is meant by Interbeing? Being and non-being also uses this principle of Interbeing. What is Right Thinking? Free of notions. Applying the teaching to birth and death.

The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold path.

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Interbeing of Father and Son, Exploring the Fundamental Teachings of the Buddha

July 15, 2012. 121-minute recording given at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the seventh dharma talk of the Summer Opening and the talk was originally given in French. This is an English translation.

We begin with a talk for the children. What is the Buddha? How can we make use of suffering? What can we do with anger? What is loving speech? The story of the corn plant. The method of meditation called Signlessness. Uses the birth of a child to illustrate.

Following the talk for children, the main talk begins at 53-minutes into the recording. In classical science things are all outside of each other. In modern science, quantum physics, we see that things are inside each other. In Buddhism, we try to look this way. There is no separate self. Coexistence. This is, because that is. Interbeing.

A teaching in the Four Noble Truths. Why do we have suffering? Hiw do we get understanding and love? How can we see the all in the one?

The noble eightfold path beginning with Right View (the fruit of our meditation). The notions of being and non-being. Right Thinking. Right Speech. Right Action.

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The Path Healing Us and Healing the World

May 17, 2012. 116-minute recording given at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Day of Mindfulness. At about four minutes into the recording, the brothers are trying to solve a sound problem and the talk resumes in English after 12-minutes.

Today we are stepping from the Four Noble Truths into the Noble Eightfold Path. Mindfulness, Concentration, and Right View. These are the first three elements of the path. But what is right view? Right View is the foundation for all the other elements. It is also the foundation for applied ethics.

Thinking, Speech, Action, Livelihood, and Diligence all have their foundation in right view.

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Foundation for a Cosmic Religion

December 31, 2011. 97-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat and this is talk was given in English on New Year’s Eve.

Let’s visualize the new year coming as a giant bird; coming from the far east and traveling west. We are going somewhere; where are we going? When mindfulness and concentration are present, then we can gain insight to not be carried away by afflictions. The practice of mindfulness can help us enjoy life deeply and also help us to handle difficult emotions and feelings.

The Four Noble Truths and Right View for the transformation of suffering. The science of no birth and no death. The energy of thought and action.

The earth as bodhisattva. Freshness. This year we have an opportunity to continue our experiments, experiments with our insight, particularly as it relates to science. In 2012, we can lay the foundation for a cosmic religion (Einstein reference). The scientists and us can do this together.

There is no soul. No self. There are only the five Skandhas (aggregates) – body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, conciousness. But these do continue in other forms.

Editors Note: some periods of silence exist in audio, but the listener is not missing any part of the talk.

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Appease the Suffering

December 28, 2011. 105-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat and this is talk was given in French with English translation provided by Sister Pine.

Thay teaches on the Noble Eightfold Path, and how concrete practices can help us to cultivate this path. “Thought can make us suffer; we need to be able to stop our thinking in order to be capable of happiness. If we look at the sun but cannot get deeply in touch with it in the present moment, we only see suffering, we cannot see all the conditions of happiness that are already present. If you can see all thoughts just as notions, you can penetrate the reality of no-birth and no-death.”

Right View And it’s relationship to Concentration and the practice of Mindfulness. Right Thinking is characterized by non-discrimination. We also learn of the three practices of concentration (Three Doors of Liberation) present in all Buddhist traditions: emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness. He also teaches on the nature of karma (body, speech, and mind) – Right Action and Right Livelihood. Finally, the four practices of Right Diligence.

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