Breathing In, I Know I am Alive

October 8, 2011. 109-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the third dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat.

The Buddha is a teacher of love. At the time of the Buddha, the people of India were followers of Brahma and Brahma was love. So the Buddha taught about love and gave us the Four Elements of True Love – the Four Brahmaviharas.

The first element is maitri, It’s a difficult word to translate, but many people translate into lovingkindness.  Loving oneself is the foundation of loving someone else. The Buddha made himself happy and then he helped other people be happy. When you have freedom and calmness, then it is easy to help other people be happy. The second element of true love is karuna. This is usually translated as compassion. This is one is to remove suffering, to transform suffering. The third element is mudita – this is joy. This is the sign of true love. And most of the truth lies in the fourth element – upeksa. Scholars have usually translated this as equanimity but Thay shares the real meaning is non-discrimination. In true love there is no place for discrimination.

The wisdom of non-discrimination. In the teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha speaks of Right View. Right View is the type of insight that is free from discrimination. Right View is usually mentioned as the first element of the Noble Eightfold Path, but it also comes from Right Concentration and Right Mindfulness. Coming from Right View, we can produce Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, and Right Diligence. Today we will focus more on the practice of Right View and Right Concentration, but these are the eight elements of the path proposed by the Buddha. It is the Path of True Love. When we take the Five Mindfulness Trainings, they represent this path.

The teaching of no-birth and no-death, being and non-being. This has to do with the practice of emptiness, one of the three doors of liberation. There is a word, Sahabhu, it means co-being. We cannot exist by ourselves. Thay also speaks of our ideas and notions, including the notion of impermanence. Do we have insight?

Action has three aspects. Thinking. Speaking. Body. This is our product. Our continuation. Anything you produce will bear your signature. This is karma. We are our action.

With this path we can create happiness. True understanding and compassion.

You may listen or download the audio from this site or watch the video.

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When You Breathe You Can Already Celebrate Life

September 11, 2011. 120-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the final dharma talk for the Together We Are One retreat.

We begin with a guided meditation looking deeply at ourselves and our ancestors.
We need to cultivate love and compassion. Love and compassion are an essential element of happiness. Maitri has the power to bring happiness. We must understand our suffering, we cannot understand the suffering if others. We must begin with ourselves.

In true live there is no individual suffering; you can’t say it’s not my problem. Understanding is the foundation of love and mindfulness and concentration are the two elements that can bring about understanding.

The roots of terrorism ate wrong views, wrong perceptions. We use loving speech and compassionate listening to help get rid of wrong views. This too is the practice of true love. The path proposed by the Buddha is a noble eightfold path. It has Mindfulness, concentration, and insight. We can travel to the shore of liberation and non-fear. Paramita.

Right view is an element of the noble eightfold path. The Five Mindfulness Trainings are a very concrete method to have right view. Thay talks about being and non-being as it relates to out way of thinking. Right thinking is another part of the path. To continue the explanation, Thay tells a story of a cloud. The nature of a cloud is no-birth, no-death. Our cloud has not come from non-being. A cloud can never die. Being and non-being are just notions. When conditions are sufficient, I manifest myself. My nature is non-local. Right view can liberate us from fear, despair, anger.

In the mind of discrimination, we always want to choose only happiness. We want to ban the suffering and only have happiness. But happiness and suffering inter-are. It is the understanding of the suffering that compassion/happiness can arrive. We do not discriminate against suffering. Birth is now. Death is now. We can touch that fact. Being and non-being are notions and cannot be applied to reality.

Right speech, the next in the path, means speech without discrimination. Next we look at Right Action. What we do with our body should reflect our right view. No discrimination. The same can be said about Right Livelihood, Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.
Finally, Thay talks about karma.

In addition to the audio, a video version is available.

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Cooling Down the Fire of Anxiety

May 19, 2011. 92-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the third Dharma talk offered by Thay in the German Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

We learn about verses of practice — Gathas — many are taken from Avatamsaka Sutra. Later, Thay wrote Gathas for modern society such as using the telephone and riding a bicycle. We continue the discussion on right view with a presentation on the opposites: being/non-being, birth/death, coming/going, and sameness/otherness. The last 15-minutes of the talk, Thay provides some instruction for education and mindfulness.

The talk was given in English and German at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

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