Categories
Plum Village Retreats

Making Peace with Ourselves

Play

The date is November 25, 2001 at Plum Village, Upper Hamlet. This is the first talk of the 3-month winter retreat. The talk is offered in English.

00:00 Connecting with Green Mountain Dharma Center and Deer Park Monastery
09:10 Chanting
34:12 Going Home to Ourselves
41:08 Drinking our Tea
43:22 Mindfulness of our Body
46:04 Body
52:50 Feelings
56:26 Perceptions
1:01:38 Mental Formations
1:05:14 Consciousness
1:06:01 Reclaiming Our Sovereignty
1:14:01 The Sangha
1:17:58 The Energy of Mindfulness
1:24:55 Healing from Within
1:29:04 Looking Deeply
1:37:53 Building a Sangha

What is the 3-month retreat? How do we practice together? Our practice is to build brotherhood. How do we know if we are succeeding in our practice? To practice to be happy together. It is a kind of daily food. Through our sitting mediation, walking meditation, eating in mindfulness. These help build our sisterhood and brotherhood. This is done by building peace within ourselves so it can manifest around us. 

The Energy of Mindfulness

Buddhist meditation has a universal value. The energy of mindfulness help us to there, to be fully present in every moment of our daily life. To be there for us. Our body, our feelings, our perceptions – they are all there, but are we taking care of them? Our practice is to go home to ourselves and tend to our feelings, perceptions, and our body. Our tendency is to run away from ourselves. 

Drinking our tea. Are we fully present to drink our tea? Or are you drinking like a machine? Mindfulness of drinking. Everyone can do that. If we are not careful, we may follow our habit. Mindfulness is the energy to be there for what is going on. Through breathing, walking, eating, etc. 

Mindfulness is the kind of energy that helps you to be fully there. This is the first action for peace. Have you abandoned yourself? Mindfulness can help you come back to yourself. We start with our body. Your breath is part of your body. When you breathe in, bring your mind back. Mindful breathing. This is the best way to begin making peace. It is the door in which you can come back to yourself. We can restore ours sovereignty in the territory of ourselves. 

The Five elements (Skandhas) 

The first element is form – your physical body. Our physical body is like a river; it is always flowing. The first thing a practitioner should do is make peace with our body. Learn how to calm and renew your body. Learn the art of deep and total relaxation. Give our body a chance to rest and restore itself. It is an action of peace. In the Harvard medical school, they have studied the role of meditation in healing the body. Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile to my body.

The second element of your person is feeling. The painful feelings, pleasant feelings, neutral feelings. All kinds of feelings. Like the body, there is a river of feelings. They are born, remain, and affect other aspects of our person. Are you taking care of your feelings? Your emotions? Our tendency is to run away. Breathing in, I am aware of my feeling. Breathing out, I calm my feeling. They are like a suffering baby and they have been left alone. We need to take care of this territory of feelings. 

The third portion of our territory is perception. We perceive realities, we have an image of ourselves. That is a perception. We have an image of the other person, or other group of people. This is a perception. And very often they are wrong. And because of our wrong perceptions, we suffer very deeply. There are a lot of contradictions. 

In the Buddhist tradition, the physical body is called a formation. Formation is a technical term that means anything that manifests based on conditions. For example, a flower. Our body is formation. Our feelings are also a kind of formation, but we call it a mental formation. The fourth element is mental formations. According to Buddhist psychology, we have defined 51 mental formations. And mindfulness is one of the mental formations; we should develop our mindfulness. 

The fifth domain is called consciousness. Consciousness contains all the kind of seeds that can manifest into mental formations. It is like the soil keeping all the seeds and when the rain falls then mental formations manifest. 

Reclaiming Our Sovereignty

The territory of our person is very large. And if we don’t know how to bring peace into our territory, then we cannot help our brother or sister to do the same. To restore peace, it is the act of peace. And it is a collective effort. We are the king/queen that rules our territory, but we have not been very good at taking care of our territory. We have lost our sovereignty. We have to go home and rely upon our sangha to help us restore and reclaim our sovereignty. We have our in-breath and out-breath to support us in this endeavor. And when the quality of your breathing has improved, you can step into your body and channel the peace and harmony with your breathing. That is the practice. 

Our society is organized in such a way that we’re encouraged to do the opposite of taking caring of ourselves. Television, magazines, etc. help us to run away from ourselves. When you don’t have anything to do, we often look for something to do. We are afraid of coming home to ourselves because we may encounter the war within ourselves. We have been running away. The buddhist practice helps us return to our kingdom without fear. With the energy of mindfulness of our sangha. We need the sangha. It is very difficult to do alone. The sangha can help us embrace our body, our feelings, our perceptions. The Buddha offers many concrete methods to restore peace and well-being. 

The Energy of Mindfulness

The energy of mindfulness has several functions. The first function is to be there for yourself. To help us produce our true presence. Through mindful breathing and mindful walking. This is the basic practice of Plum Village. The second function is to recognize what is there. What is there is your body, your feeling, etc. 

And the third function of mindful is to embrace. Not fighting. Just embracing. The fruit of the practice depends on the strength of your mindfulness. If you practice well, then it will be enough to embrace your pain. This can bring about relief and calming. We can create an environment that is favorable for this practice. 

Healing is not really coming from outside. It can come from the inside. It is inherent in our body and consciousness. Just like an animal is injured retreats to take care of the body. If we worry too much, then we make the situation worse. We need to rest. We can believe in the capacity of our body. This can also apply to our consciousness too. Every wound can be healed. Through tenderly embracing our pain in the body and in our feelings. 

The next function of mindfulness is to look deeply. Look deeply into what? Our feelings, our perceptions. To identify the roots of our pain and our suffering. Our ill-being. Looking deeply into the nature of our anger, our pain, then we can see the kind of food we are using to feed them. This is related to consumption. And practicing mindful consumption is the way out. Nothing can survive without food. To know what to consume and what not to consume. Looking deeply requires concentration. Which then gives you insight to know what to do. 

Practical Example: a feeling of despair. 

Building a Sangha

Thay shares of coming to the West and feeling all alone. I had to come to call for a cessation of war in Vietnam. And so he began to build a sangha to feel supported and not be alone. Building sangha is the most important task. Without a sangha, we cannot have refuge. Even if you are a teacher or a Buddha, you still need sangha. A group of people can change the course of history. 

Peace and well-being always begins with yourself. Learn the methods from the sangha. Have faith in the practice. And you can feel peace and well-being. Coming together for three months is our opportunity to build brotherhood and sisterhood. 

The next Buddha is Mr. Love. And will take the form of the sangha. The Five Skandhas working in harmony, that is a sangha. 

Categories
Retreats

Breathing Begins Transformation

Play

In this 2-hour dharma talk, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches how important our breathing is for transformation. The talk takes place on August 13, 2007 during the Stonehill College retreat during the U.S. Tour. The retreat theme is Mindfulness, Fearlessness, and Togetherness and this is the first dharma talk of the retreat.

Eating Breakfast

We begin with a brief reflection on Lazy Day at Son Ha Temple in Plum Village. Being lazy can be difficult for some people. In Plum Village it means to take your time in every moment. Whether we are brushing our teeth or eating our breakfast. Each moment is a moment of joy, of peace, of freedom. Thay has discovered that he loves french toast, but he’s been unable to find french toast in France. I eat breakfast because I like breakfast. In the Buddhist practice, we take time to enjoy our breakfast. We don’t eat in a hurry. During this retreat, we also eat in silence. This is known as noble silence. We practice being mindful of every morsel of food we eat and also mindful of the people around you. The same is when we drink tea – to be truly present in the here and the now. True life is there in the present moment. Drinking mindfully I can see the cloud in my tea. Many of us are running after something, such as a diploma. When we are running, we missed the opportunity to be in the present moment. To stay with my breakfast or with my tea. This is called mindful eating. 

Walking Meditation

14:25 – Today, we started with walking meditation early this morning. The purpose of walking meditation to arrive in every moment. To arrive in the here and the now. There is always something in the here and the now. Our habit of running causes us to missing what is happening in the present moment. I have arrived. I am home. When you have arrived, happiness becomes a real thing. We arrive in every moment. This is called mindful walking. 

Lazy Day

18:43 – Mindful breathing is also enjoyable. We need some training. In the beginning, we may still feel the energy of running. To do things quickly. Stop running and learn to breathe. Thay uses the example of brushing our teeth. We enjoy every moment of the day, whether we are washing or sitting or walking. And on the other days, not the lazy day, you simply follow the schedule. And you profit from the collective energy of the sangha. You can cherish every moment of your lazy day. Are you lazy enough today? Nowhere to go, nothing to do. There is a tendency in every one of us to run. A kind of energy that is pushing us to run after something. The practice of Buddhist meditation is to be aware of this tendency and be able to stop. Stopping is a very important practice. We can stop running. I have arrived. I am home. 

Slow Walking Meditation

27:28 – When you are alone and you have 5-10 minutes, you may like to practice slow walking meditation. You breathe in, and you make one step. Bring attention to the sole of your foot. Become aware of the contact between your foot and the ground. And say silently, I have arrived. Invest 100% of your body and your mind into the step. The running has become a habit in our body, our mind, and our consciousness. We can create another habit, of arriving and stopping, to counter that habit of running. This practice of slow walking meditation is one of the methods to form a new habit. Stay in that first step until you have fully arrived in the moment. 

With this practice, we can begin to heal. The practice of stopping. It is a training. We need to allow our body to do the healing. Resting. Our body and mind have the capacity to heal itself by allowing our body and mind to rest. 

Mindful Breathing

39:08 – In the “Sutra of Mindful Breathing,” the Buddha offers a method to release the tension in our body. To allow our body and mind to rest. Breathing in, I am aware of my body. This is one exercise described by the buddha. When you breathe in, you bring your mind to your body. This is a basic practice. Breathing in, I release all tension in my body. Whether in a sitting or lying position, it is possible to release all the tensions in our body. These should become a daily exercise. During the time we sit, walk or eat, it is possible for us to practice this. 

We can also release the tensions in our feelings and emotions. Breathing in, I am aware of my feeling. That feeling may be a pleasant feeling, or a painful feeling, or a neutral feeling. We come home to recognize and embrace the feeling. 

Mindfulness, Concentration, Insight

47:35 – Practicing Buddhist meditation, we generate three kinds of energies: Mindfulness, Concentration, Insight. Our insight has the capacity to liberate us from fear, anger and anxiety. It is born from the energy of concentration and mindfulness. Mindfulness is what we generate while walking, sitting, driving, cooking, etc. We usually begin with our in breath and our out breath. Breathing in, I know this is my in-breath. Breathing out, I know this is my out-breath. We can become so attentive to our breathing that we can become our breathing.  

In out, deep slow, calm, ease, smile, release, present moment, wonderful moment.  This gatha can be our guide. 

Thay offers additional instruction on how to calm and release the tensions in our body. 

Sangha Energy

58:58 – Collective energy of the sangha. It is much more powerful than the individual energy of mindfulness. The energy of the sangha can transport you and the practice becomes much easier. It’s like a formation of birds. We flow like a river. This is why we practice taking refuge in the sangha. We can profit from the energy of the sangha, especially when we are suffering individually. It is possible for us to hold our pain, our fear. This is why we practice with the sangha. 

Consciousness and Happiness

1:05:04 – Thay teaches on the leaf. Everyone can see it is a leaf. We can recognize and distinguish what is not. A leaf is a leaf. And when we look into the leaf, we can see many things. It is made of non-leaf elements. The same is with our body. The body is not separate or independent of the mind. In Buddhism, we have Interbeing. In this teaching, we have something called store consciousness and mind consciousness. We can survive with only store, but then we are only on automatic pilot. We want to evolve the mind consciousness so we are not on auto pilot all the time. We can discover many things. Insight. 

Store consciousness has something called manas. This is pleasure seeking. If we ignore the goodness of suffering, that is manas. But we can learn a lot from suffering. Understanding suffering we can generate compassion and love. We learn from suffering. Manas does not know this. Meditation helps us to transfer to store and help us transform. 

The wisdom of moderation. The practice of meditation helps us see this wisdom and help it to grow. Understanding and compassion. The Pure Land of the Buddha is not a place where there is no suffering. We need the mud in order to have the lotus. The mud plays a very vital role. Suffering brings understanding and compassion. Holding the suffering and learning from it. 

Transformation at the Base

1:33:25 – When the seed of fear comes up from the store consciousness to the level of mind consciousness, the practice is to allow the seed of mindfulness to come up as well. It is the energy of mindfulness that is recognizing and embracing the energy of fear. Mindfulness is not there to help us run away, but it is there to help us recognize. At first, we may not have enough energy to hold our pain and so we rely upon the collective energy of the sangha. And eventually we can have the power to do this on our own. And when we have enough mindfulness and concentration, then we can have the insight. This is the practice of meditation. Transformation at the base. 

Taking Refuge in the Buddha

1:37:40 – Taking refuge in the Buddha. Not as a person outside of ourself. But the energy of mindfulness, concentration, and insight within us. To trust our capacity of understanding and to be compassionate. 

A story from Thay’s visit to Seoul, South Korea when Thay asked the Buddha to walk for him. And the Buddha did it for Thay. Let the Buddha breathe, let the Buddha walk. The Buddha is inside of you. 

New Gathas

1:42:50 – Thay has written a few new Gathas and he shares them now with the sangha. 

Let the Buddha breathe. 

Let the Buddha walk. 

I don’t need to breathe. 

I don’t need to walk. 

The Buddha is breathing. 

The Buddha is walking. 

I enjoy the breathing. 

I enjoy the walking. 

Buddha is the breathing. 

Buddha is the walking. 

I am the breathing. 

I am the walking. 

There is only the breathing. 

There is only the walking. 

There is no breather. 

There is no walker. 

Peace while breathing. 

Happiness, joy while walking. 

Peace is the breath. 

Happiness, joy is the walking. 

Through these practices, we discover the reality of no-self. 

Recording Quality: Excellent

Categories
Deer Park Monastery Retreats

Happiness is Made of these Moments

Play

This 74-minute dharma talk in the Ocean of Peace Meditation Hall takes place on Sunday, February 1, 2004. The monastic and lay community are practicing together during the 2004 Rainy Season Retreat from January 4 to March 14 at Deer Park Monastery. Both audio and video versions are available with this post.

In the process of renewing Buddhism, many people disagreed with me. Today, Thay offers some words on renewing Christianity. The teaching of living deeply in the present moment is also very clear in the gospel. We should take care of today. Living happily in the present moment is possible. Our basic practice during this Rainy Season Retreat is this: living happily in the present moment. If the Buddha is there, the pure land is there too. If God is there, then the kingdom of God is there too. This practice is not difficult. Mindfulness will help us be in the present moment. Thay proposed that theologians and Christian teachers offer us the teaching and practice to help us live in the present moment. The same is said to Buddhist teachers. Walking and contemplating in the pure land or the Kingdom of God. Then we no longer have to run after fame, power, wealth, and sex. 

Thich Nhat Hanh smiling during his teaching.

The teaching should be embodied by the teacher. The life of the teacher can then be authentic. If you are Dharma Teacher, you have to embody the teaching of living happily in the present moment. If you want others to be able to stop suffering and to live happily. Every moment of our daily life can be seen as a miracle. Thay offers a few examples of how we embody the practice. 

If you are beginner, a new practitioner, there are brothers and sisters who are more experienced. And these more experienced practitioners can show how we can live in the present moment. Mindfulness and concentration bring about happiness, solidity, understanding, and compassion. And this will nourish us and the other people around us. We can help those around us. Thay offers some examples of how this is practiced. Practicing is helping the sangha. 

There are those who have received the Five Trainings, and yet sometimes there are those who have not  received the trainings who may be more solid in their practice. We can learn from these students because their present in the sangha is a blessing too. It makes the sangha more beautiful and a better refuge. It’s not because of have received the Five Trainings that makes us more important. Anyone can be the teacher. Our teacher is a little bit everywhere. Signlessness. Not caught by the form. The same is true for the Order of Interbeing member – those without the brown jacket may be better practitioners than us. When we wear the brown jacket, we have to be more careful and embody the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. Our real value, as members of the Order of Interbeing, is how we practice these trainings. In order to do this, we have to be solid in our daily practice and see our teacher in others. As members of the Order, we have a duty of setting up a sangha. We have to do the work of sangha building. The sangha is protecting and supporting us. So, whether you have received the Five Trainings or not, whether you have received the Fourteen Trainings or not, whether you have received the Ten Novice Precepts – we need a sangha. 

Daily Practice worksheet – there is a column for each day. And in the evening before you go to sleep, we can evaluate our practice. We start with waking up – when you woke up, did you practice? Were you aware and present with waking up. In the teaching, we continue through the other parts of the day where we can enjoy and practice in each moment – putting on your shoes, folding your blanket, opening and closing the door, etc. There are also verses (Gathas) of practices. 

During this retreat, we have been learning about how to take care of our body and our feelings through the Exercises on Mindful Breathing proposed by the Buddha. We are learning how to handle our feelings, whether they are pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. We have learned how to produce a feeling  of joy and a feeling of happiness. In the Buddhist teachings, we learn there are 51 categories of mental formations. This is where we turn now in the dharma talk. There are positive ones – confidence, compassion, diligence, joy, etc. There are also negative ones – anger, despair, jealously, etc. And mindfulness is one of the fifty-one. These all exist in our consciousness and are of an organic nature — they can change and transform. 

How do we cultivate understanding and compassion? 

If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Categories
Plum Village Retreats

Collective Mindful Energy

Play

During the annual Spring Retreat at Plum Village, Thay offers this 72-minute dharma talk at the New Hamlet with the themes of mindfulness, sangha, and concludes with a gatha translation. The date is April 2, 2006. We begin with three chants, in English, French, and Vietnamese.

Mindfulness is the heart of our practice. It’s the kind of energy that can bring nourishment, healing and transformation. Here at Plum Village we learn how to generate and to incorporate into every moment of daily life. The energy of mindfulness helps to pull everything together. And the practice of the sangha makes it easier. The sangha is a boat that transports and embraces us in our practice. Do you know how to surrender yourself to the sangha?

Thay teaches how to begin the practice, especially as it relates to the dharma hall. When and how does the practice begin? What is the role and purpose of the sangha? We embody the practice. How?

You don’t need to wait until you arrive in the dharma hall before you practice. You don’t need to hurry to not hurry. How does the bell help our practice? But we don’t become trapped by the form.

In physics it’s called phase (quantum) entanglement. We create a collective energy together on the same frequency. We can transform. Have you noticed the power of the bell in the meditation hall? Even just the half sound. It combines our energy of mindfulness. We become a cell in the sangha body.

Every moment of our daily life is a moment to practice mindfulness.

Lamp transmission gathas. Thay offers some history on our recent lineage. The lamp gatha of Thay’s teacher. Matter and mind are both perfect and shining. If you want to study this topic more, you may be interested in this document  – Letter to Friends About our Lineage by Thay Pháp Dang.

If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Categories
Plum Village Retreats

We Only Need to Look in the Present Moment

Play

Shaded path at Upper HamletIn June, 2009, a 21-day retreat was offered at Plum Village on the theme “The Path of the Buddha” and this recording is the first talk of the retreat (June 2, 2009). This was also in the first year of Obama being president of the United States. Thay teaches about the sangha as it relates to the president. Now, many years later, Obama is in the last year of his term and we have the opportunity to reflect on how we did with Thay’s instructions.

We begin with a story of meeting MLK to build the idea of the beloved community and sangha building. What is the sangha and why do we need one? Thay teaches that even President Obama needs a sangha in a very compassionate and loving way. The 21-Day Retreat is an opportunity to perceive the sangha visibly. We should build and preserve the sangha. We have been planting seeds of brotherhood, sisterhood, peace, nonviolence.

We have produced our politicians. Our politicians need a strong sangha, even though it is not a Buddhist one. And we have a role in that sangha too. Obama is not an individual, he is a part of the sangha.

Without the sangha, we cannot go far. The 21-day retreat is a time to strengthen our sangha and open the way for the world. The sangha includes the Buddha and the dharma. It contains the the path of understanding and love.

The 21st century is like a hill and we are climbing this hill together as a sangha. Can we climb beautifully? Each step should be love, healing, forgiveness. With a sangha, this becomes easy.

What are we looking for? Our joy. Our success. Our transformation. Our happiness. Our emancipation. Our freedom. Whatever we are looking for, we have to look for it in the present moment. How do we do we go home to the present moment to discover the power to nourish and to heal?

What is the path of the Buddha? We are going to explore a global spiritual ethic. The five mindfulness trainings represent this ethic. All the other precepts – 10 novice precepts, 14 mindfulness trainings – also represent this ethic.  We will explore this during our retreat together.

If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Enjoy the talk.

Categories
Plum Village Retreats

Fresh Opportunities of Abundance

Play

As we continue to send Thay our lovely energy of healing, we look back to a dharma talk he gave on January 26, 2003 from the Dharma Nectar Temple, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the middle of the Winter Retreat and the lunar new year is approaching. This short dharma talk (48-minutes) begins with a monastic chant in Vietnamese.

The Buddha teaches we should try to make our practice pleasant, joyful, and nourishing. There are several different types of joy. Mindfulness is the key to exploring. How should a practice center be organized? Are we creating the right conditions?

The two sentences for the coming lunar year (2003) are part of the practice – All misfortunes entirely away. Fresh Opportunities seen in abundance. – we post these in order to remind us of our practice. We have many opportunities to practice all around us. Can you write down all the opportunities available to you? Mindfulness will help us touch these opportunities.

Other kinds of joy. Sangha building. Helping our brothers or sisters in the community can bring both a lot of joy. This is based on understanding and love. There may also be a kind of joy based upon craving. Craving for recognition and praise. Can you learn to operate as a sangha? How?

You don’t need to be #1 to be happy. The teaching is a teaching of no-self. Inferiority. Superiority. Equality.

How can we take care of our ups and our downs? We cannot hide our suffering. How to ask for help?

The 51-mental formations in the boat of self. We have the five universal and five particulars – these are travelers in the boat of ourselves. They can also form a team and work together. Mindfulness and concentration. We have to learn to live in harmony with the sangha of self.

Smile and breathe. Enjoy the gem.

Categories
Plum Village

The Realm of the Dharma

Play

This talk from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Sunday, March 23, 2014. The talk on this day is in English. We begin with two chants from the monastics followed by a dharma talk on the wonders of life. Both the audio download and the video stream are available below.

It is spring and many flowers are blooming. Don’t be afraid to love and open your heart. A flower is a true wonder of life. When we walk, we encounter so many wonders of life. Where does it come from? Your body too is a wonder of life. Do we have time to be with a wonder? In the Buddhist tradition, we don’t speak of creation. We have another answer. With meditation, we look at the true nature of things and see their nature is no birth and no death. Teaching on the cloud to illustrate this teaching. The scientists also see this teaching of no birth and no death.

Getting in touch with the wonders of life. We can go outside and step away from our computer, our business, our worries. A day without a computer. How happy I am! We can using our breathing to go home to our body. When body and mind are together, you are home in the here and the now. Then we can touch the wonders of life.

What is the “dharma” versus the “Dharma”? What is the realm of the dharma? The Dharma is the teaching. A practitioner had three bodies: physical body, dharma body (our practice), and our Sangha body. We need a community. You need a sangha body to nourish your dharma body. The dharmakaya is equivalent to the kingdom of God. Can we hear the dharma talk given by the flower, the creek, the cloud, the pebble, etc? This is the teaching on Mahayana tradition. If we listen to the body, we listen to the dharma. Impermanence. The kingdom is now or never.In the kingdom, there is sunshine and there is also rain.

Every wonder is happening right here and now. We can stop and train ourselves how to live. Mindfulness is through our practice breathing and walking. Waking up in the morning, we smile.

I have arrived. I am home.

Categories
English/Vietnamese Plum Village Retreats

The Value of Being Together

Play

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village is dated Sunday, January 5, 2014 and is the fifteenth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem. After a brief sharing on the value of being together, the majority of the talk looks deeply at liberation, brotherhood and sisterhood, and happiness as illustrated through the Five Contemplations read before a meal. The last 35-minutes of the talk return to our winter retreat theme on alaya consciousness.

0:00-10:30 Monastics Chanting
10:54-19:55 The Value of Being Together
19:55-49:15 The Five Contemplations
49:05-1:03:25 Collective Energy of the Sangha
1:02:15-1:38:56 Alaya Consciousness

Where is the year 2013 now? Every day we created action in our thinking and our speech. Karma. In the coming year we will harvest the fruit of last year. We should practice this year with the flavor of right thinking to plant good seeds. Will our speech carry the language of love and compassion. We should only use loving speech. Harvest the fruit of right speech. Our bodily action should also have loving action to sow good action. In Plum Village, we have the opportunity to sit together, eat together, and be less busy than we have in our regular culture. Eating together as a family is important but we don’t take the time. How can organize the family to sit together? Can we treasure the presence of one another?

In Plum Village we use the Five Contemplations before a meal to remind ourselves of our freedom, our busylessness. Leisure for watching the moon. In Buddhism, we have the word liberation so we are not be entangled. Entangled by what? When we’re tied up by our busyness, anger, jealousy, fear, complexes, anxiety then we are not free. Thay shares the story of the king in Vietnam who handed over his throne so he could be a monk and discover freedom. Freedom is looking for practices and teachings that can help untangle ourselves. But the king continued as a spiritual teacher to his son. Engaged action. Liberation is a very important dharma. We need to recognize the knots that bind us so we can untie them. Do we have the capacity to be happy? If we cannot, it is because we have ties that bind us. What ties are entangling us? How do we practice for freedom?  How can we nourish brotherhood and sisterhood, the second aspect of the contemplation? Creating a career of helping other people. The third component of our contemplation is happiness. In Plum Village we eat as slow as we can so we can enjoy our freedom. We can listen to the taste in our mouth.  If we don’t have these things then we don’t have something to offer another person.

Before we chant, the monastic reads that we should breath as one body. We make our body and mind calm. When we do this as a community then we can really see our brotherhood and sisterhood. We create a collective energy of peace. We nourish one another as a community with our mindfulness, concentration, and insight. We go as a river in harmony and our suffering is being embraced by the sangha. We have to take refuge in the sangha and it’s collective energy of practice. We have other reminders and opportunities for practice such as the chant before sitting meditation. We also sing before walking in order to remind ourselves of our practice of walking.

There is something from the non-beginning. In alaya (store) consciousness there is a reality with no beginning. This is the foundation of all things. The cosmos. Alaya creates life. It’s nature is unobstructed and equivalent to the ultimate dimension of a suchness. It is not covered by notions of beginning/ending, good/evil, pure/impure, etc.

In the teachings we learn our manifestation is both our body and the environment. We have an influence on the environment and the environment influences us. Alaya is a foundation of everything. Neuroscience says something similar and have discovered a little part of alaya and it’s called background consciousness. When our mind works with our five sense organs they become the five sense consciousnesses. When mind consciousness works by itself, this too has a name. Working alone or separately. While we sleep and have dreams, this is mind consciousness in dreams.

Note from the Editor
Thay has offered us a vision of building an online monastery, or online temple, where practitioners may come not just to receive information, but to practice online: to follow their breathing, experience guided meditation, interact with monastics and lay practitioners, etc. This archive of Thay’s talks is a component of this vision.

We are using a new service (Patreon) that allows for you to become an ongoing patron for this archive. Each patron can make a donation, as little as $1 per talk, to be donated automatically on a monthly basis. Payments are made by credit card or PayPal and patrons can be anywhere in the world. When you visit the site, you identify the amount you want to give for each talk, identify a maximum amount per month, and provide your mailing address. If you are in the United States you can have a tax deduction through the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation.

Please visit our Patreon page: Thich Nhat Hanh is Creating Happiness.

Categories
Plum Village Retreats

Where is the Year 2014 Right Now?

Play

This talk by Thich Nhat Hanh is from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village on Sunday, December 29, 2013. It is the thirteenth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. This talk is in English and is available below as an audio download or online video. In this talk we are preparing for the end of the year 2013 and the teaching is on no birth, no death, and coming home to our island of self.

00:00-14:35 The Year Ending and the Year Coming
14:35-25:09 No Birth. No Death.
25:09-49:10 Coming Home and the Island of Self
49:10-56:30 Sangha
56:30-1:06:10 The Practice in an Organization or Company
1:10:30-1:23:15 Taking Refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha

When we focus on our breathing, we can really be there. Breathing mindfully we can know that we are alive and that we have a body. Just breath in and out and we can touch the wonders of life. With mindfulness we can be in touch and that can help nourish and heal us. This comes from walking, sitting, breathing, doing everyday things. Is the year 2013 going to die and go away? Can we speak of a birth or death of a year? The notion of month, day, hours, etc. are invented by us and are conventional designations. What does it mean to die? From being to non-being? Where is the year 2014 right now? The answers really depend on us.

What have I done in the year 2013? Have I learned to produce a feeling a joy, a feeling of happiness? We can produce a moment of joy, a moment of happiness at any time, for us and for the people we love. Have we been able to take care of the painful feeling and emotions during the year 2013? If we do not learn these things then we will end up repeating this in the next year. This is why we have our practice phrase for next year: “New Year New Me” and “Joy Within, Joy all Around.” The new year is time and it is linked to space and action. If we know how to deal with our pain and sorrow then we can improve the quality of our days, months, and years. Right now it is winter and when we do walking meditation, we do not see butterflies. But that does not mean the butterflies are not there already. In spring they will manifest; they are only hidden waiting for conditions. The same is true with the year 2014.

Has the little boy or the little girl you once were died? No, it is still there. This teaching corresponds with the first law of thermodynamics. Nothing is born. Nothing dies. We can transfer energy and matter but we cannot produce or destroy anything. In Buddhism we say no birth and no death. Where are our ancestors? They are in every cell of our bodies and we carry them into the future. To meditate is to have the time to look deeply and see the nature of no birth and no death. The story of the cloud and Mother Earth.

Society today is running away from itself and we don’t know how to handle a feeling of pain, sorrow, loneliness. We are running away from ourselves. And electronic devices that we buy and use help us run away but the practice of mindfulness is helping us take care of our feelings. Mindfulness can restore peace and harmony in our body and our feelings. That is the practice of coming home. We can establish understanding. We can transform our anger into understanding and compassion. It is impermanent. Last week we started to speak about true home. True home is available anytime and we have to build for ourselves. The Buddha told us that everyone has an island within ourselves where we can feel calm, safe, and happy. We should take refuge in that island. Our body is the first element of our true home. The third exercise of mindful breathing suggested by the Buddha. Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. The fifth and sixth exercises of mindful breathing help us cultivate a feeling of joy and happiness. This is the art of happiness. And the seventh and eighth help us to handle the painful feelings and emotions. We can generate the energy of understanding and compassion. This is the third element of coming to our true home. We also know that a group of people, a sangha, can help us cultivate the collective energy of peace, joy, and happiness. Sangha is also home.

If we know how to create a home for ourselves, the we can create a home for our partner and for our work environment. You can help each to create their own home. Earlier this year we visited the World Bank and we discussed this practice. The World Bank can be a place that reduces suffering in the world. They have this intention and this is a source of energy that can be nourished. We start with ourselves and then it can be applied to our companies and organizations. The work of Plum Village.

When we sit together like this, there is nothing to do and nowhere to go. The sangha is a jewel. If you want to realize your dream, then you want a sangha. We can take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. This is inside of you as in your island of self.

Note from the Editor
Thay has offered us a vision of building an online monastery, or online temple, where practitioners may come not just to receive information, but to practice online: to follow their breathing, experience guided meditation, interact with monastics and lay practitioners, etc. This archive of Thay’s talks is a component of tis vision.

We are using a new service (Patreon) that allows for you to become an ongoing patron for this archive. Each patron can make a donation, as little as $1 per talk, to be donated automatically on a monthly basis. Payments are made by credit card and patrons can be anywhere in the world. When you visit the site, you identify the amount you want to give for each talk, identify a maximum amount per month, and provide your mailing address. If you are in the United States you can have a tax deduction through the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation.

Please visit our Patreon page: Thich Nhat Hanh is Creating Happiness.

Categories
Plum Village Retreats

Have I Got a True Home?

Play

This talk by Thich Nhat Hanh is from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village on the occasion of Christmas Eve (Tuesday, December 24, 2013). It is the twelfth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. In this talk we learning about our True Home and Sangha.

Christmas is always an opportunity to meditate on our true home. The Buddha  did not have a home when he was young; he was unhappy even with all the material conditions. And Jesus Christ was born a refugee and was also trying to find a home. But both the Buddha and the Christ practiced and they found a True Home. Have I got a true home?

A place of comfort and ease. When you come to Plum Village you are offered a practice to help you find a home. And home is not located in space and time. Our first fruit of the practice is “I have arrived. I am home.” Our true home is in the here and the now in every breath and every step.

The practice of mindful breathing brings our mind in touch with our body. Our body may be our first home. Are you in conflict with your body? Do you hate your body? We are all flowers in the garden of humanity. Do we know how to take care of our flowerness? Getting in touch with our body is the first step.

We may notice tension in our body and the Buddha offered us exercises to reduce the tension. An act of reconciliation. Very practical. We can smile to ourselves and release the tension.

Why, in some instances, have we abandoned our body? Do you have a feeling of loneliness?are we covering up suffering in our life? We don’t know how to handle the suffering inside of us and we cover it up with consumption. The practice of mindfulness can help you reverse this to take care of your body and your feelings. If you can, then you are creating a true home for yourself.

24-m Consumption and Loneliness
27-m The Art of Happiness (Exercises 5 & 6)
31-m The Art of Suffering (Exercises 7 & 8)
37-m Practicing with a Sangha
43-m Building a Sangha
47-m The Plum Village Sangha
50-m What do I want to do with my life?

The year is ending and it is a good time to ask what we want to do with our life. If you are a couple, you may wish to sit down and discuss your dream and see how to support each other. Jesus had a dream. Buddha had a dream. Can we look at our other relationships and see how they might be improved?

Wherever we go, the sangha is with us. Sangha is our home. We can practice in such a way that our family is our sangha. We should devote our time and energy to building our true home so that we can realize our dream.

Merry Christmas.

You can support this site by donating to the Plum Village Online Monastery Team