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Deer Park Monastery Retreats

The Noblest Aspiration is to Help People Suffer Less

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October 13, 2013. 105-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, California during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the second dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Finding Our True Home. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

Brief overview of the Four Kinds of Nutriments from yesterday’s talk followed by further explanation on volition followed by consciousness.

What is the ultimate concern with our lives? It is important to sit with our partner, our loved ones, to discover what this might be. How can we help each other realize our dream?

Suffering is the first awareness…the first noble truth. Many don’t know how to handle the pain in ourselves. We have the tendency to run away from ourselves and seek forgetfulness. In doing so, we become alienated from those around us. If we can’t take care of ourselves, we cannot take care of our loved ones. Further teaching on how this might apply to a corporate leader. Maybe a new kind of volition can be born. We are losing ourselves in consumptions and the corporation is helping people run away from themselves when they could take it as their aim to help people come home to themselves.

Plum Village operates without any personal telephone, personal bank account and yet happiness is possible with simple living. We don’t have to consume a lot if we have enough brotherhood, sisterhood, and mutual understanding and compassion. A corporation, like Plum Village, can become a happy community. The business leader should come home to herself – that is the first step. When you take care of yourself, then you can take care of others.

Deep and compassionate listening. First, we have to listen to ourselves and take care of the wounded child inside. Then we can take care of our family. Loving speech – the object of the fourth mindfulness training – can become natural if we learn how to use this type of speech. We can experience the miracle of reconciliation. Going back to ourselves, recognizing our suffering, and when we are lighter we can more easily understand the suffering in the other person, and then it is very easy to use loving speech. We provide this type of teaching at our Institute of Applied Buddhism in Europe and Hong Kong.

The role of a sangha in applying these teachings. We need a sangha is very important. We can transform our corporation into a sangha as well. The employees may not only be working to get a good salary. The volition of the leader can be shared with all the members of the corporation. The noblest aspiration is to help people to suffer less. As a good corporate leader, you have to listen to the many thousands of people in your corporation. You can start small and train a small group who can learn the art of deep listening and loving speech.

The political leader can do the same. Story of talking with Martin Luther King. We use the word sangha, but he used beloved community. It is the same concept. Without a sangha, the Buddha could not do too much. The same is true with a corporate leader, a school teacher, or a political leader. Civilization is going in the wrong direction because we are running away from ourselves, our families, our society, and our planet. We can help humanity to come home to themselves and move in the right direction.

The fourth kind of nutriment is consciousness – individual and collection consciousness. In Buddhism we talk about store consciousness and mind consciousness – the two parts. The seeds of our store consciousness that become a mental formation in our mind consciousness. For example, the seed of compassion. The art of suffering and the transformation of suffering. The practice of selective watering – determine to only water the good seeds in yourself. We practice not to give a negative seed a chance to manifest – don’t water the negative seed. If they do manifest, we try to help them return to store consciousness as quickly as possible. Our practice is one of non-violence – we don’t try to fight or suppress the feeling, but we recognize and embrace the negative seed with mindfulness.  The second method is to invite the opposite mental formation to come up (aka, changing the CD). Third, we water only the good seeds in ourselves and each other. The fourth method is when a good seed is present, we try to keep it there for as long as possible. Transformation at the base with Right Diligence.

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Blue Cliff Monastery Retreats

Let Freedom Ring

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August 28, 2013. 105-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, New York during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the third dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Transformation and Healing – The Art of Suffering.

Topics

  • Today President Obama invites us to “Let Freedom Ring” on the 50th anniversary of the MLK speech at the Lincoln Memorial. How do we realize the dream of King?
  • Thay’s dream of being a student
  • Being a bell master
  • Establishing a meditation hall in the home
  • Thay’s dream is to build a sangha. Harmony. Sisterhood. Brotherhood.
  • Nonviolent action and war in Vietnam
  • MLK, Thay, and Vietnam
  • Why self- immolation is non-violent
  • Beloved Community = Sangha Building
  • Building sangha in France. In exile.
  • Mindfulness today
  • The Four Kinds of Nutriments

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Retreats

The Other Person

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May 24, 2013. 84-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Hong Kong. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Chinese. The theme of the retreat is Happiness is the Way.

Thay has a few questions to ask the audience and the questions might touch something very deep in you. It is about the “the other person” in your life.

Are you in love? Are you still in love? Do you want to reconnect with the person you used to love? Do you think that he or she is happier than you are now? Do you have the time for each other or are you both to busy? Have you been able to preserve your freshness and beauty for yourself and for the other person? Are you capable to offer him or her freshness and beauty everyday? Do you know how to handle the suffering in yourself? Are you able to help handle the suffering in the other person? Do you understand your own suffering and the roots of that suffering? Are you able to understand the suffering in the other person? Do you have the capacity to help the other person suffer less? Have you learned the way to calm down the painful feelings and emotions? Do you have the time to listen to yourself, your suffering, your difficulties, and your deepest desire? Do you have the time to listen to him or her and help him or her to suffer less? Do you know the Buddhist way of restoring communication and bringing reconciliation? Are you capable of creating a feeling of joy and happiness for yourself? Are you capable of helping the other person to create a feeling of joy and happiness? Do you really think you have a clear spiritual path to go? Do you have the feeling of peace and contentment within yourself? Do you know to nourish your love everyday?

It is possible to create a meditation hall on a bus or train and then use the time to nourish and heal yourself. You can use the exercises from the Anapanasati Sutta. The first exercise is to become aware of your in-breath and your out-breath. We can cultivate energy to help heal and nourish. The first energy is mindfulness. This energy can be cultivated with just one in-breath. The second energy we can generate during breathing is concentration. The third energy is insight. This is a kind of vision/wisdom that will help liberate you from suffering. This is enlightenment itself – it can come in just a few seconds! To be alive is a true wonder, a true miracle.

I am alive. Stop the thinking. Enjoy breathing.

The second exercise is to follow your in-breath and your out-breath all the way through. With the third exercise, you become aware that you have a body. Next we calm our body and release the tension and restore peace. Even if we only have a few minutes, we can use these exercises to restore ourselves. Generating joy is the fifth exercise. Next we become aware of the painful emotion that in us – we don’t try to run away from our pain. From here we calm down the pain.

Understanding suffering always bring compassion. We can restore communication with the other person and end suffering.

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Retreats

Thoughts of Compassion

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April 8, 2013. 116-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Mahachulalungkornrajavidyalaya University in Bangkok, Thailand. The sangha is in the 5-Day Applied Ethics Retreat as part of the spring Asian Tour. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Thai. This is the final talk of the retreat.

How do we apply the dharma into our daily lives? What is Applied Buddhism? In the last five years we have been trying to offer the teachings in non-Buddhist circles through classes in Europe and Hong Kong. We have now started to use the term Applied Ethics. This means translating Buddhism into a secular language. Today we will spend time on the teachings of Applied Ethics.

Thay reads a question from one of the attendees about deep listening. The story of family in deep sadness and exists in silence but lives in the same house. Teaching on the Four Noble Truths. What is suffering? How can we live simply and build brotherhood and sisterhood? Practicing with Right View can relieve the suffering. What do we mean by right view?

Birth and death. What are our ideas about birth and death? What is being and non-being? Illustrations of a cloud and a flower. Interbeing allows us to transcend these notions. Applied ethics is to apply more beauty, more solidity.

Nirvana. Karma. Sangha.

Every time you have a thought of compassion or understanding, you should write it down.

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Plum Village Retreats

The Self is Ever Changing

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January 10, 2013. 106-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the nineteenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk is given in Vietnamese and this is a translation provided by Sr. Chan Không.

In our practice of Touching the Earth today, we practiced with the Three Jewels. There is the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. What does this mean? Comparison with the Trinity in Christianity. Do you know how to love? Do you know how to understand? What is the guideline for looking deeply so we can love and understand? What are the elements of a sangha? What can you do to start a sangha? Why is a sangha important?

At 40-minutes we begin the sutra study. What is a seperate self? The self is ever changing. We have the illusion that it’s the same. No sameness. No otherness. It’s the middle way. What is conventional designation? Formation and samskara. You Are, So I Am. Discusses sutra in light of Spinoza, a Dutch philosopher.

In the relative world there is birth, becoming, action, and formation. The teaching of interacting is the teaching of no-self. Thay explores this within the context of early Buddhism and the development of the teaching.

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Day of Mindfulness Plum Village

Training and Sangha Building

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October 28, 2012. 82-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is enjoying the Autumn Retreat and this is a Day of Mindfulness.

Last week we spoke about the nutriment of volition. An intention. A deep desire. We have learned that joy and suffering inter-are – we should recognize the suffering within ourselves. This leads to transformation and healing.  The energy of mindfulness will help use with the transformation.

The Practice. Bhavana. To cultivate. Establishing yourself in the here and the now is enough to be free. How do you practice?

Everything we do in a practice center is to learn how to practice. To learn how to breathe. How to release the stress and the tension. Coming to a Day of Mindfulness or a Retreat can teach us the practice. Get a practice. Secondly, we need a group of people at home to help us maintain the practice. A sangha. Gather friends together from your local community. We learn the practice, we gain the support in out community, and third, we can bring the practice to your work place in order to help people suffer less. If we are a school teacher, we can bring the practice to our students. To help the students to suffer less.

Understanding is love and compassion. When you have understood your own suffering, you begin to love yourself.

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Day of Mindfulness Plum Village

Buddhism is not a Philosophy

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October 11, 2012. 118-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is enjoying the Autumn Retreat and this is a Day

Teaching of suffering and the transformation of suffering. We don’t speculate on philosophical questions. We don’t only use our intellect. Buddhism is practical. How to handle a painful feeling? A strong emotion?

There is an insight on Interbeing. Non-self. Emptiness. What is true happiness? What is understanding and love? Practical application of the Four Noble Truths. When we are able to see our own suffering, we are better able to see the suffering of others.

Thay shares a few more stories from the time of the Vietnam war in terms of hope and despair. Generating joy and happiness through the exercises on mindful breathing.

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Day of Mindfulness Plum Village

Deep Aspiration

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July 1, 2012. 50-minute recording given at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Day of Mindfulness. We begin with chanting.

When you set up a practice center, you have to think of the sangha. A sangha is a group of people who practice together and the environment is good, nourishing, and healthy. When people arrive at a practice center, she should feel the energy right away.

We practice mindfulness as manifested from the Five Mindfulness Trainings. These generate a healthy environment. This is what the Buddha did right away and we too can create such a practice center.

Suffering is part of life and with mindfulness we can make good use of our suffering. We can produce joy, happiness, and compassion. The law of Interbeing is suffering and happiness. The mud and the lotus.

The holy is made of non-holy elements. We can generate holiness if we understand suffering and allow compassion to arise in us and we don’t suffer anymore. The Five Mindfulness Trainings can help cultivate this holiness.

Being a monastic. We have 10-precepts. It is a holy life. Training as a monastic, you also need a sangha. You cultivate the mind of love. Boddhichita.

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21 Day Retreats Plum Village Retreats

Conditioned Genesis

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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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21 Day Retreats Plum Village Retreats

One Cell in the Buddha Body

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June 14, 2012. 86-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 tenth dharma talk (of 15).

The Four Recollections

Joy and happiness with the three kinds of energies: mindfulness, concentration, and insight. When we focus on our breath, we are only our breath. We are not our sorrow or our regret.

Joy while breathing
Happiness while sitting

Joy is the breathing
Happiness is the breathing

Thay tells a story of the Buddha visiting a disciple who was very attached to the Buddha, but was now dying. His name was Vakali to help him die peacefully. The story illustrates the concept of the dharma body (dharmakaya). Our practice is our dharma body. The sangha and our teacher can help is develop our dharma body. Our practice also creates the living dharma.

We also have a sangha body (sanghakaya); a community of practice. The sangha body is in yourself.

We also learn the last two of the Four Recollections: Buddha body (buddhakaya) and the Mindfulness Trainings (silakaya). We practice to cultivate these four bodies.

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