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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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Day of Mindfulness Plum Village

Where Can We Practice Mindfulness?

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May 24, 2012. 55-minute recording given at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Day of Mindfulness.

Thay announces the next ordination for novices will be on July 4. The practice of Plum Village is mindfulness in order to transform and nourish. We can generate and store mindfulness with any action.

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Plum Village Retreats

The Real Kung Fu

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February 19, 2012. 58-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation. A French translation is also available. This is the last dharma talk for the Winter Retreat.

We recognize the great happiness associated with spending three months together in practice. We also know people can practice at home and participate by listening online to the talks. This retreat goes all the way back to the time of the Buddha. If Thay is still in good health, maybe we extend to four months next year.

We can find joy and happiness with sitting, walking, eating. Every step and every breath is like a jewel. A jewel found in your heart. This is real kung fu – the regular, daily practice, training. The time for sitting is a time for training. Train to touch the joy. Our duty is to practice together, even if we have difficulties and suffering. We try to heal these together, even if it deep down in our store conciousness. The worldly way is to dig down and pull out this suffering and destroy in order to be healed. Sometime we can practice differently – we can lullaby them as sleeping seeds; we don’t need to pull them out. We can water with the beautiful things of life. Thay shares his great suffering of being exciled from his homeland and how he transformed. Slowly Thay learned to feel at home wherever he is – everywhere is my homeland.

Story of a lay practitioner asking Thay if he has any dream to complete before he dies? Thay does not desire anything – everything already exists right here now. When Thay was a young monk he had a dream of a fourfold sangha that could practice together. Thay continues sharing stories of being in Vietnam during the war and reconciliation.

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Plum Village Retreats

The Perception of Images

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February 5, 2012. 92-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation. You may also listen to the French version.

In each of us we find an object to cover emptiness inside of us. We are like a pot without a lid, and we search for a lid thinking it will help us. As a baby we cried. Part of the reason for crying arises from fear. This fear comes into adulthood with us. We should reflect, use mindfulness, to realize we are no longer a baby. Our first mantra, I am here for you, it starts with ourselves. Being present for ourselves, what does that mean? Body and mind connects to recognize the miracles of life. We are an adult we can use out mindfulness to be present and let go of our fear. We can take refuge in the three jewels: the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha.

At 38-minutes we continue studying Dignaga’s Alambana-pariksa shastra, begun on February 2 dharma talk, with the third and fourth gatha. The things we see, they contain the four basic substances. When the atom comes together, it manifests these elements. Harmonizes. They are not only the production of conciousness, but the real thing. Fourth gatha. Images perceived. They are not something real. The accumulation of atoms are not different with the different sizes of the objects. For example, a dot can be made into a circle or into a square. The object is only a mental construction. This relates to the “universal” and the “particular” and their Interbeing. The images that we perceive in various forms are not real, but only a conventional designation.

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Public Talk

Energies of Buddhism

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September 3, 2011. 101-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the only Public Talk in California. For those who regularly read this podcast, we are posting this talk now as we have not completed preparing the last two talks from the retreat at Deer Park – they will be posted soon.

Mindfulness, concentration, and insight are the energies of Buddhism similar to the Holy Spirit being the energy of God.

We all have the capacity for understanding and love. It comes from the inside and comes with the practice of Mindfulness and concentration. This is the Buddha nature in us. We can generate a feeling of joy, a feeling of happiness in any moment. The Sutra on Mindful Breathing offers sixteen-exercises. Breathing in and breathing out with Mindfulness is a practice of resurrection. Thay takes us through the first eight exercises.

For me, the word wonderful means full of wonder. This is a wonderful moment. Our body is a wonder, and it belongs to the kingdom of God. We can touch the kingdom of God. In the Christian gospel, there is a story of a farmer who discovers a treasure on a piece of land and he sold everything except this piece of land. This is the kingdom of God. This is all you need. Happiness is possible in present moment. A good practitioner can generate happiness.

The importance of sangha. Taking refuge in the sangha. How do we handle suffering? A painful feeling? With a sangha.

True happiness needs suffering too. No mud. No lotus. They interare. This is right view. We should make good use of suffering.

How can we be liberated from despair and anger?

Applied ethics. Mindfulness in schools. How to handle painful or difficult emotions.

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Retreats

Beloved Community

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September 9, 2011. 92-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 third dharma talk for the Together We Are One retreat.

Thay teaches the children the practice of pebble meditation: 1) Flower: Fresh, 2) Mountain: Solid, 3) Water: Calm, 4) Space: Free. And talks of the first two mantras.

In Buddhism, we known the Buddha is a human being and we also believe in Mahayana Buddhism that we all have a Buddhanature. Building a practice community, a sangha, was one if the first things he did in order to help people. With a sangha, the practice is easier. The Buddha needed a sangha and so do we. We should build a sangha, and this is a noble practice. In Buddhism, the sangha is one of the Three Jewels. A good sangha is one that practices Mindfulness, concentration, and insight. Each of us is a cell in the body of the sangha. If we can save this planet, we will need this kind of energy. The energy generated by a sangha.

Thay shares with us about the nature of God and the nature of the Buddha, and how the we can find the Buddha-nature in everyone. He continues to share about the project of the Beloved Community started by Martin Luther King, Jr., and specifically the history of how Thay left Vietnam, was exiled, and met Dr. King. “Everyone of us can make a step mindfully, everyone of us can look mindfully and recognize the beauty of life. If we can recognize the beauty of the Dharma, we can recognize the Kingdom of God–we get in touch with the Kingdom of God. We don’t have to look anywhere outside, anywhere else.

A living sangha carries the living dharma. The way you practice. It can’t be found in a book. When you produce a thought of compassion, of understanding. If this is present, then the living Buddha is there also. You are also a cell in the body of the Buddha. You are a Buddha. Each one of us can take a step mindfully and see the beauty of life. When we are in touch with the flower, then we are in touch with the kingdom.

We are the Buddha. We are the dharma. We are the sangha.

We return to Buddhist psychology with the idea if store and mind consciousness. There is also a realm of non-thinking for other beings. We can practice samadhi to train ourselves to stop the thinking. We can enjoy our breathing. Enjoy the feeling. Leave the thinking.

There is the “mind base” – manas – this is unconcious. Eye. Ear. Nose. Tongue. Body. And the sixth is manas (mind). It is characterized by pleasure seeking and avoiding suffering. Manas ignores the goodness of suffering. Manas ignores the law of moderation.

“When you bow to the Buddha, you don’t view the Buddha as an entity wholly separate from you. I am in you, and you are in me. There is no longer any complex. That is the wisdom of non-discrimination: nirvikalpajnana.”

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and beloved community.

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Questions and Answers Retreats

Responding to Violence

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August 22, 2011. 107-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the Question and Answer session of the Body and Mind Are One retreat.

Thay answers question first from the children, from young adults, and older practitioners:

  1. Is meditating about having fun?
  2. Does the Buddha live in the bell?
  3. Can the bell be another color besides black?
  4. Is meditating healthy?
  5. What is the most important thing I can do to build Sangha?
  6. If the men in power in this country were to ask you for advice, what would you tell them?
  7. Is it ever appropriate to respond to violence with violence?
  8. How do we respond to health care workers and hospitals that have led to the death of family members?
  9. Is it wrong to take someone’s life in the case of the death penalty?
  10. How do I know when I’m truly ready to love and help others, and how do I know when I am ready for a long-term commitment?
  11. How do we practice letting go in a healthy way before tension builds?
  12. Would you consider permitting neuroscientists to study your mind, and the minds of brothers and sisters?

The talk is available below. A video version is available: questions and answers.

 

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Retreats

I Have Arrived, I Am Home

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August 21, 2011. 110-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the second dharma talk of the Body and Mind Are One retreat.

We begin with a brief guided meditation on breathing with our parents.

For the children, we are encouraged to create a breathing room in our homes. Every civilized home in the 21st century should have such a room with a bell and a flower. Breathing with the bell we can bring out mind and body together. Thay speaks about how we are the continuation of our parents, using the example of a seed of corn that cannot remember, once it is a plant, that it was once a seed. “When you practice mindful breathing, we can invite our mother inside of us to practice breathing as well. Our father also.”

Thay speaks about touching the Kingdom of God, the Pure Land of the Buddha, right in the present moment. When we walk, we can touch the Kingdom. If you can walk like that, you can walk like a Buddha. “I have arrived, I am home: this is the shortest Dharma talk.” We, especially parents, try to transmit only the best parts of us and that which still needs work we keep in order to transform. Thay advises us, when we share, to not only share about our suffering but also to share our joy and our happiness. “We need not only people with suffering to come on a retreat, we also need people with lots of joy, so they can help those who are suffering.” The importance and role of the sangha.

We continue with the Sutra on Mindfulness of Breathing, with a recap of yesterday’s teaching and continuing on with the 7th and 8th steps: becoming aware of a painful feeling or emotion and embracing it. We see this practice with parents and children. Thay would also like to see this applied in schools. Applied ethics. How do we teach ethics to school children. We can teach children to breathe and if the school teacher knows the techniques then it can be transmitted. This can be secularized.

The following steps are: 9) aware of mental formations, 10) gladdening the mind, 11) concentrating the mind, 12) liberating the mind. Thay shares about the practice of right diligence: not touching the negative seeds, making sure any negative formations go back down to store consciousness, watering the good seeds, and keeping the good mental formations manifesting as long as possible.

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and the shortest dharma talk.

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English/French Plum Village Retreats

I Know You Suffer

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July 27, 2011. 93-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh, translated from the French by Sr. Pine, from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat

Thay teaches four mantras that can help us resolve difficult situations with our loved ones: 1) I am here for you; 2) I know you are there, and I am happy; 3) I know you suffer, and I want you to know that I am here for you; 4) I suffer, please help.

Thay also teaches the story of Mr. Truong and Nam Xuong, who lose their love, and her life, due to actions based on a wrong perception. “In our society we have a fear of suffering, but to understand the suffering in ourselves and in the other person is very important. When we are able to understand the suffering inside, we suffer less. And we can see more easily the suffering in the other person; we can understand them.” To go deeper into how we nourish the seeds of anger inside,

Thay explains the teaching on the Four Nutriments: 1) edible food, 2) sense impressions, 3) volition, 4) consciousness.

The talk was given in French and the English translation is available below. There is a video version available too.

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Day of Mindfulness Plum Village

Every Step for my Mother and Father

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June 12, 2011. 105-minute Dharma Talk in Vietnamese, with translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong, given by Thich Nhat Hanh at New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the first talk after being in Germany and Southeast Asia.

Thay reads a letter from a young monastic aspirant requesting a 5-year ordination because the parents will not give permission for a lifetime; they need the daughter to care for them as they age. She sees the freshness of a novice life. A monastic life. Each day is precious. Singing together with nature.

Our daily practice is to find happiness in all we do each day. How do we understand our parents? How are we their continuation? Do we really know our parents? I vow to live happily for you mother, for you father. We only see part of our parents, our partner, our children but we can discover more every day. The same is true with ourselves.

Sangha body and dharma body. The jewel of the sangha. The quality – brotherhood, sisterhood, joy, peace – where does it come from? The first fruit of the practice is “I have arrived, I am home.”

What is work? What is it’s relationship to the practice? Do we work to much? We need to look deeply in our sangha. What are our talents and how best to apply?

Happiness can be found in everything we do.

The talk was given in Vietnamese with English translation and is available below. There is a video version available too. Please note, we are missing just the first minute or two of the recording.

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