Plum Village Retreats

Embracing Emotions with Non-Violence


July 13, 2011. 74-minute Dharma Talk given in French, with English translation by Sr. Pine from Stillwater Meditation Hall in Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

Thay shares about the first eight steps of the practice of mindful breathing from the Anapanasati Sutta: 1) Recognizing the in and out breath. It’s not thinking; it’s an experience. The first exercise is the identification. 2) Following the in and out breath. 3) Breathing in, I am aware of the body. We get in touch with the physical body. We bring the mind back to the body. It is an act of reconciliation. We may become aware of tension or pain in the body. 4) Breathing in, I calm my body.

The next two exercises, the Buddha wants us to focus on pleasant feelings first – 5) Aware of joy, 6) Aware of happiness. If we can take a piece of paper and write down all the conditions of happiness we may discover that two sides of a piece of paper may not be enough. There are hundreds of conditions to see happiness.

The seventh exercise is (7) aware of mental formations – this is to recognize a painful feeling. These are zones of energy that manifest from deep in out consciousness. We can use the energy Mindfulness and concentration. The eighth asks us to embrace and soothe – 8) Calming mental formations.

Dharmakaya – the dharma body, bring wherever you go, you bring the practice with you. Like bringing your cell phone with you. We need a spiritual dimension in our daily life.

The Buddhakaya, the Buddha body. We all have a Buddha body. We all have a seed of Mindfulness. The Buddha nature. Mindfulness carries concentration.

The Sanghakaya – our sangha body. Without a sangha, the Buddha could nit accomplish his dream. Without a community, we cannot do very much. It’s a community, but it’s also a practice. How to build a Sangha near you.

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

Plum Village

The Good News of Oak Leaves Falling


January 6, 2011. 70-minute Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh, from New Hamlet, Plum Village, France.

On the moon, now, there is no flower, no oak tree, no cloud. On our planet we have all these things. Every time I go out for walking meditation, I feel so happy to step on the oak leaves, to see the tiny stream by my hermitage. Everything is so beautiful. We can see that in the entire universe there is not another planet so beautiful. We are so lucky. Every day, though, we live on this planet, but we don’t realize how lucky we are. I wonder if the fish in the pond can see that beauty, the bird flying in the beautiful empty space, the deer in the field browsing. Do they know? But we, we know. Human beings, before, we were apes. We walked with four limbs. Then, at a certain moment, we stood up. Instead of having an ape’s name, we then had the name “Homo erectus“. We could use our two limbs in order to do things. Eventually we became “Homo sapiens“, humans who know. When we are mindful, we can call ourselves “Homo conscius.” We enjoy the manifestation of all these gifts in nature. This is mindfulness: being aware of what is going on. When we get in touch with what is beautiful, we transform the anguish in us into joy, happiness, and love.

Dharmakaya. The body of the dharma. One if three bodies – Buddhakaya. Sanghakaya. Each of us have these three bodies. The practice is to bring these bodies into harmony.

Understanding the Buddha body. All the species can become Buddha. In Buddhism, life is one. All have Buddha nature. People, animals, plants, minerals.

The dharma body is your spiritual practice. If it is strong, you can live with ease and lightness. Dharma body is also the teaching of the Buddha and can help you build your spiritual practice. Each day is a day for growing your dharma body.

The third body is the sangha body. Thay emphasizes this body in our community. If you have the sangha in your heart, you do not lose anything when you are away from the sangha.

As humans, we have the ability to see the beauty in the world around us. We can appreciate the beauty of this world. We are mindful. We are aware. I am present with the sky and the earth. Our consciousness allows us to do that. Other species may not be able to do that like homo sapiens.

Continue to grow the three bodies and you can ride the ocean of birth and death. The nature of the practice is to be in touch with nirvana.

The last twenty minutes of the talk is a Sutra commentary. Today we discuss stanza 9 and 10.

The talk was given in Vietnamese with English translation and is available below (French and original Vietnamese audio are also available, as well as video version).

Editor’s Note: The talk is actually on January 6 though the translator says January 7. Also, the talk is cut-off before it is complete and we are missing the last ten minutes. You may need to listen to the French, Vietnamese, or watch the video to catch the very end.