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Plum Village Retreats

Arriving Home is Truly Enough

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December 16, 2012. 88-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the twelfth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

Go home and heal yourself. Where is your home? Only there any heal yourself. To some extent, we all have a sickness. We need to totally bring ourselves into the present moment with everything that we are doing. It is a training And we do it together with our community and our ancestors. We can touch the ultimate dimension. Arriving home is truly enough.

At 23-minutes we resume the sutra study and commentary. Dharma seal. The criterion for the teachings of the Buddha. Impermanence. No self. Nirvana. What is the road from relative truth to ultimate truth?

There are a number of Buddhists who are obsessed by the idea that impermanence is suffering. Life is suffering. So many have used “suffering” as the third dharma seal. But we need to remember also that if there is suffering, there must also be happiness. See the Chanda Sutra, #262 that clearly says nirvana is the third dharma seal.

Why is impermanence important? This too is related with the 12 links. Thay highlights a few errors from the sutras and provides a new teaching that better reflects the true teaching.

We also cover Agama #293.

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Plum Village Retreats

Two Hands Clapping

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December 9, 2012. 110-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 tenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

In the first 40-minutes of the dharma talk, the focus is arriving in your True Home. What is our true home? What are the instructions to arrive? What is the island of self?

Following the instruction on coming home, we turn to a series of sutra commentaries. We begins with Agama #273 and another sutra (didn’t get the name) chapter Two, Sutra #17-19. Topics include the six bases, eighteen realms, and the twelve links of co-arising.

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Plum Village Retreats

What is dualism and nirvana?

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December 6, 2012. 105-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the ninth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

When we speak of spirituality, people often think I the east. And when speaking of science, people think of the west. Today these two ideas can come together. Even Christianity is from the east and has non-dualistic elements. In the first half of the dharma talk today, Thay answers the following questions:

What is dualistic/non-dualistic thinking?
What is nirvana?

About an hour into the recording, the teaching shifts into the sutra commentary as it relates to the twelve links of co-arising, the ultimate dimension, teaching on non-action, and the prajnaparamitas.

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Plum Village Retreats

Enjoying the Space Outer Space

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December 2, 2012. 82-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the eighth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

Walking. Using the power and concentration of walking meditation. Not thinking. Entrust your problems to your store conciousness. There is a lot of wisdom there from all the generations before you. What is collective consciousness? Store conciousness? How so you feed your conciousness?

At 23-minutes, we begin the sutra commentary. Enjoying the Space Outer Space. Touching the freedom in the present moment, this is the outer space. Also, it is sometimes called the sutra of Nirvana. Gatha #13. Formation is conditioned things. Condition and conditioned. The act and actor. According to the wisdom of the Buddha, you can see that you can’t have the action without the actor.

What is the view that transcends all notions? This isn’t nihilism.

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20121202 from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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Plum Village Retreats

A New Teaching on the Twelve Nidanas

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November 29, 2012. 115-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 seventh dharma talk of the retreat with the theme  Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? We begin with chanting.

The Buddha has spoken about Mother Earth as patience and equanimity. The two great virtues of the planet earth. Our society is very sick and many of us need healing. Our body and mind have lots of poisons. We don’t know how to consume. But Mother Earth has the capacity to heal herself and can help us if we know how to take refuge in her.  She is not in a hurry. When we walk, we can be aware that the earth is holding our steps. Mother Earth is also inside of us. Walking meditation is one of the ways to heal and allow the earth to be in us and around us. We are the earth. Allow it to happen by itself; we don’t make the breathing in/out happen. We just enjoy the in/out breath. Mother Earth is a great bodhisattva.The healing begins when you are not trying anything. The practice of non-practice.

Thay summarizes the November 25 talk into English due to challenges with the translation in that talk.

There is a dimension of reality called the historical dimension. In the historical dimension we see things as separate – father is outside of the son. This is classical science as applied by Newton. But now we have  another kind of science that goes deeper; it has discovered a new kind of truth. This is represented by quantum physics. It seems to contradict the truth found in historical dimension. In meditation there are also two kinds of truth: the conventional truth and the ultimate truth. There is path that can lead us from historical to ultimate. The Buddha taught, “This is because that is.” This is the teaching of “genesis” in Buddhism. In Plum Village we use a sheet of paper to illustrate this teaching. So simple. Everything can be looked at in this way. It is the best practice of meditation because it can connect us with the ultimate truth.The Buddha used the notions of historical dimension to lead us to the ultimate. This was skillful means to helps us to release notions and concepts. The teaching of co-arising / inter-arising.

In the ultimate dimension, we use words like Emptiness. This is the equivalent to God. It is the ultimate. It is the absence of notions and concepts. The teaching of interbeing – nothing by itself can be alone. Helps you to be connected to emptiness. This is because that is. Rebirth is possible without a self. Karma is possible without a self. Retribution is possible without a self. Many Buddhists still believe you need a “self” but this is a deluded belief. This is because of influences from pre-Buddhist teachings. Even for many people in the west, the first thing they think of in Buddhism is reincarnation. This is not the “cream” of Buddhism. The deep teaching is interbeing. No-self.  The wisdom of adaptation. To connect with emptiness. The teachings of the twelve links seem more at explain samsara rather than the ultimate truth.

Twelve Nidanas

  1. Avidya (delusion)
  2. Sanskara (impulses, actions, dispositions)
  3. Vijñana (consciousness)
  4. Namarapa (body and mind)
  5. Sadayatana (six sense organs and object)
  6. Sparsa (contact)
  7. Vedana (feelings)
  8. Trsna (craving, attachment)
  9. Upadana (grasping)
  10. Bhava (existence)
  11. Jati (birth)
  12. Jara-marana (old age and death)

This is the classical way of presenting the Nidanas. The first two links belong to the past. The next eight links belong to this life – the present. Then after this body disintegrates, the last two are the future. As a young student, Thay learned the three times past, present, and the future are represented in these twelve links. Thay also learned there are two layers of cause and effect within these twelve links. The teaching of three times and two layers of cause and effect. As a student, I just believed my teacher. But as Thay continued to learn and to practice, he learned this teaching will not help us touch the ultimate dimension. It can only be used on the level of conventional truth. We have to look at this teaching differently.

Thay provides a re-teaching of the twelve links to see them in the ultimate truth.

delusion <–> formations -> birth/death -> being/non-being -> samsara

wisdom <–> formations -> no-birth/no-death -> no-being/no non-being -> nirvana 

This is because that is. 

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20121129 from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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Plum Village Retreats

Twelve Links of Co-Arising

November 25, 2012. 99-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the sixth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

Editor’s Note: Thay repeats this talk in English on November 29 because of challenges with translation in this talk.

Thay teaches from the Chandra Sutra. Sutra #262 from the Chinese canon. Analysis. What is the third seal (sometimes call signature)? Nirvana or suffering.

People in the world are normally caught in one of two extremes: the view of being and the view of non-being. Since worldly people are caught in the objects of perception, their minds are bound. If someone does not accept, does not grasp, does not stand firm in these ideas, does not compare and measure a separate self that he is then caught in, then he will see that when the causes are sufficient for suffering to arise, suffering arises, and when the causes are no longer sufficient, suffering ceases (and in that there is no need for a self, and the ideas of being and non-being cannot be applied).

With right view, we don’t need self. We don’t need a thinker. Nirvana is the cessation of all views. We have to be skillful when teaching the Dharma, and also skillful when listening to the Dharma.

We then continue with Samyukta Agama #293 (Discourse on the Adaptation of Conditioned Genesis that Connects with Emptiness) on the 12 Links of Co-Arising.

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20121125 from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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Move Toward the Absolute Truth

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November 18, 2012. 92-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha had just begun the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the fourth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

Everyone already knows that the heart of the Buddha’s teaching is the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. People seem to remember reincarnation, retribution, and karma but these three are not the core of his teachings. These three teachings existed before the time of the Buddha. If you believe in samsara then you believe in the immortal soul, but this is not the true teaching of the Buddha. The Buddha did not deny samsara, but he did teach that we do not have a separate self. He also accepted karma, but that too is also relative. Buddhism is made with many elements, including non-Buddhist elements. Thay continues explaining the influences on Buddhism and the similarities and differences among the different traditions present in India at that time.

You don’t need any spiritual beliefs to follow the Noble Eightfold Path and you can live happily and free. It all begins with Right View. We continue with The Four Noble Truths, Absolute truth and conventional truth, suffering and happiness.

At 1:01 into the recording, we continue with the sutra commentary. We start with the third Chinese line of the gatha. The sutra has been translated into French and English and will be distributed soon.

It is unreasonable to think that the self nature lies in the conditions.
The self nature that is born from conditions would be something that is made.
Without self nature and other nature, how can we have a phenomena.
Only with self and other nature can dharma be possible.
When there is no possibility of being, how can non-being be possible.
Only when there is being can it end and become non-being. 

When something is made, it is not self nature. What is self nature? A flower has no self-nature. A baby has no self-nature. Everything has no self-nature. Transcend all the notions of being and non-being. We need to transcend them. Slowly move toward the absolute truth.

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Embrace the Whole Cosmos

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November 15, 2012. 97-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha had just begun the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the third dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

Reviewed the four (psychic) powers from the last talk (11/11/12). We also review mindfulness, concentration, and insight. How do we practice these? Practicing Right View. Right Speech. Right Action. These things are preparing our karma. Karma doesn’t mean bad. Practicing generosity. Dana. Enlarge your heart and accept yourself and others. A bodhissatva has the capacity to enlarge their heart. Embrace the whole cosmos. But this depends on your Right View obtained from mindfulness, concentration, and insight. Interbeing. The most important teaching from the Buddha is Right View and it comes from your practice. It isn’t about reincarnation, retribution, etc.

Today we now discuss a sutra with commentaries on the middle path. Chapter 15, the first two Gathas. All the dharma has no self. Nothing has a seperate self. Everything is a notion. The Dharma Seal is the true teaching of the Buddha and contains impermance, no self, and nirvana. Is there a permanent soul? Thay continues further with these teachings of the dharma seal.

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Arriving in Plum Village

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July 7, 2012. 87-minute recording given at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the first dharma talk of the Summer Opening. The sangha is celebrating the 30th Summer Opening. The talk begins with instruction on how to listen to the chant followed by Avalokiteshvara chant.

The main talk begins at 40-minutes into the recording. We hear stories from the Avatamsaka Sutra (Flower Garland Sutra). The mother of the Buddha and how the friends came to see Siddhartta while still in the womb. She had a lot of space inside for everyone. We can cultivate this kind of space too. Story of Sidhartta making at least seven steps at his birth. What does this mean? Walking like a Buddha on planet earth. Freedom, joy, and happiness is available with every step. This portion of the talk is about 45-minutes and a beautiful segment to listen to with others in the Sangha

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21 Day Retreats Plum Village Retreats

Nirvana In the Here and the Now

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June 13, 2012. 124-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from New 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 ninth dharma talk (of 15).

Investigation of the phenomenonal and noumenal worlds. We use our mind of discrimination to investigate the conventional truth. If we use the practice to look more deeply, we can see the ultimate truth of the same object. We use the mind of non-discrimination for the ultimate truth. And in Buddhism we take care of the mind. We need to train our mind so to create a strong instrument for investigation. The yogi has to be skillful.

The teaching of the Dharma as a finger. A skillful practitioner should not be caught in notions.

The Wisdom of Adaptation. Being and nonbeing. A flower is made of non-flower elements and this principle applies to everything. In the 2nd paragraph of the Heart of Perfect Understanding. Form is emptiness and Emptiness is not form. Form is free from being and nonbeing. They are neither produced nor destroyed. We can apply the Law of Thermodynamics – the conservation of matter and energy. We look then at the Discourse on the Adaption of Conditioned Genesis Connected with Emptiness (Samyukta Agama 293).