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Retreats

Cultivating Happiness with the Bell

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April 6, 2012. 115-minute dharma talk given at The University of Nottingham by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is the first dharma talk for the Cultivating Happiness Family Retreat. The recording begins with a couple of practice songs before Thay enters the meditation hall followed by 10-minutes of chanting.

At 18-minutes into the recording, Thay gives a talk for the children present at the retreat. Cultivating happiness. We begin with a story of a teacher who implements coming back to oneself in the classroom by breathing and resting together. The practice helped the students and teacher in the classroom. The teacher used a bell in a classroom, so Thay teaches us about inviting the bell and how to be a bell master.

At 56-minutes into the recording, we begin the primary talk. The focus of our talk is on mindful breathing. This has to do with our suffering and our happiness. Exercise #5, from the Sutra on Full Awareness of Breathing, is cultivating joy, followed by #6 on cultivating happiness and #7 is to recognize a painful feeling and #8 is calming the painful feeling.

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I Send My Heart Along with the Sound of this Bell from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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Blue Cliff Monastery Retreats

You Don’t Have to Die Just Because of One Emotion

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October 7, 2011. 109-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the second dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat. Over a thousand people are in attendance.

When the Buddha breaths, the quality of breathing is superb. When the Buddha sits, the quality of sitting is superb. And the Buddha is always inside of you and if you invite the Buddha to sit or breathe with you then you can benefit. High class breathing. Today we return to the mantras for being truly present and bringing happiness to yourself and to your loved ones. We should express our appreciate and this is the practice of mindfulness. This isn’t a Buddhist practice; anyone can practice the mantras.

Darling, I am here for you.
Darling, I know you are there and it makes me happy.

Thay offers the story on a grain of corn. In the grain of corn is also a plant of corn. This is a common story given to illustrate signlessness and is usually offered for the children. Meditation is to look deeply and see things that other people cannot see. Interbeing. Can we take the cloud out of the tea? Can we take the mother or father out of the child?

Continue with the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing.

Aware of our in breath and our out breath.
Follow our in breath and our out breath.
Aware of our body.
Releasing tension in the our body.

The importance of abdomen/belly breathing. It is the trunk. No thinking. You are much more than one emotion. We should memorize this, especially when strong emotions arise. Thich Nhat Hanh recently met with California Governor Jerry Brown to suggest bringing this practice into the public schools. It is non-sectarian. Emotions are impermanent.

The mind is a river with drops of water called mental formations. Meditation is sitting on the bank of the river and not being carried away by the mental formation. The 10th exercise of breathing is to cultivate the mind. To make the mind more beautiful.

Four aspects of the practice of Right Diligence. First, we don’t water the negative seeds. Second, if a negative seed arises we try to help it not stay to long in our mind consciousness. We don’t fight or supress, but invite up a good seed. The third aspect is to bring the good seeds to have many chances to arise in the mind. To beautify the mind. Fourth, once you have a good mental formation then we try to keep it as long as possible. This is transformation at the base.

The 11th and 12th exercises on breathing are concentrating the mind and liberating the mind. The last four (13-16) exercises are presented. These last four have three concentrations: emptiness; signlessness, and aimlessness. The Three Doors of Liberation. Finally, we learn about the Buddha-body, the Dharma-body, and the Sangha-body.

You may listen or download the audio from this site or watch the video.

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Blue Cliff Monastery Retreats

One Step is Enough

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October 6, 2011. 117-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the second dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat. Over a thousand people are in attendance.

Thay begins by sharing about how we can be truly present for our loved ones. “You can look into the eyes of the other person and say, ‘Darling, I am here for you.’ That is the first mantra. And it works! When you say it, you and she will be happy right away. And you don’t have to practice it in Sanskrit or Chinese, you can say it in English.”

Thay continues by teaching the first few steps of mindfulness of breathing. He then goes into the teaching on store consciousness and mind consciousness. “The contents of store consciousness are seeds. In nuclear physics they speak of matter being made of subatomic particles; in Buddhist psychology we say that consciousness is made up of bijas, seeds. Very tiny–you cannot see them. We have a seed of mindfulness, and if we are a good practitioner, the seed of mindfulness grows everyday. Then, when we need mindfulness, it is available, right away. We also have a seed of anger, in store consciousness. And when someone comes and says something or does something that touches off the seed of anger in us, it manifests in mind consciousness as a mental formation.”

You may listen or download the audio from this site or watch the video.

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Retreats

The River of Mind

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September 8, 2011. 87-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 second dharma talk for the Together We Are One retreat.

Our father is inside every cell of our body and we can breathe in and out together. Our talk today begins with a guided meditation connecting us to our parents and ancestors.

A story about Italian retreats starts the talk for the children. Thay says there are always a lot of children at Italian retreats and he recalls giving them an assignment. . Thay speaks about how we are the continuation of our parents, using the example of a seed of corn that grows up to become a plant of corn. “When you practice mindful breathing, we can invite our mother inside of us to practice breathing as well. Our father also.”

Thay shares with us the about the practice of looking deeply into the river of the mind, using the exercises from the Mindfulness of Breathing Sutra. At the beginning of this portion, Thay writes down the first 8 exercises on the board (the audio is cut on the first two, but only for a moment). Today we continue with the 9th exercise – this is about recognizing the mental formation that has manifested. There are 51 categories of mental formations in our tradition of practice. There are positive and negative mental formations. Every mental formation is like a drop of water in the river of the mind. The practitioner sits on the bank of the river and watches and observes. Aware of the mental formations. We continue with exercises 9-12.

“As a practitioner we know how to practice selective watering of the seeds in our consciousness.” “Life is impossible without impermanence. Without impermanence a grain of corn can never become a plant of corn, and your little baby can never become a little girl. So impermanence is the nature of things. Your love is also impermanent. If you do not know how to take care of your love, your love will die.

Things are impermanent; because we believe things to be permanent we suffer.” We can use impermanence to get out of anger. “To get out of your anger, you can close your eyes and visualize the other person in 300 years. What will they become? Ash. And you too. It may take only 3-5 seconds for you to touch impermanence. That way you can see that it is not wise to let anger overwhelm you like that.”

Thay finishes the talk with the teaching on the Three Doors of Liberation: 1) emptiness, 2) signlessness, 3) aimlessness.

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and river of mind.

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Retreats

Freeing Ourselves From Notions

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August 22, 2011. 109-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 third dharma talk of the Body and Mind Are One retreat.

After a short guided meditation, Thay speaks to the children about how to play in such a way that we maintain our joy and happiness during the whole time of playing, not letting anger overcome us. If we play and we are angry we always lose. “Learn to play in such a way that neither the winner nor the loser suffer. That is the highest way of playing.” Next we learn the third mantra. It is about love. As your love grows, your happiness grows. Darling, I know you suffer and I am here for you. We also learn about the wisdom of non-discrimination.

Thay shares with us the 4th mantra – “Darling, I suffer and I want you to know. I’m doing the best I can. Please help.” If we can’t do this, it may because of our pride. You may eant to prove you can survive by yourself. We don’t let others know about our suffering, or let them help us, because of our pride, because of our anger. A practitioner knows that when anger arises they should take good care of themselves and their anger with mindful breathing until their anger calms and they can see into the wrong perception behind their anger.

Thay then shares about the 11th and 12th exercises of mindful breathing – 11) concentrating the mind and 12) liberating the mind. There are many objects of concentration but three are found throughout Buddhism – emptiness (sunyata), signlessness (animitta), and aimlessness (apranihita). These are also called the three doors of liberation. In the Sutra on Mindful Breathing, we are given four other objects of concentration – impermanence, non-craving, cessation, and letting go. We use these concentrations to free ourselves from the notions of being and non-being, birth and death, coming and going, sameness and otherness, and the four notions of self, man/human, living beings, and lifespan that the Diamond Sutra recommends that we remove. Freeing ourselves from these notions we are able to touch reality, to touch nirvana and realize our true nature – the nature of no-birth and no-death.

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and Freeing Ourselves from Notions.

Categories
Retreats

Handling Strong Emotions

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August 9, 2011. 68-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from War Memorial Gym at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this talk is the first dharma talk.

Thay speaks about the first few steps of the mindfulness of breathing sutra: 1) in/out breath, 2) follow the breath, 3) aware of body, 4) release tension in the body, 5) generate joy, 6) generate happiness, 7) recognize pain, 8) embrace pain. To support the cultivation of mindfulness, we should find a community of practice. Thay also shares about the Wake Up movement for young people. “We have the conviction that parents and teachers have to master the practice, so that they can transmit it to their students and children.” He also shares about a new program to bring Applied Ethics into schools through school teachers.

The talk is available below. There is a video version available too.