Fresh Opportunities of Abundance

As we continue to send Thay our lovely energy of healing, we look back to a dharma talk he gave on January 26, 2003 from the Dharma Nectar Temple, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the middle of the Winter Retreat and the lunar new year is approaching. This short dharma talk (48-minutes) begins with a monastic chant in Vietnamese.

The Buddha teaches we should try to make our practice pleasant, joyful, and nourishing. There are several different types of joy. Mindfulness is the key to exploring. How should a practice center be organized? Are we creating the right conditions?

The two sentences for the coming lunar year (2003) are part of the practice – All misfortunes entirely away. Fresh Opportunities seen in abundance. – we post these in order to remind us of our practice. We have many opportunities to practice all around us. Can you write down all the opportunities available to you? Mindfulness will help us touch these opportunities.

Other kinds of joy. Sangha building. Helping our brothers or sisters in the community can bring both a lot of joy. This is based on understanding and love. There may also be a kind of joy based upon craving. Craving for recognition and praise. Can you learn to operate as a sangha? How?

You don’t need to be #1 to be happy. The teaching is a teaching of no-self. Inferiority. Superiority. Equality.

How can we take care of our ups and our downs? We cannot hide our suffering. How to ask for help?

The 51-mental formations in the boat of self. We have the five universal and five particulars – these are travelers in the boat of ourselves. They can also form a team and work together. Mindfulness and concentration. We have to learn to live in harmony with the sangha of self.

Smile and breathe. Enjoy the gem.

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Tale of Kieu

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Thursday, January 30, 2014 and is the twenty second talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. We are on the eve on Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. This is an English translation, available below, by Sr. Tue Nghiem.

The time is 3:00pm on Vietnamese New Year’s Eve (Tet) and it is an occasion to connect with our ancestors. Without our roots then we cannot survive. In Asian culture we try to connect with the other realms. The world of nine sources. In Vietnam we have a tradition of worshiping our ancestors. Every family has an altar in their home. Every day people offer a stick of incense to their ancestors to help connect to their heritage. It only takes a minute and it is a sacred and scientific act. Connect with our roots. It is good mental health. It is a way to express our love and loyalty. Thay shares a little about the Rose Ceremony. Here in Plum Village, as we study Buddhist teachings, we can see these two realms are one. It is a stream. Scientists are also on this path. Matter and energy are not two deprecate things. There are no boundaries between heaven and earth.

At 25-minutes into the talk, Thay shares about Tale of Kieu Oracle reading, a Plum Village Tet tradition. We learn the story and background of this classical Vietnamese poem.

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Stars, Moon and Consciousness

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Thursday, January 23, 2014 and is the twentieth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem. A great teaching today that includes a story of Mara and the Buddha followed by the tradition of earth cake making in Vietnam. The second half returns to our sutra study on subject/object and store consciousness.

0:00-9:30 Chanting
9:30-46:18 Mara and the Buddha
46:18-1:02:05 Tet and Earth Cakes
1:03:00-1:18:38 Subject and Object
1:18:38-1:28:40 Christian Theology and Ultimate Reality
1:28:40-end Characteristics of Seeds

After the Buddha became enlightened, he continued to practice. Sitting. Walking. Solo retreats. Why did he continue to practice after he became enlightened? If we don’t continue to nourish, then we can lose our happiness. Everything is impermanent. It’s called conditioning.

There is a priest in New York, Father Daniel Berrigan. Thay has been friends with him since 1965 and they have enjoyed practicing together many times. We here a story of their friendship, walking meditation, and dualistic thinking.

We learn a story of Buddha and Mara to illustrate our dualistic thinking. The story is then linked to a practice during the lunar new year. We need to remind ourselves to practice to turn this place into the territory of the Buddha. Today, in Vietnam, people put up a pole with a piece of the sangati robe to remind themselves to practice happiness.

Today we have a Flower market and a ceremony for putting up the pole. The beauties of Mother Earth invite us to come back to ourselves and the flowers are an expression of this beauty. A few words on earth cake tradition in Vietnam – what do the earth cakes represent? The lunar new year is an occasion to be in touch with our ancestors and be grateful. After lunch today, we will make earth cakes together. This is how we begin to celebrate Tet.

We return to the sutra study of the 30-verses. Stars and moon are an object of consciousness. They are in store consciousness. In the world of the oyster, they have no-eye consciousness and no-ear consciousness. The things that we see, the oyster cannot see. So, sense organs are one condition to give birth to consciousness. The object gives rise to consciousness. And these are manifested from seeds. And store consciousness holds all the seeds. The sense organ and the object rely on each other to create consciousness. Object and subject. They are divided into two parts but this isn’t exactly correct. We cannot take one out of the other. This is called Interbeing.

Some say there is a world that is objective whether we look at it or not. There is also consciousness and it is also there. This is a dualistic view and called double-grasping. The stars and moon are not independent of our consciousness. Just like the left and right. This is the most important teaching of manifestation-only teaching. When we look at the object we have to see the subject and vice-versa.

We are learning store consciousness. Store consciousness cannot be described with ideas of wholesome/unwholesome, being/nonbeing, pure/impure, etc. And the seeds that store consciousness hold are the same. How does this apply in Christian theology?

Right View and Right Thinking. Transcends the idea of being and non-being. Our Five Skandhas also have this nature. So, when we look at the characteristics of the seeds, we have to see they have the same nature as store.

Two kinds of impermance.

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Understanding is the Basis of Love

February 2, 2011, on the Eve of the Lunar New Year of the Cat, in the New Hamlet of Plum Village. He reads poetry of Xuân Diu and talks of the beauty of fidelity in a relationship.

Self-love is the foundational of love for another.

We should see something very simple and basic: understanding is the basis of love. The understanding of our suffering we can accept and understand the others. We have communication. The practice helps us to a develop our love and understanding to remove the feeling of loneliness inside.

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).

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Ten Days

January 30, 2011. 85-minute Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh, from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. We begin with 7-minutes of chanting. Thay reads some Vietnamese Poetry and a love story that takes place during the Lunar New Year.

Breathing in, I dwell on my unborn
Breathing out, no birth and death

Speaks of dualistic views and uses God as the basis for the analysis. Learning to touch the unborn. This is it. Sudden enlightenment.

Today we learn two more particular mental formations. The first is about deep desire, expectation of waiting for something. Feeling very empty. Lack of something. It’s why we check our email. Thay uses a story from a 1995 (Vietnamese) short story to make the point. The title is Ten Days. Ten days of expectation. It’s quite a funny story about young love and waiting.

Drops of Emptiness.

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).

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