This is a 78-minute dharma talk from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in Hanoi during the “Engaged Buddhism in the 21st Century” retreat. This is the sixth and final talk on May 11, 2008 and the talk is offered in English.
The Dharma is something you need to come and see for yourself. It is experiential. Meditation holds the keys. We can unlock the door of reality. Among them are the Three Doors of Liberation. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness. These are the keys.
What are these Three Doors of Liberation?
Along with this, we take a deeper look at several pairs of opposites (in the context of signlessness).
birth and death
being and nonbeing
coming and going
sameness and otherness
We can liberated from our fear, our anger, our despair.
The story of the flame is quite humorous and enjoyable.
The Sangha is gathered together at Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi during the 2011 US Teaching Tour with the theme Cultivating the Mind of Love. This 88-minute dharma talk is from September 30, 2011 and both the audio and video are available with this post.
We begin with a 23-minute teaching for the children present at the retreat. Of course, everyone can benefit and enjoy this teaching regardless of age. Thay shares a story of bringing a bag of popcorn, but not to pop, to the children at an Italian retreat. The seed of corn that becomes the plant of corn. And how we can nourish our father and mother.
After the children leave, we continue with the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing. Yesterday we learned the first eight exercises of mindful breathing – the realm of bodyand the realm of feeling. Today we continue with realm of our mind. Mental formation.
9. Aware of mental formation
What is “formation” – comes from samskara. Anything that is formed, is a formation. There are physical formations and mental formation. What are the mental formations? The good ones and the negative ones. Can we name our mental formations? Call it by it’s true name.
Store and Mind consciousness. What are the characteristics of these? A teaching on seeds (bija) and how we can use our practice. What is our the ways that we suppress our negative mental formations? The most common is to consume. But what can we do instead?
10. Gladden the mental formation
This is equivalent to the practice of Right Diligence. There are four steps in this practice: First, not to give opportunity for the negative seeds to come up in the first place / in ourselves or in each other. What are the conditions we are creating around us? We should know how to consume. Second, if by chance a negative seed arises then try your best to help it go down as quickly as possible. This is the art of embracing the negative mental formation. We can invite a good seed to come up. Change the CD. Third, give the good seeds plenty of chances to come up. This is the art of flower watering. In ourselves and in the other person. Thay shares the story of the couple who came to Plum Village from the city of Bordeaux. The fourth aspect of the practice, of the good seed has manifested then keep it present as long as you can. If we can do this, then even more good seeds continue to grow.
11. Concentrating the mind / mental formation
12. Liberating the mind / mental formation
When we are concentrated, we discover the nature of what is there. We can see the non-flower elements of the flower. Happiness is made of non-happiness elements. Mindfulness can bring concentration. Liberation is the fruit of concentration. There are many forms and teachings in cultivating concentration. What are some examples?
There are three kinds of concentration found in every school of Buddhism: emptiness, sighlessness, and aimlessness. These are the Three Doors of Liberation. Insight arrives.
Impermanence is another concentration. When we look into the family album, are we the same or different from the baby in the picture.
The last four exercises of mindful breathing are about the objects of mind. Reality is not something outside of our mind — it is the object of our mind. These last four help with the practice to release and transform our suffering.
13. Contemplating Impermanence
14. Contemplating non-craving
15. Contemplating the ultimate (nirvana)
16. Contemplating letting go
The talk concludes with an overview and teaching of these last four exercises, particularly our objects of craving. Money, power, sex. The conditions of our happiness are already present and available.
If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.
From the Rising Tide Meditation Hall at a retreat at Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the third dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Healing Ourselves, Healing the World. The date is September 27, 2013. We begin with seven minutes of chanting from the monastic brothers and sisters.
Try the BetterListen Version of this entire retreat – click the image below
Thay introduces and explains the process for the Novices and Aspirants along with the 5-year program of training as a monastic. It can bring you a lot of joy. They practice the Ten Precepts of a novice. The third source of nutriment is volition – deepest desire of your life. What you want to do with your life? Knowing what you want to do can give you energy. Brotherhood and sisterhood creates a very deep love. What is life as a monastic like, how are decisions made, how do you practice? Why did Thay begin to take students after living in exile in the west? The need for dharma teachers across the world is great. Thay invites you to join the five year program.
At approximately 38-minutes into the recording, we turn to a new topic. We have talked about the art of suffering – if we know how to suffer, we will suffer much less. The art of suffering is linked to the art of happiness. Skillfully we can create joy for ourselves and others. There are many ways to create joy and happiness. The first method is to let go, to leave behind. Letting go will give birth to joy and happiness. If you let go, happiness can come right away. What are holding onto that we think is crucial for our happiness? The practice of releasing our cows. We can practice using sitting meditation and learn to release our cows. A whole country can even be caught my a cow – our ideology. The teaching of the monk Badhya who exclaimed “Oh my happiness!” during his meditation. He was able to let go.
The second way to joy and happiness is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a source of joy and a source of happiness. This is our practice. Then we have concentration – if you are very mindful, then concentration can be born. From concentration we then have insight – it can liberate us. Joy and happiness can arrive.
in the teachings of the Buddha, there are five types of energies that you can generate. They can help generate joy and happiness. The first three were covered earlier – mindfulness, concentration, and insight. The other two are faith and diligence. Faith here means confidence. The other teaching on power is cutting through / letting go. The power to cut by brought requires courage and courage requires us to have insight. The second power is wisdom. The third power is the power to love, to forgive.
How do we listen to a dharma talk? What is the zen way? We continue with a brief review from the exercises of mindful breathing.
At 86-minutes into the recording, we turn to a teaching on the three doors of liberation – emptiness, signlessness, and aimlesslessness. We hear an explanation and teaching on each of these doors.
October 16, 2013. 111-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, California during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the fourth and final dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Finding Our True Home.
A lesson for the children for when they return to school and how to deal with aggression without being angry or violent. If we do that, then we win. After about 10-minutes we continue with just the adults.
We begin with a few unanswered questions from the previous session of questions and answers: I can be mindful of my breath when I sitting or walking but how do I keep mindful of my breath when speaking? Political discourse is deeply toxic and intolerant; how do we consume without the negativity? How can we still be engaged? Please talk to us about grief. What can you share with teachers and youth so they can walk away and take care of their fears and stress? Can there be peace without war?
The topic of our talk today is birth and death. These two happen at the same time; even a scientist can see this through the continuous birth and death of the cells of our body. Where there is death, there is birth. In our tradition, we speak of two kinds of truth: conventional truth and ultimate truth.
The Five Mindfulness Trainings represent the path of transformation and healing. A path of happiness. The Noble Path has eight elements. The first is Right View. It is the insight that transcends all discrimination. If you think war and peace as two deprecate entities, that is not right view. There is Interbeing. There are four pairs of opposites that can represent all kinds of opposites.
Birth and death
Being and nonbeing
Coming and going
Sameness and otherness
Right view transcends all these opposites. From there, you can practice Right Thinking,Right Speech, Right Action, Right livelihood, Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.
We continue now with the exercises of mindful breathing where we left off in a prior dharma talk. With the ninth through twelfth exercise, we come to the realm of the mind. The last four (13-16) are about the objects of mind with impermanence, non-craving, nirvana, and letting go.
We resume the teaching on the four pairs of opposites fooled by the Three Doors of Liberation. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness.
August 30, 2013. 91-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, New York during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the final dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Transformation and Healing – The Art of Suffering.
How to love – Four Elements of True Love (also known as Unlimited Mind or the Four Brahma Viharas)
Maitri (loving kindness) – capacity to offer well being and happiness.
Karuna (compassion) – capable of removing the pain
Upeksha (equanimity or inclusiveness)
Continue instructiom on the exercises of mindful breathing (#9-#16)
9: Recognize every mental formations
10: make the landscape of the mind beautiful – gladdening the mind. Watering good seeds.
True Diligence (four aspects)
11: concentrate our mind on the mental formation
12: liberating the mind
13: contemplating impermanence
14: contemplating non-craving
16: letting go
Three Doors of Liberation (emptiness, signlessness, aimlessness)
August 16, 2013. 82 -minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the fifth dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World.
May 26, 2013. 86-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Hong Kong. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Chinese. The theme of the retreat is Happiness is the Way.
How do we connect with the Buddha? How do we bow to the Buddha? Emptiness. Right View is the ultimate aim of practice. To gain insight into Interbeing and emptiness. What is emptiness? How does this help us remove anger and discrimination?
Concentration allows us to discover this insight. These three practices (samadhi) to Right View are available in all Buddhist traditions. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness. These are the Three Doors of Liberation.
Mindfulness. Concentration. Insight. A good practitioner can generate these three kinds of energy. If we practice, we can produce Right Thinking and the Noble Eightfold Path. We are free of the notions of being and non-being. We hear the story of Anapindika when he was dying and how Sariputra helped him understand no birth and no death.
October 25, 2012. 105-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is enjoying the Autumn Retreat and this is a Day of Mindfulness.
Last week we learned about the Four Kinds of Nutriments and having to do with the Fifth Mindfulness Training.
Power. Some people think if they have power, they will be happy. It takes a great deal of understanding. The mind of love; of enlightenment. Bodhicitta. This comes from the practice of mindfulness and concentration. Understanding your own suffering helps you understand the suffering of others around you. I’m the family and in the nation. Love and understanding. Understanding is the foundation of love. The mind left uncultivated will bring lots of suffering. We need a spiritual dimension in our daily life. This is our practice. Bodhicitta is a tremendous source of energy.
Mental formations. There are mental formations that make us suffer, but they can be transformed.
Samadhi. Maintaining awareness.
Meditation on impermance. We have to keep this alive in us. Treasure the moments we have. Impermanance is a characteristic of life.
The Three Doors of Liberation. Concentrations. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness. This teaching includes an exploration of birth and death. Being and non-being. Impermanance. Non-craving. Nirvana.
August 16, 2012. 91-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into Dutch (though the Dutch is muted in this recording), with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the fifth (and final) Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Dutch Retreat on the theme Body and Mind Are One at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.
Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. An object. The first object of mindfulness is our body. Our body includes our in-breath and out-breath. There is a sutra on the contemplation of the body. The second object of our mindfulness is our feelings. Pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings. The third object is our mind. It is comprised of mental formations. The fourth is the objects of our mind.
After a brief review of the first 8 exercises on the Full Awareness of Mindful Breathing, Thay moves ahead with the remaining exercises. Also, a teaching on impermanence, non-self, and Interbeing. Contemplating a cloud. The three concentrations. Emptiness. Aimlessness. Signlessness. Also known as the Three Doors of Liberation. Dwelling happily in the present moment.
April 10, 2012. 97-minute recording given at The University of Nottingham by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is final dharma talk for the Cultivating Happiness Family Retreat.
In this talk we review the 16-exercises from the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing followed by the teaching on the Three Doors of Liberation: emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness.