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Day of Mindfulness Plum Village

The Uncultivated Mind Brings Suffering

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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.

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English/Dutch European Institute of Applied Buddhism Retreats

Foundations of Mindfulness

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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.

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Retreats

Nottingham Retreat: Final Talk

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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.

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Nottingham Retreat: Final Talk from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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Retreats

Happy Teachers will Change the World

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April 1, 2012. 67-minute dharma talk given at The American School in London by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is part three of the Educators’ Retreat: An Exploration of Mindful Education. The first few minutes the audio is bad but then improves.

In this talk we learn about being present through mindfully eating a tangerine – it is a spiritual experience.  Why is this important? Happy teachers will change the world. Invest in every breath, every step to have more peace and more concentration.  The three kinds of power can help you. First is the power to understand. The second power is love. And the third is to let go. The classroom can be a second chance for a suffering child to learn about love.  The last segment of the talk is on walking meditation.

A video version may also available.

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Plum Village

Appease the Suffering

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December 28, 2011. 105-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat and this is talk was given in French with English translation provided by Sister Pine.

Thay teaches on the Noble Eightfold Path, and how concrete practices can help us to cultivate this path. “Thought can make us suffer; we need to be able to stop our thinking in order to be capable of happiness. If we look at the sun but cannot get deeply in touch with it in the present moment, we only see suffering, we cannot see all the conditions of happiness that are already present. If you can see all thoughts just as notions, you can penetrate the reality of no-birth and no-death.”

Right View And it’s relationship to Concentration and the practice of Mindfulness. Right Thinking is characterized by non-discrimination. We also learn of the three practices of concentration (Three Doors of Liberation) present in all Buddhist traditions: emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness. He also teaches on the nature of karma (body, speech, and mind) – Right Action and Right Livelihood. Finally, the four practices of Right Diligence.

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Blue Cliff Monastery Retreats

You Have to Feed your Love Properly

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October 10, 2011. 122-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 final dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat.

“Walking on the planet Earth is a wonder. The Zen Master Lin Chi said the miracle is to walk on earth. Like Neil Armstrong on the moon, we should be mindful of each step. Happiness should be possible with each step.”

Time is a product of our mind. This is dualistic thinking, but we can touch eternity and transcend time. We can transcend birth and death, being and non-being. Walking can bring a lot of joy, but also the highest enlightenment. You can bring this practice home and enjoy every moment of daily life.

Before you bow to the Buddha, you have to meditate. You have to communicate with the Buddha. There is a verse we can learn to touch emptiness. A Christian can practice the same way when bowing to Jesus. Thay continues to share about the Three Doors of Liberation (emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness) and the four signs, from the Diamond Sutra, in which we may get caught: the concept of a self, of man, of living beings, and of a lifespan.

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

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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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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

The Flower is Full of Everything

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August 13, 2011. 86-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 is the final talk of the retreat.

Exercises of mindful breathing from the Anapanasati Sutta: the first four are (1) identify your breath, (2) follow your breath, (3) aware, and (4) release. From here we move to the feelings. They are (5) generate joy, (6) generate happiness, (7) aware of painful feelings, and (8) embrace the painful feeling. We then (9) recognize joy, (10) gladdening the mind, (11) concentrating the mind, (12) liberate the mind.

There are at least three types of concentration in Buddhism known as the Three Doors of Liberation: Emptiness, Signlessness, Aimlessness.  Thay provides an detailed explanation of each door.

The next four exercises are concentrations proposed by the Buddha, but we do explore these in depth during this talk. We also hear about no birth/no death, being/non-being, coming/going, and sameness/otherness.

Emptiness does not mean non-existence. A glass can be empty or full of tea, but in order to be empty or full the glass needs to be there. So emptiness does not mean non-existence. This glass is empty of tea, but it is full of air. So it is helpful for us to ask, ‘Empty of what?’ To be empty is always to be empty of something. When we contemplate a flower like this, we see the flower is full of everything: the cloud, the sunshine, the Earth, time, space, the gardener—everything has come together to help the flower to manifest. Why do we say it is empty? It is empty of only one thing: a separate existence. A flower cannot be by herself alone. A flower is full of non-flower elements. It is clear that the flower has to be interbe with everything in the cosmos. She cannot be by herself alone. To be by oneself alone is impossible. So we begin to see the interdependence of everything.

He uses the example of a match which requires the action of us striking it for a flame to manifest. In life we are the same: when we ask ‘Where do we come from?’ or ‘Where are we going?’ we see that we do not come from anywhere. “When conditions come together sufficiently, I manifest. My nature is the nature of no coming and no going. When conditions are no longer sufficient, I just stop manifestation and wait for a chance to manifest again. My nature is no coming, no going.”

This concludes the retreat in Vancouver. After a public talk on August 14, the sangha will travel to Colorado for a retreat at Estes Park.

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

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Plum Village Retreats

The River of Body and Mind

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July 16, 2011. 85-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh in French, with English translation provided by Sister Pine, from New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

Our body is not static; it’s always changing. It is a river and every cell represents a drop in the river. To meditate is to sit at the bank and look at our body. Like the body, there is a river of feelings flowing day and night. We are learning about the five skandhas as the river of body and mind: form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.

Thay continues into the steps of practice based on the Mindfulness of Breathing Sutra. The first four help us with the physical form and the next four are to help us with our feelings: 1) recognizing the in and out breath, 2) following the in and out breath, 3) mindful of the body, 4) calming the body, 5) recognizing joy, 6) recognizing happiness, 7) aware of painful feelings, 8) embracing painful feelings. These eight are reviewed briefly.

There is also a river of perceptions. Is my perception correct? We also have mental formations. There are positive formations as well as those that make us suffer. Our mind is a river of mental formations. Finally, in Buddhism we speak of consciousness.

We continue with the sutra as it relates to perceptions. 9) selective watering of good seeds, 10) recognizing negative mental formations, 11) concentrate the mind, 12) free the mind. There are three principal concentrations that we practice. They help us transform fear, anxiety, and despair. There are three practices of concentration presented in Buddhist schools. They are 1) the concentration on emptiness, 2) the concentration on signlessness, 3) the concentration on aimlessness. These are also the Three Doors of Liberation and can be found in all schools of Buddhism. We learn of dualism and non-dualistic thinking.

What is happiness? Happiness is made of understanding and love. And with that comes compassion. But we must understand suffering. The First Noble Truth is about suffering. Suffering is essential to happiness.

Being and non-being. Signlessness. These are just notions and reality transcends all notions.

The third concentration, aimlessness, everything is already here.

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