When You Breathe You Can Already Celebrate Life

September 11, 2011. 120-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 final dharma talk for the Together We Are One retreat.

We begin with a guided meditation looking deeply at ourselves and our ancestors.
We need to cultivate love and compassion. Love and compassion are an essential element of happiness. Maitri has the power to bring happiness. We must understand our suffering, we cannot understand the suffering if others. We must begin with ourselves.

In true live there is no individual suffering; you can’t say it’s not my problem. Understanding is the foundation of love and mindfulness and concentration are the two elements that can bring about understanding.

The roots of terrorism ate wrong views, wrong perceptions. We use loving speech and compassionate listening to help get rid of wrong views. This too is the practice of true love. The path proposed by the Buddha is a noble eightfold path. It has Mindfulness, concentration, and insight. We can travel to the shore of liberation and non-fear. Paramita.

Right view is an element of the noble eightfold path. The Five Mindfulness Trainings are a very concrete method to have right view. Thay talks about being and non-being as it relates to out way of thinking. Right thinking is another part of the path. To continue the explanation, Thay tells a story of a cloud. The nature of a cloud is no-birth, no-death. Our cloud has not come from non-being. A cloud can never die. Being and non-being are just notions. When conditions are sufficient, I manifest myself. My nature is non-local. Right view can liberate us from fear, despair, anger.

In the mind of discrimination, we always want to choose only happiness. We want to ban the suffering and only have happiness. But happiness and suffering inter-are. It is the understanding of the suffering that compassion/happiness can arrive. We do not discriminate against suffering. Birth is now. Death is now. We can touch that fact. Being and non-being are notions and cannot be applied to reality.

Right speech, the next in the path, means speech without discrimination. Next we look at Right Action. What we do with our body should reflect our right view. No discrimination. The same can be said about Right Livelihood, Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.
Finally, Thay talks about karma.

In addition to the audio, a video version is available.

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What is the Purpose of People and Life?

September 10, 2011. 95-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 fourth dharma talk for the Together We Are One retreat. Today we have a session of Questions and Answers.

Some questions: What is the purpose of people and life? Why is Thich Nhat Hanh so special? How can I bring these memories home without the other kids in the neighborhood thinking that it is not real? What do you do for your entertainment? In Plum Village, were you ever on the kitchen staff before? Could you talk to us younger people about following our dreams while staying in the present moment, and how to not get pulled away by ambition? Am I practicing correctly? As a survivor of rape, how do I forgive my attackers? How do we deal with nightmares? How can I create peace in my relationship with my father?

In addition to the audio, a video version is available.

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Beloved Community

September 9, 2011. 92-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 third dharma talk for the Together We Are One retreat.

Thay teaches the children the practice of pebble meditation: 1) Flower: Fresh, 2) Mountain: Solid, 3) Water: Calm, 4) Space: Free. And talks of the first two mantras.

In Buddhism, we known the Buddha is a human being and we also believe in Mahayana Buddhism that we all have a Buddhanature. Building a practice community, a sangha, was one if the first things he did in order to help people. With a sangha, the practice is easier. The Buddha needed a sangha and so do we. We should build a sangha, and this is a noble practice. In Buddhism, the sangha is one of the Three Jewels. A good sangha is one that practices Mindfulness, concentration, and insight. Each of us is a cell in the body of the sangha. If we can save this planet, we will need this kind of energy. The energy generated by a sangha.

Thay shares with us about the nature of God and the nature of the Buddha, and how the we can find the Buddha-nature in everyone. He continues to share about the project of the Beloved Community started by Martin Luther King, Jr., and specifically the history of how Thay left Vietnam, was exiled, and met Dr. King. “Everyone of us can make a step mindfully, everyone of us can look mindfully and recognize the beauty of life. If we can recognize the beauty of the Dharma, we can recognize the Kingdom of God–we get in touch with the Kingdom of God. We don’t have to look anywhere outside, anywhere else.

A living sangha carries the living dharma. The way you practice. It can’t be found in a book. When you produce a thought of compassion, of understanding. If this is present, then the living Buddha is there also. You are also a cell in the body of the Buddha. You are a Buddha. Each one of us can take a step mindfully and see the beauty of life. When we are in touch with the flower, then we are in touch with the kingdom.

We are the Buddha. We are the dharma. We are the sangha.

We return to Buddhist psychology with the idea if store and mind consciousness. There is also a realm of non-thinking for other beings. We can practice samadhi to train ourselves to stop the thinking. We can enjoy our breathing. Enjoy the feeling. Leave the thinking.

There is the “mind base” – manas – this is unconcious. Eye. Ear. Nose. Tongue. Body. And the sixth is manas (mind). It is characterized by pleasure seeking and avoiding suffering. Manas ignores the goodness of suffering. Manas ignores the law of moderation.

“When you bow to the Buddha, you don’t view the Buddha as an entity wholly separate from you. I am in you, and you are in me. There is no longer any complex. That is the wisdom of non-discrimination: nirvikalpajnana.”

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and beloved community.

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The River of Mind

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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Hello, my Anger

September 7, 2011. 118-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 first dharma talk for the Together We Are One retreat.

Usually in our retreats, children learn how to invite the bell. The bell is a kind of friend, so we have a chance to practice. The bell master is responsible for inviting the bell and should be calm and solid. It should inspire people to practice. There are four lines to learn when inviting the bell.

Body, speech and mind in perfect oneness.
I send my heart along with the sound of the bell.
May all who listen awaken from forgetfulness.
And transcend all anxiety and sorrow.

Thay continues providing instruction on inviting the bell followed by instruction on listening to the bell. Listen, listen to this wonderful sound of the bell, calling me back to my true home.

Thay shares with us the about the practice of mindfulness of breathing. Awareness of our in-breath and our out-breath. It’s quite simple. This can helps us to release the past and release the future. This can become the only object of our mind. We get some freedom right away. It is always true that mindfulness and concentration bring insight; and insight is something that can liberate us. We do not practice like a machine: we are alive. We are not caught in the form of the practice. That is why every moment we experience nourishment and healing. Each exercises is included in each of the subsequent ones. This teaching is from the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing (Anapanasati Sutta). In this talk we look at the first eight breathing exercises.

In Buddhist psychology we see the mind as having two parts: mind consciousness and store consciousness. Your store consciousness is part of your body and it can operate without mind consciousness. The first four breathing exercises has to do with mind. Mind and store should function well together. This brings us to a discussion of mental formations cittasamskara and it manifests in the form of a seed bija.

He goes on to talk about the four practices of right diligence: 1) recognize the negative seeds and make sure they don’t come up, 2) if a negative seed has already come up, embrace the formation and invite it to go back down, 3) invite good seeds to come up, 4) maintain the good mental formations for a long time.

When looking at the fifth and sixth exercises, producing joy and happiness, we have to be aware of our ideas. We all have our ideas of happiness, and that idea may be an obstacle to our happiness. This is very deep practice. That object of craving, object of desire, may be an obstacle. Have the courage to let go.

He also discusses in detail how we can embrace our difficult mental formations just like a mother embraces her crying baby.

The talk is available below. During a middle portion of the recording, the sound is listenable but degraded. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and hello my anger.

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