Plum Village Retreats

The Self is Ever Changing


January 10, 2013. 106-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the nineteenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk is given in Vietnamese and this is a translation provided by Sr. Chan Không.

In our practice of Touching the Earth today, we practiced with the Three Jewels. There is the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. What does this mean? Comparison with the Trinity in Christianity. Do you know how to love? Do you know how to understand? What is the guideline for looking deeply so we can love and understand? What are the elements of a sangha? What can you do to start a sangha? Why is a sangha important?

At 40-minutes we begin the sutra study. What is a seperate self? The self is ever changing. We have the illusion that it’s the same. No sameness. No otherness. It’s the middle way. What is conventional designation? Formation and samskara. You Are, So I Am. Discusses sutra in light of Spinoza, a Dutch philosopher.

In the relative world there is birth, becoming, action, and formation. The teaching of interacting is the teaching of no-self. Thay explores this within the context of early Buddhism and the development of the teaching.

Plum Village Retreats

Four Questions for the Tathágata


December 20, 2012. 95-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the thirteenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

Dhyana is a concentration and it is a practice. Touching the Earth practice – when your five body parts the earth, we also touch with the many lineages and steams of life from before us. We do not have a separate self; not an individual self. We can bring all these lineages to make a great vow. There are four main questions the Buddha didn’t answer because he said it was not necessary.

The Tathágata exists after death, does not exist after death, both does and does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death?

Next we have a teaching from the sutra Anuradha. No birth. No existing. No becoming. No formation. What dies this mean to us as practitioners?

In Buddhism there is the teaching of samsara and karma. We have also learned about retribution. But these three existed before the Buddha and he used them anyway and expanded upon these teachings to talk about no self. Right view doesn’t allow an answer about eternalism and nihilism. The wisdom of adaptation.

A review of the twelve links teaching.

Plum Village Retreats

The Five Aggregates Are Empty


December 15, 2011. 101-minute dharma talk from New Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the seventh talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

Insight from touching the earth. Truth is a kind of insight and the object of our religion is truth, goodness, and beauty. We pay respect to Buddha, to God, to Allah in order to gain this insight. When we bow down, we don’t need to personalize the statue but rather something concrete. Understanding. Compassion. Wisdom. Everyone can keep their own religion; touching the earth is not something inanimate. Mother Earth is a great Boddhisatva.

With medicine and health, we can’t just rely on one thing. The same is true in regards to religion. We have to pay attention to our body. Bring out mind back to our body. You have time for your computer, but not time for your body? We are organizing a Health Retreat to restore the well being in your body and your mind (April 2012). If we can breath in, and bring our mind back to our body, then we can stop the alienation created by external forces such as computers, tv, cell phones, etc. Stopping. Calming. Concentration. The breath can be the object of your mind and stop the situation from being dispersed.

About an hour into talk, we resume the Paramarthah Gathas of Asanga’s Yogacarabhumi sutra study with Gatha 17-21, particularly focusing on the verses dealing with the ephemeral nature of all things we think of as ourselves.

17-18. The physical body is like foam. Feelings are like bubbles on the surface of the water. The perceptions are like a magic city. The mental formations are like the stem of a banana tree. The consciousness is like a magic show. That is what the Buddha has taught.

19. Ignorance does not make ignorance ignorant, nor does it make others ignorant. Another does not make ignorance ignorant. Nevertheless ignorance is not non-existent.

20. Ignorance is born from inappropriate attention. Inappropriate attention arises in the ignorant person.

21. Merit, lack of merit and immovability; these formations are imagined in a threefold way. All things have three kinds of karma and these karma’s are not compatible with each other.

Day of Mindfulness Plum Village

Practicing in the Winter Retreat


November 17, 2011. 53-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha is preparing for the upcoming 90-day Winter Retreat. Thay shares some guiding practices for the community to follow during the upcoming Winter Retreat: touching the Earth, sitting meditation, realizing the practice in all activities, etc.

Deepen practice. Build sangha. Cultivate peace. Make our breathing more peaceful. Improve the quality. We can bring four things into the practice: Peace. Clarity. Compassion. Courage. These four virtues bring happiness to the practitioner. Other elements of happiness: Brotherhood and sisterhood. A Path. What is your story of transformation and healing?

This winter we will study texts in preparation for 21-day retreat in June 2012. The theme of that retreat will be the Science of the Buddha. The first text will be the Paramartha Gathas of Asaga, 44-verses. Thay has translated this into Vietnamese and will serve as the foundation for a new English translation during the Winter Retreat (it has previously been translated into English by  Professor Alex Wayman). It is also available in Chinese and Sanskrit. The second text, if we have time, we will be Studies on the Objects of Conciousness. This too has been translated by Thay.

Plum Village

Enjoy the Ultimate, Part VIII


December 2, 2010. 67-minute dharma talk given Thich Nhat Hanh at Upper Hamlet in Plum Village. The talk is in Vietnamese with English translation (French and original Vietnamese available and video version). The monastery is in the 2010-2011 Winter Rains Retreat. You can hear Part IPart IIPart III, and Part VII (still working on parts VI-VI). We continue here with part eight and stanza’s 25-28 of Chinese Dhammada, Sutra #36.

Before the sutra commentary, Thay gives a 30-minute talk on the practice of touching the earth. It’s a lovely talk and explanation – definitely worth a listen. It’s a type of yoga where we coordinate the body and mind. We must make it a contemplation. It is not a devotion. The Buddha is not a god.
The one who bows and the one who is bowed to are both equally empty.
Really need to contemplate and look deeply. Open up to ancestors and descendants. We touch our brain and heart before touching the earth to help bring this forward.
Toward the end of this segment, Thay spends just a couple minutes discussing taking care of sexual energy. He has found calling on or chanting Avaloketeshvara to be very helpful. Lots of things are taking care of the sangha, including our energies (such as sexual).