Our Cosmic Body

This is the fourth and final dharma talk of the “Understanding Is Love” retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. In this talk on August 24, 2014, Thay teaches on birth and death. Both the audio and the video are available below.

Topics

  • Homework for the children. Seed of corn. A teaching on birth and death.
  • What happens when you die? Why meditate on death?
  • Our cosmic body
  • Interbeing of birth and death
  • Two levels of truth: Conventional and Ultimate
  • Right View. Transcends being and non/being, birth/death.
  • God is the Ultimate
  • Teaching of the Flame. Birth and death.
  • Teachings on The Three Recollections, the Six Sense Organs, and No Coming, No Going as given to Anathapindika on his deathbed

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A New Teaching on the Twelve Nidanas

November 29, 2012. 115-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 seventh dharma talk of the retreat with the theme  Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? We begin with chanting.

The Buddha has spoken about Mother Earth as patience and equanimity. The two great virtues of the planet earth. Our society is very sick and many of us need healing. Our body and mind have lots of poisons. We don’t know how to consume. But Mother Earth has the capacity to heal herself and can help us if we know how to take refuge in her.  She is not in a hurry. When we walk, we can be aware that the earth is holding our steps. Mother Earth is also inside of us. Walking meditation is one of the ways to heal and allow the earth to be in us and around us. We are the earth. Allow it to happen by itself; we don’t make the breathing in/out happen. We just enjoy the in/out breath. Mother Earth is a great bodhisattva.The healing begins when you are not trying anything. The practice of non-practice.

Thay summarizes the November 25 talk into English due to challenges with the translation in that talk.

There is a dimension of reality called the historical dimension. In the historical dimension we see things as separate – father is outside of the son. This is classical science as applied by Newton. But now we have  another kind of science that goes deeper; it has discovered a new kind of truth. This is represented by quantum physics. It seems to contradict the truth found in historical dimension. In meditation there are also two kinds of truth: the conventional truth and the ultimate truth. There is path that can lead us from historical to ultimate. The Buddha taught, “This is because that is.” This is the teaching of “genesis” in Buddhism. In Plum Village we use a sheet of paper to illustrate this teaching. So simple. Everything can be looked at in this way. It is the best practice of meditation because it can connect us with the ultimate truth.The Buddha used the notions of historical dimension to lead us to the ultimate. This was skillful means to helps us to release notions and concepts. The teaching of co-arising / inter-arising.

In the ultimate dimension, we use words like Emptiness. This is the equivalent to God. It is the ultimate. It is the absence of notions and concepts. The teaching of interbeing – nothing by itself can be alone. Helps you to be connected to emptiness. This is because that is. Rebirth is possible without a self. Karma is possible without a self. Retribution is possible without a self. Many Buddhists still believe you need a “self” but this is a deluded belief. This is because of influences from pre-Buddhist teachings. Even for many people in the west, the first thing they think of in Buddhism is reincarnation. This is not the “cream” of Buddhism. The deep teaching is interbeing. No-self.  The wisdom of adaptation. To connect with emptiness. The teachings of the twelve links seem more at explain samsara rather than the ultimate truth.

Twelve Nidanas

  1. Avidya (delusion)
  2. Sanskara (impulses, actions, dispositions)
  3. Vijñana (consciousness)
  4. Namarapa (body and mind)
  5. Sadayatana (six sense organs and object)
  6. Sparsa (contact)
  7. Vedana (feelings)
  8. Trsna (craving, attachment)
  9. Upadana (grasping)
  10. Bhava (existence)
  11. Jati (birth)
  12. Jara-marana (old age and death)

This is the classical way of presenting the Nidanas. The first two links belong to the past. The next eight links belong to this life – the present. Then after this body disintegrates, the last two are the future. As a young student, Thay learned the three times past, present, and the future are represented in these twelve links. Thay also learned there are two layers of cause and effect within these twelve links. The teaching of three times and two layers of cause and effect. As a student, I just believed my teacher. But as Thay continued to learn and to practice, he learned this teaching will not help us touch the ultimate dimension. It can only be used on the level of conventional truth. We have to look at this teaching differently.

Thay provides a re-teaching of the twelve links to see them in the ultimate truth.

delusion <–> formations -> birth/death -> being/non-being -> samsara

wisdom <–> formations -> no-birth/no-death -> no-being/no non-being -> nirvana 

This is because that is. 

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20121129 from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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Move Toward the Absolute Truth

November 18, 2012. 92-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha had just begun the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the fourth 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.

Everyone already knows that the heart of the Buddha’s teaching is the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. People seem to remember reincarnation, retribution, and karma but these three are not the core of his teachings. These three teachings existed before the time of the Buddha. If you believe in samsara then you believe in the immortal soul, but this is not the true teaching of the Buddha. The Buddha did not deny samsara, but he did teach that we do not have a separate self. He also accepted karma, but that too is also relative. Buddhism is made with many elements, including non-Buddhist elements. Thay continues explaining the influences on Buddhism and the similarities and differences among the different traditions present in India at that time.

You don’t need any spiritual beliefs to follow the Noble Eightfold Path and you can live happily and free. It all begins with Right View. We continue with The Four Noble Truths, Absolute truth and conventional truth, suffering and happiness.

At 1:01 into the recording, we continue with the sutra commentary. We start with the third Chinese line of the gatha. The sutra has been translated into French and English and will be distributed soon.

It is unreasonable to think that the self nature lies in the conditions.
The self nature that is born from conditions would be something that is made.
Without self nature and other nature, how can we have a phenomena.
Only with self and other nature can dharma be possible.
When there is no possibility of being, how can non-being be possible.
Only when there is being can it end and become non-being. 

When something is made, it is not self nature. What is self nature? A flower has no self-nature. A baby has no self-nature. Everything has no self-nature. Transcend all the notions of being and non-being. We need to transcend them. Slowly move toward the absolute truth.

Download or watch below.

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Early Buddhism, Four Powers, and Two Truths

November 11, 2012. 99-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha had just begun the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the second 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.

At the time of the Buddha, he accepted many of the existing teachings such as reincarnation and karma. The gods were Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The Buddha took the teachings deeper. Thay makes the observation that at this time in history, the highest caste was the spiritual teacher and the business person less. It is the opposite today. Thay then teaches about the expansion and history of Vedantism and Jainism. The states of meditation in Jainism. Thanks to concentration, the practitioner can have joy and happiness. More inner peace. No suffering. No joy. Purification. The Four Brahma Viharas (Immeasurable Minds). The Buddha accepted their teaching but also created his own way.

The Four Powers.

  1. Deep Desire/Aspiration
  2. Mind
  3. Diligence
  4. Looking deeply

We’ve been learning the methodologies of Buddhism (last time it was the Four Criterion). Today we talk about the Two Truths: Relative Truth and Absolute Truth.

Download or watch below.

 

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The Practice of Plum Village

May 10, 2012. 103-minute recording given at New Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Day of Mindfulness and the monastics begin with two chants.

The practice of Plum Village is Applied Buddhism. It is characterized by the four dharma seals.

  • I have arrived. I am home.
  • Go as a river.
  • The Interbeing of truth and time.
  • Continuous ripening.

Thay teaches what each of these dharma seals mean and how we can practice with them.

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Our Nature is Non-Local

July 12, 2011. 111-minute Dharma Talk in English given by Thich Nhat Hanh at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the first question and answer session of the Summer Opening Retreat.

Thay takes questions from the children, the young adults, and from other retreatants.

Why do people lie? Why does anger come with sadness? Why do we so easily mixup sexual desire and love? How can we reconcile with someone we’ve hurt? How practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings in the corporate world? Why would someone want to be born into a world of suffering? How do we practice when we still are caught in the idea of having a separate personality? Is Thay a realized Buddha? How do we practice to forgive ourselves? How can we maintain our practice when we live in a place lacking compassion, without a Sangha? How can we make sense of the death of a child before they are born? How can we find happiness again?

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

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