Turn Every Cell On

Dear fellow practitioners and friends on the path. In this talk we learn of the joy and the happiness of the practice. The Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh offered this 107-minute dharma talk on December 11, 2005 from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village (France) during the annual Winter Retreat. We are reminded of the basic practices of walking and sitting followed by a deeper teaching on the Five Dimensions of Reality.

Touching paradise. When you practice walking, you involve your body with your practice. We can walk in the ultimate dimension. You turn on every cell in your body. Being completely free with the energy of mindfulness. Each step brings healing and nourishment to you. We use the techniques of mindful breathing.

We apply the same techniques to sitting. We turn on all the cells in our body to arrive in a unified state of being. All the cells will sing in unison and we are in a state of concentration. This is the foundation of enlightenment. Thay comments on sleepiness during sitting meditation. We have to make our sitting interesting. There is so much to enjoy. This state of being gives us the capacity to heal.

The Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing offers us exercises to touch all the cells of our body.

Thay offers some reflections on neuroscience and consciousness and how the Buddhist tradition sees things quite different. The elements of the human are: Form, Feelings, Perceptions, Mental formations and Consciousness. The Five Skandhas. Perceiver and the perceived. We train ourselves in seeing the object of our perception. What is the object of our perception? Our consciousness? The Five Dimensions of Reality in Buddhism.

Thay offers a deeper teaching on consciousness and mental formations, including technical terms from Chinese and Sanskrit.

One lesson from this talk is we practice with body and mind together.

If you are able to support this project financially, please visit our account on Patreon where you can make a donation for as little as $1 per dharma talk. We often share the video version of the dharma talk on the Patreon post, and this particular talk includes many notes and diagrams on the white board that are visible on the recording.

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The Act of Sitting Down is a Revolution

December 13, 2012. 95-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the eleventh dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha?

After chanting, the dharma begins at 9-minutes into the recording. Loneliness is the ill being of our time. How can we return home? We have all these technology devices that help us stay connected and yet we still feel lonely. We have tried to use technology to dissipate our feelings of loneliness. But it has not worked. How can we connect with ourselves? How can we heal ourselves and heal society? Technology devices are not the answer. You don’t need an iPhone. The way out is the way in. Be an island unto yourself. The practice of going home is especially important during the Christmas season to heal ourselves and to heal the world.

We now resume the sutra commentary at 29-minutes. Formation is a technical Buddhist term to describe everything. Everything is a formation. Sometimes also called dharma. Do formations have their own nature; something that is permanent? No being and no nonbeing. No actor and no receiver. No formation. This teaching can be found in multiple sutras. From From this we can have the base of the nidanas. Co-arising. Is there Samsara? Thay gives a full teaching on the 12 nidanas.

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Two Hands Clapping

December 9, 2012. 110-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 tenth 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.

In the first 40-minutes of the dharma talk, the focus is arriving in your True Home. What is our true home? What are the instructions to arrive? What is the island of self?

Following the instruction on coming home, we turn to a series of sutra commentaries. We begins with Agama #273 and another sutra (didn’t get the name) chapter Two, Sutra #17-19. Topics include the six bases, eighteen realms, and the twelve links of co-arising.

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What is dualism and nirvana?

December 6, 2012. 105-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the ninth 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.

When we speak of spirituality, people often think I the east. And when speaking of science, people think of the west. Today these two ideas can come together. Even Christianity is from the east and has non-dualistic elements. In the first half of the dharma talk today, Thay answers the following questions:

What is dualistic/non-dualistic thinking?
What is nirvana?

About an hour into the recording, the teaching shifts into the sutra commentary as it relates to the twelve links of co-arising, the ultimate dimension, teaching on non-action, and the prajnaparamitas.

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Enjoying the Space Outer Space

December 2, 2012. 82-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the eighth 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.

Walking. Using the power and concentration of walking meditation. Not thinking. Entrust your problems to your store conciousness. There is a lot of wisdom there from all the generations before you. What is collective consciousness? Store conciousness? How so you feed your conciousness?

At 23-minutes, we begin the sutra commentary. Enjoying the Space Outer Space. Touching the freedom in the present moment, this is the outer space. Also, it is sometimes called the sutra of Nirvana. Gatha #13. Formation is conditioned things. Condition and conditioned. The act and actor. According to the wisdom of the Buddha, you can see that you can’t have the action without the actor.

What is the view that transcends all notions? This isn’t nihilism.

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20121202 from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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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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