Time is Only Made of Non-Time Elements

June 4, 2012. 185-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the third dharma talk (of 15).

We begin with 10-minutes of chanting followed by the main dharma talk by Thay. After some mindful movements, we continue (at 2:10 into recording) with University of Virginia Astrophysicist Professor Trinh Xuan Thuan interviewing Thay.

Topics of the Talk

Obstacles of Buddhist Practice 

  • Knowledge
  • Afflictions

Four Foundations of Mindfulness

  1. Body
  2. Feelings
  3. Mind (51 mental formations)
  4. Objects of Mind (‘nature’ for the scientist)

From the objects of mind we have “double grasping” and the “perceived and perceiver” – entanglement.

Two Realities

  • Ultimate
  • Historical

A=A?B (science)

A?A=A (Buddhism)

Interview

Question 1: Buddhism says that one has to get rid of all previous knowledge, to have a clear mind. I think in science one has to know things that were done before, but keep a clear and open mind. Does Thay agree with this?

Question 2: You said something about inanimate matter has intelligence. I’m not sure this is the current scientific view now. Even if you claim that an electron has consciousness, then I say that we have to say there are varying degrees of consciousness. I would say that an electron is very different from a human being. An electron has mass, its electric charge, and its spin, that’s it. Once you’ve seen an electron, you’ve seen them all. Also, a flower. Chimpanzees have some human notion, so close to us in genes. I think there are different degrees of consciousness, and we cannot put everything on the same level. What is your response to that?

Question 3: What is the concept of time in Buddhism? We have the impression that time passes, from the past to the present to the future. In science we learn that past, present and future are always there, and time is not the same for everyone, depending on the movement of the observer. Although there is a psychological time that seems to be there. That is the physical conception of time. So what is the Buddhist concept of time?

Question 4: I like Buddhism not only because I was raised in it, but because it is very logical. It has the spirit of experimentation that a scientist would accept. The mind is the instrument. Objective and subjective reality, that’s something true. As a scientist I realize that an observer is very important as part of what he sees. If you say that there is no objective reality independent of the mind, do you think, for example, that if you do not look at the moon, the moon does not exist? Do you really believe that an alternate universe without consciousness would not exist, if no one could be conscious of it?

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The Noble Truth of Suffering

May 18, 2011. 86-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the second Dharma talk offered by Thay in the German Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

The Buddha considered the earth his Buddha land. He was a child of the earth. How we wall and listen can create our own Budda land. This is not philosophy. This is something you can experience. We can touch the Kingdom, the Pure land.

Enjoy walking in the ultimate dimension.
My hand is in his hand.
Many thousand years ago and many years to come, every one of us will go to the same direction.

In Buddhism we call this nirvana. In Christianity we call this the Kingdom of God. This is different than the historical dimension. We live in the historical dimension but we can get in touch with the ultimate dimension. In the historical we see birth and death, being and non-being. In the ultimate, these do not exist. Nirvana is the ground if everything. And yet the historical and the ultimate are not two realities.

We can take the hand of the Buddha or the hand of Jesus anytime in the here and the now. No reservations required. It is simple. Not complicated.

Bitter melon. Why do we call suffering a noble truth? What is so good about suffering? If we look deeply at dukkha, the first noble truth, we can also see all the other noble truths. The Four Noble Truths are not separate entities. There is a cloud in the flower. What are the elements of the flower?

The path leading to the end of suffering is called the Noble Eightfold Path. It begins with element called Right View. From there we have Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration.

We continue with a discussion of being and non-being. When we touch the ultimate, we are free from this idea of being and non-being, birth and death.

The talk was given in English and German at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

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The Five Mantras and Noble Eightfold Path

March 5, 2011. 96-minute dharma talk in French with Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village, France. This is the fifth day of the 5-day French Retreat and the translation is provided by Sr. Pine.

The fifth Mantra. This is a happy moment.

Mindfulness is the source of happiness. Smirti. We should be able to transform any moment into happiness with mindfulness. This moment is worth living. Moment after moment.

I’m here for you. This is the First Mantra. This is for generating your concentrated presence.

My dear, I know you are there and I’m so happy. This is the Second Mantra. To recognize the presence of your lived one. Your loved can be anything.

My dear, I know you suffer and I am here for you. The Third Mantra. Used when you notice something is not right. Not well.

My dear, I am suffering and I want you to know. I’m doing my best. Please help me. The Fourth Mantra. This is the most difficult because it’s when you are suffering and you think you’re loved one is the cause. We want to punish. After you have tried to cool the flames, maybe 24-hours, then you can practice this mantra. Tell him in a calm voice. If you are not able, then write it down.

Right thinking is thinking that goes in the direction of non-discrimination in the direction of understanding. We can always produce a thought of right thinking using mindfulness. Anger is no longer possible with this type of action. Karma (action) is our continuation. Thought is our action. If your thinking is beautiful then you action will be as well. With Right Thinking you can bring Right Speech and Right Action.

The path recommended by the Buddha begins with Right View. In addition to Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Concentration, Right Effort, and Right Livelihood. The noble eightfold path. This path leads to the end of suffering. The fourth noble truth. This is the presence of happiness.

A discussion on the Ultimate and Historical dimensions – they are not separate. Nirvana. Suchness. With the instrument of mindfulness and concentration, we can see the nature of reality. Being and non-being disappear.

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

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