The Temple of Brotherhood

June 9, 2012. 127-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower 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 sixth dharma talk (of 15).

Just prior to this session, those attending the retreat received a 86-page booklet with sutras and a Letter to a Young Scientist.

Three energies of practice

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Concentration
  3. Insight

The practice of looking deeply along with a discussion of zen history. Tang Hoi, a vietnamese monk, brought zen to China. Zen. Chan. Thien. Dhyana.

Four Notions of Letting Go (from Diamond Sutra)

  1. Self
  2. Man
  3. Living being
  4. Life span

Thay spends the majority of talk teaching on self. A similar teaching is also found in Sutra #296 from Samyukta Agama.

We read from The Paramartha Gathss of Asanga Gathas on the Absolute Truth (verses 1-2)

1. There is absolutely no subject, no agent and no one who enjoys the fruit of action (no one who feels). No dharma (phenomenon, object of mind) has any function. Nonetheless the passing on of one effect to another does take place.

2. There are only the 12 limbs of existence, the aggregates, the realms (ayatanas) and the worlds (dhatus) that are always changing. When we observe thoroughly and contemplate these things we shall not find a separate self anywhere.

Twelve Ayatana

  • Eyes (form)
  • Nose (smell)
  • Tongue (taste)
  • Ears (sound)
  • Body (touch)
  • Mind (objects of mind)

There is no “self” in this. The 18 dhata includes all the twelve above plus the following:

  • Eye consciousness
  • Nose  consciousness
  • Tongue consciousness
  • Ears consciousness
  • Body consciousness
  • Mind consciousness

Why do you think the “self” doesn’t change when everything else does?

At 1:28, Thay reads (not provided in the book) the Sutra #300 from Samyukta Agama. We continue with verse 44 from the same text above, followed by a portion of the “Discourse on the Middle Way”

44.  Living beings is the name of a continuous stream and all phenomena as the object of perception are only signs. Therefore there is no real change of birth into death and death into birth and no person who realizes nirvana.

At the end of talk, Thay provides commentary on why the Buddha had to continue the practice beyond enlightenment.

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Non-Dualistic View of Bodhisattva Gaia

December 1, 2011. 98-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the third talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

Thay shares about truly being present when we touch the Earth while practicing walking meditation, about not getting caught in a dualistic view of nature and the Earth. “The Earth has many good qualities: solidity, endurance, and the capacity to embrace all things. When we feel lost we can go back to our mother, the Earth. When can call her Bodhisattva Gaia. The sun is like Vairocana Tathagata. Aware of the Earth and Sun like that, every step is nourishing, every step is healing.”

At about 52-minutes into the talk, Thay continues his teaching on the Yogacarabhumi Sastra, explaining Verse 6-9 of the Paramartha Gathas.

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Recognizing the Fruit of Our Habits

June 16, 2011. 70-minute Dharma Talk in Vietnamese, with translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong, given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Assembly of Stars Meditation Hall, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France.

In this talk we study the Sutra on Keeping a Pure Mind While Doing Alms Round (#236). The sutra demonstrates that the practice is all day long and in all positions. Walking. Sitting. Eating. Etc. The practice today is the same as the time of the Buddha. The sutra also speaks of emptiness samadhi (deep concentration). Recognizing and embracing is the third aspect of the sutra.

Impermanence, Non-self, and Nirvana. The Three Dharma Seals. Some schools call the third as suffering, but Thay feels this is not correct. Emptiness, Signlessness, and Aimlessness. These also are known as dharma seals (Tripitaka) – sometimes called the Three Doors of Liberation.

We then move to another sutra (#293), a sutra about interdependent co-arising conditions, and Thay recognizes this is very difficult. At the end he reminds us to drink some tea.

The talk was given in Vietnamese with English translation and is available below. There is a video version available too. Please note, we are missing just the first minute or two of the recording.

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Discussing a Strategy of Consumption

May 27, 2011. 86-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into Dutch, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the third Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Dutch Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

The Five Mindfulness Trainings can be seen as applied ethics. It is also a holy path. The profane and the sacred are of an organic nature. With Mindfulness and concentration, anything can become holy. Practicing the Five Mindfulness Trainings, we become a holy person.

The first concentration is impermanence. The first nine exercises in the Sutra of Mindful Breathing help us with the remaining concentrations. To touch the good and wholesome seeds. Selective watering. We then hear teaching regarding the remaining exercises.

Thay speaks about Right Mindfulness as part of the Noble Eightfold Path. “Mindfulness helps us to get in touch with the Kingdom of God, the Pure Land of the Buddha, which is present in the here and the now.” “In the old times, nirvana was a word that was used by people in the countryside. When they made a fire to cook their rice or their chapati, then they would leave the fire overnight so that by morning it was completely extinguished. They could put their fingers up to the fire and they would not be burned. So nirvana is a word to describe a state of cooling down, no more suffering. We can safely describe nirvana as the extinction of all notions, and of all the suffering that arises due to these notions.”

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

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I Prefer Walking in the Kingdom of God

May 22, 2011. 91-minute dharma talk given in English, with consecutive translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Day of Mindfulness offered by Thay at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

Communication in the family. Love and care for yourself allows you to love and care for another. We must begin with oneself. The teaching of the Buddha is clear. Thay speaks about calming and healing the body and mind, and about the art of bringing about happiness and reconciliation in our relationships. The practice is from the Exercises of Mindful Breathing (Anapanasati Sutta). We can learn the practice to transform our habit energies; Mindfulness can help us see our habit energies.

A special treat at 49-minutes when Thay chants to demonstrate the Interbeing nature of ourselves and the Buddha. The communication between the Buddha and us are one. The same is true between a father and a son.

Towards the end of the talk he offers an orientation on the practice of walking meditation.

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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Zen is Eating

January 13, 2011. 75-minute Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh, from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The recording begins with about 10-minutes of chanting.

Eating meditation. Delicious and healthy. Our sitting meditation should be the same. Healthy. Relaxed. Follow your breath to harmonize your body and mind. Sitting meditation is also a type of consumption. It should be the same for everything. Walking. Eating. Working. Resting. It is an art.

Zen is also eating. The meal is a moment of practice. And there is a collective awakening when you practice together with others. Each of us are a drop contributing to the river.

Every step is your joy. This is it. Thay talks about what his calligraphy called “This is It” means.

The continued sutra commentary begins at 48-minutes into the talk. The verses 17-20 19 Feelings. Perception. Suffering. Mental formations. Nirvana.

The talk was given in Vietnamese with English translation and is available below (French and original Vietnamese audio are also available, as well as video version).

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