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Thich Nhat Hanh Dharma Talks

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Rank #5 in Buddhism category

Religion & Spirituality
Buddhism
Spirituality
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Dharma offered by the Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

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Dharma offered by the Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

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207 Ratings
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Thank You

By brooklinerob - Jan 11 2019
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For the generous act of sharing these teachings they have brought me hours of calm and peace

A must for a fulfilled life.

By Boundaried - Nov 15 2017
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Slows you down and opens up the world with a new set of eyes.

iTunes Ratings

207 Ratings
Average Ratings
154
20
12
13
8

Thank You

By brooklinerob - Jan 11 2019
Read more
For the generous act of sharing these teachings they have brought me hours of calm and peace

A must for a fulfilled life.

By Boundaried - Nov 15 2017
Read more
Slows you down and opens up the world with a new set of eyes.
Cover image of Thich Nhat Hanh Dharma Talks

Thich Nhat Hanh Dharma Talks

Latest release on Dec 31, 2019

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Dharma offered by the Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

Rank #1: Handling Strong Emotions

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The Retreat on Buddhist Psychology continues in Key West, Florida. The date is November 7, 1997. This is the sixth talk (96-minutes) offered as an audio recording below.

Seed of anger. Mindfulness of anger. How do we practice with this energy of anger? How do we make peace with another in which we are angry? One method is to use the practice of deep looking. First, we generate our energy of mindfulness. Then we recognize our anger. Finally we look deeply into the nature of our anger. Teaching on the four mantras, deep listening, and loving speech. We can restore communication.

Thay shares the text of a song he wrote to help us with our practice.

It rains softly outside, and yet I feel the sadness and the sorrow coming up in me.
Please go to sleep my little pain and let my in breath and out breath embrace you tenderly.
I know you are there and I do my best to take good care of you.
You know I am trying to plant and water the seeds of harmony and loving kindness everyday so tomorrow from the soil of my consciousness flowers of peace and joy and forgiveness will bloom for everyone.
Please go to sleep my little knots. My little pain.

With this practice there will be transformation and tomorrow we will be able to accept and love each other.

How are we watering our store consciousness through our consumption? Are we intoxicating ourselves with seeds of craving and despair? Thay shares his excitement about mindfulness being applied in legislation (smoking) and in what we can buy in the supermarket (tofu). The five mindfulness trainings are a concrete practice to help us to become more mindful of our consciousness.

We continue with a deeper teaching on the first aspect of meditation: stopping.

In the concluding 15-minutes, we return to the teaching on the verses of consciousness. We are on verse 13 exploring inter-penetration.

If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Aug 13 2016

1hr 36mins

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Rank #2: Happiness is Found in the Present Moment

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In this December 10, 2006 dharma talk from Lower Hamlet, Thay reflects on the 2005 trip to Vietnam followed by a teaching on mindfulness of walking and eating. The sangha is in the Annual Winter Retreat and the talk is 77-minutes.

It was a warm winter at Plum Village in 2006 and Thay reflects on walking meditation on the grass and the leaves. We can enjoy every step we make on this planet. When a novice monk at the root temple in Vietnam, Thay did not know the practice of walking meditation. As a you don't no Dharma Teacher, Thay still did not find the time for waking meditation. But when he returned to the root temple in 2005, it was wonderful to practice walking meditation on the hills with over 900 monastics. What is important, there is no need to make any effort and the practice is perfect. Only you can produce this step in mindfulness and concentration. Thay shares of returning to Vietnam and of bringing the monastic sangha together in harmony. The happiness and the joy of they incorporating some of the Plum Village practices, such as practicing as a fourfold sangha and gender equity.

Mindfulness is a mental formation - one of the fifty mental formations. When we are inhabited by the energy of mindfulness, we can have the eyes of the Buddha and the feet of the Buddha. We know how to generate the energy of mindfulness from our seed of mindfulness. Walking like a Buddha can happen right now. We don't have to force ourselves. It is a pleasure.

Walking meditation is not a practice, it is an enjoyment. The best reason to do walking meditation is, because I like it! The same is true of sitting meditation. We don't force it, but we enjoy it. It is an act of love.

Getting in touch with the food and our ancestors through eating meditation. Thay recalls his mothers cooking. A meal is a time to know who we are - through what we are eating and how we are eating. Eating can nourish our compassion. We can get in touch with the nature of reality. Are we eating in a way to nourish our compassion? We can get enlightenment just by eating. It should be a relaxing time, to eat as a sangha. To allow more time. For sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Plum Village tradition, eating is a deep practice. How?

Mindfulness is the kind of energy that has the power of knowing what is going on. Mindfulness is a miracle. It is like a light that allows us to see things, and everyone has this light of mindfulness. Mindfulness is mere recognition; we don't try to grasp it. When mindfulness is there, everything will be different. Including your joy and your pain. And it is always for the better. When mindfulness is there, the Buddha is there.

If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

May 18 2017

1hr 17mins

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Rank #3: Stop Waiting and Start Living

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https://youtu.be/ZX9H56UN3wg

The Miracle of Mindfulness tour is underway with 50-60 monastics traveling and teaching in the USA. We have just completed the New York events at Blue Cliff Monastery and in New York City. A retreat will begin later this week in Mississippi followed by retreats and events in California. You can see the entire tour schedule on the tour site.

The recording included here is from the public talk in New York City  that took place on September 12, 2015 at The Town Hall with the theme of Mindfulness: Stop Waiting, Start Living. Our two teachers are Sister Jina and Brother Dharma Embrace. We've included both the video and the audio.

Sister Jina (Chan Dieu Nghiem - True Wonder) is an Irish-Dutch nun who ordained in Japan in 1985 and joined the Plum Village community in 1990, one of Thich Nhat Hanh's first European monastic disciples. After serving as the dearly loved Abbess of Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, for 16 years, she now lives at Deer Park Monastery in California. Sister Jina's teachings have inspired generations of practitioners around the world. She is an avid mountain-hiker, bird-watcher and to relax, loves folk-dancing.

Brother Dharma Embrace (Chan Phap Dung) is a Vietnamese-American monk who came of age as a San Fernando “Valley Boy” break dancing and skateboarding. He struggled in school before eventually graduating from USC and working as an architect in Santa Monica. Disenchanted with the corporate world, he decided to ordain on visiting Deer Park Monastery . He is loved by young and old for his dynamic creativity and urban cool. He is involved in many initiatives to bring mindfulness into schools, business, and politics.

A few of the topics covered in this talk include:

A Full Time Refugee
Taking Refuge in the Breath
Taking Refuge in the Bell
Growing Up / Anger / Suffering as a Young Man / Conditions of Happiness
Coming Home and Opening and Closing the Door
Where are my Roots
Celebrate Our Spiritual Roots
Engagement and Community
Questions and answers

Sep 19 2015

1hr 30mins

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Rank #4: The Cake in the Refrigerator

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From the Stillwater Meditation Hall at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. This is the second question and answer session of the annual Summer Opening retreat at Plum Village on July 16, 2014. The talk is in English and both the audio and the video are available below.

Children

How can I feel less sad about my dog who has died?
What do I do when my mom is angry with my father?
How can I stay calm when I am annoyed?
What does it mean "to guess"?

Teens and Young Adults

When talking with friends, how do I stop the conversation from going toward gossiping and judging?
How do you change people's perception of you and ignore the reputation you already have?
Why does Thay give these teachings and what does it bring Thay?
Does Thay have some tips for me to help a lot of people in my future profession?

Others

A written question: How do I heal a suffering from sexual abuse when she was younger? Should I go to a therapist?
In my country there is a great economic crisis. As a doctor who sees many people and I don't know if I can say happiness is here and now.
How do I practice with self love and also being open to receiving love? I struggle with deserving love.
How can I better take refuge in the sangha because I feel more comfortable alone?
How can I be there for someone who tends to lose herself in the presence of others?

http://youtu.be/Wp9Yc_ZXwN8

Jul 23 2014

1hr 14mins

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Rank #5: The Practice of True Presence

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This is the second dharma talk of the “The Mind of Love Transforms All Difficulties" retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at the New Hamlet of Plum Village in France. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Italian. In this very short talk on August 29, 2014, Thay teaches on the elements of love and the four mantras. Both the audio and the video are available below.

Mind of love - bodhicitta. Why not the heart? Bodhi is to wake up. It begins with understanding the suffering in ourselves and then we can begin to see the suffering in the other person. Then we can help him or her to suffer less.  What is love? Love me to be there. The practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking can help us to be there for ourselves and for our loved ones. What are the elements of true presence? Am I a true lover?  You can answer this question yourself by looking to see if you have these four elements.

The four mantras of Plum Village.

http://youtu.be/Kjkk3M7YfOU

Sep 30 2014

32mins

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Rank #6: Love and Happiness

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It was Thanksgiving Day in Plum Village on November 25, 2004. The sangha gathered in Lower Hamlet, Plum Village during the Fall Retreat and Thay gave a 45-minute dharma talk on the topic of love and happiness.
https://youtu.be/QtPqonJJP_o
The telephone line should be called the "compassionate line." We hope this line can be established everywhere so that young people in their suffering, despair, and strong emotions can have someone to talk with. Suicide is a real issue and young people they feel lonely and suffer so much. Who can they talk with? Someone who has the capacity to listen. Each of us can make a vow to be that person who has the capacity to listen. Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of deep listening. Compassionate listening. We have to cultivate this capacity and transform ourselves in this bodhisattva. Without the capacity of listening deeply, we cannot understand.
According to the teachings of the Buddha, love is born from the ground of understanding. We can apply this in our relationships and our families. Understanding is not something that happens “just like that” - it takes time and we have to give our ideas, our views, our prejudices, our judgment.
Understanding what? The difficulties and suffering of the other person. The deep hope and desire the person has. The kind of obstacles the person is experiencing. We can ask the other person, "do you think I understand you enough?” Once you understand, you can stop doing and saying things that cause the other person to suffer. Then you have True Love. This is the practice of love.
Do we understand ourselves? The nature of our own suffering? Everyone has an idea of happiness and we may strive for that idea. But, can we see that happiness can come from any direction? Joy comes from letting go and the first thing we can let go of is our idea of happiness.
In the Buddhist teaching of love, there are four elements. The first is maitri - friendship, brotherhood, loving-kindness. And the second is karuna - capacity to understand the suffering and help remove and transform it - compassion. Mudita is the third element - joy - your joy is her joy, her joy is our joy. The last element is upeksha - nondiscrimination. This is a higher form of love. The four qualities have no limits - infinite love - these elements are also call the Four Unlimited Minds.
The bodhisattva of love is in you.

Mar 25 2015

45mins

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Rank #7: You are Both Depression and Mindfulness

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This is a 96-minute dharma talk with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh from Hanoi during the “Engaged Buddhism” retreat. This is the second talk on May 6, 2008 and the talk in offered in English. We begin with a teaching on mental formations and the roots of our ill-being before moving toward the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. 

Samskara. 

A Buddhist technical term. Means formation. Physical, biological, and mental. What is a formation? Recognizing that all formations are impermanent. When we observe a formation, we should be able to see this impermanent nature. 

Mental Formations

In the Plum Village tradition, we talk of 51 mental formations. There are positive formations – compassion, loving kindness, joy, etc. These are wholesome mental formations. As practitioners, can we recognize and help them to manifest? We also have negative mental formations – craving, anger, hate, jealousy, etc. In our practice, we refrain from watering these negative formations. Further, there are also indefinite mental formations – they can be wholesome or unwholesome. 
Practicing meditation is a way to recognize the mental formation. Thay teaches examples of how to do this practice of awareness with mental formations. Mindfulness. In the present moment. 

Bija

These are seeds we all carry. For example, we have a seed of anger. It may not be present as a mental formation right now, but it is a seed in our consciousness. These seeds can become a mental formation. Learning to water the wholesome seeds so they may arise as a mental formation. 

The two layers of consciousness – Store and Mind. The seeds live in store. With the practice, we can water wholesome seeds in store and help them manifest into kind consciousness. Thay teaches this is greater detail along with concrete examples. 

Mindfulness of our mental formations. An example of depression. No fighting between mindfulness and depression. It is simply to recognize. And then to embrace with tenderness. This is the energy of depression. And this is the energy of mindfulness. This is our practice. Supporting through non-duality and non-violence. Both seeds are you. You are both depression and mindfulness. 

Mindfulness, Concentration, Insight

In the Sutra the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, the Buddha teaches to begin with the body. Today we move into the second realm of practice. Aware of the feelings and emotions. And then take good care of them. Mindfulness has the function to recognize, to hold, and bring relief. It also carries the energy of concentration. 

Mindfulness leads to concentration. With concentration, you can take a deep look at your feelings and the. discover the roots of what is. This brings insight – liberation. This only comes if you have strong concentration. This begins with mindfulness. 

Roots of Ill-Being and the Noble Eightfold Path

Coming home to the present moment. To recognize ill-being as it is. The first noble truth. Through looking at ill-being, we can discover the second noble truth. Craving. Hate. Ignorance. Wrong perception. Lack of communication. What is the cause of our ill-being? Do we know how to live like a Buddha? To bring a spiritual dimension to our daily life? What are the methods of removing wrong perceptions? Even in the case of war and terrorism. 

Consumption, developing countries, large populations, meat industry, and learning to reduce our consumption. From the roots of ill-being we can discover the path. By practicing deeply the first and the second noble truths we can discover the fourth noble truth. Using the Five Mindfulness Trainings to guide us. Protecting life and the practice of love. Thay offers a summary of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. 

In the noble eightfold path, the Buddha recommends Right View. This is the insight of interbeing. And once you have this insight, you discover Right Thinking. Right Speech. Right Action.

Engaged Buddhism can be seen in the light of the Four Noble Truths. It responds to suffering. It responds to ill-being. With a noble path. Helping beings in countless ways.

Jan 27 2019

1hr 36mins

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Rank #8: Right Livelihood and True Love

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This is a session of questions and answers on August 23, 2014 from the Understanding Is Love Retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The questions and answers are given in both English and Dutch. We start with a series of questions from children followed by teens and adults. Both the audio and the video are available below.

Children and Teens

Do you know a better way to choose and to get rid of my doubts?
What does your name mean and do you have a sign to represent your name?
What should you do when you are really worried about something?
What does Thay love most about Buddhism?
Why did you become a Buddhist?
I would like to inspire my friends. How do I do this? How did you gain so much confidence?

Adults

I am confused about the word compassion. How can I be compassionate without suffering and still remain sensitive?
I have a question about a problem in my family. I have anger towards my brother but also wants to have compassion and take care of herself.
A question about attachment and letting go.
A question about self love and acceptance.
How do help someone who feels no connection to her ancestors and the world. She has shard that wants to end her life numerous times.
Continuing to reconcile with my mother who is an alcoholic and sex addict.
Non duality. Can you explain more about watering positive and negative seeds.
Written question on sexuality and the Third Mindfulness Training. Isn't it to strict? Does it really need a "long term commitment"?
Right Livelihood and True Love. The livelihoods I love requires lots of time. How can we maintain True Love for ourselves, families, etc?

http://youtu.be/NlVko4-f2lA

Sep 09 2014

1hr 17mins

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Rank #9: Relaxing in the Present Moment

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The 58-minute dharma talk offered by Thich Nhat Hanh took place at the New Hamlet of Plum Village on November 10, 2005.

Please note, the recording begins with a few minor sound issues, but the dharma talk doesn't begin until it is resolved by the sound team. We left it in the recording because it adds some character.

When we speak about dwelling in the present moment, we mean living deeply in every moment of our daily life. Do we know how to live in the present moment? It begins with relaxing ourselves and to stop running. To release our worries. Our tensions. Stopping our mental discourse. Do we know how to rest after a long day of work? To relax our mind and body? Mindfulness tells us the conditions for testing are there for us.

Awareness of breathing is exactly what we need to stop our mental discourse. To touch the conditions of happiness that are there. This is not hard work. We can free from our thinking and our body begins to relax, and to heal itself. Simple. We have to stop the mental discourse so we can be free in the present moment.

Walking to be present and aware of the present moment is also possible. We can relax during walking meditation too.

This practice is a practice freedom. 

A teaching on the historical and ultimate dimension as illustrated through drinking our tea, our coffee. Can you drink your tea in the ultimate dimension? Avata?saka S?tra.

In China, there was a time when they tried to bring Zen and the Pure Land together. In Plum Village, we practice Zen using the energy of mindfulness and insight but we also say the Pure and is available in the here and the now. The pure land is now or never. Thay shares a koan from that time that is still practiced today.

Who is the person invoking the name of the Buddha? 

This is the subject of our mediation. Both Zen and Pure Land practice this. Thay teaches on this koan - what is the purpose of this koan? This koan is an invitation. Thay then shares a Chinese story of two philosophers contemplating fish swimming. Are the fish happy?

Niem - mindfulness, recollection

We should always ask ourselves with any teaching, what does this teaching have to do with my suffering? It is not intellectual.

If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Dec 01 2016

1hr 8mins

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Rank #10: Transforming Our Suffering

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In this 65-minute dharma talk from the New Hamlet of Plum Village, Thay teaches a message on transforming our suffering. The date is Sunday, November 26, 2006 and the sangha is in the Winter Retreat.

Dhyana is the Sanskrit word for meditation. In meditation, we have stillness. We have relaxation. We have mindfulness, concentration, insight, joy, and happiness. These virtues can be cultivated. How can we do this? The practice of "leaving behind." This is the first act of meditation. Joy and happiness is born from this practice.

Many young people have this aspiration to "leave behind" and want to become a monastic. They have experience joy and happiness. But after two or three years, the joy and happiness are not deep enough to reach down into our blocks of suffering. We have this stillness for a period of time but then the block of suffering will emerge. What is the nature of our suffering? Hidden in the depths of our unconscious. If we can't move into the deeper practice, we begin to blame and point to problems, we then sometimes see monastics leave the community. We have to go home to ourselves and try to recognize our suffering and embrace it. Thay illustrates this teaching through bitter melon. Our natural tendency is to run away of suffering and we don't know the hidden goodness of suffering. Suffering can heal us.

We in the Plum Village tradition belong to the School of Linji. We have to use our intelligence, our insight in order to transform our suffering.

In Buddhism we have the notion of the three worlds. Desire. Craving. Form. We may leave behind the world of desire but still have mental discourse. We practice stillness. It is made of two elements: vitaka and vijara. Thought and reflective thinking.

Thay returns to talking of a monastic who leaves the community and then may wish to return, and this is a problem for all practicing communities. We have to be willing to go deeper, to learn how to preserve our happiness, and transform the pain, anxiety, and deep suffering that is still there in the depth of our consciousness. When suffering is emerging, adapt another attitude. Don’t try to run away from it. This is Thay’s recommendation. Stay where you are and welcome it.

How do we work with suffering rooted from injustice? How do we work with suffering rooted from our parents?

Bodhicitta. Mind of enlightenment. Beginners mind. Inspired by the desire to practice in order to transform your suffering and help many people who suffer around you. The mind of love. As practitioners, we should maintain this beginners mind because it is a powerful source of energy.

Apr 30 2017

1hr 6mins

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Rank #11: Calm | Ease Guided Meditation

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A great 37-minute guided meditation offered by Thay to help us cultivate calm, ease and joy. Find a comfortable place to sit and settle in with this recording.

Jun 16 2018

36mins

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Rank #12: Touching Life – Come Home to Yourself

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The 53-minute dharma talk offered by Thich Nhat Hanh took place at the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village on November 3, 2005.

What does it mean, "I take refuge in the Buddha." Buddha is the one who is mindful, awake, enlightened. Taking refuge is not believing in a God or deity. We all have a seed of mindfulness, understanding, and love. We can become a person who is fully awake, enlightened, just like the Buddha. Taking refuge is confirming the fact that you can be enlightened. You are a Buddha. This is not a declaration of faith, but a commitment to practice. In every breath we are taking refuge. In every mindful step we are taking refuge.

The way in is also the way out. Our spiritual life should be established in that vision - being truly ourselves. Practicing to bring a spiritual dimension into your life. Through drinking our tea, preparing our breakfast, or brushing our teeth. These are spiritual acts. Not being caught by the future or the past. This is being a Buddha.

Going home to ourselves. How is this act accomplished? Practicing in a community like Plum Village, everyone is supported by the sangha. This is taking refuge in the sangha. We have faith in the community. Helping to build this refuge for others.

Story of when the Buddha was about 80-years old and how he offered the teaching on taking refuge in the island of yourself. Here we can encounter the foundation of ourselves - the island includes the Buddha, dharma, and sangha. This is the practice of Plum Village also.

How do we respond when we are lonely, not feeling like ourselves? Our feelings of fear? Do we know how to practice going home to ourselves? Walking meditation is a method. Can we walk like a Buddha? Enjoying every step. This is a miracle.

The Buddha-nature is within you and through mindfulness, concentration, and insight it is you that is performing a miracle.

It is a practice of enjoyment.

Editor's Note: If the play button or download link doesn't work, please try again shortly. We are testing out a new service and there may be caps on the downloads. Thank you for the patience. 

If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Nov 02 2016

53mins

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Rank #13: Why Am I Myself?

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From the Stillwater Meditation Hall at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. This is the third question and answer session of the annual Summer Opening retreat at Plum Village on July 23, 2014. The talk is in English and both the audio and the video are available below.

Children

Why do monks and nuns always have brown clothes and no hair?
How can I express my anger without taking it out anyone?
Why does a seed give birth to a flower and sometimes not? Why am I myself as I am and not as the others?
Why did you make Plum Village?

Teens and Young Adults

I'm not the only one who feels lonelineness and sadness about myself and I've had struggled with self hatred. How do I learn to care and love myself and stop negative perceptions?
In school it is very competitive and there is a lot of pressure to succeed. I feel like I need to work harder. How do I take it easy without hurting myself further?
How can I love myself more and how can I have more confidence in myself?

Others

It seems we live in a global culture of non-stop talking. Can you help us learn more about the practice of silence?
I have a friend who's father was diagnosed with cancer. His father shared he was contemplating suicide. What should he do?

http://youtu.be/LbE9G2DUf8c

Jul 31 2014

1hr 43mins

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Rank #14: Non Fear

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The Retreat on Buddhist Psychology continues in Key West, Florida. The date is November 9, 1997. This is the final talk in the series.

Thay jumps immediately to the teachings on the verses of consciousness, the topic of this retreat, beginning with the thirtieth verse.

Self and nonself. Interbeing. Consciousness is always flowing and evolving. Conditioned dharmas (36). Space and time are not separated entities. The only dharma that can be considered "unconditioned" is nirvana. Suchness (36). No coming. No going. Tathagata.
Verses 37-40, we learn about the four conditions. Primary cause. Object cause. Supporting causes. Immediacy of continuity. These four conditions are necessary for manifestation. Deluded mind and true mind. Codependent arising.

Paratantra (41). Samsara and suchness are no different. It is deluded mind to think they are different - they have the same ground.

The flower is already present in the garbage (42). We see one in the other. They are not two. There is no need to run away from birth and death (43). We can understand that the kingdom of

God is at hand; available in the present. Conscious breathing and Right View (44). Mindfulness can transform all mental formations (45).

Mindfulness is the energy of God. And mindfulness is not an idea, but something we can cultivate and allow to grow. To be alive in the presence of God.

Transformation at the base is down there at the depth of our consciousness. This is where the real transformation takes place and our internal knots are slipping (46).

The present moment contains the future (47). The secret to transformation at the base is how well we handle the present moment. And practicing with a sangha can help it occur more easily. Affliction and enlightenment are the same (50). Ride on the waves of birth and death. With no fear.

There are three kinds of gifts: material gifts, gift of the dharma, and nonfear (this is the greatest gift to give). The practice of nonfear can let I'd look into the light of interbeing. When we chant the Heart Sutra, we see that Sariputra has been able to transcend fear.

History of Buddhist Teachings
Many have asked who is the author of these 51 Verses. After the Buddha passed away, a few decades after, there was a need to systemize the teachings of the Buddha. This is known as the Abhidharma - super dharma - and it contains many many teachings. Thay offers the background on the abidharma teachings over time. Some of these teachings have been translated into English so it can be available to you. For example, the Path of Purification, the Twenty verses on Manifestation only (or mere manifestation - it is a very difficult teaching), but the 51 verses are much easier. You can listen to these talks again or purchase Understanding Our Mind: 50 Verses on Buddhist Psychology.

Two Stories on Dying

Story of Anapindika and Sariputra with the practice on the Recollection of the Three Jewels.

Story of Alfred Hassler. About 8-years ago, on the way to the Omega Institute for a retreat, we learned our dear friend Alfred Hassler was dying in a hospital nearby. Sr. Chan Không and Thay decided to stop and visit him along with Alfred's wife and daughter. Thay recalls some of the work done with Alfred and his family.

If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Oct 26 2016

1hr 45mins

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Rank #15: The Art of Being Peace

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For the Fifth International Buddhist Conference in May 2008, the Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh was invited to offer the opening keynote address. The event took place at the National Convention Center, Hanoi, Vietnam with the theme Buddhist Contribution to Building a Just, Democratic and Civilized Society. Hosted by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and co-organized by International Organizing Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and National Coordinating Committee for the United Nations Day of Vesak. The date is May 13, 2008 and both audio and video are available below. The talk is 53-minutes. 
Promoting Peace
Practicing Buddhism is the art of being peace, the art of promoting peace, in the society and in the world. We all should learn this art. We all have elements of war in our body. Practicing Buddhism is recognizing these elements so that we can then transform these elements. In the Sutra on Mindful Breathing, the Buddha provided us the practice to release the tension in our body. It only takes a few minutes. If we can release the tension in our body, then our body can learn to heal itself. When we make peace body, we can begin to make peace with our feelings and emotions. Do you know how to recognize your emotions? This is the art of making peace with ourselves. Our body, and our feelings and emotions. The Buddha also taught in this sutra how to recognize and transform our mental formations. The Buddhist practice means going home to oneself. To restore peace. How does this work in the family setting? Or in the school setting? Why is it important for parents and teachers to learn this art of being peace? 
Deep Listening and Loving Speech
During our time teaching in the west, we have also taught listening with compassion and using loving speech to restore communication. In Plum Village, we have practiced this intentionally with groups in conflict - Israelis and Palestinians. What is outlined above is used to illustrate practical application with these groups. In Mahayana Buddhism, we have the Bodhissatva Avalokiteshvara - the bodhissatva of compassion. They do this practice in order to suffer less. 
Right View is the view of dependent co-arising, no-self, interbeing. Practitioners should always remember to maintain this right view in their daily life. How does this look between a father and a son? We learn that suffering is not an individual matter. Everything this is linked to everything else. To protect other species on earth, and the earth itself, is to protect ourselves. This is the insight of interbeing. 
The Five Mindfulness Trainings
Thay reminds of Unesco’s Manifesto 2000 which Thay helped to create with several Nobel Peace Prize laureates. There are six points and has been signed by 75-million people. This arose from the teachings of Buddhism and are very similar to the Five Mindfulness Trainings. If we practice these, we will have peace in ourselves and in the world. Just signing is not enough; we need to put it into practice. This is why we recommend forming ourselves into communities - in our families, schools, workplace, and within governments. These can all become a sangha and bring these six points (and Five Mindfulness Trainings) into practice. 
The practice of deep ecology, mindful consumption and the Five Mindfulness Trainings. The trainings also teach us not to exploit people or the earth. We have been talking a lot about peace, but we have not done enough for the cause of peace. Whatever we can do in terms of thinking, speech, and action could be considered as an offering to the Lord Budhha. As an example, we learn how Deer Park Monastery in California is using solar energy and having car free days. Reducing consumption, learning to live more simply, and to have more time to take care of oneself and our beloved ones is very crucial and is the way of peace. 
Living happily in the present moment. And taking care of the present moment is taking care of the future.

Dec 08 2018

54mins

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Rank #16: Life at Every Breath

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This is a 53-minute dharma talk with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh from Hanoi during the “Engaged Buddhism” retreat. This is the first talk on May 5, 2008.

We begin with some instruction on sitting and breathing. It is important to repeat the essentials. When we sit, we should enjoy our sitting. Like the Buddha, do you know how to sit on the lotus flower? Sitting for the sake of sitting. Releasing tension in our body through sitting and breathing. Thay teaches us how to reduce the tension and we practice together.

Smiling is one method. Smiling is like yoga of the mouth. We can let the body lead, instead of the mind, and so we begin with a smile and the joy may come later. With our breathing, we can bring our body and mind together. We can know we are alive and we can smile to life.

There is the practice of bringing our parents into our breathing and sitting. Why and how. Breathing in and breathing out is quite wonderful. And it is enough to cultivate wisdom. So, enjoy the sitting. And enjoy the breathing.

During this retreat, while you sit or while you walk, practice these sentences. Every breath is life. Life at every breath. And while we walk, life at every step. Then you may try too, breathing in, I am aware of my heart. Thay teaches how and why we can practice this awareness of our heart.

Life is already full of suffering, why would you suffer when practice meditation. Learning to breathe and to enjoy. Life is present in the here and the now. Drinking tea is also a method for being present. Life at every breath.

Slow walking is a practice you may try, even on your own, to bring full awareness to life at every step. All the wonders of life. Every moment is a moment of practice. Walk like a Buddha. Walk like a free person. A miracle at every step. A miracle at every breath. Enlightenment.

Every step is healing. Every breath is healing. We can heal ourselves and the earth. You are free. Freedom from afflictions. Walk as a free person. We have an appointment with life, in the present moment. With our in breath and our breath.

The first meaning of Engaged Buddhism is being present in the here and the now. Regardless of what we are doing. In every moment. Dwelling happily in the present moment. This is the teaching of the Buddha.

Source: touching-peace-photography.com

Dec 28 2018

53mins

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Rank #17: What Does it Mean to be Free

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The sangha is gathered together at Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi during the 2011 US Teaching Tour with the theme Cultivating the Mind of Love. It is the fourth day of the retreat. This 108-minute question and answer session is from October 1, 2011 and both the audio and video are available with this post.

https://youtu.be/TQr0bqbqKiI

A good question can help many people. It can be a question about our suffering and our happiness.

We begin with a few questions from the children.

What are some of the traditional foods in a Buddhist monastery? (4:33)
What helps to clear your mind? (13:55)
Is it true that if you don’t believe in God that you go to the underworld? (17:32)
What kind of Buddha’s are there? (21:40)

Followed by questions from teenagers, young adults, and adults.

How can I relate to another person, and love another person, but not experience the three complexes - inferiority, superiority, and equality? (27:14)
What would you advise someone who has been diagnosed with attention disorder, or any mental illness, that hinders a person from being in the now. And have had to rely on medications for their whole life. How can they live in the now? (32:40)
What would you do if you had a friend who isn’t being loving to each other, and you are caught in the middle? (37:28)
How can I not suffer when I see my 26-year old son’s life unraveling due to his drug addictions? I am overcome by grief and despair. (56:45)
When facing a decision, where your only see two possible answers - the one you think is right and the one you feel is right - how can you know which one? (1:03:45)
What does it mean to be free?(1:23:50)
How can a Vietnam veteran, who still suffers from PTSD, communicate to the many generations of Vietnamese people at this retreat that he cared for the Vietnamese? (1:34:23)

We have one more talk in this series from Mississippi. Stay tuned.

If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Jun 03 2018

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Rank #18: Selective Watering and Total Relaxation

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The Retreat on Buddhist Psychology continues in Key West, Florida. The date is November 6, 1997. This is the fifth talk (114-minutes).

Much of this talk is offered in the context of those working in the helping professions such as therapists and doctors. The practice we are learning here is taking care of ourselves. We should be able to take care of ourselves in order to help other people. This can bring is a lot of joy. First, we have to learn how to rest. The practice of stopping. We have a habit of running. We can practice arriving in the here and the now.

We begin with a teaching on Total Relaxation. You can practice as an individual and as a sangha. The total relaxation exercises also brings mindfulness to our relationships, our eating, and much more. We should practice body scanning daily.

Another aspect of practicing to stop is we have to learn how to say no - we should know our limits. Secondly, we should give our body and mind time to recover after meetings. Do waking meditation or total relaxation. This is especially important for those in the helping professions.

Can we meet our colleagues in a kind of dharma discussion. We can ask, do you know how to take care of yourself? The Buddha said, it is possible to live happily in the present moment. He was aware that we had suffering and sorrow, but that we can also discover joy. Joy is made of non-joy elements. Like sorrow. We don't need to remove all the pain and the sorrow. The need of mindfulness allows us to experience the present moment.

Brief teaching on the role of walking meditation and sitting meditation in the context of dwelling happily in the present moment. We can arrange our days to offer space for practice. Brings more solidity, more joy, more insight. We practice the same way when working with our sorrow.

Sangha building. Why is it important in our work settings, especially those in helping professions? Cultivating the mind of love. What is a sangha? A sangha is community that practices joy and happiness. Thay expresses his joy with having a community of monks and nuns traveling together and living together in Plum Village. The sangha is a wonderful instrument to relieve suffering. Why is taking refuge in the sangha important? What is crossing over to the other shore?

In the last 35-minutes, Thay returns to teaching on the verses (9-10) on consciousness. Alaya. Cautions on a society of hungry ghosts. The nature of dharmas - conditioned and unconditioned.

If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Editors Note: Lost about 2-minutes of sound at 1h 20m into talk.

Jul 16 2016

1hr 53mins

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Rank #19: Because I Like It!

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With Thay's gentle and compassionate humor, we discover the teaching of Right Diligence. This is the eighth talk during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme Path of the Buddha. The date is June 11, 2009 and we are at the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village.

The Four Noble Truths are an exact science - there is right view and wrong view. For the Fourth Noble Truth, the Path and well being, we have Right View. For the Second, ill being, we have Wrong View. They are opposites. Thay reviews Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood in the context of well being and ill being.

In this talk we continue with a teaching on Right Diligence. What is the difference between diligence and effort? Intensive versus regularity. Why is diligence better (easier) than effort? How does Right Diligence bring well being? What is Wrong Diligence and why does it bring ill being? Practical tips for practice are offered.

The story of Frederick, a businessman, and his wife Claudia and their son Phillip. The story concludes with a wonderful teaching on walking and carrying peace in every step.
True Diligence
Source: The Mindfulness Bell, Summer 2008

True Diligence is often described in four steps.

First, the unbeneficial seeds are in us. Be skillful to not let these seeds arise in us. Thay teaches on consciousness - store and mental consciousness. We can practice to lullaby these seeds of suffering to sleep.

Second, if by chance that seed of suffering has manifested then we need to do something to let it go back to store consciousness. Don't allow it to stay too long. Not suppressing but helping it to go back. This is appropriate attention.

Third, we invite the beneficial seeds to come up. Like a good friend who you have not seen in a long time. Send an invitation to dissipate the darkness. Joy and happiness are always possible and give them a chance to manifest. How? One method is a sangha.

Fourth, when those beneficial seeds are present then we try to keep them present as long as possible. Help them to be strong. Again, what is a method for practicing this step?
Generosity
We continue the talk with a teaching on the second mindfulness training and how we consider the revision. The second mindfulness training is about generosity. How does it relate to right diligence? What is practicing generosity? Stealing?

Is it possible to have no more desire? Are you aware of your conditions of happiness? The talk concludes with a short teaching on the Sutra of the White Clad Disciple.

If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Jan 22 2016

1hr 32mins

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Rank #20: Call Your Cows By Their True Name

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The Sangha is gathered together at Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi during the 2011 US Teaching Tour with the theme Cultivating the Mind of Love. This 85-minute dharma talk is from September 29, 2011 and both the audio and video are available in this post.

We begin with a 27-minute teaching for the children present at the retreat. Of course, everyone can benefit and enjoy this teaching regardless of age.

https://youtu.be/Z8pFAjQpTKY

When you love someone, what can you offer them? What is the most precious thing we can offer them? Thay offers a story of an unhappy child and his father - what does the child want for his birthday?

The first mantra of Plum Village is “Darling, I am here for you.” In order to do this, you really have to be present. We should all memorize this mantra. This is a meditation and does not take time and money. Mindfulness helps you to be there.

Thay teaches us about how and why to use pebble meditation. The first pebble represents a flower. What is a true flower? And the second pebble represents a mountain. Cultivating our stability. The next pebble represents still water. The last pebble represents space. Open your heart. A child can very easily lead pebble meditation.

We continue teachings on breathing exercises. This morning the guided meditation explored the first four exercises of mindful breathing. These first four have to do with the body. We first recognize our in-breath and our out-breath. What is the intention of this exercise? Then we move to breathing-in, I follow my breath all the way through. During this time, there is no interruption. You only follow the breathing.

With the third, we are aware of our body. Mind and body are together. To restore the oneness. And our body is a wonder. Thay shares of a recent visit to the Googleplex. Practiced these breathing exercises, especially helping them connect with the body as described in the third exercise. It is a reconciliation between the mind and the body. The fourth exercise is breathing in, I release the tension in my body. This practice is very relevant to our time. We can reduce the amount of pain.

Contemplation of the body. Revisit all parts of our body. How do we do this?

The next set of exercises are designed to help us handle our feelings.

5. Generating joy
6. Generating happiness
7. Recognize a painful feeling
8. Embrace a painful feeling

Can we recognize the conditions of joy and happiness? Living happily in the present moment. This is found right in the Sutra and is especially relevant for business people.

Mindfulness is being able to go home to the present moment. Mindfulness is not something you can buy. When you are mindful, you are there with your body. Mindfulness and concentration are two sources of happiness. Another practice is that of letting go. Here we have the teaching on the farmer who has lost his cows. To know our obstacles is also a path to knowing our happiness. Letting go is a good practice.

Once we know our joy and happiness, then we can more easily handle our pain. When the pain manifests, a good practitioner can recognize this and know how to take care of the painful feeling. We can hold our pain.

Apr 24 2018

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Sitting on our Portable Lotus Flower

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In this 95-minute talk we learn how to sit, how to practice with the love mantras, and how to practice insight in order to transform our suffering. The talk takes place on August 14, 2007 during the Stonehill College retreat during the U.S. Tour. The retreat theme is Mindfulness, Fearlessness, and Togetherness and this is the second dharma talk of the retreat. We begin with the monastics chanting The Four Recollections.

Sitting on our Portable Lotus Flower

9:25 Thay leads us in a short guided meditation. To be alive is the greatest of all miracles. Please sit like a Buddha. Thay teaches us about the lotus (or half-lotus) position. Feeling solid and stable. This way of sitting influences the mind. We are sitting like a mountain. The solidity of the body has something to do with the solidity of the mind. It is like sitting on a lotus flower. What does this mean? 

16:15 A story of the time Thay visited a prison in Maryland. Sitting with a few hundred inmates, we learned how to sit like a Buddha on a lotus flower. How to keep our back upright and to release tension. We also learned how to practice a mindful meal. This visit later became a book called Be Free Where You Are

19:25 We describe the Buddha as an artist. Sitting on the lotus flower. As a friend of the buddha, it is nice to know how to sit like him. The Buddha is not a God. He was a human being. He did become a free, happy, enlightened person. The word Buddha is a title, not a name. Anyone can become a Buddha. Do you have a capacity to sit like a Buddha? What are the challenges we experience as students of the Buddha. 

21:57 When Mr. Nelson Mandela came to visit France, he was asked what he’d like to do the most. He responded by saying, to sit down. To rest. Thay said we need some training in order to sit well. To do nothing. To be a Buddha is to allow freshness, solidity and peace to manifest in us. Sometimes we are very close to this. Almost a Buddha. 

Love Mantras

25:13 When you love someone, the best thing you can offer them is your Buddhahood. To have a little Buddha as a present for our loved ones. In this moment, Thay is teaching this to the children present at the talk. The best kind of present is your beautiful presence. Our mindful sitting and walking can improve our presence. It just takes some practice. 

29:02 In Buddhism, we sometimes practice a mantra. It is something that can help transform a situation.

“Darling, I am here for you”

You can practice with this. To love is to offer your fresh presence. And when you are truly there, you may notice something else is there – your beloved one, and the world. This mantra is the first step. Then you can say,

“Darling, I know you are there and it makes me happy.”

To acknowledge the presence of your loved one. To be loved is to be recognized. We are reminded that you don’t need to go to the meditation hall in order to practice. No matter how old you are, you can still practice these two mantras. Without love, happiness is not possible. 

What would it be like to have a million dollars? Would this make me happy? Allow me to do more? Would it bring happiness? What Thay has is mindfulness, and this can bring us a lot of happiness. When we have enough insight, we are not caught up in difficult situations anymore. This comes from our mindfulness and concentration. We come to this retreat to learn how to do things with mindfulness. To create love, understanding, and insight. This is the gift of the Buddha. 

Contemplating the Body

38:59 In the previous talk, we were trying to learn just one thing – releasing the tension. The Buddha has much to teach us on healing. Every step we take can help us release the tension. Every breath that we take can help us release the tension. When we allow our body to relax, our body begins to have the capacity for healing itself. There are many ways to do this, such as deep relaxation practice. In the sutra on the contemplation of the body, the Buddha uses an example of farmer who went into the cellar and opened a bag of seeds. Thay teaches us this practice of scanning our body with a ray of mindfulness. How do use this practice? This practice will bring relieve. And if we know how to go a little bit further, into our ill-being, we may discover the roots of our ill-being. Looking deeply with concentration. What is the source of our ill-being. 

47:18 In Buddhism, we teach the Four Noble Truths. And the first is ill-being, and we have to call it by its true name. Sickness, anger, fear, depressions, etc. To recognize it and to name it. From that we can see the second noble truth; the roots of that ill-being. We look at this truth in terms of nutriments. Nothing can survive without food. If we have fear or depression, it is because we have been feeding them. Just practicing this, you are already on the path of healing. If depression is there, perhaps we have lived in such a way to make that possible, we ask what did we consume? What kind of contact did we have? We look at the second noble truth in terms of nutriments. How do we practice with this in order to transform the depression? The fourth noble truth cannot be seen unless we first see the second noble truth. Do not run away from suffering so we can begin to see the path of healing in the fourth noble truth. 

The Buddha is a Human Being

54:30 The second noble truth is the path leading to ill-being. The path of consumption. The Buddha spoke of four kinds of nutriments: edible food, sensory impressions. What is the importance practicing mindful consumption? How can we do this in our daily lives? Why do we consume when we don’t need to consume? 

1:01:04 Continuing from the previous talk, we look again at store and mind consciousness. When the seed of anxiety, fear, or confusion come up to our mind consciousness level then we feel uneasy. It makes us suffer. That is why we want to occupy the mind with another object (such as a film or a book). But this is a way to repress the feeling of uneasiness. To coverup the feeling of emptiness. We want to forget our suffering. The practice recommended by the Buddha, you should not try to suppress it with consumption, but invite the energy of mindfulness to manifest by mindful walking or mindful breathing. This can help take care of that energy that makes you suffer. We strengthen the seed of mindfulness through our daily practice so we can more easily apply it when we are suffering from fear, sorrow, despair. It is recognizing and embracing our suffering. The energy of mindfulness is something that can continue to grow inside of us. The Buddha is inside of you and you are capable of holding your pain, sorrow, and fear. We don’t need to practice consumption without mindfulness. We need to stop consuming toxins. We practice mindfulness to recognize and hold the pain and sorrow. That is the Buddha at work inside of you. The Buddha is a human being. 

1:12:23 Those who of us who don’t practice, we practice repressing our fear and anger. We cause bad circulation of our psyche because we suppress the negative feelings. With this bad circulation, symptoms of mental illness appear. The practice is to allow the pain to emerge. And if we are equipped with mindfulness, then we are no longer afraid. If we are still young in the practice, we can ask for help from the sangha to help restore the circulation of our psyche. With some months of practice, we can do this on our own. To use our mindfulness and concentration to look into the nature of our ill-being. The path leading to the cessation of ill-being is also the path leading to well-being. This is third noble truth. The existence of well-being. 

1:17:10 The beginning of well-being. This path is a noble path. Mindfulness always carry the energy of concentration. And if you live mindfully, then you can see through to the true nature of our suffering. This is insight meditation. It has the power to liberate. With this you can liberate yourself and you can help liberate other people. 

1:20:09 Remembering the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia. All of us suffer. We ask why did this happen and why did so many people die? We want to know why. Thay also suffered, but by practicing looking deeply to see that we too have died with them also. And we discover they died for us and that we should live for them. How are we living today so their death will have a meaning? This is interbeing. This is insight. We are all of the nature to die. We are all of the nature to get sick. We need courage to have the strength of our mindfulness. How do we die with peacefulness? Nothing is born and nothing dies. There is no birth and no death. This insight can remove fear and true happiness is possible. 

With our practice, we bring the element of non-fear. Thay teaches in light of climate change and the use of technology. 

Dec 31 2019

1hr 35mins

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Breathing Begins Transformation

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In this 2-hour dharma talk, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches how important our breathing is for transformation. The talk takes place on August 13, 2007 during the Stonehill College retreat during the U.S. Tour. The retreat theme is Mindfulness, Fearlessness, and Togetherness and this is the first dharma talk of the retreat.

Eating Breakfast

We begin with a brief reflection on Lazy Day at Son Ha Temple in Plum Village. Being lazy can be difficult for some people. In Plum Village it means to take your time in every moment. Whether we are brushing our teeth or eating our breakfast. Each moment is a moment of joy, of peace, of freedom. Thay has discovered that he loves french toast, but he’s been unable to find french toast in France. I eat breakfast because I like breakfast. In the Buddhist practice, we take time to enjoy our breakfast. We don’t eat in a hurry. During this retreat, we also eat in silence. This is known as noble silence. We practice being mindful of every morsel of food we eat and also mindful of the people around you. The same is when we drink tea – to be truly present in the here and the now. True life is there in the present moment. Drinking mindfully I can see the cloud in my tea. Many of us are running after something, such as a diploma. When we are running, we missed the opportunity to be in the present moment. To stay with my breakfast or with my tea. This is called mindful eating. 

Walking Meditation

14:25 – Today, we started with walking meditation early this morning. The purpose of walking meditation to arrive in every moment. To arrive in the here and the now. There is always something in the here and the now. Our habit of running causes us to missing what is happening in the present moment. I have arrived. I am home. When you have arrived, happiness becomes a real thing. We arrive in every moment. This is called mindful walking. 

Lazy Day

18:43 – Mindful breathing is also enjoyable. We need some training. In the beginning, we may still feel the energy of running. To do things quickly. Stop running and learn to breathe. Thay uses the example of brushing our teeth. We enjoy every moment of the day, whether we are washing or sitting or walking. And on the other days, not the lazy day, you simply follow the schedule. And you profit from the collective energy of the sangha. You can cherish every moment of your lazy day. Are you lazy enough today? Nowhere to go, nothing to do. There is a tendency in every one of us to run. A kind of energy that is pushing us to run after something. The practice of Buddhist meditation is to be aware of this tendency and be able to stop. Stopping is a very important practice. We can stop running. I have arrived. I am home. 

Slow Walking Meditation

27:28 – When you are alone and you have 5-10 minutes, you may like to practice slow walking meditation. You breathe in, and you make one step. Bring attention to the sole of your foot. Become aware of the contact between your foot and the ground. And say silently, I have arrived. Invest 100% of your body and your mind into the step. The running has become a habit in our body, our mind, and our consciousness. We can create another habit, of arriving and stopping, to counter that habit of running. This practice of slow walking meditation is one of the methods to form a new habit. Stay in that first step until you have fully arrived in the moment. 

With this practice, we can begin to heal. The practice of stopping. It is a training. We need to allow our body to do the healing. Resting. Our body and mind have the capacity to heal itself by allowing our body and mind to rest. 

Mindful Breathing

39:08 – In the “Sutra of Mindful Breathing,” the Buddha offers a method to release the tension in our body. To allow our body and mind to rest. Breathing in, I am aware of my body. This is one exercise described by the buddha. When you breathe in, you bring your mind to your body. This is a basic practice. Breathing in, I release all tension in my body. Whether in a sitting or lying position, it is possible to release all the tensions in our body. These should become a daily exercise. During the time we sit, walk or eat, it is possible for us to practice this. 

We can also release the tensions in our feelings and emotions. Breathing in, I am aware of my feeling. That feeling may be a pleasant feeling, or a painful feeling, or a neutral feeling. We come home to recognize and embrace the feeling. 

Mindfulness, Concentration, Insight

47:35 – Practicing Buddhist meditation, we generate three kinds of energies: Mindfulness, Concentration, Insight. Our insight has the capacity to liberate us from fear, anger and anxiety. It is born from the energy of concentration and mindfulness. Mindfulness is what we generate while walking, sitting, driving, cooking, etc. We usually begin with our in breath and our out breath. Breathing in, I know this is my in-breath. Breathing out, I know this is my out-breath. We can become so attentive to our breathing that we can become our breathing.  

In out, deep slow, calm, ease, smile, release, present moment, wonderful moment.  This gatha can be our guide. 

Thay offers additional instruction on how to calm and release the tensions in our body. 

Sangha Energy

58:58 – Collective energy of the sangha. It is much more powerful than the individual energy of mindfulness. The energy of the sangha can transport you and the practice becomes much easier. It’s like a formation of birds. We flow like a river. This is why we practice taking refuge in the sangha. We can profit from the energy of the sangha, especially when we are suffering individually. It is possible for us to hold our pain, our fear. This is why we practice with the sangha. 

Consciousness and Happiness

1:05:04 – Thay teaches on the leaf. Everyone can see it is a leaf. We can recognize and distinguish what is not. A leaf is a leaf. And when we look into the leaf, we can see many things. It is made of non-leaf elements. The same is with our body. The body is not separate or independent of the mind. In Buddhism, we have Interbeing. In this teaching, we have something called store consciousness and mind consciousness. We can survive with only store, but then we are only on automatic pilot. We want to evolve the mind consciousness so we are not on auto pilot all the time. We can discover many things. Insight. 

Store consciousness has something called manas. This is pleasure seeking. If we ignore the goodness of suffering, that is manas. But we can learn a lot from suffering. Understanding suffering we can generate compassion and love. We learn from suffering. Manas does not know this. Meditation helps us to transfer to store and help us transform. 

The wisdom of moderation. The practice of meditation helps us see this wisdom and help it to grow. Understanding and compassion. The Pure Land of the Buddha is not a place where there is no suffering. We need the mud in order to have the lotus. The mud plays a very vital role. Suffering brings understanding and compassion. Holding the suffering and learning from it. 

Transformation at the Base

1:33:25 – When the seed of fear comes up from the store consciousness to the level of mind consciousness, the practice is to allow the seed of mindfulness to come up as well. It is the energy of mindfulness that is recognizing and embracing the energy of fear. Mindfulness is not there to help us run away, but it is there to help us recognize. At first, we may not have enough energy to hold our pain and so we rely upon the collective energy of the sangha. And eventually we can have the power to do this on our own. And when we have enough mindfulness and concentration, then we can have the insight. This is the practice of meditation. Transformation at the base. 

Taking Refuge in the Buddha

1:37:40 – Taking refuge in the Buddha. Not as a person outside of ourself. But the energy of mindfulness, concentration, and insight within us. To trust our capacity of understanding and to be compassionate. 

A story from Thay’s visit to Seoul, South Korea when Thay asked the Buddha to walk for him. And the Buddha did it for Thay. Let the Buddha breathe, let the Buddha walk. The Buddha is inside of you. 

New Gathas

1:42:50 – Thay has written a few new Gathas and he shares them now with the sangha. 

Let the Buddha breathe. 

Let the Buddha walk. 

I don’t need to breathe. 

I don’t need to walk. 

The Buddha is breathing. 

The Buddha is walking. 

I enjoy the breathing. 

I enjoy the walking. 

Buddha is the breathing. 

Buddha is the walking. 

I am the breathing. 

I am the walking. 

There is only the breathing. 

There is only the walking. 

There is no breather. 

There is no walker. 

Peace while breathing. 

Happiness, joy while walking. 

Peace is the breath. 

Happiness, joy is the walking. 

Through these practices, we discover the reality of no-self. 

Recording Quality: Excellent

Dec 24 2019

1hr 58mins

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Ultimate Dimension of Ourself

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The 2007 United States Tour began in August at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. In this 57-minute recording, we begin with Sr. Chan Khong offering a lovely orientation to the basic practice. Sister Chan Khong is one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s most senior student having met Thay in 1959 and then became one of the first members (the “Six Cedars”) of the Order of Interbeing. Following the sharing by Sr. Chan Khong, we continue with Brother Phap Tri. 

The date is August 12, 2007

Introduction

During this retreat we want to learn the way the young man Siddhartha discovered the ultimate dimension of himself. If we can put this into practice, we can take the ultimate dimension within ourselves. How can everyone can touch that deep dimension of ourself? To help us to love. 

Our body is here, but our mind is somewhere else. Our mind is not in the present moment. That is why we don’t see the ultimate dimension. The training he discovered is our breathing. This can bring our mind back to our body. That breathing is the link. During this week, we learn this training. Be aware of your in-breath and your out-breath. 

The first part of Buddhist practice is samatha. Stopping. Doing this we can see deeply. We then use vipassana. If you look deeply, then it is very interesting. We can see the wonderful nature of the present moment. During our retreat, when we hear the bell then we stop and come back to the present moment. 

Breathing 

The practice is to be happy. Even if we have 30% of bad things, we also have 70% of good things. With our practice, we go back to the present moment all the time. In the present moment, we go deep into the positive things. Even our cell phone can be our bell of mindfulness. Sr. Chan Khong relates a story of a retreat at the Ojai Foundation that occurred during a fire. Many people were so upset by the helicopters and Thay reminded everyone that this too can be a bell of mindfulness. We come back to the present moment by following our breathing – this is not so easy, but we work toward stopping our thinking. Even when we are irritated. Any unfriendly noise can be transformed by following our breathing. 

Sitting 

Sitting meditation. How can we sit on the cushion, or the bench, or the chair? Chrysanthemum position – whatever position is most comfortable for you. The key is to sit in a stable position. What can we do with pain we experience during sitting meditation? If you are in pain, then you may be trying too hard. It is okay to change position. And we pay attention to our breathing as it goes in and out of our body. In the book, Blooming of the Lotus, there are simple exercises for following our breathing that build and expand upon the Buddha’s teachings on the Sixteen Exercises of Mindful Breathing. 

Sister Chan Khong offers us one of these short exercises through a song. In. Out. Deep. Slow. Calm. Ease. Smile. Release. Present moment. Wonderful moment. We can use this song while practicing walking meditation. 

By dwelling deeply in the present moment, we can all become enlightened during this retreat. 

Dec 21 2019

57mins

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We Contain the Whole Cosmos

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This is a 78-minute dharma talk from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in Hanoi during the “Engaged Buddhism in the 21st Century” retreat. This is the sixth and final talk on May 11, 2008 and the talk is offered in English.

Photo by Paul Davis

The Dharma is something you need to come and see for yourself. It is experiential. Meditation holds the keys. We can unlock the door of reality. Among them are the Three Doors of Liberation. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness. These are the keys.

What are these Three Doors of Liberation?

Along with this, we take a deeper look at several pairs of opposites (in the context of signlessness).

  1. birth and death
  2. being and nonbeing
  3. coming and going
  4. sameness and otherness

We can liberated from our fear, our anger, our despair.

The story of the flame is quite humorous and enjoyable.

Oct 13 2019

1hr 17mins

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Questions and Answers

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This is a 117-minute session of questions and answers with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in Hanoi during the “Engaged Buddhism in the 21st Century” retreat. The date is May 10, 2008 and the questions and answers are offered in English. 

Questions

  1. How would applied Buddhism look to the healthcare professional? (3:25)
  2. How do we deal with guilt? (8:07)
  3. My father cares about no-one and has no interest in life. He also has lots of anger. How can I help him? (17:50)
  4. A question on mindfulness of joy. Can you explain a little more about joy as it relates too attachment to the joy? (23:30)
  5. Experiencing suffering in not being able to conceive a child. (32:30)
  6. A question about medication and depression. In reference to what Thay taught in a previous talk. Sometimes there is also a physiological aspect to depression. Concern that Thay’s teaching may be misunderstood. Can you clarify? (41:24)
  7. Why does life exist? Why are we here? (56:33)
  8. As a young person, how can I use the practice and be able to share with other young people? Is there some more creative language that might speak more to young people? (1:00:00)
  9. How do we forgive someone whom we have never known intimately and have no way of communicating? For the suffering they have caused. (1:08:15)
  10. Having recently traveled in Laos and meeting many people impacted by the war and areas where unexploded ordinance remains. This caused anger and sadness to arise in me. Is this karma? Is this a time when we can be righteously angry? (1:16:03)
  11. There are young people who grow-up in a loving and supportive environment, but when they travel for university or work, they will face really negative pressure. This is a challenge. We should vaccinate our mind. Should we give children challenges so they are better prepared? (1:25:50)
  12. What is your intention with offering the Five Mindfulness Trainings? (1:35:30)
  13. Question about the 5th Mindfulness Training. This training watered by feeling of fear based on my upbringing as a Catholic. (1:45:30)

Oct 05 2019

1hr 57mins

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Love in Action

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2008-05-09 | Love in Action

This is a 78-minute dharma talk from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in Hanoi during the “Engaged Buddhism in the 21st Century” retreat. This is the fifth talk on May 9, 2008 and the talk is offered in English.

Teaching and Social Work

In 1964, Thay was teaching at Colombia University and my friends in Vietnam asked me to return home. In Saigon there was a school (School of Youth for Social Service) to teach engaged Buddhism and serve the communities in Vietnamese countryside. An expression of Love in Action. They did not want sponsorship from the government and didn’t want to be involved in the war. Inspired by compassion. Nonviolence and rural development. It started with 300 workers and expanded to 10,000 workers — these were volunteers. Thay shares some of the work they did during this time and where they learned to do this work. Some of these social workers died in service and there is a memorial at the Dharma Cloud Temple (Chua Phâp Van) in Ho Chi Minh City. Thay talks of the spiritual dimension to this social work.

This is where the Order of Interbeing arose and Thay talks of the first members and the first ordination.

In 1966, That was invited by Cornell University to teach a series of lectures. The purpose was also to help Thay get out of Vietnam and to speak out about the war in Vietnam. This was sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. After this, Thay was not allowed to return to Vietnam. At this time was intensifying and a young OI member immolated of herself – her name was Nhat Chi Mai. Also several members of the school were murdered.

The School for Social Service setup pilot villages. One village was bombed multiple times after re-building. To help with farming, health, and economics. They also setup refugee camps to assist with resettlement of thousands of people. This too is Engaged Buddhism. And we must also maintain our spiritual development. Thay remained in France and raised money to help fund the work of the school and bring awareness of the real war in Vietnam.

After we setup Plum Village (1982) in France, they offered retreats for veterans, health professionals, business people, members of war-torn nations, congresspeople, school teachers, and young people. Buddhism is for all walks of society. We also reach into serving those who are imprisoned.

Releasing the tension. Holding the emotion. Heal yourself. Heal your family. This too is Engaged Buddhism. Engaged Buddhism is our business in every minute and every hour. It can even be practiced in a normal fashion, without appearing religious.

Manifestation-Only Buddhism

The first practice of Right Diligence is: the negative seeds, let them sleep. Don’t water them. They become weaker and weaker. This is an art. It is the practice of Right Diligence. It is continued practice.

Today we introduce the concept of manas. Sometimes this consciousness is called ‘the lover.’ It is born from a number of unwholesome seeds. For example, feelings of superiority, inferiority, and equality. We learn of subject, object, and emptiness. Thanks to emptiness everything is possible. But manas ignores this. Manas believes you have a self. It doesn’t see Interbeing. Manas is always seeking pleasure. It is always trying to run away from suffering and ignores the goodness of suffering. No mud. No lotus. Interbeing. We need the Wisdom of Nondiscrimination (gained through meditation).

Linked with Right Thinking and Mindful Consumption.

Changing the Peg

The second practice of Right Diligence is when a negative seed does arise, we help return the mental formation to our store consciousness. How? Thay provides an example. Change the peg. Mindful breathing and invite another mental formation to arise. Coming to a retreat is a good way to water a lot of positive seeds. Create a positive environment. We can do this at home too. Listen to a dharma talk, practice chanting, mindful breathing, etc.

Even with depression. Yes, it is more difficult but it is possible. The Buddha said, nothing can survive without food. By the way we live. Cut off those things that are the cause. Inquire about the mental formations.

A Wholesome Life

The third practice is to give the positive seeds a chance. Help them to manifest. Do something to touch them and to water them. They may be covered up with many layers of fear, worry, etc. This is compassionate.

And the fourth is to allow any wholesome mental formation that is present, keep it as long as possible. Why replace them? Let them stay.

Oct 03 2019

1hr 18mins

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The Buddha in your Wallet

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This is a 97-minute dharma talk from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in Hanoi during the “Engaged Buddhism in the 21st Century” retreat. This is the fourth talk on May 8, 2008 and the talk is offered in English. 

We begin with Thay offering a short guided meditation that encourages us to bring our attention to our father and mother inside of us. 

There is a school of Buddhism called “Mind Only” and that school studies our mind in depth. Another name is “Manifestation Only” school. No birth and no death. We are not a creation, we are only a manifestation. What does Thay mean by “manifestation” and how is it present in our lives? Before things manifest themselves they can be conceived in the form of Seeds. Bija. When the seeds manifest themselves, they become dharma. Samskara. This teaching of manifestation only could be easily applied in our daily life. And this is part of the practice of engaged Buddhism. In work. In family. In the May 7 talk, we explored the 51 forms of mental formations. Seeds. 

This is illustrated with the story of a young couple where the woman is pregnant with a child. Thay recalls her niece who was pregnant and how she used the Lotus Sutra to nourish her unborn child by reciting the sutra regularly. 

In Buddhism, we learn that understanding is the foundation of love. How do we practice this within our families? We can adopt loving speech. Concrete examples of how to do this is offered. We learn of the “Peace Treaty” used in Plum Village. And of flower-watering, or selective watering. It can be practiced in on our own. 

What is buddhanature? Do we all have buddhanature? Illustrated by a couple who lives in Paris. They are well to do and have been married a long time. But they are not happy. They do not know the art of selective watering. How language and loving speech can impact their relationship. The language of love. 

We receive a lesson on writing a letter of love. Thay shares the story of giving the monastics a “homework” assignment to write a letter to their parents. 

Conditions of happiness. We have more than enough conditions of happiness. The practice of mindfulness is very crucial. The Five Mantras. Darling, I know you are there and it makes me happy. A young man who suffered greatly because of his father — they were very rich but his father was not available to his son. His father was completely absorbed with his business. The young man asked for his father to present for him. Darling, I am here for you. That is what he was asking of his father. To love means to be there. Your presence. 

True love. Overcoming pride. In Plum Village we have a formula, a practice, for overcoming anger. Asking for help. The fourth mantra. 

The Buddha in your wallet. 

Story of Mr. Trung from many centuries ago in Vietnam who had returned home after being gone in the army a long time. A tragedy of misunderstanding and miscommunication. Wrong perceptions. They did not know how to practice the fourth mantra. 

After 9/11 Thay tried to get America to practice the fourth mantra. Only a few days after 9/11, Thay gave a talk on holding our anger in Berkeley, California. To help people to calm down. Collective anger and collective fear. This is very dangerous. We calm down first and then practice the fourth mantra. 

Loving speech and deep listening is effective for anyone in relationship, including nations. This is engaged Buddhism. 

Sep 18 2019

1hr 37mins

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Joy and Ease for Enlightenment

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This is a 82-minute dharma talk with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh from Hanoi during the “Engaged Buddhism” retreat. This is the third talk on May 7, 2008 and the talk is offered in English. 

Walking Meditation

How can we enjoy walking? How can we use breathing?

Every step is life. 
Every step is a miracle. 
Every step is healing. 
Every step is freedom. 

We learn how to use this gatha with our walking – whether alone or in a group.

Photo by Paul Davis

Seven Factors of Awakening

The Buddha taught of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. Buddhism is about enlightenment and mindfulness is already enlightenment. Awareness of breathing is already enlightenment.  

We explore mindfulness, joy, and ease. How does this link with the Four Noble Truths? Ill-being and well-being. Relaxation, lightness, and peace. We have methods for reducing stress. This is the path – The Path of Well Being. We have very concrete practices to assist.  For example, the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing. In this talk, we touch on several of the methods for breathing. This is a Noble Path.

You don’t have to be a scholar, you simply need to be a practitioner. We have all experienced ill-being. How can we do this as practitioners? 

Engaged Buddhism in Vietnam

About 39-minutes into the talk, we turn back toward the history of engaged Buddhism. In the 1950s, Thay began writing about religious belief and society. In the mid-60s, we established the Order of Interbeing arising out of war and ideologies.  We can look at the precepts of the Order as a direct response. What is the teaching on views from the Buddha? To be free from views is a basic foundation of Buddhism. In 1965, I wrote the book Lotus in a Sea of Fire. The war in Vietnam was raging. Our enemies are not man, it is hate and violence. We needed more international support to hear us say we don’t want this war. The peace movement in Vietnam was the lotus. The book was released underground in Vietnam. Sister Chân Không was arrested for having the book. In 1964, we also establish the School for Youth and Social Service to focus on education, health, economics, and organization. 

Thay shares of the creation of a new group for today’s youth – now known as Wake Up!  And there are also new courses coming from the Institute of Applied Buddhism. These are building upon these early days in Vietnam. 

If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Jun 15 2019

1hr 14mins

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You are Both Depression and Mindfulness

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This is a 96-minute dharma talk with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh from Hanoi during the “Engaged Buddhism” retreat. This is the second talk on May 6, 2008 and the talk in offered in English. We begin with a teaching on mental formations and the roots of our ill-being before moving toward the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. 

Samskara. 

A Buddhist technical term. Means formation. Physical, biological, and mental. What is a formation? Recognizing that all formations are impermanent. When we observe a formation, we should be able to see this impermanent nature. 

Mental Formations

In the Plum Village tradition, we talk of 51 mental formations. There are positive formations – compassion, loving kindness, joy, etc. These are wholesome mental formations. As practitioners, can we recognize and help them to manifest? We also have negative mental formations – craving, anger, hate, jealousy, etc. In our practice, we refrain from watering these negative formations. Further, there are also indefinite mental formations – they can be wholesome or unwholesome. 
Practicing meditation is a way to recognize the mental formation. Thay teaches examples of how to do this practice of awareness with mental formations. Mindfulness. In the present moment. 

Bija

These are seeds we all carry. For example, we have a seed of anger. It may not be present as a mental formation right now, but it is a seed in our consciousness. These seeds can become a mental formation. Learning to water the wholesome seeds so they may arise as a mental formation. 

The two layers of consciousness – Store and Mind. The seeds live in store. With the practice, we can water wholesome seeds in store and help them manifest into kind consciousness. Thay teaches this is greater detail along with concrete examples. 

Mindfulness of our mental formations. An example of depression. No fighting between mindfulness and depression. It is simply to recognize. And then to embrace with tenderness. This is the energy of depression. And this is the energy of mindfulness. This is our practice. Supporting through non-duality and non-violence. Both seeds are you. You are both depression and mindfulness. 

Mindfulness, Concentration, Insight

In the Sutra the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, the Buddha teaches to begin with the body. Today we move into the second realm of practice. Aware of the feelings and emotions. And then take good care of them. Mindfulness has the function to recognize, to hold, and bring relief. It also carries the energy of concentration. 

Mindfulness leads to concentration. With concentration, you can take a deep look at your feelings and the. discover the roots of what is. This brings insight – liberation. This only comes if you have strong concentration. This begins with mindfulness. 

Roots of Ill-Being and the Noble Eightfold Path

Coming home to the present moment. To recognize ill-being as it is. The first noble truth. Through looking at ill-being, we can discover the second noble truth. Craving. Hate. Ignorance. Wrong perception. Lack of communication. What is the cause of our ill-being? Do we know how to live like a Buddha? To bring a spiritual dimension to our daily life? What are the methods of removing wrong perceptions? Even in the case of war and terrorism. 

Consumption, developing countries, large populations, meat industry, and learning to reduce our consumption. From the roots of ill-being we can discover the path. By practicing deeply the first and the second noble truths we can discover the fourth noble truth. Using the Five Mindfulness Trainings to guide us. Protecting life and the practice of love. Thay offers a summary of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. 

In the noble eightfold path, the Buddha recommends Right View. This is the insight of interbeing. And once you have this insight, you discover Right Thinking. Right Speech. Right Action.

Engaged Buddhism can be seen in the light of the Four Noble Truths. It responds to suffering. It responds to ill-being. With a noble path. Helping beings in countless ways.

Jan 27 2019

1hr 36mins

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Life at Every Breath

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This is a 53-minute dharma talk with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh from Hanoi during the “Engaged Buddhism” retreat. This is the first talk on May 5, 2008.

We begin with some instruction on sitting and breathing. It is important to repeat the essentials. When we sit, we should enjoy our sitting. Like the Buddha, do you know how to sit on the lotus flower? Sitting for the sake of sitting. Releasing tension in our body through sitting and breathing. Thay teaches us how to reduce the tension and we practice together.

Smiling is one method. Smiling is like yoga of the mouth. We can let the body lead, instead of the mind, and so we begin with a smile and the joy may come later. With our breathing, we can bring our body and mind together. We can know we are alive and we can smile to life.

There is the practice of bringing our parents into our breathing and sitting. Why and how. Breathing in and breathing out is quite wonderful. And it is enough to cultivate wisdom. So, enjoy the sitting. And enjoy the breathing.

During this retreat, while you sit or while you walk, practice these sentences. Every breath is life. Life at every breath. And while we walk, life at every step. Then you may try too, breathing in, I am aware of my heart. Thay teaches how and why we can practice this awareness of our heart.

Life is already full of suffering, why would you suffer when practice meditation. Learning to breathe and to enjoy. Life is present in the here and the now. Drinking tea is also a method for being present. Life at every breath.

Slow walking is a practice you may try, even on your own, to bring full awareness to life at every step. All the wonders of life. Every moment is a moment of practice. Walk like a Buddha. Walk like a free person. A miracle at every step. A miracle at every breath. Enlightenment.

Every step is healing. Every breath is healing. We can heal ourselves and the earth. You are free. Freedom from afflictions. Walk as a free person. We have an appointment with life, in the present moment. With our in breath and our breath.

The first meaning of Engaged Buddhism is being present in the here and the now. Regardless of what we are doing. In every moment. Dwelling happily in the present moment. This is the teaching of the Buddha.

Source: touching-peace-photography.com

Dec 28 2018

53mins

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The Art of Being Peace

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For the Fifth International Buddhist Conference in May 2008, the Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh was invited to offer the opening keynote address. The event took place at the National Convention Center, Hanoi, Vietnam with the theme Buddhist Contribution to Building a Just, Democratic and Civilized Society. Hosted by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and co-organized by International Organizing Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and National Coordinating Committee for the United Nations Day of Vesak. The date is May 13, 2008 and both audio and video are available below. The talk is 53-minutes. 
Promoting Peace
Practicing Buddhism is the art of being peace, the art of promoting peace, in the society and in the world. We all should learn this art. We all have elements of war in our body. Practicing Buddhism is recognizing these elements so that we can then transform these elements. In the Sutra on Mindful Breathing, the Buddha provided us the practice to release the tension in our body. It only takes a few minutes. If we can release the tension in our body, then our body can learn to heal itself. When we make peace body, we can begin to make peace with our feelings and emotions. Do you know how to recognize your emotions? This is the art of making peace with ourselves. Our body, and our feelings and emotions. The Buddha also taught in this sutra how to recognize and transform our mental formations. The Buddhist practice means going home to oneself. To restore peace. How does this work in the family setting? Or in the school setting? Why is it important for parents and teachers to learn this art of being peace? 
Deep Listening and Loving Speech
During our time teaching in the west, we have also taught listening with compassion and using loving speech to restore communication. In Plum Village, we have practiced this intentionally with groups in conflict - Israelis and Palestinians. What is outlined above is used to illustrate practical application with these groups. In Mahayana Buddhism, we have the Bodhissatva Avalokiteshvara - the bodhissatva of compassion. They do this practice in order to suffer less. 
Right View is the view of dependent co-arising, no-self, interbeing. Practitioners should always remember to maintain this right view in their daily life. How does this look between a father and a son? We learn that suffering is not an individual matter. Everything this is linked to everything else. To protect other species on earth, and the earth itself, is to protect ourselves. This is the insight of interbeing. 
The Five Mindfulness Trainings
Thay reminds of Unesco’s Manifesto 2000 which Thay helped to create with several Nobel Peace Prize laureates. There are six points and has been signed by 75-million people. This arose from the teachings of Buddhism and are very similar to the Five Mindfulness Trainings. If we practice these, we will have peace in ourselves and in the world. Just signing is not enough; we need to put it into practice. This is why we recommend forming ourselves into communities - in our families, schools, workplace, and within governments. These can all become a sangha and bring these six points (and Five Mindfulness Trainings) into practice. 
The practice of deep ecology, mindful consumption and the Five Mindfulness Trainings. The trainings also teach us not to exploit people or the earth. We have been talking a lot about peace, but we have not done enough for the cause of peace. Whatever we can do in terms of thinking, speech, and action could be considered as an offering to the Lord Budhha. As an example, we learn how Deer Park Monastery in California is using solar energy and having car free days. Reducing consumption, learning to live more simply, and to have more time to take care of oneself and our beloved ones is very crucial and is the way of peace. 
Living happily in the present moment. And taking care of the present moment is taking care of the future.

Dec 08 2018

54mins

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Practicing in a Stressful Environment

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This 71-minute dharma talk in the Ocean of Peace Meditation Hall takes place on Sunday, February 8, 2004. The monastic and lay community are practicing together during the 2004 Rainy Season Retreat from January 4 to March 14 at Deer Park Monastery. Both audio and video versions are available with this post.
Thay has received many letters from those participating in the retreat. Some contain joy and some contain their difficulties. We begin with a review of some of these letters and picks three questions. 
If nothing is created and nothing dies, where is the beginning? What are the elements that form the beginning?
Continuing the teaching on the sixteen exercises of mindful breathing in the recent weeks. The last four are about perceptions, and this question is about our perceptions. A contemplation on the nature of reality. The objects of our perception, and look deeply, in order to touch the ultimate dimension. 
I often feel I have no reason to continue to live. If there is no birth, no death then I feel ready to live. 
This question too has to do with the ultimate dimension. This too is a good object of meditation. We can inquire about our body and our mind. We can water the seeds of love and understanding. This question is very important. 
For 15-years I have been working as a medical doctor with two other doctors in a health center. We provide care for immigrants, refugees and people who are destitute. The more patients who come, the more it costs the health center because the government only pays for a few per year. This leads to many long days, house calls, and financial challenges. Personally, I am tired and stressed out. 
We can have compassion and willingness to help, but this can lead to burnout. We cannot continue like this. Thay shares a story of the congressman who practices walking meditation in the capitol. 
How do we respond? The first thing is to look at how do we organize our day. We have to know how to preserve ourselves in order to continue. We do this with our practice - eating, walking, etc. Do we allow time for this? Can we incorporate into our daily life? The next step is to call upon others to help. We don’t need to do this alone. We could learn how to setup a Sangha to nourish our practice - an island and refuge for us. 
Last time we spoke about how to take care of our feelings. The four exercises in the realm of feelings are about knowing how to bring the feeling of joy and happiness. 
Five Kinds of Energy or the Five Powers 
Faith (or confidence/trust) DiligenceMindfulnessConcentrationInsight 
We begin to learn about store consciousness and the seeds contained therein. Followed by our mind consciousness and selective watering. Appropriate attention. Positive and negative seeds. 
Let us use the five power to create the source of happiness. And we can add “letting go” as the sixth power. 
Now we come to the 7th exercise - recognition of the mental formation. That feeling or emotion has its base in store consciousness as a seed (bija). The first function of mindfulness is to be aware, to recognize. It is a practice of love. 
RecognizeEmbraceReliefTransformation 
In the seventh exercise, we are only doing the first step above. 
https://youtu.be/o6KTb0QMyJ8
If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Oct 14 2018

1hr 11mins

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Happiness is Made of these Moments

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This 74-minute dharma talk in the Ocean of Peace Meditation Hall takes place on Sunday, February 1, 2004. The monastic and lay community are practicing together during the 2004 Rainy Season Retreat from January 4 to March 14 at Deer Park Monastery. Both audio and video versions are available with this post.
In the process of renewing Buddhism, many people disagreed with me. Today, Thay offers some words on renewing Christianity. The teaching of living deeply in the present moment is also very clear in the gospel. We should take care of today. Living happily in the present moment is possible. Our basic practice during this Rainy Season Retreat is this: living happily in the present moment. If the Buddha is there, the pure land is there too. If God is there, then the kingdom of God is there too. This practice is not difficult. Mindfulness will help us be in the present moment. Thay proposed that theologians and Christian teachers offer us the teaching and practice to help us live in the present moment. The same is said to Buddhist teachers. Walking and contemplating in the pure land or the Kingdom of God. Then we no longer have to run after fame, power, wealth, and sex. 
The teaching should be embodied by the teacher. The life of the teacher can then be authentic. If you are Dharma Teacher, you have to embody the teaching of living happily in the present moment. If you want others to be able to stop suffering and to live happily. Every moment of our daily life can be seen as a miracle. Thay offers a few examples of how we embody the practice. 
If you are beginner, a new practitioner, there are brothers and sisters who are more experienced. And these more experienced practitioners can show how we can live in the present moment. Mindfulness and concentration bring about happiness, solidity, understanding, and compassion. And this will nourish us and the other people around us. We can help those around us. Thay offers some examples of how this is practiced. Practicing is helping the sangha. 
There are those who have received the Five Trainings, and yet sometimes there are those who have not  received the trainings who may be more solid in their practice. We can learn from these students because their present in the sangha is a blessing too. It makes the sangha more beautiful and a better refuge. It’s not because of have received the Five Trainings that makes us more important. Anyone can be the teacher. Our teacher is a little bit everywhere. Signlessness. Not caught by the form. The same is true for the Order of Interbeing member - those without the brown jacket may be better practitioners than us. When we wear the brown jacket, we have to be more careful and embody the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. Our real value, as members of the Order of Interbeing, is how we practice these trainings. In order to do this, we have to be solid in our daily practice and see our teacher in others. As members of the Order, we have a duty of setting up a sangha. We have to do the work of sangha building. The sangha is protecting and supporting us. So, whether you have received the Five Trainings or not, whether you have received the Fourteen Trainings or not, whether you have received the Ten Novice Precepts - we need a sangha. 
Daily Practice worksheet - there is a column for each day. And in the evening before you go to sleep, we can evaluate our practice. We start with waking up - when you woke up, did you practice? Were you aware and present with waking up. In the teaching, we continue through the other parts of the day where we can enjoy and practice in each moment - putting on your shoes, folding your blanket, opening and closing the door, etc. There are also verses (Gathas) of practices. 
During this retreat, we have been learning about how to take care of our body and our feelings through the Exercises on Mindful Breathing proposed by the Buddha. We are learning how to handle our feelings,

Sep 30 2018

1hr 14mins

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Practicing in the Present Moment

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The monastic and lay community are practicing together during the 2004 Rainy Season Retreat from January 4 to March 14 at Deer Park Monastery. This 95-minute event took place outdoors at San Dieguito County Park, Solana Beach in the afternoon of Saturday, January 31, 2004. Because the event is outdoors, there is some wind noise on the microphone from time to time. Both audio and video versions are available with this post.
00:00:00 Slideshow of Alms Round (music)
00:01:51 Chanting
00:10:15 Introductory Words from Thay on Asking Questions
Are we supposed to spend all our time in the here and now?How to help someone get rid of the anger?How do we practice to do the right thing, even when it is difficult?How do we practice when someone we love dies? Can there ever be a positive benefit to anger?How do we keep a balance with the practice and personal fulfillment, especially in professional efforts?How do I forgive myself? Sometimes I have difficulty in believing in myself; how do I believe in myself?My son wants to marry a Catholic and I want him to be in front of our ancestors first; what can I do?What do you think of humans living in this place and time; the wrong frequency?
00:19:25 Dharma Talk in Response to the Questions
The past is already gone, and the future is not yet here. There is only the present moment. Being in the present moment doesn’t mean you can’t learn from the past nor that you can’t make plans for the future. We can be grounded in the present moment and not get lost in the past or the future. The past can even be the object of your practice in the present moment. 
Suppose you have anger at your grandmother, in the past, and she is no longer alive today. But if you practice deeply you can see she is still alive inside of you - in every cell of your body. Nothing is lost. We can practice to heal our suffering and out anger. 
Understanding and compassion are the answer to our anger. Where does anger come from? It arises from the things we consume. We can practice mindful consumption to protect ourselves and our families from anger. This is the first thing to do when practicing when anger. The second second part is to work on transforming the anger that is already present inside of us. The fifth mindfulness training can help us practice with consumption. 
It is important to not suppress our anger; this can be very dangerous. We use the energy of mindfulness to recognize and embrace our anger. This is much safer. Then we can learn to use loving speech to better express our feelings. Thay shares how to go about skillfully responding to another person with whom we are angry. Some think the energy of anger is a powerful tool, but this can be dangerous. 
00:58:19 You might think your practice of meditation might contradict your eagerness to succeed in your career. How to practice and succeed in your business? These can come together perfectly. Business leaders suffer like any other person. And if they suffer less, they can succeed more in their business. Career does not need to be an obstacle for your practice. There are ways to practice in order to have time for your families, your practice, and your business and career. Thay shares a story of offering a retreat for members of congress and some methods for practicing mindfulness in the work environment — mindful walking and mindful breathing. Taking care of yourself is taking care of your career. Mindfulness brings about understanding and compassion. Happiness is possible only when we have good communication, mutual understanding. Employees should be taken care of in the same way we take care of our families. 
Practicing with our grief. Our true nature is the nature of no-birth and no-death. Illustrated by a cloud in the sky. 
The last story of the dharma talk is one of a Vietnam veteran who attended a retreat in the 90s and shared about having killed some children during the war. The transformation of the veteran can also be th...

Sep 16 2018

1hr 35mins

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Practice Means Enjoyment

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The monastic and lay community are practicing together during the 2004 Rainy Season Retreat from January 4 to March 14 at Deer Park Monastery. This 76-minute dharma talk in the Ocean of Peace Meditation Hall takes place on Wednesday, January 28, 2004. Both audio and video versions are available with this post.
Today we have a session of questions and answers from the retreat attendees. 
A question of a dream and a sacred story. Practice means enjoyment. This is a question from an author of children’s books. How do we practice to remain in the pure land? How do we cultivate our merits? This was a question from Sister Dang Nghiem asking about remaining in the community as a monastic. What can we offer as monastics? Thay teaches on three kinds of offering - money, dharma, and non-fear - and the four kinds of pleasures. A question about sangha-building, conflict, and not escaping into our lives. Where does individual practice intersect with sangha practice? Can there be harmony in the sangha when there isn’t harmony in the sangha? Thay shares briefly on the seven steps of reconciliation and how the lay students can use the vinaya to build lay sangha. A mindfulness practice center is inside.  A question about negativity. As a person who works with children and adults with very severe disabilities.  They often have very negative things to say based on their life experiences. As I write a book about their experience, do I share of these negative aspects?A question about action - my role and contribution in the world to reduce suffering, particularly in social justice action.
If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.
https://youtu.be/Q6KTlj_U_S0

Sep 02 2018

1hr 17mins

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Exercises on Mindful Breathing

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The monastic community is practicing during the Rainy Season Retreat from January 4 to March 14 at Deer Park Monastery with the lay community. This 83-minute dharma talk in the Ocean of Peace Meditation Hall takes place on Sunday, January 18, 2004 at the beginning of the third week. Both audio and video versions are available with this post.
It takes about 5-minutes to work through some technical difficulties before the dharma talk begins. During that time Thay reflects on a few small things like the freshness of the air in Deer Park and the upcoming Year of the Monkey. The monkey is in the mind. Our practice is not to force the monkey to stop, but to become aware of the movement of the mind. We don’t try to suppress our mind. 
Last time we spoke about how to become fully present and fully alive. The practice is so easy that it would be a pity if you don’t do it. The power and energy of mindfulness is available because we all have the seed of mindfulness in our consciousness. If we keep the energy of mindfulness, concentration, and insight then we are good continuations of the Buddha. But we also live in forgetfulness and we can transform this with the flower of mindfulness. Garbage and flowers. We are like organic gardeners that can produce the flowers of peace and happiness. Our happiness arises from elements of affliction and we don’t need to be afraid of the garbage. We don’t need to run away from our pain and sorrow. 
Mindful Breathing Exercises
The Buddha offered very simple and effective methods of practice. We can master these methods and we can no longer be afraid of sickness, fear, despair, or even death. In the Sutra on Mindful Breathing, the first exercise is simply breathing in and out. Simple identification and awareness. Thay offers several methods on how to follow our in breath and out breath. When mindfulness is there, then concentration is there too. Concentration is born from mindfulness. This first exercise proposed by the Buddha is so easy and so simple. It is for our enjoyment. It is a gift. And when we practice mindfulness, we are a Buddha. 
The second exercise is long and short. Following our breath all the way through. Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breath. Breathing in a short breath, I know I am breathing in a short breath. But the practice is not to try and make the breath longer or shorter. Don’t try to force your breath. Your breath is what it is. Simple, mere recognition. Just turn on the light of mindfulness and become aware of it. It is like the sunshine and the flower. Mindfulness is the sunshine and the energy will recognize and embrace the flower, our breath. The photons of the sunshine penetrate right into the flower and it opens. Our in-breath and out-breath are like a flower. In our practice of meditation, there are three elements: body, mind, and breath. They are interconnected with each other. These can become one, and all of them inherit from the energy of mindfulness and concentration brought about by mindful breathing. The second exercise suggests we enjoy our in-breath and out-breath all the way through from the beginning to the end. To follow your breath. 
The third exercise is awareness of the whole body. Breathing in, I am aware of my body. Breathing out, I am aware of my body. This is a practice of going home to your body and being present. We can reconcile with our body. Awareness is already enlightenment. We receive a short teaching on “formations.” The formation of our physical body. We are fully aware that our body fully is. To recognize our body as a formation. This practice can help to heal our body. Awareness and practicing with a smile. It’s yoga of the mouth. How do we practice this even if our mind and body are not aligned? We can smile to release all the tensions and relax the body. If you are a doctor or a therapist, you may want to explore more with the Sutra on Mindful Breathing.

Aug 19 2018

1hr 23mins

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Surrender Yourself to the Present Moment

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The monastic community is practicing during the Rainy Season Retreat from January 4 to March 14 at Deer Park Monastery with the lay community. This 55-minute dharma talk in the Ocean of Peace Meditation Hall takes place on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 during the second week. Both audio and video versions are available with this post.
https://youtu.be/N93IvR45D80
We begin with a reminder of the gatha we learned in the prior dharma talk. The gatha can be used when we are practicing sitting mediation, standing, walking, and lying down - the four positions of the body. We can listen to the music of our breathing in and breathing out. 
The Practice of Stopping
This is practice of stopping. This does just mean stopping the mind, but it also applies to our body. Because our body also has a habit of running; a feeling of restlessness in the body. And the body contains the mind along with the mind containing the body. Helping the body to stop is also helping the mind to stop. And this is why meditation includes the body. The Buddhist term for stopping is samatha.  We also need some insight, vipasyana, in order to truly stop. These are like two wings of a bird.
The first insight is to stop running. Being in a retreat environment is a good opportunity to learn how to stop. With our practice of walking, each step is a healer. We can totally surrender ourself to the present moment. To the power of healing that is inherent in our body. In the Plum Village tradition, we offer the practice of total and deep relaxation. We use the techniques of mindful breathing to allow our body to rest. We embrace our body with tenderness. This is a practice of love. Darling, I am home. Thay takes us through some parts of meditation on the body. We also learn some of the exercises found in the Sutra on Contemplation of the Body in the Body. This practice can be very pleasant and healing. 
Stopping means to be fully present. In the here and the now. And when you are fully present in the here and now, then you are present to being fully alive. And vipasyana is what helps us to see this. Another function of samatha is to recognize: to recognize what is happening in the present moment. When we are able to recognize, then the "blue sky" is always there. We come to Deer Park so that we can learn to practice stopping. 
If you appreciate this teaching, please consider making a donation to support the ongoing efforts of the online monastery. Please make a note with your donation that it was because of this talk.

Aug 12 2018

55mins

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Sitting and Walking in the Here and Now

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In early 2004, Thich Nhat Hanh and two hundred monastics came to Southern California to spend several months at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, California. The monastic community is practicing during the Rainy Season Retreat from January 4 to March 14 with the lay community. This 80-minute dharma talk takes place on Sunday, January 11, 2004 at the beginning of the second week. We are in the recently opened Ocean of Peace Meditation Hall. Both audio and video versions are available with this post.

https://youtu.be/O88cKbZu0E4

We begin with an overview of how to begin the day in the monastery — the bell, walking meditation, sitting meditation, and chanting. How much time should we allow for these activities? Do we need to wait to begin meditation? When you hear the bell announcing sitting meditation, you begin right away with your walking. What is our practice when we are walking? What is our practice when we arrive at the mediation hall? Thay shares and outlines the Plum Village practice.

What can the dharma teacher do to contribute to the practice? The dharma teachers have a responsibility to be present for the orientation. To help support those who have newly arrived. The dharma teachers can help assure that people practice in the practice center (so we don’t become a "non-practice" practice center!).

A reporter recently asked Thay, what happens after we die? The question is kind of a trap. What happens in the present moment? The answer to both these questions is the same. And if we can answer the second question, then there is no need to answer the previous question. What is our practice to be fully present in the here and now — to become a free person. And with our practice, we can then free our ancestors.

What is the role of the sangha in helping with your practice of sitting meditation? Practicing with the wonders of life in the practice center with the support of the sangha. Thay reflects on the meaning of the kingdom of God. Transforming our homes, sanghas, and practice centers into a pure land. A place of refuge where we can experience brotherhood and sisterhood. To enjoy deeply every moment of our daily life.

The practice of walking, sitting, and chanting is for the care of the present moment. It is not for the future. There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way. There is no way to enlightenment, enlightenment is the way. We don’t sit for anything and do not expect anything. Just be present in the here and now. That is good enough. Don’t be caught by the idea of the Buddha that is outside of you — you are already a Buddha.

Living and working in harmony with nature, plants and animals, at Deer Park Monastery. Even though we are many hundreds, we can walk in the pure land in harmony with nature. How do we practice walking meditation?
I have arrived.
I am home.
I am solid.
I am free.
In the ultimate I dwell.

Jul 29 2018

1hr 20mins

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A Beginners Mind for a Beautiful Future

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The Sangha is gathered together at Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi during the 2011 US Teaching Tour with the theme Cultivating the Mind of Love. This 115-minute dharma talk is from October 2, 2011 and both the audio and video are available with this post. This is the last day of Magnolia retreat and may be a little difficult if listeners have not heard the talks from the previous days (video playlist).

https://youtu.be/g_F_cxM9d5Q

The beginners mind. It is a source of energy. A willingness to practice. And to serve others. We are not afraid of obstacles in order to realize our dream and our intention. Siddhartha had this beginners mind, and we can too. The mind of love is the beginners kind. During this retreat has allowed this to arise in our heart. Do we know how to continue this mind?

In Buddhism, there are two kinds of truth: conventional and ultimate. Thay explains how it is similar to what we see in science. We can learn to understand the true nature of reality. When we come to the ultimate truth, we can leave behind our notions of birth and death, suffering and happiness, being and non-being, etc. How can we do this? We cannot be an observer, we must try to be a participant. The Buddha’s insight received under the bodhi tree was to be relieved of all fear. This cannot be learned from notions and concepts.

We learn of Right View, another element of the noble path. Thay tells a story of Katyayana, a student of the Buddha, asking about Right View. A teaching of no-birth, being and non-being, as illustrated by a cloud. Right View is being able to transcend all these notions: being and non-being, birth and death, left and right, above and below, subject and object, etc. All pairs of opposites. We cannot remove one without the other.

Story of a grain of salt wanting to know how salty is the ocean to illustrate the subject of cognition and object of cognition. Being a participant to truly understand.

Talking to a flame to illustrate this teaching of being and non-being.

Thay writes these pairs of opposites on the board: birth and death, being and nonbeing, coming and going, sameness and otherness. All these must be transcended to see the true face of reality.

A teaching on interbeing and four more notions - self, man, living beings, and life span. Thay explains each as outiined in the Diamond Sutra. This Sutra teaches us that humans are only made of non-human elements. This is one of the oldest teachings in deep ecology. The Buddha too is comprised of non-Buddha elements. This is why bowing to the Buddha is not worshiping, but is a meditation.

We have been talking of Right View and dualism. We turn now to three other elements of the noble eightfold path that arise from Right View. Right Thinking can help us remove all discrimination. It is thinking that can produce understanding and compassion. It can heal the world. From these two we can then practice Right Speech. To restore and reconcile. This element includes our ability for deep listening. And then we turn to Right Action. Anything we can do with our body to protect and save. These three are all forms of action, starting with our thoughts. Thinking is already action. And we produce each of these every day. The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said that man is the sum of his action. In Sanskrit, this is called karma. Everything we produce will continue us; it does not disappear. We are the author, and that is our continuation. If we can keep our beginners mind alive, surely we will have a beautiful future.

The other elements of the path, briefly outlined in this talk, are Right Livelihood, Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. This path can be seen very concretely in the Five Mindfulness Trainings. We also briefly learn of the Three Doors of Liberation — emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness — in light of the retreat’s teaching.

We talk concludes with a couple of songs led by Sr. Chan Không.

Jul 22 2018

1hr 55mins

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Calm | Ease Guided Meditation

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A great 37-minute guided meditation offered by Thay to help us cultivate calm, ease and joy. Find a comfortable place to sit and settle in with this recording.

Jun 16 2018

36mins

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Thank You

By brooklinerob - Jan 11 2019
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For the generous act of sharing these teachings they have brought me hours of calm and peace

A must for a fulfilled life.

By Boundaried - Nov 15 2017
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Slows you down and opens up the world with a new set of eyes.