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This is the Dharma talk of Thay from the New Hamlet, offered on Sunday, Jan 8th, 2012, during the Winter Retreat. Thay speaks in Vietnamese on the left ear phone, with the English translation by Sister Chan Khong on the right ear phone. Thay covers verses 29-33 of the Paramartha Gatha of Asanga's Yogacarabhumi Sastra.
This is the Dharma talk of Thay from the Applied Ethics and Teachers Retreat, offered on Wednesday, January 4th, 2012, in the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village. Thay begins sharing about the first eight steps of the Sutra on Mindful Breathing, then continues to share about the practices of loving speech and deep listening. He also shares the practice of how to die happily.
This is the sharing offered by Sister Hoi Nghiem and Thay Phap Dung during the Teachers and Applied Ethics Retreat in the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, on Tuesday January 3rd, 2012. Sister Hoi Nghiem shares about her experience as a teacher in Vietnam, and Thay Phap Dung shares about his experience dealing with his relationships with his parents and friends as a young man growing up in Los Angeles.
"Our intention for this retreat is to get the teachers here to learn to take care of yourself. Hopefully you will remain a teacher, because we need more happy teachers. Do what ever you need to do to trick the school. Don't say mindfulness, don't say meditation. Be happy. Happiness is contagious. Know how to be happy and know how to tend to your suffering. It sounds complicated. I didn't become a monk to become a Buddhist--sorry, brothers and sisters!. I came because Thay taught me how to deal with my emotions. That's all we do here. It's nothing very complicated. If you stay here long you'll see. You'll see we have suffering, we have difficulties. We have brothers and sisters that want to leave here--can you believe that? And you all want to come here and stay here a long time!"
"Know your mind, know your history, as a farmer knows the season and the earth. This is what is constantly on my mind in the community. We need to sit, stop, and look at it. We all have that one person we're avoiding--it may even be ourself."
This is the talk of Thay on New Year's Eve 2011. From Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, France.
This is the Dharma talk of Thay offered in the New Hamlet of Plum Village on Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, during the Winter Retreat 2011-12. Thay speaks in French, to listen to the English translation, listen to the right earphone. Thay teaches on the Noble Eightfold Path, and how concrete practices can help us to cultivate this path. "Thought can make us suffer; we need to be able to stop our thinking in order to be capable of happiness. If we look at the sun but cannot get deeply in touch with it in the present moment, we only see suffering, we cannot see all the conditions of happiness that are already present. If you can see all thoughts just as notions, you can penetrate the reality of no-birth and no-death." Thay teaches about the three practices of concentration present in all Buddhist traditions: emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness. He also teaches on the nature of karma (body, speech, and mind) and the four practices of Right Diligence.
This is the Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24th, 2012, during the Winter Retreat 2011-12.
Thay speaks about the practice of mindfulness and how it can bring us back to our true home. "The practice offered by Plum Village is to go home at every moment, wherever you find yourself. Breathe, and you find yourself alive. Breathe, and you are already home, in the here and the now. That is the basic practice; and many of us have succeeded in that practice. When you have become a home for yourself, you become a home for other people at the same time."
Thay shares how the Earth is a Bodhisattva. "Every time we feel alone, alienated, we can practice touching the Earth: a practice we learn in Plum Village. We are the Earth's children, and we need to see her in us and us in her. When we get sick, we need to go back to her. We need to come back and realize that we have a body. If we can connect with our body, we are alive again. When we connect with our body, we connect with Mother Earth, and healing is possible. Your healing must go together with the healing of the planet. The Earth is not the environment; the Earth is us."
Thay continues to share about vertical and horizontal theology, and the influence of Albert Einstein on Paul Tillich. "Einstein admired how the cosmos is arranged, but he could not believe that God is a person. Tillich agreed with that. We tend to see things from our human point of view: we want to personalize everything--the Sun is a god, the Moon is a god." "When I do walking meditation, I don't see the Earth as just matter. It is not that consciousness is separate from matter. It is possible to transcend the dual-grasping of concepts of 'body' and 'mind'. I am not caught in that dualistic view. I do not see a deity in the Earth. To me, an atom or an electron is very intelligent. It is no less with consciousness. Dead matter cannot give birth to Buddhas, bodhisattvas, saints, and many wonderful things."
"To the question: Is God a person? The answer is 'yes', God can be a person, God can be a cloud, God can be a flower. By realizing this we can make peace with everything in the historical dimension."
This is the talk of Thay from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village, given on Sunday, December 18, 2011, during the Winter Retreat 2011-12. Thay begins by suggesting a change in the way we chant the bodhisattvas' names when sending energy to those who suffer, and then shares about cultivating Dharma happiness (phap lac) in everything we do. He continues teaching on the Paramartha Verses from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra of Asanga, covering verses 21-25. English translation is in the right channel or earphone.
This is the Dharma talk of Thay from New Hamlet on the 15th of December, 2011, during the Winter Retreat 2011-12. Thay continues teaching on the Paramarthah Gathas of Asanga's Yogacarabhumi, particularly focusing on the verses dealing with the ephemeral nature of all things we think of as ourselves. Note: to listen only to the English translation, listen only to the right earphone or adjust the balance on your computer to the right.
This is the talk of Thay given on Sunday, Dec. 11th, 2011 in the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village during the Winter Retreat 2011-12. Thay shares about the practice of getting deeply in touch with Mother Earth.
This is the talk of Thay from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village, France, given on Thursday December 8th, 2011, during the Winter Retreat 2011-12. Thay shares about the practice of happiness while sitting, and then continues to share about the verses of study for the Winter Retreat: the Paramartha Gathas of Asanga from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra. He shares in particular about the 12 Links of Interdependent Origination as a new theory of knowledge, or epistemology. When we look at them deeply we see there is no subjective observer; we are participants in what we observe. Without this insight we fall into the wrong perception that body and mind are separate.
'This is the talk of Thay from the Winter Retreat 2011-12, given on Sunday, December 4th, 2011, in the New Hamlet of Plum Village. Thay shares about the practice of sitting meditation, beginning with the practice of listing to the Morning and Evening Chants. Thay talks about the traditional way of offering the chants in Sino-Vietnamese. He tells the story of sitting all night in meditation with Ananda and a group of new bhikshus, and about his life as a novice where there were no toilets in the temple. Having toilets to clean can be a source of great happiness. Thay then continues the teaching on the Yogacarabhumi Sastra, Verses 9-12 of the Paramartha Gathas of Asanga.'
'This is the talk of Thay given on Thursday, December 1st, 2011, in the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village during the Winter Retreat 2011-12. Thay shares about truly being present when we touch the Earth while practicing walking meditation, about not getting caught in a dualistic view of nature and the Earth. The Earth has many good qualities: solidity, endurance, and the capacity to embrace all things. When we feel lost we can go back to our mother, the Earth. When can call her Bodhisattva Gaia. The sun is like Vairocana Tathagata. Aware of the Earth and Sun like that, every step is nourishing, every step is healing. Thay then continues his teaching on the Yogacarabhumi Sastra, explaining Verse 6-9 of the Paramartha Gathas.'
This is the second talk offered by Thay in the Winter Retreat 2011-12, given on November 27th, 2011 in the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village, France. Thay shares hows to practice when entering the meditation hall for sitting meditation: quietly, stopping our thinking, and at peace. "We want to express our love for the Earth, so we have to walk mindfully, with gratitude." He also continues sharing on the Paramartha Gathas from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra of Asanga. "Yoga means coming together appropriately." He teaches how subject and object cannot be separated. "Don't think there is a subject outside of the object. That is wrong thinking. They manifest together, like left and right. Without the left there is no right, and vice versa." "Self (我) has various meanings: 1) owner, 2) actor, 3) inheritor. We should understand correctly: There is rain, but there is nothing that rains. There is blowing, but nothing blowing. There is feeling, but there is no one feeling."
This is the first talk of the Winter Retreat 2011-12, offered by Thay in the New Hamlet of Plum Village on Thursday, November 24th, 2011. Thay begins by talking about the importance of putting into practice what we learn when we study about Buddhism. When we share the Dharma it should come from a place of happiness. Some people, including monastics, can give very good Dharma talks on I have arrived, I am home, but they are not truly happy. He then begins study of the Paramartha Gathas, from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra of Asanga. The first verse: There is absolutely no subject, no agent and no one who enjoys the fruit of action. No dharma has any effect. Nonetheless, the passing on of one effect to another does take place. Thay shares about physics in the light of this teaching: What is the electron made of? All things are composite. There are many things that come together to make everything. When we look skillfully we see only action: we dont see any owner, actor or inheritor.
This is the talk of Thay offered on the last Day of Mindfulness of the Fall Retreat 2011 in the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village. Thay shares some guiding practices for the community to follow during the upcoming Winter Retreat: touching the Earth, sitting meditation, realizing the practice in all activities, etc.
This the Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Day of Mindfulness at New Hamlet, Plum Village, on Sunday, November 13th, 2011, the first one offered after returning from the US Tour. Thay shares about the practice of sitting meditation, and about the beauty of what the Earth offers to us when we are able to overcome our human pride. You are very proud of your science, your math, but if you look at one petal of a flower you realize that you would have to be an extremely talented mathematician and artist to create such a thing. Human beings are very proud to be the heroic soldier who can do everything, but the Earth is also very powerful. It has created millions of species. Mother Earth offers us air to breathe, water to drink. We have to recognize the planet Earth as a wonderful mother who can host us, who can give us everything we need. In every speck of dust there are countless Buddhas. During walking meditation we can touch the Earth in us. We have to be realistic. Dont search for a bodhisattva in your imagination. It is there in every step.
This is the talk offered by Thay at the Library of Congress on Wednesday, October 28th, 2011.
'This is the final talk, offered by Thay on Monday, October 10th, 2011, in the Stepping into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, New York. Walking on the planet Earth is a wonder. The Zen Master Lin Chi said the miracle is to walk on earth. Like Neil Armstrong on the moon, we should be mindful of each step. Happiness should be possible with each step. Thay continues to share about the Three Doors of Liberation (emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness) and the four signs, from the Diamond Sutra, in which we may get caught: the concept of a self, of man, of living beings, and of a lifespan.'
This is the question and answer session offered by Thay on Sunday, October 9th, 2011, in the Stepping into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery. Thay answers questions of the children first, followed by teenagers, young adults, and others. Some of the questions: What do you do when you get so upset that you just want to hit? How do you control that? Do you ever feel frustrated with yourself? I want to be in the here and the now: how can I not suffer when people are not being good to this world? How old were you when you decided to become a monk, and what are some of the big commitments you have to make if you want to become a monk? How do I deal with negative energy? What does it really mean to go home to yourself? Can we know that the consciousness of our loved ones is still with us? Can they hear us? In many of the world's religions of today, if you follow their teachings your sins are washed away. I'm taking the Five Mindfulness Trainings tomorrow morning. Will my negative actions be wiped away? What can I do when I compare myself to Thay and feel unworthy in what I do? I teach karate, and if someone or something attacked you or one of the monastics, I would stop them and may have to kill them. How can I reconcile this with the 14 Mindfulness Trainings?
This is the first talk, given by Thay on Thursday October 6th, 2011, in the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat in Blue Cliff Monastery, Pine Bush, New York. Thay begins by sharing about how we can be truly present for our loved ones. You can look into the eyes of the other person and say, Darling, I am here for you. That is the first mantra. And it works! When you say it, you and she will be happy right away. And you dont have to practice it in Sanskrit or Chinese, you can say it in English. Thay continues by teaching the first few steps of mindfulness of breathing. He then goes into the teaching on store consciousness and mind consciousness. The contents of store consciousness are seeds. In nuclear physics they speak of matter being made of subatomic particles; in Buddhist psychology we say that consciousness is made up of bijas, seeds. Very tiny--you cannot see them. We have a seed of mindfulness, and if we are a good practitioner, the seed of mindfulness grows everyday. Then, when we need mindfulness, it is available, right away. We also have a seed of anger, in store consciousness. And when someone comes and says something or does something that touches off the seed of anger in us, it manifests in mind consciousness as a mental formation.
This is the orientation given on Wednesday, Oct. 5th, 2011, offered by Thay during the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery, Pine Bush, NY. Its too late to go to the kingdom, if you wait until this body disintegrates. You dont have to die to go to the kingdom. In fact, you have to be very alive. And that can be possible when breathing in mindfully and breathing out mindfully. So breathing and walking meditation is to enjoy the Kingdom of God with every step. After an initial introduction, Thay hands over the orientation to Brother Phap Khoi and Sister Thoai Nghiem.
'This is the final Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Together We Are One Retreat at Deer Park Monastery on the North American Tour, on September 11th, 2011. Thay shares compassion, love, and great understanding: Understanding of suffering allows compassion to arise, and the energy of compassion can be very healing. You feel much better after having understood your own suffering. And your own suffering reflects somehow the suffering of the world. That is why once you have understood your own suffering, it is much easier and easier to understand his suffering, her suffering. And when you are able to see the suffering in him and in her you're no longer angry. He goes on to share about right view and how it can free us from notions of being and non-being. If God is the ultimate He transcends both the notion of being and non-being. You cannot talk about the birth of God or the death of God. You cannot talk about the being of God or the nonbeing of God. Notions such as birth and death, being and non-being, coming and going, cannot be ascribed to God. In fact it cannot be ascribed to the flame or to the cloud. The true nature of things is the nature of no-birth and no-death, no coming no going, no being and no non-being. He finishes the talk discussing what is right action.'
'This is the third Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Together We Are One Retreat at Deer Park Monastery on the North American Tour, given on Friday, September 9th, 2011. Thay shares with us about the nature of God and the nature of the Buddha, and how the we can find the Buddha-nature in everyone. He continues to share about the project of the Beloved Community started by Martin Luther King, Jr., and specifically the history of how Thay left Vietnam, was exiled, and met Dr. King. Everyone of us can make a step mindfully, everyone of us can look mindfully and recognize the beauty of life. If we can recognize the beauty of the Dharma, we can recognize the Kingdom of God--we get in touch with the Kingdom of God. We don't have to look anywhere outside, anywhere else.... You are the Buddha. You are the Dharma. You are the Sangha. Thay continues to share about store consciousness and mind consciousness, and specifically how they relate to the Four Noble Truths: 1) suffering, 2) the making of suffering, 3) it is possible to transform suffering into happiness, 4) the path to happiness. When you bow to the Buddha, you don't view the Buddha as an entity wholly separate from you. I am in you, and you are in me. There is no longer any complex. That is the wisdom of non-discrimination: nirvikalpajnana.'
'This is the second Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Together We Are One Retreat at Deer Park Monastery on the North American Tour, given on Thursday, September 8th, 2011. Thay shares with us the about the practice of looking deeply into the river of the mind, using the exercises from the Mindfulness of Breathing Sutra. As a practitioner we know how to practice selective watering of the seeds in our consciousness. Life is impossible without impermanence. Without impermanence a grain of corn can never become a plant of corn, and your little baby can never become a little girl. So impermanence is the nature of things. Your love is also impermanent. If you do not know how to take care of your love, your love will die. Things are impermanent; because we believe things to be impermanent we suffer. We can use impermanence to get out of anger. To get out of your anger, you can close your eyes and visualize the other person in 300 years. What will they become? Ash. And you too. It may take only 3-5 seconds for you to touch impermanence. That way you can see that it is not wise to let anger overwhelm you like that. Thay finishes the talk with the teaching on the Three Doors of Liberation: 1) emptiness, 2) signlessness, 3) aimlessness.'
'This is the second Dharma talk offered by Thay to the children in the Together We Are One Retreat at Deer Park Monastery on Thursday, September 8th, 2011. Thay speaks about how we are the continuation of our parents, using the example of a seed of corn that grows up to become a plant of corn. When you practice mindful breathing, we can invite our mother inside of us to practice breathing as well. Our father also.'
'This is the Dharma talk offered by Thay in the first talk of the Together We Are One Retreat at Deer Park Monastery on the North American Tour, given on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011. Thay shares with us the about the practice of mindfulness of breathing. It is always true that mindfulness and concentration bring insight; and insight is something that can liberate us. We do not practice like a machine: we are alive. We are not caught in the form of the practice. That is why every moment we experience nourishment and healing. He goes on to talk about the four practices of right diligence: 1) recognize the negative seeds and make sure they don't come up, 2) if a negative seed has already come up, embrace the formation and invite it to go back down, 3) invite good seeds to come up, 4) maintain the good mental formations for a long time. He also discusses in detail how we can embrace our difficult mental formations just like a mother embraces her crying baby.'
'This is the Dharma talk offered by Thay to the children in the first talk of the Together We Are One Retreat at Deer Park Monastery on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011. Thay shares with the children the practice of inviting the bell to sound, breathing and reciting the gatha beforehand in order to become fully concentrated. If you want to be a bellmaster you have to train yourself. You have to learn.'
'This is the Dharma talk offered by Thay in the first Day of Mindfulness at Deer Park Monastery on the North American Tour, given on Sunday, September 4th, 2011. Thay shares with us the about the nature of bread, that contains the whole cosmos: the Buddha, Jesus, all things are in the bread. You don't need to think, there is just awareness. Awareness and insight, but no thinking. No thinking is the secret. We can eat every morsel of our lunch in that way. He continues to share about the story of the young couple in the Sutra on the Son's Flesh who decide to move to another country with their son. Faced with starvation in the desert, they decide to kill their little boy and eat his flesh, crying and beating their chests as they do so. After the Buddha told this story to the monks, he turned to them and said, 'Dear friends, do you think the parents enjoyed eating the flesh of their own son?' 'No, it is impossible that they could enjoy it.' The Buddha said, 'Let us eat in such a way that we preserve our compassion and mindfulness, otherwise when we eat it is like we are eating the flesh of our own son.' We should be the aware that many of the items that we consume, with the eyes, the ear, the body, the mind, can be very toxic. A television program, an article, may be full of anger, hate and violence. If we allow our children to consume these items, the toxins will go into their consciousness. Even conversations can sometimes be very toxic.'
'This is the Dharma talk offered by Thay to the children in the first Day of Mindfulness at Deer Park Monastery on the North American Tour, given on Sunday, September 4th, 2011. Thay shares with us the 2 of the 4 mantras: 1) I am here for you, 2) I know you are there, and I am happy. He also suggests that each home have a breathing room, where we can go to to practice breathing and to restore peace.'
'This is the fourth and final Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Body and Mind Are One Retreat, given at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado, on Sunday, August 24th, 2011. Thay speaks about the lack of subject and object in our experience of reality. In breathing and sitting, there is no breather or sitter. There is just the breathing, there is just the sitting. When you say 'The wind blows', it is very funny. If it does not blow, how can it be the wind? It is like saying 'The rain is raining.' If it is not raining, how can it be rain? The same is true for thinking. The thinker and the thought---they are not separate things; they are one. Thay introduces and shares about The Sutra on the Son's Flesh, to point out the nature of nutriment. He continues on to discuss the three kinds of concentration: emptiness, signlessness and aimlessness.'
'This is the third Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Body and Mind Are One Retreat, given at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado, on Monday, August 22nd, 2011. Thay shares with us the 4th mantra - Darling, I suffer and I want you to know. I'm doing the best I can. Please help. We don't let others know about our suffering, or let them help us, because of our pride, because of our anger. A practitioner knows that when anger arises they should take good care of themselves and their anger with mindful breathing until their anger calms and they can see into the wrong perception behind their anger. Thay then shares about the 11th and 12th exercises of mindful breathing - 11) concentrating the mind and 12) liberating the mind. There are many objects of concentration but three are found throughout Buddhism - emptiness (sunyata), signlessness (animitta), and aimlessness (apranihita). These are also called the three doors of liberation. In the Sutra on Mindful Breathing, we are given four other objects of concentration - impermanence, non-craving, cessation, and letting go. We use these concentrations to free ourselves from the notions of being and non-being, birth and death, coming and going, sameness and otherness, and the four notions of self, man/human, living beings, and lifespan that the Diamond Sutra recommends that we remove. Freeing ourselves from these notions we are able to touch reality, to touch nirvana and realize our true nature - the nature of no-birth and no-death.'
'This is the third children's Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Body and Mind are One Retreat, given at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado, on Monday, August 22nd, 2011. Thay speaks about how to play in such a way that we maintain our joy and happiness during the whole time of playing, not letting anger overcome us. If we play and we are angry we always lose. Learn to play in such a way that neither the winner nor the loser suffer. That is the highest way of playing.'
'This is the second Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Body and Mind Are One Retreat, given at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado, on Sunday, August 21st, 2011. Thay speaks about touching the Kingdom of God, the Pure Land of the Buddha, right in the present moment. I have arrived, I am home: this is the shortest Dharma talk. Thay advises us, when we share, to not only share about our suffering but also to share our joy and our happiness. We need not only people with suffering to come on a retreat, we also need people with lots of joy, so they can help those who are suffering. Thay continues with the Sutra on Mindfulness of Breathing, with a recap of yesterday's teaching and continuing on with the 7th and 8th steps: becoming aware of a painful feeling or emotion and embracing it. The following steps are: 9) aware of mental formations, 10) gladdening the mind, 11) concentrating the mind, 12) liberating the mind. Thay shares about the practice of right diligence: not touching the negative seeds, making sure any negative formations go back down to store consciousness, watering the good seeds, and keeping the good mental formations manifesting as long as possible.'
'This is the second children's Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Body and Mind are One Retreat, given at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado, on Sunday, August 21st, 2011. Thay speaks about how we are the continuation of our parents, using the example of a seed of corn that cannot remember, once it is a plant, that it was once a seed. When you practice mindful breathing, we can invite our mother inside of us to practice breathing as well. Our father also.'
'This is the first Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Body and Mind Are One Retreat, given at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado, on Saturday, August 13th, 2011. Thay speaks about the term sahabhu, which he defines as co-being or co-interbeing. In Buddhism we practice mindfulness and concentration. Mindfulness is to be aware of what is there, and we can choose the object of our mindfulness. We can be aware of a flower or a cloud, or of our in-breath. The energy of mindfulness brings with it the energy of concentration. When mindfulness and concentration are powerful we get a breakthrough, an insight---we understand the nature of what is there. Thay continues to share about the dual nature of birth and death: We are experiencing birth and death at every moment. Death is now, together with birth. They manifest together at the same time. You cannot say the above exists, and then the below later. The have to exist at the same time. Why are we afraid of dying? Wherever there is death there is life. We are not used to seeing things and thinking of things in term of interbeing. That is why fear and despair are born. Thay speaks about the nature of the body, the mind, and the environment. In neuroscience they ask whether consciousness is created by the brain; whether the brain and the mind are the same thing. How can something objective like the brain create something subjective like the mind. So there is the 'in' and the 'out'; scientists are still caught in dualistic thinking. The wisdom of non-discrimination can help scientists to get an insight more quickly. Thay dedicates the second section of the talk to the concrete practice of mindful breathing, including the first few steps of mindful breathing as delineated in the Mindfulness of Breathing Sutra. Thay reminds us to practice mindfulness and meditation correctly: Life is already full of suffering, why do you have to suffer more with Buddhist meditation?'
This is the first children's Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Body and Mind are One Retreat, given at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado, on Saturday, August 13th, 2011. Thay speaks about offering our true presence, the best gift, to our loved ones.
'This is the third Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Open Mind Open Heart Retreat, given in the War Memorial Gym of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, on Saturday, August 13th, 2011. Thay speaks about the steps in the practice of mindfulness of breathing: 1) aware of the in and out breath, 2) following the in and out breath, 3) aware of body, 4) releasing tension in the body, 5) recognizing joy, 6) recognizing happiness, 7) aware of painful feelings, 8) embracing painful feelings, 9) recognizing mental formations, 10) invigorating the mind, 11) concentrating the mind, 12) liberating the mind. Thay continues to share about the Three Doors of Liberation: 1) emptiness, 2) signlessness, 3) aimlessness. Emptiness does not mean non-existence. A glass can be empty or full of tea, but in order to be empty or full the glass needs to be there. So emptiness does not mean non-existence. This glass is empty of tea, but it is full of air. So it is helpful for us to ask, 'Empty of what?' To be empty is always to be empty of something. When we contemplate a flower like this, we see the flower is full of everything: the cloud, the sunshine, the Earth, time, space, the gardener---everything has come together to help the flower to manifest. Why do we say it is empty? It is empty of only one thing: a separate existence. A flower cannot be by herself alone. A flower is full of non-flower elements. It is clear that the flower has to be interbe with everything in the cosmos. She cannot be by herself alone. To be by oneself alone is impossible. So we begin to see the interdependence of everything. He uses the example of a match which requires the action of us striking it for a flame to manifest. In life we are the same: when we ask 'Where do we come from?' or 'Where are we going?' we see that we do not come from anywhere. When conditions come together sufficiently, I manifest. My nature is the nature of no coming and no going. When conditions are no longer sufficient, I just stop manifestation and wait for a chance to manifest again. My nature is no coming, no going.'
This is the Question and Answer Session offered by Thay in the Open Mind Open Heart Retreat, which took place in the War Memorial Gym of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, on Friday, August 12th, 2011. Thay answers questions first from the children, then from the young adults and the older practitioners: 1) How did Thay feel when he left his country? 2) Where did you learn to become mindful and to breathe? 3) Have you accomplished the highest level of Buddhism yet, and if you haven't, do you think you will? and will you play soccer with the kids today? 4) Do you believe you have reached the stage of enlightenment, and if not do you think you will at some stage in your life? 5) What was it like being on the Oprah Winfrey show? 6) What is the goal of Buddhism? 7) I sometimes find myself wallowing in self-doubt, and that keeps me from fully enjoying myself. Do you have any advice on how I can overcome my self-doubt? 8) I have a deep volition to practice, but I am very forgetful, and I lose connection with it. Among the many practices that Thay has given, what is the best way for me to connect with that volition? 9) I suffer a lot, and I realize it is part of the practice. I see that my suffering comes from a chronic illness that causes me a lot of physical pain, and also from my life as an activist. I feel at times a lot of despair about what is happening in the world around us. What advice would you have for those of us living with physical pain and despair in our care for the world? 10) For many years I have admired the way you treat children and have them be a part of the Sangha. I am wondering if you would talk with us about ways to bring the practices to the inner cities, practices like mindful breathing and walking that can help them have a better life? 11) I really feel that there is a shift in society from the ego and the intellect into the heart. Do you also feel this? Also, does what is happening in the environment reflect that shift?
'This is the third Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Open Mind Open Heart Retreat, given in the War Memorial Gym of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, on Thursday, August 11th, 2011. Thay speaks about Right Speech, the practice of speaking that goes in the direction of non-discrimination. It is an instrument we can use to restore communication. When you sit down to listen, you say, 'I listen like this with one purpose: to allow him or her to speak out and to suffer less.' He shares about the experiences of Israelis and Palestinians practicing together in Plum Village, and how they learn to listen deeply to one another. Thay continues through the Noble Eightfold Path, discussing Right Livelihood and then the four practices of Right Diligence: 1) refrain from watering negative seeds, 2) embracing negative seeds with mindfulness so they go back down (changing the peg), 3) inviting the good seeds to come up, 4) allowing the good seeds to stay a long time.'
'This is the second children's Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Open Mind Open Heart Retreat, given in the War Memorial Gym of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, on Thursday, August 11th, 2011. Thay speaks about giving children in Italy a grain of corn so they could go home to plant it. Their homework, when the seed grows into a plant of corn, is to look at the seedling and say: Dear plant of corn, do you remember the time when you were just a little seed? 'The plant says, Me, a tiny seed of corn? I don't believe it. We have to help the plant of corn to remember. Dear plant of corn, it is me who has planted the seed of corn in this spot, and I have watered it every day. And you have come from it. And the plant will remember that at one point in history it was a little seed. And you who are a practitioner, when you look at the plant of corn, you can see the grain of corn.' In the same way, we can see our father and mother in us at every moment.'
'This is the second Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Open Mind Open Heart Retreat, given in the War Memorial Gym of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, on Wednesday, August 10th, 2011. Thay speaks about the nature of life and death. We think that now is life, and death will be later. But in fact, left and right manifest together, above and below manifest at the same time... Death is happening right here in every moment. Why are we afraid of dying? He goes on to talk about the nature of happiness: If a father does not understand the suffering of his son, then it is impossible for that father to love and make his son happy. So understanding is very crucial to happiness. To love means to understand. Right view is non-discriminative thinking. In Buddhism, thinking is already action: by your thinking you can destroy the world, by your thinking you can save the world. Thay goes on to share about the relationship between the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths.'
'This is the first children's Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Open Mind Open Heart Retreat, given in the War Memorial Gym of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, on Wednesday, August 10th, 2011. Thay speaks about how to be truly present for our parents, and how to ask our parents to be truly present for us, using the four mantras. The first one: I am here for you. In order for the mantra to work, you have to be there. 'I am here' is not a declaration; it is a practice.' Sometimes your body is there, but your mind is not there: you are not really there. You may like to pat your father on the shoulder and ask, 'Is anybody home?' The second mantra: I know you are there, and I am happy. The third mantra: Darling, I know you suffer. That is why I am here for you.'
'This is the first Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Open Mind Open Heart Retreat, given in the War Memorial Gym of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, on Tuesday, August 9th, 2011. Thay speaks about the first few steps of the mindfulness of breathing sutra: 1) in/out breath, 2) follow the breath, 3) aware of body, 4) release tension in the body, 5) generate joy, 6) generate happiness, 7) recognize pain, 8) embrace pain. To support the cultivation of mindfulness, we should find a community of practice. Thay also shares about the Wake Up movement for young people. We have the conviction that parents and teachers have to master the practice, so that they can transmit it to their students and children. He also shares about a new program to bring Applied Ethics into schools through schoolteachers. After the talk, Thay Phap An introduces the European Institute of Applied Buddhism and Thay's Calligraphy Exhibition.'
This is the orientation offered by Thay in the Open Mind Open Heart Retreat, given in the War Memorial Gym of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, on Monday, August 8th, 2011. Thay speaks about the practices of breathing and walking meditation, and about how we can recognize the conditions for happiness that are already present in the here and the now.
This is the chant before the orientation offered by Thay in the Open Mind Open Heart Retreat, given in the War Memorial Gym of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, on Monday, August 8th, 2011. Thay describes, before the chant, how to put our attention while listening to the chant.
All talks from this retreat are available for viewing on the Understanding Our Mind Channel.
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All talks from this winter retreat have been archived at The Plum Village Winter Retreat 2010-11 Channel on Vimeo.