Listen to all the recent Dharma Talks and Question & Answer sessions in the Plum Village Tradition
“Now We Have a Path”: Plum Village Dharma Seals (40 Years Retreat #1) — Sr Chân Đức
Do you feel you have found a path that helps you to live with freedom, and without fear? How can we learn to see such a path clearly in every moment, and develop a confidence in it that is unshakeable?
In this retreat we celebrate 40 Years of Plum Village, with the theme “Now We Have a Path: We Have Nothing More to Fear”. In this first talk of the retreat, respected elder Sister Chan Duc tells us that faith in our path is a kind of power, if this faith is not only belief but a deep confidence born from our experience and understanding of the path. She offers us eight English words which our teacher Thay (zen master Thich Nhat Hanh) used to sum up the Plum Village path of practice. These words are the first two of the Four Plum Village “Dharma Seals”, or marks of authenticity, and if we practice them well, we will realize the essence of the third and fourth Seals as well.
In 2004, Thay offered this summary of the Plum Village practice: “Arrived, at home. Go as a river: sangha-body”. To practice “I have arrived, I am at home” means to dwell happily in the present moment. The practices of mindful breathing, walking, eating, and working can all support us as we learn to arrive in every moment, in any place or circumstance: even when we suffer, if we can stay “at home” with that suffering, we still have freedom. To “go as a river” means to learn in live in harmony with our spiritual community. It requires training to be able to live as a cell in the “sangha body”, nourishing and being nourished by that body. Sr Chan Duc tells us that the life’s work of Thay and the Buddha has been to build sangha, because they know it is only through the sangha that they are able to continue far and beautifully into the future. When difficulty arises, we stick with our sangha. We learn to embrace that difficulty and to look deeply together in order to transform it and to continue flowing as one river.
Practicing these first two Plum Village Dharma Seals, we are also able to realize the third and the fourth. The third Seal is that “the times and truths inter-are”. Because the past, present, and future inter-are, we can live in the present in a way that shines light on the past and future yet are not caught in or burdened by either. We can live with freedom in the world of “conventional truth” by being in touch with the “ultimate truth”, the Middle Way that goes beyond concepts and extreme views. When we see clearly the nature our suffering (the first Noble Truth), we can also see that in this very moment it already contains not only its roots but also the path that leads to liberation from it (the second, third, and fourth Noble Truths).
The fourth Dharma Seal is “Ripening, moment-by-moment”. This means that we do not have to wait until we die for our karma, our actions of body, speech, and mind, to ripen; and that this ripening does not require a permanent and separate self. Our body and consciousness are in continual transformation, arising in every moment due to innumerable causes and conditions. These causes and conditions include our actions of body, speech, and mind. By learning to direct these actions along the path of understanding and love, we can overcome fear and learn to live in happiness, safety, and freedom.
Invoking the Bodhisattvas’ Names — Sr Từ Nghiêm
The word Bodhisattva means “awakened being”. In the text Invoking the Bodhisatva’s Names, written by Thich Nhat Hanh, 5 Bodhisattvas are mentioned who represent qualities we can all uncover in ourselves. In this talk, Sister Tu Nghiem offers us an explanation of this text.
You can find the text here. The Plum Village Chanting Book is available here.
The Discourse on Youth and Happiness — Br Pháp Hữu
This talk, the first in our Rains Retreat, was offered by Brother Phap Huu from the New Hamlet of Plum Village, France.
The Spirit of a Rains Retreat — Br Pháp Hữu
Brother Phap Huu introduces the 2021 Rains Retreat: Gems of the Plum Village Tradition.
An Offering of the Heart: Transmission, Continuation, Aspiration — Sr Đào Nghiêm
What are we made of? What do we transmit to the future, and to the world? How do we connect to our ancestors, understand them, and see how we continue them? How can we practice, so that our practice is an “offering of the heart”?
Sister Đào Nghiêm offers this is rich and personal Dharma talk in memory of her father, for the anniversary of his passing. She shares how we can understand our ancestors, and what they have transmitted to us. This understanding will help us to accept what we have received, to see that it is not truly “us”, not “ours”. She leads us in a guided meditation to helps us see what we, in turn, transmit to the future: “My actions are my true continuation”.
Each moment, each step taken in mindfulness, peace, and joy, are a gift we offer in every direction. When we see each moment in the light of impermanence, recognizing the contribution of our actions, we will find it easier to be patient. We will see more clearly our aspiration; what we want to transmit to the future. Seeing this can help us identify the true motivation behind each action, and find the determination and insight to transform our habits. Seeing clearly all we have received, and what we truly want to transmit, our practice becomes an “Offering of the Heart”.
This talk includes a poem by the beloved Irish poet John O’Donohue (“A Morning Offering”, 0:12:43:00), followed by a song from our monastic brothersd and sisters (“Watering Seeds of Joy”).
Can meditation be harmful? — Br Phap Linh — Plum Village France
What *is* meditation, or mindfulness? Can it be used as a panic room? What is its purpose? What do we need to know to practice it safely and successfully?
In this sincere and tender dharma talk from December 2020, Br. Phap Linh (“Brother Spirit”) shares that the practice of meditation has to do with how we relate to the real suffering we face every day in ourselves and in the world. He describes honestly some of the challenges and questions we may face along that path, and emphasizes the importance of finding spiritual friends and spiritual community with whom to share our life and our practice. This makes the practice more joyful, and helps us to support each other and overcome even the greatest difficulties along the way.