This 59-minute talk was given on May 13, 2004 in New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The talk was given between retreats to the monastic community and a small number of lay residents and guests.
Thank you to Chân Phúc H?i for writing the summary and providing a time-stamped transcript.
Thay begins this talk with a description of the concept of Apranihita or aimlessness. Our tendency is to be constantly running, constantly searching. We need to stop and reestablish ourselves in the here and now.Walking meditation is a wonderful way to learn how to stop. Can we walk with freedom and happiness?The Buddha said it was possible to live happily in the here and now. In the sutra given to the White Clad People (Upasaka Sutra) “live happily in the here and now” occurs five times.The first time our planet was seen from space we were made aware of what a beautiful and precious place the Earth is. The Earth is the bastion of life. It is a real paradise. The pure land is right here. What are you searching for? Are you looking for love, for freedom, for understanding? We need to get in touch with the wonders of life. Our practice is to get in touch. Mindfulness is a very concrete way to go home to the here and now.Having a sangha is of great benefit. In a sangha we remind each other that it is fortunate to be alive. If we know how to stop running, how to take care of ourselves, how to water seeds of happiness every day, we can transform our suffering. Doing this together is wonderful.Thay tells a story about visiting a prison. Even in prison a person can be free. And even outside of prison a person can be a prisoner of anger, despair, and hate. Freedom is freedom from fear, from anger, from forgetfulness. And our practice is the practice of freedom. Our practice is the practice of awakening.The twenty-four brand new hours given to us every morning are a precious gift. The day when we lay down to die we cannot bargain for another day. Today is available, and if we are lucky, tomorrow will also be available.