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.
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.
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 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.