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2018 12 09 LH EN 11th 12th training of the OI br Pháp Lai

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    Good morning
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    dear Thay dear sangha, Today is the 9th,
    Sunday, the 9th of December, 2018.
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    We are in the Assembly of Stars
    meditation hall in Lower Hamlet,
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    and this is the last of the Dharma talks
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    before the end of our three month
    retreat together .
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    So I feel a special sense of
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    speaking to that.
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    Most of us have been here
    for the three month retreat together.
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    We've been
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    those of you who came
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    to Plum Village for three months
    have experienced
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    going through ups and downs.
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    And maybe,
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    some of the time you wondered,
    'Why did I come?'
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    I don't know. Excuse me.
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    It's a loud blow.
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    (Laughter)
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    Maybe you felt, 'Yeah, I'd be better off
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    in a cave somewhere'.
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    Maybe in the Pole, or somewhere,
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    in some mountain.
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    When we practice together,
    we really
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    have to meet each other,
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    and get along together.
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    If we don't get along together,
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    because we are living together 24/7,
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    it really shows up.
    It is difficult to stay calm and to enjoy.
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    So actually, a lot of the practice that
    you've been learning these three months
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    is how to live in harmony,
    how to get along.
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    How to practice loving speech,
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    but also you have to communicate
    when there is a difficulty,
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    but with loving speech.
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    How to let go
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    of your preference
    and maybe of your irritation.
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    How to see the other person
    is also suffering.
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    Maybe see that
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    try to understand them
    so you can let go of judgment.
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    And we have practices, like Beginning Anew
    that we do regularly.
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    We do that formally, we sit down
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    and practice expressing gratitude,
    noticing the good things in each other,
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    and also expressing when we have a regret
    towards each other.
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    It is very renewing practice.
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    We had - It is also,
    we call it the season of Shining Light.
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    So because we see each other,
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    we are rooming together, eating together,
    working together,
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    we see each other and we have
    something called the sangha eye.
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    Because, ourselves, if we are just
    practising alone,
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    there is a number of things that we miss
    from practising in a community.
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    One is that because
    we are not interacting,
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    things don't maybe come up
    in the same way.
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    So when we are interacting we get to see
    ourselves,
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    but also we have blind spots.
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    And so the it's very helpful for us,
    for the people we trust,
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    we open ourselves up,
    we allow ourselves to be
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    open to receiving their view about us.
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    And that view is expressed
    with all of the love and appreciation also
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    for the whole of us
    not just pointing to the difficulty.
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    So we also practice this
    in the three months retreat,
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    shining light on each other's practice,
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    in order to help the other person
    have more freedom,
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    more growth in themselves,
    and more happiness.
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    Sometimes it can be a bit scary
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    to allow ourselves
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    to have people share like that.
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    I've known people run away.
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    But when they allow themselves to
    they only experience the love.
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    I'm sure there are
    some exceptions to that.
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    Sometimes people can get hurt also,
    and then we also have compassion
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    that we are learning the practice.
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    So living together is
    a practice in itself.
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    And in a sense, it is -
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    you can say that
    learning to live together,
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    learning to get along is also the fruit
    of the practice.
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    Thay has said, brotherhood, sisterhood,
    there is no religion
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    that is higher than that.
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    So we are generating
    brotherhood and sisterhood.
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    We are going in that spirit.
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    There was a Harvard study
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    done, it was one of the longest ever
    studies, 75 years.
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    It is still going on, I think.
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    And they interview
    and get also self-information
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    from standardised groups of men
    in the States.
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    Essentially the point is that
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    they were looking to see
    what are the conditions
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    for happiness and health
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    looking right through the life.
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    And what they found was
    if you want to know
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    what makes a happy octogenarian,
    that means, if you are 80 years or over,
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    because these groups they've been
    following since they were boys,
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    and now they are in their 80's.
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    You look back when they are 50 years old,
    which is my age,
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    you can determine whether
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    the conditions that seem to be common,
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    like the ones that are happy,
    the ones that are healthy,
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    the result is only one factor.
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    It is not how much cholesterol
    in the blood,
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    it is not many things you might think,
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    but the one factor that comes out
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    is those people report that they have
    good relationships.
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    Relationships they can trust.
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    And that seems to be
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    an essential requisite for a happy life.
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    So in community,we are blessed with having
    .many deep connections to each other.
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    There is a lot of trust of each other
    in the community,
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    which allows us to be open,
    and allows us to be
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    free to express.
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    And, of course, relationships,
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    when we talk about relationships,
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    what came to my mind when I
    heard about this study is,
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    what about the relationship
    we have to ourselves?
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    Do we trust ourselves?
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    This must also be important.
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    And the relationship we have to society,
    to Mother Earth.
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    This must also count
    as a relationship.
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    And it is also clear
    we know from our experience
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    That to the extend that we are
    in a good relationship with ourselves,
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    our relationship with others goes well.
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    And when our relationship with ourselves
    is not so good,
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    we find, things seem
    to get reflected to us.
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    The sangha is like a hall of mirrors.
    We keep seeing ourselves reflected.
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    So when we have a difficult interaction,
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    it's always helpful to ask
    what is going on in me
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    that is connected with
    that difficult interaction,
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    as well as, you know,
    because there is a tendency maybe
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    to blame or put it on the other person.
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    We may see interesting things
    when we do that.
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    We may see that,
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    'Ah! This reaction I had in the meeting,
    or in this interaction,
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    brought about
    quite a strong emotion in me.
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    It seems a bit more than,
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    kind of disproportionated
    to what actually happened.
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    Why did I get so angry?
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    Why did I feel so anxious?'
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    I myself found myself in a situation
    where some anxiety and fear came,
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    and it started actually that anger.
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    I was,
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    I was feeling somehow slightly let down
    about something, and then
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    this anxiety came.
    And I ask the question to myself,
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    what does this remind me of?
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    I should ask it to my store consciousness.
    What does this remind me of?
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    I just waited for something to come,
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    and I suddenly had an image of myself
    in kindergarten.
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    A memory that I didn't have before.
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    It is not one I could remember,
    but it's suddenly a flash
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    of waiting to be picked up.
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    But my mother was late that day.
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    And there was a fear in me, I guess.
    And it was amazing how that
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    I made the connection just
    by asking that question.
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    So it allowed me to, just having
    that interaction with the other person
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    allowed me to touch something
    that needed healing.
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    And the healing is maybe a continuous
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    path of healing that we are on.
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    We are not going to heal
    everything overnight,
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    or with one insight.
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    But we, each time we have a small healing,
    we get more energy and more confidence.
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    And we feel, wow!
    Okay, this is a good path.
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    And actually,
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    just understanding ourselves,
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    understanding that this is
    where it is coming from,
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    in a sense it can help so much
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    knowing that we have a practice
    that also embraces
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    ourselves in that moment,
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    embraces maybe the little boy,
    the little girl in us,
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    when we see that coming up,
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    we recognize that there is
    some suffering there relating to that age
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    when we were very young,
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    we have the opportunity to embrace,
    to smile and with our solidity,
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    that we generate through the practice,
    we can breathe with that emotion.
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    So knowing we have a path,
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    we have a lot of kind of
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    we have happiness and we have
    a sense that the suffering
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    doesn't need to be so much now,
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    because the biggest suffering
    is not having a way, having a path.
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    So we have a lot of gratitude also
    for having the practice.
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    Even before we've applied it, but when
    we apply it, and we get the experience,
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    every time we are so grateful.
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    I also had an opportunity in this winter,
    this three month retreat,
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    we don't call it the winter retreat now
    because for the very first time
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    is more the autumn period. I also had
    an experience this three month retreat
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    of connecting with my 14 year old in me.
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    And, yeah. At that time
    when he felt very isolated
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    and not enjoying school,
    and feeling
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    pretty in a bit of a hostile environment
    he found.
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    And I knew, I know about this time, and I
    know t somehow shows up in my interactions
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    but I took sometime to try to talk
    with the boy. And he showed up.
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    And I, he said,
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    he asked, I asked, 'Would you like
    to spend time with me?
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    Now I'm an adult'. And he said,
    'You are too busy'.
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    (Laughter)
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    'You got too many things going on.
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    And I cause you
    all sorts of problems anyway,
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    so I don't want to cause you
    any more problems.
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    I don't want to take up your time.'
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    It was very fascinating
    to hear this response.
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    And actually, it gave me quite
    some insight into myself.
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    Because, of course, that is part of me.
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    So I share that because
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    it is part of our journey
    that we are on to
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    heal all the parts of ourselves.
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    Inside as well as outside.
    Inside we also have a kind of sangha.
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    Different voices.
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    And we also need to bring harmony to
    those different voices inside ourselves.
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    But when I was deciding to become a monk,
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    I remember
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    the Dharma teacher
    from the UK Martin Pitt,
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    he gave me that advice, he said,
    'In making the decision,
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    check with your internal sangha, and
    make sure everybody -'
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    So it's a real sangha, a real decision.
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    Because there are
    these many voices in you.
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    Some other voices of doubt,
    I had to say, 'Please, I hear you, but
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    we've touched something deeper
    than doubt at this moment',
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    and the doubt had to agree.
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    The Christians say, the doubting Thomas.
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    So,
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    isn't a fascinating journey, isn't it?
    The spiritual path.
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    And we do it together.
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    And somehow, being together as a community
    brings so much joy and insight,
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    it is so rich.
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    Some others are going away,
    going back to the real world.
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    I always find slightly ironic
    to use that term,
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    because it seems like out
    in the real world
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    is where people are busy, very busy,
    running away from reality.
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    Whereas the idea here in Plum Village
    is we touch reality
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    within us and in nature.
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    But we go back out, and
    we want to maintain our practice.
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    One of the things we need to draw on is
    the connections we made here,
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    to keep them in our heart, and know
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    when we think we are isolated,
    and all around out there,
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    remember that is not true.
    Because the connections we make
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    that are real,
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    they are not subject to dissolving simply
    because we are in a different place,
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    they are non local.
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    So we always remember
    the sangha has our back.
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    They are behind us.
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    People visualize it in different ways.
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    Connected with the Harvard study
    I mentioned,
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    loneliness is the biggest killer. That is
    a medical fact, that loneliness kills.
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    And we are so blessed that we don't -
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    We have so many conditions
    to not be lonely
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    through the practice of
    being there for ourselves,
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    and learning how to be there with
    other people and the connections we make.
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    The relationships we make.
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    Because even you can be in a relationship,
    you can be in a family,
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    you can be with many people,
    but, as the 14 year old boy,
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    in a boarding school,
    lots and lots of people.
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    They are not dissimilar to Plum Village's.
    Living in a dormitory,
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    sharing rooms. But I felt isolated
    and lonely at that particular time.
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    So it's not exactly
    that you are next to people
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    that you don't feel lonely.
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    It can also be that you can feel lonely
    even in Plum Village.
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    Again, if you
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    somehow are not in good relationship
    with what is going on in you.
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    And in those cases, where
    that is happening in Plum Village,
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    the encouragement is to stay.
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    And you may feel
    you don't have
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    your smile anymore.
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    I'll always remember reading
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    Thay saying,
    'The dandelion keeps your smile.'
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    You know, the flower you see all alone,
    it has your smile for you.
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    And like so in the sangha we can feel
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    not doing well, but we should try
    to become aware
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    that there is a lot of love
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    and care. People are giving us space,
    but they care.
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    And sometimes the care comes
    in a way we don't want,
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    maybe somebody comes into our space,
    and tries to shake us up a bit.
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    And we don't want that.
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    Maybe it wasn't so skilful of them.
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    But nevertheless we can recognize it
    as good intention, as care.
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    So we may have taken different themes
    for this three month period,
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    as well. I know some of the brothers in
    Upper Hamlet were studying the Anapanasati
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    for instance.
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    Some brothers were studying
    the 40 tenets of Plum Village.
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    The Manifestation Only teachings
    was one subject I was engaged with.
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    And I think many other topics.
    But them all, somehow,
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    connect to the same point
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    of how to come into relationship
    with myself, to be there,
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    and really understand what is going on
    in my body, in my mind.
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    And see my nature of interbeing.
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    And Thay has said that even just
    practising the first 4 of the Anapanasati,
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    awareness of the breath,
    awareness of the body,
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    we touch all of the other aspects,
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    because of the nature of interbeing.
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    So in connection when we are
    just aware of our body,
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    as we really realize that,
    oh, here is my body
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    and I'm really get to be in my body,
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    experiencing it with the breath,
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    I also naturally become aware
    of my feelings.
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    They are part of what is going on,
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    and there is a correspondence in the body.
Title:
2018 12 09 LH EN 11th 12th training of the OI br Pháp Lai
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