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."