The First Noble Truth Dharma Discussion

Created: Friday, 31 August 2018

Last Saturday David began our exploration of the First Noble Truth, the truth of suffering or dukkha.

The core teaching is: "Now this, monks, is the Noble Truth of dukkha: Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha; association with the unbeloved is dukkha; separation from the loved is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha."

In the afternoon, we focused on the 3 Types of Suffering and the 3 Marks of Existence in the dharma discussion.

The three basic types of suffering we encounter in life are:

1. The suffering of suffering: classically thought of as the pain of sickness, aging, and death - those inevitable pains that everyone who is born experiences at some level.

2. The suffering of change: this suffering stems from the disappointment we have (from a sigh to profound grief or rage) when we experience change. No pleasant experience lasts forever. No object lasts forever. This kind of suffering often pulls us into the past (with regret or nostalgia) or the future (with anxiety or greed).

3. The suffering of conditions: as we wrestle with the impermanence we experience in the first two types, another kind of suffering may arise. It is the unsettled experience of understanding what the suffering of suffering and the suffering of change demonstrate about the nature of our existence. The suffering of conditions may arise as we generalize from those specific experiences of loss and perceive the instability of all conditioned phenomena.

This leads us to the 3 Marks of Existence, the Tilakkhana:

1. Anicca (impermanence/inconstancy): As we've noted already, every thing that begins will end. All conditioned things are in process, constantly changing. Even things that look like they remain the same are changing - sometimes the pace of change is very slow, or a lot of work is being done to maintain a certain state. But maintenance is not the same as permanence.

2. Dukkha (unsatisfactoriness): Because of impermanence, no conditioned thing can be the basis of permanent well-being. All things are ultimately unsatisfactory, not because they are somehow inherently evil, but because they are impermanent. Trying to fashion a permanent happiness out of impermanent conditions is a recipe for suffering.

3. Anatta (not-self): This insight grows out of the understanding of impermanence. As we perceive that everything is in process, changing, we begin to understand that what we have called the self is also a process. The Buddha spoke about the five skandhas, or aggregates, as a helpful way for us to gain insight into how the experience of the self arises, and how we can work more skillfully with our experiences, without getting caught up so much with identifying with forms, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.

So what do we do with these teachings? The practice is to use these concepts to begin to recognize how and when we suffer. Practically speaking, when you notice you are suffering, you can pause and ask:

  • What kind of suffering is this?  
  • When am I most likely to suffer?
  • What does the suffering feel like?
  • How do I react or respond to the suffering?

You might also notice a mix of experiences, and that is also helpful. Suffering is also impermanent!

We'll keep practicing with and developing these insights in the weeks ahead. Becoming more familiar with our own experience of suffering will then prepare us well for practicing with the Second Noble Truth, understanding how desire/clinging/attachment give rise to suffering.

New Web Site Address!

Created: Monday, 21 May 2018

For those who find a little hard to remember or spell, our web site had a new address. You can find our new address at One of the things Master Thay has mentioned is that the temple is for everyone. So can now be typed in your browser and it will lead to the same page you are at right here. It is also more fitting a name for the community that our temple is becoming. Don't worry, our old address will still continue to work as well. Feel free to bookmark the new hyperlink for future reference and let us know if there are any improvements we can make. We would love your feedback.

Upcoming Mindfulness (May 26th) and Vesak (May27th) Retreats

Created: Tuesday, 24 April 2018

We respectfully would like to invite all Buddhist practitioners to attend both the Day of Mindfulness Meditation practice and Sakyamuni Buddhas Birthday at our temple.

The Day of Mindfulness retreat (Saturday, May 26th, 2018) will be guided by the venerable Thich Dieu Giac; she is a resident monastic at the Quan Am Nam Hai Monastery in Florida. This retreat begins at 9:00 AM on Saturday, 26th of May 2018 and end at 9:00 that night. Registration and meals are provided for free; donations are welcomed. If you plan to attend this event, please register by sending a message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.You can also use this same e-mail address for general questions about the event.

Here is our Mindfulness retreat schedule:

9:00 AM gathering, 9:15 AM walking meditation, 10:00 AM opening retreat ceremony, 10:15 AM guided sitting meditation, 10:30 AM Dharma talk, 12:15 PM mindful lunch, 1:15 PM noble silence, 2:30 PM Dharma discussion, 4:30 PM Qi-kong stick exercise, 5:30 PM dinner, 7:00 PM tea meditation, 9:00 PM closing retreat

The Celebration of the Sakyamuni Buddhas Birthday (Vasak) on (Sunday, May 27th, 2018). This yearly celebration will begin at 10:00 AM. Meals will be free! No registration is required for this event, all are invited.

The Lay Person and Temple Robes

Created: Saturday, 14 April 2018

Namo A Di Da Phat!

One practice you may notice when you visit Dinh Quang Temple is the wearing of temple robes. The monastics often wear yellow robes. For the Vietnamese service, the community wears the traditional blue-grey robes common to temples in Vietnam and the diaspora. For the ecumenical English-speaking service, the community wears dark brown robes. On Saturday, April 7, 2018, the Venerable Thich Thong Chanh offered us a teaching on this practice.

Wearing a robe is a bell of mindfulness, a reminder to the community in at least four ways:

First, the robes are a simple color, inviting and reminding the community to practice simplicity and humility, both at the temple and throughout their daily lives.

Second, the robes remind us to respect the Triple Gem, the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. As a community of practice, aspiring to the Buddha’s path, this also reminds us to respect one another.

Third, the robes remind us to be mindful of our habits. When you are wearing a robe, it is easier to remember, to notice when you are about to do or say something that you would like to restrain. The robe also helps us to focus the mind and remember and keep our aspirations, our commitment to acting with greater kindness and wisdom.

Fourth, the robes remind us that we are a community and that we represent the temple. At times, we also wear the robes in public, such as at funerals or during hospital visits.

The venerable concluded by sharing his personal experience of wearing a robe: “When I wear this, it reminds me, ‘you are a monk.’ It reminds me to honor everyone.”

Thank you, Master Thay, for your teaching and example!