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Buddhist Awareness Month - www.InterMindful.com
Daily Messages and Affirmations
In honor of Thich Nhat Hanh's Birthday (October 11)

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Buddhist Awareness Month - Daily Messages
Day 1

Buddist Awareness Month 2007

"Begin Anew"

Dear mindful friends,

Please join me in observing the month of October as "Buddhist Awareness Month" in honor of Thich Nhat Hanh's 81st birthday (October 11). As you know, the number 4 has special significance in Buddhism (the 4 Noble Truths), and the number 8 also has special significance in Buddhism (the 8-fold path of enlightenment), as well as the number 108 (and the 1/4 quarters of 108, namely 81, 54 and 27). In the old Western calendar, "October" was the 8th month, thus the Latin root word "octo" meaning "eight." So, let's use this opportunity to observe October as "Buddhist Awareness Month."

In the life of our "Interfaith Mindfulness Communities" here in Dallas and abroad, there are 4 months in the year that we have chosen to designate as special months of observation:

FEBRUARY:
"New Beginnings Month"
(approximately coinciding with the Lunar New Year)
MAY:
"Enlightenment Month"
(in honor of Wesak, which celebrates Buddha's birth, enlightenment and Nirvana)
AUGUST:
"Commitment & Blessings Month"
(being the "8th" month of the current calendar) — esp. 8/8/08 next year!
OCTOBER:
"Buddhist Awareness Month"
(being the "8th" month in the old calendar, in honor of Thich Nhat Hanh's birthday)
Please join us, then, in observing this month of October as "Buddhist Awareness Month." And join us in honoring Thich Nhat Hanh's 81st birthday. Besides the Sunday night meditations, there are several events scheduled for this month, such as the "Gentle Zen" class on Tuesdays for beginning meditators, the Buddhist Movie Night on Friday, October 19, and the special celebration on Sunday, October 21, etc.

Please enjoy the words of reflection each day during this "Buddhist Awareness Month" of October. Here is the first one below, from one of my "Buddha Letters" earlier in the year. May you be blessed, may you be a blessing!

In joyful gratitude,
Br. ChiSing

"BEGIN ANEW"

Begin anew. …
It has been a long time since last we spoke.
It does not need to be so long.

In every moment,
the here and now —
the eternal and timeless —
is always present.
It does not take a special feat
to touch the here and now.
You only need to awaken to
this very breath, this very step.

In just one moment of mindfulness,
everything is made new,
moment to moment.

Enlightenment, peace, wisdom, joy —
these are only one breath away,
one step away.

But the question is:
Are you really there, my dear?
Are you really there in your breath, in your step?
Or are you only daydreaming, sleepwalking?

Whatever you think you've done wrong,
whatever penance you believe you must perform
before you can awaken,
I invite you now to let that go.

Take a slow, deep breath.
And remember the Greater Reality
which holds you,
which supports you,
which nurtures you.

Let there be a moment of awakening,
let there be several moments of awakening,
every time you rest into this Greater Reality,
the Buddha Nature, your True Self.

And as you begin to rest in your true vastness,
a healing takes place
organically and naturally —
forgiveness takes place,
understanding takes place,
reconciliation takes place —
effortlessly.

In the eternal and timeless
here and now,
you can always begin anew.

You can always find refreshment and rejuvenation
for your earthly body and human mind
as you awaken to
your Universal body and Divine mind.

Yes,
you can do it.
It is your birthless birthright.
It is your deathless inheritance.

So, my beloved,
can you drop the story,
drop the delusions?
Can you let go of
self-hate, shame and unworthiness?
Are you willing to relax your hold
on control and manipulation?
Are you willing to loosen your grasp
on false securities from false fears?

It only takes one breath,
one step,
in mindfulness,
my dear.

In just one moment of enlightenment,
you can awaken from the illusions of time,
pressure, guilt, failure and regret.

You can awaken to
the eternal and timeless
here and now —
to peace and love and wisdom,
to true strength and true joy and true beauty,
to the Buddha that I am in you and in all beings,
to the Ultimate dimension of all things —
the Divine All in all:

Dew drops on an autumn leaf …

-- inspired by the Buddha in you,
   as written through Br. ChiSing

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Day 2

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Infinite Light"

Namo Amitabha Buddhaya
A new beginning is dawning
in your life and in your world.
Old things are passing.
Every moment is new.
What used to work
no longer does.

It is time to open your heart
to the Great Change,
the Great Transformation
that is taking place.
Old habits,
old patterns of thinking
are being released now.

Open your mind,
open your heart,
open your body —
open your whole being
to the Light that is now
dawning afresh and anew.

Dedicate every day to the Light.
Begin every day in the Light.
Live every day in the Light.
Close every day in the Light.
Sit in silent meditation every day
in the Light with every breath:

"Amitabha,
Infinite Light"
(Buddha).

"Sukhavati,
Happiness Manifesting"
(Pure Land).

You yourself are the Infinite Light.
Your work here is only to manifest
True Happiness for all beings.
Let your Light shine.
Don't hide it.

Let your Light express
as love,
as clarity,
as determination —
as the Truth, Goodness and Beauty
that you already and always are.

You don't have to struggle so much
to feel this love,
to intuit guidance.
Simply dedicate everything to the Light.
Entrust yourself completely to the Light.
And rest therein.

The Light does all the work.
The Light is love.
The Light is wisdom.
The Light is all there really is.
It is your True Nature.

And what the Light is, the Light does:
The Light creates true happiness and joy and freedom.
Amitabha creates Sukhavati.
The Infinite Light creates Happiness Manifest.
The Buddhas create Pure Lands.

The Buddha is who you are.
The Pure Land is what you do:
Amitabha / Sukhavati.
Being / Doing.
Identity / Function.

And so, perhaps you might like to practice
this in your sitting and walking meditations:
Sit with "Amit-abha" (Infinite / Light)
as your mantra with every breath.
Walk with "Sukha-vati" (Happiness / Manifesting)
as your mantra with every step.

Sit and walk as
the Infinite Light of the Buddha
creating a Pure Land of Great Happiness
with every breath and every step
for all beings.

You can do it,
because
You Are That!

NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHAYA

* written in honor of the Great Spiritual Light of the Universe;
dedicated to Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light,
who dwells in Sukhavati, a Pure Land of Great Happiness
created for all beings who desire to realize the Truth
that we ourselves are the Infinite Light of the Buddha
and our true work is to manifest here and now
the Pure Land of Great Happiness for all beings;

inspired by the Buddha in you
as written through Br. ChiSing

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Day 3

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Just Do It"

Just Do It.

There is a Wisdom and Energy already within you.

Just Be It.
Just let it flow through.

There is no need for struggle, or forcing.
Have faith in yourself, in the Self that is Me, the Buddha in you.

Breathe in, breathe out.
Relax your body, relax your mind.
Become aware of your Heart center.

Breathing in, the Light of the Universe is the Light shining in your Heart.
Breathing out, the Light in your Heart radiates throughout your body,
penetrating deeply every cell and every thought with Peace.

Stay with this Light, breathe with it for a while.
Let Peace envelop every part of your body-mind.

And then, from the Center of your Heart, speak your Truth.
Act on your Truth. Perhaps, even —
write your Truth, sing your Truth, paint your Truth, dance your Truth.

Express yourself.
Express, not the small limited separate ego self, but
express the Buddha Nature that is your True Self.

And listen to your Self all around you.
Listen and see and smell and taste and touch
your Buddha Nature everywhere,
all within your reach:
the blue sky, a fragrant rose, sweet honey, a baby's laugh, the cool breeze.

Can you see? You are expressing your Self everywhere, all the time.
So, too, your human body and mind, free from ignorance and delusion,
can and does express your True Self, the Buddha Nature of the Universe.

See, truly know, deeply understand and penetrate the Truth that
the Buddha Nature expressing through the Universe and
the Budddha Nature expressing through your body and mind
are not two,
but One.

You Are That.
You Are All of It.
No separation.

It is You, and You are Me, and I Am All There Is.

There is no i, there is no me, there is no you, there is no it or them.

There Is Only This,
beyond labels, beyond categories,
beyond discriminative concepts and notions and words.

No separation.

BUDDHA - IS - BUDDHA.

-- inspired by the Buddha in you,
   as written through Br. ChiSing

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Day 4

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Right Livelihood"

Right livelihood.

This is one of the spokes of the Noble Eightfold Path of Liberation. In the traditional enumeration, it is Number Five, and yet, in fact, it is like the Eighth. This is the culminating point of your practice of Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

You are a Buddha, and you are here to embody and manifest the Truth of who you are in this Universe of form. Your Right Livelihood is an expression of your Right Purpose and Right Mission in this world. Your career is the career of a Bodhisattva. Your work is the work of embodying and manifesting your Buddha Nature, your True Self, right here and right now, in this realm of time and space and energy/consciousness.

How you sustain your physical life
is intimately connected with
how you sustain All of Life.

The whole Eightfold Path is contained in Right Livelihood. It is your job to bring Right View and Right Intention into your work, to bring Right Speech and Right Action into your career, to bring Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration into your livelihood. This is your Job behind your job.

Your True Work is to "Be Here Now" and to bring your True Presence into daily life. Your True Work is to bring loving-kindness into the world, to radiate peace in places of disharmony, to be the Wisdom That You Are applied to all walks of life. Whatever you do to sustain yourself, your family and your world, whether it is farming, teaching or nursing, or whatever profession, remember your True Profession — You are a Buddha. And this world is your workplace. And you are here to embody and manifest Your True Nature in an infinite variety of ways …

… through art, music and poetry,
… through religion, education and politics,
… through sexuality, culinary cuisine and architecture,
… through community-building, ecology and medicine,
… and through all the ways you work to sustain yourself and All of Life.

 

Be the Buddha that You Are.

And Just Do It.

-- inspired by the Buddha in you,
   as written through Br. ChiSing

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Day 5

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Let Go and Trust"

Your heart is broken, breaking from the weight of your suffering. The deception of craving is such a powerful delusion, promising pleasure but delivering pain.

Let go, my beloved. Let go of your craving, your pain, your suffering, your delusions. And begin anew, right here, right now.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Breathe in peace, breathe out peace.

Let the peace of the Awakened Mind pervade your body and spirit. The peace of letting go, of stopping and calming, of just breathing, of just this moment.

There is no need to know everything. You only need to know what you can for this moment now, in this place right where you are.

There is no way to enlightenment. Enlightenment is the Way. Every breath, every step in mindfulness, is the Way. Enlightenment is one breath at a time, one mindful step at a time. You only need the wisdom that is right in front of you, available to you here and now.

Do not worry about the wisdom of tomorrow. You only need the wisdom of right here, right now. It is enough to carry you into the wisdom of the next day, and the next day, and the next.

Can you entrust yourself to the Buddha of this very breath, of this very step?

Can you let go into the wisdom of this very moment?

-- inspired by the Buddha in you,
   as written through Br. ChiSing

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Days 6 & 7

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Wandering Mind"

Wandering mind. Is it a problem? You say it is difficult to meditate because your mind wanders so much. Thoughts begin to race in all directions. Concentration and focus are hard. And yet, is it not true that your mind is usually in this state of affairs? And when you sit down on your meditation seat, now you have the opportunity at last to see what is really going on. Meditation is not the cause of your wandering mind. Meditation simply allows you to see what is already there. Meditation is a way of stopping and observing. And what you most often see at first may not be pleasant, but if you do not face the reality of what has been going on for so long — namely, a mind that is out of control — you will not be able to transform yourself and awaken to your True Nature.

What is needed is courage of the Heart to face the current situation of the untransformed mind. Courage to sit with it as it is. And faith enough to trust that awareness itself is already transformative. So, instead of resisting and resenting the wandering mind during meditation, simply watch without judgment the tangled workings of the mind. Your anchor is mindfulness of the present moment, perhaps of the body sitting here and now, breathing in and breathing out.

 

Aware of a thought, noting the kind of thought it is, and coming back to the breath, in the body, to this present moment. …

Aware of a sound, noting the tonal quality of the sound, and coming back to the breath, in the body, to this present moment. …

Aware of a sensation on the skin or in the body, noting the details of the sensation without adding thoughts and interpretive judgments onto it, and coming back to the breath, in the body, to this present moment. …

Aware of a feeling or emotion, noting whether it is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, perhaps labeling the feeling without getting pulled into the mental and emotional drama of it, and coming back to the breath, in the body, to this present moment. …

Aware of planning mind, aware of memory mind, aware of worry mind … aware of judging mind, drowsy mind, hyperactive mind, daydreaming mind … and each time coming back to the breath, in the body, to this present moment in the here and now, again and again.

 

Eventually, you will notice certain patterns, certain mind-habits, certain connections between thoughts and feelings. You will begin to realize how impermanent and insubstantial your thoughts are, how your feelings are multi-layered and malleable, how you constantly identify who you are with your ever-shifting mind-states and life dramas when, in fact, YOU ARE NOT YOUR MIND.

And furthermore, you are not your addictions, you are not your accomplishments, you are not your self-esteem (high or low), you are not your I.Q., you are not the victim and you are not the victimizer. YOU ARE NOT YOUR STORY.

Much of your suffering stems from the false identification of your thoughts and feelings (your human story) with your True Nature. The body and mind are impermanent, they are not Who You Ultimately Are, and to believe and act otherwise leads to suffering. Who, then, are You?

YOU ARE A BUDDHA.

To know this and live in this realization is Nirvana. And when you awaken to the Truth of Who You Are, mind is no longer simply mind but is the Mind of the Buddha ("Bodhicitta"), and body is no longer simply body but is the Body of the Buddha ("Buddhakaya"). Both body and mind, then, are understood in their true light as tools of exploration, vehicles of expression, skillful means ("upaya"), not ends in and of themselves.

-- inspired by the Buddha in you,
   as written through Br. ChiSing

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Day 8

Buddhist Awareness Month

"The 8th Day"

Dear mindful friends,

Today is the 8th day of the month of our Western calendar (the number 8 being a significant number in Buddhism because of the Buddha's teachings on the 8-fold Path of Enlightenment). And in less than a year, we will have the opportunity to celebrate the date of 8-8-08 (coincidentally, the numeric value of the name of Jesus, whom many Buddhists consider to be a great Bodhisattva of justice, healing and forgiveness, is 888, which symbolizes "New Beginnings"). I encourage all of us to make a daily commitment and a monthly re-commitment on the 8th day of each month from this day onward to live our lives in such a way that the next several months will be radiant with mindfulness, love, peace, joy and wisdom. Then, when 8-8-08 finally comes around, we really will have something to celebrate on that day! :-)

In joyful gratitude,
Br. ChiSing

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Day 9

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Don't Know Mind"

Don't Know.

Don't Know Mind.

 

You have so many questions. You want to know everything. You do not like the feeling of insecurity of not knowing. But the path to true freedom and security is Don't Know.

Don't Know Mind.

Letting go of the desire to control. Letting go of dwelling in the realm of surface chatter. Letting go of thinking mind, clinging mind, fearing mind.

Just being with what is. Being with not having all the answers, not being in full control, not having reality neatly packaged, labeled and conveniently categorized and dissected into nice bite-size parts easily understandable. Being with the whole mess of it all, just as it is. Being with Don't Know Mind.

Only Don't Know.

Ah, and what is here in this Mind of Don't Know? What is here in this space where a thousand questions can collapse into One Great Doubt?

 

Emptiness. …

Spaciousness. …

The freedom of allowing all possibilities.

No constrictions, no judgments.

 

And in this fruitful darkness of Don't Know Mind,

in this fertile womb of infinite possibilities,

lies the seed of purity and clarity,

the "one pure and clear thing."

 

Mind beyond mind.

Wisdom beyond wisdom.

"Mahaprajnaparamita."

 

And what is this one pure and clear thing?

 

(Om)

"Gate gate

Paragate

Parasamgate

Bodhi svaha!"

-- inspired by the Buddha in you,
   as written through Br. ChiSing

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Day 10

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Preparing for 21 Days of Intensive Practice"

Dear mindful friends,

Tomorrow (October 11) is Thich Nhat Hanh's 81st birthday, and it is also the first New Moon of Autumn. And starting tomorrow, there are 21 days left in October as "Buddhist Awareness Month" before "All Saints Day" on November 1st, and I propose that we use these 21 days as an opportunity to engage in intensive mindfulness practice and celebrate November 1st as "All Bodhisattvas Day."

According to some researchers, it takes about 21 days to form the initial foundation for forming, changing or breaking a habit. Personally, I think 108 days (about 3-1/2 months) would be more effective, but let's just say that the minimum is 21 days (without skipping a day). I want to encourage all of us to celebrate the New Moon of Autumn and Thich Nhat Hanh's 81st birthday by making an intention to practice mindfulness more intensively for 21 days (non-stop) starting tomorrow on October 11th through October 31st (the sacred mid-point of "Samhain" commonly called Halloween).

This is the best birthday gift we could ever give to a great bodhisattva like Thich Nhat Hanh and to all of our Spiritual Teachers. This is the best gift we could give to the Buddha in ourselves.

So, here are a sample of suggestions for you to follow for 21 days:

  1. Create an altar at home with beautiful things that have sacred meaning for you. On my altar, I have a low wooden table with flowers, candles, incense and a Buddha statue. I meditate in front of my altar every morning, and I light the candles and incense, then recite a simple chant with 3 full bows onto the floor, before doing my morning sitting meditation for 20-60 minutes, depending on how much time I have. Creating an altar is like spiritual art, and it signals to the Universe and to yourself that you are sincerely taking your spiritual life seriously. Altars aren't necessary, but they can be very helpful.

  2. Meditate before breakfast every day. If you can, sit for at least 20-40 minutes. But if you woke up too late and have to get to work on time, then at least do a 5-minute sitting meditation. And if you don't even have time for that, then at least do a 1-minute prayer or ritual at your altar, such as lighting a candle and incense and doing 3 mindful bows and reciting a chant or prayer. If you don't even have time for that, then you need to seriously reconsider your lifestyle. You may be too busy, and that could eventually hurt your mental or physical health over time.

  3. If you already meditate regularly in the morning, then try adding another meditation again near the end of the day, either before dinner or just before bedtime. It is best to meditate before a meal, rather than just after a meal.

  4. If you do a lot of regular sitting meditation already in your life, but you still feel stuck, then add at least 20 or more minutes of walking meditation to your mindfulness practice every day. Walking meditation helps us to gently process through emotional issues and grounds us in our real day-to-day life. It can be helpful to practice a little walking meditation before and after sitting meditation. It helps to transition gently rather than to enter or exit meditation abruptly.

  5. Commit to attending one of our weekly gatherings: Awakening Heart (Sundays at Unity Church of Dallas) or Mindful Mondays (Mondays at Unity Church in Grapevine).

  6. Read Thich Nhat Hanh's book, The Art of Power. You can purchase a copy at "Breath of Life" or at the Unity Church of Dallas bookstore.

  7. Write a letter of gratitude to Thich Nhat Hanh, to me, to a monk or nun, or to any spiritual teacher in your life for whom you have gratitude.

  8. Set your alarm clock to sound without the radio turning on. Abstain from listening to the radio, music or news in the morning, especially before meditation. Keep the peaceful silence, or put on inspiring music. And when you are driving to work in traffic, play Buddhist music or inspirational music, or listen to spiritual tapes or CD's of Dharma talks or spiritual speakers. Flood your consciousness with the Dharma, don't plug into the system so early on in the day when your mind is most impressionable. Set the tone for your day with conscious intention, don't be a slave to the media. You can always listen to the news or read a newspaper during your lunch hour. And in addition, it might be helpful not to watch the news or disturbing TV shows or movies just before going to bed. You want to go to bed with a different kind of energy.

  9. Be mindful of your diet. Be mindful of the conversations you have. Be mindful of the people you spend time with. Be mindful of your thought patterns. Be mindful of the cause and effect relationship of everything in your life.

  10. Attend Sangha and other spiritual communities as often as possible.

  11. And finally, pray for the Sangha, pray for me, pray for peace, pray for all beings. Or, rather, pray WITH the Sangha, pray WITH me, pray WITH peace, pray WITH all beings. For true prayer is not a begging of some Other Power "out there" but rather, true prayer is the aligning of our hearts with the universal Power that is present in, through and as all beings and all things. True prayer is solidarity, leading to love in action. Perhaps you might enjoy writing your own daily prayer or affirmation that you can recite every day for the next 21 days.

"May we and all beings be happy and loved.
May we and all beings transform our suffering.
May we and all beings rejoice in all others' joys.
May we and all beings let go, be content and at peace."

In gratitude for your practice,
Br. ChiSing

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Day 11

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Precious Gems"

Our True Heritage

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.
I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.
Each moment you are alive is a gem,
shining through and containing earth and sky,
water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently
for the miracles to be displayed.
Suddenly you hear the birds singing,
the pines chanting,
see the flowers blooming,
the blue sky,
the white clouds,
the smile and the marvelous look
of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth,
who have been going around begging for a living,
stop being the destitute child.
Come back and claim your heritage.
We should enjoy our happiness
and offer it to everyone.
Cherish this very moment.
Let go of the stream of distress
and embrace life fully in your arms.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

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Day 12

Buddhist Awareness Month

"The Greatest Happiness"

Discourse on Happiness

     I heard these words of the Buddha one time when he was staying in the vicinity of Savatthi at the Anathapindika Monastery in the Jeta Grove. Late at night, a great being appeared whose light and beauty made the whole Jeta Grove shine radiantly. After bowing respectfully to the Buddha, she asked him a question in the form of a poem:

"Many humans and great beings are eager to know
what are the greatest blessings
which bring about a peaceful and happy life.
     Please, O Realized One, will you teach us?"

(This is the Buddha's answer in poetry:)

"Not to be associated with the foolish ones,
to live in the company of wise people,
honoring those who are worth honoring —
     this is the greatest happiness.

"To live in a good environment,
to have planted good seeds,
and to realize that you are on the right path —
      this is the greatest happiness.

"To have a chance to learn and grow,
to be skillful in your profession or craft,
practicing the precepts and loving speech —
      this is the greatest happiness.

"To be able to serve and support your parents,
to cherish your own family,
to have a vocation that brings you joy —
      this is the greatest happiness.

"To live honestly, generous in giving,
to offer support to relatives and friends,
living a life of blameless conduct —
      this is the greatest happiness.

"To avoid unwholesome actions,
not consumed by addictions,
and to be diligent in doing good things —
      this is the greatest happiness.

"To be humble and polite in manner,
to be grateful and content with a simple life,
not missing the occasion to learn the Dharma —
      this is the greatest happiness.

To persevere and be open to change,
to have regular contact with monks and nuns,
and to fully participate in Dharma discussions —
      this is the greatest happiness.

"To live diligently and attentively,
to perceive the Four Noble Truths,
and to realize Nirvana —
      this is the greatest happiness.

"To live in the world
with your heart undisturbed by the world,
with all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace —
      this is the greatest happiness.

"For he or she who accomplishes this,
unvanquished wherever he goes,
always she is safe and happy —
      for happiness is found within."

-- the Buddha
(from the Mahamangala Sutta, Sutta Nipata 2.4)

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Days 13 & 14

Buddhist Awareness Month

"True Silence"

Silence . . .

 

even when street cars go by . . . when a car alarm goes off . . . when a phone rings . . . even when everything seems a cacophony of busyness.

 

Silence . . . not of the ear . . . but of the Heart.

 

Listen. . . .

 

In the realm of the ear, there is no such thing as absolute silence. There can be relative quiet, yes. But not complete silence.

Listen to your breathing, your heartbeat, the mind, the birds. Sound and vibration are the very fabric of the realm of Form.

The Silence I speak of is not of this realm of the ear.

 

Listen to your Heart, and you will know.

Listen with your Heart, and you will understand.

When you listen to all of Creation with the Heart of a Buddha, you will experience Divine Silence in the bubbling of a brook, in the giggling of a child, in the creaking of an old oak tree swaying in the wind.

 

The Silence that I speak of, Divine Silence, is the silencing of ignorance and delusion, the silencing of craving and aversion, the silencing of suffering and sorrow.

In the Divine Silence of a Heart that is free, Reality reveals itself perfectly without distortion and without limiting conceptualization.

With the Silent Heart of Divine Compassion, you can listen to "the cries of the world" with True Understanding and hear from Within the way to help.

 

In True Silence is the Great Word, the One Sound, the Source of All Vibration. The Music of the Universe.

From the Great Womb of Silence and Emptiness is born the Divine Word of Fullness, manifest and expressed and embodied as You, as all Sentient Beings, as the entire Cosmos of Truth, Goodness and Beauty.

 

You are the Silence, the Emptiness.

And, You are the Divine Sounding, the Fullness of Creation.

 

YOU ARE A BUDDHA.

 

Listen, listen.

 

Yes, You are a Buddha. Yes, You Are. . . .

 
-- inspired by the Buddha in you,
   as written through Br. ChiSing

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Day 15

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Let the Buddha Walk"

The following "gatha" (a poem designed to aid in meditation) was written by Thich Nhat Hanh after he was in South Korea a couple of years ago. Thousands came to see him, as he is considered a "Living Buddha" by many over there. He was to lead a walking meditation in the public streets, but there were so many cameras and people crowding in, trying to touch the "Living Buddha." He started to feel it would be impossible to lead a walking meditation under those conditions. So, he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and asked the Buddha in himself to do the walking for him. And so, he took a first step and it was as though the red sea parted, and people suddenly became quiet and made a path for him to lead the walking meditation. He felt like it was one of the most effortless and peaceful walking meditations he had ever led. And so, thus was born the following "gatha" —

Let the Buddha breathe
Let the Buddha walk
I don't have to breathe
I don't have to walk …

The Buddha is breathing
The Buddha is walking
I enjoy the breathing
I enjoy the walking …

Buddha is the breathing
Buddha is the walking
I am the breathing
I am the walking …

There is just the breathing
There is just the walking
There is no breather
There is no walker …

Peace and joy while breathing
Peace and joy while walking
Peace and joy: the breathing
Peace and joy: the walking …

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

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Day 16

Buddhist Awareness Month

"A Love Letter to the Buddha"

Looking for Each Other

I have been looking for you, World Honored One,
since I was a little child.
With my first breath, I heard your call,
and began to look for you, Blessed One.
I've walked so many perilous paths,
confronted so many dangers,
endured despair, fear, hopes, and memories.
I've trekked to the farthest regions, immense and wild,
sailed the vast oceans,
traversed the highest summits, lost among the clouds.
I've lain dead, utterly alone,
on the sands of ancient deserts.
I've held in my heart so many tears of stone.

Blessed One, I've dreamed of drinking dewdrops
that sparkle with the light of far-off galaxies.
I've left footprints on celestial mountains
and screamed from the depths of Avici Hell, exhausted, crazed with despair
because I was so hungry, so thirsty.
For millions of lifetimes,
I've longed to see you,
but didn't know where to look.
Yet, I've always felt your presence with a mysterious certainty.

I know that for thousands of lifetimes,
you and I have been one,
and the distance between us is only a flash of thought.
Just yesterday while walking alone,
I saw the old path strewn with Autumn leaves,
and the brilliant moon, hanging over the gate,
suddenly appeared like the image of an old friend.
And all the stars confirmed that you were there!
All night, the rain of compassion continued to fall,
while lightning flashed through my window
and a great storm arose,
as if Earth and Sky were in battle.
Finally in me the rain stopped, the clouds parted.
The moon returned,
shining peacefully, calming Earth and Sky.
Looking into the mirror of the moon, suddenly
I saw myself,
and I saw you smiling, Blessed One.
How strange!

The moon of freedom has returned to me,
everything I thought I had lost.
From that moment on,
and in each moment that followed,
I saw that nothing had gone.
There is nothing that should be restored.
Every flower, every stone, and every leaf recognize me.
Wherever I turn, I see you smiling
the smile of no-birth and no-death.
The smile I received while looking at the mirror of the moon.
I see you sitting there, solid as Mount Meru,
calm as my own breath,
sitting as though no raging fire storm ever occurred,
sitting in complete peace and freedom.
At last I have found you, Blessed One,
and I have found myself.
There I sit.

The deep blue sky,
the snow-capped mountains painted against the horizon,
and the shining red sun sing with joy.
You, Blessed One, are my first love.
The love that is always present, always pure, and freshly new.
And I shall never need a love that will be called "last."
You are the source of well-being flowing through numberless troubled lives,
the water from your spiritual stream always pure, as it was in the beginning.
You are the source of peace,
solidity, and inner freedom.
You are the Buddha, the Tathagata.
With my one-pointed mind
I vow to nourish your solidity and freedom in myself
so I can offer solidity and freedom to countless others,
now and forever.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

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Day 17

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Suchness"

"Suchness" is a technical term that means true nature. Everything has its suchness; that is how we recognize it.

I would like to share with you a story about suchness. There was a patient in the mental hospital [in Vietnam] who seemed to be normal. He ate and talked like other people. But he believed that he was a kernel of corn, and every time he saw a chicken, he ran for his life. He did not know his suchness. When the nurse reported this to the doctor, the doctor told him, "Sir, you are not a kernel of corn, you are a human being. You have hair, eyes, a nose, and arms." He gave a kind of sermon like that, and finally he asked, "Now, sir, can you tell me what you are?"

The man replied, "Doctor, I am a human being. I am not a kernel of corn." The doctor was happy. He felt he had helped this patient a lot. But to be certain, he asked the man to repeat the sentence, "I am a human being, I am not a kernel of corn," four hundred times a day and to write it on a piece of paper three hundred more times each day. The man became devoted to doing it, and he stopped going out at all. He just stayed in his room repeating and writing exactly what the doctor had prescribed.

A month later, the doctor came to see him, and the nurse reported, "He is doing very well. He stays inside and practices the exercises you gave him very diligently."

The doctor asked, "Sir, how are things?"

"Very well, thank you, doctor."

"Can you tell me what you are?"

"Oh yes, doctor. I am a human being. I am not a kernel of corn."

The doctor was delighted. He said, "We will release you in a few days. Please come with me to my office." But while doctor, nurse, and patient were walking together to the office, a chicken walked by, and the man ran away so quickly that the doctor couldn't catch him. It was more than an hour later that the nurse brought him to the office.

The doctor was agitated. "You said you are a human being and not a kernel of corn. So why did you run away when you saw a chicken?"

The man said, "Of course I know that I am human being and not a kernel of corn. But how can I be sure the chicken knows?"

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

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Day 18

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Three Aspects of Balanced Spirituality"

Dear mindful friends,

Based on my own insights and reflections that have been continuing to expand ever since I attended last month's "Big Mind" weeklong retreat with Zen master Genpo Roshi, I find most spiritual practices and forms of meditation fall under one of these three categories:

  1. Healing the Self (Duality: from external to internal) — stress-reduction
    focus: "I am …"
  2. Transcending the Self (Non-Duality: from internal to eternal) — enlightenment
    focus: "I am not …"
  3. Expressing the Self (Integration: from eternal through internal to external) — manifestation
    focus: "I create …"
All three aspects are important for a well-rounded spirituality. But the one that seems to be less emphasized in many Western approaches to meditation is the second aspect. I think American culture tends to be more self-focused. Most people seek out spirituality and meditation for either a sense of peace amidst the chaos (the first aspect) or to visualize their way into manifesting abundance and success (a part of the third aspect). I think it is important for us as spiritual practitioners to make sure that the second aspect does not get lost. Transcending the self, enlightenment, non-duality, and awakening to the Eternal Source (whether we call It "Universal Spirit" or "Buddha Nature" or "Ultimate Reality") of who we really are is vital to a holistic spirituality and meditation practice. Without this second aspect, the first and third aspects become quite limited.

(Of course, in some of the Buddhist circles I've encountered around the country, sometimes the second aspect is emphasized to the neglect of the first or especially the third aspect. And then what you sometimes end up with are just a bunch of enlightened neurotics with poverty-consciousness. Balance is definitely key.)

May you and we and all beings find their way into balance for the benefit of all! :-)

Namo Amitabha Buddhaya,
Br. ChiSing

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Day 19

Buddhist Awareness Month

"The End of Our World (and Its Rebirth)"

Thich Nhat Hanh ("Thay" / Teacher) recently wrote a letter of world-wide urgency. The end of our civilization (as we know it) seems inevitable now. This does not mean the end of all life or humanity on the planet. But it does mean the end of "things as usual." Personally, I believe that there is still hope, but we only have a few years left to make enough of a difference to shift things around.
Otherwise, the only thing left that we can do is try to be as wise, compassionate, mindful, and peaceful as possible in ourselves so that we can be of helpful service to the masses of people around us who will be running around in fear, despair, confusion and anger as our ecological and economic systems begin to crumble.

We are called to be the spiritual "calm in the midst of the storm." We are the ones who can help our world transition gracefully, rather than traumatically, through its death and rebirth process. May we all awaken together. May we all awaken globally. The Great Shift has indeed begun.

Here is an excerpt of Thay's letter —

"…The Buddha taught that all phenomena are impermanent; there is birth, then there is death. Our civilization is also like that. In the history of the earth, many civilizations have ended. If our modern civilization is destroyed, it also follows the law of impermanence. If our human race continues to live in ignorance and in the bottomless pit of greed as at present, then the destruction of this civilization is not very far away. We have to accept this truth, just like we accept our own death. Once we can accept it, we will not react with anger, denial, and despair anymore. We will have peace. Once we have peace, we will know how to live so that the earth has a future; so that we can come together in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood and apply the modern technology available to us, in order to save our beloved green planet. If not, we will die from mental anguish, before our civilization actually terminates.

"Our mother, The Earth, the green planet has suffered from her children's violent and ignorant ways of consuming. We have destroyed our Mother Earth like a type of bacterium or virus destroying the human body, because Mother Earth is also a body. Of course, there are bacteria that are beneficial to the human body. Trillions of these bacteria are present in us, especially in our digestive systems (known as intestinal normal flora). They protect the body and help generate enzymes necessary to us. Similarly, the human species can also be a living organism that has the capacity to protect the body of Mother Earth, if the human species wakes up and knows to live with responsibility, compassion and loving kindness. Buddhism came to life, so that we learn to live with responsibility and compassion and loving kindness. We have to see that we inter-are with our Mother Earth, that we live with her and die with her.

"Mother Earth has gone through re-birth many times. After the great [destruction] caused by global warming [etc.] takes place, perhaps only a very small portion of the human race will survive. The earth will need over a million years to recuperate and put on a new whole, beautiful green coat, and another human civilization will begin. That civilization will be the continuation of our civilization. To the human species, one million years is a very long time, but to the earth and in geological time, one million years is nothing at all; it is only a short period of time. Ultimately, all birth and death are only superficial phenomena. No-birth and no-death are the true nature of all things. This is the teaching of the Middle Way in Buddhism. …" *

-- Thich Nhat Hanh ("Thay")

* Read the entire letter at www.orderofinterbeing.org/docs/TNH_Letter_October_2007.pdf ▲ Return to Top
Days 20 & 21

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Happy Birthday, Buddha!"

To all you noble Buddhas
currently living in prison:
Happy Birthday.
To all you austere Buddhas
selling smiles in taverns:
Happy Birthday.
To you countless Buddhas
twinkling in the night sky:
Happy Birthday.
And Happy Birthday:
to all of you brightly smiling,
beautiful Buddhas in the gardens.

To all you Buddhas who have become
endlessly changing clouds
as you drift across the sky;
to all you Buddhas who are
quietly biding your time as boulders:
a very Happy Birthday to you, too.

And Happy Birthday:
to all you cute little Buddhas
swimming in the water;
to all you lively Buddhas
soaring through the skies;
to all you reverential Buddhas
singing hymns in churches;
and to all you handsome Buddhas
chanting in temples.

To all you Buddhas hoeing and
plowing the fields and paddies;
to all you Buddhas sweating
in the humming factories;
to all you Buddhas working
in dust and dirt;
and to all you Buddhas quietly
studying in classrooms:
let me wish you all
a very Happy Birthday.

When I open my eyes,
you are Buddha.
When I close my eyes,
you are Buddha.
Every place in the Universe
is filled with Buddhas!
Although we have different
guises and appearances,
we are all manifestations
of the same single Buddha.
Everything is equal,
and everything is magnificent!
So let us transcend our torments
in this world of Buddhas and be happy.
How marvelous that every single place
is a site for liberation
from suffering and ignorance!

To all you Buddhas who,
by wearing the gentle
smile of Compassion,
deliver the Dharma in a sound
even greater than thunder;
to all you Buddhas who
fill every corner of the Universe:
every day is a Wonderful Day
and every day is our Birthday.
So let us all eternally respect
and congratulate one another:

Happy Birthday!

-- Ven. SongChol
   (Korean Chogye Zen Master and Patriarch)
   Opening the Eye, p. 146-147

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Day 22

Buddhist Awareness Month

"That's What Love Is"

"There is a true story of a wife whose [American] husband had been in Japan during the war. In Japan he lived with a Japanese woman and had a couple of children with her. He loved the Japanese woman very much. When he came home he did not tell his wife about this love.

"But finally, when he knew he was dying, he confessed to her the truth of the relationship and the children. At first she was very upset. But then something within her began to stir, and she worked and worked with her anguished feelings; finally, before her husband died, she said, 'I will take care of them.'

"So she went to Japan, found the young woman, and brought her and the two children back to the United States. They made a home together and the wife did all she could to teach the young woman English, to get her a job, and to help with the children.

"That's what love is."

-- Charlotte Joko Beck
   Everyday Zen: Love and Work, p. 94

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Day 23

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Spirit as Both Ground
and Goal of Evolution"

"Being and consciousness exist as a spectrum, reaching from matter to body to mind to soul to Spirit [Buddha Nature]. And although Spirit is, in a certain sense, the highest dimension or level of the spectrum of existence, it is also the ground or condition of the entire spectrum. It is as if Spirit were both the highest rung on the ladder of existence and the wood out of which the entire ladder is made—Spirit is both totally and completely immanent (as the wood) and totally and completely transcendent (as the highest rung). Spirit is both Ground and Goal.

"In its immanent aspect, Spirit is the Condition of all conditions, the Being of all beings, the Nature of all natures. As such, it neither evolves nor involves, grows or develops, ascends or descends. It is the simple suchness or isness—the perfect isness— of all that is, of each and every thing in manifestation. There is no contacting immanent Spirit, no way to reach It, no way to commune with It, for there is nothing It is not. Being completely and totally present at every single point of space and time, It is fully and completely present here and now, and thus we can no more attain immanent Spirit than we could, say, attain our feet.

"In its transcendental aspect, however, Spirit is the highest rung on our own ladder of growth and evolution. It is something we must work to comprehend, to understand, to attain union with, to identify with. The realization of our Supreme Identity with Spirit dawns only after much growth, much development, much evolution, and much inner work—only then do we understand that the Supreme Identity was there, from the beginning, perfectly given in its fullness. In other words, it is only from the highest rung on the ladder that we can realize the wood out of which the entire ladder is made.

"It is this paradox of Spirit—both fully present (as the Ground of Being) and yet to be realized (as our highest Goal)—that lies behind [certain] paradoxical Zen sayings. …

"… While in its immanent aspects Spirit simply is, in its transcendental aspects Spirit evolves or develops. The entire manifest world, while remaining fully and completely grounded in Spirit, is also struggling to arouse from the nightmare of time and stand strong in eternity. This struggle of growth and development appears in the world at large as evolution, and in individual men and women as the growth and development of their own consciousness (which is simply the arena of cosmic evolution in human beings). Evolution is the movement of Spirit, toward Spirit, as Spirit, the conscious resurrection, in all men and women, of the Supreme Identity, an Identity present all along, but an Identity seemingly obscured by manifestation, seemingly obscured by the limited view from a lower rung on the ladder. As one intuits the higher and highest rungs of the ladder of existence, Spirit sees Itself as Spirit, sees Itself everywhere, sees there was never a time that It wasn't—and then, but only then, is the entire ladder thrown away, now having served its manifest purpose. And one understands, in the entire process, that not a single thing has been attained.

-- Ken Wilber (Integral philosopher)
   The Spectrum of Consciousness, p. 43-44

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Day 24

Buddhist Awareness Month

"There Is Nothing to Chase After"

"The River and the Clouds"
Once upon a time there was a beautiful river finding her way among the hills, forests, and meadows. She began by being a joyful stream of water, a spring always dancing and singing as she ran down from the top of the mountain. She was very young at the time, and as she came to the lowland she slowed down. She was thinking about going to the ocean. As she grew up, she learned to look beautiful, winding gracefully among the hills and meadows.

One day she noticed the clouds within herself. Clouds of all sorts of colors and forms. She did nothing during these days but chase after clouds. She wanted to possess a cloud, to have one for herself. But clouds float and travel in the sky, and they are always changing their form. Sometimes they look like an overcoat, sometimes like a horse. Because of the nature of impermanence within the clouds, the river suffered very much. Her pleasure, her joy had become just chasing after clouds, one after another, but despair, anger,and hatred became her life.

Then one day a strong wind came and blew away all the clouds in the sky. The sky became completely empty. Our river thought that life was not worth living, for there were no longer any clouds to chase after. She wanted to die. "If there are no clouds, why should I be alive?" But how can a river take her own life?

That night the river had the opportunity to go back to herself for the first time. She had been running for so long after something outside of herself that she had never seen herself. That night was the first opportunity for her to hear her own crying, the sounds of water crashing against the banks of the river. Because she was able to listen to her own voice, she discovered something quite important.

She realized that what she had been looking for was already in herself. She found out that clouds are nothing but water. Clouds are born from water and will return to water. And she found out she herself was also water.

The next morning when the sun was in the sky, she discovered something beautiful. She saw the blue sky for the first time. She had never noticed it before. She had only been interested in clouds, and she had missed seeing the sky, which is the home of all the clouds. Clouds are impermanent, but the sky is stable. She realized that the immense sky had been within her heart since the very beginning. This great insight brought her peace and happiness. As she saw the vast wonderful blue sky, she knew that her peace and stability would never be lost again.

That afternoon the clouds returned, but this time she did not want to possess any of them. She could see the beauty of each cloud, and she was able to welcome all of them. When a cloud came by, she would greet him or her with loving-kindness. When the cloud wanted to go away, she would wave to him or her happily and with loving kindness. She realized that all clouds are her. She didn't have to choose between the clouds and herself. Peace and harmony existed between her and the clouds.

That evening something wonderful happened. When she opened her heart completely to the evening sky she received the image of the full moon -- beautiful, round, like a jewel within herself. She had never imagined that she could receive such a beautiful image. There is a very beautiful poem in Chinese: "The fresh and beautiful moon is traveling in the utmost empty sky. When the mind-rivers of living beings are free, that image of the beautiful moon will reflect in each of us."

This was the mind of the river at that moment. She received the image of that beautiful moon within her heart, and water, clouds, and moon took each other's hands and practiced walking meditation slowly, slowly to the ocean.

There is nothing to chase after. We can go back to ourselves, enjoy our breathing, our smiling, ourselves, and our beautiful environment.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

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Day 25

Buddhist Awareness Month

"The Real Secret of
Success and Happiness"

Whatever form [of career, lifestyle, etc.] you take, whatever path you take, if you are attached to the form, you cannot get the happiness you want, even if you become a monk or a nun. If you are attached to the form of a monastic and you think that wearing the robe and living in the monastery will make you happy, you are wrong. There are monks and nuns who are not happy because they are not capable of being understanding and loving. But when you know how to cultivate understanding and compassion in every moment of your life, the outer form of your life doesn't matter anymore. So the key to success is not the form of a monastic or layperson, of a police officer, a farmer, or a doctor, but your capacity to cultivate happiness, understanding, and compassion.

We have to be very careful about basing our decisions on the appearance of things, on the outer form. To find happiness, enlightenment, and compassion, you have to be free, not fooled by your perceptions. When you look at something deeply, you discover its nature and you are no longer fooled by it. Since you are not fooled by the appearance, you no longer suffer, and you have the capacity to be happy.

We tend to think, "I'll be so happy if I can get this and this and this. But if I'm not able to get these things, my life will be ruined, and I'll never be happy." Our ideas about what power is and what will bring us happiness can be quite dangerous for us. It's dangerous to be committed to an idea of happiness, because then you're caught in that idea. Happiness can come to you in a thousand ways if you only allow it to. But if you're committed to only one idea of happiness, you're stuck. Happiness can no longer come to you because you've decided that you'll refuse everything except this one path of happiness. Of course you're motivated by the desire to be happy and to make the people you love happy. But the idea of happiness that you have may actually be an obstacle preventing you and your beloved ones from being happy.

The Buddha told the story of a merchant, a widower, who went away on a business trip and left his little boy at home. While he was away, bandits came and burned down the whole village. When the merchant returned, he didn't find his house; it was just a heap of ash. There was the charred body of a child close by. He threw himself on the ground and cried and cried. He beat his chest and pulled his hair.

The next day, he had the little body cremated. Because his beloved son was his only reason for existence, he sewed a beautiful little velvet bag and put the ashes inside. Wherever he went, he took that bag of ashes with him. Eating, sleeping, working, he always carried it with him. In fact, his son had been kidnapped by the bandits; three months later, the boy escaped and returned home. When he arrived, it was two o'clock in the morning. He knocked on the door of the new house his father had built. The poor father was lying on his bed crying, holding the bag of ashes, and he asked, "Who is there?" "It's me, Daddy, your son." The father answered, "That's not possible. My son is dead. I've cremated his body and I carry his ashes with me. You must be some naughty boy who's trying to fool me!" He refused to open the door, and there was no way for the little boy to come in. The boy had to go away, and the father lost his son forever.

After telling this story, the Buddha said, "If at some point in your life you adopt an idea or a perception as the absolute truth, you close the door of your mind. This is the end of seeking the truth. And not only do you no longer seek the truth, but even if the truth comes in person and knocks on your door, you refuse to open it. Attachment to views, attachment to ideas, attachment to perceptions are the biggest obstacles to the truth."

It's like when you climb a ladder. When you get to the fourth rung, you may think you are on the highest step and cannot go higher, so you hold on to the fourth rung. But in fact there is a fifth rung; if you want to get to it, you have to be willing to abandon the fourth rung. Ideas and perceptions should be abandoned all the time, to make room for better ideas and truer perceptions. This is why we must always ask ourselves, "Am I sure?"

Your action, what you do, depends on who you are. The quality of your action depends on the quality of your being. Suppose you want to offer happiness to someone. You are eager to make a person happy. This is a good idea, but if you yourself are not happy, you can't do it. To make another person happy you have to be happy yourself. So there is a link between doing and being. If you don't succeed in being, you can't succeed in doing.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh
   The Art of Power

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Day 26

Buddhist Awareness Month

"The Supreme Yoga of Rest"

It is time to wake up. You have received the call. You have gathered the courage to follow it. You have devoted yourself to freedom. You have experienced tastes of your True Self. Now it is time to rest.

Once you have done all that you can do -- having gathered all of your intention and resources to the one burning issue of freedom; having left all concepts and knowing behind; having given up your control, contraction, and defense; having faced the terror of death and having invited everything to come in -- then your job is finished. Then you can rest.

Rest is the supreme yoga. The ego misunderstands and abuses the idea of rest by thinking of it as laziness or loss of focus. Rest is not lazy. Rest is clear, focused, and present. Rest can be very active, but there is no stress, no effort, no distraction, no impatience, and no waiting. True rest is alert, relaxed, and open.

The art of "not moving" is the fulfillment of the supreme yoga of rest. Calling this condition of not moving "rest" is perhaps misleading, as it is hot, intense, and often emotionally painful. Many people mistake rest for comfort, but this kind of rest may not be comfortable. Rather, it allows discomfort to come and burn in the fire of freedom. Rest in non-movement is the ever-alert clarity of Intelligence, inviting the pain of all identifications to come and burn in the fire of love, fueled by the hurricane of silence.

True rest reveals silence, and silence is the song of the Divine. It is the ever-flowing fullness of Emptiness. Then, grace appears.

Grace is one of the faces of love, and love is your True Self.

-- from Sudden Awakening: Into Direct Realization by Eli Jaxon-Bear
   (husband of Gangaji, disciple of H.W.L. Poonja, disciple of Ramana Maharshi)

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Day 27

Buddhist Awareness Month

"The Essence of Buddhism"

Even though the truth that the Buddha taught is so vast and unlimited, if you don't experience it in your daily life, it's of no more use than a picture of food to a hungry person. Even though you see it a hundred times, if you can't take hold of it and eat, it's useless. If you want to realize truth, the Buddha-Dharma, you have to experience it through your daily life, your body, and your mind. What could you possibly find by ignoring these and looking for the truth somewhere else? The Buddha taught people to experience the truth for themselves, because this is the only way to become truly free.

Even though you memorize all the names of the materials needed to build a house, such as bricks, plywood, beams, and roof tiles, if you don't actually put them together and build a house, they won't be much use, will they? The goal of the Buddha's teachings is application, not intellectual knowledge.

From the perspective of our True Nature, "just doing" is easier than speaking. Words may be inadequate or misunderstood, but doing is straightforward: if you do it, it's taken care of. However, people get caught by words, and argue about wrong and right without ever trying to experience the Dharma directly.

Don't get caught up in theories or arguments -- just taste the truth for yourself. Instead of discussing whether the watermelon is ripe or not, just cut it open and take a bite. This is true meditation, and it is meditation in action. All visible and invisible phenomena are meditation in action. Thus as long as you think that enlightenment is something apart from your daily life, you will never realize enlightenment.

Study without action, and study not followed by practice, is merely accumulating lifeless knowledge. Doing once is better than seeing a hundred times. True wisdom is obtained only through applying and experiencing.

-- from No River to Cross by Zen Master DaeHaeng

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Day 28

Buddhist Awareness Month

"An Inner Revolution"

The enlightenment I speak of is not simply a realization, not simply the discovery of one's true nature. This discovery is just the beginning—the point of entry into an inner revolution. Realization does not guarantee this revolution; it simply makes it possible.

What is this inner revolution? To begin with, revolution is not static; it is alive, ongoing, and continuous. It cannot be grasped or made to fit into any conceptual model. Nor is there any path to this inner revolution, for it is neither predictable nor controllable and has a life all its own. This revolution is a breaking away from the old, repetitive, dead structures of thought and perception that humanity finds itself trapped in. Realization of the ultimate reality is a direct and sudden existential awakening to one's true nature that opens the door to the possibility of an inner revolution. Such a revolution requires an ongoing emptying out of the old structures of consciousness and the birth of a living and fluid intelligence. This intelligence restructures your entire being—body, mind, and perception. This intelligence cuts the mind free of its old structures that are rooted within the totality of human consciousness. If one cannot become free of the old conditioned structures of human consciousness, then one is still in a prison.

Having an awakening to one's true nature does not necessarily mean that there will be an ongoing revolution in the way one perceives, acts, and responds to life. The moment of awakening shows us what is ultimately true and real as well as revealing a deeper possibility in the way that life can be lived from an undivided and unconditioned state of being. But the moment of awakening does not guarantee this deeper possibility, as many who have experienced spiritual awakening can attest to. Awakening opens a door inside to a deep inner revolution, but in no way guarantees that it will take place. Whether it takes place or not depends on many factors, but none more important and vital than an earnest and unambiguous intention for truth above and beyond all else. This earnest intention toward truth is what all spiritual growth ultimately depends upon, especially when it transcends all personal preferences, agendas, and goals.

This inner revolution is the awakening of an intelligence not born of the mind but of an inner silence of mind, which alone has the ability to uproot all of the old structures of one's consciousness. Unless these structures are uprooted, there will be no creative thought, action, or response. Unless there is an inner revolution, nothing new and fresh can flower. Only the old, the repetitious, the conditioned will flower in the absence of this revolution. But our potential lies beyond the known, beyond the structures of the past, beyond anything that humanity has established. Our potential is something that can flower only when we are no longer caught within the influence and limitations of the known. Beyond the realm of the mind, beyond the limitations of humanity's conditioned consciousness, lies that which can be called the sacred. And it is from the sacred that a new and fluid consciousness is born that wipes away the old and brings to life the flowering of a living and undivided expression of being. Such an expression is neither personal nor impersonal, neither spiritual nor worldly, but rather the flow and flowering of existence beyond all notions of self.

So let us understand that reality transcends all of our notions about reality. Reality is neither Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Advaita Vedanta, nor Buddhist. It is neither dualistic nor nondualistic, neither spiritual nor nonspiritual. We should come to know that there is more reality and sacredness in a blade of grass than in all of our thoughts and ideas about reality. When we perceive from an undivided consciousness, we will find the sacred in every expression of life. We will find it in our teacup, in the fall breeze, in the brushing of our teeth, in each and every moment of living and dying. Therefore we must leave the entire collection of conditioned thought behind and let ourselves be led by the inner thread of silence into the unknown, beyond where all paths end, to that place where we go innocently or not at all—not once but continually.

One must be willing to stand alone—in the unknown, with no reference to the known or the past or any of one's conditioning. One must stand where no one has stood before in complete nakedness, innocence, and humility. One must stand in that dark light, in that groundless embrace, unwavering and true to the reality beyond all self—not just for a moment, but forever without end. For then that which is sacred, undivided, and whole is born within consciousness and begins to express itself.

-- Adyashanti

© Adyashanti 2008
www.Adyashanti.org

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Day 29

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Journey Into Now"

IN THE SILENCE OF THE PRESENT MOMENT

In the silence of the present moment, there is no past or future . There are no thoughts, opinions, concepts, or beliefs. There is no judgment. There is no right or wrong. There is no good or bad. There is no condemnation and there is no salvation. There is no despair and there is no hope. There is no blame or guilt. There is no expectation or resentment. There is no fear or desire. There is no separation. There are no divisions or boundaries. There is only this moment of now.

In the silence of the present moment, there is no nationality. There are no religions. There are no beliefs, doctrines, or dogmas. There is no ownership, possession, or control. There is no success or failure. There is no outcome. There is only this moment of now.

A VAST BLUE SKY

When you are fully present and your mind is silent, you are in a state of pure consciousness. I would liken that to a vast and clear blue sky. Not one cloud in sight. When a thought arises, it is like a tiny cloud passing across a vast blue sky.

Do you think that tiny little cloud can obscure the sky? Of course not!

But if you get involved in that tiny cloud, by identifying with it, believing in it, or even trying to get rid of it, you will find yourself being absorbed into it. Th e vast blue sky will no longer be visible or available to you.

On the other hand, if you simply witness the thought as it arises, and you are neither for nor against the thought, then you will remain open to the vast blue sky.

If you continue thinking, so that suddenly there are thousands of tiny little clouds, then the vast blue sky will be obscured.

The sky does not disappear. It is always here, but your awareness of it has been obscured by constant thought. Now you are disconnected from it. Now you have separated y ourself from your essential nature, which is pure consciousness, infinite, silent, and eternal, like a vast blue sky.

THE DREAM

A woman was asleep and dreaming. In the dream, she was on a train and, whilst on the train, she lost her two suitcases. Her two suitcases were her only possessions and she was very upset that she had lost them.

She began going from carriage to carriage, searching for her suitcases. She looked everywhere. She asked everyone if they had seen her suitcases, but to no avail. No matter how hard she tried, she could not find them. She was becoming more and more anxious and more and more desperate. Her dream was turning into a nightmare!

Just then, a car drove past her house next to her bedroom where she was sleeping. The car sounded the horn and she began to awaken out of her dream. She was almost awake, when she remembered that she had not found her suitcases.

"I can't wake up yet," she thought to herself. "I haven't found my suitcases."

She was about to go back into the dream to continue her search, when it occurred to her that if she could only wake up, then she was not on a train and she had not lost her suitcases.

In that moment, she chose to awaken from her dream.

This parable reflects a fundamental truth about our own lives. As children, we came into a world where no one was truly present. We did not receive the unconditional love and acceptance we needed. We were not allowed to be ourselves or express ourselves fully, and some of us even suffered abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to care for us.

Those unfulfilled needs and emotional wounds are our lost suitcases, and we will not awaken from the dream until we find them. We are still searching for love, acceptance, and approval. We are still searching for someone to be present with us. We are still trying to escape from the pain.

But we will never find what we are looking for within the dream. It is only when we awaken from the dream that we realize we are searching for something that was missing in the past. As long as the search continues, we are held in the very past that we are seeking to resolve. As long as the search continues, we will remain lost in the dream.

LOST IN ILLUSION

It is possible to spend a whole lifetime trying to solve problems, overcome limitations, or heal wounds that belong to the past and have nothing to do with the present moment. It would be much easier to awaken into the present moment, where those limitations and emotional wounds do not exist.

BRING CONSCIOUSNESS TO THE DREAM

Some people want to awaken, but the dream will not allow it. If you are caught in the dream, share it. Expose it. Bring consciousness to the dream and it will begin to release you…

-- from Journey Into Now: Clear Guidance on the Path of Spiritual Awakening
     by Leonard Jacobsen

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Day 30

Buddhist Awareness Month

"Everything happens for you, not to you..."

"Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don't have to like it — it's just easier if you do. If you have a problem, it can only be because of your unquestioned thinking. How do you react when you believe that the past should have been different? You scare yourself stuck, because what you resist persists. You get to keep your stressful world, a world that doesn't exist except in your imagination; you get to stay in the nightmare. It hurts to oppose reality, because in opposing reality, you are opposing your very self.

"When you know how to question your thoughts, there's no resistance. You look forward to your worst nightmare, because it turns out to be nothing but an illusion, and the four questions of The Work provide you with the technology to go inside and realize that. [The four questions of inquiry are — 1) Is it true? 2) Can you absolutely know that it's true? 3) How do you react when you believe that thought? and 4) Who would you be without the thought?]. You don't have to grope in the dark to find your way to freedom. You can just sit down and give it to yourself, anytime you want.

"Nineteen years ago a doctor removed a large tumor from my face. I had found inquiry — inquiry had found me — so I didn't have a problem with the tumor. On the contrary: I was happy to see it come, and I was happy to see it go. It was actually quite a sight, and before it was removed I loved being out there in public. People would look at it and pretend not to be looking, and that tickled me. Maybe a little girl would stare at it, then her parents would whisper to her and yank her away. Did they think they would hurt my feelings, or that I was some sort of freak? I didn't feel like one. That tumor on my face was normal for me; it was reality. Sometimes I would catch someone looking at it, then he would look away, then after a while he would look again, then look away, look again, look away. And finally our eyes would meet, and we would both laugh. Because I saw the tumor without a story, eventually he could see it that way, too, and it was just funny.

"Everything turns out to be a gift — that's the point. Everything that you saw as a handicap turns out to be the extreme opposite. But you can only know this by staying in your integrity, by going inside and finding out what your own truth is — not the world's truth. And then it is all revealed to you. There isn't anything you have to do. The only thing you're responsible for is your own truth in the moment, and inquiry brings you to that.

"I once did The Work with a woman who was ashamed of her fingers. She had developed theumatoid arthritis when she was seventeen, and she believed that her fingers were deformed. They weren't normal, she thought, and she suffered a lot from that belief; she was embarrassed even to let people see them. But her fingers were normal: they were normal for her. They were the fingers she had woken up with every morning since she was seventeen. For twenty-seven years they were her normal fingers. She just hadn't noticed.

"How do you react when you believe that what is isn't normal for you? Shame, sadness, despair. Who would you be without that thought? At ease with your condition and loving it, whatever it is, because you would realize that it is completely normal, for you. Even if 99 percent of other people look a different way, their normal isn't your normal: this is your normal. That dear woman's argument with reality was what caused her suffering, not her fingers.

"Give us permission, through you, to have a flaw, because flaws are the norm. When you hide your flaws, you teach us to hide ours. I love to say that we are just waiting for one teacher, just one, to give us permission to be who we are now. You appear as this, big or small, straight or bent. That's such a gift to give. The pain is in withholding it. Who else is going to give us permission to be free, if not you? Do it for your own sake, and we'll follow. We're a reflection of your thinking, and when you free yourself, we all become free."

-- from A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are
     by Byron Katie

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Day 31

Buddhist Awareness Month

"A message on KARMA"

A BEAUTIFUL CONTINUATION

When we look at an orange tree we see that season after season it spends its life producing beautiful green leaves, fragrant blossoms, and sweet oranges. These are the best things an orange tree can create and offer to the world. Human beings also make offerings to the world every moment of our daily lives, in the form of our thoughts, our speech, and our actions. We may want to offer the world the best kinds of thought, speech, and action that we can — because they are our continuation, whether we want it to be so or not. We can use our time wisely, generate the energies of love, compassion, and understanding, say beautiful things, inspire, forgive, and act to protect and help the Earth and each other. In this way, we can ensure a beautiful continuation.

The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said that man is the sum of his actions. This is very similar to our Fourth Remembrance: we have to give up everything and everyone we love. All we take with us and all we leave behind are the fruits of our thought, speech, and action during our lifetime. That is our karma, our continuation. When a cloud is polluted, the rain is polluted. Purifying thoughts, words, and actions create a beautiful continuation.

Buddhism uses the word "karma." Karma is action — action as cause and action as effect. When action is a cause, we call it karmahetu. That thought, speech, or act will have an effect on our mental and physical health and on the health of the world. And that effect, bitter or sweet, wholesome or unwholesome, is the fruit of the karma, the fruit of the thought — karmaphala. We are continued into the future through the effects of our thoughts, speech, and actions.

Thought and speech are forms of action. When we produce a thought that is full of anger, fear, or despair, it has an immediate effect on our health and on the health of the world. Painful thoughts can be very powerful, affecting our bodies, our minds, and the world. We should make an effort not to produce these kinds of thoughts too often. If you've said something that's not worthy of you, say something else today, and that will transform everything. A positive thought will bring us physical and mental health, and it will help the world to heal itself.

Right speech, as recommended by the Buddha, inspires understanding, joy, hope, brotherhood, and sisterhood. We may say something that expresses our loving kindness, our nondiscrimination, and our willingness to bring relief. Uttering such words makes us feel better in body and mind. Speaking such words several times a day will bring healing and transformation to ourselves, to others, and to the world. Everyone benefits.

The Buddha advises right action because that action will have an effect on our physical and mental health as well as that of the world. We can kill a person, an animal, a tree. Or we can protect a person, an animal, a tree. We have to ensure that our actions are in the direction of Right Action. When we perform a physical act that has the power to protect, save, support, or bring relief, that act brings an element of healing to us and to the world. When you are full of compassion, even if you don't take action your compassion will generate change. Compassion, by its nature, generates compassionate action.

Thoughts, speech, and actions create karma, and we produce this energy of karma every moment of our daily life. Every thought, word, and act carries our signature. That is your continuation, and it is never lost. It is naive to think that after the disintegration of this body there will be nothing left. When we observe deeply, we see that nothing is really born and nothing can really die. Our true nature is the nature of no-birth and no-death. When we practice meditation, we can see this.

The Buddha spoke of the impermanence of things, and many other thinkers have also spoken of impermanence. The sixth-century Greek philosopher Heraclitus said we can never step into the same river twice, because the river is constantly changing. Nothing stays the same for two consecutive moments. A view that is not based on impermanence is a wrong view. When we have the insight of impermanence, we suffer less and we create more happiness.

This is not just philosophy; it is the way things are. When you are angry with your friend, and you are about to have an argument, the Buddha would say to you, "Close your eyes. Imagine yourself and your friend in three centuries. Where will the two of you be?" When you can see where you'll be three hundred years from now, you see that it's not wise to argue, because life is impermanent. If you can touch impermanence, then when you open your eyes you will no longer be angry and the only thing that makes sense at that moment is to open your arms and hug that person.

Perhaps you agree intellectually that things are impermanent, but in your day-to-day life, you act as if things are permanent. Impermanence is not a theory or philosophy; it's a practice. We should practice the concentration on impermanence. Looking at a flower, you see that it is impermanent. Looking at a person, you see that he or she is impermanent. All day long, wherever you look, whatever you hear and see, concentrate on it with the insight on impermanence. It is the concentration on impermanence that will save you, not the idea of impermanence. With mindfulness we can keep the insight of impermanence alive and that will protect us from producing wrong thinking or wrong speech.

Our karma, our actions, continues us. Its manifestation has already started. Our life is a manifestation of our karma, and we can make that manifestation beautiful and meaningful and it will have a good influence on other manifestations now and in the future. If we know how to create the energy of love, understanding, compassion, and beauty, then we can contribute a lot to the world, positively influencing other manifestations. We don't have to wait until our bodies decompose for our continuation to begin. If the manifestations occurring in the present moment are beautiful and good, their continuation will be also beautiful and good.

When we look into our bodies and our consciousness we see that we are a complex organism. There are so many species, so many elements that can be found in our body and in our consciousness. In every cell we can see the whole history of humanity, of the Earth, and the cosmos. Each cell in our body is capable of giving us all kinds of data and information concerning the cosmos. A single cell can tell us a lot about our ancestors; not only human but also our animal, plant, and mineral ancestors. Every time we make a step during walking meditation, we are moving like an organism, we are moving like the cosmos, and all our ancestors move with and take steps with us. Not only our ancestors, but our children and their children move with us. The one contains the all. When we're capable of making a peaceful, happy step, all our ancestors are making the step at the same time.

We know that our parents, our ancestors, and our teachers all expect us to live our lives in a way that will protect our planet. We have to allow our ancestors, our teachers, and the Buddha in us to act. We should maintain an ongoing conversation with our ancestors, both spiritual and genetic, so that we can continually renew our insight and determination on the path of service, love, and protection. Our time, our life, is for fulfilling the expectations that our spiritual and blood ancestors and our teachers have of us. We should not allow time to slip away without realizing this. Living and practicing this way will bring us a lot of joy and will allow us to transmit the best things we have received from our ancestors to our children and their children.

-- from The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology
     by Thich Nhat Hanh

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