Dear Students of Enlightenment,
I am so grateful that CSLDallas will be hosting us for the next few months while we continue to search for our own building to rent. I hope to see all of you this Sunday 5 pm and all Sundays in August. The theme is "MEDITATION 101."
A few months ago, one of the young adults wrote me a letter about how much DMC has helped him to begin overcoming many emotional struggles, including shame around sexual orientation, addiction issues, and chronic physical pain. The Five Mindfulness Trainings have been such a blessing to this young man.
Another person who is in the Dalhart prison also wrote and asked for support in his new practice of the Dharma. He and a few fellow inmates want our help in starting a Sangha in his prison.
And last week, one of our members who is healing from cancer too called and left me a voicemail from Plum Village, France, where she is spending a week retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh and his monks and nuns and hundreds of other lay friends. She expressed such tearful gratitude to the Dallas Meditation Center for introducing her to Thay and mindfulness meditation. I feel so grateful that she is able to go to the "Mother Ship" monastery on our behalf this year. We all practice on behalf of each other and all beings.
Also, a dear friend of mine whom I met many years ago at Deer Park Monastery near San Diego, asks for our prayers and "metta" blessings. His wife is currently struggling through metastatic cancer. They have a young child too. Here is a letter she wrote to me today, in response to a prayer that I wrote recently (which I will include at the end of this letter).
"Love you, ChiSing, though I have never met you! Thank you for
being a light as I walk this path. It means so much to me to read
what you write, beautiful brother. Am practicing with round 3 of
chemo, looking forward to a break from chemo when they surgically
remove the small metastasis to my liver after round 4. So grateful
to live at a Mindfulness Practice Center. These limitations you
speak of are so deeply human. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself,
like others get to experience sunshine in a less complicated way
without wondering whether they'll be alive in a year. But I know
there are so many types of suffering and I have many blessings in
my life despite side effects and fearing my son could grow up
without me (it is the biggest gift that I have people I care about
in my life at all). And of course it is always an illusion that we
know what will happen in the future whether we have a cancer
diagnosis or not. Trying to remember this, to experience the gift
of living closer to the awareness of birth/death, as monastics
strive to do. Boy we certainly have some powerful tools to keep us
aware of this. It still feels really surreal that I was diagnosed
with cancer, and then a month ago with metastatic cancer. Thank
you for being with me. For your light and wisdom. It helps me so
much. I feel sad about the suffering. In other moments I think,
wow God really saw us as ready for a whole deeper level of
practice. I am just so inspired by what you do with your precious
time, by how deeply you support others and yourself through the
most fundamental human experiences. It is an honor to know you,
through my sweetie's celebratory descriptions of you, and through
the ways you share yourself with the world online."
I want you to know that our work here in Dallas impacts hundreds, even thousands, of lives both locally and across the country and even around the world. Sometimes I get letters from people as far away as Indonesia, for example, who write to say thank you for our spiritual music CDs and Dharma Talks online. When you support the Dallas Meditation Center, you are supporting so much more good than you may realize.
I hope you will listen to some of my Dharma Talks
online from this year and last.
Here are some recent reflections of mine, plus the Prayer that I mentioned earlier. I look forward to seeing you all this Sunday 5 pm and every Sunday in August at CSLDallas!
SADHANA: Daily Spiritual Practices —
Here is a sample "Sadhana" which you can use as an example to
create your own daily spiritual practice session. It takes me
about an hour, but you can also do this in just 5 minutes or 20
minutes or 45 minutes, etc. (up to you). I usually do this before
breakfast, and sometimes again before dinner too. If early morning
or early evening doesn't work out for my schedule on a particular
day, then I might do it before lunch instead, or even right at
bedtime (although I am more sleepy by then) —
- Mindfully and prayerfully light incense and candles on my altar
- Three or nine (3x3) prostration bows (or more if you like, up to 108)
- Recite a portion of a sutra (perhaps from Lotus Sutra, Heart Sutra, etc.)
- Chanting (such as "Om Mani Padme Hum," etc.)
- Sitting Meditation (silent breath mantra: "Amitabha" or other methods)
- Dharani (such as the "Medicine Buddha of Healing" longer mantra)
- Spiritual Reading (such as "The Five Mindfulness Trainings," etc.)
- Closing Prayer, Bows, etc.
- Practice mindfulness throughout the rest of the day …
For those who may have less time than me, here is a 5-minute version —
- Three prostration bows
- Sitting Meditation (10 mindful breaths)
- Mindful Living …
A REFLECTION ON LIFE, DEATH & BEYOND —
Having had my own semi-near death experience a couple of months
ago in ICU, I can say this now for sure from real experience: we
are never alone, there are invisible companions in spirit
eternally bonded to our souls regardless of time and space, and
underneath the human fears of death is the greater reality of
Divine love, joy and peace within life and death and beyond. We
don't need details. We only need to meet each moment mindfully
here and now, appreciating each day of the journey, not wallowing
in the past, not worrying about the future, but bravely and
gratefully living in the here and the now, no matter what is
present. If you are sick, then be sick, but don't hate yourself
for being sick. Love yourself through every up and down experience
of LIFE. Let your mantra be "Yes and Thank You" every day you have
GRATITUDE TO THE BODY —
Dear BODY, I just want to say "thank you" for being such a miracle
of LIFE! Despite a cancer tumor growing in you for over a year,
you are still so full of life. You still breathe and walk and
digest and eliminate so wondrously. You are able to get over
pneumonia in just a few weeks. You allow me to see, hear, taste,
smell and touch. What daily miracles you allow me to experience!
Life is truly abundant, today. I am so GRATEFUL to you, dear
Body. Thank you!
MY HEART'S PRAYER —
Oh Beloved, Spirit Divine, Infinite Light of my life,
My future is unclear, shrouded by the clouds of uncertainty.
I cannot even say if I will be around next year.
I am constrained by my physical circumstances of sickness and health
to simply live, to live simply, one day at a time,
one week at a time, one month at a time.
Life and death are so close.
An odd couple, faithful companions on this journey
from here to hereafter and perhaps back again.
Oh my Love, I am not afraid.
And even when I am afraid, I know You hold me even in my fears.
Thank You for all the experiences and lessons
and opportunities of service these past 45 years.
Thank You for eyes that have seen so much beauty,
ears that have heard such sublime music,
for the fragrance of roses and the taste of berries,
for the orgasmic caress of lovers,
and the amazing ability to imagine and daydream.
Thank You for my crazy family and the few faithful friends
who companion my heart for years and lifetimes.
Thank You for all my spiritual teachers, both ancient, past, and present.
Thank You for this beautiful home we call Earth.
And thank You for our eternal home we call Heaven.
I cannot thank You enough.
My worship is my gratitude.
And a life worth lived.
Let me be as mindful as possible,
so that I can savor every moment, here and now.
This is my heart's desire, my prayer, my gift laid gratefully at the altar of Life.
Thank You, thank You, thank You!
Aum & Amen.
— Brother ChiSing