Buddha Himalayas
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"I Am Home"
Transcript of a talk delivered by Br. ChiSing
Breath of Life (Interfaith Mindfulness Fellowship)
Lunar New Year "Celebration of Joy"
February 10, 2008 - Dallas, Texas

I just came back from a weekend in Austin. I was invited to be a keynote speaker at this conference for young adults and for, well, anyone who wanted to attend. But it was mostly college students and youth groups—hundreds of young people coming together at University of Texas in Austin. And it was called "Reenergize Texas." And it was about looking at the issues and what we can do, actively, about global warming and the climate change issues and about what we're doing to our planet. I was so inspired by the speakers there and the young people that were working so hard to help transform themselves and our planet.

You know, when we look at the news, and we hear all the stories from the scientists, it's pretty gloomy. But when you go to something like this, and you see these people with enthusiasm and with a determination to make a difference, it can only inspire your heart and give you hope.

A few weeks ago I was in the San Francisco Bay area in California. I was having a cold and I did not feel like flying over there, but I had already told them that I would go there and do a workshop. And, so I went on the plane reluctantly. And, I got there and it was raining and cold. And then my ride didn't get to pick me up because as I was telling her the directions of where I was staying her cell phone died. And so I didn't know what to do so I asked my friend that I was staying with if she wouldn't mind driving me to the BART Station which is like the DART Station. And so I got on the BART and I forgot my cell phone. My cell phone.

And so when I got to the correct station in Oakland where the workshop was going to take place, I had no way of calling the person to pick me up. And it was raining really hard and the wind was blowing. And I was just hoping that somehow they'd guess that they need to pick me up at that time because it's almost time for the workshop. And so all of a sudden I'm sneezing, I'm cold, there's rain, it's dark, it's windy, and my umbrella turned from this shape to this shape…

And in that moment I had a choice.

But I want to share something with you that happened earlier that day that helped me with the choice I did make in that moment.

Mandala Earlier that day I decided to have just a day of mindfulness for myself. All day long, before I had to give the evening workshop. And during breakfast I was eating my cereal and soymilk mindfully and slowly, just enjoying being in my friend's house, beautiful house. And then these words welled up from within my heart to my mind: I am home. So as I began to just eat with that phrase in my heart: I am home. With every breath: I am home. I had a realization of three very wonderful deep meanings of that simple phrase: I am home. And so during the whole day I just used that as my mantra, I am home, wherever I was.

And so in that moment at the BART station, outside, in the rain and the cold and the wind, I just laughed as my umbrella went from this shape to this shape. And I just said, "I am home!"

People walking by me thought I was a little crazy, but I felt so good because I realized that I had a choice. I could say "I hate this, I don't want this, I am not feeling home right now."

Or I can just say "I am home" to the rain, "I am home" to the wind, "I am home," to this weather; I am home in this body; I am home in this moment. And that's what I did.

And finally I checked again in my pocket and actually I did have my cell phone with me. So I called my friend and he picked me up and took me. And I had just a few minutes before the workshop started, and I chose to sit, to prepare by sitting. And there were a few logistical things that needed to get done. But I decided if I have to choose between doing the logistics or sitting and preparing my own heart, I need to do the latter. That's one lesson I had to learn the hard way, as a spiritual leader. It's so much more important for the speaker—the presenter—to present themselves. So if you have to choose between logistics and yourself, the state of your heart and mind and body, then go for the latter. Now, hopefully you won't have my situation and you can do both: prepare the logistics and prepare your heart. But I chose to sit and I just told everyone, "you can wait a few minutes for me", and just allowed myself to open myself to the universe and to be home.

And as I led that workshop for three hours that evening, I just was so full of joy I didn't even feel the cold in my body. I was so full of joy, so full of love. And every single person that was in that room, by the end of the evening, every one of them, when we did the sharing at the end, said their hearts were opened and they just felt this incredible joy and they really got the message of "I am home". In fact that's what I shared with them: I am home.

And that's what I'd like to share with you tonight. On the back of your program is a nice visual of the meaning of "I am home".

So as we start practicing meditation and spirituality in our lives most of us are just trying to be at home in the here and now. Trying to, like, find our place. I remember a few weeks ago someone said, "I am a seeker". A lot of us start out seeking, trying to find that peace. Where can I find peace? Where can I find that stillness and that peace inside and around me? And so in the beginning stages of our practice we're trying to center, we're trying to ground and we're trying to be at home in the here and now. We're trying to be home with this body and mind, home with peacefulness.

But eventually we will have a glimpse, perhaps a few small glimpses at first, and then maybe a definitive glimpse—breakthrough—into a deeper meaning of, "I am home". Which is, I Am Home. I am the home. I am one with God. I am one with all. I am Buddha nature in expression. And I don't need to look for it anywhere else because everywhere I go, there I am. Everywhere you are, God is, as the Christians would say. Everywhere you are, Buddha is. I Am Home, with a capital "I", "A", "H".

I remember having a small glimpse experience. And I've had several of them for the last several years, up until last fall when I had a very major glimpse, a breakthrough experience. And enlightenment isn't just a one-time deal. Enlightenment is who you are and it breaks through over and over and over again. It starts small and perhaps there is a definitive moment, but as Thich Nhat Hanh, my teacher says, enlightenment never ends. Enlightenment always unfolds, always manifests and expresses infinitely. I remember one small little glimpse experience I had a couple of years ago after this retreat… My new friend Jared and I, who came and visited our sangha this past summer. We were at the retreat at the same time and we decided to stay one day extra. And so we woke up in silence, we nodded to each other, and we mimed to each other, "We're going to walk, and then we're going to meditate and sit, and then we're going to go and eat." And we did everything in silence. "And we're going to take a little hike," we didn't say a single word. We just did everything in silence. And then we went to the tearoom, and got two cups of water and we sat down with our cups of water. And I sipped that water very slowly, very deeply, very mindfully, very gratefully, for fifteen or more minutes—that one cup of water.

And maybe because of the retreat experience or maybe because of practicing with my friend Jared for one extra day, I suddenly had my heart opened like I had before. And once again it opened and expanded. And I just felt all the water of this cup and all the water in my blood, and all the water of the oceans and the rivers and the clouds of the earth, as one water. And I realized if we pollute the waters of the earth then I am polluting my own body. And if I pollute my own body I am polluting my whole planet. And it is this realization that I shared as one example with the young adults at this conference in Austin. Maybe not everyone is ready to do sitting meditation or even walking meditation. But I think everyone can do drinking water meditation. If every single person could just drink their water mindfully and share this practice with their friends and their schoolmates and their coworkers and their congregations, I believe we'll have a profound collective breakthrough and awakening to our oneness, to the inter-being of all things, all beings.

And when we have this breakthrough and if we have a major one, sometimes we're, like, so enthralled in it, this oneness, that we don't want to, like, come back down to earth. But eventually we do, because if we stay in that state and reject the manifest world, we get what we call Zen sickness. We get really blissed-out neurotics. There's a reason why we came and manifested as these beautiful forms. Yes, we do need to transcend our small self and remember who we really are. But in that remembering, we infuse this small human mind and body once again with that remembering so that we can carry on the work once again in mindfulness, in truth that we are to be a home: a refuge for all beings. That we are here to manifest and create a life, a career, relationships that express and manifest love for the benefit of all beings, all species, all humans. And so, I am a home for all beings. That was the main message I shared with the young adults at this conference. I shared with them the mantra I am home. To always remember in our activism, this is our home, this is the home for all of us, of every religion, of every culture, of every language and ability, of every orientation. This is the home for all species. We must take care of our home.

This is the Year of the Rat. And so, once upon a time there were three blind mice, which were cousins of the Rat. And these three mice were named Buddha Mouse, Dharma Mouse and Sangha Mouse. And they came upon this elephant. And one blind mouse came upon the elephant's trunk. And another blind mouse came upon the elephant's tail. And another blind mouse came upon the elephant's ear. And they began to feel these parts. And when they were asked, "What is an elephant like?" Buddha Mouse said, "Well, an elephant is like a really long hose."

And Dharma Mouse said, "No, an elephant is like a little whip with a little furry thing at the end."

And Sangha Mouse said, "No, you're both wrong. An elephant is like a pancake."

And whereupon this friend who asked them this question revealed who he was— the Buddha, himself—and said, "You are all right, my friends. And you are all wrong. We can only come to this elephant of reality from our different angles. But only when we share our insights collectively can we truly know the full truth."

So may Buddhists and Christians and Jews and Muslims and Hindus and Taoists and agnostics—may everyone—share their insights with each other, with respect, with love, and with the knowledge that we only each have a partial perspective of the truth. And only by coming together like this, can we begin to glimpse the reality that we are one. We are love. And We Are Home. Thank you.

Transcribed by Chelsea German

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