Several years ago, I remember wishing that I could have one of those mystical experiences that I sometimes read about or hear about. And then it happened. But what was embarrassing was that it happened in the middle of deep physical intimacy with someone I cared about, and for many years, I did not tell anyone about it because it was not on a mountaintop. But I want to share this with you because it has stayed with me all these years.
It was an opening of my spirit to the whole universe, to all the galaxies dancing with each other and all the molecules and atoms dancing with each other. It is simply love making love to love. That is what the whole universe is all about. It is simply God dancing with God, Buddha manifesting Buddha.
A couple of years ago when I was doing walking meditation at a monastery with some friends, maybe because my friends that were there were so deep and solid in their practice, during that walking meditation, my heart just opened, and my mind chatter was not the normal mind chatter. It was as if instead of having a layer of thought between me and reality, that layer just wasn't there anymore, and it was just reality, just the tree, just the cloud, just the sky, just the grass, just everything.
And as I continued walking, I didn't realize that there are hundreds, thousands, millions of love letters from the universe, love letters from God, love letters from the Buddha, love letters from life just waiting to be opened within and all around us. But it needs us to be mindful and to be truly, deeply present for those love letters to be opened, and then we can receive them.
You know, that is what worship is. That is what real worship is. It is not praising or whatever. It is living so mindfully and presently that you are actually receiving the message that has been waiting for you for eons. Have you ever given a gift to someone? Wasn't it a wonderful gift back to you when they received it, really received it? The universe is waiting for us to receive all these beautiful love letters.
And an interesting thing is when we receive these love letters every day regularly in our life and practice, we begin to realize that we ourselves are love letters, too, that we are love letters to the universe. Each and every one of us is a different love letter waiting to be around, waiting to be shared. And there may be love letters within you that you don't even know about yet.
About a year ago as I sat down on the meditation cushion in Austin preparing to give a talk to the Dharma Punks group—they're kind of radical down there in Austin—I suddenly had this realization that meditation is just simply love. When you sit, you're just opening yourself to the reality that is already and always there. In every moment, there are so many gifts being given to us, and when we sit, we receive them. We realize them. We are aware of them, and that is the way of making love to the universe and allowing the universe to love us. So ever since then, I have not been sitting in the same way. Instead of sitting like this is like my discipline and my duty, no, this is my opportunity to just to love and be loved in this moment.
And so as I shared with the group last Sunday, if you practice meditation maybe once a month, wonderful. That practice is for your benefit, and if you decide tonight to practice more than once a month, then that is for the benefit of all beings. If you practice already right now every day, and if you add—let's say you practice from 1 to 20 minutes every day. If you practice a little bit more than that, that first 20 minutes is for you, and any minute after that is for all beings. If you practice with a group in community meditation maybe once a week or so, wonderful. That is for your benefit. And if you can practice at home by yourself as well and not just at the group, then that is for all beings.
This is love. When we practice meditation and we practice any of our other spiritual practices in that heart of love, it creates powerful reservoirs of positive energy that ripple across our planet and the world and the universe. I don't have too much to say tonight, so that is all I would like to share, just a reminder that we are love expressing as love, that we are light expressing as light, and that we are life expressing as life.
We need the support of all our wisdom traditions and the support of our ancestors in all traditions. We need to take what is the jewel of wisdom in Christianity and Islam and Judaism and Hinduism, and we need to exercise our wings, because it is not only wisdom from the past. There is wisdom right here and right now. That is the practice of stretching out our wings, the wings of our troops and our life, our love, and our life. So together, roots supporting us and wings taking us to new territories.
That is why I love this church and all New Thought churches, for example—Unity Church and many of my friends here are from the Center for Spiritual Living. They have taken the jewels from wisdom traditions of the past, including Christianity, and they have had wings of newness, of new life, new consciousness, because that is what we need today in our world. You are my oxygen. You are the face of God.