Buddha statue quiet lake
All is Well (pt 1)
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All is Well (pt 1) (13 min.) MP3
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
July 19, 2009 - Dallas, Texas

First of all, I would like to mention that as we were walking together, my heart just felt so opened, and especially when I saw Joseph doing his kind of orbiting around. It was so beautiful. And it just made me realize that if we are all going at our own different walking pace in our own different ways with our own different bodies and our own different rates and speeds and shapes, just like the subatomic particles are doing the same thing, just like the plants and the moons are doing in the solar system, just like the suns and stars are doing in the galaxies. This is reality, and when we practice, we really open up to that reality, even if it's just glimpses here and there.

I also thought about how we just were practicing in silence and maybe some people in their minds were saying things like, Amitabha, or someone else is, All is well, or someone else is something else like, I am home, here and now. Or someone else is just feeling and not even thinking anything, and yet we were all able to practice together through the universal language of silence. And silence can be the expression of our unity and diversity, so all of our beautiful diversities can come together and be together practicing together in the silence of our unity.

And thinking about our unity here makes me think about our connections with others in the world, particularly those who are practicing in a similar tradition as ours. Our lineage is inspired by the practices and teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village practices in the communities of mindful living around the world. I say that it is inspired by rather than solely based on, you know, because there is a difference. I think that what makes this sangha special is that we're both centered and grounded in tradition and also open at the same time. So I do not say that we are the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, but we are inspired by. So we can be inspired as a basis, those basic practices, and then of course we bring in other elements of our own unique flavors in Dallas, Texas.

There is a community in Vietnam of 400 monks and nuns right now. Just a couple of years ago, Thich Nhat Hanh, our teacher, was allowed to go back to Vietnam for the first time in several decades of being excluded out of the country. Finally, the government allowed him to come back, and one of the monasteries that he used to be at opened its doors to him and said, Please come and enjoy practicing here, and bring in your monks and nuns here and teach others your ways. And so for the last couple of years they have been doing that, but today, this past week for whatever reasons, local governments and some of the local Buddhists have been opposing Thich Nhat Hanh's community there, and they cut off the water supply and the electricity and they're basically trying to starve out the monks and nuns, and sometimes there were a few mobs coming in and they wrecked the furniture of the temple trying to force them to leave.

So even as that is happening, I just wanted to realize that we are never practicing alone, that we have brothers and sisters in the practice all over the world, including in Vietnam. So as we are practicing, we do not just focus on our own self, but we practice knowing that we are practicing in solidarity with others, and I hope that you will practice this coming week in solidarity with the monks and nuns at Bat Nha in Vietnam, just sending your metta, your lovingkindness, and your mindfulness, so that they will do well in the practice.

But you know, even if they get thrown out, it is not the end of the world. Sometimes difficult situations occur because it is the sneaky universe's way of spreading the Dharma. I mean, think about the Dalai Lama and Tibet. Because of the Chinese government taking over Tibet, which is a terrible thing of course, but because of that the Dalai Lama and many Tibetans fled, and within just a few decades, the beautiful jewels of this secret kind of Buddhism in Tibet were spread around the world. Tibetan Buddhism's teachings have spread around the world.

And also, because Vietnam exiled Thich Nhat Hanh out of the country for so many decades, of course that was a terrible thing, but at the same time it resulted in this kind of practice that we are practicing here all around the world and has helped hundreds of thousands of Westerners to relate to the practices of mindfulness in a way that can be relevant for us. And so I also believe that if the results of this persecution of this community in Vietnam are such that they will be thrown out of the monastery, I still believe that it could be the sneaky universe helping the Dharma to spread across Vietnam and Asia in this particular way.

And so I see all these monks and nuns after 2 years of being grounded in this particular way of practice--because in Vietnam and in many Asian countries, Buddhism in many places has become somewhat just ritualized, somewhat just all about meditation and chanting and not very much about meditation and practical, modern ways of practice. So that is why so many people love the way of Thich Nhat Hanh and other teachers because they are bringing the practices into a more relevant, modern way, and so I can see these monks and nuns spreading across to other monasteries and just practicing and helping to spread a kind of practice that is more relevant and also practice that is more socially engaged and practical. And maybe that will transform Vietnam in the next few decades, and maybe spread across other Asian countries, and you may see most of these practices transforming all of Asia by the next century. You just never know.

So this goes back to the mantra that came to me in meditation a few days ago, all is well. Even if in our own personal lives there certain difficulties or negativities or changes of circumstances or whatever, in the midst of that at the deepest level there is the truth, all is well. These kinds of mantras that come to me, they only come once every 6 months to a year, and they are extremely powerful when they come to me, not just a passing thought, but just as if my innermost wisdom speaks very loud and clear to me. In the past there has been: here and now, I am home, thy will be done, and now, all is well. But to me, they all mean the same thing as Amitabha, the infinite light.

All of them are the same meaning, just expressed in different ways, and so I just share that with you just to help encourage us that no matter what, all is well, that there is some greater working that is taking place in the universe, and we might not be able to see the full picture from our little perspective, but if we get in touch with our true nature deep within, there wells up that encouraging energy that says, All is well. And so we can continue to practice, even in the midst of difficulties, even if our mind is kind of going crazy, our body is aching, we feel fidgety, and yet, all is well. And even if monks and nuns are being thrown out the monastery, all is well.

This reminds me of a Chinese proverb or saying, story, that maybe you have heard before. There was a farmer who has an older son, who was helping him in the fields, and one day one of their horses ran away, and so they have less help on the farm, and all the neighbors said, What bad luck. And then the next day the horse came back with another horse, and then all the neighbors said, Oh, what good luck. And as the son was trying to tame this new horse, he fell off and broke his leg and all the neighbors said, Oh, what bad luck. And then the Chinese army came through and enlisted all of the men of a certain age into the Army and took them away. Most of them would probably never see home again, but they did not take the farmer's son because the had a broken leg, and all the neighbors said What good luck.

But it is just the minds of limited thinking, the monkey mind, the ego mind, the judging mind that simply tries to label things as good luck or bad luck. But at the deepest level of true Buddha nature, true wisdom, there is only everything just as it is, and all is well. Now I used to really not like people who would say, Oh, everything is perfect. All is well. It's all good. That was just meant to happen. I hated that. I just thought it was so stupid and superficial and hokey pokey and New Agey and all that stuff, until I had my opening experience, a glimpse of enlightenment, just a small line, and oh, all is well. Right.

But that truth is already within each of us, whether or not we have had an opening tonight yet or not, and all of us will, and we will have many openings and more and more and bigger and bigger. It just is never ending, but even if we haven't even had the first glimpse of that yet, that truth is still resonating at some deep level of our being, and so when we practice, we can even taste it. You know? In each breath, in each step, in each heartbeat, in each molecular vibration, all is well.

Transcribed by Jessica Hitch

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