Prayer flags 8-fold path wheel
True Nature Behind the Appearance
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True Nature Behind the Appearance (15 min.) MP3
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
Awakening Heart (Community of Mindful Living)
November 22, 2009 - Dallas, Texas

What a wonderful evening so far. You know, I was noticing in my body, my energy was feeling something. I'm not sure what to call it yet. It is been that way for the last few days. I don't know if it is just a cycle that my body is going through, or if I'm just sensitive to the energy in the world right now. It is just I have not slept very well the last several nights, and there is just some kind of energy. When I sat here before we started, just to settle in, I began to feel at peace in the here and now. But I still have that little bit of a knot in my stomach still, some kind of energy in my body.

Then when I heard Gary play the piano and Cornell play the flute to his beautiful song—I've heard that many times before live and on CD—but I really heard it tonight, and it was not just the flute I heard. I heard Cornell's true nature expressing as his music, and I just started to cry. And it made me realize that that is why there is a universe, and that is why there is not just infinite potentiality and infinite, vast emptiness and spirit. Which, it could be that way. Buddha nature could just be its infiniteness without expression in the finiteness. That is why.

I realized tonight that is why the Buddha nature, the divine nature has chosen to express itself as the infinite, the variety of finite forms and expressions so that something like that can be manifest. Music. Music cannot happen without time and space and sound and all these different physical aspects of reality. So, that is why this exists, so that that vast infinite that nature can manifest and the beautifully creative in unique ways, even though it is a fragile physicality, even though there are crazy, messy aspects to the physicality of reality. Yet is because of that fragility and craziness that beauty like that can come through, exquisite, beautiful beauty through the different forms, whether through music or through words or through actions or through relationships or through an amazing love life, through a smile, through a child. That is why.

And as I was listening to the song, it reminded me of the time several years ago when I was having a major difficulty with my mother, unlike just the normal difficulties with my mother. It was a very major difficulty. And a friend of mine told me, "ChiSing, the next time you have to interact with your mother, whether in person or on the phone, beyond the yelling words that you might be hearing, listen to her soul. Listen to her true nature, and see what happens." And so that's what I did.

The next time I was on the phone with my mom, I had to like bring the phone little bit further away. She is really loud. But then I just started to really listen to her soul, listen to her true nature. And what I heard was this beautiful being, expression of the infinite manifesting in this limited, finite form going through the emotions and the characteristics of being a personality, a human self. But I felt this playful wisdom behind that. She was being the way she was being for me, because that is exactly what I needed to become who I am today.

And so I was able to just smile as I was listening to her yell because I realized that the yelling was just the human personality self, but her true self was simply loving me, just simply being wisdom, and just being infinite, spacious openness and allowing this human manifestation to take place out of love for me so that I could have the kind of parents that I had, the kind of growing up that I have, the kind of education that I had, the kind of financial resources that I had, so that I could be exactly what I am today, right this moment.

So as I listened to the music at the beginning, I realized that that is Buddha playing music, and Cornell is a wonderful friend of mine. We have known each other for a few years, but like all friendships, there's always going to be some friction sometimes, right? I'm sure you all have that in all relationships. And when I heard that and I really heard the Buddha, when I really heard true Cornell, it was like it made everything worth it. And it was like we were just playing all these different parts and all these different roles for each other.

And in my mind, I visualized—it just came from a play yesterday that I saw. All the actors, some were tragic actors. Some were comedic actors, but at the very end they all came out on stage, and we were just dancing and applauding, and they were all just happy. They did their parts and their roles, but at the end, they celebrate each other for whatever role they did play, whether it was a small part, a big part, a tragic part, a comedic part, a romantic part. Whatever part it was, it didn't matter. That was just the role they were playing, and they all congratulated each other for doing a really great job.

And I really feel that is what we're all about. In the end, after we have played our different roles and parts, there's only simply congratulations and celebration and joy that we have all played our parts so beautifully, whether the part was to be a janitor or to be the president, to be a musician or to be a doctor, to be a mother or to be a teacher. These are just our roles, but they are not who we are. But these roles are the way who we are is expressing and manifesting so that all of us can create this beautiful thing called life together. And everything in the end will be seen to fit perfectly. All the different things that brought us joy helped inspire us. All the things that brought suffering and hardship helped to make us stronger. Everything will fit in eventually, and we will see that and celebrate it, and just say, "Congratulations."

A few weeks ago, or maybe months ago I guess, I was really grappling with the question of what is reality? What is real? Because as you deepen your practice, things start to lose their reality, and you start to question what you used to think is reality. And I was going through that very strongly, and I was not even sure if I was dreaming everything. There is this Taoist quote that says, "Is it Lao Tzu who is dreaming about the butterfly, or is the butterfly dreaming about Lao Tzu?" So I was really grappling with that. What is reality? What does it mean to say that certain perceptions of reality or just an illusion or a dream?

And finally, after this seven-day retreat meditation, the answer—at least one aspect of the answer. I don't think it's necessarily the full answer, but one aspect of the answer welled up from deep within me, a wisdom that is already always right there in all of us. And my answer that came was this visual of clay and someone creating out of this one massive clay different blobs out of it separating out from the one piece of clay and creating a human, a dog, a tree, a house, maybe a black person, a white person, an Asian person, a Latino person, older person, younger person, or a person, straight person, whatever. All these different things.

The truth is that if you believe that all these different separate things are actually separate, and they are fundamentally basically only what that manifestation is, that is delusional thinking. That is not the truth because the truth is that all these are actually not what they seem. They are not separate, not fundamentally just this appearance. They're actually fundamentally the oneness, the one, infinite reality, the true nature, Buddha nature, Christ nature, divine nature, infinite light, Amitabha, whatever you want to call it. That is who we are. That is what the whole of reality really actually is.

But the flipside of that is some people can get caught up in just the oneness and say, "Well, then I don't really need to respect this or this. This is just all a delusion. This is a dream because it is really only just the oneness." But that is being caught in the other extreme of delusion, because the other side of this truth that we are one is that this oneness is this book, is this bell, is this beautiful person, is myself, is the universe. And so each manifestation is to be deeply bowed to, respected, honored, and cherished because it is a unique manifestation of the one divine life. You see?

So let us not get caught in either kind of delusional thinking where we think that this typical appearance is just the way it is, that you are separate from me. That is a delusion. And the other side of the delusion is if we just are so caught in oneness that we do not see the unique beauty of each individual expression to be honored, to be respected because it is Buddha. It is the divine. Wow. How awesome that the divine, which is infinite, can actually express as this miracle of miracles.

So I am very grateful today that I get to sit with the divine, the Buddha nature manifesting just as this. It is so beautiful, and inside each of us, there is a cheerleading team congratulating all of us. Wow. Only Buddha could've thought of all this craziness. Only the divine could have thought of something like this. It is crazy, glorious, messy, divine existence. So my encouragement for all of us today is no matter what the surface reality appears to be, can we find the gratitude somewhere in it?

Can we focus on the true nature behind the appearance, just like the way I was listening to my mother on the phone, listening to her true nature? Because you know, that is a pretty darn hard role for Buddha to play. Man. Boy, Buddha sure is playing that role really well. So, congratulations. More power to you, mom. Wow. Because I don't want to do it. Thank you.

Transcribed by Jessica Hitch

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