Prayer flags 8-fold path wheel
After the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions
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After the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions (33 min.) MP3
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
Awakening Heart (Community of Mindful Living)
December 13, 2009 - Dallas, Texas

A new beginning is dawning in your life and in your world. All things are passing. At every moment is new. What used to work no longer does. It is time to open your heart to the great change, the great transformation that is taking place. Old habits, old patterns of thinking are being released now. Open your mind. Open your heart. Open your body. Open your whole being to the light that is now dawning a fresh and anew. Dedicate every day the light. Begin every day in the light. Live every day as the light. Close every day in the light and sit in silent meditation every day in the light with every breath. Amitabha. Infinite light. Sukhavati. Happiness manifesting.

You yourself are the infinite light. Your work here is only to manifest true happiness for all beings. Let your light shine. Don't hide it. Let your light express as a love, as clarity, as determination, as the truth, goodness, and beauty that you already and always are. You don't have to struggle so much to feel this love, to intuit guidance. Simply dedicate everything to the light. Entrust yourself completely to the light and rest therein. The light does all the work. The light is love. The light is wisdom. The light is all there really is. It is your true nature. And what the light is, the light does. The light creates true happiness and joy and freedom. Amitabha creates sukhavati. The infinite light creates happiness manifest. The Buddhas create Pure Lands. The Buddha is who you are. The Pure Land is what you do. Amitabha. Sukhavati. Being. Doing. Identity. Function.

And so perhaps you might like to practice this in your sitting and walking meditations. Sit with Amitabha, infinite light as your mantra with every breath. Walk with Sukhavati, happiness manifesting as your mantra with every step. Sit and walk as the infinite light of the Buddha, creating a Pure Land of great happiness with every breath and every step for all beings. You can do it because you are that. Namo Amitabha Buddhaya.

I don't really have much to share as far as words are concerned. Really it can just be expressed in this one sentence, and this came to me on the last day of my spiritual pilgrimage to Australia after I attended a weeklong conference called the Parliament of the World's Religions, where a few thousand people attended, including a speech by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the last day. This sentence is simply this: Choose planetary priorities of peace and progress over personal pleasure, profit, or preferential particularity. If you want to shorten it, you can just simply say, "Choose planetary peace over personal preferences."

And what this means for me is that this is a crucial time in history for our planet, for all of humanity. Everything is accelerating. Population growth is accelerating. Technology is accelerating, and the transition from old ways of thinking to the unknown and the possibility of new ways of thinking is accelerating. So it is very important for us right now to choose one or the planetary priorities right now? Choosing that over simply personal pleasure or corporate profit or simply our own individual happiness. We are being called right now to choose the priorities that are planetary, global, and universal to that we can live as individuals who are simply expressions of sangha, but even as we live our individual lives, it is not an individual that is being expressed. It is the whole sangha that is being expressed through each individual. It is the whole community being expressed through the human person. It is the whole planet, the whole universe being expressed through the one.

In fact, this is always the truth of who we are. We are always simply an individual expression of the whole universe, but we have for many centuries become deluded and blinded in this daydream, in this nightmare sometimes of the ego like minds. That is not to say that the ego is bad. It is just that we have allowed the ego to dominate, to think that it is the boss, when it really isn't, and we're completely allowing just that way of thinking to completely cover our sight.

As I shared before, it is like taking something as beautiful as this perhaps object—and let's pretend this is the ego mind, and it is all we see, and it is everything we see through. But in fact, through our practice of mindfulness, we see that ego has its place. It is a good thing. Individuality, humanness is a good thing. But when it is in its right place of priorities, then it becomes a servant of the whole rather than trying to be the master of everything.

I went to several workshops at the Parliament that I really enjoyed. I went and enjoyed the New Thought workshop. There were maybe 100 people there, but when they raise their hand who was new to New Thought, only three raised their hand, so it was basically preaching to the choir, which basically the people who are part of New Thought came to that particular workshop, which is fine. It's wonderful. We had a good time with Michael Beckwith and others who were there just encouraging us, those were part of the Centers for Spiritual Living and the Unity churches and other kinds of spiritual communities.

I also attended a Buddhist workshop, which was very nice. I met Master Shen Dao, who is a wonderful Chinese meditation teacher, and I also attended the global peace initiative workshop that was facilitated by the Sikhs. And of all the different religions, I actually found myself appreciating all the different major world religions even more than before. Obviously I have before because I was being a professor of world religions at a community college, I have to know the material to teach it. But there's a big difference between textbook learning and personal experience of those and other faiths.

And of course, I have been to many other religious events and ceremonies and communities, but I really found myself really appreciating even more certain of the religions that were represented there, including the Sikh religion. And usually the Sikh religion is skipped over in world religion classes, because it is not really as major as the other ones. It is a smaller religion, smaller than Islam, smaller than Hinduism. Though sometimes because of time, professors might skip it or just give 15 minute in that lecture and that is it. But my goodness, I really enjoyed the Sikhs very much. They're the ones who wear the turbans, and usually the males grow their hair out without cutting it their whole life.

I just found when I was with them, I learned I was reminded that there is a lot of richness in their faith, and they practice meditation and nutritional health and kundalini yoga and all kinds of wonderful things, and to me, they seem like they were sort of the cream of the crop of India in a way. Because since they are a newer religion, they formed in a time period in India where the best of Hinduism and the best of Islam was being expressed in India—sometimes the worst, too—but Guru Nanak was drawing from Source itself, and so at that time in history when Sikhism was formed, he expressed his new faith in ways that were very in harmony with the best in Islam and the best in Hinduism. It is just wonderful.

Now, unfortunately, a couple of hundred years later, the Sikh faith had to make some changes, and one of the changes was because of the persecution that they were facing. They are being slaughtered and massacred, and so the guru at that time put in some new parts of the religion, such as wearing the sword and other things. So today even though we might think of wearing a sword as a sign of violence, for them it is a sign of spiritual diligence of protecting the weak against those who are oppressors, and it really is only used as a last resort. I asked one of the Sikhs if he ever used his sword, and he said in his 19 years of wearing the sacred sword, he never once had to do so. But again, this was the development later on in the religion when they are being slaughtered and massacred, and they probably would've been wiped out completely if the guru at the time 200 years later had not implemented this new part of the religion.

But besides that, wearing a sword, I just find their faith is just so beautiful. And there are so many things that I find in similarity with the Buddhist tradition as well. Another workshop I attended was by Andrew Cohen, who is the editor in chief of the magazine What Is Enlightenment?, which is now called EnlightenNext. And he is friends with Ken Wilber, the interfaith philosopher. And his whole thing is about evolutionary enlightenment, that the heart of the divine impulse within each of us, within the whole universe, there is the impulse toward the new, toward creating, toward expressing what has never been expressed before. And so that is his teaching on evolutionary enlightenment is just that, that we are being called in each moment to create, to express, to manifest, because that is at the very part of the creative impulse of the divine.

Now there are some things that he said that I disagreed with because I felt that he was so emphasizing this new thing of evolutionary enlightenment that he was not emphasizing enough of the other side of reality, which is also that this divine impulse of the creative, of the new, is only one aspect of the divine, and that aspect is within the womb of that aspect of the divine which is beingness, which is infinite rest, which is eternal peace. I'm sure that he understands that part, but because his mission is not about that—there are enough teachers to teach about that—his is all about go, go, go, go, express, express, do, do. But I told him and the question and answer session of the workshop, I said, "If I only did what you are teaching, I would be a very tired Buddhist." Everyone laughed and had a good laugh. But overall, I really enjoyed his talk and I believe his teaching is crucial for today at this time in history to help us to choose planetary priorities, not just personal preferences.

Another workshop I attended was about drug and alcohol abuse from the perspective of the non-dual spiritual religious tradition, and I thought I want to see what this guy is going to say about all that in one workshop. He started off kind of just reading his paper, and it was a little bit boring, it then someone in the audience asked him a question, and then he started to talk more personally from his personal experience, and then the rest of the workshop was wonderful. In fact, there were only maybe 16 people in that workshop, as opposed to the 200 seats the people could've taken in there, but it was actually one of the best workshops because each person spoke actually from their personal experience and from the heart about what his topic was, and what came forth was—actually for me, there were three very major insights that came from that workshop that arose in my heart, which I will probably write into a small book or an essay at some point in time. And I don't remember even what the insights were at this point in time right now, but I wrote them down on a piece of paper, which I will have to find somewhere in my luggage.

But one of the things I loved about the experience in the workshop was it started off as a lecture, which actually most of the workshops were a little bit lecture-y, which is why if I had the choice between attending a conference like that or a Buddhist meditation retreat, I would rather do the retreat, because it is so much more nourishing. It is more holistic, most conferences, that is just the nature of it. There are lots of presentations, lots of lectures that are being given. What I loved about this particular workshop was it started off as a lecture but then it became a sharing of the heart, and it became sangha. It became a model of sangha, how each person was just sharing their wisdom.

One of the insights that came to me from this whole process of the sharing was in our communities, so much of the time we have become dual rather than one or non-dual. It is like we either talk about the topic of addiction or any things like that. It is almost as this okay, we are the pure ones, and we're going to tell you what is right and what is wrong, you know? It is like a community might be just all about that. In fact, it might be that you don't even talk about weaknesses, shadow addictions, or whatever, because we are just pure. We're just here to meditate, we're just here to worship the one.

On the other side, the other kinds of communities that may exist are those communities where for those who are addicted or who have an addiction of some sort, they hang out with just addicts who are still addicted and they are still practicing that addiction, and so it feels good because they can just be themselves, and they can just kind of talk about whatever negativity or whatever. They want to just be real. But for the addict, they don't find a home in either community because in one community, it's not even talked about. It's not allowed to be even talked about, and in the other community, that is all that's happening, and there is no way of getting out of it.

That's why in the non-dual traditions, we need to offer something where both the light and the shadow are integrated, and that is why we need to create sanghas where we can practice the light with an awareness of the shadow, and that anyone can share about whatever is going on—not just addictions, but anything. Any needs, any problems, any issues, any challenges in the practice, whatever. All of it is about. All of it is appreciated. All of it is embraced. And these are the kind of communities we need to embrace, to create, and support at this critical time in history. Otherwise what happens is we just become this split kind of thing, and that is not going to heal the world at all. It is this integrated wholeness.

And one of the things that came up for me as I was listening to the lecturer talk and I was asking questions about his perspective, the wisdom that arose in my heart, one of the parts was that from the non-dual perspective, which is to say everything is Buddha, and so even if someone is addicted, they are Buddha. Buddha is having addiction. That completely changes how you judge what is right or wrong or bad or good, because it is Buddha doing that or whatever. That is booted shrinking. So from that perspective then, from this non-dual, whole reality, what is the lesson? What is the teaching there? To me, the teaching is that since it is Buddha having the addiction, then what is the message of Buddha in this addiction?

And for those who are struggling in their addiction to let go of the expression of the addiction and to hold the impulse in awareness and mindfulness and in a state of vigilance without suppressing it, but holding it in mindfulness, which is very difficult—but holding it, rather than playing it out or suppressing it, because that is the tendency, to suppress it, to not talk about it, to deny that it exists or to just act it out. But the third option, the middle path, is to hold the impulse and to listen to the message of the impulse. And that is very difficult. What is the message?

And all of us are addicts, by the way, of one sort or another. The message that I got out of that particular workshop was listening to the lecturer talk about his process of the fact that why he does what he does. He is a psychotherapist. He works with aboriginal peoples in Alaska, the Native Americans there, working with their communities and helping with addiction problems and other things like that. And he says he does it because he needs to, it has it is one of his ways to not act out his impulse toward addiction. And so take that energy, and he is re-channeling it to helping others. Now of course, he also shared that some days it is really hard. He needs to get away from the patients that he is helping, because it's triggering him, and he takes walks, mindful walks, and then he comes back.

But when I was listening to his life story, the message that I was getting from it, if this is Buddha having the addiction, what is the lesson, the teaching being presented? And to me it is something that relates to this topic of choosing planetary priorities over personal pleasure. It is an opportunity, whatever your addiction is—and we all have our addictions—whatever your particular addiction is, it is to become mindful of the impulse and to choose not to play out that personal pleasure because you're choosing something of a greater priority, the priority of the community, the priority of having life that is functional and helpful in society, the priority of being part of the movement toward evolutionary enlightenment.

Because, see, this impulse for all addicts for personal pleasure, it is not that pleasure is bad. In fact, for many addicts, it is wanting something transcendent. It is wanting to experience something greater than their pain and their suffering. So that impulse is a good impulse to find something greater than the pain and suffering, and impulse toward the transcendent, toward pleasure. But so many times when you express that in the form of an addiction, it becomes such that it makes your life unfunctionable. It makes your life less helpful to your community or to your society or to your own life.

And so, when an addict sees that and they choose to not play out that impulse, but to redirect an impulse toward something greater for the sake of the greater community and of the planet or toward functionality, that creates strength of character. That creates power and wisdom and compassion, and that power, wisdom, and compassion are simply the qualities of a Buddha, a mature Buddha. We are all baby Buddhas, and a mature Buddha is one who has infinite wisdom, infinite compassion, infinite empowerment expressing. So, to me that was so beautiful because it is a message.

And those who are outward addicts are simply a projection of all of us inner addicts, you see? They're just playing it out in a little bit more dramatic way for all of us to see, to look at our own inner, more subtle addictions. So in a way, they are Buddhas doing us a favor, you see? And each of us is being called to choose the planetary priorities over the personal preferences, the personal pleasures. What is that for us? That I think for us in general means one thing and in particular, all of us are just going to have to meditate and find out what that means.

I think for most of us, it can mean that we need to really look at our schedule and look at our lifestyle. Are we making the time to meditate daily? Are we making the time to meet with the sangha weekly? Are we making the time to go to retreats monthly or quarterly or annually? And if we say we don't have enough money to do that, can we reprioritize how we spend our money? Can we reprioritize how we allocate our finances? When I was looking at some of the people that were able to attend the Parliament, most of them were part of the 10% to 20% of the world's population that is able to go to things like this, to fly all the way to Australia and pay for a weeklong conference and take time out from work.

So they're all very privileged people that attended, and I was very aware of that. And being privileged is not a bad thing. It is how we use being privileged. That is what matters. So when we look at our lives and all these other things, most of us here are probably—at least half of us here are in the privileged category. How are we using our privileges? And I thought about some of the people, some of my friends who came to the conference, a couple of them went to do some vacationing after the Parliament, and I chose to go to the Buddhist temple to have a one-day retreat for myself just to be away from all the people.

But I thought about that, and I thought there are a lot of people who can take these very luxurious vacations and spent all this money, and I was watching TV last night, and I thought these people in these movies that were like living these outrageous lives and lifestyles. They don't really have to work. They just kind of spend a lot of money going from this vacation to that, and I thought to myself—and in this particular movie, this person was actually very unhappy and actually committed suicide at the very end of the movie. I thought about that.

Wow, having so much privilege, so much money. It didn't bring happiness. Why? Because when we choose personal pleasure over planetary peace and progress, something inside of us slowly dies, the part of us who is truly our true self, which is the Buddha, which is the divine impulse of love and of the one and of the whole. And so any individual that goes into the ego like that, they're just slowly dying inside, and they can never experience true happiness. That is why seeking the best high or the best pleasure or the most money or whatever, that is actually not going to make you happy. So let that go. Let that go. It is just an illusion.

What is true happiness is when you can sacrifice that personal profit to prioritize toward planetary progress and peace. And that is not meaning that you sacrifice and you make yourself a doormat and you don't take care of yourself. That is not what I'm talking about, but that we take care of ourselves because it is not just for our self. We take care of ourselves because we want to be strong in creating the world for others that is full of peace and love and joy. You see? There's a difference. See, taking care of yourself just because you're taking care of yourself for yourself is different from taking care of yourself because you want to be the best self available to be part of the community, and that is creating a Pure Land so that the infinite light of who we are can shine.

So, because of time, I will share the message that I received from the Parliament in my heart next week, and I really want all of you to come next week as we celebrate the Winter Solstice eve, which is three years before Winter Solstice 2012. So as we were meditating tonight, I really felt the power of all those were practicing with me during the 40-day period. The meditation was very solid tonight, and I think it is because we have been practicing that 40-day period together.

And I also felt that all these Buddhas and bodhisattvas and angels and gurus and spiritual ancestors were all surrounding us as we are meditating, and I believe our whole planet is being surrounded more and more with this presence of all these wonderful light beings. Why? Because this is actually a crucial time in history, and it is going to be accelerating in the next three years even more and more and more, and so we are being called to choose planetary priorities of peace and progress. That is what we are being called to do, and we have a lot of help and support in this, all these cheerleaders. So every time you feel like you just can't meditate today, choose again. Planetary priority over your personal tantrum.

Audience Member: Putzing.

ChiSing: Putzing. Your personal putzing. But next week I will talk about the message I received in my heart, MERSI, M-E-R-S-I. Meditate, evolve, reform, serve, integrate. This is a message to all the world's religions because every religion is wonderful, and it is also terrible at the same time. They're really awful elements in each religion as well as beautiful elements, so each religion is going to be useful in the new era that we are entering into. Each religion needs to reemphasize meditation, spiritual evolution, reformation, service—which means not just serving your own religion, but serving all peoples everywhere—and integration. I will explain all that next week.

And I will close my talk with this beautiful phrase I heard from the Parliament: "If we do not see God in all, we do not see God at all."

Transcribed by Jessica Hitch

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