I would like to share with you tonight about the 10-10-10 spiritual practice for 10 weeks. But I would like to preface it with some personal experiences that I had during the last week with my vacation time with my family in Colorado. I don't have time to go into some of my other experiences in Austin and other places, but I will just talk about Colorado for now. It was a family vacation. They agreed to my request that I have time every day for a few hours to go away and do my own thing, and that was the agreement for me to go. So we went first to Colorado Springs, and it was very lovely, with lots of nature and rock formations and things like that, and there was a sangha in Colorado Springs the next day, in the evening. So they were going to go see this particular tourist site, and I did not want to go, and they were arguing with me, "No. We should stick together. This is a family vacation."
And then I reminded them of their promise to me. I stuck my ground. I almost gave in, but I stuck my ground because I knew if I don't take care of myself, it is not going to be good for them. Because taking care of yourself is how you take care of your family. Taking care of yourself is how you take care of your friends. Taking care of yourself is how you take care of the world. So they dropped me off at the Zen center, which was actually on their way to wherever they were going anyway, and I was so happy that I did it because it was the most wonderful experience. They are such a unique sangha. The way they do things, it is very creative, and I learned a lot from them, and their teacher was one of the best Zen teachers I have ever met. She just radiated the deep and true dharma, and I just loved it, and we connected very, very well, and we talked afterwards, and I gave her my music CD, and she invited me to come back to Colorado Springs and lead some singing and do some kind of event if I would like. So I am looking forward to that.
So afterwards, I felt yes, I definitely was meant to go into that, and I did it because I said yes to myself. I said yes to my true needs and to my agreement with my family. So that afterwards, I realized, yes, it was definitely meant to be that I was meant to be there. Later, we went to Vail, Colorado, which is a beautiful, beautiful little town that is modeled after Switzerland, and it is gorgeous, but the whole entire time, my family just wanted to go shopping. After one day, that was okay, but I decided the next day instead of another day of shopping, I was going to take a Greyhound bus to Denver and visit my dharma friends, especially John and Sarah whom I actually met and married two years ago, and now they have a one-year-old baby. And a few other friends as well.
So I did. I took the Greyhound bus, much to their consternation, and they did not really make too much of a fuss. Just okay. That's fine. They know that I like to do what I like to do, so I went to Denver for one day, and during that time, I visited several different Buddhist temples and monasteries and Zen centers and talked to different teachers at the Center for Spiritual Living in Denver, and the minister just loved meeting me, and she told me after our meeting together that she would like me to preach at their Sunday service in October and do a workshop that afternoon, and the sangha that I went to in the evening, they asked me to sing songs because 10 of them remembered me from last year's retreat in Colorado because I sang for 1,000 people last year, and they all remembered me, and they said, "We sing songs," and afterwards, they invited me to come back when I am in town again and lead a retreat or a workshop for the sangha. So I'm definitely going back to Colorado, hopefully in October.
So I knew from that experience that it was meant to be. By following my heart and being true to my heart, things unfolded beautifully. Now the next day, I was supposed to fly back to Texas, to Austin, and so my friends drove me to the airport. John and Sarah, and we were kind of running a little late, because we went to visit one more Buddhist temple before we went to the airport. So we're just a little bit behind, but not too much. We still get their little less than an hour before the flight, which usually is okay. Since I didn't have anything to check in, I could just use the kiosk and electronic thing, so that is what I tried to do, but as we are going there, he decided last minute not to take me directly to drop me off, but to go into the parking lot parking garage because he wanted to make sure that I would be okay and everything. And I thought to myself, actually that is not helpful, because that actually will slow me down, but I didn't say anything, because I just thought I was so grateful for his generosity, and I thought, well, okay. I will go along with this.
So then we circled around four times on the first level, four times on the second level, and finally on the third level, I was thinking, okay. This is the universe telling me something. Maybe I won't make my flight. Then finally there was a car that looked like somebody was walking to, so we waited three minutes for them to walk to their car and get in their car, and then they finally pulled out, and then their car died, and then we waited another two minutes for them to get out of their car and push the car slightly out so we could park in their spot. And then, when we got to the line inside the airport, there's a bit of a line, and the kiosk thing was not working, and so I waited. And then finally, I was at the desk, and then the woman said, oh. I'm sorry. Give me two more minutes. I need to restart my computer. Then when the computer started back up again, she checked me in and said, "I am sorry. You just missed the cut off by 30 seconds, and I can't do anything about it, but here. Let me call my supervisor." And the supervisor of course did not answer, and there is nothing she could do, and I cannot get on that flight, so I was going to miss teaching for meditation class in Austin that evening.
Now, usually I would be very, very angry, very frustrated, very scared, and very upset that all these people who are depending on me to lead meditation that evening were going to be disappointed, and I had all these thoughts. Usually I would've had all these thoughts about my reputation is going to be marred and everyone is going to show up. There are going to be 100 people showing up, and no one is going to be there and all these things. But I didn't. Because after several days of practicing just in real-life retreat—that is why I'm calling it, a real-life retreat—if you can't go off to a monastery or temple, then you can practice retreat right here right now at home, a real-life retreat. So that is what I was practicing, a real-life retreat for several days. So my reaction was maybe the universe has something else in store for me. Maybe the universe has some other plan, and I'm just going to allow it to unfold. Because really, there was not much I could do. Because after seeing all these little things happen together, I knew the universe is going to make me miss that flight no matter what. No matter what it took with these different things, you know? And if it wasn't this, it would've been something else.
I was not supposed to be on the flight, so to make a long story short, I got another ticket for free for the next day. I almost had to pay for it, but then some other lady came and said, "No. Look at the status. He can get a free ticket for the next day." Otherwise I would've had to stay at the airport all day long and fly at night and come back after midnight, which is ridiculous. So I had a ticket for the next day. I came back with John and saw some more Buddhist temples, and actually that is where I attended the sangha who asked me to sing and to come back. So was all meant to be.
I was really happy with how it turned out, and also my roommate in Austin, Sebastian, I asked him to be my substitute, and he had never let a meditation group before, but he had led yoga groups before, and so I said, "Just go for it," because he is a wonderful meditator and a wonderful person. Just go for it. And he did. He loved it. He learned from the experience, and he got really excited about maybe he could become a meditation facilitator someday. He already knew it was in him. He just needed a little push, and said this was a beautiful opportunity for him to be set on the path toward becoming a future meditation facilitator. And everyone who I talked to who came to it just loved it and said they really enjoyed it, so it was perfect. It was all wonderful.
You see, it all was what it was, but I could have lost the opportunity to be at peace if I had chosen to react in upset and anger and resistance. Everything for everyone else would've been the same except for me, but my choice in that moment, in those moments, was not to resist, but to flow with reality and to see does God has something else planned for me here? Does the Buddha have another idea in store for me here? Does the universe have something else to unfold than my human ego thinking mind? You see? And so, there was only just peace because of choice.
Also, I want to share, when I went to the Center for Spiritual Living in Denver, the minister gave me a welcome packet, and in all their welcome packets, they always put an old copy of Science of Mind magazines, the ones they don't need anymore, the old copies, so they all have different copies. My copy happened to be the August 2006 issue with Thich Nhat Hanh on the cover. Another sign. In fact, this was the very copy that I picked up run the bookstore in 2006 that first started me going to the Center for Spiritual Living in Dallas, which helped me make many good connections there and that the Unity Church of Dallas and in the Dallas Metroplex in general. So wonderful, wonderful.
And I will just share one more sign with you. When my friend went to lunch on the way to the airport, we went to this Japanese restaurant next to the Japanese Buddhist temple, which we had visited, and the priest gave me a two-volume book of Pure Land Buddhist teachings, and so I unwrapped the first volume, and I just opened to section 108, and 108 for those of you who don't know is a very sacred number, and it is also very sacred to me. And I've seen this number many, many times in the last couple of years, almost once a week. It is a sign to me that things are unfolding in the world very, very rapidly. So I closed it again, and then I asked my friend to look, and he opens to another page and reads the line and everything, and then he closed it. So I thought, oh, I want to do it again. So I opened it up again, and it was again section 108. Anyway, when we are leaving the restaurant, I happened to just check my cell phone. I clicked it, and it was 1:08 PM. So three times in a row is usually an indication that the universe is trying to say something to me, that everything is on time, everything is okay, everything is in the flow, which is a good comfort to me because I had missed my flight and all these things, so it's a very nice affirmation. Don't worry. It just flows. Things are unfolding as they need to. No need to worry.
One of the things that really helps me to get in touch with that peace, to be able to just say yes and not resist reality, but to flow with that, is the practice of Amitabha, to remember that I have the infinite support of the universe, which is symbolized by that word Amitabha, infinite light, the infinite light of support, the infinite light of generosity, the infinite light of the Buddha and bodhisattvas of the universe, the infinite light of the divine spirit here in me and all around me. And it also reminds me that infinite light is also who I am and therefore my mission in life is to shine that light for all beings, that my deep primal vow that I've made before coming to earth and while I am here on earth and forever eternally, my deepest vow is to be who I am, infinite light, and to become that more and more, infinite light, for the benefit of all beings. Yeah.
So you see, the first meaning is to receive that infinite life support in your practice, and remember secondly that that is who you really are and that is what you are meant to do, to let that infinite support be for others, to receive the support and give that support. Amitabha. And when I remember that, when I come back to that center, it is so much easier to make the choice of peace, so much easier to make the choice of flowing and going with the flow. You know that. You've experienced that. You know what I'm talking about.
So, starting next Sunday on August 1, there will be exactly 10 weeks before 10-10-10, October 10, 2010, and I want to make this a 10-week spiritual practice. But all of us can practice together. I'm hoping for 108 persons to practice with me in Texas and in the other places that I facilitate, to practice 10 practices. And I will e-mail them to you this week, so make sure you are on our e-mail list. So the first practice is to practice the 10-10-10 easy Amitabha practice, which briefly is the practice is the 10-syllable mantra, Om Namo Amitabha Buddhaya, to chant about 10 times during 10 times of the day, perhaps upon waking, before breakfast, after breakfast, before work, before lunch, after lunch, after work, before dinner, after dinner, and that bedtime. 10. And just do it.
So that is basically about a minute, so if it is hard for you to meditate for like 16 minutes at a time every day, that is fine. Just meditate one minute at 10 intervals, because what that does is it puts you in that rhythm of mindfulness, very similar to what happens when you sit for an hour or half an hour or whatever your time is. It puts you in that rhythm of daily real-life mindfulness, not just mindfulness when you're sitting, but mindfulness throughout the day and mindfulness of that infinite light and mindfulness of who you are meant to be. So practice that for 10 weeks nonstop. That is your default practice. If you don't do any of the other nine practices, do that one, and you will see your life transformed. I guarantee it. I already had one student in another sangha do this already for a few weeks, and her doctor is amazed at the healing that has been taking place in her body and her mind. It is amazing.
So the second practice is daily meditation, morning and evening. The third practice is weekly sangha or at least every other week coming to the group meditation. The fourth practice is to go on at least one retreat during this 10-week period, at least one retreat. Even if it is a half-day or full one-day retreat, a full retreat, okay? The fifth practice, spend time in nature regularly. We are so cut off from nature that enlightenment must be also enlightenment about our connection to nature. Otherwise, it is not true and full complete enlightenment. Sixth practice is gratitude. At least once a week or once a day or however many times you want to do it, spend three full minutes nonstop just saying out loud what you are grateful for, saying out loud what is good, what is positive, or at least what is not bad, okay? And you will see a big shift in your energy and your or after that day. Seventh practice, if you don't already practice yoga or qi gong, now is the time to do it. Start taking classes, maybe here, maybe with our yoga teacher Andy. Raise your hand, Andy.
Eighth practice, a healthier diet, maybe a more vegetarian diet. It doesn't have to be full vegetarian, but just more vegetarian. Cut out meat once a day or once a week or whatever you want to do, but just be conscious of how you are eating and why you are eating and what you're eating. Ninth practice, get a journal and do spiritual journal writing and also read good spiritual books during this period. And then the last tenth practice is dana and seva, generosity and service. Give more to this community or the other communities that you are a part of, and do more volunteer work here or somewhere else, okay? So those are the 10 practices.
And by the way, if you prefer the more feminine version of the Amitabha practice, you can chant Namo Avalokiteshvara, who is the feminine version of Amitabha. Avalokiteshvara is also known as Quan Yin, the goddess mother of compassion. So anyway, same light, just two different angles. All right. And of course, if you don't want to do the whole 10-syllable thing, you can just do Amitabha. That is fine. Just Amitabha. That's good enough.