Winter Solstice
Honoring the Clouds of Our Practice
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Honoring the Clouds of Our Practice (26 min.) MP3
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
August 22, 2010 - Dallas, Texas

So, I'm going to talk about seven things tonight, and I am going to get three of them out of the way very briefly. First of all, I just want you to see this parachute that I got a few weeks ago. Donna Collins recommended that we put a parachute on the ceiling. However, it doesn't look very pretty at the moment because I don't know how to hang it properly. So if any of you have skills, fabric skills, and you want to come in this week and help hang it in a more beautiful way, that would be so fabulous. But it makes you think of clouds, doesn't it?

And in fact in Buddhism, we honor clouds a lot. There is the Dharma Cloud Monastery, Clouds in Water Zen Center in St. Paul, Auspicious Clouds. You know, there's the cloud thing. And the clouds have different meanings. Sometimes it means the cloud of dharma just kind of wafting through an pervading everything, and also we think of clouds like the clouds of our thoughts kind of just going in and out. But see, in Buddhism, we don't hate things that seem to be disturbing to us like clouds, for instance. In fact, we honor them and make them into names of our monasteries or Zen centers.

Same with the monkey mind. We don't hate our monkey mind that just drives us crazy sometimes. We honor it. We have a beautiful place for the monkey mind in our practice, and there he is right there sitting back there watching all of us. And the clouds are all above us. Yes, our thoughts are going in and out, but you know what? Those thoughts and the monkey mind actually are the same thing because even though from the unenlightened perspective it looks like oh my goodness, it is disturbing, and I cannot see, but from the enlightened perspective monkey mind, clouds, thoughts actually can stem from that deep place within us which is the source of creativity, creative thinking, new ideas.

Now you can't get out without the monkey mind and the cloud of mind, right? But from the unenlightened perspective, it is very disturbing, but when we are more and more enlightened, we start to see, oh, there is a place for the monkey mind, for the clouds going in and out. So we don't hate them. We incorporate and include them in a mindful way. So, that is the parachute to remind us of that.

And, also, I just want to ask some members to stand up just briefly. Josh and Leanne and Andy and Cynthia and Cornell and Susan and Jerry, if you can all just stand up. And Tracy, too. Come on up. So these are very wonderful members of our sangha—and Liz, too. Come standup, too. So Josh is—has been my acting director for the Center helping me a lot through the transition until we have our grand opening next month, and I'm just very grateful to Josh, and he also has helped make sure that the Grapevine sangha on Monday night has been continuing on strongly, and that is something that I'm very thankful for. Leanne and Andy are two yoga teachers, and they're going to be part of our Center more and more, and of course Gary you know as our musician. Susan is also our yoga teacher here, very faithful for years now on Sunday afternoons, and you know, she just is such a wonderful example of true service. You know, sometimes the donations for her are very little, but she doesn't care. Just whatever she receives is good, and I am so grateful for her, and I hope you'll give more for yoga and also come to yoga. And of course, Cornell has been my right-hand man for many, many years since the beginning of this whole community, Awakening Heart Sangha, and he is a jack of all trades.

And Shelley can't stand up, because of her legs, which I hope you all continue to send her healing love and kindness for her healing. Shelly is our wonderful co-facilitator here on Sundays and Wednesdays. She is the main facilitator for the Christian meditation group on Wednesday. And Cynthia, along with Laura Morgan, who could not be here tonight, will be co-manager of the Center for the next month helping me do a few different things that we need to do to really get us going for our grand opening. Also, Tricia, why don't you stand up, too? I just want to say thank you. She has volunteered to help us with our grand opening, and so I just wanted to bow to all of you. And Leslie is our childcare coordinator and has been faithful from the start, just so beautifully faithful. So all of you and the rest of you, of course, our members. I can ask you all to stand up. Why don't you all stand up? Everybody. Oh and wait. Tracy. Tracy over here. She has been a part of our sangha for many, many months and maybe years now, and she is a wonderful facilitator here. She has been there through thick and thin, you know, and I just honor Tracy so much, too. So let us all stand up. I just want to thank all of you. Thank you. All right. All right. Now you can sit down.

So one last thing of the three things I want to get out of the way before I get into the four things, I bought several copies of two books that I've actually hoped in my heart would go on sale at Half Price, and lo and behold, a month later, they did. The power of affirmation and attention and manifestation. So this book says that the healing power of lovingkindness is powerful, and everything I do with the Amitabha imagery is actually all contained in here, except it is not using the same words. It is using that aspect of Amitabha that is Avalokiteshvara, whose mantra is Om Mani Padme Hum, which is infinite compassion. It is the same energy, just slightly different, and it is all one. So if you want to deepen your Amitabha practice, utilize all of the different techniques outlined in this book and apply it to the mantra Amitabha, okay? You can also use Om Mani Padme Hum, too. It doesn't matter. All right.

So another wonderful resource, if you just want some basic, fundamental, essential teachings of the Buddha that are just poetic, the Dhammapada. These are the earliest recorded teachings of the Buddha, and now they are in book form and on CD. So if you just want to listen to it in your car, just hear the words, it is really, really beautiful. Okay. So they're in your bookstore, several copies. Instead of being $20 each, they are only $10 each.

All right. Now let us take a deep breath together now. So, the four things I want to talk about tonight are: my experience at the qi gong retreat this past week in Austin. I also want to talk about what happened yesterday with Kevin having his seizure, and I also want to talk about what I am going through in my midlife time of my life, at the beginning of midlife, with wanting to mentor people, and also wanting to talk about the theme of September and October coming up. All in just 10 minutes.

So what I noticed after four days of intensive qi gong practice—and everyone just take your hands like this with space between each fingers and the thumb relaxed like this, creating a little—yes. And just do this. Breathing in, expand. Breathing out, contract. And breathing in, up. Breathing out, down. Cleansing your energy field. Breathing in, up. Breathing out, down. Breathing in, up. Breathing out, down. Wonderful. Something so simple. It looks so simple, and yet it can be so powerful. Just like sitting and doing nothing for 20 minutes in meditation seems so simple. It does not seem like anything. It seems like nothing, and yet it is so powerful. The same is true of qi gong. If we were to incorporate qi gong into our practice and our life, I believe that we would just really have profound, and deeper transformative experiences in our meditation and in our life. The same goes with yoga, and we will talk more about yoga next week. Andy will be our guest facilitator and speaker and will lead us through some simple, short yoga and talk about the philosophy of yoga and why it is very important.

But I noticed afterwards that I was so much more sensitive. For the last week after that conference, I have been so sensitive to energy, so, I did a yoga class a couple days after that qi gong conference, and I noticed on certain exercises, I could feel the prana energy powerfully. Whoa. And then whenever I would encounter someone of a high vibration, my hands would tingle, and then unfortunately, when I was spending some time with someone who has a very low vibration, oh my gosh. Ah. Yuck. No. No. No. But I noticed. I noticed the feeling. It was very, very—I mean it was very such—stark. And now, I am noticing every time I do my own Namo Amitabha Buddhaya chant 10 times during the 10 periods of the day, when I do it, wow. I can feel the vibration of all the people who are practicing with me and my hands just vibrate and tingle. It is very, very beautiful. It is wonderful. I don't know if any of you can feel it sometimes, but it is really nice.

So, one other thing I have noticed in the last week is when I did my meditations, it was so much deeper after the qi gong retreat. So much deeper. And I felt rejuvenated after that, you know? For many months now, I've just been slowly feeling tired and tired and tired and tired getting the Center going. It is very, very taxing on my energy. But after that, I just felt so rejuvenated, lighter, freer, cleaner. And my meditations, instead of being difficult, were just so effortless. I mean, I was actually surprised when I opened my eyes and saw the timer and 30 minutes had passed. I thought it had only been five minutes It was just wow, you know? So, I highly recommend that you practice qi gong or yoga or some other kind of subtle energy movement modality that helps to just help keep your energy body clean and vibrant, because then your meditation will be deeper, and your life will be deeper.

Audience Member: ChiSing?

ChiSing: Yes?

Audience Member: Isn't meditation supposed to do that to you?

ChiSing: Yes. It is all good. Meditation helps with that, too. What I am saying is if you combine the two, it is even more powerful, and I think that those who meditate when they do yoga or qi gong, they actually are able to go deeper into yoga and qi gong as well, so it is actually both and not either-or. So I am just saying, if you want to be smart, do both. Do the meditation that you all do already, but add the yoga and qi gong, too. Especially if you do yoga or qi gong before meditation, meditation goes a lot deeper, so try it. And there are classes you can take in fact here at the Dallas Meditation Center. Okay.

So, in the middle of our meditation workshop yesterday, in the middle of the meditation, Kevin had, we thought, a stroke, and it was so, so scary. I don't know if you can just imagine that you're silent, peaceful, and all of a sudden someone is convulsing and doing different things like that, and you don't know what to do.

So anyway, I am holding Kevin, and we are all surrounding him. We're just surrounding him with lovingkindness. We're just giving him loving kindness, Amitabha light energy. We're just praying for him. And you know, a part of me is thinking, I have never had anyone die in my arms before. Am I going to be able to handle this? And what about everyone else? Are they going to be able to handle this? I was like, I don't know what is going to happen, but I am completely here to experience whatever unfolds, because I am not in control. This is not about me. This is Kevin's moment. This is our moment together, so I am just witnessing and allowing. And that is what we have to do, especially in crisis situations, to witness, to allow.

If you have no way of controlling something, you just allow and let it unfold, but with mindfulness and with deep presence. I mean, what if all of us were screaming and running around? We could not have helped Kevin. We might've made him subconsciously more frightened, and he was already breathing hard and convulsing and scared probably on some subconscious level. So, our peacefulness, our quietness, our attention, lovingkindness was very helpful. What was interesting was in the other room there was a workshop on Healing Touch. Probably their energy of healing was also helping, and I know they prayed. Jodi did a sacred sound thing and prayed for Kevin and all of the people of the workshop prayed.

What is interesting is after, I asked Buddha in me, what am I going to do? What is going to be in that room? All of these people in shock. What am I going to do? The moment I walked into the room, guess what I saw? I saw all the 16 or so women holding hands in silent prayer, and when I walked in, I was so stunned by the image—and of course I've been very sensitive to qi gong, you know. I felt this powerful, strong Goddess energy. The first thing I thought was, I don't even need to teach them anything. You know? They are just pretending they need to learn something. I guess I will go along with that, but you know, on some level, they are all pretending actually, because they are actually all Buddhas, and we are just pretending to have fun and learn and experience what it is like to be in the physical body. But anyway.

So wow. I was so moved, so touched by that. And we finished the retreat powerfully, beautifully, and mindfully, and with such strength and such deep heartfelt tears and sharing of our experience of the day, including Kevin as part of our experience, not rejecting that experience, but including that experience and what we learned from that, and our hearts opening to that. And I know that Jodi, who was one of the practitioners, she can attest to the power of that retreat, and Andy too. I am so glad that he was sitting right next to me. I could feel his gentle, peaceful strength helping me, and it was wonderful.

So, I think all of our healing energy really was with Kevin deeply because I found out where he was, and I went to the hospital. He had awakened completely, not knowing what happened, and looked completely fine. There was nothing wrong with him other than that he must've had a seizure, and so on, you know, I was there at the hospital. What is interesting is that what also tipped me off that this is all divine order unfolding, the registration page, everyone signed in. There were about 18, I guess, total. Everyone had signed in black ink, except for Kevin. It was in blue ink. Like, something is going to happen today. And, you know, it is going to be part of the retreat, part of the learning experience, part of the growth, the transformation.

So anyway, when I walk into the hospital, what is interesting is a friend I haven't seen in 10 years walked in at the same time, and I was like—because I actually had a dream about this friend for the last few months, so I wished I could like reconnect. But I don't know what his information is. That was very interesting, another sign of synchronicity. So anyway, I talked with Kevin, who was laughing, and Eduardo was also helping out, too, and they are at the hospital and so anyway, he actually checked out of the hospital. You know, I went home. I got some food from the Asian Mint restaurant, which is a nice restaurant, and got food, and we ate and talked, and we laughed and joked. Those who know Kevin, he is a jokester. He likes to make people laugh, so isn't that just interesting? I just found it very interesting.

But what he taught me was—and this is way more than 10 minutes. But what he taught me yesterday was so profoundly important to me. Many things he taught me. But one of them was that day and the day before and actually even today, too, you know, I have received a few different e-mails and mean looks from one particular person that has an argument with me at church, and it is like, you know, okay. I'm trying to do my best here and be a light in Dallas. Why are you being so critical of me? And I don't need that. What was interesting was when I experienced the experience with Kevin yesterday, none of that matters. None of that matters. Who cares? We are living life. We are on the borderline of life and death. And what matters is living life fully, deeply, because you never know what moment you're going to transition. So be here now, because you don't know what tomorrow brings. Oh my gosh. It was such a deep powerful teaching for me in my heart. So now it is a lot easier just to let go if I get a text or an e-mail or a look. It is like whatever you know? That is the new mantra. Whatever. So use that this week. Whatever. Come back to what is really important, what is really essential, what really matters, right? Yeah?

Audience Member: How do you say whatever in Sanskrit?

ChiSing: [laughs] Amitabha.

All right. So moving on to my other topic shortly, another thing of note is that in my life the last few months is this interesting urge to—I didn't even have a word for it, but now I realize what it is. For women, you know, when you kind of start getting to the age where you are about to run out of time to have babies, you know, there is this great urge to want to have babies, you know? I don't know if I went through that too, but I am feeling—by the way, in just a week and a half, I'm going to have my second 40th birthday. I'm going to have my second 40th birthday, and I am at the beginning stages of midlife, and I have this great urge to be a father, but it is not to be a physical father, but I guess to be a mentor, so I try to find people who are younger than me that are ready and willing to be mentored and to know what I know and to learn what I've learned and to do what I do, and so I've just been feeling it more and more. So if any of you out there feel like being mentored, just let me know. That doesn't guarantee that I will mentor you. I don't have that much time on my hands, but you know, I'm going to be on the lookout for those who are ready to be mentored, to be spiritually mentored.

Because you know, I don't know when I'm going to transition to the next life. I don't know. I just have this great desire to just give all of what I know before it is too late. So I just want to do that, to give. I want to reproduce myself, spiritually, not sexually. And the last thing I want to touch here is this month is the amount of renewal of our practice. That is the theme, renewal, and different modalities that can support our meditation practice. You know, the last couple of weeks, we talked about two other different modalities. Tonight I mentioned qi gong, and next week we will talk about and practice yoga, so I hope a lot of people can come next week for our special guest speaker Andy, who is wonderful, wonderful. I don't even need to reproduce with him. He already knows.

In September next month our annual theme is the divine feminine, so starting in September, every Sunday, bringing something like a picture of a mother, a grandmother, a statue of Quan Yin, the Virgin Mary, anything that represents mother energy. Put it all on the altar every Sunday. Let it be blessed, and if you want to leave it, you can, or if you want to take it back home and bless your home with it. So we're going to celebrate the divine feminine all of September. In October, we are going to celebrate all the bodhisattvas, including Thich Nhat Hanh, all Buddhist teachers, all spiritual teachers, and that also will be part of our grand opening month as well, at the end of September, early October. And it coincides with Thich Nhat Hanh's birthday and 10/10/10. So it will be very, very powerful. And that is all I want to share with you tonight.

I just want to encourage you in your practice. If you don't know about the 10 spiritual practices, there is this sheet of paper out in the front that has all of the 10 practices, and also I want to encourage every single one of you to come and be a part of our first very special all sanghas Day of Mindfulness retreat. This is the first one we have ever done, were we invite the Sunday sangha, the Monday sangha, the Tuesday sangha, and maybe even the Wednesday sangha, if they feel like being a part, and the people who only come on Saturday to come together for an all-day mindfulness retreat. And it is going to be very special, 9/11 on September 11, from Global Emergency to Conscious Emergence, A Retreat for Evolutionary Enlightenment. And so far, we have lined up me, Andy doing yoga, Donna Collins doing HeartMath, Gary Floyd and Cornell Kinderknecht doing music, and I'm sure we will have a few more coming along as well and being a part of it.

So this is just an initial flyer. We'll probably make the color flyer next week, once we know who all will be participating. It is donation. Everything at this Center is donation based, and starting this Tuesday, which is a sacred festival in Buddhism called Ullambana, which means we relieve the suffering of all souls. You can read about it. Just Google it, Ullambana. We relieve the suffering of all souls, and so on that day, on that day this Tuesday, we will officially announce that everything at the Center is donation based, including yoga classes, qi gong classes, everything. We have already been donation-based here anyway, right? So, we are making it is citywide, known to everyone in Dallas-Fort Worth. This is a donation-based center, one of the few of those here. So, that means, please be generous, because we really depend on you. We really, really do.

All right. So, take a deep breath.


Transcribed by Jessica Hitch

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