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"Spiritual Practice Period" / Seven Powers of Your Inner Buddha
An Interfaith Zen Perspective on the Wisdom of the Chakras
Week 2: The Power of INTERBEING
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Week 2: The Power of INTERBEING (34 min.) MP3
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
January 30, 2011 - Dallas, Texas

Tonight we will continue our series on the 7 powers of your inner Buddha, an interfaith Zen perspective on the wisdom of the chakras. Last Sunday, I gave you an overview of the chakras, just the general meaning. I also looked at the 5 steps of the spiritual mind treatment and how they correspond perfectly to the steps of prayer that Jesus gave in what is traditionally called the Lord's Prayer, the Our Father, and how you can also map those with the chakras as well in a very general way.

Tonight, I will continue with an overview. I also last Sunday talked about the 1st chakra a little bit, just kind of our foundation, and I will just highlight some of the 7 practices I would like for us to practice for this period of time, but also really these 7 practices are foundational that you can do for the rest of your life. And hopefully I will have time to move into the 2nd chakra after giving another overview of the chakras.

But during these 7 weeks, I am not necessarily giving you all of these detailed things about each chakra. I am just using each chakra as just a general framework from which to talk about some Buddhist principles and teachings that are universally helpful to all people.

I hope everyone can see over here. So, looking at these chakras, they are a framework to look at the different aspects in our lives, because like I said last week, enlightenment is when we fully say yes to who we truly are and what the universe really is. But, just by saying yes with one part of ourselves, like our mouth from our left brain, it is only one part that is saying yes. There are so many other aspects that need to be in alignment with that yes because there are parts that say no, yes, no, no, yes, yes, no, and they are not in harmony, and so it is only when every aspect of our being says yes, that is when we have enlightenment, either for a glimpse or full-time.

So, these are universal. Yes, they come from India, from the different traditions in India. Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist traditions all have the chakras as part of their framework here and there, but really, like I said last week, the 7 sacraments of the Christian tradition: baptism, communion, confirmation, marriage, confession, priesthood, and holy unction—last rites—what is interesting, I have never ever had the holy unction before because I did not grow up Catholic.

I had it for the 1st time this week. I had a very tough week this week, and I talked about it yesterday at the Zen Flow retreat, so I have a lot of sangha support. And I had a very, very tough week, and I saw many signs that encouraged me, even though I was having a very hard week, which I will not go into detail here, but you can ask me personally if you want.

When I was really like trying to figure out, okay, am I just completely off here, you know, in that moment, I was driving my car, and a truck went in front of me, and over the license plate was another number, and it said 108, which is my favorite sacred number, 108. Most of you know if you have meditation beads, there are usually 108 beads in the necklace, the mala. Anyway, I thought, okay, that is nice, but a couple of hours later, I looked down on my phone, and on the little icon for mail, it said 108 messages. You know, I get 1000 messages a month. But anyway, I had 108 messages. That was the 1st time I had seen a number on my phone, so 108 again.

And then also, I had another sign happen, which was my friend from college that I had not seen since college but I had seen recently just for the 1st time for several years, just last month during our winter solstice celebration, he and his wife came, and he found me on Facebook. So he happens to be a priest in the liberal Catholic movement tradition, so he called me up and wanted to invite me over for dinner to give me holy unction, healing sacraments, and I just thought, how perfect. You know? I am talking about these things. Of course, I have never experienced this one, and here he is offering that to me, which is just another sign that, the universe is taking care of me. It is going to be okay, you know, so just grow through this difficult experience. So that was nice to have this confirmation.

But anyway, tonight, I just want to go over how all of these different traditions have something to say, including the Taoist tradition that developed in China. You know how Taoism is all about nature and about balance and flow? The very famous symbol and Taoism is the yin and yang symbol. I'm sure you've all seen it. In fact, it is right outside our window, one of our symbols, right? The yin and yang balance of 2 different complementary forces, masculine and feminine you might say, although, you know, these days, who knows what masculine means and what feminine means, right? But anyway, yin and yang, the balance, left and right, above and below, in dark and light, heavy and light, and soft and hard. You know, all of these different things, but they are all relative, you see, to each other.

But in Taoism, there are several different energy points, probably hundreds I am sure, all over. But, there are 3 centers that are very, very major and important. They would be located somewhere around here in the 2nd chakra, although in each system it is sometimes a little bit above or little bit below. I am not taking this literally anyway. So, it is around the 2nd chakra and around the 6th chakra. You have got the 2nd, 4th, and 6th chakras, so this one represents all of these, and this one represents all of these and then the heart.

So in Chinese Taoist terms, this would be jing, chi, and shen. So you've got your physical vitality energy and sexual also, and then you've got your breath energy and oxygenated blood energy, which is lungs and heart, and you've got mind, thought, consciousness energy in the shen, which can be translated as different things like spirit and things like that. So there you have it, and also they consider these energies to touch on the 3 aspects of the universe: heaven, man, and Earth. But I am not going to say man. I'm going to say humanity. Heaven, humanity, and instead of saying earth, I will say humus, which is a Latin word meaning earth. That way it is all H's. Heaven, humanity, and humus. Humus, getting us in touch with the physical reality and humanity, our heart energy and heaven, and these transcendent energies.

So you have got your lower chakras, the central heart chakra, and these upper chakras. So the upper chakras, the energy there is to ascend, and the lower chakras is to incarnate and ground, and the heart chakra is to integrate the two in balance. Always keep things integrated. So you have all of these different tendencies inside. Some parts of you want to ascend, and there are other parts of you that want to descend and ground, and the heart always keeps you well balanced and integrated.

Another way of looking at these three sections, I like to think of these chakras as—I'm going to have to redraw this. There are so many things up here. Hold on. By the way, I really recommend that everybody bring a notebook and pen during the seven weeks because I am not really into typing a lot. I already type so much already for everything. But, you know, Taj gave us some notes from last time, right? So maybe if I had time I would type them up.

Taj: I can make copies. I'll make copies and bring them up on Sunday.

ChiSing: All right. So now let's go back to this. I'm not going to draw any more on this. I would just do this. And of course over here, you have them color coordinated with the rainbow colors. Of course that is not literal, but it is nice to see. It is very nice. It is pretty. Anyway, when you're doing visualization, it is easier to remember if you use those colors, but you do not have to use those colors.

So the lower chakras help us deal with aspects of our lives that are interpersonal. Sorry. Let me do this more accurately. The 1st two I consider interpersonal. The 3rd chakra I think of as personal because the 3rd chakra is about ego needs and growth, and then everything from heart upward then is tending toward the transpersonal. So, of course, they kind of seep into each other, but interpersonal, personal, and transpersonal, these are very nice terms. I love this term.

I remember the 1st time it came to me was on a California beach on a rock overlooking the ocean, and these terms, I had heard them before, but it just kind of dawned on me what it meant. And at the time, because of my Christian upbringing, I considered transpersonal to mean the Father and the personal to mean the son, and the interpersonal to mean the Holy Spirit. Because the Father represents the divine energies of who we are that are transcendent. The son is the incarnate, personal expression of the divine, and the Holy Spirit is the energy that connects all of us as sons and daughters together creating one full body, one universe. So anyway, just to use Christian language.

In Buddhist language, we have what is called the dharmakaya. You know what? Erase that. I don't think I'm going to go into that. It is just too deep. But anyway, let's just use another Buddhist term that might be easier. Let us just look at dharma and Buddha and sangha. Now, the word dharma is used in different ways, so the way I am using it here is dharma, truth in the most transcendent sense. In other words, our true nature is dharma, but that dharma is made visible through each of us when we become enlightened, when we become a Buddha, so similar to the Buddha, that infinite vast truth of dharma is made visible and real personal and the Buddha.

So the Buddha is a manifestation of the dharma or dharmakaya, the dharma body, the transcendent reality of the truth, and then sangha then would be the way—basically it is interpersonal, isn't it? Sangha is interpersonal. It is the way all of us who are becoming Buddhas who are influenced by Buddhas are interacting and connecting. Anyway, that is one way of looking at it. And again, please do not take any of this literally. I am just giving you things that I have kind of reflected on. You can come up with your own. But just to help you see the relationship between the seven or the three.

Another way of looking at these chakras is to label them with some words. So I would say the 1st chakra, I would call it elemental or foundations. It is the elemental energies of being here in the physical realm. And then you have got erotic energy in the 2nd chakra, which of course is not—erotic does not just mean sexual in its original meaning. Erotic just means that vital energy, and that vital energy can be expressed in many ways, including sexual, but it is not limited to that. In our society we have a lot of problems because we have tried to force erotic energy into just sexual expression when in fact erotic energy wants to be expressed many, many different ways. When you open yourself to nature and feel the sun and the winds and you feel that energy of the earth and the trees and the earth and everything, that is erotic energy, but in a nonsexual way, you see? But it is opened up.

Because we're trying to cram all of that into sexual expression, we have a lot of problems in our society, and in fact we have a lot of codependency and a lot of addictiveness about our sexual energy. I remember talking with some friends a few years ago about this, how especially men, men tend in this society only to get their affection needs from sex, and that's the only time they really, really touch each other or touch someone, and so women tend to not have as many problems, although they can have them, too, because I think women, they like to hug. They hold hands. There is not this fear of touch and affection. There is more of that touch and affection.

But when we try to meet that need only through a sexual relationship, we are really limiting and cutting off a lot of that erotic energy that wants to be expressed nonsexually. So that is why I believe that if you are single and you are really feeling lonely and you're wanting a relationship, yes, it sometimes can feel lonely not being in a relationship, but investigate mindfully if maybe you are adding on to it and making it more lonely by the way you don't fulfill some of these needs in other ways. If you would have more social activities, if you had more friends to do things with, if you would join a spiritual community more regularly, if you would go out of nature, be kind to animals, all these different things where you are connecting to other physical beings in nonsexual ways, if those needs were being met, you would not feel as much of the intensity of the loneliness. You see what I'm saying?

So, I think it is very important. For instance, I try to travel back and forth between Dallas and Austin right now, though it is difficult. This whole month I have to stay in Dallas for your sake, because we're doing a lot this month, in February. But when I'm down there, instead of living alone, I live with three other friends, and it meets so much of my needs, being a single person. It is like having people to eat dinner with, to go to movies with, to meditate in the morning with, to eat breakfast with, and talk with. It's really wonderful.

That is why I believe that many of my monk friends or monks in the monastery, they are very happy. Some of us can't imagine how can you be happy if you're not having a sexual life or relationship. Well, it's possible that maybe it is not for everyone, but the way they meet their needs with sexual energy, in Buddhism, we try not to suppress anything or repress that, because if you repressed that, it will attack you back in some other way, right?

So monks cannot afford to suppress sexual energy or erotic energy. So what they are doing is because they're not allowing their erotic energy to express sexually, they have to allow it to express other ways. That is why they live in community and they talk about everything, their feelings and thoughts. They have weekly meetings where they kind of like share everything openly with everyone. They work together, they live together, they meditate together, and they serve together, and they translate all that erotic energy into other ways. They use that energy in other ways.

In fact, according to my teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, he says that when you can channel that erotic energy upwards into other areas, other chakras, it will help support your meditation practice. It will really, really give you more energy for the practice. And some of you may know that on a very physical, practical level. For example, if any of you are athletes, usually your coach tells you don't expend your sexual energy right before you have a game or whatever or when you have to do something because they're wanting you to save that energy so you can channel it other ways. Same thing with our life and our practice.

But anyway, that is erotic, and then the 3rd chakra, I like to call that your egoic needs. And then your heart would be expansive, expanding your heart in love and openness, and then the throat chakra, which is about manifestation would be expressive, and your 6th chakra, the wisdom chakra, would be enlightenment, enlightened aspect. And your 7th chakra, eternal, although you can also call the 7th chakra enlightened too, but I wanted to come up with different keywords. So elemental, erotic, egoic, expansive, enlightened, eternal. I used to be a schoolteacher. That is why I like to do alliteration. So you got heaven, human, and humus, right?

Now just talking about the heart chakras and up, I like to call these lower chakras based on law, the law of the way things work, especially the law of karma. When you grow spiritually to the point of the heart and upward, you have all these other aspects of the universe operating: love in the heart, life being manifested that you are co-creating through speaking forth your truth and manifesting that, and then light, enlightenment, in your mind, wisdom, and then limitlessness, infiniteness. And I like these four L words because this is what actually Amitabha means. Amitabha actually means infinite light, so infinite light, limitless light, limitless light, and that limitless light is expressed as life and love because another name for Amitabha is Amitayus, which means infinite or eternal life, limitless life.

So limitless light, life, and love. That is what Amitabha means and that is what our practice is about. First we start off learning about the way things are, the laws of physics and the laws of karma and the laws and principles of the universe as a foundation, and then we can start to shine our light more and more as we realize and awaken to the fact that actually, we are Amitabha. We are Buddha. We're the limitless light of love and life.

These chakras, also you can look at them and see five different aspects of our being. So we have the aspect of being residing in the 7th chakra and we have the aspect of thinking in the 6th chakra, and we have the aspect of choosing or willing in the 3rd chakra—I'm sorry, 7th, 6th, and 5th chakra. You know, this kind of teaching is very hard to record. I don't know if people will understand what I am saying without the visual, but anyway. Someone should take a picture on their iPhone

The heart would be the feeling aspect of the human personality, and then the lower chakras would be the doing action, physicality, see? So the physical, emotional, volitional, mental, or intellectual and spiritual aspects of our entire being: doing, feeling, choosing, thinking, and being. So you can see how they correspond there also.

And one last thing on this overview, in these 1st three lower chakras, we are just developing. We are developing as human beings, and we start off tribal. The 1st chakra is our tribal connections, our community, our society. This is where we come from, right? This is our planet, our humanity.

And the 2nd chakra, which is procreative, sexually, but also nonsexually—there are many ways that you procreate or create in your life, generate energy. But you do that with a partner, so it is familial, a familial level of relating with others. So in the 1st chakra, it is the tribal way of relating to the whole of society and humanity, but then in the 2nd chakra, you're getting a little more personal just relating with your partner, your family, your children, your brothers and sisters, your immediate family, and there can be a lot of drama there as well.

But as you evolve spiritually, you start to become more of your own individual, and so then this would be the individual. So tribal, familial, individual. This is why I call it the egoic energy, because you're trying to individuate, become who—not just follow what your society says and not even just what your parents taught you, but actually becoming your own person and knowing who you are and knowing why you're doing what you do. I also sometimes called this that personal ethical aspect because usually our ethics are just based on what society told us or maybe what our family has dictated, but eventually you have to become your own person and come up with your own set of ethical values as an individual. And this is very important.

Without this foundation of strong lower chakras, it is really difficult to have a healthy aspect of the heart and upper chakras, so it is important to have a good foundation and then move on. Otherwise what happens, like I said last week, is you're kind of a lop-sided spiritual person. And there are many of us who tend to be that way, including myself. I worked on a lot of these upper chakras, but now I am trying to deal with the lower chakras too and make sure everything is balanced. Otherwise, it can be lopsided and a very, very flimsy foundation.

Now I want to go into something practical before I close this teaching and maybe take a question if I have time. What time is it anyway? 6:40. I have about 5 minutes. All right. So I want to make this practical. I want to always try to make things practical, because, again, it is not about faith. It is about practice. We are about being a practice center.

By the way, I remember somebody recently told me that, "This is a personality driven organization," and she of course meant it in a very positive way, just distinguishing it from other kinds of organizations, and they did not correct her, but in my mind I was thinking, no. I don't want this to be a personality driven community. This is a practice driven community. It is about the practice. I mean, I guess I know that I as Brother ChiSing, I have an important role here, but even if I am not here, I hope that the practice is why you're coming, the practice of meditation. That is why I hope to train more and more facilitators in this community so that there is more than just me. I don't want this to be a personality focused community but a practice focused community. That is what it's all about. So let's practice.

Namo Amitabha is a beautiful mantra that we can use during the seven weeks and also just during our whole lives. Namo means to bow, but it also means honor, gratitude. I like to translate it as opening the heart. Namo, opening the heart. Opening the hearts of the infinite light expressed in, through, and as everything, and opening the heart as the infinite light. I love that. So, namo Amitabha. Every time you say it, just breathe in namo, breathe out Amitabha. You can remind yourself of that reality, but you can use supplemental mantras, too, in your practice that correspond to each of the chakras.

I will give you the ones that come to me in my personal life. In 2007, I started receiving mantras personally for me to use, and anyway, every year I get one, and I have been using them personally, and I'm trying to share it with others as well, but what is interesting is that they actually correspond to the chakras. I did not realize this until last month, but the 1st chakra, I am home. Breathing in I am, breathing out home, to really be grounded here and now.

And the 2nd chakra is the erotic energy chakra. Yes. Thank you. You know? Right? Receiving and giving, giving and receiving, yin and yang. Yes. Thank you. Right? And the 3rd chakra, your ethical, egoic aspects that you're trying to come up with who you are and your will and yet you say, "Thy will be done." Not the immature egoic will, but the mature enlightened will or the true self: Thy will be done. And then the heart chakra, all is well. Those words just open your heart and free you up. All is well. That is one of my favorite ones now.

And then this year I was meditating a few weeks ago. What is the theme for this year? And I heard sangham sharanam gacchami. I take refuge in the sangha. I take refuge in the spiritual community. And that is the 5th chakra because the 5th chakra is about manifestation, which I will talk about on that week. It is about manifesting. You cannot manifest the Pure Land on earth without the collective energy of the sangha. And what you're wanting to manifest it is the sangha. That is what you want to manifest, the community of enlightenment. That is what you want to express and communicate and manifest.

Because of receiving that, I realize what the other ones would be in the next few years, but in 2012, it will be dharmam sharanam gacchami. I take refuge in the truth, the 6th chakra, truth, wisdom, enlightenment. And then after the big date of December 21, 2012, 12/21/12, guess what? Just a few days after that, it's the year 2013, the big year. Buddham sharanam gacchami. The collective Buddha.

There are many Buddhists today who do not think there's going to be this one person that is going to be the next Buddha, that Maitreya, the Buddha of lovingkindness, is a metaphor for the collective movement of all of us together becoming Buddha. So Maitreya won't be one person, but many persons in community. Buddham sharanam gacchami. So maybe after 12/21/12 in the year 2013, it might be the beginning of the movement toward the collective enlightenment. So please do not think that everything is going to be fixed for us by 12/21/12. It is a symbolic date thing, wake up. It is time to get started on this collective movement, and it will take many, many years after 12/21/12 for that to really happen. Years, decades, centuries. It is good that we have that symbolic date to kind of motivate us and encourage us.

This week, work with each chakra, all of them or just one at a time. You can use these mantras to really let the light go there, but of course namo Amitabha is our universal mantra for all of them. If you want to use both, you can do it like this. Breathing in namo, breathing out Amitabha. Breathing in, I am, breathing out, home. Namo Amitabha. I am home. Namo Amitabha. I am home.

See, what you are doing is Namo Amitabha then becomes your little spiritual microchip or memory stick, and you are entering in the data of I am home into that so that eventually all you have to say is Namo Amitabha and that already means I am home. It will already mean yes, thank you. Thy will be done. All is well. In other words, it is compacting all these different mantras into one. So all you say is, "Namo Amitabha," or just, "Amitabha." Just that, and it brings in the power of all of these other mantras.

Transcribed by Jessica Hitch

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