Winter Solstice
7-Week Zen Practice Period / The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
Week 5: "The Power of INSPIRATION"
Listen to this talk:
The Power of INSPIRATION (31 min.) MP3
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
March 6, 2011 - Dallas, Texas

I have been noticing that at least in my experience all of the groups I have been practicing with or leading or being present at, it seems in the last few weeks especially, maybe a few months, there has been a sense of deepening. I don't know if that is just local. I suspect it may be global. I suspect that there is an energy that is enfolding the planet more and more, and I believe probably it is just going to keep increasing, and those of us who are practicing mindfulness, we are more sensitive to it.

So, the next week or so, see if you can sense that global embracing energy that seems to be increasing right now. If you can, sense it. If you can't, it is okay, but I have been sensing it. It seems like all the different groups are just going deeper each time they meditate. So, that gives me hope.

And I want to encourage all of us to really take the next two weeks, 14 days, to really look deeply within and clean house. Because in just 14 days, in two weeks from today, is the spring equinox. And that spring equinox, I feel is very important because it is exactly seven seasons from the spring equinox, March 20, until the great winter solstice of December 21, 2012. And again, for those who may not have heard me talk about this, I am not trying to make it a literal date. I am not buying into all the weird stuff that people are writing books about, some of the stuff on that date. However, I do believe that it has a spiritual significance symbolically.

So it is not the end of the world. In fact, it is probably just the beginning of the movement toward global enlightenment hopefully, but it is not automatic. It is not guaranteed. We have to make it happen. It is up to us. So I feel like there are seven seasons from this spring equinox to that great winter solstice, seven seasons, seven chakras, seven areas in our lives that can go deeper, seven areas in our lives that can transform so that we can be clearer vessels of the light in various ways to help our fellow human beings and other beings on our planet as we go through this great time of the great shift.

So I really want you to just get serious now. So we have 14 days. Incidentally, Thich Nhat Hanh, our teacher, wrote the 14 Mindfulness Trainings, 14 teachings and practices to help us be better servants of the world. They're called bodhisattva vows, meaning the vows that we take on willingly to be bodhisattvas, to be beings of service on the path of enlightenment. So are you willing to be a bodhisattva? I hope so. I hope all of us are willing to be bodhisattvas because it is going to take quite a few bodhisattvas to make the shift happen on our planet.

So I would like you to examine the 14 Mindfulness Trainings. You can Google them, find them online, and recite them every day or maybe just one per day for the next 14 days. And some of them, you know, may not be worded in a way that resonates exactly with you. That is okay. Just reword it or rewrite it for yourself. If you want the version that I rewrote, it's online on our website, and a few other dharma teachers have reworded that as well. And that is okay. It gets reworded every 10 years anyway, so it's not like we're being heretical or anything. We're just trying to make it work for us, right? Yeah.

So anyway, I really, really want us to truly be present, all of us, on Sunday, March 20, for spring equinox. I would love to see you all next Sunday also as we prepare for the equinox, but especially on the equinox and the Sunday after when Zen master Kosho comes to Dallas to grace us with his very powerful, deep, enlightened presence. I want us to give him a big Dallas welcome.

Now, if you are not really ready to commit on spring equinox, don't worry. There is summer solstice this year. Then you'll have six seasons, and in the seventh season will be the 2012 winter solstice, right? That will be the seventh, right? The year of enlightenment, 2013, right? And if you miss that, well, the seven moons before 12/21/12. You know, I don't know what the exact date is. We will have to find that out, the seven moons. I'm not saying seven months because our Gregorian calendar means nothing, but the seven lunar cycles beforehand. And if you miss that, seven weeks. Seven weeks. And if you miss that, seven days. And if you miss that, how about seven hours before 11:11, because the exact time of the solstice is at 11:11 Universal Time. We will have to find out what that is in Texas time.

But incidentally, on 11/11/11 this year, I've been waiting for this date for 11 years. And it happens to fall on a Friday, which is awesome. It is a good party day. And I want us to have 1,111 people come for that, and we will just ask for a donation of $11.11 at the door, and I would love to have musicians, drummers, food, all kinds of different festivities going on, like a giant spiritual rave party or something. We will dance. We will have meditation, healing, a massage therapist will be in one room just helping people. You know, it will not be in this building of course, but maybe we will be doing it at—

Audience Member: American Airlines Center.

ChiSing: Yeah. At someplace. Right. Right. But we only have, you know, how many months till then?

Cornell: Seven.

ChiSing: Seven months till then. Six months, seven months, something like that, so I need your help to plan that to make that a big deal, okay? And if for some reason it is not 1,111. That is okay. At least 111. But I love this date because it is about alignment, and it is about oneness, and it is also about preparing for the great shift symbolically on the date of 12/21/12, which happens to fall on 11:11 Universal Time, the exact time of winter solstice. I don't think it is really a coincidence.

I don't even think it is a coincidence that I got on the plane today and came here pretty much almost right on time, you know, which was nice. It was like another sign that yes, I am meant to be here, you know? And my plane even arrived a little early to make sure. My flight wasn't 108, which is a very significant number to me, as you know, but it was 801. Good enough for me. All right. That is not my topic tonight on that but I just wanted to share.

I just got back from Minneapolis and spoke at the Augsburg Lutheran College to about 30 students there on mindful eating on Thursday night, and Friday night spoke at the University of Minnesota to another 30 students about enlightenment. Oh my gosh. They are so deep. They have a Friday night mindfulness club that has been going on for about four years now. When I got there, most of them that showed up were not that new, so I decided, let us go deep. So we did 20 minutes of sitting meditation, 10 minutes of walking meditation, followed by another 20 minutes of sitting meditation. You know, almost an hour of deep, silent practice with them, and they were awesome. They were so deep and still and radiant. Wow. College students. You know? We can do that, too. Yes, we can.

So anyway, I was just so encouraged by them. I think they nourished me as much as I nourished them. It was so encouraging to see that. And then I lead a workshop on Amitabha practice Saturday morning and a beginner meditation workshop on Saturday afternoon, and then I spoke this morning at another Zen Center on Maitreya, the future Buddha of love. Maybe I will give that talk here sometime. The reason I talked about him was not because I wanted to, but because my Zen teacher up there in Minneapolis told me to.

But you know, when a Zen teacher tells you something, you really should listen because sometimes it is not really them telling you something. It is the Buddha in them telling you something. You know, even if they don't have a clue and you don't have a clue, it is good to listen. So I think there was a beautiful reason why I was to talk on Maitreya, which meant I had to do research and study and take notes and things like that. But it was worth it. It was a very useful lesson for me on Maitreya, the future Buddha of love.

And you know, it is said that from the time of the historical Buddha from 2,500 years ago to the time of the next Buddha is 4,000 divine years. Now 4,000 divine years normally traditionally has been calculated to be hundreds of thousands of years in earth terms, but as we know from quantum physics today, time is a very interesting thing, isn't it? Because have you ever heard of such a thing called the celestial speed up? So maybe time is actually speeding up on an internal level, and so maybe those 4,000 divine years are happening faster and faster as we are approaching the great shift.

And who knows? Maybe the future Buddha is coming in our generation. Our teacher Thich Nhat Hanh likes to mention the fact that he thinks possibly that the next Buddha is not a single individual person, but rather a collective of mindful persons, a collective of mindful communities, of mindful sanghas, a movement of enlightenment. I think that may be the case. I really feel that. When I hear a teaching like that it makes sense to me. And in fact the word Maitreya comes from the Sanskrit word maitri, or in Pali, it is metta. It means loving kindness. Another root word of that is mitra in Sanskrit or mitta in Pali. That means friend.

So the Buddha of the future, Maitreya is the Buddha of love and friendship, and as we all know, love only happens amongst others, in relationship, and friendship only exists when there is more than one involved, which gives us a clue that maybe Thich Nhat Hanh is correct that the next Buddha is not a single individual but is a collective a friends, a collective of lovers who fill the whole planet with mindfulness, wisdom, enlightenment, compassion, and spiritual power. Maybe we are Maitreya.

And what is Maitreya going to do when Maitreya comes to planet earth? Maitreya is going to create a Pure Land on earth. Another word for Pure Land is Buddha-kshetra, which translated means a Buddha field, the field of enlightenment, the field of awakening, an energy field of wisdom, love, and power. That is what Maitreya does is to establish the Pure Land on earth. Maybe that is what we are here for, to manifest and embody and realize the kingdom of heaven on earth. And that has something to do with the fifth chakra, expression and manifestation, which is why I am calling this year 2011 the year of the fifth chakra of manifestation. And the manifestation of what? Manifesting heaven on earth, manifesting the Pure Land of the Buddha right here and now through the sangha, which is why the mantra this year is Sangham Saranam Gacchami, we take refuge in the sangha, and the sangha takes refuge in us. Sangha means spiritual community. That is what we are doing, spiritual practice of friends together.

So, how are we going to manifest the Pure Land on earth? Only together. So I know that many teachings when we look at the chapters, we are just thinking of ourselves individually, but I wanted to kind of think outside the box and look at the chakras not only individually but collectively. So instead of just thinking about what can we manifest of our own personal ego desires, what can we do to express our own ego opinions, think in terms of how can I allow the Buddha in me to express through my voice? How can I allow the Buddha in me, the dharma in me, the sangha in me to manifest the Pure Land on earth? What can I do to help make that realized and embodied tangibly on the earth?

Well, there are many ways we can do it, and one very small way, but not so small really, when you think about it, is the practice of mindful communication, since we are talking about the fifth chakra today. What are the Buddhist teachings on right speech, virtuous speech, helpful, beneficial speech? Well, the traditional teaching is right speech meaning to refrain from speech which is not true. In other words, don't lie, okay? The second is to refrain from speech which is slanderous, malicious, okay? Just maybe something that is accusing someone, maybe it is partly true or fully true, but you're doing it in the spirit of malicious slander. So not to do that.

The third of what right speech is to refrain from speech which may be rude, impolite, or harsh. Harsh speech, such as, you know, if you just suddenly get angry at someone in traffic, and you go, "You blah, blah, blah, blah." That would be harsh, right? Or you know, using words that are not very nice to someone. And in the fourth it is not to engage in idle chatter, meaningless conversation, or gossip. Now I am not teaching this to you because I have perfected this, okay? In fact, of all the Buddha's teachings, I think this is the one that I need more practice in, right? But it is a true teaching, and we all need to help each other with it and we need to receive each other's help.

Now, another teaching on right speech has to do with when you want to say something to someone. There needs to be certain factors in place before you speak, the Buddha said, and there is a long list, but I will just break them into simpler words. One is that is it factual and true? Is it beneficial? Is it—what is the word? It is like pleasing to people, but that is a terrible translation. Agreeable. Is it agreeable to people?

Audience Member: Helpful?

ChiSing: Helpful. Well, something like that. Yeah. And in the fourth is it coming from a heart of kindness? There is a fifth one, too, and it has to do with right time. Okay? So I will break it into five. So is it factual and true? Is it beneficial? Is it agreeable? And is it coming from the heart of kindness, or is it the right time? You know, something like that.

So if something you want to say to someone is factual and true but not beneficial, it is not something that needs to be said. Then don't say it. Or maybe it is factual and true, beneficial to a person, but it is not going to be agreeable to others. In other words, they will not be able to really hear it at this time. It's not something they're going to even listen to right now, so you don't need to say it. But maybe something is factual and true, beneficial. It could be agreeable to others, but it is not really coming from a heart of kindness on your part. You're really only wanting to say it because you want to get revenge or hurt someone. Even though it is true and it could benefit somebody—maybe not the person you're trying to accuse—then maybe you might want to reconsider whether you need to say that.

And then of course, there is something that is factual and true, beneficial, agreeable, coming from a kind heart, but maybe it is not the right time yet to say it. So it takes a lot of mindfulness to know if you have all of these conditions in place before you share something with someone, and I am far from perfect in that, okay? And I think all of us need some practice in that, but that is why we call this the practice. We do not call it a perfection. We call it a practice. Right?

Now, there is also another teaching on right speech, which is the correlation of right speech is right listening, deep listening, listening from the heart, genuine listening. You know, it is said by my Southern Baptist mentors—I remember hearing this, but I don't know if it is Southern Baptist. It's probably older than that, but they said, you know, "God gave us two ears and one mouth," so you have to listen twice as much as you speak. You know? I think that is true. Like, notice if you are speaking more than you are listening. Yeah. Just mindfully assess yourself today and in this coming week. Are you speaking much more than you are listening? Or are you listening more than you are speaking? And I think if we were to be mindful, we need to get to a place where we are listening more than we are speaking, rather than speaking more than we are listening. And so that is the mindfulness practice.

And also, what is deep listening? It is a meditation really. You know, it is not just sitting meditation and walking meditation that are meditation or eating meditation. It is also listening. Listening is a meditation if you do it mindfully, so when you are listening to someone, practice letting go of your thoughts, because you know, sometimes I notice about myself while someone is speaking, I am already thinking about how I am going to answer before they are finished. Right? You know? Of course, I always say, "Well, it is because I am psychic, so I don't need them to finish what they are saying. I already know. Ha, ha, ha, ha." We spiritual ones, you know, we have all kinds of little tricks, right? But no, no. That is just ego. That is just ego. No. Really listen. Listen not only to their words but also to their heart energy, to their body expressions. You know, listen to their energy, and sometimes—

Like for instance, I give spiritual counseling from time to time, and sometimes I encounter a client who speaks a lot, and after an hour of just listening to them speak, I can find myself feeling drained and tired, but when you find yourself in a situation with someone and you want to be a good listener, a deep listener, but they're just talking so much, it is okay. What you do is you do not stop listening. What you do is you come back to your own breath and body, and instead of listening to the words, now you're just being present to the person. You're listening not to the words but to the person behind the words, and in that way, you can give your brain a little rest because, you know, you don't want it to drain yourself, because if you get drained, then you are no longer able to listen, so it doesn't do either of you any good. So you just start listening behind the words to the person, and you just breathe in, and breathe out, feel your own breath, feel your own body, and just be present. In that way you can nourish yourself while you are listening and not get drained so much. A little bit of advice for people in here who are counselors. I'm sure you know this already.

So, deep listening, really listening. And not second guessing someone and not assuming you really understand fully what they are saying the first time they say it. A true deep listener practices asking if there is some doubt as to what they are really saying, just asking, "Could you clarify this and such?" Or repeating what they just said in that one sentence, "Is this what you mean?" That would be a good listener, a deep listener, a mindful listener, a listener from the heart. And of course, at the deepest level of practice, sometimes someone is saying one thing, but really they are wanting to say something else, right? Maybe they're saying, "Oh, I do not need any help," but their whole body language is saying, "Please, help me," right? So, if we are really deep practitioners, we will be able to hear that, and we will know how to help. We will know how to honor their verbal words and really serve their true request, which is to be helped. But that takes practice, and we can't get to that level of practice without diligent, persistent effort and consistency in the practice of mindfulness.

So do not think that you're meditating just for yourself. No. You are not. You are practicing here because, yeah, part of it is for yourself, but most of it is so that you can be of benefit to all beings. That is the real reason that your karma and your spirit drew you here. I mean even your ego conscious mind may not realize it yet, but your true self knows why you are really here, because you want to know how to better serve beings. You want to be equipped with the skills and the practices that can help you be more mindful helper, a more mindful listener, a more mindful giver, a more mindful friend, a more mindful Buddha of love here and now.

Every Buddha has a Pure Land. Every Buddha has a Buddha field. A fully enlightened Buddha has a very large field of energy and influence touching lives far into the future and in many, many places. And maybe you feel like you're a little part-time Buddha, and your Buddha field or your Pure Land is just this big. That is okay. We work with that. But, you know, you do not have to create the Pure Land by yourself. One little drop of water by itself easily evaporates, but when dozens and hundreds of thousands of millions of water drops join together, it creates a mighty river, a mighty river of true spiritual power.

We can co-create together the Pure Land here on earth, right here in the Dallas area. Right now, the Pure Land is already manifesting physically, slowly but surely. Look. Here is a Pure Land, in a square-ish sort of shape. This building is a Pure Land. And if you are practicing diligently at home, your home is becoming a Pure Land. And not just physical places can be Pure Lands. Your relationships can become Pure Lands. Your conversations can be Pure Lands. Your thoughts, your words, your actions can be Pure Lands, affecting people far and wide beyond what you even know, rippling across space and time, the positive energy of love.

We never have to do this alone. We can take refuge in the Sangha, and the sangha takes refuge in us.

Sangham Saranam Gacchami.

Namo Amitabha.

Transcribed by Jessica Hitch

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