Winter Solstice
Unfolding Your Enlightenment
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Unfolding Your Enlightenment (17 min.) MP3
Dallas Meditation Center One-Year Anniversary Celebration
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
May 22, 2011 - Dallas, Texas

The word mindfulness has three meanings at least. One is just simply attention or awareness. The second meaning is to recognize when we are not mindful and to reignite mindfulness. The third meaning of mindfulness is to remember. So, I am remembering different events in my life. From the first time I can remember, around age three crawling out of the crib and walking for the first time--not sure how I knew how to walk, but I just did. My mother was shocked. Because I remember getting up out of there as I thought, "I'm tired of being in here! All the adults are out in the TV room watching TV and having fun, and I'm here stuck in this crib." So, I walked out and I remember my baby brother's really fat little baby cheeks, and liking to just do that (Puffing up cheeks).

I remember in kindergarten when the bullies in the first and second grade would not let me slide on the slide, and so I went home to mom and asked her what to do and she was gardening and she said, "Oh, just pray. Ask God!" I don't know if she was just busy, but actually, I took her advice very literally and I prayed and I asked God what to do and I didn't get any answers. The next day I prayed again out at recess time and suddenly this thought flashed from deep within me which said, "Wait until the bullies come nearby and then run up the ladder of the slide and wait at the top until they almost get you. Then when they see that you are at the top and they are at the top, almost, and they can see you slide down, act as goofy silly as possible." That's what the inner voice said, so that's what I did and lo and behold, the bullies all started laughing and they started going down the slide all crazy goofy funny too and then we did it over and over and over again and they had so much fun they forgot that they were bullying me or anyone else and they never bullied me ever again during that recess time.

Interestingly, at age five the first lesson I learned about spirituality is that the answer to prayer doesn't necessarily come from an external source but from the deepest wisdom already within you.

I remember when I was about ten to eleven years old just taking a walk out in the park near our house by the creek just feeling the breeze and walking on the grass, looking at the water, and catching insects from time to time. I was practicing walking meditation without even knowing it, just walking peacefully, feeling at one with the earth. I remember in college when I came out of the closet as being a liberal at church, they got so concerned about heresy in the church they called the council together and asked me if I would agree to the set of beliefs and I said, "No." And so then they proceeded to invite all of the other college-aged students in the church and excommunicated me, publicly. I remember that. And I remember a few days later feeling so lost and yet so sure in my heart that I was right, no matter what a church said. I began to just pray and cry and I remember very vividly my words of prayer were, "Please let my life be a light in the world so that others don't have to go through this, that if someone else in the world feels lost or alone or excommunicated or rejected, I want to be and live my life in such a way that I can be there for them. I remember that.

I remember my first retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh. I remember after the five days of meditation how free my mind felt. Expansive like the sky, I didn't realize the mind could feel like this. The first time I realized that the mind does not have to feel like it's just crammed inside of the brain but can be free and spacious. I remember, six years ago, when I had to leave California after grad school and not sure how I would move because I was very very very in debt and poor and with little money to move and my friends told me that I was complaining too much and calling me up on my truth which was, Chi Sing, if you can trust to take refuge in the universe, you have to walk your talk and I thought, what kinds of friends are these, they are supposed to be sympathizers. It shocked me so I said a prayer that, "That night, the universe, Buddhism, bodhisattvas, infinite light: I can't do the ministry that I know you are calling me to if I'm always concerned and worried about money and how I am going to eat the next week! So you go to do something, otherwise I am going to do something else, you know, get a real job."

So the next day I go to the Buddhist temple and I only had fifty dollars of cash on me and nothing in the bank but I asked the monk to bless me and he was doing his blessing and I decided on the spur of the moment, spontaneously, from my heart, to give ten dollars out of my pocket into the collection box because I knew that if I am serious about wanting to receive abundance I need to be abundant and give and act accordingly, so that's what I did. The next day, after meditation, someone afterwards said, "Thank you so much, you touched my life so deeply. I came for the first time a few weeks ago and I've been thinking about how to share my gratitude and this weekend I felt that I am to give you this, so he handed me a ten thousand dollar check and then I got down on me knees and said, "Ok, I believe! I believe!"

And I remember a couple of years ago flying to Oakland, California, and losing my wallet and needing to speak at a Dharma function the next day and needing to stay at a hotel… And so there I was in Oakland and they wouldn't let me get a hotel room because I didn't have my I.D. with me and I explained, "Well, I have cash," but I didn't have my I.D. and they wouldn't give me a room. So I just sat on the curb and I started to meditate on all of the times I was provided for, to remember, and not to give in to the fear, which is forgetfulness.

You know, we are very good at forgetfulness practice, which is why we need to practice mindfulness practice, to help reverse that. So I sat there, meditating upon, "Ok, I am abundant, I am blessed, I am supported," and then I hear gunshots a few blocks away and I move under a tree and say, "I am blessed!" Then after about an hour, someone came by and he asked me if I was sitting on the curb and I explained my situation and he said, "Well, I'll help you out," So he got a room for me using his I.D. and he said, "I'm a Christian and so I just think this is the right thing to do," and then I said, "Well I'm a Buddhist so I think that the Buddha and the Christ have helped each other tonight."

I remember a year and a half ago in January, 2010, in the middle of my morning meditations, suddenly a thought just popped into my consciousness regarding this building that had been empty for several months. I remember that very vividly and so I began to investigate upon that thought and then a few months later after a lot of renovation, one year ago we had the open house for the Dallas Meditation Center. Now I am remembering all the wonderful sanghas and retreats and meditations that we have had here. I remember all the faces of beginners at the beginner's meditation workshop whose eyes lit up like, "Oh they finally got something that they really understood," and I remember all the times that the deeper meditators would get together for silent meditation and just go deep together in the silence, how nourishing.

So I invite all of us to remember our own life story and see all the milestones that mark the beautiful story of your enlightenment, because your story is not just a story--it is the story of enlightenment. Everything that has been happening in your life is part of the unfoldment of your enlightenment; even the crazy parts where you might get excommunicated or the hard difficult parts where you feel a little alone or sad or in pain. All of these experiences are a part of unfolding your enlightenment. So remember, remember and reflect and you can also remember and reflect on the story of the Buddha or any wonderful scriptural teacher because their stories aren't just their stories, they are our stories too. They are blueprints or templates of the path of enlightenment, just as your story is the manifestation of the path of enlightenment.

And why did I share a little bit of my story? Not because of ego, not because my story matters more than anyone else's story, but it's just an example to all of us tonight that to examine and to remember and to reflect on any one person's story is indeed to reflect on the Buddha's story, because that's who we are. So if I share my stories, just to be reminded that even in my story I can see how I have been led upon this path step by step. You too can also look at your story and see how you have been led, step by step and you can examine the life story of Jesus and the life story of the Buddha and the life story of any of the great spiritual teachers in history and you'll see the same story, there's only one story, "The story of enlightenment."

A few weeks ago, I gave everyone a haircut, jewel, and white kata to symbolize the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. And then I wasn't sure what happened to some of you, I haven't seen some of you since then, and I want to remind you that ceremony was taking refuge and receiving the five mindfulness trainings. It's not a graduate degree; it's actually more like your library card, it's just a beginning. So keep on taking refuge, keep on practicing the mindfulness trainings, keep on committing yourself to the unfolding of your true story. And remember we are not alone. Remember who you really are.


Transcribed by Jessica Hitch

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