Pure Land Daocheng
ESSENTIAL Teachings of the BUDDHA (pt 6):
Three Dimensions of Spiritual Practice
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ESSENTIAL Teachings of the BUDDHA (pt 6): Three Dimensions of Spiritual Practice (21 min.) MP3
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
August 26, 2012 - Dallas, Texas

Tonight I would like to talk about the three dimensions of our spiritual practice. And by the way, this is not necessarily a teaching of the Buddha, but it is just a way of looking at what the Buddha taught from three different angles.

Well, to start off with, I would like to share with you a mantra that has been very meaningful for me in English. It came and resonated in my heart a few years ago while I was practicing mindful eating at a friend's house. She let me stay at her house because I had a workshop in that city, and she is an old friend. She's almost 91. I call her my Dharma mom or Dharma auntie. She lives by herself, and she made her house just a sanctuary.

So I felt so at home. She made breakfast. She made a nice bed to sleep on in the guestroom. She made sure I was comfortable. She was so hospitable. And as I was eating my breakfast mindfully, I felt this warm love from this beautiful elder dharma sister, and I heard these words in my heart: I am home. And that reverberated throughout the rest of the day. I would just come back to that mantra, I am home. I am home. I am home.

And later in the evening, it was raining and my ride did not pick me up and I wasn't sure they could and I forgot my cell phone so I couldn't call them. It was raining and it was very windy outside. I was with my umbrella, and then all of a sudden the wind would blow so hard my umbrella went from this shape to this shape, and I was soaking wet. And just in that moment, it was so effortless for me to laugh and to just cry out, I am home!right there in the middle of the rainstorm and just feeling happy. But it was because I was practicing all day long with I am home that I was able to effortlessly, spontaneously make the choice of deep acceptance of what is rather than resistance to the rain or the wetness.

And so I carried on throughout the rest of the evening at the workshop, and I was only a few minutes late, but I used that experience and that teaching as my main message for the evening. It was very, very powerfully transformative for everyone in that workshop, and everyone really got the deep meanings of I am home. And actually what came to me as I was practicing this all day long was to look at this mantra as a way to look at the three dimensions of our spiritual practice. I am home.

You know, we all enter into meditation practice or spiritual practice in general mostly because we want stress reduction. We want to be at peace, and that is good. We have to come to a place of peace, calming, stopping, still, right? Because in our modern life, we are just way too busy.

And so the meaning of I am home in this dimension would be like, I am trying to be at home in the here and now. I am practicing to trying to be at home in this body and to just accept this body as it is, accept this mind as it is, to accept our life as it is, to accept my circumstances as they are, just be at home and not always be struggling and striving and fighting and resisting and just to be able to be at home with life here and now.

So that is an important dimension of our practice. And when we start meditating, there are meditations to help us with that. Meditation can help us with becoming more and more peaceful, to let go. Another nice little phrase for this aspect is to let go. To let go of all that is obstructing us from our ability to be in touch with peace, to let go of the stress. You know other modalities of practice other than meditation would be something like psychotherapy, 12-step recovery. All kinds of different other practices help us to just have stress reduction. I mean, even drumming and exercise help.

Anyway, there are a lot of different things and not just meditation, but meditation definitely can be a part of helping us to let go and just be present and to be at home. But there are other aspects, other dimensions. In Buddhist meditation practice, we are not just trying to practice just to be at peace, just to reduce stress. Even though that is important, that is not really the only reason why we practice. One of the most important reasons why we practice is for enlightenment.

So the first practice here under this category, let's say healing. You know, healing the self. But then awakening to the true self would be enlightenment, and in this instance, the mantra "I am home" then takes on this meaning: I Am Home. I am home. I am the home. And so when we awaken to our true nature, which is infinite, which is vast, which is spacious, an emptiness that is fullness all of the same time, our true beingness, then we realize the truth that I am the home. You know all my life, I have been searching to feel at home in this world, find my true self, find where I belong, but all along I was the home. I was the answer I was seeking all along, but not the ego I, but the true I.

And so this is extremely important because even though healing the human self is an important aspect of our spiritual practice, you could be going to psychotherapy all of your life and still be talking about the same thing and the same issues over and over and over and over again. But where is that going to get you? That's why you have to also balance that aspect with awakening from all of that, awakening from the delusions of a separate, small self, awakening to your true nature. And that gives you a completely different perspective on your hamster wheel of a life.

Now, is that it? Because a lot of people will have a glimpse of enlightenment or a glimpse of awakening. In Japanese then we call it kensho. But that is not the end of the story. It might feel really great. You might be in bliss for a couple of weeks, but if you stop there, you have not really understood true enlightenment, especially as the mahayana Buddhists teach it, because we awaken to our true nature not just to awaken to our true nature, but we awaken to our true natures that we can then be Buddha for others, so that we can be channels of blessing for all beings, so that we can be vessels of infinite light, infinite love, infinite life. We are not just trying to bliss out and go off into Nirvana all for ourselves. Rather, enlightenment is always so that we can let that light and love and life continue to shine even more brightly or uniquely in, through, and with us in our special way of being Buddhas. We are the ones who then create the Pure Land here and now.

So we then realize we are one with Amitabha Buddha and all Buddhas, really, and that we are co-creating with Amitabha the Pure Land in this world and in whatever other dimensions there are in this universe. So, I love the Pure Land teaching, and whether or not you take it literally or not, that is not really the point. The point is, what is it trying to remind us in our practice? You always have to bring all of the teachings back to, what is the point of this practice?

And to me, the Pure Land teaching reminds me that the best role model of enlightenment is the story of Amitabha, who isn't content to just be enlightened, but to do so for the sake of creating a Pure Land for all beings, to help all beings have an easier time to be enlightened. And in this story of Amitabha, he goes around from different Pure Lands of the universe, because, you see, every Buddha has a Pure Land. It is part of what they are. When you are enlightened, your enlightenment radiates a field of love and light and life.

The original word is Buddhakshetra, which is translated as field of enlightenment. So when you are a Buddha, you automatically radiate a field of enlightenment, a field of influence, a field of energy that makes everyone that touches it have an easier time to find the way. I mean, that is really a much deeper meaning of the Pure Land, whether you want to take it literally or not as well, but Amitabha Buddha went from universe to universe, Pure Land to Pure Land, dimension to dimension to talk with every single Buddha in all of the dimensions to find out what makes your Pure Land so special? I want to learn.

And then he would take the best of the ideas from each of the Buddhas so that he could create a Pure Land that would have the best of the best parts of a Pure Land to help as many, many beings as possible. And whether it is literal or not, it is true. It is a true truth to our practice. Can we practice with that attitude? That is what the truth of the Pure Land is. Can we practice like Amitabha to find out what is the most helpful, to find what our unique abilities are, our unique skills, our unique opportunities in this lifetime? How can we be of best service in this world? How can we try to create the best Pure Land? How can we help our sangha to be wonderful?

Because you see, this is a Pure Land, too. Maybe it is not as big as Amitabha's Pure Land, but this is a Pure Land right here, Dallas Meditation Center. We are co-creating it, and the more we awaken together as the infinite light, the more this radiant field grows and the influence in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. So we are creating that Pure Land, and you know, I take Amitabha as my personal role model. I go to different monasteries and retreat centers and different traditions, Buddhist traditions and the other traditions, and I learn what it is they do and what works really well and what seems to help certain kinds of personality types and other kinds of personality types, what kinds of practices seem to help beginners and what helps the little bit more advanced ones to keep from being arrogant and try to soften it with lovingkindness, etc. And so I bring all of that back here, you know?

So that is my role model, and that is our role model with practice. So, see how your life--maybe your Pure Land seems to be three feet wide or whatever, but your sphere of influence, your radiant energy field, whatever enlightenment you already have awakened to--what is your Pure Land, and what do you want your Pure Land to be like? How do you want to be of service, and how do you want to be a part of the sangha, which is our Pure Land? How do you want to help the sangha to be a better sangha, to be a better Pure Land?

These are very important questions, and this corresponds to the 3rd aspect of the practice, I am home meaning I am creating home for all beings. See, our life is the Pure Land, the home that we are creating that can benefit all beings. You see, our sphere of influence becomes a home. Our life becomes a home for others to take refuge in and in which we can serve, so this is really the point of our practice, but you also must realize that they have to be in balance.

So, the first one would be healing the self. The second would be enlightening, becoming awake to the true nature, and the third would be manifesting the self, the true self. But the thing is, you can do this in different orders and various several times, more like a spiral effect. But a lot of people these days who do things in New Thought or who listen to the teachings of The Secret or Law of Attraction and things like that, sometimes I hear in their teachings they may have forgotten--not all of them, but some of them--that that's not all that there is.

Because you can manifest, but is it coming from enlightened self, or is it coming from ego self? And is it coming from the old self or wounded, pathological selves? Because you can manifest. Hey, watch out what you manifest. It may come and bite you back. So, manifestation is important. We want to manifest the Pure Land here on earth. We want to manifest love and light and abundant life that helps all beings, but how we manifest depends on what kind of work we have done on the other 2 aspects.

Now, the other side is true. You could awaken to your true nature, maybe have a glimpse or even deeper and even maybe become a Zen master or some very, very great teacher, but if you have not done your work in the other two aspects, healing the psyche as well as learning how to manifest abundantly from the deepest intention of your heart, then what happens is you could become, you know, some Dharma teacher or Zen master who has a lot of other issues psychologically that have not yet been worked on. Which is why, you see, sometimes a very enlightened person who has very enlightened teachings that help many people, but they have a lot of problems in their sex life or with power issues or money issues, things like that.

So it is possible to be enlightened in some areas but not in others. That is why we have seven chakras, okay? You might be enlightened up here, but you got work down here, too, to be in balance, and so also maybe you have these 2 down, but you have not--you might be enlightened. You might have a good sense of a healthy psyche, but you have not quite figured out how to manifest a practical life that is practically helpful. You are always going from paycheck to paycheck just not knowing what you're going to do, and you are struggling, and you are always putting your concern on if you're going to have enough to eat from week to week or where you're going to live. When you are that downtrodden by these things, you no longer have the time and energy to spend on healing the self, awakening the self, and serving all beings, you see?

You know, Jack Kornfield, when he left the monastery, he was very awake, enlightened, very radiant, pure, holy. He just was a beautiful being and he still is, but at first, he did not know what to do. He left being a monk, and then he had to figure out getting a job. He had no idea how to do that, and then he tried to have a relationship with a girl, and it was disastrous. He did not know how to actually treat a girl. He did not know how to be in a relationship. I mean, he had learned all these wonderful things in the monastery, but he did not know how to apply it in everyday human lay life.

So it's possible you can be very enlightened in these areas it still have to work on other areas. So my advice to you is, have all three in balance. Of course, enlightenment should take priority, especially in this culture, because we don't. So you should have enlightenment as a major priority, but please have it in balance with the other 2 aspects and dimensions of spiritual practice. So, you know, you can do your meditation practices to help you have peace, but also please meditate and practice so that you can awaken to who you really are and also use practices that help you to affirm and visualize and manifest and co-create abundance and prosperity for yourself and the sangha so that we can be a greater influence of positive benefit to the world. You see?

So, I have tried my best to balance, and I'm still a little lopsided here and there, but I'm doing my best, and I know that you are doing your best, and together we can be balanced, and so that is why we need each other. You know? You may be strong in one another and you may be strong in another area and I may be strong in a different area, so with common practice together, we have each other and we see our blind spots through each other. That is what sangha means, and that is what Pure Land means. That is what all of this dharma stuff means. It is very simple. You do not even have to use the word Buddha or Pure Land or Dharma. You know, just be who you are and share who you are together with others. That's it. So, I am home. I am home. And I am home.


Transcribed by Jessica Hitch

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