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Seeking, Finding, Preserving, Sharing
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Seeking, Finding, Preserving, Sharing (23 min.) MP3
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
October 21, 2012 - Dallas, Texas

Tonight for my dharma talk, I would like to share first on four things: seeking, finding, preserving, and sharing. Last week, as I was meditating, these four things arose in my consciousness, and this happens once every few months or few weeks or few years. It just depends when a teaching just arises from within. I'm sure you've all had a similar experience, knowing just the right thing to do or just the right thing to say in a particular situation or just a knowing about the truth that you need to practice.

This also happens to me from time to time, and it happened again this past week. It is not something I've read anywhere, so I can't really refer you to the book to study on it, but perhaps if you contemplate on these four things you will receive more insight into them.

Let's contemplate [the negative aspect of] seeking. If you are constantly a seeker, guess what? You are habituating yourself to always seeking but not finding. You are in the habit of putting off your happiness always to some future goal. You are always seeking. Another negative aspect of seeking is that we can get so caught up with our goals and hopes and dreams and wanting happiness when only certain conditions are met that once we arrive at those conditions, we cannot enjoy it because we have now made a mental habit of not being present and not finding happiness here and now, but always in the future.

It's kind of like this coach who won some big game--I believe it was a football game or something--and when the newscast person asked him, "How do you feel right now? You just won this big game." And then the coach just said, "Yeah! And we are going to win next year, too!" He was not even able to fully enjoy winning the game now. He already put himself planning the future as hoping to win the next game, and that is where he was putting his happiness. He wasn't able to just fully enjoy the here and now, and that is what happens when we continually seek and seek and seek. Watch out, because when you find, you may not actually be able to enjoy the find because there is something inside of you that just needs to keep seeking and keep seeking, putting off happiness always for the future. That is something to be careful about in the negative aspect of seeking.

And now in finding, what would be the negative aspect of finding? Well, for those of us who are very, very just lazily content with where we are at in our life, in our practice, in our expression of enlightenment, the negative aspect of finding is that we are too lazily content with things as they are and without any motivation to keep growing, to keep expanding, to keep opening, to keep expressing the enlightenment that we naturally, inherently already are. When you are in a mindset that you have already found what you need, the negative aspect is that you are no longer open.

It is like walking up a ladder reaching toward the highest you can be and the highest that you can express, but if your foot stays on one step of the ladder and never goes to the next step, you actually never keep going to the top. And so many of my fundamentalist friends are very, very lazily content with what they have, and their minds and hearts are not even open at all to the possibility that maybe there is more, that there is more truth than what they have at this time understood.

You know, the pilgrims who came to this country, they had a saying, a prayer: may we understand God's will and Word, and may we be able to bring forth more light from the Word. I like that. They were open, at least theoretically, to having more light break forth in their understanding of God's will and word. And, you know, Obama's former church, the United Church of Christ, has a wonderful saying: God is still speaking. I love that. And there is something else that they say, something about there are no periods, only commas after whatever God says. So there is this openness to more understanding, more truth, more insight. This is important, for without that we have the negative aspect of finding. "Oh well, we have everything we need. We do not need anything else. We do not need anyone else." We are just content with our little small world.

And going on to preserving, the negative aspect of preserving, if you look at it from the religious point of view, it can relate to the tendency to dogmatize the revelation that we have understood and to categorize and to systematize and to reify and to solidify and to close off. "This is the truth and nothing else." This sort of idea. We want to preserve it, and we want to hold on and cling to it. You know, someone told me today that they watched this movie where these monks from many centuries ago were very adamant about preserving the purity and the truth of their way to the point of hiding scrolls so that no one else can discover them. I don't know what good that does. And so hiding them so no one can destroy them or whatever, they were so anxious about preserving their particular way and understanding. So there may be a negative aspect of this tendency to preserve if it means clinging and holding on just for ourselves.

And then there is the fourth thing of sharing. Now you might think, how could sharing have a negative aspect? Well, meditate on this. Contemplate this deeply and you'll find that everything has its shadow side as well as its light side in our human experience. So the negative aspect of sharing would be something like codependently giving and giving and giving until you're completely burned out and worn out and starting to give with resentment and give with anger. And that is not the kind of sharing that is healthy.

Many times when we give in that kind of way, it is actually a sort of a busy-ness that we create because we do not want to look deep within. We do not want to face the fact that we have low self-esteem or that we have this inner belief that we are not good enough. So if we do and do and give and give and share and share and get busy enough, that can distract us so that we do not have to deal with this feeling that is gnawing at our hearts, this belief that we are not good enough or that we don't have worth unless we prove it.

So this kind of sharing is negative because of that, if it is hiding and preventing us from doing the inner work we need to do on ourselves--sharing that doesn't come from a place of spaciousness and a sense that we share out of an overabundance. If it doesn't come from that, it may have a tendency toward codependency, so we have to make sure that our sharing comes from this feeling of ease and grace and flowing of overabundance. We share because we have received. We give because we have been given to, that kind of feeling. So that kind of giving does not have a feeling of resentment and a grudge and that sort of feeling.

What are the positive aspects? Well, the positive aspect of seeking is that if you are stuck in just being self-satisfied, the aspect of seeking is positive because it can bring you out of your shell and out of your little hole, especially if you are in a depression or something like that, to seek further light. It is a very important aspect of this. You must never be completely self-satisfied with where you're at. We must always be open to more light, more progress, more openness, more expansion, more truth, or at least more understanding of the truth. So this is good if we can cultivate that seeking mind in a positive way.

And what is the positive aspect of finding? Well, it's very obvious. When we can find contentment here and now rather than putting it off to the future, this is good. So we want to meditate not just with the attitude of I am trying to get something out of the meditation but rather, as we meditate, can we just relax into what is here now and find what is already good right here and now? You see? Not meditating to get happiness, but meditating and finding the happiness that is already available right here if we could just be calm enough and still enough to recognize it and receive it gratefully. So do not just meditate to get something like peace of mind or whatever. Meditate and be with what is already available to you.

"Oh, wow. Now that I'm sitting here and breathing, I realize I am alive. I have breath. My heart is beating. My foot fell asleep, but thank goodness I have legs I can actually feel. And I'm surrounded by all these beautiful brothers and sisters practicing with me in a building that has been provided for my practice and that is available to me because of the generosity of all of those who have given money and time and effort and love to make this building possible." You see? Don't just meditate to get something. Meditate to be with what is right here and now and to find the happiness already here and now, because if you don't practice and cultivate the ability to find happiness here and now, you're going to be too caught up in the seeking and putting happiness in future, and you will never arrive at it because it is always this habit of putting it off and putting it off. You know? It is like that.

And preserving. What is the positive aspect of preserving? Well, when you find something worthwhile, cultivate it. Preserve it. Appreciate it. Help it to grow. Help it to expand. Keep it going in your life. And going back to the religious issue, last year when I was practicing temporarily as a monk in a monastery in California, I had a revelation occur within me--actually several different things occurred to me over a period of time, but one of the things I realized was the insight into the necessity of the conservatives and the liberals, at least in religion, and maybe in every other area of life too. But at least in religion, we need the conservative elements, and we need the liberal elements.

Without the conservative elements that tend to want to conserve and preserve things almost dogmatically, without that we would not have the practices and the teachings intact through the centuries. And without the liberals, we would not have these teachings open up for each generation to be relevant and made available to the masses and adapted to suit the needs of the different kinds of beings that exist in each generation. So we actually need both. After that revelation, I actually was no longer angry about conservative factions in history and conservative elements even now in our Buddhist traditions. I realize, well, they have the job of preserving this for future generations. And the liberals are also going to exist in every generation to make sure what is preserved does not get stuck in the container but is shared with others in a relevant, meaningful way. So preservation is actually good.

And the fourth thing, sharing. The positive aspect of sharing is very obvious, of course. Don't just seek and find something worth preserving in your life just for yourself. Give it away. Share it. If you find something worthwhile, don't just keep it for yourself. Share it with others. This is very important, and this in Buddhism is called bodhichitta, the mind of enlightenment, the attitude of wanting all beings to be liberated along with you. Another way of translating it is enlightened mind of lovingkindness and solidarity with all beings. Another translation is awakening heart, which is why our sangha is called Awakening Heart, to remind us of that bodhichitta, that enlightened desire to practice and become enlightened along with all beings, being liberated with all beings and not just for ourselves alone.

Today I was practicing with that bodhichitta very consciously. This morning during the yoga and meditation retreat, my meditation was just sending blessing light of lovingkindness to the participants in the retreat, and I did the same thing tonight with all of you, especially with those who were coughing or fidgeting or may be needing some extra love and kindness. So I let that be my meditation, just giving. And this early afternoon, I went to the Dallas Buddhist Association for their Amitabha chanting session, which is going on all week. I was feeling difficulty during the session because I was very tired and hungry and sleepy. And I was feeling very uncomfortable standing for such a long time and also sitting on those very uncomfortable Chinese cushions.

And yet instead of turning my mind toward that, I focused on the desire and the wish and the intention that I don't want any of the benefits for myself during this one and a half hour practice. It is not for me. I'm not even enjoying it, at least the first part of it. I eventually enjoyed it, but I was feeling irritable or whatever. I don't know what I was feeling, just a little bit of ick. But instead of focusing on that, I said, "Well, then I'm not going to practice for my benefit and may all the merit of this practice go to my mother and my father and my brothers and their wives and their children." Because in this lifetime, at least up to this point, they do not have the karmic causes and conditions to fully appreciate the Buddhist way and this wondrous transformative practice of the Pure Land of Amitabha, and so I practiced for them. So they do not need to come to the Buddhist temple. They do not need to chant Amitabha, but I will do it for them, and I will offer them the benefits and the merits.

And at another temple that I was at today just briefly to show a friend, there was a woman who was doing prostrations in front of the Amitabha altar and the Quan Yin altar, and it moved me to tears to see her absolute sincerity, and especially because she had a humpback, and I don't think I've ever seen an actual human being with that before. I've just heard about it in movies, seen it in musicals, but I've never seen a real human being with such a distortion of the spine. It moved me to tears, and when I offered my incense at the altar, I offered it for her. If we can practice this kind of heart attitude of wanting to share our blessings, it makes it so much easier to do it in actuality through our words and our deeds and in our relationships and our careers. So I encourage you to practice the positive aspects of seeking, finding, preserving, and sharing.


Transcribed by Jessica Hitch

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