Brother ChiSing: Tonight we are participating in our anniversary celebration in celebration of the Buddha. You know, it is the Buddha's birthday, which means really it is your birthday. So, happy birthday, Buddha. And as I was listening to them singing, it made me think of some Buddhist teachings. It made me think of our original nature, our Buddha nature, like our mother. Which gives rise to all the different variety of possibilities and forms, the dance of yin and yang, the dance of wisdom and compassion, which singing together is so beautiful, right? So thank you for being an example of universal truth tonight.
And then we were singing about tea. And it made me think about how drinking tea has been a very important part of the Buddhist tradition, especially in my Zen tradition. Drinking tea is an act of reverence, and as we bring our mindfulness and awareness to the act of drinking tea by ourselves or with friends, this is a way of reenacting here and now the truth of the sacredness of every activity.
I remember a few years ago I was at a retreat at Deer Park Monastery, and one of my friends was at that retreat, and he also happened to be one of my roommates. We both had decided ahead of time to stay one extra day at this retreat, so it was already wonderful that we spent all of this wonderful time mindfully walking, enjoying nature, practicing sitting meditation, listening meditation, speaking mindfully, eating mindfully. It was already so wonderful, but we decided we wanted one extra day, so after most of the other lay persons left and it was just the monks and nuns left, we woke up and we had decided whoever was going to wake up first would just nudge the other person, and we would not share any words. We would just stay in silence. So I can't remember who woke up first, but one of us bowed to the other, and the other bowed back.
I remember either he or I made the symbol of walking with my fingers, so okay, let us walk to the meditation hall. So we did this all in silence and made up sign language, and so we did, and we went to the hall, and we meditated for half an hour, and then after we meditated, let us walk over to the tea room and drink some water. So we did. We went to the tea room, and actually we did not have tea, but we had water. We both had water in our cup, and we drank that cup. He had his cup. I had my cup. We just drank it slowly and mindfully and in silence. And it was so beautiful. And that actually took us about 20 minutes to finish 1 or 2 cups of water, just enjoying that cup of water.
And I remember as I was doing that, I had a very gentle opening of my heart and realizing how the water in this cup is one with the water in my body, which is one with the water of the whole earth and the rain and the rivers and the oceans, and I just started to have tears in my eyes as I realized that to pollute the water in my own body is the same as polluting the waters of the planet. And of course, to pollute the waters of the planet is to pollute the water in my own body. And as I realized that, I just saw the beauty of water and how precious water is and how precious the earth is and how precious the body is.
And at least in that moment, I had a very strong determination to want to always remember and see the sacredness of water, to always want to see the sacredness of my own body and of body of the earth. And I realized, a lot of people on the planet are not yet at the stage in life in their spiritual evolution maybe to actually practice what you did tonight. Not everyone is at that place yet where they can actually enjoy meditation and practice it regularly. And that is okay. I realize that at least if everyone could practice drinking water meditation, it would change the planet. If everyone could just drink their water or drink their tea with deep mindfulness and presence and see the interconnectedness, the interbeingness of self and other, it would change the whole world.
So I am so happy that the enlightened ones already knew this, that there are many, many, many different ways for many, many, many different beings to enter into the path of awakening. So some of us beings are at the place where deep meditation practice is very valuable for us and helps us to become the light in this world, but there are other practices for other beings also. There's something for everyone. Maybe if sitting meditation is still too hard for you right now, it is okay. Maybe you like chanting meditation. Maybe you like walking meditation, eating meditation, drinking water, drinking tea meditation. Maybe gardening meditation. Yes. What matters is that whatever we are able to do, just do it. Just enter into the path right where you are as you are. You do not have to meditate as much as a Zen master. Just do what you can do right here and now. The path is not far away. The path is just right under your feet. Just take that first step, and the next, and the next.
So, what are we here today for? In our mindful in breath and mindful out breath, we have the opportunity to remember once again the truth that has always been there in our heart. The jewel is in the lotus right here. So open up your lotus flower. Let your jewel shine. And you will know the way. You will know the way. For those who still have self-doubt, that is why we have Tashi. So, please enlighten us.
Tashi: Just to make sure that we have more. Good evening. I'm happy. We call it Saga Dawa Duchen, which is the day of the appearance, enlightenment, and disappearance of the Buddha Shakyamuni. It is actually next Saturday, the lunar day, and we will actually be observing it here. You have a flier in your papers. It is a one-day ordination. This one. I'm not going to take much time to go over it, but you can look at it. In Tibetan, saga means million. Dawa means moon or month. Because during this month, the holiest month in the Buddhist calendar, it is said—of course it is skillful means. There is nothing magic about it, but in this month any positive activity, the effects are multiplied 1 million times. With the exception of Saga Dawa Duchen next Saturday, the actual day of the appearance, enlightenment, and disappearance of the Buddha, when all positive activities have their effects multiplied 10 million times.
So it is traditional in Buddhist countries for people to take one-day ordination. Literally, you can become a monk or nun for one day, 24 hours. But by doing it on this day, it is the equivalent of being a fully ordained monk or nun for 365 lifetimes. That is a lot of lifetimes. So if you want to take this opportunity, please, my e-mail is there. E-mail me and I will send you the information. Nobody will shave your head or your eyebrows.
All right. So, Brother Chi-Sing was speaking about Buddha nature. And that we all have this Buddha nature. We all are this Buddha nature, but what is stopping us from fully manifesting this that we are is only 2 things. I always tell people we only have 2 problems. That is all. Not more than 2. Wrong views and afflicted emotions. That is all. That is it. Right?
And there is a practice that of course began with the historical Buddha but that has been mostly preserved in Tibet, although now it is spreading elsewhere. It is called mind training, and actually in the past couple of months, both Brother Chi-Sing and I have been doing mind training here at the Dallas Meditation Center from 2 different perspectives from a modern Zen perspective. Brother Chi-Sing is leading that effort, and I have been teaching a mind training course in the Tibetan Jonang tradition. And there is space for many other interpretations.
I wanted to focus today on the one thing that will actually correct those 2 problems that stop us from enlightenment. I have to backtrack a little because the text that we are using, we are both using the same root text. It is a text called originally Mind Training in Seven Points or Seven Points of Mind Training, by a Tibetan called Chekawa Yeshe Dorje. And this gentleman was a monk, and one day, he woke up in the monastery and his friends had already gone to take his tea.
But he noticed there was a book on his friend' s place of rest. It was open to this page that only had this phrase: Gain and victory to others. Loss and defeat to myself. And he looked at it, and he said, "I don't know why, but this makes a lot of sense to me. But I don't know why." So he started inquiring about the origin of this phrase, and after much searching he was told that the person who had first spoken that line lived in what is now Malaysia. Now Malaysia is very far from Tibet, particularly when you are walking. So he actually made a very, very long trip. Now that is a vacation, right? Some of us complain of having to drive here.
He made a very, very long journey, and when he got there, guess what? They told him, "Oh yes. He was here, but he died." But then he started on another search until he found a student of the person who first written that line. And he actually did find him, and he studied with him for 12 years. And then, not content with that, he said, "I have a duty towards my brother monks and sister nuns back in Tibet and all the Buddhists there," and he traveled back all the way. And he wrote down this wonderful treatise, Mind Training in Seven Points, and he gave us, all of us, because we all have it. Due to his great sacrifice and great effort, we have this teaching. And the heart of this teaching remains the same phrase he found in that bed so long ago: Gain and victory to others. Loss and defeat to myself.
But what on earth does that mean? That is probably one of the most repeated and less understood phrases in all of Buddhism, and people have given it lots of interpretations. There is an advantage of having received this teaching in an unbroken disciplic succession; there is actually no mystery. Whenever you see the words gain and victory in Buddhist texts, they have a very specific meaning. Gain is the accumulation of virtue and wisdom. That is gain. Victory is full enlightenment.
So this is telling us our desire for all sentient beings, not only humans, all sentient beings, should be the full manifestation of their Buddha nature, their full manifestation of enlightenment. That is very straightforward and very positive, right? If we actually had that wish, think about it for a second. Would we be wasting our time harming others, making them feel bad, resenting them, hating them, obstructing their way? No. If we wanted each and every one of them to reach their maximum potential, enlightenment, we would be assisting them to do this. So this is the meaning of the first part. Gain and victory to others.
But what about the other one? Is it like, oh poor me. Let others be Buddhas, but let me dwell in obscurity? The phrase loss and defeat to myself also has a very specific meaning. What do I need to lose? I need to lose my afflicted emotions. I need to lose my attachment, my aversion, my indifference, my envy, and my arrogance. Is there anyone here who would be worse off from losing those 5? So sometimes losing is a great thing, right?
I have a friend who can guarantee that he will lose 10 pounds in 1 minute. If you want to take him up, just change some of your American money to British currency, and hand it over to him. Less than 1 minute. You can lose 10 pounds. In 1 minute, you can lose any amount of pounds in 1 minute. But this way, if you actually lose attachment, aversion, indifference, envy, and jealousy, the 5 fundamental poisons, the 5 fundamental afflicted emotions, you will be happier and so will everybody else. So that is loss.
But what is defeat? Because we view the world in this duality of subject and object, when we view this, we establish a separation and not only do we establish a separation, we establish a centrality for ourselves, right? It is my perspective. It is my world, and I am here for the benefit for who? For number 1. And who is number 1? This one. And everybody else at best can come second. That is called the false self or what we usually refer to as the ego. That is the meaning of defeat. Defeat to myself, my little self, my ego, my false belief that I am the center of the universe. So that is wrong view, right?
So loss refers to getting rid of all our afflicted emotions, and defeat means finally putting that screaming little whining false ego in its place, which is nowhere. Which is nowhere. That is his or her place. Right? So this phrase now does not seem so terrible, does it? Gain and victory to others. Loss and defeat to myself. If we actually understand nothing else of the dharma, of the teachings of the Buddha, but can live by those 2 little phrases, we will manifest full enlightenment not only for ourselves, but for everybody else.
So I invite you, whether with one of the groups here or on your own—although I don't recommend it too much—or with another group to really try to become familiar with mind training. It's very practical. It's very effective, and it will transform your life. Not create something new, because we all have, we all are that enlightened being. But it will help you remove those veils that are now obscuring that brilliant illumination, which is our true self.