Good morning, everyone. I would like to start off by sharing some chanting with you and a little short, guided meditation. Let's take a deep breath together. You can close your eyes for this particular kind of chanting and meditation if you wish. So you don't have to have your hands in the cosmic mudra necessarily, if you'd like to have your hands in your lap or on your thighs instead. Just repeating after me…
ChiSing: May all beings be happy.
Audience: May all beings be happy.
ChiSing: May all beings be free.
Audience: May all beings be free.
ChiSing: May all beings be joyful.
Audience: May all beings be joyful.
ChiSing: May all beings be at peace.
Audience: May all beings be at peace.
ChiSing: The word "Amitabha" means infinite light, and it implies infinite love and infinite life as well. It refers to a particular manifestation of our Buddha nature that reminds us of compassion at the core of who we really are, a compassion that creates many skillful means to help all beings. So as we chant the word "Amitabha," let it nourish our bodhicitta hearts of compassion, repeating after me…
ChiSing: Breathing in and breathing out, feeling the in breath and feeling the out breath, feeling the abdomen with this mantra, I am safe. Breathing in, "I am," breathing out, "safe." I am safe. Bringing the awareness to the heart. I am loved. Breathing in, "I am," breathing out, "loved." I am loved. Bringing the awareness to the center of the head. I am free. Breathing in, "I am." Breathing out, "free." I am free. Breathing in and breathing out, visualizing or feeling that the energy center in the abdomen and the heart and the center of the head is shining brightly until the whole body is shining brightly.
See yourselves as beautiful beings of light, and this light radiates and transforms even our clothing into realms of light, and we see ourselves sitting together in a beautiful garden of light with green grasses of light, trees of light, colorful flowers of light, birds and butterflies of light in the air. We can hear the sound of a waterfall of light in the distance and a stream of water of light nearby. This beautiful garden of light is a symbol of all the love and compassion of our enlightened brothers and sisters and all of their skillful means in helping all beings, and this beautiful garden of light is our ideal, our ideal of creating a Pure Land on earth, a Buddha field of compassion and wisdom and peace for all beings.
And this can be summed up in one word: Amitabha. Breathing in and breathing out, we radiate the light of our true heart with this wish: May we and all beings be happy and free. May we and all beings transform our suffering. May we and all beings rejoice in all joys. May we and all beings be at peace, awakening to the truth of who we are. Amitabha. Infinite light, infinite love, infinite life.
(Plays shruti box) Now let's just simply listen to this chant of Medicine Buddha as we conclude this short guided meditation.
Om Namo Bhagavate Bhaisajya-guru
Repeating, we all come from the spirit.
Audience: We all come from the spirit.
ChiSing: And as one we all return.
Audience: And as one we all return.
ChiSing: Like a drop of rain.
Audience: Like a drop of rain.
ChiSing: Flowing to the ocean.
Audience: Flowing to the ocean.
ChiSing: Recently I discovered a book by a Japanese Tendai priest. She lives in Japan, and she used to live in California as well. And in the Tendai tradition of Buddhism, there is a focus on the Lotus Sutra, but there are many practices that are cultivated or that are possible. Many famous other kinds of Buddhist teachers used to be Tendai priests. The Pure Land teacher and the Nichiren teacher and also Dogen, a Zen teacher, was from the Tendai tradition.
In this book, she recounts how she had a near-death experience and she started seeing herself in this beautiful place by a river, and there were two boats there, and many people were getting into one boat, and in the other boat, there were all of these Buddhas and bodhisattvas, and one of the Buddhas waved to her to come to their boat, and she felt so happy to be able to be in the company of such beautiful beings, and they asked her to sit on this beautiful lotus seat in the boat. But then as she got on the boat, she realized that her work was not quite finished on the earth. There were still many people that needed help from her, including her family, and so she bowed to the Buddhas and humbly declined and said, "Please come back for me later after I have done my work." And then she found herself once again in the hospital, awakened conscious.
I like sharing that because it reminds us that it's not just Christians or others who have near-death experiences. Everyone does, including Buddhists. But there is one Christian minister, John W. Price, who is a hospital chaplain, and he would visit with people on their deathbed, and many of them—some of them would come back for him just being near death and would recount the stories to him about what they saw and experienced. So he wrote down hundreds of cases and he wrote this book called Revealing Heaven: The Christian Case for Near Death Experiences.
And he was kind of shocked after listening to hundreds of stories because not only were Christians seeing heavenly visions, but non-Christians, too, God forbid. And a few of them were gay or lesbian, and they also had heavenly experiences, and one of them, they saw a life review of all the things that were skillful and unskillful in their actions, but being gay or lesbian was not an issue at all. It was more about how much did you love? How much did you learn to receive love?
And that was also shocking for this minister as well, but the most shocking of all was when there were two very conservative ministers who had died and came back, and they were shocked by what they saw. They had preached all their life on hell fire, brimstone, damnation, and the wrath of God, but when they came back, they were shocked. None of that existed in the heavenly realm, none of this judgment, only love, but they realized that really love is at the core of our existence, and so they realized they were wrong in the way they were approaching religion, so they tried to change their message, but after a few months they got fired from their church. People just couldn't stand hearing about love and light and acceptance and tolerance.
You know, it is because of our existence in the reality of love that we can focus on this present moment. We do not have to worry about our origins. Our origins are wisdom and compassion; that is where we came from. We don't have to worry about where we're going either. There is love and light always embracing us, so if we don't need to worry about our past and we don't need to worry about our future, generally we can now focus on what we are here for, just this present moment.
As we are practicing mindfulness, awareness, being present here and now, we can begin with mindfulness of our body, and mindfulness of our breath really is a wonderful way of being present with our body. But we can also be mindful of our feelings. Our feelings have two aspects. More physical feelings would be sensations, and instead of labeling everything instantaneously with judgment—for example, if there's like a little bit of little kind of itchy feeling there, I don't have to call it evil itch or evil backache, or evil foot falling asleep. No. It is just be with the sensation as it is without labeling it with these very controversial kinds of judgments.
And we can also be mindful of the other aspect of feelings, which is more on the side of our mind, more about our emotions. So feelings can be either physical or emotional. And eventually we can also be mindful of our mind, how our mind works, seeing through our mind, and also mindfulness of all of reality and the truth of how things truly operate in the universe. But today, I just want to focus on mindfulness of the feelings.
So as I was meditating in the last few weeks on these energy centers in the lower abdomen, the heart area, and in the head, traditionally in Chinese philosophy, we believe that this energy center in the abdomen corresponds to our connection to the earth energy, harmony with the earth and the physical body, and then the heart of course is our connection to our emotions and our humanity, and in the head energy center, it connects us to the heaven energy, spirit energy as well as cosmic energy. So when we are in balance in these energies and in harmony with heaven and earth and humanity, that is something to be mindful of.
As I was being mindful of these energy centers, I was thinking about our emotions, and I thought of three primary positive emotions. Of course in the heart, love. Makes sense, right? And in the lower abdomen, I was thinking, well, that is the center of vitality. So I thought, oh, joy. And then the head, when my mind is calm, I have peace. Actually, you can look at the four brahma-viharas in this way, too, where you have sympathetic joy and equanimity and in the heart, love and compassion, lovingkindness and compassion.
But as I continued to contemplate these three positive emotions, I realized well, that is not all that exists in the human condition. We also have what we might consider negative emotions, too, that also correspond to these energy centers. Though I thought there is a complementarity to these positive emotions, and so I thought, okay, well, love has a complementarity with anger, and joy has a complementarity with sadness, and I thought, okay, peace has a complementarity with fear. And I thought, okay, so these are the bad emotions on this side. These are the good emotions, right? I had asked someone to bring me something to write on, and I could just draw it, if someone could help me.
Thank you. I have a marker. Yes. Okay. [drawing on the white board] Well, so, here is someone doing zazen. So we have love corresponding to these energy centers. We have love, peace, joy, and we also have fear, anger, and sadness. At first I thought, okay. These are the good emotions. These are the bad emotions. But actually, no. They are all valid. They are all part of the human condition, and they all have healthy places in our lives.
Sometimes we do have fear, especially if some lion is chasing us. I don't know how often that happens to you. Sometimes we can feel anger, perhaps at injustice and sadness. It is very normal, especially when we are grieving. So these are all healthy emotions. When we suppress what we think of as negative, we can actually cause unhealthy forms of these emotions. When we do not know how to cultivate and nourish the positive side of these emotions, also there can be unhealthy expressions.
So fear, if we are not mindful enough, can lead to extremes of anxiety and paranoia. Anger when we are not mindful can lead toward extremes of un-healthiness such as hatred and rage and revenge, and sadness can lead to debilitating depression, etc. So we need to be mindful of taking care of our emotions and letting them be expressed in healthy ways and to bring them back to health when we go into unhealthy expressions.
But not only do the so-called negative emotions have their extreme unhealthy expression, even what we call positive also. So peace in this unhealthy expression might be indifference, uncaring, laziness, love. Oh my goodness. Who thought love could have an unhealthy side? But it really can. Love can be obsessive-compulsive possessiveness or lust or grasping, craving, clinging, and joy can become mania or frenzy or irresponsible fun, fun that goes little bit out of control, fun gone wild. And that may be very harmful to people.
So anyway, just a little short teaching on mindfulness of emotions, but mindfulness extends to many different areas, so as we practice mindfulness, mindfulness allows us to have insight and wisdom as to what is skillfully working for us and what is not. So, thank you so much for your practice and for being with me.
I actually feel like if it is okay to do just one more chant, because Sosan printed out this one chant. It would be so lovely if we could at least chant this with the children. Yes, of course. Let's do a song with the kids, and then this more serious chant. You know what? A lot of parents, in Dallas, Texas, they are telling me that their kids like to chant along with this Medicine Buddha healing. They like mantras. Kids love mantras, so you never know.
All right. So, hi, children.
ChiSing: Hi. Let's sing a song together. Okay? (Plays shruti box) So just repeat after me everybody. (Sings) And when I rise.
Audience: And when I rise.
ChiSing: Let me rise.
Audience: Let me rise.
ChiSing: Like a bird.
Audience: Like a bird.
ChiSing: And when I fall.
Audience: And when I fall.
ChiSing: Let me fall.
Audience: Let me fall.
ChiSing: Like a leaf.
Audience: Like a leaf.
ChiSing: Without regret.
Audience: Without regret.
ChiSing: And when I stand.
Audience: And when I stand.
ChiSing: Let me stand.
Audience: Let me stand.
ChiSing: Like a tree.
Audience: Like a tree.
ChiSing: Strong and tall.
Audience: Strong and tall.
ChiSing: And when I rest.
Audience: And when I rest.
ChiSing: Let me rest.
Audience: Let me rest.
ChiSing: Like a lake.
Audience: Like a lake.
ChiSing: Calm and still.
Audience: Calm and still.
ChiSing: And when I work.
Audience: And when I work.
ChiSing: Let me work.
Audience: Let me work.
ChiSing: Like a bee.
Audience: Like a bee.
ChiSing: And when I play.
Audience: And when I play.
ChiSing: Let me play.
Audience: Let me play.
ChiSing: Like a breeze.
Audience: Like a breeze.
ChiSing: Light and clear.
Audience: Light and clear.
ChiSing: We do not have time to rehearse the Medicine Buddha of healing dharani, but let's just chant it once through with me as much as you can. Just kind of follow along. Let our hearts just radiate healing love for all beings.
Om Namo Bhagavate Bhaisajya-guru