Buddha statue quiet lake
Jewels of Practice
Listen to this talk:
Jewels of Practice (13 min.) MP3
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
November 24, 2013 - Dallas, Texas

So, I don't have time to give you a whole dharma talk tonight, so I will just give you some little jewels that have come to me in the last few weeks, and then I am going to ask you to share some small jewels as well if you would like.

I shared this with some of the meditators during the week last week. It came to my mind that when I plug in my cell phone to recharge, all I have to do is just set it down and let it recharge. And that is kind of like meditation. When we just sit ourselves down just to breathe and be here and now, that is like recharging our cell phone, our spiritual inner cell phone.

But, sometimes I have noticed, it is still plugged in, and I pick it up, but I am just fiddling with it a little bit. I may be checking an e-mail or checking the text or something or checking the weather, but it is still plugged in, so it is still recharging. Well, as I was reflecting on that, I realized, well, that is like meditation also. There are times when I am meditating when I just completely feel at peace with everything as it is. I don't really feel bothered by thoughts or sounds or body aches. I'm just here and now. And that is really nice. That is kind of like the cell phone just kind of sitting by itself resting while it is being recharged.

But, sometimes—most of the time or at least half of the time—maybe I might be having lots of thoughts, and I might be creating lots of stories or making lists or whatever. I might feel fidgety, or I might not feel like I am really giving my full presence to the meditation. I might be feeling distracted. And yet, and if I am still in the posture of meditation, if I am still sitting with the intention that I am meditating, I am still recharging, just like that cell phone.

So do not worry if some of the time you are feeling very, very present to the meditation and other times you feel like ugh, it wasn't such a good meditation. I am feeling very distracted, or I am feeling very fidgety. It is okay. The fact that you are meditating or that you're putting yourself into the practice, you are still spiritually recharging, no matter what. So don't worry about whether you think it is a good experience of meditation or not.

They actually did a scientific study which I shared before, I think here or somewhere else, where they hook people up and sort of measure all of the good things that happen to your body and your brain during meditation, and some of them felt like they had a great meditation, and others felt like they had a terrible time meditating. It just wasn't feeling like their best meditation, and yet, the results were the same for both kinds of responses. Whether you felt you had a good meditation or a bad meditation, you still had all of the good results in your brain and in your body from the meditation.

So you cannot judge the power of your meditation by what you may be feeling or interpreting during the meditation because your cell phone is still recharging. Your inner cell phone is still recharging regardless of whether the cell phone is just being still or if you are fidgeting with it a little bit. It is still recharging. So don't worry. The practice is to just keep coming back faithfully to this practice, and when we do that, we will feel spiritually rejuvenated and recharged.

Another little tool came to me a few weeks ago when I was in Minnesota, and I was teaching some meditation workshops for some college students at St. Catherine's University, Augsburg College, University of Minnesota, and I spoke at a couple of Soto Zen centers as well. Next semester, there may be two more colleges added to this whole little week of mindfulness for college students, and so that will be really nice.

And by the way, because I have all the support here in Dallas of the Center, I do not have to worry about my expenses going over there, you know. I just have them at least cover my airfare, and I don't really worry about it because I don't need to do it for money. I have enough support here at home, so I enjoyed just giving of my time and energy to just help spread the dharma, especially among college students.

So, this thought came to me after one of the meditations. It was very interesting. It was towards the end of the meditation. Sometimes sort of an insight just kind of bubbles up. Have you ever felt that? An insight just sort of bubbles up toward the end of your meditation. You don't have to try to make it happen. It just happens from time to time.

Well, this little bubble came up, and I was thinking gosh, I don't know that I like the truth of karma. It is like, karma bites. And I kept thinking, well, some of the problems I experience today or in this lifetime, yeah, it's probably because I didn't do too many good things in a past life or something. I was thinking to myself, there are all these mentally ill people that show up in my life in this lifetime. It is like it is probably because I mistreated mentally ill people in a previous life. You never know.

I did go under hypnosis once, and I actually saw myself in some religious community, and I was sort of in charge of the people who were demon possessed or mentally ill, and I didn't treat them so well. So anyway, payback time. So I was thinking, gosh, I really have a very negative relationship to the truth of karma, but then there was that an insight that arose which was oh, wait a minute.

Actually, the truth of the karma in the universe is not about punishment. It is actually not negative. Actually, karma is actually a manifestation of the love of the universe. It is like the same thing when a child is about to put their hand on the stove, and the mother or father grabs them and yanks the hand away from the stove. It might feel aggressive, but it is for their own good to keep them from burning themselves.

In the same way, karma is not this negative thing at all. It is actually a manifestation of the way the universe shows up to take care of us. Because if we didn't have karmic consequences of our actions, we would just keep going down the road toward all kinds of crazy stuff without much help to bring us back. But because of karma, I can see that doing certain things in a negative way is not the way I want to go. And doing things that are positive, that is the way I want to go. So karma is actually a wonderful—although sometimes tough—teacher. It is actually a manifestation of love at the core.

So now, as I meditate on that, I am slowly shifting my relationship to karma. I am not thinking of it with a cringe, oh, gosh, you know? It is more like, oh, good. If I do something stupid, at least something is there to help teach me to do otherwise, to show me a different way. And that is the manifestation of love in the universe, that none of us are left alone, that we are always going to be nudged along until we are fully enlightened. Because really, that is our destiny. Every single person, that is our destiny, full enlightenment. And so, I just think that is wonderful. None of us are lost and all by ourselves alone. We are all taken care of.

You know, at Buddhist temples, sometimes they have this very, very loving kind of statue of a bodhisattva, and then sometimes they have these wrathful looking beings. What that symbolizes is that love shows up in whatever form you need. Sometimes you need tenderness and compassion and a soft, warm hug of a touch to help you to come back to enlightenment. But sometimes you also need some tough love, you know? Some Buddha whacking on your head kind of love. And that is symbolized by the wrathful looking beings at the temple.

But really, at the core, at the heart, is love. So, we may live through our lives thinking, sometimes it seems like the universe is for us and sometimes against us, but really, actually, all of these positive and negative experiences are actually all at the core love. It is a manifestation of love ultimately. That the time you're going through something tough, it may not feel that way. You do not always understand that, and you do not need to understand that at that time, okay? It is okay to feel confused or to feel a little bit lost. That might be part of your process of maturity, maturing, and also developing compassion. Because if we don't ever go through our own suffering, I don't see how we could possibly understand other beings and their suffering.

And so it is part of our process, but when you are in the midst of it and it is really, really overwhelming, try to remember this metaphor: One time there is a little bug on the floor during meditation, and it was crawling around, and I thought, oh, I'd better pick up the bug and put him outside before someone accidentally walks on him during walking meditation. So I am trying to gently maneuver the bug and try to bring him into my hands, and he and starts to run around frantic and scared. He is like, "Oh my God!" Well, he didn't say that, but anyway.

And I thought, ah, he probably thinks I am a monster about to attack him, but actually, what I was was a compassionate being trying to save him. But to him, I was a monster trying to attack him. So sometimes, in our lives we might think that the things that are happening in our lives just seem too crazy and overwhelming and there's a lot of suffering, but please keep in mind that maybe from a larger perspective, a bigger perspective, it is actually part of the universe's teaching you, guiding you, and trying to help you to become more wise, more compassionate, and more spiritually powerful, and this just happens to be the way it looks right now. So you never know.

So just keep that in mind. Really, the universe is not out to get you. The universe is only here to support you for one purpose only, to become a Buddha. This entire universe is just a Buddha-making machine, nothing else. So everything that happens is part of the ingredients to help make that possible and make it happen. Along the way, some of it really, really looks like manure, but even manure can become fertilizer to help a garden of beautiful flowers and fruits and vegetables to grow. So, thank you so much for hanging in there with me.

Transcribed by Jessica Hitch

▲ Return to Top