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Mindful Eating and Realizing Your Mission
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Mindful Eating and Realizing Your Mission (26 min.) MP3
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
September 14, 2014 - Dallas, Texas

Let's practice 5 minutes of eating meditation as I prepare my mind for the dharma talk tonight. So while we are passing these things out, let us stay mindful, knowing the ancient times of China when they would do these mindful eating practices, and they would ritualize it in little ceremonies like, for example, tea.

In Japan they really made a very, very beautiful tea ceremony, so every movement, everything, the stirring of the ingredients, the steaming of the water, everything was done in a very mindful way so that by the time you got to the point of actually drinking the tea or eating whatever the food was, there was already so much mindful energy present, so much love, just the gift of presence in it that it made it a lot easier to be present yourself to the tea or to the food.

And this is an art because you might think, well, why does it matter whether I eat this cupcake or drink this cup of tea or whatever in a mindful way or not? And by the way, if you want to feel included, you can just have a cup of cake in front of you. You do not have to eat it. You can actually enjoy the color. I think that is probably what I'm going to do. Anyway, you can enjoy the color or the smell. There are other senses, too, besides taste that you can enjoy mindfully. So, it is up to you. Or you can just be grateful that there are other brothers and sisters who can participate.

So, you might think, why is mindfulness of eating a cupcake important? There are so many other major world problems in the world. Right? But you see, the issue at stake is that we live in a universe that is interconnected, so actually, what we do in the small things has a bearing on what we do with the greater things. There is a book, something about how we do anything is how we do everything. We practice not only for ourselves, but for our generation so that future generations will have more presence from our generation, making it easier for them to practice mindfulness in the so-called greater things. You see?

It's like, you may not think that your job is very important being who you are. Maybe you think you are just a mother taking care of your kids. But you know what? You never know if maybe one of your children's children's children is going to be the next president of the United States. So you cannot really say that what you do isn't important.

We all have an effect on the larger whole of humanity and the planet, but we don't have to each be the president of the United States. In fact, that would be impossible and probably really, really awful. We just need to be who we are. Bobbie just needs to be the best Bobbie Bobbie can be, and Cornell just needs to be the best Cornell Cornell needs to be. Or ChiSing needs to be the best ChiSing ChiSing can be. That is all. I don't have to be anybody else. You don't have to be anybody else. Just be you, but be really authentically you. And that is done through mindfulness practice.

So if you can be truly, authentically you and mindful even in every little small thing, just as small as eating mindfully, for example, it has a reverberatory effect on how you do everything. So, I used to worry about all the world problems and everything, and I realized, you know what? I cannot really affect all the world problems if I don't take the time to just be nice in the grocery store line, you know? And in the traffic jams, you know? I have to just practice mindfulness where I am at, you know, and then trust that when I just do my little part, all of our little parts together to create major changes that we may not see right away, but it is there, and it reverberates over time in history.

So anyway, as you eat this cupcake or just look at this cupcake, let's just practice really just either tasting or seeing or smelling every little bit of it, just seeing all the ingredients, all the love. Did you make these?

Bobbie: I made the chocolate ones. I didn't make the red velvet ones.

ChiSing: Okay.

Female: I want to trade mine. (Laughter)

ChiSing: So some of these are made directly with love from Bobbie, and others indirectly, too. So anyway, let us now eat in gratitude. Let us take a deep breath together. Thank you so much. You can continue eating mindfully if you are still eating.

You know, I am sorry. I'm going to change the topic tonight. Maybe next week I will go more into the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path and other basic, fundamental teachings, but I just feel inspired to talk instead tonight about something else. But I want to say if you ever really want a good introduction to the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, Bhikku Bodhi—"bhikku" means monk—is an American monk who lives in New York state at Chuang Yen Monastery. He is a Theravada Buddhist monk, but living at the Mahayana Buddhist monastery, which is kind of nice, because there is lots of cooperative spirit there. So, this is one of the best books on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, and it is free. So you can just go online and Google it and get a PDF for free and download it. So it is really, really good. It is called Noble Eightfold Path by Bhikku Bodhi. Bodhi is spelled B-O-D-H-I. Bodhi. So, I highly recommend that.

So I was at Unity Village in Kansas City, Missouri this past week just spending a week just to get away on retreat, just to have some personal retreat time. My intention was that it could support me in my physical healing process. However, I realized after just a couple of days, it probably would have been better for me to go to just a monastery instead, without any schedule, because of the medications I am taking. I get so tired at different points in the day, I can't participate in everything. I usually have to take several naps throughout the day to handle my medications. So I really didn't get the full out of the retreat schedule.

But anyway, you live and learn, and there is nothing lost, but I enjoyed being out there because even after a few days of just being there and quiet and taking walks, I realized how important it was to do that, to be in nature, even just for a few days. It really replenishes, nourishes, revitalizes the spirit.

So, one morning, I had this thought come into my mind, and I usually think that these more inspired thoughts, they come from angelic beings and bodhisattva beings or guides, whatever you want to call them. They just gently remind us of our spiritual practices, just whisper into our mind something to remember to do, and so this one morning I woke up with this thought: Oh, it has been a few weeks since I did my earthing practice.

And if you don't know what earthing practice is, it is the practice of taking your shoes off and your socks off and just putting your feet on the earth directly for at least 20 minutes. It is especially good if it is moist soil or maybe at the beach or something, or maybe there is dew on the grass or whatever. But it is nice, really, really good conductivity of the earth's electromagnetic energy. All plants and all animals are constantly in touch with that energy.

Humans used to be, but we have now put so many barriers between our body and the earth that we do not contact the earth directly much anymore at all. And this actually will cause many, many health problems as we get older. And unfortunately, because elderly people are not usually well enough to take their shoes off and walk on the ground, by the time they are all sick and in the hospitals and everything, they are even further from the earth. They are in these clinical beds in hospitals and far, far, removed from even touching the earth at all. So that is unfortunate.

So if you are younger, I just want to encourage you to start practicing now so that you can prevent many health problems later. But anyway, I remembered, oh yes. Earthing practice. It is been a few weeks since I did that at the beach. It was easy to do at the beach when I was near the beach a few weeks earlier. I had not done in a while, especially here in Dallas. I don't always find it easy to walk on the earth here. Sometimes it is prickly or whatever or there are mosquitoes, but those are just excuses.

So I took my shoes off and my socks off, and I walked for 20 minutes on the grass, and actually the grass was nice, you know? Very soft, lots of dew on the grass in the morning, very soft grass, very nice. So then, that morning, when we did our spiritual practices, everyone was given a little reading from the daily devotional. It is just from the past year. They just cut up different daily devotionals and randomly gave everyone one, and the one I got, guess what it said. It said, "Take your shoes off. This ground is holy ground." Those were the spiritual words on the daily devotional. And then the rest of the affirmation of the devotion was something about where I am standing is holy ground.

So, I smiled when that happened because it was just yet another instance of evidence that we are not alone in this universe, that we have so many support systems in place, so many beings of love that are just whispering words of guidance to us. And the fact that I randomly picked that one that was exactly the message that corresponded to the message I received earlier that morning, it is just perfect, right? It is just another reminder that everything is being taken care of. I mean, if the universe can't coordinate something like that, then can't the universe coordinate anything?

So, I was just very happy to receive that little reminder that yes, no matter what we are going through, we are always being supported. And there are always guides available to us every step of the way. I really believe that now. We always have guidance available to us. We just have to practice mindfulness enough that we listen. Without mindfulness, it is hard to hear, right? Because it is like our mind, our spirit is like a little radio that is trying to pick up the signals from the universe. And there are different kinds of channels, and sometimes there is static.

But when we fine tune our lives in mindfulness, we can hear more clearly the guidance. And of course not just hear, but follow. And that is the hard part. I think a lot of us hear guidance. We know what we need to do, but we don't always follow through, right? So, it is just a practice. We practice following through over and over and over again until it becomes a more natural habit of ours.

Now, what I do want to share with you just briefly tonight is I realized during this personal retreat some things that have been stirring in my heart for many years, and I started to understand a little bit more about my mission in life this past week. It wasn't easy, because I was sifting through a lot of different things. It was almost like a week of midlife crisis, just like really looking at my life and everything. What is the meaning of what I'm here to do?

So I'm just going to share very briefly with you what I feel like is my mission, and that is not your mission, because your mission is different from mine. This feels like what is my mission. So, I'm not really sure how to teach it yet, because it is still fresh in my heart. Basically, how many of you come from a Christian background? Raise your hand. Okay. A lot of you. I mean, that makes sense, right? This is Texas. This is where we are.

I realize that my mission in this life is to be helpful to two major kinds of persons. So I want to be helpful to those who are primarily from the Christian tradition as well as those who are spiritual in some other way. And I realized that is really my main two missions. And what it is is for Christians, I want to help Christians realize that Christ may be the highest revelation for them, but Christianity is not the fullest revelation. Christianity may have the highest revelation, which is the love of God and Jesus Christ, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the Christian religion has is the fullest of all revelation. You can have the highest, but not the fullest, right?

What that means is that I am here to encourage Christians yes, believe in God. Believe in Jesus. Have church, have all your community and your spiritual practice of being Christian, but realize that if you want fullness, you may have to look at the other practices of other faiths to get an idea of maybe some areas in your church life that need a little bit more expansion.

So, for example, Christians may have a theory of the love of God and Christ down, but maybe you might want to look at the Hindus and how they have yoga practices or look at the Taoists and how they have qi gong practices or look at the Buddhists and how they have these amazing meditation practices or maybe look at the Native Americans you have all these wonderful Earth-based practices that keep us in touch with Mother Earth. They developed a fullness of divine revelation within their context, a fullness in their area, right?

So true Christianity I believe is not about saying that Christ is the only revelation, but if you are a Christian, you are going to have to say at least he's probably a higher or highest revelation. So I will give them that. So let us say Christ is the highest revelation. That doesn't mean you have the fullness yet, which is why it is important to be in touch with God's revelation that is also available in other ways. And that doesn't negate the revelation in Christ at all, you see?

This is what we call inclusive Christianity, rather than exclusive Christianity. See, in exclusive Christianity, you believe that Christianity itself is the fullness of everything, and everything else actually doesn't have anything to offer. But that is really, I believe, a mistake. I believe that a more truer understanding of Christianity would be inclusive, which is to say Christ may be the highest revelation, but there is revelation in other ways, too, that can enrich and bring the fullness to the revelation.

It is kind of like what Jesus said. He said, "I did not come to abolish the Jewish traditions, like the law of the prophet. I did not come to destroy the law of the prophets, basically. I came to fulfill it." So, you could say that in the same way for Christians you could think that Jesus did not come to abolish the mindfulness of the Buddha, the yoga of the Hindus, the qi gong of the Taoists, the Mother Earth traditions of the Native Americans. No, but to fulfill it, to realize that there is a oneness within all of these that points to something higher, which is the love of God, right? And that love of God for Christians with manifest very, very fully or highly in Christ.

Now, not everyone in the world is a Christian or considers this a major path for them. So that is why I have a second mission, too. I have a mission to Christians because for some reason, I was put into a Christian family and the Christian context, and I still have a lot of appreciation for this path. So I realized, oh, that is because I have a mission here. So I need to the filled out. I need to be a light in the Christian context, so I realized for the rest of my life, however long or short that is, I need to remember to fulfill my mission so I can do a little bit more in this area for the next few months or years.

But, I also have a second mission, which is for those who feel very, very estranged from the Christian message. So my second mission is for those who are spiritual but not necessarily on the Christian spiritual path. My mission here is to help you to come to a place of finding something such as the Buddha or some other spiritual path that will help you bring discipline to your spiritual life practice, because I really believe that just being spiritual isn't enough.

I mean, there may be a phase in your life where spiritual is enough, because that is just where you are at. But at some point, I believe that if you are just spiritual, you need to move on to the next phase, which is not just to be spiritual, is to actually practice something deeply and with commitment and your whole heart and to really believe in something and do it fully with your whole heart.

So, I give you Buddha as one possible way of following. If neither Jesus nor Buddha works for you, oh my gosh. But I know there are other paths, too. So I will help you find something, but man, if you don't like the two big ones, I don't know. But there are other paths. There are beautiful Jewish paths, Hindu paths, native paths, 12-step path. Because I don't think that God ever leaves anyone out. God really is generous. Like, okay. If this isn't working for you, how about this? How about this? Because God just wants you to come closer into the love and to mature as a spiritual being. That is what matters most.

Anyway, there are many, many paths. But choose something. For me, my mission is for the Christians and for those who need a spiritual path, such as the Buddha, this is what I offer. And so, I want to see more commitment from all of you to your spiritual path, whatever that is. Because the people I have encountered who are just spiritual but don't really have a specific practice or community, they are just floating, and I don't see a lot of commitment energy.

And what the world needs today is really committed spiritual beings who are really committed to their path, whatever that path may be, whether it is Christianity or Buddhism or something else that is committed comment because we live in a time in history where just being generally spiritual is not enough anymore. We need committed bodhisattvas to really, really help change the world. Because our world is kind of in a very, very crazy time in history, and we need everyone to really fully commit.

So today, this season, this year, I want you to examine in your heart as you do your meditations how committed are you to your practice and your path? Because we need you to be committed. So that is my mission. I want you to think about what is your mission? Maybe your mission is to be the best mother you can be, or the best school teacher that you can be, or best neighbor, or best friend, best social worker, best accountant, whatever. But see, what is your mission? Or maybe it is just something so simple, you know what I mean? It is like it is so simple that you do not think about it, but if you meditate on it, you will realize you have a mission. Everyone has a mission.

I'm going to end there now, since we want to have our council meeting tonight…

Transcribed by Jessica Hitch

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