Don't say that I will depart tomorrow--even today I am still arriving.
Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring
branch, to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings, learning to sing
in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, to be a
jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, to fear and to hope. The
rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive.
I am a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river. And I am the
bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.
I am a frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond. And I am
the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as
bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws
herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am the
pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hinds. And
I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to my people dying
slowly in a forced-labor camp.
My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the
Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four
Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and
laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and the door of my
heart could be left open, the door of compassion.
["Call Me By My True Names" - Thich Nhat Hanh]
Tonight I don't really have anything new to share with you as far as
words are concerned. Just a reminder that our practice is so vast.
So big. So great. As I've shared before, The Buddha once said that
if you take a bowl of water and you pour a cup of salt in the water
and stir it up, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you take that
same amount of salt in the cup and pour it into a crystal clear stream
of water and stir it up, wade in it, you can still drink from that
crystal clear stream of water. The same amount of suffering, but one
was in the context of someone who doesn't realize that their heart,
that their practice is vast. They still have this belief that they
are small and that they are unable to handle all the different ups and
downs of life. But through our practice we begin to awaken to the
real truth that our heart is vast like the sky. Infinite, free and
spacious. That's our true nature. That is Amitabha. Infinite
So, its not that we become small to great. It's that we awaken from
the illusion-the delusion that we are this small self. And awaken to
the reality that has always been there from beginning less time. That
we are the whole Universe. We are all of it and more. And when we
realize that and awaken to that, whether it is just for a second, for
twenty minutes, for a day, for a month, for a year, we just allow that
realization to keep growing because Enlightenment is infinite and it
never ends. We allow that awakening to keep growing so that through
time and space, together, as a Sangha, individually, as a
practitioner, that infinite vastness manifests in real tangible ways.
In the way we think. In the way we feel. In the way we speak. In
the way we act. In the way we relate with others in the world.
So in our practice, we're not just practicing so that we can open our
heart to all the wonderful joys of life. Of course we want to do
that, that is definitely a very important part of our practice because
so much of us, we are just so used to just focusing on the negative
only and we just aren't aware of all the joys that are right here and
now and everywhere. So our practice first of all is then to awaken to
all that joy.
But a second aspect to our practice is to know that we can handle and
embrace and be in solidarity with all the pain in life as well. That
we are strong enough to be in solidarity with someone who is dying.
With someone who is depressed. That we are strong enough to be in
solidarity as a collective Sangha to make a stand for justice and
righteousness in the world. Even if it means that we may have to
sacrifice certain things in our life to help all beings. We can
sacrifice even our life for the sake of love because if we are awake
we know that this one body does not contain all of who we are. Even
if this particular body falls in the act of love and sacrifice we
still are present in these bodies. And in these bodies. And in this
cosmic body. No birth, no death. Because who we are is never born
and never dies. It's simply manifesting in more and more ways. Moment
by moment. Breath by breath. Heartbeat by heartbeat.
And when we awaken to that truth deeply with our whole being, not just
in our head, but with our whole being; fear-we can handle
it. Sadness-we can hold it. Anger-we can be with it until it
transforms. Joy-we can celebrate it. Love-we can offer it. Peace-we
can radiate it. That is how Infinite this heart is. The heart of who
we are. The heart of Amitabha. It is so great that it can hold all
the joys and the pains of all beings. Because we are all in this
together. In this project called "Human Life" and life in
general. This messy, glorious project. This perfectly imperfect
project of how to take Infinite light and express it in form. In
color. In sound. In taste. In texture. In human life. In animal
life. In all of life. And at the deepest core of all we know that
despite all the craziness of it, it is worth it. It is worth it.
Because it is here that the Infinite light actually experiences deep
compassion. Deep wisdom. With many, many forms. Together.
I am the twelve year old girl refugee on a small boat who throws
herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am
the pirate. My heart not yet capable of seeing and loving. Please
call me by my true names. Amitabha. ChiSing. Catherine. Paul.
Susan. David. Amitabha. Please call me by my true names so I can
wake up and so the door of my heart can be left open. The door of
compassion. The door of Infinite light. Infinite love. Infinite
So that was just the first part of my talk. I just let myself channel
a little bit. It's nice to do that sometimes (laughter). But now I
want to talk some practical things. So just let the human ChiSing
talk to you too. Not just the Amitabha ChiSing. Never think that
your human self is inferior to your Amitabha Buddhist self. It is
equally important and precious. It's all one package. And it has its
A few days from now on Wednesday, it will be November 11th.
Eleven-eleven. And two years from that date it will be
eleven-eleven-eleven. Right? Or is it three years, I can't remember.
No, two years from now (laughter). Yeah, so I love celebrating that
day each year but even more so now because of the time in history that
we are living in. I would like for each of you to make a dedication
and commitment to practice in solidarity with me for forty days. And
I am using that number forty because, well, in our Western spiritual
traditions, Moses went to the mountains for forty days and Jesus went
to the wilderness for forty days and actually it takes about forty
days to really get deep in a particular practice to help transform
your habit energy. So from November 11th to the Winter Solstice
December 21st is forty days. And this particular Winter Solstice this
year is exactly three years before the Winter Solstice of 2012.
Now there is going to be a movie coming out this week with a lot of
crazy hype and Hollywood hype. And there is a lot of things on the
Internet and in books that are now being written. I am sure there is
going to be a hundred more books written about it in the next three
years. It's okay. Maybe it will help people be more curious about
what is going on in history right now. But really, behind and beyond
on all the hype, it's not about cosmic cataclysm or global destruction
or the end of our civilization in an instant. It's not about that at
all. It's actually a symbolic wake up call, a spiritual symbolic wake
up call to say "Hey! Everyone..Ummm…Hello?" (laughter). "Knock,
knock, anyone in there?" This is a very crucial time in history.
There are so many species, endangered species that are going out of
existence. Global warming is increasing. Wars are increasing.
Economic turbulence is increasing. Human agitation with all the new
technology...with you know, with this IPod and that IPhone and
whatever else technology. It's like, you should see the teenagers in
school these days! It's crazy! Not like when I was in school. Maybe
not like when you were in school. It's even worse. It's just
"Ahhhh!" Liz probably understands. She's a teacher.
It's there's so much going against us. Trying to delude us. Trying
to keep us from being awake. But this time in history is so crucial
because everything is accelerating. It's like this critical mass is
coming to a head and it is time now for all who are mindful, all who
are deeply in touch with their true nature, to make a stand. To make
a deeper commitment to let that light shine. Because it's not that
all the other people do not have that light. It's just that it's been
crusted over with all these societal lies and junk. And they don't
know any better. So it's up to us to let our light shine and when we
let our light shine, it allows them, it gives them permission to
remember that they are the light too and then they begin to let that
light shine. You see, as they see your light shine, they say "Oh!
Oh, I have a light too! I can let it shine." And as they let it
shine, it just can shine all across the world, and so, not necessarily
literally on December 12, 2012 but sometime in the next few years I am
hoping that instead of the direction of history going further and
further downhill that somehow all the spiritual and mindful people in
the world can help start to make history make a turn upward. And
allow a movement to take place. A movement toward Universal
Awareness. A movement toward compassion. A movement toward
mindfulness. And spirituality.
But even if, in the next few years we are not able to help pivot
history that direction, its so worth it that we are practicing now.
Because if history starts pivoting downward, starts to pivot downward
over the next several decades, we are going to be there, and we are
going to be the ones to teach our children and their children to be
lights in a world of chaos. We will be the ones that people run to
for refuge because even if people everywhere are like scared and they
are feeling desperate and they don't know what is going on, we can be
there. Calm. Safe. A light for all these beings.
But my hope is that we move history up towards a more global awakening
so we can all collectively remember that we are Amitabha. That we are
Mitraya, a Buddha of Love. It is said that the next Buddha to come is
Mitraya Buddha. Mitraya means friendship and love and kindness.
Isn't that interesting that is the name of the next Buddha.
Friendship and love is not a single person. Friendship and love only
happens in a relationship. And so that may be a clue that the next
Buddha is not a single individual. But is a Sangha. It is a
collective movement of people practicing wisdom and compassion
together. We may indeed be the next Buddha of Love.
So, I am going to send an email out tomorrow and I would like for each of you to make certain commitments for that forty day period in solidarity with me. And I can give you some helpful practices that you can do for forty days. See what happens in your life. You know it's really nice to do this because it's going to be Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah and all those crazy things with people buying and being materialistic and the rush and the craziness and all the family drama (laughter). Wouldn't it be nice to actually practice in such a way for forty days that you are going to be totally at peace with all of it? And a light. The true meaning of Christmas and Hanukkah? You will be the light of the world. You are the light of the world. And for your family and friends and your neighborhood. And your school and your work.
So I encourage us to practice these forty days because we are
preparing these forty days for the next three years. Of deeper
practice as we prepare symbolically to be a part of the movement
towards global awakening. So whether or not that date is literal or
not, that doesn't matter. Let's use it. Use it to motivate ourselves
to really practice deeper. And imagine what if in just three years we
could be fully enlightened? It's not impossible! Shakyamuni Buddha
did it in six years. But he didn't have much help you know. We have
so many resources today. I think we can do it in just three
years. Become fully enlightened. Let's just try anyway (laughter).
Alright, thank you.