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Action and Beingness (20 min.)
"Action and Beingness"
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
Afternoon of Mindfulness Retreat
May 22, 2010 - Dallas, Texas

Dallas Meditation Center Open House Weekend

I think it's just so nice just to practice together, making a historic moment together, a foundation for the practice of many others to come. You know whenever we work through our stuff, many beings are affected. And every aspect of your physical manifestation - body/mind - is connected to all the other aspects of others. So if you are a male, as you transform yourself as a male it reverberates to all men everywhere throughout space and time. So you transform what it means to be male just a little bit in your practice. And if you're a woman as you transform as a woman it ripples across the universe and so womanhood is uplifted just a little bit more in consciousness. And if you are Asian, or Euro-American, or if you are gay, or straight or bisexual, or whatever, as you transform then everyone in that same category is uplifted also. If you are American, then all America is uplifted. If you are human species, all human species are uplifted. If you are a sentient being, all sentient beings of all species are uplifted. If you're smart aleck, then all smart alecks are uplifted. (…laughing)

So as we practice through our difficulties and our struggles with our monkey mind, every time we practice someone else who has the same difficulties, or struggles, or the same kind of monkey mind gets uplifted just a little bit more because you're willing to do the work that is necessary. But also know that the fact that you are in this room practicing, whether you consider your practice really good or not so good, whether you consider your monkey mind calm or very wild, it doesn't matter. The fact that you are in this room means that many other beings have done their practice to make this possible for you. All of your ancestors and all their hard work, all of your spiritual teachers continuing to offer the practice generation after generation; it's because of them that we can sit in this room right here, right now and enjoy the benefits of this practice, and also offer this practice to all beings.

Is anyone else cold? Cornell, can we turn [the air conditioner] down or off? But even when we're feeling a little cold, if we practice with it, accept it, embrace it as what is, practice mindfulness of the cold, without hating it - that uplifts the consciousness of the planet just a little bit more. And of course now that I'm aware of the cold I just, I take action from that awareness. I ask Cornell to make it less cold. What a wonderful gift that is in each moment, to be able to embrace and accept what is and then act from that acceptance. In the next moment you can take action and transform whatever needs to be transformed. But if we resist reality all the time, it is very difficult to take action in the next moment that is coming from a place of wisdom and mindfulness and loving kindness. So the foundation of transformative action, transformative doing in the world is based on being, acceptance, embracing what is. That is the foundation of transformative action is embracing what is.

So remember to understand that it's always the middle path here. If it's only just action, we're going to burn ourselves out, and usually, we're not doing action that is actually coming from the best place of mindfulness and loving kindness and wisdom. But if it's only about beingness and just letting things be and accepting what is,if it was only just that then you might get into a place of feeling like you're a doormat, right? And that you're not supposed to do anything, "well you know I can't do anything about that, I'm not going to help that person, it just is what it is." But that attitude is going to the other extreme of non-truth. The truth is the middle path, it's action and beingness together.

So our practice is to come back to that beingness, come back to that present-ness, coming back to that acceptance and fully embracing what is. And when we do that we find that there is so much more in reality then what we realized before because not only is there this situation which might be pleasant or unpleasant, but there is this underlying reality that supports you and holds you in the difficulties and the pleasures of life. And from that support, you can take action in the next moment that can cultivate that beauty of the moment, or transform that moment into something more beautiful. So being and doing always are together. Acceptance and action are always together.

Throughout time, who we really are has been expressing in so many diverse ways, different species, different human civilizations and religions and cultures, and has been creatively creating language and ideas and mental evolution over time. And one of the beautiful streams in that history of the human evolution has been the seed that was planted and manifested and expressed through the one that we call the Buddha 2,500 - 600 years ago. And the stream that has been resulting and growing from that wisdom that was revealed and embodied and expressed has been cultivated through the centuries in different ways. And one of the ways it has been cultivated for the benefit of others is this creation of a Buddha field - a Buddha field of wisdom and loving kindness and energy that is supportive to those beings who are able to access that field of energy. And in one of the streams of Buddhism we call that Amitabha, or we can also call it Sukkhavati, the energy field of happiness. In other traditions it's called a pure land. It's really not necessarily a literal land; the better translation for that word land is field - a field of energy. And so the enlightenment that shines through Shakyamuni Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama Shakyamuni Buddha 2,600 years ago was this field of energy. And sometimes you can call it metta, loving kindness. Sometimes you can express it through the compassion of the feminine energy of the Buddha which has been called Gwan Yin or Avalokitesvara. And in Tibetan Buddhism you have the mantra Om mani padme hum, Om mani padme hum, which expresses the same thing as metta - loving kindness, and Amitabha- infinite light. So however you want to express it, it's the same reality. It's creating this Buddha field.

And the neat thing is millions of practitioners throughout the centuries have been adding to this Buddha field, making it larger and larger, with more accessing doorways into it. Today in our technological age it's easier to visualize this because when you do those video games, you have these virtual realities and people from Korea and China and Vietnam, or Africa, or Brazil, or Canada, they can actually tune in to the same game and they can be doing whatever adventure they're doing in this field of cyber energy. In the same way, whenever we practice mindfulness and loving kindness, especially through the deep mindfulness of metta, loving kindness, Amitabha, what you're doing is you're accessing that same field of energy. And it doesn't matter what physical location you're in, or what location you are in time, you're accessing the same reality past, present and future, north, east, west or south.

And as you're accessing that, you can feel the supports of all those millions of practitioners. You can feel the support of all those many, many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who are adding to this field of energy that's growing and growing and growing, with more and more portals of access. And the neat thing is each of us brings a unique gift to that field of energy to that Sukkhavati, that pure land, that field of happiness. It's like the way we are practicing... we're kind of creating our own little spot in the pure land, our own little garden. You know we're kind of planting our particular beautiful gifts and ways of expressing Buddha nature in our part of the pure land. And so we make it easier for others because then that field of energy, as we access it, low and behold, it accesses through us and we create a literal field of energy right here and now. So as we access that pure land beyond time and space, it then accesses through us. And we create and channel that pure land right here and now in reality on the earth. Jesus called it the Kingdom of God, Heaven on Earth.

So as we practice, know that we have the support of so many beings, so many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Just mindfulness of loving kindness, mindfulness of Amitabha, mindfulness of the heart of reality is our access point. And as you practice you'll realize - you'll start to feel this field of energy channeling through you. And all your thoughts and all your words and all your actions start to emanate the field, Amitabha - infinite light. And little by little the pure land is being created right here on earth. Not just in that spiritual realm beyond time and space but literally right here on earth.

And that's really the point of our practice... you see this was true in original Buddhism, but maybe over a few centuries, some practitioners lost sight of this truth and that's why many practitioners started to reemphasize the truth through Mahayana Buddhism, with the idea that it's a practice not just to ascend to Nirvana, but to channel that enlightenment on Earth for all beings. To remind us that… that's why the Amitabha practice is so powerful, it's a reminder of why we're practicing, not just so that we each individually just get enlightened and then just leave everything, but that we even as we're practicing and becoming enlightened here and now, we become channels of that infinite reality and transform our reality here and now on this earth. So really there is no separation and struggle between all the different schools of Buddhism; they actually are pointing to the same reality. They just have different methods and different words, different practices and different emphases. But they're pointing to that same heart, whether it's called Om mani padme hum, Amitabha, Metta, Bodhichitta (which means "awakening the heart") doesn't matter, we are all accessing that reality and we are all channeling that reality. And together we are adding to the pure land of Buddha on Earth - the Kingdom of God on Earth.

So when you wake up, chant Amitabha in your mind. When you are about to eat a meal, chant Amitabha in your heart. As you walk to the car or to work or to school, or to wherever you're going, let each step be walking in the pure land of that beautiful Buddha field, and let Amitabha's light channel through you in every step in every breath. For those of you, who maybe at this time, daily rigorous meditation practice isn't where you're at right now, that is completely ok. As long as you can stay mindful of Amitabha, then someone else in some other place in time and space is practicing in solidarity with you, giving you their practice energy and you can benefit from it by being mindful of Amitabha. Until the point when you are ready to then practice more deeply in meditation so that it's not only for you but for someone else who might be having difficulty... So then it's ok for them, because you're practicing in solidarity with them until they're ready. You see this is the reality of Amitabha. The Amitabha teaching is that everyone is practicing for everyone else. So there's no reason to beat yourself up if you're not at a point in your life right now of daily rigorous meditation. It ebbs and flows, even in my life it ebbs and flows, ebbs and flows, but throughout the ebbs and flows I'm still mindful of the infinite light that loves me supports me and that wants me to be a channel of blessing to all beings - Amitabha, Amitabha. It's that constant mindfulness of that reality that will carry you through the ups and downs of your practice.

You see, we're so supported and as we feel that support, and we practice with that support, we are support for so many others. That's just the reality. So the middle path is always a dance. In some aspects of your practice you need to let go of beating yourself up and just let yourself be supported and be ok that you're not perfect in the practice. Just let it be. But in other times in our practice, we really need to stop being so lazy and get off our… um, I was going to say get off our butt, but actually we need to get on our butt and practice! (…laughter) You know, it's kind of like that saying, 'don't just sit there, do something!' But actually - don't just do something, sit there, right? That's our practice.

So it's just that dance of the middle path. It's kind of like someone who's blindfolded, and a teacher is on the other end of the pathway, and there's like a fire pit on the right and a torrent of flooding water on the left, and any step over either way will be instant death. And so the teacher, you know, calls out, "go a little bit to the left," and then he says, "Go a little bit to the right, go a little bit the left, now right." Is the teacher contradicting him or herself? To some people it sounds contradictory. Well, is it about letting go and just accepting, or is it about really putting diligent effort into the practice? Which one is it? Well, sometimes depending on which direction we're going... too extreme and the spiritual teacher within and externally will say certain things to get you back in the middle path. So there is no contradiction. There is no contradiction between Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism. There's no contradiction between what's called self-power and other power. You know, relying on yourself and relying on the other power of the Buddhas. There's no contradiction. They're all both real and true, it's just that we need to practice the middle way.

So, my talk this afternoon, I guess, boils down to practicing the middle path, practicing with an awareness that we are supported and that we are called to support all beings through our practice - Amitabha.

Transcribed by Jennifer Baquero

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