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InterMindful Weekly - Newsletter for the Sangha - Dallas, Texas
InterMindful Weekly
Week of August 3, 2008

Buddha Spiritual Director ChiSing A Letter of Spiritual Encouragement
(written Friday, August 1, 2008)

…please print this and post it up on your wall as a daily reminder this month

AUGUST is "Buddha's Blessings" Month in which we re-dedicate ourselves to the Path of Enlightenment, and share healing, abundance and happiness with each other and all beings. I want to encourage you to examine your life today and this week and this month to see what you would like to do in order to commit yourself more fully to the Path of Awakening.

According to some studies, it takes at least 21 days to effectively change an old habit and form a new habit. I want to challenge you today to make a commitment for this whole month of August for 31 days -- a commitment to forming a new habit of daily meditation at home, weekly meditation with a group, and perhaps a monthly "Day of Mindfulness" retreat (alone or with a group), and even a quarterly weekend retreat (as well as an annual weeklong retreat, if that is within your means).

Mindfulness is not a quick-fix. Mindfulness practice is a lifestyle. It is a new habit that you need to commit to every day. It is like eating three meals a day and getting about 8 hours of sleep each night. It isn't anything extraordinary. And yet, for so long, we have been living as spiritually malnourished beings; it's as if we've only been eating one meal every few days and sleeping only a couple of hours a week. Then, when we encounter mindfulness practice, especially at a retreat, it feels extraordinary. But you can't just go to one retreat or a couple of group meditations and then stop there. You must continually commit yourself to daily practice, weekly practice, monthly practice, quarterly practice (and annual practice, if it is in your means). It's just like committing yourself to eating three nutritious meals a day and sleeping about 8 hours each night. You don't just eat one meal and sleep one night and then wait several days before eating and sleeping again. That is not healthy at all. And yet, that is exactly what we have been doing spiritually most of our lives.

We don't even realize that we are spiritually malnourished because most of us have never really known any other state of existence. Since our parents were probably spiritually malnourished, and all of our peers were most likely spiritually malnourished, and even our religious leaders may have been spiritually malnourished, our own state of spiritual malnourishment just seemed normal. But now, we have the opportunity to change all of that. We have the amazing opportunity now to break this ancestral cycle of spiritual malnourishment and begin a new generation of spiritual nourishment, transformation and enlightenment.

I encourage you to make a commitment to your own happiness, a commitment to transforming your suffering, a commitment to realizing enlightenment in this very lifetime, for the sake of all beings. I encourage you to wake up from the delusions of the self-centered self, to wake up from our collective addiction to distraction, to wake up from the extremes of both materialistic workaholism and of metaphysical laziness.

Do it today, do it this week, do it this month… just do it.

August is the 8th month of our Western calendar. The number 8 is a sacred number that symbolizes Enlightenment and a New Beginning. The Buddha taught the Eight-fold Path of Enlightenment. A week is composed of the 7 days from Sunday to Saturday and then the 8th day starts a new cycle, a new 1st day of the week, so it is a new beginning. All numbers, of course, are sacred. But we can take advantage of ancient symbols and spiritual traditions. We can use them positively for our benefit. So let us take advantage of August, the 8th month, as an opportunity for us to begin anew, to "Buddha's Blessings" and to committing to the Path of Enlightenment. If you can't start your commitment today, then please definitely start it by 8-08-08.

Below, I close this letter with a Buddhist prayer written by our beloved teacher Thich Nhat Hanh and also a meditation poem that was "channeled" through me last year as a message from the Buddha within, as well as some practical tips for your daily practice this month.

Let Amitabha be your mantra this month. Let Infinite Light be realized and expressed in, through and as your very own True Nature.

Namo Amitabha Buddhaya,
~ Br. ChiSing

A PRAYER by Thich Nhat Hanh:

Dear Buddha,

I feel warmth in my heart every time I am able to talk to and confide in you. I feel your presence in every cell of my body and know you are listening with compassion to everything I say. You walked on this planet Earth as a free person. I also want to walk on this planet Earth as a free person.

Around me are people who do not walk as free people. They only know how to run. They run into the future because they think that happiness cannot be found in the present moment. They are walking on the Earth but their minds are up in the clouds. They walk like sleepwalkers, without knowing where they are going. I know I also have the habit to lose my peace and freedom as I walk.

Dear Buddha, I vow to follow your example and always walk as someone who is free and awake. I vow that in every step I take, my feet will truly touch the Earth and I shall be aware that I am walking on the ground of reality and not in a dream. Walking like that, I am in touch with everything that is wonderful and miraculous in the universe. I vow to walk in such a way that my feet will be able to impress on the Earth the seal of freedom and peace. I know that steps taken like this have the capacity to heal my body and mind as well as planet Earth itself.

When I practice walking meditation with the Sangha, I vow to be aware that it is a great happiness to walk with the Sangha. With each step, I am aware that I am not a solitary drop of water but am part of a larger river. With mindful breathing and steps, I shall produce the energy of mindfulness of the Sangha. I shall open my body and mind so that the collective energy of the Sangha can enter me, protect me, and help me to gently flow along like a river, harmonizing myself with everything that is. I know that by entrusting my body and mind, as well as my painful feelings, to the Sangha, they may be embraced and healed. In this way, I shall be nourished as I am practicing mindful walking with the Sangha and make significant transformation in my body and mind. I shall open myself to the Sangha's energy as I practice walking meditation. I vow to walk in such a way that every step and every breath can nourish myself and my Sangha with the energy of freedom and solidity.

Dear Buddha, I bow in gratitude before you, before all Bodhisattvas and before all my brothers and sisters.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

"INFINITE LIGHT"
Namo Amitabha Buddhaya

A new beginning is dawning
in your life and in your world.
Old things are passing.
Every moment is new.
What used to work
no longer does.

It is time to open your heart
to the Great Change,
the Great Transformation
that is taking place.
Old habits,
old patterns of thinking
are being released now.

Open your mind,
open your heart,
open your body —
open your whole being
to the Light that is now
dawning afresh and anew.

Dedicate every day to the Light.
Begin every day in the Light.
Live every day in the Light.
Close every day in the Light.
Sit in silent meditation every day
as the Light with every breath:

"Amitabha,
Infinite Light"
(Buddha).

"Sukhavati,
Happiness Manifesting"
(Pure Land).

You yourself are the Infinite Light.
Your work here is only to manifest
True Happiness for all beings.
Let your Light shine.
Don't hide it.

Let your Light express
as love,
as clarity,
as determination —
as the Truth, Goodness and Beauty
that you already and always are.

You don't have to struggle so much
to feel this love,
to intuit guidance.
Simply dedicate everything to the Light.
Entrust yourself completely to the Light.
And rest therein.

The Light does all the work.
The Light is love.
The Light is wisdom.
The Light is all there really is.
It is your True Nature.

And what the Light is, the Light does:
The Light creates true happiness and joy and freedom.
Amitabha creates Sukhavati.
The Infinite Light creates Happiness Manifest.
The Buddhas create Pure Lands.

The Buddha is who you are.
The Pure Land is what you do:
Amitabha / Sukhavati.
Being / Doing.
Identity / Function.

And so, perhaps you might like to practice
this in your sitting and walking meditations:
Sit with "Amit-abha" (Infinite / Light)
as your mantra with every breath.
Walk with "Sukha-vati" (Happiness / Manifesting)
as your mantra with every step.

Sit and walk as
the Infinite Light of the Buddha
creating a Pure Land of Great Happiness
with every breath and every step
for all beings.

You can do it,
because
You Are That!

NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHAYA

* written in honor of the Great Spiritual Light of the Universe;
dedicated to Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light,
who dwells in Sukhavati, a Pure Land of Great Happiness
created for all beings who desire to realize the Truth
that we ourselves are the Infinite Light of the Buddha
and our true work is to manifest here and now
the Pure Land of Great Happiness for all beings;

inspired by the Buddha in you
as written through Br. ChiSing

PRACTICAL TIPS - from Br. ChiSing

Here are a sample of suggestions for you to follow during the month of AUGUST:

  1. Create an altar at home with beautiful things that have sacred meaning for you. On my altar, I have a low wooden table with flowers, candles, incense and a Buddha statue. I meditate in front of my altar every morning, and I light the candles and incense, then recite a simple chant with 3 full bows onto the floor, before doing my morning sitting meditation for 20-60 minutes, depending on how much time I have. Creating an altar is like spiritual art, and it signals to the Universe and to yourself that you are sincerely taking your spiritual life seriously. Altars aren't necessary, but they can be very helpful.

  2. Meditate before breakfast every day. If you can, sit for at least 20-40 minutes. But if you woke up too late and have to get to work on time, then at least do a 5-minute sitting meditation. And if you don't even have time for that, then at least do a 1-minute prayer or ritual at your altar, such as lighting a candle and incense and doing 3 mindful bows and reciting a chant or prayer. If you don't even have time for that, then you need to seriously reconsider your lifestyle. You may be too busy, and that could eventually hurt your mental or physical health over time.

  3. If you already meditate regularly in the morning, then try adding another meditation again near the end of the day, either before dinner or just before bedtime. It is best to meditate before a meal, rather than just after a meal.

  4. If you do a lot of regular sitting meditation already in your life, but you still feel stuck, then add at least 20 or more minutes of walking meditation to your mindfulness practice every day. Walking meditation helps us to gently process through emotional issues and grounds us in our real day-to-day life. It can be helpful to practice a little walking meditation before and after sitting meditation. It helps to transition gently rather than to enter or exit meditation abruptly.

  5. Plan on attending the Sunday meditations at 5:30 pm at Unity Church of Dallas, the 8-08-08 event at CSL, and/or the "Day of Mindfulness" retreat on August 16. Click here for details

  6. Read Thich Nhat Hanh's latest bestselling book, The Art of Power. You can purchase a copy at the Unity Church of Dallas bookstore or at "Awakening Heart" (formerly "Breath of Life").

  7. Write a letter of gratitude to Thich Nhat Hanh, to me, to a monk or nun, or to any spiritual teacher in your life for whom you have gratitude.

  8. Set your alarm clock to sound without the radio turning on. Abstain from listening to the radio, music or news in the morning, especially before meditation. Keep the peaceful silence, or put on inspiring music. And when you are driving to work in traffic, play Buddhist music or inspirational music, or listen to spiritual tapes or CD's of Dharma talks or spiritual speakers. Flood your consciousness with the Dharma, don't plug into the system so early on in the day when your mind is most impressionable. Set the tone for your day with conscious intention, don't be a slave to the media. You can always listen to the news or read a newspaper during your lunch hour. And in addition, it might be helpful not to watch the news or disturbing TV shows or movies just before going to bed. You want to go to bed with a different kind of energy.

  9. Be mindful of your diet. Be mindful of the conversations you have. Be mindful of the people you spend time with. Be mindful of your thought patterns. Be mindful of the cause and effect relationship of everything in your life.

  10. Attend Sangha and other spiritual communities as often as possible.

  11. And finally, pray for the Sangha, pray for me, pray for peace, pray for all beings. Or, rather, pray WITH the Sangha, pray WITH me, pray WITH peace, pray WITH all beings. For true prayer is not a begging of some Other Power "out there" but rather, true prayer is the aligning of our hearts with the universal Power that is present in, through and as all beings and all things. True prayer is solidarity, leading to love in action. Perhaps you might enjoy writing your own daily prayer or affirmation that you can recite every day for the next 21 days.

    "May we and all beings be happy and loved.
    May we and all beings transform our suffering.
    May we and all beings rejoice in all others' joys.
    May we and all beings let go, be content and at peace."

Namo Amitabha Buddhaya,
~ Br. ChiSing