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ENCOURAGEMENT FOR YOUR LIFE AND PRACTICE
From Brother ChiSing
June 18, 2010

Dear mindful friends,

This morning, I meditated for an hour, using a Catholic rosary as my mala and "Amitabha" as my mantra (I seem to have lost my Buddhist meditation beads, have any of you found it yet?). In the silence of stillness, there was only the simplicity of Reality beyond the "isms" of Catholic-ism or Buddh-ism, just Life here and now, just This, just "IS".

Toward the end of my meditation, what came up to consciousness was a way of encouraging your mindfulness practice on three different levels of intensity, all of which are good (this is not a competition) --

  1. SANGHA: Most of you can choose to commit to the "Sangha" level of of practice -- living mindfully and compassionately (and ethically and generously) in daily life as much as possible, meditating with the community at least twice a month, meditating at home alone at least twice a week, or perhaps simply chanting silently the 10-syllable mantra "Om Namo Amitabha Buddhaya" (or just "Amitabha") 10 times mindfully at 10 regular times throughout the day (such as 1: at waking, 2: before breakfast, 3: after breakfast, 4: before work, 5: before lunch, 6: after lunch, 7: after work, 8: before dinner, 9: after dinner, and 10: at bedtime) especially on days that you don't have time to meditate (I call this the "10-10-10 Easy Amitabha Practice").
  2. DHARMA: Some of you can choose to commit to the "Dharma" level of practice -- either meditating just once a day for about 20-30 minutes, or meditating twice a day (perhaps 20-30 minutes before breakfast and 20-30 minutes before dinner).
  3. BUDDHA: And a few of you can choose to commit to the "Buddha" level of practice -- meditating twice a day, 40-60 minutes in the morning (perhaps before breakfast) and 40-60 minutes in the evening (perhaps before dinner).
Please don't be a perfectionist. If you are not in a stage of your life and practice when you can meditate at the "Buddha" level of practice, or even at the "Dharma" level, don't just quit or do nothing. You can still practice deeply and strongly at the "Sangha" level of practice, especially if you follow the "10-10-10 Easy Amitabha Practice." But if you don't even practice at this easy "Sangha" level, then I cannot help you at all, for you are dooming yourself to a life of spiritual superficiality, mental wandering, unnecessary emotional suffering, and learning the same lessons over and over and over again, ad infinitum. The Buddha called this "samsara." To be liberated from this is called "Nirvana."

If you can practice at the "Sangha" level faithfully, diligently and consistently for one full year, then it will be much easier to start practising at the "Dharma" level next year. And if you can practice at the "Dharma" level faithfully, diligently and consistently for one full year, then it will be much easier to start practising at the "Buddha" level the following year. If you can stay with this mindfulness practice for 3 solid years faithfully, diligently and consistently, you can easily attain the first of four stages of Enlightenment or realise a powerful glimpse of your True Nature.

This summer, I want to encourage you to buy and read at least one of the following books by four modern Zen masters:

  1. THICH NHAT HANH (Vietnamese Zen master) -- "Being Peace"
  2. SHUNRYU SUZUKI (Japanese Zen master) -- "Not Always So"
  3. DAEHAENG SUNIM (female Korean Zen master) -- "No River to Cross"
  4. MASTER SHENG-YEN (Chinese Zen master) -- "Subtle Wisdom"
And then, in the Fall, all our community members are to purchase Thich Nhat Hanh's big novel on the life and teachings of the Buddha: "OLD PATH, WHITE CLOUDS." We will be studying this book for the rest of the year. This book will completely transform your consciousness as you enter into the Mind/Heart/Spirit and footsteps of the Buddha. Everyone I know who has read it has told me the same thing: "Wow, why didn't I read this before? I can't put it down!" Just read one or two chapters a day as a meditation.

I look forward to seeing you all at the KIRTAN this Saturday night and at the SUMMER SOLSTICE Meditation & Celebration (plus potluck dinner afterwards) this Sunday afternoon (and please come early for Yoga if you can). More info at: www.AwakeningHeart.org

In gratitude to the Infinite Light of our Awakening,
Brother ChiSing

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