"If you see deeply into the beauty of nature around you, you're looking with the eyes of the Buddha. It is extremely kind of you to look on behalf of the Buddha, to contemplate the world for the Buddha, because you are his continuation, her continuation. So when you practice sitting meditation, sit for the Buddha. The Buddha in you is sitting upright. The Buddha in you is enjoying every in breath and out breath. The Buddha in you is contemplating the world with mindfulness and getting in touch with the beauty of nature. If you know how to contemplate the beauty of nature with the eyes of the Buddha, you will not say that your life has no meaning.
"You can listen with the ears of the Buddha. You can contemplate the world with the eyes of the Buddha. And thanks to that, your children and their children will also be able to look and contemplate like the Buddha. You transmit the Buddha to your children and their children in the way you walk, sit, look, and listen, even in the way you eat. This is something that you can do now. Starting today, you can already be a real and true continuation of the Buddha, our spiritual ancestor.
"Every moment in our daily lives is an opportunity for us to walk like a Buddha, to listen with compassion like a Buddha, to sit as peacefully and as happily as a Buddha, and to look deeply and enjoy the beauties of the world like a Buddha. In doing so, we are helping our father, our mother, our ancestors, and our children in us to leave all, and we are also helping our teacher to fulfill his vow or aspiration. In this way, our life will truly become a concrete message of love.
"When we look deeply into ourselves, we can identify elements of the kingdom of God that are available in the here and now. To me, the kingdom of God or the Pure Land of the Buddha Amitabha is not a vague idea. It is a reality. That pine tree standing on the mountain is so beautiful, solid, and green. To me, the pine tree belongs to the kingdom of God, the Pure Land of Amitabha. The beautiful child with her fresh smile belongs to the kingdom of God, and you also belong to the kingdom of God. If we are capable of recognizing the flowing river, the blue sky, the blossoming tree, the singing bird, the majestic mountains, the countless animals, the sunlight, the fog, the snow, the innumerable wonders of life as miracles that belong to the kingdom of God, we will then do our best to preserve them and do not allow them to be destroyed. If we recognize that this planet belongs the kingdom of God, we will cherish and protect it so we can enjoy it for a long time and so that our children and their children will have a chance to enjoy it."
Namo Amitabha Buddhaya. A quote from Thich Nhat Hanh's book, The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology.
To start off with, I would like to just say thank you to you as a sangha, because our practice cannot be possible with only the Buddha and those who facilitate on behalf of the Buddha. And you know, we cannot just have dharma practice and meditation teachings. Oh, that is the monkey mind. Especially not with monkey mind. No. With dharma duck. We need the sangha make to keep everything together in love and harmony, and of course in our true deepest practice, we include monkey mind in our sangha, and he has big, long arms to embrace us with. Okay.
So, because of you coming together faithfully, regularly, this practice of dharma is possible in the transmission of Buddha is possible, the reality, the realization, the embodiment of Buddha is made possible through you. When you say, "I take refuge in the Buddha," the flipside of that reality is at the same time inwardly you should be saying, "And the Buddha takes refuge in me. Because without me, how can Buddha express in the world?" When we say, "I take refuge in the dharma," we should also say silently in our heart, "The dharma takes refuge in me, because without me continuing the practice, how can dharma be shared?" And when we say, "I take refuge in the sangha," we should know the meaning deeper is that the sangha takes refuge in me. Well, because without each of us coming together, there is no sangha.
So, I just want to say thank you to the sangha, and I have full confidence in you as a sangha to continue this practice, just as I have full confidence in the Tuesday night Grapevine sangha. They were worried because I would not be there for the whole summer that they would just not have sangha for 3 months until I come back. But luckily, they had a good meeting last week. Everyone pulled together and decided, no. We're going to keep practicing because a true sangha is not really sangha unless we practice and not just depend on the teacher.
So they decided they would just take a break for the month of June to help organize themselves, and then they will continue to practice in July and August all by themselves, which actually makes me very happy. I think any facilitator feels blessed and feels very happy when their dharma students or sangha members can actually continue the practice. They've actually learned something. They actually remember something, and they're able to continue it.
So I am also confident in this sangha, in the Sunday sangha in Dallas, but you can also continue strongly, faithfully, and beautifully during the summer and any time that I'm not here. I will be back the last Sunday each month during the summer. That is my commitment to you, but of course you never know. You never know what is going to happen in the future. I might be stuck in Plum Village, France, at a retreat, and I might not get a flight, or something. Who knows? You never know, but my intention is I will be here on the last Sunday of each month, and I know that even when I'm not here, and I hope that you know that I am here with you.
I hope you will read my letter of request from the heart, and please also read at home the message from the Buddha that came through a writing meditation recently and just keep that to heart, too. I just came back from a 10 day Vipassana retreat, which was very difficult. I've gone to lots of different retreats, and especially different types of Zen retreats. My favorite still of course is Thich Nhat Hanh retreats, but I know that there are different kinds of retreats and different kinds of practices because there are different kinds of people that will resonate with different things. So I'm very happy at the variety of things out there.
But on the third day of the retreat, I just wanted to leave. I just thought, you know, this is not my cup of tea. I would rather go to a Thich Nhat Hanh retreat. I was going to pack up and leave, but a few thoughts came to mind that well, I really should stay here. What is someone who really loves this kind of retreat sees that I leave, and they feel disappointed and discouraged in their practice? But really, I said, well, that doesn't matter because that is their karma. But the thought that actually made me stay was, well, what if I actually do learn something from this retreat and from this practice after the full retreat, and it will be something that I will be able to share that will be helpful to someone else? Even if just one person, then for that one person, I will stay. And that was my thought. It actually helped me to stay. I had to think that everyday though.
But you know, that kind of determination comes from a deep place of the heart. I call it Amitabha. You can call it whatever you want. It has no names. It has many names. But another word for this deep intention of service to all beings, of dedicating our practice for the sake of all beings, is the Buddhist term bodhicitta. Bodhi means enlightenment. Citta means mind or heart. In fact, our sangha, Awakening Heart, is actually an English translation of bodhicitta, awakening heart, enlightened mind, awakening heart.
So, I just want to encourage you if during the summer—you know, I dedicated from May 18 to September 2, my 40th birthday, to practice 108 days deeply and intensively with bodhicitta, and I am inviting all of you to practice with me so that I do not feel alone in my practice, in this 108-day spiritual practice. So if you feel a little tired or are struggling with your practice, then think of me. That, okay, today I might not feel like practicing, but for ChiSing, I will practice today. Or for someone else, I will practice today. I'm determined that I'm going to practice 108 minutes of meditation every day on average during this 108-day period, which is just about an hour in the morning and an hour at night. But I'm not expecting you to do that much.
But knowing that I'm doing that and that maybe it is sometimes difficult for me, maybe if you just practice in solidarity with me, sending me metta and lovingkindness, it might make it a little easier for me. That way I'm not practicing alone. Perhaps that will help you to practice, if that is a thought that helps you.