Tonight we are going to give an overview of the 7 chakras, and I am not going to give you every single detail about all of them during these 7 weeks. You can Google that. You can read books on that. A wonderful author on the subject of chakras and how to apply it spiritually is Anodea Judith. And by the way, I highly recommend that you bring a notebook each week because you want to write down a lot of what I have to say, and for those who already are writing tonight, please take good notes, and if you can e-mail them to me, I can e-mail them to everyone else. That gives me less homework to do.
Also, as I was saying about my speaking style, whatever style I use, I always come back to what my teacher Thich Nhat Hanh encourages us—that any teaching is not just simply for facts and knowledge. It is about inspiring you to practice. You see, there is a saying in our tradition that goes something like, "It is not a matter of faith. It is a matter of practice." That does not mean we do not need faith. Of course we need faith. Faith is a good thing. But what this is meaning is that it is not just a matter of believing something, a set of facts, or having a set of knowledge. Enlightenment is a matter of experience, of opening to reality practically. It is a practical approach to spirituality. It is not just something you think about. It is something you do and become and feel and experience and radiate.
And that is why we have opened up the Dallas Meditation Center here, to encourage all of our brother and sister organizations and religious communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to always remember that in all of our spiritual aspects, do not forget the aspect of experience, of practice, of the contemplative dimension of meditation, mindfulness, not just reading words or listening to words that actually putting into practice spiritual communion with the universe, with the divine, with each other, which of course happens in many different ways, including the way of meditation.
And the reason why we emphasize that is not because it is necessarily more important than any other spiritual practice, but rather because in our Western culture, it is one of the most neglected and it is one of the most needed in this critical time in history right now. That is why we are here, to support that, to renew that, to revitalize back, to remind all of our religious communities that it is important and it is there in every tradition, whether you're Jewish or Christian or Muslim or Hindu or whatever you are. It is already in your tradition, so now what we are about as an interfaith community is to just shine our light and allow that remembering to take place to encourage others. You can find it in your own tradition. This is how I found it, in the Buddhist tradition or another tradition. This is how I found it, and I would encourage you to find it also in your tradition and to practice that.
One of the things that I sometimes get a little bit upset about is that some of the churches that I go to that are very intellectually oriented, they just love inviting me to speak on Sunday morning. I will not name which denomination it is, but they are very intellectual, and I love them for that and I have a lot of training in that tradition, but so few of them will come the next day or next weekend to the actual practice of the meditation retreat. They love hearing about meditation, but so few of them actually want to go to the meditation retreat, you see? So that is what I mean by it is not a matter of faith. It is a matter of practice. Enough talk about theology. Let us practice it, right here and right now with this very breath, this very step. You see?
My topic, the 7 chakras. I am not necessarily going to talk about the chakras in a literal way, but as a nice framework in which to talk about some very important teachings of the Buddha, especially from the Zen perspective, and I'm going to try to do it with a very interfaith approach. Tonight before I start that I want to give you a teaching to preface the 7 chakra teaching, especially tonight on the 1st chakra, the base chakra. I am wearing white tonight, and I encourage all of you to wear white every Sunday for the next 7 weeks just to symbolize our series on the 7 chakras and also because lay Buddhists all wear white as a way of honoring their practice. Let us just be in solidarity with them and with each other.
If you want to wear another color instead of or in addition to white, you can wear a different color each week according to the chakra we're going to talk about. Today is the 1st chakra, and there are different color systems, so I am not going to argue with all of those different systems, but the one I like the most is just a simple one corresponding to the colors of the rainbow. This is the one that Anodea Judith likes the most as well. I am wearing something that is sort of red, a red scarf here. It is not fully red, but it is the most red I had at home. I am wearing it in honor of our talk on the 1st chakra, but I'm also wearing red because I'm going to be giving you an overview of all of them.
But before I start, I just want to share a teaching with you that I promised to teach you which I had not yet done, so I am going to try to do that real short, and I think I am going to move this over to the other side for the sake of those in the other corner. Breathing in, breathing out. Mindfully walking here and now. Can everyone see this board?
So, for those of you who are in the New Thought communities, especially in the Centers for Spiritual Living, for example, you know about positive affirmative prayer also called spiritual mind treatment, and there are 5 different steps that Ernest Holmes came up with the kind of give a nice outline of how to connect to the divine reality and then manifest that here and now tangibly in our lives. The 1st step is called recognition. The 2nd step is called unification. The 3rd step is called realization. The 4th step is called thanksgiving. The final step is called release. I learned this process when I was just graduating from college, so maybe I was 22 or so. Anyway, I have been using this for many years on and off in my life, and I really like it. It makes a lot of sense to me.
Recognition basically means that you recognize that you are one with the infinite. That is the absolute truth of who you really are. That is always the basis of everything, is the oneness with the divine, with Buddha nature, with the universe, with infinite reality. You recognize that you are not separate from that, but that is the infinite, and you recognize that the infinite is infinite life, infinite love, infinite light. All of these beautiful qualities of the infinite, you recognize that. That is the true reality.
And then the 2nd step, you positively affirm that you are one with that reality, that you are an expression of that reality, a manifestation of that reality, that you are part of that wholeness, that you are not separate and there is that divine oneness there.
And then the 3rd step, which is very crucial, is realization. You affirm that because there is this infinite reality and I am one with that infinite reality, therefore I can express that infinite reality here and now in the physical realm in many different ways, such as more love in my life, more kindness, more forgiveness expressing as an attitude of gratitude and abundance. You just kind of let it shine into the different areas that you want to affirm that in.
Then, once you have done that, this is sort of like a prayer. In number 4, you just simply give thanks that it is so. You give thanks that the answers already there, already being expressed, and the process is already working. You may not see at in the moment right now yet, but you have planted your speed in the soil, and you give thanks that it is already doing something. It is that attitude of gratitude that is so important. If you do your spiritual mind treatment affirmations or prayer in such a way that you kind of put your intentions out there and then your attitude is still thinking about lack and about how it is not fulfilled, you are stifling your own prayer. But if you have an attitude of gratitude, you put it out there and you trust that it is being done, you just give thanks and celebrate that, and that creates an energy around your intention and gives that power.
And then of course the final step is very important. You should release. You release the results. However it is going to unfold, that is fine. You have that the spiritual ability to just release and let go and let be, and that is very important. But especially in Buddhism, we talk a lot about equanimity. It is very important because it is like you put your intention into the soil of consciousness lightly but with great feeling and gratitude and then you let it go because if you try to control the outcome, again, you are stifling the whole process. But instead of trying to control it, you put your intention and then you release that knowing that it will do its work according to what it needs to do, and it may even do it in a way beyond what you thought it would be, something even better. That is why some people like to say at the end of their prayer, "And may this be, or something better." Because with the human process, sometimes we are a little bit limited, and we need to give room to the universe to have something bigger. So we just release with that attitude of curiosity like a child. Oh, well, this is what my intention is, but let us see what happens. Like a childlike attitude, you see?
The curiosity, because that is what we learn in Buddhist practice is moment to moment unfolding. In our practice, the reason we meditate so that we do not get too stuck in the habitual mind habit of projecting and then confining because the reason why that so stifling is because reality is reality, but our mental attitude is part of that reality, so we actually are cocreative in the universe. That is where I think part of the Buddha's teaching is, when the Buddha said that there is not one being as the creator of the whole universe. That does not mean that the Buddha was denying the reality of the divine source. What the Buddha was saying is each being is also a creator. There is no one being as the creator. All of us are co-creating together with the source as the source expressing here and now. Every flower, every animal, every human is co-creating reality as we go along. That makes sense, doesn't it?
This is a nice formula for spiritual mind treatment or prayer. I really like it a lot. What is interesting is I discovered something in meditation about a year or 2 ago when I was thinking about this, that Jesus's teaching on prayer correspond exactly to this process. The Lord's Prayer: our father or mother who art in heaven, the heaven within our hearts, hallowed be thy name or names. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Now it is interesting that our father or our mother or whatever you want to call it, the source, in heaven, hallowed be thy name. That is recognizing the divine source. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Heaven and earth together, connected, one. Unification. And then 3 steps in realization. I like the 3 steps here because it means 3 different levels or 3 different aspects. Three is a very wonderful number in Christianity. It is like the fullness of realization. So, give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
You can meditate on this and come up with 3 different aspects of life that this is referring to symbolically or 3 different levels of life. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking we've got your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs being met through prayer and affirmation and your spiritual mind training, you see? Three different levels of realization, the manifestation. And then of course, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever—praise, celebration, thanksgiving, worship. And then release, Amen. So be it. It is done. Yes. Or what I like to say, yahoo! So it is very interesting that the spiritual mind treatment that Ernest Holmes came up with just a few decades ago actually just simply corresponds to a more ancient wisdom--New Thought, ancient wisdom—the ancient wisdom of Jesus and many other spiritual teachers.
So now what I want to also share is what is interesting about Jesus's prayer is that it is in 7 steps, 7 parts, which there are also 7 chakras that they also correspond to. You can either do it from the 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, or you can do 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th. Either direction makes sense. I guess I do not take it so literally, and also Jesus was probably a genius, so either way you look at it, it corresponds to the energy centers of the body.
One more thing I want to teach you about that corresponds to the chakras in the Christian faith, as one example, and of course it actually corresponds in every religious tradition because it is a universal reality. The 7 chakras, it is not a Hindu or Buddhist reality. It is all of our realities, these symbolic energy centers in our human bodies. I am not an artist necessarily. Maybe blue is not the best color. You probably cannot even see the writing, so I had better use a better pen here. That is not as dark. We need to buy some more. That is supposed to be a human being.
In the center you have your heart chakra, and then you have 3 upper chakras and 3 lower chakras. It is very easy to remember. You have your center, the heart chakra, and then 3 upper chakras, 3 lower chakras. Now in Christianity, in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions, in the early Christian traditions, there were 7 sacraments. You have the sacrament of baptism, the sacrament of Holy Communion or Eucharist, the sacrament of confirmation, the sacrament of marriage, the sacrament of confession, the sacrament of priesthood or holy orders or whatever you want to call it. I like to call it ministry. Let us just call it ministry. You also have the sacrament that is called last rites if you're about to die, but it is also called holy unction if you just want healing and hopefully you won't die. You just want healing. I will call it healing, the sacrament of healing, affirming our connection to the divine, our connection to heaven.
What is interesting is that baptism corresponds to the 1st chakra. Your 1st chakra is about grounding in the here and now in the physical realm. It is your survival chakra, basically kind of getting your basic elemental needs met. Corresponding that to the sacraments, baptism--the 1st chakra is basically like you are coming from your tribe, your parents. You have your physical life. Baptism then it's about being one with your spiritual tribe, your spiritual family, your spiritual parents. Baptism into the community of faith.
Communion, the 2nd chakra, is the sexual energy chakra, and it can correspond to giving and receiving energy exchange. It does not just mean sexuality. It means a lot of other things, just energy in general and giving and receiving and communion with another being, another person. Creativity as well. Communion we take in the body and the blood of Christ. That is an intimate act of oneness. It corresponds to that. That is why in Christianity you have nuns and even priests that may call themselves the bride of Christ in that sense of that intimate communion, very deep spiritual connection, the lover and the beloved.
Then the 3rd chakra in the abdomen, the solar plexus, that is individuation, coming into your own positive ego, individuality, and really owning your own faith for yourself basically. That is why it is confirmation, because in this tradition, people are most of the time baptized as infants, so they do not really know what is going on consciously. That is why you have this sacrament of confirmation so that you can actually make this decision consciously and affirm the truth of what happened when you were a baby. In that same sense, individuation chakra, it's about confirmation, coming into the faith in your own, as your own, your individuality. It is your faith, not just the faith of your parents and family and tribe or tradition.
And then of course the heart chakra, which is all about love, you can think of as the higher form of love where there is deep respect. It is not just a sexual energy but an emotional, spiritual kind of energy as well, which is why it corresponds so beautifully with the sacrament of marriage or partnership. And of course it is not just about traditional marriage. It is also about partnership, how we love each other, how we make spiritual and emotional connections with each other.
And then throat chakra, it makes a lot of sense. It is the part that is like voicing our truth and co-creating our truth and, just like in the Hebrew Scriptures, the divine said, "Let there be light." It said, "Let there be light," and there was light. So it is a matter of affirming the truth, voicing it, vibrating it into reality, into realization. And in the same way, confession, the sacrament of confession, we usually think of it as confessing how bad we are, and there is a place for that because we have to be honest about what you might have done wrong, just like in 12 step recovery groups. You need to admit the stuff you done and make amends, but at the same time, the church has missed out on the other part of the sacrament completely, forgotten. In fact it is the more important part, which is to confess who you really are. I am a child of the divine. I am the light of the world. I am the salt of the earth. That sort of thing—to affirm and confess all of these positive aspects of who you really are. From the point of view of the Christian tradition, you can do it from the Buddhist tradition or whatever tradition you are from.
And then of course the 6th chakra in the mind area, you've got wisdom, insight, understanding, spiritual education. Of course, those who are spiritual leaders, ministers, priests, whatever, that is sort of their role, their vocation to teach others to receive the revelation and to share that. But that is not just for vocational priests. It is for all of us. We are all divine priests. We are all channels of the divine. We all are capable of receiving insight and becoming enlightened to the truth of reality.
Then last, but not least, is the 7th chakra, the crown chakra that connects you to the infinite, to the vastness of the universe, to the divine or whatever you want to call it, Buddha nature. That is the healing chakra, and healing comes from a realization of the absolute truth of pure grace. It is the sacrament of grace, sacrament of pure abundant grace that is always available and ever wanting to flow through us and to others through us, but it is up to us to choose to practice so that it is not blocked. It is not like we have to beg the universe for these wonderful gifts of life. It is always available to us, but it is a matter of opening to that and allowing it to flow and receiving and radiating it. So our oneness with the divine is not something we have to beg. It is the absolute truth always. Our practice of spiritual beings, our practice of meditation is simply to help us clear the blockages that blind us to that truth.
During the 7 weeks, I want to talk about each of these. It is not necessary to learn the chakras. It is not, to be enlightened. You do not need to, but I think it is helpful in our modern society because we are a complicated, complex people nowadays. It would be nice if I could just talk about the heart, just a love, just light, just life. That would be great. But we are so complicated as beings. We have all these different aspects. We actually have multiple personalities, but we are sane enough that we have not been labeled that all of us, a multiple disorder. But really, do you ever talk to yourself silently in your head? You have a multiple personality already right there. We all have these different aspects, different voices, different parts, and they are becoming more and more complicated as we are evolving. So, these 7 energy centers are simply a nice way to just address the different aspects of ourselves to make sure we do not leave anything out.
You see, if we just simply said yes to our Buddha nature, yes to enlightenment, yes to oneness and love and light, we would all be enlightened. We would all be full expressions of our Buddha nature here and now. So why aren't we all fully enlightened yet if it is that easy? Just say yes. Just say yes. Because one part of you is saying yes, but another part is saying no. Another part is saying yes, and another part is saying no. Yes. No. Yes. Yes. No. Yes. No. No. Actually in history the only 3 answers you could give were yes, no, or maybe, but today the universe is no longer allowing maybe, only yes or no. If you do not say anything, it is automatically no. The reason why I believe that is true is because we're at such a critical time in history. Humankind cannot afford maybe anymore. Humankind cannot afford just simply ignoring the question. We either say yes or by our absence and of acknowledgment, we are saying no with our being.
Anyway, I want to encourage you to say yes, but to say yes with every aspect of who you are, and that is why it takes so much time to become enlightened, even though enlightenment is a reality that could be instantaneously realized. It is because there are so many different aspects to us, so we need to learn to practice with aligning every aspect of our being, the psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, intellectual—different aspects of our being, align them all so that they are in agreement and in harmony and all saying, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes." When they are all saying yes, that is enlightenment, and if they say yes for 3 seconds, that is part-time enlightenment. When they are saying yes always, that is full-time enlightenment.
How am I doing on time here? Am I going to have time to go over—okay. There are some other teachings I want to give. I may have to wait on the 1st chakra at next week. This might be an 8- or 9-week series, but I do want to give you some overviews. They would take 20 more minutes, so I will do another overview next week, which will actually be even more fascinating than tonight because this stuff I received in meditation just 2 weeks ago and it is so wonderful. What I will do is I will give you some practical things to close this. Remember it is about practice, not just about words and knowledge and facts, but practice.
The 1st chakra symbolizes foundation, and I may have to talk about this more next week as well because there is a lot to teach on, but I want to encourage you during these 7 weeks to look at your foundation, to mindfully investigate the foundation of your life. What are the foundations of your life? What are you living your life based on, and are you allowing the universe to uphold you? Are you getting your needs met in the most basic ways? That is very important, just like some of the models of psychology, such as Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It is important to make sure you have a good strong, solid base, whatever that means. I do not necessarily take his model literally, but it is important to have a base.
For instance, you cannot do deep, intricate, complex meditation going into very fine states of consciousness if you are not doing the basic things like being kind, being generous, living an ethical life. That is why the Buddha taught step-by-step processes for us. You do not just jump to the enlightenment practices. You need to have a good foundation. Are you having enough to eat? Are you sleeping well? Are you developing an ethical heart? Are you living a life of positive energy through generosity? All of these things are important as steps, a good foundation. Otherwise if you start doing these higher things, what happens is you get top heavy.
It's like as you try to open your heart and speak your truth and receive information from the universe and be enlightened, if you do not really have a lot of self-esteem or you are really, really messed up in your sexual psyche or if you are not really healthy at all or know how to even support yourself physically on the earth, what happens is you become very lopsided and you can topple over easily. We see examples of this in our tradition of spiritual leaders, for example, who are actually quite enlightened in certain areas, especially in the upper chakras, but maybe there are a few things, especially the 2nd chakra, that are not so enlightened. Right? Or with money or whatever or power. You've got your money, sex, and power right there. It is like these things need to be healthy and these things need to be evolved. These things need to have attention also. Otherwise, that is what happens.
That is why enlightenment is instant and a process at the same time. It is who we are and it is what we are always becoming over time through practice. So look at your foundation. I would like you to choose 7 primary practices this next 7 weeks to commit yourself to. This is the year of manifesting through community, and I will talk more about that at the lunar new year celebration. Sangham sharanam gacchami. I take refuge in the sangha, in the spiritual community. That is what this year is all about, the 5th chakra especially. But it applies to all aspects, all of the chakras.
Here are the 7 I have chosen, and I hope most of you will just do these 7 or some variation thereof. Daily meditation, morning and evening, weekly attendance at sangha or even more. I attend sangha at least 3 or 4 times a week, mostly because I have to lead it, but it is good for me. It might be good for you also. And then moment by moment, mindfulness of Amitabha, namo Amitabha, throughout the day. Just namo Amitabha silently in your mind. You do not have to say it out loud to anyone else, but in your heart as you are waiting in the grocery line, driving to work, walking your dog, namo Amitabha. Breathe in namo. Breathe out Amitabha. Just let that be your constant light throughout the whole day from waking and all the way until you go to sleep.
Daily meditation, weekly sangha, moment by moment Amitabha practice, and then regular yoga or Chi gong or some other kind of spiritual exercise for your body, a healthy diet. I am choosing to be vegetarian or semi vegetarian for the 7 weeks. A healthy diet is very important, and then generosity. This is so important for us as a community because this is not a kind of practice but you just do as an individual. We cannot afford to have individual enlightenment anymore here and there, someone being enlightened here and there. We need a whole mass of people becoming enlightened together. That is what is being called towards the day, the community is really important, and if you really love this teaching, this practice, if you love the Dallas Meditation Center, if you love Awakening Heart—whether or not you love me—if you love this community, if you love the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha, which of course is expressed in many different ways in all of the traditions. The Christians express it as the Christ, the Gospel, and the church, but the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha are a universal reality. If you love the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha, then make your love tangible and real through your practice, and together support this local community.
We really need your support, especially financially this year. November and December were very, very difficult, and we are kind of behind about $2000. If I do not receive that $2000 by the end of the month, it is going to make it very difficult for February. But I believe if just each of us pitch in just a little bit, if everyone gave just $20 tonight, it would go a long way. That is why I came up with this thing called the 2020 sangha vision program. 2020. We just need 20 people to commit to giving $20 a week for 20 weeks as a foundation. And then everyone else can just give whatever they can give whenever they want, but if we could just have that base of 20 people, the true supportive foundation of this community financially, as well as the supporters who support in other ways, volunteerism, prayer, meditation. That is all good also, but we definitely need that 20 people.
So I want to ask you to meditate tonight at home, and tomorrow morning when you wake up, does the Buddha, does the universe, does your true spirit want you to be one of those 20 people? It is just giving $20 a week for 20 weeks to help us through this difficult time. And if you want to give even more, $108 a month or $1000 for the whole year, that would be just wonderful. Other spiritual organization, their budget is like thousands of dollars every month, and we barely can get $1000 a month. The last few weeks, there were some weeks where we were like negative, 0 after we had to pay the childcare and the musician or whatever and the speaker. We had below the amount. We do not want to do that. We want to be abundant.
If you want to practice individual abundance, one of the 1st steps is to practice collective abundance. That is how we do it. Practice abundance today and for the next 7 weeks, and you will see your individual life abundant as well. This is not some televangelist thing I am saying. It is the truth of the universe of karma that the Buddha taught. As we give, so shall we receive. And Jesus also said something like that too: as you sow, so shall you reap. The more you give to the community, the more you also will see that abundance manifesting in your individual life because the communal and the individual are not separate. The spiritual and the physical are not separate. The human and the divine are not separate. All is one. So look at your foundations. What truth are you standing upon as a solid rock of your enlightenment, of our enlightenment?