Thank you so much for that beautiful music. So inspiring. In many spiritual teachings, it is said that you either operate from a basis of love or a basis of fear, but you cannot do both at the same time. Love is approaching all things, the positive and negative, from a basis of openheartedness and non-fear—the courage to just be present. Fear—and I am not talking about just feeling afraid, because that is a normal human emotion, but when we say fear in the sense of a basic, fundamental approach, we close our heart, and we fear our fear. We fear our hatred. We fear our anger, and we fear love. We fear joy. We fear peace. We fear everything. We close down. We shut down. We push away, and we close up.
But when we are living from the basis of love—and this is not about just romantic love, which is so limited. It is true, universal love, the kind of love you can feel when there are no other humans around except the sky and the sun in the trees and the flowers. You know what I am talking about? I think you do. If you're a human being, you know what I am talking about because you are all Buddhas in the making. So you know at the core of who you really are is love, and when we operate from that basis of love and openheartedness, we are truly children of the universe, and we are strong. And we have realized non-fear because we know that we are not limited to just this physical expression, that we truly never die because we are parts of a life that is greater than any one particular form or expression or body.
In the teachings of the Buddha, we are encouraged to practice generosity as a fundamental practice on our path of wisdom and compassion, peace and enlightenment, love and joy. It is a fundamental part of our practice. Why is that? It is because it is founded upon love and not fear. And there are many ways we can give to ourselves and each other. We can give material things, such as food and money. We could give time and energy. We can even give the gift of non-fear by being centered and grounded in that open heart, which is courage and love. Especially when we are facing a crisis situation or a situation of chaos, if we can stay centered in the midst of that, it helps everyone else around us to find peace in the midst of that fear and worry and stress. So that is a gift. And there's also the gift of sharing dharma with others, sharing the insights and practices of the enlightened one with others so that they also can start enjoying the benefits of spiritual transformation and renewal and awakening in their lives also. And that is the most precious gift.
So in my own life, I have found that practicing generosity is very powerful. And I have noticed that when I practice generosity, it goes against the fundamental way of being in the mode of fear. To give only can come from a place of non-fear because you are not afraid of losing something just because you are giving. You see? One example recently in my own life is we lost several tenants practicing here all at once, so that was a reduction of $2,000-$3,000 a month, all while I am going through this cancer healing journey, and then when I contemplated wanting to find holistic ways to heal knowing that my family may not support me financially in that and knowing that it costs thousands and thousands of dollars, I had an opportunity to have fear around that.
And yet in the midst of that human part of the fear, the fundamental part of me still chose love, and even in the midst of that, several weeks ago, I made a decision to still give $1,000 from the Center to the Thich Nhat Hanh foundation and to give $1,000 from my own personal bank accounts of the Center for Spiritual Living, which has been very supportive of me, especially the minister, who has been very, very there for me as a prayer partner, and has been doing so many good things through the years in our sharing with each other.
So I did not allow the fear of lack to stop me, and guess what? Because I practiced the non-fear and practiced the generosity of love, guess what happened just last week? When my friends created the give forward fundraiser campaign, you know, total with that and the PayPal donations and the mail-in donations and the donations from the class that I am teaching on Monday nights, it exceeded almost twice as much as what our goal was. We raised $16,000. But I am not sure if that would've happened if I'd stayed in the mode of fear, and not just this one time, but it is a habit. It needs to be a positive habit you form over many, many moments of choice and because of those past choices I made, I am experiencing the blessing today.
So, when we want to practice the fundamental practice of generosity, we must remember that we must give out of love and not fear. Because if we have fear of lack, that is what we create in our lives in some form or another. But if we can give despite that fear because we know that it is the loving thing to do to support the Dharma and support others, then many, many blessings will manifest in your life. I just want to say thank you to everyone who gave, and if you feel like you want to give some more, you are always welcome to, and does not even have to be to me. I believe in the teaching of pay it forward, you know? When you receive, you don't necessarily have to give it back to the person you received it from. You can give it forward to someone else, and that is how the blessing keeps expanding and rippling across the planet. But when we lived in the basis of fear rather than love, we contract. We create an energy of lack around us, and then that is really what we start experiencing and manifesting.
Okay. So, just briefly going over this, and only briefly, because I would like to ask Terry to share a few words of encouragement with us as well. In our contemplation, or a power-sharing time, we're just going to share with like a small group of 3 persons or something at the end. I would like you to think about what came up for you in the contemplation. And if nothing came up for you, that is fine too. You can just breathe in and breathe out, and that is fine.
But I really like contemplating everything that is in your life now, because that is part of mindfulness, not just mindfulness of the breath, but mindfulness of the blessings in my life that I am taking for granted. What are the challenges I am facing right now? What are all the vast other things that I just don't think about in my life? So really, really being with that mindfully is important. And then contemplate your past choices and past experiences, past actions and see if there is some connection—which there usually is between those choices, actions, or experiences and your experience today.
I can see certain patterns I created long ago or that I experienced that I am maybe still allowing to occur, both positive and negative. It is important to see these cause and effect relationships. Otherwise we get stuck thinking, oh, there is nothing I can do. This is just the way things are. But no. There is a past that created this present. So let's see these connections. And then contemplating the ideal future you want to create—and make sure that it is a reasonable future because if you start trying to visualize a future that is very impossible, your subconscious mind cannot be tricked. It knows best–-it is no fool. So what it does is it starts to say things like, oh, that is ridiculous. You can't ever make it happen. And then you self sabotage that future vision.
So, it is better to start with something reasonable. The more you practice this, you can grow that vision, that dream a little bit bigger, as long as it stays within the realm of your mind's faith and confidence. But your faith and confidence can grow also. But start with where you are at. If you go beyond that, you will start to self sabotage unconsciously in the subconscious, and you cannot really manifest that future. So think about what is it you want. All these blessings. You want love, you want peace, you want joy, you want help, you want friendships. You want to be part of transforming the earth. Great. Okay. Now contemplate what are you doing now that is going to make that happen, because it doesn't just automatically happen. It requires our intentions. It requires our actions of minds and speech and body. It requires changes. It requires commitment. It requires spiritual practice and meditation to make that happen.
So, when you see that clearly, you're not just going to coast through life. You're going to actually be a part of making history. So that is the contemplation on the past, present, and future that you can use in your practice. I highly recommend this practice because it helps us be more clear on cause and effect, on cause and consequence. So there was one more thing I wanted to share, but that would be too long, so I will send an e-mail out. And it is the teaching on true holistic healing, which is harmony of 3 aspects: heaven, humanity, and earth. Not just one, but 3, if you want to be truly holistic. So I will e-mail you what that means. Some of you already heard this teaching if you were here at the retreat yesterday and in the Monday class. I am so grateful for all of you. I hope you will continue to practice deeply. I will be here one more Sunday, next Sunday, and then I will take the next several months off to focus more on my healing. So, Amitabha.
Terry: It seems to me that all of us together have created a really beautiful energy tonight, beginning with our friends who offered us a poem, and then later that beautiful, beautiful song, and then our chant, and then the flute, and then the drums. Our walking meditation, ChiSing's guided sitting meditation, and now this wonderful talk has created—do you feel it, that energy that we and the space have created? So, I invite you to put one palm in the other and to feel that, how you are holding this energy, and I invite you to bring it to yourself, to offer this—well, you named it in our introduction—this energy of compassion, peace, love, gratitude, generosity, clarity. May I be free from suffering and the roots of suffering. May I enjoy happiness and the roots of happiness.
Then I invite you to offer this energy to our brother, ChiSing, this deep, powerful healing energy. I invite you to offer it to ChiSing. May you be free from suffering and the roots of suffering. May you enjoy happiness and the roots of happiness. Then I invite you to take this energy and hold it in your lap, and we will offer this powerful healing energy to all people, all people in the cosmos and to all animals, plants, and minerals, Mother Earth. May we all be free from suffering and the roots of suffering. May all beings enjoy happiness and the roots of happiness.