Thank you, dear friends, for your practice. I wanted to share with you a few thoughts I have had recently. Hopefully you got the e-mail on my reflections about angels and guides. If you didn't, you can also find it online in the latest weekly. And I sent that to you not because I want you to believe exactly literally what my thoughts are on the subject. That is not the point of teachings here. It is to stimulate your own spiritual search and research and not just intellectually. It is more about practice.
So whatever I shared with you from my personal understandings of what angels and guides and bodhisattvas are, take that and practice with it. Well, okay. What if there really are angelic energies in the universe? What if there are beings who take care of me from the spirit realm called guides? What if there are enlightened beings and fully enlightened beings called bodhisattvas and Buddhas in the universe? What if that is so? How does that affect the way I practice and my life?
And so, if you can practice with: okay, I am going to assume that these things are realities, and I'm going to utilize them in my practice. I'm going to allow that thought that there are angelic realities that support me to permeate my practice of meditation and my practice of mindful living throughout the day, and then see what happens. You see? There is a scientific aspect of our practice, which is take a hypothesis, work with it, and see what happens. And that is all I'm asking for you to do.
I am not asking you to believe anything I say literally. I'm just literally presenting to you my own experiences and reflections and also the experiences and reflections of many millions of other people throughout the centuries who have found this to be a helpful practice, to practice living your life as if really there is enlightenment, there really is love and wisdom and power in the universe, there really are angelic energies, there really are guides. So practice with that and see what happens. I think you will be very pleasantly surprised.
Now, for example, in some of the more tantric forms of Buddhism, like in Tibet, they really, really take this pretty seriously. They even paint them and they visualize them for years. Unfortunately, it has been translated as deity practice, and for us Westerners, we do not believe in many, many gods, so when we hear about deity practice, like visualizing a deity or whatever, it sounds funny to us, you know? But I think a better way of translating that would be angel visualization, so whenever they are visualizing, they are visualizing these beautiful enlightened beings, angelic beings, and they are visualizing them so much that it fills their minds with the light of the beauty of this visualization.
See, this is just another method. It is the opposite of Zen, which is what we practice. In Zen, we are just allowing all thoughts to slowly settle until there is just this pure empty spaciousness left, but in Tibetan practice, it is the opposite. You fill your mind so much with all this visualization and light that you cannot have any other thoughts except for a thought of light and visualization and the beauty of these beings that you are visualizing, all of their wonderful qualities of love and wisdom. So, you know, there are many different methods, but what matters is not the method but the result. If you can get to that place of oneness, that is what matters. Whatever method you use, if it helps you, that is what matters.
So we can do the same thing. We can visualize angelic beings. In Tibetan Buddhism, it doesn't matter to them whether or not these are real. In some sense, it is not real. In some sense, it is real. What I mean by that is, is there an actual being that looks exactly like the way they are visualizing? Probably not. But are there angelic energies of the mind and in the universe that can be called forth through our practice? Yes. See?
So these energies of the universe are real. Now whether they look the way we are visualizing, that doesn't matter. They probably do not look like that. But there are real energies in the universe, and we can access those energies through prayer, through visualization, through meditation, through affirmation, through mantra, through mindfulness, and that is what we are trying to do.
Another reflection I wanted to share with you is that as Buddhism has been transferred over to a Western society, there are a lot of translation problems, and one of them is that there's this notion in some Buddhist circles or in some people's minds that Buddhism is atheistic, and that is absolutely not true. All you have to do is go to Tibet, and there are so many divinities or angelic beings with their practice. It is not true to say that Buddhism is atheistic. It is far from it.
Now technically speaking, scholars have come up with another word to describe Buddhism. So it is not atheistic. They prefer the word non-theistic. Okay. That is a little better than atheistic, but it is still a scholar's point of view, and scholars are not always in touch with the real realities of practice. But it is a good start. So instead of thinking of Buddhism as atheistic, it is non-theistic, meaning Buddhism isn't focusing on trying to completely theologize and understand all the intricate details philosophically of God, and we are not trying to depend on trying to appease the god or a God or gods because back in the day that Buddha lived, it wasn't monotheistic. It was polytheistic. So the Buddha had to communicate in his context.
Now if the Buddha lived today in our monotheistic Western Judeo-Christian Islamic culture, he probably would have said things in a different way to be relevant to our understanding, but he was speaking to be relevant in the understanding of his culture and time, and it was polytheistic. But many times, some of the people in his culture, they thought that the goal of life was not enlightenment, but simply salvation in the sense of no matter what they did or not, they had to beg for the mercy of some sort of higher deity, because, sometimes you read some of the stories and the mythologies of our ancestors—
And I respect the mythologies of our ancestors, because there is truth there, but you can also tell sometimes they were coming from a more primitive understanding of things, too. You know, because we are all evolving, and there's nothing wrong with being primitive. That is just one stage of our evolution, but we have to go on beyond that, too. But yeah. Sometimes these deities that our ancestors believed in could be so capricious and be jealous, get angry, and no matter if the human was being good and faithful, if the deity just didn't like one thing they did one day, they just zapped him or sent them off somewhere with a hard task, like Hercules or whatever.
So we have to be careful, and that is what the Buddha was teaching. He did not want people to be so attached to those kinds of primitive ideas of God or the gods. So the Buddha instead—and he didn't argue too much with people either. He didn't want to make fights theologically with all of the different kinds of beliefs in India, but he was very ingenious. Instead of fighting it, he just simply refocused people's attention off of the gods and onto their practice. Instead of focusing on external deity, he turned toward the internal spirituality. Instead of trying to appease God, let us now work with our minds.
Let's be more scientific with our spirituality. Our enlightenment is not dependent on the whims of an external deity. Our enlightenment is completely dependent on us, on our mind training, on our meditation, on our mindfulness. And, our happiness is not dependent on the external whim of a deity, but it is completely dependent on our choices, our human choices. So the Buddha was just simply trying to gently bring people's attention off of this primitive mythological understanding of God and into a practical, scientific human understanding of happiness and enlightenment and that we take charge of our lives through our choices and our practice, and we don't need to beg for some mercy, you see? It is dependent on our choices and our practice.
That is why I prefer the term not atheistic, not non-theistic, but inner-theistic. It is a new word. Maybe I will put it in the dictionary next time. Buddha taught us to be inner-theistic, meaning that the divine reality is everywhere, which means if it is everywhere, it is also right in here. We are each and every one of us manifestations of that divine reality, and because we are each divine, we each have that divine power, that choice and responsibility and practice.
So, God is not an external reality. It is a universal reality that is also the internal reality. It is a very different approach to God, and that is what I believe the Buddha really taught, was inner theism, not atheism or this really dry scholarly definition of non-theism, but inner theism. So, I am not an atheist. I am an inner theist, and I am so happy that I am and you are and we all are expressions of divine wisdom, love, and power in this universe.
We are so much more powerful than we realize, because it is almost like we are each—see, in the Western traditions, we call ourselves the children of God, but a lot of times it does not convey the full message when you say children of God, because it sounds like little children, not very, very powerful beings. We are all just kids. But in fact, the term children of God points to the reality that when you have a parent to a child, that child is going to grow up to be an adult just like the parent and become equal, and in the same way, whether you say the word children or children of God, what it should make you think in your head is not of being little kids, but that we have the capacity and the potential to become equal to God because we are like children of God, meaning we are little gods that are growing up to be God.
Now I'm not saying that we are going to become equal in the sense we are like the ultimate expression of God, but each of us are individual unique expressions. None of us are going to be the whole, but we come from the whole, and we are one with the whole. So we come from God and we are one with God, and we each are uniquely going to manifest the qualities of God.
Just like in the Western traditions, Jesus is called the child of God. He is called the son of God. But what does that mean? It means that everything that God is, the qualities of love, wisdom, power, are also in Jesus as a child of God, the son of God. And since we are also the children of God, the sons and daughters of God, we have the same potential. We have that Christ nature in us, and Buddhists would call it Buddha nature.
So it doesn't matter if you believe in it or not. If you just believe in it but don't practice it, it does not do you any good. So Buddhism is about practicing, not just believing. If you are stuck in a religious idea of just believing something, I'm sorry, but it's not going to get you very far. It will not bring you the greatest happiness. But if you want the greatest happiness, then practice, not just believe. You allow that reality, that divine reality of who you really are meant to be to fully express, like Jesus did, like Buddha did, like many others are doing. You see?
We made a mistake when we thought that only Buddha is going to be the fully enlightened one, only Jesus is going to be the Christed one. He is the only son of God, that you see, that is a complete mistranslation of the text in the Gospel of John. When it says that Jesus is the only begotten son of God, it does not mean he is the only one in the universe that is a child of God, because there are many other scriptures that contradict that. Because we are all children of God. What does it mean to say that Jesus is the only begotten son? It means he is loved. He is awakened to the love that God has for him, the kind of love that God has for everyone, which it is as if each one of us is uniquely beloved. The only begotten.
In other words, God loves you and you and you as if you are the only child in existence. That is what it means, the only begotten. It means that it is as if God loves you and you and you, as if you are the only one, no other. But all of us are loved in that exact way, including Jesus, including Buddha. The only begotten son—
Also, there is another meaning to it, which means there is only one son of God or one child of God. There is only one, and we are each unique, individual expressions of that one child of God. See, this is hinted at by St. Paul, the apostle. He said that we are the body of Christ, and Jesus is the head, but we are the body. Well, if you look at his body, you know, you don't want to be a headless body, and if Jesus is the head and we are the parts, well, we are not separate. We are part of the same divine reality that Jesus is a part of. We are the same reality. We are each the Christ in expression. So there is only one Christ, one child of God, one son of God. Jesus was part of that, but we are also part of that. There is only one Christ, and that includes all of us.
So going back to Buddhism. I believe that it is important to be practicing with our inner theistic spirituality. We have so much more power then we realize, so much more potential. And that is why tonight when we do our practice of writing meditation, you are going to hopefully have a glimpse of the power of your inner divinity, because sometimes we are so stuck in our human egos that we do not realize that we actually have this great wisdom inside of us just waiting to be accessed.
But we don't realize we can access it because we have this notion that we are so puny and small and meek, but that is not true. God doesn't make junk, as we say. You are created in the image and likeness of God, which means you have all the potential of God in human form, and that means that you can access that wisdom.
So we are going to write a letter to a higher power. You can write to God. You can write to your angel. You can write to Buddha. You can write your Higher Self, whatever you want to write to. But just write to some expression of the higher power, and then we're just going to pause and meditate for a minute, and then we're going to allow ourselves to write a letter back from a higher power to us. And you will hopefully realize how easy it is to access that wisdom and this guidance. It is not as hard as you think.
It is a lot easier than you think, but it makes sense, right? If divinity is actually reality within us, rather than external to us, then wouldn't it make sense that it is easy to access it? It is only our ego human wrong thinking that prevents us from believing in that access. But if you keep practicing, you will realize it.
And you know, you do not have to go by just what I say. If you practice enough, you will start realizing these things for yourself experientially. You know, there've been millions of people throughout the centuries who have been practicing meditation, and they have discovered this over and over and over again. I mean, it is like how many times do you have to hear about this before you believe it? But of course, it is important for you to believe it for yourself, too. But there is so much evidence across centuries that if you practice, you will awaken to this inner divinity. It's there. It's real. You just have to practice to access it.