Tomorrow is the first day of June, and in June and July, our theme is Buddhas and bodhisattvas, awakened teachers and awakening beings, both historical and archetypal. So we will be exploring different Buddhas and bodhisattvas historically, as well as symbolically for the next two months. And it will be our last two months in this location, so I hope everyone will encourage everyone who has ever come to our Center to come for the next two months to really just appreciate the space that we had for the last five years. We are going to move into a new location by August 1. It is going to take a lot of community support to do that.
You know, I really know for sure that Spirit inspired me with the idea of starting the Center five years ago. In January, one morning during meditation, it was so loud and clear, the message, and I didn't know what to do about it because I had never started a center before. I wasn't even a businessperson either. But it was so loud and clear, and I just went with it. And in just like three or four months, we opened, grand opening. And I was just amazed at the speed at which it all happens, that when Spirit gives you an idea, you can pretty much guarantee Spirit will help you follow through with it.
But see, that was five years ago. One individual started this in motion—me—but now, as we move out of this location to a new location, it is now depending on the community. And I think that is how Spirit planned it all along. One person planted the seed, but later on many people had to nurture what we have planted. And one person was given an idea, but now it is the community that has to continue the idea strongly. And the fact that I am ill—you know, I don't have a lot of energy right now. I think that is also a part of the whole plan. It is like I am stepping back a little bit so that you can step forward. I think that was the plan all along.
It is kind of like I basically laid the foundation, but you have to build on the foundation. So if you really want the Dallas Meditation Center to continue strongly, you have to take responsibility—each person and as a collective—to make that happen. It cannot be just one person alone anymore. It has to be on the community, so I encourage you to practice faithfully the next two months and help out as much as you can with the move.
And we really need all kinds of support, but especially financial support. Moving to a new location is extremely expensive, especially if you want to do advertisements, do sign boards and decorations internally, and we also want to renovate the building where we are moving to, which will take at least a month or two, but I want to make it a beautiful Center that is attractive and spacious and can hold everyone in here without being squished, you know.
We have a new space in mind that is at least twice as big as this, but it will cost money. We are living on the earth plane of existence. We are not just in some heavenly realm where everything comes for free. So, the dharma is free, but the rent is not, as we say. So please consider making some sort of really generous donation in the next couple of months to help us with the move. Our initial estimate—it may be more, but at least we can reach the first initial estimate—for repairs and renovation and move and decorations and advertisements and everything—is $30,000, which can be met if 300 people gave $100. I mean, it is doable. It is just a matter of whether you feel blocked in your prosperity consciousness or not. Because $100 for most of us is not a big deal, right?
But it is a matter of your consciousness. If you feel stingy internally, even if you're not conscious of it, you're not going to give. But if you know that this is a good cause, and you know that your real purpose in life is to support the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha or spiritual community in general, then it is not so hard. It is not hard at all. You know, even though I don't make a lot of money doing this, I still give, and I support organizations financially each year. So I always like to practice generosity, because as I live in that prosperity consciousness of abundance, I see that the universe just keeps giving back to me. But when I hold on to it and grasp what I have, I actually stop the flow.
If you want to receive more, the secret is to give more. If you are not giving out, how can you receive in? Or like the Zen masters say, "If your cup is full, how can you fill it with new tea?" You have to keep getting in the flow of generosity and not giving into that lie that there is a lack always in your life. That is just a mental construct. The universe is actually full of abundance, you know? I remember one time—oh gosh. I'm giving a talk now. Okay. Well, I'd better stop.
So anyway, I will just say this one last little bit. I remember when I went to this health retreat last year. I was feeling sorry for myself and everything, but one day when we're doing a morning walk—you're always supposed to walk in the morning amongst the trails and the trees—I suddenly looked up, and I saw these green leaves on the trees and the sun shining and the birds singing and the grass growing and air so crisply cool. I was like, wow. There is so much life force energy all around me. The universe is so full of it, and I am part of it. So what am I worrying about?
There is so much abundance, but it is our mind that shuts us off from receiving it. But it is there always. So let us practice not allowing these old habitual mental constructs we have inherited from family and society, which are always about lack and stinginess and greediness and grasping. No. Let us practice the reality of the abundant universe. Let us practice generosity and going with the flow of giving and receiving. That is the secret of abundance. Just let go of those constructs. When you just let them go, you realize the reality has always been all along that wow, there is so much—so much in this universe. So much life, so much abundance. It is just so rich.
So let go of the mental blocks, and then you'll see the reality. You do not have to make it happen. It is already real. It is a matter of letting go of that which prevents you from receiving it. The same is true with enlightenment, peace and compassion—everything else. Really. It is amazing. We live in a universe that is already so full and rich. We don't have to do anything to add to it. We just need to let go of that which prevents us from realizing it.
But yes, and thank you. I really believe it embodies our practice because it symbolizes the practice of mindfulness, surrendering to the flow of the abundance of reality, being present. That is what yes means, and thank you is the second half of that, which is when we are really present to the reality. How can you not just say thank you?
Even while I was in deep suffering last month in the ICU and I was near death—the doctors were amazed that I made it through—I felt like I was in the torture chamber really. They had put a tube down my throat, and they tied my hands and legs, and they sedated me. For a couple of days, I was out, and it was not an experience I have ever had before. But I was tempted to really complain and really wish I was not in that situation. It was a very strong temptation, but I knew that I am in this situation. What can I do about it? There was nothing I could do. I mean, I am strapped down. So I just prayed, "Let me find some light in this. Let me just be present, and help me not to try to escape into the future or the past. Let me just try to really just be present and find the light in this."
And there were several different little spiritual practices that helped me to do that, but you know, I realized that the main thing that helped me get through that is all the years of practice that I did before. You know, a lot of us want instant enlightenment or instant peace or instant whatever, but honestly, this is a lifestyle. This is not a one-time booster shot or something. This is a lifestyle, a lifelong lifestyle.
And as we keep practicing mindfulness, whether that mindfulness is practiced through sitting meditation, walking, chanting, a gratitude journal—I mean, whatever. I realize now that even though I do still believe in the importance of sitting meditation, I realize now that there are many forms that you can utilize to cultivate your mindfulness, so you do not have to feel guilty or whatever or ashamed if sitting meditation isn't quite as regular yet or isn't quite as easy for you. Everyone goes through ebbs and flows.
But the main thing is mindfulness. That is what the yes means. And honestly, when you practice that mindfulness, it is a lifestyle that will carry you through. Do not wait for emergencies to practice. Practice now, and then when our emergencies come—and they always do, because life is full of them—then you'll have a reservoir of positive energy or merit to get you through it. And not only that; because you have practiced so much regularly throughout your life, you get to offer your energy to others, you see?
Most people who do not practice mindfulness throughout their life, they don't have much energy left for the other people, but because you are all practicing mindfulness regularly, not only do you have energy for your own emergencies, but you have a positive energy to offer others as well. This is just simply the bodhisattva way, see? And right before I came tonight, I had a dream. And you know, certain dreams you know are from deep within your spirit. Other dreams are frivolous subconscious random things, but certain dreams—and you know when they are—they come from deep within your spirit.
I had some of those dreams last month that totally confirms to me the reality of life beyond death and that we are always companions and never alone, and this is now a reality for me. I do not doubt it at all anymore. It was a true deeply wonderful experience. It was nice to have that experience because I was going through so much stuff and it was like, "Ah, thank you for this little light." So that was nice.
But I had a dream this afternoon when I was napping, and in the dream, I think I was in some sort of institution. Maybe it was a mental institution. I don't know. But there is this woman who was in deep suffering and needed help, and I guess I was like a social worker or something in this dream. I was trying to talk with her and see what I could do to help her get into a program that would be suitable for her, and when I woke up, it was such a beautiful feeling. Oh, that is what we do, isn't it? We are all just flowing, in the flow of the bodhisattva way, you know?
There is a Zen master, Suzuki Roshi, who said, "There is no such thing as an enlightened person. There is only enlightened activity." I kind of like that. I'm sure there are deeper meanings to it than what I am understanding, but I kind of like that stand, because we're not trying to see, "Am I enlightened or not? Is that person enlightened or not?" That is sort of judgment or comparison. That is not the point of our practice, but enlightened activity, there is really only one bodhisattva spirit in the universe, and we can each be channels of that bodhisattva spirit. And when we allow ourselves to be channels of the bodhisattva spirit working in, through, and as us, then that is enlightened activity.
So do not worry about being enlightened. Rather, practice allowing the bodhisattva spirit to channel through your words, thoughts, and actions so that the bodhisattva way can be manifest in your life each day. You don't have to wait to become a full on Buddha to practice the bodhisattva way. You can do it now. Enlightenment is not far away. It is just simply saying yes and thank you, here and now, allowing that bodhisattva spirit to work in and as you. And so, when we can do that in so many different ways, I realized in this dream that even when my human body is just sleeping, my spirit is going to different realms, helping different beings, even in my dreams, and we are doing the same thing, too. So whether you are working or resting, you can still manifest the bodhisattva way. You know?
Sometimes I do wonder why I got sick and all the other stuff, but that is not a very helpful inquiry. What I find more helpful is: How can I be of service in the midst of this? And I am discovering that most of my helpfulness is not about trying to prove that you can get healed through different things, alternative health or integrative stuff. Because I do not know yet. I am still in the process of healing. I have no idea, so I do not know if that is really the main message of what I am going through.
I think the real main message of what I am going through is just to be an example of someone, just a human being going through life, whether it is up or down, and still practicing mindfulness, even in the midst of it. And you can do it. I can do it. So can you. It is not easy. It is not. But it is possible. It is possible to stay practicing yes and thank you no matter what difficulty you are going through, even if you are at death's door. It is possible. So I will end my talk on yes and thank you with: you can do it.