Today is Autumn Equinox, exactly one season before the "Great Shift" Winter Solstice of 12-21-12. I don't believe most of the superficial hype concerning this sacred date; however, I DO believe that it is definitely a spiritually important date that metaphorically symbolizes the crucial time in history that we are living in. So, let us "skillfully" (upaya) use this date wisely to motivate ourselves on the continuing Path of Enlightenment as "Bodhisattvas"-in-training, in service to all humanity and all beings everywhere. Let us re-prioritize our intentions, affirmations and activities of mind, speech and body to be in alignment with Enlightened BEING.
Today, I am engaging in a 40-day "PROSPERITY Power Practice" period from Autumn Equinox to "Samhain" (the midpoint between Equinox and Solstice, popularly known as "Halloween"), September 22 - October 31. I am choosing to intensify my spiritual practice during this time, with the intention of nurturing the causes of health, abundance, insight, and Divine Guidance.
Please practice in solidarity with me and each other for these next 40 days. Please engage in all TWELVE SPIRITUAL PRACTICES during this time, with the intention to promote inner and outer Prosperity for yourself and for the Dallas Meditation Center (and for all beings).
I will be adding some Amitabha Buddha and Healing Buddha practices, under the guidance of my Dharma elder brother, Venerable Tashi Nyima (a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition). And I will also be engaging in a new Prosperity "Kriya" practice (as taught by Yogi Bhajan, founder of Kundalini Yoga), taught to me by my new friend Chris McCoy from Austin. In the spirit of Prosperity, we will all be practicing Generosity. During this period, I will be making several monetary and food offerings to Buddhist monks and nuns, and I encourage you to do the same. In this spirit, the Dallas Meditation Center will also be sending a check of $1,000 to Plum Village Monastery in honor of Thich Nhat Hanh's birthday on October 11.
I conclude this letter of encouragement with a little story from my recent birthday trip to Miami, Florida. In August, I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go for my birthday during the Labor Day weekend. I looked at airline prices, and there were several cities I could fly to for less than $300 roundtrip. I couldn't decide, there were so many good options. So, I took a deep breath, and I asked for Inner Guidance. I was in my car at the time, and I spontaneously turned on my radio and spun the channel knob, and it randomly landed on a Comedy radio station, and Robin Williams was making a joke. During the joke, he mentioned "Miami" in the joke. But being somewhat skeptical by nature, I asked for Inner Confirmation (LOL). So, I continued listening, and the next comedian started sharing another joke. And then, during that joke, he mentioned "Florida" in the joke. Well, that was definitely a confirmation I could not possibly deny! LOL
I booked a flight for less than $200 (!), but then I began to doubt my Inner Guidance because there was a hurricane coming. Well, I worked through my doubts and fears, and when I arrived there, it was absolutely wonderful weather. During my first couple of days there, I stayed with my friend Michael Raphael and his wife and two kids. I know Michael from the Center for Spiritual Living, and he also taught Qigong at DMC before he moved to Miami last year. One morning, he woke me up at 5:00 am in the morning (ugh), since he wanted me to come and practice Qigong with his morning group at the beach. Reluctantly, I got up and got dressed. But, once I arrived at the beach, I was so glad I did. It was SO beautiful to practice Qigong on the white sandy beach as the sun was rising over the ocean. This was the BEST birthday gift ever! And to top it all, afterwards, we went swimming in the ocean! What a great feeling, to be at one with the Earth, the sky, the sun and the Ocean…earth, air, fire and water. How refreshing!
The next day, my Fort Lauderdale acquaintance Jose, who is a family friend of my father, invited me to go to an introductory meeting of Landmark Education. My friend Vanessa had told me about it last year, and my Austin housemate Sebastian went this past year and raved about it. Well, I guess three is a charm, because I signed up for the next Landmark Education Weekend Forum, which I can take anytime between now and January. There is definitely some Divine Guidance going on here for sure! So stay tuned….
See you today (9 am) and Sunday (5 pm) and Monday (7 pm)! Celebrate Autumn Equinox by recommitting yourself to the path of Enlightenment today and for the next 40 days and for the next three months. AMITABHA!
I close with this interview between Oprah and Thich Nhat Hanh:
Oprah: The only way to end war is communication between people.
Nhat Hanh: Yes. We should be able to say this: "Dear friends, dear
people, I know that you suffer. I have not understood enough of your
difficulties and suffering. It's not our intention to make you suffer
more. It is the opposite. We don't want you to suffer. But we don't
know what to do and we might do the wrong thing if you don't help us
to understand. So please tell us about your difficulties. I'm eager to
learn, to understand." We have to have loving speech. And if we are
honest, if we are true, they will open their hearts. Then we practice
compassionate listening, and we can learn so much about our own
perception and their perception. Only after that can we help remove
wrong perception. That is the best way, the only way, to remove
Oprah: But what you're saying also applies to difficulties between
yourself and family members or friends. The principle is the same, no
matter the conflict.
Nhat Hanh: Right. And peace negotiations should be conducted in that
manner. When we come to the table, we shouldn't negotiate right
away. We should spend time walking together, eating together, making
acquaintance, telling each other about our own suffering, without
blame or condemnation. It takes maybe one, two, three weeks to do
that. And if communication and understanding are possible, negotiation
will be easier. So if I am to organize a peace negotiation, I will
organize it in that way.
Oprah: You'd start with tea?
Nhat Hanh: With tea and walking meditation.
Oprah: Mindful tea.
Nhat Hanh: And sharing our happiness and our suffering. And deep
listening and loving speech.
Oprah: Is there ever a place for anger?
Nhat Hanh: Anger is the energy that people use in order to act. But
when you are angry, you are not lucid, and you might do wrong
things. That is why compassion is a better energy. And the energy of
compassion is very strong. We suffer. That is real. But we have
learned not to get angry and not to allow ourselves to be carried by
anger. We realize right away that that is fear. That is corruption.
Oprah: What if in a moment of mindfulness you are being challenged?
For instance, the other day someone presented me with a lawsuit, and
it's hard to feel happy when somebody is going to be taking you to
Nhat Hanh: The practice is to go to the anxiety, the worry—
Oprah: The fear. First thing that happens is that fear sets in, like,
What am I going to do?
Nhat Hanh: So you recognize that fear. You embrace it tenderly and
look deeply into it. And as you embrace your pain, you get relief and
you find out how to handle that emotion. And if you know how to handle
the fear, then you have enough insight in order to solve the
problem. The problem is to not allow that anxiety to take over. When
these feelings arise, you have to practice in order to use the energy
of mindfulness to recognize them, embrace them, look deeply into
them. It's like a mother when the baby is crying. Your anxiety is your
baby. You have to take care of it. You have to go back to yourself,
recognize the suffering in you, embrace the suffering, and you get
relief. And if you continue with your practice of mindfulness, you
understand the roots, the nature of the suffering, and you know the
way to transform it.
Oprah: You use the word suffering a lot. I think many people think
suffering is dire starvation or poverty. But when you speak of
suffering, you mean what?
Nhat Hanh: I mean the fear, the anger, the despair, the anxiety in
us. If you know how to deal with that, then you'll be able to handle
problems of war and poverty and conflicts. If we have fear and despair
in us, we cannot remove the suffering in society.
Oprah: The nature of Buddhism, as I understand it, is to believe that
we are all pure and radiant at our core. And yet we see around us so
much evidence that people are not acting from a place of purity and
radiance. How do we reconcile that?
Nhat Hanh: Well, happiness and suffering support each other. To be is
to inter-be. It's like the left and the right. If the left is not
there, the right cannot be there. The same is true with suffering and
happiness, good and evil. In every one of us there are good seeds and
bad. We have the seed of brotherhood, love, compassion, insight. But
we have also the seed of anger, hate, dissent.
Oprah: That's the nature of being human.
Nhat Hanh: Yes. There is the mud, and there is the lotus that grows
out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus.
Oprah: Can't have one without the other.
Nhat Hanh: Yes. You can only recognize your happiness against the
background of suffering. If you have not suffered hunger, you do not
appreciate having something to eat. If you have not gone through a
war, you don't know the value of peace. That is why we should not try
to run away from one thing after another thing. Holding our suffering,
looking deeply into it, we find a way to happiness.
May you and all beings be happy and free.
May you transform all suffering.
May you rejoice in all joys.
May you be at peace,
awakening to the Truth of who you are:
AMITABHA (Infinite Light, Infinite Love, Infinite Life!)
"The fool laughs at generosity.
The miser cannot enter higher states.
But the master finds joy in giving
And happiness is his reward."
- Buddha Shakyamuni, Dhammapada
"If people knew, as I know, the results of giving and sharing, they
would not eat without having given, nor would they allow the stain of
stinginess to obsess them and take root in their minds. Even if it
were their last morsel, their last mouthful, they would not eat
without having shared it, if there were someone to share it with. But,
monks, as people do not know, as I know, the result of giving and
sharing, they eat without having given, and the stain of stinginess
obsesses them and takes root in their minds."
- Buddha Shakyamuni, Itivuttaka 26:18-19
"One purifies one's obscurations, one will see the Buddha face-to-face, and all one's wishes will come true by practicing generosity."
- Arya Nagarjuna, Ratnavali
"One will not be born as a hungry ghost if one practices
generosity. Furthermore, poverty and disturbing emotions will be
vanquished and one will attain a life of prosperity and wealth if one
is generous. Practicing generosity has immense positive results. One
will have many friends and can then be an influential member in
- Je Gampopa
"Living beings who endure suffering will be led to maturation by
practicing generosity. If their being is permeated by generosity, they
will easily attain unsurpassable enlightenment."