The Real Zen Center—Our Mind

June 11, 2013

Mexico Zen Center is celebrating the anniversary today. I think that the best gift for the Zen center is your sincerity, your practice, and your effort. The real center is at the bottom of your mind. The center you celebrate now is the phenomenon center, not the real center. When you come to this place, you have joined the karma with this center. How to make this center become better is all our responsibility.

You come to this center to donate your efforts, good thoughts, and good practice. If everyone does that, it will make this center become a pure land. A harmonic and peaceful center is the collection of all the practitioners’ effectors. Right effort, right center. Wrong effort, wrong center.

Harmony creates strength. Without harmony, the strength will be broken into pieces and there is no strength. When we can donate and contribute our right efforts to this center and make this center have strength and power, we will have the ability to deliver the right message to those who never come to this center. This is the way we are propagating the Dharma.

I. The Real Zen Center—Our Mind

Every single person possesses a mind and our mind is the real center. If you create an angry thought, it means that you donate an angry thought to your mind, to your own center. Every single thought and every single action are the donations that we donated to our own mind. If we want to have a pure mind or pure land, we should donate right things to our own mind. No matter what we are thinking or doing, all results are the manifestations of our mind because they are the donations by ourselves. Of course, we have to take our responsibility. No excuse!

When situations happen in our life, we start to have lots of emotions, blame someone else, or have many complaints. All of the negative emotions are signs that we don’t want to take responsibilities to what we have already done. Worries and sufferings are ours, not the person who is around us. Those who blame someone else are fools. A good practitioner never blames someone else. We are the one whom we should blame to. Take responsibilities to what we have already done. This is the right attitude for a real practitioner.

Only with right attitudes and understandings, we will be able to elevate ourselves. Seeing the root of the problem, which is the mind, which is the fundamental concept for a real practitioner.
Being a practitioner, you should realize what goal you try to achieve. This is very important. You need to set a goal first. Without a goal, everything becomes disordered. It is just like driving. If you don’t know where you are heading for, you cannot choose a right path for your destination. Without a right view for your goal or without a right destination, it is hard to achieve that. If we can set a right goal, we will know how to make it happen. We will have motivations to change our own defects. We are not perfect. In order to achieve perfection, we need to change our own defects. When people start to practice, they want to make progress; but sometimes it is difficult to achieve that. It is because that first, they don’t know what their goals are; second, they don’t know which path is the right path to achieve their goals; third, they don’t have motivations to change themselves.

II. Motivation—Strength to Change and Achieve

The motivation coming from your own mind is most powerful weapon to overcome hindrances. Without motivations, everything becomes in vain. Being a practitioner, ask yourself what goal you want to achieve? Ask yourself this first question. For example, as a practitioner, to achieve enlightenment is a very common goal for the Zen practice. You should keep asking yourself, “If I try to achieve enlightenment, what are problems or hindrances that are keeping me away from achieving enlightenment?” What are the problems? You should figure it out! It is not the problem that the goal or enlightenment is never manifested; instead, it is the problem that you never overcome your self-attachment. We should realize that all problems are our attachments. The only problem is our ego. How can we put down the ego? How can we put down the self-attachment? How can we put down the habitual thoughts and patterns? This becomes an issue of practicing.

The way how we can achieve enlightenment is the way how we can overcome and let go of our self-attachment. In order to achieve the goal or enlightenment, we need to have the strength and motivations to overcome our hindrances which are our self-attachments. Finding a motivation to achieve enlightenment is not an issue; finding a motivation to eradicate our own self-attachments is the issue.

Practitioners are trying to achieve enlightenment; so they think they have motivations to achieve enlightenment. Achieving enlightenment is not an issue. The real issue is to have motivations to fix our own mistakes in life. If you want to achieve your goal, you should have motivations to correct your mistakes and your motivation should focus on how you can fix your own mistakes.

Mistakes and self-attachments are real hindrances to keep us away from achieving enlightenment.

Let me ask you one question, “Do you want to achieve enlightenment or not? Are you heading to enlighten or getting rid of your self-attachments? Which way are you on? Which path are you heading for?” Ninety-nine percents of practitioners are heading to the wrong way. They only focus on how they can achieve enlightenment; they never focus on how they can get rid of their problems, hindrances, and self-attachments in their life.

In order to achieve our goals and to achieve enlightenment, we should have motivations to change our habitual thinking patterns, to change our self-attachments and to get rid of our negative thinking patterns. We should focus on these points.

If you focus only on achieving enlightenment, you will always blame people. If you focus on your self-attachments and defects which are the real hindrances to keep you away from enlightenment, you will realize you are the only one who should take the blame.

Remember, the motivation is not how you can achieve enlightenment; the motivation should relate to and focus on your own problems and self-attachments. If you cannot fix characteristics of your problems, if you cannot fix the negative habitual thinking patterns in mind, you cannot fix your ego; how can you make progress?

Focus on fixing what our own defects and problems are; this is the right attitude for practitioners. The motivation to achieve enlightenment is unnecessary because the enlightenment is there already.

If you have a motivation to eradicate your self-attachments, this is the real motivation; this is the real focus; this is the right understanding for a real practitioner.

III. Self-Awareness—Key to Change and Achieve

In order to find the motivation to change your personality, you need to have a very strong self awareness. The awareness can find our own problems from our mind and focus on the mind—nothing is beyond the mind. Every single thought is created by your mind as well as every single phenomenon is created by your mind. In order to create a better phenomenon, you should check with yourself. A motivation which can fix the wrong phenomena (your problems) and is manifested by yourself is the right motivation. People always think that they are right in every moment. This is an everyday person’s idea. Everyday persons never think that they need to be corrected by themselves. Everything is created by us, ourselves. If we encounter hindrances in life, we should have awareness to find the motivation to fix our problems.

How can we find our own awareness? We can find our awareness from the phenomenon or environment. You can always find defects from the phenomenon or environment. The defect is your problem not the phenomenon or someone else. If you do not have self-awareness and you do not even know you make a mistake, how can you have a motivation to fix the problem and change yourself? If you do not have a motivation to change your own defects and problems, how can you achieve enlightenment? If so, enlightenment becomes an illusion, a dream.

This is the center for practitioners. The center in your mind is the center for your own thoughts, for your own behaviors, and for your own karma. Today is the center’s birthday. We are here to celebrate. This is a good thing. But, we need to know what we are celebrating for. Is the celebration for the space or for a statue? We are here to celebrate our own donations of good thoughts, good practice, good behaviors, and right efforts. These are the right things we are celebrating.

Every day is your birthday. We should celebrate every day. Every day in the night time, we should check with ourselves and see if we collect enough good thoughts and good behaviors to celebrate. If not, we should change that. We are here to celebrate our own contributions. We are not here to celebrate the air, the wall, or the floor.

Think about this: which part of the celebration is your donation? If your donations are good enough, congratulations to you. If not, you should bring better gifts to the center. Good thoughts, good behaviors, good actions, right practice, and right understandings are good things we can celebrate. It is like delivering a baby. After delivering a baby, if the baby is healthy, beautiful, and wonderful, we can celebrate the birth of the baby. If the baby is disabled and has lots of problems, do you want to celebrate it or not?

Last year, it was the baby we delivered; next year, we will deliver a new baby. If we have harmony and peace in mind, if we have the right practice and sincerity, we will deliver a wonderful baby next year. So next year at this right time, hopefully we can celebrate more and will and we are happier because we deliver the right and wonderful baby. Remember, we are parents of this center and we are parents of our good future. This is very important. Happy birthday to everyone!

Think about this: What are we celebrating every day?