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A monk asked Zen Master Huai Hai, by what means can the gateway of our school be entered? Huai Hai said, by means of the Dhamma Paramita. Dhamma is usually translated as generosity or giving. The monk said, according to the Buddha, the Bodhisattva path comprises six Paramitas. Why have you mentioned only one? Please explain why this one alone provides a sufficient means for us to enter. Huai Hai said, deluded people fail to understand that the other five all proceed from the Dhamma Paramita, and that by its practice alone all others are fulfilled. The monk asked, why is it called the Dhamma Paramita?


Huai Hai said, Dhamma means relinquishment. And the monk asked, relinquishment of what? Huai Hai said, relinquishment of the dualism of opposites, which means relinquishment of ideas as to the dual nature of good and bad, being and non-being, void and non-void, pure and impure, and so on. So, I thought a bit, quite a bit, about what I wanted to talk about tonight, and each thing I thought of I decided you already knew. And, you know, I thought, well, you've been encouraged to sit zazen already, and you've heard about the precepts,


and you've been told to see your practice leaders, and to do your house jobs, and to get some exercise, right? So, that's about it. And then I thought, well, if they're anything like me, maybe they're looking for something more, some turning phrase, or some pointer, or maybe some great spiritual teacher, like Suzuki Roshi, who can help us to clarify our understanding, and to help take us deeper than this kind of relentless appearance of things. So, I came across a teaching in my notebook that I'd written recently,


but I'd also written it many times over the years, and it never really seemed very interesting before. And then this time, when I came across it, I thought, now this is interesting. This is useful to me. And this teaching I thought I would share with you this evening, and it's called The Three Levels of Learning or Insight. And the reason I found this interesting, because it seemed to help to explain to me why I'm so frustrated in my practice. You know, where's the frustration? I think I'm working. I think I am. Why the frustration? The longing? So, the first level is called Knowledge Based on Listening. And basically, at this point in your practice, you're hearing for the first time the teaching.


It's called the Srutamai Prajna, the Wisdom Based on Listening. And at this stage, basically your sensory apparatus is coming together with the Dharma, and you see the forms, you hear the teaching, you smell the incense, you taste the food, and you gather your mind in meditation. So, you can think of this stage kind of like a giant receiver, and the Dharma is being transmitted continuously toward this receiver. All day long, 24 hours a day, it's a free service, and you can't turn it off. The rocks and the trees and the pebbles all proclaim the Dharma just for you. So, the next type of learning is called


the learning that comes from study and reflection. And in this stage, you take what you've heard, and you start to work on it. And I was thinking this is something like the process of photography, where gobs of material are accumulated on this very sensitive substance of ourselves. And then we take this substance, and we put it in a dark room, and immerse it in a chemical bath. And maybe we could think that this is like our Zazen practice. And then we leave it there for a while to cook. And at first, I think it's kind of discouraging, because all the sheets are blank. But then, little by little over time, the images start to darken and deepen.


So this is the stage of cintamaya prajna, learning that comes from study and reflection. I think what's interesting about this process that I'm trying to learn myself is that even though all of us receive more or less the same information, and sometimes even at the same time, like tonight, you know, you're all sitting here listening to me, each of us has a totally unique way of working with the material, just as each of us is unique. So there's this little statue of the Buddha that maybe you saw on Buddha's birthday, the one you poured the water on. And he's got one hand up in the air and another one at the ground. And he's saying, I alone am the world-honored one.


This little kid. When I first heard about that, I thought it was kind of strange. What a strange thing for the spiritual leader to be proclaiming at birth, I alone am the world-honored one. But I think this is really the case for each of us. I alone am the only one who can understand this teaching. Each of you alone is the only one who can understand and do this work. No one can do it for you. There's an old saying that this lineage of Buddhas and ancestors will die with this blind ass. It's a pity. But the thing that's the good news at this point is that


these first two stages, the stage of listening and the stage of study, are things we can do. We can actually endeavor, make an effort to do. I think all of you are doing just that. And little by little, through this process of devotion to study and to listening, this transformation occurs and a genuine work of art appears. And it's none other than you yourself, just as you are, without any elaborations. As Paul Disko said one time, one of our old friends and teachers, that it's not what you came here to get, but what you came here to lose. Now, the thing about this third stage, which is called the Bhavanamaya Prajna, the wisdom that comes from actually becoming,


the teaching is no longer something that you're working on or listening to, but you've become the teaching. When the student is ready, a teacher appears, right out of this alchemical bath. There you are, just as you are. But this is the stage that you can't do. It's a kind of grace or gift that comes. So you don't need to worry about it. Suzuki Roshi said, don't pay too much attention to the true dragon. Just the dragon carving. That's the first two stages. It's called carving the dragon. Just keep dragon carving and be happy in your work. And maybe the true dragon will come. There's a story about a man who loved dragons and he spent all day long carving dragons. And he had a house full of dragons.


He had dragon potholders and dragon curtains. And one day, the true dragon flew by overhead and he saw this man's house and he thought, well, he must really love dragons. He'd probably love to meet me. So the dragon flew down and, of course, the man went screaming from his house. So the true dragon we can't own or possess. It's not something that we can make out of ourselves or out of anything else. It's not something for us to claim. But we can love it and we can endeavor to fully express ourselves in our lives. So these stages that I just mentioned, these three stages of learning,


I don't know if it's useful to you or encouraging or whatever, but I found them to help with understanding my own frustrations. Oh, just be patient, just a little dragon carver. I can do that. That's enough. So what I'd like to talk about tonight, to offer, is something maybe that you're going to hear for the first time or maybe you've heard before, but something that certainly I'm working on and trying to understand is the teaching of non-duality. And I propose that without an understanding of non-duality that you can't practice the Buddhist path, that it's primary. Robert Aiken Roshi, in a footnote to the Genjo Koan,


defines or describes the world as seen by an awakened one in this way. He says that it is the dependent co-arising or the interdependence of sentient beings and all things as seen through the eyes of non-duality. So the interdependence or the dependent co-arising of all things as seen through the eyes of non-duality. So these are Buddha's big fat eyes, that's what he's talking about. Non-duality. Very important. So I've been looking for these teachings of non-duality pretty actively lately and very interested in this study for myself.


And they appear, once you start looking for something, I don't know how that is, but once you start looking for something then it's everywhere, you know. So these are kind of nested like little colored Easter eggs throughout the Buddhist scriptures. And I was very happy to find what I think of as a teaching of non-duality in the very first sermon that the Buddha gave following his enlightenment. So this is an ancient story and it takes place right after the Buddha has become enlightened and what he's been doing with his time following that great event is enjoying himself. He's been going from one tree species to another and sitting in meditation, feeling the pleasure of deliverance. And that would have been the end of his story


except that Lord Brahma saw that the Buddha had no intention of teaching what he had learned and he came to him and begged him to please teach what he knew. And he said to the Buddha, Lord Buddha, the world will be lost, the world will be utterly lost if the mind of the perfect one accomplished and fully enlightened favors inaction and does not teach the law. So even though the Buddha was reluctant to teach because he thought it was too complicated and people would be confused and they wouldn't understand, he agreed to try. So he went and found his five old companions, the five ascetics, who were pretty down on him because he had abandoned asceticism. And as he approached them,


even though they had agreed among themselves not to greet him, they found themselves in his presence to be very drawn to the change in their old friend. So they asked him to please teach them what he had learned. And to me, this point of contact between the Buddha and his old friends is the most important thing that happened in the last 2,000 years. The entire history of Buddhism depends on what happened on that day. And all of us can be personally grateful for this encounter. And it was during the Buddha's very first sermon, which is called, Setting Rolling the Wheel of the Law, that Shakyamuni Buddha taught the path of awakening to someone else.


So this is the point of contact. Without that, there is no Buddhism, there is no teaching, there is no Dharma, there is no Sangha. This is the most important moment for us. And it's also the moment where there was hope and where there was the possibility that this matter can be learned. People's faculties may be keen or dull, but in the path there are no southern or northern ancestors. You know, this teaching is universal. It's for everyone, not just for some kind of spiritual athlete or hero. And it's all about these three levels of learning. Hearing, studying, becoming. So this is what the Buddha said in his first lecture.


He said, Bhikshus, monks, there are these two extremes that ought not to be cultivated by one who has gone forth. What two? There is devotion to pursuit of pleasure and sensual desires, which is low, coarse, vulgar, ignoble and harmful. And there is devotion to self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble and harmful. The middle way, discovered by a perfect one, avoids both of these extremes. It gives vision, gives knowledge and leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to nirvana. So right here in the very first two sentences of the very first lecture of the Buddha is the teaching of non-duality. Avoid the extremes. Two things. Avoid the extremes and find the middle way


between the extremes. So I was thinking that it probably has a lot to do with the way we're built, that we have this talent for creating pairs of opposites. You know, we're kind of mirror people. We have these two sides which look very much alike. And how are you going to tell them apart? Well, we'll call this the right and this the left. This is a good idea, but then we kind of got carried away. So then there's good and evil, right and wrong, light and dark. Everything's in pairs. Very interesting. And I thought, well, I wonder how it might have been if we were shaped like jellyfish, you know, or oysters or something. Maybe it would have been a different dharma for us. But here we have the two things.


So in understanding or looking for these colored eggs that I'm calling the teachings of non-duality, you'll see a lot of pairs being rectified by the teachers and in the sutras and so on. But the primal pair, the kind of prototypical pair of two things is is and isn't. Is and isn't. And for us it gets more personal if we say birth and death. Dead or alive. Is and isn't. And I think death is one of these sets of, you know, one half of a pair that gets a reaction from us pretty easily and pretty early. My daughter's not yet five years old and she's asked me many times what it is to die. What is going to happen?


Am I going to die? And where will I go when I die, you know? She even plays this game that I'm not real crazy about called pretend I'm dead. She lays down and doesn't move until I pretend I'm grieving and then she jumps up and gives me a hug. It's just not my favorite game. But I'm willing to admit that I'm not ready to die. And on my 50th birthday, which was last month in February, whenever that was, one of my friends, Mick Sopko, who's out at Green Gulch, said he came into my house and he whispered in one ear, even the wild pines on the hillside, and then he whispered in this ear, wish to live forever. And we both smiled.


So, ready or not, I am willing to study the matter of birth and death. And I am willing to try to understand this question or this matter of the two things. And so I was thinking about, an image came to mind for me of the two things. And I thought about a sailing ship, a big old kind of sailing ship with sails. And I was thinking that a sailing ship is actually built in a harbor and it's built straight up and down, vertical to the horizontal. But it can't sail that way. In order to sail, it has to move back and forth in response to the conditions,


to the storms and to the sailors and so on, the direction that it's trying to go. And I think of this process of understanding the Dharma in very much the same way, that there is no set position called the truth, but there's this effort to understand, to write our views. The first of the Eightfold Path is called Right View and I actually prefer to say, writing views, writing views. It's dynamic, you know. If you try to find a truth that holds for all time, you're probably leaning into one of these two things. And it makes it hard to move. So I found a very nice quote by Suzuki Roshi to back me up, I hope. It may be enlightenment, but it's not always so. An enlightened person does not ignore things


and does not stick to things. They don't stick to the truth either. There is no truth that is different from each being. Being itself is the truth. So I have come to appreciate this reconciliation of dichotomies as the primary art form of the great Buddhist teachers. They were very good at helping people to get unstuck from lopsided views. And I have a very favorite story between Shakyamuni Buddha, the first great master of the form, and a man called Dikkanaka, who was a very famous skeptic of his day. And Dikkanaka comes to the Buddha and he says, My theory and my view is this, Master Gautama, I have no liking for any theory or view.


Pretty good. Sounds like two things. Doesn't it sound like he's got it balanced there? A little bit. But then the Buddha says, This view of yours, I have no liking for views. Have you no liking for that too? Do you get it? A little bit? Yeah, good, good. I like it. The Buddha says, By insisting on views, either liking or disliking, you run into the risk of clashing with those who hold differing views. Where there is a clash, there are quarrels. Where there are quarrels, there is harm. When one sees that, they abandon views without clinging to some other. That is how views are abandoned and relinquished. So the main point here is not whether you're right or wrong, but are you harming people? It jumps over the right and wrong altogether.


Is this helping anybody? Is this good for anybody? Is this kind or generous or sweet? Or is it just right? Well, that's not so interesting in the Buddha Dharma. Being right is wrong. And righting views is also mirrored in our practice of zazen. You know, we rock back and forth looking for that balance point between the extremes. And then you find this place which is very dynamic, right in the center there. And what's interesting is that no matter how deeply you settle into that place, you know, in your sitting, that it's only temporary. I mean, there are times when it's just so sweet, you're very still, very quiet, you know, and then that dawn rings the bell. Boing. And you have to get up, walk around, talk to your friends.


So this righting views is something that we do over and over and over again. It's our practice to find a way to stay in relation to things in a balanced way. We don't want to freeze. We don't want to find some kind of stone person that doesn't know how to breathe. So among the other great teachers of the Dharma, the many, many great teachers, Nagarjuna, we chant his name in the morning, Nagarjuna stands out so far above the rest that he's called the second Buddha. That's pretty good. Second Buddha. And he arrived at the summit of his spiritual journey and was actually able to talk from there in these short icy breaths.


And I have recently fallen madly in love with Nagarjuna and I decided that it's the closest I can get to understanding him. And I just love him. I'm devoted to him. And I am endeavoring to grapple with his teaching. In his treatise on the Middle Way, he begins with, Obeisance to the Perfect Buddha, the best of proponents who teaches that what dependently arises has no cessation, no production, no annihilation, no permanence, no going, no coming, no difference, no sameness, pacified of elaborations, at peace. So the image I got in studying Nagarjuna recently was like, he uses this refutation, this process of refutation, of no, no, no, to drive you down deeper and deeper


into the depths of isn't, of death, of annihilation. No, no. Whatever you pull up, he said, no, no. And then when you get down there so far, it's like a great whale, you know. You just turn around and head for the air. The great whale of life, the great whale of is, breaks for the surface. So to me, this response to this teaching is affirmation of the living being. It's like the cry of the newborn, the little owlet breaking out of its shell. That's the answer to our friend Nagarjuna. No, no, no. But who's asking? Who's negating? Such a passionate teacher. Passionate teacher. The danger of this teaching, of course,


this negative teaching, is that maybe you won't come to life. Maybe you'll get stuck in emptiness and know you won't break for the surface. It's a real danger. It happens to people. Nagarjuna warns, emptiness is severance and freedom from all views, but it is very difficult to save those who engender views about emptiness. So this is a sword, a two-edged sword. It can cut the person who's wielding it. You have to be very careful. Dead man walking. So I've decided that at this point in my life I'm just as likely to die from heart failure or cancer or something, so I might as well get close to Nagarjuna.


I'm going to die from something, a Dharma death. And I would like to ask you all to please, if you notice me sailing off in some weird direction, please don't hesitate to correct my orientation and I certainly will try to do the same for you. Whoever knows that the mind is a fiction and devoid of anything real knows that her own mind neither exists nor doesn't exist. Mortals keep creating the mind, claiming it exists, and arhats keep negating the mind, claiming it doesn't exist. But bodhisattvas and buddhas neither create nor negate the mind. This is what is meant by the mind that neither exists nor doesn't exist. The mind that neither exists nor doesn't exist is called the middle way. So in ending, I would just like to encourage you


to take up the hunt for these little Easter eggs of non-duality and see if you can develop an ear for whether it's in a lecture or something you're reading, can you begin to spot this reconciliation of dichotomies? And can you begin to learn the pattern or the practice of finding the missing piece? What are you leaving out? Even more fruitful would be to find the ways that your own thinking gets stuck in some particular slant or bias. And what's really amazing about noticing that that's happening is that as soon as you find it, there's a way in which your stuck thinking starts to roll, gets some freedom. So I wanted to do a little nightcap,


which is a reading, a very short reading, from... I was warned that you all, this is getting late, so I don't want to keep you up, but I wanted to read you just a little bit from the Vimalakirti Sutra. Vimalakirti was a famous layperson. He dressed very nicely and had lots of beautiful things in his home, and a lovely wife and children and so on. And he is famous because he bested all of the great disciples, bodhisattvas and the monks at Dharma combat. So there is a sutra, the holy teaching of Vimalakirti, which is called The Jewel of the Mahayana Sutras. And it's really fun to read. I don't know if any of you have had a chance to pick this up. I particularly like Robert Thurman, Uma Thurman's father.


I particularly like his translation because it's very lively, just like Robert is, and his daughter as well. So I'm going to read just a little bit from Chapter 9, which is actually called The Dharma Door of Non-Duality. And the alternate name of this sutra, apparently, according to Robert Thurman, was The Reconciliation of Dichotomies. So this entire sutra is devoted to non-duality. So in this chapter, all of the disciples and the bodhisattvas are kind of smarting from their encounters with Vimalakirti, who always kind of leaves them tongue-tied. And they're very smart, devoted practitioners. They're all quite good at understanding the Dharma, but Vimalakirti is just a little better. So in this chapter, Vimalakirti has asked the bodhisattvas a question. He says, Good sirs, good sirs, it is sirs actually,


please explain how the bodhisattvas enter the Dharma Door of Non-Duality. So then each of them, there are 30 responses by the bodhisattvas. They're all fairly short. I'm not going to read them all, but I'll read one. And each of them expresses their understanding of how to reconcile the two things. Some of them are like, there's defilement and purification, there's I and mine, there's self and selfless, grasping and non-grasping. So all of these are taken up by one of the bodhisattvas. So I'll just read the one on defilement and purification. The bodhisattva Srikuta declared, Defilement and purification are two. When there is thorough knowledge of defilement, there will be no conceit about purification. The path leading to the complete conquest of all conceit is the entrance into non-duality. So after all of these bodhisattvas have expressed themselves,


then they turn to their crowned prince, who is Manjushri. Manjushri is the bodhisattva who sits on the altar in the zendo, the one with the sword, cutting things into one. So they say to Manjushri, Manjushri, what is the bodhisattva's entrance into non-duality? And Manjushri replies, Good sirs, you have all spoken well. Nevertheless, all your explanations are themselves dualistic. To know no one teaching, to express nothing, to say nothing, to explain nothing, to announce nothing, to indicate nothing, and to designate nothing, that is the entrance into non-duality. Then the crowned prince, Manjushri, said to the Licchavi Vimalakirti, We have all given our own teachings, noble sir. Now, may you elucidate the teaching of the entrance


into the principle of non-duality. Thereupon, the Licchavi Vimalakirti kept his silence, saying nothing at all. The crowned prince, Manjushri, applauded the Licchavi Vimalakirti, Excellent, excellent, noble sir. This is indeed the entrance into the non-duality of the bodhisattvas. Here there is no use for syllables, sounds, and ideas. When these teachings had been declared, 5,000 bodhisattvas entered the door of the dharma of non-duality and attained tolerance of the birthlessness of things. Well, I was going to end right there. I thought that would be nice, just to be quiet, and we'd chant and so on. But then I turned the page, and I read the first sentence. Here it is. Thereupon, this is the next chapter,


Thereupon, the venerable Sariputra thought to himself, If these great bodhisattvas do not adjourn before noontime, when are they going to eat? So, on that note, I'll let you go to sleep. Thank you very much.