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Sunday dharma talk.

AI Summary: 



I vow to taste the truth of the Tathagata's words. This morning is a morning where the children come to the talk. So there's some children up in front in case you can't see. And so the first part of the talk is especially for the younger people. And yesterday someone called to remind me about that the children would be coming.


She said, the children will be coming to you. And she said, and they do know the story about the elephant and the butterfly. I told that story a couple of times before and they wanted me to know that they do know that story now. So she said, whatever you want to do. So I guess I could tell that story again. No? Okay. But maybe not. I actually brought another story. This is a story which, you know, I really liked when I was younger. And it's a story that's kind of about my life when I was a little kid. It's called the Ferdinand the Bull.


So once upon a time in Spain there was a little bull and his name was Ferdinand. All the other little bulls he lived with would run and jump and butt their heads together. You know, they'd run into each other and hit each other's heads before they had horns. But not Ferdinand. He just liked to sit quietly under a... No, he liked to sit quietly and smell flowers. There's a picture of him here. Just sitting, I see he's smelling the flowers. He had a favorite spot in the pasture under a cork tree. It was his favorite tree and he would sit in the shade all day long and smell flowers.


Sometimes his mother, who was a cow, would worry about him. She was afraid he'd be lonesome all by himself sitting under the tree. She went up to him and said, Why don't you go and run and play and butt heads like the other little bulls? And Ferdinand would shake his head and say, I like it better here where I can just sit quietly and smell the flowers. His mother saw that he was not lonesome and because she was an understanding mother, even though she was a cow, she let him sit there under the tree and be happy. As the years went by,


Ferdinand's genetic, his genetic endowment manifested and he grew and grew until he was very big and very strong. Very big. Ever seen a bull, a grown bull? They're very big. So he got his, you know, really to be a big bull. The other bulls who had grown up with him at the same pasture would fight each other all day long, always fighting and butting heads. They would butt each other and stick each other with their horns. What they wanted most of all was to be picked to fight in the bullfights in Madrid. Madrid is a big city in Spain.


But Ferdinand wasn't like this. He still liked just to sit quietly under the cork tree and smell flowers. One day five men in very funny hats came to pick the biggest, the fastest, the strongest bull to fight in the bullfights in Madrid. All the other bulls ran around snorting and digging their hooves in the ground and kicking up dirt and running into each other and jumping so the men would think they were very, very strong and fierce and pick them to go to the bullfights. Ferdinand knew he wouldn't be picked and he didn't care. So he just went to his favorite cork tree and sat down. He didn't look where he was sitting. And instead of sitting on a nice cool grass in the shade of the tree,


he sat on a bumblebee. Here's a picture of theā€¦ This is the bumblebee. This is an enlarged picture. Can you see the bee? This is the bee over here. And this is Ferdinand's butt. So Ferdinand is going to sit his booty down on this bumblebee. And the bumblebee, it's hard to see, but you can see the bumblebee is kind of looking up like this. Is this bull going to sit on me? Well, if you're a bumblebee and a bull sat on you, what would you do? What? You'd sting him. Well, you would sting him. And that's just what the bee did to Ferdinand. Wow, did it hurt. Ferdinand jumped up with a snort and ran around puffing and snorting and buffing and pawing the ground


as if he were crazy. The five men saw him and they all shot it with joy. Here was the largest, fiercest bull of all. Just the one they needed for the fights in Madrid. So they took him away to the bullfight that day. And what a day it was. Flags were flying and bands were playing and all the lovely ladies of Madrid had flowers in their hair and they paraded into the bullring. And first came the bandoleros with their long, sharp pins with ribbons on them to stick the bull, to make him mad. Then came the picadores who rode skinny horses and they had long spears to stick the bull and make him madder. Do you understand? They stick the bull to make the bull even get really mad for the fight. Then came the matador. And matador is the one who kills the bull in the bullfight, if he can.


And the matador was the proudest of all. He thought he was very handsome and bowed to the ladies. He had a red cape. He had a red cape and a red flag and a sword and he was supposed to stick the bull last of all. Then came the bull. Who's the bull? Ferdinand. And you know who that was, don't you? Ferdinand. They called him Ferdinand the Fierce and all the bandoleros were afraid of him and the picadores were afraid of him and the matador was scared stiff. Ferdinand ran into the middle of the ring and everybody shouted and clapped because they thought he was going to be the fiercest bull of all time. But not Ferdinand.


When he got to the middle of the ring he saw the flowers that the ladies had thrown and he just sat down quietly and smelled them. He wouldn't fight and wouldn't be fierce no matter what they did. They stuck him with pins and needles and swords and he wouldn't move. He just sat and smelled the flowers. They couldn't make him mad. The matador was so mad he cried because he couldn't show off his cape and his sword. So they had to take Ferdinand home. And for all I know he is sitting there still under his favorite cork tree smelling the flowers just quietly and he is very happy. That's the story of Ferdinand


and it's the story of me too. Yes? When I was a little boy I liked to sit quietly and not sniff the flowers so much but just look out the window in my room all day long. And my mother was worried about me. She thought I was lonely in my room. So then when I grew up to be a full-sized young man I got stuck with a... I got bit by a bee and became a football player and a boxer and all those things. But then they let me go and now I'm back sitting... And now the difference between me now and when I was young is now I smell the flowers besides looking at them out the window.


And I listen to the frogs and I'm very happy and my mother is not worried. So there are some other stories of some other bulls that like to fight but that's not what this story is about. Nothing against those bulls but this is just a Ferdinand story. So thanks for coming to me. Young people. Did you like that story? Is it OK? OK.


Thank you. Tonight we start a period of seven days where about 70 or 80 people will sit under this roof and and smell and listen and think and feel and look and taste and feel their body in all those ways. And maybe be happy and maybe have some hard times. But this is the way we celebrate the end of a


six or seven week training period here at Green Gulch. We call it seshin which means to care for and unify to collect and use the mind to receive and express compassion. At the beginning of the practice period I I quoted an old Zen teacher who said that touching Zen or practicing Zen is dropping off body and mind. Letting go of body and mind.


And Zen is a is a a shortcut or a nickname for for for the peace and harmony in the world. It's a it's a short expression for the dynamic interplay of the entire universe manifesting everywhere without hindrance. Realizing the full potential of life. Practicing Zen touching this place of vital


peace and ease is the dropping off of body and mind. Now implied by this to some extent or intended to be implied is that there is another another truth of the world and that is holding on to body and mind grasping and being attached to body and mind. That's another possibility. And that's the world of of of pain of fear of war of disharmony. So as I spoke at the beginning of the practice period


there is a in a sense there is a wounded aspect of the world and there is a healed aspect of the world. There is a way the world is wounded and there is a way the world is healed. The world is wounded in the sense that there is a in the sense that we we grasp onto our psychophysical experiences we hold them, we're attached to them or we try to get we try to, you know, get rid of them and get some other kind of psychophysical experience. In this way living in this way we wound the world. Our experience arises out of the world out of a world


that goes beyond it. And our experience as living beings is completely enfolded into the world and the world is enfolded into our experience. When we let go of our experience we realize this harmony between our self and our environment. When we attach to our experience it's as though we're cut off from our environment cut off from the world. So Zen practice is is not holding on to our experience it's letting the experience drop off. And


the realization in Zen is the actual world the actual healed world the world the world of our mental experience our mental and physical experience arising out of the world and the world arising out of our mental and physical experience. We have the capacity to develop a sense of self which most of us have developed and interject this sense of self


into this smooth process of interdependence. So as as our mental and physical as our mental experience arises out of our body we part of our mental experience is to have a self a sense of self which we inter interject into this experience that we're having moment by moment. And interjecting the self in there we think we do our experience we think the self does the thinking does the feeling does the acting which which there's an experience of the feeling the thinking and the acting. And one of the things we


experience one of the things that can be experienced is a self and we make the self do all this stuff. We interpose it there and this causes this wound in an otherwise freely flowing relationship between world and experience that can never be separated except by this imposition. So if we study our experience if we study experience mental, physical experience we never do find a subject who's having the experience. A self who's having the experience.


We just find experience. And we find that there is an experience of self but not a self that has the experience. There is an experience which you could call self but that self is not having the experience. It's just one of our it's just one of our experiences one of life's experiences. And therefore it's not really the subject. If we look out to try to find out what the objective world is we never find a ground there either. Because the world we find is a world born of our mental projections and histories. So we never really can find the subject of our experience


or the object of our experience or I should say the subject of experience or the object of experience. But we find that experience is this interplay between mind what we call mind and environment. And environment is born of mind and mind is born of environment. And they're working always without a hitch in perfect harmony. Never does anything happen without these two working together perfectly. If they don't work together perfectly then that's what's happening and that's perfect working. So the practice is to I don't know what the practice is.


It's something about what we call the middle way. The practice is called the middle way which means basically to relinquish to relinquish all of our views. To relinquish body and mind. In the wounded world in the wounded world the Buddha said generally speaking in the wounded world there is an inclination towards views of existence and non-existence. And


existence means you know self-existence means that the self exists the other exists that things actually are existing out there on their own or in here on its own. There's that view of self-existence and in the world generally speaking there's an inclination towards this exists or this doesn't exist. Or another way to put it generally in the wounded world there is a lack of being upright with the view that something exists or doesn't exist. So the practice of Zen is partly being upright with these views of existence and non-existence with these flowers. The views of existence and non-existence


arise from the world through bodies. The world has allowed the arising of bodies and bodies allow the arising of minds and minds create views and they create views of existence and non-existence and they can create attachment to views of existence and non-existence. So generally in the world there is a situation like this of having living beings wherein views of existence and non-existence arise and where attachment to those views arises too. And this is called ignorance. Ignorance is grasping these views as real. Ignoring, in other words,


not looking at what's happening but grasping what seems to happen and grasping without looking carefully while grasping. Grasping the views that somebody or something exists. Seeing the view and then grasping it but not watching carefully when the grasping occurs and the grasping works better works best when not observed and therefore the suffering can reach its full potential. Leaning towards our views that something exists or something doesn't exist, that something exists all by itself or doesn't exist all by itself, all by itself doesn't exist,


we suffer and we feel we have joined the world of alienation from health and harmony and peace. The practice of the Middle Way is to not incline towards these views which are flying up out of the world through this body-mind all day long. To sit in the middle of this fountain of views without leaning towards them or away from them. To sit in the onslaught of a cornucopia of views of attitudes about what's happening and not attach to them. This being upright with it


one will see that there's no object to grasp no subject to grasp and grasping is really not possible. Even if grasping if you watch the grasping you'll see the grasping is an illusion. It's not possible really to grasp. It's only possible to grasp when not looking in an upright way. But the world has given rise to bodies like ours and these bodies have become such that they find it very not very just they find it relatively more or less


frightening to look at the grasping. And perhaps even more frightening to not grasp. And frightening means thinking about grasping thinking about grasping and then imagining not grasping or even just grasping without thinking about that you're grasping because you can grasp without even noticing it because it's mostly unconscious and imagining what it would be like not to grasp your experience and the kind of beings we are if we think about that we become often frightened. We think we wouldn't be able to function without grasping our views that we would we would become non-functional. And if we even if we think about


looking at how we're grasping things that might either seem to be obnoxious before you start and or once you start you find it obnoxious. And the body and mind that we have it normally finds this kind of work obnoxious. The generally in the world we are inclined towards grasping these views so generally we are disinclined to watch our inclinations. We are generally inclined


towards grasping and we are generally inclined away from letting go of this grasping. The middle way that the Buddha taught is uncomfortable if you think about practicing it as you it is uncomfortable to think about practicing it but actually when practicing it it is comfortable. When not practicing the middle way it seems comfortable to not practice it but when you don't practice it you're uncomfortable. When you don't practice the middle way you're perplexed and anxious. When you're perplexed and anxious and you hear about the middle way and then you think about practicing it


from an inclined position it sounds like it would be even worse than your usual situation because you're uncomfortable and then you imagine having everything taken away or given up. So although you're uncomfortable at least you have a mode of operation. To give up your mode of operation in the middle of being uncomfortable seems even worse. At least you can carry on with things being like they are if you hold on and it's true you can carry on with this way by holding on. But when you don't attach to what's going on you don't have perplexity and you're not anxious and you join the harmonious working of mind and environment. Okay.


So in the place that I tentatively call here there seems to be the arising of thoughts in what I tentatively call now. Thoughts are arising left, right, forward and backwards up and down thoughts are arising feelings are arising and maybe somebody should get control of these. And there's another one. There's another thought that somebody should get control of all these thoughts and get them coordinated into a nice package for the welfare


of all beings so that everybody will understand how to practice Zen. How to practice not holding on to all these thoughts and feelings that are arising. But then there also arises the thought that that wouldn't be appropriate to practicing Zen because it wouldn't be appropriate to find a way for people to get a hold of how to practice the middle way in the middle of all this experience. What would be appropriate would be to encourage the non-grasping of what's happening. But once again encouraging the non-grasping includes encouraging


honesty. And honesty would involve admitting if there's any grasping or any seeking to get a hold of what's going on. Seeking for example the meaning of what's going on. So you could get a hold of it and take it to Sausalito or keep it here in this valley for future reference. Can you feel this tendency to try to get a hold of what's going on now so that you could practice Zen if you wanted to


or take a break if you wanted to. Rather than be live be, have, live life in an upright way without inclining towards any views of existence or non-existence while these views are arising all around you. The equipment is here. It's called a body-mind. It's generating views all the time. It's generating even habits which has been programmed


to maintain habits to grasp what it's generating. It's been developed to imagine that somebody's in charge and somehow it also can feel pain that arises with imagining somebody's in charge. And here comes a dangerous aspect which it's also built to notice as dangerous and that is it's able to imagine that somebody's responsible for the thinking that's going on here. And if that somebody who's responsible cares about that somebody who's responsible then that somebody who's responsible better control what that somebody


who's responsible is responsible for doing. So then that makes that somebody who's responsible imagine that that somebody who's responsible is pretty uncomfortable with this responsibility. So this is called, whatever you want to call it, rat race, hell, imagining you're in heaven and you have no problem with being such a responsible independent operator. This sounds like a dangerous situation. How would you dare let go of body and mind now, when the body and mind tells you, if you let go, you might get in big trouble. Now, you may not think you're in control, but if you let go of it, the idea of control, you might get in more trouble. They might get you. They, the world, the environment, might punish you


for practicing dropping off body and mind. So, one of the famous stories in the Zen tradition is about a monk who was saying goodbye


to his teacher and he said, goodbye teacher, and the teacher said, where are you going? And the monk said, I'm going on pilgrimage. And the teacher said, what's the point of going on pilgrimage? And the monk said, something like, I don't know. And the teacher said, not knowing is most intimate or nearest. But I would like today to suggest that not knowing is nearer than knowing, but it's just near. It's not really the middle way. It's just that not knowing is nearer than knowing. The middle way is not knowing and it's not not knowing, but not knowing is


closer than knowing. Knowing is really quite far away. Knowing like I know what the middle way is. I went to Green Gulch and finally now I got what the middle way is and now I'm going to practice it. That's still holding on, that's still inclining towards the view of existence, that there's the middle way. The middle way is not grasping views of existence and non-existence and finally I see what the middle way is. In other words, you have a view of the existence of the middle way and you grasp the middle way, which is not to grasp the view of the existence of the middle way. And then you grasp that, because this middle way is super great. It's like the best way. It's like freedom from perplexity, doubt and


anxiety. It's like peace. It's like it's nirvana. It is. And there it is and now you got it. That's called knowing the middle way. Well, that's pretty far. That's pretty far. How about like, okay, I don't know what the middle way is. That's quite a bit closer. And not only do I not know it, not only do I not know what the middle way is, but I'm gonna go now walk the middle way. Bye teacher. Bye mom. Bye friends. Where you going? I'm gonna walk the middle way. What's that? I don't know. I'm gonna walk a way I don't know. That's nearest, but it's not the middle way, because the middle way isn't not knowing, because you can't make it into that. Okay, I don't know. I got it.


I'm completely like, I don't know anything anymore. That's the nearest, but that's not it. So I'm gonna say, well, okay, well, if knowing the middle way isn't it, and not knowing, even though it's closer, isn't it? Well, I'm just gonna go back to knowing, because not knowing is really uncomfortable. And knowing is uncomfortable too, but it's knowing in a familiar way. So I'd rather have familiar discomfort than unfamiliar discomfort. So I guess, although I'm not in control of what's being said here, you're not in control of what's being said here, you're not in control of what's heard here, I'm not in control of what's heard here, still, for some reason, this talk is happening, to encourage people, humans, to practice a way of not grasping extremes of existence and non-existence, in


order to be an advocate and protector of all life, and even of inanimate worlds. So, I ask myself, are you willing to walk this path, which is beyond knowing, and not knowing, which is free of knowing and not knowing, the middle way, are you willing to? Are you willing to walk a way which is peace and harmony among all beings, freedom from anxiety? I ask myself that, and I say, yes, I am willing to walk a path that I can't do,


and that nobody else can do, for me, to me, on me, in me, at me. But, is the way that we're already walking together, it's the way we're already in peace and harmony, and to realize the way we're already in peace and harmony, we simply need to realize the letting go of attachment to all views. Looking at your faces, I feel you look like you've just about let go of all views, and you're contemplating going back to them, but


haven't yet quite gone back. So, I feel like we're all kind of in the right place right now, like everybody's upright now, that nobody's inclined towards views of existence and non-existence. The Buddha said, generally, in the world, there is inclination towards views of existence and non-existence, but it's not always the case. In other words, sometimes people can be in the world, where there's views of existence and non-existence, and be upright, not lean towards them, not be inclined towards them, not grasp them. It can sometimes happen, and maybe that's happening right now, here in this room. This is called the middle way.


This is called healing the world. This is called being a person who's let go of the idea of a person, and let go of the idea of not a person, who's let go of all views. Somehow, I see that person in each of you now. I hope you can accept being such a person, who is healing the world, and who is the healed world. And if you should happen to slip and fall back into being a person, who wants to hold on to being a person, and go back to grasping views of existence


and non-existence, and fall off the middle way, and be a scared little person again, just admit that you did it. Say, I did it. I think I did it. I think I'm back, trying to get in control again. I admit it. And then, just get back on the middle way again. Start over, another step down the path, which is free of knowing, closer to not knowing, and beyond not knowing. Beyond knowing, beyond not knowing, beyond perplexity. Beyond existence, beyond non-existence, without leaning away from either one of them, or towards either one of them, is peace, is freedom from what enchains us. And what enchains us is not the


views of existence and non-existence, but leaning towards or away from them. It's our imbalance in the world of experience that enchains us, not the world of experience. The world of experience is the opportunity to realize the middle way. You know, you may notice a smile coming and going across this face at this tentative location


called here, by me, tentatively spoken of such. And the reason why I'm smiling is because, you know, it just seems so kind of like wonderful that, you know, Sunday morning here in America, these words about the middle way are happening in the world, that the discussion of the middle way, however it's happening, on the mark, off the mark, totally upside down, twisted, confused, misrepresented, but still the message of the middle way is appearing and disappearing in this wonderful world. I just think it's really amazing. This middle way thing is still being discussed after 2,500 years. Middle way, middle way, middle way.