2004.07.26-serial.00035

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EB-00035

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I guess I'm supposed to say something now, right? Sometimes I find it rather awesome to sit here in front of all of you. When I look at people here at Tassajara, I see so many, you know, blessed people. I think, you know, we've all been, you know, gifted in a way that we're here at this place with so many other people who in one way or another have opened their hearts and come to a place such as this, you know, with not much in the way of entertainment.

[01:02]

No movies and no slot machines. Casinos are a big thing these days, but here we are anyway with not much to do. And it's pretty awesome. It's also pretty sweet, you know. And when I look around, I see so many upright and sincere, good-hearted people. You know, people who have set out on a path of realizing and expressing their true heart's commitment, true heart's desire,

[02:15]

you know, to fulfill, you know, the life that we took birth for. That's pretty unusual, and it's pretty unusual to be in a place with so many people who have opened their hearts in this way. It's pretty unusual to be with so many people who have understand something about vow and commitment in this way, and the vow that runs through, you know, the depths of our life like a kind of oar. And we know something about that, and we want to, you know, bring forth that which is precious inside and offer it to others, so we understand that. And so, you know, given that, there's not a lot to tell you,

[03:20]

since you already, you know, understand, you know, that much. On one hand, there's not a lot to tell you. On the other hand, here we are in the midst of, you know, enlightenment unfolding, and so, and yet, there's some problem. It's not quite as good as it could be, is it? So, you know, people point to various things as what the problem is, but somehow some, you know, likes and dislikes creep in and some judgments of good and bad and right and wrong seem to beset us now and again, such that, you know, we argue about with the way things are,

[04:27]

and we're disappointed that reality is not quite the way we set out to make it according to the picture we had in mind. What's happening is not happening in accord with the picture we have. So, now what? So, this is a very basic problem, you know, because we set out to have things be the way we imagine they could, to be in the place we imagine we'd like to be, to be with the people we'd imagine we'd like to be with, to, you know, have happiness and joy and well-being, and not be overcome with painful feelings. How's it going?

[05:30]

So, you know, perpetually reality doesn't seem to be in accord with our picture, so now what? You know, basic choice here, you know, do you want to keep on struggling with reality and keep on trying to get it to measure up to your standards, or do you want to, you know, lower your standards, let go of your picture and see how things are? So, I want to talk about, a little bit about, how things are. And, of course, there's different ways of talking about this, so I have a poem for you. I've been enjoying this poem a lot lately. It's a poem by Antonio Machado, so I guess it's originally inspired by Spanish, or maybe Portuguese, I'm not sure.

[06:36]

Roger Housden, I think, has it in his book, Ten Poems to Change Your Life. And you can see in this poem, anyway, you know, I'll just tell you the poem, you can see. Last night, the poem is Last Night As I Was Sleeping. Last night, as I was sleeping, I dreamt, oh marvelous error, that a spring was breaking out in my heart. And I said, oh water, along which secret aqueduct are you coming to me? Water of a new life, which I have never drunk.

[07:40]

Last night, as I was sleeping, I dreamt, oh marvelous error, there was a beehive here in my heart, and the golden bees were making white comb and sweet honey from my old failures. Last night, as I was sleeping, I dreamt, oh marvelous error, that a fiery sun was shining in my heart. Fiery because it gave warmth as from a hearth, and sun because it brought light and tears to my eyes. Last night, as I was sleeping, I dreamt, there was a divine presence here inside my heart. So, when I was thinking about this poem this evening, I was thinking, you know,

[09:04]

does this sound like someone who's, you know, still trying to figure out how to get it right, how to make reality be the way it's supposed to be, the way you'd like it to be? It's not exactly like that, and you know, what's the strategy or the plan to do that? Because so often, you know, if reality is not the way we want it to be, you know, if we have difficulty with someone or if we're tired or stressed, we try to figure out what to do about it. And it's very tempting to, when your strategies aren't working, to do them harder and more devotedly. Because if you do them hard enough and thoroughly enough, it's going to work. Reality will come

[10:05]

around. And those other people will agree to behave in the way, finally, that you've always wanted them to. Because you're judging them so severely that they're going to want to, want you to stop judging them like that. And so they'll behave differently so that you stop. So, instead of this, you see, Antonio Machado had a dream. A spring is breaking out. There's some refreshment here inside our heart. Water of a new life, which I have never drunk. Or, you know, a beehive. Our heart is full of activity.

[11:10]

Turning, you know, pollen into honey. Out of, he says, my old failures. That's pretty sweet. So, you know, we're in this funny business called Zen because there's no way to, you know, get it right. And make things happen the way they're supposed to. And, you know, it's a kind of surprisingly, you know, faith or trust-based. Dogen, for instance, says, you should know, you should realize that the true Dharma emerges of itself, clearing away hindrances and distractions, hindrances and obstacles. You should know the true Dharma emerges of itself. And in this case, you know, we could say like a spring in your heart or a beehive

[12:20]

or a fiery sun that brings tears to your eyes. And Suzuki Roshi said, you want truth, you want beauty or righteousness or virtue. And you set out to attain it. But it isn't always so. There's nothing, I have nothing like that for you, he said. And when you realize that you can't attain that, you know, then your way of looking and seeking will be different. The way of life you choose will be different. You won't be setting out, you know, to manufacture reality according

[13:26]

to your picture of the way it should be. And you might, you know, play or live more creatively with the way things are. So I want to tell you another little story, which I, I read this fascinating book many years ago by Michael Crichton, who's, you know, best known for Andromeda's Drain and Jurassic Park and all those kind of things. But he also wrote a little book, an interesting book called Travels, which is about his explorations and interest in the, you know, the supernormal, and esoteric things like spoon bending and, you know, you know, people who can see into the past and the future. And he went to see psychics who told him about his relatives that he didn't, stuff that he didn't even know about that turned out to be

[14:28]

true, and this sort of thing. So I had no idea that he has this kind of interest. But at one point in this book, he's talking about he finally bought a house in Los Angeles in the hills, and he was ecstatically happy. He finally bought a house because I think the way it went was that he learned to become a channeler himself at one point. But if you're the channeler, you can't ask the channeler, you know, questions yourself. So he'd give other friends the questions to ask, why isn't Michael buying a house? And then he could channel the answer from some entity, you know. So finally he bought a house, and he was, he says, ecstatically happy for months. And then one day, I was reminded of this story because

[15:28]

today there's actually been several times cited a rattlesnake right out here, right by the pathway to this endo. So it's probably not safe to come to meditation anymore. We moved it? It went for a ride. It's been carted off already. So I was reminded of this story. So one day a friend said to him, I guess you don't worry about rattlesnakes, do you? And Michael said, what do you mean? And the friend said, well, you live up in the hills, don't you? And Michael said, yes, I do. And so how much land do you have? And he says, well, I have about an acre. And he says, well, there's bound to be rattlesnakes there. And Michael's thinking, oh, there are? I didn't know that. And the friend says, well, especially in September and October, you're bound to see them. And so he started getting worried. In fact, he got quite worried. There's going to be,

[16:34]

you know, there's rattlesnakes in my yard. And then, so then he got worried and he began closing all of his doors and windows at night so they wouldn't get into the house. And he stopped going to the pool because he thought they may want to be coming to the pool to drink. And he didn't feel safe anymore out on his lawn chair. And he began to just stay indoors and just do a little path between his car and the house. And he was completely paranoid and scared. Nothing had changed. He hadn't seen a rattlesnake. There was no actual experience that he'd had. But now, you know, he was worried. Because of something somebody said. So then, one day, he saw the gardener. And the gardener had been working for the previous owner as well. And he said to the gardener, how long have you been working here? And he said, five years. And he said, so have you ever seen a rattlesnake? And he said, well, I saw one.

[17:38]

And he said, well, what did you do? And he said, well, I went and got a shovel and I came back and killed it. This was, you know, we cart them off, take them for a ride. So then he started thinking, one snake in five years, six years, what's the worry? Oh, and he felt very relieved. And he started sitting by his pool again. And a while later, the gardener came to him and said, you know, you can't have very many snakes around here. I would doubt you have any because your front lawn is full of gophers. And it wouldn't be full of gophers if there were snakes here. And he'd been trying poison and, you know, all kinds of things to get traps and everything. And he could not get rid of these gophers. And he said, his front lawn was completely potholes from all the gopher holes. And if you walked across it, it would cave in. So now he started wishing for more snakes.

[18:43]

What can I do to get snakes to come here? Why don't they like me? Why are they staying away? So he went from being happy to being scared to being relieved to wishing for more snakes without any experience of a snake, without any sighting, without any direct experience of anything. So, you know, what world are we living in? You know, who are those other people out there? Do we invite them in? Are we scared of them? Are we relieved that the other people are there? And, you know, the things we do, the things we see. What is the nature of reality? And we tell ourself a story. We hear something, we believe something about reality.

[19:49]

And then we start behaving that way, being afraid because something happened to us. Sometimes years ago, we were betrayed. Or, you know, hurt in some way. Or, you know, we're relieved now. Or we're wishing for something. And we're longing. And we're waiting. And what should we do in the meantime? How do we act? And the nature of mind seems to be that, you know, there's no way to actually to figure this out,

[20:56]

to get it right. You know, there's more to be said for, you know, the fact that we have a kind of vision. We've had various experiences in our lives that are like a vision or a flash or an insight. And then we work on how to realize that. How to, in an everyday way, how to live out our heart's desire and the truth of our vows. You know, the bonds and marrow of our life. How do we do that? How do we bring forth what's precious from inside? Where is the place to do that? And who do we do that with? And when we meet people, how do we do that? And this is, you know, not something that... This is different than studying, you know, skills and developing techniques and strategies and plans.

[22:04]

But it comes from, you know, out of our being. It's a kind of act of creation. We create our life. We create our reality. We could create it slightly different and with more the sense that... You know, there's this kind of openness about reality. It's not one way or another. There's not necessarily any snakes out there. Or maybe there are. Or maybe there aren't. And maybe we could wish for more. So, anyway, I brought in one other poem which I neglected to memorize, and so I'm going to read it to you. Perhaps you know this poem. It's called Bugs in a Bowl. It's by David Budbill.

[23:14]

David Budbill lives... I forget if it's Vermont or New Hampshire, the Great Smokies. He lives somewhere up in the mountains and way out there and writes poems. Doesn't have much in the way of commercial entertainment. And he says, Hanshan, that great and crazy, wonder-filled poet of a thousand years ago said, we're just like bugs in a bowl. All day going around, never leaving their bowl. I say, that's right. Every day climbing up the steep sides, sliding back. Over and over again, around and around, up and back down. Well, sit in the bottom of the bowl then. Head in your hands, cry, moan, feel sorry for yourself.

[24:20]

Or look around, see your fellow bugs. Walk around, say, how you doing? Say, nice bowl, huh? Sometimes it seems like kind of a no-brainer, doesn't it? To let go of your picture of reality and the way reality could be and go ahead and interact, play, meet, engage, endeavor, work.

[25:29]

Oh, you know, maybe even do a little Zen and yoga. So once again, thank you for being here. Thank you for your good-heartedness. I wish you well. Many blessings.

[25:52]