2005.08.18-serial.00042

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There's some front row seats. I'm a scary person, so, you know, you sit there at your own risk, but you're welcome to sit there. Yeah, I know, you're sitting, and you're sitting right in front of me too. Have a seat. So Monday night I gave a talk in the Zendo, and I don't know, I heard various things about it, you know, like, that was pretty serious. And I didn't understand much of what you talked about. And are you feeling restricted by the rules? Couldn't you be a little more dynamic or friendly or something? I don't know.

[01:07]

And so I heard various things about that talk. So this is another night, another talk. Change your actor, change your audience, you know. So we've got a little different act, a little different audience, a little different location. And we'll see what happens. So Monday I started talking about the perfection of wisdom, what's called the perfection of wisdom. And wisdom in Buddhism is to see things clearly. It's not real obvious what this is good for, which is kind of what we're talking about tonight. But to see things clearly. And the perfection of wisdom is to not keep track of whether you see things clearly or not, of just how wise you are. It's to not keep track of how you're doing and whether, you know, and what everything that happens is a sign of.

[02:12]

Oh, that person frowned. Oh, they must not like me. I must have said the wrong thing. And to go, you know, to have all these thoughts and ideas about why people are behaving the way they are, usually based on what I did or didn't do and so forth. So the perfection of wisdom is not keeping track. This is what I was talking about on Monday. So tonight I wanted to change this a little bit and just, you know, a little shift of the frame. And I wanted to check in with you and see how many of you are getting all the love that you have been wanting. And why not? You know, what went wrong? I mean, we're good people. You know, we pay our taxes. You know, we work hard, especially people here at Tassajara. You know, we're meditating too. And we're doing all the right things, eating the right food. And, you know, is it paying off?

[03:24]

Are you finally getting all the love that you've wanted? And, you know, we've been responsible parents, responsible children. We're following the schedule. We're getting the kids to soccer, you know, the dentist. We're taking care of one another. We're being friendly and kind and we're endeavoring not to get angry at others and not to have temper tantrums. I'm working on this myself. I think I missed some parenting somewhere along the way. So has it worked? You know, why not? And then how much longer are you going to keep doing all this and checking to see if it's paying off yet? This is keeping track. You know, I do all these things. Why doesn't it pay off? Why aren't I getting the love I've been wanting? Why, you know, what's, what happened?

[04:35]

This is, so this is what I want to talk about tonight. And, you know, some of us have gotten a little discouraged too. You know, I do so much. I've worked so hard and I haven't gotten the love I wanted and people don't seem to appreciate all the effort I've made. And, you know, the, the extent to, you know, the effort and, and work and time and energy that I've put into taking care of things and cooking and cleaning and washing and scrubbing and, you know, paying the bills. And I've put so much into it and I'm still not getting, these, these people still aren't appreciating, you know, everything I've done. So why bother? I mean, this is stupid. You know, it's about, so some of us are getting sort of discouraged from time to time that this isn't a good plan that we've had. Those other people don't seem to get it, how, how hard we've been working on their behalf and they're not appreciating it and they're not somehow coming across with the love that they ought to be.

[05:45]

And then, you know, some of us are doing spiritual practice. So Suzuki Rishi said, a lot of you, you're working on your evil desires and you, you'd like to, your evil desires or your, your difficult behaviors, you'd like to clean them up, you know, get rid of them so that you could realize your pure Buddha nature. This is another one that doesn't work so well, as he points out. Buddha nature is another word for the one reality. Evil desires is another word for the one reality. So if these desires are part of the one reality, where are you going to put them? And how are you going to separate them from everything else so that you can throw them away? And then, you know, where will you throw them to? This is very challenging, you know, how are you going to clean up your act? How can you separate out the problematic things from everything else in your life? Well, I've tried, you know, you get kind of depressed and you're kind of careful and overly careful to be just the right kind of person and then anything that goes wrong, I mean, it's a disaster, you know.

[07:08]

So, so this is pretty challenging, you know. How do you get, how do we get the love we've wanted? And especially, you know, how do we get it from those other people? So, you know, the question, you know, when it comes to wisdom here is, of course, you know, is this a wise thing that we've set out to do? Right? Is this very wise that we've kind of set up this kind of plan and program in our mind that, you know, if I do this and this and this behaviors, I will get love? And then, you know, it doesn't work and maybe I'm just not doing that hard enough. Maybe I need to do that more thoroughly and then finally I'll get the love. Well, you know, one of the things, of course, turns out that love is not something that we get in exchange, you know.

[08:18]

You can, in other words, you know, you can gain approval. You can gain, you know, some respect. You can gain perhaps some appreciation, but you can't gain or earn love. It just doesn't work like that. So, would it be very wise to pursue it like we do? This is the question, you know, that we're looking into tonight. And, of course, we also have the basic kind of sensibility in Buddhism and Zen where it's said from time to time, this is not something that's going to come from outside. It's not gotten from outside. It's not going to come from anybody else.

[09:20]

Nobody else is going to be able to behave in some way with enough grace, approval, whatever it is, that you could finally love yourself. You know, if that's what's lacking. So, we're getting, we get caught up in, you know, this kind of endeavor which is fruitless. And then we get upset when it doesn't work. We wonder how to, maybe there's some better way to gain love. And all the time, you know, it's not something that comes from outside. This is something that wisdom sees. Maybe I'll just have to love myself, accept myself, appreciate myself. So, I was appreciating this week a couple lines in a verse in the Book of Serenity.

[10:32]

Everywhere life is sufficient in its way, even if you're not as clever as all the others. And recently I came across a David White poem which I wanted to share with you tonight, or, you know, part of it. I'm going to read you the beginning and end of this David White poem, which for me relates to this business. The poem is called Waking. It's from his book, Where Many Rivers Meet. Get up from your bed. Go out from your house. Follow the path you know so well. So well that you now see nothing, and you hear nothing, unless something can cry louder to you.

[11:40]

And for you it seems even then no cry is louder than yours. And in your own darkness cries have gone unheard as long as you can remember. And you will not move while the voice all around tears the air and fills the sky with jagged light. But sometimes, unawares, these sounds seem to descend, as if kneeling down into you, and you listen, strangely caught. As the terrible voice moving closer halts, and in the silence now arriving, whispers, Get up. I depend on you utterly. Everything you need, you had the moment before you were born.

[12:55]

Get up. I depend on you utterly. Everything you need, you had the moment before you were born. [...] There's something that sustains you and nourishes you when you sit in that great space, big mind. So what would this be like, you know, to stop looking outside for the love you always wanted?

[14:10]

You know, to stop looking to others for them to do that, some kind of love thing that's supposed to make all the difference in your life. To see other people, to let people be who they are, and have the problems they have, and the difficulties. And not be making, you know, demands of them to come through for you in some way you imagined they should. A friend of mine said that, you know, she had various difficulties. She had six children. Her son, when he was a teenager, was killed in an automobile accident, one of the sons. It was devastating for her.

[15:17]

She went through a lot of grief. And a year or a year and a half later, the daughter who had been closest to that son, who died in the automobile accident, committed suicide. You know, life is not straightforward or simple. Things happen. And finally, you know, after a couple of years, the grief shifted. And, you know, rather than, you know, looking to others for love, or an expression of love, she said she began to treat others as though they loved her.

[16:21]

To treat everyone as though they loved her. No questions asked, no matter how they were behaving. So she says another one of her sons, another one of her sons, and this was someone who, you know, lived at Ananda Ashram for a while, and for many years, and is vegetarian. And she has one son who has become a Republican, conservative, rifle-carrying deer hunter. So she says she knows that he loves her, no matter how he behaves. And she doesn't, you know, get involved in, you know, how he might criticize her, or complain, or challenge her.

[17:30]

She doesn't get involved, doesn't worry about it. He can be who he is. And she knows that he loves her. There's some kind of, you know, as we start to realize and see clearly, you know, we start to have some wisdom about the fact that we may not, through our behavior, earn love. It's probably not going to happen like that. You know, it allows for a kind of shift in our basic kind of focus or intention in life. We can, we're not quite so concerned about, you know, maybe getting everything right. Doing everything perfectly in Zen, there's the expression, no more worry about not being perfect.

[18:36]

Because the love doesn't depend on your perfection. So, for instance, you know, Kadagiri Roshi from time to time would say, Zen is not like training your dog. Sit. Heel. Bow. Bow wow. You know, you think like, if I behave well enough, if I get trained well enough, then, you know, you can, maybe people will say, good dog. Of course, my friend Anne here has a cartoon up in her house that says, the dog is there. I forget, you know, the dog is just standing there and the caption is, always good dog, never great dog.

[19:44]

So, somehow we'd sort of tend to think, you know, like, we could get trained well enough, we could behave well enough, we could finally. So, this is not, you know, the way that life works or that Zen works. So, I brought you in a little passage I like from dog training number four. It's Conversations with the Inner Dog. It's written by a woman named Linda Dannen. She lives up in Washington State. She was having trouble with her dog who was, I forget, an Eskimo or something. Is there an Eskimo dog? I don't know. It's a little dog. It's a little dog that was barking fiercely at bigger dogs and, you know, trying to show how fierce it was. And she tried a lot of training techniques, how to train the dog to behave properly and none of them were working.

[20:58]

So, she finally decided to just start talking with her dog and not telling him what to do, but kind of letting him know how to think about things. And that his act, like his act to be fierce, wasn't fooling anybody, that he was just a little dog on the end of a leash and that he didn't, you know, need to put up this, put on this act as though, you know, that was going to gain something, you know, for him or prove anything, you know. So, I have here dog training number four. This is called heal, but don't follow. Do you think I'm crazy trying to teach you? Well, I'm not, but it is a bit tricky trying to teach a dog.

[21:59]

I don't want you to follow me. Do you understand? It's a paradox. She said, by the way, that after, you know, she was having this conversation with the dog, his behavior improved remarkably. I want you to heal, but not follow. I mean, I don't want a brainwashed dog. I want you to heal because you will be safe and we'll be together. We'll be on the path together. Won't that be nice? But it isn't important. You may have to go into the woods for a while. You may need to encounter bears and deer and rabbits. They may be your teachers, so I don't want you to do what I say just because you believe I know better.

[23:06]

I don't want you to do what I say just because you believe you will be punished if you don't. I don't want you to do what I say just because you believe that I'll love you if you do what I tell you to do. I want you to wake up and stop being mechanical. I want you to wake up and stop being mechanical. I want you to see what all this teaching points to and not simply master every little trick to satisfy me. Otherwise, oh, of course you can learn to chase a ball and fetch a stick, but so what? This is like us, you know, of course you can learn to sit-saws and bow and so what?

[24:08]

What does any of that matter? And there's a little mouse. Come to hear the Dharma talk. Does any of this, does any of that matter? You will be like the pious man who knows how to kneel and pray, sip the wine and munch the bread but hasn't a clue about God. Or as we're talking tonight, you know, you can learn a lot of little tricks and proper behaviors and still not, you know, have a clue about love. Of course, none of us do have a clue. But some of us know that we don't know. Remember the person who holds the other end of the leash is a fool as well. Anyway, a little conversations with the inner dog.

[25:16]

So again, this is the perfection of wisdom does not endeavor to produce or stop any particular, you know, behavior, speech. Sound, color, taste. So, you know, we're working this week in our cooking workshop to taste what you put in your mouth. Not that it should taste a particular way. And how do you make something taste the way it's supposed to taste? Or are you tasting it correctly? Is your taste the right taste? Or an acceptable taste to have? I told this story in the workshop about when Deborah and I did the Greens Cookbook and it was a really well edited book. You know, I did the Tussar Breadbook and I left out most of the articles and pronouns and nobody said a thing.

[26:27]

You know, the book said, put bread on board and knead with hands. I realized that it took me 15 years to realize that in 1985 when Shambhala asked me to revise it. And I had never realized that and nobody ever said anything to me about that. It was just the way that we all talked to each other after being around Suzuki Roshi for a number of years. And then some people said later when I mentioned it, they said, oh, we thought that was your special language to speak directly to us. We didn't realize it was your fake Japanese English. But when Deborah and I did the Greens Cookbook, we had worked not only on each other's recipes, but we'd worked with an editor, a food editor for a month. We'd gone through every word in that book and the manuscript came back with these little pink press apply labels sticking out the right side of the manuscript with little arrows.

[27:33]

We couldn't believe there were so many pink press apply labels. And they would say, or the book would say, cook the onions until they're translucent. And the little label would say, how long? And we're going like, do you want to look at the onions or do you want to look at the clock? I mean, are you going to observe and participate in what you're doing or are you going to, you know, look at the clock and get it right? And we said, season to taste with vinegar. And it said, how much? And then there was the recipe where it said, cook the vegetables until they're as tender as you like. And it said, how long? How do we know? Like, my God, how do we know what you like? But, you know, obviously this editor was concerned about how do you get it right, not how do you experience and how do you trust your own experience?

[28:39]

And are you willing just to taste what's in your mouth and see what it's like and appreciate the virtue of what it is? Rather than, well, this doesn't taste like it, like that other thing. And I want to, you know, like, everything has its virtue. So can we just be in the moment and let something be the way it is? And not try to keep making it behave the way it should in order to please us or to demonstrate, you know, love? And so, you know, I appreciate also then the Zen teacher named Tenke who said, see with your eyes, smell with your nose, hear with your ears, taste with your tongue.

[29:40]

Nothing in the universe is hidden, what else would you have me say? And of course the thing you want him to say is, how do I get things to work better? And how do I get the love I always wanted? And how do I, you know, how do I make things happen the way they're supposed to be happening? You know, if it was going to work out the way that, you know. And we, you know, part of this of course is we just keep trying to please mom and dad who, you know, can't be pleased. They may not even be alive. So there's always becoming the parent you always wanted but never had. And you, you know, we'll have to do it. I depend utterly on you. I depend on you utterly. Everything you need, you've had since the day before. Everything, get up, I depend on you utterly.

[30:44]

Everything you need, you had the moment before you were born. So I'd like to just say also a little bit here about, there's certain Zen stories, you know, I appreciate a lot. One of them is of course the story where the disciple says to the teacher, how do I attain liberation? And the teacher says rather simply, you know, who is binding you? And of course we're the ones who do quite a good job of that. We do quite a good job of binding ourselves. One of the things, for instance, I've noticed lately is, you know, how much I want to save everyone.

[31:52]

I want to help them with their problems and their difficulties. I'd like to be a great healer. So shall I take away your difficulty for you? And I can never take away enough difficulties. It's very discouraging. There's always more of them. And I can't really take them away for you. But I believe I should. I believe, you know, I feel like I'd like to. And somehow then it's very painful that, why can't I do this? Why can't I help people in this way? And it seems like such a pure hearted thing to be doing.

[32:53]

I'd like to help, to heal, to benefit. Thank you. And at some point it seems that to benefit others is to let them be who they are with the problems that they have. And not try to tell them to be different so that, or heal them in some way that demonstrates what a great healer I am. And that they could appreciate and love me for my capacity. Another one of the old stories that I like is the story about when Nangaku goes to see Wei Ning.

[34:05]

And Wei Ning says, who is it that thus comes? You know, who are you? Who are you this moment? Who are you appearing? Who are you right now? And in some of the stories, well, mostly it's kind of understood that he can't answer. He doesn't know what to say. You know, most of the things we come up with to say, you know, don't really say who you are. A man, a woman. Well, there's millions of men and millions of women. Does that make you, you? I'm 60. You know, well, I'm Edward. I mean, we haven't gotten very far, have we? I'm five foot eight. Brown hair.

[35:06]

Are we getting a clue of who I am? I mean, it's kind of, you know, finally unfathomable, but Nangaku doesn't know what to say. And in three years or seven years or eight years or something, he finally goes to Wei Ning and he says, as soon as you call it something, you miss the mark. As soon as you say anything, you miss the mark. Or even to call it something, as soon as you call it something, you go astray. So here again is the perfection of wisdom.

[36:09]

Not knowing. Suzuki Roshi said this is like feeling your way along in the dark. And you move carefully. And you take care of and touch things, get to know things. So you're not in a big hurry to get someplace. And even though you don't know where you're going, he said, because you do things with that kind of careful, tender-hearted feeling, where you get to will be fine. So we're learning how to, or studying in our lives, you know, how to be with things in a kind of simple, straightforward way,

[37:18]

with some tenderness and care. And the love is coming, you know, from inside us. Reaching out and touching things and tasting things. We're not, you know, we're practicing how to be a loving person. And letting the love come up, bubble up inside of us. In meditation, you know, Suzuki Roshi said, you know, if you don't have some kind feeling about towards your breath as you are breathing, this is not zazen. You're taking care of your breath, you're being kind with your breath as you meditate. This is like, you know, Suzuki Roshi.

[38:45]

Apparently in David's book, you know, David says that when he arrived, first arrived in San Francisco to be the priest for the Japanese Zen congregation, you know, after flying across the Pacific Ocean and being driven to San Francisco to the Zen center there, he spent four hours cleaning. There's something, you know, I don't want to go on. There's something about cleaning in the Zen tradition. We do a lot of it here, you know, that's about how to relate to something and to have a connection with things, to be connected and, you know, to touch things, not to take things for granted. So to rake each day, not to make it clean, but so you are connected to your environment, to your place, to your home.

[39:52]

And then when you walk over the ground, you know, I, you know, the effort and the connection that people are making with the place. It's not an easy thing to understand that everyone loves you. That we're the ones that bind ourselves. We're the ones who tell ourselves, I should this, I need to that. Why don't they this? Why don't they that? They should this, they should that. You know, to make everything work for me.

[40:56]

And it's not true. And so there's such a thing as seeing this, you know, having enough wisdom or insight, clarity to see what works and what doesn't work. And let our own loving come to the surface, you know, throughout our life, whenever possible. Thank you, blessings.

[41:28]