2007.04.15-serial.00048

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EB-00048

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Maybe I'll have to use my voice instead of the microphone. Well it's wonderful to be back, you know, I don't have, you know, really very many occasions in my life to dress up in my Sunday best, so this is one of them. And then to have a whole room full of people watch me cross my legs and adjust my robes, that's ... it's not much in the way of entertainment, but I guess it's something. So, how are you doing today, feeling comfortable, some ease, well-being, feel supported here,

[01:07]

at home? So, you know, a lot of this has to do not just with where you are, but your so-called body and mind, and for me it has a lot to do with how I've, you know, over the years practiced relating mind and body. And I want to talk about this today, mind and body, and I think about it as liberating your body, and especially today I'll be talking about hands, liberating your hands. But, you know, the body is a little bit like that saying, do you know where your kids are? Have you checked to see, like, where your hips are, and are they still there?

[02:08]

Your hands, your elbows, your knees, everything's still in ... still there? And are you on good terms with it? Because if you're, you know, if you haven't seen your kids for a while, or as someone used to say, if it's been quiet for a little too long, I worry about what they're up to. That's the little kids rather than the bigger ones. And our bodies are a little bit like, you know, if you are cooking and you lose track of something, it usually has some complaint when it reappears. It's smoking. It's charred. Or, like, if you're a waiter or a waitress and you haven't thought about a table for

[03:11]

a while, it usually has some complaint. Where's the coffee you said you'd bring? Where's the water? So we have some tendency, you know, with our awareness to think that the thing to do would be to park our body someplace and then have a good time somewhere else and hope that the body won't complain while we're off enjoying ourselves. This is, you know, a big part of our culture now, you know, that you can have entertainment, you know, without your body. So, you know, I'd like to suggest to you this morning, you know, to see if you can find your hips. And, you know, there's a difference between when you, you know, when you are relating

[04:15]

with your hips or your hands, there's a difference between telling them what you want them to do and they'd better behave, or asking them how they're doing. Feeling good? How are you today? And, you know, in order to do that, you need to sort of help them, you know, have a voice, because they're not very articulate. Your hands aren't going to just tell you, I'm fine, thank you. You kind of have to see, like, can you still do this? Can you still do that? And like your hips, which, you know, most of us are sitting on, if you move them a little bit back and forth, you're like, oh yeah, they're there still. And then you can start to ask your hips, where would you be most comfortable, here or here or here? You know, I'm usually sort of sitting, I know, like this, but is that where you're comfortable? Would you like to sit up a little bit? And you can check, and you can start to listen, and you can help your hips find their stability

[05:23]

and ease, and the place where they're most happy being hips, which is also the place where they're most supportive, and where you begin to feel at home, because you have support of your hips. This isn't some mysterious magic thing, like, I don't, you know, I've thought for years, you know, I'm, and recently I heard a, you know, a Rumi poem, and like, it sounds so familiar, because I thought for years, you know, I don't really belong on this earth. Probably some of you or many of you have had that feeling, or you wouldn't be at a Zen center. I don't belong on this earth, in this world, in this strange mass marketing, capitalistic, you know, and where are my friends, and, you know, whatever you think, you know. So I think, you know, well, I don't really belong here, and here's this Rumi poem, I mean, it's a thousand years old, it's two thousand years old, or whatever it is, you know, seventeen,

[06:25]

eighteen hundred years old, and he says, I come from another place, I'm from another tavern, and I'm headed back there, thank goodness. So I'm just kind of visiting here, you know, so that seems nice, you know, and, you know, this is reminding me, but a few days ago, or a couple of weeks ago, I was feeling kind of, I don't know what, you know, sad, lonely, depressed, it's spring, you know. And then I came across this short poem by Hafiz, it's called the Ten Thousand Idiots. Do you know that poem? It's a grave danger to the spiritual aspirant, to the aspirant on the path, it's a grave danger to the aspirant on the path to begin to believe and act as though the ten thousand

[07:32]

idiots who lived and ruled for so long inside have somehow packed their bags and left, or died. And I thought, oh, I guess I'm not in that danger. And now that I've had my root canal, my tooth isn't hurting anymore, so, you know, happiness. It's a grave danger to the aspirant on the spiritual path to begin to believe and act as though the ten thousand idiots who've so long lived and ruled inside have packed their bags and left, or died. Most of you probably aren't in this danger. So, it's kind of, but it's a nice reminder, you know, that we're not just one person who can tell all the other ten thousand idiots what to do, and in fact, the one idiot who's

[08:37]

telling the other ten thousand what to do may be just one of the ten thousand idiots, himself or herself, you know. So, who's to say that the one in charge actually knows what he's doing or she's doing, and what's actually good for you? So this is why, you know, I found it useful to check with my hands and my feet and my hips. How are you doing? Is this a good position for you, or this? Where would you be most happy and comfortable? Can I help you realize yourself? Make yourself. Can I help you realize your handiness? The handiness of being a hand. Can I help you with that? And instead of just telling you what to do and what not to do, can I allow you to find your way? Can I help you do that? So a lot of my practice with hands and feet and hips and things started, you know, after

[09:59]

I'd done Zen practice for twenty years. I did it the best I could, you know. You know, it takes about twenty years, you know, to kind of get over trying to do it right, the way it's supposed to be done. And having a picture of how it's supposed to be done, that you impose on your body and on your mind, that's supposed to be the right one to have. And you know, after a while, when you've produced this enough, others will recognize. You've done a good job of being the person you're supposed to be. Only they never do. And anyway, I wasn't ever, you know, as good at it as some people. Some people, I think, you know, but then that's just me, you know. But Zen Center kind of let me hang around anyway, even though, like, when I said Zazen,

[11:01]

you know, like, I couldn't sit still for a number of years and shake and do different things and, you know, they'd have me sit outside sometimes, because I can make the whole platform shake. But this is part of what happens when you have a very limited, you know, fixed, strict idea of how it's supposed to be, and you try to impose it. What? Do you think everybody's just going to go along with that? And thank goodness there are those 10,000 idiots who know better than to go along with your idea. So, somehow I was not very good at, you know, doing Zen. I don't know that anybody is, you know, but some people anyway, in the meantime, look pretty good at it. But anyway, after 20 years of, you know, and then I was an accomplished person, you know,

[12:06]

a Zen Center person, you know, because I'd been, you know, practice leader and chairman of the board and president and, you know, I'd gotten on the Zen Center fast track. I dropped out of college to go to the mountains and attain true realization, and pretty soon I was in, you know, president and chairman of the board of this $4 million a year corporation, spiritual corporation, and I had to learn to read budget sheets and profit and loss statements and, you know, all this stuff. I had to learn, you know, corporate life. I thought I'd come to practice a spiritual life. And then I became, and then I dropped out for a while and became a busboy at Grains, you know. And, but, you know, after a couple of years I was manager and wine buyer and, you know, I mean, these things happen. It's like, if you give your awareness to things and you actually pay attention to things and

[13:11]

they actually matter to you and you start to notice differences and you start to notice which differences make a difference and you start to act on those differences that make a difference, people notice. And then they say, thank you for actually noticing something and taking responsibility for it. This is not complicated. It's not easy. Because all those things that you're starting to pay attention to and that you care about and the differences that make a difference, it's not like the things that, how do you then work with those things? Whether it's your own hands or feet or legs of the people or the things that are happening, how do you, what are we going to do about it all? So this is a big challenge for any of us. And there's all kinds of areas where I have no idea what to do except pray. Anyway, but after I left Zen Center, you know, I went to, you know, I went to an Aikido class

[14:20]

and I'm working with a partner and, you know, here I am 40-something years old and I've, you know, I had all this Zen experience, you know, I'm somebody, right? And there's some 25-year-old across from me and you're supposed to hold out your hand and he says, could you put some energy in your hand? I thought, I thought I knew where my hand was. No, some energy in your hand. It's like, oh, okay. You know, take the consciousness that likes to hide out in your head and send it down your arm and extend that through your fingers and get some energy there, would you? So much for Zen practice, you know, 20 years of getting it right. I didn't have a hand. I didn't know where my hands were. I've been, you know, I've been practicing Zen and as one of my friends said, you spiritual people are all alike, you know, because in your past lives you're all old souls, you're

[15:23]

spiritual people. You know, this is Moran speak, right? I mean, this is a friend from Sonoma, but it's just like, it's just like an extension of Moran speak, you know, you're all old souls. And so you've made so many mistakes in your past lives, you want to be sure not to repeat any of those mistakes in this life. So just to be on the safe side, don't have hands. And your mistake instead of doing all the wrong things would be not doing anything. So I've been, you know, I started looking for my hands and, you know, yoga is pretty good at times. You know, I think I've told you before, but, you know, I've done yoga from time to time with Eric Schiffman and Eric studied yoga in India with Mr. Ingar for many months, many

[16:27]

years ago, back in the 70s. And so there's a very particular way you do anything and you're like, you don't just put your arm out, you know, like put your arms out, you don't just put your arms out, like extend it from your heart out through your hand. So that's like, you know, that's something like your consciousness has to find your arm, has to find your hand, and then how do you do that? Well extend it from the chest, from the heart, all the way out through your fingertips and beyond your fingertips. And now bring all those fingertips together, don't just have them out there. So you've taken your consciousness and you're finding your hand and you're finding out how to connect your consciousness with your hand and then hold it at a certain angle. Whatever that angle is, I don't know. So Eric did all of that, you know, and he said, I am so grateful to Mr. Ingar because I found my body. And Mr. Ingar is the kind of person who says, in the standing poses, you know, one of the

[17:31]

famous ones is, raise your kneecaps. Raise your kneecaps. How many times do I have to tell you? And then he'll hit you. What, don't you have ears? Raise your kneecaps. Keep them raised. That's consciousness. That's consciousness that's going to keep the kneecaps raised because they don't just stay up there on their own. But actually your knees get stronger and your knees are happier when you do that. Or at least practice doing it from time to time, your knees are stronger. So Eric tried teaching like that for a little while after Mr. Ingar but, you know, it didn't take long for some, and Eric's a big tall guy, you know, and he's sturdy. I mean, he's a head, at least a head taller than me. He's six foot something and massive and a big mane of hair, you know.

[18:32]

A young daughter of a mutual friend of ours said, are you the great lion? Anyway, so Eric is kind of a big lion but, by golly, there was some large person, large guy in one of his classes and Eric, you know, said something like, raise your kneecaps to him and the guy practically broke his ribs and he decided, maybe I don't need to teach like that. And one thing led to another and now Eric does more like what I'm telling you today, which is what he calls freedom yoga. So you let something come from inside and why would you do it the same way every time? It comes from inside and manifests out through your hands and his hands take these exquisite shapes and it's not something he's dreaming up, it's not some concept, it's some expression from inside out into his fingertips.

[19:34]

And it's so magnificent, you know, the way his body moves. It's from inside. But you can't go from zero to manifesting because what you end up doing, if you haven't done some practice of finding your body and finding how to do things with your body, you will just do the things you're used to doing that you're most familiar with, that are the least awkward for you, that you can do without difficulty, without any stress and you will limit yourself to doing your habitual movements, unless you do some practice of finding your hands, finding your feet, finding your hips. So Zen is actually pretty useful. I mean, I did get a start practicing Zen, but for 20 years I had, instead of doing this when I sat Zazen, I wasn't paying attention to my hands. No wonder I didn't have them, because you can't do this without the consciousness being

[20:40]

in your hands. So I would do this for a minute or two at the beginning of meditation and then after a while, you know. But we've got it back to the wall so people don't notice most of the time. Do you have any awareness in your hands? So you can get away with it for a long time. So then, when I started looking for my hands, one of the places I looked for my hands was in meditation. And I noticed I don't have them. I mean, the consciousness just comes down and stops right at the wrist. And then there's these kind of blocks. If it's cold, they're like blocks of ice between your wrists. Or these kind of inanimate stubs. So, you know, this is one place you take the consciousness and you can extend it down and find your hands. And then for your hands to do this, then the rest of your body has to change a little bit.

[21:45]

Your chest has to change, you know, and your shoulders have to change. Your heart has to open. It's very challenging. I mean, can't you do this practice without actually having to open your heart? I mean, God! Oh well. So, at some point you let your heart break open. That's another Hafiz poem, right? Do you know that one? Don't surrender your loneliness so easily. Let it cut more deep. This is not just your loneliness, of course. This is your sadness, your grief, your sorrow, your longing. Don't surrender your loneliness so easily. Let it cut more deep. Something missing in my heart tonight makes my eyes grow so soft, my voice so tender,

[22:53]

my need for the Divine so clear. It comes from, you know, inside. So, another story I want to tell you about is, you know, I spent, at some point after Zen Center, you know, I was seeing a therapist. I used to have these two-hour sessions. That's her style. And I'd go and cry for two hours. And one week, you know, I was saying, and these hands aren't even my hands. And I don't remember the conversation, but after about six visits, she said, you need some medication. And, as is the case with a lot of people,

[24:00]

I would think that professionals might be a little bit different. And she actually told me this. She told me, the way you're behaving reminds me of my behavior when I found out that I had hypothyroidism. You know, that my thyroid wasn't functioning well enough, and I needed thyroid supplements. And, you know, I had had my thyroid removed, and in those days, people didn't know that when your thyroid is removed, you needed thyroid supplements. So then I found out I needed thyroid supplements, and when I started taking thyroid supplements, I got way better. You need to go get your thyroid checked. And I said, I don't need to do anything. You have to, she said. I said, I don't have to do anything. I'm a free person, and I will do what I choose to do. Well, why won't you go? And I said, well, I don't believe in Western medicine, excuse me, but I just had a really nice dental root canal, and the dentist really did a great job of the anesthesia.

[25:03]

I did not feel anything. It's amazing. And so there are places where, you know, Western medicine is tip-top. But as far as the pharmacology of Western medicine, you know, I'm not exactly a believer, but I'm sure it benefits a lot of people. It's just that I think it's, you know, a little... Well, anyway, it's a long discussion. So she said, and I said, and it's so expensive, and I don't want to go to a doctor just for them to order the test and have to pay the doctor to order a test for me. And she said, I'll give you back half your fee. And I said, you can do whatever you want with the money I've given you. It's yours to do with what you want, and I will do what I want. And sure enough, she gave me back half the fee. And then, you know, I went home, and I was living in San Francisco then right off of Clement, and so I went down to the Chinese herbalist, and he made up a kidney formula for me, which is the closest thing to, you know,

[26:05]

helping your hormones and your thyroid and everything, and I felt great. And I never went back, because I don't want somebody to tell me what to do. Like, I'm going to tell my hands what to do, and of course they say, yeah, thank you. Yeah, I'll do whatever you say, you idiot. No, things don't behave like that. And I'm not going to, you know, think that I know what's going on. I don't believe that she knows what, you know. And I did get my thyroid checked a couple months later. You know, I ran into a friend of mine who was a doctor, and he said, I can order the test for you for nothing, Ed. It's not a big deal. Go to the clinic. It was like $45 to get the test. My thyroid reading was like just right in the middle of everything. Last fall, I went to see a psychic. He said, you have thyroid problems. I said, no, you're talking about my daughter. That's my daughter. My daughter has hypothyroid. No, no, no. But anyway, this is the little background to, you know,

[27:08]

who I am and, you know, who you could be. I mean, you also could be. Other people don't necessarily know, like, what's good for you. And I think it's up to each of us to know for ourselves what's good for us, partly by checking. Is this good? Is this good? You can ask your hips. You can ask your life. You know, ask your heart. What's good for you today? In this situation, in this life, in this time, and, you know, in this relationship. And what's, you know, what's working for you and what's not working? And how does this feel? And how does that feel? And you can check all these things your body knows, your mind knows, your heart knows. But, you know, you need to ask. And then, of course, some of us, you know, practice sitting here facing the wall to do the asking. And, you know, sometimes that works. But there's a lot of ways to ask, certainly. Anyway, a few years later, I was seeing another person in another kind of context, in a kind of hands-on healing context.

[28:10]

And I said to her, these hands aren't my hands. I'm looking at my hands. I don't recognize these hands. They don't look like they belong to me. This is very interesting. Like, whose would they be if they're not yours? And by golly, you know, the woman I was working with, she said, well, whose are they? They're not your hands. You know, she took, you know, she's like, let's talk about the reality that you're experiencing. Well, whose are they? And I said, some big persons. So how big are you if your hands belong to some big persons? And then I said, there's some big persons.

[29:12]

And then, bless her heart, she said, and where are yours? And I felt around, and I said, well, they're in the elbows. That's about right for, you know, three years old. So since then, I started working. She said, you know, well, while we're working today, maybe you could ask your little hands to extend themselves out to your big hands, or have your big hands shrink down to your little hands, so your big hands and your little hands could be in the same place. So I think we all have, you know, this is a kind of example of consciousness. We have habits of consciousness, which have actually associated bodies,

[30:18]

which aren't in the same place as our physical body. And part of what is, you know, liberating in practice is to bring those together, to bring the consciousness that could be your hands into your hands, and that's letting go, that's extending, that's asking your little hands to agree to be in the big hands, asking your little feet to reach down. And sometimes our feet are somewhere in the, you know, calves, around the ankle. Often, you know, we don't have consciousness out, you know, through our toes. Because things have happened to us, you know. And it got to be not safe to be fully present, and to be actually as big as you could be.

[31:20]

And it seemed important, you know, for one reason or another, or for no particular reason, but it just seemed important to, you know, literally make yourself small. And it felt safer. As sometimes people say, you know, under the radar. You get to stay under the radar. So, you know, there's a lot of things that we can be doing with our hands. I've appreciated, you know, having the chance to cook over the years. To hold things, and smell things, and taste things, and clean things, and cut things. And some people garden, and dig in the ground. And handle seeds, and plants, and flowers, and earth, and compost. And I have, you know, many friends who are musicians.

[32:26]

Friends who are painters. You know, and in Zen also, you know, some of us do, you know, tea ceremony. There are many ways to practice finding your hands, finding your body. Helping your body, you know, be alive. Giving life, you know, liberating your body from its limitations, from its limitations. Hiding from where it felt safe. And allowing your body to find its expression. And there's touch, you know, touching one another. Touching yourself. And touch isn't just, you know, touching something out there. But it's touching, you know, inside.

[33:27]

Being in touch with yourself. And willing to touch yourself, rather than telling yourself what to do. And somehow this is, this can be so challenging, you know. I've mentioned often times, you know, that when I do cooking classes, and I say, well, let's taste these canned tomatoes. And people say, what should we be tasting? Because you wouldn't want to have some experience that wasn't right. So is it possible to trust your experience? To taste something and know for yourself what something tastes like. To touch something and know. To think something and know. Not that what you're thinking is right, but it's what you think. And what you think means, what you think. Doesn't mean like you're right. But that's what you're thinking. And you know what you think. A dear friend of mine who's, you know, deceased, who was a Zen teacher.

[34:33]

Her husband, you know, taught at one of the eastern colleges, women's colleges. And so for many years he would have affairs with his students. And she told him, you know, I'm not really happy about this. And I won't always put up with it. And he didn't listen. And finally one day she said, we're getting divorced. And he said, but you're a Zen teacher, you should have more compassion. You should have more understanding. And she said, it's because I'm a Zen teacher that I know what I feel and what I think. And we're getting divorced. I'm not trying to pretend, you know. But I'm not being how I should be. I know what I feel. I know what I think. You can ask yourself, what do you feel? What do I think? And it's not about being right. But it's about being true, you know.

[35:37]

And liberating yourself from how you thought you should be. You were supposed to be the way that made you safe. The way that made you small. The way you abandoned yourself. How are you going to realize yourself and come into your fullness? So, I'd like to close with a short Rumi poem. I just had the good fortune to see Rumi for the first time. And here, Coleman Barks did two Rumi performances, recitals, at the Palace of Fine Arts, Thursday and Friday a week ago. And the night I was there on Thursday night, I think on Friday night, Jaya Uttal was there.

[36:43]

But the night I was there, there was a drummer who was quite good. I forget his name. Glenn? Glenn? Yeah, Glenn Belez, yeah. And a cellist who was amazing. David Darling. David Darling. And Zuleika. She sings this wonderful song about, you know, eating the bread of that world, doing the work of this world. What a wonderful expression. And, you know, having the capacity to live in both worlds. And I think that, you know, bringing your consciousness into the fullness of your body is bringing the other world into this world. That's how you do it. Anyway, the Rumi poem is, you know, the one,

[37:51]

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and afraid. Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and afraid. You know, I'm missing a line here. Does anybody know it? Huh? Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and afraid. Anyway. Oh, you know, it's something like, don't open that book again. Something like, don't open that book again. Take down the dulcimer. There are hundreds of books. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. Let the beauty we love be what we do. This is to bring your consciousness into, you know, the things you do.

[38:56]

Some of those things we do are just the things of everyday life. Cooking and cleaning and washing and raking and sweeping. And some of them are the art and crafts we do, the practices we have. Bringing our consciousness into, you know, doing. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. And we're each finding, you know, the way for me to do this. There's not just, you know, one way. So I wish you well of finding your way to kneel and kiss the ground. And finding what your hands and your feet and your body loves to do. Blessings.

[39:40]