Birth and Death

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Sunday Lecture - Children's Lecture: children's story - Amos and Boris; response to Hurrican Katrina; Story of king, knowing death is coming; vowing to live for the benefit of all; story of Buddha, a child's death and mustard seed; "life is like riding in a boat" (Dogen); birth and death

AI Summary: 



Recording starts after beginning of talk.


There's three rows. Very glad to see you here. And I brought a story for you that's my very favorite story. But I want to warn you first that in this story there's a couple of scary parts. And so I wanted to tell you before I read the story that everything turns out just fine. So it's only scary for a few minutes, okay? And this story is about something that I think all of you have maybe heard a lot about these last few weeks, and that is a hurricane and what happens to people we care about when these big winds and the water come into their homes. So this story is called Amos and Boris. Do any of you know it? Anybody? Linda, good. You guys are behind. Amos and Boris. William Stieg wrote this story, and he published it in 1971, so it's a little old now.


Amos a mouse lived by the ocean. He loved the ocean. He loved the smell of sea air. He loved to hear the surf sounds, the bursting breakers, the backwashes with rolling pebbles. Can you see little Amos there? He's a mouse. He's by the ocean, and he loves it there. A lot of people like to live by the ocean. It's kind of a problem. He thought a lot about the ocean, and he wondered about faraway places on the other side of the water. And one day he started building a boat on the beach. He worked on it in the daytime, while at night he studied navigation. What's navigation? Anybody know? Anybody know what navigation is? Navigating? Well, the ocean doesn't have any street signs, you know? You don't know where you are, so you have to find out a way to figure out where you are.


And usually they use the stars. A flashlight would be good, and actually I think he took one with him for nighttime travel. So when the boat was finished, he loaded it with cheese, biscuits, acorns, honey, wheat germ, two barrels of fresh water, a compass, a sextant, a telescope, a saw, a hammer, and nails, and some wood in case repairs should be necessary. A needle and thread for the mending of torn sails, and various other necessities, such as bandages and iodine, a yo-yo, and playing cards. What else would you take if you went on a trip? What would you take? Anything missing? Nothing? That's plenty? Plenty of stuff? Oh, good. What would you take? A flashlight. Good.


Another vote for a flashlight. That's good. So, where are we? We're on a page. No, that's not it. And then on the 6th of September, which is just a few days from now, with a very calm sea, he waited until the high tide had almost reached his boat, and then using his most savage strength, he just managed to push the boat into the water, climb on board, and set sail. The rodent, for that was the boat's name, proved to be very well made and very well suited to the sea, and Amos, after one miserable day of seasickness, proved to be a natural sailor very well suited to his ship. He was enjoying his trip immensely. It was beautiful weather. Day and night, he moved up and down, up and down, on waves as big as mountains.


And he was full of wonder, full of enterprise, and full of love for life. One night, in a phosphorescent sea, phosphorescent means it glows like little lights, like little flashlights. In a phosphorescent sea, he marveled at the sight of some whales spouting luminous water, and later, lying on the deck of his boat, gazing at the immense starry sky, the tiny mouse Amos, a little speck of a living thing in the vast living universe, felt thoroughly akin to it all. And overwhelmed by the beauty and mystery of everything, he rolled over and over, and right off the deck of his boat and into the sea. This is called, oops. Oops. Did you hear what happened? He rolled off the boat into the sea. Yeah, okay.


Next page. Help, he squeaked, as he grabbed desperately at the rodent. But it evaded his grasp and went bowling along under full sail, and he never saw it again. The boat. So where's Amos now? In the water. And there he was. Where? In the middle of the immense ocean, a thousand miles from the nearest shore, with no one else in sight as far as the eye could see, and not even so much as a stick of driftwood to hold on to. Should I try to swim home, Amos wondered? Or should I just try to stay afloat? He might swim a mile, but never a thousand. He decided to just keep afloat, treading water and hoping that something, who knows what, would turn up to save him. But what if a shark or some big fish like a horse mackerel turned up? What was he supposed to do to protect himself? He didn't know.


Ah, you guessed it right. Did you hear what she said? Shhh, don't tell him yet. Okay, you know, though. That's right. That's exactly right. Morning came, as it always does. He was getting terribly tired. He was a very small, very cold, very wet and worried mouse. There was still nothing in sight but the empty sea, and then as if things weren't bad enough, it began to rain. At last the rain stopped and the noonday sun gave him a bit of cheer and warmth in the vast loneliness, but his strength was giving out. He began to wonder what it would be like to drown. Would it take very long? Would it feel just awful? Would his soul go to heaven? Would there be other mice there? As he was asking himself these dreadful questions, a huge head burst up through the surface of the water and loomed up over him. "'What sort of fish are you?'


the whale asked. "'You must be one of a kind.'" "'I'm not a fish,' said Amos. "'I'm a mouse, which is a mammal, the highest form of life. I live on land.'" "'Holy clam and cuttlefish,' said the whale. "'I'm a mammal myself, though I live in the sea. Call me Boris,' he said." Well Amos introduced himself and told Boris how he came to be there in the middle of the ocean, and the whale said he would be happy to take Amos to the ivory coast of Africa where he happened to be headed anyway, to attend a meeting of whales from all over the seven seas. But Amos said he'd had enough adventure to last him a while, and he wanted only to get back home, and he hoped the whale wouldn't mind going out of his way to drop him off. "'Not only would I not mind,' said Boris, "'I would consider it a privilege. What other whale in the whole world has ever had a chance to get to know such a strange


creature as you? Please climb aboard,' and Amos got on Boris' back. "'Are you sure you're a mammal?' Amos asked. "'You smell more like a fish.'" Then Boris the whale went swimming along with Amos the mouse on his back. There they are. It's great, huh? Boy, I wish everyone should be so lucky, huh? All the time. What a relief to be so safe and so secure again. Amos lay down in the sun, and being worn to a frazzle, he was soon sound asleep. Swimming along, sometimes at great speed, sometimes slowly and leisurely, sometimes resting and exchanging ideas, sometimes stopping to sleep, it took them a week to reach Amos' home shore. During that time, they developed a deep admiration for one another. Boris admired the delicacy, the quivering daintiness, the light touch, the small voice, the gentle gem-like radiance of the mouse.


And Amos admired the bulk, the grandeur, the power, the purpose, and the rich voice, and the abounding friendliness of the whale. They became the closest possible friends. They told each other about their lives and their ambitions. They shared their deepest secrets with each other. And the whale became very curious about life on land and was so sorry he would never experience it. Amos was fascinated by the whale's accounts of what went on deep under the ocean. Amos sometimes enjoyed running up and down on the whale's back for exercise. And when he was hungry, he ate plankton. And the only thing he really missed was fresh, unsalty water. The time came to say goodbye. They were at the shore. I wish we could be friends forever, said Boris. And we will be friends forever, but we just can't be together. You must live on land, and I must live at sea, and I'll never forget you.


And you can be sure I'll never forget you, said Amos. I will always be grateful to you for saving my life, and I want you to remember that if you ever need my help, I will be more than glad to give it. How he could ever possibly help Boris, Amos didn't know. But he knew how willing he was. The whale couldn't take Amos all the way into land, so they said their last goodbye, and Amos dived off Boris' back and swam to the sand. From the top of a cliff, he watched Boris spout twice in the distance and then disappear. Boris laughed to himself. How could that little mouse ever help me? Little as he is, he's all heart. I love him, and I'll miss him terribly. Boris went to the conference off the ivory coast of Africa and then went back to a life of whaling about while Amos returned to his life of mousing around, and they were very happy. Many years after the incidences just described when Amos was no longer a very young mouse


and when Boris was no longer a very young whale, there occurred one of the worst storms of the century, Hurricane Yeta. And it just so happened that Boris the whale was flung ashore by a tidal wave and stranded on the very shore where Amos happened to make his home. So here's the tidal wave. Poor Boris is being just thrown around like he's a little fish. That's what tidal waves are like. It's hard to believe. We can't hardly imagine. Well, it just so happened that when the storm had cleared up and Boris was lying high and dry on the sand, losing his moisture in the hot sun and needing desperately to be back in the water, Amos came down to the beach to see how much damage Hurricane Yeta had done. Of course, Boris and Amos recognized each other at once. I don't have to tell you how these old friends felt at meeting again in this desperate situation. Amos rushed toward Boris. Boris could only look at Amos.


And here is Boris on the beach. And there's Amos looking at him. And all Boris can do is roll his eye down and look at his friend. Amos, help me, said the mountain of a whale to the moat of a mouse. I think I'll die if I don't get back in the water soon. Amos gazed at Boris in an agony of pity. He realized he had to do something very fast and he had to think very fast about what he was going to do. And suddenly he was gone. I'm afraid he won't be able to help me, said Boris to himself. Much as he wants to do something, what can such a little fellow do? Well, just as Amos had once felt all alone in the middle of the ocean, Boris felt now lying alone on the shore. He was sure he would die. And just as he was preparing to die, Amos came racing back with two of the biggest elephants he could find. It's better than the National Guard.


All right. Without wasting time, the two good-hearted elephants got to pushing with all their might at Boris's huge body until he began turning over, dreaded with sand and rolling down toward the sea. Amos, standing on the head of one of the elephants, yelled instructions, but no one heard him. In a few minutes, Boris was already in water with waves washing at him and he was feeling the wonderful wetness. You have to be out of the sea really to know how good it is to be in it, he said. Well, that is if you're a whale. And soon he was able to wiggle and wriggle into deeper water. He looked back at Amos on the elephant's head. Tears were rolling down the great whale's cheeks. The tiny mouse had tears in his eyes too. Goodbye, dear friend, squeaked Amos. Goodbye, dear friend, rumbled Boris. And he disappeared in the waves. They knew they might not ever meet again, but they knew that they would never forget


each other. Now you all know the story of Boris and Amos. Well, thank you guys for coming to the story. And I hear from Sarah, who's heading your program, that you're going to make prayer flags today. And I thought I would suggest to you that maybe you want to include some images of mice or whales or storms and hearts to send our best wishes to people who need our help. And then we're going to hang these flags every time there's a kids' program. So you can see your flag there. And we'll add more and more flags. And someday everyone in the whole world will have a good wish coming from us. Won't that be good? Okay. Well, thank you. You can all go out that way. Thank you. You're welcome. You're welcome. Thank you. See you. Bye. [...]


Bye. Goodbye. If anyone would like to come forward, there's more seats in the front now. Thank you. You know, water is amazing.


A little glass of water, so refreshing. But when it covers a city, it's quite frightening. So I've been watching the terrible news, along with all of you, about what's been happening in the American South. And it reminded me of another story from the Buddhist tradition that I haven't thought of for a while. So I'll tell it to you now. This is from the old wisdom teachings of the Buddha, the Pali Canon. One fine day, King Pasende of Kosala paid a visit to the Buddha. And the Buddha said to the king, where are you coming from at midday, great king? The king replied, having stabilized the country and conquered a wide stretch of the earth, I am greatly involved in administration of those things done by warrior kings. And because when you're before the Buddha, you tend to be very honest, the king went on to say,


all the while, drunk with my authority and obsessed with lust for sensual pleasures. And then the Buddha said to the king, if a trustworthy messenger arrived from the east and said, great king, a huge mountain as high as the heavens is advancing and crushing every living thing, do as you will, sire. And another messenger arrived from the north, and then one from the south and from the west, all with the same message, with the impending destruction of your kingdom. What should you do? And then the king replied, at such a time as that, Lord Buddha, what else can I do but to walk in the law, in righteousness, and to cultivate what is of benefit to everyone? And the Buddha said, well, I tell you, great king, aging and death are closing in upon you.


What should you do? The king said, my elephants, chariots, horses, and infantry are of no use when aging and death are closing in on me. Magic spells and gold are likewise of no use. At such a time as this, my lord, what else can I do but walk in the law, in righteousness, and to cultivate what is of benefit to everyone? So I want to share my own personal anguish about what's been happening in the news, particularly in the wake of this great storm, Katrina. I've been watching, I finally was able to get near a television. We don't have TV reception here, so it was quite powerful to see the images of the city underwater and the people trapped. And to hear about the despair and the anger, the thirst and the heat.


And it was also stunning, as I'm sure it has been for all of you, to see how many of these people are African Americans who seem to have been trapped and left behind in the city. Now, how is that possible? These are the great questions that we're all going to have to ask in the wake of this storm. It wasn't just a big wind that blew through our nation. It's a great shame. And then, of course, there's the ongoing and haunting glare of the human-made horrors in Africa, in Colombia, in the Middle East, in the East Bay. Every day we know, we read, we hear, and we see the moving pictures. In fact, there is nowhere to turn where some dreadful news isn't happening to the living beings on this fragile blue-green earth. Messengers are arriving from the West, from the East, from the North, and from the South.


And what should we do? What the Dalai Lama said to us after 9-11 was, please don't look for blame. Look for causes. Look for causes. Well, right in the middle of all of these terrible stories and terrible truths, I and my family spent a glorious three weeks on vacation in the Pacific Northwest, going from small village to small village, living among people who can only complain of small-town irritations. You know, somebody's goat got in my yard. I left something on the stove and went off to my yoga class. Two-hour wait for the ferry to the San Juan Islands. What a shame. But there's one tiny and common thread that runs through all of these contrasting stories,


and that is me and my point of view, which, of course, is all I have to offer you today. My point of view. And I'm choosing to do that in the light of this story of Amos and Boris, a story of differences, of interdependency, of fear of death, and perhaps of the most basic miracle of all, how we meet. And when we meet, how we take care of one another and take care of what needs to be done. For me, meeting begins with a fundamental vow. And vow comes from the same root as words, to give our word. And the words that we use shape our lives, they shape our intentions, they create constancy and direction for us.


It's that navigation on the open water. We navigate by vow. But what do we say? What are the right words? How do we know them when we hear them? This is the tricky part for us. The other morning, after returning from my vacation, I went down to join my community in our last day of communal hoeing, which goes on throughout the summer. At six o'clock in the morning, we're all down there, about 50 or so people, and it's quite a wonderful thing. If you've never worked, done physical work with a large group of people, it's one of the great mysteries and joys of living together. We all start on one end of the field in pairs, and we start walking forward with these long-handled hoes, kind of like weaving, this great weaving, back and forth and back and forth. And then in under an hour, we're at the other end of the field, and all of the hoeing is done.


What would take one person perhaps a week is done by 50 people in under an hour. It's kind of a miracle. But before beginning to hoe, we all stood at the farm toolshed facing the altar, and that particular morning, I was really struck by the unlikelihood that I would be standing at a toolshed on a farm at six o'clock in the morning with 50 people if it weren't for the altar. The altar is a very simple thing. It's just a piece of wood. There's a seated human figure, a vase of fresh flowers, a stick of incense. So the altar represents what I mean without words by vow. What is our vow? For what will you stand and face the work of this world that needs to be done,


and for what will you come together? On the morning of the Buddha's own awakening, he was facing to the east, to the altar of the night sky in the fading light of the morning star. His words on that occasion were, Wonderful, wonderful, I and all beings on earth together attain enlightenment at the same time. This is what's called the first principle. It's the great truth of non-separation, of complete interdependence between ourselves and everything else around us. And it's the very truth that allows us to find the words that are right, to find our vow, and to know whether those words are the correct words or not.


In the Buddhist tradition, the correct words are always provisional. They're the ones that work right now. But always we have to check and test, Are these the right words now? Are they right now? Are they right now? This is what brings our vow to life, to that small thread of life that I call me, my words, my vow. We have some words in our community that we say over and over again, and I know you've heard them many times. And I've heard them so many times that they have truly grown inside of me as my own personal vow. And I know it when I say it because I can feel it in my heart. We say, I vow to live for the benefit of all beings. I vow to live for the benefit of all beings. This is called the bodhisattva vow.


And through words like that, as though joined by marriage, we acknowledge our connection to the entirety of the universe, this small thread like Amos connected to Boris through the intimacy of our words and our love. And in this way, this connection replicates the awakening of the Buddha. Wonderful, wonderful. I and all beings together realize enlightenment at the same time. Congratulations. Great congratulations. There's another statement by the Buddha that was reported to have been made shortly after his birth. And he said, I alone am the world-honored one. I think a lot of us have had a little trouble with that one.


What kind of a kid is that? I alone am the world-honored one. But what I've come to understand is if you sit in the middle of this vow to live for the benefit of all beings, then in doing so you also turn from self to other. The Buddha is not self and is not other. He's the conjoining of self and other. That's what Buddha is, the meeting. So I alone am the world-honored one becomes I alone am the world-honoring one. And so are each of you, and so are we all. Through honoring and being honored, through loving the world and being loved by the world, we come to embody the vastness and the wholeness of our true identity. So this understanding of first principle


is the subject matter of a very important text in Buddhist literature called the Lotus Sutra. And it's especially the subject matter of Chapter One. In Chapter One, the Buddha is seated motionlessly in front of the congregation, which is made up of humans, gods, and dragons. And they're all patiently waiting for the Buddha to teach. And finally, the earth begins to shake and flowers rain down from the heavens. And the Buddha sends forth from a circle of white hair between his eyebrows a vision of one quarter of the entire universe. I was imagining these digital artists, you know, reproducing this scene. One quarter of the entire universe was visible to everyone in the congregation.


Wow. Within this vision appeared 18,000 worlds, worlds of suffering and worlds of delight. And the living beings in these worlds, which are perpetually rotating among them. And at the same time, were all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas chanting and dancing and singing the songs of liberation, the songs of freedom to these beings trapped in cycles of pleasure and horror. Come out, come out wherever you are, and see the fine lady who fell from a star. So it's kind of like a galactic interfaith chorus there, you know, chanting their luminous intentions. And in the sutra it says, they express these intentions with various discernments in faith and various appearances. After the Buddha withdraws the vision back into his forehead


and resumes his silent meditation, the congregation pleads with Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, that's the large figure on our altar here in the Zenda, please explain to us what this vision means. What does it mean? So this is exactly the place where we all find ourselves, isn't it? What does it mean? Reality, like a great river, is continuously spreading itself out before us, and the only banks are the limits of our sense organs and our imagination. But what does it mean? No. So over and over again we see it, but what is it? What is it we see? Does it even have a name? Well, some people say, no, it doesn't have a name.


And some people say, its name is God. Its name is Allah. And some people say, the emperor has no clothes, or the clothes have no emperor. You know, how about you? Well, what the Buddha says is, don't worry about it. Don't worry about it at all, just take care of it, with all your heart and with the skill of your hands and with the wisdom and clarity of your mind. Devote yourself to its well-being and live your vow. Just as a mother at the risk of her life watches over and protects her only child, so with a boundless mind should one cherish all living beings,


suffusing love over the entire world, above, below, and all around, without limit. So let one cultivate an infinite goodwill toward the whole world, standing or walking, sitting or lying down, during all one's waking hours, let one practice the way with gratitude. Once you've decided to live by your vow, then you'll need some tools and some skills in order to undertake all the much-needed repairs, because it's now your world and it's now your responsibility. I heard an extraordinarily wonderful story from a Navajo elder who visited here in June with seven children. We did a small summer camp here, some kids from Mill Valley.


This woman, whose name is Etta Shirley, told us the story of Spider Woman and the sky, who created the earth. And then every morning, Spider Woman, like any good parent, comes out and repairs all the damage that's done from the day before. So in Chapter 2 of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha teaches humans the skills of the Spider Woman, so that they too can care for the world. So Chapter 1, here it is. Chapter 2, here's how you take care of it. So the skills that we need are skills of perception, skills of communication, skills of compassion, and of wisdom. And the Buddha teaches the Four Noble Truths, which are the very foundation for the study of causes. Don't seek for blame, seek for causes. How did this come to be?


Because the messengers are already arriving from the East and from the West, from the North and from the South. With the impending destruction of humanity, what should we do? So, you know, this is the really big question for us, the question of mortality, whether it's personal or whether it's global. And, you know, I don't have the big answers, I don't think I've ever heard a big answer, but the big questions are there for us. And I do have a deep faith in our ability to turn and face reality, and in particular this matter of birth and death. It's called in Buddhism the Great Death, the great matter of birth and death. As it says on our Han outside,


I don't know if you've ever read it, but the instrument we hit to call people to the meditation hall says, consider the great matter of birth and death. Don't waste time. And one of the things we learn when we consider the matter of birth and death is how strongly we cling to life, to this precious and temporary abiding, this blue-green planet third out from the sun. My daughter last night was studying her science folder and she had her page open to the Big Bang, and she said, this is interesting. I said, yeah, it is, isn't it? But she didn't apparently have any concern about transiency or fatality, at least not yet. Mostly she's concerned about electronics,


as far as I can tell. But for me, as over the years I've considered the matter of death, the first approach I took was to basically ignore it, like maybe it would leave me alone if I didn't pay much attention. I avoided funerals. Sometimes I wouldn't go toward people who I knew were ending their lives. I'd be afraid, stay away. But as I've gotten older, many things have happened, and I've had to, against my earlier judgments, admit to myself how much I love and cling to this precious and transient life. Falcons and sea lions, stinkweed and bunny rabbits, like snowflakes falling for millions of years,


each one different, and yet each one another name for Buddha, another name for snow. So Zen practice, for me, is about remembering to be grateful for the gift, this gift of snow. And we all know that that's not always so easy, because things don't go the way that I like. And even when they do, they don't last. So this is the first of the Four Noble Truths. There is suffering, and it's the very foundation for the Buddha's enlightened insight. Birth is suffering. Aging is suffering. Death is suffering. Sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering. Association with what one hates is suffering. Separation from what one loves is suffering.


Not getting what one wants is suffering. So this is very familiar territory for all of us, not getting what we want. In fact, suffering is the primary bond of our human life, so it's a very good place to start. And no matter what happens in this world, our practice is to open our eyes and to look and to open our hearts and to help, so that we all might live by this vow to benefit all beings because all beings is who we are. Why else would we care about what's happening in Louisiana or in Baghdad or in Oakland or next door? No, we do care. We feel it all through our hearts. Those are our screams, and those are our agonies.


Those are our joys. I think many of you know the story from the Buddhist tradition of the parable of the mustard seed, but perhaps some of you don't. There was a young woman whose child had died and who became insane with grief. So people sent her to see the Buddha. Still carrying the tiny corpse, she pleaded with him to bring her child back to life. He told her that he would make some medicine for the baby if she brought him a mustard seed from a household in the village where no one had ever died. So she went door to door, day after day after day. And of course, she found no such household. And finally, she took the little body to the burning grounds, regained her sanity, and entered a life of practice, a life of vow. Compassion for the Buddha was not in his ability to fix things,


to heal the sick and raise the dead, but rather in how he helped people to see themselves in the suffering of others. This young mother was healed by the compassion in her own tender heart. When aging and death are closing in upon you, what else can you do but to walk in the law, in righteousness, and to cultivate what is of benefit for everyone? So I have a lot of faith in the fact that human beings are basically virtuous and kind. It's not something we have to go out and find for ourselves. It's in us all. But we do need to grow and mature in our capacities for kindness, for generosity, and for virtue. Because like the old king, we can wander off, drunk with our own authority and intoxicated by sensual pleasures.


We know that about ourselves. So we need good friends to call us back, to help us when we forget who we really are. Here at Green Gulch Farm, friends wake us up every morning about 4.30, which doesn't sound like a very friendly thing to do, does it? But after a while, the gratitude starts to seep up through the floorboards as we sit here together in the chill and the dark. And when we sit like that, it's kind of like Amos riding on his beloved rodent. We begin to see things more clearly. We begin to forget about the storylines for a while and to sink in to our senses, the shifting sounds and the shifting lights, the shifting emotions.


Full of wonder, full of enterprise, and full of love for life. As we become more aware of the fathomlessness of our experience, and perhaps at that very moment when we roll off the deck and into the sea, we begin to suspect that the very depth of our life is none other than what we've been calling our death, and that they're really not separate at all. As moment-to-moment aspects of reality, both birth and death are boundless and all-inclusive, like the rising and falling of the waves in the ocean, each one makes way for the other. There's a fascicle by Master Dogen called Undivided Activity that talks about birth and death in just this way. There must have been a mouse in the temple, fond of the ocean.


He also uses the image of riding in a boat. Birth is just like riding in a boat. You raise the sails and row with the oars, and although you row, the boat gives you a ride, and without the boat, no one could ride. But you ride, and your riding makes the boat what it is. Investigate a moment such as this. When you ride in a boat, your body and mind and the environment together are the undivided activity of the boat. The entire earth and the entire sky are both the undivided activity of the boat. Thus, birth is nothing but you. You are nothing but birth. Zen Master Hung Wu said, Birth is undivided activity. Death is undivided activity. However, it is not that one and the same entire earth and sky


are fully manifested in birth, and also fully manifested in death. It's not the one and the same. Although not one, not different. Although not different, not the same. Although not the same, not many. It's starting to sound like Zen now, isn't it? This being so, the undivided activity of birth and death is like a young man bending and stretching his arm. The undivided activity of birth and death is like a young man bending and stretching his arm. So whether our gestures are subtle or grand, or whether they're conscious or unconscious, we are included, moment by moment, in the vast net of causal conditions. And from our actions, whether as individuals or taken together,


good and evil spread forth. So I would like to recommend that we choose, from our small corner of the universe, the part that we intend to play in this great unfolding. And if we say we want to play the part of Buddha, then this is what the Buddha has to say. There is a simple way to become a Buddha. When you refrain from unwholesome actions, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate toward all sentient beings, respectful to the elders and kind to the young, not excluding or desiring anything, with no designing thoughts or worries, then you will be called a Buddha. Do not seek anything else. So I want to end by just thanking all of you


for coming today to be here together. And I know many of you are probably looking for ways to help with what's been going on in the South. Maybe you've already done your own research, and if you found some good possibilities, please share them with us. You could let the office know. I asked around myself and was told that some good places to help would be, of course, the American Red Cross, but also the American Friends Service Committee, and there's another organization called America's Second Harvest, which is a food bank. So I don't want you to believe that this is the end of the story, because the story is never-ending. And as one of the Christian mystics recently said, God is real. Buddha is real.


And you and I are real, and there are real problems that require real answers and real effort. And I think we need to do something together. We need to end this war. We need to address the issues of social and economic injustice in this country, to say nothing of this county and this world. We need to do this. This is real. And the task, I think, has caused Spider Woman to get a little behind. So as we know, one spider can't make the repairs that are needed, but fifty or a thousand or a million will be able to take care of it in under an hour. So thank you all for whatever you can do to help.