Citizenship - Sitting-in-zen

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Sunday Lecture: Three R's of eco-practice/stewardship of land and meditation practice: Rootedness, relatedness, responsibility. Moving below to an unseen place

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to for to the to target it does work
good morning
can you hear me yeah good
question can i hear myself
i'm i'm really happy to be here this morning and welcome all of you ah to green gulch is it a first term for anybody fantastic may not be a laugh may be the first of many this appearing very welcome to be here
oh you know i am
have lived a green gosh for cash twenty five years and a couple of years ago my husband and i moved about a mile down the road to muir beach and this morning a walking up from our home
you if a little collection of then get to live in your beach in practice ah it kind of in a widened out circle from crumbling optionally live our life since poet rainer maria rilke in widening circles so they have widened circle of us practicing down in your beach and coming
home to the anchorage kill a chill or crinkles
and i'm going back out in the world and i was very aware of that this morning i think so many of you are all found in that widened out circle coming here for ah but a chance to be still and to remember what it is to be alive and these times and then to
to go back out into the world and this morning i'm walking up to the field
where i them worked across to i don't know more than two decades out there in the farmland i am
help tremendous upwelling of gratitude for all the many beings who've made on this place a practice so possible and sell available and you know it's wonderful intrusion cash passion they speak in on indistinguishable tongues the cottonwood trees now standing
over thirty feet running along the creek whispering about harry roberts telling us to go to the mouth of the klamath river about twenty twenty plus years ago and bring back whip of cottonwoods because they'd be good to protect and hold the bank and this morning i stopped underneath them they looked up and
thought of harry who crossed over to join what oh she called the great majority
about and on
not long after he invited us to bring back the cottonwood whip so we brought back just sticks which we plunked into the ground and prayed the river would rise and nurture the sticks and give them good water so they would grow and now they're stand at twenty five feet high so as you walk through the field
you may not see them but they see you and and in the wind i can hear their leaves whispering gratitude to the teachers i'm thinking about my husband who worked for so many years in the fields and looking at the deer fences and remembering him on putting those deer fence up it
all hours of the night to keep the deer out from coming in
and then continuing up the role of seeing them
so many old friends the craggy rock on the hillside
that stands in honor of alan chadwick who was one of the primary teachers of the garden program at zen center and on a wonderful in his own way then teacher
standing there overlooking the garden to our dismay overlooking the garden and all of our
voluptuous mistakes you like to call them
ha knew i was very aware this morning of the lineage
the transmission on beyond the scriptures the evident in a piece of land well-kept well loved well nourished and well respected for so many years and i really want this morning to to talk a little bit about this relationship and i'm
deep abiding friendship that we have with land and hell it actually connects with meditation practice
and in particular to dedicate this morning to talk to the many apprentices for ten years this is our ten care of welcoming farm and garden apprentices to join us at green gulch and to
to work in concert with one another to meet each other and to engage with the life of the land to spend a good six months living and practicing here and they have to be quite a unique bunch
in intimately interested in agriculture and in continuing the life of agriculture protecting the land and offering life to the land and they have to be willing to get up at three thirty in the morning and practice meditation so no wonder we only get six or seven or eight a year
but there but their treasures treasured being to join us this year from all over the world from from germany where the riesling grape growth in the rhine valley from central mexico from french-speaking canada of course from berkeley how can we have a premises if they didn't ca
i'm from the east bay from chicago and from all points reaching out so great gratitude to those who her here who come here to join the practice and give us new life and and for all of you who join us to
i'm thinking i'm about a line from a good friend of mine who died a few years ago judith stronach she was a great friend of piecework and strong practitioner
the marvellous human being
she said a simple sentence which has been really in my heart and mind
move below to an unseen place
that meditation practice and caring for the earth helps us to move below to an unseen place and take responsibility for the world we're living in
and i'm thinking about this world
after yesterday when my fifteen year old daughter invited me to go to a movie with her and we went to mill valley and saw the movie super size me then he one theme that stratyner film
on the recommend it if you have the stomach pun intended if you have the stomach to on to look at what happens when the corporate greed and corporate
mindlessness takes over
and how in a humorous way we can encounter
that on truth and respond to really wonderful film documentary where bowl documentary film
and it made me remember that we live in a culture now that produces more mall
in places where mcdonald's franchises are found that gives the film super size me it's about existing on a mcdonald's diet for one month eating nothing else but mcdonald's diet what happens to your body and mind if you subject yourself to that opportunity
available in so many malls and we have we know now in our culture that we've created more more than we have high schools in our country
and far many more prisoners than farmers the kind of farmers that are being cultured cultivated here at santa
more prisoners and farmers what an extraordinary truth
and where ancient forests the size of a football field are disappearing it one
second intervals
it's amazing to think about that and then to recognize that three hundred and sixty three acres of good earth go under every hour
you know if we move below to an unseen place
then we meditation helps us develop the stomach and got to recognize that this is so the piece of the times we're living in the best and worst of all possible times
and that we can actually respond to what we're seeing
and observing in our culture
and did you know one other horrible fact
now that it's
when tested young people and regular citizens on the street are able to recognize almost one thousand corporate logos but when asked to name ten native plants or can animal
in their local ecosystem there are unable to do that
these are grave times and we we have the opportunity to respond
to actually i do something about this so
this morning's talk is very much dedicated to how do we respond what is the true nature and this is a good year to be thinking about grassroots democracy and grassroots dharma
the kind of teaching response commitment to the truth that comes out of an empty field
for i want us to keep that in mind and to really ask ourselves what does the practice of citizenship
look look like right now and i was thinking about the word especially when i wrote it down this morning
citizen you could say fit in then pretty nice
sit in the absolute willingness to not know exactly which way to go which way to turn
but to be committed to holding still and holding the question right there keeping it well beneath you're sitting bones
as you find your place on the earth to sit a thinner then practice we can have a a little
understanding of that word
these are the times when when this kind of cultivation of citizenship
citizen from living in the city from living in a civil way citizen is contrasted to someone who is a military person so a peacemaker we could say a third of citizens practices the practice of making peace sitting still on the land where we live in ah
and then getting up and serving how do we do that what helps us stay strong stay true stay deep stay connected fray as giving us teaching now and
listen to the
one who is not quite a year old
she thinks the dharma feet
daughter of an apprentice

the next twenty years or so
how we live in it's amazing we even have that long
but how we live how we consume are not consume
we'll take on paramount importance
for each one of us is like a good feed ready to so
rates of change
so good seeds of change
and possess a field that we really haven't yet taken on
and i think maybe that's why we're here today in the fall instead of racing around on the gypsy trail were walking in the sunshine which you can do later but here to consider what does it mean to be a true citizen of the world and to take our place to as my friend and teacher joanna macy says at your age after all
where five billion years old
i remember our ancient our ancient enough and take our place in know in that ancient mind and heart and serve
you know i i've never been fond of the word environmental all v raman meaning surround what surrounds you for me
the land and the earth doesn't surround but it makes us who we are so environment of too vague i want to bring it closer i have a mind to
to make it more elemental maybe like the m handful of red clay that i picked up from the new cob house that's being built a tool shed that's being built in the in the garden that was just started during the work week after so many years of wanting to make a house that way
one of the little three pigs would be quite proud of made of earth and straw and know wolf can ever huff and puff and blow down this beautiful cob house with inch which incidentally was inspired and made possible from the goodwill and and an intense desire of this community to have it happen but also from one of our apprentices
she wasn't truly an apprentice but married to an apprentice who came back and said i'll help you do it the wonderful to think of spring here working with her hands and mind to show us how to do this house along with many other people learning from teaching us
she who learned in studied here to wonderful events so i have a mind to make
environmental practice more graphic closer a little bit more earthy and grounded and i've been thinking quite a bit what are the qualities
that will help us take our place in the world right now and serve
environmental practice classically run too strong lines one ah protecting the earth using it well gardening farming doing a lot of the stuff that we're doing here and then there's also the plane or the poll of leaving the earth profoundly alone
just respecting wild nature not touching it all protecting that wildness for cultivating and using the resources of the earth protecting wildness and somehow to be a them to fit in then means to take a dangerous position that runs in between those two
that uses or respects the gifts of the land just enough while maintaining its wildness
and finding a way to learn live be nourished and be made of not to not in the surrounding way but in a very intimate personal way the qualities
of the land we love
now meditation practice and whatever tradition you're you're taking up is based on absolutely simple techniques sitting still
enjoying your breathing
making a pledge to stay awake
to look deeply at what is
including what's difficult and what wondrous and unknown
and then when the time is right to get up and walk into the world and look at the figures in this room and they're they're great teacher they run parallel there and constant conversation manjushri seated in the center of the room generally depicted as a sixteen year old male and i know now why
being a mother of one that age tremendous vigor intensity fertility creativity and capacity to sit still manjushri not fitting for us but to remind us all to sit still on the middle of the earth and the world and be grounded
and historical buddha touching the earth
representing wisdom and understanding and facing ah jeez nobody thought for
and tara buddha
also see the jesus figure standing up and walking out into the world gsl the protector of children and travelers the one who's willing to go down into hill and come back up again walking out into the world stepping into action
active compassion and she tara buddha jumping up her right foot ready to touch the ground and to serve and made all beings wonderful teachers right here for that kind of environmental practice or ecological practice or what week for years called echoes thought for practice
echo from the greek oikos meaning household household awareness awareness of them have a land were living in intimate personal dangerous
a little wild
actually animates the field that we find ourselves practicing in
i'm gonna ask us to think
think together about three qualities that come up very strongly for me
when i consider engaged meditation practice practice it comes up out of a life of the world and how else could it come up it has to come up has to move from below from an unseen place
and our hearts and minds especially when we hold still long enough to let it in to let it be to let it grow
so first of all the quality of rootedness i call this on actually i ah
in thinking about it i have come to call these qualities the three r's of ecological practice rootedness ah relationship and responsibility
here's what i think about and when it comes to rootedness
in classic than fashion
rootedness means being rootless at the same time and free free to move
but an order for that freedom it's necessary to anchor
a little bit to anchor your body and mind you could say anchor in the breath anchor in the unknown
anchor in the mystery anchoring your own commitment to serve
and rootedness is essential to find your roots and i think this morning looking at the unplanted some of the unplanted fields i walk through from your beach into the cultivated land of green gulch i was looking at some rye plants and recognizing that one rie plante a single right plant
has a root system that's been measured at five miles length underneath the ground all those fibrous roots
and the lead roots in that plant or each root tip is covered with a little cap
and those roots go diving down into unproductive land or on
on cultivated land and push into the ground and open up channels and then there followed
by wild system of fibrous roots five miles in length isn't that extraordinary for one planet single right plan but you know it takes the vanguard route to go down and crack into the open ground or mean to crack into hard ground to open it
inequality is very much equality present and meditation practice the desire to to find your roots
ah to to be routed
and in that rootedness to remember your wildness in that time when there were no roads in the field
so and then practice we say let's cultivate the empty field
field it's empty of separateness an individual quality and includes a welcome earth for all beings
so many people these days experience on
rootlessness having our roots be cut off and i think of visiting going back to my hometown
inland that i played in as a child now is covered with buildings
that land are paved over but still singing underneath the ground i know that on some level but there's a lot of grief and sorrow to see how we're living in the world
the rootedness means having the capacity to look at that and take it in
and hopefully ah to respond
whatever you have to say
says poet charles off and whatever you have to say leave the red zone
and the dirt just to make clear where you come from
and you know when thinking of the largest organism largest single organism
on earth it's up there's actually two possibilities one is a huge fungus that spreads for almost an acre
discovered in not an ancient forest almost an acre worth of roots living bridges they're called the living bridge between
the inanimate world so-called inanimate world the mineral world in the world of plants traveled by invisible microbes almost an acre in size with gigantic single organism
coughing with life making life possible or else and there's some contest here and aspen forest have you walked in the aspens there were even the cottonwoods that harry encouraged us the plant or relatives of the aspens but a single aspen tree has a root system that can go out also
for many acres no single a single plant contains routes that send up a whole entire forest
it's good to think about the power of roots and how they spread or if you go if you were to go into the old growth forest at muir woods if the couple of miles from here and inject a little bit of red dye into the
root system at the base of a tree that red guy would drop die would travel throughout the entire forest because those route through all interlaced and interconnected shallow wild
so if in our meditation practice we can connect
let ourselves route in the unknown
in ground that hasn't been opened
an open it
by are strong sitting
deep resolve
and begin to be made of the place where we are sitting
that's an extraordinary gift
and i propose that you make or you may think oh it's fine for me to say that because i've been able to sit here for twenty five years a sheltered safe deep and abiding place of practice
but it's my definite experience that this kind of rootedness can happen wherever we live and in fact has to happen wherever we live
and the quality that we bring
two that rootedness is
essential original
if you have a chance
to go to the dining room
and look at the paintings that are the gift of them a creative mind and heart and practice of michael sawyer long time resident here
i take a moment to stand before the medicine buddha
where a buddha rooted in garbage
is coming up out of the confusion and over it's over consumptive nice of our culture and finding his place coming up out of the garbage
it's an extraordinary painting one of his newest paintings
maybe all the more
meaningful given his own struggle and creative a challenge made manifest straight there in that painting so we can route in whatever i'm
place we find ourselves and we must it's great to be able to come here to remember how to do it
to have a a deep field of consciousness so that we can go out wherever we're called to serve and set down roots and serve not clutching are clinging to the place but in fact in a way letting it go
and being willing to be made of where we were practicing

i look forward to talking with you in the question and answer about how we actually do this because i realize this difficult work
and next when there's a sense of rootedness
or penetrating the unknown moving below to an unseen place
then quite naturally comes up on the experience of being related to every being throughout space and time that you encounter
and this is not a vague on
practice but one that that very definitely comes out of engaging
with the place where we find ourselves when you find your place where you are practice occurs
wonderful statement from dogan from the thirteenth century zen master when you find your place where you are practice occurs
and how could it possibly be
that we wouldn't be related to all the many beings that surround us and give us life
beginning to set down roots we can feel all my relations
so a buddha is intimately related to garbage garbage to a buddha
garbage on its way to becoming a buddha
it's not quite that easy that garbage becomes good at the garbage is fully garbage and out of that relationship
awakening is
it's a mystery but one where
intimately qualified to take up
there's a wonderful story of 'em
historical buddha taking his place as his home village was preparing his villagers in his home village were preparing to to war to make war with another village
the buddha took his place underneath a dead tree in the full sun on the edge of the road and since the story category where she told us i love the story so much
he took his place under a dead tree and the army's when marching toward each other saw him and said what are you doing sitting there under a dead tree
and he said even though on the tree this tree is dead i'm still on i still feel the cool breeze of my homeland
something like that and
that had such a profound effect on the army's that they turned away
when awakening is related
to being willing to sit with the garbage and was a dead tree practice occurs
but it's not a formula not a guaranteed formula not a strategy and not a m
a magical thing because later
those armies recapped as armies do and went to war in there was tremendous loss and the buddhist stood by
one of his students may have asked
why didn't you take your place under a dead tree he might say what dead tree or real piece of category where she said real peace is not a matter of discussion
it's based on being in relationship with all that is
and it may not work
so we don't get to bargain with real peace and with real peacemaking
the more we sit like this the more we realize that strength of human ignorance this words from category roshi
there is no reason that we create this terrible situation but we do constantly this is pretty hard because the more we taste and chew real peace the more we realize human ignorance
but the more we realize human ignorance and our relationship to it
the more we cannot stop teaching real piece living real peace
statement it's a paradox and good instructions for how to live on the earth
he makes me remember on a number of years ago with
a young woman who was one of our earlier premises on the person who has lived here at zen center for almost seven years came to us after the death of her husband and the early death of her mother came and practiced wholeheartedly in the fields a few of us went up to the
ancient headwaters forest and
we traveled in in nancy's rather funky old battered up bmw but of course traveling into the heart of the activists world up there it looked like a ah you know what a humvee one of these big fancy cars and people were very suspicious of us as we unloaded box after box of vegetables to help support the active
this that we're protecting the ancient forest and we spent three days
sitting in the woods and actually participating in a
very simple action along with ah many people we'd never met before and all the beginnings of them of the forest tour joining with us it does something to you to sit still for three days among redwood trees that make them your woods redwood trees look like a little tiny narrow polls
there are so huge and vast six of us couldn't get our arms around the trees there
on the edge of the river swimmers camp where we stopped
and we walked near the tree where near luna the tree were julia butterfly hill took her place and in fact we were guided by a young woman banca who was in our first apprenticeship class here green gulch
ah she took us into the forest and we visited that extraordinary tree luna which leans slightly and now has been as you know
hacked into by am
ah people who i think didn't understand hacking into the tree so that it was cured it was curious and debatable whether or not that tree could even stand we got to see the tree before
before this eco vandalism
and then just a few days ago a friend told me that
native medicine people have gathered around this tree which is in danger of falling into made of are upholstered poultice made of bear saliva now how they got the barisal i'm going to i do know i can only imagine it i can't imagine how they did it bear saliva bear the breath of bears the drool of bears
and other plants mix together and injected into the wounds of the tree
and where it was we've been expecting to see tremendous die off the tree is producing massive green girls from the top i hope you've heard of the story quite a wonderful tale of other
interrelatedness of all beings in a life of the forest so i like to think of
all our relations and be encouraged
by related illness
by taking our place in relationship

it left the ball on
meditation practice and ecological practice depends on responsiveness and on taking responsibility
and we know this inside out
sitting is about taking responsibility for who we are how we live what we do
and that means taking responsibility for the
overconsumption of resources that marks our culture
where we know that on one memorial day weekend
the amount of energy used by the city of new york would be enough to keep africa powered the whole continent of africa powered for one year
now what is our responsibility for how we live and how do we manifest that responsibility
he's gotta be a question that comes up lively and strong and meditation
i love the word i looked up this morning the word or
respond or to be responsible it comes from the latin respond dairy which means to promise in return
to make a promise in return for all that is i promise i pledge i take my place i give back
to reply to answer to return
and the ancient route of respond derek comes from a word meaning of a post
that holds up and arch and you know the arch the arches bear great weight but an arch has to be supported by responsiveness and responsibility

and again
that means taking responsibility for on
in in every way that we can again teacher and friend joanna macy suggests that there are three clear ways we can respond right now by holding actions very much like some of the actions we did in the ancient old growth forest to protest the logging
structural analysis of what is clear eyed structural analysis of what is leads to tremendous change and responsibility i think of the ecosoc that's here at gringotts last year who did a beautiful structural analysis of of our food production and how we could
be more accurately participating within the food web of the bear and a wonderful structural analysis helps to bring in real change and i think many many different forms of that kind of analysis are happening every day
and last of all
transforming cult sure through spiritual life
religion is for those scared to death of hell
spirituality is for those who live there
nick that's it that's a great reminder
so this is work our creative life comes most actively to the surface and you naturally take responsibility
it's our human on inheritance to do so certainly the fruit of practice to do so
a few weeks ago with the premises i had the pleasure of i'm going on a field trip to the east bay coming going out of green gulch and it observing what happens when local citizens take responsibility for the troubles in their neighborhoods
so one of our
apprentices from a few years ago with our guide
one of her very close friends from college is doing a wonderful program with the farm fresh choice activists in south and west berkeley setting up little produce stands right on the corner of neighborhoods that have no grocery stores so we stopped on a sacramento street and oregon
and stood underneath the awning as some
as these wonderful young activists spread out a canopy of food that they had gathered from different growers and made it available just sold it right there on the street no store okay let's sell right on the street and behind them a nursery set up with up again community
residents participating in growing plants that will be distributed to different people who don't have enough food to eat so that they can plant vegetable starch in their gardens
and and grow food there's none of the food let's do everything we can to respond to answer to pledge to take our place and then for people that are not able to plant gardens over toxic ground that was right there they built up very high raised beds and
many of the plants have been planted for senior citizens and for neighborhood resident extraordinary to see i commend this place to you just drive and to check it out what's happening when here next in the east bay go down sacramento street and pause a little bit at oregon take a look at this whole world that's happening from community response
agnes and then we continued into the heart of west oakland where thirty two thousand people live seventy percent under the poverty line
the highest industrial pollution in the entire bay area and some of the highest in the country
present right there where the flatlands me the industrial world
ah in that neighborhood thirty six liquor stores and one grocery store
the two to three young people who thought we can make a difference we can do something here and there ingenious they found an old postal truck and converted it with bio diesel fuel into people's grocery
painted a bright orange and purple the great logo on the front they have a solar powered sound system that place hip hop music and they're driving through west oakland and pausing on neighborhood streets and opening up the van
to feed people there's no grocery store will be not will make a grocery store we will be a grocery store
as enchanted deva where there's hunger let me be food where there's loneliness let me be a bridge we can walk across where there's confusion let me be a soft couch where you can sit down and gather your heart and mind
so this wonderful truck we we sat the apprentices and i we were exhausted we sat on the lawn and watched as
little kids whizzed up on their bikes and ran in and the people's three young people are running the programs that are smart enough to know that little kids don't want broccoli they want cheetos but not cheetos we have to give them with we don't want a super-sized them we want to give them real food so mountain people's grocery is providing peace
apple's grocery with organic cheetos i can't imagine how they must taste but when there's no other choice you'll buy them
your by barbara potato chips go by luna bars in honor of luna luna bars made with hopefully bear saliva and who knows what else you buy them and he'll eat them and be nourished and serve the kids were doing there and produce grown from five different community gardens in that neighborhood on top
basic land or city slickers farm it's built over the reservoir of pollution from the f on
think that's scares me for red star yeast factory in oakland that land is very polluted so they've stacked up tires about this high and planted potatoes and the tires and spilling over with potatoes so they're not touching toxic grant and lettuce growing at a perforated pipe
being hung from polls it's just
farm it was so beautiful
from the gates were locked but we pressed ourselves against the jangling thing
and i was sally was telling me about how food is distributed in her community in puebla mexico and plo talking about how people don't go hungry in europe or in french canada
or in chicago where heather was telling me about the angelic organics where there's congregation a supported agriculture church has get together and make sure people are not going to go hungry it's a huge movement happening in our country
and it comes from responsibility responsiveness
and knowing how connected we all are


so years ago wendell berry who's written a wonderful book called the citizenship papers years ago i visited us at green gulch and he said when asked how can we make a difference i mean we live in the urban fringe how can we have a simpler life he said can have a simpler life by stopping stopping the wish for a simpler life because life isn't simple now
it's you long for bread and fishes go to people's grocery van support them know the complexity of figuring out how are nourished how were fed
and on a tasting that food is a huge gift and it's of meditators gift
to know where we come from to remember how or did we are in what we eat and how we live
how related we all are
how tentatively and sensitively and deeply related we all are not only to the goodness but to the garbage
and how responsible we all are
it's so important to remember that

so it's a wonderful thing when you begin any task to set your intention
only the certainly the intention of this morning's talk has to offer gratitude and appreciation and commitment for the world we live in and for the opportunities that are available to us now in difficult times the best and worst times
and then to offer the merit
back to the well-being of the world that surrounds us and gives us life to the many beings that make it possible
lifetime after lifetime we'd like to close with the a poem
from a friend
with a really good farmer an excellent i think an excellent playful and rambunctious rather disobedient naughty poet
incorporates a humor and wisdom and playfulness em all the qualities that are necessary to take our place in these times
who knows how to turn things while being turned by things
how to keep it reminds us how to keep ourselves harmonious and whole hearted
and just continue under all circumstances even when you think you can't continue any longer
remembering that we are connected by a flynn
and changeable thread
a vine like watermelons growing on an empty field their roots going deep down
moving to
the land to an unseen place
watermelons and then students
hmm i hope i can see this
hmm i need a pair of glasses off
thank you so much
they will work for me cause the yours
oh yeah
watermelons and then students grow pretty much the same way long periods of sitting sitting ups long periods of citizen sitting long periods of sitting
till they ripen and grow all juicy inside but when you knock them on the head to see if they're ready sounds like nothing's going on
thank you very much of a wonderful day