December 4th, 2005, Serial No. 04352

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Good morning.
So this is the week that we have the children's program at Green Gulch.
And it's nice to see all the children here.
And a few weeks ago, one of the people who takes care of the children's program called me and said, oh, the children today are going to be studying patients.
Could you talk about that?
And I'd like to say yes to requests.
Sometimes there's too many and I have to say no.
But actually she didn't know that a month and a half ago I'd given two seminars in the Midwest on patience.
So I'm very happy to say yes to that.
So this first part, I want to talk to the children.
The old people can listen if you want to.
Patience is very important in our practice.
Patience basically just means waiting in some sense.
But it's not just passively sitting around doing nothing.
So in Buddhism, patience is a very active, dynamic activity.
So just to give a few examples, I'll start with the example of doctors.
You know that doctors need to have a lot of patience.
And so that's why they have the patients sit in the waiting room to develop their patience.
So when you go to the doctor, you'll be patient.
And you'll have to sit and wait, even if you want to crawl around.
And then, of course, there's being patient with bad jokes.
So patience is about being ready, paying attention.
It may feel like just sitting waiting for the doctor or just sitting waiting for something, but actually our practice of patience is to be very careful and to be very aware and to be ready, to be willing, to be ready to do something when you need to do something.
So patience is not just sleeping and waiting, doing nothing.
Patience is readiness.
So another example is like an outfielder in baseball.
So they may be standing out in the outfield, and maybe many pitches go by.
In fact, maybe the whole game goes by and no ball is hit to them.
Still, every single pitch, they have to stand and wait and be patient and be ready to jump and run if the ball is hit to them.
So patience is like that.
So this is a difficult practice.
It involves a lot of effort and energy.
So you may think that it's hard to be patient and wait for it till it's your turn to get something.
But you have to be ready because maybe it'll be your turn soon.
So being patient is a way of learning to pay attention, a way of learning to be ready, a way of learning to
Jump and get it when the ball's hit to you.
So one other example I want to talk about.
So you may think that this planet we live on is called the planet Earth, right?
But in Buddhism, in the old sutras, in the old sacred writings, a lot of them, they say that this planet is actually called the Saha world.
Can you say that, Saha?
Good.
That's the name of our planet in, in, um, old Buddhist texts.
And what that name word means, means endurance.
It means being patient.
It means enduring because this is a difficult world.
There's lots of difficulties.
People aren't so kind all the time.
Sometimes people don't want to share with us.
So there are things that you want that you don't have.
Maybe you'll get them for Christmas.
Maybe not.
but there are many things you want and you can't have them or you don't have them yet.
And then there are things that you have that you don't want.
And maybe you have to wait until they go away.
So that's patience too.
So in the Buddhist sutras they say that bodhisattvas, enlightening beings, come to visit the Saha world from other planets.
So these extraterrestrials, these extraterrestrial bodhisattvas or enlightening beings, they come and see the Saha world and they're very impressed.
because all the good people who are here doing their ordinary things, waiting, have to be very strong and have to have very good patience.
So you should know that all the extraterrestrial beings who come to look at this Buddha world are very impressed with you for how patient you are because we have to learn to be patient.
So sometimes there are difficulties,
And that patience that you learn by just being present, just being there while you're waiting, is very difficult and very impressive.
And all of us, all of us, even the little ones, have learned to be patient.
All of you are being very patient now.
You want to go out and play.
And yet I'm still talking.
So I'm going to stop soon and let you go.
But I really want to say how wonderful it is that you're so patient to listen to these words and to these old teachings and that this patience is very important and very impressive to all the extraterrestrial bodhisattvas who come and visit us regularly.
So they know that you are making a big effort to be patient.
So, thank you very much for listening and thank you for your patience.
And please continue to practice patience, to try to see how you can be ready and pay attention.
And when it's time for you to do something, then you can jump and go and do it.
And right now, it's time for you to go outside.
So thank you very much for your patience and for teaching all the big people about being patient and waiting.
If anyone in the back would like to step forward, there's plenty of empty seats up here now.
So, good morning.
As some of you may have heard, I'm going to speak this morning about the practice of patience.
And it's true that in the Buddhist sutras, this is called the Saha world, the world of endurance.
We all have a lot to endure.
We all have to be very patient.
So the Buddha field created by Shakyamuni, the Buddha who lived in northern India 2,500 years ago, is called the Saha world.
And actually it's true that bodhisattvas from other Buddha fields when they come here are very impressed by bodhisattvas here because we have to practice patience.
So of course we all know there are lots of things that we need to endure, lots of problems.
Things are seriously out of whack.
Things are not as they should be.
We could talk about this in terms of three levels maybe.
One is just our everyday activity, our activities during the week.
The difficulties that we have to tolerate with our family and relations and relationships and friends and co-workers and the people we see, our neighbors.
So there are difficulties and challenges.
And we have to learn to be patient or this practice of patience can help us.
on this level.
Then there are the difficulties and the patience that we need just settling on your own cushion or chair.
So starting this evening in this room, a lot of the people who live here and other people will be sitting a seven-day Sashin.
So she means to gather the mind-heart, to hold and embrace the mind-heart.
And they'll just be sitting for seven days.
There'll be walking periods in between sitting.
But anyway, it takes a lot of patience.
It's a training in patience.
And even without other people being, there will be other people on the nearby cushions, but even just with the people on your own cushion or chair,
there's a whole world of difficulty and problems and confusion and frustration and things aren't as we might want them to be.
Still we have things we don't want and things we want that we don't have.
Then the third level is the difficulties of our society.
wider society.
And of course we know there is massive, I would say brazen corruption in our government and in many, most of our civil institutions now.
There's cruelty in the world.
There's wars of aggression, many problems.
So each of these three realms has its own karma, its own complicated workings.
on each level and each of them demands our patience and this practice of patience that I want to talk about today actually is a tool that can allow us to be more effective and more responsive and to be helpful on all three of those levels on our own cushions or chairs in this body and mind with our friends and family and co-workers and so forth and also in responding to the society at large
So this practice of patience, technically it's one of the 10 paramitas or transcendent practices of bodhisattvas.
In Sanskrit it's called kshanti.
So these are practices that all bodhisattvas do.
I'm gonna mention one of the other ones, but you can read more about all 10 of them in my book on bodhisattvas, Faces of Compassion, available
for sale in the bookstore up here in the office.
These are all, they're called perfections, but it's not that we ever perfect them exactly.
We all have some relationship to all of these practices.
So all of you have been patient enough to not run out of the room yet.
So we all have some degree of patience, and yet what I want to talk about today is
how we can develop that, how we can intentionally take on patience as a practice, how we can use it in our life, how we can see that it is an active and, as I said, dynamic practice.
So this kshanti, this Sanskrit word that I'm calling patience, could also be translated as forbearance, to forbear or to endure with the difficulties that we do have.
It can also be translated as tolerance.
to develop our tolerance for difficult situations.
And this also develops our capacity and our power to respond.
So developing as patients, actually, it's a very powerful practice.
So the meditation practice that we specialize in here, this practice of zazen, is a kind of training in patients.
We sit on a cushion or chair and we face the wall and we observe what's going on.
Without trying to fix anything or do anything, we're just waiting.
We're just watching.
We're attentive.
We see our own thoughts and feelings come up.
We see that we don't have control over our own thoughts, that many thoughts, many feelings, many sensations come up.
And sometimes we settle for a little while.
And we feel the air and the sound and the breathing in our body and mind.
We can enjoy, inhale and exhale.
And in some sense we are waiting, waiting for the bell in 40 minutes.
And then we get up and practice patience as we walk.
So this practice is a training in learning to develop this capacity, this tolerance, to just be present and just be aware, and to bring our attention to our situation, to the situation of this body and mind.
So of course there are other ways to train and practice in patience when we get up from our cushion.
And a lot of what this branch of Zen we do here, Soto Zen, is about is how we express our Zazen mind and heart when we get up from the cushion.
How we take that with us and bring it into our everyday activities.
How we use this resource of patience in our life in the world.
And actually, the ultimate practice of patience, which I will get to hopefully by the end of the talk,
is considered to be identical with enlightenment itself.
So more and more I feel like patience is actually the heart of our practice.
Patience is what it's about.
Again, this dynamic, active, attentive, aware capacity to be patient, to be present, to be ready to respond when there's some way to respond, to watch carefully.
we say, to be awake.
So this practice, Buddhism just means practice of awakening.
To be awake, to be aware.
And yet, our habit is to, what we're trained to do in our human society is to
go out and fix things to manipulate the world to get what we want or to manipulate the world to avoid what we don't want or to manipulate ourselves to be what we think of as more effective or to be happier or so forth.
And yet this practice of patience is, it's not passive, but it's radically other than this kind of manipulative
habit that we have.
It's not about problem solving.
It's not about fixing anything.
It's how can we just be present and aware and ready when there's some way to respond.
So I wanted to talk this morning about a few images of patients in Buddhism and maybe some other examples.
One is from a chant that we do in the mornings here sometimes by the founder of the Soto Zen in China, who's named Dongshan.
And this is called the Song of the Jewel-Mirror Samadhi.
Jewel-Mirror Samadhi is another way of talking about this Zazen practice we do.
So this is my favorite song, the Song of the Jewel-Mirror Samadhi, with the possible exception of Visions of Johanna.
That's Bob Dylan's song about Sashin.
Geez, I can't find my knees.
Check out the lyrics sometimes.
Anyway, that's a different Dharma talk.
So, the song of the Jewel Marrow Samadhi, I wanted to talk about just one line in it.
It's talking about a Buddha, an ancient Buddha from a long, long, long, long, long time ago.
And it says, one on the verge of full enlightenment of Buddhahood,
contemplated a tree for 10 kalpas.
So maybe he was sitting facing a tree.
In the old days in India, they didn't have meditation halls like this where we sit facing the wall.
They just sat down under a tree and faced the tree.
So you might try that sometimes.
You don't necessarily have to do it for 10 kalpas, but you might take, you know, 10 minutes or even 20 or 30 minutes and just sit and enjoy a tree.
consider everything and all the patients and all the activity and all the dynamism that goes into just being a tree.
Anyway, this guy, I think his name in Sanskrit was Mahabhishnabhibhu, something like that.
Anyway, he's a Buddha from the Flower Ornament Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, which is this vast text about how bodhisattvas work, how enlightened beings work, their activities and their practices.
It's the most psychedelic book I know of.
It's 1,600 pages, but it's really worth reading a little bit of anyway.
There is a copy for sale in the bookstore.
Anyway, this guy sat on the verge, right on the verge, right on the edge of full enlightenment of the Buddha for ten kalpas.
Do you know what a kalpa is?
Some don't.
So sometimes it's translated as an age or an eon.
There's various definitions of it.
One of them, I'll give you a couple.
One is, if you imagine an old medieval enclosed city, it's a hundred square miles.
And inside the city, all the ground is covered with just one layer of poppy seeds.
And one of those poppy seeds is removed every three years.
So the time it would take to get to take all of the poppy seeds out of the city is one kelpa.
Another description is a bird flying over.
There's a bird that flies over Mount Everest once every hundred years and she has a piece of silk in her claw and the silk rubs the top of Mount Everest once every hundred years.
And the time it would take to wear down Mount Everest from that silk is one kelpa.
So anyway, in Buddhism we think in terms of very long periods of time, and I think that's helpful to patients.
40 minutes is nothing compared to.
And we chant in the morning the names of the Buddhism ancestors, the people who have kept this practice alive for 2,500 years in our history.
So we have a wider sense of time and I think that's helpful to patients.
But this, going back to this Buddha, just being on the verge, just being on the edge of complete total Buddhahood, but not trying to grab it, not going there, just staying right there on the edge for ten kalpas, sitting patiently like that.
I think that's the heart of our practice.
We could call it invirginment.
This is the being on the verge, just being on the edge of total, complete, perfect, hey, the world is okay just as it is.
Here we are.
And not turning away from, boy, are there a lot of problems.
Being able to hold both of those, to be on that edge.
This is the heart of our practice.
So this guy in the Song of the Jewel Mary Samadhi, he did that for a very long time.
Of course, Buddhas, when they become complete Buddhas, also don't forget about the, they maybe see the emptiness and the wholeness and the interconnectedness of all things and they see how wonderful it is.
And they see that everybody has this Buddha nature, this capacity.
Everybody is this Buddha nature, this tolerance, this capacity, this possibility of being awake right now.
And they also don't forget that, of course, everybody is suffering.
So I don't know.
I haven't met anybody yet who isn't damaged in some way.
We all have wounds from being alive for however many decades we've been around this lifetime.
There are difficulties in this world.
We know that.
And yet our practice is not to forget that, but also to see this other side and just sit right in the center there.
And it's easy to fall over to one side or another.
Maybe it's harder to fall over to the side of everything is great.
But anyway, just to sit upright right in the middle there.
Another example from Buddhist folklore and imagery of patience is the Bodhisattva named Maitreya in Pali, Mettaya.
He is predicted by Shakyamuni Buddha to be the next future Buddha.
In the meantime, he's sitting and waiting patiently up in the meditation heaven, waiting to be born as the next Buddha and thinking about, wondering about, pondering, how can I save all beings?
How can I be the next Buddha?
And he doesn't know when that's going to happen.
So part of our practice of patience is not knowing.
We don't know when the ball is going to be hit to us.
We don't know when we're going to have a chance to respond and be helpful in the world.
But we can be ready and waiting and Maitreya waits for a long time.
So there are various predictions of when Maitreya will come.
One text says that he will come in the year 4456 AD.
So we've got a little bit of a wait.
But then there's another prediction that says he will come 5,760,000,000 years after the last Buddha.
That's a lot of time.
In the meantime, what is he doing?
Well, he specializes in one aspect of this zazen and meditation, which is, again, he's thinking about how to save all beings and how to create the next Buddha field, the next Buddha world.
And he's thinking about all of us, and he's thinking about the other heavenly beings that are floating around him.
And he's also looking at his own heart-mind, as people will do in this room for the next seven days, and considering.
how this is going, what is happening, what is my experience sitting here on my cushion.
So Dogen calls this the study of the self.
He says that Dogen is the founder of this Soto Zen branch in Japan.
He went to China and brought it back in the 1200s.
And he says that to study the way is to study the self.
So our practice of patience is again attentive and aware and there's a kind of study involved.
So it's not just studying the self, it's not forgetting about, not caring about other beings, but looking at the self to see how can we help others.
Getting to know oneself, becoming intimate and familiar with your own habits and your own ways of thinking and your own patterns of grasping and your own patterns of anger.
And we do this sitting on our cushion.
We do this going through the world.
So one of the best ways to study patience, to study the practice of patience, is to actually really pay attention when we get impatient.
Impatience is a great teacher.
When we get impatient with something is when we are seeing this illusion of a self that we've created.
When we get impatient, we can see the places and the ways in which we are holding on, clinging to our own self-interest, clinging to our own ideas and views and desires and angers and so forth.
So being impatient is not a bad thing.
The practice of patience doesn't mean that you should never be impatient.
The practice of patience is to study your impatience.
Look and see when you feel impatience.
What's going on?
What am I holding on to?
So this is a very important part of practicing the active practice of patience.
So look at how it is that you get impatient and what it is that allows you to feel your impatience.
When we're impatient, sometimes this is connected with anger and the practices of patience are very, very helpful in transforming the energy of anger.
in not needing to act out from anger, in seeing our own anger.
So usually impatience and anger, they often come together.
Looking at that pattern, waiting, sitting, watching, being ready to respond.
So we don't know when we can be helpful, but learning to know your own patterns of impatience can be very helpful.
There's lots of examples of this.
One example that most of us in the Bay Area are familiar with is driving on the freeways.
Very simple example, but somebody is driving recklessly and cutting in front of you and swerving around.
driving very fast, and we might, our patterns of impatience, we might be tempted to make some unkind mudra, some gesture of, some hand gesture of, that would express our anger and impatience.
So again, this is a good time to study what's going on.
Then there's also the situation when you're in a hurry and you're in the left lane and somebody's driving in the left lane very slowly and you can't get past them.
And again, you might be tempted to make some unkind mood or honk your horn or something.
Study those examples.
Look at how it is that you feel you're
That guy's a jerk, whether they're driving too fast or too slow.
So there are ways to practice patience.
So one of the things I do is when I see somebody driving very fast and tempted to feel like they're a jerk, I think, well, maybe they're going to the hospital and somebody's been hurt.
And when somebody's driving very slow in the left lane and I'm impatient because I have some place to go by a certain time, I think, oh, maybe that person is a great bodhisattva helping me not to drive recklessly.
So there are ways of being patient with your impatience.
There are ways of considering more deeply what is going on.
And do I really need to make that gesture?
And if you do, okay, but then how can you see, look at this impatience later and learn from it?
So also there's the difficulty when we have a friend or a family member or co-worker who's acting unkindly or who is expressing their own impatience or acting in some way like a jerk.
What do we do about that?
Well, one response might be to criticize them
to think about how terrible they are and make all kinds of judgments, but another response might be, oh, how can I help that person to see what they're doing?
And usually you can't, there's nothing you can do right away.
So this is also a practice of patience.
If you pay attention to what that person is doing, that person who's close to you,
At some point, at some time, there might be a chance to say something, to say something kind that helps them to see the situation and helps them to make a shift.
But this involves patience.
It involves waiting and not saying anything 10 times when they act like a jerk.
And then maybe there's some time when you can say something.
So this practice of patience is related, of course, to all the other transcendent practices that I mentioned.
There are many, many systems of practice that are talked about in Buddhism, but these ten transcendent practices of bodhisattvas, they're all related to patience, generosity, and wisdom, or prajna, power, skillful means.
Particularly closely related is the practice of effort, or energy, or enthusiasm.
This is called in Sanskrit, virya, and we might think that
Effort and energy is very energetic and active, and patience is very kind of passive and just receptive.
But actually both have both sides.
Virya is actually related to the word virility.
So you might think of effort and energy as male and very active, and this practice of patience as just being passive.
But I would say both, they're both very related, and they both have both an active and a contemplative or passive side.
but part of our practice of patience that relates to this practice of energy.
How do we sustain ourselves?
How do we find our way of maintaining our energy, maintaining our effort, maintaining our enthusiasm, being willing to just keep sitting for seven days, as some people will do starting this evening, or to stay with some difficult situation where we don't know what to do, where we don't know how to be helpful.
So patience has this receptive side where we're watching, where we're paying attention.
But it also has this readiness, this willingness to respond.
It's very dynamic.
It's right there.
It's like the outfielder ready to jump and go after the ball.
It's a very dynamic situation, even though it looks like nothing's happening.
And energy, also this practice of enthusiasm or effort or energy,
We can see the positive, the active side of that, developing tremendous energetic activity, but also how do we nurture that activity?
How do we nurture our energy?
How do we sustain that energy in difficulties?
Another one of these practices that's very related to the practice of patience is called skillful means.
How can we respond helpfully
How can we be more effective in our responses?
How can we be more helpful, be more responsive?
So one of the Bodhisattva figures, another one of the Bodhisattva figures is named Guan Yin, in Chinese, or Kanzeon in Japanese, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
And she specializes in practice of skillful means.
But mostly what she does is just watch and wait, be very attentive.
Her name means to listen to the cries, to the suffering of the world.
So she is the Bodhisattva of compassion and also the Bodhisattva of empathetic listening, the Bodhisattva of just listening, just hearing.
So we all know how wonderful it is to really be heard, to really feel heard.
This is what this attentive listening does.
And it involves a lot of patience.
It involves a lot of waiting.
It involves just
You know, we want to say something.
We want to respond.
We want to tell the other person what they should do.
We have all kinds of ideas.
But actually, sometimes what's most helpful is just to listen.
Don't say anything.
So there's a kind of patience there.
But this Bodhisattva of compassion is also responsive.
So there's a responsive side of this patience.
And in some forms of this Bodhisattva, she has a thousand hands.
And each hand has an eye in it to see from different perspectives to develop skillfulness.
And some of the hands have various implements in them to use.
So skillful means is about being patient and watching and being attentive and being ready to respond.
And then when there's some time to respond, using what's at hand, whatever it is, paying attention.
So again, this practice of patience is not
not just being passive, even if it looks like you're just sitting doing nothing.
So the question is, how do we respond?
Part of the practice of patience is asking the question.
There's a kind of questioning aspect to this patience.
It's not just accepting things just as they are in this passive way, but questioning.
How can I respond?
How can I be helpful?
How can I be helpful to the people around me?
How can I be helpful to me as I'm struggling, sitting here, trying to be patient?
And how can we be helpful to all of the difficulties in our society?
So I feel like there's a relationship between patience and hope.
And there's a quote that maybe you've heard from Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright and political prisoner who eventually became president.
of Czechoslovakia.
He was talking about hope and he said, hope is not some vague sense of optimism.
Hope is the readiness and the willingness to do the right thing, regardless of whatever outcome there might be.
Just our readiness and willingness to respond.
So we don't know how transformation occurs.
We don't know how to unfold our own Buddha nature heart.
We don't know how to help the people we care about around us.
We don't know how to transform our society so that instead of cruelty we can have kindness and justice.
And this not knowing is important to patients too.
So we don't want to grab on to some idea, this will fix it.
That's too easy.
We have to pay attention.
So there's a writing by Dogen which I think gets at some of this.
It's part of Shobo Genzo that I translated with Kastanahashi in his most recent book of Dogen translations called Beyond Thinking.
And I think maybe the bookstore sold out, so you'll have to order it.
Anyway, this essay is called The Awesome Presence of Active Buddhas, or Practicing Buddhas.
Awesome presence also could be translated as just the dignified manner, but it's more than that.
It's this kind of presence, and it's awesome, it's majestic.
And these are the Buddhas who are practicing patients, and they're present in this magnificent way.
So I want to read a little bit from here.
He says, know that Buddhas in the Buddha way do not wait for awakening.
So even Maitreya, who's waiting to be the next Buddha, isn't just sitting up there waiting.
Maitreya is considering how to awaken.
Maitreya is considering how to save all beings.
Maitreya, as a Bodhisattva, expresses loving kindness.
That's his job.
He's the Bodhisattva also of loving kindness.
So just to express loving kindness is something you can do right now.
You don't have to wait until you become some fancy Buddha in the future.
That's not what Buddhas do.
So our own practice of awakening right now is about not waiting for something in the future.
It's about being present now.
And Dogen says that these active or practicing Buddhas simply fully experience the vital process on the path of going beyond Buddha.
So I would suggest that this is what patience is like, to just fully experience the vital process on the path of going beyond Buddha.
It's not about getting to some destination.
So this going beyond Buddha, Dogen talks about a lot, this going beyond, that if you have some
understanding of Buddha.
If you have some, even some dramatic dynamic experience of Buddha, that's not it.
Or maybe that's it right now, but then there's another breath.
There's another person in front of you.
This is ongoing awakening.
So Buddha, when he awakened, did not stop doing Zazen.
He continued every day.
This is ongoing awakening.
It's not about something that you can get ahold of or grab or experience or, you know, draw a picture of and put it up on the wall and that's it.
So we have statues and images and we sometimes bow to them, but not because that's it.
It's that they encourage us to fully experience this vital process on the path of going beyond Buddha.
So just the fact that you are here this morning, all of you, means that you are on this path.
How many of you are here for the first time?
Great.
Just the fact of your showing up means that in some way, I believe this, that in some way you are in this path of going beyond Buddha, of being alive, of looking at how I can bring patience to my life.
So he says to fully experience the vital process on the path of going beyond Buddha.
So there is a vital process happening.
There is a path happening.
So the big secret of Buddhism, I'm about to tell you,
Be patient.
The big secret of Buddhism is this vital process and it means that you are alive right now.
And all the other people in the room are alive right now.
And the whole world is alive right now.
Cushions and chairs and doors and lamps.
we are living in a world that is made up of a vital process, a path that is going beyond Buddha always.
So there is this possibility of transformation.
Even if we don't have some formula or even if we don't know the next step in front of us, we are in the middle of this vital process, this path.
This is how our patience is.
We are step by step moving forward or backward or sideways.
It doesn't matter.
We are on the path of being alive.
So he also says that
because active Buddhas manifest awesome presence in every situation, they bring forth awesome presence with their body.
This isn't an actual physical thing.
This isn't just some intellectual idea about some philosophy of awakening.
This is something we actually do in our lives.
How do we take care of being patient with the people around us?
How do we find patience in our own life?
He says, thus their transformative function flows out in their speech, reaching throughout time, space, Buddhism activities.
So there is a transformative function that is happening as we sit and watch and wait, or as we respond, or as we take action when there seems to be a time to act.
So again, this practice of patience is not about being passive.
It's about being ready to respond.
And there are opportunities to respond all the time, in all the different realms.
How can we be ready and willing to just do the right thing, as Wachler-Poppel says?
So we don't know how to end the war in Iraq.
We don't know how to end the massive corruption of our government.
But there are lots of examples of things happening suddenly, seemingly.
So apartheid ended in South Africa fairly peacefully.
It seemed to be sudden.
What couldn't have been predicted several months before.
Of course, many, many people were working for many, many years for this to happen.
And the Berlin Wall came down suddenly, surprisingly.
And yet, of course, there are many, many, many causes and conditions that went into that.
And the USSR dissolved suddenly, relatively non-violently.
We don't know how this happened, and yet many, many causes and conditions go into this.
In our own lives, too, there are changes that seem to happen very suddenly.
So maybe all of you can think of examples of something that happened in your life, some big shift that happened suddenly.
So we don't know how these transformations will come about, and yet all of our patient sitting and patient working contribute to these.
We don't know.
There are these different levels of karma, our own personal karma and the karma of our society and the world.
How change will come, we don't know.
And this not knowing, again, is very important.
How can we awaken not just ourselves on our own cushions, but all of our friends and family?
How can we help them to be willing to take on this vital process and our society too?
So I mentioned earlier that the ultimate practice of patience is considered to be the equivalent of the full enlightenment of a Buddha.
So now maybe I'm ready to tell you about that a little bit.
So as I said, the practice of patience is called Kshanti.
This ultimate patience is called Anutpatika Dharmakshanti.
I just love saying that.
Anutpatika Dharmakshanti.
That's Sanskrit for patience with the ungraspability or the inconceivability of everything.
Every situation, every person, every object, every living being in the world, we can't get a hold of it.
It's alive.
There's a vital process going on.
We can't get our head around it.
Whatever it is, whatever Dharma it is, some teaching, some event, some situation, some person we want to help or some person we want to get away from, whatever.
Anupatika Dharmakshanti, this patience, this tolerance of the fact of the inconceivability, the ungraspability of everything.
Is this all we can be present with?
Can we be patient with the fact that we can't get a hold of anything?
Actually, it's not a bad thing that we can't get a hold of them.
But our usual way of thinking, our usual rational, logical mind, you know, wants to figure out things, wants to get a hold of things.
And it's not that that's bad either.
That desire to figure out and to get a hold of things may be part of our skillful means.
So it's not that you have to be stupid to be a Zen student.
Sometimes it helps.
But actually just to be willing and ready and patient with and tolerant with
the fact that we can't know anything completely.
So think of the person you know best.
Think of your best friend or your partner or spouse or child or parent.
Still, there are things you don't know about them.
So every relationship, every situation,
is beyond our powers, our human perceptual and intellectual powers to get a hold of it.
And can you tolerate that?
Can you be willing to be present with that and not know what to do?
So of course this includes being patient with sadness, with our own fears, with our own confusion.
Can we tolerate being in the world without any easy answers?
Can we develop our capacity and our tolerance and our patience to be in the situation we're in?
And again, this is where the active part of patience comes in because if we're paying attention, it's okay if we don't have all the answers.
If we're watching what's going on, we can respond, we can be helpful to ourselves, to our friends and family, to the world around us.
when we first hear about this, this patience, maybe it's this ultimate patience.
Maybe it seems intimidating or awesome to actually be willing to not know anything.
Of course we know lots of things, but right, right in the area where we know the most, there's stuff we don't know.
Can you be okay with that?
Can you hang with that?
Can you be ready and present with that?
Can you pay attention?
And still, without knowing what's the most skillful thing to do, find a way to respond.
This is the heart of our practice.
And it happens just in terms of dealing with gathering up our own heart mind in our sitting practice.
And it happens in our struggles in our relationships and the family and friends and coworkers and so forth.
And it happens in the world around us.
So I want to end by honoring another request Wendy Johnson requested last night that I talk about a wonderful example of patience and persistence who we both heard speak last night.
Her name is Cindy Sheehan.
I think in many ways she's a wonderful example of patience and persistence and effort.
She has a new book, and this is the first book published by a new publishing house called Koa Books, which is run by, founded by an old friend of mine who trained here at Zen Center as a priest for many years, named Arnie Kotler, who was the founder of Parallax Press.
And the first Koa Book is Not One More Mother's Child by Cindy Shin.
So that book I know is available for sale in the bookstore, in the office.
So, you probably know, she lost her son, her oldest son, in the Iraq war.
And she had the patience to watch and to work to try and stop the war, to try and not have other mothers.
face what she has.
So this isn't about politics.
This is about speaking the truth and hearing the truth.
This is about stopping killing.
So Cindy Sheehan, after working for a long time, had to brainstorm, she said suddenly, and three days later went and sat down in front of the president's house and said, what is the noble cause my son died for?
I just want you to come and talk to me, meet me face to face and tell me, what is this noble cause?
And of course he wouldn't do it.
And so she's still out there talking about the war.
And I think more and more people, so again this isn't about politics, this is about how do we bring sanity to our world?
How do we bring sanity to our government?
It's not about politics because most of the politicians still want to stay the course in both parties, with some notable exceptions around here.
Anyway, part of the practice of patience is to know when we think we should stay the course that the course is wrong.
So if the bridge is out ahead, you don't want to stay the course of still driving ahead
Part of the practice of patience is learning to make mistakes, learning to admit when we make mistakes, to change our course when we make mistakes.
So anyway, she talked last night about how the news people interviewing her when she was in front of the president's ranch in Texas said, how come you're so articulate?
Where did you come from suddenly?
And she said, well, I've been doing this for a long time.
I've been talking about this.
But suddenly, it seemed like there she was.
This is the practice of patience.
So we don't know what to do about the problems in our world and sometimes the problems in our own life.
But if we're paying attention, if we're persistent, we use the practice of energy and we use the practice of patience, sometimes we can actually make big changes.
Each of you can change the world.
Each of you has this possibility.
So please enjoy your practice of patience.
Please enjoy paying attention to your life and to this vital process and to the world.
And be ready and willing to do what you can to do the right thing.
Thank you very much.