Discipline

00:00
00:00
Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.

Serial: 
SF-00077
Description: 

Relationship with the rules while training.

Photos: 
Transcript: 

I vow to taste the truth of the Tathāgata's words. Good evening. This evening at the practice period tea we talked about, my group talked about discipline. That was the topic I had suggested. One, I thought it was an element of Buddhist practice and it related to a koan I was thinking about. And then also, on Wednesday afternoons we have what we call here at the city center a practice committee meeting. The senior teachers along with the Ino

[01:02]

talk about the affairs of the temple. And one of the things we were talking about today was what we call the six-month rule. Which means that if you come to the temple as a new student you wait six months before you get involved in a relationship. I'm not going to even try to talk about that. I'm going to talk about discipline. Who's breaking the six-month rule? See what I mean? Yeah, I'm the wrong person to ask, John. I didn't mean that seriously. Steve Brownians are a whole lot better than I do. That's why I'm going to talk about discipline

[02:06]

and he's going to tell you later. It's an interesting word, even in its use in our language. Discipline, disciple. Disciple of a teaching, disciple of a teacher. Disciple of a way. Something about engaging a path. I think many, or most of us, feel of ourselves as engaging the path of practice, the path of awakening. But then there are other meanings of the word discipline. Everything from to discipline someone, to punish them for breaking some rule. Or discipline as a set of rules. Or discipline as a training.

[03:07]

As a training that's undertaken to produce some improvement or modification. So the six-month rule is one of our rules of discipline. And I think the range of meaning in the word helps us to see that probably for most of us we have a range of responses. When we talked about it in our group, several people were saying, well, when I approve of the rule, when I endorse it, when something in me says, yeah, that's a good thing to be doing, then I can move with it.

[04:09]

I can accept it. I can accept whatever constraint or configuration it sets forth. And maybe conversely, when I don't approve, it's hard to accept. But that's an interesting grind to be in. And part of the transformative nature of discipline, this engagement that sometimes we call training, or that's to create something other than the current set of habits or behavior. So just logically we see, maybe there's something beyond what I approve of

[05:10]

or what I even understand. And I find it interesting because, having practiced some in Asia, mostly I've practiced in Japan and Thailand, and I experience different general characteristics. When you go to a Japanese Zen monastery, to my experience, you expect discipline. And people expect you to expect discipline. In fact, if you question the discipline, they kind of look at you like, what? You're kidding, right? Surely you know that this is what it's about.

[06:11]

Thailand was a little more... a little more nebulous. Maybe something like you find your own place in the discipline. In the monastic order, there were these basic, comprehensive rules, that you were expected the Vinaya. So you were expected to comply, to observe the Vinaya, the rules, monastic rules. But then things like how much you meditated or other practices like that, really varied temple to temple. And even within the temples, you could find your own relationship to them. So here we have

[07:22]

sort of core expectations. And then we have other expectations that are actually not so well laid out. And they're kind of offered for you to find your relationship to them. And I want to talk about that vague statement by using a koan. The koan is Case 44 in the Blue Cliff Records. It's a monk questions a teacher, and as many koans are. So Wasan said, quoting a famous sutra, Cultivating study is called listening. Ending study is called nearness.

[08:30]

Going beyond these two is fully going beyond. So the teacher quoted that. Then the monk came up and said, Well, what is fully going beyond? And the teacher said, Knowing how to beat the drum. Or learning how to beat the drum. It's like, how do you beat the drum without knowing how to do it? And how can you learn how to beat the drum by just going ahead and doing it and finding out in the doing how to do it? So our discipline is the discipline, mostly our discipline is the discipline of a disciple. A follower of a path.

[09:32]

A disciple of Buddha. The discipline of being Buddha. The discipline of engaging our lives in a way that awakens. Awakens ourselves and everyone. You know, that's our discipline. And then the subsets within that, things like the six month rule. And we could take that and we could argue it both ways. You know? How it's helpful and how it's unhelpful. How it's appropriate and how it's inappropriate. But within the context of our training, the practice and realization of awakening, that's our guiding reference. How does this enable awakening? So the first part of this statement,

[10:38]

cultivating study is called listening. Cultivating study is about discovering how to enable the forms of practice. And in fact the details of our life, how do we enable them to help us to wake up? You beat the drum to learn how to beat the drum. You live your life to learn how to live your life. You chant to learn how to chant. You practice mindfulness to learn how to practice mindfulness. You sit zazen to learn how to sit zazen.

[11:43]

And this is doing and learning from doing. He lists as listening. It's like you listen, you hear the sound. You pay attention, you notice what's happening. You hit the drum and you notice what kind of sign comes out of the drum. You chant and you notice what kind of sign is being made by yourself and by the whole group. You notice how when the Kokyo sets a pitch, it stimulates something in your voice. Notice how to chant and breathe. Pay attention to emotion

[12:53]

and you discover the energy of emotion. Discover how emotion and the story connected to it have a symbiotic relationship. You discover that they have a physical attribute. Discover that the emotions have a way of affecting and influencing the mental disposition, the state of mind. So we live life to learn how to live life. But to do that, there's something that's called here listening. It's like attending to what's going on. When we attend to what's going on, the doing becomes a learning process.

[13:58]

And most of our time is doing something. So this is the first point of this quote. Cultivating study is called listening. Attending to what's being done is the ground of discovering how to practice in all the dimensions, whether it's following the forms, attending our emotional life, attending to our body, taking on a discipline. We take on a discipline and then we notice. We resent it, we endorse it, it inspires us,

[15:06]

it makes us feel constricted, whatever. We resent the people who came up with it. Who came up with the six-month rule anyway? So the spirit of our practice in the spirit of disciple, of following a path, doesn't have so much to do with compliance or even non-compliance. In the nature of this quote, how do you study compliance and how do you study non-compliance? Sometimes we learn a lot through noticing our resistance.

[16:09]

Sometimes we learn a lot through just saying, OK, this doesn't make any sense to me and I don't even like it, but I'm just going to do it as wholeheartedly as I can. You know, we learn a lot when we venture into a new territory, beyond our own patterns of like and dislike and our own behaviors. So this first phrase is really a fundamental spirit in Zen. Everything in the service of awakening. Compliance, non-compliance, resisting, delighting in. All in the service of awakening. And you know, when we have this attitude, it's a great relief. When we blend our sense of practice

[17:15]

and our definition of practice with something to do with a critical mind, criticizing ourselves or criticizing others. Something to do, well, if I do this and I'll get it right, then I'll be a good person. If I do this and get it wrong, I'll be a bad person. Or if someone else does that, they'll be a good or a bad person. We just create this minefield. It's painful to live in. For all of us. It's painful to do it to ourselves and then others feel the pain when we do it to them. So really, this first phrase is a very significant phrase in practicing with ourselves and with each other. Maybe this person is resisting this, but maybe that's going to be a terrific teaching for them. Maybe they're going to learn a lot from that.

[18:17]

But does that mean we're going to ignore the discipline, ignore the rules? No. That's the dance. We carry the rules because... We carry the mic because we... That's our shared agreement. And hopefully as we continue with this practice period, we'll hone up on our rules and our details. Just for the heck of it. Because that's our heritage. Careful attention to detail. Then the second part, ending study, is called nearness. It's like when you get into it,

[19:25]

the activity becomes itself. It's like, I think, sometimes a single period of Zazen, but sometimes more like a one-day sitting. Often we have this notion, oh, I'll do a one-day sitting, and it'll be like this, or it'll have this kind of purpose or intention. And then you get into it, and it's like you're immersed in it. You're immersed in this amazing event called living this life. And maybe at a particular moment you're engrossed in how much your knee hurts, or you're engrossed in some activity of mind or something, but it becomes so completely itself,

[20:32]

any purposefulness that might be attributed to it disappears. This is nearness. It's like when we get into the practice, we're just doing it. We're sitting there, eating dinner, tasting the food, being present for the chewing, not thinking, oh, this is a great thing, and it fits in with this and that. It's just itself. So at the heart of each activity, it's beyond comparison. It's beyond any kind of judgment or concept we want to label it with. This is nearness. In the heart of each activity, there's nothing to gain, nothing to lose.

[21:35]

It's just completely itself. And these are not contradictory. It's not like one contradicts the other. You know, study, cultivating study, paying attention, contradicts immersion in the activity. So, they have a complementary relationship. It's like when we're sitting zazen, we sit down, we pay attention to our posture, attention to our breath, and then we open up completely to what's happening. And they're not contradictory practices, they're complementary practices. Without the attention, without the training, the purposeful training of cultivating presence,

[22:38]

the capacity to attend to what arises is diminished. So the third part of this statement combines the two, going beyond these two. Going beyond which one is it, is it this or is it that? But letting them be complementary, letting them support and interact, the merging of difference and unity. This is zazen. This is walking into the Buddha hall and stepping up on the tatami. When you step up on the tatami and bow, there's nothing but bowing, there's nothing but stepping up. But at the same time, you walk down the row,

[23:40]

take your place, stand facing the front. There's still the observance of the discipline of the practice. They flow together. So the monk says, well, what is this flowing together? So maybe on a momentary level we can appreciate it, but then what about, well, when should I stay true to my own experience? How do I pursue the authentic realization of who I am in the midst of a situation that's saying, do this, don't do that, behave like this. Maybe even on a particular morning, should I get up at 5 o'clock this morning and go to zazen or am I so tired that it merits,

[24:43]

that it's prudent to stay in bed and get more sleep? Sometimes very basic. So this is what the monk asks the teacher about. How do you blend these two? How do you make them, how do you find that merging? How do you find that complementary balance? And the teacher says, knowing how to beat the drum. It's actually more, the answer is more nuanced than just knowing how to beat the drum. It's both beating the drum and knowing how to beat the drum. How do you know when you're tired whether you should stay in bed or get up and go to zazendo? There's no prescription.

[25:45]

You just got to be there in that moment and balance these two. The discipline and the complete authenticity of the moment. You got to be there in that moment and live it. Do it. Do the moment. In doing the moment you learn how to do the moment. They're not separate. Something about trusting our innate authority to be, to bring forth discipline. The true discipline of following the path of awakening, of enacting the path of awakening. If we just break it down

[26:46]

into good and bad, I better comply with the rule. Is that it? I'm going to do what I want. Is that it? Nobody's going to tell me what to do. I'm going to resist. Is that it? They all miss the mark. There's something more authentic and original and in some ways almost mysterious. It's like the answer comes out of the moment. There's a way in which we're asked to trust ourselves in that moment and then collectively there's a way in which we trust each other. Okay? That's what seemed appropriate to you.

[27:46]

Okay. And then the monk, maybe, the monk goes on and the monk asks, what is absolute truth? And maybe we could say he's asking about can you like hit the mark? Can you get it absolutely appropriate? Yeah. Is there a way to be there in, immersed in just as it is? And the teacher says, knowing how to beat the drum. And then for some reason

[28:53]

this monk just keeps going, I guess. Finally, I got a chance. I got to ask all these questions. And I'm not asking about mind itself as Buddha. What about no mind, no Buddha? I'm not asking about the clarity of trusting the moment when you are appreciating it for what it is. What about having no concepts about it whatsoever? The teacher gives the same answer. Just do it. Just do what the moment is, whether it's clear or mysterious. Do it. Be it. Do you have a choice? Knowing how to beat the drum.

[29:57]

Knowing how to in the midst of not knowing do it. Sometimes that's our practice. We don't know what to do and we do it. When we put it into language, when we put it into logic, it doesn't make any sense. But that's our life. You know? Whether we know or we don't know, still we live. Whether it's clear to you or not clear if you get out of bed or not, still you do something. When transcendent people come, how do you relate to them? When...

[31:02]

Maybe if we think to ourselves the honor of thinking of each other as transcendent people. Which is actually a very helpful way to think of each other. To remember that all of our Sangha brothers and sisters are immersed in the way. They're practicing the way. Whether we get it or not. Of course our mind is going to generate some opinions and judgments of them. But to think that they, each of us, is immersed in this practicing of awakening. How do we meet such a one? You know?

[32:11]

How do we support such a one? How do we learn from such a one? You know? If we reflect on it, we notice, this is really different from what I usually do. You know? Usually I attribute praise and blame. Usually I judge good or bad. You know? What would it be like if we just lived with each other trusting that each of us was following the way? Completely. How? Sleeping in Buddha. How? Not bowing at the Kaisanda, Kaisanda of Buddha. Bowing deeply

[33:15]

at the Kaisanda of Buddha. You know? Hmm. Such a wonderful way we'd unburden ourselves of the deep responsibility to judge and adjudicate on each other's practice. So what is it to meet transcendent people? How to respond to them? How to enable them? And the teacher says, knowing how to beat the drum. Do the practice. You know? So they're completely doing their practice. Completely do your practice. You know?

[34:16]

Makes me think of Suzuki Roshi's wife. You know, she had this wonderful phrase. Whenever we would be doing something and it didn't make a darn good sense to her. You know? She just couldn't fathom it. She'd say, Ah, American Zen. It's like, it wasn't a put-down. It was just like, this is way beyond me. Just please, please do it. So have this kind of attitude with each other. You know? This is your Zen. Okay. Please. Do it. I'll do mine. So discipline. To find our own relationship to all the aspects of it. And to do it. You know? I mean, how can you possibly

[35:25]

find them in the abstract? I mean, you can only find them getting into it. You know? Discovering what parts of it delight you and what parts of it some voices know. And what do you add to it? You know? Do you then criticize yourself? Do you feel guilty? Or do you play it safe and just project it onto others and criticize and judge them? So learning how to come back and stay close. Just do the activity of the moment. Beat the drum. Be Buddha.

[36:32]

Be Buddha in the midst of Buddha. Awakening Buddha and enlivening Buddha. Now, I'll read you the verse for good measure. To shoot the bolt, you need a ten-ton crossbow. But how can that compare to the ability to beat the drum? I announce for your information you shouldn't be crude. The sweet is sweet and the bitter is bitter. Thank you.

[37:29]