Gazing at Flowers on the Roof of Hell

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Sunday Lecture: learning zazen with Soen Roshi in Jerusalem - interfaith practice; Easter - rebirth; Issa "Walking together on the roof of hell, looking at flowers"; Wendy's house flooded by river, beautiful and terrible; current issues of Vanity Fair and Time on melting ice caps; Lee de Barros on peace conference with Dalai Lama; Yurok shaman Harry Roberts; story of whale freed from net

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good morning
how it
and peaceful easter
a blessing and peaceful passover
a blessing and peaceful put his birthday
and then the deep wish that we may be neither blessed nor peaceful but activists and are combined work for the well being of our home world
i'd like to begin by on as a person who lived at greenock for more than twenty five years and practiced here shoulder to shoulder with many beings in this room on and now live next door and your beach i would like to
welcoming our i think eleventh year of apprentices farm and garden or premises to this valley this is a great joyful celebration as you gather here on from all parts of the known world as far eastern sweden as local thank heavens as berkeley are welcome
i'm to the ten nine or ten who are here to practice with us an open the craft of farming and gardening and
in a in a in the field of meditation field far beyond form and emptiness and you're surrounded by many other apprentices could you raise your hands those of you who've been here as an apprentice or as a farm and garden yeah and i'd like to say it with my psychic powers i see joe and
and i'm rosie i see that your car's lights are on so please get out there and turn them off
oh they got him good see this is kind of apprentice we want
willing to travel in the dark without any light
so good morning
oh it's a real honour to be here to gather on this morning i was remembering a line of poetry from on my first zen teacher so a a roshi i had the great privilege of beginning as and practice and nineteen
seventy one with a wonderful teacher on in jerusalem israel so on nakagawa roshi was the head of the temple where i began to practice it wasn't exactly at temple it was a little funky house on the top of the mount of olives in east
turn jerusalem right on the edge of the world overlooking the dead sea and the gj and a desert in the definitely in the arab section of jerusalem when a mountain top there was a tiny zendo
wonderful cancer research in israel saw this is the home of all of the great western religions of the world why shouldn't zen buddhism also be represented and she got herself to israel and sydney from israel to japan asked if she could find
roshi who spoke english and with the determination of a good scientist and dedicated practitioner found so on a roshi who was the abbot of rio tako je dragon temple
i'm in japan and persuaded him to send his head monk to jerusalem
so my teacher my first
guide into the world of meditation was a simple japanese monk named doc que nakagawa roshi who made his way to the top of the mount of olives was able to rent a little house and opened the doors for meditation
i'm thinking of that this morning on ascending the hill and descending the hill as so on love to say ascend the mountain descend the ascend the mountain descend the mountain dragons spring
i'm thinking on of that dragon spring more than thirty years ago when i somehow ascended the mount of olives found this little place of practice not at all interested or even curious about zen meditation more as an activist it was recommend
did that i just check it out and to my amazement a friend took me and i did do that and thirty five years later here we sit in the circle in the dragon circle
and particularly this morning ah i'm remembering
what it's like to practice on in the world in the fabric in the mind of interface connectedness it's very important especially in our times on so the first place i learned zazen was in this little house
definitely bathed in the morning call of the muezzin because most of the practice on that mountaintop was the practice of islam
and there were minarets and many ah houses of worship on the top of the mount of olives
and our little zen place there and i practiced with a very eclectic sanga which included on a jewish rabbi from the diamond district of new york who was looking for the essence of judaism of knowing the mind
he sat with us and to incredible christian pilgrims and the anglican church who had lived for twenty five years in india ah they came in the morning and just sat completely silently i remember actually there were three of them who'd been
pilgrims in india are wearing a sari and traditional garb of the village where they had lived for twenty five years and had been mission eyes by india has been claimed by india and they sat with us i remember they were a lot older murray was white haired and very proper and they say
he and his wife mary and heather sat completely quietly they would sit through walking meditation that's what i really remember about them so they would sit on unmoving and absolutely alert from an hour and a half an hour and forty five minutes and then just get up and stretch their bones and ah go peacefully on their way they
lived in east jerusalem where they maintained a simple hermitage
open particularly for children
and a number of other sanga members
and we had no place no formal place like this one to practice so when it was time for says shane our first machine this is a gathering of the mind for seven days our first session was a day donated to us
by trappist monks at the monastery of lightroom
an outside of the city of jerusalem and they loved are sitting in our quiet but when it was time for us to chant cons a on novel that's a job we went outside to the olive grove that they asked us not to do and i think it was more than the content or the curiosity of what that content
could possibly be it was the sound they maintained a place of real silence so my practice on
developed and took root in ah in the interfaith world in that world where all traditions are joined by a common contemplative strand a bright strand woven through the fabric of our show
shared life
so it was wonderful to begin in that way on
i remember home
i remember so much about those early years and i am grateful for the fact that i as a pilgrim didn't have an established place to practice didn't have the security of an organized sanga life and had to make the determination every single day to get up to take that rickety bus
us from the center of the old city of jerusalem up to has a team to the mount of olives to walk through the wind and the dark and often through the rain to that little house or to take off my shoes to step in to sit down
and to know the mind shape the mind and free the mind

it's amazing to me
that i as an american a young woman in my early twenties felt that i couldn't have that kind of access here in this country where i grew up i had to go as we say in the thirteenth century text of cons of mg had to go to the dusty lands
looking for a place of practice and of all places to have to go to israel i marvel at the fact that arm
that was how i began my practice
oh a large reason
oh for me for going outside of the united states was the leak the war in vietnam
feeling that on if my country was engaged in the kind of behavior was engaged in i should investigate living outside of these boundaries and now i marvel at the irony of moving to israel on
but i'm very glad that i did and that not looking for zen practice it found me
and claimed me and not looking for interfaith dialogue being in the presence sitting down every morning after making that
to get to the mount of olives sitting down in the call of islam surrounding me the temple bells ah of the christian faith ringing up from the city and then the simple soundless wordless
field in that tiny meditation hall that had an altar that only included a strand of wheat a simple semi-circle for and so circle and a bowl of water a blue bowl of water remembered so well in the desert what it was like to look at the at the weight the water in the circle
and to sit
oh now i'm neither i'm romantic nor an emotional about religious life instead i feel as a thirty five plus your practitioner of daily meditation and the lay woman mother activists why
wife on troublemaker ah i feel the
the call to take my place
in this world and to speak truth lovingly ah
to to the situation that we find ourselves in now so to day easter sunday on the day where we celebrate a rebirth new life coming from ashes
life and death into life said my garden teacher everything we do in the garden is about life into death into life again
that's this morning's celebration getting up at dawn in the rain going to the river that runs behind our house
putting my hands and that money water casing the muddy water
standing in that place of rebirth and it's wonderful in this season of the year to celebrate easter with passover from that wonderful hebrew word leaked saw which means to ah jump over
to jump over from narrowness to a wider vision of who we are what our work is what the responsibility we take up his in these times to jump over from narrowness into a wider world
and at the same time to celebrate buddha's birthday
on that full moon day when the baby buddha
stood up and said i'm going to spend my entire life looking at suffering and the relief of suffering my entire life
and i'm going to begin right now
we often say that buddha's birthday as the holiday the holy day over
flowers light and flowers like a wedding
i think of the line of poetry from isa where he says we walk together on the roof of hell gazing at flowers
so may all the sweetness
and rebirth and jumping over from narrowness into freedom be tempered by walking together on the roof of hell
on the edge of the known world

i'm borrowing all the flat surfaces i can find this morning gratitude to the flat surfaces
on this morning i was listening and in preparation for this talk i was listening to the rain
the steady rain the voice of the rain
the voice of the rising tide
i'll allocated bara is often referred to as the one with the voice of the rising tide
and feeling on
so strongly this world we find ourselves in right now
i live on the edge of redwood creek after living here for twenty five years our family was just creative enough to move a mile north
if you know inch by step by step it by and shit so it was a wonderful move where we share a house with an artist and activist miami order
we share a home right on the edge of the water
next door to go to the road just a wonderful place of practice where yvonne rand and her husband bill sterling also members of this community practice for more than thirty years as householders on the edge of the creek and on
this winter
the voice of the rising tide ran right through our home at on new year's eve day the river rose up and gave us a good call for are a good run for hours and money and that's what i like to think of luckily were pretty faithful meditation
practitioners and it's pretty hard to sleep past three forty on the morning that's kind of the normal time we wake up oats three forty in the morning of a look at the clock and either it says three forty or nine eleven very often i noticed that when i look up by see those numbers reminding me
of who i am and you wait three forty in the morning it was clear to us that the river was not only rising up but was intending to run through our house so we gathered together all of our
everything we could gather together putting couches up on boxes and chairs and mainly in our house i found we have a lot of books and their low down so i noticed today i don't have a lot of rogues to organized but have a lot of books to organize a lot of poetry a lot of
ah words
a field of words so lifting up books with my children and my husband waking our neighbors on helping them get out of home we have brand new neighbors living had gotten the road a new family with three children who'd never been through that kind of rain
the river rose up and went into my umi side of the house about three feet deep for six hours water running through the house and our house which has never flooded water ran through it but doors open to open by then our neighbor was gone and the children next door and are
seventeen year old daughter and our cat had all been evacuated and my husband and i
who practiced here for so many years stood on the deck of our home holding onto the ah
edge of the door because the river was roaring
through the landscape and felt how beautiful this is how beautiful and how terrible
how terrible not for our home
but for the many who have been inundated this year
how terrible that we forget
oh when all around us as the voice of the rain rain to remind us
of the world that we're causing
and that we take responsibility for
you know in the current issue of vanity fair have you seen this issue it's a little i brought it to because it's such a gas
a new american revolution here's julia
surname julia roberts dressed in spelt green silk with george clooney and robert kennedy jr and al gore surrounding her like the kind of leaves out of which the great easter lily com's coming for them but you know this issue
is extremely important to have
beyond the new stands right now this issue and i'm bringing in them
i actually think this is quite important this issue of time be worried be very worried with a polar bear not quite as green as vanity fair
but a different view of time and the river flowing
an al gore's peace is on his piece of writing is quite wonderful i've just returned from helping to lead a mindfulness retreat with a very good friend in arkansas and while they are one of the practitioners in are floating sanga than the ozark floating sanga had just returned from
i'm hearing al gore
and it he said it was a very meaningful event for him and actually deepened his meditation practice in a way he hadn't expected gore spoke of and as he doesn't this piece the chinese character for opportunity
the the chinese character for crisis that's what it is made up of two characters danger and opportunity
you know and in this rain this morning this easter morning on
how can we not be aware of the danger we live in and the opportunity that we have in front of us

of the earth is rapidly accumulating pollution from the way we live and we know this and the air surrounding the earth
the rivers and waters of our world arising as i experienced quite vividly on year's eve day
as the great on waters and ice fields of this world begin to melt
the sierras here in california and down into mexico
to the andes and the alps and the massive ice fields on the roof of the world and the tibetan plateau
melting and the water's rising up to remind us of how we're living the voice of the rising time
i want to read you on this information not as a bummer but because
it is so and it is so because of the way we live
in the massive ice fields in the tibetan plateau one hundred times
more ice than the alps these fields supply half of the drinking water for forty percent of the world's people
and seven great rivers have their source in this melting ice the ganges the brahmaputra the salween that may com the yangtze and the yellow rivers
as we live and function in this world we're also melting the vast relatively thin floating out ice cap that covers the arctic ocean
and even beginning to melt the enormous ten thousand foot sick mound of ice on top of greenland and west antarctica
and as these icefields melt are the waters of the world rise up they can rise up to in the next one hundred years twenty feet above present sea level and it's important for us to know this it's it's important to know this true fact
which is an expression of the way we live
and how we are in the world as it is to study the basic tenets of buddhism they go together they're meant to be sung and spoken together

in the year two thousand and five
the city of mumbai in india received thirty seven inches of rain in one day
that is usually the amount of rain on a good year that falls he around in northern california thirty seven inches in one day two thousand and five
sound of the rising tide lifts to listen

there's plenty of good news good news that people are waking up that we're meeting together that most college campuses that i visited this just a week ago with my daughter as she prepares for that next phase of her life most of the college campuses we visited
had sent contention contingencies of young people to actually they had sent themselves to to louisiana to new orleans to help hundreds of students and young man i work with at the edible schoolyard and berkeley spending his vacation and them
in new orleans
responding to the voice of the rising time there's plenty of good news but it has to be tempered by what is and by how we're living and by asking ourselves what are we meant to do
so i was contemplating this question this morning preparing to come be here with you when my and i and i listened to this wonderful tape them
a good friend gave me at right around year's time from supposedly from his holiness the dalai lama chanting for peace and well-being in the world beautiful tape i was listening to that very softly when my friend and dharma brother mr lee said only de barros with whom i practiced here for years
rs and he's married has the good fortune to be married to one of the most kickass games i know martha de barros both of them together serve actively in the prisons of are wealthy wealthy wealthy county mr lee goes every sunday and has for six years to the buddha dharma
sanga which is a sanga of incarcerated crooks at san quentin they're beginning their first practice period
so mr lee practices there with
steve sticky and many of people miss sanga have practiced their and behind the walls of san quentin
but he didn't call to tell me about the buddha dharma sangha
he called to say that yesterday he had participated in an extraordinary event convened by his holiness the dalai lama at the mark hopkins hotel
an interfaith gathering
of practitioners from the great religious traditions faith traditions let me say that i'm more comfortable in their faith one great confidence shroud of faith in one great translation of shraddha or faith is confidence
i think it's a wonderful translation of the word faith so more than five hundred people gathered together in a ballroom of the mark hopkins hotel
for an opportunity to really look at
peace and how we make peace in troubled times
i'm so glad mr lee call
to tell me this while his holiness was chanting in our kitchen and the rain was streaming in the river was rising
an easter celebrations were opening all over the world
i'm glad he called to tell me what an extraordinary event this was and hasan and very active member as as a are people from gringotts i'm very active in the interfaith dialogue
but he said to be there in the presence of so many people have confidence and faith in all their different ah robes and trappings and magnificence was extraordinary
and people spoke are to the question of what will it take to make peace in these times deeply speaking to each other his holiness remembered the fifth dalai lama of tibet
who apparently was walking through the countryside and came upon a tibetan muslim practitioner who was prostrating or towards the east and praying
and the fifth dalai lama asked him what are you doing and he practitioner answered something like i don't remember exactly what we're told me about something like i'm suffocating myself or prostrating myself to the great unknown i'm making that up let's say that's what he said it was
in tibet in anyway so who's to say without bob thurman here to translate before it spoken who's to say what was said on
and the fifth dalai lama was very moved and realized that the the sacred land of tibet belong to many traditions and that it was absolutely necessary for those traditions to be intertwined and called the i'm most
powerful archer
of that era to the very spot where the where the tibetan muslim man was practicing was praying and ask the archer to stand there and turned to the north the east the west and the self and it's a great that acronym north east west south is new
news we get our news from the north east west south coming together so the archer stood on the spot of prayer and let loose and arrow to the north and where it fell was the northern boundary of safe land for that practitioner and to the east and where it fell was the eastern boundary of safe
due to the west where it fell was the western boundary to the south where it fell was the southern boundary protect this land so that there can be a diversity of tradition so that we can be a healthy people and be who we are
so on it seems good to remember that this morning
this easter morning
and it seems also good to remember on
reverend william sloane coffin chaplain for years at yale university and then on to riverside church in new york and activist minister who never stopped preaching peace from the pulpit he died a few days ago in this holy week on i remain
ember hearing on a speech from one of his students a man a young man at yale who presented his draft card to the reverend and asked the reverend to take it to washington d c and return it because he didn't intend to use the draft card and coffin went to washington with hundreds of dry
f cards and presented them this young man remembers a rainy easter morning with coffin reverend coffin preaching in the pulpit calling out bloom frozen christians bloom take your place on the roof of hell and
speak out
fortier justice
so this is on thinking about this is is wonderful and his holiness on
offered for suggestions and you know i am
asked mr lee liter bottles to come and he's here in the hall and during question and answer we will
talk together speak together and we'll actually he can tell us more about this gathering because it was extraordinarily moving to hear from him but he did tell me these four points which seem to have some home
relevance this morning sitting here together
number one first of all his holiness suggested that this is a very good time for scholars to come together
and to really look for religious scholars are scholars of faith traditions to come together and deeply look at what is being taught and offered in your tradition how is your study translation ah immersion
in the teachings of your different traditions been valuable what have you learn and what can we teach each other
from a scholarly perspective and i love it that he began with that
the scholar monk is an extraordinary being that runs through all different faith traditions and even if he or she doesn't have monkish roots the scholar that helps us understand our tradition is an invaluable member so let's begin with scholarship looking at the dharma or the truth of what's being
and second of all let's look at our differences
not not just the scholars but in a what let's begin by scholarly practitioners meeting and informing one another about what our traditions are
and this reminds me a lot of the privilege of meeting with his holiness about five years ago at spirit rock meditation center where five for five days
different member that we are members of the teaching buddhism in the western community gathered with his holiness to learn a little bit about our own tradition and what was relevant to offer so let's be says let's begin with scholars second of all let's as practitioners really ask ourselves who
what are the differences in our traditions that are important and then one of the similarities and mr mr lee will go through this more carefully with us and what is the purpose of these differences
his holiness opined
that when we really sit down and look at the merging of difference in unity we see that our differences the purpose is common to as the buddha said to look at suffering and the end of suffering in our world
to increase compassion to increase our deepest presence and to do it lifetime after lifetime after lifetime but unless we meet together we can't begin that process third of all he suggested that we go on pilgrimage
that if we're lucky enough to visit tibet we try to find that circle of protection where the fifth dalai lama met a countrymen
and protected land that we make a pilgrimage to that spot of muslim prayer
and kneel down and recognize this a sacred ground
and of course again we're talking about the dusty world's you don't need to go much farther than the land right outside your own door
my primary teacher harry roberts here at ten center
said that his teacher who was a europe showman and medicine man
shows his students by asking them to bring him five plants that had never been seen before and the most ardent students fanned out over the hills looking for the plants while the stupidest dolts just looked right down at their grab the ground underneath their feet they didn't go an inch and those were his do
stunts he chose those who didn't move who knew that what i've never seen before what i where i've never prayed before it's right under my own feet and i'll take my place in this country
right from here i can hear the sound of the rising tide just fine i don't know to need to go anywhere i'll be a pilgrim right here and yet to make a pilgrimage away from on the classroom at tufts or n y u or colgate college or any of those
upper crust places of learning out into the wild world beyond the gate is extremely important so pilgrimages the third point
in the last point
his please his holiness home
begged please people of faith come together and speak to one another and really listen

wouldn't it be wonderful someone said wouldn't it be wonderful if goodness worse contagious as the common cold
and of course the dalai lama reminded us it is it is it is

so i want to close on i had so much more to say thank god i'm not gonna say it
but we can continue on examining
who we are and what we do
i want to to 'em play i'm going to try to find out
a recording what do they call a cd player for question and answer because
just a few days ago i was well actually not a few days ago a good number of months ago i was walking by my daughter's room and pouring out of her room was a great song by the flaming lips one of her favorite bands of flaming lips as a poster on her wall sometimes i when she's gone to school i step over all the
junk on the floor of her room and i marvel in that what it's like going to a different country i make a pilgrimage to my teenager's room to that field far beyond form an emptiness and i step into the richness of her intense life
up to the poster that says the flaming lips from the wall i think the flaming lips replacing between bob marley and ferris bueller the federal aiming lips on do you realize that everything you love will die
the beautiful song and i was walking by her room and heard it
and ah felt my heart open and in recognition that teachings of awareness
teachings of frontline activism are available to us in all forms if our hearts and minds are open if we're willing to step into a shared universe and take our place and really listen to the voice of the rising tide
so i want you if you i'm going to lure you back into this cave and play some rock music for you from the flaming lips and then mr lee and i will talk about mostly he will talk about this experience yesterday ah i'm so grateful to have the opportunity to come home
to sit here in this wonderful seat to feel on tremendous gratitude for the young and old for the the wide range of folks
surrounding for for our sanga for this floating song of this morning for all of you who chose to come here today to investigate the way because we live in desperate times because we've made quite a mess of this world we have no choice
to serve learn and respond
not turn away
not turn away in any
very good friend of mine whose son was born on
ah the same the same year my seventeen year old we both survived seventeen years of intensity we've weathered well on our children have helped us she's just returned from traveling in the desert she told me about spending the night on the edge of a cliff overlooking
the grand canyon
and the immense terror and joy of being there on the edge
feeling that she said the great law of the canyon making may be more than i am
reminding us
of what's possible how we can step over jump over from narrowness to the wide world how regeneration comes up out of the ashes ashes and snow
how by walking on the roof of hell we can gaze at the flowers and remember who we are
and it's important in closing it wouldn't be proper not to recognize the more than human world that joins us and is teaching us at every point so let me close with a gift from my sister on a beautiful offering she sent me
and on
just listened to this
if you read the front page story of the san francisco chronicle on thursday december fourteenth two thousand and five you would have read about a female humpback whale who became entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines
she was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat
she also had hundreds of yards of flying rope wrapped around her body her tail her torso a line tugging in her mouth
a fisherman spotted her just east of the fairlawn islands outside of the golden gate
and radioed and environmental group for help
was in a few hours the rescue team arrived and determined that the whale was in grave danger the only way to help her was to dive into the water and untangle the ropes from her body a very dangerous proposition one slap of this gigantic wales
tail would kill any rescuer
they worked for hours underwater with curved knives and eventually they freed her when she was free the diverse say she swam and what seemed like joyous circles around and around
she then came back to each and every diver one at a time nudge them push them gently around
some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives
the man who cut the rope out of the whale's mouth says her i followed him the entire time he was working and he will never be the same
may you
may we all have those who love be so blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by beings who help us get untangled from things that are binding us and may we always remember and know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude
frozen beings may we all gloom together on the roof of help and thank you for coming out this morning