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Sunday Lecture: cultivation of generosity for ourselves and others; training for dying by how we live; not wasting time; noticing the passing away; generosity before virtue

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Now to test the trains I have to do the first race. Good morning. I don't know if you've been around, but I have not been here for so long. This is a place that's very new to my heart. It's a place where I've enjoyed practicing for years, perhaps. One of the focuses in my own practice at this time of the year is to figure out some ways to allow my melodies to be about my spiritual life,


not just about shaman work. It is possible to live. It helps to live in the country and not go to town very much. So one of the obvious focuses for this time of the year has to do with the cultivation of generosity. And I think that for some of us, it's very easy to forget that our capacity for generosity is tainted if we are not including generosity not just from others, but from ourselves as well. I was at a camp nearby once at this. I had a woman in front of me, and she was someone who was known among my many friends


as a person of enormous generosity. But she was not considering her generosity herself. So her passing away was rather difficult. And it goes with tradition, and I think particularly when saying there is a rather enraging thing to add about the importance of paying attention when you die, and the recognition that the day you die is not the day you're going to want. I am so very proud of my dad for dying without food,


with a mind that suffused with sorrow. So what I learned from seeing my friend as she was dying was how important it is to allow myself to actually know the details, the characteristics of mind, because those characteristics are not in mind. The body is not in mind. It's very easy, in my experience, to get caught up in the past tense. And I think it's probably helpful for most of us to not imagine that we know how we're going to end up, to be open to those pasts, and to the best of our ability, try for it now while paying attention to the kind of life.


One of the lessons that I learned from my friend, and from my friend who played a powerful role, is how important it is to not waste time, to not put off until we're at a more convenient time or circumstance instead of returning to mind, or that it's crucial that we be willing to pay attention to whatever arises without ever mistaking the present. So that means we are willing to bring our attention to what we call our primary attention point. That's a reason to learn. This is where having a good friend, a good social friend in mind,


can be enormously helpful. But I would propose, I would argue that if we're willing to bring attention to very small details in our daily life, paying attention to the characteristics in our human minds, whether we like what we see or not, we can actually see where our attention, see where we're looking. And all of that seeing can find the kind of harmony and friendship that we need and want in that process of willing to listen. I've also found now a difference about weather.


There's no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good. Where it's refreshing, where it's pleasant, where it's warm, and so forth. When I woke up this morning, I looked out the window to see France. I thought, hmm, I wonder what the blue-dark sunlight may be like. Cold at the moment. But I have found that it's rather nice when it's morning, so it's perfect. What I find so interesting is that gap between what's actually so above mind and what we would like the world to see


is what I sometimes call the crossroads. And this is where I felt the combination of generosity was so important, because if I don't know the quality of generosity through studying and trying to learn, I've been at a very low point looking at and paying attention to and noticing what I've already seen. I think that for many of us, we think of generosity in terms of this, things. And I would encourage all of us to go as deeply as we can with the combination of generosity. Underneath traditional and familiar wisdom,


the generosity of mind that allows us to see what's known without criticizing ourselves and others. So, I love this term, the word generosity, because it's the occasion for renewing some interest in conservation, in the details of the conservation of generosity. I don't know the words of that, but my husband and I said we would join a family that would not shop Christmas, participate in gift giving. And I was quite surprised in my prior experience that the members of my family were so obsessed with giving.


And still, even now, some years later, I have a little bit of a grudge against them for allowing us to participate in the season. My experience, however, is that by not getting caught up in the commercialization of the holidays, what's possible is to not have time to spend much of myself and my colleagues, to spend time with the fast-moving monster in the room, to sit quietly and see where it pops out of the room, to be interested and curious of what it is arising from the mind,


without the need to control what it might be. If you are, in fact, going to die with a calm and peaceful mind, I would know that none of us makes for that capacity of silence and calm. I think it's important to understand that losing a child can be extremely painful. And that it would leave us to not put off this work, if you will, until another time. We have no idea what it would be like now. We don't know. How often do you say,


Oh, shit, I really want to die now. No, no, no. I remember watching my mother suffering when she was quite old, about her getting old, and asking her, had she ever met another woman of her age? And she said, Oh, of course. I just didn't think it would matter to me. And I think that that tendency to think that and then the lack of importance of not just the coming but the going, that is in the nature of our lives, is going to happen to somebody else, and me, perhaps, I think, as a woman, is quite human and French.


I remember the first time I went to Japan and realized how much among people in Japan there was a kind of shadow of the Buddhist priesthood that I had, because the Buddhist priests in Japan were associated with vowing and laughing and showing off when they were in the same place. You know, something like that in this country, this country, this is not a culture where death is the middle of the road if you will. Although I do think that in recent years that's been changing. And of course, as many of you know,


there are the classical meditations for actually doing a kind of dress rehearsal, actually meditating on one's own learning, meditating on different modes in which one can learn. But one of the questions I would invite us each to ask ourselves is, do we turn away from these practices because we are afraid to turn towards them? And we have to go outside and live in the natural world here on this planet. Especially for those of us who know, who know well, it's very clear that this closing down, shutting down the natural world, this life going under the earth, as it was at this time of the world, is anything but what we're having to explain. There is no arising of that whatsoever.


How much of us pay attention to the coming that we'd rather not notice then? No. My experience is that if I can learn the quality of generosity, of patience, of tenderness of mind through the process of turning towards what I'd rather not notice, then to be willing to have the noticing of the very brief, frequent of the very brief, I develop a capacity for this work, if you will, that I'm not willing to end. And I also begin to discover that this focus on passing on


is not the natural. Some years ago, when I was a leader in a retreat on criminals, on the murder of criminals, I had a quote-and-a-half statement in the car of a manager that said, and everything changes, nothing remains the same. And one of the people that I was practicing with in the retreat had a great aversion to that. She said, she said, no. So in her mind, she rewrote what was said and said, nothing changes, everything remains the same. She said, I only went through one line of code a couple of times before I realized that was words. So what I really want for us to


pay attention to is passing on and at this time of year, when we are beginning to enter into winter, when so much of the natural world, the living of the natural world is underground, that we are open to the breathing in the day and out in the joy of that presence. The perfection of generosity is a critical element in the Buddhist life. The sequence of the perfections begins with generosity, even before winter. I find that a sequence


remarkable, amazing. Because, of course, if I don't start with virtue, before I talk about a generosity, I'm likely to be very harsh with myself and with others. What a difference if I'm training for the amount and the amount of generosity for virtue to do that with a generous mind. What a difference the process is. What a difference the process is. For some of us who cannot line up with the willingness to demand generosity,


we may feel like we're stepping into a kind of foreign territory. But my experience is that if we are willing to be very modest and consider with some interest in generosity, that we need that generosity, that we can live an exploration of incognito and discontent that in our own dramatic scenes. So, for example, right now, as we're sitting right in this room, isn't it right in our future that we can be sitting with pride and generosity in our physical history? This is a room which we can call our place to be in the news and known


so that our path can be as wide-ranging as possible. To allow ourselves to experience the gift of this place, and benefit it to everyone. Pushing and trying not to seek the planet of generosity is such a big difference between allowing and trying. Hello, Washington.


Thanks. Hello, control room. Hello. I've never wanted to leave the planet in isolation. I'm deeply grateful to my friends who advanced me and kind words, keep me company and show me sign. I'm deeply grateful for what I learned from civil engineering. She suffered a great deal in what I've seen. And she also marked a great path for me, for the importance of generosity, of ease in the world. But long after she had passed, I said,


as she had requested, I loved her more since her death. And then afterwards, at the end of the day, at sunset, she gave very specific instructions about what she wanted. Which actually turned out to be, I think, what I thought I would, you know, tell my friends and what to do. She wrote in a note saying that she hoped that I would hold me. And one of the things she wanted us to do was to get her anxious and put them into motion at high tide, at sunset, at a particular place where she was going to walk on the beach. It was quite a remarkable moment. Just as the sun set on the moon rising,


I was able to transform my actions into the ones I feel proud to be. So it really was a moment to experience a turning over to compassion in whatever way it manifests in the world. It really was an exhilarating process. It really was a kind of a joy for those of us who think of ourselves today. To mark her release from suffering. And to allow ourselves to remember her at the same time. What I find so remarkable is that when we are really aware of ourselves,


when there isn't a gap between where we actually live and where we would like to live, there is a kind of joy to find in those moments. I'm trying now to open my eyes. These are my own sensual moments. I'm trying now to open my eyes.


I like the feeling of this room, in which I am now, where I am listening for some kind of movement, and where the gap between where I am now and sometimes where I am at, is where I find some pleasures. I'd like to finish. This feeling that there is, this feeling is the result of the lineage I'm shooting around. This feeling is moving. Rises and falls. Punished by the weight of its feet. That means I feel the benefit of the element,


of the possibility of transformation. So, what I'm saying is that it is the consequence of a generalizing way in which we must effort to transform. A reference to a kind of healing, or to a kind of attention. I would like to invite all of us to open ourselves to some heightened awareness and gifts that come to us in that we can give, that don't have very strong attach. I suppose we could say that there is a kind of strong attach


for the people who say that they have the full right to be saved. But much further than that, rather than see it fully, fully in practice, there's a sense of uncovering of the unknown, of the notion of knowing nothing. So, please allow yourselves to enjoy this time of morning, this time of calmness, of solstice, of Christmas, of New Year's.


For all of you, in your moments of salvation, and also as a time for renewal and spiritual ease. An opportunity to reconnect with who ourselves are in our journey, and to unveil ourselves. There is a way for some of you to enjoy this moment. But really, children, adults, but really, really unknowing about what others would think. And we're going to have to try to have the kinds of changes


I'm suggesting in great movements, or in little moves. So, what's for dinner tonight? I'm thinking of different dinner plans. I forgot to ask you for your dinner. Maybe there's a schedule in terms of time for the Christmas dinner discussion. I'm going to ask you to come to this special event. So, I look forward to being able to talk to some of you. We're going to have to come back in a few minutes. Thank you very much. Meditation.