The Great Matter

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How awareness of death, and our own mortality, spurs us to greater effort in practice.

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wait to see and listen to to remember expense high today's the to the kind of curse words

welcome everyone to begin mind temple
there is a verse that's on the hand that wouldn't block that to resound to call us to the zendo
you may have noticed some time it's also sometimes chanted just before bedtime and many zen monasteries
and it goes something like this
great is the matter of birth and death are actually starts that may i respectfully remind you great is the matter of course and death all is impermanent quickly passing
be awake each moment don't waste this life
there isn't a normal you know the opening of a letter is a salutation wants to close and what's this or departing phrase card
i can't remember anyhow there is none of departing phrase that is very common
in japanese
which is or die je ne
which means literally take care of the great matter
golden sand in crocodilian gym shoe quotes great ancestor in gardena
when he says that in this world of birth and death
seeing impermanence
is bodhicitta is the mind of awakening
and this i think it's very true for me this is what turned me toward practice was
and i'm going along one day on
my best friend had a really bad headache went to the doctor next day was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor run into a coma and died
that and i was stunned
so often you know we don't think so much about birth and death until someone close to us totally a contemporary or even someone younger than us
was suddenly dying and then we get it that
we are also impermanent
in a great indian classic the mahabharata there's a passage where great sages asked our serve all of the things you've observed in the right and like what is the most amazing
and he responds that a man seeing all around him die never thinks that he will die
and that's certainly the way i was until that died and i was
can a really agitated frame of mind
and in all of my agitation and searching around what i wanted to know as well if you know you're going to die how do you live
this is the important point of knowing that all of us die and i'm just not just for sure everybody dies i die some day it's it's sort of we never know we will never know
and so
the important part of that is that it encourages us to really pay attention to how we live
because how we live
is the most important thing
it maybe feels like we've got plenty of time to figure that out later later i'd get around to that later i right now as i do this
but the very encouraging part about noticing that
everything changes and this was changes
ah in in the cockpit or religion shoe dorms angie says
and such a guardiola said the minds at fully sees into the uncertain world of birth and death is called the thought of enlightenment product shooter
thus if we maintain this mind this mind can become the thought of enlightenment indeed when you understand this continuity the notion of self does not come into being ideas of name and gain did not arise fearing the swift passage of the sunlight practice
the way as though saving your head from fire reflecting on this ephemeral life make endeavour in the manner of buddha raising his foot
so we can we can take this realization of impermanence wanted when it comes to us and turn it into a tremendous support for living the life we want
for living as we really want to be and not putting it off

there's a poem
i've shared it with you before there's not
does it quite a quotation from socrates i have some nice quotations hear that were gathered together by simply a care for the class that she and john were teaching and invited me to join them
ah those of you who are notice and senate are one of i
long and dear friends has just been diagnosed with inoperable cancer and so with very aware or the impermanence right now
and what he very generously did was decide to change his class from class or dogan sanjay to a class on the dharma of death
so he's taking this opportunity and his usual generous way to really have us all pay attention and learn from his impending death
some encouragement of how we live our life
and also to take some of the fear out of death you know
socrates said one of those quotes that cynthia broadest socrates said to fear death gentleman is nothing other than to think oneself wise when one is not
for it has to think that one knows what one does not know
no person knows where their death may not even turn out to be the greatest of blessings for a human being and yet people feel as if they knew for certain where is the greatest of eagles
you know death is the great mystery
we don't know
i guess we don't know
what happens
ah report mary oliver says i want to be full of curiosity what will it be like that college of darkness
and i feel the same way to i hope in when my time comes i can meet it full of curiosity and interest what is it
when others this so
ah him on the recollections that a report of a monk asking a zen master what happens when you die
miss mattresses i don't know
don't want your zen master
yeah but i'm not a debt one
so we don't know it may it a suzuki roshi is
said toward the ended his life fukui said towards the end of his life ah things teach best when they're dying
i certainly am appreciating it that way with john i think is teaching is becoming more and more clear and direct
and i think it's really generous of him to
actually share with us his experience as it's happening
suzuki roshi said if when i die a moment i'm dying if i suffer that is all right you know that is suffering buddha no confusion in it
maybe everyone will struggle because of the physical agony or spiritual agony to that that is all right that is not a problem
we should be very grateful to have a limited body like mine are like yours if you had a limitless life
it would be a real problem for you

so many oliver
says it in a very nice way
she said who made the world
who made the swan and the black bear
who made the grasshopper
this grasshopper i mean the one who has flung herself out of the grass for one was eating sugar out of my hand
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down
who's gazing around her with her enormous and complicated eyes
now she lives her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face
now she snaps her wings open and floats away
i don't know exactly what a prayer is
i do know how to pay attention how to fall down into the grass how to kneel down in the grass
how did the idol and blessed had a stroll through the fields which is what i've been doing all day
tell me when i said i have done
doesn't everything guy at last and too soon
tell me what is it new plan to do
with your one wild and precious life
actually like say what what does it you plan to do with this one wild and precious life that has been given to you
when who was alive suzuki roshi said something like just to be alive as enough
and i didn't understand that
but then a nineteen eighty nine i had a heart attack
i'm sorry for you people who've heard this before but a lot of people who haven't this is the main thing this is the main thing i have to teach so i'd say it a lot
i left the hospital not having died
and as i was walking out i thought wow
i'm still alive
i can be dead
how the rest of my mind has just a gift
one of my whole life has been a gift pretty i didn't notice it before
this is the thing i teach life is a gift how will you use it how will you fully appreciate it it's not just a gift after you just dodged a bullet you know it's a gift from likud go
so how do you have you fully appreciate this gift
sharma hope he won't mind me saying something about our conversation the other night therapy
as you can see sharon has had a stroke and she's confined to a wheelchair for two reasons we i think by heart attack was one of the greatest things that happened to me because i've been really appreciate my life until then
and she feels the same way about her stroke she said i wouldn't have it will not have happened even though i mean i'm not as impeded is she is by the after effects but also she found that once she learned about her life
has been so important to her
as a result of a stroke that
she would not go back and be as he was before
so whatever can help you to truly appreciate the gift of this life and live it with gratitude
gratitude is just a wonderful thing
it's available to all of us
so how
what is it you plan to do with as one wild and wonderful life that's been given to you
how will you keep alive your awareness of
of the uncertainty of life in a way that doesn't intimidate you but that keeps encouraging you to practice as if your head on fire
to practice because it matters
how you live this life matters
taking on home
was quoting teaching the world
the five remembrances
i am the nature to grow old there is no way to escape growing old
i am of the nature to have ill health
there is no way to escape having ill health
i am of the nature to die there's no way to escape death
all that is dear to me and everyone i love or of the nature to change
there is no way to escape being separated from them
my actions are my only true belongings
i cannot escape the consequences of my actions
my actions are the ground on which i stand
take nhat hand goes on to cut come up
the five remembrances help us make friends with our fears of growing old getting sick being abandoned and dying
they are also a bell of mindfulness that can help us appreciate deeply the wonders of life that are available here and now
but in the heart sutra or caters for teaches that there is no birth and no death while the buddha tell us that we're of the nature to die if there's no birth and no death
because of the five remembrances the buddha is using the to a relative truth
he is well aware that in terms of absolute truth there is no birth and death
when we look at the ocean we see that each way has a beginning and an end
a wave can be compared with other waves and we can call it more or less beautiful higher or lower longer lasting or less long lasting
what if we look more deeply
we see that a wave is made of water
it would be sad if the wave did not know that it is water
it'll be said it would think someday i will have to die this period of time as my lamp life span and when i arrive at the shore i will return to non-being
these notions will cause the way of fear and anguish
we have to help it removes the notions of self person living being and man
if we want the wave to be free and happy
so this is the buddha's teaching to relieve us of the notion of a self a person a living being
and to see that there is no separate substantial thing that we can point to and say this is me
it is simply the ongoing arising and passing away moment after moment
of forms feelings perceptions mental formations and consciousness but there's nothing else besides that we can say this is me some separate substantial thing
that we this this body this life this wave gives us an opportunity to experience i fully
but just as the wave returns to the ocean
you know we will return to something but we don't know what
but if we think the end of this life is the end of life
the end of this body as the end of life
we simply don't know
life will continue
when this body is no longer continuing life will still continue
and our actions the the effects of our actions
is what is connected with this body that it will continue
actions have consequences actions have results actions of body speech and mind
i'm so you know there are various teachings in buddhism about
about actions
durban sent she writes about the for methods of guidance of a bodhisattva
the first is giving
the second is kind speech
the third is beneficial action
and the fourth is a deadly action or cooperation
so this giving this generosity
comes up in a lot of these kinds of lists that are
i'm sort of reminders of how we live our life we were awake
no in the six
practices of a body sought for the first one again as generosity are giving
part of the teaching is that this giving a monk doesn't give material things because a monk as amended mendicant i won't give the dharma and a monk gives fearlessness
when i first read that
i'm a long long thing about thermostat
and then studying i read that about twenty years ago i've been studying what his fearlessness
it doesn't seem to be never experiencing fear i don't think that's what it is it somehow not being overwhelmed by fear
being able to be with fear and see it arise and subside true
the again that john is being a monk he is showing us
how not to be overwhelmed
i fear of time
by being with us among us not going off somewhere to hide out but being right there with us teaching
eating and playing robin and hogging whatever being john
we had all ceremony here yesterday morning to give him a new okay so that we had song for him and ran over here it took some wonderful photographs which sweatshirt
i'm the web or maybe you could if you're interested you can ask her how to looking up there some great photographs
so just being here and living his life and sharing it with us
continuing to mean so he was only here yesterday we had the ceremony and they came over and he was doshi for evening service and then he went over to the jail to do something over there and then he went to a meeting about a project of called coming home who's john already here
i'm trying to luton british peace fellowship is trying to develop some way of helping people when they get out of prison
to find a way to re-enter live in society and i think the project is called coming home so you went to a meeting about that
so we can see john is still living his life
in the middle of is dying
and we can learn from that right or we can do the same actually that's what we're all doing you know
we've all got a terminal
diagnosis right and then it were born
ah but what we do between the time were born and the time relieved
that's the important thing
so that's that's what i would like to leave you with this take care of your actions
and recognize that
when the waves subsides it's still the ocean

talking about how to live at golden sand she says
there is a simple way to become a buddha
when you refrain from unwholesome actions are not attached to birth and death
and a compassionate toward all sentient beings
respectful to seniors and kind to juniors right excluding or desiring anything with no designing brought so worries we will be called a buddha
do not seek for anything else

so what is this practices though your head were on fire
well that's
that's what we think we're doing here
you know what sometimes it feels to me like people have forgotten their heads on fire
and sometimes few people seem to forgotten that ah
person death is the great matter
that what we do each moment
makes a difference
so you know really concerns me that when i say the people
follow the schedule here
because they have to
i like to think that people come here because they want to pile of schedule and really practices and every day and study and learn how to live their life so they can make the most out of this life
so they can actually
give all they have to give while they're here
no master seung sahn said forget about zen mind you don't know anything about my just made each person with the thought how can i help you
everyone you meet
just meet them how can i help you
knowing that you are connected to everyone
knowing that you are all water
just different waves and the same ocean
meet each person
with an open heart
and with generosity
this is how we can make a difference in our world

the world we live in
is not made up of
actions that other people do as much as the world we live in is primarily the result of our attitudes and our actions
and when we live a life
of kind kindness
when we live a life of compassion when we live a life of generosity
we get to live that life what could be better
it doesn't depend
and what other people say or do it depends on what we say and do it's wonderful when people meet us and want to live that life together with us in that way
but whatever someone else does does not impede us
in the poor methods of guidance of generosity kind speech beneficial action and cooperation
these are guidance is for our life but don't depend on other people
they depend on us
so when you truly realize
this life is precious
and i don't know how long it will last and i was coping chino said when you realize
how rare and precious your life is
and how it's completely your responsibility how are you live it how you manifest it
is that's such a big responsibility that naturally such a person sits down for a while
it's not an intended action it's a large action
so that's where our season is a sitting down for a while and coming to rest here in this body and mind and
the heart of generosity kind speech
beneficial action
an identity action
sitting down and observing what comes up in my mind that hinders me from living the way i want to live
can i return to my intention i can and i can and again
our actions are really important our actions of body speech and mind i really our own percept only possessions take my hand says

so allow your awareness of impermanence
to be the mind of awakening
to be an encouragement to wake up to things as it is
and find out how you want to live this mind
someone wants this is a hero roshi was the most important thing and he said to find out what's the most important thing
so how will you find out what's the most important thing for you

i urge you to not forget gratitude
to really appreciate this life that you have
and to use it well
me or even texture equally expand literary be raise