January 11th, 2003, Serial No. 04074

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we always start with a sound august is good sound testis you can all hear pretty good okay
sometimes it's not quite so bumi that's a pie
my name is lou richmond
and the ostensible
occasion of my lecture today is my recent i recently received dharma transmission from a surgeon roshi know weitzman
so they asked me to talk about it
and i will talk about it among other things i'm not sure i stay on that topic topics are not my strong point
in this sense center
when we say dharma transmission most people understand that that's your official recognition as a teacher
when you get to wear a different colored robe carry sticks things like that the outward manifestations
in my case it's a little more complicated maybe
and to explain that i need to go back in many years i came to this place in nineteen sixty seven actually i came to the berkeley's sandro and my first teacher was smell sojourn so
that was the beginning of everything the middle of the sixties i was a seminary student in berkeley and saw an ad in the berkeley barb
for zinn
the berkeley barbs still exist
no it was big in those days believe that was where he went for everything
so i'm one of the people that risk that came to send through a newspaper ad very american
and i am
i sat with him this small group in his living room as as often is the case and one day i was sitting
britain and i heard some unusual sounds i heard the rustling of material and somebody sat in the the head seed
and then i heard i could hear was close enough so i could hear this person breathing
and i can hear the regularity and
the where i could hear the breathing very slight sound and at the end of the time i turned around and it it was suzuki roshi he often came to the satellite sandoz in those days so that was my first meeting with him and i was his student here until
to his death in nineteen seventy one
i have the dubious honor of being the most junior of all his or knees i'm the sixteenth
of his sixteen ordain disciples
done shortly before his death
there is a
tradition in in buddhism about the sixteenth disciple of the buddha he was so stupid
he couldn't get anything right and but eventually he was greatly enlightened so i take some heart from now
and i lived here in this building and tassajara and green gulch i did you know
i see that people are following that same path we have three great beautiful centers to practice and so people are still doing that and i actually had a teaching role in the last few years and green gulch and that culminated in
my beginning the preparations for dharma transmission to officially recognize me as a teacher that was twenty years ago
can will clearly something happened
nineteen eighty three was not a good year for zen center in many respects and that was the year i left britain
and into this day i think a lot of the old timers those of whom who are still around don't really understand why and to tell you the truth i don't really understand why i don't think i could tell you if you ask me why anyone does things
but for the purposes of today and for the purposes of elucidating the the reality of dharma transmission i'm going to try because i think it it matters and i think it has relevance to twenty years later to all of you
many people think that i left in anger and disgust because of many things that happened during that time
that's probably true
going to some extent but i think that if i'm honest with myself and i had many years to look in the mirror and try to figure out whether i was being honest with myself i think that it rude it was time to leave
and i want to talk a little bit about this time to weave because
it's important in the wife of a zen practice or to know when when it's right to do things
and it also relates to
something else which is little harder to articulate which i'll call authenticity or personal authenticity

it was never really my or idea to be ordained as a priest
which is something i'll come back to ordination
but it was suzuki roshi his idea and i loved him so i went along with it
and my own view is i think he was hoping to capture as many of us as possible before he died so we'd be hooked in these
masses of black cloth
so among other things i think i was angry at him to he or gamey and then died
i mean it sounds it sounds ungrateful to say you're angry at somebody for guynn but you know children when their parents die among other things they're angry and it's a very human reaction you know it's it's a it's a it's a bad stroke of fate
and you're angry about it
but after fifteen years here
doing the practice with great vigor and and attention
i think come
in a sense the events of eighty three who were a kind of excuse her catalyst for me to values i think what really was going on as much as anything was there were parts of me and i'm a
rather complex person that weren't digested
in this new strange exotic thing called being a buddhist priest in america and i didn't
at a certain point i felt i had a really bad case of cultural and spiritual indigestion
you know i'd taken it all in whole hog literally almost and swallowed it and it it didn't it didn't take for a whole lot of reasons
there were parts of my life that i'd simply thrown on the sidewalk in order to be or gained one of which was my life as a musician
which was really my first wife
and i think my music life has helped me all along in practice i think musicians often take to this practice in a very good way and i i met some when i was here over the holidays to do my
dharma transmission i met some very wonderful people here who are musicians and i thought oh the the attraction continues musicians keep coming to buddhism
i had a family and a young child and i don't think that at all my family life and my responsibilities to them headed all been integrated or digested in my practice nor had it been i think in the institutions and large that was a very exp
elemental and new time with buddhism in america and the whole notion of family life juxtaposed with a kind of outward tradition of asceticism and kind of proto celibacy
i say that
because we see how well celibacy works in other religious traditions
my conclusion is that in many cases particularly from men celibacy has the
effect of just driving your sexuality underground doesn't and so it comes out in unhealthy ways
ah much better i think to just deal with it but anyway
there were lots of things in my life that i felt i needed time to integrate to absorb and
so i left and i did something
kind of unusual
i wanted to
and some of this was just emotion but some of it was i think real i wanted to find out how much of all of this all of this send stuff i could divest myself of and still be with it so i took off my robes and i grew my hair and i got a job in corporate america and i didn't sit
and i didn't do anything that i used to do
at all
and i got sick and got very sick i had cancer and nearly died
and through all of that i discovered that there was something that i couldn't get rid of from this practice i think a couple of things one where the vows that i took the bodhisattva vows that you take when you're ordained
and the other was my love for my teachers suzuki roshi
he still to this day is the most important person in my life and a person that i ah
greatly respect almost more than anybody so those two things my vows and my relationship to my teacher would seem to be ineradicable in some way which was kind of a surprise i thought well i can get rid of all of it if i want you i'm the boss i can do anything i want well i couldn't really and that way
as an interesting and very sobering lesson
but there's something about this practice that doesn't depend on outward form doesn't depend what you look like the clothes you wear the place you live the kind of job you have whether you have a wife for a partner or not
and i think that realization
culminated in this time when i finally was willing to in a sense come back and complete what i began
twenty years ago
in the meantime i've done a lot of things i've been a corporate executive i still own my own software business i'm still a musician
i have a wonderful family and now at twenty eight year old son
and after twenty years the role of the dharma transmission between sojourn roshi and myself
has a totally different feeling than it did when i was preparing for twenty years ago
i have no need for it you know for myself it doesn't matter to me in a certain fundamental way
i have my way of being in the world in a way of
professing my understanding of dharma i write books give talks
it does mean something to me in another sense which is that it means something to other people and it means something particularly to the people here and
so a lot of my experience of going through it and being willing to acknowledge myself as a teacher and be acknowledged as a teacher is a way of
as mill said to me and i think it was very milan i go back thirty five years so i can say pretty much anything to him and he to me
and he said at one point because the the meat of this experience is not just the ceremony which is very real and hard to verbalize but it's also the preparations to it and the relationship of the two people involved he said you know who you're a very creative and imaginative
person but it's good to do things with people
and i really took that to heart
ah mail is a wonderful teacher in that regard because he so easy with people and that really is at the end the root of any religious leader is to be with people
and i think that a lot of what has changed and
what transpired within me as the willingness to once again be with the people here at zen center which is my spiritual home
in let them be with me and do things like give this sort of talk with my robes on which for years i wouldn't wear

there's something else too
i think part of why
i had such a strong
case of indigestion poisonings probably too strong a word but indigestion about all of this is that i i was very idealistic as many of us were in those days and i had
i had a sense that well you know
religious corruption is everywhere in the west but at least in this sin world
things are better the the teachers
the ancestors that have brought us this tradition are really quite unusual people they're special people
and probably that's true but it's also true that that idealism is may be an artifact of it's always easier to idealize something outside of your own culture
yeah just today in the new york times there was a big spread this is now a mainstream thing about a book that came out a few years ago called xin at war do any of you know this book some of you do many of you tube
so it's now official it's in the times during the war
a japanese sin was very supportive actively supportive of the military government many of the leading figures of
who brought a zen to america like d t suzuki and jasa tiny roshi are through their own statements and writings are deeply implicated in all of that
are a lot of anti semitism that you can find a virulent anti-semitism
a real it's pretty bad and it's very demoralizing if you're right it all idealistic but one of the things you do in this dharma transmission which is seven days is you every day you bow you do full bows to every one of the
people from buddha they take list when they have a list of
the so-called unbroken line through india china and japan to us
and as you do it you know at least for me you realize each bow is a whole lifetime
it's not much for a whole lifetime you know there's ninety two of these people in one life to lives can you imagine that your life is sort of summed up by one bow
and you you imagine how it really was is supposed to how we imagine a how the propagandists to any religious tradition always try to smooth things over
you realize you know we've had trouble serious trouble in getting this organization to survive and prosper and this is true of many other buddhist groups in america and we could think well gosh back then it was better people weren't like this
yeah but you know i don't think that's true i think that
in any tradition like this there is the ideal and then there's the human realm and they
join in some way i think that in the history of buddhism there have been bad teachers there has been be trail there has been robbers who come in and murder everybody in the temple there had been wars there have named famines therapy in all sorts of things that
we don't really have in the in the hague geographic histories of all these people
and it made me feel better actually to realize that i was in the company of a bunch of human beings who tried very hard to continue the teaching of the buddha in spite of everything and i've often been asked
about suzuki roshi people say well gosh he sounds like a saint you know must have had something wrong with him
well he had his many faults just like we all do
he he really did they weren't the usual sort of faults that you might expect but they were other kinds and
yet he sacrificed so much to come here really probably his wife it probably shortened his life a good deal to go through the strain of all of this
but i think that what made him in the end of great teacher a creative teacher a teacher who is able to make a real connection with westerners out totally outside of his culture was that he suffered a great deal in his life many many bad things happened to him i
i won't go into them you can read about it in crooked cucumber that's his biography that david chadwick wrote
it's it's interesting for people like me who knew him to read that book and compare how he was with us with how is life really was none of that showed it it really had all been hammered out of him through the suffering the human suffering that he went through and he was all the way
for us and it's a real inspiration and and i think that there is actually a tradition within some kinds of this then that after your formal training in the monastery and so forth you eve
and really be you don't just leave to become some famous zen teacher you leave to be nobody
and if you're not willing to leave they kick you out go you know be gone in there is a phrase in san for monks who become attached or stay too long and that formal practice places it's called the the black cave of of demons or something like that
anyway for better or for worse that's what i did i'm a real prodigal son i left and left quite completely and was content to be nobody for quite a while nobody in this context anyway i became somebody in some other contexts
and now i'm back at least in some certain way and feeling okay about it pretty good about it
i think that it's funny to come back to a place you haven't been to in a long time in this case twenty years although i've been here occasionally but not really i haven't spent time here hearing all the trees are twenty years taller in the courtyard and yet i look around and people are bustling up and down the hallway
ways making the food going to zazi i'm doing almost exactly the same things i did opening the door with some
the trepidation who's out there you know
and i realize you know it goes on it goes on one time i was here doing all this and now other people are here is very comforting
whatever we may think about the a healthier lack thereof of the institution and all that goes with it there's something quite remarkable about creating a place like this where people can come for the dharma it's not easy to do there's only rare times when the resources
and all of that come together to make it happen but here it is and we have just not one place like this but three
one of the things i did during my time in the wilderness so to speak was i spent a lot of time hanging out with american teachers from other tradition buddhist traditions be possono various tibet and traditions because i wanted to find out what buddhism looked like without the japanese car
a coating that was on it here and really my question was your my coin was what
what is really the core common practice that all of these traditions carry
because then i feel that if i knew that i could come back here and be able to recognize in our tradition what things were authentically buddhist and what things were more cultural so for example
the robe this brown piece of cloth that's universal in every buddhist tradition there's some idea of a robe that you were over your left shoulder but this
this is a you know chinese court clothes from the thirteenth century this is not you won't see this in tibet you won't see this in burma this is and this is a under here this is japanese is a kimono you know so but this is buddhist
and you know that that's not a trivial thing for me to understand and in i also you know many of these groups
and teachers have
thrown off and set aside the whole priest side of their traditions so for example jack kornfield who teaches up at spirit rock when he was in burma with his teacher he was a monk he took the two hundred and fifty six precepts he shaved his head he lived very very aesthetically but here nobody at spirit rock is
and i think the feeling there is in those traditions to be a monk is to be without family without processions you know more like a franciscan monk really seriously a mug and if you're not among your a layman
but it's interesting that
the sense of transmitting the dharma the sense of recognizing the next generation of carriers of a dharma that is common you see that in all the other traditions there is some
formal and informal way that dharma transmission occurs in the tibetan traditions into the pawson and tradition in all the other traditions so that is actually more fundamental i think then priesthood which in our particular lineages is rather important and suzuki roshi or named people as
priests and his successors if continue to do it and now we have throughout the country i think you know how many more than one hundred or two hundred of you know people who are ordained in the soto zen lineage but who all live is lame and most of whom have families etcetera so it's a little bit
it's hard to understand exactly what it means we're still figuring that out
but when i finish the dharma transmission ceremony and all that went with it i realized you know this is one of the core things that all the buddhist traditions have and i can feel comfortable with that it is true but i was ordained as priests and inside i still feel like one and my intention is to
continue to be responsible for ha transmitting the buddha dharma to america and i'm particularly interested in transmitting it at a level which will actually impact the society in real time this is my particular interest
i think one of the things that i felt very hard to articulate then easier to articulate now when i left twenty years ago and i saw this and other buddhist groups so i think those of us who come to buddhism in america ten not to be to come
trouble with conflict
you know we wanted a quiet place where people could be
kind to one another you know and it kind of refuge or a sanctuary and away from conflict
and that's fine i think that's okay i was that kind of person i think that for a certain period of time it's very important in one of the things that practice places are if nothing else are an artificial world where the ordinary rough and tumble of conflict our
in the world is attenuated so
you can feel what it's like when people actually are kind to each other
but in the end
i think and it's always been the case i think that the most important role for buddhists in the world is to know about conflict more than anyone
nobody in the world knows how to deal with conflict we've made almost no progress note i mean in the middle east we see people fighting over land and god and it's the same as it was in roman times greek times and you look at the solutions are so called people come up with
to the same as it was back in the thousand b c basically suicide bombers better weapons now it's nuclear weapons anthrax
and he may kill us all before too long and
maybe in one sense one of the reason why buddha dharma as suddenly sprouted almost from nothing in the west is because it's so necessary because we need some tradition of wisdom that can help us understand
i have a better way a deeper way to deal with human conflict so my feeling myself certainly is that you spend a certain amount of time in a training place in which a conflict is rather artificially and it's kind of in cuba
patients since removed from the situation one of the things you still see in a place like this is everybody bows to each other a lot you know and
you could do worse than start with that
as a method of you know when you bout as somebody it's very hard to kill them and the next instant
so we start with that that i think that part of this notion of being kicked out or going out and and been in the world is you get to test how well the incubation has taken and you begin to realize that part of your responsibility include
moods modeling what you know against the reality of conflict in all shapes and sizes the interpersonal conflict institutional conflict patient state conflict
a conflict that is everywhere

i actually think that buddhist centres should be willing to open themselves up to a little more conflict within themselves because it's good practice at the very least two
i think one of the reasons why
things blew up so badly here in eighty three which most of you probably weren't here for is that we didn't know how to deal with the implicit under the surface conflict that was there between people the shadow you might say of the organization the practice the institution people saw
aw things and couldn't talk about them people experience things and had to suffer privately this is not healthy this is not good this is what leads to things like what happens in the catholic church it's secret the crease know better don't say anything etc etc this is true in almost any ivan illich
choose recently died and was a great writer in the in the radical tradition said that an institution is defined as an entity whose purpose is to do it whose whose activity used to defeat the purpose for which it was created

so i'm gratified to see not just in this center but in many buddhist centers that we have we're going getting through the phase and you might say imitative practice where we're doing it just the way the asians did it and we're starting to be more ourselves within it ameri
and this is good one of the things that has to happen for practice to really flower for practice to really work is your whole being has to come to it you can't leave things out there can't be a quality of performance that doesn't
include how you really are and this is the flowering or maturing of practice
there's a great story i love to tell about this i've told it before here i think i'll tell it again about
a student at tassajara in the early days you know tessa horror ease with our jokey bulls very very strict which vegetarian diet mostly rice and beans tofu
but then they have town trips and you can buy all manner of candy and goonies to keep in your cabin
so if you look at what people really eat they eat a combination of very strict monastery food and the zendo and then in their cabins they eat peanut butter and twinkies
i dare say it's probably still the case to some extent well this student felt very guilty about it he felt that he was putting on an act to eat that way and the zendo and then have is reese's peanut butter cups in his room
so one day at midnight
one night he brought all of his township food all of these candy into the zendo he sat down in zazen he opened his balls and he put all the candy in his balls and he ate them that way with the all the chance and everything you know

well i find that very impressive that he had the courage to do that in the realization that he wanted to he wanted to bring who he really was to his cushion he didn't want to just be an artificially goods zen monk he wanted to be himself and
i think that was partly why i left to i wanted to i didn't have a chance to be all of who i was here i didn't think and the circumstances weren't right and so i spent many years
slowly incorporating testing out as my practice really reach this area do i wanted to reach this area you know
things i noticed when i went into the corporate world and got a job is a how angry people were a lot of the time and be how often they expressed it and see how much that was kind of all right
very different than here you know at that time maybe it's changed but at that time it was an okay to be angry nobody expressed it and it wasn't okay you know i'm not saying it was okay some of this anger was quite destructive but you go into a meeting and people would pound on the table adl they'd express themselves as
and i started to do it too and i thought well i'm feeling much more like myself all my fifteen years of zen training hasn't totally eliminated my capacity to get angry and and it felt kind of like a relief and
i didn't feel like i wanted to show anything of my buddhist years in that situation but it's interesting that somehow over time people saw it
they would come into my office and close the door and they would say you know iowa i'd like to talk to you about something or rather i can't really talk to anybody else and you know i didn't want to be a priest but being a priest kind of came to me in that situation and i began to realize that you know that was another way in which what i'd done here
couldn't be easily rubbed off that it changes you it changes you in some fundamental way

so i guess i could say what's different now part of what's different is i don't feel like i'm putting on a performance anymore
suzuki roshi once said when you are you then sin is sin
what does that mean very cryptic but you know many times things your teachers say it says it takes twenty or thirty years to figure it out not because it's that mysterious but because he's speaking from a place where you kind of have to live it you can't just understand it with your mind
somebody a good very good dharma friend of mine who
the dharma transmission somewhat before me some years before me said that has understood part of his understanding was that when you're really ready to thoroughly except who you are completely in the context of the practice than you are ready but that's a very tall order and takes a long time
i'm fifty five years old and i feel like i'm in many ways just beginning to understand certain things
and why should i be surprised no one said that this is a quick fix
it's not and it's not that i think that we buddhists can fan out into the world and snap our fingers and make the conflicts that are destroying us all go away we can't it won't happen but
over time if we stay with it and if we're willing to
be with all of it
there's a great poem by lew welch called well it's often thought of as being called ring of bone but it's called i saw myself i saw myself a ring of bone in the clear stream of all of it and i vowed to be with all of it this is a wonder
full expression i think of what we're really about here it's not about ah
ha ha outward form exactly look though the outward forms are important it's not about
having some great spiritual experiences although that's important to you tend to forget about them after a while
it's about being willing to bring all of it in whatever it is and not leave anything out so it doesn't look so good maybe for a long time suzuki roshi love these ungrammatical expressions in english he was quite really fantastic with the english language but he had certain
the phrases one of which was looks like good
and looks like good
i've been trying to write about this looks like good is a is a genuine call on really it's something you can't quite get your head around
but looks like good and looks like good
when i was doing my various things in the seven days there were various people here that were assigned to help me and there were things they were supposed to do put down maths light candles and stuff
and you know they didn't do it quite the way it was supposed to be so maybe forgot the candle or the incense wasn't lit or something so maybe it didn't look so good in a certain way if you think that good means somehow doing it a certain way
there's a very strong temptation in buddhist practice to fall into looks like good you want your outward appearance to be amenable to people you might to be well regarded you want to be like you don't want to make a mistake
but looks like good is only a stage there's a certain point at which ah
looks like good can't be sustained and something else takes its place some of you may know that i was very ill a few years ago
and my brain was damaged and so on
i didn't look good at all i was
my behavior was very strange and i cried all the time and i was frightened of everything it's extraordinary how damage to your brain can totally change you can all of that went away after a while but at the time i just felt so humiliated that i didn't look at all good to anybody least of all to myself i felt and i got
to learn how much i really
still depended on looking good in some way or being competent are being able to do things well and one of the big lessons of that time was realizing to my immense surprised that people would love me
even if i didn't look so good and also that it's not a bad thing to be quite deeply humiliated at various times in your life that's not so bad you can learn a lot from that experience just as you can learn a lot from being deeply betrayed
to be deeply betrayed by a person for whom you have great regard and whom you trust is a terrible thing and there's no way to make it not terrible
as far as this looks like good thing is concerned it really helps to cut through that difficult stage i wish i i have brought i forgot to bring
a wonderful poem that of tibetan buddhist american teacher just sent me it's by a nineteenth century hermit poet in tibet
named patrol and the poem is called advice to me from myself
and it's just so great
i wish i'd brought it but maybe if i paraphrase it in my own words it'll even be better basically he's a
he's a teacher he's had dharma transmission he has students in all of that in the poem he says what do you think you're doing you can't even meditate you're trying to teach people how to do it you know you hit your little bells you do your ceremonies you do your visualisations it's all about as valuable as goat shit
don't stop trying to fool people stop making all these plans you know you can he just goes on and on like that you know and at the end he basically is putting himself down and a certain way but very humorously and very charmingly saying you know none of that really matters what i'm really trying
to say is you have to give up everything everything everything
that's his last word the end of the four pages
ah marvelous
a statement of somebody who's free of a lot of things and at the end he says advice to patrol from pot rule exactly according to his capacities he said don't worry if you can't understand buddhism try anyway
yea may it be fruitful that's how he ends it it's very inspiring your inspiring
i'm sure he was a wonderful teacher and considered very wise by his his students
but inside he could laugh at himself in such a wonderful way and didn't take himself at all too seriously this is not something you can learn how to do from the outside you have to bang around
in whatever way it takes and sometimes it may take something quite strong before you get to that place
so i am
i haven't really talked about dharma transmission at all in an explicit sense and that's ok
one of my other dharma buddies when asked about it in a meeting said well we don't talk about it
we don't talk about it because it's mysterious although it is to us
you pretty much say will when you've been married thirty years we can talk about it you know it's not like when you're with your spouse it's so mysterious it's just that there's thirty years in there how can you possibly explain how it is i can't i've been with my route teacher
mill weitzman for thirty five years i can't explain how it is that i'm willing to be with him in this context
it's mysterious from the outside but if in the inside it's just the mysterious snus that goes with any intimate human activity and there is no activity more intimate than the work we do on the cushion
we think at the beginning that were meditating it's it's us it's i there on the cushion meditating to be different
but the more you meditate the more you realize
that this i you think is there is not exactly what you thought
and when we begin to
understand that we're on a path that lasts forever
and as i discovered to my somewhat chagrined when i left here you can't get rid of it so don't start and less you're willing to see it through and i see for all of you it's already too late so
this business of the eye and how the practice of meditation
starts to poke holes in it is something that buddhists have been writing about and talking about
for millennia
and i'm actually going to be giving a workshop here at two weeks from today in which we will look at some of the ways that buddhist teachers and buddhist monks in various ways have tried to help us orient us in time and space
this this orientation sometimes called the abi dharma and the heart sutra that you chant every day of look he takes for saw bodhisattva when practicing of that is all about the ib dharma and although it's you wouldn't know it to read it
the simplest answer you can say if somebody asks you what
buddhist practice is all about as you can say well it's not what you think
but if you think this or that it's okay you know
i'm i'm kind of notorious i suppose somewhere back there in those dark days i wrote a an essay called the myth of dharma transmission and i tried to
ah elucidate and poke holes in lot of the assumptions a lot of the thinking people had about what it meant and now of course that's come back to haunt me in a certain way but i still i still
believe the basic point that i made which is the essence of it is to people who know each other well the only addition i would make to that statement is that even if they don't know each other well
it's all right
so thank you for around be with me this morning
and good luck