January 30th, 2002, Serial No. 03945

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I've actually thought quite a bit about this talk, not so much because what it is that I want to say, which is something, you know, you've heard innumerable times before, but because it's the first time that I'm together with you for a bit and it's Wednesday night and it's our, it's us, you know, and I like that and I like seeing you and seeing your faces and really all I want to do is just cheer us on, you know, keep going please. And I had that thought because this is the last Wednesday night talk before the next Wednesday night which is going to be the orientation to the practice period, the next practice period, and that's a time of refocusing and re-clarifying and re-dedicating ourselves


to waking up, to living from a place of the heart as much as we can, of falling down and getting up over and over and over again, of making innumerable mistakes, sharing them embarrassingly with everybody else and picking ourselves up and tucking ourselves under our arm and going forward, keeping going. Suzuki Roshi said the hardest thing in this practice was to keep going, just keep going, just keep walking through the mist until we are dripping and soaking wet through and through. So, last Saturday morning we had the full-moon


ceremony and I thought it was really appropriate to have a full-moon ceremony right before when we're going to start the next practice period because it's during the full-moon ceremony that we make this recommitment. The first thing we do is we confess, we repent, we admit our ancient twisted karma. Does anybody have trouble with that? No. And then we also give homage, we declare our gratitude, we make known our appreciation to the lineage, to the people who have simply picked themselves up over and over again and kept going and overlapped enough so that we have this precious heritage. And then we went for refuge. We went for refuge in the Buddha, the awakened person. You know,


I noticed just the other day, on Saturday as a matter of fact, when I was doing the right in the middle of the full-moon ceremony, for the first time I think I blocked this out because our way is to sit, as you know, with our thumb tips touching, right? And my, my, you know, his thumb tips are not touching. He's gorgeous, isn't he? And like Lu said the other day, the feeling, he has a wonderful feeling, stable, settled. Did I lose my track of thought? Yes. Oh, so we went to refuge for the Buddha, refuge in our own awakened mind. We took refuge to the Dharma, the teaching. We took refuge again in the Sangha, us, the people with whom we're going to be making all these mistakes.


And we said these four vows. We said, beings are numberless, I vow to save them. Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to put an end to them. Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them, enter them. Buddha's way is unsurpassable, I vow to become it. These are the inexplicable, these are the ah, wordless words of a bodhisattva. We are bodhisattvas. We are people who are wanting, we are awakening beings, we're in, we're awakening beings. And awakening beings make this vow, this inconceivable vow of wanting to wake up so that we can be available to people who are suffering unnecessarily. We make this vow.


It's a, it's an un, it's unconceivable, inconceivable, it's an inconceivable vow, but we make this vow. And the reason why we make this vow, and I believe, I believe inside each one of us here, every one of us inside basically has this vow, we have this vow in us. And the reason we have this vow in us is because basically, fundamentally, underneath all of the mistakes, underneath all of the suffering, underneath all of the difficulty, I think somewhere in there we know fundamentally we're basically good. We are. Every single one of us, fundamentally, basically, we are, the Trangpa says, this basic goodness. We are this basic goodness. Our hearts are already open, this is, this is so. Our minds


are already awake, clear as a bell. So why do we have such trouble being, keeping in touch with that? Why sometimes does it seem so far away? Well, you know why. It's so far away because it's the way our mind works. It's not even our fault. It's the way the mind works. We have awareness, and we identify with that awareness as a me, and then we start protecting me. We start grabbing onto things that we think are going to make us safe, primarily. We don't really grab on, underneath, we don't really grab onto things that we think are going to make us happy, uh-uh. Mostly we're afraid, that's really it. Mostly


we're scared to death. Mostly we're grabbing onto things that we think are going to make us safe, and we push things away that we think threaten us in some way, hurt us in some way. So we're so busy covering over our basic openness and our basic awakeness that we can't find it. So how do we get back in touch with it? That's the question, and that's what we're doing here. That's what this next practice period is going to be all about. I understand it's going to be about compassion practices, I think, but neither Blanche or Jordan are here, so I'm not sure, but I think so. Carol? Is Carol here? Isn't that what the brochure says? Yeah, so it's about compassion practices. So how do we get back in touch with who we really fundamentally are?


Well, I'm sorry to deliver the message. Don't shoot the messenger. Well, actually, maybe it's good news, right? If they say it's good news, we're in the human realm, we suffer here, but this is the place we get to be free. So actually it's the good news. The good news is that in order to get back in touch with our own fundamental compassion, our own open-heartedness, our own awake mind, we go right into our suffering. No other way. Absolutely no other way. So, for those of you who are new to the practice, get ready. Okay? Because we're going to start our next practice period, which we advertise as all light and flowers, and actually it's miserable. It has great potential for being really miserable. Which is the good news, because whenever we're miserable, our mind is stuck,


and we have created these barriers, and that's what we want to see. So the more we're in touch with our own suffering, the more we can connect with ourselves, our suffering, this is what produces compassion, because, as the Dalai Lama said, may he be well forever and ever, although I suppose that's unrealistic, isn't it? Well, comfortable anyway. Oh, I hope he lives a long time. Said is, just like I don't want to suffer, just like that, so do all beings not want to suffer, and not have the conditions for suffering. He says this all the time, and just like I want to be happy, just like that, exactly like that, every single person in this room, besides myself,


also, in exactly the same way, intensity, wanting, you know, wants to be happy and wants to have the conditions of that happiness. In that way, we can connect with other people. That connecting is compassion. We tremble with another person's suffering. We hear another person's suffering, because it's our own. We can understand their suffering, because we understand our own suffering. And with that compassion, we want to take responsibility. We want to. We want to be in the world taking responsibility. And the more we want to take responsibility, the more the magical, I don't even know what to call it, intention, it doesn't seem to reach it, but this magical thought that we have inside of us wells up. Yes, I want to awake. Why? Because that's the best way


to help all sentient beings. That's the most responsible thing we can do, to wake up. Not for myself anymore, but for everyone who's suffering, because I know my own pain. I want to wake up for benefit of everybody. This is bodhicitta, thought of awakening, thought of enlightening, to benefit, for the benefit of all beings. I'm almost done. I'm happy because it's only eight o'clock. And I'm sleep-deprived. I've been sleep-deprived for more than 30 years. And I'm tired of it, frankly. But it's a very good thing to do for a while. It is. It's very good. The reason it's good is because we can't maintain these barriers. It's harder.


A lot of that energy that we have goes into maintaining these barriers. So it's a little bit okay. People are kind of tired. It's also okay that it's only eight o'clock and I'm almost done. See, we're naked in front of each other. You might as well not try to hide. So I am done. I've told you about bodhicitta, I've told you about bodhisattva, told you about the classes that are coming up. And the class that I'm going to do, which I'm... I get a kick out of this because I've never done a series before. This is what I'm getting a kick out of. Not the class, really, the series, that I'm doing a series. The series is about practices, compassion practices. I had that thought a while ago,


two practice periods ago. So I thought I'd start it out with compassion practices of the vipassana tradition, which is the netta and loving-kindness and sympathetic joy, compassion, and equanimity. We started, we had a class in that. And then from there we moved on to lojong. How do you pronounce that? Lo-yong? Lo-jong? Thank you. Lojong practices, of which a series of slogans and embedded in that is sending and receiving, or tonglen practice. So we did that. And this next one is going to be, the next one in the series is going to be about bodhicitta and the paramitas, because the paramitas are the practices of Mahayana Bodhisattva. And the first one is the paramita of giving. And giving is actually the flip side of letting go, not holding on, or non-attachment.


So giving is the other side of non-attachment. And I think the reason why we can practice giving, we can practice non-attachment, is because somehow or another we can trust this basic goodness. We can risk not holding on. We can risk letting go. So out of that basic goodness, out of that arising of bodhicitta, we make these vows, or as Kadagiri said, a Bodhisattva lives in vow.


We live in vow. So these vows are the vows of the Bodhisattva. From the point of view of the perfections, beings are numberless. We don't have to save them because everybody already is awake and fundamentally good. Delusions are inexhaustible. What delusions? Delusion is no separation. If we understand no separation, there are no delusions to hinder us. Dharmagates? From what? From here to there? No. We're in the midst all the time. No dharmagates. Buddha's way is unsurpassable. You find out. We find out. Right? That's our work.


Buddha's way is unsurpassable. I think so. So we Bodhisattvas are going to be practicing together. We Bodhisattvas know that giving is the awakened mind of a Bodhisattva. That this thought of bodhicitta is the motivation of a Bodhisattva. And this taking refuge that we do every month just to remind us is the life of a Bodhisattva. These are our vows. This is our life. And it's good. So I hope that's encouraging and we're going to start this next practice period again.


Do another one. Focus. Be clear about what you're going to be practicing this next practice period. And we're going to do it together. Support each other. And I'm glad.