The Jewel Called The Sangha

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Sunday talk Jan PP; you are blessed by the people who want to practice with you who are not necessarily the people you would choose to practice with.

AI Summary: 



Date appears as 1-11-97 twice; also shows 'Jan PP 98'. The audio file is labeled 1987.01.11.
01/11/1998 is a Sunday, so this is the most likely date.


Having yet to see and listen to, remember and accept, I vow to taste the truth of the Tathagata's words. I vow to taste the truth of the Tathagata's words.


Now sometimes we say, a little bird told me. Can you hear me in the back? Can you hear me in the back? Did you hear that part about the little bird? You know that expression, a little bird told me? Well this wasn't a little bird. Just a regular bird told me. This bird was about the size of a male crane. You know cranes get to be about, can grow to be five foot four. And the crane said, or the bird said, I hope you know how blessed you are by the people who practice with you.


And I said, I know. Then the bird said, I don't know if they know that you know. You should tell them. So I want to tell you, I feel blessed by practicing with you and others who are not here today. Blessed by the jewel called the Sangha, the assembly of practitioners who help us. And part of what, went away? Can't hear now can you? No. Part of what is a blessing is that a real Sangha is not the people you would choose to practice with.


Not a select group of people that you think would be best for you, but actually the people who want to study the Buddha way. That makes a bigger group than what we might choose. Some people we might really like to practice with don't want to practice. So we don't get those ones. Anyway, I'm blessed by people who want to practice. When I first, I guess my first, I was drawn to Buddhism, to the Buddha way. By stories of, I think stories which describe the compassionate activity. The skillful, compassionate activity of Zen monks.


I was drawn to stories of the manifestation of Buddha's love. As enacted by male and female Zen monks. I was not actually originally attracted by Buddha's wisdom, but more by Buddha's love. But I wondered how can one behave in such a skillful and loving way as these people seem to have behaved. I gradually found out that the source of their skill and love was wisdom. It's because of the way that they understand,


it's because of the way they understand the world that they're able to act the way they did. In the Great Lotus Sutra, the Buddha said, the Buddha Shakyamuni said that the Buddhas, all the Buddhas appear in this world because of one great condition. One great condition which has four parts. Buddhas appear in this world, Buddha's love appears in this world, because of the desire to open people's eyes and ears to Buddha's wisdom.


And the desire to demonstrate Buddha's wisdom. And the desire to actualize, realize, and if I might say today, choose Buddha's wisdom. And because of the desire to help beings enter Buddha's wisdom. Buddha's love manifests in the world because of the desire to open beings, demonstrate to beings, help beings realize and enter Buddha's wisdom. That's what the Lotus Sutra says. The Buddhas come because of the desire to help beings open, see the demonstration of, realize and enter Buddha's wisdom.


Once we have realized and entered Buddha's wisdom, naturally Buddha's compassion arises from our understanding, from our wisdom, from the way we think. So part of what Buddhas appear in the world for is to help beings learn the Buddha's way of thinking. When the Buddha was sitting under the Bodhi tree, the tree of enlightenment in India long ago, he had the great awakening when he was thinking, as he was thinking thoroughly about how things happen.


As he was thinking about how everything arises in dependence on everything else. This is what Buddha was thinking about when Buddha woke up. And because he woke up thinking about how he and all things are interdependent, it naturally followed that he wanted to help and benefit all the beings that he was interdependent with. He wanted to teach them this meditation in order to benefit them. And he taught them with words, he spoke, he interacted with them physically and verbally to help beings see and realize, see and choose the way of thinking that woke him up


from the dream that he was alone, that he lived independent of other beings and the suffering from his false thinking. The Buddha Shakyamuni spent a long time thinking not like a Buddha. The Buddha Shakyamuni ignored Buddha's truth for a long time. But finally he stopped ignoring the truth of how things happen. He looked at it and realized it. He chose to think like a Buddha and therefore he was a Buddha. So in a sense the main characteristic of his teaching is this interdependence of all things. The dynamic way that everything happens.


And he encouraged people to have faith in the study of causation. And that means that whatever is happening to us and some very difficult things happen to us, some very painful things happen, and painful difficult things happen to him. Painful difficult things happen to the Buddha but throughout the difficulties of his life he was able to trust studying what's happening rather than put his energy into trying to control what's happening. So again in my history of practice, the stories that turned me towards practice were stories of people who


looked at what's happening rather than trying to change what's happening. And by looking at what's happening and how it's happening rather than trying to control what's happening, they were what's happening in a very beautiful and loving way. So which way do you choose? Do you choose to ignore Buddha's truth and try to control what's happening or do you try to look at the truth and then from entering that truth you become what's happening and what is happening then is you as a compassionate being. Do you want to be a controlling being or a compassionate being? We already have a strong tendency from way back to try to control. Some people feel that they're totally unsuccessful, some people feel that they're quite successful


but everybody suffers when they try to control what's happening rather than see what's happening. Those who see what's happening are wise and wisdom is born from, compassion is born from their wisdom. Those who try to control what's happening don't understand interdependence and what comes from them is, well, I don't want to speak of false today. Except maybe my own to say that when I am not looking at interdependence I can be impatient, ungrateful. I can feel not blessed by the people who I practice with who are not under my control. All these people I practice with are not under my control.


None of them. Not even me. If I ignore interdependence I can become quite irritated that you people are not doing what I want you to. Like a couple of days ago we had a service here, evening service, which is held at a certain time and there's even a signal, a bell ringing to tell people when it's happening. And about 25 people came late. I saw them. Now you may think I'm bragging now when I say this but actually I was not irritated by their tardiness. I was impressed by their tardiness, by the massive number of people that came in. It was impressive, it was actually wonderful that they came at all.


I was not angry with them for coming late, even though some of these people came from thousands of miles to follow the schedule. From Europe, Japan, Mexico, all of the United States, they came to be late. I wasn't irritated and so the next day I mentioned to them the great opportunity of being on time. Of not being too early or too late. Some people are late because of whatever. They want to write one more letter or do one more push-up or sit-up. Read one more paragraph, put one more stamp on a letter. Or some people just don't want to follow the schedule. Other people are even early because they want to be the best at following the schedule. Anyway, everybody has this opportunity of working with this issue of being on time. So the next morning I mentioned to them about the opportunity of being on time but I wasn't angry at them.


I was just, I think I felt enthusiastic about the opportunity of them coming on time for the next evening's service. And the next evening's service, they were under my control. They were all on time, not one person was late. One person came in after the door was shut but that person is the person who rings the bell. So they have to come in late. They were all on time. And maybe the people who were late just didn't come in, I don't know. It's almost like the world comes under your control when you give up controlling and start studying what's happening. It's almost like it's under control. Almost. Except it's better than being under control. Better. Because it's like being under control but in a surprising, unpredictable way.


Then everything blesses you in a way that you could never have arranged your blessings. Then when Buddha saw how things were happening, Buddha said, How wonderful it is that everybody is like right in line with Buddha. Everybody's Buddha. Everybody is like totally in relationship to this way things are happening. He was so happy. But he also realized that because people don't turn away and ignore the way things work and try to control, because they have attachments for things going a certain way, they don't see this beautiful world of interdependence. So he wanted to teach them. And he did. And he was blessed by people too that practiced with him. So, it's been passed on. So, please consider whether you want to enact, want to embody, want to choose interdependence.


Whether you want to choose and trust studying how things happen. When you're suffering, rather than trying to control your suffering, do you want to primarily be like a Buddha and see how? How are you suffering? How does it happen that you're suffering? How does it happen that you're anxious? What are the conditions for this anxiety? What are you holding on to? Can you actually suffer without attachment? Check it out. Do you want to check it out, I should say? Do you want to look and see how it's happening that you feel this way? In other words, do you want to think like a Buddha? Think like a Buddha would think if a Buddha were you. So sometimes when people are really having a hard time,


I ask them, well if Buddha was in your shoes right now or in your body and mind right now, how do you think Buddha would practice? And many times people tell me how Buddha would practice. Many Zen students know how Buddha would practice if Buddha were in their body and mind at the present moment. Sometimes they have a slightly different opinion about the way Buddha would practice than I do. And I sometimes tell them, no, I think Buddha wouldn't be a little bit different than that. And sometimes they agree with me and sometimes they don't. Usually they do. Because it's pretty simple how Buddha would practice. Even though there's lots of other ways of thinking how Buddha would practice, other than the way Buddha would practice,


really it's pretty simple how Buddha practices. In whatever situation Buddha's in, no matter what's happening to Buddha, Buddha always looks at the same thing. Buddha's always doing the same practice, really. Even though everything's always changing and it's extremely dynamic all the time, Buddha always has the same practice, which is Buddha is looking at how everything's coming to be. Because that's all there is to look at. There's nothing else other than what's coming to be. There's not an alternative, really. And Buddhas choose what's happening. But, you know, even a person who is suffering a little or a lot and who knows how Buddha would practice in their shoes, right after they tell how Buddha would practice,


then they don't practice that way sometimes. Because of the habit of not doing what they know Buddha would do. It's so easy to do something other than what Buddha would do. Because you're programmed to do what Buddha wouldn't do. All you gotta do is not make any effort and go to sleep and you'll do exactly what Buddha wouldn't do. Almost for sure. Even though you know what Buddha would do, it's just like, open her eyes and look at what's happening. With no gaining idea. Just simply, oh, [...] oh. But that's awfully boring and difficult, isn't it? Oh, oh, oh, oh. Who could do that? Buddha.


Buddha can practice like that. Just being here, being amazed at what's happening. So that's one of the stories which first turned me to Zen. And now, when some of you hear this story for the millionth time, you can go, oh, how boring, he's telling that story again. And some of you who never heard it can think, oh, that's a new story. Anyway, here's a story. It's about a Zen monk. His name's Mr. Hakuin, Reverend Hakuin. And he lived in a fishing village not far from Zen Center's founders' fishing village where he grew up, on the Pacific side of Japan. And so a young girl became pregnant. And she told her parents that Reverend Hakuin was the father of the child.


And Reverend Hakuin was not married to this girl. And Reverend Hakuin wasn't supposed to have any girlfriends, actually. Or boyfriends. He was supposed to be like, you know, looking at what's happening. Not trying to make things go one way or another. So here's this baby in the womb. The girl says, he's the dad. So the parents go to him and they say, you are a bad disciple of Buddha. You're a bad monk. Terrible monk. Disgraceful monk. And when the baby's born, you can take care of it. And Hakuin says, oh, oh, oh. In Japanese, I think he probably said,


ああ、そうですか。 Oh, is this what's happening? Is this the way it is? Is this how things are coming to be? So it's come to this? This kind of thing. At least that's what they say. He said, then the baby was born and the parents, the parents of the grandparents brought the baby, brought their granddaughter, who I think is a daughter, to Hakuin. So you take care of it. So he did take care of it. He got a wet nurse. And for two years, he and the wet nurse took care of this baby. Now, maybe if you look carefully at the story, you find out what he had his disciples do to babysitting. I don't know. But anyway, the baby was with him in his temple for two years. And finally, the girl said, told the parents the truth, namely that it wasn't Hakuin who was the father. A young man in the fishing village was the father. Then the parents went to Hakuin and said, we're so sorry. We falsely accused you.


We criticized you. We defamed you. And you didn't defend yourself and you took good care of our granddaughter. You're a great monk. You're a great disciple of Buddha. And Hakuin said, oh. Oh, is this what's happening? Wow. How did this happen? And when I heard that story, I thought, that's the way I want to be. I want to be like that. I still do. Someone came to me today. Upset, a little bit upset. Anyway, suffering. Because he was feeling lonely.


Right here in this meditation hall, packed with people, this person was feeling lonely. People can feel lonely in a crowd, of course. No matter how, I shouldn't say no matter how, at a certain point, if pressed enough, we stop feeling lonely. But up to a certain point, we can feel lonely even when we have lots of people around because we can think of ourselves as cut off and separate. So this person was feeling the anguish of feeling separate. Of practicing alone. So one of the ways to enact or choose, choose to meditate on the interdependence of things, one of the ways to choose meditating on causation is to practice with other people. To experience the interdependence,


and sometimes the storm that happens as you get in close relationship with other people. But to choose, to choose, to enact interdependence by entering into practice with others so that you can choose to look at how you and others dependently co-arise together. So you can see that, how that happens. How your experience arises in relationship to all other beings, or at least the ones you can see now. And there are stories of Buddhist monks meditating alone. But, in this particular lineage of practice of this temple,


the ancestors say that we never practice alone. These stories of people going off and practicing by themselves are not the stories of Buddhas. But the Buddha was not practicing alone, ever. Not the Buddha. The deluded person, prior to understanding dependent co-arising, he thought he was practicing alone. But the Buddha knows that we never practice alone. If you think you can practice alone, then it's probably good for you to practice in a group for a while. So you can get over that idea that you're practicing alone. Nobody practices alone. Nobody lives alone. Nobody does anything alone. But we think that.


This is called ignoring that you're not alone. It's called ignorance. It's painful. Now, what about practicing with other people? Well, that's temporarily more painful. So a lot of people do pretty well with their own little apartment and their own refrigerator. And when they start practicing in a group, they experience the difficulty of meditating on interdependence. Then sometimes they... Anyway, it's hard. It's hard to look at how we're interdependent. But looking at that is the way to realize Buddha's wisdom, is the way to realize Buddha's thinking, is the way to realize Buddha's love.


The purpose of Buddhism is to realize Buddha's love. And to help other people realize Buddha's wisdom so that they can realize Buddha's love. It's not to go out by myself and put myself in some special state where I feel good. Any state I get into, no matter how good, is just a temporary vacation from my Buddha work. Might feel really good, but it will end. And when it ends, I may be in worse shape for facing my life than I was before I went on vacation. I'm not prohibiting vacations. I'm just saying that they're not really the Buddha's work. The Buddha's work is to dive into the complex interrelationships that we each of us have with all beings.


Now of course it does help if you experience some stability in the middle of this extremely energetic and intense situation called life. It's good if you have a nice seat to watch from. So we actually do practice sitting still here in this room. We have actual periods where we can try to be still and quiet in the middle of the dynamic life. But it isn't that we're trying to get quiet and quiet our life. Our life is however noisy it is. And basically it's as noisy as it is. And the way to realize the peacefulness is not by trying to pretend like it's peaceful, but to see how it's not peaceful. And the way to see how it's not peaceful is to be calm in the middle of the activity Once you see how it happens


you'll see there is great harmony and peace in the way things happen. If you hear stories about Zen, about ancient Zen teachers who went off in the mountains and practiced by themselves, I say that what that story is about are stories of people who have spent many years in the group training with the other monks. And finally they really saw how their life was none other than the other monks, the garden vegetables, the mountains and the trees and all beings. And when they finally realized this interdependence, the truth of this interdependence, then they go off in the mountains and they sit there waiting for people to come and bother them. Waiting for the group to come and bother them. It's an invitation to all beings to come and enjoy a person who doesn't


ever forget that no matter where there is no people within miles, they always are with everyone. Such people are waiting for people to come and interact with them. . So if people listen to this kind of talk and believe it, we're going to need more Zen centers.


But you can make a Zen center in your house. Just pack it with beings. Open the door and invite all beings into your house. Some of you people already have packed houses, I know, so you're fine. . Are you practicing with all beings? Do you see, are you watching to see how things are coming to be? Are you willing to choose the world of interdependence? . Are you willing to choose Buddha's wisdom? And once again,


it's hard once you choose it because of our habits of laziness . And because of our habits of thinking. So as we turn towards the world of interdependence, while still holding the idea of independence, we still feel anxious. Until we drop our belief in our independence, we're going to feel anxious. We're feeling that anyway, but as we begin to turn towards meditating on our interdependence and allow ourselves to be in situations which help us see that, they actually highlight our sense of independence and can highlight our sense of anxiety. So it's difficult to make the transition


from being in situations that tend to temporarily assuage our anxiety, distract us from our anxiety, which arises from independence, to turning towards situations which bring our attention to our anxiety, which bring our attention to our self-concern. That transition is tricky and that's another reason why we need others who are doing the same to encourage us to make this transition from trying to push the anxiety away, which comes from pushing others away, and switching to facing the anxiety, which comes from pushing others away, and seeing the source of the anxiety and entering into meditation on the causation


of the anxiety and so on. So this is a difficult practice. But, if you look at the stories of all the ancestors, not just of Zen, but all the Buddhist schools, they all have that difficulty in their background of making this transition from ignorance to wisdom. Nobody had a real easy transition, including Shakyamuni Buddha. It was an embarrassing transition for him. And we need to be patient with ourselves that even when we see exactly what would be good, and even when we try it out and it is good, we forget. So again, many times people come and they say, blah, blah, blah, suffer, suffer, suffer. And then, and I ask them,


well, what would Buddha do? They can tell me. And they say, why can't I remember this? So even what you know is good, even what you really believe is Buddhist wisdom, still it's hard to remember. So, there's a challenge of developing continuity in what you already know is the way you want to live. So if you can do it, if you can remember once a day or once a week, well, that's pretty good. So some people come to Green Gulch once a week and once a week they remember. Oh yeah, that's good. And then next week, some people remember twice a week, some people remember once a day, some people remember ten times a day, some people remember a thousand times a day, and so on.


You might have a little journal, count the number of times a day when you remember to think like Buddha. Including, as you count, you know, except like six and then nineteen. As you chart your improvement to like look at the improvement the way Buddha would look at the improvement. Like, oh, how is this coming to be? I'm getting into improvement here. Oh, look at that, I'm getting more and more like a Buddha. Oh, I'm getting to be a great meditator. Wow. Oh, now I'm getting bad again. Do you have a sense of your meditation? Is it kind of leveling off now? Or is it going up? Without getting into wanting it to improve, do you know whether it's improving or not? For most of it,


it goes up and down, up and down. And oftentimes it goes down right after we get some input which challenges it to grow. Like we're going along pretty well and we think, oh, my practice is going pretty well. And then somebody, one of these other practitioners or teachers or whatever, come up and tell you something which is like maybe very different from what you thought Buddhism was. They say, well, that's Buddhism, not what you're doing. Oh, then at that time you maybe have a little adjustment problem of like instead of like thinking, well, how is this happening? Or, oh, you kind of go, or burn that book. So up and down your practice goes. Okay, probably that's enough, right?


Simple message, simple Buddhism, difficult Buddhism, simple, difficult Buddhism. Choosing Buddha's wisdom, meditating on how things are happening, putting all our energy into studying how it happens, how does suffering happen, what are the conditions for it, how do we live together, how are we living together. This is basic, fundamental, radical Buddhadharma. But not easy. So, okay, I got a song. This whole talk was just to set up this song. I have a dance too for later. Ready? This song is, the words are by Buddha Hammerstein.


And the music by Buddha Rogers. It was written during the Second World War. Right in the middle of the war, they were making music. Okay, ready? Excuse my, probably at the wrong key or whatever, but let's see here. When you walk through the storm, no, a storm. When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don't be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm is a golden sky, and the sweet silver song of a lark.


Walk on through the rain, walk on through the fire's heat, heat tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on, with no hope in your heart, and you'll never walk alone. You'll never walk alone. Thank you. May your intentions be clear and great. If you could clarify a little bit more from your talk


about the transition from pushing away the anxiety and pushing away other people to moving towards the greatest wisdom. Judy asked about a transition I referred to being, to some extent, we carry with us a deep habit of thinking, of perceiving ourselves as separate from other beings, as separate from our environment. And because we feel that we exist


separate from our environment, because we feel separate from the other, we feel anxiety, we feel threatened by the other. This is my understanding, anyway, of the basis of anxiety, is that everything around us is seen as not us and pushing and threatening us. So anxiety is, in a sense, part of the human condition, because the humans, generally speaking, see the environment as other. And then when we feel anxiety, anxiety is very difficult for us to be settled with and face. So then we tend to run away from the anxiety by various means, try to dull it or distance ourselves from it


by getting busy or taking drugs or whatever, to keep distant from the anxiety. But keeping distant from the anxiety also means keeping distant from this, this, not keeping distant from, but just sort of like being involved in the idea of separate existence but not facing up to that either. And if we start practicing in a group or with a teacher, the teacher or the group might encourage us not to do things to distract ourselves and to numb ourselves in relationship to the anxiety. So in a sense, the anxiety may seem to be stronger when you start to meditate. But I don't think it's stronger necessarily, it's just that you become more aware of it. Sometimes when people become more aware of anxiety,


then they go into further reactions to the anxiety. So it could be that, you know, maybe it's good to be a little bit numb sometimes rather than go into some massive panic attack. But if you can somehow face the anxiety, then you're in a sense in a good situation because you're facing your basic human condition, a basic aspect of human existence, is that we see ourselves as separate and we feel anxious. But it's okay to feel as comfortable as possible with the anxiety. So part of our practice is to make ourselves become more skillful at being present with the pain, be more patient with the pain, more stable and calm with the pain of anxiety. And if you can be present with that anxiety, you'll start to see how it arises,


how it comes to be. When you thoroughly understand how the anxiety comes to be, then you will also thoroughly understand how you see yourself as separate and as you understand how you see yourself separate, you will be more and more able to see that you're not separate. When you see how you're not separate, when you see the truth of interdependence, you will be contented and the anxiety will, I don't know, the anxiety will be, have no basis in that understanding. The basis of the anxiety is the impression that we are independent, that we are an independent person.


That's the basis of anxiety. Without this view, there's no anxiety. But the transition is difficult because you start to face the anxiety more fully. You gradually start to let go of things you do to distract yourself from the anxiety, so the anxiety, in a sense, you become more intimate with it. But when you achieve full intimacy with the anxiety, you're very close to understanding interdependence. It's almost the same thing. Intimacy with anxiety is almost the same as the root of anxiety dropping away. So the Buddha was an anxious person. The Shakyamuni Buddha was an anxious person. He experienced anxiety, but he learned how to not run away from it. That was unusual about him.


He somehow, his meditation was able to support him in facing anxiety and seeing how it happened. He saw the dependent co-arising, the truth of how anxiety dependently co-arises. And when he saw that, he was released from this cyclic process by which anxiety arises and by which we do things to perpetuate it. And the whole structure and rigid process of cyclic anxiety was dismantled by that vision. But anyway, it's a difficult meditation practice. It's not easy. Although there could be some great joy in the practice, because you sense that you have the right faith,


that you understand that you're doing the correct practice, you're doing the practice that the enlightened beings have done. And you're having the same kind of difficulty that they had, like you're having normal Buddhist difficulty, which might be some encouragement to you. There's other kinds of difficulty which aren't so encouraging and actually don't need any encouragement. So you don't need to adopt all forms of torment, just the ones that are conducive to enlightenment. And that's part of the process of study, is to check out with other practitioners whether the kind of torment you're involved in is required or optional. So banging your head against the wall may not be necessary, but facing your anxiety probably is.


It's hard to skip over your anxiety. Yes? Everybody's got their own personal bugaboos that they are trying to live, deal with, cope with. After some 30 years of severe meditating practice that you've had, do you find that your personal bugaboos are eradicated or are you just dealing with them better? So she asked me if my personal bugaboos are eradicated or if I'm dealing better with them, or she didn't ask has there been no improvement at all. I'm afraid to ask that because if there's no improvement at all, then why are we here? Well, let's see. There's been a tremendous improvement. I'm much happier now than I was 30 years ago.


And I was pretty happy 30 years ago. 30 years ago I was happy enough to realize that I was never going to be really happy by going in the direction I was headed. That certain kinds of, basically, I was pretty happy at trying to control the world. I had things pretty well under control. But I sensed that that little bit that wasn't under control was never going to come under control. And I was going to die feeling like I missed a big opportunity if I didn't change my direction. But basically, 30 years ago I was in good health. I had wonderful friends. I was a graduate student and I had a really nice scene. I was pretty happy.


But I noticed a few little flaws. For example, one time I was driving home to my lovely apartment. I had a gorgeous apartment for $75 a month. This was in 1814. And I lived in a slum, but I had a really nice apartment in a kind of slum neighborhood. And a lot of Native Americans lived in my neighborhood. And there was a bar a block from my house where a lot of them hung out. And one day I was driving home on my lovely little Italian motor scooter and I drove by this bar and there were these men outside, men and women outside, drunk outside this bar, being drunk, being drunken, right? And I felt in my heart that I didn't want to associate with them. You know, I wouldn't want them to come to my nice little apartment with my lovely little books and my nice carpet.


But then I felt really bad, my heart felt really bad that these suffering beings, I didn't want to deal with them. So things like that made me realize that although things were going pretty well, my heart was not really totally content because I knew that, I mean, I didn't feel right about that. So when I read the stories of Zen monks who weren't afraid of drunken people coming into their nice little house because they didn't really think it was their house. They weren't sure whose house was whose, sometimes. I mean, they kind of knew it was their house, but then they kind of, they weren't so sure in a way that maybe it wasn't everybody's house. So they could do wonderful things. So I wanted to be like them. So after 30 years, I'm a little bit more like that. But even a little bit more like that is a great thrill.


Being slightly more patient, slightly more kind, slightly more willing to see how I'm interconnected with everybody makes a big difference. So yeah, it's much different. But I basically have some of the same problems I had back then that I still maybe have a slight aversion to having, you know, drunken street people, you know, come into my house and make a big mess. But I guess I'd rather have them come in than be all by myself in my nice house. So, there's been some improvement. I'm happier. Yeah, I'm pretty happy. And I also notice that some people like it that I'm happy, so that makes me happy too. And some people aren't happy that I'm happy,


but that's interesting too. You see, there are several hands. Renee. Renee and Martin, and what's your name? Cleo? Okay, Renee. And Salvi? My difficulty is maintaining an open-heartedness in the face of something bad happening. She has a difficulty maintaining open-heartedness in the face of some difficulty. Well, maybe don't try to maintain, just try to have an open heart for a moment. Just try it for a moment. And then again. And again. But it is hard to open your heart to pain, isn't it? So, part of, part of, one way you can work on being open-hearted in the face of, in the face of what? Did you say? In the face of something harmful. One way to be open-hearted about it is to accept that your heart isn't open.


Be open-hearted about the fact that your heart closes when you feel harm. Accept that it's a natural thing for you to recoil from certain kinds of pain and attack. It's just like your body doing its thing. It's just, like in that story I told you about the monk who was being insulted, and then he was being praised. My feeling of the story is that when he was being insulted, his face kind of like felt, he could feel the difference, he could feel the difference in his cheeks from when someone's going, you did it, you, you, you, and when someone's going, oh, you're wonderful. I think your cheeks naturally respond differently to the, to the harsh language, the harsh vibration, and, or the soft, loving vibration. I think your body just responds differently. Now, if that isn't the way the story went, okay, but I thought it was a better story if his body actually responded differently. So, in one case, your body feels really tight, you know, and irritated. In the other case, your body feels


warmed and relaxed. But, but regardless of what your body feels, that you could just, isn't so much that you say, oh, I'm so happy that I'm being attacked, or, oh, I don't care that I'm being praised. It's more like, what's going on here? So, your heart, you're actually, your body may actually tighten up in certain situations. It just, physically you do that. And, and maybe it's good that it tightens up in situations. Maybe that's intelligent that it tightens up when it gets really cold or really hot. But your practice, your meditation is always the same. You're always looking, how is this happening? How is this happening? How is this happening? How does it happen that when they insult me, I get tense? How does it happen that every time they say that, I relax? How can that person always make me happy? How come I always get seduced by this? How come I always get turned off by that? It's not so much that you don't react this way,


but that no matter what happens, you always study. You always go, what is the truth here? What is the Buddhist truth? So, you're kind of open hearted in the sense of your mind is open, or your spiritual, your spiritual heart is open, even though your physical heart may be tightening. So you can go into a situation that makes you get tight, but then you can study and then you can relax. Like if you can go into cold water and your body naturally maybe tightens up a little bit, but if you just keep in there for a while and keep moving, gradually say, well, actually I'm still alive. It's okay. Yeah, actually it's wonderful. You're in another world. You cross from the world of 72 degrees to the world of 50 degrees. And at the transition, your body goes, wait a minute, what are you doing? It's telling you there's a big change here. Are you sure this is all right? Maybe we're going to die now. The heart goes blah, blah, blah and everything.


But then you say, well, I don't know. It seems all right. It's like, you know, it's all right. And pretty soon you say, yeah, it's great. It's wonderful. And then you go back out of the cold water and you've just gone through a transition and you're a more flexible, courageous person. But sometimes the message is, you know, well, does this change all right? I think I'm going to kill yourself. Yeah, it looks like I am, so get out of there. Sometimes it is going to kill you and you should take care of your body because this body can practice the Buddha way. So take care of it. Don't hurt it. But sometimes the body is just, you know, shocked by a change. And it's really all right. It's just that it's a big change. So your system goes into, change, [...] change. Are you sure this change is okay? Change, change, change. It's okay. So that's part of what you learn to do in meditation is you learn to ride these changes


and you can tell which ones are actually going to hurt you and which ones are just your system questioning whether this big change is okay. And a lot of times it is and sometimes it isn't. But the practice is always the same. What's happening? How's it happening? What's happening? How's it happening? Oh, oh, oh, oh, ah, oh. Okay? So the practice, the heart of practice can be open all the time. But the physical heart has to follow certain physical rules, you know. The body has certain lawfulness to it and you can't get it too hot or too cold without it giving you lots of feedback. So maybe Cleo? What if you, so in the story of the monk


who was falsely accused, what if you have, what if you are the father inappropriately so of some child and people are criticizing you for it, then what do you do? Want to guess, Cleo? No, let's take another story, a different story. Where you've wronged somebody. Where you did something that other people think is wrong and you think is wrong. Then how do you practice? I would think that you would try to make up somehow. You would think that you would try to make up. Make it up to them. Make it up to them, you might, yeah. But that's not necessarily the first thing you do. Apologize. You might apologize. That's not necessarily the first thing you do. Recognition of the wrong. Recognition of the wrong. Uh-huh. And then how do you, then what? Or how do you recognize the wrong? Well, I'm not going to push you any further.


You do the same practice that you do when you're not wrong. But even Hakuin who was falsely accused, you know, he didn't necessarily say, oh, I'm falsely accused so I'm just going to sort of like not defend myself. I think he probably, I think he probably considered, well, maybe, you know, it's not so much but it's more like, how does this happen? How does it happen that people call you a jerk and call you a great person? How does it happen? So even if you do something which someone says you did a bad thing, Cleo, and you think, yeah, that was bad, still part of you is sitting watching, oh, somebody's saying I did a bad thing. Oh, and I think I did a bad thing. But in both cases you're studying how does it happen that someone's talking to me like this? How does it happen that I think I did a bad thing? Even if somebody says you do a bad thing and even if you agree, it's not necessarily so. It's not necessarily so. For example,


someone could say to you, Cleo, you know, it was a bad thing that you were born. And you could say, I agree with you but it's not necessarily so. But you might think so. Is that too extreme an example? Someone might say, Cleo, you're a woman and you might think that's so. It's not necessarily so. Is that too extreme an example? A lot of things that happen are not necessarily good or bad. For example, death is not necessarily good or bad but it happens. You can call it good or bad but the point is, how does it happen? Looking at how it happens is the Buddha's way of thinking about it. So, if you do something and someone says it's bad and you agree, that's fine. This is something that's happened. You did something, someone thinks it's bad, you agree. That's fine. And if you can apologize,


that's fine too. But what did you learn from that? Maybe nothing. Maybe something. But whether you do something good or bad, don't miss the chance to learn. This is a moment when you could understand what life's about. You might be enlightened when doing something bad. It isn't that it's good that it's bad. It really is bad and you shouldn't do it. But to understand that might be your enlightenment. And sometimes you might do something good but not even understand what's good about it or how it happened. So, you still think I, individual person, did a good thing. You're still anxious and deluded even though you did a good thing and everybody says, Cleo, that was great. You're still scared that maybe the next moment you do something wrong and they're going to wipe you out. But if you do a good thing and people say, Cleo, that was wonderful and you go, what was wonderful about it? How is this happening? How does it happen


that now they're praising me? How does that happen that people like me rather than, oh, they like me, I'll go to sleep now. So, what I'm stressing is that everything that happens is an opportunity to understand the truth. And the truth is not just what you think is going on but basically everything is an opportunity to understand reality and become a place where Buddhist love is realized. So, maybe if you do something and people don't like it and you agree, maybe you apologize, fine. But maybe you don't apologize. Maybe you just cry. Maybe you roll in the dirt. Maybe you say,


could I please do that one more time just so I can kind of get the hang of it and learn how I don't want to do it anymore. And some person might say, yeah, do it six more times if that will help you. Sometimes someone smokes a cigarette, and you say, that's really bad, bad for your health. And they may say, I know, but can I do it a few more times just so I can understand that and meditate on how bad it is. And someone might say, okay, I don't want you to do it, it's really bad, but if you've got to do it, I'll support you. What does it take to make a Buddha? That's the thing. It takes more than just not doing this and not doing that. It means also that you watch and study while you're doing what you're doing, okay? Which is a little bit more work than just like, you know, although please try to control yourself, you know, and not do bad things, that's true. But don't just do that.


Also study yourself every step of the way. That's what I'm recommending here. Martin? I was going well, and all of a sudden, in the last three weeks, I started to feel more anxious. And I thought, what's going on? Why am I feeling anxious? And I felt anxious about feeling anxious. And I didn't want to sit with it. I didn't want to be with it. I didn't like the way it felt. So I was trying to get rid of it. I did everything I thought about. Exercise and...


Can you hear what he's saying, everybody? No. He was anxious. Do you know what anxious means? Anxious? Nervous? Nervous and a painful nervous, not a happy nervous, okay? So he's anxious. What's the French word for anxious? So he was anxious, and he was trying to... He didn't like the anxiety. He was trying to push the anxiety away, okay? And try to find some way to push it away. So I noticed that the more I pushed it away, the more it stayed. It got worse. And... I finally got it. That my body was in shock from the separation. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Yeah. Yeah. When I was in college, when I was a happy college graduate student, I did a big paper on separation anxiety. It's a very pervasive kind of anxiety.


Chimpanzees feel it. Humans feel it. It's very basic, basic kind of anxiety. So... Yeah, so I sometimes feel... That's not the only kind of anxiety, but anyway, I sometimes feel anxiety, and it doesn't feel good, but when I let myself feel it, I feel like I'm on the earth again. I feel like I'm dealing with my life, and I feel much better than when I'm running from it. So it's possible to feel anxiety, but not be enslaved by it. In other words, not run away from it, not do things to make it go away, or do things to avoid it, but just when it's there, it's there, and when it's not, okay. Don't go look for it. Salvi? Rick, I was wondering about these sand mounds that grows up in the mountains, in the wood. Is that not really doing a...


a study in interdependence with all beings? You know, with the lizards, or the beetles, you know, the trees, with everything? Because, you know... Well, you think maybe they are doing that? Yeah. Yeah, well, they might be doing that, but usually in the... I'm talking about historical examples, okay. You have these historical examples in the Zen of these certain masters who went up in the mountains that Salvi is talking about, but these people who did this in history, they were already trained in the monastery before they did that. They were graduate students, okay. Because you might think, oh, I'm going to go up in the woods now and meditate on my relationship with the crickets and the beetles and the sow bugs and the spiders and the redwood trees. You might think, I'm going to go do that, and so you go do that and you feel, gee, it's so nice to be out here in nature. Well, that's fine. But you're actually kidding yourself.


And so one way to find out that you're kidding yourself is someone may come along to you and say, go back to the monastery, Salvi, and you may say, no, I don't want to, and feel anxious all of a sudden again. So most people need a lot of training before they can go out in the woods and really understand interdependence out there. Because a lot of people think they're into interdependence, it's just because things are going the way they like them that they think they're into interdependence. The way interdependence is working is that they feel comfortable. But if the trees start turning around and start hassling you, then you may say, oh, I don't see the interdependence of this. Now the tree's my enemy. But most people don't, trees don't talk to most people that way. Most people do not have arguments with trees. Most people do not feel insulted by trees. Most people don't feel in competition with trees. Most people don't feel jealous of trees. So all this kind of petty phenomena


that come up from self-centeredness and self-cleaning don't come up for most people with trees and crickets and stuff like that. Okay? But I have to say, Rick, that talking about trees, I was in trails for seven days in Hawaii. It happened that I was in a very beautiful environment with these beautiful trees and it came out of me to bow to the trees. Yes. And then suddenly I came into sort of trees that went kind of across and it was impossible to bow to every tree, so I walked kind of bowing all the time. That's one experience. But then the other experience is going another trail, there was this incredible bamboo. I'm talking about eight stories, you know, very tall, everything is green, dark,


you don't see the sky. I got scared. Very, very scared. And almost panicking because I was by myself in this thing. Right. And I came to my practice. As I say, hey, start breathing, nothing is happening now. So I start breathing and say, see, right now, nothing is happening. So just keep on walking. And I did that. And I felt that I learned. Yeah, it sounds like you did. Yeah, it sounds like you did. That's more like being in a monastery. But, okay, so that's good. Yes.


How would you advise someone to make the five choices? Well, first of all, I'd try to find out what is the person's, what is the person's concern in this life? What are they up to? And depending on what they want to accomplish, then I would advise them in accord with what they want to accomplish. If they want to accomplish the Buddha way, then I would advise them to choose to study how things happen. And from that way of meditation, that way of thinking about what's happening, their actions will emerge from that meditation, from that understanding. Just like you now, you know, when you have a certain experience in your bladder, you act in a certain way. You feel like, I want to go to the toilet.


But you also have an understanding of society and so on, and dry cleaning bills, so you wait, you know, until you get to the women's room before you go. Or you go outside, or whatever, you know. Given your understanding of how things work, you behave a certain way. Given your understanding of your skills and your talents and the society you live in, you act a certain way. Okay? But when you don't understand interdependence, you don't act as lovingly and as compassionately as you do when you do understand interdependence. So if you want to act like a Buddha acts, if that's your agenda in life, then I would say study what's happening, and when you see what's happening, you will naturally respond, you will naturally, you will make decisions like going to the toilet. In the same way you decide how to go to the toilet, that's how you decide what work to do, and things like that.


It'll be as simple as that. The hard part is to see reality. And that means you have to spend a lot of time looking at what's happening, rather than spending your time trying to figure things out. Looking at what's happening, studying how things are happening, is different than trying to figure things out. It isn't that you're trying to figure out what's happening, it's that you're trying to understand what's happening. So that's what I would recommend to someone who wants to understand the Buddha's truth. Now, if someone wants to get rich, I give different instructions. Okay? If someone wants to be gorgeous, I give different instructions. If someone wants to be powerful, I give different instructions. But whatever instructions I give, according to what the person wants, they all will finally come down to the same place. But I have to start with where the person's at, rather than tell people that they should meditate on their independence if they're not interested in Buddhism yet.


So you have to start with where they are. But if they were interested in Buddhism, that's what I would say. Does that make sense? It does? It does. I guess the question is, if you just know who you are, can you do that in the secular world? Yes, you can. But the secular world, I don't know what you mean by secular world, but most people, in order to accomplish this study, need to know who they are. They need a teacher. Because if you don't have a teacher, you may go around with your idea of what it means to study what's happening. And your idea of what it means to study what's happening is not what it's like to study what's happening. When you study what's happening, you have to give up your idea and just look. But we tend to not want to do it that way.


We tend to want to look the way we want to look or the way we're used to looking. So we need a teacher as an opportunity to go into a situation where we give up our old ideas and don't grab onto a new idea and study. It isn't that you give up your idea, it's that you give up your old ideas. So when you go to meet the teacher, you give up your old ideas and new ideas come up, but then you don't grab the new ideas either. You study them. So most of us need relationships like that in order to purify our study, to test to see whether we're holding to our understanding of how to study. So whether you're, strictly speaking, a monastic resident or out in the marketplace, you need a teacher until you're fully trained. So, you know, there really, in that sense, there isn't a secular world. Everybody really has to be in training.


Otherwise, you know, we get stuck. Right? Yes? I have a question related to what you were saying. When you observe and try to understand what's happening for you every time you meet somebody and you have an interaction, how do you stay in reality? Because you tend to... Stay in reality? You don't just stay in reality. You can't stay in reality. Reality's changing all the time. Reality is that everything's changing all the time. You don't have to stay anyplace. What I'm trying to say then is when you try to understand, you kind of step back from... What can I call it? When you try to understand, you step back? It's hard to just go to work and take the bus and keep your life going in the real world and understanding and observe.


I feel like sometimes you drift back and you just want to sit down and just sit down and observe. But you can't really do that when you have to go to work. Did you hear what she said? She said she feels like she has to kind of step back from what's happening and sit down and observe and she doesn't feel like she can do that and go to work. Because it takes a lot of energy sometimes to see why it happened, the connection with what happened first and what the emotional luggage that comes with it. Sometimes you have to go through feeling the pain again that was stuck in the past in order to release it. Then how do you deal with going to work then? In fact, it is hard. And so that's why we do have Zen centers is to try to learn, get more skillful at meditating so that you can meditate even while you're doing complex tasks.


And you can meditate even while someone is talking to you and giving you complex information. Even while you're doing complex physical movements that you can still continue to be aware. And sometimes if you're doing something that's really complex, you move into a way of being with that activity which actually is meditation. When you kind of get to a place where you can't any longer separate yourself from what's happening, you actually do start understanding how things are happening. But in our more pedestrian way, in our pedestrian life, we do hold back from what's happening somewhat in order to have a sense that we're doing things and we're controlling things. I'm effectively getting on the bus. I'm going to be able to get off at the proper stop so I can get to work at a certain time.


We ordinarily think that. But that's in rather un-intense situations. When it really gets intense, we can't keep that up anymore. So we spend a lot of our time wasting our time half-heartedly doing things and we continue with the idea that we have things under control. And we feel that was pretty good. I controlled my trip to work. That was pretty good. So that's another time I went to work and I continued my usual idea of what reality is. Namely, I get myself to work by my own power rather than I got to work by love. Love got me to work. But until you get the hang of how love gets you to work, it's hard maybe to make the transition. So this is part of the reason why we, in a sense, need special traditional practices is to get the feeling for what it's like to change the perspective.


And then if you change the perspective, can you change, can you extend that changed perspective into the workplace, into the street? And the answer is it takes many years to let that new perspective pervade your whole life. It takes many years. And you're experiencing the difficulty. So I think we all, everyone knows, I think understands that. So it just takes a long time. I think it's definitely right. Just a second here, what time is it? I should stop at a quarter of... I think the man with the glasses and the mustache was next. You only ask out of ignorance? I don't understand as it is practiced in this place.


I don't understand, I think the truth is a truth. It's a universal truth. It should apply equally to everyone all over the world. Coming from Kansas, where I grew up, I don't understand... The ritual aspect. Yes. And I don't understand why, where a Japanese grew up when we're here in Northern California, for example. And I don't understand some of the incantations that are spoken in a language that I don't understand. Well, the forms are opportunities to surface and highlight and thereby make easier to meditate upon selfishness. That's the main purpose of the forms. We could make new forms.


For example, we eat here in the meditation hall. We could make a new Western form of eating, make new Western protocols for eating. But still someone might say, OK, put aside what country it's from, why do you have a formal way of eating? Why not eat, just sit down and eat? OK? All right? Why do you have a formal ritual way of eating that you teach people and then everyone sort of like agrees to do the ritual and then you check on the ritual? Well, the reason for that is what I just said, is to surface egotism so it can be studied, to flush out our selfishness so you can study it. A lot of people are human beings. And human beings are naturally self-centered, self-clinging, self-centered,