July 11th, 2005, Serial No. 06992

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Good afternoon. I need to start with an announcement which is due to temporal conditions beyond my control. I've had to change the lesson plan for the day. So, I'm going to be talking today about the Suttas and Pure Land teachings. So, first I want to start with a review of what I talked about yesterday, because this grows out of what I talked about yesterday, which is Buddha nature teachings. So, for those of you who were not here yesterday and even more for those of you who were, I'll just do a little review. So, Buddha nature is this teaching description, a way of talking about what Buddha's enlightenment was. Can you hear me okay in the back? Let me know if you can't hear something. Okay. Awakening, so Buddha awakened, the historical Buddha, the historical Buddha awakened 2,500 years


ago in northern India, but of course Buddha is awakening all the time. So, we mean different things when we say Buddha. We mean different things when we say mind or nature. All of these words are just tools to kind of help us celebrate this ceremony we're doing of turning the Dharma wheel. So, the teaching about Buddha nature is that when the Buddha awakened he said, now I see that all sentient beings without exception are completely endowed with the wisdom and the virtue and the kindness and the clarity of the Buddhas, of the awakened ones. So, this is a basic teaching about the nature of awakening and the nature of Buddha and the nature of reality. And there's this passage that I talked about yesterday that Dogen, the 13th century founder of our branch of Zen in Japan, kind of re-translated from one of the great sutras, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, which is conventionally read as sentient beings


all sentient beings completely have Buddha nature. But of course Buddha nature is not a thing that one can have. Buddha is not a commodity that you can purchase. Nature is not something that we can control. So, nobody has Buddha nature. Buddha nature is not something that we can figure out or understand. That's not the point of our project here. So, Dogen re-read, he changed the Chinese characters to read that statement as all sentient beings whole being Buddha nature or all sentient beings in our wholeness is Buddha nature. So, this practice is about this sense of totality, of wholeness. He says that, I mentioned the passage in Bendowa, it's in a wholehearted way, in his early writing that when one person just sits and completely expresses Buddha


mudra with their whole body and mind, all of space becomes enlightened. So, I still, you know, I'm still struggling with that statement. I'm writing a book about it now and I've been struggling with it for 30 years. How can space become enlightened? That's what our practice is about though. So, when he says all sentient beings, of course it means people and that's our primary concern actually as, you know, human type beings. But, there's a part of this teaching is that this is not something that's just a function of human psychology or human consciousness or perception and in fact that that limits our ability to really express whole being Buddha nature. The question is how do we enjoy and express our wholeness? So, he talks about this Buddha mudra of Zazen and of course we have to attend to chin tucked in, back of the neck straight, hands in this position, legs in whichever position we're doing, all of the details


of how we do Zazen practice. But, basically it's about the wholeness of it that is, that has this dramatic impact that Dogen talks about it. So, there's a passage in that I probably won't get to in detail but later in his Buddha nature essay that I was referring to yesterday, Dogen talks about Nagarjuna, the great teacher of emptiness in India and of course emptiness doesn't mean nothingness. It means that we can't hold on to anything. It means that everything is open. I like the translation of Shri Niyata, openness, better but it hasn't caught on yet. But, Nagarjuna, there's this story. Who says openness? I did. You said you like somebody's translation, that's your translation. Yeah, yeah, thank you. So, Nagarjuna, so Nagarjuna, there's a story about Nagarjuna that he was sitting and he manifested a body of absolute freedom. It was


just like the round full moon and then Dogen went to China and saw that somebody had drawn a pinenso, a picture of a round circle, as a picture of Nagarjuna and Dogen just laughed, you know. So, it's the whole being Buddha nature of this body and mind, that's the point. In our sense of wholeness, something happens. Dogen says space becomes enlightened. I'll come back to that. Anyway, this is this basic teaching of this possibility of Buddha nature, this possibility of this quality, this possibility, this potentiality of awakening that is always right here, now, on your chair, right now. So, after talking about that, I'm going to skip over Dao Sheng and how he was excommunicated and rehabilitated and all of that. But the statement that I started off with last time, again, is from Dogen's extensive record, I think is still the focus


of why I'm talking about this. All Tathagatas, that's another name for Buddhas, those who come and go in suchness, is one reading of Tathagata, the thus come ones, coming and going, appearing as such in reality, just in terms of the reality in front of our face, that's Buddha. Buddha is moving and breathing and right in front of us. So, all Tathagatas are without Buddha nature. They don't have Buddha nature. Buddha nature is not something that you can have. But at the same time, they have previously fully accomplished true awakening. However, Bodhisattva studying the way, which is us, just the fact that you're here, even if you're a guest and you've never sat with us, and just if you dropped in on this talk, it proves that you are engaged in some way in this Bodhisattva activity, which is about engaging this deeper creative energy that we're calling Buddha


nature and sharing that in the world. So, he says, all Bodhisattvas studying the way should know how Buddha nature produces the conditions for Buddha nature. So, that's our job. That's your mission here as Tassajara students, is to know how Buddha nature produces the conditions for Buddha nature. How do we encourage the Buddhaness of all sentient beings? That's what the precepts are about. That's what the practice is about. That's what all of our forms are about, our offerings to Buddha in various ways that happen in this valley. I talked about yesterday this practice of seeing Buddha nature in others, seeing qualities of your friends and the people who inspire you and seeing how they are expressing qualities of Buddha nature, but also seeing Buddha nature in people you have


difficulty with. Can you see the potentiality for awakening? So, one way that Buddha nature is understood is this means that we have this capacity to awaken, to become Buddhas, to wake up, to meet reality in front of us. This basic teaching of Buddha nature has to do with this potentiality. And, well, just to say a little bit about Tao Sheng again, he was this early Chinese teacher who said that all beings have Buddha nature and he was kicked out of the monastery for a while because they believed there were certain kinds of people, and you might actually think there's some people like that, who have no Buddha nature, who can never awaken. No matter how many times they practice prayers they do at Tassajara, they're just, they're never gonna, you know, anyway, we all probably can think of people we think we might think of that way. And yet Tao Sheng said all such in beings, in their wholeness, Buddha nature. So, this is this radical teaching of


Buddhism. And then I also talked yesterday, so this is just a review again of, for those of you who were here yesterday, this other passage that Dogen talks about, if you wish to know the Buddha nature's meaning, you must contemplate temporal conditions. So, this doesn't happen in some abstract realm. This teaching is not about some philosophy that you should try and understand or figure out. Buddha nature is not a thing to get. Buddha nature is not something to even try and understand. Yet, to know its meaning, contemplate temporal conditions. So, it only happens that Buddha nature arises in temporal conditions. It doesn't happen, you know, in some book. It doesn't happen, you know, only in Tibet or only in Tassajara or only in, you know, temporal


conditions. In a particular situation, in a particular time, like right now, is where Buddha nature is. So, the second part of the passage that Dogen is referring to says, usually is read, if the time arrives, the Buddha nature will manifest itself. And Dogen re-reads that as, the time is already here and there can be no room to doubt it. So, this Buddha nature manifests in particular times, in particular situations, in particular temporal conditions. So, that's why I was talking yesterday about this controversial statement I made that our practice is about genjo-ing, not kensho-ing. So, for those of you who don't know those Japanese terms, kensho is, sometimes it's called satori, but kensho is literally seeing Buddha nature. And it refers to this opening experience that people do have when they do Zen practice of, and a lot of the


stories where the monk and the teacher are talking and then at the end of the story it says, the monk was enlightened. That means, that's referring to a kensho experience. So, there are branches of Zen in Japan and in China and America that emphasize that you have to get that experience of kensho, that you actually have to, not necessarily, not intellectually understand and cognize Buddha nature, but you have to see it, you have to really experience it in some dramatic way. And what I said yesterday and what I'll say today is that that's okay, it's not that you shouldn't have kensho, but that's not the point of our practice in the tradition we do here of Dogen and Tsukiroshi. Our practice is more about genjo, which means to completely manifest, to fully manifest and realize and make real, to express the Buddha nature. So, Buddha nature is not something to just see or have some experience of. For some people it's helpful to have some experience like that, but it's not important. It's not, it's not, or for some people maybe


it's important, but that's not enough. How do we actually, genjo busho, how do we actually manifest Buddha nature in our zazen, in our daily activity, in our heart, in our kindness to ourselves and to others? And this is the point of our practice. How do we take Tassahara out into the world whenever you leave? How do we bring Tassahara into Tassahara during your daily activity, during your zazen? How do we genjo Buddha nature? Yes. So, you can genjo Buddha nature without genjo? Well, I would say yes. Yes. In fact, yes. So, when you begin to do the bodhisattva practice, there is already genjoing Buddha nature. Genjoing Buddha nature is not something that, you know, that I can look and say, oh, this person's genjoing Buddha nature and this person's not.


Genjoing Buddha nature is the nature of our practice. So, when we actually take our seat, when we actually are willing to sit upright and face the wall or ourselves or the world, there is a kind of expression there. Now, there's a, it's not that it's, there is development of that and unfolding and opening of that. So, we can open our capacity to genjo Buddha nature. And for some people, kenshoing Buddha nature may be helpful to do that, but it's not enough to just have experience of kensho. I think in fairness, you should understand that the people that emphasize kensho don't say that's enough either. Right, absolutely. They don't say, well, you have kensho and then everything's taken care of. Of course not, yeah. They also emphasize practice. Right, so as I


mentioned yesterday, so I'm not criticizing any particular school or teacher because actually all of those, the people who emphasize kensho also genjo, and their teachers also. Hakuin had many, many kensho. So, yes, so I'm not, I'm not being sectarian here. I'm just talking about our practice. So, that's a little review of what I talked about yesterday, but I realized through temporal conditions today that I need to talk about Tathagatagarbha, because this is one of the best places in the world to understand Tathagatagarbha and to genjo Tathagatagarbha. So, that's what I want to talk about, but are there any questions or comments up to here, or responses? Yes? You've mentioned a couple of times that doping re-envisioned or re-read earlier materials. Yes.


Would you take a moment and explain the context of that? Why did you do that? Maybe what the forces were that prompted that re-reading? Good question. Yes. The forces that prompted that necessity to re-read the ancient texts, we still have. So, we have to deconstruct and genjo Dogen too, but because the human mind tends to latch on to words as if they're things, like we think Buddha nature is a thing, or we think Buddha is a thing, or we think practice is a thing, we objectify our true life and kill it. So, it's necessary to deconstruct the language and our whole process of


grammar and syntax in order to actually get into really expressing and genjoing this practice. So, the specifics of the sentences, he didn't do it in an arbitrary way. He pointed out the true teachings by re-reading the Chinese terms. So, I talked yesterday about this phrase, the first phrase, all sentient beings without exception have Buddha nature. He just re-read two characters in ways that they can be re-read from shitsu-u, which means, which could mean without exception have, to shitsu, complete, u, being. So, u means to have, but it also means existence as opposed to non-existence. So, he read it that way, but his reason for re-reading it was to point out the


meaning. So, when I think about parallel events, re-envisioning of Christianity, Reformation, there was turmoil in the practice of Christianity. Was there a similar kind of mess that he was responding to? Is this a response to the quality of practice in general at the time? It was a response to the quality of the mess of practice at his time, and this time, and at all times, in all temporal conditions. So, this is something that we always have to do. This is part of our practice, is to actually unpack the ways in which we're caught by these words, so that we think that there's such a Buddha nature. This is this basic problem, which is why I want to get into the Soto Pure Land


teachings, of killing the world, of making it a bunch of dead objects, and we do that with our language. Our language is one of the main ways we do it. So, Andy asked about mind yesterday, and Kathy asked about self, so I want to kind of address the way in which we understand mind and self in a way that actually injures Buddha nature. Not that Buddha nature can be injured, but that we think so. So, I want to go on to Tathagatagarbha, but are there other, if somebody has a real question. Just in terms of what John said then, I don't, there wasn't any, but Dogen introducing new, a new way to read this wasn't, I mean, you want to know about historical conditions in 13th century Japan? Controversy nationwide or anything, I don't think. People in 13th century Japan, like,


never heard of Dogen. I mean, he wasn't like, he didn't, he wasn't on the front pages or, you know, in the mainstream news, you know. He was, like Nichiren, who was a little bit after him, never heard of him, you know. There's no evidence that he ever heard of him. So, Dogen, but Dogen was actually, you know, he was dealing with his particular students and seeing the ways they were caught. He was trying to introduce this, this Zen Chan way of talking and unpacking things to, to, you know, it's actually, it was less challenging than what we're doing because they were already Buddhists and they were already steeped in the Lotus Sutra and he had, so there was a lot of resources. We're, you know, we don't have any Buddhist backgrounds, so we're, so this is, this is, I don't want to get into history. I don't want to talk about history. I want to talk about practice. But there were particular historical situations that Dogen was dealing with, if that's your question. And there are particular historical conditions that we're dealing with because we're always in temporal conditions. So, how do we make the


practice real in our situation? That's the point. How do we find whole being Buddha nature in our, in our situation? So, I want, so let me just jump into Tathagata Garbha and I hope there'll be time for questions for, you know, and I'm going to be, we're going to be doing this again tomorrow. So, one way that this Buddha nature teaching is phrased is this Sanskrit teaching of Tathagata Garbha. And so what we could, that could be translated. Well, it's not exactly the same as Buddha nature. Tathagata, I've already talked about, is one word for Buddha. It means the one who comes and goes in suchness. The one who comes, who lives and moves and speaks and breathes in reality, we could say. This is the Tathagata. This is a name, a standard, one of the standard names for a Buddha. This word Garbha, it's really interesting because it means, on the one hand, an embryo. So, it refers to this way in which we are all Buddha fetuses.


You know, we're all, you know, we have the right to life because we can become Buddhas, all of us. In fact, right now, at any time, there is this possibility of awakening. That's what the Buddha nature teaching is about. So, we are all, you know, whenever you, if you think about people and see their, the Buddha nature in them, you are seeing this potentiality for awakening. And some people we can see it more easily than others, but there is this potentiality for awakening and being present in reality and responding with kindness and clarity and awareness. So, that's one side of this Tathagata Garbha teaching. The other side is that this word Garbha also means womb. So, it's very, it's really kind of, it's hard to actually get that, but it means that each of us is an embryonic Buddha, but also a womb of Buddha. We are each the womb of, in which Buddhas can


arise. And this is, this teaching relates to Dogen saying that space becomes enlightened when one person is completely whole being Buddha nature. Because this refers, this is, this is a basic teaching about the nature of the land and the earth and the space around us. So, one way to see this Tathagata Garbha is, you know, it's very clear at Tassajara as I was saying before. This space, this valley is a womb of Buddhas. This space, this valley is this special place. And many, many generations of people have come and practiced here for a little while or for a longer, for, you know, for the summer or for a practice period or whatever, and learned to express some of their Buddha nature. So, there's a way you can see it here that's really unique, that this space, you


know, this was a sacred space. Some of you know more about this than me, but this was a sacred space before there were white people here, before there were Zen students here, the native peoples, which, what's, the excellence, yeah, what's his name, who's down the hill? Yeah, the nascent, yeah. Anyway, there, this was a sacred space before that. But this, this idea of womb and embryo and the mutuality of them is something really, it's a little hard to get, but it's really important in terms of really enjoying and enlivening this Buddha nature practice, this practice of seeing how Buddha nature produces the conditions for Buddha nature. So, I think you can see it in terms of Tassajara. This space supports us to do Buddha practice. You know, there's a zendo there, we can go meditate, but also everything in this space, the baths, the kitchen, the dining room, the cabins, you know, there's a space here which


encourages Buddha nature practice, encourages expression of awakening practice, encourages expression of awareness and mindfulness and carefulness and taking care of each other. So, you know, this, this space, there was a sacred space before there was other students here. Now, thanks to, you know, Paul Disko's temporary zendo up there and, and all of the things that many people have done, we have this Buddha womb that we enter into. And, you know, I remember how hard it was to practice here, especially in the summer. So, those of you who live here year round, you know, it's, it's hard to see.


You're working in the kitchen. You're cleaning cabins. The last summer I lived here, it was 115 degrees for 20 days in a row. So, I haven't come, come here in the summer much since then. And so, it's really nice to drop in and it's nice and cool and, you know, and there's breezes and it's really pleasant. It's wonderful. But, you know, the guests come and they see, wow, what is this? And it's like they, they drop in and, and there's this, this Bodhi mandala here. There's this Buddha womb here, you know, and guests can come and just, you know, this morning I just, I, I needed some rest. So, I took a nap and then I walked up to see Suzuki It's just so great to be here. So, in what way is this a womb of Buddhas? We don't understand that. And yet, if you come back after a long time or if you


just drop in as a guest, you can really, wow, something's going on here. So, there's this, this space and, and what is it? It's the rocks and it's the blue jays. I remember, it used to be that there were Zen students in the summer who didn't like the blue jays. Do any of you dislike blue jays? Maybe you don't want to admit it now, but, right. So, you know, they can be pesky and stuff. But anyway, is you, everything that's here, the rocks, the buildings, the sound of the water, the cloud, the sky, well there's no clouds, there's just, there's the breezes, the hillsides in the distance, of course, the wonderful baths and the hot springs. Anyway, this is a womb of Buddhas. It's really clear. And, and all these little baby Buddhas come for, you know, for the summer for practice period and do Buddha practice. The other side of that is that the Garbha means both. So, our practice makes our, in some ways, each of you


is a womb creating this Buddhas space, this Buddha field called Tathsara. This is a basic idea in Mahayana Buddhism called Buddhakshetra, that there are Buddha fields, for those of you who like Sanskrit words, K-S-E-T-R-A with a little dot over the S. K-E-S? K-S-E-T-R-A. So, there's a basic, this is, this is not just Zen or, you know, this is basic Mahayana Buddhist teaching. When a Buddha awakens, there, a Buddha field is constellated. A Buddha field is? Is constellated. That's part of what happens when the Buddha wakes up and says, now I see all sentient beings, whole being Buddha nature. All sentient beings, complete, this is Buddha nature. This is this possibility of Buddhaness in everything. So I guess, I appreciate what you say about Tathsara. I guess it's somewhat easy to see


this as a Buddha field because we live in such an idyllic setting, you know. But what about the the temple in the, in the Vietnamese neighborhood that's ridden by gangs? Right, right. So that's, so the next point is what to do when we, you know, this is this kind of, you know, we could feel like this is this artificial, exotic, you know, special Buddha field, Tathsara. But the urban temple that's in the middle of, that's where there's gangs around, what about that? What about the Buddha field of America and our corrupt government and so forth? So I'll get back to that. But the, the, the point I want to make is this garbanness of it, that there's this womb of Buddhas and it's not, it's, this is not just about Tathsara,


it's just it's really easy to see it in terms of Tathsara. There's this space that actually supports us to practice awakening. And each of you in some way is also a womb helping that space become a Buddha field, a Buddha land. So what a Buddha does when he awakens and sees that now I see all beings, whole being Buddha nature, he makes that real by seeing it. So that maybe that's the Kensho part and, and then he's actually Genjo-ing it by, through his Kensho. Maybe, maybe Genjo and Kensho aren't so different, but a Buddha field is created and that's, that includes the rocks and trees and blue jays and so forth, and it also includes all the people there. And there, but then, but part of what I want to get at is the mutuality of this. So I'm talking about it in terms of the world that we usually objectify, the object of mind, the object of self, the other, all that stuff out there.


And this teaching is really about how it's not dead objective world, it's actually this womb that's helping us awaken and also that we are the womb that's helping it awaken and become a Buddha field. So there's this mutuality to self and environment or mind and environment or space itself, reality itself awakens, as Dogen says, going back to that initial statement. This is really what the practice of Buddha nature is about. How does Buddha nature produce the conditions for Buddha nature? And it's this tremendously interactive web of mutuality. Now, this also applies to us coming back to the human realm. This applies to how we interact with each other too. But I think it's important to recognize that it's more than just our human foibles and our own particular pains and damage and family dynamics and all of that


stuff that we struggle with. It's also the nature of Buddha nature itself. So I do want to get to this to talk about the nature side of it. And I don't know that we'll get to that today. But this interactive aspect is the main thing I want to want to kind of play with today or bring up that in seeing, so in terms of seeing the space around us as a potential Buddha field, in terms of seeing the space around us as a potential Buddha womb to support us in our practice, there's this total interactive dynamic mutuality. And that also applies to how we practice together as Sangha. How do you see others as Buddha? How are you supported by others seeing you as Buddha? Or if not as the Buddha herself, at least as a being with some Buddha nature, with some qualities that are, you know, that have something to do with awareness and kindness and


clarity and awakening. So this is this, you know, all of the Bodhisattva practices for, you know, like kind speech, to speak kind. Dogen talks about speaking kindly about others, especially when they're not around, because then they might hear that you said something nice about them. And wow, you know, but also just listening to each other. How do we listen to each other as if we're listening to Buddhas? So there's what this wonderful passage in Yogo Tsuigi where Dogen talks, is playing with an old Zen saying and how Buddhas listen to the Dharma. Buddhas speak the Dharma. Because I'm up here talking, it doesn't make me more Buddha than any of you. Your listening to the Dharma is completely Buddha. Dharma couldn't be turning without both speaking and listening. So in many ways, there's this kind of dynamic mutual interactivity. And this is this idea of Buddha nature as not a thing that you have to get or understand, but as the quality of


Buddha nature, producing conditions for Buddha nature. How do we inspire each other to be Buddha wombs? How do we inspire each other to be Buddha embryos? This is actually what's happening in a Buddha field. So then the next question which you brought up is, what do we do about Shakyamuni's Buddha field, the planet Earth, which is in such a mess? And you asked it in a very specific way in terms of a Vietnamese temple in a gang-ridden inner-city neighborhood. So that's the next part of the work, but I want to pause first and see if there are any comments or questions on what I've said so far. Yes? I was wondering about Dogen himself, where he just rips into it, how that gets... Yeah, he does that sometimes. Dogen wasn't presenting... So this is just my take on it,


okay? Buddha wasn't... Dogen wasn't... Maybe Dogen was a Buddha, whatever. It doesn't matter. Dogen wasn't presenting some philosophy that he thought people in the West would read 800 years later. He was talking to a particular group of students, and they had particular hang-ups. So basically, it's nice to speak kindly, but sometimes if somebody really asks for help with something, sometimes you have to speak very strongly. So that's my sense of that. It's not in so many of his writings, but it's so striking when it happens that it gets a lot of attention. So that's my response. So there's also tough love. Can you say anything more about how we are or how we can be Satagatagarbhas for each other? That's... Yeah, that's exact... Good. That's the question. So the first thing is just to ask that


question, to hold that question, to take really good care of that question, to always be looking at that question. How does Buddha nature produce conditions for Buddha nature? Or how do we support each other? So the main practice is just to have that question. If you are holding that question and, you know, you're dealing with somebody who's having a hard time, then you don't have to... then you might get over your some tendency towards critical or judgmental mind and say, oh, how can I help? So there are many ways in which holding that question might allow us to be more supportive of each other. So that question is the answer. That question is the way to and to keep nurturing that question, to keep looking at how you can be helpful. And it's not just to others. So again, this mutuality of so-called objective world. This


is one of the biggest problems in our world. We think that the so-called objective world out there is solid. We think that it's real. And actually, modern science tells us that it's not like that, that it's open, that it's empty, that there are atoms floating around and that, you know, that space is alive, that space is changing, that so-called things are not solid in the way we think they are. But the preconceptions and attachments that get in the way of our expressing Buddha nature have to do with seeing the world out there as something out there that we have to manipulate or take advantage of or protect ourselves from. Or, you know, we don't see the way in which our... the reality is that we are interactively together producing that world and being produced by it. And there's this mutuality,


even in a damaged Buddha field. So even no matter how corrupt the government is, there's possibility of change always. This is one example. But again, the main thing is just to be holding that question, to be... So this is not a passive practice, this practice of realizing Buddha nature. It looks like it sometimes. You know, we sit in the zendo, facing the wall, you know, upright and silent and quiet. And, you know, we're mindfully chopping vegetables or cleaning the cabins. You know, it looks like it's like we're just, you know, under this tight control and very passive. But actually, what we're doing is settling down enough to allow this deeper creative energy of the sound of the creek to be expressed, allowing the Buddha womb of the world around us to express itself in our embryonic Buddha nature. Yes, Jo? I think I heard you say yesterday, Buddhas don't wait around for awakening to happen.


Right. Adhoga said that too, but I'll say it too. Did you want to say anything more about that? I feel like you've been talking about it already, but it really stuck out for me. I like that a lot. Good. Could you say more about it, please? The reason that I like it is it's not passive. And yet, there's a feeling that there's nothing to be done, that it's all just happening anyway. Awakening is just happening. That's okay. You're getting to a place that's a little bit dangerous, because it's a short step from what you just said to saying that it all is happening naturally and spontaneously. And if we're just attentive, it'll happen on its own. So, wait, what's the it? Yeah, what's the it? So, whatever it that we think it is, this Buddha-ness or Buddha-nature, or this interactive mutuality, this dance of Buddha-nature. When I say it, I mean the potentiality.


Right. So, the potentiality depends on us. So, we have a responsibility. That's part of what I mean by it's not passive, that our slowing down and settling into this Buddha-field-ness allows a kind of readiness or willingness. So, it's the difference between responding and reacting, is my words for it. Our tendencies, our psychological patterns are to react. We act out our anger. We think we need to do something to react to some situation. We meet temporal conditions, reacting based on our patterns, our habits, our conditioning. When we settle down into this interactivity, we have a chance to instead respond. And that may look like doing nothing for a while, but you can watch your friend have a hard time


and then wait for some time when you can say something that maybe they can hear. And we don't know how to do it. Again, it happens in temporal conditions. But is this possible? But if we're paying attention and if we're connected to our own reality, if we're aware of our own patterns, if we do that work of getting to know ourselves and forgiving ourselves for being human beings, we can respond to something that actually meets the situation. It's possible. So, that's the precept work. That's the responsibility for enacting Buddha nature. That's the... I don't know if that's the womb or the embryo, you know, maybe it's both. But it's like, it's not... Again, we can think of the world out there as a dead object or we can think of the world out there as this Buddha field that's going to take care of us. And the point is that it happens in mutual... And that's kind of what you were


saying. Well, the womb thing is like the mother is not really doing anything except living her life and that is feeding and nourishing. So, there's not really anything extra there except maybe extra attention and awareness of this life. Attention and awareness and just being whole, being complete, being willing to be present with what's going on. And then, you know, sometimes mother has to push or whatever, you know. So, that's interesting to connect the two, the womb image that we've all experienced, whether we remember or not, and this thought that Buddhas don't wait around. Right, right, good, yes. I don't really know what I mean by that, but... Yeah, no, that's good, yeah. And that's... But that is the basic... This goes back to Sanskrit. This is a Sanskrit term. This is the underlying basis of our practice, actually. It has been


all along. But it's really hard for us to see it that way because not just our language, Chinese and Japanese, any language breaks things down into subjects and objects and we see ourselves as separate. This is kind of the Buddhist original sin, but actually we're in dynamic, interactive dance with everything all the time. Sonia? I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but I'm wondering, are we talking about the Q&A teaching? Yeah, yeah. So, thank you for bringing that. Because I wasn't... Like, I would think I was expecting something different. Oh, good. That always happens, doesn't it? So, yeah, so that's... Thank you. So, to bring that back, this is basic. I don't even want to call it Soto Zen, except I'm talking about Dogen and Suzuki Roshi and this tradition,


this practice we do here. But it's basic Mahayana Bodhisattva practice. But if I put it in terms of Dogen, then we can talk about it in terms of Tassahara as a Pure Land. Now, one of the teachers... So, I was talking about it in terms of Buddha fields. That's actually the basis for Pure Land Buddhism, for the branch of Pure Land Buddhism that is about Amida Buddha and chanting homage to Amida Buddha. But I was going to actually read... This is going to be... This is... Well, I don't know. If you really... Maybe I did. I think when you really genjo, there's also Kensho. But to try to have some dramatic experience like that, that's not necessary. The way Buddha fields are generated is by fully expressing this reality of


all being Buddha nature. And that includes seeing it to some extent. So, in that sense, maybe Kensho happens anyway. But it can happen in some fancy dramatic way, or it can happen, as Dogen says, Buddhists don't necessarily notice that they're Buddhists. They don't necessarily walk around saying, oh yeah, I'm a Buddha. That doesn't necessarily happen. I've already been interested in the word necessarily in that point. Uh-huh. Okay. Would you comment? Well, it just seems like then some must realize they are Buddhists. Sure. That can happen too. What's that? Buddha. I'm not sure I get your question. Is there a question? What is it to realize you're a Buddha? It's realizing that everything is Buddha. It's realizing all being Buddha nature. It's realizing... It's appreciating the rocks and the blue jays and the sound of the water.


And, of course, the people you're practicing. And seeing how Buddhaness is percolating in that. Okay. One answer. There's no right answers or wrong answers, by the way. But there's just, how do we produce conditions for Buddha nature? How do we encourage Buddha nature-ness? Anyway, here's a story. A monk asked the national teacher, Nanyang Huizhong, in the teachings we only see that sentient beings become Buddhas, but we do not see that non-sentient beings receive confirmation of attaining Buddhahood. So this came up yesterday in terms of talking about all sentient beings and all beings. And is it only sentient beings? So the monk continues, among the thousand Buddhas in the present kalpa, who is a non-sentient Buddha? Anybody have any answers for that?


Anyway, the national teacher said, when a prince has not yet received his dominion, he is only an individual person. After receiving his dominion, the land of the whole nation belongs to the king. How will the national land receive its own dominion? So dominion here could mean realm or land. When we have not yet found our Buddha field, we're not yet Buddha. When we have not yet seen that the ground itself supports our awakening, we are not yet Buddha. That's one way to interpret what this question is about. And he says, how will the national land receive its own dominion? So the land itself, how will it see its Buddha-ness? So the national teacher went on, now when only sentient beings are receiving confirmation of becoming Buddhas, the nation's land in the ten directions is the Buddha body of Vairochana.


That's the Buddha who is all of reality. So again, when only sentient beings are receiving the confirmation of becoming Buddhas, the nation's land in the ten directions is the Buddha body of Vairochana. It doesn't have a personal Buddha. How will non-sentient beings receive confirmation? So in the Lotus Sutra, it talks about, the Buddha says to various of his disciples, you will be a Buddha in the future, and tells them what the name of their Buddha field will be, and how long it will be, and what their name, what their Buddha name will be, and so forth. And then later on, it just says that anybody who remembers a line of the Lotus Sutra will be a Buddha. But how will this question that the national teacher is asking the monk, how will non-sentient beings receive confirmation of their Buddha-ness? So this is the basic question. How can we see the Buddha-ness, the confirmation of rocks, and trees, and chairs, and blue jays, and the sound of the blue jays,


and the sound of the creek, and the marley mugs, and not to mention the neighborhoods with gangs in them. So that's the first story in this Dharamhala discourse. And then Dogen quotes Hongzhe, who I translated in Cultivating the Empty Field. One of the things that was really fun about translating Dogen's extensive record is I got to translate Hongzhe again, because Dogen quotes him quite a lot. So Hongzhe once said, Buddha within the land manifests a body everywhere. So we think of Buddha as having one body. But actually, the Buddha who occupies a Buddha field is manifesting the Buddha body everywhere. That's what Hongzhe said. The lands within the Buddha are also like this in every particle. Can you thoroughly experience this? So there's Buddha within the land that lands within the Buddha.


There is a field of Buddha-ness, one we call Tassajara. So I think we can kind of get this in terms of this particular Buddha field is easier than going to the Vietnamese temple in the inner city. And I really appreciate your question. We may not get to it today, but I want to talk about it. After a pause, Hongzhe said, the six kingdoms naturally were purified after a period of chaos. A solitary person dared on his own to build a foundation for great peacefulness. This is kind of this neat kind of double entendre here, because the six kingdoms naturally were purified after a period of chaos can refer to our six senses and how we can actually find whole being even after the chaos of our human life. But also he's referring to the six kingdoms of China, which were unified around 200 BC by the Emperor Qin.


So there's a kind of double historical reference here. Anyway, I won't go into that. But he says a solitary person dared on his own to build a foundation for great peacefulness and referring to that emperor. But it also refers to our practice that each of us, if we are willing to settle in our dominion, in our Buddha realm, can build a foundation for great peacefulness. So I'm out there, not in Tassajara and functioning in the world and concerned with issues of peace and war and stuff like that. But I think it's possible to help stop the war just by your meditation at Tassajara. I don't think there's one right way to bring peace to the world. So that's just a footnote of mine. But anyway, Hongzhi said that, and maybe I'll come back and go over this because it's a complicated story.


But then Dogen responds to Hongzhi. Let me read again just what Hongzhi said without my comments. The Buddha within the land manifests a body everywhere. The lands within the Buddha are also like this in every particle. Can you thoroughly experience this? After a pause, Hongzhi said, the six kingdoms of China naturally were purified and unified after a period of chaos. A solitary person dared on his own to build a foundation for great peacefulness. Then Dogen said, commenting on this, the ancient Buddha, Hongzhi, has spoken like this. But why should I not say more? The Buddha of the land pervades the body. And is the entire body. The lands of the Buddha are the suchness of reality and their non-suchness. Can you thoroughly experience this? So this is this wonderful statement of the total interpenetration of the Buddha,


you know, the good Zen student, and the Buddha field, the land. We are connected so that there's all kinds of, you know, implications for this for our environmental practice and so forth. But this interactivity of the place where we practice and our uprightness itself is the point here. So Dogen, again, he says, the Buddha of the land pervades the body and is the entire body. The lands of the Buddha are the suchness of reality and their non-suchness. Can you thoroughly experience this? He doesn't ask, can you thoroughly understand this? Because that's not the point. Can you thoroughly experience this? Can you genjo this? Can you bring this into your reality? Then after a pause, Dogen said, the host within the host and the host within the host go beyond objects and transcend people to establish the foundation for an empire.


So to go beyond objects and transcend people is to break down the way in which we think that the objective world out there is this is this solid dead thing. Actually, it's not from the point of view of Buddha. It's alive. And it's a womb of Buddha's and an embryonic Buddha field. So it's actually 4.30 and according to temporal conditions, we're supposed to stop now. But I'm happy to keep talking with whoever wants to. But let's do the closing chant for those who have to go.