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The talk critiques the conventional approach of spiritual teachings that emphasize directive methods, such as instructing what to do or not to do, which is contrasted with allowing natural awareness and awakening without forced guidance. Various Zen stories and teachings are utilized to illustrate points on non-authoritarian approaches to learning and self-discovery.

- **Zen Masters Mentioned**: Xuansha and Foyan.
- **Works Referenced**:
- "The Guru Papers" by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad, which discusses authoritarianism in religious contexts.
- **Authors Mentioned**:
- Rumi, a poet whose writings emphasize the internal journey and discovery.
- **Philosophical Concepts**:
- The authoritarian mindset as opposed to a softer, more receptive mind.
- The inefficacy of seeking expedient techniques for personal transformation.
- Utilizing one's inherent awareness to navigate life's challenges effectively without being prescriptive.

The central theme revolves around trusting one's internal awareness and capacities rather than relying solely on external directives, highlighting a shift from authoritarian to receptive engagement with one's experiences.

AI Suggested Title: "Beyond Directives: Zen and the Path of Natural Awareness"


Good morning. You're not really expecting me to say anything, are you? One of these days, you know, as I become, you know, a daughter and elder, you know, I'll have enough confidence to just sit up here and not say anything with words. It's a curious business, you know, in Zen at times it said, you know, to give out teaching


is like gouging a wound in good flesh. We're all, you know, we're all conscious beings, so of course, you know, our real study would be rather than to, you know, limit ourselves to doing and following a particular piece of teaching or instruction, you know, it would be better to use our awareness to awaken our awareness or to allow our awareness, you know, to find its way. This takes a certain amount of faith, you know, or trust in oneself or in consciousness itself. You know, it's more likely, you know, throughout the world and throughout various religions it's more common that we need to tell you what to do and what not to do, because otherwise,


if we just leave you on your own, you're going to get into trouble. So we better make sure to tell you what to do and what not to do, as though you didn't have any inherent awareness or awakeness or consciousness that could find its way. So on one hand, you know, if you come to a talk like today, you know, and you don't get any good instruction, you may be disappointed. He didn't tell me what to do. He didn't give me any good advice. There's nothing I got out of that lecture. Somebody used to say about my lectures, they don't do anything for me.


Okay. I thought you were going to do the part for you. On the other hand, if you don't get any, you know, advice that you can, you know, stick on yourself, do this, don't do that, then you may feel, oh, what a relief. I could be me. And I could go forward with confidence, and it doesn't mean, you know, that everything works out the way you want it to. That's the catch. But then even if you're skillful and savvy and competent and capable, you know, how often does that mean that things come out the way they should or the way you want them to? So there was, you know, for instance, Zen Master Foyan, and he said, well, he, actually


I'm thinking of another story to start with, Xuansha, and one day, you know, at his assembly for the lecture, he didn't say anything for a long time, long enough that some of the monks, you know, started getting up in ones and twos and leaving. I'd love to try this sometime, so, you know, give me another ten years, maybe. And after a number of people had left, Xuansha said, today, I've really helped you, but none of you have gotten it. You come here seeking expedient techniques, seeking special doctrines, seeking the way to happiness and peace in your life.


And I have, he said, no expedient techniques. I have no doctrines to share with you. I have no methods to bring you peace and happiness, because expedient techniques will have exactly the contrary result and bury you and trap you. We keep thinking, no, no, no. Tell me what to do, because my life's not working. I need some other way to do it. So why don't you, why won't you tell me? I thought you were a Zen teacher. So this is very interesting, you know, lately I've been thinking about it. I went to a lecture a while ago by a man named Joel Kramer, who's, you know, a little older


than I am, and he's thought a lot about, among other things, he and his wife Diana wrote a book called The Guru Papers. It's about authoritarian religions. And one simple thing he said in his lecture, anyway, was that, a definition of authoritarian, what's an authoritarian? Authoritarian is someone who gives out instructions or directions, directives, tells you what to do, and does not tolerate any feedback. So you might think that this is just out there in Washington, D.C. The generals don't want Rumsfeld, oh, he's doing a good job. But, you know, we're all in our way, authoritarians.


If you know, and it's basic principle too, of course, you know, how do I attain liberation? Well, who's binding you? Why don't you talk to the person about this? Well, he doesn't accept any feedback. Or as, you know, I'm self-employed, so, you know, my boss doesn't give me very many vacations. Very little time off. He expects me to work all the time. What's with that? But, you know, if I try to talk to him, he's not particularly interested. You've got work to do. And why are you playing around? And you know, he doesn't want to hear that, you know, you're no fun. Yes, but I get things done. No, you know, anyway, we're all authoritarians.


It comes up a lot, for instance, in, you know, most of us have this kind of relationship with our body. I'm going to tell you what to do, and you do it, and don't complain. You know, I don't want any pain. I don't want any discomfort. I want you just to do what I tell you to. If I tell you to sit, then sit. Don't fuss. Don't whine. Don't complain. Don't hurt. Just be there and do what I tell you. So, how does that, how well does that work, you know, and then your body tries to complain. You say, well, just be quiet. Don't, stop that. I don't want to hear about this. And then, you know, some of us practice this for years. It's called Zen. Put your body in a particular position and tell it to be quiet, you know. What are you going to do with the, you know, the feedback you're getting?


Or do you listen to your body? Can you, you know, or is it just that there's an, you know, the authoritarian is someone, you know, that we identify as being in charge, and then we expect the world and our own body and mind and emotions and feelings and thoughts to do what they're supposed to. And I'll, you know, one way, my way, the right way, and if I want your opinion, I'll tell you what it is. Are you familiar with any of this? I just sort of like, I feel a little sort of grief in the room, so I'm sensing that maybe we're onto something here. So what are we going to do with this person who likes to think that he or she is in charge? And that's the person who wants some expedient techniques, some special doctrine to lord


it over the others with. No, this, when I tell you what to do, this isn't just me telling you. This comes from a spiritual tradition. When your own word as the authoritarian isn't good enough, call in, you know, spiritual reinforcements. Get some backing. If they're not, you know, the spiritual reinforcements, you know, they, well, we do, we use spiritual reinforcements, you know, rather than military. But that's, you know, that's another, and we attempt then to, you know, get compliance with our directives. I'd like you to be, I'd like some peace and happiness around here, so here's how to do it. And then if you impose this, as soon as you impose this on yourself, how happy and peaceful


can you be? You're under an authoritarian rule where you can't talk back. And if anything occurs to you about some better way to do it, you know, nobody's listening. The other voice is saying, oh, it looks like I have too much resistance. I'm only trying to do what's right. And the other side says, you know, oh, I guess you're not interested in what I have to say, are you? So we're not always very good, you know, at listening and receiving, you know, information rather than giving out directives and asking for, you know, compliance without complaint. It's very challenging, you know, who's going to listen?


And a lot of this, you know, is connected to, but it's not that, by the way, so, you know, another aspect about this, you know, is it's not that we weren't already enlightened or free. We weren't free from the start, we were enlightened from the start, but we were looking for a particular kind of behavior, a particular kind of reality, a particular kind of experience. We wanted it to be peaceful and happy. Someone I knew used to say that, you know, in her family when she was growing up, her mom used to say over and over again, no matter what was happening, aren't we a happy family? And it wasn't like you were invited to say no. So who wants to hear the complaints?


And then, you know, what happens, of course, is once you sit down and meditate, there's some bad news, there's usually some complaints. Finally, all these voices inside you have a chance to tell you what's happening with them, and you're sitting still for it, and then you try to get better at it. So what do you do with all these complaints that are coming in? And you're finally like, oh my, I've got to listen to all this? I have to experience all this difficulty and challenging things going on? Oh my goodness, I thought we were a happy family. I thought you realized that I was only doing this for your own good. So anyway, this is a very interesting study we have of, you know, how to use awareness


to awaken awareness, and how to begin to trust our own capacity to find the way in our life, our capacity to experience things and respond to life freely. And because, you know, what primarily gets in the way, of course, is what's called adherence to right and wrong, good and bad. Again, you know, I've often mentioned that if I'm doing cooking classes and I say, let's taste this, and then people say, almost invariably someone will say, what should we be tasting? Because wouldn't you want to have the right experience, and not just any old experience? Wouldn't you want to get it right so that other people can say, oh, you got it right, you pass, you are a success, you're a good student, you experienced what I told you to.


That's very pleasing to me, thank you, I appreciate that. So most of us are quite involved in, you know, getting it right. We want to have, you know, the right experience, because we figure if we got the right experience, we would get approval, recognition, you know, respect, you got it right, hey, looks good on you. But actually, of course, we think this, but at the same time, of course, when we see people who are getting it right, and look like they're getting it right, we go like, who do they think they are? They fool themselves, they're so right, you know, and we don't like it, you know, we look at them like, eww, so this is very challenging, you know, and at the same time, we're trying to get it right. So we're in this bind, you know, and we aim to have the right experience or a good experience


or the experience that will finally get the approval of the authoritarian that we have in our being, oh, finally, that was a good meditation, now you're going to have to do better tomorrow. Authoritarians don't give up easily, you know, being authoritarians, and usually it takes some fairly serious pain, you know, fairly serious non-compliance, and then finally the authoritarian might, you know, begin to change, shift, listen. Some of us have a little sense like, maybe it would be good to listen. Suzuki Roshi, in this regard, said, when you hear a teaching that makes sense to you, then


do your best to follow it. Take it to heart and follow it, but, you know, be ready to hear another teaching that might be better, and be ready to change and adopt a new teaching. And he said, this is, you know, a soft mind. The authoritarian is a, like, hard mind. It's not receptive and it gives out directives. And it's possible to use your awareness, rather than, you know, your awareness giving out directives, it's possible to use your awareness to find things out, and to study things carefully, and become intimate with things. And this, of course, starts with, you know, not just things outside, but our own body


and mind, our own being. You know, rather than just telling your body, sit down, be quiet, I don't want to hear from you, or, you know, let's walk over there, okay? And move your arm, do this, do that. And, rather than giving out directives, we could actually, you know, send our awareness out into our body and say, how's this for you? Is this working, is this a good way to move? Feel good to you, feel comfortable? I give, you know, a fair amount of meditation instruction. So, I suggest to people, begin the meditation, use, instead of just telling your hips how to sit, you know, use your awareness to be in your hips, and help them find out where


they're really happy and comfortable, and can easily support you, and are happy. Use your awareness to help your hips, and to ask your hips what works for them. And I look around the room, and nobody's moving. What's going on? I just offered, you know, like you could use your intelligence to help your hips find, and people are sitting there, and nobody's moving. Oh, I don't know what's going on, you know? This is so, for some of us, this is a really big change, you know, to shift from your awareness okay, you say to your hips, sit here, so that, you know, sit here, and we're going to sit up straight now, okay? We're doing zazen, this is meditation. Now sit there, and don't complain. And I don't care if you're uncomfortable, or we haven't positioned you very carefully. But instead, you know, you could use your awareness, and you could move your hips forward


and back, and from side to side, and you could help your hips. You could study with your hips. Instead of directing them, you could listen to your hips and say, does this work for you, and does this? You know, what's going to work for your hips? What's going to work for your body? This is to use your awareness to awaken awareness. And this, excuse me, but it's an expedient technique. And I don't mean to be, you know, burying you, or trapping you, because the problem is, once you get an expedient technique, and then you might try it out, and then you could say, it doesn't work for me, I guess I'm not a very good student. See, as soon as you have an expedient technique, then you can measure, how well am I doing that? Is it working for me? And you could say, yes, it's working for me, and then you could say, no, it's not working for me, and then usually you say, well, that doesn't work that well for me, that wasn't


so good for me, you know, it doesn't make all the difference in my life and solve all my problems, so who cares? So it's easy to, it's easy to find something wrong with yourself when the expedient technique doesn't work for you. But what are we going to talk about if I don't give you some expedient techniques? Anyways, as I said, you could try it out, and then if you find a better expedient technique, you know, use that one. Okay? And, you know, and you can listen to your thoughts, you could listen to your feelings. How is that for you? Oh, so you feel sad, and you wouldn't just tell yourself, well, you have nothing to be sad about. My mom, a few years back, you know, every so often I'd say to my mom, this is my, you


know, adopted mom of 50 years who passed away about three years ago. But I'd say, I feel depressed. Once in a while I'd venture to tell her this. By the way, if you're a Zen teacher, this is not a good career move. People don't want to study with Zen teachers who are depressed. If you just look like you're depressed, but you don't tell people you're depressed, then they might just think that you're deep. But sometimes I would tell my mom I'm depressed, and she said, Ed, you are so talented and capable, you have nothing to be depressed about. Thanks, Mom. I feel really heard. But you know, I do the same thing sometimes.


It's really challenging to figure out, you know, how do you use your awareness to be more aware? What is that like to be depressed? What is the problem? What's going on that you feel depressed? And you know, in Zen, we don't necessarily say, you know, you should sort all this out. But you know, sometimes you do, whether it's on the agenda or not. What's going on in your life? What's going on in your being? You know, Rumi, the poet Rumi in one of his poems says, so you could journey from your manhood into your inner man. You could journey from your womanhood into your inner woman. And then the earth becomes a place where you find gold.


Or he says, you know, the fruit ripens when you go inside. The Zen teacher who said to, you know, sometimes the Zen teacher who said, I have nothing to offer you in terms of expedient teachings. He said, just step back and look. You might say, you know, inside, but it's also outside. So shifting out of authoritarian mind, you know, the mind that we could also call hard mind.


And the mind that gives out directives doesn't want to hear anything back. It doesn't want to know about complaints or problems or difficulties. And beginning to, you know, receive and listen. And if there's some good teaching, following it and ready for a new teaching. And so we have this, you know, we have many resources, so to speak, or, you know, big mind.


We have a lot of resources which are, you know, outside of the authoritarian's grasp, outside of the authoritarian's directions, directives. We have many resources, capacities. You know, this is the, you know, in a simple sense, we have the capacity to show up. I'm here. I'm willing to be here. I'm willing to be with this moment. I'm willing to have this body. I'm willing to have this mind. I'm willing to be here in this moment with these people in this circumstance. And I'm going to allow myself, I'm going to allow my awareness to respond and to come up with what to do. It's going to come from somewhere. It comes from, you know, in our tradition we say big mind. Or somewhere, you know, we might say beneath the


surface. When we have difficulty in our life or in meditation, you know, there's the possibility that we stop and show up. And this is painful and difficult, but I will. I can sit with this. I can be with this finally. I don't need to run away from it. I don't need to hide. My aim, my wish, my intention is to show up, to be here, to be present for myself and my difficulty and suffering and others. This is my focus, my aim, and it just, and when I let it, and I'm not telling myself, what's wrong with you? You didn't do that very well. You know, you should have. And then, you know, the authoritarian can go on and on about what you could have done so you didn't have the problem. Or, you know, you can go, oh God, why me? I'm not like those other people. This


isn't fair, you know. Or nobody suffers like I suffer. There's something wrong with me. I'm inadequate in every way. You know, you could repeat something like this, or you can have this kind of, or you can allow your capacity to be with your life to surface and to come forward. You stop running, you stop hiding, you stop giving yourself expedient advices and telling yourself what you did wrong and how you could get it right, and just show up and sit and be with things. And then, oh, where did that come from? I didn't know I could do that. It's very sweet. And so surprising sometimes. Where did it come from? I didn't know I had that in me.


So we all have this capacity, you know, to find our way, to study, you know, what it is to be awake and alive and how to use our awareness to intimately meet our life and respond to our life and go forward in our life. It's in each of us. And nobody finally can tell you how to do that. It's your choice or aim or vow, commitment. But it's there. You know, so in Zen we say, you know, Zen teachers will say, you know, everyone has enlightenment. Enlightenment is in every being, every person. But people pursue things. Or people, you know, one Zen teacher said,


and I see seekers coming here, going to a lot of effort, expending a lot of effort, going to a great deal of pain. What are they looking for? And he said, they're looking for, they're collecting sayings to put in a skin bag. What relevance is there? You know, the authoritarian would like to have some saying that it could lay down. And you think, and the authoritarian thinks they could have a better saying that, you know, everybody would have to obey the great saying that you've just gotten hold of, that you could use to boss the rest of you around and others.


You know, and it comes up in the, you know, in cults. But Babaji said, and then everybody's running around saying what Babaji said, or what's, you know, what's the real saying? So this is more like, you know, the kind of saying of, setting aside what enlightenment would be like, what would you do with it if you had it? Why don't you go ahead? Okay. So


there's the, just the last word to excuse me. So, you know, one of the challenges of this kind of, you know, turning around or using your awareness to awaken awareness, to find the way to show up, not run, not hide. One of the challenges is you may feel like, but I don't know how to do that. I've never done that. How could I do that? So, you know, at some point you do it anyway, and it's very mysterious, you know. Yes, I will. I will have this body, this mind, this life, these difficulties, these problems, this experience, this moment, and you know, this awakening.


And implicit in the, you know, willings and difficulties and problems of our life is also the blessings and the preciousness and the awakening, enlightenment in our lives. It's all of a piece. So it's easy to think there's something wrong with me or with you, as it were, you know. It's easy to think there's something wrong with me because, you know, I have all these difficulties. If there wasn't something wrong with me or, you know, I wouldn't have this kind of problems or stress or difficulty. Easy to think this and believe it. But this is, you know, human life. And we say, of course, don't seek for nirvana outside of samsara. Don't seek for, you know, the sacred or the blessed or the precious, you know,


outside of the pain and difficulty. Don't think that, you know, there's something when you, you know, some special experience or something that will happen when you've cleared up all these issues. So, sitting right in the middle of everything, okay? And finally, I'd like to say, share my heart with you and my good wishes with you. And, you know, I have a lot of confidence in you, even though I don't know you, because I have a lot of confidence in, you know, consciousness and mind. And you can do this. You can find your way and you don't need to chase after,


you know, expedient teachings, techniques, words to boss yourself or others around with. Just be in the midst of things. And we'll see what happens, won't we? We don't know what it'll be like. Thanks. Blessings.