March 1987 talk, Serial No. 03986

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in june
our details as a rule that the topic and words

good morning britain boy

there are a couple of seats in front of anybody so welcoming and to come up and

perhaps it's the nature of spring that there's some
a sense of her being a lot to do or a lot that's happening but i'm particularly struck by
my that ten this morning
i'd like to talk a little bit morning about
a central theme in the teachings of the buddha
having to do with the nature of thing that in that they are always changing that the nature of thing is impermanent
to talk about that in the context of
are beginning the study period as we are beginning today the garden study period which is being led by wendy johnson who is the head of our garden hannah and to whose medium as a feature is the garden
and i am struck particularly after our first class which we just finished a little while ago
by how much the garden is a fully
a place where we can study and consider all of those
points of insight and understanding which come up our teaching from the buddha and the tradition in followed from those seeking
one of the things that when they pointed out the morning while how important it is to know the place where you are working
and i'm struck by how much that is what our work lives in our lives
and certainly very much what is up for any of us who are doing meditation practices and in particular the kind of meditation practice that we do in the zen tradition
in particular when we sit
and what we call about them then killing bracket
how much that practice has to do with
a willingness to sit down and be with ourselves to get to know
our breath and our posture are heartbeat
our stomach
to be willing to notice and be friendly with whatever arises and follow the way
isn't it interesting how hard it is for many of us to allow ourselves to do laugh
to just sit down quietly and get to know ourselves in this very particular careful direct way
and yet as with a garden with ourselves
when we have some open minded open hearted willingness to be friendly and present in our lives as they actually are
thankfully in to unfold in a way that all of the pushing and effort and trying that characterizes much of our lives says they bring us to
i sometimes think that way yeah we are living in a culture which pushed which emphasizes our capacity for doing
and what we're doing here is reminding ourselves about the doing it has to do with not doing
just being quiet for a little while
hopefully every day
so if we're going to get to know a garden a particular place that we're going to work work and work with
the part of for a while
as some of us are going to do for this next month
in the garden here and in the wider context the valley and watershed that contains this garden
one of the things will do is to begin to pay attention to the detail of this place
what is the soil like but as the light like
what are the temperatures were there those cold places and warm places
he began to pay more attention to the light as the days become longer
to begin to notice what happens with the plants at this time of year as they begin to open up to this kind of surging growing at happens in the spring
in a similar way and when we practice zazen when we practice zen sitting
we want to pay attention in the same way for same level of detail
with our breath and with what happens when we sit com way and carefully with our attention on our back straight
to find a way of sitting quietly back straight attention with the breath
that allows us at the same time to be relaxed
and com
we may not begin with such calmness we may begin with wiggling and discomfort
and maybe even irritation by the for a patient after a while and may find some stillness which is actually there
bob which we sometimes don't allow
when he spoke this morning about the garden
as a place where we have continually life and death
why and then
living in line
and how much that is what happened with our breathing
the breath comes in and there's a kind of fullness with it bringing oxygen
and the very essence of life into our whole organism
and then the breath goes out the exhalation
sometimes when you sit quietly when i sit quietly and allow my breathing to saddle a bit
i'll begin to notice at the end of the exhalation of small space
and i can in fact consider that that's faith that moment at the end of the exhalation as a kind of minor dime
what is my response to that experience
am i willing to hang out with myself in his face does some fear arise some nervousness
do i begin to wonder will the next breath com
am i willing to just be quietly in that moment and then when the inhalation arriving allow the inhalation to arise in whatever way it will
particularly when you first began doing this kind of meditation practice you may feel a kind of self consciousness
with observing the breath in his way or observing your posture
but with some patients that self consciousness goes away
and with that self consciousness you may feel a kind of tightening or you may feel your breath a little quicker than usual
but are you also have been able to sit with it and notice how it changes
in particular the breath that comes in this moment isn't exactly like the breath that preceded it for the breath that fall over
hence a simple business
and from some point of view and actually quite simple
a good time of year especially on a day like this with the sun clear
a little warm
the kind of scent that comes off of the various plants and trees and are beginning to open up
there are the kind of fullness in our sense of being alive

nakamura has a who teaches tea ceremony and know chanting here at green dodge sometimes laughs and says where such weak knees
sunny day like this but if it's a cloudy day or raining or storming and it was friday night and yesterday especially early in the day we feel a little discouraged or been around like when to do
and the sun comes out and feel wonderful
have changeable it is
there's a gathering happening in berkeley this weekend of women in buddhism one hundred and sixty women gathering together to celebrate the fact that women can practice wholeheartedly and falling
as buddhism comes here to the west
and in the morning as we were beginning to
i opened the day's events
i was asked to do a kind of blessing on his face
and people laugh at me a little bit because what came up for me as the rain was pouring down
i realized that in our planning for this event we had planned on it being a sunny day we had planned on a sunny weekend so that we can have various activities out of doors
and of course that's not what we got at least not yesterday
but we got was lots of rain and staying indoors
but what i remembered was that a hobby people
and the tibetans
and many others i'm sure look upon the rain as last patients and in fact if there's some big teaching or a some ceremony or it's time to do some particular activity
the traditional people look longingly for some cloud in the sky because even if they're just a little fitting from the sky is considered a kind of blessing on whatever it is the catherine
the different way of thinking about the rain
can we enjoy the rain and the blessing of it in the way that we can enjoy the sunshine in clear air is coming war that we feel for them
and understand that in a little while it will be different than it is more
the heart of the food as inside seems to focus on the business of impermanence that everything changes and that are suffering arises when we resist
acknowledging except thing
understanding the that in fact the way things are and that are suffering arises when we try to resist or deny that changeability that impermanent nature of thing
when we take a credit resistor
attitude or a relationship to each other for to ourselves were to our thing who are very lie
but does that happen when we're in the garden
it seems to me that i'm much more willing to enjoy the cycle to watch eagerly and the road and go from being bare thick
here the tiniest pink but beginning to form
and then slowly the leafing out
and i know what's coming
an feel a kind of patience and joy as i'm watching the road within the garden getting ready to burst forth
and i hope that my feeling about the road and can encourage me to have a similar kind of feeling or attitude towards that same francis in my own life and in the lives of those around me
a kind of reminder about this
living and dying breathing in and breathing out
as some of you are probably aware we have today a full moon
this is the more which is sometimes called the saskatoon and if you spend any time out of doors in the world of plants you understand exactly why that there is that designation the staff is up and rising
and you can almost hear of out there in the world
and this evening we will have a full-blown ceremony we will
follow his ancient practice that we do at the time of the full moon
a ceremony where we and be some kind of confession
and then recite together promises about how we want to live our lives
what i remember some years ago when we first began doing the following ceremony was how suddenly i was aware of the moon not just when it was full but in all of its cycle
applied awakening to the of with the moon
and of course for anyone who is working and garden the moon cycle can be extremely important because what you begin the noted in some relationships some activity in the plant world in relationship to the light and dark these different phases of
but is it so different for us
what some of us began to notice is some change in the different cycles of the moon and the way we sleep at night
in the amount of sleep that we seem to may get out
a difference in some
sense of energy
and it makes sense it that as there are these different
ebbs and flows with the cycles of the moon and with the tides and with the gravitational folds on earth's surface beth have such a profound effect in the world of plants that perhaps we also would feel some sensitivity to these cycles
perhaps in our busy lives in our lives full of responsibility in taking care of ourselves and our families and our work and the the planet that we live on
we can also periodically should be quiet enough to pay attention to the particular detail of our experience and it's exactly this careful and attentive being with whatever arises that a meditation practice can
can allow us to to do

when he said at this morning and class please be mindful of the place where where gardening
please observe as much as you can
and please keep your sense of humor
i hope we can all do that with ourselves in the detail of our lives particularly whenever really sit quietly with our breath
with our posture
to be mindful
to observe to watch to the awake to whatever arrival and farther away
and to keep our sense of humor
do not take it all too seriously
one of my daughter has just finished a young senior thesis
after last big project before she graduated from college
and she decided to write for paper on the fool and came a rare
she's always been very interested in comedy and in the fools indifferent pieces of literature and drama in particular
out of a sense of what wisdom figures they are
as part of what she came to in writing is paper was some observation of what it was the fool could say that no one else in the room could say how when the fool was in the room he could talk about the shadowy side the dark
he could talk about the wisdom aspect
but always with a kind of silliness foolishness
that assets which is so important in our live who remember our ability to laugh to be foolish but which has this dimension that run seventy nine

when we were sitting together a week ago in the long sitting that we did here for a week
by the sixth day as we became gradually each day a little bit more still
one of the things that happened was a kind of lightness that also a capacity for a kind of laughter
and in fact one afternoon as we were doing a long period of walking together someone who began to giggle
who knows what prompts that giggling
it may even be a kind out of nervousness at catching some very deep place
those things are certainly not exclusive of each other
the pretty soon that laughter went through all of us almost much like a kind of way or referral
and i remember quite vividly when i first heard the laughter immediately i felt the kind of smile on my face i could feel a kind of shackling began to rise up in me
quite wonderful
and it did seem to arise out of our breathing quietly together in being quite still
going deep in the way that you can when you do that for a mere time
another thing that came up in our class with when the morning while her observations about the source of everything in the garden being from that which is while

how much do we allow that wildness which is in each of us that uncultivated and for many of us unknown aspect of our nature and of our experience and our capacity
i'm always surprised when i allow myself regular periods of time in which i have absolutely nothing to do except to watch the grass grow
i sometimes call that kind of space or time noodle in time for just let my mind wander around and be quiet or not as the case may be
and i'm struck by what can arise out of that kind of circumstance
pick not hard who is the vietnamese and teacher who visits us every once in awhile
and who had fact will be coming to visit sometime in april to talk about how important he thinks it is for us to have a quiet day he suggests one day a week a day of mindfulness
a day when we can be quiet
when we can do some practices that help us cultivate our ability to be mindful to be awake with whatever we're doing
two for change do things a little bit slowly and quite carefully
to take a bath
the queen of particular cable the war section of our house
to make a flower arrangement
the set the table for dinner with our family to write a letter to a friend
to go for a walk
just sit down and not do anything
and i think for many of us we say oh i'm too busy to do there
what are we so busy with that we can't allow ourselves to be quiet in that way
and to find
and be in touch with some deep place that each of us has some capacity for her but which we don't allow at least not so often
that includes like the wild places represent for many of us
i know that for me there's something very special that happens if i go to the mountain or if i go to the woods some place that is not so it changed by human life and activity
particularly if i go to the high mountains where people are not to be found so often
i feel a kind of catching the and with wildness that is the world which is the source of everything
and i'm reminded of
some place in my own life experience that resonates deeply with the wild places
in a garden we are cultivating and growing plants in many cases plants which have been developed from the wild plants
one of our teachers a man named harry roberts who lived and taught here for some years in the late seventies under the way eighties
and who's memorial day is this week
used to talk frequently about how important it was to keep the plants that were our source plans to take care of them to not lose them
and under his guidance to of us a would for some time go up to a particular area of fun now a back road near sanaullah where there was a particular an outcropping of odisha
which was a a very important plan according to harry he said it was one of those early source plants we would go up during the growth cycle of the felicia
and tag the different plants that seemed particularly strong and then go back again in the late summer to collect seed
because he felt that it was important for us to have source stock like that here in the garden because it had a kind of vigor and directness that the war hybridized plants don't always have
but we need to do something like that for ourselves and our own lives also
who pay attention to what is fundamental and essential what is
source material in our lives
when our meditation practice we keep coming back to the breath
whatever arises whatever we are focusing that and our medication fact is there is a kind of bank that has to do with our breath

at this time of year at in the garden outside of the house where i live we have to rather old crab apple tree
there are alive in spite of the activity around them
the goat have chewed on them and nearly killed them but somehow they didn't succumb they had various and sundry diseases somehow they
are still continuing
and i remember a few years ago when harry who was living with us in this house was dying the bedroom that he was an open onto the front of the house into these crab apple trees
sign the crab apple trees were beginning to bud and burst into bloom
and at the same time the pond under the crab apple trees became the nursery for fraud
so at this time of here we have each year right on schedule the frogs arriving with all of their croaking and carrying on
and the crab apple trees budding out
and it always reminds me of harry's dime such a curious commingling of experience
very sweet and tender memory
and so this year i'm watching the crab apple trees
wondering if they are a little healthier a little stronger than year
the line is that once again the frogs have return and do their singing
as they haven't used before
remember in what it was like to sit with harry as he slowly passed over
rather slow process
he be spent in the weeks before he died some days when he seemed very far away and he probably was
but then every once in awhile he would
return to the realm and those of us the was sitting with him and i remember in particular one evening when the frog were beginning to sing again a sound he loved
he began singing a song about blackburn
at this deep and a chronic health condition suddenly this sweet own baby like boy
singing a silly song about the blackburn
for many of us we are afraid of dying especially our own buying or the dine of those close to us
but if we pay attention to our breath and we become more friendly with that outflow an exhalation there are so much we can begin to notice about it
he has some quality of death of dying of letting go
there is also with it a kind of allowing
what a what occurred what arriving what becomes possible with that attitude of illinois
do we in fact make the next breath com
can come
until that moment when of course when it doesn't
and if we can allow ourselves to hang out in that faith we may in fact be able to touch whatever fear or pension or uncertainty or anxiousness that arises and be friendly with that
and allow that awesome to have a kind of rising up and falling away
because those feelings emotions thought have the same quality of are rising and falling
do we may feel completely confident in our ability to
except that the impermanence of the sunny day
we may not feel quite so confident in our ability to do that with a rainy day or with negative state of mind or emotion
but perhaps we can explore the impermanence of those things as well

the only thing that when he talked about in class this morning was the rich man i'll live particular environment where we where we live here on the coast of california
in an area which is in geological term changing constantly in a very dynamic way not at all several geologically speaking
now we live on the edge of the pacific ocean where we have great upwelling cold water from the bottom of the ocean bringing extraordinary richness up to the surface of the ocean
and in this environment which is so complex and so intensely changing we have extraordinary richness of life richness and geological term richness in terms of the plant life richness in terms of the life
that occurs in the ocean
this is one of those great areas for those of us who love the bird
this complex rich environment
has that nature out of
the quality or characteristic of being on kind of edge
where things are continually changing intensely stone
think for a moment if you will about how true that is also have our own lives
we have a kind of fear or a reluctance to turn into what is unfamiliar or what is about to change a kind of uncertainty and fear arises often but aren't those just the circumstances from which are growth occurs
from it from which some possibility that we hadn't imagined arises
can we in fact when we sit with our breath be welcoming to this next breath as it arises being whatever it is not quite the same as the breath we just breathe
and can we in fact have that kind of openness and respect and appreciation for change and the possibility of richness and complexity
in each moment
which means perhaps allowing whatever fear or ancient with may also be there to be there but not let that dominate the landscape

if i try to possess the breath as it arises
it tends to rise have been my upper part of my body and get tighter
i less oxygen in my system i ever had a constricted feeling in my physical body
and in my mind

if i'm not possessive of my breath
of my children of my husband of my good friend
have some idea that i have that i think it's just some terrific idea
if i'm not possessive of the way i think i want things to be
but have a kind of open handed or open-hearted or allowing attitude
i can be awake to whatever arises and be surprised and go deeply with whatever it is

so i would like to invite all of you to join us in our exploration of this fragile and extraordinary and beautiful world
that the garden can lead us to and remind us about
but which we can be awake to even sitting in a small empty room
with our breath
who allow ourselves to be open to the widest possibility that can arise in each moment
ah and to enjoy me for any day