November 16th, 2002, Serial No. 00977

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she's working i compared to thank you

well if i if i seem a little nervous it's because the last time that i was sitting here and i started to talk i i looked up and there is a meditation cushion as often coming flying at my head
i had i thought that with increased security that there'd be no as office
in this room but apparently some got in so
please hold onto years office
the this the theme the theme for this practice period
is the six power meters
and the six power meters our generosity morality patients energy meditation and wisdom or understanding and
this word parmi to literally means it's translated as perfection
but it's also translated as crossing over or
practices that can be used to cross over from greed hate and delusion towards peace and well-being
and this morning i i feel a little bit
a little bit like i was tricked into having to speak about wisdom
it's little bit like musical chairs you know when to game that i played as a as a child where the the music stops and there's there's one more person than there are chairs well and then you know in this case
the practice leaders talked about during this practice period all the other parameters except for wisdom
so i i thought well i guess it's i guess somehow i have to talk about that and and then i realized when i was thinking about this game this some musical chairs i thought you know that's that's a lot like how i feel about my life that
there was no there was no comfortable chair growing up to sit in and know chair seem to work and then i ended up here at zen center and where there was always a place to sit
that about the the catch was that you had to face the wall and you had to stay for many years so
we're we're now more than halfway through this fall practice buried here at the city centre
during practice period there are some rules and routines that are unique to you need to practice period for example
my role during this practice period is that if she's so and and the word she's so is literally translated as a head monk and it's perhaps not the most accurate translation since i'm not head of anything and i'm not a monk
but it is it isn't amazing role and opportunity i've been
we started in early october i've been living in the building ringing the wake of bell every morning having tea with groups of students giving some talks and cleaning the toilets every morning
and it's i haven't lived in the zen center community and nearly twenty years and just being back here living in this community and following the schedule has been amazing and then
on top of that getting the kind of attention and support that i feel is some truly an amazing experience
you know when when i was a kid i i used to think or canada a rule of thumb was that the best job in the world was being president of the united states
and i don't know where it came from enemy
i was driving my car the other day and i thought wow this shoe so job is even better than being president of the united states
and i don't have to fly around and that jet and give you know vape it campaign talks
and then the next dumb
the next thought i had made me laugh which was i imagined a george w bush is doing as you so doing
full prostrations in the zendo at four fifty a m and running around the halls in the morning with the wake up bill and cleaning the toilets and i thought how much safer the u s m the world with
it was going to ask pol if he could perhaps have arrange or internet
radical better
the word wisdom is translated from the the word prajna
the challenge them as i as i tried to research and what to say is that on this this prajna this wisdom is the highest form of understanding free from concepts and ideas it's thought of as the pinnacle of zen practice and zen teachers throughout time
i've rarely spoken about it often saying that the moment you tried to speak about it you miss it
there's the heart sutra which is actually be project up our anita future which is the perfection of wisdom which is chanted here every morning
and it says through practicing project a power meta through this perfection of wisdom
the mind is no hindrance without any hindrance no fears exist
then also states that there's no difference between wisdom or buddha or are ordinary minds
and in fact there's a there's a very famous dialogue between
zen zen master matsu it was asked by tommy
who says what what is the buddha or what is what is this wisdom mind and much response and says this very mind is buddha you know this this ordinary mind is buddha this ordinary mind is the way
so it's easy it's easy just to dismiss this as some kind of a
you know kind of a fancies and tricker or word game
but i think i think what this means with this means to me is that this ordinary mind is is buddha is
that we have no choice but to work with what we have with our with our body and our minds just as they are we acknowledge that we acknowledge our pain and suffering or joy aspirations
we commit ourselves to be aware of and understand and transform our patterns and habits through meditation practice and through extending meditation practice into our lives
and we don't get caught by this idea of ordinary mind or this idea of wisdom
several months ago when i was
when i first became aware that that i have arthritis one of my hips i mentioned this to my friend and teacher norman fischer and he said in a very a very matter-of-fact way said well it's just something to adjust to and after all life is just a series of adjustments
and one way to approach this kind of lofty subject of wisdom or understanding is as a series of discoveries and adjustments adjustments that are are the result of paying attention or mindfulness or as well as investigating and to
trying to understand
my daughter carol
who's now a teenager but when she was young she used to actually let me read to her every night before she went to sleep and she i'm often asked some some really terrific questions and i remember one night just as she was getting ready to go to bed she said daddy
just before a person dies to suppose that all of life's secrets are revealed she said you know like like a board game or puzzle where were you turn over the box and look at the back and you see the answers
this as you can imagine this was a pretty difficult question to answer what and the truth is i don't remember what i said what i hope that i said
the folded this is full disclosure it
i hope that i said something like
that the secret is in us right now
and then it's in us all the time and that we don't need to wait until we die to find it to access it
and i think of zen practice as a as a method and path to give us access to our own our own vital life energy and innate wisdom to find real freedom without having to wait until we die
understand and transform our habits and conditioning and to develop a mind that is flexible it's a way to find real freedom
you know in our
yeah so i want to talk about kind of wisdom as the some kind of making adjustments to things under looking at looking at them
looking at them deeply and then
seeing what kind of adjustments we need to make i realized in our in our culture we tend to think of freedom or power as being not to have to adjust to anything
but i think i i think real real freedom is having a a flexible mind and being able to
to adjust to the circumstances and access to the circumstances that are in our lives into our ordinary of minds
i've been i've been really enjoying getting up at four o'clock each morning so that i can read before ringing the wake of bill one of the things i've been reading this week is buddhist talk on the seven factors of awakening
the first factor that the buddha talks about his mindfulness and the second is an attitude and spirit of investigation
mindfulness is carefully noticing what we're doing
in buddhist talk on mindfulness he goes into great detail about paying attention to her body especially paying attention to our breathing
when taking a short breath in
we notice that we're breathing in when taking a long breath out we noticed that we're breathing out we pay close attention in thousand and in our life to our body
attention to our feelings to our mind and to objects of mind
we pay attention and investigate like a child or a baby approaching everything we do as though it's new and fresh
and we constantly learn and adjust from what what we notice
what are we doing out of habit and out of conditioning
what patterns have we learned from our parents that didn't even serve them very well
what extra effort to remake to look good or to be accepted
what activities help us feel alive what helps us feel
is and peace
by noticing these things we can constantly learn from from our everyday lives as an especially learned from what's difficult and what's messy and things that happen that we're not expecting
the last time that i spoke here i i mentioned taking care of my mother when she was very ill and dying and that she
stayed with us for her last few months of her life and that she died on our living room couch my son jason the time with some twelve years old
and she died during the night and my wife and i woke jason up that the next morning and told him what happened
he got up just to got up to come be with her and he had never seen a dead person before a dead body and we told him that we spent the night with his grandmother with with mama be and that we cleaned her dressed her put her in her in her favorite clothes
we assume that that jason would would stay home that day but he was very clear that he wanted to go to school and have it be a day as usual
a few hours later jason's counselor from school called to say that the jason was crying a lot and wanted to come home and a half hour later he walked into the house and he threw his arms around me and we
we just stood and cried together
and then he looked at me and he said you know dad walking is really a good thing to do in times like these you should try it

i think that my son on in my son's own way he discovered kind of the power of understanding and adjustment
first he was avoiding what was painful
he just wanted it to be a regular day
so he tried just going to school as usual
didn't work
and he tried something he tried he tried just walking and
and it worked for him and he was not only able to articulate for itself but he was able to teach it to others in this case me and in a very short time he went through what
what good of spoke about as the five stages of making an adjustment in our life and the first the first his recognition just noticing just noticing what we're actually feeling
in a way that's especially in our in our busy pressured lives that's often the hardest the second is accepting
after recognition just accepting what we see
the third is embracing and know fully accepting our feelings and our situation
the fourth is looking deeply looking closely at what is happening moment after moment in our lives and the fifth his insight which is
totally looking deeply with our with our bodies and minds and seeing what less than there is to learn what adjustment we need to make
the m the sanskrit the sanskrit word smirky that's translated as mindfulness literally literally means remembering
to think it's really interesting to to think about mindfulness as remembering
and as i was writing this i remember to a very powerful moment in my life is something that happened many years ago when i was director of tassajara and tick not han was visiting for two weeks and
every morning he would
give a talk over the dining room and one of my roles as director that was to walk over to be to the pinter rooms were taken on was staying and kind of knock on his door and get him and and then we would walk walk over from the pine rooms to the dining room which was just a few hundred yards but
check them out on what very very slowly so it took about ten or fifteen minutes just to walk that that time and it was really wonderful to walk with them and to be at that pace and
and when we didn't say we didn't say much one day i what i was recalled and i hadn't thought of this in a long time
take note on you were walking along and he turned to me and he he looked at me in the eyes and he said we've known each other from a previous lifetime
and then he just turned his gaze back to the path and we continued to walk together and he never said another another word about it and this has given me something to adjust to all these all these years
the word mindfulness or remembering
ah for and remembering an investigation for me means not holding anything back
now we practice meditation and we pranked we do this practice that's not holding anything back in our meditation and in our lives with our family friends and network these are all opportunities to be mindful to remember
the each moment each month we there's the full moon ceremony that it's performed here in this room
and one of the lions is all my ancient twisted karma from beginning this greed hate and delusion i now fully about
it's the just by just by a bow inches by
our ancient twisted karma that kind of the first step towards making making seeing our life more clearly and making adjustments making changes
in in buddhist discourse on mindfulness of the body
the most often repeated phrase that he makes says the practitioner imagines that his body is a corpse which he sees thrown into a charnel ground lying there for one two or three days and he goes into amazing detail about this and repeats it over and over again it's the it is
as i said it's the most often repeated statement in this talk
and obviously he's he's making the point that we all know we all know that we will die and none of us knows when
so imagine imagine for a moment that you've died that your life as you know it has come to an end
no buddha over and over again was being quite forceful about trying to have it be pictured
imagine that everything everything that you know when you think of as yours your your body your mind everything has has disappeared
and then imagine that that you have another chance that you've been returned and
everything is a little bit different that you have another have another chance that maybe things are a little bit loosened the you have permission
a permission to really feel your own truth to make changes to make adjustments
while we have the second chance at the at the same time we have to deal with every issue that's right in front of us every pain every every mess that there is but we have with the second chance perhaps we can appreciate the mess and have a bit more a bit more spaciousness of kindness with are so
cells to make adjustments
in adjustments towards awakening and our meditation practices is like this breath after breath not not knowing what will happen in
appreciating appreciating each breath and appreciating that not knowing and appreciating the difficulty
i was thinking of a
i was thinking of another day in my life that
i kind of think of as a
an amazing day of adjusting to circumstances through the day in which
i was living a green gulch farm and i was the
i was in charge of horses the draft horses and cows leads to be horses and cows out of green gulch it's bad
truly spectacular that i'm still alive to talk about it
many there were many near fatalities but but this particular day that i was thinking of it was our the cow who i used to milk every morning daisy
the her name or name is dave
right after right after cows give birth is a ah
the cows are susceptible to getting all kinds of diseases and i'd read a lot about it but i had never experienced it and i remember
going to milk daisy and seeing that she was lying down on the ground which is really a bad thing for counts i had remembered reading that if if a cow lies down it will die within a few hours and that you have to prop it up so i i i it was what fortunately she was right in in a little
in a small building so that i was able to kind of prop my body up against the wall and with my feet kind of keep daisy up a little bit and and at the same time yelled to get help and i was some in that position for several hours and then the the vet the vet
it appeared and gave daisy think it was insolent or something there's something that he the parents is very very common and he gave her the shot and daisy just popped up on her feet and and i popped up on my feet and i was quite quite exhausted and we believe
that this event was over and as i was walking back to my room someone came running down the green golden path saying
one of the horses is stuck in the pond
i i thought i thought horses don't get stuck in ponds
and it but they said you'd better can take a look i think i think there's a problem so i went over to the pond on the other side on the other side of the gazebo and there was a snip this large the two thousand pound draft horse had gone
we had gone into the water and guess it was quite to get a drink and went in too far so that she sunk into the into the mud and i could see her kind of slow it should probably when i saw her she was close to up to her neck in mud and we trying to figure out you know all kinds of
ways of getting her out of there and what i remember i have this picture of 'em that it was nighttime and the mere beach fire department had come and we'd figured out that the only way to
get her out of there was wrapped firehouses all around her i'm a few different fire hoses and everyone at green gulch and everyone and a lot of people from your beach pulled on these fire hoses and and hold his horse out of out of the mud
because actually again reminds me a lot of my practice i have to say
about this
no but it was it was an amazing day of
of dealing with adjustments deal adjusting to circumstances as they come up which were doing constantly you know
this morning vicky came over and said no we talk we talked to the people who were working outside about what could they maybe take a break for an hour we were having a special church service and ten o'clock me she said it so that they would understand and they look they gave her very quizzical look and they were they were sweet but they they say
said no we're sorry we can't do that word and and i realize you know and actually i i was feeling a little grumpy as i noticed you know as that i was thinking who gathers all this noise outside and it's let you know it's just my luck know that i'm talking this morning when zoellick no doubt and and
it'll be done by then i'm sure
and yeah but it was interesting by the time vicky had come over i said well you know it'll it'll we'll we'll deal with it it'll be it'll be noisy talk
yeah i i think of myself as having grown up at zen center i came to live here when i was in my early twenties
and then
in my early thirties site i left to go explore the world and find some other some other environment for my practice
but when i'm when i realized that i realized this more and more is that wherever we go every experience whether it's a pleasant one or unpleasant one whether we're playing or at work
it's a possibility to compare or complain
and at the same time that experience can be used as an opportunity to pay attention to investigate
to move towards developing a peaceful contented mind and a mind of awakening
when i left home when i left these formal formal temple i
i spent a few years at a different kind of the temple i'm going on wall street i went to business school there and but i had the i had the aspiration of combining zen practice and business practice and about thirteen years ago i i started a business called restaurants that makes greeting cards and journals and calendars
with with spiritual themes
and i've i keep learning over and over that this practice of paying attention investigating and adjusting is equally useful and applicable in in many parts of our life even even in the world of business
i was writing the other day and i wrote
i was reading this little essay on how how it is that we are all zen students meaning everyone can everyone is as and student and that everyone is a business person
that to me i defined as and student as someone who is concerned concerned with consciousness or person interested in transforming pain into joy and desires and to understanding and and were all business people were all live in a culture that is
affected by the world of money and commerce know whether we are school teachers or as increased or doctors or working on profits there's there's no escape
and business in business in most ways in some you know fundamentally a way to help people
in business there's an expression that says that cash be your king but that flexibility be your god pointing to the importance of understanding the needs of cash but but ultimately the survival and well being of of any business
is dependent on paying attention investigating and making a just making adjustments you have summed up in the word flexibility
and brushed and six business that i started
thirteen years ago
started out as a environmental products mail order catalog
yeah i noticed that the time that that no one was making greeting cards and wrapping paper from recycled paper and it seem like a a worthy endeavor
and then we noticed kind of the we we learn that we the catalog business didn't work so well but stores kept buying our things and we
transformed into being an environmental products company that i'm sold to stores and then we learned that people weren't buying our things because they were on recycled paper they were by her products because they have because of the themes because of the spiritual themes and the and the artwork
and i sometimes wonder what
what questions will be in two or three years from now as we experiment and test with things like selling to to schools and nonprofits that to fundraising or doing online sales and that kind of now paying complete attention and not losing focus on what we're doing now but investigate
eating and being open to
possibilities of what time what might be an expression of the the truth and real intention of the business but that is expressed in in different ways
now i find that as
as ceo of a company as a husband married to the same partner for twenty one years and as a father to two teenagers that
my well being and sometimes i think my survival are dependent on paying attention investigating and making adjustments
through this process i've i've come to intimately know that success is highly overrated
and that you know dogan has this expression that target was a great zen teacher many many hundreds of years ago he said hitting the mark is the result of ninety nine failures
and i hate to contradict dogan but i think he may have underestimated in my case
we often think of adjustments or flexibility as responding to pain or difficulty
but like in the case of me responding to my hip or to the day of the with a cows and horses the other side of flexibility is creating an environment that moves us towards a state of mind that is conducive to practice that's conducive to our own waking up
i mentioned earlier that the buddha talked about these these seven factors of awakening and the i've already can mention the for the first to happen to be mindfulness and investigation
and the other the other five are
energy joy is concentration or and letting go or equanimity
no energy is a is one of the power meters we've talked about
the energy it takes to continue practicing day after day continue sitting meditation and living together amidst the constant difficulties that we come across
joy i think can can best be expressed in a a roomy problem where he says keep knocking and the joy and side will come to meet the one who's there
is is a state that
we could all including especially myself use a lot more of there's so much on so much running around and so much effort that i think is would be a tremendously conducive to practice
concentration is
collecting and focusing our minds i mean in a way it's kind of the basis of mindfulness practice
and i think of equanimity as
both letting go and also letting go to the point where we see everyone as as buddha to see everyone as enlightened or at least as aspiring to be enlightened
a major adjustment of practice is shifting our energy and attention from how we get things for ourselves
to how we can develop ourselves and how we can develop ourselves so that we can help other people
and suzuki roshi also talks about and just practicing for the sake of practice and zazen for the sake of thousand so i think we i think all the time know our practice is about simultaneously
working on ourselves developing ourselves
trying to help others and practicing just for the sake of practice
i want to am i want to kind of end this morning by reading reading something from since it from us and suki roshi lecture
in which he was talking about a a famous send story about being at the top of one hundred foot pole
the sun
the student is in a bind
not knowing what to do does he does he jumped off the pole or does he come back down
no he's a mindfully looking at all of his choices and examining what tom
what's his purpose what does he do it in some way the student feels like he's on the brink of something knowing i think
i think many of us often feel that we're on the brink of something either either on the brink that often when when people ask me how how my business is doing i i often respond by saying i feel like we're right on the brink of either tremendous success or tremendous disaster and
and i and i feel like that that often feels like the most truthful answer to how i feel about
trying to take care of my business
well the first thing that suzuki roshi explains is that actually there is no there is no top to this poll that the situation can be looked at differently that the way it appears is different than how it actually is
and then he goes on to say
the secret is just to say yes
and jump off from here
then there is no problem
it means to be yourself in the present moment always yourself without sticking to an old self
you forget all about yourself
and i refreshed
you are a new self and before that self becomes an old self you say yes
and you walk to the kitchen for breakfast
go on with your ordinary life
and then this is my this is my favorite line
so the point is to forget the point at each moment and extend your practice
so i'd like to i'd like to encourage us all to i'm no to realize that the point is to forget the point and for us all to them to continue practicing together
i also want to i just want to mention how grateful i feel to be
here you know there's fifty five of us doing this practice period ends
just been i feel you know
so grateful and so well taken care of and and challenged by
living and practicing with all of you and i also want to thank my family that done
no has made this possible and has some let me supported me so wholeheartedly to
be here and do this practice
thank you very much