November 6th, 2002, Serial No. 01064

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.

This talk will not appear in the main Search results:
Auto-Generated Transcript

how they entertain here
is it
ben and i were talking about various things we can do

he also suggested throwing things
hey work me right out record
thank you
better be careful what you say around here

i wanted to talk about them
obstacles and opportunities
when we pay attention
our lives are filled with obstacles and opportunities and know from from a certain point of view you might already be thinking well
you know from a from an absolute absolute point of view there's what's the difference there's no difference between that our political and an opportunity
we're human beings and we live from we we live in a relative world we live in a world filled with from lots of desires of energy and all kinds of obstacles and opportunities
i wanted to start with a m
a a deep i have a deep secret to reveal that i realized i have never revealed in public before which is that i'm short
i doubt most of you have noticed
i was i was thinking they term
as a child i really had it was really hard being a short guy that
it was it was one of the things i always thought that if if i were only if i were only taller life would have been so much different that that women would have flocked around me that i would have been so popular would have been graded sports and that i would have been happy
and that in some way i just wanted to be like everyone else and it seem like what as the the glasses that i was looking through with that everyone else was taller
but i remember
i was probably about twelve or thirteen years old when a a couple of mind makeup and hank put his arm around me and said that he wanted to have a heart-to-heart talk and there are very few hard to hard talks that i can remember in knife in my childhood so this was this was pretty rare and hank
hank had just become an eye surgeon and he was about my height and he pulled me aside and said
i know that it's really hard being short and he said but let me tell you there's an advantage to it and the advantages that you have to try a little bit harder and that trying a little bit harder
can really make a big difference
actually i'm
yeah sometimes them sometimes i think that
i tell myself that
i just haven't hit my growth spurt yet
that it's it's that it's really it's really just a question of time that my mother my mother promised me that i would be tall and my mother wouldn't lie to me
i am i want to told my i told my teenage daughter who i've talked about here some that
that the reason that i don't own a lot of pants is that i'm afraid that i'm going to have a growth spurt and out and and i don't want i don't want to have a lot of pants in the house that don't fit me and she looked at me and she said really
up and bang
i laughed at her and
you know the actually the the moral of this story is that if you can't accept things as they are a vivid imagination really really help

actually the the reason that i bring this up is you know i realize now that
i think that almost everyone
thinks that
is that everyone is either too short or too tall or speaks with an accent or not pretty or is overweight or is the no not the right sexual orientation that we all that everybody has something that we think
that were different or that something lacking
we were think that if if if this one part of us were only different
life would be so much different
i think that my cousin hank gave me a real gift
by thing that
remember that
it was important to try a little harder and i think not so much trying you know not so much trying to accomplish something or trying some for some goal but
but to try harder to be who we are to be our own our own authentic selves
our our practice is to completely face ourselves
so that we can let go of self consciousness
this trying harder
can be can be kind of a burden but it can also be a great opportunity and it can be a path to accessing
some sense about what the absolute is what our big mind is
suzuki roshi often spoke about himself as some as having to try harder because he was not very smart and that
the he was always the the slowest of the disciples of his teacher in that all of the other students who are smarter they were all smart enough to leave and that he was the only one to stick around and that gum so he was kind of talking about the the opportunity in
it in being slow and he also talked about that he felt that he always remember things better that though it took them he had to try harder to learn but he had a way of the really bringing things to heart
i was thinking when i was thinking about these the topic of 'em obstacles and opportunities them i was thinking of how amazing it is for me to be a living in this building and there's a there's a sign on my door that someone put their that says
have you met your life today and everyday every time i walk in and out of my room i i read the sign that says some
have you met your life today and i think
i think it's a really good question if you don't have one of these signs on your door i i highly recommend it
i was also thinking of am i
a recent i'm kind of an obstacle slash opportunity in my life with a
my wife asked me to recommend a designer and that she had a project she was going to do and i
and i came up with two different designers and i kind of said a little bit about what their strengths and weaknesses were and i e it and i thought i was emailing it to make to my wife but i inadvertently emailed it to one of the designers
and it wasn't it wasn't that i said i didn't say anything bad but i knew that
i knew that this designer was gonna be hurt because i kind of was i was i never would have said what i said in this email and it kind of were saying that she was like the second best that she was really good but she was second best and i was mulling
fact i remember i kind of talk about this a small group and i was mulling about what am i going to do in this situation and
when i walked i walked upstairs kind of to up to my room actually first i decided to stop off at the at the bathroom the night i went in and i paid and i'm i'm walking out of the bathroom thinking about this and a woman walks into the bathroom and i'm like i said what are you doing in the men's room
and she looks at me to this is the women's room you know about and
so i felt like you know moment after moment obstacle and opportunity
have a monk asked his teacher what does the what is the meaning of bodhi dharma coming from the west and this is of course a classic none
classic question and then and the teacher replied i'm stiff from sitting so long
my interpretation that this is that the students asking you know please explain the effort that we're all making what's the purpose and meaning of this practice and the teachers i believe that basically thing there are obstacles there are difficulties and pain in this case the
a obstacles are stiff legs
opportunities are also is to flakes
i was also thinking

i think sometimes since i'm on because i'm working outside and i i have this some at the moment they have this
kind of a dual life but but i i talk a little bit about this in terms of my own work practice and
i was i was remembering
i was thinking of one of the hardest day that i ever had at at work
which will through the a time when things were not going well and
sales were not meeting expectations expenses were surpassing expectations and it was just really really grim and and it had been that way for a while and i didn't see a way out i remember
am kind of looking kind of looking at the number is looking at how to pay payroll have to keep things going and i couldn't see any way out of it and the and my world actually began to spin and remember feeling kind of sick and nauseous and it was going to be really terrible feeling and
at the same time i felt i felt really inspired to somehow find some way out of that and and i eventually did
and i remember it was it was after that in which i was asked to be on a panel called business and the dark knight of the soul in which i'm i was really quite an honor to be on this panel know i felt you panel of of losers you know to talk about
how how we had failed and how we failed at business but we were all we actually
i have had all pretty much made it through and had had some good story to tell as well
what was on what was ironic was that little did i know but things then got much worse that that baton things really got bad after that as we try to become an internet company
and when that crashed on
things were really really horrible but i had i have learned a lot from the from how bad it was previously and i had learned that it was okay if the world spun around and i could sit at my desk and cry and like it people would come over and cry with me in and then we kind of say okay would what do we do now how do we how we pick up the peace
i wanted to tell am i toss a horror story which i think think fits in the subject pretty well i wondering i'm sure some of you know that story but
the the tassajara elderberry story elderberry team story two guys know
yeah this was
this was have been the summer of nineteen eighty three
i was director that summer talk to her and
it was just a hot a hot august day i believe it's august and
there is afternoon tea every three three o'clock between fifteen and think it's still happen these days but was always as usual and how outrageous t fact i remember
the were unbelievable and i remember one day i'm i'll digress here for one second i've ever the hikers walking in and they came in during teatime and they had never been in talks to her before they walked in over the in over the mountains and there they were in their hiking gear and they were t and a t who was chocolate cake
amounts of chocolate cake french toast all kinds of jellies and jams and cookies and it was just you know and ah
from the person one of the hikers looked at me and said what what is this places if from kind of a cold and like i said yes it's the food court and
but now after this some after this particular t
t ended and someone came up to the and mentioned that that one of the students with with sick and they just thought that it would be a good thing for me to know that and
a human of later someone came up to me and said that another person is sick and
it seemed strange but you know people get sick at tassajara and then someone
else came up to me and said so and so is is pretty sick and you should come look at this and as i was walking down to go meet with the third student someone else came up to me and said there's a student who's having trouble breathing
and somehow i think there were there were luckily there were several doctors there who figured out it figured out pretty quickly that it was some kind of poisoning that that and it it didn't take a long time to figure out that i mean i think we knew that i'm one of the students
had made a special team had been
harvesting elderberries on the ridge above talk to her and didn't know that the if the leaves and bark elderberries aren't a deadly the quite poisonous and inadvertently some of these
leaves and bark had gotten into this teeth and so this was clearly a serious emergency

i remember running to the to the phone to call helicopter and which course at at that i have never seen done we were totally unprepared for it
stop cracking on the crank phone to get an operator to connect me with no the helicopter emergency crew and the moment i most remember from this incident was being on the phone with the but there are many moments here but a key one was where i explained quite excitedly that
there was an emergency there and many people sick and we needed to get a helicopter into a heart right away and the response was how do we get there
and i said you're kidding
an elegant i i explained where tough sahara was and actually quite quite quickly
there was a how you know what seemed like within probably probably with thirty or forty five minutes which seem like a long time but was relatively short there was a helicopter hovering above tassajara and
there was a helicopter site as probably most of you know but it has it was totally untagged care of and the thought of trying to
carry these body this know these are some fun large men who who were who were going to need to who are pretty much not able to walk and we're getting into the carried so i tried to i thought well maybe it's possible this helicopter could land in the central area and tassajara and i i ran up and ca
caught the attention of the person
operating the helicopter and and suggested that he try and land and he came down and as became down can see started to wobble because the the wind off the walls was catching him and he ended up going back up and i pointed over to the helicopter site and
and we kind of got you know everyone we met everyone's as you can imagine that everyone's attention at tassajara and there are groups of people who were are organized to carry people
up the narrow winding path up to the top of a helicopter site and loaded in reloaded five or six people into the into the helicopter that had landed up on the helicopter site and the other on the other moment that really jumps out was closed the doors and helicopters engines
river and the this was they are this driver operator with a vietnam that and just to is a great spirit of and they're just right there but as they started to lift off the helicopter slid off the side it just slid and i looked as i was standing on the top watching it go down
and my and my heart sank and apparently that's how they that's how they take off that's how they learned to do it in vietnam that they they dropped down into the valley and then they come up it was a startling and beautiful sight
and everything was ok everybody was fine and and the operates in the there were many many opportunities one is that we didn't really get the our act together with really taking care of the helicopter site had a form your relationship with the emergency people and really took some actions but it was
it was pretty amazing
i've also thinking when an amazing things about tassajara is how much we live in nature that that the opportunities that living in nature provides the obstacles and opportunity
yeah i can remember it pouring so hard on a
on a winter day that we thought that that the cabins were going to be float away and i remember standing up by the gate everyone you know with their you know birkenstocks on holding his umbrellas standing in our robes just waiting for the creek to go down to mobility
and i also was thinking of
when when my wife lee with pregnant and we were living we were living at how sahara and we went must have been middle of winter like december or january that we drove out for our hurst birthing class and about a mile up the road as we
driving out it it was shortly after a rainstorm there was a boulder there was a boulder in the road that was completely blocking the road was probably ten feet wide and ten feet high
we we just turned right around and and i think it with the next day we moved out of tassajara to to james bergen took the average the opportunity to change our lives and i began commuting back and forth
now without without obstacles in pain and without difficulty
we can't find true peace and joy
it's difficult to embrace pain but what choice do we have
are paying are paying as buddhist pain
by embracing pain and facing obstacles we can also embraced our own joy in our own authenticity
yeah i mentioned in my weight seeking mine talk that done
when it left onto to her i went to business school in new york city
you know people and people often think that because they went to business school or it i know a lot about business that actually i i i had to learn the only thing i learned in business school was i kind of gave me the confidence to
to start a business and it gave you the confidence to
get in lots and lots of trouble and and by starting something i was able to create many many obstacles can find many opportunities
a a person who
a person who takes risks and
is willing to start things start to think in a fresh way the word for that that we often use is an entrepreneur and i actually think that that buddha with one of the great entrepreneurs death
he he thought he had the the courage to think differently and have the courage and foresight to encourage everybody else to think for themselves
and as i was thinking about this last night i realized that i think many
many of our think our contemporary than teachers are actually wonderful entrepreneurs i think of a suzuki roshi and richard baker as the entrepreneurship that it took to buy the building into by tassajara and to do the risks the risk that they took and the things that they might happen amid
it's a tremendous obstacles
bernie glassman
who formed a variety of enterprises in new york a bakery in a homeless shelters and a variety of religious orders
i think of norman fischer going out and starting
starting everyday then i think of i think about paul kind of forging through and his involvement with with hospice with prison start and starting all kinds of programs and
these are just a few examples like it i think many of the senior teachers here are quite entrepreneurial and i think for a buddhist being an entrepreneur means nothing attached to results but doing things from your heart and the really seeing what's in
your heart and seeing an entrepreneur someone who sees the needs of people and sees what the energy is that is in them in and other people and is willing to
i think freely and openly and start things and i'd like to encourage all of you to i think i think all them students should think like entrepreneurs to look at what people's needs our to think for yourself
to be willing to do things in new ways to forge new territory
and i think it's i think it's as entrepreneurial spirit in a way that for many of us is what what has drawn up to to zen practice
another word that i that i think of that describes what i'm talking about is the word radical and i was surprised when i am i looked up the meeting of the word radical and it means returning to the route and in some way
zen practice is a radical form of buddhism it's really returning to the route between the group of zazen practice
so what i'm suggesting tonight is that you all considered being radical entrepreneurs
radical in defense of returning to roots
through thousand and practice and through beginning to listen listen yourself from habits of thought patterns that are old individual and that no longer work and entrepreneurial in the sense of
being willing to
to trust yourself completely truly trust yourself and act on the what your heart is telling you act on what what the needs of people are
the the parameters
the parameters can be really powerful tools to
to use in
seeing obstacles and and in a way turning these obstacles into opportunities
yesterday i was
i i was having lunch at lunch with my
my nineteen year old son and the kind of them kind of bouncing off the wall he's striking he's taking a year off from college and trying to figure out what to do with his life and presenting can be all of these all of these opportunities and ideas and and kind of getting in his own way and not knowing not knowing how that even
think about this decision and
i looked at them and i said down can i can i ask you a question that has nothing to do with what you're thinking about and i realized that he's been he's been to talk her and has been to bring option
and he has some he said it sometimes called himself a buddhist but i asked him i said
do you know anything about buddhism you know what the life of the buddha was and you know what the four noble truths are and
and he he kind of stock and he said no i don't know and i said what can i can i give you a can tell you in five minutes the life of the buddha and the four noble truths and and i just told him and
and he looked and he looked at me and he said peppers really that was really hopeful that really that really helped me and i felt that i was some i wasn't really trying to look when i looked at it i felt like i was
as practicing kind of generosity thought with with my son that i was being myself and presenting things and actually in part i was
that that ever since ben's talk i've been meaning to have that talk with my son about what and i fit to him what what's most important you know when you're trying to make your decision really think about what what's the most important thing in your life and and
he said he'd really think about it
as i was
preparing for this talk i was thinking about my my hike in the sierras with them with stephen with a few other men friends

after walking for about twelve hours became to them this incredible valley at about ten thousand feet called evolution meadow
and all around us were these towering beautiful mountains that and many the mountains were more than twelve thousand feet high
and every every mountain was a different shape a different size different character and as i was looking at these mountain site
i felt like i i just with appreciating each of these mountain just as they were that
it didn't it didn't matter that the fact that they were all different and completely different feelings and makeups was was really beautiful and that and really
they were all expressions of nature they were all expect they were all
earth they were all from the earth
just as all of us are
where all beautiful just as just as we are that were all this amazing expression of
of emptiness or buddha minor nature
so please i'd like to em
i'd like to encourage everyone to
practice with them really seeing what the obstacles are and in practice with turning me obstacle into opportunity as ways that we can help ourselves and and help other people
thank you very much