October 23rd, 2002, Serial No. 00974

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it's amazing being back back in this temple
after having not practiced here in the city centre for for nearly thirty years
there's certain things that
that bring tears to my eyes being back here and other things that make me smile
i have noticed i feel i feel tearing each time i i hear the vibrations of the time drum at the end of the secondary two thousand and just be
with for the incense is some i feel so much like i arrived that home
and i and i smile often when i enter the dining room
checking out the floor and remembering that
that for the year that i lived here i i mopped the dining room for every sunday afternoon and i notice i go in
see how clean it is and whoever is doing it now doing a good job
it said am
i'm sure you've all heard that
the story about when dogan was a young boy
have you tasted
how in permanent life is by seeing the smoke from the incense rifle about rise above the body of his dead mother and he vowed to fully enter into the mystery of birth and death and to devote his life to finding real freedom
and helping others find their freedom
i often feel how fleeting my life is each time i look into my son's eyes who is a baby when i lived at tassajara and is now nearly twenty years old
there's an expression that you'd probably have heard that says to practice as though your head were on fire
though this this isn't a pretty image i think the i think that meaning of it is important and powerful in our lives and
since the theme of the some practice created is the apartment is what i what i want to talk about tonight is the the fourth army to the power parramatta
gaviria which is
translated as energy vitality sometimes translated as as zeal
i was reading that the
the the chinese translation of this word vireos his chin chin and ching means essential for single minded single minded vigor and chin means to urge forward or advance
and there's the japanese translation of this of this word refers to a simple meal of herbs berries and wild potatoes that were eaten by sages living simply and without distraction so together this word her that's translated as has energy
means has a feeling of being undistracted the vital single minded movement
it in particular i've been thinking about
how energy and vitality
are connected to this experience of impermanence how short our lives are and
and connected to having a purpose in our lives and how we affect each other's energy and also i wanted to address how how practicing with energy and vitality can also
lead to a sense of lightheartedness and perhaps even practicing with friendliness and sense of humor

about seven years ago
my mother became quite ill she was living in east coast and
flew her from florida to my home in mill valley to come live with us and and die with us and my my daughter carol
who's now fourteen was she was seven at the time
and she was very connected to my mother and was really attentive and caring and helping to helping her
one day i got a i've got a phone call from carol some phys ed teacher asking if i was aware that carol was complaining about a pain in her ankle that she was missing from classes and i was little surprised to hear that night i mentioned that
it might have had something to do with my mother
and a few days later carols homeroom teacher called to say that
the care of ankle was hurting and and again i get i didn't think much of it i talked to carol about it and she can really say very much
a few days later on carols
home room teacher called again and said
carol would not only with carols and ankle hurting and not only machine limping but half of the class was now limping and that it was it had become a real problem and she was having to century there was a rule that if you lived you had to go to the office you couldn't stay in class and she was sending half of the class down to the
so that night that night lee and i spoke with carol
about the asked me what was going on with his pain in her ankle and she began to describe how her grandmother she caught her she called my mother mama be my grandmother our grandmothers blood had gotten into her ankle and that somehow her bad blood had found its way there and that
and that she also felt that wild animal had gotten into her ankle the tigers and lions and other creatures and we talked to carol about
opening to what she was feeling and
letting letting the bad blood and letting the animals come out and
and right away
carol was able to picture this visualize this all of you thinks leaving her ankle and she and her classmates very quickly
stopped living and to me this is them
this is an example there's many examples that this was one about how literally
how literally were connected
art particularly our energy is so connected that were influenced by each other's energy on all the time in the zendo out of the zendo
we can take on each other's pain
we can share each other's openness and vitality
that our our effort and enthusiasm can be a kind of offering to others
as my mother got closer to her death it became clear that there was no way that she could heal herself she'd been trying for a long time to find some way to get better and at some point i'm basically the
the doctors had told told us that
it was really time just to make her comfortable and know let her let her die peacefully
and my mother always had a way of making decisions on very fully and quickly wholeheartedly a member of after
after my father died within a few weeks she had sold the house that she had lived in her thirty years and
and moved to florida and and just decided to do that and when it was time for her to die it was really clear she found
she said that it was them that she'd had enough hiding in the she she just wanted to die
we'd given her are a bedroom in our house i mean no value which we thought would be a kind of quiet secluded place and
right away she made it clear that
where she wanted to spend her time was in the middle of thing so she kind of perched yourself on our living room couch which was the center of our household
i i knew that one of her
one of her favorite foods
was a with a milkshake
and i was taking care of her and i i'd put a bunch of fruit and ice cream and
and milk in a blender and brought her this milkshake and
she's lying on the couch as i handed it to her and
she looked at me she said i'm trying to die and you're making me a milkshake like you know what could you be thinking
i i center that it was fine with me if she died but that i wanted her to die healthy and
and we both we both laughed and it was moving from me to to connect so deeply and immediately with my mother
with the the and our energy with so intimately connected and that the the lines between death and pain and humor all became blended and nonexistent
i felt i felt that a lot of ways that she was taken care of me as much as i was taking care of her
as she became weaker and weaker i would sit and breathe with her
i followed her breast in her breaths out with my breaths in and out and sometimes as i breathe it in i would prevent her pain and as
as we breathed out together i would bring out kind of wish for her to be at peace and to have a safe journey graver she was going
and sometimes i would chant the the heart sutra
and being with my mother
close to dying brought forth this tremendous feeling of the single minded energy and also that sense of lightness the sense that all all distraction all outside influences were stripped away
i think
i think of when i spoke the other day i mentioned harry roberts who was a a friend and teacher of mine in a teacher of many people who lived at a green gulch and one of the things that harry said was that a major difference between
american culture and when he referred to as the an indian culture was that in europe indians believed that
that everyone was born for a purpose
and that it was the parents' job to provide an environment where children could learn and explore and discover what that purpose was
harry said that if you if you think back carefully to what you loved what your passions were when you were three years old it would be an indication of what your own calling with what your purpose in life
harry also was very fond of saying that that our lives are actually very simple that that all you need this to answer three questions
those questions are what do you want
what do you have to do to get it and can you pay the price
and after he said that he would let out the big hearty laugh and said yeah real simple
he said most people most people never really even get to the first question and the first question of course is the most difficult and requires tremendous energy and intention this question though
what do you really want from your life what do we really want from our practice what what is our intention harry would smile and suggest that
now we not ignore these questions but that we also not get too serious and not get caught by them
he said that the most important thing is quiet in mind and he would sometimes say he would kind of laugh at at zen students and all the trappings we had a of
the practice informs forms and softens and zen dozing areas they just go just go sit on a rock
and i think that we
i think that we all have a a dual purpose the that one purpose is what we are buddhists call were seeking mine
our purpose is being aware of and working to undo the human tendency towards restriction and habit and desire to be truly alive and energetic for our lives
and for others in our lives
and i also think that we have a parallel purpose
some kind of activity that were each call to do
it takes energy to uncover what this purposes
but with a firm belief that we are here for a reason and that were born in this time and place that it's no accident
that we each have some unique gift in some way some kind of sacred contract
can really bring us energy and practice
harry used to say that our job as human beings is to discover our song and sing it
this practice of virion energy can be done in many contexts
one obvious context isn't our doesn't practice in your meditation practice
when sitting we can we can really sit with energy new classic classic instructions for sitting posture are all aimed at increasing our energy dogan says
since we are
using the same sitting posture as shocking moving when he received enlightenment think of the place where you sit as the diamond seat
some monks practice on large stones sit with your back perfectly straight
the form of resolved them should be stable like a mountain
and we're all instructed
to keep our shoulders back head straight and to hold our arms as the great an egg under each of our armpits
all these instructions are ways to increase energy and awareness
all of us will have to deal with various crises in her life

taking care of dying parents troubled friends or children confronting all kinds of difficulties our own old age sickness and death
if we approach our zazen practice with our full energy it can be like a crisis a kind of controlled crisis
sitting can give us this experience of facing ourselves our pain are suffering or bear feelings and the immensity of our lives by sitting still just being present
we can learn to accept whatever comes our way we can feel cleansed and transformed and feel the energy and confidence to meet whatever we face
and we can practice energy and our relationships by being attentive by really meeting and caring for people in our lives
giving our energy in our presence teach others of practice i i think we can do even more of here that said center and during practice period
what is there the whole back what what are we hiding how do we find the balance between caring friendliness and at the same time giving each other space
when we realize
and fully feel how short our lives are
this can be energizing and also helped clarify our direction and our purpose
i was always i always had a very kind of physical on practice for myself i
think for the for the up until recently for the past fifteen or twenty years i ran like five or ten miles a day
five or ten miles a week not a day
and in in many ways though i feel like i've taken my body for granted
though i took good care of my body i i didn't really pay so much attention
i recently started feeling some pain and in one of my legs and found out that i have a
one of my hips is deteriorating that i have arthritis in my hip and finding this out has really changed my life in a lot of ways
i'd fun
i really feel the sense of how short my life is and that my life like that my body is in the process as as all of us our bodies are deteriorating
and i've noticed that i've been
somewhat self conscious and that i i sometimes walk with a with a limp
my son of course offers great advice he says i'm just get a cane know the came through canes are cool
but i've i've noticed now that i am now that i walk a little bit with a limp i've been really surprised to find out that it seems like half the people in the world walk with a limp
and i feel like i am joined a certain club and and if you're not in it you on you will all join this club from getting something to afford to
i started working with a healer
who suggests that one way to work with
this deteriorating hip is to very consciously put energy into my walk and to start walking with as to really consciously walk with a spring in my step and i've noticed that's been it's been a really interesting practice
the buddhist great gift and teaching is showing us that we can direct and focus our attention and energy to the practice
an experience of not clinging to our views and desires our energy this force this beating of our hearts this breathing
where does it come from who is doing it
what an amazing gift this is if we can just give in and give up and get out of the way we can discover a deep reservoir of energy and light heartedness
we can discover real freedom which is freedom from ourselves
in the i'm looking at the literature about this son this parameter of the area and its energy and it says that there's some
three kinds of laziness that prevent the practice of of energy and one is procrastination procrastination which is some know putting off practice i'm thinking that tomorrow will be a better day to practice
the second form of laziness is distraction or being caught by some kind of pursuit that takes us away from what's most important
and the third kind of laziness is discouragement
discouragement discouragement usually caused by comparing ourselves to others
i'm amazed i mean how often
think that everyone else has to so together and that it's just me it took me kind of wallowing around making making mistakes and
pema children has a
offers of this practice of whenever you're feeling that done everyone else can we feeling you're a sense of something missing or that everyone else has something that you don't have and that if if if you only had that you your life would be better to imagine and realized that at that at that very moment
there are millions of people throughout the world feeling exactly the same thing that it's a habit and tendency of the human mind
this literature also says that there's three three kinds of energy and vitality the first is unflinching effort she's not giving up continually coming back to our breath and to practice the second is creating virtue is said that this is a ch
moved by keeping in mind that six power meters generosity discipline patience vitality meditation and wisdom
the third kind of vitality is benefiting others helping to ease the pain of others and to bring joy and to engage other people in practice
for several years now i've been coveting retreats for business people with norman fischer out of wrinkles farm called company time
there's many people who are interested in hungary
for ways to integrate spiritual practice with their business lives
looking for ways that we can we can be more of ourselves at work i often raise the point at these
at these retreats for business people that there's also ways i think that there's something that business practice has to offer to spiritual practice and that has to do with energy
that the business world can be very energetic and vital
i feel lots of energy
by the fact that in the company that i run that we have to meet you have to have enough money to meet payroll every two weeks
that in the individuals livelihoods are dependent on my decisions and i'm energized by the various risks that we take that we make we make products and spend a lot of money not knowing what will happen whether anyone will actually buy these things
that everything in my business has very clear goals and measurements and success and failure are part of my day to day life and i find this both very energizing and and also kind of terrifying
and in our practice there's many parts of a practice where were
setting goals we said we were setting a goal
in our meditation practice of following our breath letting go of our thoughts there's the the goals of the power meters and the a path
and we often set this some very strong goal is vow to save all beings to end all delusions to enter the gate of the dharma to become buddhas way
these these goals are very lofty we said what could be looked at as some very impossible kind of standards for ourselves for a practice
of course what what spiritual practice has to teach business practitioners is that the aim of these goals is what suzuki roshi says is no gaining idea
we try our best and give her full attention and energy to each moment
without measuring and comparing and without getting caught by the goal
we don't sacrifice our state of mind for some outside goal
the pyramids are in a way better translated as imperfections
and their tools to help us awaken and and really utilize our energy and see that are and see or own habits and tendencies were clearly and to help acknowledge the gift of our energy
practicing with energy
is more like opening a door than it is kind of following some kind of to do list
the practicing with single minded purpose and energy is a way to open a door to ourselves
when we enter this realm of them setting these very lofty goals and simultaneously seeing that there's nowhere to go and nothing to gain and that we that we have everything we need in our practice
i often think what else can we do but laugh at ourselves
what choice is there
excuse me but i'm i'm going to quote a couple of questions greeting cards
one one says
bless it or we can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be a new
and the other card says i get up i walk i fall down meanwhile i keep dancing
suzuki roshi once said the purpose of buddhism is not to establish buddha's teaching for buddhist groups but to help people find their own way when they cannot find your own way
so pleased with all use our energy and our sense of humor to help each other find our way

i think we have time if this
questions comments issues
i see my buddy steve back there the bum came to the lecture


yeah i noticed that that's a good question i noticed that them
i tend to have i
i tend to have lots of energy for things that i do intend to be quite driven to accomplish things and
so it's really helpful it's really helpful for need to distinguish on
to find to find the difference which fills your subtle about what what is this energy that's coming up
which is energy that's really about helping people and in connecting
which feels different than
you know a kind of energy around looking good are trying to do it right and
i also noticed that i feel like my my life right now i i feel like i'm living on this edge of energy where
i can i can feel when i'm suddenly feeling exhausted and it's time it's time for me to stop and they condemn
i'm i'm really good at taking naps and go
i noticed some
a ten minute nap
really re-energize with me and brings up them to helps clarify things for me

the other questions comments
i don't feel a lot of energy and the true

joseph stick it

yes definitely i am
i was i was telling someone i maybe it was paul that i told today that when i look around sometimes some i look around the zendo and i've really been eyeing jordan's back and i really want to go hip join
very look very lovingly you know that i i
there's something that i feel like those on because the stick in the zendo feels like such an such an expression of love and and intimacy and at the same time
really just ah
i sometimes think they should put you should play a little tape in the zendo of the sound of the stick because it's this it's just the the sound and the feeling that is some very energizing or even just the just the
but just the shadow just kind of seeing the shadow of someone walking stick
tremendous tool for weekend
it's easy of course you know it can be king
the really it's important that to be done in that in that spirit

i am

i am

what comes up for me is when you know immediately i when you when you said you have a lot of energy i thought great now we all know help help energize us here that it's a great gift and it but also i think as you point out the other side in some
we all have the you know our our energy is i think of it is kind of like fire know that that fire cannon can bring a great light and it can also do tremendous harm and that
he really really need to
be very careful and i think like like with fire to embrace embrace it and it's a real and it's real gift
and just to become more and more and more and more intimate with
those healing spent those feelings that come up and tear on
and if you find you know if you find that you're doing doing harm with that with that anger with that energy to just to note it and embrace it and
go onto the next thing
you more

without judging it i think
i'm going to do you see i see there is really good energy here and i think that them for me it's wonderful and i think
the sense i think this entered it and i can i know that work that everyone feels some i think there since we all suffer from this disease of our time because everyone is busy can stretched
but i think one of the things that really gives energy is
when we're with other people into to approach people with curiosity with a sense of curiosity and just really wondering who these other people are what what people are thinking and feeling and when each person has to offer and helping
so helping to bring each other out in some ways in some way of kind of a simple practice of of real friendliness of kind of attentive friendliness and i've often thought that maybe it's heretical to say so but i think since center could stand to general be much more friendly place i think
it's not a practice that some
i'm not aware of it being talked about are encouraged so much and i'd i'd actually like to talk about it and encourage friendly


there was something that came out of kind of the of some classical so buddhist texts about where people have really studied what what was it that got in the way what were the
what would the hurdles and barriers to this practice of
this practice of an energy and vitality and
i think kind of late lazy laziness and is in this talked about
being discouraged as a kind of a form of a form of laziness
and in a way i think it's it's the way i really i see it is that if
if you don't if you if you don't use your energy or there's this some
image by taking on harm we talked about this a little bit has of can choosing what flowers in your in your garden you're going to water or you are you going to are you going to water
energy and vitality or are you going to water can play it's laziness and discouragement so it's mostly just the practice of
i think being aware
and and then consciously deciding where where we put our energy company
that couldn't get out what you're asking

i think we are think they're good job they're all this interconnected different sides of the same the same field

i love being cancel the i had i
i found it in the
really wanting to
encourage to practice by the food that we served and the way and the way that we put it together
probably a lot of energy and i was
i love looking through cookbooks and
and coming up with fun
creative i was i i may have been criticized for being a little too energetic and creative in the kite the kinds of things that we pulled off serving in the of our agenda
veggie veggie burgers and catch up with one

but i found that the m
the kitchen because the that the energy of the kitchen
very just filled with energy the feeling of i'm working working together and practicing together

why i appreciate you are coming
to this lecture instead of launching a giants game
and i hope that they weren't
thank you very much