One-day Sitting Lecture

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do not have to type was words

somebody gave me a copy of the recent
at time magazine
cover story
about buddhism
in america
ha gotcha with brad pitt's picture on the cover


there's there's no no movies i guess coming out so
that occasions the
the article but also i think
so much sure
interest in an awareness of prominent
a buddhist leaders like took nhat hahn and his holiness the dalai lama
also certainly contributes
and that's why
the movies exist in the first place i suppose

so i read the article in
it's always odd to read
a popular journalism about something that you're involved with
can appreciate more deeply how misinformed we all are about almost everything
and yet it so compelling and you read that stuff and you believe it all
alyssa sir
all of us
stupidly based on this information anyway

then i went down i have a little
group of dharma teachers from other
groups and traditions that i meet with once in awhile distant like a group of friends
we get together regularly
mr sort of help each other out and
commiserate worth for a very good for me for all of us so we were discussing this
article and
how good it is and about it is that a buddhism
is becoming a trend and a fad
it's always been a trend in a fad and popular buddhism
has always existed in in asia even before
time magazine
we rethink the time magazine came at the dawn of history
but actually there was quite a bit of history before
time magazine
and there's always been a pop buddhism
folk buddhism
but it is a little embarrassing that buddhism is temporarily so chic
even a the lead singer of the beastie boys
i never knew this is what i learned in time magazine the leader of the beastie boys this is a buddhist the dinner
and they have a rock and roll songs about they gave the lyric and time magazine it's like exactly the bodhisattva vow
in iraq lyric
but it is slightly embarrassing
and all my colleagues were somewhat
about the whole thing
we agreed that on the other hand it was it was a good thing
because to because
now if you're practicing buddhism you don't have to feel as we felt years ago
that you're doing something totally outside the realm of
the reasonable
for sensible

which is a good thing because you know i think everybody now more and more appreciates in this world
suffering and the end of suffering
and everybody appreciates that buddhism
i may help with this question
so maybe your it's easier for us all to practice buddhism because of this wider appreciation of this question
and i think because of the this it's a little bit more there's more social support in a way to practice buddhism than they used to be a long time ago
twenty years ago the only people practicing buddhism or dropouts crazies and failures
i mean that's an exaggeration that more or less
police women and museum curators and bookstore owners practice buddhism

is in my favorite news bookstore the other day and
i wanted to return a book because i bought a book that already owned
she goes to show you the state of my mind and the state of my library
but anyway i bought a book that i already owned
so i went to the used bookstore to you know like i was a good thing i saw a boy now i have credit when always wants credit
i thought now i have credit
however when i went to the counter the bookstore to get my credit they said well too bad for you but this receipt is so many days after the date of purchase and so according to our rules you can exchange this book it's too late
so i said no that's too bad now that's a shame i should have come sooner
and they said and anyway
we only will exchange books and after or before six o'clock and it's ten after six
i said well that's life you know
but so here's this guy and another cash register is another fellow there
with lots of tattoos and so on who just
says you'd come over here so i go to the other race to
gives me the credit
and i and i got two more books
so then i had to go the bathroom
so i went to the cash register i said
do you have a bathroom in here and the lady said
well we really don't have a bathroom for customers you have to go across the street
to the cafe
and i said okay to you know
okay i'll go across the street and the same fellow says
come with me
and he opens up the door and i went in and was able to use the bathroom
and i thought
the whole thing was very strange i couldn't understand why
this was happening but of course it turned out that this fellow was a dharma student
and recognized me from the zen center over the city
when that's why he was so kind to me
so there are advantages to the popular
on buddhism
but my my dharma teacher friends despite this advantage
we're on the whole skeptical
of the whole thing you know they felt
you know everything is corruptible and
especially they they said
in our country you know everything
this corruptible
money buys out everything
so they said buddhism is liable to be co-opted
do you know this word co-opted very was a word we use to use a lot in the seventies and sixties and seventies
we did not want to get co-opted
we wanted to remain an indigestible lump in the a society
we didn't want to be co-opted so i don't know if they still use this word of those of you who are younger can appreciate this word co-opted but the ideas that you know you're doing something and then somebody sort of like incorporates it into themselves and therefore
it disappears so you think you've succeeded because you'd become accepted but actually what you've done as lost your train of thought somehow
you've got legitimised out of existence
so this is what the dharma teachers were wondered about you know
and i think that this is a realistic fear it seems like
success is
a greater danger than failure
and if you consider asian buddhism i think you could say that the most successful buddhism's in asia
became either pernicious or gradually lost their power when they were successful and were became arms of the government
which was certainly the case in
chinese and japanese buddhism
so buddhism easily can be watered down
or even worse than being watered down it can ally itself
yeah the same in the west right the catholic church
engaged in
various harmful activities because of its success in alliances with powerful
and then the dharma which is
a force for good becomes
something harmful this can happen i remember
time was that guy's name who some of the you remember
the bulgarian guy who came here raphael yeah up a real right rafael popper enough
he was from bulgaria and he has been studies then he told us fifty years
where did he learns in
during world war two
the bulgarian kingdom initially was aligned with the nazis
and rafael was a strong young man
and he joined the elite corps of troops
the money to train
in in germany
he was trained had various kinds of training but one of his one of the most important elements of his training was he was trained by a zen teacher to do zazen
so that he could overcome the fear of death and not be
the totally able to do whatever it took to perform his mission as a elite corps and he learned various breathing techniques and all kinds of stuff which he swore by for the rest of his life is being
important powerful and he felt that it he was
strong and handsome even at the age of seventy five when she would tell us frequently
how strong and handsome he was because of then you know all that he had learned course it turned out that bulgaria the government fell as happens in war and then they switched to the good side
so rafael later became a hero to the allied troops because he happened to be there when the allied troops marched into wherever it was he he was he was the first first bulgarian troop troops on the good side to receive the allied troops and so when he was here in america he would constantly be invited to the vfw events bed
er events has great hero
and recently in japan there have been some books that have come up
about talking about the
so the great zen masters of our time some of whom
i recognized in america as having brought the dharma to us were during the war years
strong supporters of
japanese militarism
which was a terrible thing really
japanese militarism was really
a dark blot on our humanness all of us
then we all know how successful dozen people were earlier to them in japanese history in promoting
the samurai spirits
so success and popularity can have its downside
the other day somebody call me i was late for service you know this week because somebody call me from new york from forbes magazine
magazine which i have never read even one pager
but i assume and i hear that it's so i know it's a business magazine and medicine
for entrepreneurs and so on anyway this woman is writing an article for forbes magazine about buddhism
and about how and she wanted to and she heard that i'm doing these retreats for business people and so she wanted me to discuss with her how the techniques of buddhism might help entrepreneurs to become more their businesses to become more profitable
and their work to be more effective and they can have more nerve and more power in their entrepreneurial nice
using cents
i tried to tell her that that wasn't
the work that we were doing exactly
and i explained to her what we trying to do in our retreats
and she said but isn't anybody famous coming to your retreats somebody that our readers would like to know about i said no not fence sorry
so i don't know how good that is
maybe it's good to know
but one has gives gives one pause anyway
a dog and says
traps and snares can never touch it referring to thousand
can i think that there really is true
the practice of zazen itself
is i think
from the inside actual zazen is i think incorruptible
traps and snares can ever
reach it
so we don't have to be freaked out or worried i think we can practice with some confidence
but one needs to be careful i think
and another aspect of all this the growing acceptance of buddhism in our world is the fact that it causes us to become involved in the world
because you know
we're not a bunch of crazies
we're viewed as like any other good religious person someone in the world that can be helpful
so we get involved
and this involvement is certainly a fulfillment of our bodies off of our
and i certainly feel that we misunderstand our practice if we don't embrace the world and it's suffering as a part of our practice to me that's a misunderstanding of buddha dharma
on the other hand of course it does present a problem
it's easy to lose your way if you're too involved in the world
maybe it's not bad to lose your way
sometimes may be required of you that you lose your way
but it's so one has to be clear about what one is doing and why
and the fact is that i don't think buddhist practitioners are all that good at taking care of the world's problems
couple weeks ago as i told you i went to her protest the homeless protest
over the city with religious witness with the homeless
and when i go to those protests usually
you know a bunch of religious leaders get up at the rally and say something they try to know have a good mix of people so
you know they get a buddhist and to get somebody was muslim and a jewish person so on and so i always feel
so admiring of the people from the other traditions
i admired their clarity in their strengths
in speaking out and i feel myself much less equipped
ah then they
they i think that
the technology of their traditions gives them more that point of view
and i don't think it's necessary for us to
get as good at it as they are
i don't feel that we need to
do that
i do feel that it's important for us to show up and to do what we can to help
and to offer our services and our spirit
but the fact of the matter is that our strength
as practitioners and our unique contribution something that we have to offer
to the world
is this sitting practice
is this contemplative way
in the inside and clarity and peace that comes from it
and i think
that the world really needs this incorruptible practice of zazen
this supremely useless practice
there are too many useful things in this world
good things bad things useful things
in the world is spinning and confusion for lack of on us
supremely useless
so i think it is our main mission to continue to offer this zazen and to practice it
and so are sitting together today is something
very very important i believe and not only for ourselves
but for the whole world that we are taking are places alongside of
many many others over many many thousands of years who have
preserved and continued this practice
for the benefit of others
and so we need to sit always with that kind of spirit
dedicating each and every breath
for all creatures
someone might ask
is that enough
well maybe it's not enough
but it is for today

i've often thought about
a persistent attitude
that is so on
common to all of us so buried deep within the western psyche
and i often think word is this attitude come from sometimes i play usually blame it on cut
we spoke about the universal ising
in essence of morality and truth that that's how you know it's morality in truth that it's universally so
but maybe it's not can't fault maybe it's maybe it's already implied in the bible although i'm a fan of the bible maybe it's in the bible applied there are maybe the greeks made it up i don't know
who knows but
seems to be our cross to bear so to speak this attitude what i mean is this idea that we have
that we'd just have a hard time getting away from that if something is right and good it must be right and good for all times and places it must be universally good
so if it is right for us to do that in today
then it must be that thousand is the best thing and that everyone should be doing zazen and if they're not they must be doing something that's slumped somewhat less good
or if we are out there working directly for the benefit of others and that this is a good thing then it must be that others should be doing this and if they are not doing this there's something wrong with them or at least they're not quite as good as we are
and if we're lay buddhists
there must be that the coming trend in buddhism islam buddhism and everybody should be a lay buddhist
but if were monks or nuns than we think that this is the real way and that everybody who isn't a monk or nun
is somehow lesser
or if we are nice educated heterosexual white poorest people
with a certain
peaceful illiberal sensibility even though we know of course they're all kinds of other people and it was all right to be another person kind of person really having our view and sensing the world and our way
is better
in other people would be a little better off if they're more like us
and this happens all the time even in our temple you know
different were all very similar the differences are noticed
and suddenly
put up or put down according to but we think
and somehow it's so ingrained with us
our sense of rightness and were or morality simply isn't subtle enough to appreciate
the simple fact of difference
the deep reality of difference
there is nothing but difference
each and every moment in each and every place
there is nothing other than difference
everything is different
even we ourselves if we look closely as i hope that today we can
settle enough to look closely we see that we are absolutely different from ourselves
there is nothing but difference
difference difference arising on each moment
hit all of it is absolutely true and good even what is bad is true and good and all of it must be embraced and let go of
what's right for me today may not be right for me tomorrow
what's right for me may not be right for you
what's right for us may not be right for others
but unless there is a me in a you
and then in the next in the next moment and other me and another you
and other groups of people and their histories and necessities
in other species
how many
untold numbers of species are there
it's amazing scientists are only now realizing how few species we are aware of in this world
how little we know about diversity of creatures large and small
unless there's all of this difference
mutually supporting
there is no world
the whole world depends exactly on difference
and yet we are convinced that we have to make ourselves and each other miserable trying to make everything the same
and we even fight wars
and we even
destroy our beautiful planet
just because we want everything to be the same everything to suit us
hit our ideas of how the world lot of be
so i hope you're sitting today
you can appreciate difference every moment different
and fresh
you may think that you know who you are
i am so and so this is how i am this is my problem this is my suffering
but actually you don't know who you are because it is different every moment
it is fresh every moment
every site object every taste and texture and we sought arising in your mind is a different world
and completely know if you can see clearly enough without being blinded by experience
it just is
it just flashes up
we don't know where it comes from and we don't know where it's going

of course we are persons to
an hour person who had has to be recognized and appreciated
and the purpose of our practice is not to become idiots and fools
oliver sacks tells the story i might have mentioned this to you before of this fellow who is in an ashram in the seventies
there's something happened to him and his his frontal lobes of his brain became damaged
causing him to only be able to live in the present moment
so he lost all sense of past and attachment and suffering
and people in the ashram thought that he was enlightened and began to sit at his feet and they and he spoke to them and they were quite impressed and even when he was brought to the hospital
where he lived the rest of his life they still came to the hospital to see him

in a way he was happy
but he had lost his personhood because of his brain damage
in this why is in we emphasize so much
personalizing the dharma
manifest in a dorm or through our actions as people
so it's not that we want to eliminate or de-emphasize our personality
we want to transform
a personality revolutionize our personality
literally the text say turn it around
which is what a revolution in it to turn
you want to turn our personality around
turn it around so that we're no longer stuck to it
if you have a friend
whom you love a lot
someone whom you love so much that you're really willing to let go and let that person be free
so that he can be himself where she can be herself
and that you can affirm him or her in everything that she does her he does
then you have a wonderful friendship a wonderful relationship
and both of you can be quite happy
but if you have a friend whom you identify with strongly
in whom you have very heavy expectations of
and who doesn't fulfill your expectations
then you have a painful relationship that is full of suffering
so that's the difference we want to be the first kind of a friend to ourselves
so that we can turn our personality around and be happy with ourselves
i have a good friend who's a tibetan lama lama surya das he was here visiting not too long ago
and sometimes sir
people ask him you know especially newspaper reporters
whether is enlightened or not
and the has a great answer
he says sir well i'm enlightened enough to be happy

so maybe today you can sit
with a strong spirit and a strong determination
that measuring the day thinking oh good dharma talks almost over to more periods in his lunch break you know we're going to get through this not thinking like that
but really
focusing your determination on just doing each period in each moment of each period
letting go of all your worries and your concerns
in bringing your energy into each moment into each breath
into each fresh and new instance of posture
in sight and smell and sound and taste and touch and object of mind letting each they arise and pass away
without grabbing it
an expecting something
i know that there's something that you want
because there's something that all of us one
this is our situation
we human beings
are all
either greatly dissatisfied or slightly dissatisfied or something in between
and we want something maybe we don't know what it is maybe we think we know what it is of course that isn't it
maybe we know we don't know what it is we want that were just slightly or greatly dissatisfied
but there isn't anything that's gonna satisfy us
there really isn't
there's only the coming and going of each absolutely different thing now and now and now
and when we can
release ourselves to that and maybe you can do that today for one breath this would be liberating for one breath to release yourselves to that
questions of satisfaction or dissatisfaction
entirely stand aside
so this is what we sit with this is the kind of effort we need to make
then if you want to you can practice literally with each and every breath
breathing in and breathing out asking yourself
what is difference
or what is sameness
or what is it what is it
who are who is it
who is here

dissolving all our questions
into just this one question dissolving all our problems are suffering and to just this one question until everything in the world becomes just this one question
beyond words

anyway this is one way you could practice today to help you
let go of all your worries and concerns

and i been quoting as those of you who earn when i heard my last few talks and come to my previous class know that i've been thinking about the you can put the sutra the one the buddha the one and suit
in which the buddha
speaks of the famous similarly of the man shot with the arrow do know that when we've been hearing me mention this
a man is
shot with an arrow buddha says ours or sets up this image suppose there's a man shot with an off
in a surgeon comes to pull the arrow out
but he won't let the surgeon pull it out until he finds out what clan
the person is from who shot the arrow and what their name is how tall they are and what they look like and what's the color of their skin and so on and also until he finds out where the error was made and how large it is and what it was made from what kind of feathers are on the ireland so on and so on
and of course the buddha says this is really ridiculous because even before you find the answer to any of these questions you're already dead
so the buddha says you know don't hold onto ideas and don't look for anything especially answers
you want me to give you answers and buddha said but i didn't give you answers on purpose
but because i don't have answers or do have answers
but because answers are useless
when you're wounded
and when you're looking for answers
in the process you'll just die
so don't waste time
i truly
death is coming very fast
this morning
i sat a period of sauce and always a delightful thing
and i had a strong image in my mind as i was sitting there
have a very fast train coming down the track toward me
and i thought to myself
this is death
he is coming very fast right towards me

and as i was sharing with a friend the other day
i cannot count the number of friends
of mine who are facing death right now today
i actually try to keep a list of them so that i can remember to call the once in awhile and see how they are
but there are two million i can't keep track and i can't stay on top of all of them
and i know that pretty soon
it will be my turn
i feel you pretty soon and maybe also your turn
pretty soon
course this train coming down the track
it's not outside of you coming toward you
the train of death is already inside you
it is deeply who you are and what you are
you know according to buddhist philosophy it is very clear what the cause of death is you know what the cause of death is
yeah life is the cause of death
illness or accident or whatever befalls you are viewed as incidental things
the actual cause of death his life
think about if there's no life definitely there won't be any death
and if there is life there will definitely be death and that's why death or life is basically the cause of death
so that has already in you so you better work on your practice now
with all seriousness because
just as its
foolhardy to think
oh there's only one more period before lunch and in this luncheon and there's break and so on
this city will be over very quickly the matter what and so will your life
there isn't much time left so the buddha said
because there's not much time left it would be stupid not to heal right now while you have the chance that's why i haven't given you any answers
that's why i have only spoken of suffering
the cause of suffering
in the end of suffering
in the path because of suffering in us and all around us we must

most of the
acharyas whose names we chant
in the morning
where women have tremendous courage
who knew suffering
and i thought i would like to just didn't appreciate with you for a moment before i close
the story of one of them
chiesa got tommy
ah you notice her name got tommy
buddhist name was gonna she was in the same family as buddha
she was cousin and buddhists

and she married
a bank or son
but since she was from a poor family
she was not respected in her home and she was given a hard time the throughout asia there's this tradition of women going to live with the in-laws you know and often like in japan is very famous you know your mother in law the mother in law and daughter in law it's one of the worst relationships you know whether lot
after you all the time so she had that problem
but when she gave birth to a son this was
very good thing and so she got a lot of credit for that
but the child died when she was child was it was when the boy was an infant not an infant a toddler don't like two or three years old he died
and chiesa tommy ah
had never seen
anyone die before didn't understand about death
and love this child so much she actually went crazy with grief
in her delusion she refused to accept that the child was dead
three picked up the child
and went to the buddha
for medicine
to cure her child
and this is sir
you know how wonderful the buddha was
sometimes there's some people that i know who are also you know deluded after edge that's so many but some people that i know you need help but if you say you need help you should go to see the psychiatrist sometimes doesn't they don't get it they will hear that
so you have to work with them carefully and buddha didn't say to her you're mad you know child is dead
he said i will give medicine
oh i need to make it so and you can help me by bringing me
the ingredients
i need a white mustard seed
but it has to come
from a house where there has been no death please go find
a place where there's been no death and bring me a mustard seed and of course she would not on all the doors of the village and went to the next village in the bigger town looking for a mustard seed from a house where there had been no death
and she couldn't find one because she could find not a single house anywhere
whether there had been no death
and little by little
in bringing up with these families their grief
and sharing it with them
she healed
and our insanity left her
and she brought her child
back to the buddha
and met the buddha and took the child to the forest and buried it
and then she came to the buddha and
requested to join the buddha's sanga
and ultimately achieve nirvana and became one of our
great ancestors
then i'll disclose with a short poem
a purse or enlightenment pawn
the enlightenment poem and the great dharma hero
kiss got tommy
i have practiced the great eightfold way
straight to the undying
i have come to the great piece
i have looked into the mirror of the dharma
the arrow is out
i have put my burden down
what had to be done has been done
sister chiesa go tommy
with a free mind
has said this

i have practiced the great a foldaway straight to the undying i've come to the great piece i have looked into the mirror of the dharma of the arrow was out i have put my burden down what had to be done has been done sister keys ago tommy
with a free mind
has said this

so this is
so simple
and is i think and the essence of our practice
which is not a fad or a trend
or something interesting
not something we will master and exhaust and go beyond to some other newer
we practice straight through
our remote mortality and are suffering
to touch the unborn and the undying
a great piece
not by turning away from life
but by looking straight ahead at our lives in the mirror of the dharma
until our own face
disappears and we only see the face of buddha
we don't waste time on speculation we just pull the are allowed lay down our burden
we do what needs to be done
nothing more nothing less

and to me there's something so profound and so beautiful
in the last stanza this poem which doesn't seem like anything at all
but think how wonderful
sister kiss got tommy
with a free mind
has said this