The Practice of Morality in Buddhism

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Sunday Lecture


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now this afternoon we have
an important ceremony and uk ceremony for taking the precepts entering the way
and so i thought that it would be
a good chance were me to think about and to share my thoughts with you
about the practice of morality and buddhism
i started my own path and buddha dharma when i was pretty young man
the question of morality was not something that interested me much

restraint and decorum which is how i understood morality
a whole lot less interesting than adventure
in truth
and i suppose i considered truth to be itself a kind of adventure
questions of good or bad or right and wrong seemed somehow to me at the time of a lower order
or even somehow beside the point
but the exploration of how things really are
that said
i'm much more germane pathway for the kind of living that i wanted at that time
and these many years later i suppose that i still think of truth as a kind of adventure
but my view of morality and its place within the adventure of truth seeking has changed considerably
we think of morality in this way
right and wrong good and bad
in our judeo christian heritage
these terms and right and wrong good and bad get their weight from the fact that right and wrong and good and bad is ordained by god
and god is mystery an absolute not subject to human understanding or questioning
ah as time goes on and i have more dialogue and discussion with
and apps in the judeo christian traditions
i realized that i don't really know how these things are understood in those traditions
and i expect that mostly they're misunderstood
but certainly however there understood or misunderstood most of us do get the message
filtered through
at somehow
somebody's in charge
decides what is good and what is bad
and approves of us or disapproves of us based on our conduct
and so naturally being in the kind of people that we are we rebuilt
so there's rebellion
and this seems to be like scheme of things rule rebellion fall redemption
and that's about how it goes
and it's a fairly tough proposition
and one feels in this way under a great weight somehow
and one can get fairly twisted out of shape
by this weight
so like i say who knows whether that's really the way it's understood in those traditions but it seems like many of us gonna get this message and it comes to us that way the sense of more of morality or moral practice in buddhism is quite different from this
buddhist practice in general begins with the inside or the understanding that the way we approach life
is unworkable just doesn't work
this comes as a shock to us to realize this
we don't particularly like it or know what to do about it
but events of our lives show us that it's true
that the way we approach things is dysfunctional
basically one comes to see clearly and graphically in some are unfortunately in some detail
that a life based on self protection and holding on is just going to fail
because finally you can't protect yourself
and finally whatever it is you hold on to you will lose
and yet you know what's to be done
what alternative is that really
two fiercely taking care of yourself
standing against the world
defending yourself and holding on for dear life in the teeth of a wind that won't stop blowing until it finally knocks you down
well buddhist practice proposes that there is another possibility that there is another view
that it is possible to live without self protection without separation without holding on and standing over against
based on the clear insight that what we are isn't something that can be held on to in the first place
or held separate are protected
and that what we are is fluid and unexplainable
radically connected
once we get used to this and settle into it and let go of it because that's part of what it means to understand these things
then we can stop being frightened of everything and just relax we can swim with things as they come and go
we can stop self identifying
with everything we can stop identifying at all
and simply enter into our lives
that's the proposition that buddhism advances so that's a wonderful thing right it sounds good it's a great idea
of course the question is you know how do we go about living us how do we go about
really doing it because clearly our problems are not going to be solved by simply believing something or repeating it over and over again to ourselves in the dark knight
it's going to be a matter of going further than that integrating something completely into our moment by moment living needing it in you know saturating
into our lives so completely
that it really becomes a part of who we are not only a part of who we are but much more than that that it is pervasively and at all points
a who and what we are here is where
the genius really of buddha and his successors comes in
cause buddha had a program for
how to settle into this alternative life and to realize a deeply
he had a pass away
and the path the program
begins with morality with moral practices
which the buddha understood
not so much in terms of right or wrong good or bad good and evil and so on but simply as of cleaning up one's life
like if you want to build something you'd better clean up the shop
so you can find the tools
so would understood morality as a question of cleaning up one's life
based on a commitment to caring about how one behaves
about how it manifests good ones life in this world and then based on that commitment observing simply observing and being with
how one is behaving
and what the causes and effects of that behavior are
so this has nothing to do with being a good boy or a bad girl
with gaining approval or disapproval
it doesn't have to do with rules or rebellion
it's simply that
on recognizing the on workability of one's life and seeking a way to move toward happiness one walks a path in that path begins with cleaning up shop
begins with morality
so with morality we can practice meditation
an early version meditation depends on morality did you think of that
millie millie if you if you want to practice meditation you have to depend on moral conduct because of conduct is mixed up
it will be hard
for the unconscious mind to settle in meditation
conduct that's off base produces shadows in the mind
i don't know why that is you know but it's really true if you see from experience
and these shadows might not really be apparent at all in ordinary life
you might not notice them other than a sermon subtle sense of this is which you might not make can think of anything other than normal life you know
but when you sit down and meditation
because there's everything else is quiet the shadows appear pretty powerfully
and they disturb you
and agitate the mind
so in meditation you're trying to look straight ahead
and stay with your practice but you won't be able to do it instead of being able to look straight ahead your mind will glance from side to side
and you will be nervous and unsettled
so very quickly it is apparent when you sit down to meditate that you need a bigger space of light inside the mine more light less shadow
so you need to work with moral conduct
so you can come down a little bit
so it turns out that moral practice is really necessary for meditation practice and if you don't believe that in the beginning your experience of meditating will show you that it's true and you'll have
a strong motivation
to do moral practices when you begin to notice the effect of not doing so
and meditation practice itself is a necessity and because
it is essential
that the mind be accessed
at a level deeper than the physical intellectual and psychological since the root of are unworkable problems is there
as i said it won't be enough to have good ideas and good intentions about how to live
we will need some real and some deep conviction and insight and only meditation practice can touch us that deeply give us that degree of conviction and insight
and once we have some conviction and insight which is to say once we are clearer about what our life is naturally this is going to affect our behavior and our moral practice
we will develop our character and we will shift radically our life concerns
and it turns out that almost everything that has been hanging us up
in our lives
we can just let go off
in exchange for which we will have a whole new set of concerns and problems
but these concerns and problems can lead us forward
can lead us deeper
rather than round and round and round
so these are workable
concerns and problems so that's how it goes moral conduct calms us down and makes meditation possible
meditation by and by gives us conviction and inside and conviction and inside cause us to practice moral conduct as the expression of our conviction and inside and then this small conduct brings the mine were calmer more common and calmer deeper mind deeper meditation deeper meditation stronger and
more accuracy and depth in conduct
surround and round like this endlessly in it's kind of spiral
and this is a nice way to learn i think that's very engaging never boring
in the maha support sutra in the mudroom and the kaja and little length sayings
the buddha lays out a course of practice pretty much like the one i'm discussing here
and the sentra begins with the buddha addressing the
monks and nuns who were traveling with him
referring to them as recklessness
he says to them you think of yourself as reckless as that's who people understand you to be
and if you're going to be worthy of the name reckless this is how you need to practice in and he says kind of what i was just saying
so i was interested in this idea of the reckless
as people who are concerned
about our lives and what we are actually doing with those lives
people who don't want to take things merely at face value
we are all recklessness
a reckless is are people outside of society
they may
look like they're in society but really in their hearts they are outside of society
they are people whose true aims and concerns our ultimate
ames and concerns people who are willing to give up short term goals and desires in favor of what is most lasting and deepest
that spirit
that kind of courage and determination seems necessary
the word reckless is comes from a latin
root clue dairy prison which means to close or to close off and the prefer and the prefix ari which means to repeat or do again as put in front of the word clue dairy to create the were reckless
when you add re a to the word to close it becomes interesting and curious to to close and into re close
and oddly in the new study etymology of the word somehow to recluse to close and re close somehow means i another words to close closing
which means to open
to unclogs
so reckless is give up the ordinary give up tell you know a attentiveness or a attachment to the ordinary things
in life in order to seek something else and they probably don't know what it is that they're seeking
but they have a sense of it and they are somehow given to and this necessity and there's an inner inner necessity for them to make the effort to find out what it is that they're looking for and they have no choice
but to make this effort and so they close themselves off
to the ordinary and the ordinary is unworkable and already something very closed something impossible so closing themselves off from the closed
they opened
the word include
is from the same route in oakland area plus in
so include means to and clothes or to close in
so to include something is to contain it within something
so the included is the imprisoned
the recruited
doesn't have anything inside of it it's just open
can get in or out freely
so the content of the life of the reckless could be anything say
anything can get in or out freely and nothing's included
in the same maha sapporo sutra buddha speaks in some detail about moral practices and he says that the reckless as need to have a healthy spirit of being concerned about their conduct and then he says that they need to clean up all of their acts of body speech and mind and livelihood he mentions livelihood and
and as they served as go there much repetition and after each of the points of moral conduct the buddha repeats a formula that goes like this he says our bodily conduct or verbal conduct or whatever it is our conduct should be purified clear and open flawless and restrained
and we will not praise ourselves and disparage others on account of that purified conduct
he says that with each one of the points of moral panic we will not praise ourselves or disparage others on a kind of that conduct in other words
we don't congratulate ourselves for our goodness
and get moralistic about it and put down others who we think aren't as good as we are if we do that that itself is to transgress moral conduct
it's a part of moral conduct to understand
but congratulating ourselves or
being judgmental of others
is not useful not possible because as i said him in and go there's nothing inside
there's no content really
tomorrow moral conduct
a moral conduct is just the natural conduct that comes from clarity and openness
and unclos and
of the closing that is the essence of what self-centeredness is
the including has something inside that recruiting has nothing inside so there's nothing to get self righteous about actually
if one were to get self righteous this would be a misunderstanding
what moral practice was all about
in my ana buddhism this is explained by using the
well known concept of emptiness
as the heart sutra says there's no eyes no ears no knows no tongue nobody in no line
which seems like a strange thing to say in a way you know
and it doesn't mean that there's no eyes no ears or nose or tongue or body and mind because of course we all know that are
it means simply that eyes and ears and nose and tongue and body and mind are unemployed it
are open
on closed
it means that there's no my eyes my ears my nose my tongue my body my mind there is just eyes and ears and nose and tongue and body and mind that are free and i'm included
so we don't have to hold on anything or protect ourselves because there's nothing to hold onto that we have there's nothing to protect
now in zen practice we understand morality to be ultimate and profound ultimately profound
of course there are many levels in our zen approach to morality and many levels and aspects to moral conduct and it is really important to keep the area various levels and aspects straight because it's dangerous to get mixed up about morality
the basically morality is about how the unspeakable depths of our living manifests very simply in everyday acts in choices
and so there's no end to the depths of study of conduct
in our practice and in schools of zen in which there is a systematic curriculum of con study
always the moral precepts are presented at the very end not as rules but as coins
to be penetrated through meditation the toughest
cons of all
in an hour school which does not have a systematic call and study
in that way that particular way the moral precepts
and their deepest meanings
our fully appreciated only at the time of dharma transmission when a student after many many years of commitment and study
this finally entrusted with the responsibility to teach and carry the down forward
so morality is actually the reverse you know instead of the beginning it's the end it's the ultimate all studies and of course throughout
in a lecture about precepts and morality long time ago zero she said
there is no special teaching which we should remember
which we should recite
there's no need to recite suitors
when you pay homage you should pay homage to yourself and that means to pay homage to buddha and dharma that and that is the structure of buddhism
but because our mind is not so clear
in order to have a good understanding of buddhism
we have precepts
so precepts is not something to observe literally
through precepts we should know the structure of buddhism the points of buddhism the core of buddhism the spirit and buddhism
that is why we accept precepts
and another lecture given a few years earlier in at the end of the sixties that he was talking in tassajara about the rules of training for tassajara
and zen monasteries there's a very thorough going rule about almost everything how to walk how to eat how to stand and said everything is regulated and in speaking about those rules which people had a great resistance to be known
nineteen sixty nine
he was trying to show them and explain to them you know why these things are important
he said at that time having our own way of life will encourage people to have a more spiritual and adequate way of life for themselves in other words were not these rules are not just for ourselves if we have a way of life others can find their on way of life
so we must study he says that we must study our way not only for ourselves
and but for all people
then he said i feel we should establish an american shinji means a monastic rule we should establish american and american monastic rule
i'm not saying this jokingly i'm pretty serious
but i don't want to be too serious
if you become too serious you will lose your way
on the other hand if we're playing games with it
we will lose our way so little by little with patience and endurance we must find our way for ourselves
his comment on
rules of conduct
sometimes our soto zen way is called the dark way
because we're in the dark most of the time
we don't have a step by step way of practice
and this can be a little frustrating
because it's we all like to feel like we're doing it right you know
like we're making progress like were training properly
and sometimes we talk about training
and of course we all need training we need to study the teachings and it's better to know what you're doing them be thoroughly confused
if possible
but really and truly you know and xander isn't any training because no one ever understands in no ever masters it
and i think the reason for this is that zen is instant buddhism it's instant buddhism
instant buddhism means there's no beginning no middle and the land and no training at all
it's just instant always beginning and ending right now
so and in unlike in the maha support a ceuta we don't start with morality and go from morality to mindfulness and go from mindfulness and meditation and from meditation to inside and insight deliberation
and then morality is inside and inside his morality and training is training and zazen as training and inside of zazen and zazen is inside and morality is inside and inside his morality and anyway who knows
it's all instant it's all happening at the same time
and suzuki roshi i think was right when he said you can't really take instant practice too seriously
training you can take seriously because you could do it right or not and you could make progress or not but instant practice you just can't take seriously
on the other hand as he says you can't fool around either
just because everything is open and empty and unimpeded doesn't mean that you can kid yourselves and we can kid ourselves into thinking that whatever we do is okay
ashley a great deal or what we do isn't okay
because we're not really free
we're still grossly or subtly self centered
and we're kidding ourselves and messing up our lives
there's an old tibetan buddhist saying
have you practice illusory practice in an illusory were way
in order to reach illusory enlightenment
and so we can deliver illusory beings from illusory suffering
which is about it i think and this is why our moral practice is never about approval or disapproval or about guilt and redemption
and why it's never an occasion for self-righteousness or judgment of others or of ourselves
because since there isn't anything but illusion you see there's no other realm of reality outside of illusion that would render illusion trivial illusion needs to be taken quite seriously
but not that seriously

so today as i mentioned at the beginning we're going to do this ceremony at four o'clock which i think you can certainly come to if you like
if you've never seen the ceremony it's a beautiful thing to say
a number of people who have been preparing for some time will
i take the precepts
the ceremony begins with an invocation of the presence of the buddhists and all the great teachers by suffers
to come and be with us and lend their support in power
to our ceremony
then there's confession and purification
which is an acknowledgement that are confusion really is deep
and then really is quite ancients
and that we are willing to acknowledge that it is so and give it up
become free of it
stop holding onto it and in a way this may be the deepest and most troubling aspect
of our human suffering
we don't want to give it up
we fool ourselves over and over again about our lives
so that we don't have to give up our suffering
but in the ceremony we actually acknowledge all of that and express sincere willingness to really give up our suffering
then after that we receive the sixteen bodhisattva precepts
beginning with taking refuge and buddha dharma and sangha
which as a roshi says is taking refuge deeply in our own real nature
in the openness of our lives
and letting go of the unworkable city of are defined and circumscribed lives
and this act of taking refuge in the triple treasure of buddha dharma and sangha is really the essence of all the precepts and the essence of all the moral practices in mahayana buddhism the act of purifying ourselves and letting go of ourselves
of seeing that our real nature is
letting go
and throwing away our lives into the house of buddha
so we do that we take refuge
and as a consequence of this commitment and as an expression of it we vowed to study forever our conduct
and try the best we can without taking it too seriously to make our conduct identical with buddhist conduct
which means we undertake not to kill or steal or commit sexual misconduct or lie or misuse drugs
or slander or praise ourselves at the expense of others and we undertake not to be possessive of anything not even the dharma
ill will
and never to waver in our commitment to undertaking all of this best we can
then to help us follow this solemn pass and follow it continuously life after life we receive a robe which we have sown
a role that exemplifies symbolizes all of these commitments and that carries the weight of these commitments and that always by inspire us to remember the commitments that we have made
and since we are renouncing the deepest level all of our ordinary approaches to life oliver unworkable identities and taking on a new robe to have a new non identity we get a new name the time in the ceremony also
we also get a birth certificate
in the form of a lineage paper which shows
the lineage of all the teachers in our dharma family from buddha through six ancestor and dogan zingy up to the present coordination teacher whose name is on paper and then the
person receiving the precepts his or her name is also in the paper
this paper expresses that the precepts are taken
in this line in this family
and will be practiced and expressed by the person has a part of this time of family so this is very briefly how the ceremony of entering the way goes
and this is the sense of how morality is understood that stands behind it
buddhism of course as much wider
then this ceremony or any form of ritual
and the only reason why we can do a ritual like this is because we understand that this ritual of entering the way is happening on every moment of our lives
so are ritual
is good it's a nice way to express
our appreciation for the heart and good work that buddha has done on our behalf
and it's nice to have a way to express this
even though
the expression is just something invented by people and a particular time
the fact that it's handed down
and that so many generations of people have participated in it is very comforting and moving
so i just came here to tell you all that
and now that i'm done i might as well live
thank you
may our intention
now we can discuss anything that
might have come into your mind or hearing the lecture or anything else that's seems important about practice and we can help each other going to these things a little more thoroughly
so anybody or anything to raise yes
i think it's blast
you talk about
how can we go at me and said to
on-site having lunch together why don't we all take
parents class so
i react pretty strongly at not
i can't
i think it's cool i don't wanna lose the outfit
cancer so she's sir
she's raising and she's familiar with this this is the kind of a that you receive in a ceremony that i was speaking of this morning and she's referring to
actually a fairly common feeling that people have which is
you know
ah practices a wonderful thing for our lives and all of a sudden that we're introducing these things that are you know it's make us cool and interesting and now i'm going to want something out of it so then i that's all the more reason why i don't want to undertake the ceremony and the rock sioux and all that because it's such a big i don't want to get into that
so yeah i mean this is so many people experience the cynics and speak of this
but you know
the i did this i didn't mention this in lecture but the process of
undertaking to so a rock sioux and during the ceremony and all that is not something that's you just sign up for
in other words you say i think i want to do this knowing when to do it you actually have to approach one of the teachers and discuss with them
whether or not it's appropriate or whether or not so this is a kind of this is a kind of way of working with those questions
and of course if you wait until your motive motives are perfect
it might take a long time
which would be fine because there's no need to do this
but it's not necessary to wait until one's motives are perfect it's only necessary to be aware of the imperfections of one mode one's motives so as long as you're aware of your attachment and and song to all of this and they endure ten and there's a row
reasonable degree of self awareness and ability to let go of those attachments from time to time it's not necessary that me to be perfect
there are certainly people who could show up on the first day this happened sometimes somebody shows up in the first day and says i'm going to be a priest and a the zen teacher signed me up whereas the rope
that does happen from time to time and usually when that happens we saw that's interesting and that's probably a good idea of a maybe you go a little slower dignity and more often than not in the process of discussing six things and the person may realize oh
what i wanted wasn't really that was something else i wanted something more evidence we don't know
so it's a process of discussion and self knowledge to work to go to approach a teacher and say what you know even to say this is my situation where do you think and then to discuss it so but i mean we all suffer from that and every at every stage
of practice
i mean the practice really is about letting go but of course we would be lying to say that many times were motivated by getting something else you know a new identity or being really feeling great because now or design students or something like that you know
so we have to be real and honest about where we are but i don't wait for profession it takes too long
i think this there's one sutra that talks about how long it would take you know to totally i have pure motives at something like tend to the thirtieth power
number not of years but of aeons
that's how long it takes and that that is of course that is our project we are trying to become perfect but we recognize that it takes about that long so
there's no use rushing
and there's also no use
being surprised at how imperfect we are it's not surprising so
with an attitude like that we can go forward appropriately and it's not to bad
they want one for cool not a burden right
oh you care and it was very much he's not right
do you think that you're james dean or like changed them like
a at any rate
why while ago on
that area area that practice
oh gee
after all that problem
the point my ideal it ah
while when i go i feel it to why i still don't like it but it kind of easier to kind of a now and when we talk about morality know where do we get kind of more have a problem but ideal it
and they are going to but it really comes up there that we have questions about whether morality is absolute or relative whether it's historical rates to our ago we can he new changes over time and so as a year
recently a guy in a city center i thought someone was studying for lightweight and to continue to use the ten commandments with way
and if they will they're similar the oh my gosh i'm not feel that i sent him well you know the attic kids don't say you know flooding back to properties that a blind person that to be that bad karma wanting to get away from me as bath
the so i'm very happy here with the question is here but i'm kind of flight
well yes it would be hard to summarize that question
so i won't try but
well one thing i can say responses that as i was saying in my talk of morality is understood as corn and other words it's not like morality is obvious and clear and we can say what's right or wrong in any given situation it's it's really hard to know
know what to do sometimes and one has to come to ones on
i understand it and what what you feel comfortable doing at one time you don't feel comfortable doing later on because your condition has changed what's what
what's positive karma conduct has a lot to do with the condition of the mind
at the time
so it is it is a deep and complex issue and i hope that in in in our practice we don't short change that and we don't
same as if we have easy answers to things
there's something else i wanted to add to that
mozilla mobile app for that
the fifty

hello come back later say
i know they think a lot about perfection
the and read
life at berkeley it was always reading so i went to the
books aren't will start with all these good his book that i start reading the history like how he dealt with great stuff if it was young and having studied really hard and like all average it made around the been in her a regular basis of agenda or and you know have a reduction about the light a million
and how we read everything about with them twice one will have been injured hardly studied and and all this and other to gamblers you know it's i can hear these two died and how going to be real smart they were in our work you know it's is depressing and it did not like i think mean i was a kick of mana ganda
glad i came to not change my account that yeah i was just all and and that sort of like my life is how i wish i'd been more like that the hotel that a male version of what is anyway
well probably you know those stories are not true
i bought it because of guess with the probably goofed off a certain amount of later on their followers you know who we thought they were so great made it sound better than it was
the other what

well you could like that
there you can write down good advice for yourself you know and then give it to any of friends and then when you like dislike you said when you need it had them call you up and we read do
in a voice full of conviction
that and give them permission to you know like make you do things from something i'm i'm the same problem i know what to do
thank you yeah you just reminded me what i was trying to remember and unit ago and prevented now
what i was trying to remember a minute ago was that
the fountainhead of morality is simple kindness about which i think we can all agree now of course we don't agree as to what kind is really means or how you apply in this situation that situation so this doesn't solve all our problems for sure but i think that most ordinary human beings who live normal lives are more or less know
well would agree that kindness is a worthwhile
focal point for morality so anyway that's the other thing i wanted to say to and so your question is a similar but a little different about compassion
can i think i think you're right that i would agree that
compassion is also a great
point to come back to over and over again in working with morality because
again the source of morality is the heartfelt wish not to harm others to be harmless and compassion means feeling someone suffering that's what compassion means so when you feel someone suffering and you're feeling is you don't want to end
crease that person suffering in fact you would like to alleviate it and if that's really you're feeling if you have the capacity to feel that way and this is one of the great things about human beings is that we have the possibility of actually feeling that way about another creature then if you really have that feeling i think moral conduct is quite natural it's not a question of
of rules and there are very famous my yana texts that are very interesting which talk about
breaking the precepts on a literal level of compassion you know because
i mean without like the famous example you know is
this is not a buddhist example but often contemporary buddhist teachers maybe it's just me but anyway somebody use the time
here's this example somebody uses it i used that somebody anyway that the example is
you're living in your ear you're living in europe or something and it's nineteen forty two or three or something like that there's a knock on the door and the nazi person says
are you are there any jews in here
and you look up straight in the eye and you say no there aren't
and the person goes and you've got a family in the basement that your hide
well you broke the precept you lied
you do you like but the compassion and courage to to help these people
justifies that the transgression a hundred fold because of compassion
so and i think we all know this and you know who would say you shouldn't lie in automated know none of us here would say such a thing and it's stupid you know because we all understand this and of course they're all sorts of you know we get into grit grey areas that's a kind of black and white area in a way that we get into grey areas and it's tricky but clearly this is the ideas that
compassion and feel that this is the most important thing kindness compassion and concern for others this is what the precepts are all about and and so what then we are always faced with the problem what is really kind in this situation what is really compassionate and do i am i sufficiently able to feel kindness and compassion will i need to work
on myself to feel that and then if i do feel that what is going to be and we get many grey areas like i say whether it's not clear what is kind and compassionate in this situation and the precepts are great guidelines for us and admit they're they're really meditation practices in a way ways for us to understand our conduct and work with it
and learn more deeply
so conduct based on our inside and based on our study the precepts is always a challenge and that's really our path especially in western buddhism where you know if you live in a monastery it's not so much of a problem because everything is so in a monastery they really don't need to talk about the perception know because
the rules of the monastery are the embodiment of the precepts all you have to do as do the thing you're supposed to do in the rules and you don't really need to worry that much but in the lives that we lead in western buddhism mostly were confronted with very difficult choices and decisions and we try to work with it as best as we can helping each other and studying the priests
steps and working on our meditation practice and so on so thank you that's really true about compassion yes
in the commentaries to the precepts
as i said well i didn't really go into it and my talk but there are various levels of understanding the precepts and working with them from the relative to the absolute it's all included in working with the precepts
and one aspect of not kill and i'm not going to try to explain these things cause are long and in deep meditation but one aspect of the precept that not to kill as with all the precepts is it's impossible to keep this precept
there's no way you can be alive and not kill
that's one aspect of keeping their present in all the precepts that we have to appreciate
another aspect is
we cannot kill
no matter what we do we cannot take life
it's impossible to take life life is eternal life has always life and you can't take life it's another aspect we need to understand the reason i'm bringing this up is because yes the precept not to kill does involve all kinds of killing psychological physical animals
insects everything but hot but with all this range of understanding of it how do we know right now so so buddhists are not necessarily vegetarians
some it depends on how people not in buddhist temples this is the odd thing and buddhist temples usually are vegetarian except in tibet where it's hard to be a vegetarian and survived because of the climate is but buddhist temples are always vegetarian
but there also was an understanding in buddhism that you
did you receive what you give it
some buddhists interpret this to me that if you're somewhere else and they give you need or even a restaurant you can order me but you don't need it in your temple some people understand this way and but of course of many many buddhists are vegetarians all time and then something people say well what about meat meat and not meat dairy
products because cruelty involved the animals involved in dairy products and you can't have dairy without killing animals know it's impossible cause
nobody wants to pay for the price of cars that are not working turn her living
but if you have dairy you have a car that is not producing anymore you have to
either yourself which are the cow or give the cow to someone else to put your so then what about in so then people some people say well now we don't want to have any animal products and many people lot of young people particularly are making a decision that they don't want to do that so it's hard to know you know what what
there there are specific dietary rules in buddhism accept the vegetarian rule in temples
so you have to see what you what you feel i myself am a vegetarian
and i wasn't for a long time and all of a sudden i thought
well i shouldn't eat animals anymore i don't want do that
i just stop doing that and it was very easy to stop doing them because i didn't really didn't want to anymore
i don't know why i just didn't
and i wouldn't say that that's right or wrong i just that was a place that i came to sometimes who knows what have for lunch tomorrow
but this is my how i feel now and this is my personal understanding and the precepts of non chilean i try not to kill anything you know if even bugs or something i try
pets you know what if mosquitoes really you up the signal it's it's hard i try not to kill the mosquitoes but you know it's a whole deal in
i mean really it's it's something i was recently at a session and lot of mosquitoes around and you'll try to brush him away she brushed away maybe of kill i'm gonna kill him promise anyway it's just it's hard to be alive i mean system
tough it is yeah
about gratitude and idealism yeah
well yes i think gratitude is
a kind of a companion of the way and went went when we practice i think gratitude is something that will well up within us with some regularity
tis gratitude to be alive gratitude to live on the planet and with others and it is a wonderful thing although when you think about it how often do we feel such things usually were griping about something arrangements are quite right so yeah gratitude is
a part of the definitely a feeling that wells up as part of our practice and yeah earlier this might michael right you raise the this issue of idealism as well and
i think it to me buddha dharma is the absolutely the opposite of idealism
it's absolutely opposite of that
i mean awareness is the opposite of idealism so idealism is when you have an ideal that you're trying to live up to and you're trying to shape and bend your your your life
toward that direction and not honor or pay attention to that within you which does not want to go in that direction that's what idealism isn't and that's why idealism can be such a i mean when you think about it
i mean
hitler was a great idealist stalin was a great idealist these people were tremendous idealists they they you know were in favor of a kind of human perfectibility that they believed could be achieved and and they just their idealism told them that whatever stands in the way of this kind of perfection that the
they had kind of figured i was i was benefit was desirable they were just gonna make sure that didn't stand a way that's sort of extreme case of idealism and we do the same kind of things ourselves to ourselves when we are idealistic in that sense but the pay
path of the buddha is the absolutely opposite of that the path of the buddha is about cultivating a good heart and looking and seeing what goes on with us and by our own experience
being with what happens to us and and a faith that the being with with honesty and with some clarity and some kindness that just being with what's actually going on with us because we're good at heart and see this is the assumption because where buddha at heart just to be aware of what we
doing with clarity and some calmness and so on we will clarify our lives and we will be kind and we will be compassion it's the opposite of idealism and the precepts are not ideals the presets or not you know we should just run around and be idealistic about not killing and stealing it's really not killing means we should study
and killing as what not killing it's not not not lying means we should study line we should understand how he lie thoroughly without judgment
so it's really the opposite of idea with yeah
kevin buddha dharma to study or yeah yeah sure
when i read
yeah there yeah
can get some ideas
the i say yeah yeah
yeah i already get out now
one key
the nap guy
yeah so idealism or skepticism doubt can be you're saying can be
distortions of a gratitude that would be there if one was really centered and when one isn't center of these other things come up that's a that's a nice way to look at it again and i think that
it would be of course idealistic to think that we can feel gratitude every minute because in fact causes and conditions change in a minute changes so things are going to be different at different times but it's universal you know in all
pads that there is there are many daily things that we do to keep
it in our minds what we're doing and we do those things we'd make an effort through the agency of those things that we do whether it's sitting practice or prayer or making offerings are chanting or scripture reading whatever it is we try our best to bring those those activities
raise the issue of gratitude and our practice and they
when we try to bring our best intention to those in a encourages to not to substitute
would distort our gratitude and so but days you know anybody who's honest even the great practitioners will tell you some days it's great other days i'm bored with it or it's not happening and i'm thinking about something else but i do anyway and i find people who were really experienced and really does
eloped in the dharma can pretty easily let go of the mind that's doubting or the mind that some board or whatever and return and but they always practice they always have something that they're doing to help them with them so we have to practice the answer is we should keep practicing and we have to be
and try our best to bring our our intention our freshness to the practice and it's it's it's hard to do but it helps to remember as i often say that there is no choice
because if we don't do that we see what happens then our mind does become distorted in those ways and our behaviour based on are distorted mind becomes crooked and then are crooked behavior makes us more confused and presently of lot of problems and so he say well i better get back to the basics and better center myself ago
so we have to do it it's hard work will we have after this
well trust is definitely a part of the practice of buddhism sometimes some i translate the word sharada which is sometimes translated as faith or confidence sometimes i translated as trust which i think it's very close to what it is
so i think yeah one trusts many things of course but fundamentally one trusts the process of one's own life
that that it is that there is within oneself as one's basic nature
a strong tendency and constant possibility of of healing and kindness that this is actually our nature and then when we say we trust the song or the group or we trust buddha we trust buddhism or interested teachings these are all manifestations of that without this in us they wouldn't be these other things and so
as we starting with that we we gone and practice and by our own experience come to realize that the dharma the teachings of the buddha are a fairly reliable
approach to accessing that in ourselves but but not but we don't trust that without testing it out the words we we trusted because we know by our experienced that it really is it really does work and really does make sense

yeah yeah yeah if there is a if there is a blind trust or a blind faith is in this possibility in ourselves that you know we we do trust and but but even that you know we assume and we thought we discover
that that that it it is really true if all of a we were in other words in the beginning you have to assume you've gotta start somewhere
so because if you have totaled out i don't trust anything even myself then of course one doesn't do anything everything that we do is based on a degree of trust absolutely everything and if you have no trust in and anything then you don't get up in the morning i mean you trust you're gonna get your check at the end of the month
otherwise you don't go to work from me but you do go to work because you really believe somehow that you're going to get that check and that you really believe that that it's that's pleasant for you to live in your house and so on so there is always a degree of trust and and so you have to start somewhere and but even that truck trusting in oneself you come to see
by virtue of your activity in practice that you do have this is goodness inside of you that it doesn't manifest and as you were saying that when it does and when you feel that you feel gratitude and you feel very positive and strong feeling in yourself and you can't and you feel those feelings and you say well that's true it's really true that i that i have this in myself so now i'm going to go further yeah
the actual plan

the that
yeah well there's a there's a many many aspects to the practice so since you're just coming for the first time you can find out many many things as time goes on but the basic thing is and this is the strange part you know the strange part
but the basic thing particularly in zen as a school of buddhism there are many approaches to buddhism and all that but in in
the funny part is that the fountainhead of all of this all this trust in ourselves and all these teachings and everything is the simple fact of sitting down
in the present moment letting go of any
our memories or thoughts or wishes or dreams just sitting in the present moment and being aware of the breath i mean why would that be anything but it is it's an is amazing this this is the whole essence of our practice just to sit down
breathe in
and know you're breathing in
breathe out and know your breathing out
if thoughts are in the mind or feelings to be aware of them but not get agitated about them or do anything with them come back to the breath breathing in reading i'm just to be there in the present moment aware of what's happening and making that effort to let go of everything but awareness of the breath in
in an awareness that of with out
that is what is going to set us on our path and clarify our whole life
which doesn't seem to make any sense really but it's true and others a whole we were this this the practicing this is very simple practice and all these other things about you should bow this way you should stand this way this and that the other thing these are all only in support of that those things don't really matter they're just in support of them all you have to do is do that
practice regularly
and it will lead you on this adventure that i was talking about in the beginning and many many things will take place in your life just following the thread of that simple thing that you do twenty four hours a day every single day of your life from the time you come
out of your mother to the time you close your eyes and go away you will be doing that all you have to do is remember it and be aware that that's a miracle thing you know it's a miracle and this is just being human but we of course know better and make all kind of complicated things and think we need this anything mean then
do this through that and we make a truly prodigious an unbelievable miss out of our were i mean think of it you know i mean boy oh boy
i mean there there i was on america online now today just to see what how on what's going on
i mean they're killing people in ireland are killing each other you know in hebron there there were killing each were killing each other is what we're doing we're killing each other in hebron
we were killing each other almost everywhere were kill each other in san francisco were putting on each other on the street
where disrespecting one another where misunderstanding one another individuals are a miserable unhappy children are suffering i mean this isn't everyday life why is where where did that come from it came from us we came from us because we just didn't think to stop and be with our life in that way
so we have a lot of work to do a lot of work i'm sorry that you came today because now you're stuck
it's better not to start
it's better not to start but if because if you start you've got a big job
so maybe it's not to let em you go home and forget the whole thing
italian every game
and don't come anymore
maybe it's better
somebody over here yeah
yeah that you're going home now



know why
for the critical
yeah i know

so right speech in
i'm not keeping the priests have the right speech and feeling terrible about it afterwards on
yes well
if we do this thing of just breathing and so on regularly
one of the things that happens is we become much more aware of our lives and of our how we are inside and of our activity and what that activity causes in ourselves and in others
we are
do activity that is not compassionate not kind
we feel bad about it
and it's good that we feel better about that that's actually a man if are feeling bad about it is a manifestation of that goodness in ourselves so it's actually a very positive thing that when we do something that's harmful to ourselves or others we feel valued by
and but
that's not the same as torture as guilt
and in fact
in a way you could say that the root of all killing is this
lack of ability to keep the precept you could say that still you also have to say it's different when i don't care what you said it's different from killing somebody
it's not the same as killing somebody and i don't think that you would kill somebody even though you might have that speech and even murderous thoughts from time to time and don't think that you would act back them up so we have to be clear about that so we don't need another words we don't need to beat ourselves up as if we were murders when we
have have wrong speech or bad speech but and it's good it's positive feel badly about it but only up to a point as if you just torture yourself about it than your paralyzing yourself what we need to do is go forward in our lives and our practice so it's positive that we when we break the precepts breaking the precepts as part of following the precepts that's how we learn that's
we understand that that's not justification so what else since breaking the precepts and despite a pragmatic resets labs have a good time
now i mean that would be that's overdoing it right but you know that you're going to break the precept it's gonna happen
and when it happens you feel badly and usually there are consequences either subtle consequences in the line or sometimes you a horrendous consequences in the world at large
and we learn from them and then that's that's one of that are now we have a dharma story in our lives that we can tell others that we can tell ourselves and that helps us to understand this point now you have such story and then you take that story and you redouble your efforts in practice and you don't do that again
that particular thing in that particular way now you know
you'll do something else
and then you and then you'll learn from that and that's how we learn so don't feel too badly about it just enough fairly enough but not too badly
and then it's very necessary that's why like in the ceremony today begins with there's a confession practice in buddhism
which is different from the catholic confession where you going fast as somebody in buddhism yeah there's a verse of confession that you that you recite and when you recite that verse of confession you put your heart into it you really mean it and you really practice letting go of the residual effects of that activity is i really
do let go of that thing that i said i really do let go of the mind you know that's that needed to say that and i really am going to resolve not to practice that way anymore i really mean that and enchanting that verse you purify yourself and then you can
go on
one the wiser for it without having to continuously feel that your the whole thing about how i'm unworthy i'm in a bad person and i can't do anything and i'm so bad i mean and as the all that's extra you're needing them
it's just extra and we now all that comes into your mind it's just necessary to notice
that i can't believe i'm still thinking that way but look at that that's amazing
the appreciate that wow i can't believe that i can still have such dumb thoughts you know about how bad i am and this and that i'm impressed with how persistent these thoughts are
even now they're are totally ridiculous and only make more trouble for me there they are again and that's amazing what a great thing a human being is it against all intelligence and common sense these things could come like kind of like that and then let go of it because that that doesn't really help you that much to to think all of that you are buddha so
not get on with it
a senior prom
i was thinking about what you said but are our out
shares of really what he was oh you know what to the here
people think they are you going to tell them what you're doing the response i described fortunately i also look at that yeah i think about this whole thing
wait and it's just wonderful that are the practice of just being able to see this this
yeah asked would recreate like having anyways
right yeah
yeah nobody is going to ever tell you what to do it if they do in i don't trust him
cause nobody knows what you should do that's the word yeah your realized for free like a write your own script you have to
and then throw away the script that's the main thing throw away the script and right
rewriting and throw it away
okay back there i hit yeah
enlightenment if it is it possible to achieve enlightenment and then lose it
how can it be aligned for few weeks
well of course we have to the the the as you could imagine
in buddhism and also in our own experience there's much to be considered about this question of what is enlightenment to begin with so when you asked that question of course the first thing i think he's now what does she mean by enlightenment exactly now
in zen zen it's kind of famous for enlightenment
you know it's going outta style and then but the earlier the earlier books we had a big emphasis on enlightenment as being the thing that makes sense so interesting and intriguing is the do these very intense retreats and then you get enlightened you know and so there is this there's a turbans in the dis
scribe this kind of enlightenment which is a very profound serious and wonderful experience to have an unnecessary experience
it is possible to have that and like that zen enlightening experience in a profound way and to really understand all that i was trying to say today about how we we can protect ourselves we're not separate you know individuals in a box we really are at one with everything in the universe and everything in the you
universe is that one with everything in the universe and we can really see that and understand that that's really how it is we can't have that experience a powerfully in retreat and it could make us completely
a free and open for two weeks or longer and we could forget about it and be miserable that can happen and how would we how it had happened that if that didn't make us misery and there were the reason why would happen that we would be enlightened like that and then forget about and become miserable the reason that would happen is that we do
didn't have enough experience study and training behind us if we had enough experience and training and study behind us when we had that experience we will have a context for it and we would integrated into our practice and it would just be another thing of many many things in our practice that were necessary and would be wonder
full and tremendous and we would just go on with our lives and integrate is the whereas if we didn't have enough study and practice behind it and we had that experience perhaps maybe there are people who are very talented in a meditators who would have that experience rather soon in the practice and not continue with the practice it could be confusing
and we might think wow you know like we were so like a drug said i took this pill of enlightenment and now everything's perfect i took my drug and nine everything's perfect for ever and i have to work on my life but that's a fantasy
in reality enlightenment isn't like that true true awakening
that the buddha spoke about is much more gradual deep and thorough going and in and it includes or may include times like that when the mind is really opened and those are great times and then students to experience those things and it's fantastic you know
and nothing is more fun and to listen to people tell me that the things that they experience like that and i'm very happy for them but of course that's not enough and it can even be counterproductive if it's not backed up with real practice over time
so there are there is no substitute for just rolling up your sleeves and working on your practice if you're looking for a way that in a very short amount of time you can cure all the problems of your life and really see everything as it is and not have to worry about it you're looking for that you probably won't find it anywhere
so give that up
and just forget the whole thing or make up your mind that you're going to have to spend your whole life working on your spiritual development sorry
who were better off not coming at all like i say the
because now you probably have to practice you know sorry
you probably have to maybe you can't
and we'll just have to make up your mind that you're going to have to
life and really make it a priority
navy pretty soon you'll be the it they'll be nice
i'm looking for her to that actually ah
so please you know think it over and figure out what to do good luck
sk fifteen and be better five as good
and common practice you know come and do a retreat see what happens the fifth just spinning one day here and doing the full moon ceremony may be made you enlighten for three weeks and we should come and do a seven-day session you'll be enlightened for six months or year
so you know we're always here the thing keeps going on everyday people come and go and here we are so whenever you're ready
deltona niagara thing that summarize some of the things so that could be that
the lady who came for the first time date i think lot of has come from very religious practices but they know you what to do yeah and we're used to that yeah it's hard to believe that something can come from within us
it's their yeah
you know and like this fella my right who had a problem with to or to reach the setting the job he just didn't believe in himself couldn't have believed himself in hammer it is just a question the practice of understanding yeah we have it we have now we are at night but you know the the the
persistent notion
that someone is going to tell us what to do or that somehow something outside of us is going to fix us or help us is it's it's impressive how much we have that idea you know it really is impressive
i often feel it because i feel like people would like me to tell them what to do or were like me to tell them what zen as herself and i say i had an old sandwich and i'm just trying my best to get through the day
we all have to figure out you know we all have to practice and look at ourselves and look at our own experience and when we when we have confidence in that and that confidence doesn't mean that we're going to win because we might lose
you know doesn't mean we're going to win and we're going to be right and we're going to be perfect just means that we're going to be ourselves moment after moment authentically
so that's it i think it's surprising how how strong our desire not to believe that is how much we know
it's a very radical teaching million
how we doing there are there anymore
comments yes
if i found the altar has that lack with including
that would be calm
this one
and why
ah oh how nice of you to ask people look at these things for twenty five thirty years and hardly anybody asks
she's asking about the iconography of the statues here
these are very beautiful statues don't you think yeah the beautiful and know and the standing statue is jizo bodhisattva and jizo is a a bot is a bodhisattva whose commitment is to help others
and he
travels everywhere that he can including hell realms and all sorts of nasty places
one other words places that we create and get ourselves into he's willing to go to those places himself
to help and that's why he's got traveling staff and his right hand that's what he's holding
a staff like a walking stick a walking stick and then used and the walking stick has a ring on the top of it
because this precept about non killing
when you tap take a step and tap with your staff at jingles makes sound and all the creatures run away and then you don't step on so you don't hurt them and he walks around like that throughout all the different realms trying to be a benefit in his other hand he has the money jewel that's a jewel
that it's called the wish fulfilling jewel and that jewel has the power to fulfill all wishes
ultimately all wish has come down to one wish which is to to to realize i've buddha buddha nature and be free because nothing that we could accumulate or and the inner or outer qualities could possibly satisfies as that will satisfy us that's the ultimate gift but whatever gifts we might need in order to reach the ultimate gift
he can give us by virtue of the money jewel and is carrying in his hand so that's jesus is also famous for because of his traveling he's the kind of travelers people who are traveling depend on him and also in japan for his a popular figure he's a so
associated with
children who have died
so children died young children
the parents will pray to jesus or make offerings to jizo on their behalf and there's a ceremony that we've taken to do here for unborn children
who have died we venerate jizo and do a whole ritual around jizo to so that we can put the rest our feelings inside over children who have died and unborn children who die je zo there are you hope to see if you walk in the garden there were many figures of jesus here and there in the garden with red bibs
is on him
each one of those boobs represents a child who has who has died and the other figure below we recently acquired this was my great enthusiasm i became extremely enthusiastic and agitated over the fact that
we did not have in our meditation hall a figure of a woman practitioner
again and after twenty five years it finally dawned on me you know
naturally a woman pointed it out to me
and because i hadn't noticed
i was in good company and most of his head and well known as particularly that there wasn't a figure in the zendo of of a woman practitioner
and that therefore we were cheating ourselves and there was something missing
in my way that i do when i get agitated and excited i start running around him you know
talking about everything all the time and anyway i managed to acquire this figure which is a figure of a green tara it's actually not a figure from this and school it's from tibetan buddhism an indian buddhism and the green tara is a very powerful bodhisattva and buddha
who represents
the energy of compassion and helping that's why she's always ready to get up off for meditation has one foot really to leap up and help you if you need it and she's really powerful figure
for expressing the the feminine side of our practice without which the practices very dead
so we also at the same time we got this figure began we did something revolutionary and then i don't have any place else in the zen world where this is done
in you know there's a big emphasis as i said in my talk on lineage how from the buddha down to the present we receive the teachings
it turns out i would you know it that every single person in that lineage