Practice Period

00:00
00:00
Audio loading...

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

Serial: 
SF-00034
Description: 

Origins of PP, meaning of 'ango'; Dogen's essay; resistance; hermit Jim; Rumi poems.

Photos: 
Notes: 

Inconsistency of dates between cassette and box - calendar checks out 2006 as the Sunday date

Transcript: 

The truth of the Tathagatagarbha's words. Good morning. Ten days ago we began the spring practice period at Green Gulch. We have a fall and a spring practice period each year. And this tradition of practice period goes back to the time of the Buddha, 2500 years ago. And Varsha is the name for the practice period in Sanskrit in the Buddha's time, the name for the rainy season retreat.

[01:04]

The rainy season in India is a different time, but it's quite natural for people to gather for a practice period during the rainy season. And the origin story of the practice period in the old texts goes like this. The Blessed One was dwelling at Rajgir. At that time the retreat during the rainy season had not yet been instituted by the Blessed One for the monks. Thus the monks went on their travels alike during winter, summer and the rainy season. And people were annoyed and murmured and became angry saying, How can the disciples of the Blessed One go on their travels alike during winter, summer and the rainy season? They crush green herbs. They hurt vegetable life and they destroy the life of many small living things. Don't the practitioners of other traditions retire during the rainy season

[02:08]

and arrange places for themselves to live in? And don't the birds make their nests on top of the trees and retire during the rainy season and arrange themselves places to live in? Now some monks heard those people and that they were annoyed and murmured and had become angry and they told this to the Blessed One. And because of that the Blessed One said, We'll have a rainy season retreat. So it was actually, you could say, out of compassion that the practice period was introduced to avoid crushing the green things that grow in the rainy season and the newts that come out when it rains. So they didn't wander so far. They stayed, they didn't walk around so much because of all those creatures. And then it was kind of a practical thing to just help small creatures. And then it has these added benefits of gathering together for a period of practice.

[03:14]

At that time of the Buddha, the monks mostly lived out in the forest, often by themselves. So this time of the year, of the rainy season, they would gather together and practice communally. And this was before there were monasteries and temples, but you could say it's the forerunner of such communities during this time. And then after, usually in those days it was three months and then they would disperse again at the end and go wandering around. And I always think it's interesting that things like this originate because of the people complaining. The practice period wasn't just the Buddha's idea out of the blue. It was in response to people saying, well, there seems to be this problem. And a lot of the Buddha's precepts seem to be

[04:19]

set up around people coming to the Buddha or the other monks and saying, why do you people do this? And then the Buddha would say, oh, yeah, good idea. Let's have a practice period. So you could say the Buddha actually is just response to beings like that. And the practice period is such. And also the yearly practice period like this creates a rhythm in the year of, like the seasons, or like breathing in and out. And there's a time of coming together and practicing more concentratedly, inwardly, sitting still, and then a time for more activity when the rains end. Quite natural in a way. I think even outside of Buddhist circles, people have always gathered when the weather is inclement.

[05:19]

And in China and Japan, this retreat came to be called Ango. And the ang means something like at rest or at ease or contented or peaceful, quiet, tranquil. And go means residing or being present. So it could be translated as peaceful dwelling or tranquil presence or contented being. It's a period for contented being. And even if it doesn't always feel this way, it offers this opportunity. And these two aspects of Ango could be said to be the two aspects of practice, the settling, peaceful contentment side, the stillness, and then there's the being, which is like expressing oneself in the world of existence. Ango.

[06:25]

Ango. And so here in this practice period, there's 24 people, and everyone in a sense has left home to join this practice period, as in the old days. People might have a home that they're going back to, but they've all left wherever they've been residing and come here to this place, just like all of you have today, actually left your homes to come here and reside here today. And so this place is actually nobody's home. This place is created by the intention to dwell peacefully, tranquilly be, and that's what somehow a building arose out of that intention, and a time arose. And so we're here today because of this. So it's kind of wonderful, and sometimes we think,

[07:26]

oh, it must be the home of somebody, but actually the people just keep changing, and it's the intention that creates the place. And ultimately the practice period, it's not limited by any time, although we do usually begin and end the practice period ritually, it's not bound by time. So in a sense we could say that the practice period doesn't begin and end, and that actually everyone who's come today has just joined a practice period. But there does seem to be value in ritually marking the beginning and end of a practice period, even though it's kind of a contrived thing to divide up boundless, inconceivable being

[08:26]

that we call time into delineations of three months, or in this case 55 days, we have a practice period. It's kind of contrived to do that, but yet sometimes when we do that it encourages people to bring forth their energy more, because it's like, well, I have these 55 days in a certain way, and I can really give myself to it for this time. If it's just like, well, my whole life is the practice period, then maybe our energy kind of goes down. So we play these kind of games of beginning and ending. So I thought we could today begin a practice period. So this is a little block that I use as the ino to ritually begin and end a practice period, and there's a wooden stand behind the altar that this is struck on. And I've heard actually that this is the most ancient Buddhist instrument,

[09:30]

older than the bells and the hands, and maybe it was shaped differently, but apparently in India they had something like a wooden stand with a block on it. You can imagine it's pretty simple. And maybe it wasn't octagonal like this, but sometimes there's a feeling when we open a practice period or close it, it feels like something's happened. And so, because I'm the ino, I can do this today. The 11,974th morning practice period at Green Dragon Temple is now open. You've all just joined a practice period. Does it feel any different? I hope you knew what you were getting in for. So Dogen Zenji, our founder in Japan, has an essay called Ongo,

[10:36]

which is about the practice period. And it begins, Dogen says, In an informal talk to open the practice period, Rujing, my late master Tiantong, this is Tendo, Nyojo, Daisho, old Buddha presented this poem. Piling up bones in an open field, gouging out a cave and empty sky, break through the barrier of duality and splash in a bucket of pitch black lacquer. Before we came here, this place was an open field. And now it's filled with these stacks of our living bones, balanced upright. And we take the basic core of our body and we carry it to this place, put it on a seat and let it be, each one of us in our own unique way. And through creating a practice period,

[11:38]

we gouge out an empty cave and empty sky. So it's just an illusory event, actually. Just a dream to dwell in for a little while, carving out the cave and empty sky to sit in. But even though it's just a dream, we can wholeheartedly pile up our bones here. And what's the point of this? Well, in this poem, it could be said to break through the barrier of duality, the duality that splits up practice period and not practice period, the right way to beat the drum and the wrong way to beat the drum, free time and scheduled time and me and everybody else. These kinds of thoughts that we think are break up the world, we can smash through the barrier of all of them and splash around in this bucket

[12:44]

of pitch black lacquer that we're already splashing in, but we want to thoroughly enjoy our splashing around in it. So we can break through these barriers and you could say that our wearing these black clothes and sitting on black cushions and with the lights down low is kind of ritual symbolic celebration of swimming about and splashing around in this bucket of pitch black lacquer. Then Dogon continues to grab hold of the spirit, to train constantly for 30 years, eating meals, sleeping and stretching your legs. This requires unstinting support. The structure of the rainy season practice period provides such support. It's the head and face of Buddhas and ancestors.

[13:44]

It has been intimately transmitted as their skin, flesh, bones and marrow. You turn the Buddha ancestors eyes and heads into the days and months of the practice period. Regard the whole of each practice period as the entity of Buddhas and ancestors. I must confess that as Ino, when the practice period comes around, I actually have some resistance. And I used to have not so much resistance. I used to almost completely just look forward to it. And it's somewhat, it can be somewhat disheartening sometimes for me to feel this like, oh, practice period again. It has a lot to do with this role, I think, as my job becomes much more complicated and busy

[14:46]

and my so-called free time, when I'm thinking dualistically, becomes much more limited. But because of this, so at the beginning it's like, it's rolling forward again. Here comes the practice period. I'm like, oh. But then I can see, okay, here's this thing. It's like I'm resisting it. And so it offers this opportunity. It's like if I'm not really resisting anything, then am I even really practicing, actually? What's the opportunity there? So I do feel this opportunity. And then it starts. You know, we set up a day way ahead of time, usually over a year ahead of time. The dates for the practice period are all scheduled because they have to go into the schedule of events and these kinds of things. And sometimes I have that feeling when it starts approaching. It's like, who set this up?

[15:49]

And it's like no one even quite remembers, you know? It's some other staff for a couple years ago. And I think we all feel, you know, in the staff meetings and so on, we all feel this pressure as it starts to come. There's a lot more organization and kind of like here we go again. Somehow we did this to ourselves. And, but there's a way in which we love it, I think. We, we, it happens and we do it. And we just start doing it. And, and usually once it starts and everybody gets here, and often that first day when everybody's sitting together, I, I have this feeling like, oh, yes, this, now I remember. It's this. And, and there's still resistance, but, but I can really appreciate it and, and give myself to it. So the resistance is just resisting what's happening. And the, the only relief from it

[16:53]

is to continue and to just give myself to it. And I think everybody in the practice period feels this. And even today, if you're here and you're maybe resisting this talk and you might think, well, what, I'm not really in the practice period. What's, what's this have to do with me? And I want to go home now. You have an opportunity. So to just surrender to what's happening, and that's what it actually is, is all about. And that's what the, the smashing through the barrier of duality, that's how we do it, is just completely give ourselves to each thing as it comes up. And also at the beginning of the practice period, we have lots of ceremonies here. It's usually to begin it and, and, and again, it's like my role is to organize all those ceremonies and find all the people to fill in all the instruments and so on. And I, I, it sometimes seems overwhelming

[17:58]

thinking of a whole bunch of them coming up. But if it's, if each one just, you know, respond to each, each event as it arises, just the moment, you know. Sometimes people will ask, oh, what about the ceremony the day after tomorrow? I'm like, no, no, no, this one, this one first, just like, and then we'll talk about that one. So this is the way we can always practice in practice period. And each period of zazen is like this, just this period of zazen, the beginning of a, of a one-day sitting. If you think of the whole day, it might seem overwhelming, but it's like, oh, just this period of zazen, this period of walking. And of course the practice period is full of forms and ways of doing things, particular ways. And so this, this is, and it usually isn't our choice of the way to do things. Again, it's this thing that no one of us actually chose these forms

[18:59]

and these ways of doing things, but we all just, so we all resist it in our own unique way. And I'll wholeheartedly take it up in our unique way. So this, the practice period provides the unstinting support, or it requires the unstinting support of a practice period to grab hold of the spirit and to train in this way. And this, this, the practice period in this case, I would say, is each of you, each of all of us provides this support. So you are the unstinting support. And I actually feel that. I mean, when I'm, when I'm going through, trying to get through these, the ceremonies and the scheduling and all, and I come in and see everybody sitting there in the zendo, it feels like, oh yeah, this is why, this, I remember. So you are the structure of the practice period,

[20:00]

and therefore you are the head and face of the Buddha ancestors. And it often feels that way, seeing everyone sitting so upright and still. You turn the Buddha ancestors' eyes and heads into the minutes and days and months of the practice period. And without your living bones, there wouldn't be any practice period. Dogen continues, from top to bottom, the practice period is Buddha ancestors. It covers everything, without an inch of land or speck of earth left out. The practice period is an anchoring peg that is neither new nor old, that has never arrived and will never leave. It's the size of your fist, and it takes the form of grabbing you by the nose. When the practice period is opened, the empty sky cracks apart

[21:02]

and all of space is dissolved. When the practice period is closed, the earth explodes, leaving no place undisturbed. So this morning's practice period covers everything, covers the whole earth, and leaves nothing out. It's not actually bounded by this room or anything, so how could anything actually be left out? This is the ultimate dimension of the practice period. And the earth exploding at the end of the practice period may be inconceivable, but sometimes we might notice something like that. I think of maybe my first practice period at Tassajara, where it's very remote in the wilderness, and more so than Green Gullets, it's like nobody really comes or goes, so we don't see anybody else for these three months. Sometimes hikers will come through, and it'll be like seeing somebody from another planet or something,

[22:02]

like, where did these people come from? We thought we were the only ones on the earth. And then at the end of the three months, the container is broken open and we disperse, and I remember riding up towards the city at the end of a practice period, and the first kind of impact of the world is the billboards on the highway, and it just felt so... intrusive in a way. These billboards saying, like, do this, buy this, be this way, drink this, and felt like I hadn't really noticed them before. They were just kind of like... I don't know how effective that kind of advertising is if people don't notice it, but it's kind of like they're everywhere as you approach the city. But in a way, maybe the advertising did its trick in that kind of aware state after the practice period, but it just felt like the earth was changed, had broken open, and now, like, everything was saying something... directly. So there's this...

[23:13]

this unstinting support of all of you and the way that it encourages us to practice is... is this just giving ourself to each activity. And it reminds me of a story of Dongshan, where a monk came and asked, where is the... you know, how do we... when heat and cold come, how can we avoid them? So this could be a practice period question for many people, especially these past mornings. It's been very cold in the Zen Do, even with the heaters on. And just... but you could say about any... anything in the schedule, how can we get out of this? You know, when the Han comes and I'm, like, in the middle of talking to somebody and it's time to go, how can we avoid this next period of Zazen? And Dongshan says, oh, why don't you go to the place where there is no heat or cold? Which might think, like, oh, go to the place where there's no Zazen, just leave the temple or something. So then the monk asks,

[24:15]

well, what is the place where there's no heat or cold? And Dongshan says, when it's cold, the cold kills you. And when it's hot, the heat kills you. So with hot and cold, we can practice this way. And when it's time for Zazen, let the Zazen kill us. Kill me, this me that thinks that's as opposed to Zazen. The me that thinks I have to go to Zazen. And they're telling me to go, and so I'm this me that gets in the way. And, you know, to kill it sounds kind of violent, but let it be, let it pass away naturally. It's being killed by impermanence every moment. So we let the heat and the cold and everything kill the separate, you know,

[25:15]

contrived, shrunk little me. We let that one die so we can be the big self that covers the whole earth. Dogen continues saying that some people think that the practice period is about cutting off words and eliminating mental activity. He says, if you really understand the meaning of cutting off words, speech, and mental activity, you will see that all social and economic endeavors are essentially already beyond words, speech, and mental activity. Going beyond words, speech, and mental activity is actually itself all words and speech and mental activity. Going beyond words and speech

[26:18]

is just words and speech going on mental activity, is just the mental activity. This is classic Dogen talking. Reality is to go into the mud and enter the weeds and expound the Dharma for the benefit of others. Turning the Dharma and saving all beings is not something optional. If people who call themselves descendants of the Buddha insist on thinking that the Buddha's practice period means that words, speech, and mental activity are transcended, they should demand a refund of those 55 days of practice period sitting. Right in the middle of words, speech, and mental activity and the things being just what they are without judging them or attaching to them or averting from them is actually what we mean by going beyond them. It's not like they disappear. Them being themselves is actually what we call

[27:20]

going beyond them, going beyond our limited idea of them and the way that they bind us. So practice period is not just silently sitting with nothing to do. It's learning lots of forms, learning how to serve meals, lots of work is happening, and plenty of speech and mental activity is going on. And so if people think that, and I have sometimes thought that practice period means no speaking or thinking, these people should ask for a refund. And I don't know if the treasurer will give it to them or not, but... And so this true spirit of the practice period that's not cutting off speaking and words and mental activity, but just being those things completely and splashing about

[28:22]

in the bucket of black lacquer in this way, it reminds me of this friend of mine named Hermit Jim. And I'm probably reminded of him because I just got a letter from him just the other day as I was thinking about this talk. So he's a guy that, I don't know if anybody here actually knew him, but he was around at Tassajara some years ago and he used to live out in the wilderness nearby Tassajara. And he had kind of a yoga background but no special tradition. He just was a meditator, a yogi. And he lived for years and years in the wilderness near Tassajara, but he never came to Tassajara. Maybe he had heard about it, but he never came in. He just did his own thing. And one day he just, you know, the trail goes through Tassajara, so he ended up there during one of the work periods. And he came in and stayed for that time

[29:24]

and then he would stay for the work period then he'd go back out again to the wilderness and he would do this for some years. And I was always impressed with how he would be out there for months. What he would do is get a big bag of rice and lentils and a fishing pole and a tarp to sleep under and he'd just go out to the mountains and he'd live out there until his rice and lentils ran out, which, you know, when he supplemented it with fish and plants and things, it lasted a couple months. And then just when it would run out, he'd come back into town and he'd come into one of the ranchers living near the wilderness and offer to work for them for a couple weeks and get a little pay and buy another big sack of rice and lentils and he'd go back out until it ran out again. And he did this for years. And it was only after many years of doing this that he ended up at Tassajara. And then he continued. But when he'd come in

[30:25]

for the work period at Tassajara, he was... you would think he'd be really kind of antisocial and afraid of people because he'd be totally alone for months at a time. He didn't see any other humans. But he was very into just, like, hanging out with people. He'd always be down in the courtyard just talking with people and a very jolly kind of character And then when the work period was over, like, oh, it's time to go back out now. And he'd be very happy to just go back out and do it for another few months. And this letter that I just got from him was a surprise, but I thought it demonstrated this spirit of the practice period that's not beyond words and speech and doesn't have any particular form. He said in his letter, Your yogi has made his way to New York. I'm in the world of business. I'm living in a nice place on the Upper East Side, and I work in Midtown.

[31:26]

I've always really been a city boy. And it's great to be back home. I left San Francisco in 93 to commune with myself, not to commune with nature. My interest was not to realize, but to be in a setting in which realization would most easily appear. So it is. Rivers are just rivers. Mountains are just mountains. Though soon dead, this body still lives. I think he's in his, like, 50s or 60s now, and he's had a rough life, as you can imagine, but he loved it, living out in the wilderness. And so this body still lives, and living, it works. And working, added value mysteriously appears. People pay me money for housing and food and clothing. And a desire for more still appears in this living body. However, this desire appears to me as a dream,

[32:30]

a kind of child's game. And here I am in the dream capital of the earth, my sweet Manhattan. This is a true letter. So I was inspiring to me. I felt like he can just go between these worlds fluidly. And practice period's also about living together with people, entrusting ourselves to the sangha, as we say in the meal chant. It really has that feeling of, the sangha's no one person. We all entrust ourselves to each other. We give up our personal ways of doing things, and we just harmonize with the community. Dogen says in another essay, he says, having left your home and your birthplace, now you depend on clouds and you depend on water. Zen monks are sometimes called unsui, clouds and water, meaning they're just carried where the clouds and the water takes them.

[33:31]

That's why this is called Cloud Hall here, for the resident cloud people. The support to you and your practice given by this assembly of practitioners surpasses that which was given by your father and mother. Your father and mother are temporarily close to you in birth and death, but this assembly of practitioners is your companion in the way of enlightenment for all time. These are strong words. Can we really entrust ourselves to these people? And if not, then who? So there's Rumi, one of my favorite poets, who lived at the same time as Dogen, and maybe they secretly met. We don't have any record of it, but I like to think they might have. Rumi was born just seven years after Dogen, and he also encourages this kind of entrustment to the community. And again, you know,

[34:34]

this is not just about the resident community at Green Gulch. The sangha is all of us who've come here today and come each Sunday. In the Buddha's time, there was this practice of on the lunar quarters, which is about once a week, the lay people all around the temple would come and just practice with the resident community for a day. And this still is, you know, these lunar quarters, still they practice this way in Southeast Asia. And I don't know if that was the intention of how the Sunday program at Green Gulch came to be, but it seems to be like about the same amount of time was weekly gathering for the larger sangha. And again, I think a very natural communion. So this poem is called The Road of Being Woven. The way is full of genuine sacrifice. The thickets blocking the path are anything that keeps you

[35:35]

from that, any fear that you may be broken to bits like a glass bottle. This road demands courage and stamina, yet it's full of footprints. Who are these companions? They are rungs in your ladder. Use them. With company, you quicken your ascent. You may be happy enough going alone, but with others, you'll go farther and faster. Every prophet sought out companions. A wall standing alone is useless, but put three or four walls together and they'll support a roof and keep the grain dry and safe. When ink joins with a pen, then the blank paper can say something. Rushes and reeds must be woven to be useful as a mat. If they weren't interlaced, the wind would blow them away. Like that, God paired up creatures and gave them friendship.

[36:35]

This is the spirit of Ongo practice period. Sometimes we're the ink and sometimes the pen and sometimes the paper, and it's wonderful to be willing to be the different, those different instruments at different times, just surrendering to what's needed in the moment. This is like, the community is like Avalokiteshvara with 1,000 arms, like just one organism but has all these arms and they're each helpful in their own way. In another essay, Dogen says, regarding practicing with others, when everyone sits, you sit. When everyone lies down, you lie down. Be one with everyone, both in motion and in stillness. To be conspicuous in the community is not beneficial. To contradict the assembly is not appropriate. This is the skin, flesh, bones,

[37:38]

and marrow of Buddha ancestors. Dogen says a lot of things are the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, but if you look, they're actually, they're all the same thing. This is dropping off body and mind of the self. This being one with everyone in motion and stillness is actually dropping off body and mind. Thus it is practice realization beyond actualization since before the empty eon. This is the fundamental point before the first signs appear. It does not await great enlightenment. Then Dogen immediately goes into the daily schedule. For evening zazen, you put on the robe when you hear the sound of the Han, and you go into the meditation hall and sit at your assigned place. So this is how he often goes back and forth between being one with the community is dropping off body and mind. So now when the Han goes, go sit at your place. And weaves back and forth

[38:39]

between what seems like two different worlds, but it's the same world. So we're already one with everyone, but we have to actually be that one. We have to bring forth our energy and express that one. You could say this is the go of ongo, is this the being, the expression of our being. And it's actually the manifestation of enlightenment. It's not awaiting a future enlightenment, just going along with the assembly in such a way. And practice period really has that feeling. And I think this Sunday gathering has that feeling. We just come in at a certain time. No one needs to say anything. We gather here and we just do this together. And we might wonder, is this not denying our individuality and creativity?

[39:39]

How it seems like we're just becoming robots, it might, it might feel. And I think Suzuki Roshi said that, you know, when we have the same haircut and the same kind of clothing, it actually, it manifests our individuality and uniqueness even more. We can, when you make things kind of the same, everybody's doing the same activity. Then you can see the more subtle variation. Like when we're serving orioke meals, the way that each person receives their food, you really feel that even though there's a very specific form of how to do it, you really feel the uniqueness of each person in a very precise activity where we're trying to do the same thing. The differences are wonderful, the way that they stand out. And so there's this, there's also this, this spirit of repetition and we're just doing the same thing over and over. There's one person

[40:42]

in this practice period who, before the practice period started, for years, she's been drawing a stone every day. And this very simple, smooth stone, very ordinary, she's an artist and she just draws a picture of it. And the pictures look very similar, but every day as a practice, draws that same stone. But each time, it's like, it's a new thing. And this is the spirit of going to zazen and service and everything each day like this. Also, I recently saw, again, the movie Groundhog Day. How many people have seen Groundhog Day? Maybe about half the people. I recommend it. It's kind of about this point, you could say. You could see it as, it's a movie about practice period. It's, for those who don't know the story, it's Bill Murray is this person

[41:42]

who is doing this report on Groundhog Day and he's resisting, he's a reporter and he's resisting going to this small town and do this project. And when the day's over, he wakes up the next day and it's kind of this mysterious repeat. It's the same day again. It's Groundhog Day and he's trapped in this place that he didn't really want to be. And so he meets the same people and at first, he's very much resisting it to the point where the same person says, oh, hi, good morning. And it's the same thing as the day before and he hits him in the face. And sometimes it feels like this, the wake-up bell rings and it's the same, wasn't this yesterday? Just like this? Again? It couldn't be. But yet, that's how it is. And then we have this opportunity each time it rings and in this film,

[42:43]

it's this wonderful transformation from once he sees that he's trapped in the same day and the wake-up bell's going to ring at the same time every day and he can keep resisting it and be miserable in that same day or he can kind of get creative and start learning things and actually start being kind to people and help people and actually, how wonderful he realizes. And then he goes through various phases back and forth, resisting it again and trying too hard and so on. But it's... This is, I think, very much like our... the repetition of our practice period. It often feels like it's the same day every day and we have a chance. It's like a fresh chance every day. It's like this is like... I can go to Zazen and just keep thinking about how I don't want to be here or I can go and actually just give myself to it and who knows

[43:44]

what will happen. There's a koan in the Mu Man Kang or Yun Men says, The world is so vast and wide. Why do you put on your formal robe at the sound of the bell? And it's a koan, so you have to answer it yourself. But this world is inconceivable, vast, wide. The possibilities are limitless. We can do everything. Everything is possible. Everything is open to us, really. And so, in the practice period, why do we stay in this little place and just keep doing that same thing? The bell rings and we put on the robe and go to the Zendo. But is there a way to express ourselves completely in that activity where it is fresh and it's not just like the same thing? It's actually not the same thing. For people who sit Zazen regularly know that every period of Zazen

[44:45]

is completely unique. Even if you get into some repetitive mind thing that keeps coming up, it's still, the flavor of it is different every time. I think for people who don't sit, they think, that would be so boring, like the same thing. You just sit there like your mind would be static. But it's not. I actually don't find Zazen boring. There's other difficulties with it maybe, but it's always unique. It's always something new. And to tune into that aspect of it is the freshness. So I'll just finish with another Rumi poem about practicing communally called the water wheel. And so in this poem, the water wheel is the one who is one with the community, who is expressing themselves

[45:48]

completely creative, individual, unique, but without standing out. Seems paradoxical, but is possible. And this water wheel is wet and turning and flowing and alive. Stay together, friends. Don't scatter and sleep. Our friendship is made of being awake. The water wheel accepts water and turns and gives it away, weeping. That way it stays in the garden. Whereas another roundness rolls through a dry riverbed looking for what it thinks it wants. Stay here, quivering with each moment like a drop of mercury. The 11,974th

[46:53]

morning practice period at Green Dragon Temple is now closed.

[46:58]