Rootedness, Relatedness, Responsibility

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Wednesday Lecture: zen practice and ecology

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I bow to take the truth of the Tathagata's words. Good evening. It's so nice to be here. Because I don't know all of you, or I don't know many of you, I'd like to begin just by introducing myself. My name is Wendy Johnson. I have been studying and practicing meditation in the Buddhist tradition since I was 23 years old, and I'm 57. For 31 years I've worked for Zen Center, and 25 years I lived here at Gringotts. I was involved in the, along with many, many others, involved in the establishment of the organic farming and garden program at Zen Center. I am, I think of myself as an activist, an organic gardener, and a person who loves


and is tremendously grateful for my experience in meditation. So I'll be drawing on all of those richnesses this evening as we speak together. And this will be an opportunity for us to talk together about Buddhism and ecology. And, yeah, I think that's plenty. I have other hidden insignia that I won't bring up. But we'll let those be. Anyway, it's delightful to be here. And I'm very happy to be sandwiched between the parents speaking about the active right path of practicing with children and within relationship. I'm really happy to be following the parents, kind of holding up their, or bringing all their toys and buckets behind them as I come. And then go, and next week to have Liz, who's, I never like saying head of the farm, since I did do that for one torturously terrifying year. It's more like the farm is head of you when you're...


So anyway, next week, Liz will speak. Very much ground in the practical... Is that true still? Am I right? Liz is next week? Good. Liz and Alex, great. So tonight we'll talk a little bit about the trainings and the teachings of Buddhism and ecology. And then next week, have a chance to really go outdoors and to take them up in a very direct way. Good. You know, I've never been comfortable with the word environment. I have to begin with a confession. To me, the landscape, the earth, the ground, is much more intimate than that which surrounds me.


It is so much a part of who I am, and how I think, and how I practice, that I've, again, never been comfortable with the word environment, and never really comfortable with the word sustainable. Because I've never met a practice, a Zafu, a partner, a plant, a piece of ground that's sustainable. I'm always overwhelmed with connectedness when I practice in the real world, where I practice and where I live. So I've never been able to be an environmentalist or to really have a sense of sustainability. The world is a lot wilder, for me, in my experience. And I think when we look at... So I want to begin with that confession, and we'll see what that brings up for you. It was unscripted, so I'm going to trust it. It came up, bubbling up from the ground up. However, when considering the word ecology, I feel a little bit more resonance,


resonance, liveliness, and maybe because of the root of that word. Eikos logia, or the logic of the home, oikos from the Greek, household. One of my teachers, Alan Chadwick, actually, whose birthday is today, he would have been 80-something, maybe 90-something today. He was one of our primary teachers in the garden world here at Zen Center. He always reminded us that the earth household was vaster than we ever could understand. He said, you go into the garden because you love creation. Thinking of Sally Bingham talking to us ago, Reverend Bingham talking about creation. You go into the garden because you love creation. And you give yourself over to the work in the garden. You're never in charge of it. You can never understand it. You water the garden, he said, so it can dry out. And when you cultivate the ground, you're opening the earth to starlight, into the mystery.


So when I think of earth household, that kind of sensibility is very close to my experience of training the heart and mind in the Buddhist tradition. So that word, that old word, ecology, has particular importance right now. And I did a little research that I probably didn't bring. I did want to go over the... Yeah. Oh, well. I know just where it is on my kitchen table. Just practicing. It's all right. When we think of... I'll actually look at something that we do when we practice with children. Because, you know, I'm involved right now. I work in the... For the last five years, I've been working pretty well finishing up a garden book here.


A book about practicing in the garden. Finishing that, of course, as part of my Zen Center work. Also working in the public schools in connection with a group of people called the Center for Ecological Literacy or Eco-Literacy. In Berkeley, we're working in the public schools. I work with 900 children, which is a great challenge. In the public schools, looking at how does ecology actually work within the real world. And ecology is the study of networks. This is from the work we do with the kids. It's the study of networks. And of nested systems of reality. Of cycles. Of flows. And of growth. And of course, dynamic balance. So I think that's why I'm a little happy with the word ecology. Because it includes all those disciplines. And we could spend a whole evening looking at each one of those and how they practically work.


But our topic tonight is to look at how Buddhism and ecology go together. And how they animate our practice and our thinking. And you know, from the very beginning, from the very first moment of Shakyamuni Buddha sitting on the ground, taking his place underneath that huge pipple tree in northwestern India, almost 2600 years ago, sitting down and making the pledge that he wouldn't move until he understood something about the root of suffering and relieving suffering. And actually calling on the ground to be his witness. To help him be stable. And to know his mind. As we say in the ancient Buddhist tradition, the work of meditation practice, of awakening, is to know the mind, to shape the mind, and to free the mind. So having the Buddha take his place, as an earth householder, take his place under that tree and vow to hold still until he understood what to do.


And to recognize his connectedness with the earth that supported him, is a primary image in our practice. And you know, this autumn we begin a series, an environmental, sorry for the word, a series, a lecture series on the connection of Buddhism and ecology, called Touching the Earth. And just the image, you know, of the Buddha taking his place underneath that tree. And when great doubt and confusion rose up, putting his right hand on the ground, just to stabilize himself, to remember who he was. To receive the truth and wisdom of the ground coming up. So that he could be a fully alive human being and respond to his own doubt and his own questions. Wonderful. And you know, iconographically, in some of the oldest paintings in the Buddhist world, there are drawings of the spirit of the earth coming up and putting her hand


right underneath the Buddha's outstretched hand. Beautiful. Artistic representation of the connectedness between human life and the ground that we're made of. And remembering that, really remembering that. So, in the Buddhist world, there is not a separation. If we lift the veil, as Rev was talking about on Sunday, if we lift the veil or pull back the veil, and really look into our work, there is no separation between our household, our human household, in this body that we inhabit for a brief 80 years or so, and the ground that sustains us and gives us life. So that is a clear, obvious, and fundamental tenet of Buddhist practice. That we and the great earth are one. One body.


The more we sit like this, says Kadagiri Roshi, one of our teachers and great Dharma friends, guides, the more we sit like this, the more we realize the strength of human ignorance, while we're sitting still. There's no reason that we create this terrible situation, but we do, constantly. This is pretty hard, because the more we trust, the more we taste and chew real peace, the more we realize our own ignorance. But the more we realize human ignorance, the more we cannot stop touching real peace, living real peace. And we continue under all circumstances. It's been one of my really favorite teachings. We continue under all circumstances. Continue under all circumstances, remembering that we are one body with the earth that supports us. You know, I think in meditation practice, about a year ago, I started to really ask myself,


what are the fundamental, from my own experience and love for meditation and active engagement with the world and organic gardening, what are the real practices that help express the connection between Buddhism, the connection of Buddhism and ecology? And I thought of three practices, or three ways of seeing. But first, I wanted to really remind us that we're not separate from the earth we're looking at, when we study the household of the earth. So, the first word that came up for me was rootedness. And that's no surprise, because I am a gardener. And I love to watch plants germinate. Just, you know, a few weeks ago, right around the 4th of July,


when we sowed those beans from Kosovo with the kids out in the garden, we did the same thing at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Berkeley, where I work with some very disobedient children. Unfortunately, the incoming sixth graders was kind of bracing to see, okay, these are the kids that are going to be here next year. All right, we'll go with that. And they took these beans and sowed them, and the children here sowed them too. And when those beans germinate, the best way to sow a bean seed is to lay it on its side. Because as it swells, and it will get double its size as it takes in water, as it swells, one root pushes... Actually, the root, the down root, or the radical root, pushes down. And with the same force of that push, the upward, or the cortical, comes up. So, we've got a double motion going on at the same time, going down into the unknown, and rooting in the unknown, in the dark,


and coming up into the light, and beginning to grow. So, for meditation practice, and for ecological awareness, to have some muscle, it takes a rootedness in what is, and a willingness to be rooted in what is, to push down into the unknown. What happens in a root is so extraordinary. Do you know, especially in the tap-rooting plants, the nose, or the tip, of the radical, hence the word radicalism. The radical is the root that goes down into the unknown. And Buddhism is radical practice, because it takes place in not only calm ground, but very disturbed ground. Anyway, that root goes down, and it breaks open a ground that hasn't been opened before. It has a kind of intensely strong cap.


This is especially on the tap root. There's a little cap around the tip of that root. And if that root breaks, then a surge of mucus comes from behind in the plant, and lubricates the ground, so that the root can continue to push down into the ground. It seems kind of, well, I think, sexual. What do you say? I just can't help saying that. Heavens. And so there's this lubricated root that just pushes down. It's called the vanguard root, and it pushes into the ground. And it's followed by the feeder roots that take up moisture and nourishment. I do not want to speak metaphorically. It's hard not to. Please don't take what I'm saying as metaphor. It's an actual work of the roots. And actually, meditation practice depends on rootedness, but not brittle rootedness. Because if you're too firmly rooted, those are always the plants like the great, magnificent walnut tree


that grew outside of our house for a good 30 years. Firmly rooted. Couldn't take the flooding and wildness of the ground where we live, and strong winds. Because the roots were too brittle, the tree fell over and pulled up, heaved up the ground as it fell. So it's good to have flexible rootedness. Think of the bamboo, the great teacher. Flexible and flexible in its roots. The root system that flexes along with the plant. However, to know the ground where you practice is extraordinarily important. And to find some sense of rootedness. I would wager, and maybe we'll do that for one or two minutes, that if we took the time this evening, and we will, to just follow our breathing, sit still, and think about our roots.


You know, a lot of people in North America say, you know, I have no roots. I don't remember my roots. However, all of us are rooted in some reality, some ecological system, some home place. And it is important to remember where we're rooted, where we come from. Whatever you have to say, said the poet Charles Olson, whatever you have to say, leave the roots on. Let them dangle in the dirt, just to make clear where you come from. That is Buddhist teaching also, in the mouth of a modern poet from Gloucester, Massachusetts. Whatever you have to say, leave the roots on. However we practice, remember where you come from, remember who you are, what you're made of, where you're rooted. So let's take a minute, you know, a precious minute. And I want to say, because Martha and Lee are here, and others who've worked in the


extensive prison system, that, you know, we can't live in Marin County without being aware of San Quentin Prison, sitting on a promontory. And they're practicing, and the prisoners, incarcerated, so-called incarcerated, they are incarcerated felons, are practicing meditation and mindfulness, even in the challenging situation. So I want to say that, and Martha told me that when meditation classes end, it's common for the men gathered to sit still at least for one minute, and just pay attention to their breathing. So in honor of the many people who do that in less commodious circumstances than we find ourselves in here, let's spend a minute where you go down a little bit, follow the first image that comes up, when you hear the bell, and stay with it for a minute, maybe two minutes. Just stay with it.


Enjoy your breathing and groundedness. And you're asking, you know, you're asking the image of your rooted home or in what you were rooted to come up. I'm not coherent, because it's not a very coherent country, but let it come up. I'll ring the bell, and then I'll ring it after a few minutes. So um


hmm And to my surprise, I remembered vividly a tree I haven't thought of for years, a gigantic magnolia. It was right across the stone fence from the house where I grew up. And just in breathing with that tree, I could clearly see some lightning bugs, summer lightning bugs going through, and hear the strong voices of my parents fighting, quite a vivid part of my landscape.


I'm rooted in that landscape. We'll have a chance in a few minutes to talk about what came up for you. So, whatever you have to say, root yourself in what you're saying. When you find your place where you are, said Doak, and practice occurs, finding a place where you are means rooting in where you live and recognizing that that rootedness is an expression of who you are, not separate from you. You're not rooting in a place that's separate, but as you root and take your place, and it's not always a comfortable place, practice occurs. And that unification or the connectedness between you and where you're rooted is essential. One of my friends, Dharma's sister, who died a few years ago by her own decision, close


to the time she took her life, she said to a good mutual friend, I want to move below to an unseen place. And meditation practice and the work of Buddhism and ecology takes us below to an unseen place, a kind of rootedness in the unknown, not always comfortable. So, keeping in the our world, I thought, okay, if there's rootedness, then Buddhism and ecology, for me, manifest as a relatedness also, rootedness first, sense of place, sense of where I am, and then a relationship with that place. My teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, described how in ancient Vietnam, people were so familiar,


so related to their landscape, that when a pot of rice was cooking in an iron pot, fire on the stove, and the lid were lifted, and the cook could lean over and breathe in the steam from the rice, he or she would know the river system where that rice was grown by the scent of the moisture being released from the rice, that kind of relatedness is so necessary for the work we have to do in the world. That kind of relatedness. And you know, in the meditation tradition, since the beginning of the tradition, there's always been a relatedness between the natural world and meditation practice. Just think of the old monks who would take their Dharma names, their teaching names, would come from the mountains where they practiced.


Basho was named for a banana tree growing outside of his cabin. Even the Lotus Sutra, I was reading today, there's a Japanese warbler that has a call, Hokikyo, which is supposedly one of the names of the Lotus Sutra, thus have I read, not heard. I haven't heard that warbler, but I thought, that's great, that a bird would convey the teaching, that there would be that kind of relatedness and mystery in relationship. And also, even relatedness with what is dangerous and broken, much more difficult to look at the opportunity that comes from danger and brokenness. For example, hammerhead sharks, when fear came up in the presence of hammerhead sharks, I read one practitioner was able to calm his mind by recognizing the relationship between


the hammerhead shark's head and the mallet used to call to meditation. I thought, that's pretty amazing. And I loved reading this account of relatedness. So, relatedness follows rootedness in practice. Now, to really experience all of our relations and our connectedness takes a quiet mind, a kind of willingness to stabilize, to settle down, to hold still. And in that holding still, you are open to active relationship, not only with joy and groundedness, but also with displacement and sorrow, and especially in these times. And it cannot be, you know, the Buddha grew up in chaotic times, not unlike these times,


times of isolation, tremendous change. Even though the quality of the changes were different than they are in modern times, still there was tremendous disruption of the natural order, tremendous loneliness. So relationship, being in relationship with where we live and who we are, and the steam that comes out of the rice that we're boiling, also opens our hearts and minds, especially when we're stable and we have the gumption to hold still. It opens us up to the sorrow and displacement that is, that surrounds us. A modern philosopher, I don't remember her name, but I remember her book, she wrote a beautiful book called Hold Fast. Do you know? Thank you. Thank you. So the Hold Fast is a structure that a kelp, great sea kelps, have to hold on to the ground of the ocean, even in the great tidal movements, they're willing to be rooted, to hold on,


and to move with the waters. And this philosopher notices that to hold fast and be in relationship now to what is changing and what is being taken from us and lost by the way we live in the world is extraordinary, takes extraordinary presence and attention. We can't have a conversation about Buddhism and ecology in these times without looking at relationship and breaking apart of relationship. So perhaps when you thought of your place, when you examined rootedness, if you looked a little bit more deeply, the land where you grew up, say, in my case, is no longer part of our family land. And it's been, actually, the house where I grew up, after our family moved away from that house, it was purchased by someone who didn't follow through on the payments, and


the house was abandoned. And in this very gussied-up neighborhood on the outskirts of New York City where I grew up in Westport, Connecticut, our house remains a haunted house on the block. The court battles have never been settled. I think this is so appropriate to my family, it's just so completely appropriate. My sisters, two years ago, called me on cell phones from within our house, they'd broken into our family home, and they said it was unbelievable, the devastation, windows were all broken out. It was like a haunted house, the weeds were up around the windows. Of course, I exalted in that, they were not all that happy about that, I thought, well, it hasn't been developed, it isn't being mowed, it isn't being watered, this is good news. However, they didn't feel that way, they felt that there was a kind of sorrow, that a place that had been taken care of, that had been so important to us, was abandoned.


I think many people, when we look at our relationship, not only with our home, but also with the natural world, and feel the fraying or the breaking of relationship, come into a different kind of connectedness with the primary questions. So relationship is not always easy. This philosopher asks, she asks, how do you handle the brokenness and the separation? And then also, how does the land itself handle it? It's interesting to ask from both sides. And I think ecological awareness asks us to take that kind of questioning quite seriously.


So that's relationship, important to be related. And last of all, a kind of responsibility. So you're rooted, you're stable, you're in relationship, difficult, challenging, opportunity and danger at the same time, you're in relationship to that, now, what's your responsibility? And you know, the study of ecology, as the study of awakening, of Buddhism, calls us to be responsible, to respond, to respond to the cries of the world, not just to sit still. Of course, we build up stable groundedness, so that we can get up and serve, so that we


can respond. And in responsiveness, in active responsiveness, we come back again and again to sitting still, right in the middle of where we are in touching the earth. When confusion is strong, hold still, touch the earth, call on a wider awareness. Thus we know the mind, shake the mind, free the mind. Ancient meditation tradition, primary, ancient, oldest meditation tradition in teaching says there are three qualities that are developed in deep meditation, the ability to know the mind, to shake the mind, and to free the mind. And that's going to take some responsibility and willingness to be responsible. And some guidelines that work pretty well as far as to help us, to help encourage responsibility.


To nourish compassion and respect, begin with yourself. This is a wonderful place to incubate that capacity, to incubate, to grow, to, to, to nurture that capacity. Here you're, in a way, Zen Center provides a field of action and also a safe haven from the confusion of the world, for this brief moment of time you're here. Building your resources so that you can be all the more responsive. Or nourishing compassion and respect. And do it together. This is from a group of about thirty ecologists from all over the world meeting together for ten days about ten years ago. We met together at Chinoa Refuge up in Northern California and these guidelines came out of


that meeting. So nourish, find some way to nourish compassion and respect. Do it together, we know that, here we are together tonight. Remember who you really are, that's important. And that gets back to connecting with the ground and this, the funny one, act your age. Remember after all we're five billion years old, so we can act our age. Help me help us to be more responsible. And when I'm talking, when I'm speaking about responsibility, I mean not only for our own meditation practice and our own body and mind, but also for the way we live in the world. Even though we live low on the ladder of consumption. We also live in the convenience of a country that is, as you well know, far outstripping


in a quite, sorry to use the word I don't like, in a massively unsustainable way. Living here, practicing here, we take responsibility for that, for that awareness and also for what it means. And hopefully, as it is so evident in the Buddhist tradition, we make the commitment to serve, to get up and serve in some way, in whatever way it may be. That's the true, in my experience, the true depth of being able, being privileged to train in a place like this for the brief time. I remember years ago when our 27-year-old son was a baby on a Sunday after lecture going by the dining room and there was another baby sitting in his high chair in the dining room. And not only that, it wasn't even a residence baby. It was a visiting baby.


And I thought, oh my God, someone's in Jesse's chair. I think it was, because I remember it to this day, I think it was one of the most important teachings I received, walking by the window, looking through the window and seeing, oh this is my place for a short season. And then I get to move on so that the next generation can come in and sit in Jesse's high chair and go on, so that they can come. So there's a great, huge sorting and movement. And it's our responsibility while we're here to gather the mind so that we can be more involved. And I'm talking about involved in the world of environmental and social justice. I'm very much talking about that. And finding a way to be involved in that world without losing our stability, without forfeiting our deepest ecological presence.


So that's a real challenge, how to do that. And those guidelines are just a fun way to think about it in a minute. We'll discuss together how we can actually do this. As far as responsibility goes, in the last 15 years, even with all the dire information about global climate change and consumption patterns and loss of species and habitat, there is some heartening news. The Dalai Lama years ago in a conference in 1990 in Middlebury College, a conference on spirit and nature and how to practice with the mind of spirit and nature, the wonderful proceedings from that conference, a wonderful book. And actually one of the people that pulled it together is a man that I went to college with, a man named John Elder, who teaches English at Middlebury College.


He's a friend of mine from the old days. It was wonderful to find this book. And in that conference, His Holiness said, you know, even with destruction and so much damage in the world, I am still hopeful. Because people find a way to practice meditation, and because people are standing up and speaking on behalf of the environment and working for social justice. There was another point that I don't remember, it probably had to do with, oh, offering our love and appreciation of the teachings to other people. And I am hopeful, he said, even in the face of tremendous loss. So in 1990 that conference started, and it was followed by the World Parliament of Religions in 1993, where different faith traditions from all over the world gathered in Chicago. I was fortunate enough to be there on a panel talking about how to practice in connection


with the earth. A friend and teacher, Norman Fisher, was also there, and other friends. Mostly there was just a throng of humanity there in Chicago, gathering together, looking at what is the responsibility, the same questions that Reverend Bingham brought up a few weeks ago. What is the responsibility of religious practice for the world, and how do we find a way to make our practice more responsive? And, you know, right after that World Parliament there was a gathering sponsored by Harvard University of ten major religious traditions, looking at how does religion and ecology work together. And the first proceedings to come out in 1996 had to do with Buddhism and ecology. And wonderful proceedings, worth checking and reading. They're a little dense to read, but there's wonderful teachings. And then shortly after 1997, formation of the Earth Charter. There's a whole book on Buddhist perspectives of the Earth Charter.


I would love to have another meeting, maybe an evening meeting, just a small meeting of people that are interested and go over these points, because for me they're Dharma teaching in responsiveness to what's happening in the world. And then in 2000, in the year 2000, this Earth Charter was ratified, and we've been disobeying it ever since. So how do we take some responsibility for how we live and who we are? All of these questions come up very deeply in the Buddhist tradition, and in the wider tradition too, not limited by Buddhism. But that is, of course, what we're looking at this evening. I think I'll close with these five vows that came out of that same retreat we did at Shinoah, looking at Buddhism and ecology and activism and responsiveness.


Five vows that we took as a group. I vow to myself and each of you here to commit myself daily to the healing of our world and the welfare of all beings. And this was in a kind of group ritual closing ceremony that we did. So to commit myself daily to the healing of our world and the welfare of all beings. And to live in Earth more lightly and nonviolently in the food, products, and energy I consume. And to draw courage and guidance from the living Earth, the ancestors, the future beings, and brothers and sisters of other species. And fourth, to support you, to support one another in our work for the world, and to


ask for help when I need it. And last of all, and probably most importantly, I vow to myself and each of you here to pursue a daily spiritual practice that clarifies the mind, strengthens the heart, and supports me in observing these vows. So, I hope there are many access points for you in these remarks that come from my practice, and I hope that we'll be comfortable now having a dialogue or just questions, a conversation with each other. Well, thank you very much for inviting me. Thank you, Maya. Thank you, everybody, for inviting me home, to this home. And let's turn the Dharma and see what comes up and draw from your experience.


I'm really interested in what came up in the rootedness meditation too. Thank you very much. Floor is open. Hello, yes. I immediately thought of dates and palm trees and desert hills that I'm from. Can you give insight to my mind? In a visceral way? Yes. Yeah, that's nice. That's good. Thank you. Yes, Jane. What came up for me was that we had an unusually large hammock at our house when I was a child. It was so big you could push it and run and run underneath it, you know. It was a huge arch.


And there was a lot of fighting in my family home since I was very young. And my friends, they didn't ever want to come over to my house. They would come over to swing a fat hammock. So it was kind of the point of interchange where you could have visitors. Safe place. Yeah, and people weren't actually willing to come and do the thing where I went. We're made of these memories, dreams, and reflections. Yes, Jane. During the one minute, I thought of my parents' house. They have a log cabin in the woods in Pennsylvania. I went into the big spider on this desk. I remember going in there one day and being really close to it and then realizing it's there and jumping back. I've been thinking a lot about going back there, literally, physically and living there


in my parents' house with them. To explore what you're talking about, this rootedness and relating with them. My question is just like how... I don't even know how to imagine how difficult this will be. How I can do it and sustain a practice there by myself. I don't know. It's just really scary. It's really scary, but really exciting. Do you have any words of advice for venturing off of it? I remember years ago, Linda Ruth saying something that really influenced me. She said she wondered what the experience, I think it was of Sarah going to college, how that would influence the ecology of their home. It's interesting to think of that, to think of our home, our actual home as having its


own icosnomia, its own logic and life. It's not separate from us. And to experience it. One of the teachings in ecology that's so valuable is to first look at the vast universe and then to focus on bioregion and ecosystem. I don't remember quite how it telescopes down. I'm going to jump to human and animal realm and then microscopic realm. And recognize that going home includes all those realms. And this is primary teaching in the Buddhist world, that all those world systems are present in your own aware mind. So your awareness affects the ecology of your home and also how you respond, how you take up the work of this moment or the work of this life. And there'll be spiders and junk. And cranky parents and you going in and out of awareness.


And the greatest gift, even when you're... That's why the crisis character, it includes the double weight of opportunity and danger. It's hard to take on responsibility without enforcing it on other people too. That's right. That's true. But in its root, responsiveness means to listen and to answer by listening. First step is to listen. Very much primary training and teaching in the Buddhist world. So whatever you do, I'll leave the roots on. Take a look at it. And then remember your connectedness to this place, to this particular point in time, to what you've learned here and what you're doing here as you go out. And influence the landscape where you go.


Yada, yada, yada, yada. Easier said than done. Other points? Other... Yes. What came to me is my last name, which comes from the word patrishka, which is like a parsnip. My grandparents were from the Ukraine, so we think that they were farmers. And I had this feeling of it being very rooted in the ground, but also not at all flexible, not like a seat belt, just stuck, which is how I've been. Is that the image that came up? Yes. Which is how I've been feeling. But then I remembered my other grandparents. Well, they all came across the water to get to this country. So then I have that movement of the water and flowing in. It wasn't just the stuckness. You know, in the old days at Green Gulch, before we were more civilized,


when, as Kathy Fisher used to say, we were a third world country, we used to have contests in the field to see who could dig out a full daikon, which is a parsnip. In the parsnip radish family. And Ed Brown wanted to call his book, Tomato Teachings and Radish Failures. But the press said, no, you can't call it that. I think that's correct. You can't have failure in the title. And he said, oh, yeah. So, you know, that you had an image of a great radish, which means root. And that we never succeeded in pulling up a full daikon. Never. I remember David Cohen, who, if anyone could have done it, David would have done it. In fact, when David Cohen left the fields, we buried one of his boots. We put it in the greenhouse filled with soil and planted a lettuce in it. He could dig deeper than anybody. We never got to the bottom of that root.


So you're never going to get to the bottom of that. Great encouragement, isn't it? But, you know, just that that image came up is strong. Maybe stay with it. Don't try to dig it all out because you won't succeed. And I think that's actually encouraging. Yeah, yeah. That kind of failure is important because it means it's deeper than we know. To not to not keep fighting and trying to do something that's not possible. What did Sarah say last week? I heard from Eva, I think, quoting Jamie Meyerhoff, if I'm not mistaken. Forgive me if I am. Um, the body that you presently have when you when you enter into childbearing is not the body that will be will come forth. So the body of your thinking now is different from the body that you grew up with. And it's bigger, wilder, more willing to look at crisis and opportunity.


And while you're here, it's deepened meditation. So enjoy every minute of that because you're needed in the world. All that long twisted rudeness of yourself. Yes. My image of rudeness was not varied. Yeah. And well, that's really my work in the world is to get deeper. I remember when I studied here 20 years ago, that was one of the one of the phrases was, if you just sit for a little while, you just only bore through the same four inches every day. You know, you don't have to, you know, sit long enough under the Bodhi tree, whatever, you know, to to go deeper and deeper past the same four inches. Yeah. Little by little. Mahago Philanda, a great meditation teacher and activist in Cambodia, when asked how to make peace, he said, make peace step by step.


And, you know, when he went and was finally able to go into the refugee camps in his country to return home and was admonished not to chant, he walked step by step, chanting right into the camp. And the people that hadn't heard those chants for many, many months, followed him, even though it was completely against the law, at peril of their own life, followed him chanting. Just a little step. And he said, that's how we move step by step, chant by chant, responding to the world. And even if it's just a very little way, like beginning to chant again after so many years, it opens up, maybe like that vanguard root pushing down into the ground. What, what would lubricate the root? That's important to find out. What would lubricate the tip of the root? Practice. What lubricates the tip of the root? Maybe that's a good question for you.


We should stop. That's what I heard, right? One more question. Oh, no, I was just wondering, actually, I, I wanted to say, by my progression of that home, I couldn't think of, there, no images came until the bell hit the second time, and then I thought that a recent owl has been my home. And then also, I have been wanting to ask you, like, about the penguin since you walked in. Oh, good. Yeah. Thank you. Okay. So, this penguin was a gift to me, from a Dharma friend of mine, a Dharma brother of mine, his name is Charlie Mallet. When he was 36 years old, he died of cancer. He was a very irreverent person, and a fantastic, fantastic practitioner. He gave his darling sweetheart, Jane, the penguin, and said, get it to Wendy, tell her that I kept it in my bell, it makes children laugh.


So, I have kept the penguin in my bell ever since, and every time I open, um, the, um, the bell case, I'm so happy. You know, I gave the penguin in the bell to Leslie Michal once, when there was a family program here, and so they took the bell, and the kids liked the penguin a lot, and the penguin passed all around the room, and in the very end of the meditation program, these were Marin children, the kids said, put the penguin back in his hot tub. So, thank you for setting me up for that one, and thank you very much again for, for this evening. May the, um, may the merit of our questioning, and open-hearted investigation of this topic, and our steady practice, um, be offered for the well-being of all beings in the ten directions.


May our intention...