Sesshin Lecture

00:00
00:00
Audio loading...

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

This talk will not appear in the main Search results:
Unlisted
Serial: 
SF-03545
Description: 

First Sesshin, Zendo Lecture

Photos: 
Transcript: 

Good morning. This is the last day of the five-day Sashin, and some of you may be thinking, oh no, tomorrow I have to leave the magical city, or like this is the magical city. And others of you might be saying, oh good, tomorrow I get to the magical city. We have different relationships to what's going on. I wanted to talk with you about the ceremony that we're going to be having on November

[01:05]

2nd, the origins of that ceremony and how that ceremony might support our practice. The first time I participated in that ceremony, I think Suzuki Roshi may have just died the year before or a couple years before, and the ceremony took place at 300 Page Street and it combined a memorial service for Suzuki Roshi and Segaki, we called it Segaki, we called it Segaki Ceremony up until last year, and it was a very, I didn't really know what was going on, but it affected me very strongly, just the quality of the ceremony, turning,

[02:13]

I think after the memorial service, the whole procession left the Buddha Hall and came back in and the altar was, all the lights were extinguished and we turned around and had an altar facing the other way, and our backs were to the regular altar. And I remember Zentatsu Baker wore this outfit that I'd never seen before, very fancy brocade okesa that had belonged to Suzuki Roshi, and Zentatsu Baker was much taller, I think he was like 6'3 and Suzuki Roshi was, I don't know, 5'2 or something, so it was this okesa that came up, kind of, I think it was kind of above his knees, very thick, heavy brocade, and then this huge hat that pointed in front and had flaps that hung down, all brocaded and it was really a sight.

[03:16]

And the way he spoke during the ceremony, it was just very powerful, and the sounds of the ceremony. And since that time, every year that we've had it, well I should say that certain years I wasn't very inspired by it, I wasn't so encouraged, and I think in those years the ceremony seemed to have gotten mixed up with Halloween and kind of a confusion about what the ceremony was about. And I remember one year the doshi came in to the buddha hall with a paper bag over his head and I thought, what is going on here, you know, the officiating priest came in with this bag over his head, was trying to do things, and I just, I thought, something has shifted here. So this year our ceremony will be on November 2nd, rather, we had planned it on the 31st,

[04:24]

and in thinking about it more thoroughly I was more inclined to have it on November 2nd. I had received this email that went to all meditation groups in, I think in the states, asking people to do ceremonies on that day and sit as a November 2nd, do you know what day that is, November 2nd? So there was this, I don't know where it was generated from, but some request for people to use that day as a meditation day and focusing, and I thought, well that's perfect, it's a perfect day to do the Seijiki, we're calling it now Seijiki ceremony, and in talking more about the ceremony maybe you'll see how that is. It also gives us a little more time to prepare for the ceremony rather than having it right after the personal day.

[05:29]

So the origins of the ceremony, there's two sutras actually, or two writings coming out of Buddhist texts coming out of India supposedly. One is a story about Maha Moggalyana, one of the Buddhist close disciples, and another is a story about Ananda, and both of them can be taken as the origins for this ceremony. So the first story about Moggalyana, his mother passed away and he was being plagued by these very, very strong dreams about his mother, dreaming that she was suffering very badly, very terribly in a realm where she was very hungry and thirsty, and he tried to offer her

[06:48]

food in the dream, rice, and it turned to charcoal, so he couldn't eat it, and he was just plagued by these dreams night after night. So he talked with the Buddha about it, and the Buddha talked about one of the realms, the realm of the hungry ghosts, and in that realm beings are hungry and thirsty but cannot be satisfied. I think you've heard of a description of those beings, they are depicted iconographically with distended bellies that you see actually in people who are starving, and little tiny necks where they can't get any sustenance, and whatever they try to eat turns into unedible, terrible things. So out of this connection and love for his mother, he said, what can I do, is there anything

[07:53]

I can possibly do to help her? And the Buddha said, there is something you can do, it's right at the end of the Ango for the monks and nuns, and they'll be having a gathering, a full moon or new moon gathering, and this is where the connection between karma and resolving of karma and this realm and the ceremony and so forth comes in here. The Buddha suggested that he make offerings to his mother through making offerings with the monks and nuns and dedicate the merit of that, and they were gathered, the monks and nuns were gathered, observing the precepts and helping each other with that and their

[08:54]

karmic tendencies, so it all comes together in a kind of cluster of meaning and connection. So he did make that, also an interesting thing, that Moggallana was the disciple who was foremost in psychic powers, you know, different disciples were foremost in something, but he couldn't understand why it was that his mother was suffering so much, and the Buddha says to him, or it's said that the Buddha said, because of your strong love for your mother, you can your psychic power, this strength that you have, you can't really see clearly because of such a strong connection and attachment, maybe you could say. I thought that was an interesting point, pointing to this incredible strong relationship we have with parents, for one, and, you know,

[10:06]

beings. So the second story is, it has to do with Ananda, and this is a story where Ananda was sitting Zazen and he was visited by a being like that, with a big tummy and a tiny neck, who said, in three days you're going to die and you're going to go to the home of the hungry ghosts. And Ananda went to the Buddha and said, oh my goodness, you know, what can I do about that? And the Buddha said, well, I was taught a particular ceremony and mantras and dharanis that can be said by Avalokiteshvara, taught me this, and I will now teach you.

[11:06]

And so this ceremony was the, and the chanting, well, the ceremony became this feeding of the hungry ghosts, and within it we chant the Kanro Mon, or the gate of sweet dew, the Kanro is sweet dew, or it comes from the Sanskrit amrita, that substance which is that ambrosia or nectar of immortality or liberation, the dew, the sweet dew of compassion that's poured down. And Avalokiteshvara Kuan Yin or Kannon often has that vase, you know, that vase, and you often see that pouring out, this is the amrita, or this compassionate sweet dew of compassion. So in our Kanro Mon, or in the gate of sweet dew, we start out by saying

[12:10]

homage to all Buddhas in the ten directions, homage to the complete Dharma in the ten directions, homage to the complete Sangha in the ten directions, homage to our original teacher Shakyamuni Buddha, and then homage to the merciful, compassionate Avalokiteshvara, right? And then to Ananda, the expounder of the teachings. So the reason that those are chosen at the beginning of the gate of sweet dew is because of this ceremony that Avalokiteshvara taught Shakyamuni, who taught Ananda, who now we have been taught it, and we can observe that ceremony too. So in Chinese, I think maybe the ceremony is called Yu Han Pen, and Yu Han means to hang upside down,

[13:19]

and pen is a container with food offerings. So the ones who are hanging upside down are thought to be those who are suffering terribly in these different realms. Now something more about Maha Moggallana. He made a vow, and it's interesting, we were talking about Inanna setting her ear to the great below and wanting to go down into the underworld, was drawn to that. In the same way, Moggallana was drawn to go down into the gates, through the gates of hell, or into the underworld, to help those particular beings who were suffering in that way. After seeing his mother, and these are the stories, so after seeing his mother he thought,

[14:20]

he made a vow to go to these realms to help those people who are suffering the most, and he said something like, it reminds me of something that the Jewish sage Hillel said, Moggallana said, if I don't do it, who will do it? If not I, who will? Which is, I think Hillel said something similar to that, if not I, then who? You know, to practice in this way. So this is a very strong vow to work with the beings who are suffering the most in these realms, and to open the gate of sweet dew, and help them. Now, I'm talking about this, you might say, now wait a minute, there's no real, you know, you don't really mean that there's a place where there's these tiny necked beings, and, or you

[15:23]

might be getting nervous that I'm talking in that way. And my sense of the six realms are not that there's some realms, some other place, but right within our own psychophysical life, we experience these realms, we experience great suffering, we experience having our life turned upside down, we experience the particular suffering of not being able to be satisfied, being surrounded by the teachings, being surrounded by help and beings, and having our own spiritual aspiration, but still resisting letting the teachings in, fully taking up the practice. This is a kind of spiritual hunger that's not able to be met. So, the hungry ghosts, we are the hungry ghosts, you know, being addicted to various things,

[16:37]

is we take in, we take in, and yet we're never satisfied. It doesn't ever meet that place that needs nourishment and needs to be fed. So, we just keep trying to take in more externals, taking more from outside. So, these different realms are not, they don't exist somewhere else. We know ourselves when we're this way, we know other people who we feel are caught in some kind of hungry ghost realm. And I think there's physical addictions to substances and or relationships or all sorts of addictions. I think the strongest meaning of this hungry ghost realm is in the

[17:45]

spiritual realm, knowing somehow that the teachings would help or the practices would help, and yet resisting and not letting it come in. Or what we take in, we can't digest, we can't metabolize. There's some diabolic rather than metabolic event going on. So, this ceremony is a wonderful chance to have our own descent, just like Inanna, descended into,

[18:47]

you know, we talk about light and dark, oppose one another like front and back steps and walking, front and back feet, and yet we often so much emphasize the light, you know, and the richness and fertility and nourishment of the dark, branching streams flowing in the darkness, and the non-honoring and non-taking care of those parts of our life. In this ceremony, that's the side that's honored and taken care of and fed and given dharanis and sound and smells and tastes and touchables, and the regular altar is extinguished, no light over there, and this other side that often is so overlooked is given the full

[19:59]

and thorough loving attention. And we feed that part of ourself, you know, we feed the hungry ghosts, and we not only do we feed them, we call them, we come, come, you're safe here, this is where you can really unburden yourself and be fed dharma, dharma, you can be fed, you can take in the dharma. So, it's, you know, this, in many, many different cultures, there's ceremonies, and at this time of year, and this hemisphere, maybe, there's, in the autumn, this transition time, when the light, the sun is, you know, fading and

[21:05]

the days are growing shorter and the nights are getting longer, it's said in, there's the Day of the Dead ceremony, where the spirits of the dearly departed are fed and hosted and celebrated. So, there's that ceremony, Halloween itself, All Saints' Day or All Hallows' Eve, supposedly a Samhain, you know, the goddess worshiping peoples, that ceremony, the belief was that the veils between this world and the spirit world get very thinned right at this time, and permeable, and these beings are, they step through, you know. So, there's a lot of folklore and

[22:16]

ceremony, and in Japan, I guess, Obon, Uji, Obon is in the summertime, yes? Summertime, so there's something I read where this summertime, around the summer solstice, is also a kind of transition time, where the, after the full light, the days begin to get shorter, right? So, this is another transition. So, it's not so much a ceremony of placating these, you know, spirits that are out and about running wild, but communion with, or a reciprocal communion and caring feeling, rather than, okay, let's feed them and get them back under wraps again, where they belong. It's more, let's acknowledge, and look at, and remember consciously, and take care in a reciprocal way, giving and taking.

[23:23]

The, the word, the Se, part of Seigake, or Seijiki, means offering, or charitable gift, or alms gift, or and Gaki means hungry ghost. Seijiki, Jiki means food, so it becomes a food offering, a ceremony of food offering, and just last year, we were informed that there was this, that saying Seijiki was the more, what was in common usage now. So, giving food is one of the main parts of the ceremony, and, you know, we give food, as I was saying, our spirit offering that we do every day, we, we lessen our own portion and give, and this ceremony, there's a rather elaborate food offering that's, that's made. Um, I have these notes from long ago, from Chino Roshi, who's, as you know, passed away. This is

[25:04]

from December 1974. Maybe that was the first ceremony that we had after Suzuki Roshi died, and he says, uh, the ceremony about Seigake makes statement about spirits. It is how to deal with negative things, negative happenings, negative part of phenomena. This is forgotten in the West. So, this connection with, um, the negative things and our own ancient twisted karma, those actions and the results of those actions, the results of our actions of body, speech, and mind, well, negative, uh, actions and the results, and our feeling of karmic, ancient twisted karma connections with beings, and the, the confusion, and the way we've hurt people, or not understood,

[26:07]

or been hurt, uh, and then when those people are no longer around us, the feeling of impossibility of working on that. So, in some way, this ceremony is a ritual way, and it's, it's a, you could say this isn't, there's the exoteric part of the ceremony, the chanting and offerings, and there's the inner meaning of it, the esoteric inner meaning, and it, the, the Dharanis, and, uh, that are untranslatable, untranslatable, are, you know, the esoteric part as well. So, sometimes we don't know what to do with our ancient twist, we can't, we don't know how to settle it for ourselves, and so ritually, there's some way of being, of touching it, being met, that's beyond or outside of our kind of

[27:07]

rational thinking, well, what am I saying, and what does this mean, and how does this all work? Uh, to not suspend disbelief exactly, but to let go of trying to rationally work out what this is all about, and to understand it as, uh, a ritual way of meeting that which we have difficulty in meeting. So, and I think the core of the ceremony is compassion. How is it that we want to feed those parts of ourselves, or those beings, uh, the Dharma, or this food of the Dharma, or nourish these beings,

[28:08]

uh, it's not, as I say, to placate and keep them at bay so they don't scare us, and bother us, and, and invade our dreams, but it's out of compassion. It's a response of compassion. Uh, so in, in one of the dictionaries, when I looked up the characters for Segaki, it, it said it's a service for the un-mourned dead, the un-mourned dead. So, when you think about, and, and we say this in the dedication of the ceremony, that it's for those beings who are, who died too young, who died in accidents, in warfare, died of starvation, died too soon,

[29:11]

died unexpectedly, you know, or that no one know they even died, and, and this, the un-mourned, all those immeasurable beings who are, uh, we can mourn them. We can, out of compassion, feed them, remember them, include them, and all the un-mourned parts of ourselves, you know, this is, it's on so many different levels that the ceremony, uh, can touch us, uh, those parts of ourselves that are untended, un-mourned, un-loved, un-honored, that we don't give alms to, we don't make offerings to, we just wish they would get lost, you know, and we have that kind of feeling. So, it's a chance to bring that all up

[30:15]

and put it center, in the center of our hearts, in the center of the room, and make offerings, and say words, and open the gate of sweet dew, this compassionate gate, and a time to give alms and disperse our, uh, gifts of generosity. So, all those parts of ourselves that are ravenous, ravenous for something,

[31:21]

and we have an object, we name it, and try to take some external thing, and I, I don't think ravenous is too strong a word, you know, this longing and yearning. I remember once saying in Doksan to one of our teachers, I said, Mr. Isashin, I said, what is this longing, you know, and they said to me, what longing, and I was just floored, and I just bowed and just skedaddled out of there. You mean, you don't feel this longing, this ravenous, insatiable, and, and they just said, all they said was, what longing? So, this agitated, churning, yearning, longing,

[32:24]

this is, this is a ceremony to honor that and settle, minister to it, nourish, feed, and the, the different parts of the ceremony, it starts out, um, and in here we, we do the same thing, we have the ceremony altar with our backs to the regular altar, so I think it's, the altar is set up here, and we come in the back door, so this upside-down feeling, you know, already we're, we're kind of reorienting, or disorienting and reorienting ourselves in a new way. We're always so oriented towards the visible and, and pay little attention, if not as much attention as could be to these, these other aspects, so we turn the, the, this becomes a buddha hall, zen no buddha hall, we turn it around, and then there's, um,

[33:31]

different, um, banners that, uh, relate to different buddhas, five different buddhas, and it's a, it's a shingon, it's an esoteric kind of ceremony with, um, different colors and, and wonderful food offerings, and then we do, um, the, we have some sound, we create a sound offering with, and hopefully everyone will be able to help with that, uh, we'll practice that, and that sound is called calling all beings, so with this sound, um, we kind of wake up and call right here those, uh, that energy, that negative energy, and then once it's assembled, it's been called by, and been called up in us, we hope, then we speak kind words

[34:35]

and say, it's okay, you can be fed, you can take nourishment, it's all right, all that negative ancient twisted, it's okay, and then we chant the gate of sweet dew, which we've been chanting every week, and then we chant, uh, the kanro mon, which is, um, the gate of sweet dew, but the mantras, all the, um, these mantras, which in the new translation, we now see these different dharanis, uh, what they're for, so there's the English, which we don't chant, is written right there, so you know what that mantra is, or that dharani, so there's a dharani for summoning deceased spirits to the great assembly, dharani for breaking down the gates of hell and opening the throats, so Moggallana broke open the gates of hell, and supposedly all these spirits were let out, and

[35:38]

there's a dharani for blessing the food with the unimpeded radiance of innumerable virtues, a dharani of the flavor of dharma covered with sweet dew, so we'll be chanting all those dharanis, and they're really fun to chant, this is, I mean, we'll chant, we'll practice, where it says, you know, and then we make, uh, we summon the five Tathagatas, uh, many jewel Tathagata, who's actually in the Lotus Sutra, and different, different Buddhas, five different Buddhas, and we have banners for them, so, so it's an elaborate ceremony, um, to take care of this part of our lives, which is often so untaken care of, and then there's, um, food offerings and other chanting, esoteric dharani for residing in the

[36:44]

great virtuous jewel pavilion, there's also, the jewel pavilion is also Lotus Sutra, uh, there's a jewel pavilion in the Lotus Sutra, and I'm not sure if this is exactly that same one, but it certainly resonates with that, and at the end there's a long dedication, where we dedicate it to, um, conscious beings in the three realms, and suffering beings, and so forth. Now, also, in the ceremony, we do a memorial service, too, and the tradition that we've been having at Zen Center is to read all the names of the people who have passed away, and we've had memorial services for that year, so we often have, um, many, many stack of cards with names, and we'll do that this year, and also any person who's

[37:47]

that you would like to have remembered in the memorial service, you may write their name down, we'll have three by five cards, I hope, you can write the name down of that person, and if it's hard to pronounce the name, to put some, uh, way how the name is pronounced underneath, so it can be pronounced correctly, and we'll dedicate the merit to all those beings as well, um, and it's also an occasion to have a moment to, to mention not only the hungry ghosts and the, the spirits of those who have been killed, or have been, have died by suicide, or in wars, or in all these un, the unmourned dead, and all these unknown beings that we want to remember, but also our, our loved ones are, can be mentioned, and our teachers, Suzuki Roshi, and other teachers are

[38:52]

also, it's appropriate to mention them as, as well. So in the, in the way, just in the way of, we've been talking about going down, this is a ceremony of descent, I think, and acknowledgement and honoring in a very full way. I, by way of a koan, I wanted to, you know, the questions might come up, like, well, how can we, um, help beings who are already dead or unmourned, or, you know, what does that mean exactly, or what does what we do in this zendo have to do with, you know, my grandpa who died 20 years ago, or, or whatever, we, um,

[39:59]

we can be confused about that, and I, um, and I have been confused about that, but when I look at that carefully, and in asking about this, and reflecting on it, you know, we may also be confused, not only are we confused about what death is, but we're confused also about what life is, you know, what is this life now, how am I existing now, what is my interconnection and real life unfolding now, we're also confused, you know, so we're confused about both life and death, right? Ah, and this is a quote from Sogyal Rinpoche from Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, which I know some of you have read, he says, since there's no barriers to what we call life and what we call death, there are ways of helping people in every conceivable situation.

[41:07]

So, since there's no barriers to what we call life and what we call death, there are ways of helping people in every conceivable situation. The radiant power and warmth of the compassionate heart can reach out to help in all states and realms. In some way, that speaks to all of our memorial services that we, ah, and all our well-being ceremonies, you know, are the warmth of our compassionate heart can reach out and help all beings in all realms. You know, one of the sufferings is, ah, being separated from those we love and another one being forced to be with those we don't love,

[42:18]

and this separation from those we love, ah, in death, feels like sometimes, not always, but feels like the most final and devastating. And human beings and mammals actually, ah, have grief. The excruciating, the most excruciating pain is this, ah, separation or loss of those we love. It may be in, through death, it may be through separation in time and space, it may be loss of a relationship or a ending of a relationship, and not that the person's died, but that we no longer have access to that person in that way anymore and will never again. The excruciating pain of that and grief is, ah, well, it's, it's indescribable, really.

[43:19]

So our grief at the loss of parents and friends and pets and relationships, ah, even knowing all is impermanent, you know, the teachings of impermanence, and it's, there is nothing constant. We, we, we hear those teachings and it, ah, and yet we feel, you know, indescribable pain. And it's a physiological pain. It's, it's not just emotional, mental pain. The body goes through amazing, ah, changes with loss, you know. There's, ah, you know what?

[44:26]

Stress hormones. And then after a while despair sets in with a kind of collapse of fretfulness and lethargy, not wanting to eat, not wanting to do much of anything, loss of interest in other people, friends. A kind of, ah, collapsing of the posture. Sleep's disrupted, heart rate is low, and immune functions are, ah, you know, our circadian rhythms are changed and our immune functions are off, and often people get, get very sick. Sometimes we get sick after a great loss, you know.

[45:37]

So these are physiologically what, what we go through in grieving, and it's not just an idea, it's, it's a full body, mind, psychophysical, ah, length, you know, that's excruciating pain. And we feel this in smaller and bigger degrees, you know, and we need time to take care of that, sometimes a long time. You know, my mother passed away, ah, I think it's six months in May, so, yeah, six months, just around six months, and my, um, I went back to inter her ashes this summer, she wanted to be cremated, and so we had an ashes ceremony, and one of my cousins whose mother passed away a couple years ago said it took her

[46:45]

about two years to really feel herself again, at least two years, and I said what it, that was very helpful for me because I had not been feeling myself, and I, I actually don't feel whatever myself is, I feel a certain different energy, a kind of, um, the energy to take things up, you know, in a certain way, it's not really, I don't feel it, you know, maybe you could say that's a part of that lethargy of the different circadian rhythms, um, so just acknowledging that this is all part of the grieving process, and we'll see, maybe after a couple of years I'll, I'll feel like I've gone through some, something, come out. I know in, in China, when a parent died, if you were like in the government or civil service,

[47:48]

you were given a year off, you would go home for a year to mourn and take care of yourself, and we have very, very sparse rituals around grieving and mourning, uh, when I say we, I'm thinking of kind of, uh, well, I don't know what I'm talking about, I guess I'm talking about, uh, society and culture, as I'm familiar with, there's very few, there's funerals, and there's wakes, and there's maybe seven days sitting mourning, that Sonia's family is doing right now for her father in the Jewish tradition, and then after that, sometimes there's a feeling like, okay, well, let's get on with it, you know, back, get back to work, you know, and there's, um, I remember in Italy seeing these black cloth buttons that people wore, that I didn't know

[48:55]

what they were, I remember asking, and that was for a person who had died, and it was like an outward symbol that they were in mourning, and you see that you, you care for the person or speak to them a little differently than if you didn't know that about them, and armbands also, I remember in Italy, people wore black armbands over their suit or dress or whatever for, I don't know how long, um, months, maybe years, a year, armbands and the button, so that, that seems very healthy to me, you know, and I wore, I was given a ribbon, black ribbon at the funeral that's torn as a symbol of tearing and renting that relationship, and I wore that for a month, and, and then I, you know, just put it on my altar, so this long grief process, uh, isn't perhaps tended as well as,

[50:02]

as we could tend it for each other, for ourselves, because the effect on ours, the effect is so strong and so deep, I, I have a friend who went back, his mother died, who he was very, very close to, and he just, he was in computer, running a computer company, he just went back to work, like, the very next day, and he was operating on automatic pilot, and just got right in with, anyway, I think it took a toll on him, you know, so this, um, in the Blue Cliff Record, there's a koan, Dao Wu's condolence call, so, uh, two priests, Dao Wu and Qian Yuan, uh, went to a house to make a condolence call,

[51:04]

and Yuan hit the coffin, and said, alive or dead, and Wu said, I won't say alive, and I won't say dead, and Yuan said, why won't you say, and Wu said, I won't say, so halfway back, as they were returning, Yuan said, tell me right away, teacher, if you don't tell me, I'll hit you, and Wu said, you may hit me, but I won't say, and Yuan hit him, I'll, I'll, I'll repeat the whole thing, so there were two monks, teacher and student, Dao Wu and Qian Yuan, and Qian Yuan was the teacher, and Dao Wu was his student,

[52:07]

they were going to do a memorial service, probably paying a condolence call at some, some of his house, right, you know how that is to pay a condolence call, and there's the coffin right there, and Dao Wu, excuse me, and Yuan hit the coffin and said, alive or dead, and Wu said, Wu's the teacher, Wu said, I won't say alive, and I won't say dead, and Yuan said, why won't you say, Wu said, I won't say, and then halfway back, they were returning back to the temple, and Yuan turned to him and said, tell me right away, teacher, if you don't tell me, I'll hit you, and Wu said, you may hit me, but I won't say, so Yuan hit him, his student hit him, now later on in the commentary, it said that

[53:09]

after he hit him, his teacher said, you know, you should really go away for a while, because if the Shisou, Dao Wu said, I fear that if the monastery director, or another translation says, if the Shisou finds out about this, about this affair, they're going to make trouble for you, so you better, you better go away for a while, so he secretly sent his student away, Qian Yuan, Qian Yuan, he sent him away, later, Yuan later came, he was, so he went away from his temple, out for safety, his teacher sent him, and he was wandering around later, and he came to the small

[54:11]

temple, you can imagine in China, you know, temples all over the place, thousands, he came upon a small temple, where he heard a workman reciting the Avalokiteshvara scripture, like we do at noon service, so he's walking through, and there's this little temple in the woods, and he hears a workman reciting Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, mindfully, you know, bringing to mind, just call on Avalokiteshvara, and he heard this workman say, to those who would attain salvation as monks, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva appears as a monk to expound the Dharma for them, and suddenly, Yuan was greatly enlightened, and said, at that time, I was wrongly suspicious of my teacher, his teacher had died by then, actually, how was I to know that this affair isn't in words

[55:11]

and phrases, so this question, is alive or dead, you know, and his teacher wouldn't say, why wouldn't his teacher say, how come he didn't just say, it was obvious, right, there's a coffin there, right, alive or dead, I won't say, and he got so, he, I mean, he was so filled with this question, and frustrated, I think, that his teacher wouldn't just say, then, he threatened him, if you won't tell me, teacher, I'm going to hit you, and his teacher, out of his compassion, you know, you can hit me, go ahead, but I won't say,

[56:18]

and he hit him, so there's no barriers to what we call life, and what we call death, there are ways of helping people in every conceivable situation, what is death, what is our life, can we, can we hold that question, and not fall into existence or non-existence, or think we know whatever it's all about, and there's no way of helping anybody anyway, why do I have to do a stupid ceremony, and I think it's important, you know, that Yuan, he heard that Avalokiteshvara, that 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra being chanted, Avalokiteshvara comes in any way you need Avalokiteshvara,

[57:25]

any form, any color, any size, any shape, whatever you need, Avalokiteshvara will will meet you there, you just have to ask, you just have to call out, you just have to, with your entire body and mind, make your life one, make our life one compassionate inquiry and offering, at the exact same time, so hearing a workman, maybe the workman was even distractedly chanting it, kind of on his lunch hour, I think I'll go and do a little something over at the shrine, doesn't matter, you know, he heard it, so our last day, let's have it be a full day of session,

[59:06]

observing all the forms of session to the last bell, and have each breath, each exhale as if it was our last breath of this life, and each inhale, a complete birth, no barriers to birth and death, no settling on, I know what it is, one inquiry, thank you very much,

[60:08]