Sesshin Lecture

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First Sesshin, Zendo Lecture

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good morning

this is the last day of the five day session and some of you may be thinking oh no tomorrow i have to leave the magical city or are like this is the magical city and others have you may be say oh good tomorrow i get the magical the
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 second
the origins of that ceremony and how that ceremony mike support our practice
the first time i participated in that ceremony
i think suzuki or she may have just got there before or
couple years before and
the ceremony took place at three hundred page street and it combined
a memorial service for suzuki roshi and
said gawky recalled it's a gawky and called it's a gawky ceremony up until last year
ah it was a very it i didn't really know what was going on
but it it affected me very strongly that just the quality of the ceremony
turning we i think after the memorial service
the whole procession left the buddha home and came back in and the altar was extinct although lights were extinguished and we turned around and had an altar facing the other way with their and our backs which are the regular altar
and i remember them how to bake her wore this outfit and
then i'd never seen before very fancy brocade okay so that had belonged to security
and they've had to baker as much taller i think you have like six three and suzuki roshi lives i don't know
five cool so if this okay so that came up
after i think you have come above his knees very thick heavy brocade and then this huge hat that pointed in front and head flaps that on down all brocade it and
it was really a sight
and had the way he spoke during the ceremony just very powerful in the sounds of this family
and since that time every year that we've had it
that well i should say that certain years i wasn't very inspired it it wasn't so encouraged and i think it those hears the ceremony seem 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 budo with a paper bag over his head
and i got what is going on here you know that the officiating priest came in with this
bag over his head when trying to do things in it i just
i heard some pick if something has shifted here
so this year our ceremony will be on november second rather we had planted on the thirty first ah
and i'm thinking about more thoroughly
i was more inclined to have it on november second i had received this email that went to all meditation groups in i think it the states asking people could do ceremonies on that day and sit as a november second you know it day that is november same
so there was this
i don't know where it was generated from but some
a request for people to use that day as of meditation dame focusing and i felt well of it's perfect it's a perfect day to do the same jackie we're going it now say jiechi ceremony
ah and in talking more about the ceremony maybe you'll see how there is
it also gives us a little more time to prepare for the ceremony rather than having it right after the personal day
so on
the origins of the ceremony there's
sutras actually or two ratings are coming out of buddhist texts coming out of india supposedly
one is a story about maha mogul yana one of the buddhist close disciples and another is a story about a nanda and both of them are
can be taken as the origins for this ceremony so the the first story about a mogul yana
he and 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 carefully enter a realm that dumb where she was very hungry and thirsty and
tried to offer her food in the dream race and it turned to charcoal
we couldn't eat it and he was just played by these dreams night after night so he talked with the boot about it
the buddha
i 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 you've heard of a description of those beings they are depicted i kind of graphically with
distended bellies that you see actually in people who are starving and little tiny next where they can't get any sustenance and whatever they try to eat turns into an edible terrible things
so are out of his this connection in love for his mother he said what can i do can i is there anything 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 congo for the for the monks and nuns and they'll be having a gathering for moon or new moon gathering and this is where the connection between ah
karma karma and and resolving and karma and this realm and the ceremony and so forth it comes in here the buddhist suggested that he make offerings to the
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 are helping each other with that and their karmic tendencies so it all comes together in a kind of cluster of
meaning in connection
so he did make that jam also an interesting thing that local yeah no was that disciple who was foremost in psychic powers no different disciples were foremost and something and but he couldn't understand why it was
that his mother was suffering so much and the buddhist says to him or it said that the buddhist said because of your strong love for your mother your your psychic power this this strength that you have is you can't really see clearly because it's such a strong connection
an attachment ab could say but that was an interesting point
ha pointing to this incredible strong ah
with parents for one and
yeah no beings
so then the second story
is it has to do with ananda and this is
a story where nando was sitting zazen and he was visited by a being like that with a big coming in at 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 down
ananda went to the buddha in said oh my goodness you know what can i do about that
the the buddha said well i was taught a particular ceremony and montrose and de ronnie's that can be said by our lucky dish were taught me this and i will not teach you
so this ceremony was the and the chanting
well that the ceremony became this feeding of the hungry ghosts and within it we chant the can roll mon or the gate of do them conroe is sweet do or
it comes from the sanskrit america that substance which is on
that ambrosia or nectar the of immortality or liberation but do the sweet do of compassion that poor gown
i'm a lucky guess where guanine or condone often has that vase you know that base and and you often see a pouring out this is the america or this compassionate sweet do of compassion
so in a camera mon or in the gators sweet do we start out by same homage to all buddhas to the ten directions amish to the complete garmin the ten directions i most it
homage to the complete saga in the gym directions homage to her original teacher shakyamuni buddha and an homage to the merciful compassionate i'm a low-key tisch by right and then to a nanda the expander of the teaching so that the reason that those are
chosen at the beginning of the gate of sweet do is because of this ceremony that of key cash were taught shakyamuni who taught a nanda who now we have been taught it and we can
observed that ceremony too
in chinese p m
i think maybe the ceremony it is called you hon pen and you have means to hang upside down and pen is a container with food offerings so
this the ups ones who are hanging upside down are thought to be those who are suffering terribly in these different realms
now something more about my humble galiana he made a vow and it's interesting we were talking about and nana setting her ear to the great below and wanting to go down
down into the underworld was drawn to that
in the same way magana was drawn to go down into
ah the gates through the gates of hell or into the underworld to help those particular beings who are suffering in that way after seeing his mother it either that these are the stories so after seeing his mother he thought he made a vow to go
these realms to help those people who are suffering the most and he said something like if she reminds me of something that the young jewish sage hillel said magliano said if not if i don't do it who will do it if not i who will which is i think kill our
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 nice realms
and to open the gate of sweet do
and help them
no i'm talking about this you might say no wait a minute there's no real you know you don't really mean that there's a place where there's these tiny neck beings and
or you might be getting nervous than
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 of life
we experience these realms we experience great suffering we experienced having i life turned upside down we experience
ah the articular 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 lady good teaching in
fully taking up the practice this is the kind of spiritual hunger that not able to be
so the hungry ghosts
we are the hundred ghosts you know
being addicted to various things
if we take in we take in and yet we're never satisfied it doesn't ever
ha meet that place that needs nourishment and needs to be fed to we just keep trying to take a more externals taking more go outside
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 ghosts around
and i think the young there's physical addiction to substance substances in or relationships or
ah all sorts of addictions i think the strongest meaning of this hungry ghost from is in the spiritual realm knowing somehow that the teachers would help with the practices would help and and yet recent history 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 ah
this ceremony is a a wonderful chance
have our own descent just like nana descended into you know we talk about light and dark oppose one another like front and back steps in walking for their back feet
and yet we often so much emphasize the light you know and that the richness and
ah fertility and nourishment of
the dark branching streams flowing in the darkness and that
the non honoring and non taking care of
that those parts of our life
ah in this ceremony that beside that's honored and taken care of and fed and given
the ronnie's and
sound and smells and tastes untouchables and and of the the regular alter is extinguished no light over there and this other side that often is is so overlooked is given the full
full and thorough loving attention
and we feed that out of herself 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 at the in autumn this transition time when the the late the sun is no fading in it and the gator growing shorter in the nights are getting longer it said in nam 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 they're all hallows eve supposedly some hey you know the that
goddess worshipping ah
be a people's that that ceremony the belief was that the veils between this world and the spirit will get very thin right at this time and permeable and then
these beings are
ah a stepped through
so there's a lot of fun
folklore in ceremony and in japan i guess all bone u g o bonus in the summertime yes summer time so there is something i read where this summer time 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 as ceremony of placating these
you know spirits that are out and about running wild but communion with or ha
a reciprocal communion and caring feeling rather than okay that's federman get him back under wraps again where they belong it's more let's acknowledge and look at and remember consciously
and take care in a pow
a reciprocal way giving and taking
the young
the word the say part of say gawker said jiechi means offering or charitable gift or almsgiving and gucky means hungry ghosts say jackie me jackie mean food so it becomes a food offer
during a ceremony of food offering and just last year we were
i'm informed that there was this
yeah that same say gg was the more
what was in common usage now
so are giving food is one of the main parts of the ceremony and you know we give food as everything seeing 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
i have these notes from long ago from chino roshi whose as you know passed away this is from december nineteen seventy four maybe that was the first ceremony that we had after suzuki roshi guy
and he says
the ceremony about cigar keep make 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
the negative things and our own ancient twisted karma those actions and the results of those actions the results of our actions a body speech and mind
well negative actions and the results and are feeling of karmic ancient twisted karma connections with beings and the the confusion and the way we've heard people or not understood or been hurt
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 away and is that it's a you could say this isn't there's the exoteric part of the ceremony chanting and offerings and there's the inner meaning of it the esoteric inner meaning and it the the durante ease and
ah that are untranslatable and translatable are you know the esoteric perch as well
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 be of catching it being met that's beyond or outside of our kind of rational thinking well what am i saying what does this mean and how does this all work
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
a ritual mate way of meeting at which we have difficulty in meeting
when i think the core of the ceremony is compassion
how is it that we want to feed those parts of ourselves or those beings
ah the dharma or this food of the dharma or nourished these beans ah
it's not as i say to placate and keep them at bay so they don't scare us and bother us and an invader dreams but it's out of compassion
it's a response of compassion

so in in one of the dictionary's when i looked at the characters for cigar key it it said it's a service for the and mourned dead the unborn dead so when you think about 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 guide to soon died unexpectedly you know
or that no one know they even guide and and this
the unborn all those
an immeasurable beings who are ah
we can more now weekend can out of compassion feed them remember them include them
and all the unborn parts of ourselves you know this is
it's i'm so many different levels that the ceremony can touch us
those parts of ourselves that are untended unmoored unloved
an honored
and we don't give alms to we don't make offerings to we just wish they would get lost you know
so it's the chance to bring that all up 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 do this compassionate gate
hannah time to give alms and disperse are
ah gifts of generosity
so all those parts of ourselves that are ravenous
ravenous for something
and we have an object name it and trying to take some external thing
and i don't think ravenous is too strong a word you know
longing and yearning i remember once seeing induction
in one of our teachers i said the streets machine i said what is this longing you know
and they said to me what longing
and i was just floored
and i just found it just skedaddle out of there
he mean you don't feel this longing this ravenous
and and they just had all they said with what longing
so this
agitated churning yearning longing
this is this is a ceremony to honor that and settle
minister to it nourish
and the different parts of the ceremony at it starts out
and in here we we do the same thing we have the ceremony altered with our backs to the regular ultra so i think it's vaulter set up here and we come in the back door so there's upside down feeling you know already we're we're kind of reorienting or did this at disorienting and reorienting
yourself in a new way
we're always so oriented towards
the visible and and pay
little attention at not as much attention if could be to these these other aspects of we turn it the this becomes a buddha hall then good we turn it around
and then there's ah
different banners that relate to different buddha's i have different buddhas and it's a it's a shingle and it's an esoteric kind of ceremony with them
different colors and
and wonderful food offerings and then
we do that we have some sound we create a sound offering
with and hopefully everyone will be able to help with that i won't practice that and that found is called calling all being so with this sound
we and of wake up and called right here though so 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 and say it's okay you can be fed you can take nourishment it's all right all that negative ancient twisting okay
and then we chant the gate of sweet do which we've been chanting every week and then we change
the can roam on which is
the gators sweet do but the mantras all of the young these mantras which in the new translation we now see leave different to ronnie's out what they're forced to lose the english which we don't chant is written right there so you know what that matter is
or that durrani so there's a durrani for summoning to see spirits to the great assembly granny for breaking down the gates of hell and opening their throats so mom galiana broke open the gates of hell and supposedly all these spirits were led out them
there's a durrani for blessing the food with the unimpeded radiance of innumerable virtues
in durrani of the flavor of gamma covered with sweet do so will be chanting all those two ronnies and they're really fun to chance this is a mean would check will practice
where it says qatar get a yeah you know
and then we make a we summon the five to targeters
many jewel to target i was actually in the lotus sutra and different different buddha's five different buddhist and we have banners for them so so it can elaborate ceremony
could take care of this part of our lives which is often still and taking care of
and then there's some food offerings and other chanting esoteric durante for residing in the great virtuous jewel pavilion
there is also the jewel pavilion is also lotus sutra
well there's a job of filling in the lotus sutra and i'm not sure if this is exactly that same one but it certainly resonates with them
and at the end there's a long dedication
where we dedicate it to 'em
conscious beings in the three realms and suffering beings and so forth
also it in the ceremony we do a memorial service to and the tradition that we've been having its 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
many many stack of cards with names and will do that this year and also any person that you would like to have remembered in the memorial service you may write their name gown will 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
way how the how the name is pronounced underneath so can be a pronounced correctly and will dedicate the mirror to all those beings as well
and it's also an occasion to have a among to to mention not only the hungry ghosts and the the spirits of those who have been
kill whatever handpicking been have died by suicide or in wars or in all these and the unborn dead and all these unknown beings that we want to remember but also our our loved ones aren't
can be mentioned and our teachers suzuki roshi and other teachers are also it's appropriate to mention them as as well
so in in the way just in the way of ah we've been talking about going down this is a ceremony of descent i think ah
an acknowledgement and honoring
in a very full way
i by way of a call on i wanted to you know
the questions might come up like well how can we
and help beings who are already dead or unmoored nder
you know what does that mean exactly or what does what we do and this zendo have to do with you know my grandpa who died twenty years ago or whatever we
we can be confused about that and i
and i have been confused about that
when i look at that carefully and and i'm asking about this and reflecting on it you know we may also be compute not only are we confused about what death is a word confused also about what life is you know what is this life now how my 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 right
ah and this is a quote from silvio ripper shape 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 see
hope 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 compassion and 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 our the warmth of our compassionate heart
can reach out and help all beings in all realms
one of the sufferings is sam
being separated from those we love and another one being forced to be with those we don't love and this separation from those we love in death
feels like sometimes
not always but feels like the most final and devastating and human beings and mammals actually i have grief the the excruciating the most excruciating pain is
this our separation or loss of those we love it may be in through guessed it may be through separation in time and space it may be loss of a relationship or ending of a relationship and not that the person die but that we no longer has
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
so our grief at the loss of parents and friends and pets and
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
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
changes with laws you know
their sound
you know it
stress hormones
and then after a while despair sets in
with the kind of collapse of fred fullness and her g not wanting to eke not wanting to do much of anything
loss of interest in other people
a kind of a collapsing of the pasture
sweep disruptive heartbreak is low
an immune functions era
you know our circadian rhythms are changed and our immune functions are often often people get get very sick sometimes we get sick after a great loss know
so these are physiologically what what we go through a grieving and
it's not just an idea it's it's a full body mind psychophysical and then you know pets 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
i think it's six months in may so
six months drops expense and
i went back to enter 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
about two years to really feel herself again
at least two years and i support it it was very helpful for me because i had not been feeling myself and i actually don't feel whatever myself is i feel
a certain different energy a kind of
the energy
to take things up in on a certain way it's not really i don't feel it you know maybe you could see that out of that lethargy at the different circadian rhythms ah
so just acknowledging that this is all part of the grieving process and we'll see maybe after a couple of years of i'll feel like i've gone through some something come out
i know in in china when a parent guide if you are like in the government or silver service you were given a year off you would go home for a year
camborne and take care of yourself and we have very very
paris rituals around grieving and mourning when i say we i'm thinking of pedal
why you know what i'm talking about i guess i'm cotton bud our society and culture as i am familiar with is very few
the funerals and there's weeks in there maybe seven days sitting morning that sony family is doing right now for her father in the jewish tradition and then after that some kind of is of feel like okay well let's get on with it you know back get back to work you know and
there's some
i remember in italy seen these black cloth buttons that people wore that i didn't know what they were a member asking and that was for a person who had died and it it was like an outward symbol that they were in mourning you see that you you care for the prisoners speak to them a little differently than if you
didn't know that about them and armbands also remembering italy people wore black armbands over there cylinder or dress or whatever
for i don't know how long months maybe years and a year armbands and click the button
so that that seems very helpful to me you know and i were where i was given a ribbon black ribbon at the few know that torn as a symbol of caring and ranting at relationship there
and i wore that per month and
and then i you could just put it on my altar
so this long grief process
isn't perhaps pinned it as well as as would contended for each other for ourselves
because the effect on iris the fact is so strong and so do
i have a friend who went by his mother died who he was very close to and he just he was a computer running up computer company he just went back to work like they were very next day and he was operating on automatic pilot and just got right in with
hey way i think it took a toll on him
so this some in the blue could record do them
go on douche condolence call
so two priests go and chen yuan
i went to a house to make a condolence call
and urine hit the coffin
and said alive or dead
and wu said i won't say alive and i won't say bed
and your onset why won't you say
and wu said i won't say
so halfway back as they were returning you wants it tell me right away teacher if you don't tell me i'll hit you
and we'll send you may hit me but i won't say
and you want him

oh a repeat the whole thing so they were two monks teacher and student whoop and cheer you on
and cn neuron was the teacher and dow will was his student they were going to do a memorial service problems pay a condolence call it some somebody's house rape you know how various to pay a condolence call and there's the cost and right there
and douche excuse me and you want hit the coffin and said alive or dead
and wu said was the teacher who said i won't say alive and i won't say bed and you if why won't you say wu said i won't say
and then halfway back they were returning back to the temple and you want to turn woman said tell me right away teacher if you don't tell me i'll hit you
and who said you may hit me but i won't say
so you want him his student him
no later on in the commentary it said that town
after you hit him
his teacher said you know

you should really go away for while because if the shoe so
there was that
i fear that if the monastery director or another translation says that fisher soul finds out about this
how about this affair they are gonna make trouble for you don't you better you'd better go away for wow
so he secretly sent his student away can on genuine cinema later you on later came your so he went away from this temple out of proceed to his teacher sent him and he was wandering around later
and he came to the small temple you can imagine in china you know temples all over the place thousand and came upon a small temple where he heard a workman reciting the avalokiteshvara scripture i could do it new service so he's walking through and there's
through temp on what's in here is a workman reciting
i will look and taste for our body south of mindfully in our to combined just call and i will look to sprint and he heard this workmen say to those who would attain salvation as monks
i'm a lucky fish were a booty sofa appears as a monk to expound the dharma for them
and suddenly you on when greatly enlightened and said
at that time i was wrongly suspicious of my teacher to teacher die by then actually how was i didn't know that this affair isn't in words and phrases
so this question is alive or dead you know
and his teacher wouldn't say
why wouldn't as teachers say how come you didn't just say
it was obvious trade
there's the coffin air raid 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 if future wouldn't just say that he he he threatened him if you won't county teacher i'm gonna hit to and his teacher out of his compassion you know you can hit me
go ahead but i won't say
and i am
so there's no barriers to what we call life and what we call guess
there are ways of helping people in every conceivable situation
what is guess what is our life
can we can we hold that question and not fall into existence or nonexistence don't think we know what of it it's all about and there's no way of helping anybody anyway why do i have to do a stupid ceremony

and i i think it's important you know that you want he heard that our lucky dish for that twenty fifth chapter the lotus sutra being chanted
our local dish where it comes in any way you need of a local dish bar any form any color any size any shape or whatever you need of a dish well well we'll meet you there you just have to ask if you have to call out
you just can't up with your entire body mind
make your life one ah
make our life one compassionate
inquiry and offering at the exact same time
hearing a work would maybe you can work when was even distractedly chanting it kind of on lunch hour think i'll go and don't do a little sub motor at the shrine doesn't matter know
he heard it

hilt our last day let's have it be
ah full day of session
observing all the forms of fishing to the last
and have each breath
each exhale as if it was our last breath of this life and each in hell
a complete birth
no barriers to birth
and get no settling on
i know what it is
one inquiry
thank you very much sure