Small Potatoes

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Sunday Lecture: "Just to be alive is enough" (Suzuki Roshi) - dissatisfaction even when we "have everything" - acedia/noonday sickness - spiritual dryness - "small potatoes" - little details of life can be what is most fulfilling - poem

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a row today's the to the the data his word

i see some old faces
can i say a new faces how many people are here for the first time
chris we're all here for the first time in this particular grouping but who have never been here before her to talk in the zendo harmony is at the same number
how many people who have heard me talk before
you know what to expect
i remember going to
take a vacation hawaii and when i rented a car
i got in with a map and all and i'm headed for the scenic spot but somehow took the wrong turn and ended up at the city dump
and one of the reasons i ended up at the city dump is because the person i was with at the time insisted that i look at the map and like many of my gender i refuse to look at maps rotate directions
and they use this i begin this talk
with this metaphor because in some ways
i think my talks like that they
i have a general direction i think i want to go in
but i usually get lost and it might end up at the dump
but there's always the off chance
the possibility that i'll end up at some wonderful scenic spot i had never realized was there
and i think i liked to have that kind of risk involvement that kind of emotional risk
rather than have some assured script in front of me in which i couldn't quote chapter and verse and know exactly where i am and present the dharma to you in such a way that is
clear concise with a beginning middle and ending totally wrapped up
after all we live in the information age and we can go to our computers now and have access to almost any text that has ever been written on any subject
plus libraries plus
the proliferation of magazines regarding spiritual questions practices and so on so there's no dearth of information on
what is these questions
referred to in
still on all we have to get in the car and go somewhere
in this past week
that is to say about a week ago now
i came down with the mother of all calls
i mean i've had head colds before in common close with this this was exceptional this one came on so that really stop a up i could not my eyes closed my son is passages were totally blocked my ears were both stuffed in i had a mild fever and sore
and there's not much you want to do you can do under those conditions but just wait you can course take meds and i took a couple of things but didn't seem to help much
and seem to relieve the symptoms particularly
and i remembered a
why we remembered and thought about lot of things of course that time but one of the things that came up for me
it was something my my route teacher that is the one who originally ordained rebel weitzman
sojourn male weitzman of the berkeley's and or
in this story many have you heard he was in a space
the difficult space practicing at tassajara thirty some years ago when suzuki roshi was still alive
in russia must have noticed it because he came up to two male and said now just being alive is enough
just being alive is enough
well that sounded you know i've heard that story many times and i haven't actually made it a co on in my life but at that moment
feeling that i was more dead than alive
i asked myself the question is just being alive enough how about right now
i began to study that questioner
rather my mind would come back to it again and again what do we mean what is being alive to begin with
do we mean just existence survival
do we mean be alive in the sense of heaven abundant energy at our disposal
and what is enough
it's one thing to answer that question well we can answer to number ways one is why would think i might have i asked answered that question of bangladesh but he's just being alive and often at the moment i'm going to said well sometimes it isn't sometimes it is
sometimes i feel that just being alive is great and sometimes i feel like maybe wish i were dead at all depends on the circumstances
but when i came out of heart surgery
open my eyes on the world again just being alive was enough
stripped of everything else stripped of all the superfluous
was enough just to be able to breathe see the light hear voices be a being among other beings in this world as it was
but at what point or let's put to push on another way let's rephrase it how about of is just being alive is enough how about being just alive
the in the sense of barely alive
and then with people are on life support systems and so they alive
it's not an easy question
when we are all our lives are together and
we feel pretty pretty much fulfilled by life
a relationship you're fairly
workable condition and our work is going all right we have enough to live on and so on
we might say that just being alive is enough and yep when we look around us and see the suffering in the world and so on there's still something missing feel maybe go
there's still some underlying disease dissatisfaction something more can be got
after all the whole myth or legend or story and could really archetype of story of the man who leaves whole who has everything shakyamuni buddha for example of in this case
is a person who had everything it was dissatisfied with having everything there was something else some deeper questions that needed to be addressed
in this story occurs again and again in indifferent mythologies and different religions and so on about and in buddhism in different sutures and so on about someone who already has all the riches he or she needs but goes out in search of something else something more
twenty percent that is missing
intellectually psychologically emotionally
so what it seems that there's something just around the corner just down the road at some other place for condition that will fulfill that need to make you feel that this
is lacking this absence of that one thing that will make life
totally worthwhile
the a world of suffering
the world or satisfaction in a world and what you get glue
in the world with a big fish eat the little how do we deal with that
for those questions you know once we have a roof over our heads may be in and food in our bellies and what we call an essential survival skills bastard to some extent
then maybe a deeper creating arises it seems so the human psyche for some understanding
a different kind of suffering more subtle form of suffering arises
what is it all mean alfie
and i can't rest until i find out and someone will tell me are some book or some place or some condition
which i can actually say
the total certitude from moment to moment regardless of the conditions yes life just being alive is enough
i worked in i am
ah recall her
dressing room
manuel many jobs or head in the past i worked in a nursing home for a well the old woman in room for when i would come and grab me by the arm and say let me go let me go let me go
just been alive was not enough it was too much
when we're an extreme pain and extremists it's time to go and i can't go
the kept her alive on stomachs steroids until her money ran out and then we let her go

if you've been under fire or in situation where you've almost lost everything is everybody just being alive for a little while is he now
and then slowly little by little the old dissatisfaction creeps bag and measurement
buddhism is called craving two-car dissatisfaction or stress
the need to feel totally at ease in the midst of conditions whatsoever they are
so we take our practices
we turned to god we turned the buddha returned a tried return to marks we turn to somebody
somebody that supersedes i need for security and entertainment
some teaching that will carry us over some practice i will open up vista and which at last this cage that we seem to be living in this case that has made up of our conditioning
on our views all our wants our preferences
does not seem to exert the power usually has over us and we feel free their stories about the whole olympics
spontaneous awakenings to a reality that
he's expressed was experienced this joyfulness
lack of separation anymore between self another and so forth it's called enlightenment and some
conditions it happens with people spontaneously without ever having had a religious experience
in which the
all the conditions that seem to inhibit or
but seem to inhibit our freedom in some sense
a kind of birth rate we have
no longer apply
that probably told you this story before about this young werther a young woman actually she was an old woman but it happened to her when she was a little girl
that she hadn't songs one of these we would call a religious or spiritual or opening moments in her life she was young she was like five or six
in which he said the world did not exist she's these should visit the words i have now for it but the way it seemed to me is that the world did not exist the way everybody thought it did
what existed was light
and everybody was dancing as light and i told my mother that which was a big mistake
because of course immediately took me too
see what was wrong with me what psychologically was wrong with me and i realize that what experience i had must be some sort of pathological experience because although grownups were treating it that way and for the next forty years i lived in a state of almost continual depression
the only little by little i have i've been able to remember that state of being in which i was totally free
and which i knew everybody was also totally free in experiencing a totally free meaning
did the usual
binding force of our life no longer health held sway
and i will i was so happy i want to tell my my i want to tell everybody that there were so
so when she said when you talk about somebody like shock money or people happiness enlightened that experiences such
i know that there is at large in the universe dynamic force which that is true
and then we all long for them
she's i know not intellectual in all i can i can be constructed but i cannot say that i live from that premise that i live from that disposition
in fact is a common experience among people who have had some opening experience and who didn't want to practice with that experience the hit
hit the wall we call it here hit hit a place that is classically called a cydia for monks or the noonday sickness
a kind of our cydia is are actually i think it's a spanish word it was originally castilian word of the that was used was pronounced once was according to thomas work and was pronounced as a failure a cedia
in which are living in a kind of sargasso sea where she's not a breath of air nothing more snuffing
your cock between two worlds as a was the old world seems to be dead and no new world as arising for you and you're just there but the their feels like torpor feels like deadness
some since we could call her and maybe classical depression but it's not unusual in spiritual practice to hit this kind of place at our life and the fact that can be a place in the for spiritual practice or before we begin to look in which that becomes a motivating feature fact that we're caught in this
bardo this state between two worlds as it were and nothing seems to move
and it's extremely painful
it must be practiced with at that time if someone ask you
it was just being alive enough
you might say oh god no
i don't feel like i'm alive i feel like i'm dead
the dark knight of the soul
the old buddha is that their support the old buddha is dead and the new one has not yet come and i am borders in a dream who will tell me what is real me that has put on this human flesh so hard to come by
is that state we know that it's probably state to be a human being but
did we know we're going to when we bought the ticket them when we we have to pay this price
so i've taken a bad drug i just want to go i just want to go back being old me you know all diluted me
who suffered in a very ordinary way i don't wanna be on some spiritual path and i want to get out of here i just you know give me some problems let me have some life some vitality again
the teacher says as really good go sit with her
develop patients develop generosity
allow for endurance
make friends with that state
the search for peace for consolation for truth and so on
will eventually lead many of us into the
those waters
but in some sense at that place when we can feel that very deeply
hey there don't seem to be any answers right there all you can say is i don't know just don't know
no longer do the old answer suffice
no buddha no answers have not come in fact you're suspicious now have answers you're suspicious of all on the pursuit that you followed it precision you suspicious in fact that the search itself on the searcher
there doesn't seem to be any choice but to surrender and give up
this kind of crisis occurs in many of our lives whether we're practicing and robes out of robes and what i walk of life we find ourselves
it's just that when we get together and talk about these things we find out there's a long history of people going through these states
and so we can i suppose you say console one another or sit with one another or listen to one another as we sit in the sargasso sea and nothing moves
will goes on tormenting itself with wars and discrimination and all sorts of violence and horror
in spite of all the efforts for thousands of years that
religious people have led technology leads us into some fields are open up a way of life that makes it easier for a lot of people and takes away from other falls
everything seems to point to pessimism and despair
oh dear god help us why have you forsaken me

why did bodhi dharma come to china
why did check him when he leave home why are you here today
why am i here sitting talking about this with you because
we are dissatisfied and some deep level with way we're living our lives there is something else that is already the case we just can't quite richard we know it's part of our
our heritage of human beings
it becomes a thirst or creating in itself a form of bondage
we finally have to hit the place where we don't even care for that
the hell with the helmet enlightenment
me a hamburger
i got to feed the dog
he should take dance lessons
what was the joke goes the i'm either going to kill myself or go boy
ah so it's good we go boy

cause i'm not advocating that we should just suffer this and passivity necessarily i'm sure that we have also to neurosis that can be addressed by therapies of different kinds and practices different kinds or not i hope you don't think i'm poo poohing that i think what i'm trying to get at is this
place where all of that we tried all of that and is still not working
so we're we're maybe even willing to get up at four in the morning or even know maybe your own case in a rainy morning and come out to place like green gulch in here are some guy
some old monk
get up who doesn't have any answers and tell you well you could have stayed in bed folks

trouble is we can stay in bed trouble is that the cold finally went away trouble is i got i got better
and the soon as i got better that that that cutting edge of all smell the world again things look bread again i'm hungry again i'm alive again is it just enough you have
well it's been know about four days and three days
i hate to tell you they aspire there's something missing
but i took a vow and that's why we're this rule that i would faithfully not run away from them that i would come back again and again to my imperfection to the fact that our wants more end up in this with the sargasso sea once more
be able to admit i am depressed the things do not make sense i don't know why i'm here
i need help
you're going to start again
this is called the wheel of samsara the willow suffering
to be willing to get into that will really get into it and notice the pattern over and over and over and over again
that's what i for me and my own personal history that's what the vow is about
get back on the mary grow
make mistakes with people
just when you got to live together along comes somebody something
gives you a new one point of view
shakes you up
i think you know what i mean
because we're all in the same boat currently all in the same boat as human beings
for one of the strategy so we can use even if we don't feel that it mostly times for know that we're all in this boat together and they have some compassion for one another
everybody sitting in this room knows these stories definitely it's a story of our life story of our literature to story of our drama
what is enough
what is enough
the old buddha is dead nor is not yet come when i am boys in a dream
who will tell me what is real
xin comes along since this is room with the front of his real pay attention to what's in front of you life is small potatoes
my for small thing small details just like mama said
we miss a place to start the small potatoes

hello poetry
some own poetry because it is poetry it is language and of course we are trapped in language in a sense where we have to use language to get on track from language in our concepts
there's no the way and poets who seemed it
intuitively know that in some deep level
touch places in as with language that although there inexplicable in unpronounceable and so on
remind this
about these questions stir them up
must surely answer him but give us some feeling and direction and here's one
this read this recently and i thought i'd like to shit to share it with you today
i call it small potatoes in fact that's what i as i recall this talk small potatoes because it's in this poem which is called the simple truth
it's by philip levine
american poet well known where the bullets won the pulitzer prize money prizes lives in california now i grew up some of you know in detroit was part of the working class for years anyways it's very human from humanistic point of view it's not a silly a buddhist palm but it's a very human poem the simple truth
i bought a dollar and a half's worth a small red potatoes took them home boil them in their jackets and eight them for dinner with a little butter and salt
it's a haiku right there
small red potatoes took them home boil them in their jackets and nathan for dinner with a little butter and salt
then i walked through the dry fields on the edge of town
in mid june the light hung in the dark froze at my feet and in the mountain oaks overhead the birds were gathering for the night the jays and mockers squawking back and forth the finches still darting into the dusty light
the woman who sold me but the woman who sold me the potatoes was from poland
she was someone out of my childhood in a pink spangled sweater in sunglasses praise in the perfection of all her fruits and vegetables at the roadside stand and urging me to taste even the pale raw sweet corn tucked trucked all the way she swore from new jersey it it
she said even if you don't i'll say you did
some things you know all your life they are so simple and to they must be said without elegance meter and rhyme they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker
the glass of water the absence of light gathering in the shadows of picture frames they must be naked and alone they must stand for themselves
my friend henry and i arrived at this together in nineteen and sixty five before i went away before he began to kill himself and the two of us to betray our love
can you taste what i'm saying
his onions were potatoes a pinch of simple salt the wealth of melting butter it is obvious it stays in the back of your throat like a truth you never uttered because the time was always wrong it stays there for the rest of your life unspoken made of that
erte we call earth the metal we call salt in a form we have no words for and you live on it
libri the last one once more on that last year's some things because we all notice
the simple truth we all know this
if we don't know we will before we die
i think some things you know all your life there are so simple and true they must be said without elegance meter and rhyme they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker
the glass of water the absence of light gathering in the shadows of picture frames they must be naked and alone we must stand for themselves
my friend henry and i arrived at this together in nineteen sixty five before i went away before he began to kill himself and the two of us to betray our love
can you taste what i'm saying
it is onions potatoes a pinch of simple saw the wealth of melting butter it is obvious his stays in the back of your throat like a truth you'll never uttered because the time was always wrong his stays there for the rest of your life and spoken made of that dirt we call earth the metal we call salt in the for we have no words for and you'll live on it
that's also a description of are suffering
eloquently spoken beautifully phrased myopia
we live on that
and i would go put myself almost all of a limb and say we live for now
we live for intensity in our life as human beings for the intensity of our experiences however desperate sorrowful they maybe we feel alive in
even in the midst of our tears if someone sends you at such a moment when we have betrayed our love is it worth being alive and you realize that
you have experienced this deeply you could not but other yes in the face of all of them
i think that's what he's talking about

for some deep affirmation and that for me
a way of affirming our life no matter what happens
or life affirming itself as us
level putting it because you can't really separate the two k
well i like the poem i wish i'd written it

i really do
no i write i write poems that to make any sense at all because when i try to make sense they don't come out quite like that they come out to send some are too obvious with them
that's why like post modern poetry
poetry that doesn't have any resolution like might say he's worth of the romantic tradition but
because it feels with life is unresolvable in a modern poetry post modern poetry
where were suspicious of the language itself in which she speaks
and because attention to itself
post modern poetry is more like filming with a he
somebody say some
post mortem poetry is way somebody telling me to stop post modern poetry is more like when you film with a camera and of in a movie and and you see lens flare he reminds you of the medium in which you were watching the story
so that you're not so involved in the story you're also caught up in the form in which the stories being told as partly what practices about give us a lot of lens flare so that was so engrossed in our story but at the same time we can see we're making up stories it's kind of poetry hours more transparent and gives us plunges in the old
in the old-style right into the feelings themselves
can i really stolen by that

and he were to come on it's a conundrum is a question very simple five words is just being alive is enough
here's it
it's good one to use moment by moment day by day
i think it's going to be my mantra for a while
and to answer truthfully for moment to moment that there isn't a right or wrong answer
in fact
in time maybe the questioner will fall away the question will fall in won't matter
small potatoes as enough

there's not much as in this but might just be an old man badly
but then again maybe be taken a drive and some kind of look us we can do what does the city dump
we wouldn't have a discussion and about whenever we go to and them some tears as announce to you and then we'll come back and we can bring up this question and explored a little more length
when i think i can probably quit now and know
we didn't know how should overlook bit more or later
anyway thank you for your patience
come again because i might have been here next week sitting here
is it called the hot seat
we have to take turns doing this
and our turn comes up and we have to be willing to take the risk and make fools of ourselves
but i hope i haven't disparage them the triple treasure and ourselves or that i haven't been
too pessimistic
i know there must be people in this room are going through some happy times
there always is