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Sunday Lecture: status games in conversation, hard-wired, power, humor, reversal of status, Marx Bros, Don Rickles, court fools, Dr Zhivago, improv. changing of roles, status of a church, hitting the han, value forms, getting put on the spot, koan - Chao Chou's stupid oaf, koan - nothing better than an absence of goodness, opening and closing of the sense of self, poem - Gymborska

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go to today's the truth the dog a curse words

season's greetings

i stumbled coming up here

which is very fitting because today
i was thinking about talking about status status
our status
the holiday
and sensitive
subject that is
to our ego
course six status and
the i think the definition of status is socially with the definition of state
a stay at home condition
of a person or replace a thing in relationship to
other people places and things
truckers we have a personal status
then there's a status of our families in the status of our jobs and the status of our
various positions in the world the status of our country
status of the world
a state of being as a mode of being in the midst of
if we're changing conditions

our legal status her financial status
chris we're all familiar with that but what i want to really talk about or explore or trace out some of the vagaries of this subject today is our psychological status

if you've ever listen to conversations
if you paid close attention to the way we talked to one another you'll notice that we're always almost always playing status games
the really only two positions and the status game a one up a one down
i'm better than or this story i'm telling you is it has more emphasis and is more importance or it is less importance than what you are say for example
for young men were sitting around that's a long ago talking about that old tv show bonanza
remember that one
when one of them said i saw every one of those i never missed a one
a total a little bit about that and then the next person said the i bet you can't name them before the actors were in that
they played with therefore well and somebody could finally name the actors who
when their particular show
the third person said i don't watch that junk
the fourth one said you know something i once watched the automobile of the star of natural
this is something you'll find yourself oneself doing all the time
who was down in the having a
lunch and down a jenny lows chinese restaurant here in mill valley not so long ago with arlene and know there are a couple of women sitting at another table and they were one upping of a one down in each other's status and in terms of their physical condition they were older people
and one were saying well you know i went to my doctor and he did such industry where do you know what he what the doctor did to john or what hap with john's condition is and so they put they kept adding to subtracting from each one another stories and know this is a common thing
we do
but we're not even aware of it
most of the time were not aware of this
the status games that we play in our work the status games that will play an institution's whether they be institutions of confinement like jails and prisons or whether their institutions of
have our public services or companies or even are monasteries and we are always engaged in the one up with the one down game
where i actually kind of her kind of but perhaps
perfectly hard wired to do so
except as i said before we were we're not so conscious of it
now the thing that we can say about status the word that comes up to me around status
is the word power because there's partners inherit in our status and because our status is constantly changing the power relationships
the power inherent in our relationships as constantly shifting as it is in our conversations from moment to moment and thus
status is also the very basis of humor
who is usually based broad humor should be based on the hall from status the fall from power when i would call the banana peel syndrome
if you watch pictures by comics i think what comes to mind are those broad comedians like a marx brothers for example were always deflating
high status games
and one can also think of people like don rickles for whom always a deflating somebody's ego becomes the modus operandi of his particular wave of cup comedic control and action
we know that in the days of the of court life that the king's always kept a fool new by
so that the king or the queen's pub
and the difference that was paid to their pomp and power was
not could was at least subject as far as the food is concerned too
some deflation

if you think of some of the scenes and movies as i was thinking about this subject i was thinking of different movies that i had seen one movie that came to mind was the movie years ago dr zhivago
if you remember seeing that but the seen as stuck stuck in my mind because sustain that illustrates this point in this particular scene the country is on the verge of revolution in fact that horse
large part of the army is breaking up in as a going over to the revolutionaries to the red side from the white and the officer got up on a
cut up and top of a barrel of as exhorting the troops
then very eloquently and very powerfully not to be swayed by the
ah but the urge to overcome authority but to as good soldiers to continue to practice for the tsar and as he's doing this and shaking his fist the top of the barrel burst breaks from under eighteen he falls
and that that moment because it literally lost his stature status
he he lost his position and all of these troops of course broke loose and massacred the than the massacre begins the and on such little moments and such things as that are our life turns the history of the world turns in fact
trying to think of another case
in which a man who had been much maligned and integrated for may be misunderstood for his actions comes out on a stage and i remember the name of this we will be but the seen kinda mind again and as he stands you everybody throws something at him you know like garbage and
old vegetables eggs and so on but he stands and takes it just keeps landing and mean he stands perfectly still until little by little
insults and the physical garbage and so on that is being thrown at him decreases until that funnier silence descends over the entire
seen and and he regains the moment to explain to the people and their arrangement what what has actually happened from his point of view
and again another incident just came to mind as i mean this and a book i just read
about an artist's well known hardest to
when two lovers house and
the child of this particular woman was enraged to see him in the space of would the child's natural father usually occupied and came out the artists with both this flying little boy around the age of four maybe and he just allowed to happen
he said
emphasize don't criticize and and again by not reacting to his status as a father or as a lover or as a grown up in that particular situation
by relinquishing his power in a sense at that moment at least under those conditions
he regained the dignity of of the inherent dignity of the scene
and the friendship of the child
there's a fear again that we can play actually and if you have ever worked in improv in the theatre maybe a played and as car it's actually called high status low status for example you you have to actors and you'll say to one you play the queen and early new play the
part of the servant
and you can just improv it but
play about and so you know the servant will come before the queen and say something and the queen will play the highest status like do this and do that and the other person is obsequious and so forth now change the situation in which you still the queen play low status
as you play high status as the servant
and again you play the scene what's interesting when you play this game is that some of us
these some of the time find out that we cannot play one of the other rules maybe we're always used to play in high status and which were always income the hundred and maybe that is to say we like to stand out we'd like to be in command others of us play a most analysts rule we would like to be more beer
pained the scenes we like to whisper into the ear of power rather than being out in front and since we like to be more modest than retreat by playing this game back and forth
we can begin to the terminal begin to feel exactly what is more carefully or more
exactly what are our modus operandi in such a situation is
you can play it comically
this person is the king and this person is the queen or this person is the servant than the king can play very low status hit on
the servant can come up and say you all right hang me i don't care here in my neck is a case of really sorry it's going to hurt you more than me
greece know
i just like i don't mean to you but i am the gate
oh stop stop stop your crying if you have a king and so forth you can play these scenes out and you can even do this at all
try out sometimes
the next time you get into fight with your lover mate child and so on notice was playing hide well who's playing highest thousand and low status and how you can shift from my status to low status in the midst of the conditions as they arise
once we were doing an improv down here to had done you bought a ranch house
and keith johnstone and off somebody you've ever heard a teacher and g can keep jobs zone is a well-known improv director
and he set up the scene in which
he whispered a mantra into the ear now footnote i'm sorry he first set up to see in the scene was there is a man and a woman the man is sitting in the woman standing and he says to the guy to the person playing the part of them he said you say to the man
i think i was set up for a well and use the woman said well i'm going to turn in
just do that so they just they ran those two lines and then he whispered into the ear of each a both of those people and the montreux was either i hate you or i love you know run that monster in your hand i hate you i hit you i love you i love you love you
now do the scene again but when the man gets to the door try and say something i met me tell you what to say try and say something to her or him as a woman and and you is the men waiting by the fire
answer with a very short make a very short brief okay play the see
so they sat there for a long time
he's she stood there for a long time looking down at him and he can have a half smile on his face look into the water
and then he says i think i'm going to stay up for a while they
well i think i'm going to turn in
and then she walks over to the edge of the room and then she turns jesus or by the way i know about sally
and he sits there for a second and he says tough
i mean at that moment because the montreux both of them had was a hit you
he played a from that aspect was very interesting to see whatever mantra will whatever feeling whatever psychological state we're in
how much we want to win how much will want to win over the other that charges up our language and are an hour or exchanges with one another
particularly in tense situations and heated situation

now another interesting aspect about status from an institutional and religious point of view is the status that a church has in a society
because it's a kind of paradox at work
churches in general if their establishment churches
whether they are buddhist or christian or muslim or whatever
enjoy in society for the most part of high status position however a high status position in at least in
a lot of the religious traditions is to take a low status position
another with humility modesty whose virtues of of humbleness
and to play in those roles to play the role of haven't been a prelate are
a zen teacher
in which so much power is conferred upon either the church or the person in charge and and who is
in whom power has been given how that person can handle the the role one thinks of the dalai lama for example who has a very strong power position in the world but who comes from a place of
oh and the very sincerely simple
a position but at the same time does not weaken his position by or a kind of an overweening meekness or
by abdicating the responsibilities of their position and this is something you'll find him as a parent is something we find we we're doing as bosses and are no jobs and so forth
tall the time with one another thing

what happens to the status of a moment when their silence
once one of the teachers came in here and simply sat down on a sunday morning like this and sat for
ten minutes
fifteen minute
what was a twenty minutes charlie me
something like that until somebody threw as offer stage
the thing is we feel that we have to fill each moment
to feel what our status and our position on an identity is because you can't think of status our status her position without thinking of or without feeling what our identity is
i remember when i came here here's another little anecdote when i suddenly you've heard this of course when i first came here little over twenty years ago
you practice period one of the things i was looking forward to doing was playing with what we call the toys or the bell of the big block of wood outside called the harm that you have heard being hit for a fifteen minute hand to draw people to the zendo
if we were in the practice period was a small practice period at that time maybe ten of us and we all doing his positions and learning how to do them and i could not i was looking forward to my evening thousand and which i could hit the high but about one minute before the hon
started and i came down the stairs to broadside it was further right center in those days somebody else was hitting it strike in it
well i could i rushed over and i said
you are hitting my hon
i said i'm supposed to be doing that and the practice leader at that time
rather eccentric fellow
looked at me like this of analysis why do not know are you
now what i learned in that moment
was that the it indignation
the new anger not rage exactly but anger the humiliation and so on all of the negative emotions or arising were not arising about something that had lasting consequences in our economy or even my personal economy it had nothing to do with the political situation in the world that i had raged at
with the same feelings exactly it had to do with in one piece of wood with another piece of wood
a little too small thing you see a very small thing
and yet all the emotions were revoked by that
hitting my art
why bell
now i begin to realize that the value of having farms
in our buddhist monastic practice was precisely for this reason
that all is not a cat and how we bow
how we enter a room how we sit down and fold our robes how we pick up a teacup with two hands
the attention that has paid to the forms the particular forms of doing anything
however small or large how we brush our teeth how we drive our car the day to day activities rituals around
brought to the for brought to consciousness this sense of form and the sense in which the ego the status to the ego is involved particularly of course when we're doing it with other people in a formal situation
so the forms that we do here the forms that we do here many and our day-to-day practice in this particular
real men environs soto zen practice
actually a lot of those forms have come down from court life
in the cart life of the east is in the court life of the west forms were developed so that each person knew his or her place in any given situation see
have you are you approach the king how you approach the queen how you differ in this situation how you
express yourself in a situation where you have some authority the degree of style and which you do that the degree of detachment with which you are able to do that without clinging to your ego was constantly brought up when it was appropriated by our practice was constantly brought
up over and over and over so we can feel this contraption that we call an ego
and if anybody has ever practice with these instruments here for example the the way we do the bells and so you shouldn't fool learn how deeply involved our sense of face our sense of status is and how they are done if we make mistakes because
it's not a category of experiences like driving a car or learned taken a driving test of said to people before if you feel that you make a mistake in your driving test you going to have some serious consequences to your health and other people's health or to property here if you make a mistake on the bell if you hit you once i try to hit the bell
and i missed it altogether tool
it was dark
the alive my my site was not so good where the time that one of us instead of doing the bells nine times for the balls continue to do it until eighteen or twenty balls went on and finally the web i think it was funny he said maybe we can go on with the service that
the blood rushes to your face
you're feeling you're feeling this is the sense of being on the spot so practice actually is the forms of practice or actually to bring a sense of our status for a moment to moment put us on the spot
there was a famous con here
well i'm all famous it is maybe you've never heard of it but
in the blue cliff record and he can a roku
which is you know the one of the
seminal zen particularly rinzai zen koans or public cases that were compiled and in the ninth tenth eleventh centuries
is that most cons if you study the cause of the public cases have become down to us it has something to do with our sense of status
in fact we even in some of our chanting in the morning you say that enlightenment can be brought about by a fist the banner a finger a a slap a shout and so forth this one is called gl joes stupid off
georgia stupid off
this is the case
a monk asked joe joe
the way or the ultimate path has no difficulties just avoid picking and choosing what is not picking and choosing
jojo said in the heavens and on the earth i alone in honored one
the monk said that still picking and choosing jojo said stupid off whereas the picking and choosing the monk was speechless
now the ultimate path or
the way has no difficulties avoid picking and choosing us from a famous is
not a suit your buddy
dr of a writing by the to patriarch of chinese zen called the shing shing me
way of the way of the heart the way of faith in heart that way the faith and our buddha nature and the opening line of that is the way is not difficult for those we have no preferences
and giorgio answers with famous line that comes from the sutures that when the boodle
when it was i think that baby wasn't one is a baby takes seven steps raises finger one finger up in one thing it down and says above the earth and below the heavens i alone in the world honored one
so the out of the path has no difficult is just avoid picking and choosing what does not picking and choosing joe jobs said when the heavens and on earth i alone in the world honored one among so that's still picking and choosing charge said stupid of whereas the picking and choosing
the mongrel speechless
no i'm not going to talk about this
but but
consider the force of language consider the force of words on the our sense of status consider the desire that we have to step out of the force of language that that imposes on us in our view of ourselves and others
and it says here
and i could read this to little bit the monk question giorgio about the send the all of the path has no difficult is just avoid picking and choosing
the third patriarchs inscription of the believing heart that's this thing he's talking about starts off directly with these lines there are quite a few people who misunderstand
how so according to them the ultimate path is fundamentally without difficulties but also without anything that's not difficult it's just that is only adverse to picking and choosing if if if you understand in this fashion and ten thousand were ears you won't even see it in your dream
if you try to understand this con
by simply thinking about not choosing giving up get choosing
having preferences and so on and you think this is what they call on is about in ten thousand years you will not understand what it's about so in some sense you have to realize that he could practicing here in a way that has to transcend the power that words have upon us
and is there and us without the language that what is that us that is not reacting to the force of
the descriptions that and the explanations that we have about who we think we are
another famous call on and the same vein it comes to mind is one in which sir
among comes to his teacher
can i think of it was that it doesn't matter at the moment
but apparently a monk that had been practicing for years and have been diligently applying himself to
this struggle of trying to release the ego or the clinging to the separate sources and insisted to teach i've had my head shaved
and i've taken on the robes and the precepts why am i not considered a buddha
but we don't know why said why i'm not considered a buddha maybe because the teacher begin the hard time why am i not considered a buddha the teacher said ah
there's nothing better than an absence of goodness there's nothing better than an absence of goodness
now when you hear such a lying you may think you may take it literally is thinking that you you'll find your mind is falling on one side or the other of these questions but obviously what these cons are trying to do or try and do
alert us to is our tendency i've ever present tendency the inevitable tendency we have constantly feel the force of experience either opening is up because it is inflating our sense of self or collapsing that sense of self and what practices about is going to be willing to
go through this opening and closing almost endlessly with a teacher with the forms with a way of life the world is doing that with anyway it's just that when we use the forms and such a way as to
bring it forward into our consciousness a kind of you might say speed it up trip or kind of speeded up way of understanding ourselves kind of condensed way of practicing with this
have a present sense of inflation or contraction of ego and status
we become acutely and a painfully aware of our sensibility around this question and the willingness to continue to do it for willingness to continue to come in front of the teacher whether that teachers the world at large or is concentrated in a person who has more experience or on this question than once
so we can feel that exquisite sensitivity and still say you stupid off
and still not be distracted by
oh away from our original nature the freedom that we have over the original freedom that we have before he knew this becomes into play

last time i talk about status was years ago and tassajara
and the day after i talk about it maybe because i was on and using certain examples closer at hand
many people came to me to complain about such a top was not helpful
and if i often been curious about the that reaction because i would i should think that listening to one's conversation and how we pay the one up in the one down game back and forth should be a way of of actually
a rousing our body cheat for cheetah our desire to become free of our self clinging
and of course there's a whole sense of
poetry and and kind of a social practice in the world and would show for example you know in certain cultures and of
ah what you call it kind of like slamming wrapping one another you know kind of kind of denigrating the other person and getting one up it's a whole game but when you play as a whole game and becomes gamesmanship is brought forward as gamesmanship and then people can laugh and enjoy it
among came to another monk and set my name is
my name is i can motors name my name is joe
which was the other man's and it might say and the other guy said well no that's my name but if your job than i'm tom dick or harry and the according to the con at which point they both laughed uproariously
because what is in a name is everything view strip somebody's name if you take somebody's name away
what did what what's left to us what's in a name and everything is in the name the power that we have is in our name how we name one another but these bunch were playing with their names as my name well they don't take your name now otherwise i'll take your power
take your position but instead of going to war over it they laughed uproariously
work in other words
the sense of the individuals uniqueness in the social million over the social conditioning is always a struggle how much we yield to the common denominator to the common good
to the demands that society places or two two degree that we can keep our own sense of self and integrity what is that line who does that balance that's what our practices about always feeling that
how much we can give how much we can take back how much we are attached to the different positions and postures that we assume

it's a wonderful
poem here i wanted to share with you before i
get off his this platform
by a hostile as zimbabwe scott the famous nobel priest
poet woman a polish woman
and it's called no end of fun
no end of fun
now she uses he but you can mean the genders now so important i think you're so he's got to have happiness he's got to have truth to he's got to have eternity
did you ever
he has only just learned to tell dreams from waking
only just realised that he is he
only just riddled with his hand a flint a rocketship
easily drowned in the oceans teaspoon not even funny enough to tickle the void sees only with his eyes here is only with his ears his speech personal best is the conditioned he uses his reason to pick holes in reason in short he's next to
well of freedom missions and the being beyond his foolish meet did you ever
for he does apparently exist he genuinely came to be beneath one of the more parochial parochial stars january and he came to be beneath one of the more parochial stars his lively and quite active in his fashion his capacity for wonder is well advanced
for crystals deviate descendant
and considering his difficult childhood spent cow telling to their herds needs he's already quite an individual indeed did you ever
carry on then if only for the moment that it takes a tiny galaxy the blink carry on then if only for the moment that it takes a galaxy time to blink one wonders what will become of him since he does in fact seem to be and as far as being goes hillary to
why it tries he really tries quite hard quite hard indeed one must admit
sorry quite hard indeed one must admit was that ring in his nose with that toga that sweater that sweatshirt
he's no in the fun for all you say poor little beggar a human if ever we saw what
thank you