Stopping and Listening

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Sunday Lecture Children's Lecture: Baby beluga; why are you here?; Dogen's Three Minds: joyful mind, kind mind, big mind; mother's love as essence of spirituality (Dalai Lama); parental mind as nourishing mind; karmic retribution; big mind a resource

AI Summary: 



I vow, today is the truth, vow to Tathagata's words. Good morning. Oh, this thing works. So, welcome. Welcome to this place on a typical foggy day. Have you seen the sun here in the last week? No? Well, I come from over the hill, and I've seen the edge of the fog. So, is there anyone here who's here for the first time today? Yeah. Some children here for the first time. So, I want to particularly welcome you. I'm here myself for the first time in a long time. So, for the first few minutes,


I want to particularly talk to the children who are sitting in front and the parents. Part of our practice, what we call our practice, is to listen. And so, I'd like you to join me with a little few moments of listening. And what I'd like to do is ask Meg, who's sitting by the bell, to ring the bell. Before she does it, though, everyone can raise their hand and just listen to the bell. Close your eyes. And as long as you hear the bell sound, hold your hand up. And then when you don't hear the sound any longer, then put your hand down and just listen to the silence. Okay? Can you do that? Yeah?


Okay. Okay. Is it still ringing? So, let's see. Maybe some of you children can tell me where we are right now. Somebody know where we are? Yeah.


Green Gulch Farm. Ah, good. Yeah. Pretty easy, huh? What's a gulch, you know? What? Pretty steep down. Maybe you didn't all hear that. So, it's pretty steep coming down into the gulch, and you have to hold it into first gear. So, how does a gulch happen? Does anyone else know about Green Gulch as a raging river?


So, where does the river come from? Goes to the beach. So, we're talking about the power of water. Power of water. That actually the water coming down from the hills has actually made the gulch. This narrow canyon that widens out as you get down to the beach. Okay. So, when the water comes down the gulch, where does it go? Goes down. Is there someone else who knows?


You've talked quite a bit. Is there someone else who may know where the water goes? Has anyone taken a walk all the way down to the beach? Yeah. Yeah? Yeah. Alright, and what did you find down at the beach? What? I didn't hear that. Shells. Yeah, that's one thing you find at the beach. Good. And, what's beyond the beach? Water? Water, yeah. Yeah. So, Green Gulch. The water comes down, makes the gulch and goes out to the water, we call it. What's the name of the big water? Ocean. What lives in the ocean?


Fish. Alright, good. What? Crabs? Yeah. Okay, so there are fish and crabs. What else lives in the ocean? What else? Stingrays. So, what's really big that lives in the ocean? Whales. Yeah? Blue whales, really big, yeah. So, today I'd like to share a little song about a whale that lives in the ocean. And, Valerie is going to pass out some words. And I have a copy here, I think. This whale is a white whale. It's called a beluga. And a beluga lives in the ocean farther north than here.


If you go out to the beach and then you go up the coast and up the coast until you get to Alaska. That's where belugas live. So, maybe some of you know the song. Baby Beluga. If you know the song already, you can sing it the first time through. And if you don't, you can listen and sing it the next time through. And we'll sing it until we get it right. And then... Okay. Now, before I do this, I'm going to have a sip of the water that runs right through Green Gulch. Okay. Baby beluga in the deep blue sea Swim so wild and you swim so free Heaven above and the sea below


And the little white whale on the go Baby beluga Baby beluga Is the water warm? Is your mama home with you so happy? Way down yonder where the dolphins play Where you dive and splash all day Waves roll in and the waves roll out See the water squirting out of your spout Baby beluga Baby beluga Sing your little song Sing for all your friends We like to hear you When it's dark and you're home and fed Curl up snug in your waterbed


Moon is shining and the stars are out Goodnight little whale, goodnight Baby beluga Baby beluga With tomorrow's sun, another day's begun You'll soon be waking Baby beluga in the deep blue sea Swim so wild and you swim so free Heaven above and the sea below And the little white whale on the go You're just a little white whale on the go Actually, okay. I think we got it right the first time. So, this song was taught to me by my nephew


when he was five years old. And now he's a little bit older, but I'm very grateful to him for bringing Baby Beluga to me and I can pass it on to you, and you can take these with you and if you want to call her in around the ocean and the whale and the sun and the fish, when you get home or whatever, you can do that. So thank you all for coming and listening to the bell and for telling me about the gulch and the water and the ocean and for singing. Okay? So now the children and whoever's escorting them can find their way out. Thank you. Okay. Hi. Hi, Lucy.


Hi. Good to see you. Thanks for telling me about the clams. Okay. Okay.


So we talk about silence and returning to stillness in our practice. Right now I'm enjoying the sound of the children's voices as included in silence, included in stillness. Now does someone keep time? Let me know when there's a few more minutes. Okay. What time are we supposed to end, by the way? That's quite a... Anytime between 11 and 11.30, she said. That's quite a range. So I feel very grateful


to be here with all of you. My sense is that each one of you is here for some deep reason. And that your own dharma path, maybe you don't call it a dharma path, maybe your intuition, maybe your own sense that there's something that you'd like to reach more deeply in your life. Or maybe you're here because you're unhappy with the news of the day, which can be draining and worrisome and frightening. When I was


about ten years old, I was contemplating, I can say contemplating now. At that time, what was I doing? I was walking along over the hill to where my sheep were and I was wondering about birth and death. As I think back on it now, I think that one of my lambs had died. When I was nine years old, my father gave me some sheep to take care of as a 4-H project and then didn't really give me any guidance. So I was taking care of some lambs and one of them had died. I was perplexed. And I was worried about my own life. I was worried about whether I would live or die.


And somehow, as I was walking over the little hill down to where the sheep were, I had some realization that it was okay, actually. Whether I lived or died was okay. That the sheep that were living and the sheep that were dying were okay. At that time, I thought, how can I respond to this? How can I live with this? I didn't really have words for it. Now I say that my feeling was I wanted to live I kind of dedicated myself, actually, to living in accordance with the totality of things. But then I became a teenager and I forgot all about that. And then when I was about 25,


I felt, again, I needed to really look more deeply into my life. The things that I was trying to do weren't really working. And I began sitting zazen. I thought, I have to stop whatever I'm doing. I really don't even know what I'm doing. I need to stop. And so I stopped and at some point someone gave me the book, Three Pillars of Zen, and I read it and started sitting. And after I'd been sitting for about 20 years, I remembered this event that happened when I was about 10. So I think some of you here maybe have some similar kind of experience that maybe you have forgotten


or half-remembered. But you have some intuitive feeling that the practice of stopping and sitting is somehow important. So take just a moment right now and just check in with yourself. What's the deep meaning of your being here? I want to talk a little bit about the mind.


It's a source mind that supports all of our other more partial minds. And the conclusion of the Tenzo Kyokan or Dogen Zenji's instructions to the cook, he talks about three minds or three hearts, actually. He uses the word shin. Shin can mean heart or mind. So it really means heart and mind. He talks about joyful mind and kind mind and great mind as all being essential to the work of being a cook. And for those of you who, of course, he's talking to the cook in a


temple or a monastery, but I think that the notion of these three kinds of mind can be helpful to all of us in whatever work we do, whatever activity we find ourselves in. The joyful mind, he talks about gratitude, being grateful for this human life. I'm going to read just a few sentences from Dogen. Since you are cooking pure meals in this lifetime, this is a life of rejoicing and a body of rejoicing. It is a wholesome cause from limitless eons. It is merit that does not


erode. I hope that you will do your work and cook the meal this day and this very moment with this body, the fruit of myriad births and thousands of lifetimes, thereby creating merit for myriad beings. To penetrate this is joyful mind. So he talks about this very moment as being supported by lifetimes. This very moment as being supported by myriad beings. When the bells stopped ringing and the children put their hands down, we had a little silence. You may have noticed your breath. You may have noticed that you usually don't have to think about your breath. Your breath just happens. So in sitting we notice the breath


as a kind of gift. And naturally a feeling of gratitude arises. My own experience is that joyful mind arises with paying attention, with deep mindfulness. And that can be in activity. And it can be in stillness. Just noticing the breath and just noticing that your whole body is not something that you created. Your whole body is supported in this moment by the earth, the atmosphere, all the beings that have gone into developing our complex, wonderful, amazing DNA that we're sorting out. We're trying to sort this out. We're trying to locate which gene applies to what kind of predilection,


what kind of disease, what kind of genius. It's all already there. Already right here. So Dogen is saying, appreciate this human life. And this should be really an occasion, moment by moment, for gratitude and rejoicing. Last night I was washing a wooden bowl. We in our house use wooden bowls over and over again. And I particularly like to eat out of a wooden bowl. And as I was washing it, and of course my wife Lane says, remember, we don't use soap in the wooden bowls. Because that might damage the oil that builds up and supports, protects the wood. So it takes a lot of scrubbing.


Just with water and scrubbing. And as I was scrubbing the wooden bowl, I noticed I'm actually caressing the wooden bowl. And I had a moment of just pure joy. Caressing the wooden bowl. So this is joyful mind. And whatever you're doing, if you bring attention, simply bring attention to it, you may notice a feeling of kind of lively satisfaction. And Dogen talks about kind mind. He uses the image of a parent. But I think we could also use the image of a friend. And I want to talk about kind mind quite a bit, so I'll come back to it. And then he talks about


daishin, or great mind. So we could say the great mind is actually the mind that we can't grasp. When you consider your own mental, physical, emotional activity, there are parts of it that you can really get to know. There are parts of it that you can understand. That you can actually say, I can grasp it. And yet what is it that understands? Where does this consciousness come from? And so with that question we begin to then add other questions


and wonder, who's doing the questioning? So a great mind is somehow supporting the question that arises with Who am I? The question that arises with Who are you? Who am I meeting? A great mind supports both you and I without any distinction. Dogen says in that section he says that great mind does not make any distinction or have any partiality about whether it's spring or fall whether it's a cold day or a warm day. He might say whether the sun's shining or the fog rolls in. Whether something is


one pound or one ton. Everything is equal in big mind. Equal because it's different. Each thing is unique and then its uniqueness is seen just as it is. So in our practice we say our practice is just to see things as it is without having a preference. Now with kind mind, however, with the second kind of mind, it's relational. Anytime you have a relationship, you have preference. You have some feeling. When I saw the film


of the Dalai Lama talking about his mother. Did any of you see that? Dalai Lama talking about his mother. He said that the love that came from his mother was the essence of spirituality. He can say that as a Dalai Lama with authority. The love that came from his mother, the essence of spirituality. Parental love. And of course, he said when I was a boy and I was having a hard time with my lessons. Of course, he had many tutors as the Dalai Lama. He said when I had a hard time with my lessons, I would go crying to my mother. So his mother moved from the little country place where they were living to the Potala. I would go crying to my mother and she would tell me everything was alright.


Dogen talks about parental love and I realized that Dogen suffered the loss of his parents at an early age. His father died when he was about four and his mother died when he was about seven, I think. And then he didn't have any children. So what's his experience of parental love? Now I know the experiences of all the people in this room vary. Some people have an experience of parental love like the Dalai Lamas, where your mother is so kind and loving. You can always count on her to soothe your injuries. But not everyone has that kind of experience of mother. Some people have experience of a mother who doesn't know what to do with you. You might have an experience of a mother who is really ambivalent about your existence. So sometimes I think


using the word parental love is not the best. Now my own mother, actually, I feel fortunate. When I was about five years old, I don't remember what I was so angry about, but I decided I would run away from home. So I told my mother, I hate you, I hate this place, I'm running away. My mother said, oh, you're going to get hungry. Would you like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for your trip? I said, okay. So she started making me a sandwich. Then she said, maybe you'd like a little thermos of milk to take along with that. I said, yeah, okay.


Then I had the idea that I wanted somehow, I had the idea I wanted to have it tied up in a bundle and carried over my shoulder. I think I'd seen a picture of some hobo. Classic image, right? That's what I wanted. That's how I wanted to run away from home. So she said, maybe I can find a piece of cloth. She found a big bandana. Tied up my little lunch. I found a stick, put it over my shoulders and said, goodbye. And I probably walked about a quarter of a mile. And then I sat down and ate my sandwich and went back home. So I think my mother actually showed parental love in that case where she didn't get upset with me


leaving. Nowadays, depending on what neighborhood you're in, you may be a little more concerned about having your five-year-old just go off, right? But it was a pretty safe area. So I guess she felt, okay, I will not get too worried. I'll trust the situation. And she sent me off with some nourishment. So I think of parental mind as being nourishing mind. That nourishing mind can take many forms. I wanted to read just a note from another wonderful mother who died recently. A friend of mine, Jack Travis, just sent me this email. And this is Jack's mother-in-law.


And she lived over in Oakland until just recently. And this is what Jack says. My great mentor and friend Evelyn Norris died Friday August 18th on the dawning of her 84th birthday. The developmental project carried on over a lifetime by males under the heading of growing up and becoming a man is still going on in my 76th year. Mom, his mother-in-law, Mom was subtle in her teaching ways and all the men who interacted with her felt empowered. We left her company with a sense of direction and enhanced self-esteem. We wanted her approval and we somehow absorbed the notion that the way to get this approval was to grow up and become more of a man.


Evelyn wisely left the details up to us. So we need a parental wise mind, kind mind in our human culture. And we sometimes don't realize that we're surrounded by other cultural matrixes as well. I want to tell one story from Africa. Some of you have probably heard of the maybe many of you have heard it. And you know that elephants are largely matriarchal societies. The wise matriarch knows all the water holes, knows all the places to feed, knows how to take care of the younger elephants. The male elephants stay with the matriarchal group for maybe


12 or 14 years, something like that, and then they go off as adolescent males. Elephants have life spans about the same as ours. So in one of the parks in East Africa, the rangers one time came upon a dead rhinoceros. And studying it, they were perplexed as this rhinoceros had not just died, it had been killed. And as they went about their rounds, they discovered another dead rhino that had been killed. And as they examined the situation, they determined that elephants were killing the rhinos. This had never been happening, hadn't happened before. So they brought in


a consultant, someone who knew more about elephants than the rangers in this particular park knew. And this person asked some questions and found out that they had the year before had with human cleverness had determined that there were too many elephants in this park. And so they decided to call some of the elephants, calling. So they decided to kill the older male elephants that they thought were going to die sooner anyway. So there was a logic to killing off the older male elephants. So they killed off the older male elephants. And so they determined that it was the young male elephants that started killing the rhinos. So this consultant said, I recommend that you bring in some old male elephants. And they took that suggestion. And a short time later, the killing of the rhinos stopped.


We don't know how elephant culture works. But with our human hubris, we often think that we know, or that we know enough to make some drastic decision, like calling the herd. So much of the trouble that we have as human beings, I think, comes from the unintended consequences of our actions, which we call karma. Karmic retribution comes in many forms. So part of actually being able to live the meaning of kind mind is to begin with listening and understanding the situation


before you act. We tend to be impatient beings. We tend not to really be willing to listen long enough. In many cases. We don't even understand that actually we're creating culture every time we take an action. Every time we have a thought, we're actually creating culture. So is our action coming from kindness? Or is it coming from a kind of idea of kindness? Is it coming from an assumption? This is the way it should be. A lot of parents, I see, are not listening. A lot of friends I see, or talk to, are not really listening to their friends. Listening to each other. Here's someone


looking for... Who are you looking for? And most of us don't really listen to ourselves. Listening to ourselves is actually kind of scary. Some aspects of ourselves that we're happy with, that we think are acceptable, we've been told are acceptable. Other aspects of ourselves are not acceptable. So we don't even want to know about them. So we make decisions and act because we just have a little bit of information. And I think in the culture that I see we're living in, there's more and more stress and more


anxiety, and I think we tend to never stop and settle our minds. Many of us never stop and settle our minds. So we're making decisions based upon just a little bit of information and then we react. You know, we have in our brain a little almond-sized bit of matter that we call the amygdala, which is part of our essential survival system that came from, say, the reptilian part of our evolution. Reptiles are pretty good at reacting when there's some threat. If you see a turtle sunning on a log and you go up close and quickly, it's amazing how fast a turtle can slip off the log and disappear into the river.


One time I was camped out up on the Russian River, and early in the dawn, barely getting light, I suddenly felt this creature crawl across my face. And I went, AHHHHH! I thought, it's a skunk! It's a raccoon! And then, a few seconds later, I realized it was my wife's hair. She had kind of reached across me for a flashlight, I think, or something. It was amazing to me how quickly I had decided that it was a threat. I hadn't decided. I hadn't thought about it. Later I learned that this


is the way part of our neuro-system, our neurological system works, that we actually for our own survival have built into us that kind of reaction. Before we know what it is. Now if you get scared and scared and scared enough, you never relax. Or if you get scared in some tremendously powerful traumatic way, for example, many of the people that I meditate with in San Quentin are Vietnam veterans. Many of them went to Vietnam, they actually were put in very scary situations. They came back and reacted to what we would


see as normal situations, thinking that there might be some threat. One friend of mine said that it was terrifying to walk in the grocery store. You never knew what box of cereal might be a bomb, what might explode. So if you're walking around in a state of anxiety like that, you naturally react because you can't always be perfect, calm, all the time. You have things you have to do. You have to make dinner. You may already be tired, it's a long day. You may have had an argument with your person earlier in the day. Your child comes up and you say,


What do you want? And the child feels, What does a child feel? Maybe left out. Maybe hurt. Maybe rejected. So we all have these experiences. And we carry them in various ways. So part of our sitting practice of actually coming and stopping and sitting still is an occasion for the various pains that we've suffered to emerge and become clearer. So people come and they want to sit and be calm. And then they come to me and they say, I sat but I wasn't calm. I wanted to be calm but my mind was going I wanted to sit but then


I started thinking about a painful memory and it just took over. So this is the interplay then between the kindness that we want to have and that we want to feel. We want to feel it towards ourselves. We want to feel it towards others. And the tremendous resource we have in Big Mind. You may think of Big Mind actually as a tremendous, vast resource. If you can actually allow yourself to stay present you begin to notice all the things that are not quite Big Mind. The ideas that you have that are less, that are limited. And if you can bring from within


yourself the feeling of caring, of acceptance, just pure being with, then you're beginning to activate the resource that you have. The Big Mind resource that you have. So this resource that is actually supporting all of us all the time is actually what's underneath joyful mind and kind mind. I'd like to think that this Zendo is kind of like a rechargeable, more like a generator. The Zendo is like a generator. And that people can come here and sit and recharge their


resource capacity. Tap into Big Mind. And then in going out from here, that Big Mind can support the thought of joyful mind, the thought of kind mind. Kindness doesn't always look like gentleness. There's another story which comes from the history of Suzuki Hiroshi, who was the founder of San Francisco Zen Center, and he had a difficult time with his teacher in Japan. When he was 12 years old, he started staying with his teacher with a small group of other kids. One day they were served daikon, radishes, that were rotten. So they didn't eat them.


They put them aside, sent them back. The next day they were served the same, rotten radishes. So this time they took them and they went and they buried them in the garden. Next day, they were served the same rotten radishes, same rotten daikon. Their teacher insisted that they regard this rotten radish as nourishment. What was he doing? Was he being cruel? In our country now, the parents would bring a lawsuit, right? So what about the teaching that goes beyond what seems kind? That actually pushes you to regard rotten


radish and sweet rice as equal. Equal. So in our Zen training, we also go beyond parental mind. We go beyond kind mind. We go beyond joyful mind. So big mind includes the recognition that none of these are complete. So sometimes we also say no mind. So as you


step up, greet your friends, notice whether you are actually coming from some idea of kindness or are you willing to actually just be completely present with them without any judgment. It's okay to have judgment. We need to have judgment. But it's good to know when you're having a judgment. And you know when it's okay to serve rotten radishes. So thank you for listening. Thank you for appreciating peanut butter sandwiches and rotten radishes.