Sunday Lecture

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ah about today's the truth of the to dongo those words
morning teacher
so i stepped out of my house this morning to come down here and i was stopped in my tracks by
by this
he's here
the tree and my yard is covered in blossoms
and i thought to myself it's not even new year
i grew up in california but i'm still not quite used to the miraculous spring that comes before the new year
and when i walk down here
but you know diana said to me you're not going to twirl the flower are you
i said no i'm not gonna do that so
i wanted to begin this morning with a the beginning verse of the dama pada which is translated as the path of light or the path of truth
and these poems are some of the earliest attributed to the buddha and they were compiled around the third century before the christian era
what we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday and are present thoughts build our life of tomorrow
our life is a creation of our mind
if a man or woman speaks or acts with an impure mind suffering follows them as the wheel of the cart follows the beast that draws the cart
what we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday and are present thoughts build our life of tomorrow
our life
is a creation of our mind
if a man or a woman speaks or acts with a pure mind
joy follows them as their own shadow
he insulted me they hurt me she defeated me
he robbed me those who think such thoughts will not be free from hate
she insulted me he hurt me they defeated me he robbed me
those who think not such thoughts will be free from hate for hate is not conquered by hate hate is conquered by love
this is the eternal law
many did not know that we are here in this world to live in harmony
those who know this do not fight against each other

so a few days ago we began our annual new year's retreat here at green gulch and about twenty men and women came here to live together and to eat their meals together
and to talk together about themselves and their longings and about the teachings of buddha
and i would say that all in all it's going wonderfully well we have managed for many days on end to live in peace and harmony with each other
there is a term and and buddha's teaching
which has called longo meaning peaceful dwelling
and that's what i want to talk about this morning about peaceful dwelling
it seems to me that human children are not born automatically consistently or reliably harmonizing themselves with one another
some kids are more aggressive and some are more social but either way it seems to take the entirety of their lives to learn how to live in peace
with their neighbors
and it seems to be a long process of education
of discipline and of compassion
most importantly it's a lifelong vow you have to want to
that's the most important thing that you want to and that always comes first
we use words such as aspiration intention commitment to indicate that we have taken such a vow within our own hearts to live at peace with one another
and i imagine i believe that all of you here have taken taken such a vow in your own hearts
and that when you come to a place like this or when you go to church sure to a mosque or temple or another dharma center that you're going there to find out how to live your vows
how to live in harmony not only for your own benefit but for the benefit of this deeply troubled world
and it was the same heavy question that the buddha carried with him as he left his beloved home in search for an end to human sorrow
i am right now in the middle of a novel that couple of friends recommended so once more than one person suggests a book i usually think it's time to read the book so this one is called the life of pi by yann martel
and ah
so far i've only read enough to know that the young teenage boy indian boy in the story has taken on himself wholeheartedly all of the core spiritual practices of his native indian tradition
for the christians he has become baptized and for the hindus he makes offerings of flowers and incense at the temple and for the muslims he has a small prayer rug that he opens five times a day
and as he says all of this as a means to express his innermost love
in the buddhist tradition we express our love through the methods of the young prince siddhartha
who was an accomplished yogi and a rigorous aesthetic
and who mastered various trances of infinite to light
unfortunately for those of us who aspired to a blissful outcome for our own spiritual enterprises
the prince reported that on exiting these trances this is not the way
at the end of many years of what he now saw as fruitless and transient endeavor
he simply sat himself down under a tree
a flowering tree perhaps and for seven days he carefully watched the workings of his own mind
and as a result to this very day we buddhists watch our minds as a means and as an expression of our innermost glove
if you've ever tried to watch your mind at work you already know that it's not so easy to do
in fact in making such an effort over time you may get into says you may begin to suspect that what's going on up here is actually
somewhat mad
and if you have discovered that your mind is somewhat man unreliable irrational then according to the buddha you're on the right track
it's not so hard for us to see this basic madness in young children or in the very very old because they have lost the ability or never got it in the first place to behave otherwise
one minute they're laughing and the next minute they're crying or they're happy or sad their irrational hard to feed
and like my grandmother and my preteen daughter every once in awhile without any explanation they are hell bent on running away
we so-called normal adults are not really so different it's just that were better channelized for appropriate behavior
and this is what the buddha saw inside of himself as well
these endlessly repeating patterns of delusion airy vision followed by strategies and impulses for their gratification
and being a prince of a warrior clan his delusions appeared as armies of orcs and bow rocks
and when those failed to move him they transform themselves into dancing girls and harem boys with names like lust diversion and delight
but even then the buddha remained seated and still
in the final round on the eve of his enlightenment the buddha was faced by mara the evil one himself the prince of illusion
and he threatened the buddha with extinction if he persisted in define the show
the buddha said tamara i know who you are deceiver
mro replied with confidence oh no you don't
but the buddha with equal confidence responded oh yes i do
you are myself
and with that knowledge mara vanished
leaving the young man sitting at peace
in the forest under the banyan tree
this pattern are of are delusional thinking begins with what's called the fundamental affliction of ignorance
ignorance is basically the fogging or the clouding of are good clear vision
it's the appearance of mara
and what we fail to see through these clouds of illusion is really very simple
we fail to see our common humanity
and we fail to act with common sense for the common good
for the benefit of all living things
and in place of that clear vision what we see here what we believe we see are the varieties of shapes and forms that we call the other
almost like science fiction the other
and we've given these shapes and forms a multitude of names some of them are beloved and others are heinous
and toward the beloved we stepped forward and from the heinous we recoil
but either way the passions are ignited and they are expended in this harmonious behavior
the consequence of are glad clouded vision is notorious it's written daily in the newspapers of the world
and we all have our own stories
she insulted me he beat me they rob me they defeated me those who think such thoughts will not be free from hate
as the buddha watched his mind are very mind with great forbearance day after day he learned how this pattern of liking and disliking
of picking and choosing simply spun him around like a roulette wheel in a cheesy gaming parlor
round and round and round without ceasing without cessation
without relief and he called this spinning some sora which means literally endless circling
my daughter uses this gesture when she doesn't like something that i've said to her
so this is the bad news
this is the diagnosis that we've been given concerning this affliction
the fundamental affliction of our ignorance
and much of our training and of our education from birth on just simply reinforces the potent delusion as truth
the first truth that we are taught as the truth of me
man mine as righteously separate from each and every one of you
and based on this truth it is no accident that we live in a society where my thoughts are protected privacy of my thoughts and the sanctity of my property
against you
as every schoolboy knows
i've been reading another fascinating book i have a stack of them
stiga videos on one side and stack of books on the other
called empty words by j garfield
who's a very readable in a very likeable professor of philosophy at smith college and also a student of tibetan buddhism
and if you're interested in major philosophical schools of the mahayana the madama chi yoga chara he's the man to read
very easy to follow very difficult stuff
hell at the same time and in this book empty words
he appears as a buddhist practitioner with a loving and a loving exponent of compassionate political theory
he writes an essay called human rights and compassion in which he makes a very thought provoking case against the elements of a civilization such as ours where the moral landscape is defined by rights and duties of the individual
and he opposes such a civilization to another which exists perhaps only in our imaginations
where the cultivation of compassion is the most basic moral and civil task
and in which rights are grounded not an individual autonomy
but in the cultivation of the collective responsibility of all of us for each other
in such a political theory taste to me anyway like buddhist teaching and not like the truth of me
the second of the delusional true's is the truth of you
that you and yours are potential opportunities for me
that if i can't actually have you and all that you have at least i can go to the mall with pocket pools of cash that the other has been transformed into commodity
these commodities are guaranteed to last
they will bring pleasure and they will quench the incessant groaning of my hyper active desires
the third truth is the truth of acquiring itself
that acquiring shopping getting winning holding owning
what makes me happy
and the fourth truth is that all of the above is true
in whatever way no matter how subtle you believe in this game then you are moved and turned
by these truths
spin wash and dry
these for mistaken truths are called the upside down or inverted views
and it was understood by the buddha that correcting these misunderstandings these misperceptions is the true path to human happiness
instead of the truth of me of self concern he taught the truth of caring about you
of living for the benefit of others and the body sat for wow
and instead of the truth of you he taught the truth of renunciation of all attachments
in other words of keeping our hands to ourselves
and of appreciating all that comes to us as a gift or as an offering
each sound each site taste touch object of mind
or as mr throw said if you will sit quietly by the side of the pond
all the creatures of the forest will come and greet you one by one

and instead of the truth of acquiring he taught the truth of giving
not only the giving of material possession but of instruction of patience of protection of encouragement and of unconditional love
and finally instead of the truth of what i believe is true
he taught that holding views is the greatest source of our human suffering
and it's the foundation for fundamentalism of all various stripes
i think probably you've already heard by now the story of the difference between heaven and hell
it's been told many times up at this seat that i think i'll tell it again
in heaven there's an excuse me in hell gruesome banquet table it's covered with delicious food and all of the guests are very hungry and then they are handed extremely long forks with which to eat
so they can't get the food into their mouths
that's hell
in heaven is exactly the same scene except that all the people are using the long forks to feed one another across the table
so that no one goes hungry
so having dwelt a bit on the bad news and the diagnosis of this mental affliction i want to spend the rest of this talk talking about the good news which is that there is medicine and there is great hope for cure
for thousands of years thousands of people have found relief from their own mental affliction through the methods and guidance of the fine teacher called shakyamuni buddha
and what he prescribed as really very simple
but as one of his disciples suzuki roshi said
it is quite simple but it's not so easy it's not so easy to be so simple
to take things at face value to hold no views
and to love everyone without exception
as for method zen master dogan of japan spoke of simply dropping body and mind
and bodhi dharma the first zen ancestor in china simply sat in the cave for nine years facing a wall
and when his disciple waker came to him asking for help with his own troublesome mind bodhidharma said to him bring me your mind and i will pacify it for you
so quaker went away for a while we don't really know how long it probably was a number of years and when he returned he said to bodhidharma
i can't find my mind
bodhidharma said there i've pacified it for you
each of these stories is a clue to the practice that we humans need to undertake in order to free ourselves from the power of our imaginations
how each of us must seek and find the answers to the questions which burn and crackle within us that those quiet hours deep into the night
and is highly recommended in the buddhist tradition that new find some help along the way
as any of us here at gringotts can tell you we wouldn't be able to do this practice without each other without the love and support of one another
this is ago peaceful dwelling
and what you'll get if you come here even for a little while is pretty much what waker god
some pretty good food and shelter from the rain and you'll get an opportunity to sit by the pond and watch the workings of your own mind
until maybe at some point you'll sit in awe as you watch the limitations the convictions and the opinions so long held slip quietly to the floor
last night i had the great privilege to watch my mind at the cirque du soleil
and it flipped and it flopped and sword and at the end of the performance all of us left to her feet clapping wildly an appreciation for these young people
and while i was clapping i thought to myself
listen this a better way to live than blowing one another up
that here were these young humans playing together under the big top they had trained obviously for a long time their bodies were so intelligent and beautiful
and they had approached their fears over and over again together
and they protected each other they stood under each other so in case they might fall they be safe
and it reminded me of another
team i watched teamwork and a film called the band of brothers about the second world war in which a group of young men trained together
live together supported one another protected each other
but the difference is just so obvious you know in one case we are dazzled with delight and in the other we are crippled for life by the horror
what we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday and are present thoughts build our life of tomorrow our life is a creation of our mind
if a man or a woman speaks or acts with a pure mind doi follows them as their own shadow
he insulted me they hurt me
she defeated me he robbed me those who think such thoughts will not be free from hate
she insulted me he hurt me they defeated me he robbed me those who think not such thoughts will be free from hate for hate is not conquered by hate hate is conquered by love this is the eternal law
many do not know that we are here in this world to live in harmony those who know this do not fight against each other
so i wish all of you the blessings of are harmonious new year for yourselves and your families
and i wish that this new year in this new world
may ever now and then be brightened by a cloudless sky
thank you very much
a country