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our intention
in today's the truth so that's a faggot as words

good morning
i still see we still need a building with elastic halls

i wonder if and sitting in their seat as we say this verse i beginning a talk a lecture ah if i will ever find myself feeling anything other than struck by
by a sort of ah at channing that verse and then vein one who's supposed to be speaking with a faggot as words
it's a killer of a chow which
but i hope that what i have to say this morning will be of some use to you
and if it isn't don't worry about
a group of us are spending this weekend looking into this business of dying and death
a focus which i think is always of great benefit and help even though it's not much in vogue these days
at least not in these parts
surprisingly there have been times when death and dying has been more in vogue these days it's more or less side i suppose that's just the way it is with as human beings
we'd rather not think about it
understandably i suppose
recently someone that i know through our practicing together gave me a tape
of stories which turn out to be about death and i so one of the things i'd like to do this morning as to tell you one of those stories which i was quite struck by
but first i want to say a few words about the yeah
perspective where attitude that informs what i want to bring up for our consideration this morning
and i suppose the first thing i might say is that i feel completely convinced of the observation and teaching that comes from the buddhist tradition but actually for many great wisdom traditions around the world
that there is great benefit and thinking about are dying throughout the entirety of our lives
there's great benefit in
considering and becoming familiar with deaf as a way of living fully
and that the paradox that one may sense or feel
there is worth looking into
that we have some idea or training or conditioning to think that it's birth or death if i'm focused on death and i can't be attending to living
but in fact my experience and the experience of many many people over a long long time is quite the opposite
that to the degree that we remember at we actively in each moment remember that we will guy we do not know when or how
that that understanding that seeing the fact of our guy allows us to live fully and and whole heartedly and to cultivate our capacity to live without regret
with as little unfinished business as possible if we're really pay attention
in some of the stories that i've been listening to and reading about death
over and over again their stories about death as a kind of companion and one of the symbols of death in some of the old european stories i've been listening to
ah is the image of death as a tinker
you know he travels around in a black suit the black hat
tall and skinny
very long arms
with a back pack of stuff would she sells to us or not
so the story i want to tell you his story called godfather death
and it's a story about a man who lived a long long time ago in another land
who was very very poor and who had twelve children
and had in the process of having his twelve children in their golden coerced everybody knew into being a godparent for one or another of his children
so when his thirteenth child arrived he didn't know who to call upon because it's or he sort of used up his options
and he was indeed very poor so he knew that it was important for him to find a godparent for this child
interestingly in the story it goes that he was especially looking for a spiritual godfather godparent for this child
and because he didn't have any more friends or neighbors are acquaintances to lean upon
he decided that he would go for a walk
and that he would ask the first person he came upon in his walk up into the high country near where he lived
so he went out walking with this commitment to ask the first person he came to if that person would be the godparent for his thirteenth child
and the first person he met on the road was the devil
the devil was dressed in a beautiful bright red coat
and he had shiny black shoes and a wicker kane
and because he was the devil he knew at some distance exactly what this this man was going to ask him
so he was ready
so the old man said to this
guy dressed up in this spiffy attire
pay the spiritual godfather of his thirteenth child
and the devil said oh yes i would be glad to be the
godfather of your child
and i will make it possible for this child to be very very rich

so the old man thought about it for a while and he looked at this being in a red jacket and shiny black shoes and a wicker kane
and he said
don't know
because of course in a few moments he realized he was talking to the towel
so i don't know
seems to me that you take more than you give
i think not
and he went on his way
so a little while later
the father of the thirteen children matt god himself from the road
and god said i will be happy to be the godfather of your child and what i promise you is that your child will have a life in the life after this one that will be wonderful
will be more marvelous
then the life he leads in this world
and the father said
i find this an amazing part of the story
i don't know
you're not fair
you give to the rich and you take from the poor i don't think so
chutzpah the first walk around
so he went along and of course than the third person he came came upon on his walking trip was death
tall and skinny dressed all in black but these long thin arms like matchsticks
and death said i will be glad to be the spiritual godfather for your child
and i will be with your child throughout his life
and i will help him become a physician
and i will help him have the clear sense when he goes into a room to see someone who is sick to know whether the person will live or die
and with this ability to see clearly and reliably when the person will either live recover from their sickness or they will die he will become a famous and well considered physician
so the father decided that this was a pretty good arrangement and he accepted deaths offer not
and so the thirteenth child grew up and indeed became a physician
and his guardian death who was with him all the time when the right time came for this young man to begin his practice as a doctor
said when you go to see someone who is sick
if i'm standing by the head of the bed you will know that it is not yet time for them to die that they will recover
and you can tell the person in their family and friends that that's what will happen
but know that when i'm standing at the foot of the bad it means that it's time for them to come with me that their time has come
and he made a very big point with the young man that he should honor
this information and not try to argue with the with death
so the young man began his practice as a physician and of course whenever he saw death standing at the head of the bed he would say with great certainty and in a very loud voice this person will become well again and of course they did
and then at other times he would walk into the sick room and he would say the death was standing at the foot of the bed and he would say there is nothing more i can do and this person will pass over and they did
so he became very very famous
very wealthy much sought after because he was so reliable
so after some years of working as a physician and leading a very full and happy life
some messengers came from the king and said oh great doctor please come the king is very very sick
and he wants you to come and help him be well again so the physician went to see the king and as he walked into the room he saw the death was standing at the foot of the bed
the king said in a very weak voice oh great doctor please cure me help me be well again if you bring me back to health i will give you half of the wealth of my kingdom
well the physician stopped to think about that
half of the wealth of the kingdom why
so he looked at the king and he looked at the at death and he looked at the situation and he quickly spun the king's bad around
and very quickly before anything else can happen he shouted at the top of his lungs the king will be well again
well death gave him a certain look
and a little while later when they had left the king's room death said physician
don't ever do that again
and of course
the king did get well
so why some while later the king's messengers came to the physician again and said oh physician please come quickly the king needs you his beloved and only daughter is very very sick is close to dying and she needs your help
so he hurried quickly to the king's palace and went into the room where this beautiful beautiful young woman was pale and wan and very sick
and of course guess who was standing where
death was standing at the foot of her bed
the physician walked up to the side of the bed and looked into the face of this young woman the king standing nearby pleading with him to do something anything anything please to save my only and beloved daughter
if you can save her if she can be well again she is yours in marriage and the physician looked into this beautiful face and looked into her eyes and he immediately fell in love with her
so he spun the bed again
and death didn't say anything at all
until they were both out of the room
and death said physician
you made a big mistake
so some time past
and the physician found himself standing alone next to his godfather
and his godfather said come with me
and they went through a stone wall a big arched doorway and a stone wall that led to some stairs that went down down down deep into an underground room
and when they walked into this room it was filled with candles
many many many many candles some of them were tall and slender some of them were short some of them were big and fat
sizes and shapes but all white candles some of them burning with a strong clear flame
some of them flickering and sputtering
and the physician said to death what is this where are we
and death said these are the candles each candle for a human life and the physician said oh i understand these slender small candles are the candles for children for children's lives and the big fat candles or for
for people who have a long life ahead of them and the candles that are burnt way down and flickering must be for old people and death said no
some of these slender candles are for old people and some are for babies
some of these big fat candles are for people of many different ages some for babies
each candle and the light that is flickering with each lighted candle is the life energy and force for one person
and no new candle can be lit until
an older candle goes out
so the physician got a little worried and he said all i guess i want you to show me my candle
so jeff said okay
and he showed him this candle that was burned way way down hardly anything left sputtering and flickering
and the physician began to wail and carry on oh jeff please like me another candle i have so much to live for
i'm such a good doctor i help so many people i have this great wealth from the king and i'm married to this beautiful beautiful woman whom i love dearly i have so much to live for please please like me another candle
and deaths said it doesn't work that way
in the physician kept arguing and arguing and arguing and finally death said oh alright
so he took picked up a great big facts candle
that was not yet lighted and he put it on top of the physicians candle
and the physician fell over dead
no bargaining here
no favouritism
the physicians father had decided not to accept the offer from the devil or from god he accepted the offer to be the spiritual godparent from death
who doesn't show favoritism
treats all of us exactly the same
i get a marvelous story
because of course we all have some kind of bargaining going on here don't we
it's either the bargaining called not me i'm not going to die than live to be about one hundred and seventy two
or at least ninety four
or if possible we distract ourselves so we don't think about it at all
or we think well if i do some fast maneuver here i can stay in control of how long i live
which is of course just some
figment of the imagination

and i've been wondering what is it it's underneath all that bargaining all that distracting ourselves all of that aversion turning away from the fact of death dying
what is it that leads us to ignore or turn away from the fact that we all will die and we do not know when or how
i think it's a very important question particularly for us who live in this country in this culture
devoted as we are to youth
devoted as we are to doing
we are perhaps particularly ill prepared for our i
there's a great book by a french historian social historian whose name is philip areas called the hour of our death in which he talks about the history of attitudes towards death and dying in the west and his point is that since the
the coming into existence of hospitals places where people go to be born and to die we've lost touch with the fact of dying as part of living because we don't grow up with babies and children and youth and middle aged people and old people
dying in our house or next door in village or in our neighborhood it all happens somewhere else
out of sight out of mind
and i think for many of us what informs are turning away from the fact of are dying is mostly fear
and of course what is unfamiliar what we know little about what we keep at arm's distance loans
there's that curious way in which what we are afraid of the more we keep it at a distance from us the bigger it is
so the antidote is to hang out with all of the minor dimes to do as many dress rehearsals as we can
because what is familiar is not so frightening as what is unfamiliar it's so
so for example when we breathe and and we breathe out a way pay attention to the breath at the end of the exhalation is sometimes depending on what the breath is like a little space
a kind of mine are dying
when i go to sleep at night it's a kind of dying as waking up is a kind of being born
whenever i finish something
there is a kind of dying in the finishing of some project
when my husband leaves the house in the morning to go to his office in the city i have no idea whether i'll ever see him again
and to the degree that i remind myself of that as i say goodbye to him in the morning i am less likely to leave unsaid
all of the things i want to say to him about my gratitude for his being in my life
i'm a little less likely to leave unattended some disagreement
i'm a little less likely to have some tattered aspect of our life together
left alone
it actually helps me to being present in my relationship with this person whom i love and care for so deeply
so that if one or the other of us dies today
we will not have left something unsaid
in one of my favorite verses impermanence vs there's a line that goes meetings will end in separation
it's a fact if we meet
there will be a separating so in our meeting do we include the separating to we let it inform our meeting so that we are present for the fullness of the possibilities and her meeting

it isn't so scary to think about that space at the end of the breath as a kind of mine are dying
as it is to think about our actual time passing over
so maybe we can creep up on are dying in these small ways hang out around the edges
don't mean to imply that we should sneak up on ourselves when we're not looking exactly but something like that
last week i flew to taos for the week i was doing a workshop natalie goldberg on writing and san
i was looking forward to the workshop and to being in taos because i knew there would be son
and i've had a terrible
a bug for weeks and weeks
and i knew or at least expected hoped that the sun and the dry high mountain air would help me get over this bug
so as the plane took off i was startled at a kind of clutching in my stomach oh goody here we go again fear of flying
but it's not really fear of flying it's fear of dying
and then i say no it's fear of taking off and landing now it's fear of dying even hundred
now exactly what do you mean
so there i am white knuckling the arms of the seat
surrounded by companions and various stages of repose intention
and i thought well what better opportunity to do a little inquiry into this state of mind arising here as we're taking off
noticing some tension in my stomach some tension in my hands on the arms of her see i was sitting in
okay breathe in and breathe out
relax the hands pay attention to the sensations in the body
and when i realized very quickly was i wasn't even so afraid of dying as i am afraid of fire
afraid of a certain kind of pain
afraid of dying
painfully and having at last a while
and then i remembered many different people who said to me i'm not so afraid of death part it's the dying part that freaks me out
that helps least i've narrowed down the focus of my fear
i know a little bit more about what that's about
well what's underneath that
a certain kind of identification with this body
relax distracted by trying to read the title of the book of the person in the hands of the person next to me completely forgot about my fear
taking off because we've taken off reached our altitude
oh we're about to land air comes again
so within a week i had for opportunities to do very detailed inquiry into my fear of taking off and landing fear of dying
having some brief glimpse into a certain kind of clinging to this body
two wanting to stick around a little bit longer there are few things i'd still like to do
but at least i'm bringing the whole terrain in a little bit closer
and what that a series of inquiries provided for me this past week was a kind of kick in the but if you will
in my meditation practice to really look into more deeply again
what are the implications of this notion of the wisdom understanding emptiness that there is no independent
self existence
that means no yvonne that exists in some independent way
what are the implications of that description of the reality of things on this clinging in this fear
and i could feel some slight loosening
of the response of fear
some slight
cultivation if you will have equanimity even when i'm frightened
because of course i think many of us have some idea of i'm either afraid or i'm not afraid i may they're afraid or in courageous if i have courageous i won't be afraid i don't think so
maybe i can be courageous and be frightened at the same time
maybe i can be present with a complex of feelings thoughts states of mind
and have slowly some cultivation of calmness
because i'm a little bit more familiar with the fact that i will die and it's absolutely out of my control as to when or how
that it's quite useful to know where the exits are on this particular airplane
because who knows we might go down and i may die or i may not if i know where the exit it is and i have some familiarity with my fair fear i may also be able to be calm in that moment moment of the plane going down in
a way that helps me stay present with myself and my neighbor i have no way of knowing what will happen
all i can do is stay present in the moment and keep rehearsing
a calm mind keep noticing what disturbs calmness
if fear is what comes up around thoughts of dying looking into becoming friends with being interested in what this fear is about
not in general but in particular this morning
not yesterday or tomorrow but right now
and to encourage myself to stay physically grounded in the moment and not get carried away by my thoughts my memories my feelings
because that's like getting on the bullet train the fast train between tokyo and kyoto
go so fast you don't know where you've been
thoughts and feelings are a little like that
but this physical body and breath locating myself in the sensation of my but on the cushion
my knees in contact with the map that i'm sitting on
the sensation of contact between the ends of my home's my left hand in contact with my right hand in a very particular way
my ability to stay attending to the detail of physical body right in this moment with the breath helps me stay present with what is not with what isn't
how much of my fear about death is about what isn't
or what i'm afraid won't be
how much does it distract me from once to the moment

beautiful sunny day here at green gulch
a nice day to go for a walk to hang out down on the garden
and to no job slowly gently without too much forcing our insistence noticing that it's fall that there are some plants that are beginning to lose their leaves getting ready to be dormant
that on some of the rose bushes there are beautiful buds and some blooms but they're also some flowers that are fading pedals on the ground
to remind ourselves over and over again about how death and life our companions and that we can't separate the one from the other
least consider the possibility that if i am present with the dying that occurs moment by moment it may inform my ability to be alive in a very full and complete way
i have a cup which someone gave me some years ago actually it was one of two cups that someone gave to me at the time that i was married to my current husband
sounds like i've had a lot of feminism
remember to
so one of the cops broke
and happily for me my husband didn't care about the cup so much so the one that didn't break is the one that i'm using
and i've been drinking from it every morning for many years and i enjoy it whenever i drink from it i think of the person that gave it to to me and to us
interestingly if i think about that cup and i think about the nature of this cup is that it will break one of these days this couple brink
and there's a way in which noticing that the nature of this porcelain cup is that it will break i really enjoy the cup of coffee i had in this morning
so there's a way in which my willingness to consider the death of a cup if you will
does not lead to me being dreary and a drag to be around and joyless quite the opposite i really enjoy that cup
especially this morning
and if you come to visit i will offer you a cup of tea in that cup and hope that you'll enjoy it too
and if one of our visitors we currently have
eleven monks and a translator soon to have seventeen monks and a translator sleeping over
the cops get broke
things are the way they should be
there are the way they are
lots of opportunity for a little minor dimes and meditations on guys
lots of possibilities to pay attention to what is not what isn't
lots of opportunities to attend to the joy and happiness in the house this morning
and an opportunity to let go of the order that isn't

so what i'm suggesting to you about this inquiry into dying and in particular into our particular individual version of fear of dying is also true of all of our negative states of mind
the more we pull the detail of our experience our state of mind in close so that we can look into now exactly what's going on exactly what am i afraid of not in general but in particular
if i keep asking myself that question i can boil down the focus of my inquiry to what i would call a bite size piece
if i keep it too big i can't look into what i'm worried about
take it in little bits
after a while i notice that ab i still feel some fear but that isn't all that i am experiencing
and that what becomes familiar is not so frightening
i've course don't really know what my state of mind will be one i die
but i'm hoping that having spent time with many good teachers many people while they have been nine that they have all taught me something about what happens when i relax when i allow
when i remember to exhale
that if i don't worry if i stay present moment by moment
things are just fine
so on this beautiful sunny day i would invite you to go for a little walk and see if you can find some object of contemplation of the impermanent nature of things
some one example you don't have to look very far
you'd actually don't even have to get off your chair or cushion

everything in the world as we know it is constantly changing
the one constancy it's change itself
so my suffering arises when i fight the truth of things as they are
if i can hang out with become more familiar with the impermanent nature of things
joy will arise
it says so and all the ancient texts in many different traditions but we don't even have to believe those old teachings in fact it's probably better more to the point if we ask ourselves what is the truth of my experience
when do i suffer
i suffer when i try to control that which i can't control
i suffer when i try to hold on to that which i cannot hold onto
i suffer when i try to keep my child from having any harm come to her
beyond my control
all i can do is keep my heart open and understand that the nature of our meeting is that there will be separation
so kanye every time we see each other include that
rather then build the kind of wall
a kind of prison
in which i pretend that things are different
so have a nice take off and a nice landing
may our in