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happy fourth of july

dave independence independence day
this is a day that we celebrate the astonishing signing
of the declaration of independence which says
we hold these truths to be self evident
that all men but we would say that all people are created equal
that they are endowed by their creator with certain on l animal rights
that among these are life right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness that to secure these rights governments are instituted among people deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
so there's actually a terrific statement i think
which of course we take for granted this is the old thing doesn't seem the paint like to us but actually is pretty terrific sad statement
and we shouldn't take it for granted that we are all fundamentally equal an identical in our true nature
and so therefore we are all worthy of love and respect
that we all have absolutely the right to be alive to be free to be happy
this is terrific thing like something that we should celebrate and be happy about i think if the buddha where around he would endorse this statement wholeheartedly
so i hope that everyone remembers this and has a good celebration today
and we also have a sort of have the young people's program today we have two representatives down here i
this is usually the first sunday of the month is usually the time for the young people but somehow
it was unclear when it were having it today so
the die hards showed up
and somebody told me that
that the that the young folks are studying the precept about write speeches or is isn't true
are you maybe you don't know but they told me freestyling
about right speech so
i was assigned the topic of right speech to to talk to you about
and in buddhism right speech doesn't mean
right speech as opposed to wrong speech exactly
right speech more like it means more like speech that is straight or upright not upside down speech
that's what right speech means and there's a little story about this in one sutra
once the buddha had a dipper of but that was a little bit full of water just had a little bit of water and and not much
and he said to one of his disciples do you think there's a lot of water in this dipper
and then disciples said no there's not much water in the dipper
and the buddha said well that's how much
goodness there is
in someone who deliberately tells lies
then he took the little bit of water in the deliberately threw it away
and he said to the monk do you think there's much water new now and along said
no there's even less water and it now and a buddha said that's how much
goodness there is left in someone who deliberately continues to tell lies
then the buddha took the dipper and turn it upside down
on iraq
he said a person who deliberately tells lies is like this dipper upside down

so a person who deliberately tells lies as like an upside down person
it's like telling lies deliberately is like being upside down walking around on your head instead of on your feet
it's difficult to walk around on your head
don't you think
very difficult and the path of deliberately lying is a difficult path
ah but the worst thing about it is
that when you walk around on your head
you can't see the sky
right you only see the ground
and being able to see the sky is one of the best things
don't you think
imagine if you couldn't see the sky
so telling the truth and been committed to being truthful is like
you're walking around upright and being able to see the sky
so that's what the buddha had to say about bright speech about not lying
and i would say that if you want to you can to get bored you can get up in the middle of the talk and go out and do this
if you can sit through the whole talk congratulations that would be really amazing
but either way
i would recommend to you and also to everyone else
this meditation practice excuse me of looking at the sky
pink quiet
and following your breath and gazing at the sky without looking for anything just looking at the clouds and the blue sky this a wonderful meditation practice and if you do that you will appreciate and see the point of
the buddha's recommendation to us to speak truthfully
and not to lie so you remember that right don't walk on your head
look at the sky okay always remember

so this question of right speech in the proper use of
our language
is one of the most interesting things i think
we are all now very enthusiastic about
new technologies and so on but the most interesting an intimate and confusing and powerful of all technologies is definitely language itself
in fact you can probably say that language is
because it is the language making ability and the language making consciousness that is what distinguishes human consciousness
and so language is so close to us that we really can't understand what it is it's like a fish swimming in the water
for the foot fish there's really no such thing as water and it's just the way things are
there's nothing you can separate yourself from and analyze as water for a fish
and we're like that with language
i myself have been thinking about language all my adult life
and i have no idea about it i just don't understand about language
and this is always what i'm writing about in my poetry
can you know what language is
can you know what you are
the poet paul celan says
whenever we speak with things in this way
and here he's referring to poetry which is an encounter with things speaking to things he says whenever we speak with things in this way we dwell on the question of there were from and where to
an open question without resolution
so on one hand language is a great prison
the prison house of language we are all literally locked
our language and we only able to see as far as we can say
on the other end language is the key to our freedom
language opens our imagination and allows us to reach out and touch the world and also to fly out beyond it
and in zen practice in particular
one of our most important efforts is to stand within language in a fresh way
to open up the hand of thought
and let our language be extremely flexible and open
but this means is that we understand and we appreciate language and many different ways
on one hand every word means something and therefore not something else
but also every word as soon as we speak it
is gone
and so every word is nothing it dissolves into nothingness
when we speak about something we might have the illusion that we are understanding something or controlling something
but actually it's not so
when we're speaking we may think we're speaking about something but were never speaking about anything we are just being human and we are just expressing ourselves
it's when we get tangled up
and the something we think we are speaking about
that we suffer this is the cause of suffering
so maybe would be better if we understood language as singing or music
music doesn't really have any meaning exactly but it's very valuable thing we could hardly do without it
what it means
in early buddhist sutras there's a very simple deceptively simple understanding of language
but when you look at these sutras carefully and think about them you realize that they understanding express their about languages it's quite subtle
the buddha recognized the pivotal nature of language for human consciousness and he saw
at the trap of language comes
fundamentally from our identification
with our own experience
experience you know is if something that comes and goes and time appearing and disappearing simultaneously indefinable on possessive will
but instead of letting experienced be what it is our human
linguistically charged consciousness wants to fix experience in time
and in thought
and language carries this habit deeply within itself and so that's why languages such a tricky business
as human beings we are all perfect and divine creatures just as the declaration of independence implies
equally every one of us
is that way
all possessing buddha nature
all worthy of freedom and happiness
and yet we only have to look at our world to see that we apparently are also quite small minded
selfish and destructive creatures
and the difference is whether or not we are able to untie the knot of language
when in buddhism all the teachings about emptiness and non attachment or about this to help us to see through the obscuring net of views of language and to see clearly things as they are to allow things to be as they are
in the early formulation of the buddhist path the eightfold path the first three members of the path are a right view right intention and right speech
and when there's right view right intention and right speech than theirs there can be right conduct
and when there's right conduct than there can be meditation practice and mindfulness which will lead to accurate wisdom which will reinforce right view
so right view right intention right speech these are in the territory of language
and so the buddhist saw from the very beginning of this forty five years of teaching how important
language was
to our on freedom our own personal happiness
so the buddha was very sophisticated and but language in
like socrates the buddha was a master of dialogue
because he saw how important right view was
he thought about his use of language
and he realized that right view isn't some doctrine or specific truth about things that we could define
sometimes people ask me what's the buddhist view of this or that
my fellows enjoy the sky
yeah that's it
oh my god the prison house of zen
perhaps the some of us you know we get in here and we can't get out again
fortunately that they they can escape
anyway i was saying that sometimes people ask me you know what's the buddhist view of this and that
but i always say there is no buddhist view of this or that or anything
because the buddhist view is a non view
but it's not a non view that's the opposite of a view is a non view that includes various viewpoints
non view is simply a way to be free within language
so basically the buddhist spent his entire life
talking to people
and he did this not because he was you know a gabby fellow
cause he liked to hear himself talker he liked to know how right he always was there are brilliant he was
or he was an excellent explain everything like a school teacher
but he did it in order to help people see through the smokescreen
of their own language and their own views
he was a great master of talking to people even know you think of him as a meditator he did meditative course but he was really a master of talking to people
and he seemed to be really good at answering people's questions at least if you read the buddhist sutras he never makes a mistake and when it comes to answering people's questions and somebody once asked him how can you do that how are you answer questions
and he said that the person
there's for ways to answer a question
the first way is going to give a categorical answer
that means when somebody asks your question is that your answer is a yes or no it just answered
but that's only one of the ways of answering question the second way he said is an analytical way
instead of answering categorically you examine the question
yeah clarify definitions you'd tried to determine what has actually been set in the question and usually this involves deconstructing the question
the third way of answering the question is by posing a counter question which the buddha often did and you pose a kind of question in order to bring the question or back
to his or her own mind own experience redirecting attention away from the entanglement of the question
to something real and true that actually lies
behind the question all have a question or may not realize it
and the last way of answering a question
he said is just putting it aside
with the knowledge that there are some questions that are so hopelessly entangled
that making any effort to answer them
would be to get stuck in them like flypaper
and getting stuck in someone's question like flypaper doesn't help anybody
solutions has put this question aside
questions like that are the sort of metaphorical equivalent of beating your head against the wall
he had just gets all bloody you can't get through anyway
and putting the question aside as like realizing that there's no use beating your head you might as well just calmly walk around the wall
and then you're on the other side and your head is still intact
so this was the way that the buddha looked at language and answering questions and when i'd like to do now is redo a little sutra from the my gym and ah kiah number fifty eight you can look it up in your but as canon that you have in your library at home
if you want as britain the german a guy at number fifty eight the a buyer sutra
ah means sutra spoken to prince a buyer
and the subject of the sutra is language and right speech
so i'll just finish my talk by a reading and commenting a little bit on this on this old sutra
once i heard and under always is the narrator of the sutras once i heard that the buddha was staying near raja guy in the bamboo grove in the squirrels sanctuary
then prince a i went to uganda not a puta
who was one of the buddhist rivals in that are a lot of wandering religious teachers and the gunter not to puto was one of them so printed by it went and the gunter not to put the and he went and on arrival he bowed down to him sat on one side and as he was sitting there and the
to not to put the said to him
come now prince
refute the words of the contemplative garima the border
and this admirable report about you will spread afar the words of the contemplative got him as so mighty so powerful were refuted by prince a
confound the buddha so that he can the prince will become famous you know like wow
only one person in history ever
bested the buddha and debate you that will be you and you'll be known all over
so this is interesting because this this is the origin of the confusion that we have about language and speech because we want to be someone you know we want to be right we want to be famous we want to dominate we want to be worthwhile and we want to show ourselves and this is why we get mixed up in our language actually languages the may
an agent of minas and e n e s s me this is all in our language
language is the cause of minas and the result also of menace so the princess interested in doing this so he says but how a venerable sir well i refute the words of the contemplative gotten us so mighty so powerful
and and gone to another puto says come now prints go to the contemplative gardener and on arrival say this
venerable sir
would the a target to say words that are unending and disagreeable to others
if the contemplative got i just asked answers that's a target i would say words that are on endearing and disagreeable to others then you should say
then sir how is there any difference between you and run of the mill people for even one of the mill people say words that are an endearing and disagreeable to others
but if the contemplative gotama thus answers i would not say words that are on endearing and disagreeable to others
then you should say
then how venerable sir did you say to deva data
that david data is headed for destitution david that is headed for hell david data will boil for an eon they david data is incurable
for david that there was upset and disgruntled at those words of years so this these words were something is quoting that the buddha did say this to david that that horses his cousin who was the the villain in the buddhist sutras david data was trying to take over the saga from the buddha and try to kill the buddha and so forth so the buddhist
david data you know no good is going to come of this and said those words to him
if the buddha says i never said anything disagreeable than quote back to him what he said the david data and say what about that
so this is a great way to kiss someone write code back to him his own words
out of the their original context
and see if you can get him to defend his words
once you identify with her own words and try to defend them
you're in trouble
cause now you're caught in language
so that's what newgarden garden had to put a says that he should he should do he continues when the contemplative gotama is asked this two-prong questioned by you he won't be able to swallow it down or spit it up
which is what a master moment says and his famous commentary to the first corner of on he says the car the car and more famous korean law he says this call and was like a red hot iron ball that you swallow you won't be able to swallow it down and stuck in your throat you want
able to swallow down and you won't be able to vomited up because either way you know it will be very painful you're stuck with it
so says this this will be like what will happen to the buddha if you ask this question it will be just as if a to horned chestnut were stuck in a man's throat he would not be able to swallow it down or spit it up the either way it's going to will cut him in the same way when the contemplative gotama as asked this to questioned by you he won't be able to swallow it down or
spit it up
so this is binary logic right yes no logic
you think it's either one of the other and either way you're going to be wrong
so actually we have to go beyond yes and no se
anyway this was the how and the gun to not to buddha said a by prince you could defeat the buddha so obama said as you say venerable sir and he got up from a seat you bow down to him circumambulate at him and traditional signs of respect for real
this person and then he went to the buddha and on arrival he bowed down to the buddha set to one side as he was sitting there he glanced up at the sun
he thought to himself today is not the day to refute the blessed one's words tomorrow
in my own house i will overturn the blessed one's words so maybe you got a little cold feet there is not the besides if you'd better do it in my house i'll feel more confident and over at my house than over here at the buddha says
so he said that the blessed one i made a blessed one together with three others acquiesce to my offer of tomorrow's meal
and the blessed one as always at the buddha acquiesced said yes by saying nothing
then prints by understanding the buddha want the boot the buddha's acquiescence got up from a seed bow down to bless ago on circumambulate at him and left then after the night had passed the blessed one early in the morning put on his robes and carrying his bowl and outer of went to prince a by his home on arrival he sat down on
a seat made ready and principally with his own hands served and satisfied the buddha with fine staple and non staple foods then when the blessed one had eaten and had removed his hand from his bowl which was a sign that he's now finished prince a guy a by i took a lower seat and sat down to one side as he was sitting there he said to the blessings
sir blizzard one venerable sir
would the target to say words that are unending and disagreeable to others
and the buddha replied prince there is no categorical yes or no answer to that
and then the prince said then right here venerable sir
negan to north dakota is destroyed
so then prince was not very calculating so
the be right away gave up and revealed and all plan

in the buddha said
a prince why do you say that the garden at the booth is destroyed and the prince said well just yesterday venerable sir i went and got to medical and he said come now prints go to the columbus and so on
just as if to are just simple and so on it's on
so i spilled the beans now he now that the commenter that the prince apparently showed up was at as as home you know the budaj the prince was sitting there was little with his baby son
on his lap
and a commentary says that the reason he had his baby son on his lap as because it was a debaters trick
and the idea was that while he was debating with the buddha should he start losing ground
he would maybe pinched the little fellow somehow
up causing him to wail and scream and then he would say oh excuse me but i guess i can't continue the conversation
so this is one good use of children
my children
you don't really have to get so involved in anything that's disturbing you always say i to go on take care of my child
so anyway this little boy was lying face up on the princess lap while they were having this conversation
and the buddha said to the prince
what do you think prince
if this young boy through your own negligence or that of a nurse were to take a stick
for a piece of gravel in its mouth what would you do
and the prince said i would take it out venerable sir if i couldn't get it out right away then holding its head in my left hand and cooking the finger of my right i would stick my finger down the baby's throat and yank it out even if it meant drawing blood why is that because i have sympathy for the young boy
after all says my son i would do that
then the buddha response in the same way prints number one
in the case of words that the buddha knows to be on factual untrue on beneficial and one beneficial means not connected with freedom
an endearing and disagreeable to others
so this is they actually the official buddhist criteria for whether or not something is worth saying whether it's true
whether it's beneficial
and whether it's pleasing to others so it's the buddha saying if it's not true it's not beneficial and it's not pleasing to others then i wouldn't say it
in the case of words that i know to be true
but on beneficial and disagreeable to others i do not see them
in the case of words that are true
but an endearing disagreeable to others
i have a sense the buddha says of the proper time
for them
so in other words if something is not true and not beneficial
don't say them is something is
true but not beneficial don't say that something is true and beneficial but it's not pleasing
sometimes you have to say things that are not pleasant but you have to know when to say them and how to say them you don't just say them
number four in the case of words that the to target knows to be on factual untrue on beneficial but endearing an agreeable to others
he doesn't say them
they say
it's not good not enough to just be flattering and nice if it's on beneficial and untrue don't say them and five in the case of words that the saga knows to be factual true on beneficial but endearing and agreeable to others he does not say him
in the case of words that it's a target to knows to be factual true beneficial end agreeable he has a sense of the proper time for saying them why is that because like you prince who have sympathy for your son the buddha has sympathy for
living beings
so notice what all of this amounts to
that as the buddha dust just doesn't just yak whatever comes to mind
he respects and understand the awesome power
of language
which after all for the buddha was his chief tool for doing good was language and he understood it's awesome power so he thinks
how to speak
and in the doing of that he's always motivated by sympathy for others
and it's it's interesting that this particular analogy in having sympathy for others is used as one would have sympathy for a child one's own child in this case love of one's own child is very strong and very pure
and this by implication is how we ought to regard ourselves and all beings as if we were our own child or all beings were our own child
i think that and buddhism is very tolerant
as a way of life and way of thinking
and it's not moralistic
and that's not because buddhism doesn't distinguish between right and wrong
but because buddha dharma sees all sentient beings as one's own child
and so there's always this attitude of gentleness and understanding
sometimes you might have to school the child
or remove a child from dangerous circumstances even an energetic even violent way sometimes but even when you do that you never despise the child or think ill of it or have
afflicted negative emotions towards the child to this is the motivation behind the buddhist speaking
then ah
the prince asked another question venerable sir when wise nobles or priests householders or contemplative having formulated questions
come to the tathagata and ask him
does this line of reasoning appeared to his awareness beforehand
if those who approach me as this i thus asked will answer in this way etc etc or other words as he reason out and think through questions or does the decided to come up with the answer on the spot
in that case prints the buddha replies i will ask you a counter question
answer as you see fit what do you think are you skilled in the parts of a chariot
and princess yes venerable sir i am skilled in the parts of the chariot and what do you think when people that come and ask you what is the name of this part of the chariot does this line of reasoning appeared to your awareness before and if those who approach me ask this i will asked if i asked that way i will answer this way and so on or do come up with an answer on the spot
venerable sir i am renowned for being skilled in the parts of a chariot all the parts of a chariot are well known to me so i come up with an answer on the spot
now it's interesting budo asked this particular counter question because
this is a kind of a question that allows the prince
to remember that he's a prince that he has great skills and advantages and benefits and competencies maybe before this of might if you've been feeling a little foolish and other he was following the garden net-a-porter
maybe shilling a little on the defensive so buddha asked some iconic question that emphasizes his own strengths
this tells us that the buddha's interest is never in making someone look foolish you're diminishing some one
he's not interested in winning and debates
he's not even interested really in the truth for its own sake
he wants people to feel happy he also wants them to understand the dharma because it's to their benefit to understand but he says that by making them happy and allowing them to feel good about their own lives this is a good way to get them to eventually see the dharma
so prince response in that way and the buddha than says and the same way prints when wise nobles or priests householders are contemplative how a formulated questions come to the buddha and ask him he comes up with an answer on the spot just like you why is that because the property of the da
emma is thoroughly penetrated by the to target them from his thorough penetration of the property of the dharma he comes up with the answer on the spot
without pre digested
so in the buddha dharma truth has no set formula
it's all language all truth comes in response to conditions
there's the famous send master young man who was once asked what is the teaching of a lifetime meaning what does the fundamental point of of the buddha's forty five years of teaching and talking and young said and appropriate statement
when we practice for a long time and internalize the dharma
we make the dharma our on
and then all our language is improvised
and comes from the heart of compassion
there is no defined absolute truth that we hold onto
so when the buddha said this
prince a i became thrilled and he said magnificent venerable sir magnificent just as if he were to place upright what had been overturned
where to reveal what was hidden
where to show the way to one who was lost or were to hold up a lamp and the dark so that those with eyes can see forms in this same way the blessed one has through many lines of reasoning made the dama clear i go to the blessed one for refuge to the dharma to the saga of monks
may the blessing one remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge from this day forward for life
when that's the end of the a bios sutra
so in ceremonies
when i give people precepts and we come to the speech precepts
i always say
we make and destroy worlds with our words
and this is really true
our speech or thought and i written words are very very powerful
and we literally make the world of consciousness
out of our words
we go to pay attention to what it is we think and say and right
great power there to do good and integrate power to create misery and confusion
and it's not a matter of being correct or circumspect
as much as it is a matter of responding with honesty and with heart
two conditions of the present moment
all of us definitely have the capacity to love others wholeheartedly as if they were our own children because all of us
by virtue of human consciousness
possess buddha-nature exactly the mind of buddha
if we always remember this point
and treat ourselves as if it were so
then our words can be songs
and these songs can definitely bring a joy and a clarity to our minds and to all of our relationships
happy fourth of july