Sunday Lecture

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ah oh today's the truth of the to donators words
the morning
well i'm amazed you came inside on such a beautiful day
we've been living in the cloud here at gringotts for a long time

so i want to begin today by reciting their sixteen bodhisattva precepts
but before i did that i wanted to say a little bit about them
i was thinking that the precepts are kind of like a star map or a navigational system for buddhists who find themselves in the world of human beings
without the precepts the buddha's don't know how to have a relationship with the human being
and likewise human beings don't know how to have a relationship with a buddha
i think many of us who have spent a long years
in the company of buddhist some various stripes and on i don't want to say we've avoided the precepts
may have avoided ingesting them or of bowing them
and when you hear them this morning again or maybe for some of you for the first time i i think you'll remember why that might be so
there are very tough course
but i also wanted to
tried to reassure you anyway about my motives that i'm really not wanting to convert you to sun set of ancient asian prohibitions
but rather to share with you some of my struggles to understand and practice with the precepts
for me these these rules set kind of like a great oxen right in the center line of the buddhist path there's no way around and there's no way through
years ago i had a very vivid dream about a buffalo in the middle of the road
i was living in new york city at the time
and seeing a therapist which was a good combination
one night i had this dream about a buffalo it started with me driving along and a convertible with a friend who actually she was driving
and we've written a countryside and more and more my friend began to look like a zombie
and then there was this buffalo in the road and she of all things slowed down and start next to the buffalo and the buffalo put its huge head into my lap
so i kept pushing this thing and you know back and saying to my friend could you please drive around
but by then she was completely in a coma so
there we sat and then i woke up
so i told my therapist about this dream and she was pretty interested and she went to her bookshelf and took out a book of symbols
i was convinced myself that it had to do with failed relationships and so she looked at buffalo and it said there in the book that the buffalo represents reality itself
and then she asked me if there is any truth to the fact that i might be avoiding reality
which of course i was but i didn't want to tell her that so
sixty minutes ended fortunately in i moved back to california
oh yeah i wanted to date and i think before i move back to california as i was driving home that very day from this therapy session
i just before i got on the expressway to go back to long island there was a huge billboard for an airline local airline and it said you know giant letters the shortest way to buffalo
so i took all of this is a sign basically that i needed to find out just what reality it was that i was trying to avoid
and what i've discovered over the years is that basically reality changes depending on my notions and my understanding and the meaning that i ascribe to the world
so this time i am a buddhist priest
and the reality for me as kind of simple
that is the buddhist precepts
which i need to confront like this buffalo and decide whether or not i'm going to be the buffalo or continue to struggle with it on the end of the tether
some of you may know about the ten ox hurting pictures are kind of a famous sequence of drawings that depict the spiritual journey
and in these pictures there's a young heard boy and buffalo a water buffalo
actually in the first picture there is no buffalo there's just the boy looking for it
and then the second picture there is the tale of the buffalo
and pretty soon there's the boy chasing this animal all over the hills
ah and then eventually he's able to take his tether his rope and hook the buffalo in the nose
and then long sequence of struggling
i'm pulling and yanking
until finally the buffalo becomes com
his heart grows mild
and then here's a picture of the boy in the buffalo wandering through the hills
stopping to drink or eat grass and play the flute
and then the next picture the boy is alone in the buffalo has disappeared
and the boys standing there in the full moonlight clapping his hands and singing he is free at last
and then picture number ten
is called both gone
and there's just a picture of a circle empty circle with this verse
of oxen boy there is no trace
moonlight holds a world of space around who asks what this means
sweetgrass and wild flowers grow
so these precepts are like the rope or the tether that the boy uses to hook the wild animal
and that's why we're interested in them to this very day
so here they are
i take refuge in the buddha
the teacher of awakening
i take refuge in the dharma the teaching of awakening
i take refuge in the sanga the community of awakening beings
i vow to refrain from all evil
i vowed to all good
i vow to save all beings
a disciple of buddha does not kill
a disciple of buddha does not steal
a disciple of buddha does not misuse sexuality
disciple of buddha does not lie
a disciple of buddha does not intoxicate mind or body of self or others
a disciple of buddha does not slander
a disciple and buddha does not praise self at the expense of others
a disciple of buddha is not possessive of anything
a disciple of buddha does not harbor ill will
and disciple of buddha does not abuse the three treasures buddha dharma sangha
so there are many ways to understand these precepts and to study them many levels
but i think the most basic level they're pretty easy to understand it's the same thing we've been hearing since we were children
in a do unto others as you would have them doing to you what goes around comes around

but then i was thinking that probably not too many of us i
how the cream scorecard when it comes to the precepts
ah just not killing for example
i have not knowingly killed another human being
however the exhaust from my automobile is contributing to killing us all
then i thought about all the fish and chickens and broccoli and carrots
whose lives had ended so that i might go on living
ah not stealing
for me a sense that are mostly it's been postage stamps and chocolate chip cookies
but there's a deeper level of understanding these precepts and is another kind of stealing this comes from a lack of realization
and i want to read to you from now on the other tom psycho sutra
what could this treasure be that one wishes to steal
the treasure is the entire world in the ten directions is one bright jewel
when we accept that this bright jewel is the treasure then there is no thief
there is no stealing there is no face
there is only treasure

so each of these precepts who's kind of like this through different levels that we can look into our lives can dig down deeper and deeper
and what i'm beginning to find is that as i go through the day if i really take this effort to heart that constantly i'm being requested by circumstances
to respond from the precepts
i'm being asked not to steal mine being asked not to lie i'm being asked not to crack
and the tricky part is how can i respond without falling into excesses
you know the same buddha who taught the precepts also taught the middle way
between the extremes
on one hand the extreme of purity and on the other hand the extreme of debauchery
so in his first sermon the turning of the wheel of the law of the buddha says this to his disciples the five aesthetics who become his first students
monks there are these two extremes that ought not to be cultivated by one who has gone forth into the holy life what to their his devotion to pursuit of pleasure
and sensual desires which is low course vulgar ignoble and harmful and there his devotion to self mortification
which is painful ignoble and harmful
the middle way discovered by a perfect one avoids both these extremes it gives vision gives knowledge and leads to peace to direct knowledge to enlightenment to nirvana
so i think this is one of the most important passages and all of buddhism as far as i can tell
it's the foundation for the great philosophical schools of non-duality avoid the extremes how they're all over the place good bad right and left
inside and outside me a new
alive and dead
can find the middle way which is right there in the present moment
so as students of the middle way we have to develop the skills of an acrobat
there are no static events are moments of our life
there's just a kind of continuous reassessment
of how it's going and whether we're imbalance or not

i think that the precept practice requires with us a great deal of patience and courage and devotion
he saw on but it also mostly requires of us tremendous compassion
for ourselves
just now offered incense and i was a little nervous so it was a hoops right there in the bowl
instances sitting a baltica
so compassion for ourselves
but i think if we reflect a little bit we all know that it's the moments when people try to avoid evil do good and save all beings that are so touching to us
where sometimes we just moved to tears by the sweetness of it
i think i it's hard for us to accept that this clumsy juggling act as the middle way
yeah we can imagines some higher aspirations for ourselves
but the buddha's didn't come here to live with us because we look like them or act like them
they came because our human hearts can open and turn
and when they turn that's when a buddha appears
so the precept that i want to focus on this morning is the most delicate one of them all my fault might get your attention as well
a disciple of buddha does not abuse sexuality
i have a six year old daughter who has been asking
her parents and everyone else in her life for a while now what is sex
and mostly we've been ducking
so it all kind of started well it all started i'm sure in the womb but anyway she
she's been watching walt disney classics like sleeping beauty and ah
cinderella the parent trap
and in all of these movies there's a kissing going on
mostly there's men kissing women and then there's a big wedding and then they go and live forever in a palace
the the
so there is no mention of babies or colic or diapers
the bourse actually in parent trap that can focus for anyway
they get back together
it seems that this romantic vision is pretty sanitary and of course boss
so recently we were visiting the grandmother's house and on the rest of us wanted to have an adult conversation so we gave sabrina permission to watch television for wow
so the time was going along and i started to realize that my daughter had been uncharacteristically focused on the tv for a long time and the screen was turned so i couldn't see what she was watching
so i got up and i went around and i've been told i overreacted but gets
some mothers prerogative
and they're on the screen was this lovely young woman in her underwear
i'm doing erotic dancing with a chair
so i snapped off the television and said no story my body between her and the screen
and then i said these things by you know you're not old enough yet dear and this something later on the hook understand and so on and she got really mad at me she said why did you turn off the tv i like that show now and
i said you know but sweetie this is not something you understand right now that may be a later you will and that's okay and and she's that i do to understand that she was very dignified point so then i got curious
all right so what does it you understand and she said that woman was doing yoga
and i have my doubts
anyway her sweet response
got me thinking again about sexuality you know and how fraught that a seemingly uncharitable water has been in my life certainly through my childhood my teenage years my young adulthood and up till the day before yesterday
so i i wanted to think about it to reflect on it you know what is there that we can offer our children it's a little different than maybe what happened for us you know i certainly wish her that
so then i was thinking that to
about the middle way what is the middle way between this pleasure that we can receive and give with our bodies and the dissolution of relationship after relationship
if you haven't been one of the lucky ones
ah the lots of children without fathers and mothers without help and lovers without lovers loneliness snore
and then there's also our cultural obsession with the desirability
matthias scullion dollar industry
so it's fortunate for us that these precepts each of them doesn't stand alone
they actually com as a set you this oxen his or aspects of the great white oxen
so in order to find the balance with your sexuality you look at the other precepts
and my line
am i stealing and my slandering am i taking what's not given
and so on
to pretty handy checklist
and even if you find yourself at the short end of the checklist and it doesn't change the behavior still at least you know what you're doing and the true out of balance most likely
and it seems that in a great law courts of the universe
this out of balance invariably comes back around and harms us to
what goes around does come around and i think we all know this we know this very well in our hearts
we really do know how this all works
so renunciation as my dharma friend and teacher paemen children once said is renouncing what doesn't work
and i really think that's a good a good definition pronunciation renouncing what doesn't work
and it doesn't seem to work to have a world filled with people who are primarily concerned with themselves and their own desires it doesn't seem to work
now we know what a world like that would look like
there are six billion people on our planet as of next month
according to someone's count
and we are rapidly consuming all over the resources of this planet
we know that
doesn't work

is there truly anything that you lack
is there something that you require to make yourself whole
who or what could that be
who or what could you bring in from outside to complete
the perfect present moment
desiring nothing rejecting nothing this is the way the buddha's live
as i'm getting older i am beginning to think that that sounds like a big relief
so what is the difference between yoga stretching in the morning and erotic dancing in the late afternoon
a hair's breadth deviation will fail to accord with the proper attunement
it's as different as the distance between heaven and earth
so when i'm proposing this morning as is that the precept checklist can eliminate this gap
that separates
heaven on earth
and i am not suggesting that erotic dancing cannot pass the checklist because it can
it certainly can but i am proposing that the dancer in each of us and the audience need to bus may be disinclined to look at the list during an erotic episode
and sexual trans along with rage and ignorance
are the great interest psychic forces of our lives there like the hurricane floyd's of our emotional world
and we good people are easily swept away
in checklists flying in the breeze
so the only hope is to go over your checklist before you uncork a bottle of shard neck
no it's true you know it's true
i actually heard from someone at this is i don't know if they're right or not but someone told me that some people come to green gulch not the only reason but one of the reasons is to meet other people
like for a dick
and i thought that was wonderful
because i really like doing weddings
and so that i thought why i would just suggest to you all that while you're out there drinking tea and chewing on muffins that you consider the precepts
consider the precepts
and then i want to encourage you to bring forth your true self
the one that fits perfectly balances perfectly and the present moment
like a pearl rolling in a silver bowl
the one inside a you that lacks nothing
there's no one to lie to
there's nothing to steal there's no faults to defend or accomplishments to praise
you have just received a great gift of life and you are continuously opening that gift with wonder and gratitude
and no one deserves that gift more than you do
each of you

just like the rain that falls evenly on the ground this gift has been given to all of us the gift of this one great life
one path of spiritual light
has never been concealed from the first
transcending precept and objects it's so
yet nothing is so
going beyond emotional assessment
it's met
yet nothing is met
the scattered flowers on the crag in the bees houses they make honey
the richness of the wild grasses
in the musk deer they make perfume
according to kind three feet or ten and six
wherever you contact it is abundantly evident
thank you very much
may orange