Sunday Lecture

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engine ah
in today's the druze of the to dug into his 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 a human being
and likewise human beings don't know how to have a relationship with a buddha
i think many of us have have spent a long years
in the company of buddhists of various stripes and
i don't want to say we've avoided the precepts
but i think we may have avoided ingesting them or a vowing 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 i tried to reassure you anyway about my motives that i'm really not wanting to convert you to some 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 is 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 in a convertible with a friend who actually she was driving
and we written the 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 stopped 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 do and before i moved back to california as i was driving home that very day from this therapy session
ah 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 and 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 continued to struggle with it on the end of a tether
some of you may know about the ten ox hurting pictures they are kind of a famous sequence of drawings that
depict the spiritual journey
and in these pictures there's the 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 is able to take his tether his rope and hook the buffalo in the nose
and then long sequence of struggling
and pulling and yanking
until finally the buffalo becomes com
his heart grows mild
and then his 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 boy 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 up 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 vow to do 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 of 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
he didn't do unto others as you would have them do unto you and what goes around comes around

but then i was thinking that probably not too many of us i
have a clean 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
and then i thought about all the fish and chickens and broccoli and carrots
whose lives have ended so that i might go on living
ah not stealing
for me at zen are mostly it's been postage stamps and chocolate chip cookies
but there's a deeper level of understanding these precepts and ah is another kind of stealing this comes from a lack of realization
and i want to read to you from the other tom cycle 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 safe there is no stealing there is no face
there is only treasure

so each of these precepts his kind of like this through different levels that we can look into our lives kind of dig down deeper and deeper
and what i'm beginning to find this said as i go through the day if i really take this effort to heart that constantly i'm been requested by circumstances
to respond from a precepts
i'm being asked not to steal i'm being asked not to lie i'm being asked not to count
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 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 hot
imphal 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 scores of non-duality avoid the extremes how they're all over the place good and bad right and left
inside and outside
me and you
alive and dead
and 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
he'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 of us a great deal of patience and courage and devotion
and so on but it also mostly requires of us tremendous compassion
for ourselves
hoops just now i offered incense and i was a little nervous
it was a hoops right there in the bowl
incense is sitting a like that
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 are 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
we yeah we can imagine 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 and i thought 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 added
she's been watching walt disney classics like sleeping beauty in ah
cinderella the parent trap and in all of these movies there's a kissing going on
most say there's men kissing women and then there's a big wedding and then they go and live forever in a palace
so there is no mention of babies or colic or diapers
divorce actually in parent trap that canada focus but 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
the rest of us wanted to have an adult conversation so we gave sabrina permission to watch television for while
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 cuts
some mothers prerogative as
and they're on the screen was this lovely young woman in her underwear
same 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 like you know you're not old enough yet dear and something later on they understand and so on and she got really mad at me and she said why did you turn off the tv i liked that show
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 it she was very dig
so then i got curious nice them
all right so what does it you understand and she said that woman was doing yoga
i have my doubts
anyway her sweet response
got me thinking again about sexuality and how fraught that a seemingly uncharted 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
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 so i'm torn
and then there's also our cultural obsession with the desirability
maldives scullion dollar industry
so it's fortunate for us that these precepts each of them doesn't stand alone
they actually come as a set you know 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
am i line
am i stealing and my slandering am i taking what's not given
and so on
pretty handy checklist
and even if you find yourself at the short end of the checklist and 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 melons 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 you know
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
know 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 of 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 buddhist live
and 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
but 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 in each of us may be disinclined to look at the list during an erotic episode
a sexual trance 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 our checklists flying in the breeze
so the only hope is to go over your checklist before you uncork a bottle of chardonnay

you know it's true you know it's true
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
you like for a date
and i thought that was wonderful
because i really like doing weddings
so then i thought why i would just suggest to you all that wire 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 and a silver bowl
the one inside of you that lacks nothing
there's no one to lie to
there's nothing to steal there is 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
precept and objects it's so
yet nothing is so
going beyond emotional assessment
it's met
yet nothing is matt
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
clearly wherever you contact it is abundantly evident
thank you very much
may have a