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happy easter
mister sunday
also i think the fourth the passover the rogue
the fourth day before the passover
it seems that these two are great
it also problematic celebrations
by coincidence happen at the same time every year
but of course it's not a coincidence
ah easter is
passover as it was lived
very profoundly by one person
and to the seems like an example
what i would consider a very good theory of history
the history her is a big pattern that keeps coming back
that the patter of history repeats
in all of our lives
and to me this would be the great way to live
to find a way to situate yourself
within your life
so that you could really feel that your own life was unfolding with the pattern of all of life and all of history
that would be i think a good way
to live
and i realized that it might seem a little
well maniacal to think of living your life in that way
but to me it's the opposite of them
to me it's something
really humble to think that your life isn't yours
that's oh how all of life is living itself or through your life
and i think that if you could live your life with that spirit in that way and probably a lot of the stuff
that bothers you that seems
so troublesome wouldn't bother you anymore
and of
conversely a lot of things that don't know about you might buy the you terribly
lot of things that seem distant might seem quite personal
and for me this is the virtue of meditation practice
if you devote yourself to it
in a really serious way
in other words not making it just another
item on your list
another way too
lower your cholesterol or something
then it it really begins to
subtle your life somehow
and i mean this in a literal sense to settle
to to make your life are subject to gravity
so that it settles
like pulp in a glass of orange juice when you put it down
it settles
everything comes down deep to the bottom
and there's a feeling of
being settled and clear
and then everything that happens
is useful
there aren't any setbacks
there's just
you know what
and then
now what now what
and the wonder i in looking back and seeing how it all takes shape

so since it's passover i decided to
read the story of exodus in the bible
and i began to get the idea as i looked carefully at the words of the text or at least
the english translation
of the words that probably anyway were changed many times by the time
they got to us
i had the idea as i looked at the words of the text
this somewhat uncomfortable actually as i read along and began to realize that
the biography of moses sounded suspiciously
like my own biography
and i have the feeling that it may sound like your biography too
i think about it
saved from drowning by a woman
growing up in a foreign family
did you grow up in a foreign family also
finally taking the first steps to figure out who you are
and then acting on that
it turns out to be a huge mistake
so you have to flee
to the desert
to dwell among strangers
and it is really amazing
ah and in the old testament it says
moses arrives and million
and it says quite simply he sat down by a well
he sat down by well
and he didn't have any idea what was going to happen or what he would do he just went there and he sat down by a well and then all these things came out of that
so continuing with our biography
so there you are in desert dwelling among strangers and one day you notice
that something is on fire
somehow burning but not burning
and you find that it's impossible for you to go about your business
and somehow necessary that you would turn toward the fire
and because you turned toward the fire
the world calls out to you
and you really don't have any choice but to answer
and you get your marching orders for the rest of your life
and this what it says in the bible literally it's is very interesting how it's a how it's worded
moses sees this burning bush and he finds it impossible to go on he turns toward it
and says god sees that he turns toward the bush and because of this god calls out to him moses
and moses answers with a famous line that's repeated many times in the bible here i am
he named me here i am
and those of you who are familiar with the zandt literature know that exactly this sort of thing is very common many zen stories you know the stories are pretty much recycled that many stories that are the same there's a number of stories in which the same thing happens
the teacher calls out and disciple says here i am
and that's awakening
answering the call being able to answer the call
so anyway in our biography this happens we are called and we answer sort of automatically we answer here i am
something in us response
but at the same time you hate it
had like moses you say no thank you i'm sorry
i can't do it
i'm not worthy the
i'm too busy
i don't have the capacity and too old too fat too lazy too thin
too timid and besides i think you're making a mistake you're after somebody else
no choice
no excuses
and with all your reluctance and resistance
you go forth
ah on the noble journey
in of course
it doesn't turn out that well
yes there are great heights moments of insight and in wonderment
world changing events happened and so forth but basically when you come down to it you're wandering around back in the desert for about forty years
a fighting with your family
people complaining you're you're you're resisting they're complaining and finally at the end you see the goal and before you get there you die

so i'm only telling you this is exactly you know this is exactly what it says in the bible is now i'm not making this up i'm not even help you know in my usual way exaggerating a bit or and elaborating
this is exactly what it says and
this really sounds suspiciously like my life and and i'm sure like your life as well
so passover great holiday
hey huh
and i'm sure that and
i've told many of you before because i mentioned it a lot about this meeting that i went to several years ago which was a buddhist christian dialogue meeting
that i where we a bunch of christian and buddhist monastics gathered including his holiness dalai lama
i guess how many monastery and kentucky which was thomas merton's monastery
and i never actually was first time i've ever been inside of a catholic monastery
in every single room of the monastery i think even including the bathroom
there was a realistic depiction
of the crucifixion
with a realistic very beleaguered suffering
ha figure of christ on the cross
you know in terrible agony
and some of these crucifixes were really beautiful pieces
very moving pieces and as i
kept looking at them everywhere i was in some of the monastery i started to wonder how could all the brothers
this love and personal relationship to jesus how could they stand eating sleeping going to the toilet reading praying in rooms with these figures everywhere
it seems so sad to me i wondered how they could
barrett year after year decade after decade so
ah when it was my turn are you by paper i didn't really read my paper i basically said
how could you bear this could you please explain to me how it is
it sort of
change the mood of the conference
and after that
a lot of christian monastic got up and spoke beautifully and passionately to this point
and most of them said that it was true that they did see when they saw these crucifixes they did see terrible suffering and it was sad
but they also said that more than the suffering they saw things like love
they saw
they sought freedom
this a joy
so they said the cross wasn't just sad it was also much more than just sad
and so i guess this is the theme
of easter sunday
and i confess of course and i i have very little knowledge and not so much personal feeling for what easter is all about but i remember as a boy that i was really fascinated
with the strange idea of the crucifixion
and it seems when you think about an extremely upside down and counterintuitive
that the all powerful majestic god who created the world would be defeated in such a terrible way
mmm my reading histories of
central american tribes and native peoples
and when they were told at first told the story of christianity they felt like that they were baffled by the idea that god could be defeated and humiliated and exactly the same way that a human being is humiliated and it made no sense of them
but later on
when at the hands of the
white people that christians they themselves native peoples were suffering
so terribly
they began to see
how much says it made
that in the midst of this kind of tremendous despair and suffering there could be freedom and redemption
and so a lot of native peoples and later african american people as well became very passionate and sincere christians in a in their own way and i very different way and it sense than than the people who brought christianity to them and i think if you ever go to africa
an american church or if you go to mexico and go inside a cathedral you see the kind of profound sense of
ah spirituality
anyway for me growing up being
curious person and someone who
you know always doubts everything are skeptical about everything
i thought that the most beautiful part of the story of jesus the most poignant part of the story
was found in one of the lines and where the gospels i forget which one where jesus says at the last moment of his life
this line and of my god my god why have you forsaken me
and to me this was the most beautiful
thing i could imagine that after going through all of that
being willing even eager to give up your body and to die in that way
for face you know
that the last minute you lose your faith
to me this was the most beautiful and touching thing of all
as i understood it in a i that i thought of it
and i thought to me that's what really made jesus a hero
somehow i mean this goes to show how i think excuse me but as
so i think
there was only much later that i realized that
these words were actually not jesus's words who knows if be said them
anyway these texts that we read we have no idea you know the historical truth in fact probably we do probably we could say with absolute certainty that these techs are never accurate
that's the only thing we can be sure about
even if they do say
some realistic depiction of what occurred it wouldn't be it you know
just like if you tell somebody what happened last week it's never it
anyway whatever the status of it is
these words
actually weren't jesus's own words there a quotation
i'm sure everybody knows this but i'm
pretty ignorant and i didn't notice until recently that these words were a quotation or a quotation from i wanted to psalms
assam that clearly jesus being a rabbi would have known the song by heart would have been very much a part of his life and so when he quoted this one line of course it evokes the entire some
so ah
i went and read the sun
and i and i made a version of it of my own
and so in celebration of easter time
in this amazing story
i will read you this my version of some number twenty two
warning you in advance that it's a little bit long
so relax think of something else if you are displeased
with don't hear this
this is some twenty two in my my version of it
which is pretty much ah
how it says in the hebrew except i've tried to
make it in language that i can understand
some twenty two my god my god why have you forsaken me
why so far from my delivery
so empty and the anguish of my words
i call to you in the daytime
but you don't answer
and all night long i plead restlessly
i know your holiness
find it in the memorized praises uttered by those who have questioned and struggled with you through all the generations
these my forebears trusted in you
and through their trusting you touch them
held and delivered them
trusting they cried out to you and you met them face to face
their confidence was strong
and they were not confounded
but i am not as they
utterly alone
i am cast out of the circle
a worm
a living reproach scorned and despised even less than despised unheard unseen unacknowledged denied
and all who encounter me revile me with cynic laughter shaking their heads parting their nattering lips mocking let him throw himself at god for his deliverance they say since that is who he trusts let the lord save him
and they are right
trust you
and what else to trust
you i entered on leaving the womb
you i drank at my mother's breast
i was cast upon you at birth and even before birth i swam in you my heart's darkness
be not far from me now
when suffering is very near
and there is no help
and i am all be set and i am be set all round by threatening powers
the bulls of bashan gaping their dismal braying mouths the ravenous roaring lion miles
i am poured out like water
my bones joints are snapped like twigs my heart melt like wax flooding my bowels with searing biscuit emotion my strength is dried up like a pochard my tongue cleaves will lead to the roof of my mouth and i feel my body dissolving into debts dusts
for i am haunted by my isolation
and cast off and encircled by the assembly of the violent who like vicious dogs nip at my hands and feet i count the bones of my naked body as the mongrels shift and stare and circle they divide my clothes among themselves casting lots for them
so now
in this very place
i call out to you
there is no one left
do not be far from me
be the center
of the center
of the circle
be the strength of that center the power of the absence that is the center
deliver my life from the killing sharpness is deliver my soul from the feverish dogs save me from the lion mods answer me that the voice of the rams horn
and i will seek and form and repeat your name among my kinsmen in the midst of every one i will compose praises with my lips and those who enter your awesome this through my words will also praise all the seed of jacob will glorify you and live in awe of you all those who question and
struggle will dawn with your light for they will know you have not scorned the poor and despised
nor recoiled disgusted from their faces from them your spark has never been hidden and when they cried out in their misery
you heard and answered and ennobled ennobled them
and it is in the astonishment of this that i will praise you in the great assembly
making deep bars and the presence of those who know your heart know that in you the meek beat and are satisfied
and all who seek and struggle find the tongue to praise saying to you
may your heart live forever
they all the ends of the earth remember and returned to you and all the families of all the nations bow before you for all that is is your domain your flame kindles all that lives and breathes
and you are the motive force of all activity the yearning of the grasses the lovers ardor
and they that rise up live and eat the fat of the earth will bow before you before you will bow all those who lie down find peace and enter the dust for none can keep alive by his own power you alone light the soul
distant ages to come shall serve you shall be related to you in future times those people not yet born will sing of your uprightness your even this your brightness to a people not yet born that is still to come
that this is how you are

so i spent a lot of time with the some that that's why i'm make these versions because otherwise i don't make my own versions i can't understand the somme i can really pay attention to it so and this way i make it my own
and i had many
wonderful hours with this
a great piece of literature this great poem
we can say many things about it but what i would like to point out is
just how powerfully it shows
the path of suffering to be
ah as you all know buddha spoke of suffering
his whole teaching comes down to suffering
the end of suffering and the path to the end of suffering
but if you think carefully and subtly about buddha's words
as a gardener and other great sages did
it becomes clear
that the buddha was not saying
that suffering is to be eliminated
removed as you would remove a growth in surgery
he was saying that suffering when it is appreciated and really understood
and fully radically accepted as it really is
as empty of any real nature of suffering
that that suffering is the shape of life itself
and when you realize this than the suffering is transformed
so we could say it's not that there's freedom from suffering
but rather that there's freedom within suffering
and to me what's astonishing about this psalm is that it says that
when they're suffering the whole universe response to that suffering
just as god responds to the suffering of jesus
into the suffering of each and every one of us and just as in the exodus story begins with
it says god new felt the suffering of the people
in in bondage and that is why
for the first time
god activates god's self in the world
and to me this
would seem to be the salient characteristic or whatever we would
mean by that word that human concept of god
that this would be the ultimately the defining reflex or principle of god that god is that which response comes forward
when there is suffering
the speaker of this this psalm number twenty two we don't know who the speaker is but
speaker is someone who is in the depths of suffering and despair
someone who feels isolated and alone faithless and desperate
but in the course of the sun
there's a attorneys
somehow through that very condition
of isolation and desperation and despair
the speaker of the fort som find some way to turn around
find some serenity
and through that serenity the speaker comes to see
than others
also are suffering
and that these suffering beings
our holy beings in our midst
and i think this is the origin
of the concept of justice
the certain knowledge that those who suffer
are the same as us
and so truly i deserved to be treated in the same way that we would treat ourselves
deserve whatever advantages and help than anyone else would receive
we may think that the idea of justice is something self evident
or obvious but it's not self evident in obvious
there are people many people even now
who say
well i don't have any sympathy for the poor if they were more energetic if they tried harder as i tried they wouldn't be poor
who say i don't have any sympathy for the criminal
if they follow the law
if they didn't follow their evil impulses they wouldn't be in the shape there is why do they deserve any special treatment from me
and i think you know throughout history people looked at like that
if harm befell you it was because you deserve it
because of your own actions are just because fate marker for it and it was just too bad

but the idea of justice means quite the contrary
that people who suffer regardless of why
deserved deserve dignified treatment and sympathy
because they are us and we are them
in their hearts and our hearts are built in exactly the same way
and all of our hearts together are entwined with the heart of the world
the other day i was visiting over at the hartford streets and center
and in the zendo there there's a beautiful picture on the wall of
his son dorsey who is the founder
in the first abbot of the hartford street zen center
he was a dear friend
he was a gay man who i was gay at a time when it was extremely difficult and totally dishonorable thing
to be gay
before anybody ever had the idea of coming out before gay rights was even a phrase that anyone ever would speak
because of his sexual preference he was first kicked out of his family
he joined the navy and then he was kicked out of the navy
he became a an addict and then a
at they say terrific female impersonator in san francisco before he became a zen priest
in the seventies
and he's been dead almost ten years now
from aids
and he was a wonderful person
and he had a very natural and easy sense of compassion
in he didn't talk about compassion much
he just was compassion
and he's one of the first people who go around scraping up drunks and addicts off the street and bringing them home
and just taking care of them waiting on them hand and foot
scurrilous creatures you know we're very difficult he would wouldn't faze him a bit
and in those days they were first beginning to be
many people who were
destitute because of the aids epidemic and maybe you can remember
i certainly can how much fear and paranoia there was
about aids then
so so unknown everybody was totally so terrified of it
but isn't would pick people are off the street take them into his house
take care of them never worried about anything never worried about himself
the result of this of course with this his life was totally chaotic
but within the chaos he seemed to be very peaceful
i'm very free
because he had long ago given up
to protect he had lost everything long ago nothing left to protect so he was free and peaceful
he had lived through so much trouble and indignity and his life that there was nothing left for him to hold onto
then he was afraid of nothing

and i think that in the end
as i often say you know in the middle of the night
we're all
like isn't and were all like those people he picked up off the street
all of us knowing in the center of our own hearts
our unworthiness
our foolishness or ignorance or sickness
our isolation are destitute this
just like the speaker in the song were all outcasts
we're all faceless and desperate
in our freedom isn't going to be found in correcting the problem
and certainly not in avoiding it
it's our acceptance of it
and seeing
that in the midst of our condition we are the same as any one the same as everyone
in every one believed me
the matter how powerful are successful
no matter how degraded or debased everyone
it's the same as you and i
and i think recognizing this deeply in our hearts this is the source of
real love
seeing the identity of ourselves and all who suffer
which means everyone without exception

recently i've been doing zazen by myself in the early mornings at home
and to tell the truth i'm surprised that i'm doing it
i never thought i would actually do it
i used to do it you know when i was young sit by myself at home every day very faithfully i almost fanatically for years
but that was a long time ago and really if you were to ask me i would have thought that that now after sitting for other with others every single day for twenty five years or so
i probably be too lazy
for think it was pointless
to sit by myself
so i'm really surprised
the ah
i'm eager to get up in the morning and said before dawn
now i get up at least an hour later than i used to when it was a green got hit
coming to sit every day
so i feel it's quite a luxury to get up at five thirty in like what sleeping in know
but i'm eager to get up
because when i'm sitting there all by myself
it's really quiet
but i don't feel like i'm sitting there all by myself
i really feel like i'm sitting in the lap of the universe
sitting in the palm of buddha's hand
did you know there are five hundred billion
in our galaxy
i've hundred billion stars the sun is usually referred to in the astronomy books as an average sized star an average star
there are five hundred billion stars most of them larger than the sun
and as far as people think and know now at this point there are fifty billion other galaxies besides this one
and when i'm sitting as as in by myself in the morning i feel like i'm right in the middle
oh all of that how warmly
right in the middle of all of that
so from that perspective
at buddha speaks of suffering
the bible speaks of suffering today i have spoken of suffering but who really knows
i don't think any of us
really know how could we know
what is suffering what is the dimension of suffering
in our world suffering appears as something tragic
something sad and so it really is in our lives something tragic and sad
but i wonder what suffering feels like
at the end of the known universe
i'm really sure that there is suffering
and throughout the vast stretches of space and time
there's nothing but suffering
but i have no idea you know how that suffering peers

at the end of this song as it says
our job as human beings is to sing
the suffering
to build monuments to it
just celebrate it
i think that's what human civilization is you songs monuments and celebrations
in tears
about suffering
that's what history is
how suffering appears in our world
once upon a time
in the deep mountains of china and as in monastery
there is a quick sudden rustling sound
and a zen master changing asked a monk
what does that sound outside
and the monk said
it's the sound of a snake eating a toad
and changing said
once you acknowledge suffering
there is no end to suffering

so happy easter everybody thank you