Sunday Lecture

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i'm food and it's my turn to welcome you all to green gulch farm
actually sought that i wanted to begin today by sharing with you
what i think is part of the basis for my fear of coming up here
and i've done this enough times now that
kind of a pattern that sit in
i think it has something to do with what i think you want or what i think you think
hum i think you want me to just sort of talk
without ah
a lot of preparation i thank you want that
and i think i can't do that
so then i do various things hoping that you'll think i'm doing that
like heidi my notes behind this large piece of wood
but in fact i did spend a lot of time preparing to meet you today and i i think it's good to begin with her confession
so friday i set aside months ago to prepare my sunday lecture
and i started very early in the morning and i ran my family out of the house for the day that please go away
and then i think for all of you i think actually i think all of us are very familiar with a creative process because we've all gone to school
and four hours and hours we've sat and stared at the blank wall of our own imaginations
and on friday i was actually staring at the blank screen of my home office computer
wondering what to talk about
and various concepts
came on by know
ideas for seem subject matter
kind of like the goodyear blimp in the night
in fact that the reason i thought of that image was that i i saw the goodyear blimp last week in the night and it's a wonderful thing you know we've got the kids and come out here we want you there is the blimp going by flashing lights you know it's really regrettable that all they do is advertise tires
because i was thinking if they you know told jokes or wrote poetry it would be so much more wonderful and we'd probably all still by the tires
stay on and i think they're having a problem
so anywhere away so anyway these thoughts kind of floated on by just like the blimp and the reason is i think because there weren't any strings attached
and what i mean by strings our heartstrings
and heartstrings are those little hooks that connect various notions to my feelings
as some of those hooks are quite tiny
and some of those hooks are large enough to catch a whale
when we are ordained as priests in this house of soto's in
there's a verse that we recite as our hair is being shaved off our heads
hello lovely verse it goes like this
the bonds of attachment or hard to break
in our past present and future karma
realization beyond the realm of karma
is the offering of true compassion
the bonds of attachment or hard to break
in our past present and future karma
realization beyond the realm of karma
is the offering of true compassion
so this teaching of non attachment is that the core of what the buddha understood was the cause of suffering in this world
and he expressed his teaching as the four noble truths think you've all heard those before the truth of suffering is number one there is suffering
and number two is there's a cause for suffering and that is attachment based in ignorance
the third truth there is the cessation of suffering
and the fourth there's a cause for the cessation of suffering
which is the noble eightfold path
so i find it very helpful to explore these key teachings of the buddha over and over again i'd like to look back at the first thing had to say after his awakening
and in fact the four noble truths as just about the first thing he said
so there is suffering and suffering is caused by attachment
based in ignorance
another word for this attachment based in ignorance in our common usage is greed
so i thought well okay i want to look at all the different angles that language affords
for the were agreed so i took out my synonym finder
and here's what it said this is only partial reading
grab enos selfishness miserliness stinginess meanness
tight fisted innes gluttony in sociability voracious miss covetousness appetite anxiousness breathlessness impatience longing passion huh
hunger ambitiousness and itch

i've heard it said
and also disputed that eskimos have many words for snow
but it's pretty clear that in our world of abundance there are many words for green
so this teaching of the buddha concerning the cause of suffering and obscure was given over twenty five hundred years ago to five aesthetics and the deer park at is a patina and what is now called india
and this sermon when his very first has since been referred to as the turning of the wheel of the law
and in this first sermon he establishes the theoretical model for the truth of our human life
and that truth is what we call the dharma so the buddha teaches the dharma to the sanga
and that is the triple treasure
i know to start with lecture is lately are beginning to put on their glasses
and then the buddha not too long after his first sermon gave a second sermon called the discourse on the not self the discourse on the not self and in this sermon he offered to the same five aesthetics a practice
and the practice he gave them was his own practice the one that he knew was the basis for his life of freedom
as the buddhist sat under the bodhi tree he witnessed in himself to death
of greed
confusion and hatred
and about fifty years later this same person died surrounded by many loving friends in what appeared to be a state of bliss
so this way of life
we call the buddha way
the first question that i ever asked at zen center
some years ago in the very first class i attended
after listening to the teacher for a while i said
ah what do you mean by practice practice what
no i had practiced the clarinet and softball and
and i couldn't figure out what all these people at zen center were talking about by our practice
if you ever had that problem when practice what
so when i asked that question i thought it was probably a dumb question but actually now i think it's a good question and in fact i think all questions are good questions
because it's through the practice of inquiry that we come to understand ourselves and our place in the world
and i i actually believe that this understanding no matter how great or small is itself the bright light of awakening
ah ha i get it
we all have that experience we know what it's like and from our very first steps until hopefully are very last words haha i get it
and i think this is familiar experience is exactly the dissolution of greed and the end of suffering
and then there's the next question
so the main point is to stay with it while it's happening
to remain fresh and curious and alive
master toes on asked his teacher how will i find my true self
and his teacher said asked the messenger within
still doubting the source of his own wisdom
towson then said to his teacher well i'm asking him now
and his teacher said
what does he say
so this lively listening to the messenger within is the foundation for our buddhist training program
it's a kind of listening that's very deep and very honest
so you drop your inquiry into the well of your own existence and then you wait patiently sometimes for years
until the response comes from all the way down
and i feel like i should mention to you that this kind of inquiry is going to hurt
but it's not the same as the hurt that comes from ignorance and greed because this kind of hurting is based in the principles of healing
just like
an infection that burst through the skin hurts a lot but after a while if such great relief
some years ago when i was at tassajara had an image of my mind during meditation is a garbage disposal that had been turned on backwards
and all the stuff that i'd stuffed just came shooting up for review
this went on for very long time and
it was only after a while that the
the satisfaction of relief outweighed the pain of regret for my past actions
so i wanted to give just a real quick review of what i've said so far
ah the buddhist first sermon is the theory
the theory of suffering how we come to suffer and the suffering is caused by greed
okay that's the bad news
the good news is truth three and four there is an end of suffering
and the end of suffering is a medicinal concoction
that has been produced by the great physician shakyamuni buddha
and that concoction has eight ingredients
and all of them are based in how you think and how you behave based on that thinking
the very first of the eight ingredients is right thinking
it's my therapist is always saying think think think
and the second one is right intention act from that good thinking
and not until
and then the next
of the eight the next for our behaviors
bright speech how you talk to your friends
right conduct
how you drive your car
right livelihood how you support your life
right effort and again as my kind therapist says don't try do it
right effort and then the next two ingredients are the support for all the others and that is right mindfulness and right meditation
and i think without those two were in danger of being creatures of habit
like clever robots with the system for everything

what the buddha taught i don't think as any different from what every parent well intentioned parent tries to teach to their children
in fact i feel as though everything i've learned about practice for the past seven years has been a result of trying to teach my child
and i was really grateful when she started preschool because they were okay about me sitting there in one of those little chairs and watching how they did things
and i was so impressed by the kindness
and the behavior of those teachers you know it was clearly inspired by the same wisdom of the buddha that knows how to grow a healthy human being there was no hitting no yelling no insults and know indulgence
and all those years that i sat and watched i only saw great patience great love and great respect and this is the boot away

so as lifelong students of the wood is teaching we continuously must review the practice in the theory that it's based on
it's an everyday affair
so if i look again today at the question that first brought me deeper into practice the question what is practice or practice what
and i would answer myself like this
what the buddha taught is very simple
and there's just one practice that you need to do
you need to study the self
and what he meant by the self is the self that you believe yourself to be the one you think is there
your oh a oh
whereas roomy called it the beloved
and what happens when you truly find the beloved
is a very difficult thing
because the one that you believe is there
drops away as if dead
and then little by little all your friends will help you
and all the light of the world will allow you
to stand up and step forward
and as master dogan says this dropping away continues endlessly
so i wanted to give you an example from my task this morning of what it is that i'm trying to talk about
and that task is the one that i am performing right now which is
to attempt to express in words
what it is that i found when i faced the blank wall of my own imagination
when i looked into this person and asked what is her truth
and then the question comes
did i go deep enough
am i mean honest
and who is going to respond to these questions as they keep
when bodhidharma was asked by emperor wu who is this facing me
and bodhidharma said don't know
and i often say don't know
and then i wonder is my don't know like bodhidharma don't know
don't know
so on friday when i sat there
and waded through all the various potentialities that appeared on the blank wall
one of them appeared several times and was clearly connected to my heart so that's the one i chose as the topic or theme for this talk today
which is
the return of winter
a turning towards the night
think some of you know that norman fischer our senior dharma teachers put his name is turning towards the light
so these two phrases together complete one another
each is a hemisphere
and without the other they have no meaning
and all dualities are like this light and dark
night and day right and wrong us nam life and death
we are living this life on a great big ball
and that ball is turning
and our life depends on turning
night or darkness in buddhist language often represents non-duality non differentiation
the ungraspable the ineffable
the highest meaning of the holy truth
on the big bell outside there's a phrase the pre voice of the great bell
so the pre voice of silence
burst forth into sound
and from sound to silence again
round and round around and it's like this for all things
since i was a child i've been kind of afraid of the dark
and of the winter
where all the bogeyman come from like you know who in the harry potter stories
and yet here we are again on the slippery slide into winter
and i thought to myself you'd think after all these years you'd be used to it in the change of the seasons
the continual gain and loss through the years
but actually what i'm experiencing this at i as i get older these feelings have gotten deeper
and more meaningful
i once looked up the word meaning in the dictionary and it's connected to an ancient word for mon tue mon
what is your moaning
i think that winter is no doubt connected to notions i have about my own personal death
and and my fiftieth birthday i think i may have mentioned here once before my good friend mick saab co whose r ino at green gulch whispered in my ear even a pine tree on the hillside wishes to live forever
happy birthday
and so there's a whale catching her
so i was very attracted to this story that was told by a friend who's in a sitting group that i belong to on friday mornings
years ago when she was a young art student she saw a film of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly
it was in slow motion
kiss was called to stop action in those things
so anyway throughout the lazy summer the caterpillar eight it's way to a large and juicy size
and then with the onset of winter she began to gently disassemble herself
very slowly and carefully removing her own body parts and using them for lining of her bright green and gold flecked new home
and then little by little the caterpillar simply vanished into soup
butterfly soup
my friend who was telling this story said that after all these years she still waiting for that butterfly of her own spiritual transformation to take flight
we all nodded
in agreement here
so i don't know if i am a butterfly or not even though i'm i seem to be dressed like one is he
actually this is i'm more like a moth they have
oops sorry excuse me
don't touch the equipment
but anyway i do have a deep appreciation for the process of turning oneself into a hearty medicinal soup
and i've already mentioned the eight ingredients that are recommended for this soup by the great physician shocked him on the buddha
the right thinking and the intention speech conduct livelihood effort meditation mindfulness
and now i would like to read you the recipe for butterfly soup that has been handed down
by all the buddha ancestors for over two thousand years
and this version i'm going to read to you is has been written by master chef logan's mg

this is a secrets who don't tell anybody okay
so step one
put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases and learn to take the backwards step it turns the light and shines it inward
body and mind of themselves will drop away and your original face will manifest
if you want such a thing get to work on such a thing immediately
for practicing them
what he means by zen here is making soup
for practicing zen a quiet room is suitable
eat and drink moderately
put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs
do not think good or bad
do not judge true or false
give up the operations of mind intellect and consciousness
stop measuring with thoughts ideas and views
have no designs on becoming a buddha
how could that be limited to sitting or lying down
had you are sitting place spread out a sick mat and put a cushion on it
sit either in the full lotus or half lotus position
or upright in a chair
in the full lotus position first place your right foot on your left thigh than your left foot on your right thigh and in the half lotus simply place your left foot on your right thigh
tie your robes loosely and arrange them neatly
then place your right hand on your left leg and your left hand on your right palm thumb tips lightly touching
that's my most favorite part
thumb tips lightly touching butterfly wings
straighten your body and sit upright leaning neither left nor right neither forward nor backward align your ears with your shoulders and your nose with your navel rest the tip of your tongue against the front of the roof of your mouth with teeth and lips together both shh
always keep your eyes open
and breathe softly through your nose
once you have adjusted your posture take a breath and exhale fully
rock your body right and left and settle into steady immovable sitting
think of not thinking
not thinking what kind of thinking is that
non thinking
this is the essential art
a butterfly soup

so the last suggestion i want to make to you
is that once you have
put the lid on the container and begun dissembling yourself that you stop messing with it
butterfly soup is very much like a fine souffle you have to resist the great temptation to peak
and another word for peaking in our meditation jargon is
no mental elaborations
no mental elaborations
embry previous for mental elaborations is m e know me
a mental elaborations include the following
interpretation projection commentary judgment and criticism
yourself about your fellow kitchen workers and about the soup

to study the buddha way is to thoroughly study yourself and to study the self is to forget the self
put the pot on the backburner lower the flame and go about your business
and then one fine day the great earth turns again toward the light
as the mother of all things protects her only child
to the inconceivable power and compassion of the buddhist and ancestors the magical illusion of creation itself
pops open
releasing its tiny new messenger to dry her great white wings
thank you very much