Unknown year,September talk, Serial 01771

00:00
00:00
Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.

This talk will not appear in the main Search results:
Unlisted
Serial: 
SF-01771
Photos: 
Auto-Generated Transcript

good morning
in real the date today i'd like to ask us to start
by taking a moment meditation
in and memory of all of the people who were killed on september eleventh three years ago
all of them all of the people who have been killed since
in the war that continues
let us meditate on peace
perhaps
let piece began with me

may there be peace in me
may there be peace in my family
where they've been peace in my community
may there be peace in my country
may there be peace in the world
let piece began referring

thank you
i don't want to speak anymore about that except to urge everyone who's eligible to vote be sure that you register to vote and vote your conscience
what i want to talk about today is something quite different actually i'm trying to respond to requests at once and i hope you'll bear with me
i was asked to give this talk just the thursday night because the person who is scheduled needed a substitute
and i also have another request to provide a way seeking mind talk
to someone by next wednesday
that request has been around for a while but due to my procrastination i haven't responded to it yeah
so i hoped to take care of both requests at once
by making this morning's talk away seeking mine talk so perhaps i should explain that a little bit to those of you who haven't been in practice periods here
and are not familiar with this term
ah
it began with there is for each are extended practice period which we do from time to time twice a year at tassajara and
twice a year here and at green dodge often we will have a head monk or ahead student
and their responsibility is to set the tone for wholehearted practice they get up first every morning and ring the way that bell for example
and they sit next to the abbot and face out and it's the first time they are invited to speak from the dharma seat
i'm just so they don't get big headed about it they are also responsible for cleaning the toilets and taking care of the garbage
ah and
initially this way seeking mind top was the first talk that ahead student gave ah
the first time they said on the dharma seat explaining are trying to explain or at least
focusing on
who is this and how did it get here
know something about ah
your life and what do you think
our the influences in your life that led you to practice as you look back on it at this moment course if you do more than one of these you will see it the story is different every time
some elements of the same and some change
and of course on
we have a whole life up until the point we start practice and everything that has happened in that life without exception including maybe the nine months and rear and as well
are the causes and conditions of what i do at this moment
including the causes and conditions of how i came to practice
it's just like a stream
you know at any particular time or place what that stream is is the result of everything that has happened upstream until that moment
and so it is with her life
we can never pick one cause because there are innumerable causes and conditions for everything that happens in our life
so one thing i can say about how i came to practices will just good luck maybe you know and the contribution of innumerable bodhisattvas who somehow led me this way
or i could say maybe the influence of for
energy from a previous life i don't know
but still
that's too easy
and i need to say something
actually this is kind of the first real con in zen history that we know of that is in the sense of a question that a teacher gives to a student
when
ah hi wrong
way why wrong came to the six ancestor
ah the six ancestor said to him
ah where he'd been
he said i was a mount song
then he said
what is it that thus comes
or it's been translated variously what is this and how didn't get here
what is this
and how did it get
non-eu way why i couldn't answer
and he continued to practice with the six ancestor of eight years later
he felt some clarity and he came to the six ancestor and said i think i have an understanding no identity so i haven't understanding
and six census of ancestor said what is it
they said to say that it's like something misses the point
or to say that it is anything misses the point
and the six and says well can it be
cultivated and realized
and why i said it's not that it can't be cultivated and realized it's just that it cannot be defiled
and the six ancestor said it's just this which cannot be defiled but all of the buddhism ancestors uphold and protect
it is like this for you and also from me
so this question of what is this and how did it get here
is for each of us
an interesting question to ponder
and so
aside from helping students in a practice period get to know each other better and develop more cohesion
it's a very interesting thing for people to ponder to have this this request
to give away seeking mind talk and so it has become more widespread now generally speaking during a practice period one of the highlights of the practice period is that each week one of the members of the practice parade will give away seeking nine talk on thursday mornings

so i was born in nineteen twenty six in birmingham alabama
to
ah a young couple of jewish ancestry
ah reform jewish ancestry not you know ethnically jewish but not religiously so my father prepared for bar mitzvah and then declined to do it
ha and was in later life
an atheist he he was a scientist and sort of a product of the french enlightenment
in a reason is is above all and that was a time when it seemed that science and religion might be incompatible and he went with science
ah
my mother was
as it turned out quite a wonderful woman whom i didn't appreciate much until much later in life
ah as often happens when daughters and mothers
ah but she also was not at all religious
oh of there was a i'll have it also had an older sister for years older but those another member of our household in alabama middle class family we had to live in
a housekeeper nanny cook
maine
ah who was with us for all of the first sixteen years of my life except one
she was actually a very important person in my life
but she was in loco parentis much of the time
because on
my father had inherited some money and went into the automobile business because he was enamored of automobiles since they first arrived in his life when he was a teenager there's a story that the his mother drove her car into a garage to have it fixed when he was maybe sixteen and this free
monkey you know came out from under a car and dirty coveralls and greece all over him and it was her son and she said joseph go home and don't let me see you here again it not an appropriate thing for ah
his time and place
but he loved things mechanical he loved to know how things work and he became a physicist
and
which is all about how things work in the physical world
ah
but the depression hit birmingham before with your the rest of the country since it was an industrial center and he lost his business and had to go bankrupt and lost his inheritance and his mother helped him helped both my parents go back to college
and finish their degree he had left to join the army and ninety and seventeen he had been at mit
so
they went back to college and we moved to tuscaloosa alabama where the university was and mabel came with us
she of course was very religious she is to sing gospels as she worked
oh
and she had a good deal to do if my upbringing because she was with me when i was awake more than my parents actually
she's the one who
new me well enough to teach me how to iron by ironing everything except my girl scout uniform
because she knew that i would want an iron man i wouldn't have a book because like why didn't you are in my uniform and on so i learned how to iron by earning my girl scout uniform
and scanning was very important for me in my youth
ah
my father had been a boy scout with dan beard who was the founder of scouting in america
and
i want to scout camp with my sister when i was sixteen she was tense first time in which scout camp
we did a lot of camping in times when they weren't to
he didn't just drive into a state park and there was a campground and and you just pick something out of a map that looked like it would have a likely water source and and
and you went there and you made a camp and cool
and we did that actually when i was six
five i guess we drove across the country from alabama to colorado to a
a summer camp where we spent all summer my parents were counselors and in return for that my sister and i got to be campers and we drove all across the country camping all along the way and dead was always so pleased that the places he had picked out from a topographical survey map turned out to be good campsite
and he was among other things taught astronomy and
when he would take his astronomy class on field trips with the telescope he made a little three legged stool for me to stand on so my i would reach the eyepiece so i went with his classes to ah
learn about the skies ways to go camping always at the in august at the time of the perseid meteor shower and to slather on night saying there's one there's one there's one
so i really learned from him to really appreciate the natural world and the kind of wonder of of the universe
he loved to read poetry and i love to listen to him read poetry my when they went back school my mother was studied
english and became an english teacher and he became a physics teacher
and
i remember particularly one point he read often he loved it
robert browning's rabbi ben ezra come grow old with me the best is yet to be the last of life for which the first was made
he died before you're fifty two
so that always has a certain point see with me
i remember the only two times in my life i remember being spanked i realized later when lou want spanked our oldest son came from the same place he was
terrified for my well being
it was of otherwise ah this kind of a famous story in our family is my father was determined never to be authoritarian because his father had been very authoritarian
and so he would explain everything you know being a teacher he had a lot of patience and so if we would ask him anything he would explain it in great detail
so it's been said that at some point
i noticed my sister and a little autobiographical piece she wrote claims this and i claim it to any one of us asked him to explain something and said and could just to tell me the short way
on
but you know use the kind of guy you could ask and daddy why is the sky blue and he could kill you so it's kind of wonderful
so my relations with bishop with him was great part of it
also was a side that was quite a turns out to have been quite difficult for me when i was about three i overheard some conversation that made me realize that they had expected me to be a boy
my mother had gone to see a palm reader when she was pregnant she and her sister gone to a palm reader for fun the palm reader toed shoes told her she was carrying a boy and so i already had an older sister so they were very happy about that and my father had decided to name me thomas jefferson who was his great hero
and i didn't turn out to be a boy so the way he announced my birth to the sister who had gone with her mother to the palm reader like news to do these things by telegram you know ten words or less and he said madam
whoever damn liar blanche and estar both fine
well when i heard that you know what i heard at three years old was oh a modern a boy i'm gonna have to be a boy he wanted a son so i made my best effort to be his son for many years
we built boats together i began my college major in physics
i was very good at math one of those things one of the reasons i want to tell this story and let somebody else take it off of tape resident right it is i have a real aversion to writing and part of it is that my sister was very very good at writing she was very very good at all things that mother was good at so i didn't go near english literature
history social sciences i just stuck with math and physics chemistry and practical matters and mechanics and building boats no sign of things
oh
when i was six
was nineteen thirty two the depths of depression the public school that i was attending the county public school in tuscaloosa
ran out of money and closed
so my parents put me in a private school the only private school in tuscaloosa was a catholic school so i went to catholic parochial school for the rest of first grade and all of second grade
and eyes to go over with my classmate when she was going into the church and saying the station so the cross and
i just loved the feeling of the church
and i loved the second grade teacher sister mary catherine flynn
who was then i think about twenty six round faced irish nun
and i really appreciated
the faith and devotion that we're we're clear part of who she was
and i think that imprinted me a lot
i had the good fortune to meet her again before she died through just to happenstance when i went to a buddhist christian international dialogue i guess lemony monastery and mitt
an abbess from alabama who said that she was there in her
ha convent in the
in the infirmary and so as soon as i got home from the conference i've got another ticket and went back to alabama and websites see sister mary catherine
she was very clear to see me and we talked and then i walked in the room and she said play and how are you now she probably knew my name because marlies had told her my name she didn't know my last name because i was married to blanche how are you how's your assist
margaret
sixty some years later
how's your system and a few months before she died
ah your father was a tall man was in day
i guess they didn't have too many jewish kids and that schools
at making it was easier and easier to remember is that way
help like that because i came home months with one hundred and catechism and my
and my father was storming down and said i thought non-catholic children didn't have to take catechism and she said well they don't have to but she wanted to so i didn't see me harm in it
i used to say hail marys for my sister because she was then ten as she was kind of experimenting little with profanity and i thought she was going to go to hell and be dan
i'd better save her
and she found out about it and kind of beat me up for
and actually i've found out that my parents were kind of worried for a while that i was going to become a catholic
i did participate in every kind of religious opportunity that that occurred in my childhood when i was nine my aunt my great aunt came to live with us and she went to temple every saturday morning and i went with her and now isn't acquire this was a reformed temple
and
i still get all choked up when i hear smiles royal not like the don't know i which is the tune with which
ashkenazi jews chant
the affirmation
cover the one god
and when i was living out in the countryside where there was neither a temple nor catholic church actually as far as i can recall i went to baptist churches i went to
presbyterian churches i went to the bible school in one the prize for quickest just one finding the passages in the bible that were
so
i had a sudden interest in this whole realm and then in a lot of loyal to them my father i began to well he began to realize the
in a how awful the situation was for african americans in the south in the thirty's around a case called the scottsboro case and so he became very active and started having a lot of meetings with a lot of people who are
coming down from new york to organize tenant farmers and it was during the thirties you know during the new deal and there's a lot of union organizing going on and and the south there were a lot of in will all over there were a lot of union organizers beat not and intimidated and a lot of them ended up coming to our house which is what about in the country for rest and regroup
operation and there was a lot of talk about
the social injustice in the south and my father got very involved and
he ran across a book on marxism and it was so exciting to him he took it into the chairman of the department and says dr wu you've gotta read this book you know it's you know
ah found in the library of the university of alabama to strange lena
but then it the said a word got out to the university that there were these meetings happening at that our house that had the were interracial and dr lewton called my father in and said joseph if you wish to remain at this institution you wish to remain at the university you will have to conform to the more
and he said dr and i do not care to to for over the more of institution i quit while he hadn't said anything mother about this you know and the result was that he we left alabama went to move up to new york and he took a job with
i mean a job in wasn't being paid much
really just organized with an organization called the national committee for the defensive political prisoners and what he was doing is going around trying to get people out of no union organizers had a jail you've been framed on one charge your another trying to get like people registered to vote doing all kinds of unpopular things in the south and raising
money for it and the north of my mother ended up having to support a family actually i never thought about that too later we did was my big hero
ha
but you know mothers the one who kept the family going she got a job as a rental agent for some big apartment building on riverside drive because she had this charming southern accent and people would just be delighted to hear her go on about the charm with the apartment without asking will you're going to paint this are you going to fix
that they just sign the contract so being and being loved her
and we live read ready little walk up a flat on the lower east side for a year
i was not really prepared to take care of myself on the streets of new york and so it was kind of a rough year for me
toward the end of that year my father was in alabama organizing and he was kidnapped and beaten up and left for dead thrown out of a car in a cornfield
he managed to get some help and get to a hospital
and when he recovered he said nobody's gonna run me out of my hometown so we moved back to birmingham
and mabel came back to work for so that was the year that maybe it was not in my life
ah
so yeah haven't gotten very far how i was nine years old when we moved back
the
ah
so
as i was growing up the new deal was my father was very much in support of franklin roosevelt's new deal i he was not so popular in the south and he and my my uncle used to argue
loudly about it
and the because of the kind of work he did the
people of our general social media you didn't let their kids play with me because my father was a so-called excuse to term nigger lover
ah so the kids i played with were more kind of up a rougher group of kids then i might otherwise have been playing with
so i learned some of the seamy side of life
during that time we had our house shot into we had across burnt in the yard one of the memorable memories of the cross is that my mother was wearing white shorts that day i guess it must have been a weekend because she wasn't at work she was running in and out
out of the house with a silver water pitcher pouring it on the cross and mabel got a hose put tire out
my mother was not all that gets you dumb my mother was a very intelligent woman but i don't know what was possessing you know i'd still have that picture in my mind
but those were kind of scary times for me
and yet you know i i adored my father and
never even occurred to me until years later after he was dead that
i mean and my i couldn't see my mother for dirt you know years later marge pointed out to me that mother had supported the family all these years while dad was doing all this great stuff
and i began to appreciate her a little warm
cause i mean the only complaint i ever heard from her was she really hated it that she had to leave the university and pushing loved teaching
ah she really really enjoy teaching
and one of the kind of lessons in integrity that i got from her was she taught freshman english which was a required course and alabama is a
just insane about the university of alabama insane about football
she was teaching at a time when those are you know football but bear bryant was on the team
and she told the coach i'm not gonna pass those boys if they don't do the work out our coach i'm so they can pay us if they want to but i'm not i just pay us so we had all these football players out the house being coached by
and one day bear bryant actually brought her tickets on the fifty yard line and she said i am this wouldn't be bribes with this
oh no ma'am oh i thank you pay i love to go to the game thanks so much
ah she also told me during this time when she was beginning to be waked up about what was going on in the south she decided to assign for a book report george washington carver his autobiography up from slavery
and he was by then had a ph d and i believe found in tuskegee university anyhow
on
she came home and she was so
outraged at the student who had written this almost illegible illegible book report which ended with all in all it was a good book for a nigger to have wrote
and she said he said i put on there i'm sure that dr car we would appreciate your condescension but she's i know he couldn't even understand that sentence
no she was really upset
so that's kind of away at was in the south when i grew up like that
and that's what concerned my father so much
and that's what ended up with him being a communist because the people he found who were really really leading the fight to make a change for communists
and it was a very idealistic time
and
and i really believed in socialism and that when i came from when i find went to tassajara and i came to green gulch and i hadn't have a job in which i was responsible for hang handing out the stipends we all got stipends are about twenty five dollars a month and they were all the same except for people that children played up more
for and and i felt wow this is it from each according to his ability to each according to this mean this is just the ideal i've always had this is wonderful i'm going to live here the rest of my life but you know we couldn't keep that we are human and everybody is looking out for themselves and people wanted more
and we couldn't we couldn't actually sustain it
but at the very beginning
i was very leery
i'm thrilled with the idealism of this community and we don't do too bad we don't have vast differences but people with more responsibility
get a larger stipend now instead of everyone getting the same of course it was everyone except the abbot at that time
which was one of the reasons when it turns out that the abbot was not willing to live a simpler life as he was encouraging all of us to live
we couldn't sustain it people's bitterness himself concern
changed that for us much to my chagrin
so later on i met someone that same kind of ideals as my father
and he also read poetry
and he also is quite a romantic the first time i got him to pay me any attention and we spend a little time talking until late in the evening
ah the next morning he came over to where i was staying i was visiting and berkeley where you live and he came under my window and sound beautiful dreamer away on me starlight and dewdrops are waiting for the
well we've been married now for fifty six years
a very romantic
what

so
so lou and i were married and we had four children and on
about twenty two years into the marriage it was a little shaky and we went
well
i had a good friend who gave me a book about sin
the zen teaching of one pole and i read or not a wow yes you know what went back and looked at it later and what did i think i understood
but i mean the opening sentence is something like
the great way is not difficult just give up conceptual thinking
the
i can still say yes but i've been trying to do that now for yeah that's not so easy
on
and
we were having a little little difficulty in our marriage and we went to a marriage counselor
who was a right in therapist it turned out we didn't know it at the time but it turned out that he had leukemia and he was dying and so in oh he said us was i don't have time to do traditional rohit therapy what i'll do is work with you for about six weeks and then i'll guide you on a masculine trip and then will
and then we'll look at the material that comes up on the trip afterwards
so visit these were separate login know but during the course well i mean actually all i remember about the mescal interests
that i couldn't accept food because there was so many starving people in the world it would be wrong for me to take food that was all they offered me some food i remember that i remember standing in the backyard and looking at a camelia and seeing it pulsing with life seeing
just feeling a connection with the community but what i also remember was when we were discussing
you know i just didn't one on one therapy
at that time i was lou had been blacklisted from his job he'd gotten a job in a restaurant and work there was some years but i had gone back to work and i was supporting the family
i would say that i was essentially sporting family for good part of that time he was taking care of the kids so i could go to work
at that time i would say that both of us would have described our relationship as she is the strong independent one his the week dependent one
and i had that kind of relationship with my oldest son i had that kind of relationship with a lot of people and my therapist said to me don't you see and so i had a very good self image of myself as a strong person supporting people right
ah my therapist said to me don't you see
that you're encouraging people to be a dependent on you it's just you your way of expressing your dependence
if they're dependent on you you won't be left alone
and it was so clear
and it was so devastating because my whole self image was demolished
instead of thinking that now that i had been doing something good i thought my god i've been sucking myself image out of everybody else's and leaving them feeling bad about themselves these people that i think i love so i was feeling like a vampire i was feeling
really evil
and devastated by that discovery which is quite clear i mean this is kind of what i'd never heard the word codependency but this is what codependency is
ah
and during that time let's see lou went back to take care of his father one summer and it was not clear if he's going to come back
ah
i had so a friend of mine had given me this book on zen and a friend of his had given him
capital or oh is book three pillars of sad to hear that back in connecticut where he was and he was reading it and he started sitting zazen back there
i left out a very important thing in in nineteen sixty eight of the fall of sixty eight my son was a student at san francisco state and there was a student strike and it was actually described in the newspapers as a police riot the police got really worked up about arresting people and got quite violent by
the end of the day and arrested hundreds of students beat up hundreds of students luckily my son who was a quaker and a pacifist had said when they came around the building to attack his picket line said to people walk don't run so he was in the back and he got arrested first
and he said he was really glad he got arrested first because they hadn't gotten all excited and started roughing people up until later in the day
so ah some of the leaders of them it was a black student strike some the leaders of the black community or on the tv and urging members of the community to come interposed themselves between police and students to prevent further violence
and
ah
so the next day i dressed up and my best finer and went out to and oppose myself between police and students and that was there a little early it's kind of watching you know there was a picket line here and the pickets were some kind of nudging the students who wanted to cross him go to classes and they were blocking anybody but they were cut in the way and then there was
some jokes taking picture of this and then woven tickets grabbed the camera and smashed into them by this time and become a pacifist i hadn't been during the war i i joined the first rule second crippled or i had done a mechanic in the air force and very much supported the war
ah because it was a war against fascism
and i'm watching this thing going on between the pickets and the jobs and i'm saying where's my side
and during this period all of the kinds of things i had counted on were falling apart i mean the things that i felt were stable were becoming unstable a friend of mine had a bad headache went to the doctor was diagnosed with a brain tumor in died
really quickly and not long after that i hadn't had a very severe infection ended up in the hospital and almost died and so i was pretty rattled by that
there is a case and room on con where mr women says something like
on
you'd better pay attention to what i'm saying or else when it comes time for the five elements to separate you'll be like a crab in a pod scrambling with all eight arms and legs to get out
and that's kind of how i was after pet died and after i almost died and so this this ah therapy you know this this marriage counseling therapy and and mess when trip where after that and then the student strike way after that
so all my certainties where be were falling away and i had nothing certain to depend on so i just kind of didn't know what was going on a i was just looking for ground to stand on
and so it came time that day for the planned rally and we all rallied for ah
a talk and this central quadrangle of san francisco state and then there was a loudspeaker announcement saying this is an illegal assembly and the phalanx of police in full riot gear shoulder to shoulder stretching across the into
hire quadrangle came from around
behind a building in full riot gear with the poking with their billy clubs and ah without any thought i ducked under some people's hands in front of me
to be between police and students i wasn't thinking i'm doing this because that's what i came here for i just did it without thought
and there was just a kind of own
but time kind of stopped and i made eye contact with the policemen right in front of me
actually at the moment i ducked under there was a whistle and the police went from holding their billy clubs this way and poking people to holding them sidle
the politics or policemen and politically policemen a full riot gear was as much the essence of not me as anything can be
but we made eye contact and i had an overpowering experience of identity
with this riot squad policeman right in my face it was totally beyond anything i could comprehend but it was totally more real than anything i had ever experienced and it really blew my mind
backing up slowly so that they wouldn't be there are people behind us know being pushed against walls and had little in between the buildings and stuff and people were tugging on my elbows i'm looking at this policeman with this experience of identity with what had been until that moment the
epitome of not me
and afterwards i you know i went on through the day ah i went later to a meeting of
parents and formed a parents committed to support the strike of which i became chairman i went on the radio the next day as a spokesperson for the parents committed to support the strike but in fact my political life ended with that moment
and i had to you know i was dumbfounded at the last thing the world i ever expected to experience this identity with the riot squad policeman
and i had to find out who understood that
and in my searching around
and reading
i heard about the berkeley's ando
i didn't go for about several months after i heard about it and just seem to weird
zen buddhism for an atheist like me
but
i finally went
and had meditation instruction and began sitting every day from the day i had meditation instruction i began sitting every day i did not really know why but it was
irresistible
tom
you know i needed to understand that experience with the right squad policemen and of course there is the saying and and self another or not to
and the certainly now i can look back and say that was certainly an experience of self and other i'm not too
but ah
it has taken me a long time to understand that experience but it was pivotal in my life
so maybe the time is up i don't know what time it just goes on an island i'm splat and way
i'm

so
at some point says the hiroshi
came i guess probably the next monday morning because he's come to lecture at berkeley zondo every monday morning
and somehow when i saw him i thought he understands what happened with that rights are policemen
and
so that really kept me coming back and kept me coming to see him
ha maybe that's enough for now
hmm
will bring lubeck oh yes oh yeah
actually i didn't know if lou was coming back because things have been kind of rough and
but he did
and
it turns out that while he was back there he had ah
a
the book on the three pillars of san
oh yeah and he read about zazen and he started sitting sauce and back in connecticut while i started sitting sauce and in berkeley when he came back we were both sitting function
how about that by the vans through with us
but he wouldn't come to the berkeley's under with me for a while because it was my trip and he said you know first is my mother's trip and then it was this trip and that was detrimental i'm gonna sit at home so he middle of do at home
and sat at home but actually once he came down and heard suzuki roshi talk it was kind of irrelevant whose trip it was so we both sat at the berkeley sendo for
some years he went to toss a higher actually before i did because at that time i had a job and at that time he didn't
ah but the rest is just the playing out of of getting deep word more and more deeply enmeshed in san practice until here we are
so that's my way seeking mine talk for today
ah
i do think that it's important to drop
the question of who is drop who we think we are
and just explore the question of what is this
just be curious about what is this
we have so many ideas about who we think we are
but just to directly turn inward and find out what this is
i think you will find that it's totally connected with everything there is even including riot squad policemen
thank you
yeah and