Wednesday Lecture

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I vow to taste the truth of the Bhagavad-Gita with others' words. Good evening. I am so happy to be here. Thank you, Fu and team, for inviting me. And thank you, Sabrina, for coming. This weekend, about 60 of us were at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, which is Zen Center's wonderful monastery in the mountains, in the mountains of the Ventana Wilderness. And it was a special retreat for families and young people, especially those young people who are coming of age, are in that delicate crucible when you pass from being a child to a young adult and take your place. The young boys who were celebrated here a few weeks ago were there, the boys who graduated and had their coming-of-age ceremony.


They were the elders of the teenage and the tweenage sangha, 15-year-olds. And then two groups of 12- to 13-year-olds who are working very deeply with mentors who are in their early 20s and 30s. And then there's a group of older practitioners who are mentors for the mentors for the mentors for the mentors and on and on until the end of time. So it was wonderful to be there. And there was also a tiny little gaggle of very bad little boys who seemed to be learning from all the other circles. So it was quite nice to see Anthony Patchell and Indigo and another little boy named Jules imprinting off of the circles of boys in particular. Wonderful weekend. And one of the things that we did, one of the activities that we did as a sangha in solidarity with the many people in the world now who are feeling the events of the last couple of weeks,


these days of awe, feeling the events of these days of awe, we took simple unglazed tiles and we each painted a tile or a quartet of tiles. Some of us did four tiles. Some did single tiles. And these tiles are going to be put up on a wall that goes around Koshland Park, which is right in the Page Street neighborhood, the neighborhood where Zen Center has a practice place, a rather rough and wonderful neighborhood where there's a garden dedicated to peace and awareness and to children. So there's going to be a wall and the mosaic tiles are going on the wall. And I know there's going to be an afternoon here at the Gulch too where Barbara Wenger will bring the tiles here and we'll have a chance to sit and contemplate what makes us feel solid, peaceful in unsolid and unpeaceful times and then to do a drawing.


So it was beautiful seeing the children, all the different ages of children, silently and mindfully doing their drawings. One child said she doesn't like to carry the flag because it's not pretty. If it had a horse on it, she would like it more. She was a very thoughtful young woman, Mika. And on her tile, she drew a lonely horse looking out toward the city from a mountain. Very, very beautiful drawings. And the little kids did any number of different designs. And we worked. We thought we would just do this for a few hours, but actually it ended up going on through the night, the painting and the mindfulness and the depth of commitment, somehow translating your feeling and your heart energy into art, into that kind of expression was extraordinarily meaningful, especially in these times.


And we worked in the old eating area, which for those of us who are Tassajara alumni, we still think of it as the old zendo, where the zendo used to stand. It was burned down about 24 years ago and now is an outdoor eating area where we did the tiles. So they were beautiful. And at the end of the retreat, we put all the tiles out and the children and families came through and looked at what we'd done. It was rather, as cooperative effort sometimes is, very strong to look at that offering. And then it was time to come home. So we were driving up the road following a student whose responsibility it was to drive out a lot of the luggage in the suburban, those of you from Tassajara know what this means, a big vehicle. And he was driving quickly, driving up the road really quickly, and we thought, gee, I hope it's going to be okay. He was roaring up the road after a very mindful, quiet weekend,


maybe too mindful and quiet. He put the pedal to the metal and was going up the Tassajara road. We heard this cacophony of sound, and our family was following the Tassajara truck and noticed as we came around the bend, the back of the truck opened up and all the tiles went out into a big arc and fell on the road right in front of us. It was really amazing. First, actually, that's a little dramatic, but it's true. First, we came around the corner and saw a lonely shoe, then a backpack, then a book on its face, and then the tiles. So Peter drove back down to Tassajara and called James Burke to ask the driver to stop and come back in and pick up, because we were also loaded with materials that we couldn't carry, all the boxes of stuff that had come off.


And I found myself in the dust of the road picking up the tiles, the piece tiles, broken, the pieces of piece tiles. And tonight, preparing to come and talk together, because that is what we'll do tonight, this is what we need, to listen to one another, that image, that truth of that came up so strongly for me. It was very poignant because you know how it is, you look through the rubble and you think, is mine here? And it was, my tile was all broken. Actually, I'd done four, and I did an image of Gringotts with a large rainbow in the ocean. Jesse painted the ocean for me, because he knows of what he paints. And the fields with these pumpkins that were kind of squeezed out of orange paint. It was very vibrant, but you know, it was a little too perfect. And I think somehow the fact that


not everybody's tile broke, but that mine did, was actually a relief to me, because I thought, well, isn't this really where we are right now? Broken open, many pieces that can never be put back together again. And yet, each piece contains the whole life. Each piece contains the history and the story and the truth of where we are. And there is some great relief to face the brokenness and pick up the pieces. I really felt that. Many years ago during the Gulf War, we kept a vigil in Mill Valley. I know because I was head student during that time. And we made a large sign that just said peace in red letters, huge red letters, and an image of the world.


I remember the Buddhist Peace Fellowship was, the National Board was here having a meeting and they came down to the dining room while we were painting the sign. And luckily there was one cartographer in the group who got the continents right, which was a real relief, because, you know, in general everything is specific, as we say in the gardening world, so you want to have the continents right. And we did this beautiful drawing and wrote peace and we carried that sign to Mill Valley. And we also put it at the head of the road, at the head of the driveway. And you know, a couple of weeks after we did that, we went up one morning and the sign had been broken into five or six pieces. Even that one word and the image of the whole world was fuel for someone's anger. It was very deliberately broken, you know, smashed. And then we had a very interesting conversation. Well, we'll paint a new sign. And I remember saying, let's put up the broken pieces.


It's more interesting because it's where we really are. So this is the image that's coming up for me now, you know, thinking of where we are in these times. You know, we had made an agreement to have this next period of time a focus on looking at environmental work or ecological work and practice and the intersection of Buddhism and ecology or practice, even more grounded than that, practice and study of the world, practice and nature. You know, so, you know, that means me and I think Linda Ruth is going to do a talk and Huey Johnson, people who have a lot of experience with the questions. I know they both do, at least. So can we listen together to the cries of a broken earth? And how do we respond?


I was looking tonight, before coming, I was looking at that beautiful word respond. It means to promise in return, respondere, respondere, to promise or to vow in return. How do we, as practitioners of the way, followers of the way, brokenhearted humankind, respond to the real cries of the world right now? How do we respond? How do we keep our place but not be too upright? How do we meet what is all around us? And I know, just judging from the numbers of people who've come here to Green Gulch regularly and all the churches and synagogues, all of the places of worship and little chapels, dusty and quiet, open.


The doors are open now and many people are gathering, brokenhearted, openhearted, to see, to ask ourselves, how do we respond to what's happening? And I think that the earth gives us many great treasures and gifts. Many great treasures and gifts. Last night in New York City, Zen master and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh spoke in Riverside Church on the west side of New York. A free event opened up the doors of the churches and all the different chapels and churches. There were about 3,000 people on the streets listening to the talk. And he talked about embracing anger and nourishing nonviolence. And how we do that is extraordinarily important right now. We have the great fortune of being able to practice


on a lively, abundant and productive fertile farm with good earth and water. Tonight when I walked up, I could feel the health coming off of this land. Smell the health, smell the care and attention. Smell the grounded commitment to taking care of this piece of land and growing food for people who are hungry. We are so nourished with goodness and yet also with that brokenness that is part of our times right now. So how do we give back that nourishment? I have a few ideas that we might want to turn around and see if they have any weight, any gravity, any purpose, any truth, any trustworthy truth.


And I think this is a time when we can really help one another. I'm sure you've been doing that. But when we gather to turn the Dharma, we can do so with real commitment to respond to the cries of the world and to respond according to our own experience. Tomorrow, actually tonight, with supper, begins Yom Kippur, the most grave day in the Jewish calendar, a day of celebration and quiet, a day of fasting and of turning in. I remember many years ago sitting here in this Dharma seat doing a class with Rev on the precepts and the big bell began to intone and those of us who knew realized that Norman Fisher's father had died on Yom Kippur and we listened to the bell ringing for Norman's dad


who died in Florida. I always associate that because for an observant person of the Jewish faith it's a great blessing or great honor to die on the Day of Atonement. At-one-ment. It's a great word. To make amends, to look at your life. Rabbi Michael Lerner is calling from his office and from the teaching in Berkeley and then farther out. He's calling to not only observant people of the Jewish faith but to practitioners in all faith to take a day of At-one-ment and really examine what's deepest in your heart and mind. I mention it because tomorrow is Yom Kippur. It's that day for people of the Jewish faith. Many people will be in prayer and considering their lives as an old tradition of taking bread out and putting it on the water


on the ocean or on the river putting the bread on the surface of the water and having a day, a fasting day when you just turn within and break the fast at dark. Twenty-four hours of consideration. And I think this is something we can do. This is one of those practices that we can do as we work, as we sit, as we take care of our children, as we answer the telephone and move through our life and respond to the many people that are calling to us. We can consider having a time of deep listening or cultivating the roots of awareness. Maybe atonement is too heavy a word, too grave a word. Whatever word is right for you can come up. And these words come up out of fertile ground


just like plants do and speak to us and remind us to ground ourselves in practice and really consider deeply what we're about, what is our calling. So that's one suggestion I had that we take a day. For some people you may choose to do that tomorrow. And it's good to practice secretly working within. You don't have to tell anyone. You make that vow with yourself to respond and to keep the promise or the questioning that's coming up in your own body and mind. Keep it alive and honor it by looking at it very deeply. That's what this place is about. That's maybe the truest and deepest soil of this valley. Foo and I were talking the other day


at our children's school. We were talking about how abstract we can get sometimes without intending that at all. What will it take for us to recognize that the brokenness and go down to the fundamentals. I love Hesse's comment, never apologize for anything fundamental. These words that we've lost connection with. Fundamentalist now means something utterly different whereas the root of the word is fundus or anus, what you sit on. Groundedness. Never apologize for what is most fundamental. So how do we get back to that? You know, even the word environment I was saying in our conversation I was thinking about that with food. Even that word environment it means the surroundings or to encircle


from the French, to encircle. Even that word is a little far away from the actual work we have, which is taking care of the land that sustains us and nourishes us. How do we bring that practice in closer? How do we bring our practice in closer? So that we can include what's happening all around us. I like the word ecology. Ecology of mind. Ecology of self. I remember years ago Linda talking about the ecology of her marriage. That's beautiful. Because that word is it's a little bit closer in. Eco comes from the Greek oikos which means house or home. So the logic of the home. Economy means the management of the home. The money and the balance sheet of the home. So when we talk about the ecology of our practice


and how we live in this valley that's a little closer. How do we shave away all the extra stuff and come to the core? The bright shining place that's so often covered up. So I ask you to think about finding language that's grounded. That's based in what you really know and what you sit on. What you stand by. What you're made of. For some of us that's the good earth. The soil. The blessing of clean water. Think of women in Africa and it is mostly women throughout Africa who now are walking up to five hours a day just to bring water to their home. Two and a half hours into a spring. Two and a half hours back. And that's a normal trek. And we take so for granted


this great luxury of clean water. What is most elemental and true? How do we drop that taking for granted and come to respond to the world that sustains us and holds us even in grave times? Maybe especially in grave times. Look what people are doing. I mean, there are very few people... I don't think you all travel as much as I do around, you know, driving to school and driving back. Today I had to get some underwear and so I went to a shopping center which I go to very rarely. There was hardly anybody there. The world is not shopping. Not going to the movies. They're going toward a deeper... Maybe they're just watching television. I don't know. But I think there's something deeper going on. How do we do that too? Ecologically and deeply?


I think it's important to consider this. And the food we eat is of primary importance. To really taste what we're eating. To really taste what it means to nourish. Nonviolent action. Just a little less than a week ago, next door, I think some of you were present for Yvonne Rann's presentation on Monday night talking about communication. She'd had a... one day sitting in open zendo at her house which is right next door to us and I went to sit with her sangha. We sat for the morning and then shared lunch together. Everybody brought some food and we ate together in the garden. Ate some of the apples from the garden and then decided to go into the zendo and each person write a letter to whoever they wanted to to reach out and have some communication


with what's happening in our world right now. It was wonderful to be in the zendo. We began, we practiced for about 10 minutes. We sat and then just leaned forward and wrote a letter. It was very different to do that as part of our practice and incensed the letters, put them on the altar, completed the sitting. It was a wonderful experience. These are times when we can be very experimental and bold. We're needed. We are deeply needed. And the earth gives us so much sustenance and support. I'm thinking about the wonderful word original which is the word which is really at the core of


true action. It comes out of a broken heart. True original action. It's a wonderful word. Jane Hirshfield talked about this years ago and I never will forget her talking about that word origos which is the root word which means the circling of the sun and the moon in the heavens. A kind of cyclical truth that changes day by day. The size of the amount of light on the moon and the disk of the moon and that cycle that goes above in the heavens. But the word shares another deeper meaning which is the spring that comes up out of the earth. Water that comes up out of the earth is called origo. So it's the upwelling of deep water that's never been tasted before. And that is timeless. That timeless upwelling


that salves grief and grounds our grief and gives us strength to continue. So both the cycle of time and the upwelling of original mind. I have a very fierce feeling in these days. Very fierce feeling of how essential every single one of us is. How important it is that we find the original flavor of our practice. Ground in that flavor. Not get abstract. Stay broken hearted. Stay open. And be present for one another. And stay near home ground. It's amazing how grave circumstances can offer new opportunity. It's an expensive price. But I think we're put together to bear it


and these are extraordinary times to be alive in. Extraordinary times to practice and to turn the teachings and to look for the original truth and flavor of the teachings. This is the basis of ecological awareness. It's the home ground. It's the source. It's the upwelling of possibility. And we know the taste. We know the taste. We know the taste.


So I think, you know, I had prepared a whole talk about nourishment and food and land and hopefully you have a little taste of it here. And I think it's so important to to be able to speak to each other. Maybe, with your permission, I'll close by bringing up three points that Pema Chodron mentioned when she was here and also in her wonderful book When Things Fall Apart. She's talking about how to practice in chaotic times. Three simple points. The first one is to,


well, she says, return to your original mind. Or at least I think I put those words on it. Return to your fundamental nature and no more struggle is how she puts out the teaching. That means find a way to ground yourself in the breath and in and in the simplest, most fundamental practices that sustain you. And no more struggle. Samatha and Vipassana, she calls up the ancient teachings of the way of the elders, stomping and deep insight. No more struggle. Let yourself stop and really look and let your insight come up


from that agreement not to struggle. Responding without struggle. Very difficult. And respond through practice. Number two. Take what is poison in our culture as medicine. See if in your life and in your activity and in your originality you can take in what is poison and find it as medicine. Medicine and disease subdue each other. The whole world is medicine. Says the ancient teaching. I remember from Linda Ruth's Mountain Seat Ceremony Pema's letter to Linda. A letter from advice to Yogini from Machig Lapdroma. She says, go to places that frighten you.


Anything you are attached to, let it go. Help those you do not want to help. Some of that advice. And there are other points. So this is the taking in what is poisonous and seeing if it can work as medicine in your body and mind. And last of all could we actually recognize that everything this point for me is really difficult everything that arises, that comes up everything that comes from the origin is a manifestation of awakened energy. And the example she uses is walking through a charnel ground. And she said, I'm not talking about the rolling hills of Forest Knolls Cemetery where there is a nice grassy landscape with neat little white grave markers but the ancient charnel grounds of India where body limbs were strewn on the charnel fields


and people chose to go there to meditate and see that even this is a manifestation of awakened energy. So close to where we are in the world right now. To what our experience has been in these last days of awe. Time of the autumnal equinox. The evening out of dark and light. These are not light practices. Of course I'm sure they take a lifetime of cultivation. But they're worthy of remembering and holding. So no more struggle. Ground yourself in your practice. Consider whether poison might in fact be medicine. And how is that so? And that everything that arises is a manifestation of awakened energy. We take care of this place so that these questions can be cultivated here.


And we're not kidding around. And you know we have our hearts are broken open, our minds are broken open. But we can dig this stuff now. And it's important too. But I know you know that. So I'm interested in what we can talk about together for the next half hour till it's time to rest. And get up in the morning and practice again. So what's on your... What wants to be looked at? I thought that was interesting about... You're talking about the people not shopping thing. Yeah. Although it's Wednesday. But in general it was interesting after the incident happened I... You know I had a subscription to outside magazine. I couldn't read the ads to... Like the magazine made me sick. I had to call up and cancel it.


So I'm wondering if like... Yeah, if the actual event did something to the... Or did something to my consciousness or maybe group consciousness about materialism and greed. It's the single biggest thing people are talking about. Stores are empty. The theaters are empty. Except you still can't get tickets for producers in New York. But apparently that one... People still go to that one. But... Almost all the other plays in New York are available now. People are not eating out in restaurants. People are staying home. They're staying closer to the bone. It makes sense on some level, doesn't it? Have other people experienced this? You've all been... You've seen plenty of people buying things? I've seen a lot of people in restaurants. Oh, really? Also, you know... To me it's all kind of ironic and...


Deep-rooted because without consumer spending our economy is, you know, in big trouble. So the whole fact that our whole economy is a paradigm is based on consumer spending. That's right. And that means that a lot of people will be thrown out of jobs. San Francisco is pretty much based on tourism. It's definitely the biggest industry. And people are not flying in. And that's how they get here, to tour. That's what they're saying. They are not flying in. Right, right. So am I going to see more homeless people on the streets of San Francisco? Somebody who maybe had a janitor job? I mean, the whole thing is so deep-rooted and difficult. And there's also... Maybe I'm too... I don't know, Pollyannic about this. But there's also... I have observed a kind of upwelling of kindness. The barriers are down. And I'm seeing people like the friends in Seattle who are guarding from all different traditions, religious traditions, are guarding the mosque. There's an old mosque in the city of Seattle


that's been there for generations. And it was attacked. There was an attack on it. There was some effort to burn it. And citizens around the clock are taking watch hours and then also driving parishioners from that mosque to the grocery store, taking care of each other in a different way. There is activity, but it's maybe not just on the consuming plane. And yeah, that may bring down the whole house of cards, but it's already broken. It's been broken open, so... Do we have the stomach and the guts to actually watch what's happening? I don't know. I have noticed less activity, less traffic, less... commerce. Please. Yes. Another part of the outcome


is what's seen in a different setting with a lot of the tech companies, the dot-com companies going down, and any of us connected, I think we heard a little bit of it also on Sunday, a report from Jordan on the development office with regard to donations. And that has been impacting all of the non-profit world, whether it's arts organizations, social service, educational, other charitable organizations, and religious organizations. And the downturn now in the economy will exacerbate that as well. So at the one side, people looking at what is their perhaps materialistic focus in their lives, and I've heard a number of times in reports, people going, you know, we're really looking at whether what we're doing in our life


and what we're doing with our life and with our work is meaningful, and that's something we can address here affirmatively. But those out of work then also have funds not only for their own support, but in the very fabric of the way that part of the economy impacts those parts of the fabric which rely on the generosity, whether it's self-enlightened for deductible reasons or what, but the support that we can get from donations. And things like people not participating in the tourist activities and not attending hotels. The San Francisco Hotel Tax is a foundation source of funding for arts organizations. It's been with the Bars Commission. So you can just go on and on about this. It's a very broad, very deep spectrum of impact


and interdependence. Yeah, American Buddhist teacher John Muir said, you know, when you pick up one leaf on the floor of the forest, you see everything is hitched to everything else. And then there's, you know, Jesse, my son, who's working as a firefighter in Marin, in Marin City, tells of a knock coming on the firehouse door and people bringing food for the firefighters there to support them and thank them, because by extension, there's a kind of wider service going on. It's more fundamental that comes out of people reaching out from that, you know, from the heart and giving back. So, I don't know, it's a very rich time that we're in right now, very dangerous, risky and volatile and many, many possibilities. But it's good to look at all the connections to recognize what's happening.


That's part of the first point of, you know, sitting deeply and really looking, taking it in and out with breath, without judging or reacting, but not turning away either. What else? Please. Something that's coming up a lot for me right now is approaching the end of the farm apprenticeship and then holding that I want to go on practice period and then also realizing that there's some part of me that wants to still be involved in the world in a... I don't want to shut off really and I feel like something I've done here is I've shut off from what's going on in a lot of ways.


In another way, it's not at all. And it's hard for me to actually take action a lot of times. It's really hard for me. Yeah. And... The other night Mel Whiteson talked about... He talked about, well, in Dogen's time, if people got involved in government affairs, they got their heads chopped off. You know? And so that was kind of what allowed monastic practice to not be involved in government affairs in a way, or in political affairs. And... I don't know. It's something that's just really hard for me to deal with. It's like this idea that for two months I would be really just turning inward. And I know two months isn't a long time,


but right now it seems like a long time. You know? It seems like day by day things are changing quickly. Yeah. Well, let's respond to that. What are your impressions? Please, let's not go away from her question, because it's a good question. Let's work on that, please. Yeah. I guess I just... My response is a personal response, and that is that since I left practice here in April, like every time I'm driving across the world to come here, I'm so grateful to everybody who has a formal practice. And I'm like, God. Whatever. Thank you for your practice. And I realize also at this time, like, my only solid is the training I got in practice period. The only, like the only rope. You know? It's not a nice little present


you put underneath the bed and forget about. You've got to... I know. depending on it. Yeah, so I didn't address, maybe didn't address your feeling, but that's my response, I guess, to everybody practicing here online. Yeah. I think it's an old idea, the practice, and, you know, that meditation practice and frontline action have to be separated. We do have to figure out how to reconcile them. That's another great word. How to put together, how to keep them in each other's presence. Because they're desperately in need of each other. Maybe that's a good thing about a day of, you know, of going in, a day of atonement for you, a day of examination, really asking yourself, how do I do this?


What is my deepest original request? How do I manage that while I'm practicing? Because I know they can be reconciled. Please, you're going to say something. I don't know so much, but I think that I've heard one of the big obstacles of the life of an activist is burnout. Right. And that there are more and more periods of retreat time specifically for activists. Right. So, I don't know, maybe you need permission to give yourself permission to take care of that. Yes. I'm also very interested in this idea of activism meeting formal practice, and I think it's a struggle for a lot of us, and how to reconcile it is an interesting way of talking about it. And I think that I'm moving towards


an interest more in how to harmonize it, and actually looking at how they can refresh each other. And I think that my life at Zen Center has been a lot of really amazing looking at work practice, but what is activist practice? Like, how can that also inform, like my work in the Zen Do and my work on the streets, like inform and bounce off of each other? And I haven't, yeah, I've not done that study at all. So, I'm wanting to move a little bit, maybe in a slightly different direction than just reconciling it, but maybe actually, how can it like, flourish with each other? Harmony is good, because it's made of different notes. Yeah. Good. Yes, Manu? I found that, I worked in a hospital for one time,


an intensive care unit for children, and it could get very tense there, and certainly a sense of, you could see people burning up, burning out all around me. At that time, I was meditating each morning before I went to work, and I would meditate when I got back from work. I found that the kind of centered mind that came to me during sittings stayed with me during work, so that being present with the sounds of the morning and the feel of my body and the arising of thoughts and passings, that type of state of mind went with me into the hospital, so that when, because it was so much more hectic, I didn't have time for thoughts arising and passing, because the tasks of the day, that was my attention right there. It seemed, well,


I was able to remain calm in the midst of all this. ...your work, or into your life, wherever you are, and just be present with what's going on, and with varying degrees of calm, and at least my little experience there for like about a year, seems to be noticeable to people, seems to make a positive difference. I think that's what a practice period can do, it helps you develop that state. These questions are really up right now, given what's going on in our world. Let's hear from Daniel. I've had a few different people about communities, practice communities, spiritual communities, one is a guy who volunteers in the garden, John, who lived in Fynhorn for a long time,


and Fynhorn's been there for about at least 30 years, and I think Fynhorn is sort of similar, in that people come, spend some time, and rejuvenate, and that's very helpful to them, then they go out into the world and they do other things. What he noticed about Fynhorn, going back after having an affiliation of 30 years, was that it had exactly no effect on the relationship, on the community directly next to it. And so that was something that really interested him, there was essentially completely isolated in reference to the adjacent community, and this seemed to fit nicely for me


with another conversation I had, which is with Suihigo, and his idea of a community, which is one which plays a very active role in dealing with the outside world, and part of that, to me, seems to be dualistic, rather than coming here and practice non-dual, or trans-dualism. Trans-dual. So if you go into the world, you have to deal with dualism, and it seems like the community has to be, as maybe a whole, or as a mission statement, saying, we are going to enter into a dualistic world, and say, we believe in peace, not war, or environmentalism, not globalism, localism, not corporate. So there has to be this kind of


taking your place. So these things have been interesting to me. I don't know whether it's possible to do both. I would hope that maybe it could be. I think it's good that when the questions are out there, you know, when you're asking them and examining them, really asking in an active way, and questioning and looking. You know, from living in your beach, after living at Green Gulch for 25 years, living next door, I feel a kind of mutual connection with this place, which is very strong. You know, sometimes I feel like a secret practitioner out there in the world. It's really interesting. I feel like I'm carrying all the years of training and practice that I participated in right here, and it continues in some different way. It's more dualistic, for sure,


out there in a householder's life, or purely householder's life. And yet, there's something else. There's some other original taste that comes up, even in the middle. It's really interesting to see. And I find that in times like these times, like these days of awe, what's like the chaff, what you blow off when you're winnowing, right now in this season, the light stuff is blowing off, and the grain is taking its place, the weighty grain, you know, the grain, the oily, nourishing grain of our life and practice is taking its place. There's a kind of vitality that's very strong. So I hope your question, you know, these questions that come up in times when the chaff's blown off, will sustain us and be there,


be present for us, and give us the taste of our practice. Thank you. You had something to say? Do you still? Um, I'm not sure. Yeah. Yeah. I might just try a little bit. Good, yeah. Because Daniel really addressed, actually what I was feeling, is that this place is open to the community at large, coming in and rejuvenating and growing the chaff. As far as like having an immediate effect, I have a feeling that this practice will continue. Thank you.


Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


Is it great? Yeah. Yeah. So I'll make it look pretty. so so So


The other people I talked to said, who are these 80% or these 10%, I don't know any of them. But I talked to this daughter, and she says, I don't know if I can see this. I don't know if I can see this.


I was sort of raised on an election Monday night, to even in the midst of wishing for peace, not to shut anyone off. Not to shut off the people wanting to retaliate. Not to shut off the people who attacked us. Not to shut off. People who just want to sit, just to stay as open to all of it. I mean, I just had this fantasy of like, you know, my letter would be, Dear Evil Doer, I want to meet you. Please come. Here's my address. And I have to check with the community to make sure it's okay. But wouldn't that be great? I mean, to actually, to meet? To face it? Like our doctor? Or... Who's the doctor? One of them was from the Bay Area. The pilot, right? Yeah. Yeah, please.


Please. I guess what I've been kind of experiencing as this thing unfolds more and more, is that I don't know what's going on. And that that seems to be the only really trustworthy thing that I feel about it, is that I don't really know what's going on. It keeps changing. And, you know, the emotions, I feel it now, emotions and feelings around it. And what I feel is that I'm not the only one who doesn't know what's going on. None of us do, really. We don't really know what's going on in this situation. One thing that I keep coming back to myself is, you know, 30,000 children die every day from curable diseases. So that's like 10 million children a year. So we're talking, this is not saying you can equate things, but what I'm saying is


this situation touched us in a way. So it's really important for us to look at it, and it is a huge tragedy. Right. I can't quite articulate it, but somehow I feel that we often have such an urge to do something, to do something about the situation. And maybe the most important thing is something you said, is having the courage or the stomach to just witness what is happening, or what appears to be happening, even if we can't understand it. You know, in the Fisher King's court, it was the perfect fool who, when he saw that everyone was asleep and not looking and not asking, was courageous enough or stupid enough


or not stupid, foolish enough to say, what ails you? What ails us? That was the question that woke up the sleepers. What ails you? And who does it serve? Who does this sleepiness serve? Two really good questions. Those are primary questions for the perfect, that Percival, the perfect fool asks in the Fisher King's court, you know, in the legend of the Holy Grail. Ancient primaries and questions, what ails you and who does it serve? This is very much what Melissa is bringing up, what you're all, what we're all responding to. And, you know, if you have, when we strip away what's not necessary and ground ourselves on solid earth and find our place and ask those questions, then at least we're opening our hearts and minds to what is, without editing or without pretending that we understand.


That seems like a huge first step. And there's a gigantic hunger for this kind of response in the culture right now. You look at what's happening in the, you know, at Riverside Church or, you know, here in our Zendo on Sunday or, gosh, there were 150 people packed into the Berkeley Zendo. Alan Sanaki said they could hardly move. The little Zendo, they were just packed in there and also the churches and synagogues. There may not be much shopping going on, but Kol Shofar and Rodef Shalom are very full. Those synagogues are full tonight of people asking these primary questions, the questions of the perfect fool. And if you have a practice, it helps you. Liz. Yeah, speaking, I was thinking about, you know, we're really, as you think about, okay,


who did this and you see the ineffectiveness of trying to let down the last person who has some hate in their heart, who might do something harmful. This whole situation is beyond, is beyond the political realm. And we do want to do something political. We do want to say, you know, be peaceful, don't retaliate. But it really, it seems like we have to turn towards, just as I've seen everybody in this community do, what's in my heart and what's my life. That's the main opportunity, it seems like, of the situation is that, as you were saying, you know, the evil is not trackable, but also the good is not trackable. It's just out there. I was at a little gathering this weekend, kind of a reunion of people who did political work 20 years ago, a group of activists that a couple of years ago is working hard on all


kinds of issues. And it was funny, and I'm working now on a call for a lawyer. And I was like, oh my God, I'm going to miss you. And I was a farmer. And it was so funny. And I was like, oh my God, I'm going to miss you. And I was a lawyer. But it was just like something amazing happened. Basic qualities of just, you know, kind of working through these young girls. And I feel that moves myself right now. You know, I would think that, yeah, it's really wonderful to have work that just presents itself every day. You know what you're going to do then. Yeah. Yeah, and it's wonderful to talk about the ecology of our farm, but also the ecology


of our practice. Because they're really united. They're really intertwined. Yes, Rosie. The ecology of just relating physically to caring for something. And that today in my yoga class, the teacher was stressed for teaching nonviolence in yoga. And she just kept using this language that was really just wonderful. And that coming back to your body and whatever clothes you're doing, if you feel some kind of violence or some kind of tension in your body somewhere, to not push against that or use it or jolt yourself to the clothes from that place, but instead like really use it.


And really, it was this new way of relating to my own body in a nonviolent way. It was like, whoa, I can actually do something. You know, every moment I noticed it. It felt wonderful. Good. Well, I think it's time to say goodnight and close. I know there's a silent vigil plant in Mill Valley. We have an old traditional Zen center friend just standing near the book for now at lunchtime. I think that's cooking, right? Yeah. As far as I know, people register to stand in the town hall.


And many people join us or not, even for five or ten minutes. We can stand together. We can do that. That's one really good thing. It's wonderful to write. I love your idea of writing. Dear, what did you say? Dear evil doer. Dear evil doer. Send it to yourself. I got the letter. But that's really helpful, even if you don't... I mean, it's helpful to... I mean, Yvonne wrote to... I don't know if... There's a television broadcaster... Forecaster, what do they call it? Television... Yeah, one of the people that's an anchor on television. A person who talks. And she had... She dusted off her television and took it out and began watching it again and sent a thank you note to somebody who'd given clear analysis of the news. She said she never imagined she'd be writing. So you may be surprised who you write to.


It's putting your hand and mind together, you know, and the hand moves over paper and something comes forth. It's not everything, but it's something. It means you direct your energy toward writing a letter either to protest or to examine. There's so many different things you can do. So many things. I'm sure you've got lots of ideas and they're coming up in the BPF meetings. And I'm happy to stay here for a few minutes if people want to come up and just brainstorm together, that's fine, because we're doing a lot of different stuff out there in the wider community. I just feel incredible gratitude to be able to be with you all tonight. Thank you for making it possible to come home and sit together and turn the Dharma with broken hearts and minds and see what comes up out of the original place, the bottom of the cave. Have a good sleep. And may God bless you.