Wheel of Birth and Death

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:

Sunday Lecture: Children's stories: earth moving around the sun is one year; "stone soup"; thinking and not thinking; Tibetan wheel of birth and death - six realms, twelve-fold chain of causation; Marin organizing committee - Interfaith etc; Metta Sutta

Auto-Generated Transcript

the engineer
on today's the to the to doctor's words
the morning
the morning everybody
how are you so down here and fund some of you can't see there are a number of younger people and very happy you came today
we're going to tell a story to you live what we i am going to tell a story to you this morning and then you're going to go off and do something really fun outside
so i have two questions first that i wanted to ask you this morning and one of them was how old you are
for year for before how many are for coming here for why there's one big for
how about three any three a three i e three a to any tools we had a two year old birthday yesterday here and our two year old hasn't learned how to do this yet but she can do this
and suddenly grey
anybody more than anybody five did i say five five you're fine how about six
seven torn up they drop off at seven is
it's our ceiling so well this is great and and my next question was seven what six what what are those numbers
how many what is three three what do you know
three all but three one old
is another word that i'm fishing for
years years and what's a year
it's anybody nobody knew what a year
and when going on
l why
ah and do it yeah all right that's right that's that's right are there any more questions about that bad a year
twelve months that's right and what does it have to do with
do you know we got the idea of months and years and
seasons the moon what else
the big guy up there
what's the biggest thing in the sky
go ahead as wonderful
that's right god is and god sometimes we call the god by another name we say he's our son
he's our son and so anyway i did a drawing on the back of my story that i don't know if you can see it very well but in the middle the yellow circle says son
son of god
and this son has something to do with a year do you know what it has to do with a year where is the son right now
yeah since it's over there are over there summer it's out there right now
so where are we the sun's out there what were we sitting
on the ground and what what's the name of the ground big name
earth that's right the earth and you know the earth is in love with the son did you know that
there's a big attraction
and because of that attraction that love the earth's stays really close to the sun and advances
all day long do you know how advances
it it turns in circles it spins around that's right exactly spins around it loves the sun so much it wants to show it it's fun and then it shows it back you do that for your mom something is my front my new dress and here's my back so the earth does that with the sun it goes around spins around we call that night and
day when it spins it's fun like right now it's day and when we turn its back what time is it it's nighttime gets kind of dark
so not only does the earth's been around the sun i mean around it also goes around the sun to in a big circle and how long does that take
a year that's right it takes a year so if we start over here where we are right now in the season that we call spring
then the sun's going to spin around and dance around a big circle around the so i mean the earth's or the earth's going to spin around and then one year later it's gonna be backwards started in the spring
how many days does it take for it to go all oh area who knows that big number yeah from year
three hundred and sixty five days to go all the way around that's kind of a slow trip isn't it
okay so
as we grow around this very amazing thing happens right now we're in the spring what happens in spray
flowers grow and
you see lot of animals you can see seen any out new animals being born and he lambs or baby chicks
yeah did you see lots of animals are born in the spring where any of you born in the spring
give your birthday right now you do yeah pretty you do a button the summer
not in the winter
i was born in the winter
you were born in the spring so we live on a farm here at green gulch and in the spring we've learned something in the spring that's when you plant the seeds
because the ground is wet and lots of rain comes and as you know seeds love the rain so we plant the seeds and then what's gonna happen next what's coming next that we're all excited about the plants start to grow how come
summers commie summer's coming no more school
you're going to have your bathing suits on all the time your mom's not going to tell you to put on your coat for a while
when do you have to put your coat on
the winter when it's cold so we're leaving went to right now and we're in this spring and when summer comes the seeds that we plant here on the farm are going to turn into your favorite thing what's that well uncanny kitty spanish
those seeds are gonna become vegetables and the you know some names of vegetables
what's your favorite
carrot brussels sprouts good
sweet corn
pineapple we don't grow pineapples but
anyway all those vegetables grow all summer and then we harvest them and we take them to the to the farmer's market and we also make nice delicious soup out of those vegetables at our cook is sitting right here he takes those vegetables and he makes soup for everybody and he made some for everybody here today out of
our vegetables well somebody's vegetables yeah yeah some of bars great
so after all the vegetables are grown and harvested and main into food then pretty soon it starts to get cold again what's happening now what's happening winter's coming back and then before that happens you go to school again don't you and you'll ever gonna be in the next grade or any of you
gonna start first grade next year
kinda kindergarten
kindergarten how lucky you
eighth grade
whoa whoa
well i just want you to know that personally i have gone around the sun fifty seven times
yeah that's right
israel right and i hope all of you get that privilege of going around that many times and many many more
okay so i want to tell you a story now about vegetable soup
and this story takes place was written in nineteen forty seven the year before i was born nineteen forty seven and this was a time when there had been a great and terrible war and i know you know what warriors don't you know what war is yeah
now finding something and do people get hurt terrible terrible and killed and and the farmers have a hard time growing vegetables during war consist tanks and bombs and messing up the land and hurting the farmers and it's a terrible thing so there wasn't a lot of food when the
story was written lot of the food was disturb and farmers were disturbed by the war
so three monks were walking along they'd been on a pilgrimage and they'd just come from a piece walk
and they were very tired and they were very hungry so as they walked down the path they saw the lights of a village straight ahead and they said well maybe we can get something to eat at the village and maybe some place to sleep well it's no harm in asking the monk third monk said
now the people of the village because of the war were very afraid of strangers and when they saw the monks coming down the road they hurried to hide their food
the monk stopped at all of the houses holding out there begging bowls but the villagers had gave every excuse i'm so sorry we just don't have any food left it's been a very poor harvest we need all of our seeds for planting next year
and so it went and the villagers then gathered in the street looking as hungry as they could
so the three monks sat down under an oak tree and the center of town and meditated
when some time had passed they arose and quietly talked among themselves than the first monk called out for the villagers to come near good people we are three hungry monks in a strange land since we have asked you for food and you don't have any that we're going to have to make some stone soup
the second monk asked for a large iron pot water to fill it in a fire to heat it and three round smooth stones know what stones are the rocks
they're going to make ross stone soup out of rocks
while the curious villagers for none had ever heard of stone soup hurriedly went and found the pot and they filled it with water and they set it to boil in the middle of the village square they watched with wide eyes as the monks drop the rocks into the pot
and then the first monk said stones like these generally make very good soup but if there were just some carrots it would be so much better
there was a long silence and then a village woman said why i have a carrot or two and she came back with her apron full of carrots you know a good stone soup should also have a little cabbage said the second monk as he slice the carrots into the pot but of course no one's asking for what you don't have i
think i could find some cabbage somewhere said the cobbler and then he came back with three cabbages that he had hidden under his bed
the monks continued to mention ingredients that would make the soup delicious and the people brought barley and onions potatoes and milk for the steaming broth
at last the soup was ready we'll all of you must have a taste said the monks but first set a big table up so great tables replaced in the square with lighted torches all around one of the villagers cried out such as soap requires bread and cider and with that addition everyone sat
down to eat and to celebrate they had a party
in the morning the whole village gathered in the square to give the monks a off many thanks for what you've taught us we will never go hungry again now that we know how to make soup out of stones
well it's all in the sharing said the monks and off they went down the road
will thank you all for coming and you're going to plant some seeds today so maybe some vegetables that you can share will come out of those seeds okay we'll see so
thank you bye bye

anyone would like to move up closer there are spaces in the front

the subreddit

so i'd like to begin with the palm there was a recited during a sermon called booty
when she means the time being and this sermon was given in the thirteenth century by master dogan the founder of our school of zen buddhism
an ancient buddha said for the time being stand on top of the highest peak
for the time being proceed along the bottom of the deepest ocean
for the time being a wrathful deity with three heads and eight arms
for the time being and eight or sixteen foot golden buddha
for the time being a teachers staff or whisk
for the time being a pillar or lantern
for the time being the sons of commoners jan and lee
for the time being the earth and sky
it's my experience that time has a way of moving quite differently from what i ever expect
and then even though hours have been carefully and scientifically marked on my watch and in my calendar when it comes to the living of those hours they are always a miraculous and defiant of charting
and even though i've noticed this stunning discrepancy between my life and my ideas about my life
year after year and day after day
it's almost impossible for me not to anticipate what my days going to be like or even what this moment is going to be like a let alone what this moment actually is
as a poet once said i have never seen a garden
in other words what we think of our life or what we think of anything for that matter a garden for example and what a garden actually is
outside of our thinking about it are two entirely different beasts
base that can join in every moment at this location that i call myself
master dogan named these two beasts thinking and not thinking
and he gave his instruction to his students like this think of not thinking
how do you think if not thinking they cried
non thinking he said this is the essential art of meditation absolves him
the essential art of
human life
in the buddhist teaching the first beast the one may call thinking is considered to be purely imputation will
very akin to purely fiction
and what that means is that are thinking which takes the form of words that are strung together into opinions and judgments and meaning
are things that we put on to the world we impute to the world like putting on a costume
and of course we costume ourselves as well
with self hatred with self love with self image
but in every case none of these views or opinions can actually be found in the world itself
they can only be found on the inside of our heads
they are the products of our thinking
and just like snails laying down slime way humans lay down an endless trail of thoughts
now the second beast reality itself
simply gurgles and plops loses slides and evaporates before our very eyes
and into our ears and on to our tongues through our minds across the surface of our skin up our noses and out the door
this is the other world the world of our direct experience
just looking just glistening just hearing tasting and just me
there's an old zen saying that goes words can't ever reach it words can't ever reach it
and the it is this fuzzy world of creation which continuously weaves its loom and shuttle beyond the sanctions of words customs or beliefs
making friends of these two beasts thinking and not thinking is the essential art of the buddha's the body suffers the poets the sages and the saints
so that's what i want to talk about today is this craft of soothing and taming loving and employing the beasts
i think you all know this phrase that was made popular back in the nineteen sixties by rom das be here now
be here now
it's a little saying that points to a very profound aspect of human life which for very human reasons continuously eludes us to be here now
it's like a mousetrap from which we inevitably tried to escape as though we actually could
so i would like to suggest that this is the very heart of buddhist practice a willingness to be caught in the trap of the present moment with no designs whatsoever on getting away
and i believe with all my heart that this willingness to face the world in its entirety with our eyes wide open
against distractions from the present moment is the very doorway to a life of respect and warm regard for all that is

within the trap of the present moment the one true marriages continuously taking place beast into beast form into emptiness silence into sound self into others sacred into profane winter into spring
two into one one into to
this is a another excerpt from master dogan and in a sermon the same sermon which he gave in the first half of the thirteenth century
the way the self arrays itself is the form of the entire world see each thing in this entire world as a moment of time
the self setting itself out in array sees itself
this is the understanding that the self is time
know that in this way there are myriads of forms and hundreds of grasses throughout the entire earth and yet each grass and each form itself is the entire earth
the study of this is the beginning of practice
when you are at this place there is just one grass there is just one form there is understanding of form thinking and there is no understanding of form not thinking there is understanding of grass and no understanding of grass
since there is nothing but just this moment the time being is all the time there is grass mean form being are both time
each moment is all being is the entire world
the being or any world is left out of the present moment
so the way that master dogan is talking is a poetic example in of the buddha's insight and of the buddhist assertion that our life is a creation of our mind of are thinking
and as i say to my daughter over and over again and i mentioned to you as well
your problem is not in the bag of cookies it's in your noodle
and it helps me to remember that what the buddha was studying under the tree of awakening during those long days of meditation was his own mind
there was no dvd player or ipod no new york sunday times he had none of the entertainments that we fill our minds and our time with
the days were warm the birds were singing and no doubt there were bees and still there appeared before that fine young man armies of demons rock throwing hecklers and the seductive dancing of women and boys
if you covered the planet with such means as this caught and persistent delusional states and therein you would find the prescription for famine courting holocaust and mayhem
which generation after generation has nearly exhausted this great green planet
even the devil himself or herself known as mara the evil one made an appearance in the clearing on that lovely day
until finally the buddha unmoving and unwavering and at the end of his trials saw these things for what they truly are
illusions phantoms fantasies hallucinations and dreams
there would they were distortions of his own mind of his own thinking
and the buddha said tamara his final tormentor i know now who you really are and mara replied oh no you don't
and the buddha said most kindly oh yes i do you are myself
and with those words mara vanishes
in such a place as this at such a time when the day is warm the birds are singing and so to the bees one's mine turns naturally away from war and into peace
many centuries later in japan the samurai approach to seated buddhist master asking to be taught demanding to be taught
when the master refuse to answer the samurai drew his sword don't you know that i'm the one who can kill you
to which the master calmly replied don't you know that i'm the one who can be killed
with that the samurai faced his own shame threw away his sword and entered into the courageous path of peace the path of one who can be killed
the good news is that the human mind can be reformed into a mind of peace and joy which according to the buddha is it's natural state
bad news is it happens one person at a time
so i have brought today with me
the wonderful wheel of birth and death that i wanna show you
which was done by tibet an artist that helps to illustrate the problem with thinking and i have asked our own vanna white arlene look
to hold it for me
if she would be so kind
and forgive me
has resemblance
you can sit down
thank you
yeah okay
not let them see your face
okay so and i have to point to the things that i mentioned i think you navy our aus can point okay so on the rim of the wheel
how's that working not enough you know if you hold dear side and think you can probably point out this stuff to him
nikhil the skin
this may not work as what's gonna happen you that better
located on the rims of the wheel the rim of the wheel which you see this character holding the wheel so on the rim the outer rim of the wheel are little pictures which of i'll bring this outside later and you can take a look at it if you like
so this is the twelve linked chain of what's called dependent origination it's basically this is a diagram of the workings of thinking the best of thinking
and inside of the twelve volt chain are the six destinations so that kind of like a pie divided into six there's a line horizontal line and then three
psychological realms of the six realms three of them on top and three of them below these are called the higher realms and lower realms
so we know these realms very well they're realms that we all pass through throughout the day we pass in and out of them some of them are more dramatic than others
at the top
the top
or the gods this is the realm of the gods and to the right of the gods
our the fighting gods who are trying to take over heaven
below them are the animals
and the hungry ghosts and the kingdom of hell
now to the left of the gods is the human realm the world where life is more or less ok
in the buddhist teaching this is the most desirable state it's more so than even heaven because in the human realm we are motivated to work to think and to plan ahead for those rainy days and we are also motivated to practice
the gods are much too busy playing or resting the daemons fighting the animals mating or eating the ghosts moaning and the hell beans suffering
only humans have the time and inclination to carefully consider their lives
living isn't so easy in the human realm but it is tremendously gratifying the fields are ploughed with care the children well schooled the medicine is available to everyone and reasonably priced
wealth and commonwealth are kept conscientiously conscientious it
conscientiously imbalance through a system of just and fair laws
now it's interesting that even though we must each enter the gateway of liberation one person at a time no one of us can leave the human realm according to the buddha until each person there has an equal opportunity including the me
minimum prerequisites of prosperity to reflect on the limitations of a life based solely on material gain
the mouse gets the cheese but she still in the trap
holding the wheel in his hands and mouth is this hideous demon which i have been told by a tibetan sacred dance or not you
tobacco tibetan
sacred dancer
is avalon caters for the bodhisattva of compassion and the story goes that he got tired of liberating people wanted at time and decided against good advice to free them all at once but instead the wheel got stuck in his mouth and therefore the pain grimace on his face
so the importance of are you getting tired would you like you can the importance of the wheel is not only to help us to understand how the habit energies of greed of hatred and of delusional thinking which are at the center at the hub
activate negative elements within human life such as lying stealing killing sexualizing intoxicating
the kinds of behaviors that dominate our news day after day but most importantly the wheel shows us where it's own weaknesses are where to place the sacred mouse traps
first of the two weakest links in the chain of ignorance is ignorance itself
which is depicted at the top you can't see it i know but there's a blind man with a cane
this is a drawing of human ignorance ignorance in buddhism is understood as a belief in an isolated independent self
now the fact of the matter is that we are not isolated selves we are not independent and we are not separated from the world around us but wrath rather as master dogan has said to us we are the world around us and we depend for our lives on the goodwill of others on the labor of others
rs and on the suffering of others
in it is are very good fortune that ignorance itself is vulnerable to the brighter lights of knowledge of education and of wisdom
sophia the goddess of wisdom philosophy the love of wisdom
i was listening to a discussion on npr
by the organizer of a group and i'm i'm not sure i have the name right i think it's called not in our communities something like that not in our town not in our town and it's an organization devoted to addressing hate crimes as they occur it and local towns and
particularly among children
so a man called in to the show and he said he reported on himself that he'd been a member of the ku klux klan and he'd thrown rocks and civil rights workers in his town
and then he said that now i'm i'm grown old and i have two daughters who are in married in interracial marriages and i have a racially mixed grandchildren all of whom i love with all my heart
and the moderator asked him how he had come to change in his mind if there had been an influence on him that had helped him when he was young and he said yes there was
that his minister had taken him aside and told him that how he was thinking and behaving was not at all in keeping with his faith in jesus christ
and that man went on to say that he thought most people were fair minded and if given a chance outside of their connections to bad traditions and family prejudices that they would be fair minded and would grow out of these terrible habits and for him anyway
ignorance was a weak link that was broken by wisdom and in doing so opened his own heart to his own family and to his own capacity for love
the second location on the wheel the second and weakest of the links is the one called desire
desire arises after a sequence of mental formations which culminate in the illusion of a fortified and isolate itself
and actually the picture on the wheel is up a fort with a fence all around a wall and the fort has eyes it has years it has a nose and mouth and it's defended against attack
by invitation only
so when this fort meets another it
something happens there and that's the next link it's called contact so fort meets for it now what happens at contact is one of three things
this fort thanks either i like it
i don't like it or i'm not yet sure
these are our feelings we have a feeling when we encounter others
now these feelings are extremely powerful and in this drawing feelings are shown as someone with an arrow in there i
we can't avoid our feelings
they're the determining impulses that drive the mouse either to run away or to go for the cheese
in our practice of seated meditation this is the very place on the wheel of life that we put a steady gaze
right here at feelings
we welcome our feelings but we don't move
and for a while this practice of not moving drives everyone slightly mad they call it putting the snake and a bamboo tube
the snake rise and complains and wiggles but if it relaxes it just slides right out of the to
so there's great relief that comes when the mind finally settles and grows cool and it's so pleasant in fact that we grow to prefer it over agitation and heat
and we even willingly submit ourselves to the daily activity of seated meditation
around here we call this activities as in but you can call it anything you want
and you can do it anywhere you are whenever you like just relax calm down take a break
whether you're standing in line we're talking with a friend
let go
the influence that your restful mind will have on the world around you is immeasurable
and once you get the hang of it you can relax in yourself into your world more or less at will you can relax while you're driving your car while you're cleaning your house while you're checking your email and while you're eating the cheese
i think you all know the story of the man has been chased by a tiger and he gets to the edge of a cliff and his only option is to climb on a vine it's going down and as he does he notices is another tiger the base of the cliff
so while he's hanging there and what may be his last moment he sees a little strawberry growing on a side of the cliff and he takes the strawberry it's it and says how delicious
now it's very tempting given our inclination to see life as an entertainment to end the story right there it's kind of like ending therapy
we're feeling better were less irritable and were much nicer to be around we can see the flowers in the garden and we are deeply grateful for our lives and so we live happily ever after the and

the buddha himself was tempted by this very option
but fortunately for us the gods implored the buddha to go get a job to get a job teaching
they said to him that there were others striving to find peace in their own minds and that he could help them by explaining what he'd learned
and he was reluctant to take that on he said that he'd worked hard for his liberation and now that he'd gotten it he wanted to enjoy himself for a while
it's like most of us considering a move to baja
but reluctant or not the buddha went to find his former companions the five aesthetics and with utmost patience and persistence he guided each of them one by one to the perfect marriage of the beasts and as he continued with that work until the end of his days he
a balanced life of active teaching with resting with walking with his own meditation and on occasion with fundraising

so on that note
no not that one on the note of getting a job
i want to tell you that i attended a meeting this week of a newly forming entity called the merryn organizing committee the m o c
and the membership of this committee includes representatives of institutions in our county that were founded on the noblest of human impulses primarily compassion for others
public educators interfaith council members service and trade unions healthcare workers doctors environmentalists farmers mediators and meditators all sat together in one room a beautiful room at that at the home of the domino
can sisters and san rafael
this meeting is the beginning of a great effort and commitment by our neighbors here in marin to join hands and stand together to face those with the power
and to face that power with reason strength compassion and resolve just as the buddha upright and com faced the forces in his own mind until the beast of thinking and the beast of reality had come to peace this too is our
to make peace with no inside and no outside for the benefit of everyone
so i hope that this quiet little zen community will also stand together with these fine people and that any of you who consider yourselves affiliated here or somewhere else in merryn will be there to there is no agenda as yet and none will occur without
to consensus of the hall
undoubtedly however whatever is cultivated by this new organization will include a deep regard for the poor for children for nutrition for the earth and for the waging of peace
and if you have any questions about this i would be happy to talk with you at muffins or during question and answer
from the meadow ceuta may all beings be happy may they be joyous and live in safety all living beings whether weak or strong in high or middle or low realms of existence small or great visible or invisible anger wish harm to and
another even as a mother or father at the risk of their life watches over and protects their only child so with a boundless mind should one cherish all living things suffusing love over the entire world above below
go and all around with out limit so that one cultivate an infinite good will towards the whole world
may i