You Are Perfect Just As You Are

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Sunday Lecture: Good father/not a good father; improv - looking foolish and still feeling good; being fully yourself - responsible and flexible; simplicity of practice; communication and identity and emotions; right thinking; routines and habits

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good morning
happy father's day

i was thinking of one on father's day story which is that
this is the several weeks ago i was describing to my to my eighteen year old daughter my sessions that i have with the body work or every friday morning and i was describing how how lovely it is to see a bodyworker and also that as she's working on the i'm just talking and telling her stories
and that the whole time i'm there she seems to be just laughing and laughing at my stories and my my daughter looked at me and said dad just because she laughed at you does not mean you're funny
popcorn salesman

i was thinking of
i'm i'm i used to make a living as a quote collector you know going to a greeting card companies so i thought i should share two of my favorite quotes which one is
if you think you're too small to be effective you've never been in bed with a mosquito which was some or is one of our best selling cards and the second
this the second one
is be here now be someplace else later
is that so complicated

i i think i should since it's father's day say say a word about fathers i was
i was reading there is a there is a piece in i think it was an editorial in yesterday's times about
that that men really have it a lot harder than women this was this was an article by it
by a woman i'm geneticist who was saying that
that even from the time of conception on there are many or miscarriages of male embryos in there are female embryos
and that once born
boys are slower to learn the under their their language skills are are not as good
there are they have all kinds are prone to all kinds of all kinds of diseases i think three or four times prone to learning learning disabilities and that time teenage boys tend to commit suicide at a rate of three to four times that of of women of girl
was the only the only statistic where men seem to have a better was that women seem to be on report depression much more than men but this is probably because men don't express their feelings actually this was the this was the what was theorized and
yeah i also it was interesting on this this topic of fathers and the influence of father's there's this berkeley sociologist who probably many of you have read his works on george lakoff and he he has this theory that
the main reason why there is this huge split in this country of what why liberal as and progressives are on the other side of almost all the social issues whether it's abortion or a gun control or gay rights why the country seems to be split george lakoff came up up with this theory
that it has to do on primarily with a fathers and family systems that he describes that in a
and at one system where there is a kind of a a dominating domineering father this this makes were a culture where there's a sense of fear and keeping out what we don't know and that a it takes it takes violence it takes
oh no and controlling controlling women and the other the other model is that model of the nurturing family where the father is not a dominant force but where the mother and father worked together in raising the children and i thought this was a a really interesting theory and then
recently i heard gloria steinem the founder of ms magazine she took this idea even further and said that she felt like this was even though the the us government and the reagan administration take credit for the ending of the cold war she theorized and
along with this group of scientists that it had to do with a change in the in the soviet culture that the modern day soviet leaders were the first meters to not be beaten by their fathers that that the modern day leaders were were brought up in much more nurturing families whereas stop
when and many of the soviet leaders and if you go back in russia and germany and and european history you'll see that beating how there's beating children was just a a natural part of of society

so this
this is i know a little bit of a strange introduction to this talk but what i what i want to talk about today and since it his father's day is how we have a how we have courageous conversations and actually there's two
to quote spices yuki russian that i want to talk about one is that you are perfect just as you are and you could use a little improvement
yeah you're perfect just as you are and you can use a little improvement and the other the other quote which i i happened to as i was i picked up the zen mind beginner's mind as i was getting ready to come here and i picked up and turned to the quote that said a father who thinks he is a good father is
not a good father a father who thinks he is a good father is not a good father and what i want to talk about is how i think these are actually saying the same thing i think what that what suzuki roshi means by the second quote is you are perfect just as you are and
this this you are perfect just as you are and you can use a little improvement i think i think we tend to mostly here the second part we mostly tend to think about the improvement part and easily skip right over the that you are perfect just as you are part because doesn't it's a
how what does that well what does that mean that's somewhat want to what i want to talk about what that would i think that means

i was thinking an example of what i think that means comes from the world of improvisation
you know i've i've recently been
playing with in the world have an improv theater and i just find it to be so terrifying and fabulous and just goes so well i think with
but just being a human being in in the world there was a a workshop that we did here at green gulch this i forget how long ago this was probably at least six months ago a man and keith johnstone who who is kind of the one of the real fathers of improv was here teaching a workshop
and one the things that he said is that if you take if you take to improvisers and you say okay you're both in a car one of you is driving and the others the passenger now go make a scene
and kids that invariably within moments something will go wrong either the steering wheel will come off or the still get a flat tire but will be some reason why these two people can't take this car forward into into territory that they don't know into something
ing that's that's a little bit knew where they'd actually have to create something
and then he he pointed to ten zen students who've been practicing for quite some time and said okay the of you stand up the ten of you are now you're in a forest it's dark
go make a scene and in about ten seconds someone yelled doubt my leg i hurt my leg and and keith just let out this huge how saying c c just you just can't do it you just can't not have something go wrong because
as if nothing went wrong and you're in the forest making making up a story you would have to you would have to move forward you have you would have to move into some kind of unknown territory and actually use and trust your imagination and trust that you could that you could come up with something that
that worked that you don't have to have something go wrong so this to me is is a
is the practice and example of that you are that that you are perfect just as you are means that you can actually trust yourself enough to move forward without doing things that you already know how to do
and i loved how i keep described improv he said when people and i think and this i think is so much
in in our lives as well that people don't want to see you in having it altogether he said an improv people aren't paying good money to see you look good they really want to see you look a little bit foolish see yeah not quite have it together he said that they they don't want to see you then feel bad about
yourself i didn't want to see you look foolish and feel bad that what people want an improv is to see you look foolish and feel good about yourself
and and i think and i think this is the that you are perfect just as you are that if if we can develop the the trust and solidness in ourselves enough so that we could actually an open our hearts and uncrossed our hearts
and really be willing to to be as foolish as we really are and feel good about it this is the this is what i think circulation means by you are perfect to just as you are and also i think what he means by a father who thinks he is a good father is not a good father because if you have
some idea of what being a good father is your acting you're always acting in some idea as as opposed to
really making an effort really making your best effort in each moment to fully be yourself

yeah this would be my
my working
my definition that i would give for today of what zen practices zen practice is fully being yourself by developing a responsive and flexible of mind and keeping your heart open in in all situations and developing a response
pensive and flexible mind and this responsive and flexibility means both an outward and inward and so responding and flexibility means being really responsive to the situations that were that we find ourselves in and responding
and being flexible with the with the people that were that were with
and responsiveness for flexibility inwardly means actually actually being open to change and the why why is it that we are here why isn't that we are practicing zen if we if we are not opening opening ourselves up enough to to change
this is the this this change starts from that you are perfect just as you are change that that it's not about trying to be something that you're not it's having the the courage and practice to on crust our hearts and to let go
go of the habits and ideas we have been willing to be foolish being willing to make mistakes
and to feel good about it
yeah i was in this the same chapter in zen my beginner's mind where suzuki roshi talks about a father who thinks he's a good father is not a good father is where he describes this is this somewhat famous description of the for horses and he talks it
out the right there's the the horse
the best horses the horse that starts to move when it sees the shadow of the whip at the second horse is the horse batum that moves when it hears the sound of the whip the third horse moves when it feels that whip and that but the fourth horse moves doesn't move until it feels the pain
of the whip in the marrow of its bones and suzuki roshi goes on to say well of course we we all want to be the first worse that we all want we all want to be the best horse or if not the best then we want to be the the second best and but he he goes onto to say this is not this is not what boot
just practise as buddhist practice zen practice is not
it's not about wanting to be smart or clever or to look good it's about realizing that we are perfect just as we are in our own in our own foolishness and our own effort in our own sincerity

and this is a meditation practice it can it can sometimes
it can sometimes be a little embarrassing being a meditation teacher because it's it's just so simple it's just taking the time
to just be yourself without and completely have a time in our lives when we were living beyond good and bad beyond doing beyond doing it right and wrong so much about so much of our lives so much of our conversations are trying to look good trying to protect protect
to something or or do it right
and now this was the
this was the great discovery of the the original buddha you know buddhism which was founded twenty five hundred years ago people often think is is kind of dour and is about suffering
but a buddhism is really about how to be happy and how to find real happiness and real satisfaction it was the historical buddha and twenty five hundred years ago in india who said that that the way towards finding real happiness is to see that we that there is no way to avoid
suffering and pain that there's no way to avoid looking foolish there's no way to see that our hearts have been crusted over in some way and that our hearts get encrusted and us falling into habitual ways of thinking and doing things in the world is a natural part
of being a human being and that the way to change the way to grow is to start from this that you are perfect just as you are and that you can find
true happiness and choose satisfaction by finding ways to uncrossed your heart and meditation practice is really the practice of how we have how we uncrossed our huts it's this actual daily time and daily practice of just come
completely just completely being ourselves without trying to do anything to be willing to just be there with our own bodies and breath breath as as completely simple and foolish as that might seem and then to be able to take that completely
into the into the world and as you know as you all know this is much more difficult to actually do than it is to to to imagine
i was thinking it has so much so much of this this practice sometimes sometimes then practice can be described simply as sitting down and getting up this is this is how this is how sim
pull this
practices and in a way this is how simple our our lives are that sitting down is the practice of of doing nothing of having of having the time when we can really reflect look look inwardly let go of all of the things that were that we're trying to be or or do
and then getting up is how we take these things into our lives into arm
relationships into all of our conversations one of the things that i've been i've been studying this whole
issue of conversations and there's some there's three three books that i've been studying one is called difficult conversations one is ah
non violent communication and another is called fierce conversations and these are all these are all really good books but it's reading these and then trying to actually put what we learned from these books in our lives is it really takes it takes this daily meds
titian practice i think to really be able to make these kinds of changes in the quality of our conversations
for example you might you might start to notice in your conversations that there's the there's the content of your conversations but then there's also the emotional part and there's also your your identity and so often we just focus on know
on the
on the content of our conversations and pay very little attention to how much of our conversations and relationship is driven by how we feel and the identity that we have about ourselves and and the identities of the people that were with you
i've been
my my day job these days is working with a business leaders doing coaching and consulting and one of the things that i that i've noticed in this is a this is a an example from the business world of what you see a someone who's the a manager or ceo of a company
ye will come before a group of their of their managers and the the ceo will announce we're we're going to do this we're going to develop this product and is very excited and very forceful and and around the room at the table if if you could see if there were like little bubbles coming out
of people's heads about what they were feeling and thinking what you'd see his we're going down
i've gotta look for another job and that this is this is sometimes in the business world it's if there's a name for it it's called the corporate not but this is mrs business people who because of power relationships and because of habits are not are not able to actually say
what they're really feeling and and thinking

and i wanted to describe this is not only something in business i wanted to describe a
a situation in my in my own life where where i've noticed this and
this is one of those situations where i
i read rarely do i think that having sat in meditation everyday for the past thirty years has made any difference but in this in this one situation it's an example of where i think it it actually helped me have a little bit of space this was a a conversation that i was having with my wife
and i forget i forget what the content was but there is a way there was a way in which she was unhappy with me about something that i had done this is not so unusual
there's either something something that i have done or something that i didn't do and she would and she was unhappy and and she was really unhappy and and there is this there was what i felt as this force coming towards me about her unhappiness and my responsibility for her for her unhappiness and and i
had i had a real a high experience in this moment that i could see that my by natural way of responding was i could see that my identity was involved that oh i'm i'm bad i did something wrong and i could see and i could see
see my emotions that i didn't feel good i felt angry i felt shame on the and this on this all happens in less than a second it's pretty it's pretty amazing if you start to pay attention to these things and and and in this moment i instead of responding the way that i that i
normally would respond i just turned to her and said what is it that you're needing what is it what is it that's not working for you could you could you tell me and this so shifted the conversation that when when i was able to move from protecting myself in some way and
protecting my own sense of identity and that i could create just a little bit of space to turn towards the person who is right in front of me and asked what she needed this just completely changed the the whole conversation and this is something i want to recommend that you expect
summit with this father's day which is start noticing noticed in your conversations these pieces that there's not just the content but there's the there's the feelings and there's also the identity involved
and again this was something this was something very much that the buddha this was partly the but the buddha taught two thousand and five hundred years ago and the these new books they should all be sued for plagiarism they're all taking the buddha's words is all these ideas about conversations
no one of the
one of the buddha's teachings that i want to talk just for a few minutes about which is very much related to this subject of that you are perfect just as you are is it's the it's the second of the the eightfold path here the the buddha
when he had this experience of of awakening and found out that that that the
that there was a way to move from suffering towards towards happiness and deep satisfaction he developed this path what was called the eightfold path and i'm gonna talk a little bit about the the second right the so the eightfold path
is that there's right there's right view there's right intention or right thinking mindfulness speech action and livelihood diligence and concentration so the buddha said that if you spend your focus
and time practicing these eight practices this is the that this is the path towards living a fully
happy satisfied engaged life this is the path towards moving from a life of suffering from a life of greed hate and delusion to to finding on real awakening and real satisfaction and this the second is it's sometimes called right thinking
and it's sometimes called right intention and the reason for that is that fit our thinking is composed of two parts there's the there's the thought that comes up and then there's how we direct the thought and what we do with this thought mrs the this is this practice of right thinking or right intention
and there are there are four questions that the buddhist suggested that we that we work with in these in these teachings and the ah
the first is this question what am i sure of what in my what in my own thinking in my own intention am i sure have

in this gets back to that that practice of being able to let go of our ideas because we can where we start to ask this question about what we're sure we can see that we're what we're sure it was actually very very little that we make all these you know all these assumptions and and then build upon these assumptions for example
a that were all sure that today is june eighteenth know two thousand and and six well this is you know we can be sure of this but this is completely a a convention completely a made-up idea about time and so it you know
and and had been we're sure that we're here you know him the in the green gulch zendo in know in your beach california again these are these are ideas and conceptions just as the ideas and conceptions we have about who we are what our identities are and how we how we
his ideas and and fight wars over these ideas
the second the second question about this right thinking is what am i really doing what am i really doing and again this is just this one you know this is a lifetime practice this isn't a question that we answer but it's a
way to look at what is what is it that motivates us are we motivated primarily by few and grasping you are we have we devoted our lives to carving out some kind of a safe haven for ourselves or are motivated by our own away
cunning and really helping others are we motivated by living in a sense of vow of being authentic and i'm being completely ourselves or are we motivated by trying to be a good father whereas i'm as a circular she says a father who
who thinks he is a good father is not a good father so how can we let go of these ideas about what we might be sure about about what it means to be a good father and open and and crust our hearts and find find new ways to listen which mean again
going back to my original story about you know this it's like where it's like we're all last together in a forest and how can we find new ways news news stories not the old stories because we know we know that the old stories don't work the old stories and
seem to cause things like wars and global warming and and greed hate and delusion so on on every level the old stories don't work so how can we ask ourselves deeply this question of
what am i sure have and what am i really doing

the third question is is this thinking a habit and again if we look if we look carefully will find how much of our own thinking and movement in the world is habitual know and habits are very different than routines routines or something that
i would i think our something that it's really important to develop really good routines like there's a there's a quote from the fourteenth
fourteenth century poet persian poet rumi who said we all we all have routines all human beings have routines we might as well form routines that mint gold we might as well formed routines that mid gold and routines can be ways
have breaking habits know and so many things so many things you know it you'll notice that children just love routines and if you can create new routines like reading before you go to bed or what i'm talking about our routines like saying a little prayer or chant or or beef
for you eat a meal for a routine like i'm sitting meditation first thing in the morning or the last thing that you do before you go to bed because these are examples of and wholesome routines
and again habits habits are habits tend to be more ways you can have wholesome habits or unwholesome happens but they tend to not be very conscious and routines tend to be things that can be much more conscious in our lives
and the fourth the fourth question in this practice of right thinking or right intention is the question does this does this thinking lead towards awakening it does this thinking we'd towards awakening
ah you know protecting ourselves or playing it safe or
ideas ideas of of greed and anger
i'm generally are not not ways that lead towards awakening unless we can turn towards our greed and turn towards our anger and get to really know it so it's not this is not putting on rose colored glasses and pretending that our own are
own identities our own greed our own difficult emotions it's not pretending that these things don't exist in fact just the opposite it's turning very much taking it up as a practice to completely become intimate
with our with our own thinking in our own intentions

so i want to
i want to encourage all of us today to to practice with this that you are perfect just as you are
and you and we could all use a little improvement but to recognize that everyone around us particularly everyone around us is perfect to just as they are and to please
take this this day and make it into something more than a commercial day of father's day and make it into a day of practicing
appreciation and really letting the people around us know how much we appreciate them and how much why is it ways it so difficult to have courageous conversations around things like appreciation and and love it
one thing
i understand know it can be difficult to have courageous conversations about
why is it that we tolerate things like war and violence why aren't we are talking about that but where it starts i think is with the courageous conversations with each other about why are we why aren't we loving and appreciating each other more how can we bring that more into our lives
i want to and with this
when i think of as a today it will be a father's day poem is a upon by that again i assume many of you have probably heard this it's a poem called everything is waiting for you and
i've heard i heard david wait he talked at down this is a zen center sponsored event a few months ago in which he spoke about this poem called everything is waiting for you and he said that people were surprised by the title of this poem because they thought it had kind of an optimistic ring
to it and then he said actually what it means is everything is waiting for you
in including your own demise
you're great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone as if life were a progressive and cunning crime with no witness to the tiny hidden transgressions to feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy of your surroundings
surely even you at times have felt the grand array the swelling presence in the chorus crowding out your solo voice you must note the way the soap dish enables you for the window latch grants you freedom
alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity
the stairs are your mentor of things to come the doors have always been there to frighten you and invite you and the tiny speaker in the phone is your dream ladder to divinity
put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation
the kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness and seen the good in you at last
all the birds and creatures of the world are unalterably themselves everything is waiting for you
so even the cooking pots see that you are perfect just as you are
thank you very much and have a wonderful day
they are