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the case but of the a of learners
can be

you can grill lower i think now
ah well is it me or
well i thinking a little lower and bumping and grinding over here
not often to passages from our sutras our scriptures come into my mind
but sometimes sometimes things do and one of them that popped in a couple of days ago
that that made me i realized that i might have something to say was the end it's the end of the sand okay or that the merging of
well whatever we call it these days but something like the merging of difference in unity
and it goes i humbly urge you who study the mystery do not pass your days and nights in vain
and ordinarily that wouldn't be so interesting to me because usually the first thing that my mind would jump to don't pass your days and nights and ban don't waste time you're lazy good for nothing
but this time it was the front of it that caught my attention
i respectfully or humbly urge you who study the mystery
i thought ah fitting how fitting to describe the people who at least the people who live here and maybe even some of our guests
because we are what we dedicate our lives to is studying the mystery and it's often called and is called the great mystery of life and death
it's the study studying the mystery of what it's like to be a human being
so in one way each of us is a mistake
and there aren't many around these days i think but when they were they were strange
and still are
they were they didn't fit so well in ordinary society
and had to usually had to go off by themselves for a long time
and study the mystery and what course what that study involves is i'm fixing incredible suffering and but once they go through it deeply and come out on the other side then they usually have a just nothing but
beautiful wisdom and tenderness to share with everybody else if you were ever read any of the the stuff by some of the mystics it's if it's not been ruined deal with victorian language it's usually very beautiful and very right to the point and it goes right to the heart
and then no monkey business
so on
so each of us as as come here and with some of the work been doing lately i've been noticing how different time different we all are from each other that mean that i'm sure that doesn't come as any surprise
but tom
i was talking with some one of our practice leaders and saying how how each of each person who comes here comes with their own worlds system i thought oh boy isn't that true
each of us does come with our own world system which nobody else lives in in a way you know it has its own seasons has its own way of thinking it's own way of seeing things it's own way of fun
ah it's it's own temperament its own addictions its own freedoms its own suffering and isn't it amazing that we can live together
such as we do
i think that's amazing
i often thought that it's so i'm so glad that that we here aren't armed
but here in this valley we do try to live together in the spirit of honor and cooperation and tolerance and compassion
and the difference is that we all bring to this valley enrich the life here
somebody the other day
said how how wonderful it might be if everybody were just like them
and i said you think so
actually it's about boring and bed although i enjoy people who are just like me very much
but i do know that the life would create together has no vibrancy know vitality so it's only it's only in our differences and our strangeness is that life is truly creative otherwise there's no need for creativity there's no need for growth
then i was thinking how
not only do we have different peoples persons but we have different groups here too
we have the people who live here year round the around students
who have to make that difficult transition from the quiescence of practice period into the hustle and bustle of our summer program
some of us don't make it
i'm kidding
we all make it
that's very hard
sometimes we feel like we lose our way i remember going to the tonto not so many years back and tanto is is the head of practice
and i was saying saying i think i need to speak with you and so how come i said i think i've lost i think i've lost my bearings
i didn't know who i was or where i was
i really did but you know you know that sector and it wasn't like a psychotic break or something
but i wondered who are who am i supposed to be in this strange configuration of people
oh we talked about it and i felt better
we do feel like we lose our way until we realize that our practice of the fall and winter that practice of quiescence has to be refined and purified where the action is
and summer is where the action is it really is the winter has its own action but not like summer
and then we have the summer students here and i'm just here for for summer for the summer
who only know this bustling side and to try so hard to navigate the hard work trying to find their place in the practice and having to deal with a strong social pole and the and the polar practice in the winter when i a social thank goodness
but in the summer it's very social very social even for us
the students who live here and trying to balance that with with a practice and the hard work
there's hardly anything left pretty much run out by the end of the day and so trying to get to zendo and then eat and then work on it's very difficult
and sometimes the summer students lose their way
is it is this a monastery or is this a summer camp you know that's a that's another question that often plagues us
ah nobody i'm sorry to say nobody the summer has come to me and say i'm so disappointed i thought it would be stricter here
because i thought about that
ah we are very strict here but only for those who are willing to do it
we don't have
police yet
and then we have the guess
who come here apparently to find some peace
ah who want who need a break in their lives
so they can judge ah so they can just come here relinquish the need or the demand to control everything and relax in the plunge
and we hear that they do find it later find peace they can they can relax
and what the guests do for us is that they continually remind us that our practice and work here are not in vain that we're not wasting our time
that whether we are aware of it or not our practice does deep on us enough that it provides an atmosphere of welcome and peace for our gas and here hopefully the guess find their way
so in terms of 'em all these differences
we're not really here are task isn't to erase those differences
but in fact to enhance them and to hung them
look in the cauldron of zen buddhist practice
ha and one thing i have one thing i've learned over the years is that a lot of the folks who come here
excited about zen practice really don't have any idea about what it is
it's because it's not like it's not like come for personal practice it's not like tibetan practice so much and it's not in any way like com esalen practice
so i just wanna say few words about practice and for me practice is ah
working up the courage to face whatever arises ah allowing whatever arises to arrives and other words relinquish mean relinquishing all control
no matter what arises
and of course that allowing is another word for compassion that's all to me that's all compassion is is allowing to be what is
that would seem a simple thing to do because it's so obvious

maybe you know can you turn this down to smooth it
thank you
so well this this facing business not only does it mean facing a pleasant sensations are pleasant images or pleasant thoughts but it also means facing the more unpleasant ones are dark dark dark side and that's not so much fun because think in our culture today
day as well
it may be always there's kind of it there's a taboo about suffering we don't like it we don't like to see it and we don't like to suffer it
but that only leads to rather empty life
somebody has said that dumb only when one is convinced of the immensity of suffering can enlightenment occur
isn't that odd only when one is convinced of the immensity of suffering can enlightenment freedom occur
i ran across this book the other day at city center bookstore and i bought it
by john snelling it's a an overview of buddhism and he describes this much better than i could so i want to read a little bit of it and
whenever anybody it was lecturing starts to read to me
i instantly don't listen to a thing i don't know what it is but you know i noticed that it's fine if i'm doing the reading
so i'll be ok
he says that don't there is something in us that staunchly resisted facing the dark side of life we have a dogged determination to continue in pursuit of worldly satisfactions even though enormous discouragement are put in our way are feeling
thing is that with a few modifications and adjustments here and there we can overcome our problems realize all our dreams and enjoy heaven on earth bad times are always provisional and sooner or later we're going to get over the hump and then it will be downhill all the way
in a way this show spirit and could be regarded as entirely commendable except that there's a quality of willful blindness about it a refusal to squarely face the true facts of the human condition there is with the results of this can also be very destructive
how many times if we hurt ourselves and others in the crass pursuit of our own fantasies
good things do come to us in the course of events and should be accepted and enjoyed while they last but we tend to want only the good and resisting all else pursue it exclusively and cling to it desperately if we do get it
so the beginning of the road to wisdom begins with a realistic not pessimistic but realistic recognition of the fact of suffering life usually has to have been i love this this is terrific i wish i'd thought of it life usually has to have bitten us quite deeply and often many
times over before we reach this stage but when we do reach it we have in a very real sense come of age as human beings for an immature butterfly existence in pursuit of mere happiness is unsatisfying in the final analysis
now to we can start to do something about changing our lives and putting them on a deeper more authentic footing
like good
well so so we hear have decided that we are going to accept the notion that there is suffering
to accept that others do have it and lastly that we we actually do have it ourselves
it took me quite a few years to to even notice that people i would hear people say when this when when asked why you're here new would say because of something that awful that happened to them or some other kind of suffering and that never occurred to me that i suffered to never occurred to me i just thought it was my life
so so we we acknowledge that there actually is such a thing and then we started practice with it
and how we do that is for us the in the zen tradition and it involves facing it but not facing it like in an open field facing a in a container
a relatively safe privileged container tassajara is a very privileged place it's been built and paid for
to be that container
we don't have to one we don't have to cook for ourselves and if you tasted my cooking that would be suffering
if i had to eat what i could that would be suffering so i'm spared that kind of suffering
we have a place to sleep you know we don't worry that dumb we really don't worry that we're going to lose our job
it takes a lot to lose a job here
and we don't need to what do you cut your call it dumb money there's no need there's no need for money here
so part that container is built of this place and things things that are called precepts and things that are called guidelines
and i wouldn't be earning my pay as tanto if i didn't talk about the rules but i'm not going to like about much
the the precepts that there are ten of them and they are they are ways there things not to do like don't kill don't lie don't steal
don't be really really mean to each other and as far as i can tell if we follow those that we're not creating nasty sticky karma
and the end it's unnecessary suffering so anything we cannot do to create nasty karma means we don't have to do that suffering because after all doesn't live have enough
for you
come from me
so so we are the precepts and then we have something called the guidelines and i would be miss amiss
as time if i didn't say a few words about sex drugs and rock and roll
sex as a guideline says i'm actually what it says as if you're if you come here to practice and you're you're not in a relationship you know a committed relationship then we'd like you to be celibate you know that's what it actually says
that made when i first saw that this is no and seventeen years ago when i first heard that rule when i came to one drink else to do a prank experience i had second thoughts i don't know as animals find do that i never have to know so but
and have ever since
but and the reason is that sex as as some of you may know isn't very very powerful
disturbance in the mind
sometimes sometimes very pleasant sometimes not very pleasant and it's so big a disturbance in the mind that it spreads out ripples into the whole community especially if you live in a small crevice like we do now
big big ripples nothing is secret nothing nothing nothing
which can make your honest in time
so even in the buddha's
community ah something happened there was a there was a sexual indiscretion they didn't have a rule about it there was a sexual indiscretion and the buddha apparently flipped out and trounced the monk who had made the indiscretion and said okay and from now on
no sex well what do we know sex well as it turns out not only is not supposed to do it in are supposed to see it think about it hint or flirt or even ah or think about it i think i just said that is so in other words
no not not never ought not at all
i actually talked with one one of the monks who follows those rules these days and i asked him what what do you want what do you do about sexuality and they said oh we don't
we don't talk about it we don't think about it we don't flirt without i intimate tech isn't that what do you do i guess that's flirting isn't it
ah but it just doesn't it doesn't happen to know it's a non happening
a great i thought a terrific and so so we have that rule
ah and drugs but i think maybe they probably had an alcohol but he saw that that that tends to cloud the mind a bit before magical crazy so he said well listen we're not going to do that either i'm sure they're demonstrating some event that happened that done that since the
that one
and then rock and roll which
i doubt that had to deal with that but for us we have this thing about if you listen to music we don't listen to music come in though in the wintertime in those six months
but up in the summer is different you can you can listen to music with earphones
outside the central area or in your room or something but i prefer to think of rock and roll as students do not go to the bathhouse after a forty in the evening
our i'm so these precepts and rules to create a container a safe place to in order to practice because it's very it's very difficult to study the mystery with all kinds of distraction
as those of you who live over the hill
no doubt now it's very difficult to contemplate
deep things when you can turn on the tv instead but does she do that
and i think what i want to say the end
is that
there it seems to me there are two two ways took to practice with them with rules and one is the one is the up the path of purity
that's that's the path of where you have three hundred and sixty five thousand rules and you keep them which means that your life is becoming more and more pure presumably and that you're not creating any more and he new bad karma so that your meditation practice can then start to dissolve
the old karma so that what what results least i think is a pure being who can much easily or much easy or
easier awaken
thank you very much
what they said
in other words you're removing hindrances
vast numbers of hindrances but ours is not a pure a practice and ours is we're not looking for purity in san as far as i can tell
ours is more about transformation i don't think i could last ten minutes in practice of purity
but i can definitely last four years can practice of transformation where mistakes are valued
i think it will it took me many years to realize that mistakes were okay i'd never heard that anywhere else but here
what happens
is that tongue
the the more diluted we are the biggest mistakes and the more suffering would create and in this life is my experience of it i'm not so sure what is real
but i'm pretty sure where i'm diluted where i make where i make mistakes and for me that's enough because though those i can work with
i'm thankfully this life provides just vast opportunity to make mistakes

how we get how we deal with mistakes is too
who is to employ zazen in mind which is the mind we cultivate when we sit
the mind which is open a mind which notices when it's grasping and clutching and wanting to hold on to its last nail or of the mind that is angry and hateful and wants to push away the unpleasant they unwanted to notice that and to keep opening to be vulnerable and
to keep becoming more vulnerable
and within the safety of sitting upright and not moving not moving no matter what happens
so not in other words we not only practice life we encourage life no real life
and i thought of an example of this from my own life
what the the power of compassion the power of acceptance the power of openness to to
transform a mistake
some some of you know that i was am still an episcopal priest as well and as a that's a denomination of christianity that comes from the church of england
and i was in and you go to college and you'd then you go to seminary for three years or so
three years or more and when i finally got to seminarian it was and it was in new york city in manhattan in chelsea and it still is there actually and it's a very victorian very victorian place the buildings are old victorian very beautiful and very sumptuous and it was all on
all i could ever want when i when i opened the door and saw the place it's like oh well as home and and at that time when i was there
in the seventies and the not only was the that there were the buildings victorian but so was everything else the lifestyle was very victorian and the faculty pretty much was still victorian know we were academic gowns all the time and and were
very good boys because it was all boys no no when all men
but we were we were good and we were were respectable we made no mistakes
course that obviously was a facade mask playwright saw me coming in there from
because working class family from maine i was i didn't fit in so well most of the guys had done googled pinky initial rings
told me something i didn't have one i got one now
ah it didn't help
sodini right time so it was the last semester the next last next to last semester of fun of seminary and we took we took big exams
and i am
for reasons i i still don't quite know i broke a really big rule a really big rule and on and one of the professors are caught this breaking and had me hauled before the faculty
we're really
in awe of the faculty
they wore gowns and it's square hats mortarboards and things and we're very
for kind of proper and so here i was in this in there in the faculty room all all our members the table and my accuser across from me one of the professor of history a priest and professor of history and so they asked me questions and i said
a is yes i did i had no defense because there wasn't one i don't think i've ever felt so defenseless
and so they said okay go wait outside you will tell you our decision i don't remember waiting outside but i did and the dean it was the they head honcho came out and said we are expelling you
i don't remember what i said but i went and packed a small bag and i was gone
this was this was difficult for me because this whatever this meant it meant that my my life as i knew it was was over i only wanted one thing in life now is to be a priest
and ah what they told me was that life is dead is dead
and so i called up my bishop in maine and told him that i was coming back i didn't tell him why but he said come see me and so i went home and that was from him remembering this this evening and i never told my parents i still haven't told
ah so so deep was my shame and
a hopelessness helplessness mean i didn't you'd have enough hope to kill myself
now and i think i think my parents may have asked why are you back so soon i probably made up something but so i went to see the bishop and
just as i was having thrown in the towel and i don't think i was expecting anything i just went and sat in his office and told him what happened all of it and with no defense as they said there wasn't one and
he said
ah i think you've got up and hugged me and said we will work this through
which was not what i was expecting
and that gesture changed my life thankfully from thereon and wasn't the same person ever again
that kind of acceptance i was i've never i've never seen and kindness i had never seen before
and so and so we did we worked through i
god ordained and went back to seminary went back there and finished the last semester
about the cubic centimeter pride that i had and finished in got to degree so
only because i have become transformed by my mistake
ah that wouldn't have happened if there hadn't been that
i think i think it took two things one was to be frank and honest and ah
i'm honestly contrite and
accepted having that accepted
and honored so on i think that's why i've been attracted so much to this practice because that's that's exactly what we do hopefully hopefully
as we practice and continue to enter that great mystery embracing are suffering a celebrating our joy may it always be this way to thank you very much