Dining Room Lecture

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Got that part I'd like to start by showing you a breathing technique that's used in some schools of Zen Needless to say you start in Zazen posture lengthen your spine Saddle into your seat So this is enlightenment in one exhale just So what you do is you breathe in and then you breathe out But you breathe out like this you open your mouth And then you breathe out very slowly So you just let the air go as slowly as possible


In In the Lord of Zen practice there there are actually many as in Buddhist meditation, there's there's many breathing techniques And you know as practitioners, you know So we ask ourselves, well, what's the point? Why what's the point of all these techniques what's supposed to happen what's supposed to not happen What are we doing here I Don't say do it very helpful, you know every day come back to something very basic This is Zen practice Don't forget something don't get Too saddled And yet there's another part of our practice which is


Saddled completely into the moment So I'd like to discuss it in these terms The relationship between the great matter of birth and death And the struggle for survival And I'd like to cross-reference The trident true Zen Kong You know that you know the one where the monk taps the coffin and says alive or dead how many people know that Okay, well the rest you're gonna hear it pretty soon It's kind of a classic Zen Kong I


Goes like this Taiwan Chen Yan went to a house to make a condolence call young hit the coffin and said Alive or dead who said I won't say alive. I won't say dead Beyond say why won't you say who said I won't say Halfway back As they were returning young said tell me right away Teacher if you don't tell me I'll hit you Who said you can hit me, but I won't say young hit him I Rescue business It's very hard to please your students So we'll come back to that


So let me see make a few comments a few other References and then we'll read that again and see what comes out for you You can think right now what comes I'd feel what part of all that sort of holds your mind If anything I know it's late That's why I thought we'd do it this in the dining room so you could all comment and not at least Be a little bit more easy to stay awake And towards the end of a poem that David wrote white wrote He's talking about getting in touch with that that which is in us that knows In contrast to that capacity we all have to forget what we know that way of getting distracted Being too busy too preoccupied


So He's talking about settling back settling dying returning into something it knows This is the bright home where I live this place of knowing This is where I asked my friends to come This is where I want to love all the things that it's taken me so long to learn to love Now here's the punchline This is the tempo of my adult aloneness I Belong to that aloneness as I belong to life There is no house like the house of belonging To aloneness and belonging And here's a similar comment from a Native American teacher It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you've studied I


Want to know what sustains you from the inside when everything else phones away. I Want to know if you can be alone with yourself And if you truly like the company you keep in those empty moments You So why is it that we come here to practice awareness and then sometimes it seems like we do everything but That No What interjects itself what urgency comes up What's so compelling? That this house of belonging


This place of settledness Where we can settle in and that Self-criticism That nagging sense of not okayness That sort of hard-to-get-at sense of this isn't quite it this isn't quite enough It's just seen for itself It's just seen as another part of the play of mind and feelings Another part of the struggle for survival That way in which we take desire The Product of this isn't quite it. This isn't quite enough


It did somehow our quest for awakening Makes a slight shift Into grasping Instead of moving Into complete presence Just this is enough Just this is completely itself Just this is the house of adult aloneness And There is no house Other than this house and this house includes everyone and everything So so we make a slight shift


To this isn't quite enough and from this isn't quite enough We reach out to what What might? Make it enough what might fill it up what might make it satisfying? And in a way that desire And becomes neat I Have to have I have to get a ride to Monterey on the country. I have to get out of here But then have to have becomes Changed with a fear. Well, maybe I won't get it. Maybe I won't have trip to Monterey Maybe I won't be okay


Maybe I won't survive And that fear Can turn again And Who or what is blocking my survival who or what is blocking my happiness my fulfillment Surely such a person or such a thing deserves or hostility For such an egregious crime You So we push against and we hold back from And we compound some kind of separation And we wonder am I going to be okay am I ever going to get what I want what I need


Mm-hmm So size in whatever technique we use whatever process Whatever posture we sit in Is it by settling into now? It's about opening up the doors in the windows It's about free passage in and out Of the house of belonging It's about bearing witness to the stories to the aggressions To the fears behind the aggressions To the needs behind the fears to the yearning behind the needs You Willingness to just stay here


That says it Just stay here You Start to see that the stories of survival Plausible ingenious as they are They're not the real issue The real issue is the great matter of birth and death So that's to set the stage for this car, okay And I listen to this car See what phrase what image what sentence what response Catches your imagination


Part of this resonates with your life And as I've said many times the point of a con is normally we have our mindset we have our stories rambling through us Who we are what our life is What we're afraid of what we hate what we love What design is what's an isn't? And of course even more wonderful and ingenious stories about other people Because all the bad stuff's their fault We all know that They're doing this to us So setting all that aside and hearing this but you've never heard it before Part of it Resonates


How woo and Chen Yang Went to a house to make a condolence call where someone had died Young hit the coffin and said Dead or alive What's he getting at dad or alive I Won't sit alive And I won't say dead But he's supposed to be a Zen teacher isn't he supposed to be able to comment on that sort of stuff Young said well, why would you say This guy doesn't give up very easily I Won't say halfway back as they were returning Students said again tell me right away teacher and if you don't tell me I'll hit you


You So getting to the bottom of things Goes beyond niceties No, it goes beyond just being good You Who said you may hit me, but I won't say Sometimes when we follow the truth when we stay close The consequences aren't always that pleasant It's just how it is sometimes So he hit him true to his word Sometimes we We follow something to the finish


Like when you really screw up when you follow something to the finish and you really screw up Then it's like you have no choice, but to take responsibility, you know Sometimes we cannot hesitate try to hedge our bets Yeah, maybe I won't hit him maybe I'll just say I'll hit him but then I won't You just do it If you're gonna get it wrong really get it wrong I Do what you do, you know It's like when you hit the hard, you know hit it blind and if you hit it wrong Make a live mistake for everybody to hear. Yeah Then about any question did you hit the right on at the right time? No, I really didn't I got it. I really got it wrong completely wrong. Yeah


That woman chun-yan went to the house to make condolence calls young hit the coffin Alive or dead. I won't say alive. I won't say dead. Why won't you say I won't say Halfway back as they were returning. He said tell me right now If you don't tell me I'll hit you You can hit me, but I won't say he hit him So, there you go a famous end story So what sticks in your mind A part of all that Says something about you being here in this valley in the Los Padres forest a Little bit after the summer solstice So


Isn't this a big fucking waste of time isn't what Oh, why you sipping water But I'm thirsty But I don't want to watch you sip water Is there something Beyond wanting and not wanting I don't know. Hmm. Does that not know? Open up or close done the moment It gets scary Then what I think for you


Hmm Thank you Please try And And then what you do with it once what does it do with you You What that really means Have to be alive What does it mean to be alive Hmm so what did you find out so far? I


I Finally beginning Except except who I am You Sometimes Sometimes it's it feels like We have to learn to tolerate how much it hurts To stay close


Just that can we can we tolerate staying close Can we start to Make contact To stay here and feel what's going on That's right I See what he says you some Tiny drop of sweat trickling down my right Yes I


What is this experience that's called my right armpit Does it own you or do you own it Hmm Does it bring the world to life or does it dead man it's alive Call it a life And yet fancy-pants here says I won't say Service Make a condolence Oh, I see there's sometimes when you should practice and then sometimes when you shouldn't


Hmm Kind of a big deal You think he was joking Which one of them So he was still okay for sure I See He thought he was on to something yeah So he was just kidding around Yeah, pretty obvious, huh guys dead that's why we're here Yeah


I did sometimes, you know Sometimes we address the obvious and just watch the world crack open you know some to sometimes we just We address the obvious and then they The house of cards of all the assumptions that we've made about what's important about life about what has to happen About what's good and what's bad? Cracks open yeah, maybe sometimes we come at it in jest Don't quite realize what we're getting into Thank you Something to believe in


And then He's not giving him something on a platter because if he gave him something on a platter then his inquiry would stop So what you saying yeah, and then he'd say okay now I got it Oh They see a hand back there, yeah Steve Here's a question that's burning so much inside of him Life and death Alive or dead that's burning inside of him. He's knocking on a coffin somebody else's


Life and death. Mm-hmm Feels like knocking somewhere outside. It can't be answered that side It can Well, then what use is a teacher I Won't say Quick study You Anyone else Please this dichotomizing


Catches me my attention If you master myself and soften am I sleeping or am I awake What answer do you get What is it to know the difference between in doing Zazen in a way that Enlightens in contrast to a way that deadens What is Why Does that question enliven or does that question deaden What do you say I'm sleeping right now How are you doing Zazen


That it creates that consequence Maybe that's something to explore The nature of efforting in the activity of sense You It's a good question Let's hope it helps us Stay alive waking up You almost put your hand up son, yeah I thought you were someone else. What do you like me?


It's it's sun face Buddha moon face Buddha, okay Instead of us The samurai code You're already dead So we're already dead so what so we stop trying to live shall we stop caring Hmm Why not


What's most important about this precious temporary human life The next one Hmm If we don't learn how to be present for this will we be present for that Yeah So as the shoe so says, you know the monks relentless Wherever he is That's where he's going to practice Yeah, okay here I am So what what is the nature of that kind of effort


Is it obsession Is it adventure Is it some way where we take our own karmic tendencies and Assert them on practice Or do we let the practice illuminate them and skillfully work with them You know, we all tend to either lean too far forward or holding it back, you know Can we work with it skillfully can it enable our practice rather than just the A constant source of self-criticism. Oh there I go again pushing too hard holding back too much


Yeah, this guy's pretty unrelated It's willing to hit the teacher he's willing to put it all out there You Willing to Try to remind us, you know Every day is a day to practice every situation every occurrence So, what do you say John The teacher not being willing to be pushed around teacher not being willing to be pushed around That for me is what I've been thinking about this


I Think you get a lot of creative space between creative space between this and that Thank you for asking you're welcome, thank you for answering The creative space between this and that between good and bad between right and wrong How do we combine a dedicated effort with a kind of mind That isn't fixated. No It's not driving to this or driving to that That the mind the attitude has some mobility to it


It's like it's not taking itself too. Seriously Curiosity has a kind of lightness to it I Mean if you think about it, you know coming here and being a student It's kind of magnificent and it's a little bizarre, you know The first time I came here I came from almost We in a matter of days from the deep forest in Thailand and then within a matter of days I was at Tassajara And it was the 4th of July And And you know and I was in this strict monastery we never speak and you know, it's like in that monastery


You had to have the teacher's permission to have a cup of tea And Usually you didn't have tea like every Third or fourth day the teacher would say, okay. We'll have a cup of tea today And then we'd have tea And then I came here and I came in and Jean de Smith who many of you know I was working on the cabins the courtyard cabins And I can walk in and he was wearing a blue streak And I just thought American Dharma practitioners And then In just captain and then done by the swimming pool and they started to play rock and roll and drink beer And I thought


American Dharma practice And I thought people here seem amazingly sincere It's like they're really into the Dharma It's very touched And I just couldn't for the life of me figure out how they were practicing Because I have this fixed idea in my mind So, how do we keep that kind of Amusement Yeah Like if you watch each other if we watch ourselves, you know, it's like It's kind of amazing the things we do You know what we get up to In the guise of Zen practice, you know Like you develop your own little habits, you know And you just watch it it's amazing


Is that really The effective process of your own survival Is that turning the Dharma wheel of the great matter of birth and death But I would say this Temple of adult aloneness are David White's words Or this Indian elder named named mountain dreamer mountain dreamer says It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you've studied What Suzuki Roshi said my practice is more basic than Zen It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you've studied


I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away What is it to sit is a Zen To stay present not contingent upon Some acceptable state of mind Some Acceptable saddleness Some acceptable physical comfort What is it to sit says Without Asserting Conditions what is an unconditional lesson What is your response that goes beyond birth and death


That sets aside the strategies of survival You When we sit that's what we sit with and when we stand up that's what we stand up with Can we settle down here can we can we sit like Let's something open. Okay, this is it This is what I am This awesome Selfishness that sometimes just totally falls away and is replaced by heartfelt generosity This embarrassing pettiness that sometimes is just stopped


By the pitch-black sky Realizing we're looking at 15 billion light-years What what is that state of being that makes us susceptible and Available For this way of being What is it that cracks open Our usual mindsets our usual preoccupations. Oh, I'm so tired this morning. I'm not sure if I want to go to jazz in Maybe I need to sleep in because I have to work all day I


What is it to see that for itself run then take it and wrestle with good and bad All time the goods and student I'll get up and go to the gentle But if I need to take care of myself I'll sleep in which is the right thing to do, huh? Yes We're over time Oh brought back into the world of conditioned existence Okay, I did tell my g-sharp we discussed it in advance our strategy was a 920 It's 935 Okay, so I'll read you more of this poem by this Indian mountain dreamer


Then I'll stop What's it I Could answer it for him Who's going to do jazz in for you? Who's going to stay in the middle of your life? Who's going to tell you how to do that? He's going to say Here are the right conditions for unconditioned existence This is this teacher was nobody's fault, you know, he wasn't it's gonna get suckered into that Besides you know, this guy was really into it He's working on it News all around


It doesn't interest me what you do for a living it doesn't interest me how old you are It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring in your moon It doesn't interest me where you live or how much money you have It doesn't interest me who you are and how you come to be here. I Want to know if you can get up in the night After grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done. I Want to know if you can stand in the center with me and not shrink back I Want to know if you can live with failure yours and mine and Still stand on the edge of a lake and shout out to the silver of the full moon. Yes, I Want to know what you ache for what you dare to dream I


Want to know if you will risk looking like a fool I want to know if you've touched the center of your sorrow If you've been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain I Want to know if you can sit with pain yours and mine without moving to hide the fake the fix I Want to know if you can be with joy Yours and mine if you can dance with wildness and Let ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes Be realistic Remember the limitations of being human It doesn't interest me if this story you're telling is true I Want to know if you can be disappointed and stay true to yourself


If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray yourself I Want to know if you can be faithful and trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty Okay, so hey nothing to it right you get all that Are you alive or dead? Thank you