Intelligence of the Natural World

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Sesshin Lecture: frog chorus; silence and activity; pain and fear of pain; Bodhidharma

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our intention
good morning
and welcome to this six day
and a wonderful drizzly rainy morning
love it
frogs delight in
hearing the sound of frogs ah
he's been a big part of our experience and sitting
allowing the sensation of just being completely immersed in sound
is a wonderful practice in itself
and i'm
i've been struck up
repeatedly by sense of the intelligence of the
the whole natural world
i just walking back and forth on the path past the plum tree
noticing the little plums and each day the branch gets his little bit lower as the plums expand taken in water and nutrients from the earth and energy from the sun
and of course today the branch dropped quite a bit because of the rain
there's a suppleness and flexibility of resilience ah in the plum tree
now clever human beings of course have a
for a larger plums right
and so it makes it harder for the tree to bear and then the branches may exceed the range of suppleness and flexibility and then break
so then we have to prop up the branches so they don't break
so a with our desires of created
many many many kind of
karmic cup
ah repercussions for ourself once we set something in motion we're not sure all the effects that follow and so
the we find ourselves behind trying to catch up and and repair or support for bring back into balance what we ah have disturbed
and with this whole field of intelligence which actually gives rise to consciousness and you may experience it actually as consciousness as a few days ago we were talking about of danke schon a hearing the sounds of the incense
yeah beings
as dharma
seeing the entire intelligence of the of the world around us as consciousness
then want some piece of it is removed and we feel some lack of it it's almost as if we become just a little more stupid
when some species becomes extinct
there are many
many frog species that have become extinct in the last few years and
we usually don't we have no way actually of understanding that loss
it's incalculable
we have no way really of understanding our are non participation in that loss
and yet we know that at some level in some way we are
to the demise of many species just by
our activity and what we call our normal are normal life
and so we also participate in that sense of loss some grief
some extension of
what we were talking about yesterday with love and attachment
and loss
but then there the frogs
expressing themselves
the frogs that exist have no problems
as far as i know thinking about the frogs that don't exist
as someone someone said to me that that they heard the frog
speak up like saying i'm here
and then another frog responding i'm here
and then another frog and then a whole chorus of orchestra of rocks
maybe some of you had had read the richard brought against both the confederate general big sur and anyone read that book
that's one of the funniest books ever written
but one part of it is they're they're living in big sur and as a frog pond and the frog frog says i am here and other frog says i'm here in and then the eleven thousand six hundred seventy seven throgs chimes in and it's driving them crazy trying to get some sleep
until somebody brings an alligator
and they slide the alligator into the pond
and the whole orchestra goes quiet
but i've been listening in
i noticed i lose count at five
five frogs
and i thought well maybe maybe that's all there are maybe there just five frogs

and they say i'm here are they say i had a friend in junior high when the when the roll is called it would be
you call somebody's name smith here
jones here
my friend mangrove always said present
he felt that and that was more dignified and something present
which is our practice being being present
so i imagine the frogs are saying present present president president
so i thought if we could try that if we had so five volunteers
there's one there's two or three though for there's five there's well let's let's stop it at five first okay so the first person say present in the next a present right immediately or you can have a little space at first but then tighten it up like around that this kind of around
maybe picks up the pace me
so let's try with five

yeah you're really pathetic frogs

so he really rough this thing it out if you're going to say is through with the spirit of i'm here and say present
huh it's okay you're not rule on your number two
you have to be three it's not i think i'm doing okay three and then let's go over for for was five five okay
so brian is five
okay let's try that again
right now you get that you have to keep going to
so marianne as soon as the last as five goes and you'd come back again okay

now you're getting it
now you're getting it
yeah yeah
you have you have frog potential
but see we just five you're just beginning to get that way with that right
with a little more practice
how could that could be it
oh before i
forget i wanted to mention about late night sitting again
this is a six day so it's our last night last chance to come in and
and sit after the lights go down in the evening so
it's a great time not to
come in to an end with the frogs
last night it was pretty quiet
but you didn't move when he was you set up to go sleeping here right but then you didn't come back at least for a long time
i figured
see stir
ah still was
well it was really quite disturbing to have your absence
whatever happened to jim see him
yeah i tried to hide you know
well it be silent noted to say something you know categories
the two sides returning to silence or you have to say something sometimes your silence is saying something and sometimes you're saying something
his silence
one of the look a little more that transition as of silence and activity and
the role that fear plays in the transition
from silence to activity you have to say something it sounds a little bit like
there's something pushing for a compelling you have to overcome the fear her resistance or simply inertia ah
to move from silence and to activity and so
we do that
each time the bell rings and we get up trick in here and there some transition
we're in seven days of fast obsession so
our activity is really quite limited and it gives us a chance to deepen our experience of silence
some people are
realizing it's the six day and are beginning to think else it's winding up and
mentally beginning to think go i should get ready to re-enter
but see if you can stay and deepen
your practice in the zendo while you have the opportunity
and then when you do make the transition and activity
well there's your activity and hopefully you can enter it i mean there's your opportunity to do that and there hopefully you can ah
be kind to yourself
not trying to hold on to session
not holding onto the form of session
but maintaining the practice of being present
into the activity
so if you have not clarified the matter of birth and death it's more difficult it's more actually more
i'm fearful
going into any kind of activity
it's hardest to be very clear about the difference between
the experience say a pain
and the fear around pain
many people experienced some pain somewhere and some part of their body sitting session
people who are sitting cross legged often experience it in their needs other people may experience it in their back or
even you're sitting bonds may be rawhide
it's an ongoing study to notice the tendency to add to the pain with fear
even to say pain is not quite right
there's some sensation
you may notice some that you have a slight or maybe even extreme tendency to tense
your body against that sensation
and it takes careful investigation to see the layers of then because there are layers oh and it's not just a it's not just something that is a say in your intellect or in your psychological formations but it also and your body for
nations where are you habitually carry some tension ah
as a way of protecting yourself from the pain but actually it doesn't
really work
when you're sitting still it doesn't work very clearly because the kind of reaction that you would have an activity where there's some painting and you move away from it that's him muscle response
you can't do when you're sitting still and you can't just move away from it so your muscle is trying to move away from it but you're sitting still so you're not actually moving away from it so you just holding their attention so you may have noticed this as you said that know you're holding some tension
we're we we use this mudra other cosmic mudra
and there's a tendency to let it just rest
but actually the best place for motorola may be floating
ah to use your own intuitive sense of where the the feels that it's imbalance i usually it's just it's floating it's not necessarily sitting on your not resting on anything on your leg or your heel anything but ah
then you may notice that your attention in your shoulders or your arms ha
and then it's a question of are you doing anything extra are you adding any extra effort after work
and of course you are
well because you're thinking mind has a kind of exaggerated sense of what you need to do to hold that mudra
so it's only by working with it over time that you begin to shed all the extra
all the extra work and energy and then sitting becomes much lighter
so all the effort that
usually it takes a few years for people to actually have we say find their seat to actually be able to embody this sitting posture without extra effort but then it's an ongoing refinement of that because your notice decades later that
i'm a little something extra may be creeping in

so what we think of his fear is often
a very incomplete picture of the that kind of the that reaction
yesterday we talked about
a gambling everything on love
from roomy
and that's a frightening thing because the word gamble of course means risk
what if you love and lose
there's a
there's an old song just remember one line of it right now
they've been wrong i hear his voice singing a better get discussed when you lose your own money learn to lose
lose your money or lose your lover lose your status
learn to lose so what does that what is that how does that relate to in and suggestion that the that the study of the way is to study the south
the south really emerges
in the pain of loss
to great opportunity to steady herself
it's hard to trust that buddha-nature is there in the loss

so we have this ongoing ongoing predicament
holding onto something holding onto
well as a couple ways to go here
i think i want to talk about fear and another in another sense
unconscious fear that we carry i just mentioned loss of status
a couple of years ago i was reading
some work by a catholic theologian german catholic theologian you again drive a man
the catholic feel that i think he has been exit excommunicated by now i know he was silenced for a while but
ah but he's looking at the connection of fear and evil
an evil in society and seeing that but we unconsciously carry as fear
contributes to
the able act actions and and so this is one just little excerpt
and which it gives an example of what he means by that
the crews of the be fifty two planes
who bombed north vietnam coming from thailand
did not need to fear much that the enemy would shoot them down
the pilots of the bombers
they could come they drink a cup of coffee while they used ingenious devices to set huge areas underneath them on fire with napalm bombs or precision bombs aimed at bridges and chuck depots
but they greatly feared refusing to do their job
they feared to be degraded to be thrown out of the army to be despised a dishonorable by their wives and to look like losers at their clubs
as a rule they did not have a clue for what reason against whom and to what extent they let suffering and destruction rain from the sky
but the fear is just mentioned naturally determined their behavior no intense forces of drives i made them become henchmen of death
rather very banal everyday fears
there there are quote aggressions during bombardment were lower than that of a driver of the car passing on a highway
their sexuality awakened again only at night in the bars of bangkok
but fears which did not increase their pulse rate by a single beat
because they did not need to waste a single thought on them as long as everything was functioning allowed them to observe their dashboards with the neutral matter of fact this of a technician while they were subjectively completely unaware of being compulsively guided down to every detail
by certain fears
and as a consequence of these fears cause unspeakable suffering
so that's a dramatic example but also an example that continues to persist every day
someone asked me about my older
i'm rug and i rub used to wrap books in
a bit of carbon
actually it's a it's a prayer rug
muslim prayer rug
when i use it i'm reminded that as the practice in islam is to bow to mecca five times a day
actually there are many is and students who outside of says shane
don't ah
posner power meter
five times a day so actually that's pretty good practice to do
a completely say remember that you are abiding and pregnant pyrometer five times a day whereas mecca for our
zen buddhist
mecca right where you are
but this practice than of
say taken up some ritual
belonging to a group practice that has that danger of the fear
a being seen as
something less because you're not participating in the same in the right way
so there's a way in which those little fears that then can take over and and become the power of your life actually rob you and the power of your own life
we have the legend about it bodhi dharma
and the emperor and the
in my
mountain seed ceremony i made an offering to bodhidharma
and said that bodhidharma whether he was facing the emperor are facing the wall and his cave
had the same mine
that he wasn't
fearful in the face of the emperor
less than the dogan in
in his section on
continuing practice yoji fiscal two
has his own version of this encounter a bodhidharma the emperor
in which he he depicts bodhidharma as an indian prince coming with a whole retinue arriving in china
movie working his way i'm through
they came to mowgli on and
eventually having a chance to meet with emperor wu
so this is duggan's way of describing the scene
the governor of guam province called john officially welcome bodhi bodhidharma carrying out his duty he reported body time was arrival to emperor wu on the first day of the tenth month emperor wu sense and messenger to bodhidharma to invite him to the palace but it i went to the capital city of jin ling and met with whoo hoo
said ever since i became emperor i have built temples copied sutures and approved the ordination of more monks than i can count
what is the merits of having done all this
but a diamond said there is no merit
nipper said why is that
bodhidharma said these are minor achievements of humans and davis which become the causes of desire
they are like shadows of forms and are not real
the emperor said what is real merit
but a diamond said when pure wisdom is complete the essence is empty and serene
such marriage cannot be attained through worldly actions
the emperor said
what is the foremost sacred truth
bodhidharma said vast emptiness nothing sacred
the emperor's said who are you that faces me put it i'm a said i don't know
the emperor did not understand but it i'm a new that there was no merging and the time was not ripe thus without a word he left and the nineteenth day of the tenth month and had traveled north of the river young see
so bodhidharma arrives and
response to all the excellent deeds of the emperor by saying there's no merit
so he's able to say this because he is
not fearful
he's actually abiding according to dog and he's actually abiding and pledged near pyrometer
as it says in the heart sutra
when the mind has no hindrance there is no fear
and the bodhisattva abides and president parameter there is no hindrance without any hindrance there is no fear
it's a subtle thing but it becomes a monumental as to whether you are actually abiding and pricing power meter or whether you are abiding
in desires
and fears
even to walk into your
ah you know house after you've been away
while you visit your family home
there may maybe some trepidation some fear how will i be received
are you abiding and prize new parameter
of course only the greatest down
bodhisattvas buddhas are continually abiding and president parramatta
and yet particularly sitting so shane we begin to have some sense of it in the body your body may become more peaceful even though you don't consciously understand what is meant by prize new apparent meta your body becomes more peaceful you actually are not biting in your usual fears
and desires
and so you have a chance to ah
face and be present with the fears and desires that you may not usually recognize or want to recognize because you've experienced it in some other way just as the pilots of the b fifty twos and unexperienced their fears
their fear of being kicked out of the army it was an inactive fear what they were still acting on the basis of that fear
so reading this story and bodhi dharma and the emperor sl now sitting in the abbot's seat and i think okay so now
when someone comes to me and says you know if i if i donate a million dollars to as san francisco zen centres capital fundraising campaign
is there any merit in that
is that a good thing
no merit whatsoever
and then the president and events and it comes over to me and says he told the donor no matter what so

i just cost us a million numbers

well how do you feel you know it's easier to
say overcoming your fear of someone's opinion if they if their opinion doesn't really count so much and if you think got along well they're not that important person and so whatever they think it doesn't matter to me or whatever they whatever their opinion may be a does not affect my life
whether there
someone who is inconsequential to you or someone who is just maybe not in proximity some distance and so
it's easier to be generous it's easier to be magnanimous and say okay
her just who they are they don't understand ah
people are people
a problem
this when like fishes
birds fly like birds people behave like people
but then is it is it
the same for you and you had the same state of mind when the person actually has some
a position of authority maybe your boss at work
you are actually would like a raise
you may want to make a request
so the opinion of that person and you're feeling about that person
it has affected
by your desire
and your fear the loss
that may follow
some difficulty with that person if you contradict them and say
well you really screwed up their boss

or if your child and your parents i have tremendous power over your and it so it's hard to say
that town
tom they're actually their behavior is actually fitting not befitting their buddha nature
hi to point that out to say oh you're
here's your statements you made her are biased
the statement you just made as cruel
the action that you just took his
a sign of weakness
it's hard to point that out when someone they kick you out of their house
well they may just send you to your room
or they may just tell you
you know
shut up why because i said so
so it's hard and so we learn we have these kind of habitual fears that are actually deeply embedded in us
so the actual now
say enlightenment experience you may have an experience a body and mind dropping off
and that's wonderful and then you go out of the zendo
maybe you're walking peacefully in the garden and that's when you have some rate awakening experience
and then
from there you walk back and you meet someone who doesn't understand
and shakyamuni buddha had this great awakening under the bodhi tree and then walked down the road and met someone
who didn't get it
when he talked about his awakening
it actually took some confidence for him to go back and made with the there is his companions who had rejected him when he gave up their austere practices right
so is there there was some risk in
expressing the dharma
could they possibly even understand what they just reject everything because they had rejected him before
so how to actually bring a dime on into your everyday life
every moment is a challenge
every moment you may discover it there's some way in which
you are bringing
screen have buy us some distortion into the picture because of some fear you have of the unknown you don't know what will happen
so we say that this bodhisattva path of awakening
takes all of your sincerity and all of your courage
and at a in it down
is in every instance
even though even quite ordinary duggan also
talks about
he's just very ordinary comments here they were they were written down by his attendant to angel
this is his encouragement to the practitioners
this was that fuca cusa so this is before you want this was after i came back from china and was setting up lab
a little temple and for coosa just south of kyoto and before he went to a couple of years before he went to
ah begin a new place and what was later what is now a a monastery so
to logan says
monk a on was appointed work leader
then we were in the middle of the rainy season and the thatched roof hut was leaking when i went to zzzz in billowing way and spread from the eaves across the floor of the monks hall adjacent hallway
this is the everyday life and a new temple right the monks assembly
of pure ocean move to the center of the monks hall and were stranded there
i asked the work later a on to fix this
he took off his dam road and together with the carpenters went up hatless onto the roof to oversee the work although the rain was falling hard and didn't bother him i felt like writing a poem for him
in my lineage there is a precedent for this kind of appreciation since then six months have passed and i have not yet compose my palm but i've not forgotten about it either
there was common for ancient buddhist not to pick up the brush to write poems in the hot season but to do so in the cold season
so now we're heading toward the one year marks and say i took his position as work leader the monastery fences have been constructed this is a fortunate sign
i see him share his knowledge with the community just like a boat coming down the river and being unloaded
i also personally see him present his subtle understanding his effort brings joy to all of us
and there's more about the not work later bermuda go to another person zen person can i left his village in the west bidding farewell to his parents and has just joined us
he's now in the presence of the practice of the ancient buddha ancestors he should maintain and treasure his joy
people from the east south and north cannot have equal fortune
and they never will
now there are different ways for newly arrived monks to work in this community one is to be the leader of new monks the other is to be an ordinary new member i am pointing can add to the head of purity in charge of the toilets
it is the second year of the ninja era you should respectfully attend the buddha ancestors whether you are the leader or one the newly arrived monks once you present yourself you are brand-new what is presenting to forget great enlightenment
what is brand new to be greatly enlightened all the sudden
what is presenting
being present
like the frogs
to forget great enlightenment forget great enlightenment and take charge of the toilets or go up and fix the leaky roof
what is brand new to be greatly enlightened all of a sudden
so just a flavor which and it brings now we we we often talk about the against more illustrious philosophical writings
but odds are it's wonderful to appreciate the things that they're dealing lit with making the transition from rosendo
activity to take care of the other life now that scene of the leaky roof and the
ah the waves coming across the monks hall reminded me have this very room
in january nineteen seventy three we had tremendous storm tremendous storm and
in the morning i opened
well it wasn't as nice a doors we have there now but open that door
looked into the zendo
and with that time we had we had we had gozo mats down on the floor was offers we didn't have job with tons of it just goes on as was offers
sitting on the floor
and i looked at them and they are kind of going like this
and there was water all over this floor even though there's the the creek is still down below here and so the creek hadn't risen but let it happen is we found out that the the spring valley creek
where it comes down below you know just above the parking lot there
the branches had fallen in and block that colored and backed up
and overflowed came right through the the parking lot down through this area and this was an open door
ah and the water came rushing in
live stream rushing through that flowed right in here and and the floor of course let someone go through but not fast enough and so i fled the whole floor
so here we didn't have to fix the roof we had to go up and clean out the the culvert and reroute the river and pick up allah
what stuff
and dry it out
while fully abiding in prize new meter

had a couple of
thoughts from jane hirsch field
the sea
no i found

why bodhidharma went to motel six
so you can imagine standing at the counter and motel six your body dharma
where is your home the interviewer asked him
no no the interviewer said thinking it a problem of translation
when you are where you actually live
now was his history to think perhaps the translation
when you are where you actually live

in this up
this one's called against certainty
there is something out in the dark that wants to correct us each time i think this that answers that
answers hard in the hearts in the heart grammars strictness
if i then say that
get to is taken away
between certainty and the real
an ancient enmity
when the cat weights in the path hedge no sell of her body is not waiting
this is how she is able so completely to disappear
i would like to enter the silent portion as she does
to live amid the great vanishing has a cat must live one shadow fully at ease inside another
so this may be a little bit idealizing the cat
then the other image i think of as the zen saying when the tiger catches a mouse pounced on a mouse it uses its full strength
so wholehearted activity so the cat right ears poised silent
and actually disappearing
into emptiness
then leaping out it actually becomes a tiger right ah pounces
no catches a mouse
ah again for wholehearted
president activity

so she opens his poem again by saying there is something out there in the dark know there's something out in the dark that wants to correct us
so the unknown that were always meeting is pointing out are inadequate view or inadequate understanding or bias or prejudice
the distortion in our vision
and as we meet the unknown
we learn
there's the correction if we're open to it that comes from the strictness of things just being the way they are
natsuki roshi is to say things as it is
combining unity and duality
when you lose your lover learn to lose when you lose your status learn to lose
the lose your peace of mind learn to lose so be present how to be present and peaceful even losing your peace of mind
you know the setser hits the floor ah
everyone in the zendo
so we all do what we need to do
oh again finding our composure when things are a little out of balance
the genius of duggan's practice realization is that
you never
you never can rest on your attainment
that whatever place you arrive the next moment
arises in uncertainty

and so
the bodhisattva path is to realize that
arising from the unknown
fighting that to finding that fear
and being at peace with it finding the composure you always have that amazing capacity buddha nature
is much bigger than your own limitation your own fear so you actually have that capacity to
find composure in the midst of
that jahren shocking loss

so again the kitchens left and my short talkers
happy now
when he had i'm wondering if ah
if anyone has a question or comment
the wow
is that the lab degree
i think it's bigger than outfit itself
bigger then or the

yeah what is it what is it that's bigger than your being
so you're being must be pretty big
it's hard to imagine something bigger
bodhisattva allow includes being and non-being

so this is some very important point that's right in that first well second third section of the diamond sutra were
a bodhisattva saves all beings and the bodhisattva vow and includes all beings the many beings
because beyond that
to realize that there are no beings
the bodhisattva working very hard
in a completely relaxed way
to meet
not turn away from
to see each being
as buddha
as awakening presence so it's actually presents meeting presence
when presence mates presence since completely dissolved
there's no separation know beings

that five times a day you stop reacting

so how to do that you may have to set an alarm five times a day and then don't react to it

a set an alarm and you react you you hear that and then you remember ella now i have to do i have to know that means i take the backward step so that means that actually how do i do that well i have some i've learned some
so the approaches to returned to my breath
but can find my breath okay and i find my breath and there's all this other chatter but i'm really going to that back and just stay with my breath for this entire breath maybe two or three breath
depending on the kind of activity or the job you're and whatever you can say i'll i'll take five minutes five times a day
two just not react to not do anything
return to the peaceful
pub experience in which you let the tension that you're carrying drop away to whatever extent you can
returned to silence and then after that
say something or re-enter activity so i practice our says there's two sides
to so time gary snyder's teachers part in comments to him was a parting comment was zen is two things zazen and tending the garden
so as as an means is now abiding and project power meter attending the tending the garden means taking care of whatever activity ah it's great actually to literally tend the garden where it may be attending the children or maybe stirring the pot in the kitchen and i may maybe
going shopping
whatever it is it may be having a meeting with someone
so in the midst of that five times a day of course is not nearly enough five hundred times a day is not nearly enough
five thousand time today
maybe five million times a day begins to approach it
that ah
closely abiding and president primate
so reminders are helpful and other having another sangha members around and you to seal their presence reminds me
ah to be president
so let's or something to bear to bear
rejoicing about
so so i think maybe we should close with the frogs rejoicing so can we have our frogs again and now sit now say rejoicing
and then other people can join in something
so i try that airport
yeah right
rejoice in rejoicing rejoicing rejoicing rejoicing rejoicing i you sanctuary rejoicing and i think de-icing guys
thank you for your great practice
may our