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Sunday Lecture: Milton's 'Paradise Lost'; myth of Narcissus; Four Noble Truths; Zhaozhou's "No": Marin Organizing Committee/Seniors for Peace

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the to targeters words
the morning
winter may never come


simon i'm going to begin this morning reading you a verse from milton's paradise lost
and that day i oft remember when from sleep i first await
and found myself reposed under a shade on flowers much wondering where and what i was whence the other brought and how
not distant far from dent's a murmuring sound of waters issued from a cave and spread into a liquid plane then stood unmoved pure as the expanse of heaven
either went with unexperienced thought and laid me down on the green bank to look into the clear smooth lake that to me seemed another sky
as i bent down to look just opposite a shape within the watery gleam appeared
as i bent down to look just opposite a shape within the watery gleam appeared bending to look on me i started back it started back but pleased i soon returned and pleased it returned as soon with answering looks
of sympathy and love
there had i fixed mine eyes till now and pined with vain desire had not a voice thus warned me what thou seest what their thou seest fair creature is thyself
paradise lost book for
so these lovely verses are spoken by eve at the moment of her creation
in the garden of eden
that day i oft remember when from sleep by first a waked and found myself reposed under a shade on flowers much wondering where and what i was
so this poem in turn was inspired by the legend of narcissus
the handsome youth who became obsessively enraptured by his own image in the water of the lake and narcissus was much beloved by all the ladies and the wood nymphs who tried desperately to woo him and he scored them all and in doing so brought down the wrath
of an avenging goddess who cursed him with the outcome that he too would fall in love and not have that love returned
so in milton's pawn eve on the verge of that same fatal error heeds the warning that's been given to her by this mysterious voice you know perhaps a nurturing parent or a good friend
what thou seest what their thou seest fared creature is thyself
now go out and play with your friends
so this ancient warning has come down to us throughout the ages regarding the grave dangerous to us that newly born of self centered and self conceited lives
and i'm thinking about narcissus and this susceptibility that we all have to the universal illness of self love i remembered the startling episode from my childhood that
i was a regular watcher of this series the twilight zone
you remember that most of you well the elders of you remember that rod sterling a new
so in this one episode there's this very sleazy guys a card shark and liar and thief
and all around nasty person and he gets into a fight one day while his drunk at a bar and he picks a fight with the owner who hasn't taken out back and shot and then they dumped them into a trash bin
in he's all dressed in a white tuxedo and he's at a very high class casino surrounded by gorgeous women and he has a big fat cigar and the host is asking them if it asking him if there's anything at all that he needs
so he goes on to win at roulette and poker and even the slot machines
so it looks like some time goes by maybe a few weeks for a few months it's hard to tell could be a few years and it caused the hosts over and he says the hostess sebastian cabot if you remember him that large english actor and he asks sebastian cabot he says to him i'm getting a little bored with winning
so i wonder if you could do something about that and and so the host says will of course will arrange for you to lose now now
so they do and after a while
and maybe another few months or years ago by and he caused the host over again only this time he's really furious and he throws his cards down and he pushes the women away and he says this place is the pits he said i don't like it here and if i can have whatever i want send me back to the
bar he was interesting there
and he said before you do you tell the guy who made this place up as heaven that he's a real lunatic
so sebastian cabot smiles kindly at him and then he begins to laugh and he says whoever told you that this was heaven
i think i was probably twelve or thirteen when i saw this rather shocking episode and you know it was shocking i remembered it all these years i can remember pretty much lot of the details of it to you know and i think it's because it had an archetypal quality to it there was something in there
there that i knew on some level but that i didn't understand consciously
and i was an all american kid raised in the suburbs the all white suburbs of south of san francisco and we had lots of stuff and the promise of more stuff to come and it was all there on the t v all the gadgets and the dream homes and dream families
these and that well behaved pets you know it was all there and i was led to believe that that's what i could expect in this life and i didn't even have to deserve it you know was nothing to do with deserving it i just needed to stand school get a job
job and shop
says salvation through commodities trading
so i didn't really understand the twist in the story but i did understand the twist and story and it scared me it scared me very deeply
you know if power and property and wealth and status in this material world isn't going to be enough than what was there for me to long for or to strive for or to become
what other idea of heaven could there be
i'd grown too old for the promise of angels and certainly to all to believe i would become one
so it's taken a lot of years in a lot of study and a lot of work and a lot of introspection to say nothing of the expense of psychotherapy
to discover what it is that i really want from heaven
and it's kind of surprising but it's really no different at all from what i want from life here on earth
very same simple pleasures that come from meaningful relationships from doing work from contributing to the welfare of others
words like a community commitment and compassion all come to mind
and it sounds pretty simple and in fact of the words are set all the time
we all say them we all hear them
but the shift in perspective and in desire
is really and was for me seemed as though the distance between heaven and earth
distance defined at one extreme by the instinct of self love and at the other extreme by its shadowing twin self hatred
so this is the problem line brought here today to set down in front of you and in front of myself how do we recognize in the light of our longing for admiration and in the feelings of being pressured and loved that which is selfish
and stunting of our capacity for further growth and maturation
when do the excesses of green begin rotting our lives
so i wanted to share with you the outcome of narcissus's
love affair with himself
assists from an old college text and my bulfinch's mythology
he fell in love with himself he brought his lips near to take a kiss he plunged his arms in to embrace the beloved object it fled at the touch but returned again after a moment and renewed the fascination he could not tear himself away he lost all thought of food arrest
while he hovered over the brink of the fountain gazing upon his own image he talked with this supposed spirit why beautiful being do you shun me shirley my face is not one to repel you the nymphs love me and you yourself look not indifferent upon me when i stretch
fourth my arms you do the same and you smile upon me an answer my beckons with the like his tears fell in the water and disturbed the image as he saw it depart he exclaimed stay i entreat you let me at least gaze upon you
if i may not touch you and then with this and much more of the same kind he cherished the flame that consumed him so that by degrees he lost his color his vigor and the beauty which formerly had so charmed the nymph echo she kept near him
however and when he exclaimed alas alas she answered him with the same words alas alas he pined away and died and when his shade past stinky and river it leaned over the boat to catch a look of itself in the waters the nymphs mourned for him a
ashley the water nymphs and when they smoke their breasts echoes motors also they prepared a funeral pile and would have burned the body but it was nowhere to be found but in its place of flour purple within and surrounded with white leaves which bears the name and preserves the memory
of narcissus

so narcissistic artistic entrapment narcissistic slow s's and this bird narcissistic entrapment is not only a danger at the location of what we call our personal self
but it grows and magnitude as we collect ourselves into communities institutions nations and perhaps the most deadly of all a species that has dominated the planet a planet that very vulnerable ecologically in the face of co-creation
and what's worse as we soil are nests we have been warned the parental warning has been given we know what we're doing and we don't seem to know how to stop this is obsession
the obsession of self love
so before dropping all of us off in deep pit of despair i thought i would bring up some recommendations using the model for medical intervention that was offered by the buddha many thousands of years ago
he'd been called by many names in one of them was the great physician
and his focus throughout his teaching career with i was on to identifying the illness within each individual and prescribing a cure some medicine
he wasn't a pessimist and i'm not a pessimist either at least not anymore i really do believe that there is hope for a cure
and even though none of us in this room will see the outcome in the short run of whether or not life survives on this planet still we can have a glimpse into how it's gonna go within each of us because each of us is a microcosm of the whole
and is for this reason that what the buddha discovered inside of his own body and mind applies to us equally well the medicine that cured his illness is good medicine for us
so this formulation that he and simple the simplest terms called what i know you've all heard this many times the four noble truths and just like any other medical prescription it starts with the illness and then it ends with the cure
so the illness is suffering emotional and psychological suffering
and are suffering is caused has a cause it's caused by ignorance self absorbed self conceit self identified ignorance an isolated sense of an independent person
and that person rampant with desires is what causes suffering this is what the buddha saw in himself
might be insulting to say that about somebody else but he was talking about himself this is what i see you decide for yourself if you see that too
so that's the sleazy gambler you know he wants everything he wants it now he wants it the way he likes it and he has miserly regard for the welfare of anyone else
the end of suffering the prescription is quite simply turning that patterning around
it's an active cultivation in ourselves and in our children have higher values generosity kindness non possessiveness nonviolence discriminating wisdom humility and sympathetic joy
i'd love to see all those on the white house christmas card when you
stead of prosperity victory
so this theory and the cure has been tested many times through all times by generation after generation and we know the names of the great heroes of this particular approach to healing
the st francis and milarepa martin buber shinrykio suzuki loud so taken know either as lakota emily dickinson rosa parks roomy milton erickson carl jung saul alinsky just to name a few
and knowing that we have the cure there comes the time when each of us innings needs to bring the bitter be brew to our own lips to our own bodies and minds
to play our dross and to risk our truth
for the greater well being of the world
so we have to do this with a great spirit of resolve
wishy washy won't do
so i wanted to read the introduction to the perfection of wisdom sutra call forth all you can have love of respect and of face remove the obstructing defilements and clear away all of your taints listen to the perfect wisdom of the gentle buddhas
taught for the wheel of the world for heroic spirits intended you know that's us
heroic spirits that's the image that we needed to have reflected in the mirror by our families and our friends and the world your heroic spirit now go out and play with your friends
these heroic spirits kind of like frodo with the ring set off not don't know where and don't know what the dangers will be but off we go on a mission to save the world
so in the spirit of such a mission i wanted to tell you a tiny little story from this and tradition it's a question and response between a monk and master zhao jojo
the monk asks a simple question
does a dog have buddha nature
and jojo replies no
so this story is rather famous and therefore somewhat intimidating to me anyway because i know i don't understand it
but i do know that many teachers for many generations have held it out for our consideration and so therefore i've spent some time and some of my meditation some of my thinking trying to come up with my own understanding of what this story is about and
so here it is here's my understanding of buddha nature and the dog
so yes and no are words that arise from discriminative thinking
that's the kind of thinking that human beings do in buddhist philosophy they call it dualistic thinking thinking in twos
and this may be a new idea for you you may have heard it many times but basically you're good at doing it whether you've heard about it before not thinking in twos and the toes are things like me and new inside and outside here and there right and wrong
good and evil
before and after
so you know we know that we we we can juggle them just like balls were very skill

i'm thinking of twos i think we don't really notice how this flow goes on all through the day all through the night he notes the twenty four seven of the discriminating mind flowing on and on
and because of the difference and emotional tone and voice scenes and images that come through our minds is hard for us to realize where these voicings are issuing from it looks like they're coming from the lake the image and the lake from outside
but look again you know in our practice here we actually all of us turn and face this white wall it's like a projection screen and then you watch as the movie begins
where's it coming from
from the wall
probably not
as charlotte's hover one said if you lay on the floor long enough i promise you things will begin to change and it's not going to be the floor

so we don't remember we don't remember we just acting on the flow with the flow
so this practice is about helping us to remember and there's even a deeper remembering that we need to do that intuitive remembering that i knew as the twist in the story the twilight zone something in me knew that there was something wrong with that story something wrong with my understanding from my life
and that twist is that our judgments in our views have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with reality
kind of shocking but
in fact it's true it's certainly true that it has nothing to do with reality in the way we think it does
words are simply a finger pointing at the moon
but it's our tendency if we're really onto honest with ourselves to believe that what we think is actually true
and what's more we back it up with a lot of conviction
and this is where the danger begins
i remember recently hearing some politician who had been caught in a string of a remarkable lies
being asked about it by reporter and he turned to the reporter very indignant and he said are you calling me a liar
but what he was really saying is don't look at me the liar you know look at my image in the water look at the beautiful face of narcissus
so this call on or public case between jojo and monk is an opportunity for us to study the inner workings of the judging mind and most importantly to see this dangerous potency and the depth of our belief in ourself
and our convictions it's the potency which is the very seedbed of hoarding of slander of seduction of torture of killing and of lies
it's called the ego and hey or she is not to be taken lightly
and it's one of the reason that we suggest to people that they tie their legs into pretzels when they sit because the impulse to run or to fight when we begin to see what's behind the veil when we begin to expose the vulnerable little humbug that but is hiding this ten
for all little hundred bucks is really what they are it's kind of sweet
so the way it works is that we'd take up a simple practice such as know and we apply it liberally to everything we see think and feel
it's not than anything true or false actually changes it's that were studying the mind by nailing it to one side of a duality
being allowed to say yes or no feels a lot like freedom
it's the appearance of freedom freedom to choose but if you just say no it's not fair at all you get stuck
now you're caught and you're frustrated like the gambler who was always winning
so from this frustration we begin to see how easily we are duped by the so-called freedom to choose
but basically what we always chooses our own opinion
and if you be gets stuck and yes than you can simply switch to know and if you get stuck there you can try whatever
either way
we slip away
do you want a bath know another drink know some new clothes are no a bigger house know better car no more money no different friends know anything at all no no thank you i have quite enough already
no is the practice of wisdom it's the sort of renunciation
renouncing of grade of hatred and of delusion
do you understand the deep suffering of the world outside of mill valley calif know do you know how it is to be poor or an illegal immigrant or an african american and marine county know
how about opened or richmond or san francisco
are we doing all we can to benefit others now
so practicing with no is a technique for connecting with a stunning insight of the young prince shock him rooney he took a break from a life of privilege and abundance to explore with his entire being the limitations of his own thinking what he knew what he believed in
and who he thought he was all turned into no no self and no other
so no other is the final phrase that comes from the practice of deep and honest reflection there is no other
narcissus simply neglected to include in his adoration of himself the water the sky the earth and the wood nymphs giggling with longing at his youthful magnificence
and as we say in the west he missed the forest by staring at a tree
so based in the enlightened insight of no other we here at the zen center the institution we call this and center are continuing in our own efforts to align our values in our activities with those of our neighbors and hopefully the world beyond this bright green valley
by the sea and we have stated in our vision documents a commitment to some very particular objectives based on those shared values
we say that we will build organizational competence around issues of racism classes classicism homophobia my insertion and other forms of cultural oppression to promote interfaith study and dialogue and to regard ourselves as a leading exam
apple of living lightly on the earth
so the bar has been set pretty high as the distance between heaven and earth but i believe with the support of our friends and our neighbors and with respect that we have for them that we have a chance of turning back the tsunami of narcissism that is overflowing our nation
and our world
no voices and old voices blend together and a resounding chorus of no no more war no more greed no more blood for oil or for anything else no thank you we have had enough
the buddha was above all a teacher of etiquette
so at this time i would like to introduce i'm deeply honored guests who have come over the hill from know valley
are part of an organization of their own called singers for peace i think you've seen them out there on the streets i think it's on friday said there there's that ruined fridays at noon and you all better hawk when you go by and wave causes are our friends and they're doing the work
of peace that's their path the path of peace so i'm particularly honored to welcome betty warren one of the seniors whose come over the hill today
betty was one of suzuki roshi his first disciples and he told her long ago said zazen every day and she has and she can tell you about that if you ask her she highly recommends the practice to everyone
and i also want to introduce warren boot was going to take some of my time to speak with you about an organization that's forming and rin called them are in organizing committee and he'll tell you about that in a few minutes
that's how we met green gulch was there seniors for peace where they're at a meeting of the marine organizing committee along with the number of rabbis and ministers and union representatives of all things and teachers and public school all the people who serve others and
and though the others that we all know very well because we see them all the time on the streets in the schools and hospitals we know who they are they are no other
they are ourselves and our work is to support them and represent them because they don't have anyone else to do that and we can do that we have time energy and money to burn away
the i thought so
so during our tea break after lecture please feel very welcome to join us the seniors for peace and myself out by the table we have a clipboard you can put your name down if you like and your email because it's the only way i'm willing to communicate anymore
and will connect with you if you'd like to be one of the people representing green gulch i in are organizing efforts in marine county you know we're going to think globally and act locally some great bumper sticker
so i thank you all for your attention in your presence here today and i'm going to go out and then come back to listen to what warren's going to tell us about or in organizing committee and i also thank you for your attention to what he has to say give her much