Picking and Choosing

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ah today's the to the to target as words
good morning everyone can you him as is on did you hear me and wanted as want to have a look around and see this here
so on this is of course the first saturday of the month of which you were all probably aware so some of you may not be aware that on the first saturday of the month we direct the force first portion of the talk to the children
so long everybody and welcome kids and he didn't like the chanting did you know a bit
okay well even though it's my job to give the talk and then ask you guys offers and help today okay so i want to and you're gonna help me by i hope answering some questions
so did everybody know that it's a holiday this weekend yeah yeah okay some people say yes so that means that if you go to school you don't have to go to school on monday and some some mommies and daddies don't have to work and done yet such as so it's a holiday does anybody know what the holiday is yes please
labor day thank you does anybody know what the word labor means yes please
work thank you so labor day is a work day or a day that we think about work and the day where some as to grateful we don't have to work and we're grateful to the people who do work okay so the other thing i want okay so my next quest
from is what's in my hand
nothing oh it looks like i forgot something the soup
but okay
what's in my hand an apple okay so for labor day when i'd like to think about a maybe sq guys some questions about
you can get a lower
when we're when we're finished with this i'll give you the apple and you can take it away eat with your friends okay okay it smells pretty good in school but you know what i didn't wash it so that's some of the labour i didn't do
okay so here's the deal on so who can think of the work that who worked for this apple who worked yes please
the farmers the farmers planted it who else work to the apple
okay i'll bet you're not you're too old
well you said something
nature okay so what does nature due to make this apple yes

so first he had to have a flower than you have to have a beer to right and then the flower turns into an apple which is pretty amazing right what is that what is the flower what is the so goes on a tree right and words the to come from where's the to them from
from a c from an apathy right so first you have an apple and then the tree of the add the apple comes from the tree know the upper comes from the flower the flowers on the tree the tree comes from the see the cedars in the
right and what is the ground need to make a tree yes
soil and water and what else son and what else were condensed from the sky or comes down from the sky rain night so and you know so here we have this tree and the sun the sunshine and so today we don't have a whole lot of sunshine but we have we
have some nice clouds and maybe maybe some place it's someplace it's raining on an apple tree okay so oh no
the well i haven't seen any i think there might be some in the park
so let's so somebody said that the farmer makes the apple works for the apple to come to us who else works for the apple to come
may have yes sir
the worms they yeah they they they get the soil all nice and loose how the
the pharmacy gum so what about the guys and gals who pick the apples
farmers and their helpers and yes
and then what happens when the apples good pit yes you know just pardon
the horses can eat them the horses like apples to what it what happens when farmers get picked the apples get paid

right and so you're going to say something to children no okay so what i think use them
apple juice apple pie apple butter apples and peanut butter maybe i'm going to be the sample this study has found pretty good to me and i hear it
so what i'm thinking is so here we've got all this stuff right so we got the sun and we get the earth and we get the worms and we get the ground and we got the way and we get the tree and we get the flour and we can proceed and we got an apple and then we got the farmers who pick the apple and
an apple pie and apple sauce and we got the people who load the apples on the trucks right and the people who unload the apples off the trucks and the people who put the apples in the store and the people maybe your mommy or daddy who goes to the storm buys the apples for you right and so that's a lot of work for one am
apple you know so
an apple doesn't happen
this is true so
things that don't have things that don't have legs often need more help from other people
yes so i can hold it all the time so this is so that i would like us to think about is now i have another question for you how many how many of you at your at your houses before you eat dinner or lunch or something say a little prayer from here okay some of you well i like to say
little prayer before i eat and basically what i like to say is i want to thank everything and everybody that brought this apple to me so maybe when you am i think you're going to have a snack right because have snacks when you go in there yeah okay so maybe when you have a snack today you can think about
all the different things like if you're having milk while that's a lot
that's that's cows and everything yes ma'am
milk is not an apple so it has a different a whole different kind of work that needs to make it happen to us and cookies oh my word there's so many different things that cookies it's it's so complicated
yeah many things so what i would like you to do now is i would like what's your name your name leo i would like leo to come up and take the apple if you would please okay thank you and then i would like you can stand up and then i would like me you to lead all the rest of you out okay
okay guys so enjoyed by enjoy your apples enjoy your apis
and your cookies in your milk
and don't forget this they thank you
thank you for coming
so no more noise the ugly chance you can go now
alrighty so there are places vacated for those of you who are standing if you would like to sit
or not if you prefer to stand in the doorway for a quick exit if you don't like what i'm going to say
okay well that was nice
so anyhow what i'd like to see please if i may is now you're going to help me a show of hands how many of you are like your for your first time
okay a scattering but how many of you were here who haven't been here oh more than like three or four times
okay so most of your sort of old
after i didn't want to let's see seasoned kind of know what to expect so usually you know on one of the saturday morning as we try to have a or at least i usually try to devote most of the lecture to new people
we try to be i try to be a think in general we try to be sort of an intimidating and inclusive and welcoming and not too challenging but then i was thinking about this election i thought now i don't want to do that
i want to i'm going to talk events and stuff that i'm going to talk about and we'll see where it goes basically what i want to talk about his choosing a spiritual path failing at it and happiness so i'm going to talk about
zen practice zen failure and and what that's like okay so the first i'm going to i'm going to read a few things to because i'd like to have my opinions backed up
which means i will read selectively
so the first book i'm going to read from is this one it's called zen mind beginner's mind i'm sure many of you know it and perhaps have read it it's by suzuki roshi who was the founder of ten center
and i will begin by reading this i think some of you who practice zazen thousand by the way is just our work for meditation here may believe in some other religion but i do not mind our practice has nothing to do with some particular religious belief and for you there is no need to hesitate to practice our way because it has nothing to
do with christianity or should to islam or hinduism or practices for everyone usually when someone believes in a particular religion his attitude becomes more and more a sharp angle pointing away from himself but always not like this in our way the point of the sharp angle is always towards ourselves not
away from ourselves so there's no need to worry about the difference between buddhism and the religion you may believe in so this sounds very nice and inclusive and as though everything is all kind of much together and it's all one and we can all sort of have the same practice can be happy with each other and
as much of what suzuki roshi says it can be misunderstood because he tends to say things are paradoxically you know in one paragraph he'll say one thing and then he'll turn around and say exactly the other thing so what i'd like to do now is read something from another book this is called the eightfold noble path
by bhikkhu bodhi and it is it is a book that i can recommend without
without any hesitation for both the student who is new to buddhism and for somebody who has been practicing for a long time it is without doubt one of the best books on basic buddhism that i've ever read i i am i often
i've studied with people i teach from it and i've given it is gifts it's also i i think we probably have it in the bookstore at any rate what he says bhikkhu bodhi
i think is very good
he says one approach to resolving this problem the approach of notes choosing a spiritual path
that is popular today is the eclectic one to pick and choose from the various traditions whatever seems amenable to our needs welding together different practices and techniques into a synthetic whole that is personally satisfying thus one may combine buddhist mindfulness meditation with sessions of hindu monterey
a recitation christian prayer was soupy dancing jewish kabbalah with tibet and visualization exercises eclecticism however though sometimes helpful in making a transition from a predominantly worldly and materialistic way of life to one that takes on a spiritual hugh eventually wears thin
well it makes a comfortable halfway house it is not comfortable as a final vehicle there are two interrelated flaws and eclecticism that account for its ultimate inadequacy one is that eclecticism compromises the very traditions it draws upon the great spiritual traditions themselves
do not propose their disciplines as independent techniques that may be excised from their setting and freely recombined to enhance the felt quality of our lives
they present them rather as parts of an integral whole of a coherent vision regarding the fundamental nature of reality and the final goal of the spiritual quest
a spiritual tradition is not a shallow stream in which one can wet one's feet and then beat a quick retreat to the shore it is a mighty tumultuous river which would rush through the entire landscape of one's life and if one truly wishes to travel on it one must be courageous enough to launch ones boat and head out
for the deaths the second defect and eclecticism follows from the first a spiritual practices are built upon visions regarding the nature of reality and the final good these visions are not mutually compatible when we honestly examine the teachings of these traditions we will find that may
major differences in perspective reveal themselves to our site differences which cannot be easily dismissed as alternative ways of saying the same thing rather they point to very different experiences constituting the supreme goal and the path that must be trodden to reach that goal okay
the first hand seems a little different from what zero she was thing
you know suzuki roshi was speaking about thousand specifically i think and my understanding of what he was saying and my understanding of how it works is that you know buddhist meditation practices buddhist practices of mindfulness buddhist practices of loving kindness near the development of
loving kindness all of these things are practices which can be used by anybody regardless of whether he or she is a buddhist and atheist you know a christian or jew what have you so all of these which is why you get so many buddhist practices or meditation practices
so if translated into stress reduction for people who are suffering from various forms of stress in their life and so these work you know as on that level
so all everybody can practice that but we will have a very different understanding of what we're doing if we take them out of context so if we are practicing them in a specifically buddhist context with a buddhist understanding
we will understand them differently than if we were practicing them as stress reduction or as part of they you know a christian buddhist
retreat or something like that and i think that
to practice buddhist
to use buddhist practices in a different religious paradigm i'm actually diminishes them and
leads to misunderstanding of what we're really doing so sometimes you'll see perhaps i have seen you know things about jewish buddhism are christians and are such things as that and you know what i want to say today and this is the part where those of you who are sitting near the doorman like to get a quick return
eat i don't think it works i don't think there is such a thing as christians in are buddhist jewish jewish buddhism
the basic reality of the basic understanding of reality between those traditions i think is quite different and this i think is would pick your body is alluding to
for example buddhism the to to the central
teachings of buddhism is the absence of a god a creator god an overwhelming power who directs the universe and interferes are intervenes excuse me in human history and human life
sometimes a cigar is just a cigar
ah and the the be existence of an immortal soul so these are very central to christian and jewish belief
at least four ninety nine point nine nine nine nine nine percent of all jewish and christian history you know these have been essential to a jewish and christian belief i'm not going to talk about islam or hinduism or stuff i'm because i think that yeah this is a judeo of a judeo christian culture by and large so i'll just
address what i'm most familiar with an excuse me if anybody feels excluded in their religious practice i don't mean to be i just want to talk about what i know
so i think that if you if you look at if you look at a tradition which says you know there is no god and there is no soul it's very hard to put it together with beliefs were you know the soul and the idea of god are integral you know if you fiddle with it and try to make it fit
you do a disservice a serious disservice to both traditions so it's kind of like pretending that everything is everything is the same you know we're just saying it in different ways and i think that if we're you know intellectually honest if we're if we practice rigorous honesty we're going to find that that's actually not so we're actually talking about
like different things and you know buddhism is pretty uncompromising and this i think
you know not only is there no creator god but according to the teaching of emptiness there's no foot of ontological ground of being you know sometimes we talk about buddha-nature which is another way of saying interconnectedness sometimes we talk about emptiness which is another
a way of saying buddha nature our interconnectedness right a but neither of these none of these buddha nature emptiness interconnectedness should be understood as a thing or as the ground of being or is something unchangeable and absolute but rather they're simply description
tons of the way things work okay so it's easy to want to concretize something like buddha nature and say oh yeah that's the same as god well no it's not
the other central doctrine of buddhism and this is where buddhism i think is in its we find it in its most radical understanding of the world is the doctrine of a not man are in poly on i thaw are no soul literally no soul so what that means is that there is nothing of us
us that does not change there is nothing no part no tiniest little inkling of us that does not change you know normally i think that we tend to see conditioned by our backgrounds ourselves as comprising some nugget of essential mm
venus which experiences the world right and is perhaps changed slightly on the outside but in the inside remains somehow unitary stationary and unchanged buddhism's most radical insight is that this is not so according to the buddha everything
we are changes body mind everything okay and you know you don't have to believe this and you don't even have to believe it to practice it what you can do is you can take it as a an experimental hypothesis and see what it's like to practice as if it were true you know so
so i always encourage people that i speak to to experiment with their practice with their ideas with what have you it doesn't have to be true it can be entertained as a possibility for a while and see where that gets us you know that's what buddhism is basically buddhism is about experimenting
with what with different points of view and seeing where they take us somewhere somebody wrote you know
i wish i had written it down because i would love to be able to quote the person and give him or her credit but whoever it was said
buddhism is a fairly accurate representation of reality fairly accurate i'd like that not ultimate truth not you know not the
you know not the way it must be a fairly accurate representation of reality i think that's that's good enough for me
so this idea of no soul you know the buddha talked about that and what this means is that it sounds kind of awful like oh i don't have a soul anymore
where are they put it in with the apple
but actually you know in a way it's it's tremendous freedom because what this means is that the teaching of on a goes along with the teaching of karma that things change according to cause and effect and that our ability to have to see things change means that there is some
we have some input on how things change on how our lives changed so we create our lives to some extent you know in the dumb upon which is a very ancient and wonderful are buddhist teaching it begins by saying all that we are as the result of what we have thought
so you know if we have if there if change is constant if we're not stuck in who we are and if change goes along according to cause and effect it gives us tremendous freedom in our lives
to move on may seem odd to insist upon religious differences so close to nine eleven will we see how religious differences
the so much a source of conflict and suffering in our world or perhaps it's not the religious differences themselves but perhaps the religious differences are simply used as a convenient mask for what lurks behind them but i think it is important
heard me i think it's important to insist upon difference
and to have respect for difference because you know i don't believe in god but i'm very friendly to him and i feel very protective of him and i don't i i don't want to see his name besmirched by people who would
claim to speak for him
you know i think the idea of god whether you believe it or not is too important to allow somebody to speak for him and i think surely for somebody to say whether they be christian jewish muslim or what have you that i know god's will not only for myself but for you and the rest of the world surely must be a form of blasphemy
to fit into are merely human terms you know
surely that's gotta be a blasphemy against god whether you believe it or not
so whatever we choose whatever path we choose you know ah we must be faithful to it i believe it's like a marriage you know we can't i guess you know you can we can continue to flirt for the rest of our lives but if you want to have
a real true relationship be with another person or a practice or what have you
then you know we must commit we must make commitment and to you know to choose a way of spiritual practice is to be carried by it really you know and to give ourselves to it
because if we keep picking and choosing and cafeteria style were always operating on the base of self will you know in our practice then becomes something that is based on our personality are when in our preference and we don't grow in such situations beyond personal
malty when and preference you know if it's like well i like this kind of but i don't like that or you know
i like buddhism but i don't like the sitting parts i'll just take the the part that makes sense to me or i like christianity but i don't like the you know the potteries post like take care of poor people they're icky or you know i like you know i like judaism but i don't think all those prayers are you know what have you so in a so if we pick and choose
of what parts and i'll take some of this and some of that you know this is the budi said we never truly give ourselves to a practice and we never rise beyond ourselves we remain mired in who we are and giving ourselves we remain well the suzuki roshi talked about big mind and small mind
small mind is where we stay within our preferences and inner personalities big mind is when we open to being changed okay maybe that's what religious practices about about giving ourselves over to being changed by the process of the spiritual life without being able to either can predict or
control the outcome
that's pretty scary right now we can't predict it we can't control it and we give ourselves to it nonetheless that's pretty scary
so giving ourselves like this allows us to move through our mistakes and failures
and i like what suzuki roshi and to say about mistakes because
i find it very
helpful to me personally
he said when we reflect on what we're doing in our everyday life we are always ashamed of ourselves one of my students wrote to me sane you sent me a calendar and i'm trying to follow the good models which appear on each page but the year has hardly begun and already i have failed
dogan then she said show shaku shaku shaku generally means mistake or wrong joe shaku shaku means to succeed wrong with wrong or one continuous mistake according to dutch dogan one continuous mistake can also be then as then
masters life could be said to be so many years of shaku shaku to shaku this means so many years of one single minded effort you know failing over and over again make a mistake over and over again
i've been at zen center for almost thirty years
and you know ah i have to think of myself as a then failure
because i look at my own practice and i see how i continue to fail day after day and you know one of the things you know
one of the things that
is most painful for me in my practice is that we have something here adsense center well will a generally called session says she means gathering the mind and gathering mind fishing is the thing we do several times a year and it's usually either five or three day five or seven days and it's a meditation
an intensive and we are so it's an intensive is the word you know we we sit all day and i have discovered that i i can't do this
no matter how much i want to no matter how much i try i no longer and able to sit sashing and i've tried many different ways of trying to do this i've tried many different ways of addressing the problems that come up you know psychotherapy and medication what have you
and and zazen of course and none of these things allows me to
since sashaying in a way that is not unremitting hell and i've decided that for my own personal sanity it's something that i can no longer do now this would be a you might say both that sounds like a reasonable kind of thing you know don't put yourself in
hell for no reason however you know one of the consequences of this of courses that i don't feel is that i am really a part of the community of practitioners here i don't feel that i am doing what a priest does and it also makes me ineligible to be a an independent teacher
so this is a this is a very deeply painful thing for me and the reason i'm saying this is because i know that we each all of us have such a thing or more than one thing like this in our lives some deep place of shame or guilt or sorrow
oh our failure or something that we so much wish were not so and it maybe in our spiritual life it may be in are you know family life it may be with our careers that may be you know it's like we are health what have you we all have these things
and i'm
so what what helps with this i'd like to read something else that suzuki roshi wrote if i can find it

no yes no honestly i should have numbered them sorry
ah yes the bodhisattvas way is called the single minded way or one railroad track thousands of miles long the railroad track is always the same if it were to become wider or narrower or narrower it would be disastrous wherever you go the railroad track is always the same that is the booty thought this way
yea so even if the sun were to rise from the west the bodhisattva has only one way his ways and each moment to express his nature and his sincerity
so this is what we do when we choose a path and stay with it you know this is what carries us through these deep disappointments these deep failures these deep sorrows were guided by the principal and and then we say we're guided by the principle of the bodhisattva vow and the bodhisattva vow is the vow to remain in
this world of suffering were all of us had these deep wounds and to be with each other and so because of that you know we don't get to judge our own success and failure and we don't get to judge our own lives k
so having said that which all sounds rather grim
i would like to say that i think that is bodhisattvas we have a responsibility to happiness
because happiness is what attracts other people to us you know we are very rarely i personally am very rarely have attracted people who are grim and dour and you know whose whose spiritual practice makes them look like they're not having a very good
time you know if your shoes look like this to they're too tight i'm not going to follow your spiritual practice probably so for those of us who fi who feel that we have found something worth sharing in buddhism we have a responsibility to be happy and you know on
when i say happy you know i'm not talking about getting what we want are having some version of ourselves confirmed
i'm talking about a different kind of happiness and you know we can talk about that in different ways according to buddhist teaching but
what i would like to suggest as one of the ways we can think about happiness in buddhism is by the practice of the for brahma of the horas
the brown of the horrors are usually translated as the divine of boeing's and these are for practices the practice of loving kindness
the practice of compassion of sympathetic joy and of equanimity so loving kindness of course is feeling that feeling towards others wanting them to have all good things and to feel in a good for them
and know we have practices where we were we learn to do this and compassion with passion with passion in the sense that we we talk about the the passion of christ the suffering so we are with others in their suffering and the reason we can be with others in ourself in their suffering is because we are with our own suffering you know we understand our own
see it in others compassion sympathetic joy sympathetic joy is when we
share the joy that other people have in their lives we rejoice in their good things yeah this is where difficult you know you know when somebody you know
gets a good job well it's hard to rejoice for them i mean i can rejoice for when people get things that i don't want personally you know the pepper a i mean if you get something that you really want and it doesn't matter to me i can be really happy for you
but actually i think mostly what this is talking about his spiritual joy when you see somebody if you're working if you're working with somebody is a teacher and you season begin to change in their life or you see people begin to get over some of the the the things that have been hurting them are the barriers between themselves and other p
people this is this is the true joy that we offer each other's you to each other this is where we see real joy and equiniti you know equanimity is is absolutely essential because without a community equiniti we can be carried away by our emotions equanimity is been able to see things and let them go
see the happy things and let them go see the sad things and let them go see the deep distress of others do what i can and realized that i can't fix it and let it go
and if this is the equanimity is not the same as apathy equiniti is feeling seeing clearly and letting go because if i'm so if i'm too involved
i'm i'm not able to be of service it's like a doctor you know trying to operate on one of her family members can you know you have to have some distance and this has to be balanced of course by compassion sympathetic joy and i'm loving kindness
so you know if we can be happy in these ways you know we are successes because we are vulnerable to others and in community with them and it is our vulnerability to others are sharing of our joy and our sorrow
rather than our speller qualities which draws others to us and create intimacy sometimes we can admire people for being you know smart and successful and you know good athletes are you know smart with their money or whatever sometimes we can admire people for that are resent them and you know a but it's now
what brings us closer to each other what brings us close to each other is when another person invites us in lets down the barriers for a little bit and since this is who i really am and i need you to be here with me or i'm available to be here with you okay and this is when we begin
to see ourselves as not separate but as beans on a continuum of being and you know this is this is the success of the bodhisattva you know regardless of what he or she has in her life regardless of what it looks like regardless of how he or she may judge it his or her own life
it's the willingness to remain in the world of suffering with other beings and to do that with some happiness you know i'm so happy to be here with you guys today i really am
and it's not to say that everything in my life is going great i still can't she said session
you know what it ah
it's okay
as usual i just like to say that if i said anything today that is useful or helpful to you please accepted as my gift
if i've said anything that confuses or distresses or irritates you thank you for sitting so quietly and listening to it anyway
we've been very polite and
i think that's all for now thank you very much