Sunday Lecture

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how's your sitting
zaza here just the previous period
and i want to thank you all
for you're sitting
and for your sincerity
it's been awhile since i've been here green gulch and i'm not used to this echo
is very powerful
thing that we're doing actually
just sitting together
and i found it to be a very moving experience
i could feel
the ass
deep soundless tone
everyone sitting with a great

i was sitting on some boards that i remember nailing down
ah back in nineteen
seventy three live
i built the time in the back
and i was happy
but although i didn't really know at the time what i was doing because i didn't know that
everyone would be sitting here today
that it was a pretty good thing to have done

then i've felt something else i felt some
oh ache
in my heart
and i fell down
some sense of suffering
now of course when you're sitting with other people you don't know exactly where the ache in your heart is the in your own heart
your own individual heart or the ache in your heart is the person next to you
over the ache in your heart is
the suffering
of all beings
without knowing this you still have the ache in your heart
you still have that problem
or that pleasure
yeah that sensation
and what i remembered as i was feeling the egg
was this is the basic
a point of origin for all of buddhism
that you really don't understand buddhism
you don't understand the way of buddha's teaching in the dharma without that
basic experience of your aching heart

i felt that perhaps the sitting before lecture is the high point of the day here
and the town
i hope in my my words this morning but i don't do anything to diminish the experience
the room
with a great intention
with great calmness of mine
and what the willingness to be open to the egg
in the heart

earlier this morning when i was sitting at home i heard a frog sing
and that's unusual i live in mill valley for those of you who don't know my name is steve sticky i i lived here at gringotts for some years and about ten years ago i moved over the hill
ah now i live in mill valley and sometimes
people come and sit at my house
but i thought well it's a wonderful thing they hear the song and the frog
and i heard it as
the call on about being and doing
and i like to read
a section and from
thomas cleary's translations
this isn't one of the cases of the of the hexagon roku this is
which is the blue cliff records
but this is found in the the biographical material
and it's the the story of
attainment it's a story of looking for a jewel
actually is i was standing out
waiting for the bathroom
this morning i heard lou giving a zazen instruction
he was talking about
oh the location of the dual
and whether the jewel is out there someplace the jewel being wisdom
or whether the jewel is may be hidden within you somewhere
so this story came from eighth century china
i'm not going to read it literally on with it
make a few changes those of you who want to check back later hits on page two twenty nine

this is about motto motto was a big a big fella i was very serious about his as in
and he went to a small temple and took a little up residence in a little hermitage beside the temple and was sitting zazen
with all of his tremendous energy
ah nanga cool
for hi john
nanga goes japanese by jiang chinese why john
heard about him sitting there and thought it going
see what he's up to
and so
this is an example of a friendly gesture
from one dharma student to another
so he comes up and matsu as sitting there and day says great one
what are you aiming at by sitting sitting meditation
and matsui replied i aim to become a buddha
so say he was always say going for it
then why john
didn't say anything
but he picked up a piece of broken roof tile that was lying beside the temple and he started
rubbing it on iraq
and what to know maybe he became irritated or curious said what are you doing
and why john said i'm rubbing this tile that turn it into a jewel
so mods who had to ask why
ha ha how are you going to make a dual out of a piece of tile
and y jiang said
how are you going to become a buddha by sitting meditation

so then why to said well what would be right
and why john responded it's like the case of an ox pulling a cart
if the card doesn't go
which do you hit
the ox or the cart
matsui didn't know what to say and why john went on
do you think you are practicing sitting meditation
or do you think you are practicing sitting buddhahood
if you are practicing sitting meditation meditate meditation is not sitting
if you think you are practicing sitting buddhahood
buddha or awakening
it is not a fixed form
you should need a grasp and or reject

matsu listen carefully
it says here that he heard this teaching as if he was drinking ambrosia

maybe that's like perrier when you're very thirsty
he bowed and asked
how shall i meditate
so as to emerge
with a formless absorption more of a technical question
why john said your study of the teaching of mine ground meditation practice has like planting seeds
my talking
about the essence of reality may be like into moisture falling from the sky

so i took to them

one was the seeds and one was the rain

now part of the context for me today for feeling the suffering is
my reading of the newspaper
many people are experiencing some difficulty in these days
some of the things that have come up in the last few weeks are of course the situation in china
or the story originated
about eleven hundred years ago
the why they had such a good story and now look at the mess

also tibet china and tibet and i know a number of people are down at
the dalai lama's meeting
beginning today i believe
where he is
meeting the press but primarily giving an initiation harmonizing the inner and outer realms
also there was a supreme court decision
ah which affect having to do with abortion
and i know many people are upset frightened angry

there are
seventy four thousand acres of trees of rainforest us being destroyed every day
i'm just saying these things my heart aches

so i want to talk about practice and in the sense of ah
sent zen practice being a kind of
a crystal
being and doing
and being we say is prajna
in our chance the prize new parliament as refers to
the mother of the buddha's or the ground
which is are fundamental in basis
for our life and for awakening for our consciousness
actually refers to ethics or schiller
in sanskrit
and our zazen in the middle is
concentration or samadhi
somebody and prize now
or three fundamentals of our life
as practitioners of the way of liberation
sometimes i think we don't put enough emphasis on
the skill of doing
we've come from suffering
two zazen meditation
looking towards the jewel
of prysmian
and sometimes we want to jump over all the messy
ah business
the details of our suffering and of the problem of what to do
i think that's for parley particular problem of the zen approach the zen school
which emphasizes sitting
and traditionally doesn't really say so much about but you should do
and i think it's also partly a problem of our western culture and how we receive what is teaching
in fact
don latin interviewed the dalai lama for the chronic oil and and he asked about some of the problems that a buddhist communities are having around ethical issues and the dalai lama said
well the the way this is paraphrasing him but he's saying that
many people in the west
take up a spiritual practice rather quickly
focus on the knowledge and they choose their teacher according to has his or her knowledge
but what they should be looking for is
what is the day to day action
so i think it's time for some
ah reflection on day to day action

an action that you take
has long far reaching consequences
it's like planning a tree and this morning i walked down to the end of the third field and i visited a pine tree that i planted it are transplanted there
about fifteen years ago
and there was just
a little tiny guy
now tower is way above me
because of the way of the world works everything touches everything else
and your action has although it may seem insignificant
it has consequences
far beyond what you may imagine or in ten
so that's why it's important to
pay careful attention to what you do
i want to think of this in terms of communication
when you're dealing with an issue like car
like abortion
or the destruction of rainforest
or someone's rights
interest in their own personal liberty
pay attention to the tone of the communication
the action that you take and speaking as an action
the words that you that you express
have consequences and the consequences can either be in the direction of healing
or they can be in the direction of division
this doesn't mean that
that we have to gloss over
if you have a different point of view than i have it doesn't mean we should pretend that we have had the same point of view it simply means that we should recognize that are different points of view or possible because we share the ground of being
we share price now
we share a buddha nature
so when your heart aches be careful that you don't
blame someone else
or that you don't just act to avoid
the feeling
as y jiang says don't grasp it don't reject it
he's talking about any experience you have
don't grasp it don't reject it so you're feeling of pain is something that you can neither grasp and define completely
or push away from yourself
grasping and rejecting our actions that cause trouble

also in this context i have a
and a personal experience of
of dialogue with a friend who's also have been practicing many years
and i want
this is not about the people personally and also i'm i come out kind of looking good and the story and i hesitate to tell it because i feel like and on a toot my own horn too much but in this case i want to present it as an example of possibly the right thing to do and
you can tell me about it afterwards if you think
i didn't do the right thing but i heard a rumor that a friend of mine was having an affair
and he's married and and
and i know
over the the course of their marriage they have experimented with having a sexually open marriage at times and that didn't work out too well so they as far as i knew they were having a monogamous marriage and when i heard that
my friend was having an affair i thought ah
i feel a little sick
and that and i and then i felt angry and i had whole series of things that that happened to made
and then i felt angry that it even though even had to hear about it because it affected my whole day kept coming up for me through the day
and so i had to over and over again just accept this information
and then i wondered is that you know what what's going on and
i knew that a number of people had been telling each other about this and as far as i knew my friend's wife didn't know so i thought boy this this could really have damaging impact when it gets around
so i didn't tell anyone else but i thought i should talk to my friend
it actually took me several days and order to get through the phone was always busy and
so finally when when i didn't talk to my friend i found out that it was not true

but something had happened
he had had an interest in another person
in acted on it but he hadn't told his wife would have it
so is one of those things where it's possible to understand how the person who is telling about it
really believed that it was true
so when i talked to my friend and his wife
after they had had a chance to hash it out
they they thanked me because as one of them said
it's like starting a backfire fire fighting and finding a big fire
well and fueling the big fire
he started backfire a small fire
in this case my small fire was simply the question well what what actually was going on
and going directly to the people who would know

how much of the communication that we have is that the level of rumor
much of that can mean much of what we talk about in are upset about is at the level of of just stray impressions were not really sure what the information is behind it
last night i saw the film spike lee's do the right thing
and there's so many issues that come up with in that film
but i actually thought that have a major contribution of the film is that it presents
a communication breakdown
it presents very clearly how people are polarized and are not actually able to even come close
to understanding each other

and in the context of racism in this country
or in the context of any kind of long-held prejudice
a lot of work
it's a lot of work to find out what what is the truth
what is actually happening
where is this
aching heart come from

now it we often look at the world through kind of periscope
where are we
we think
whatever is in
the viewfinder
and that particular view we think that's what's happening

this morning or a small thing happened where i recognized how i didn't know what was happening i went into the bathroom here and the men's than the men's bathroom here in the gaitan and i
reach for the light switch and one of the stalls she's a little string
but it wasn't there
hey there's no a little string there
i remembered to
my teacher harry roberts
don't assume
i was assuming there was a string there i reached for it wasn't there i felt around his little bit dark
it was gone
i said something about it to brian
it was also in the bathroom
and then i backed down to that stall and went over to the next one where i can see there was a string the poor
and now later i thought isn't there very strange you know they're all kinds of things i could have done but instead i backed out and i went over to the next one
i could have sat in the dark
why don't have to have a light on
ha ha
then make matters worse
brian came into the stall after i left it and he's simply reached up there and turn the light bulb
and on a web

sometimes i think you know are waking up as just like that in our i thinking okay now if only if i only i could really hang onto this string and then i can wake up brain and and it's actually right there off to the side
right at hand
but a little different way of approach

that's such a small thing and know what happened in
two or three seconds reach for it non-owner okay and do something else and
i mean out of even thought about it if ryan hadn't come in turn the ball so want to thank you brian for your teaching this one
but if you can see that that happens in two seconds over some issue that's i'm relatively uninvested in i mean yeah i wanted to turn on the light but i didn't get furious you know and then deeply hurt me that
there wasn't a string nepal
he has some sense of how far off we can get very quickly when we do have an investment
when it does seemingly make a big difference to us suddenly we can spend whole days
missing the the skillful response
we can spend whole lifetimes
and part of it is part of our practice is accepting that
that's going to happen
no matter what we do
part of our practice is recognizing that someone else can help
and sometimes where the person that can help
so in addition to sitting still we really need the practice of dialogue
we need the practice of ah
checking on each other
sometimes someone just needs a little nudge
and they can turn on the light bulb

doesn't have to be a big project and often it's it's more helpful to think in terms of of what you can do to assist your friend
then what you can do than thinking in terms of what you can do to help yourself
although you may need to help yourself and that's that's important too i was at a conference a couple of months ago of
i was on buddhism and psychotherapy
it was sponsored by to bed an organization and wellness and and actually doctor rock goes i noticed as teaching going to be teaching some courses that as and center in the city was one of the organizers of it
the conference was very
intellectual for the most part
partly that's the style of the tibetan
look at school and but apparently it was because almost everyone on the program had a ph d
and of course they felt when that was why they are there so they they had this look and sound intelligent
and have something to say
so in one of our zen centerpiece is on
came on to a panel discussion he brought little different flavor
if you may know is involved in working with hospice program for aids
people in and
the hartford street and zendo
just one block off castro street in san francisco
and at one point after his on and talked some question arose and said
he would like a son to make some
comments about the value of altruism
as an adjunct to meditation practice
and isn't said
what's altruism
oh the irony of this you know here's here's the most selfless person i know
saying what's altruism
the hate and then so the person said well the the questioner could not believe
she hesitated then choose which will well altruism of courses is doing something for someone else without thinking of reward for yourself
and this on said well why would anyone think about that
he just didn't do it

so isn't as an example of someone is as heart is open
his door is open and zendo is open
it doesn't occur to him oh maybe i'm getting something out of this or maybe maybe other people will think well he's an amazing and wonderful person

so when you find yourself with the periscope
how do you
well i have a friend who says her cheers of periscope comes out how here like this and looks around and then she tries to ah
meditate and then then she has another part of herself that comes up parent tries to push the periscope back in so that she can be centered
that doesn't work because it just starts a fight between the periscope and her effort to
put the periscope in so the secret is inside
we say take the backward step
i understand suzuki roshi used to like the frog so i and i heard the frog this morning so the frog has a kind of a periscope tongue
and when they fly comes by the frog goes
and immediately returns
so the periscope is fine if you have periscope vision in you need that
we need all the help they can get
but don't forget to bring it back
so the frog may sit
and have momentary
ah focus action and returned to sitting
now on day to day basis i think it's pretty hard for most diverse to have any sense of
the continuity that we're talking about in the story with bus so much matsu

zazen is a good way
to begin to find x access to that continuity
and by continuity i mean when you get up from sitting
that you continues sitting
that when you walk out of this room after the talk
you continue sitting
that when you have a cup of tea
you continue city
when you hear some rumor about your friend
he continues sitting

when you struggled to decide what to do
the continues sitting

and this where you're sitting as right in the middle always
wisdom prajna
and your ethical activity
it may seem like something extra to say ethical
activity is simply activity
but if you forget that activity has consequences
you need to say all activity is ethical
i mean ethical and sense of good i mean all activity involves ethical issues

and if you act
in the spirit of can of connection connectedness
so that wisdom is reflected through the action the action is manifest manifesting wisdom
then you're no longer causing trouble
there are no longer
clouding the waters
at that point you are
on the path
liberation creating enlightenment
for yourself and for all your friends

so find the place inside
for you're no longer thinking about
but you're feeling it
you're no longer thinking about your breath
you're experiencing your breath directly
may take awhile
you're no longer thinking about how angry someone else is making you but you're feeling the ache in your heart