Zendo Lecture

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I was asking Mel about the precious mirror, and I was rather disappointed in his answer because it sounded like I might as well just look in my own bathroom mirror. I was expecting something a little more elegant, or pretty, pretty, or special. Then of course I realized on the spot, well of course, why hadn't you thought about that? Why hadn't you figured that out? So I think what he was saying was that when you look in a mirror, and he did say, actually he did say this, that when you look in a mirror you see your true self. And how can that be? Because I see many things, in fact I rarely even see my face when I look in a mirror because I'm too busy focusing on whatever it is I'm looking at. But the thought of seeing who I really am doesn't occur to me.


So what I want to look at now is, let's see, form an image, behold each other, you are not it, but in truth it is you. I want to look at the last part of that, in truth it is you. Something that Mel also said which really, really pleased me was that your true self arises more than you think, more than you think. Because I think we're given the impression, I'm not sure why, but we're given the impression that we have to work really, really, really, really hard and do the most horrid, awful things, ascetic-wise, in terms of training, in order just to get a little breakthrough, just a little glimpse, fleeting. And I've always thought there's something not quite right with that, because I knew


that we must have more than just a slight glimpse to come here, for example. I think most of you come at great personal cost to be here and to have this much fun with people you don't know. So my hunch has always been that actually we're closer to our true selves than we think. I was reading a book the other day, and it was talking about those instances of non-duality. And the author says that, he mentioned a few, he said, well actually some of these are mine too, so it doesn't really matter which is which. So someone falls down without thinking, you rush over and pick them up. Someone nearby gets a paper cut, and you feel it.


You hear your name called, and you respond spontaneously, without thinking. You do something that normally makes you feel uncomfortable, anxious, or self-conscious. And suddenly, this time, you just do it without anxiety or self-consciousness. Like really listening to a friend who's in pain, and you listen to them with complete attunement, without thinking or distraction. Or when all of a sudden, that part of yourself that you've always hated, you just meet with compassion. Or allowing somebody to cut in front of you. Ever driven? I wonder if anybody here has ever experienced that? Oh, I mean the other side. Somebody cuts in front of you, and you hate them massively. Isn't that astounding? Isn't that amazing? And then, that time, I suspect after practice, much practice, when somebody cuts in front


of you, and that's all that happens. Without the immediate aversion. Has anybody experienced that? Excellent. Or, giving away, seeking mind talk. I think we probably know how much anxiety there is in that. But then, finally, saying to hell with it, and just doing it. Or being a Jiko. Or serving. Same thing. It's such a difference, being self-conscious and serving, and then when that drops away, and you just do it. And there's such a deep communion, I think, at least I experienced it, between the one served and the server. Things like that. And I think the thing with those is that they're so subtle. They're often so subtle, we don't even notice, because we have more important things on our


mind, like, well, you know, other things. Worries, needs, grosser things. But the true self, I think, is often so subtle. Before I go on, please don't misunderstand me. When I say true self, I don't mean a thing. I mean, there's not this little ... I was trying to think of it this morning. What would that look like if it were a thing? Would it be sort of like a little Kewpie doll, transparent, full of good intentions, that somehow it's in here somewhere, or over there? And the true self is no more a thing, or a person, than the ego is. Ego, I think, is our word in the West for the sense of ongoing self that we know so well, and usually think is all there is.


But the ego is no more a thing, or a person, than our true nature is. I think they're just natures. You can kind of describe them, but you're not really describing a thing. Actually, truth be known, nothing's a thing, but later on that. So you can kind of describe attributes, I think, but don't think that I'm actually trying to describe something that's real. Reality contains it, but it doesn't have the reality. But you all know that, right? Because any concept is just a mere concept, and nothing more. So what is it? In truth, it is you. You are your bathroom mirror. What does that mean? And so I was thinking about, well, what does a mirror do?


And as far as I can tell, it very clearly, I'm talking about a really good mirror, not a funhouse mirror or a mirror that has all kinds of dirt and smudges all over it, but one that reflects clearly. It reflects clearly what's in front of it. It doesn't make anything up. It doesn't look at you and say, well, for this one, I'm going to make him a little red. And for that other person, they'll be a little greener. It doesn't do anything. It doesn't even make up a story. It doesn't say, at least my mirror doesn't, that, oh, you've had a hard day, haven't you? You should rest. It doesn't say anything. It has no story. It has no defense. When I look in front of it in the morning, it doesn't go, whoa! It has no complaint, and it doesn't explain anything. It doesn't judge.


It doesn't have any likes or dislikes, as far as I can tell. It just includes everything and excludes nothing. I remember talking with Blanche one time, and she was talking about how we really are all inclusive, and that sounded so sweet. And I asked her, how, how, how do you become all inclusive, all embracing? And she said, well, you just don't exclude anything. I don't know what she was talking about, which is to say that wouldn't have occurred to me. So the mirror apparently doesn't exclude anything. It includes everything. It includes my, when I'm looking at it, it includes my true self, right, which is what's really in front of it, what's really there.


And that also includes my ego self, that wisp of who I think I am, that's full of greed, full of hate, and full of delusion. It reflects that all back, too. So it embraces everything. Nothing is excluded. It doesn't put me in a box. It doesn't say, I know who you are. You're an INFP, aren't you? You're a number five on the Enneagram. You're the tanto. All it does is just, it reflects what's really there. And I think of, recall Dogen's words in the Genjo Koan, even though it looks round or it looks square or it looks flat, there are whole worlds there, whole worlds there.


So my mirror sees me. It sees a whole world system, which I think pretty much describes us well, because you notice that when we come together and you get to know another person, it becomes clear sooner or later that there's a whole world there, almost a whole universe, most of which, oh, and I'll only know a particle of it. So I was thinking about our true nature as we really are. What are those attributes? And I came up with a short list here, and I contrasted it with what I would say the ego nature is. Let me just say that as far as I can tell, the ego self, which is the one we most often interact with,


someone has called it, it's a defense system. And I picture it myself as a fortress that's supposed to keep something safe. You'd think that'd be something precious that was being kept safe, but I think it really is trying to keep itself safe. It's trying to keep itself from what it doesn't like. It's trying to make a place where it can keep what it does like and doesn't seem to be able to know that that's happening. So as far as I can see, some of the attributes of our true nature, the buddhata, you know, the buddha nature, and you know these, loving-kindness. When I, if you look, well, I know looking up at the sky at night,


you know, you can actually see it here, and there are stars, and I know that my line of sight goes on forever, goes on, that's a long way, goes on forever. And when you, if you read some of the magazines, like Discover magazine that was here the other day, where you have all these pictures of what it's like out there. And there was one, I think it was the Hubble took it, but it was of, who was I talking to? I was talking to some astrophysicist. Astrophysicists seem to like me, and I'm really glad, because I really like what they're interested in. And maybe this was at the city, I don't remember. But the Hubble took a picture of an area like this from its perspective, a little teeny, tiny, tiny patch. And so it concentrated its thing, mirror, I guess, mirror on that area,


that little teeny, tiny area, and then blew it up. And that little area was filled with galaxies, filled, filled, a little teeny, tiny area that would look, we wouldn't even see it to look at it with our own eye. Oh, which is not the point I'm trying to make. The point I'm trying to make is that when I look up there, it seems awfully cold, awfully cold and uncaring. That's the impression I get. But from practice, all along through my life, the one thing that has struck me amazing, when you really get down to it, there seems to be tenderness. Suzuki Roshi in many, many times will say warm feeling. Have you noticed that? I want your practice to have a warm feeling. Or when you do something, something, have a warm feeling. I think that sort of makes life worth living, that given the rather cool, mechanical, perhaps, nature of things,


that the thing that makes us great as beings is that warm feeling. So loving kindness. The ego, on the other hand, gives love at a price. I'll love you if... And if you do that, then I won't love you anymore. So it's always bargaining for position, always positioning. The true nature, compassion, compassion. And compassion, as far as I can tell, isn't personal. Compassion is where, if somebody's in front of me and they're hurting, I think the automatic response of a human being is to feel compassion. In other words, there's just an opening of the heart. Somebody's hurting, oh, oh. If we...


And then I think other things can click in. You know, like, excuse me, like if you hate pain, I mean really hate it, or have been conditioned to hate pain and to fear it because it may mean weakness, sometimes I think that compassion can be instantly clouded over with aversion. Do you know what I mean? Like some people will walk by people passed out on the street. We'll have that kind of callous fortress. But I think, I really do think that the first thing that they feel, though, is compassion. That's a guess. The ego, on the other hand, the ego nature, doesn't really feel compassion. It feels pity. Pity. Where I feel pity, I feel sorrow for that over there.


That over there. With compassion, there's no that over there. It's just one thing that happens. Just two beings that are one. But with pity, it's that I feel pitiful. That person is pitiful. And there's also a sense of I'm glad it's not me. So there's a real separation. The ego likes things separate and manageable. Sympathetic joy is another one, where we actually are able to delight in other people's happiness. I wonder if anybody ever has a problem with that. I always did. It didn't seem right to me that they were happy and I wasn't. It seemed somehow unfair, like I got a wrong deal. And actually, it was by being at Zen Center and practicing the Brahma-viharas, you know, these four things, that I was able to learn,


or maybe make new channels in my head that allowed me to rejoice in the happiness of others. I don't say that as a virtue. So sympathetic joy. So the ego, on the other hand, feels envy. Envy is like battery acid. It's where you really resent they're having happiness, or they're having a skill, or they're having a voice, or they're having this or that, or power. And you resent them. Instead of our true nature, which lies behind that, beneath that, which just feels so delighted. So delighted. And the last of the Brahma-viharas is equanimity, and that's the all-inclusive part, and it accepts everything. And each thing is important just as it is.


Nothing's better, nothing's worse. And, of course, the ego likes and dislikes. This is better. I'm better. You're worse. I'm worse. You're better. That kind of thing. Again, separate and manageable. Calmness is another quality, I think, of the true self, true nature, where the turbulence is able to settle, and that you can be upright no matter what's going on. The ego nature, on the other hand, would rather have control. Control. Everything manageable. Two more. True nature, curiosity. Curiosity. Have you ever noticed that when you, for the 300,000th time, you've repeated the same behavior, at one point you may ask,


What is this? What is this? What's going on? When you finally get to a point where you no longer believe it, that it must be true, I think that's the true nature breaking through. What's going on? Whereas the ego nature, its question is, Why me? Why me? And the last attribute, I think, of our true nature is that intuitive wisdom that comes from the belly before thought arises. That's the part of the self that knows that reality actually is one. Whereas, on the other hand, the ego nature actually thinks that there are many realities.


For example, like, there's a parallel universe over here where everything does go right. Where everything goes as planned. It's where I'm a better person. And, you know how we actually can do that? We can pretend to live in a world that way. There's this world that we live in, and then there's the better one over here. That's not intuitive wisdom. Intuitive wisdom sees through it. It sees that there's actually only one reality. And the real last one is confidence, which we would call faith and trust. And I think that definitely comes with practice. It's sort of... As a kid and as an adult, until about 40,


I don't think I ever really had confidence or trust. But this practice, little by little, it was almost... The picture that I always had of it was that, you know how when you have a glass of water and you sprinkle little particles in it? They kind of sprinkle down in the water and gather on the bottom into something rather solid? That's how trust and faith... I've experienced that. That the more I did this bizarre practice in remaining upright no matter what and becoming upright no matter what, that somehow a strong sense of trust developed in my lower belly. And it actually has become quite unshakable. It doesn't mean I don't suffer,


but it does mean I'm unshakable. Where the ego nature will pretend that it's brave, trying to hide its fear. And do you know about safety? The ego self, ego nature, seeks safety and values it highly. And when you think about it, that's not much comfort because the notion of safety depends on fear. That when you finally are safe, you're afraid it'll be unsafe. So the whole notion of safety, I think, is rather elusive. I remember one teacher saying, maybe it was Paul, but safe from what? Safe from dying? Safe from a rock falling on you as you walk by?


Safe from being run over by an out-of-control Benji truck? Well, I mean, you get the point. That there actually is no safety. And that's okay. Oh, all right. So then the question arises, well, how do I become like my bathroom mirror? How do I become that? But then you remember they're saying, they're telling us, but you are. You are. Your true nature is like the bathroom mirror. So what do we do? Because I don't feel it sometimes. I don't notice that. And I think we are sort of graced at that point with Dogen's Dilemma. Dogen's Dilemma. Sounds like a good name for toothpaste. Dogen's Dilemma, which is,


if we already are Buddha, why do we have to practice? Why don't we know it? Why don't we see it? And his, of course, his response is Zazen. Develop Zazen mind, and somehow that will, you will realize who you really are. So I think that's correct. But at any rate, it's sitting not to achieve enlightenment, but to manifest it, and by including everything and not excluding anything. And we can do that. There are two ways, it seems like, in Dogen. One is what our school is famed for, Shikantaza, just sitting, for which there are no instructions. But I did find out, the other day I was looking out my window at the creek, and there was a squirrel


sitting on a fallen tree, and I could see that he was meditating. He was just sitting there. His eyes were, he was incredibly alert, as if his life depended on it, as it does, and you could just tell that he was ready for anything, and yet completely still, completely still. So I think Shikantaza is a lot like meditating like a squirrel, and highly recommended by Dogen, I think. Or you can do the other way, that Dogen, I don't think he would mention it, but, which is to follow all of the instructions he gives us. Like taking the backward step that turns your light inward to illuminate yourself. And you do that by meeting everything that arises with an,


oh, I'm sorry, this is not Dogen, this is me. Meeting everything that arises with an open mind and a forgiving heart. I threw that in because I really like that. But then going on, Dogen says, cast aside all involvements with, and cease all affairs. Do not think good or bad. Do not administer pros or cons. Cease all movements of the conscious mind and the gauging of all thoughts and views. I mean, that's pretty straightforward instructions, as far as I can tell. And what that means to me is, you know the eight consciousnesses? Well, this one, I think, refers to Manas, Manas Vijnana, which is the seventh, which is responsible for our impression that our ego is a real thing, that myself, the way I know myself, ordinarily speaking, is a real, solid, slightly changing,


slightly, but resisting all forms of change. Self, that knows who it is, is neatly packaged, resists any kind of feedback from people, wants to be safe, secure, in control, that sort of thing. So if you do these instructions that Dogen says, you know, don't think good or bad, don't administer pros and cons, what that does is that lets the ego relax a bit, the Manas consciousness relax just a bit. So every time you come back to your breath, when the judging mind has been raging, raging on and on, and you just calmly, you step back, and the light shines, and then you go back to your breathing, that lets the Manas consciousness relax. So then he goes on, he says,


have no designs on becoming a Buddha. Think of not thinking, and end stories as they arise, is how I interpret that. You know, I mean, like we have many ways to entertain ourselves in this world. One is daydreaming, for example, where story after story after story. In fact, our sense of self is a story. If you ever notice with way-seeking mind talks, if you've given a couple, you notice that, geez, my story's changed a little bit. I think I've given maybe, I don't know, six, seven or eight of them so far, and each one was very different. It was like describing almost a different person, which I count as a good thing. So at any rate, so ending the stories, I think, is letting the alaya consciousness settle, the eighth consciousness, which is responsible for keeping all the data on us.


It's sort of like our memory bank. It keeps track of what we're worth, keeps track of all of our stories, keeps track of what we owe in terms of karma. And again, don't think these things are real either. It's just sort of descriptive of nature's trends. So what happens is that when the manas consciousness, the ego, relaxes and the alaya, the storyteller, settles, then what happens is the Buddha nature radiates from below into kindness, compassion, love, the whole business. Well, you know, that's it. That's it for the lecture part. And let me end. Anybody have the time?


Sorry? 9.45. Oh, it's time, isn't it? Good. Isn't it time? What time am I supposed to get out of here? 10.10 is over? Yes. So here's my Dharma talk. It's this long. And I've given it before. It was during one of the late nights of Lastrihatsa Seshin. Oh, it was part of the encouraging words that we say during the last period. I in no way and never have considered myself a poet.


That's another box. It gives me a sense of security. And I don't even know if this is a poem. It may not be. But it did come up from no thought. I wasn't trying to think of something. So I'm sitting there and all of a sudden, here we are, each of us tiny monks, sitting on our tiny zafus in this tiny building, nestled in this tiny valley on the edge of this tiny planet, somewhere in a rather small galaxy, waiting for the morning star when the whole universe awakens to its own heart in each one of us. That's my Dharma talk. Are there questions? Joe? I'm wondering what you say to the part of me that says,


yeah, right, the Buddha nature comes blossoming forth. I actually see so many people just living a life of unconscious violence that that seems to be the true nature, actually. We can train ourselves to be nicer, but that's just, you know. Lives of unconscious violence. Are you talking about us? You're talking about your friends here? I'm kidding. Not specifically, actually. But maybe, yeah, generally, I'm talking about potentially all of us. You mean, why are there people who are violent? Is that what you're asking? No, I guess I'm coming from the perspective that some people think like our true nature isn't necessarily compassionate. So they're competing worldviews. And I think maybe we think that our true nature is compassionate based on the experience of ancestors. But I don't know.


Why do we think that our true nature is compassionate? What do you know? What do you know about you? I think that it's really hard to tell. I think as a person I'm a really confused person. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And one's true nature embraces that as well. I think it's, well, gosh, when you consider our culture, it has pretty definite messages to send to us about who we are. I mean, who is cool? Who's cool? Arnold Schwarzenegger is cool. I mean, I don't know him, please. So I don't mean too much disrespect. But what I mean is that we're given the notion


of what it's like to be a human being by our culture, which is geared mainly to make money off us in some ways. So I don't think most folks have much of a chance. I mean, it's really cool to pull out a gigantic automatic weapon and shoot people. What an interesting notion. That's why I live here. That's all I can say about that. Kind of a similar question, maybe a little different. So I've heard praise for people who are unconditionally themselves, who are unceasingly. But sometimes I find these people to be a quite unpleasant flavor. You betcha. There are some monks, even, or old-school ancestors who are stoic and possibly unpleasant to be around. So how do you balance that between maybe the intention


or the nature which resides in us and also a functioning capacity which can be quite harsh? I've heard one of the things that amazed me when I came to Zen Center is hearing the expression, we encourage you to be yourself. Be yourself. Be yourself. And that's really neat. I mean, who says that to you? Be yourself. And what I didn't hear was, and please be willing to accept the responsibility of how annoying you are because you're going to find out. I think we may have an image of what a truly evolved being is, and only is, I don't know.


I think of the Dalai Lama, and he's a product of his condition, very strong conditioning in the way, and it's been tested and tested and tested and tested by tragedy and pain. So maybe he's it. I don't know. But the old fart hermit in the woods, maybe that's the Buddha too. In terms of the everyday world, let's see, there are some people who are really pleasant, some people are unpleasant, and some people have annoying habits, and some people have very pleasant habits. But I think in the Buddha realm, which is the realm of total reality, everybody's perfect, and everybody's quite wonderful, actually, even though their pain shows, even though their suffering shows,


even that's embraced. So I think from an absolute point of view, please be yourself. What the hell else can you be? Well? I'm just going to have to practice this question to cease all thoughts and views, and that kind of thing. When I try to do that, I feel like it's a little bit like holding my breath, kind of, like I go, cease all thoughts and views, and I can do it for like a few seconds, maybe, or I think I can do it for a few seconds, and I look at those few seconds, and I'm like, well, that wasn't that special, you know? I didn't feel like it was this great, compassionate, Buddha nature thing. It just felt like, sort of, like the Zafu next to you, just kind of like, the Zafu, wasn't that wonderful? So maybe I should try kind of analyzing, you know, what the Buddhist scriptures mean, and thinking about what he means by that, and I'd sort of go off on that and say I'd rather just kind of cease those thoughts and views. Mm-hmm. I wonder if you can open up even around all that.


I mean, can you maybe lower a door and even allow that to be okay? Do you know, these things come to help us open. Do you know what I mean? That whole business, you know. I mean, it's always a problem when someone says, how do I stop my thoughts? How do I stop my thoughts? Well, geez, you don't. You know, you don't. See, this is all part of the problem. And, I mean, I don't know anybody who can stop their thoughts. I mean, if I did, I would worry about them. I would really worry. So it's not the idea of stopping it. It's about being able to not be fooled by it. Because the thoughts say, you know, we're real.


This is what's really happening. You actually are in Florida. And I can feel it. I can smell it. I can hear it. I can hear the ocean. Can't you? Do you know what I mean? Thoughts expect to be believed. Why not? But they're only secretions, like popcorn. They come from nowhere and turn into nothing eventually, if we let them alone. So, I mean, like the thought business is, you know, you're over and [...] over again, just stepping back and letting them be. Letting them be. Or not. Or not. If you want to go for a ride, go ahead. But just know you're doing it. That's all. That's all. And what I notice is that over time, the gap between thoughts increases or can, you know, when you're sitting. I notice that there's a slight gap


in between what I thought was a continuous stream. And that gap can be sort of bigger. And in that gap is an amazing sense of peace and freedom. But I doubt that it's any more special than the thoughts themselves. But at least it gives you that sense of space that the thoughts go through. Let's see. This softball could be my friend. You know? Steven. I wonder how our robot character knows that he has the end of his life is going to happen. He's going to die. And, well, the main problem is that at the end he has opportunities for human pursuers


Harrison Ford, I believe. And he doesn't do it. Harrison Ford, our character, sticks out without saying that. Why didn't you kill me yet? So perhaps in that moment he loved being alive so much. He loved life so much. To me, part of that feeling seems like the fragility the fear-basedness of being alive. Like the person that he loved that seriously not wanting to die loving life not wanting to die not wanting to suffer that to me that feels it's a fear-based thing with nature fear and in the end we're not living things like you said there is no


such thing as a thing so true nature is by true self is by default you're not it it is you everything the small girl absolutely that's right well, I don't think I followed everything but what I oh darn I forgot what I was going to say well the when you think of true self or when you hear Buddha I always instantly substitute reality in big capital letters I think the Buddha really woke up to reality and that reality includes everything even delusion like the sky


includes clouds that block my view of the moon and does it does it just fine so that who we are who we really are includes the wispy nature of the ego which we think is solid it's going to die it's going to leave life there's life and there's death then there's whatever our culture tells us is next but I think I think the truth is that everything is much bigger than that much bigger you remember you remember the Buddha's the enlightenment story at least or at least please bear with me I've said this before but when you see the actual film footage of the Buddha's enlightenment which they included in Little Buddha the movie he's sitting there at the end and Mara we don't know it's Mara


there's a little pool in front of him and this figure comes up looks a lot like Keanu Reeves and sits in front of the Buddha who looks a lot like Keanu Reeves as well and he says the Buddha finally says I have seen you architect for who you are and so he's fooled by you again and then the form in front of him returns to the form of Mara this rather unattractive beastly kind of person and then disappears so what was the point of that? laughter laughter oh I guess our practice and the teaching too it does make a difference I guess what the ancestors say and you know it's not just because


I think they're smart or something I remember are we ok on time? I don't want to be too long I remember going to Green Gulch and listening to the lectures this is my first practice period and I didn't understand anything much of what they were saying and that was kind of frightening unsettling but I also felt that even though I wasn't able to grasp it there was truth here that they were actually saying how things actually were and that wasn't because it made sense at all, it was something very deep that responded to the words the ancestral way our strange way of talking so yeah Trevor I hope this doesn't sound like a silly question I said I hope this doesn't sound like a silly question I hope you can try to answer it anyway


when our ego ego clouds over our buddha nature when we're not compassionate we're not wise what happens to our buddha nature then? what's it doing? well sometimes these things can be overwhelming you know when you say our ego it's like greed or hate or delusion sometimes that can be really overwhelming and I think our sense of our compassionate deep nature can get kind of hidden and I think what we do here is we practice really hard to to this is where words don't help too much like zazen is about letting well being able to take that backward step because when you take that backward step then you are not it do you know what I mean? then you are not fear


then you are not emotion then you are not thoughts then you are not sensations you know so I think we practice I can't say it we practice allowing our true nature to be I guess so we can see it and recognize it I don't know I'm on really shaky ground here you know folks it's so easy to talk about these things as if they are things things to be gotten things to be gotten rid of and it's not like that at all as you know Deanna? when you were talking about compassion and pity I had an image of walking down Market Street and walking walking by homeless people which I've done a lot when I was a kid and when I would walk by them and not donate money I would feel separate


and I would feel I would feel separate but when I would give money I would still feel separate and I would feel pity even though it kind of seemed like it might be compassion it felt more like pity to me so I wonder how we move towards a place of compassion that really doesn't incorporate well you have to keep with that it sounds like an old but you have to keep working with it immersing yourself in it and the reason I say that is because I was talking with somebody the other day about being in India being in Bodh Gaya especially the temple grounds which are there are a lot of tourists and a lot of Tibetan monks and but most most of the and some seller things you know trinkets and things sellers along the balustrade that goes around the temple but most of the people are the professional the beggars their job


that's what they do and I went with a group of about 18 people and we could barely stand it what I was experiencing personally was here I am I'm a priest you know I'm a monk you know I am slightly evolved I've been practicing I have a kind heart I'm generous I'm not mean spiteful and hateful well that turns to a pile of poop really quick in Bodh Gaya because they all they see that a mile away that sort of self-righteousness and complacency and zoom right zoom come right to you little kid saying hey money, hey money, hey money I don't quite have the accent but it's incredibly annoying


hey money, hey money because all we were were dollar signs rightly so and then there were the older ones the adults who could spot you a mile away and they could figure out just what would work and what wouldn't and stick with you and even when you went home, when you came back the next day they'd find you and what we found, what we all found was that we were beginning to hate them we the religious people the kind ones we couldn't stand it the aversion was so great and I think that was because we thought they were different from us and we wanted to be different from them and what happened, but I noticed that the guy who was and his wife who were leading the group didn't have any trouble they had no trouble they were assaulted I said, what is this? what are they doing?


and I mean the biggest thing I saw was that Shantan went sort of like that once to a group of them Jedi mind trick? so I realized after a few weeks of real agony I mean we were just beside ourselves we were the good guys we were supposed to be the good guys we couldn't hate them but we did and so what finally happened was there was a shift happens where you're no longer separate you're a part of the whole business and you're no longer a mark or a sucker


even though you look at it but once they come near then they sort of tell there's a shift that happens and I think that's probably real compassion but you have to really immerse yourself in it I don't think it's something that can be thought out here of course you are immersed in it so have fun it's important no Chris? I've been thinking for a while about taking a step backwards and it sounds so sometimes it sounds like I'm avoiding other times it sounds like I'm giving way to allow and so there seems to be some contradiction well that's because it's a duality right? it's either running away


or what was the other one? running away or allowing it allowing it well I think the backwards step is more getting disentangled disentangled so that you can step back and embrace the situation instead of being all tied up in it and useless completely useless and that's the same thing not only with people but inside or not just people either but anytime when you're overwhelmed by the stuff that comes up inside of you sometimes it's actually possible to say oh wait wait a minute and just back up and say oh gosh hurting there's hurting there's fear then you're not it because when you're in it you'll do anything no no no


being entangled is not being with it's losing oneself we can fight about this later there's a difference between embracing and being blended with the situation in my opinion Judith? Could we say that one of the attributes of true nature is being able to turn toward all those attributes of ego nature to entangle us to embrace us absolutely I think that's what our practice is to be able to not exclude anything to embrace everything with an open heart that's the only way that that sort of ego fortress thing can soften


if we turn away from it it only makes it harder stronger or if we hate it it makes it even stronger but if we meet it with love and tenderness it does soften after a while what happens turning to what? I don't feel pity so much myself pick one Chico, pick one, please being annoyed oh, oh oh, oh yes I think I have some experience with this


being annoyed, I sit in that seat there looking out, seeing everything except a swath that's hidden by the altar over here and I was noticing the other day when something goes wrong you know, when when we fall out of my parallel perfect universe where everything goes right when something goes wrong it used to be, oh, geez and oh, when I don't have a pad and pencil here I have to remember to tell them and I never ever do but what I noticed what I noticed that's happened, especially with this job being in the city was mostly torture in that way but I think what that did was it helped me soften a bit about what I thought was right or how I thought things should be and all because people were telling me big, big people were telling me how things should be and they were conflicting and I was confused


so now I notice that it's, oh I mean, I'll feel the oh, there were there were two Japanese people, I think they're Heiji or something, I don't know one of those places in the kitchen, I was at Tenzo and we were eating at the long counter there and we had casseroles and one of the crew members was rather, let's see easy going or rebellious one of those, a combination of those two and he so he was at the end and he took the cover and he slid it down the counter and those two monks at the same time went it was beautiful so I think I think we kind of get like that if there are right ways


and wrong ways, you know, because we feel for the other person because they're going to get scolded like we were at least this is what I feel but then my brain clicks in and it's this first thing and then it's, oh of course I understand, of course it's all right it really is okay so that's where I am now and that's only having gone through hell Dan sure shall this be the parting glance here we are each of us tiny monks sitting on our tiny zafus in this tiny building nestled in this tiny valley on the edge of this tiny planet somewhere in a rather


small galaxy waiting for the morning star when the whole universe awakens to its own heart in each one of us thank you very much