After Generations Of Nobility, Temporarily Fallen Into Poverty

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Buddha nature. Story about Uncle Mi and Dongshan discussing a rabbit crossing the road.Lotus Sutra story about the destitute child. Enlightenment and delusion. Human agency (or training) and awakening. Enlightenment is always present although we do not know it. We are born into the Buddha family but we don’t know it and we can’t know it via human agency. What kind of effort is necessary? In Dongshans school, we need do training to understand that this is our nature but thinking we will get something or get better out of training is a mistake. Training can help us understand that.


I'd like to start by telling you a story. You could say it's a classical Zen story, in the sense that it's one of the stories that we look back to. We've been looking back to this story for quite a while. The story occurred in the Tang Dynasty, more than a thousand years ago. And it's been repeated and written down ever since. It's a story about one of our classical Zen teachers. His name is Dongshan Liangzhe.


His name was Dongshan and still is Dongshan. He's sometimes credited as the founder of the lineage named after him and his disciple, the Cao Dong school or the Soto school of Zen. It's one of the five schools of Zen. It's a story about him and one of his Dharma friends who is an elder who he kind of looked to as an uncle. So this elder's name was Sung Mi and he's called Uncle Mi. So one day Dongshan and his spiritual uncle, Mi, were walking along.


And a white rabbit ran by in front of them. And Uncle Mi said, Swift! And Dongshan said, How? And Uncle Mi said, Like a commoner being directly appointed as a prime minister. And Dongshan said to his Uncle Mi, So venerable and great are you and yet you say such words.


And Mi said, What about you? And Dongshan said, Generations of nobility temporarily fallen into poverty. These two close friends are providing somewhat two kind of different ways of looking at the Buddha way. OK. One way is that one might be a commoner,


an ordinary person. And one might be swiftly go from being an ordinary person to being prime minister of China. China. The other view is that after generations of nobility, one has fallen temporarily into poverty. One view is that we can go quickly. It's possible to go quickly from being an ordinary, deluded, unenlightened living being


to a great awakened one. OK. Now, this is kind of sounds like good news that we could go quickly from being a deluded person to being someone who is enlightened beyond personhood. Oftentimes we understand that it might take quite a while to go from being a deluded person to being a fully awakened one. In the Chinese world, for a long time they've had like officials who advised the emperor and who advised the emperor and helped govern the country.


But the officials are people who go through a very long process of training. You don't go quickly from being a commoner to being a prime minister. However, it was possible for commoners, if they really applied themselves to study, they could learn various skills. They could learn the sacred texts of the tradition. They could learn calligraphy. They could learn music. They could learn horseback riding. And they could learn all these skills and become a minister. And they had various levels of exams. One level, two levels. And if they passed one level of exam, they could go to the next one. And if they passed that one, they could go to the next one. By going through all these levels of examination, one could become a minister. And then one could eventually become


a senior minister and a prime minister. And it conceivably could happen in one lifetime. Very rarely, maybe it happened maybe once or twice in the history of China. Usually someone is born into a family of educated people and then you get education in your family and then you go through these steps and stages of elevation and increased skill. But there are stories about people who were like peasants but somehow had this gift of energy and intelligence. And those are wonderful stories about these commoners who learned these texts, who read them and after they finished them had already memorized them. There are stories like that.


And of course that's quite impressive. So then people would give them more opportunities. And then they again impressively learned and got again and again. And they rose and rose and rose and went from being a peasant commoner uneducated to being the most educated person in the huge empire. There are stories like that. Now Uncle Mi is saying that it's possible to go rapidly from being a commoner to a prime minister. Swiftly. Swift. And Dung Shan says to his elder, hmm, you still talk like that? How about you? After generations of nobility temporarily fallen into poverty, after generations of great enlightenment,


after generations of inconceivable wealth temporarily fallen into poverty. That's not a matter of fast. That's faster than fast. That's what you already are. We already are fully in possession of the wisdom and virtues of the Buddhas. And we have temporarily fallen into being destitute of that great wealth of our true nature. Usually the view of Uncle Mi is


the usual view of going from being ordinary to being extraordinarily wise. From being a commoner to a sage. By means, by means, by some means of cultivation. And cultivation is related to the word till. Cul-till. Tilling, working the earth. Cultivation. Cultivation of what? Of our life. We make the transition from commoner to sage by working on ourself. By means, by some means we go by some means. Some expedient means.


Some provisional temporary means is applied to our situation and we can move forward through various stages to being a Buddha Prime Minister. Here is an opportunity for human agency. We can do something. And people often want to know something to do. What can I do to become Buddha? Like, tell me a story about what I can do to become Buddha. And then stories are told. But this is a story telling that you don't have to do anything to become Buddha. You're already there.


But you have a tendency to want to do something to get to where you already are. The other way is to start with enlightenment and then enter ordinariness. That's our actual... From the point of view of Dungsan that's our actual situation is that we start with great wisdom and compassion and then that great wisdom and compassion enters into ordinariness. So, anybody got any ordinariness on them? Okay, do you? Got some ordinariness? Got some interesting conversations going? Got some fear? Any greed, hate and delusion? This is ordinariness. This has been... This is what our true nature has entered.


So we temporarily are in this ordinariness. And the entering into ordinariness from enlightenment is not done by human agency. It's done by... It's done naturally. It's not done by work, by cultivation. It's done by nature. Our nature... Our nature plunges into the ordinary situation. So... So one way of practice is to go from ordinariness to sagehood by means of something, by means of cultivation.


The other is to go from sagehood to ordinariness naturally by our nature. Our nature is that the enlightenment knows that it needs to enter into ordinariness for the full working of enlightenment to be realized. And this comment by Dumshan is also a reference to a story from the Lotus Sutra which I told before about a child of a very wealthy family. We are all children of an inconceivably wealthy family, the family of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.


We are children of that family. We are Bodhisattvas. But even though we have been for generations, we have not realized it. So part of our nature is to realize it and part of the way we realize it is by wandering away from it, wandering away from the great wealth of our Buddha family which we are born into, not even born into, which is our nature, which is what we really are, is to be in this family, but we haven't realized it. So part of realizing it is to wander away from it. It's part of the process of realization


is to wander away from what we really are. And as we wander, we become destitute. So the story in the Lotus Sutra is called The Destitute Child. It's about a child born into a wealth who wanders away, who doesn't understand his family and wanders away and becomes more and more destitute and desperate. He's a person of great nobility who enters ordinariness in order to realize his nobility. But the first stage of realizing the nobility is to feel very ordinary. And then he enters into a training and in the training he goes slowly from being ordinary to prime minister.


He goes through a long process of training in order to move back into his home which he cannot enter into when he first returns to it. And finally he enters into his home and realizes his family. He finally understands what his family is and now he's not going to wander away because he can accept and realize, realize and accept his true family, his true nature. And he realizes that he's always been in that family throughout the entire course of his training. So although we may go on this trip, when we finally realize our family,


we realize that we've always been in the family the whole way through. And that really we came from that family and entered this poverty in order to develop the skills we need to fulfill our nature. So our real nature or our real state naturally mixes with the ordinary. Our great wealth naturally gives itself away


and enters into poverty. And then in poverty it starts to work itself. What's working? This wealth is working in poverty in order to realize that the poverty is never separate from the wealth and the wealth is never separate from the poverty. Children born into wealthy families do not understand that their wealth already includes poverty. They must wander away from the wealth into poverty in order to verify that the wealth is there in all poverty. And


I can say and maybe I will someday say more about what it's like when you come from the Buddha family into poverty what the practice is like there. And I think this is the practice of coming from wealth into the poverty and practicing the wealth in the poverty rather than coming from poverty getting over your poverty and going into wealth. See this light? Okay, now Charlie you have been patient? Maybe. Yes, Charlie. Okay. Just a second, Charlie. We have a we have an acoustic issue here.


Yes? Is it still the result of human agency transforming our current practices? Okay, did you say did you say from the beginning again that the transition or the movement or the trip, the path from awakening to ordinariness you talked about that that that's not done by human agency it's done by the nature of awakening. Then you said something like is that movement the result of human agency? Did you say? He says yes. You're saying no. He just said yes to what I said.


The fact that wealth was a human Both of those are part of it. All transitions of the appearance of being in poverty or wealth are not controlled by human agency and yet are they not the result of human agency transforming our underlying consciousness or the practice that we do with our small mind transforming the real state the real state the real state is the Buddha way that's our real nature but part of our real nature is to plunge from there into human agency human agency is ordinariness it's ordinary for human beings to be into human action


and human agency so you go from beyond human agency and freedom from human agency and awakening in the middle of human agency having a great awakening in the middle of it you then re-enter it because this awakening wants all human agency to wake up to its nature so it plunges back in but it's not a result of human agency it's dependent on human agency because the purpose of this awakening is to liberate humans from being caught up in human agency which is also called human karma once plunged back into the human agency this great function of awakening may look like a training program where somebody is using their agency


to do various kinds of exercises however there's also the understanding that the awakening is already there and we're not going any place we're just integrating it with human delusion so that there can be another awakening in the midst of further delusion eventually well it could be eventually, that's one story that's one story of human agency is eventually, but actually from the first moment of plunging it's already there however the human agency may be not willing to let that be revealed it wants to do stuff so another story from the Lotus Sutra is


the story I told you about the story of the destitute child there's another story called the jewel hidden in the robe so once upon a time there was a person who had a rich friend who was a rich official in the government or something and he went to visit his friend and they had dinner his friend gave him food and wine and this person got completely drunk and passed out and suddenly the wealthy official was called away on urgent business and he couldn't wake his friend up he had to go fast I could add that he maybe tried to wake his friend up and give him a present


but it didn't work out that way he had to leave but before he left he took a priceless jewel and a priceless wish-fulfilling jewel and sewed it into the hem of his robe and left and when the man woke up from his stupor his friend was gone and somebody maybe told him that he was taken away on urgent business and that man went on to live his life and guess what happened to him he fell into destitution he had a really hard time and then quite a while later after suffering in this way for quite a long time he met his friend and his friend was really shocked to see his his state of destitution


and misery and pointed out to him that during this whole time he had been an inconceivably wealthy person that he had a jewel worth kingdoms in his robe he was he was a rich man who for some reason or another had to become very very poor all the while being very rich and then in the end he found out oh I'm a rich man yes why do you think a friend did you see him and never told him where he was why I don't know I don't know but one other facet of this story is that it echoes with a comment that


one of our ancestors named Ehei Dogen you know Ehei Koso Hotsugaman Ehei Koso Ehei Koso said when we inherit the precious jewel we always do so when we're drunk when we are born into the Buddha family our membership in the family is given to us when we're drunk so there we are being born in there but we don't get it our human agency does not comprehend the blessedness of our life our human agency is a state of like drunkenness where we can and we're so drunk we think we could actually understand who we are


who we are is far beyond anybody's human agency to understand and that's drunkenness is still it doesn't stop us from receiving this gift and it could come with or without notes but even if it came with a note we still wouldn't understand I would say yes from the point of view of the affordedness of quality is there a difference in the kind of effort that's required from Buddha's point of view and the kind of effort that would be required from Dung-Shan's point of view well there could be a difference from if you had if Dung-Shan was your teacher and was he teaching you, he's teaching you you want to train with me? do you understand that after generations of nobility you're going to not train with me and you're going to be like


not understanding that you're a noble person like right now I'm telling you that you don't believe me that's why you need training because you don't get it that this is your nature right? so if you in the process of this training if you start acting like you're going to get better or get something out of this training then I'm going to teach you that that's not appropriate to this training did you follow that? so if Dung-Shan is your teacher Dung-Shan is going to help you understand that you're already fully possessed of wisdom and virtues and you don't understand that yet and one of the ways Dung-Shan is going to help you understand it is by seeing if there's any sign that you're trying to get something like trying to get a better teacher or a better practice situation or a better work assignment or a better understanding so Dung-Shan


would help you to cultivate not trying to get anything because you're already there but because you have forgotten that you're already there you're probably going to try to get there and Dung-Shan is going to notice you seem to be trying to get where you are you seem to be trying to get where you are to get in the place where you are to get where you are to arrive where you are and to understand where you are even though there's something off about that it's dualistic it's impure but I'm going to be but since I'm talking to a great person I will be very respectful when I point out to you that you're contradicting your nature by trying to get something other than what you are maybe Uncle Mi would let the person get better and better and better I don't know but even if Uncle Mi did


that would still be the way Uncle Mi's true nature was acting like a commoner commoners do usually think in terms of getting better improvement getting richer getting smarter and also getting stupider and poorer but even though we maybe seem to be poor our basic constitution is still present we can never get rid of the fact the fact that the whole universe has gone to a universal trouble of making us what we are without the slightest error moment by moment and we, being what we are support the whole universe and there's no way that there can be any sticking


or lack of openness and wisdom and compassion in that nature there's no way to get stuck in anything that's like us being totally what we are is what Buddha is and us being totally what we are is nothing in and of itself it's the whole universe in this way yes I love totally being who we are thank you for loving it and I hope that love isn't liking that's pure attention it's pure attention yeah and the question rose in my head


once one escapes did you say escape? escapes once one distracts and knows once one distracts or escapes escaping is a form of distraction once one distracts escapes learns the possibility of escape and distraction and I'm wondering when one learns I have a thought a belief that when one learns to escape in order not to escape must realize the absoluteness of the price


that takes in order not to distract itself and I can say maybe I don't know how painful how harmful how horrible it is therefore I distract myself again I don't know the pain of it but when I actually know it the actuality of that pain will stop nothing else will stop the way


to know the pain of trying to get away from ordinariness the way to know it is to apply the compassion which we already possess to apply the compassion to the attempt to escape to the attempt to distract from where we are by applying compassion to the where we are and also apply compassion to trying to get away from where we are we more and more settle into accepting where we are and then discovering that we can be here with this incredibly alive situation that's so alive that we need to train ourselves to be in it so then we can sit in the middle of this life in such a way


that we turn the wheel of the Dharma by being with what's happening including being with every attempt to escape to be completely totally into trying to escape when we're trying to escape to be totally completely into distraction but the way to be totally into the escape which realizes the liberating Dharma wheel turning we have to be compassionate to the attempt to escape to the attempt to get rich to the attempt to get better to the attempt to get something now I just might briefly mention before I


just I'll briefly mention it and we can talk about this more later but for now I just say that someone asked me recently in another state of this great country or not even in this state but in more the center part of the country someone said to me I've been practicing just sitting for quite a few years this person said to me in other words I'm a Soto Zen student I practice just sitting just being myself completely and recently I've been starting to practice mindfulness and he said to me what's the difference between mindfulness and just sitting but maybe he didn't say that maybe he said how are mindfulness and just sitting the same but I didn't get into how they're different I don't know if he asked me that but I didn't get into how they're different I got into how they're the same how are mindfulness practices and just sitting


the same how are Vajrayana practices and just sitting the same how is Judaism and just sitting the same how is Christianity and just sitting the same get the picture mindfulness is just sitting when you practice mindfulness without trying to get anything get the picture how is being me and just sitting the same well you already know when you're totally yourself you're just sitting that's the same so how is just being me the same as just sitting well when you're being you without trying to get anything like some people are trying to be


themselves and trying to get something out of that, that isn't really being yourself like okay now I'm trying to get something okay just be that without trying to get something trying to get something trying to get something is a distraction inconceivably well some people are really rich but they're not as rich as we are and they're still trying to get richer have you noticed some people are billionaires and they're trying to make deals to get more billions that's because they don't know how rich they are because they haven't accepted their poverty so the wealth realizes itself by going into poverty and completely being poor and then realizing that the wealth was always there but we seem to need to get poor in order to realize how rich we are but also to help


other people realize it so our practice is the same as all other practices where we're not trying to get anything from our practice and it's the same as those practices when you're not trying to get anything from them just a minute somebody else had their hand Kim, you didn't know that because she's behind you yes I think I heard that that treating our tendencies part of the subject today is to apply passion to allow let's say a passion to that allows us to experience it more fully in a way that starts to help us can I repeat what you said? can I repeat what you said? would you repeat it again more slowly?


I wanted to understand the application of compassion to trying to get something? yes or to not try to trying to avoid something? trying to avoid something is an aversion of trying to get something you're trying to get avoidance so trying to get something trying to avoid something both of those are calling for compassion and then treating with compassion allows us to fully experience right, in order to fully be this wanting to gain something or fully be wanting to get rid of something in order to fully be wanting to get rid of something we have to be compassionate to it and compassion does not want to get rid of the impulse to get rid of and compassion does not want to get rid of


the impulse to try to get something and compassion also doesn't try to get of trying to get something. It just lets trying to get something be, and therefore it lets the impulse to get something to be totally itself, and when it's totally itself, it realizes that it's already got all it can ever have. It already has the whole universe. It's already beyond getting anything. It's already inconceivably wealthy and awake. We have to be compassionate to all of our distractions from being here, in order to completely let our distractions be, and discover that right in the middle of our distraction, we're completely there.


So Buddha sits in the middle of all distractions and lets them all be. Buddha sits in the middle of all the flames of escapism, which are all the flames of unkindness, all the flames of trying to get away from what's going on. That's where Buddha sits, and demonstrates not running away from any of it. And we are in that family of demonstrating, and realizing, and waking up, and entering into not running away from life. And we come into, and that freedom comes into all the flames in order to liberate all the flames of escapism. Yes? You're talking about generations of nobility falling into wealth earlier, and many of...


No, generations of nobility falling into poverty. And it also says, temporarily. You're eternally rich children. You're eternally in Buddha's family. But we temporarily, for the sake of realizing our nature, which is that we're in this family, for the sake of realizing it, we plunge into poverty, to awaken in the middle of poverty to our wealth. Because when we're just in our wealth, we don't get it. When we were little kids, if we weren't supported by the whole universe, we would not be alive. People put up with us. We were a lot of work. If we didn't get taken care of quite a bit, none of us would be alive. Now, everybody can criticize our caregivers, but basically the whole universe, including our lousy caregivers, supported us.


But we didn't get that. So we had to go away and get into more trouble and more suffering, and then start to practice compassion. And then we wake up to that all along we were in Buddha's family, which looks a little different from our family, but totally includes our family. Thank you. You're welcome. My question is that, or my question is that, when I hear that, my mind immediately starts going, why, why? It's almost like I, you know, I want, in many of the stories I hear... Well, one answer to it is, what's it called? It thickens the plot. Do you know the term thicken the plot? Yeah. It thickens the plot. And the why, the why is for the sake of realization. Because, again, when we're born into this, we don't get it.


Little babies do not understand all the support they're getting. They don't get it. They know that they don't want their mother to leave, but they don't understand that when their mother's in the other room, she still loves them and still supporting them. They don't get it. And then they do, and then they don't, and then they have to go away. And the way their mother's supporting them is just a tiny little example of how the whole universe is supporting them. Can I, would you pass that to me, please? This fell down from heaven, and I think the part of heaven it fell down from was in the


upper left-hand corner of that altar. This goes in there. This can be a work project to reinsert this in that place in the altar. This event was delivered to us under the auspices of the entire universe. And, yeah, so I would say that we seem to need to go away from reality in order to realize it. The strange thing about humans is that in order to realize what we are, we have to go away from it and return to it. So in Buddhism, the first basic three practices are the refuges, which means returning, practices of returning.


I take refuge in Buddha means I return to Buddha. I return to Dharma. I return to Sangha. What did I return? Because I think, because I didn't understand, and I wandered away. Or even I tried to escape. So part of the process is we're born into the triple treasure, we don't understand it, and in order to understand it, we seem to need to go away from it. And then we gradually come back, but even though we're gradually coming back, we never really left. So this wandering away and returning are really provisional teachings. Really, we're always at home. Really, we're always wealthy. But we need to realize that in order to help this wealth, part of this wealth is to help everybody realize this wealth. But that's not answering the question why.


Yes? Go ahead. I've been kind of straining to understand the dichotomy of work and not work. And sometimes when I do that, I just sort of let go and try to feel my way into it. And I can't decide whether that's laziness or whether there's some merit in it. Okay, so we got here work and not work. Those are both calling for compassion. If you skip over that, then you can get into trying to figure something out. But before you try to figure something out, you've been asked twice. In two different realms, you've been asked for compassion, which you passed up on. And so then you thought, forget about compassion for these critters. I'm going to go try to find out what to do. So you switch from compassion to human agency. However, once you've done that, once you've passed up on those two chances of work and not work,


and shifted over to figure out what's the right way or something? Oh yeah, now you can try to figure out how to let go. Well, the way to let go is to be compassionate to work and not work. When you do, you let go. And then you won't have to figure out letting go. But if you haven't, if you refuse to practice compassion towards work and not work, and then you switch to letting go, then you can be compassionate to letting go. Because you can't let go. Letting go is interfered with, not really, but temporarily, temporarily, letting go is interfered with by lack of compassion to holding on. Holding on to what? Holding on to figure out work and not work. So I'm trying to figure out how to let go. But it's never too late to start practicing compassion with what's going on. Now some people are like into work and they're not practicing compassion. Other people are into not work and they're not practicing compassion.


Other people are into I'm lazy. Other people are into maybe I'm being lazy. You have some other possibilities, right? Endless things where it can be into. They're all calling for compassion. And when you're into whatever you're into, you're sitting in the middle of it. And if you practice compassion with what you're into, which is all the flames of the universe around you, when you practice compassion there, the wheel of Dharma will start turning. That doesn't mean we get rid of work and not work, lazy, overwork, underwork, figure it out, let go, all that. Letting go, however, will happen if you practice compassion with everything that's around you. You'll be so busy practicing compassion you won't have any time to hold on to anything. And in fact you'll realize you never were holding on to anything because you're so rich. You're so rich you can't hold on to anything.


You're so overwhelmed with wealth that you can't get anything. And you can't try to get anything. You're just totally overwhelmed by the universe as you. We are the universe overwhelming in a particular way. And practicing compassion with everything in the universe, we realize that. It's so wonderful. Yes? Questioner... Is the practicing compassion or grandmother mind the same as practicing compassion? I think grandmother mind is like, what is it called? Grandmother mind and compassion are a little bit different. Grandmother mind is like the key to compassion. Like some people, I've heard about compassion


and they think it's really a good idea for some people. And in some situations. Do you know anybody like that? Like some people say, even great villains sometimes feel some compassion for their grandchildren. Some don't, but you know. They feel compassion to their mother or their uncle or their son or their daughter or their dog. A lot of people, a lot of great villains, several great villains, they hate everybody but their dog. But they do have compassion for their dog. And if their dog's sick, they really make an effort to really be kind and gentle to their dog. Even though their dog may be really sick and kind of scared and nip at them. So, almost everybody sometimes wants to be compassionate to somebody.


Now, what's grandmother mind? Grandmother mind is like the mind which knows that there's no exceptions, that everything's asking for compassion and you really want to practice compassion with everything. Grandmother mind is not like, well, sometimes I'm going to be nice to my grandchildren but not other times. If they behave and they appreciate my gifts to them, I'll practice more giving. I'll practice giving more compassion to them. Because they said, thank you, grandpa. But if they don't say thank you, I'm going to give up on them. Grandmother mind doesn't let that happen. So, grandmother mind keeps us on track. Because it's very clear. Every moment of daily life is an opportunity to practice Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. There's no exceptions. That's grandmother mind. Grandmother mind is like mature,


it's a mature mind that guides compassion steadily, almost without exception. When it's operating, it doesn't let compassion ever get missed. So, grandmother mind is like sort of for people who have, you know, matured in their practice of compassion. It's not exactly compassion itself, but it sort of is. But it's a high level of compassion. And some great ancestors who are compassionate to vegetables and monks and fire and rice and water and, you know, they have a lot of compassion. They have great service to many people. But they thought there was something more to Buddhism than that. They didn't have, what do you call it?


Grandmother mind. Enough. Yes. Okay. So, Emily, you got some supporters. Reminds me of that story where Suzuki Yoshi saw Yosemite Falls or Bridal Veil Falls for the first time. And he said, maybe each human life is like, he's like, you think the water would come off a cliff and stream, but maybe each human life is like one little drop hurling 2,000 feet and plunging back into the river. And that just seemed like a beautiful metaphor. Very nice of that waterfall to teach us that. I would say that we can know without, you know,


we can know that in a way that's beyond the sensation but doesn't eliminate the sensation. So, the way we're rich is not within reach of our sensation, but it's the way that the sensation is rich. You know, including some sensations that are really difficult to be present with. Like, this illness is really difficult to be present with, but there's a great jewel in this illness. Pardon? In falling 2,000 feet. Yes. There's this incredible wealth in all the things. Some of them are things which we try to get away from, but by trying to get away from them we don't realize the jewel in them, which is there the whole way.


The jewel, well, each one of those drops is a little, you know, if you look at it, it's actually shining like a jewel, right? All those colors are in it. All of those are little jewels, but somehow, some of them, we sometimes try to escape from. But the trying to escape is another drop, and that, by being compassionate to trying to escape, we discover the jewel in that. Yes? I think it has been, but now I'm going to get really confused, which is this slide. That is, I've been hearing about, thinking about sentient beings, and I still, yeah, if we're chancing the first ascension, which I'm fairly sure that it is, it just says to me that all of existence


is about awakening and compassion. It's just an endless process that we are all wonderful, boundless parts of. I don't know. Somewhere in the ascension universe, will we make sense? Well, one might think that one is a sentient being, and one might see somebody else and think, oh, there's Gloria, she's a sentient being. Is Gloria part of the universe by any chance? Is she? What? I think there is a... Are you part of the universe? There's a theory? Yeah, so there's a theory that we're part of the universe, that the universe is partly sentient beings like us, and that the universe has made these sentient beings.


We're a creation of the universe. Well, if we're a creation of the universe, then the universe, you could say, is at least partially sentient. But what about the stuff which doesn't look sentient? Well, if it made us, then we're its children. And if it's our parent, if the parent of sentient beings is not necessarily a sentient being, but it's also totally in all the sentient beings. Like, we have carbon molecules, carbon atoms in us, right? Are carbon atoms sentient beings? The sentient beings can distinguish between sentient and insentient, but the Buddha way is basically


not being caught in any of those discriminations, which could be analyzed and seen as nonsense. We totally include so-called non-living beings. Living beings totally include non-living beings and are surrounded by non-living beings which make the living beings. So we make the whole universe which made us into us. The whole universe is us. We are the whole universe. We are sentient, but we can also be not sentient. We can also not be caught by our sentience because, in fact, we're the whole universe. So there's no place for us to be caught because we're everywhere. That happened a long time ago.


Except you weren't supposed to wink first. Or maybe you are, and I'm smiling. You winked, I smiled. I shouldn't have winked back. Sorry. Yes? Oh, look, here's a flower. I held up a flower. Maybe it's a chrysanthemum, right? So she winked unintentionally. I winked back and held up a flower. Yes? May I share a story about the Nielsen family having or experiencing wealth and poverty? Could you hear her, Charlie? Yes. A story from her? It just, yeah. Yeah. So my son is a drummer and was going to play in a gig, a trio, a jazz trio, one of his first gigs, a paid gig.


And he wanted to take his newest drum set, which is not portable. He has what they call a cocktail drum kit, which is portable, and has all the protective pads. So he asked, my husband and I, if he could take, well, he actually said, I'm going to take my newest drum kit. And my husband said, no, you're not going to take that. You can't transport it properly. And I said, well, let's discuss it. Let's sit down and talk about it. Let's practice the Buddha way. Yes, yes. So we were wealthy in the moment. And quickly went into poverty. With strong opinions coming out. And my husband,


this is sad, but he yields to me because I think he's afraid sometimes. So it was leaning towards he could take the drum set that he has. And if there are consequences to that, whatever those are, those are our consequences, I guess. And my husband was showing me that, which there was wealth there. But I could see that in the conversation. So my husband needed to go back to work. I needed to get something in the garage. So we hadn't come to a decision. So we're out in the garage and my husband turns to me and he says, Angela, why do you do this? I don't feel supported. I don't feel bad. And I said to him, you're not going to put this on me.


And so here we are in poverty. And in that moment, I thought, I can't say that because he doesn't put it on me. And I think I might have said, I'm not going to put it on you or I can't put it on you. So there was wealth there in realizing that we're doing this together. And so then I said ... Excuse me. You need some adjustment here. Okay. You said there was wealth there in us realizing what? Realizing that we're not independently ... Right. There's wealth there, okay? Yes, I agree. However, there was wealth there in the poverty too. Okay. Like you said, I'm putting this on you. You're putting this on me. There's wealth there too. But then something happened


and you saw, you discovered the wealth. So the wealth was there, yes. But the way you said that made me think, well, you're talking like the wealth wasn't there before. Now, if you said there's poverty here, I would say, yeah. Temporary poverty, generations of wealth. And sometimes you wake up, oh, we're rich! And even in that, there's wealth in that. But if you're not compassionate, oh, we're rich, you somehow miss the wealth. However, in the poverty, the wealth is present. However, if we're not compassionate to the poverty, we seem to miss the presence of the wealth. If we're not compassionate to our delusions, we seem to miss the wisdom which is already there, which never goes away.


We just temporarily have lapses where we don't practice compassion with what's given to us, and then we miss the wealth. But it's there. We just miss it. And we need to miss it in order to then realize, oh, I forgot to be compassionate. Then we're compassionate, and then we discover it again, over and over. So that seems like a training process. But really it's a training process in remembering where we already are, over and over. It's not going anyplace. It's just various levels of resistance to being where we should be, which is where we are. So we go from, oh, it's poverty now. Oh, yeah, that's in the wealth there. And then also thinking, oh, now there's wealth. Oh, yeah. And a moment ago I thought there wasn't. That's interesting. And I can recover.


I can recover. There can be recovery from, this is poverty and there's no wealth here. We can recover from that because we're already there. So, yeah. May I continue? Yeah. So my voice was a little raised, and I'm still checking. I want to say I was being fierce, but maybe there was unkindness there in my voice. And then I said, the conversation never is finished. The conversation is ongoing. So what do you think? Let's go back in there and sit down and talk some more. And so we did. And the conversation continued, and I saw myself being impatient because each of us were talking, and I felt like we were just talking,


but there was no resolution. There was no... Oh! No resolution! In other words, no end to the conversation. And I think we all wanted an end to the conversation. And so then Carl was able to express, because... Anyway, Carl was able to express his pain around wanting something and his parents wanting something else. And so we were able to continue the conversation, and he ended up taking the cocktail drum kit and the conversation continues. Yeah. And the conversation continues, even though...


even though... This is a very holy robe. Even though there arises, in the middle of the conversation, a wish to come to a conclusion. You know, to complete, to come to a completion of this process. That's part of our poverty, is that we want to come to a completion. And that's another thing to be compassionate towards. But it does kind of interfere with us realizing our situation, is that we're trying to complete the path, which is open-ended. But you got over that, somehow.


You said... You announced that the conversation is open-ended, and then after you announced it, you felt like you'd like it to be concluded. And then you recovered from that. Over and over, we can recover. We can recover from wanting... and wanting completion, wanting the end of suffering. We can recover from that by being compassionate to the suffering and also the wanting to end it. So we say, you know, delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them. I've told you I have a problem with that vow. And the word is delusion, but really the word is greed, hate and delusion. Afflictions are boundless. So I think a better translation would be, I vow to go to the end of them.


And the way you go to the end of affliction is by compassion, by great compassion, compassion which will just keep going to the end, even though there's no end. It's, okay, I'll be here with you as long as you call me. That's going to the end of it. But we're training at that. We sometimes feel like that's enough, you know. That's enough. That's enough broken drum sets. By the way, I think, I'm not sure, I keep meaning to look it up again, but I think I heard Suzuki Roshi say in reference to this story, where it says, after generations of nobility temporarily fallen into poverty, I think that the image there is the image of broken hair. What do you call those hair things?


Hair combs? So in China, the aristocratic ladies have these beautiful hair combs which used to be made like from rhinoceros with all kinds of jewels in them. The aristocrats wear these amazing hairdos with all this stuff in it. So part of the image of this temporary fall is these precious jewels that have been broken. So you can see in the broken jewels the aristocratic accoutrement, long, but broken, and temporarily fallen into destitution. But still, you know, we want to take care of the drum sets and the hair combs, take care of them, but also remember that


even if they get broken, our basic situation has not been hampered or lost. And this is our great challenge, right? It's so difficult. I've got a lot of clothes on, as you may have noticed. I'm getting quite warm. I'm practicing being compassionate to this warm feeling, which is similar to on the verge of passing out.