All Buddhas, Great Compassion

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A virtual Dharma talk by Tenshin Roshi for an online gathering of the No Abode community


AI Summary: 



So, to amplify this practice or to maybe, I don't know, amplify it, more like to unfold it or elucidate it, a great bodhisattva in a sutra gave ten practices by which we can uphold great compassion. None of them are called in that presentation, Great Compassion. I would say they're all trying to give us some guidance on how to practice in such a way that we realize the actuality of great compassion. So, some of you have heard these ten already, right? Have you heard them, Dawu? We'll see. I can't remember.


Okay. So, if you can't remember, if I ask you to recite them, you won't be able to, probably. That is probably the case. Okay. Well, guess what? I do remember them. And I remember them because I've recited them quite a few times. So, today I will recite them again. Here's number one. Number one. Honoring all Buddhas. Paying homage to all Buddhas. That's number one. But for today, I'm going to change all Buddhas to great compassion. May I? In the sutra it says honor all Buddhas, but what are Buddhas? Buddhas are the realization of great compassion. And also, when you offer great compassion, all the Buddhas are included in that, because all the Buddhas are working together. And who are they working together with? Each other.


And who else are they working together with? That's a question. This is a test. Who are the Buddhas working with? Huh? They're working with all beings. They're working with each other, yes. They're working with their children. The Bodhisattvas. Their offspring. They're working with the future. And they're working with all beings. They're working with every feeling, impulse, emotion, perception, sensation that we have. They're working with all that. So, and that's great compassion. So, the first practice is to uphold great compassion, is to honor it, to pay homage to it. Are they working with the past? Pardon? Are they also working with the past? Right, they're also working with the past and the future. So, Buddhas are working with past Buddhas and future Buddhas. And also, they're working with past living beings and future living beings.


And also throughout all directions of space, throughout the whole universe, throughout the whole Milky Way, throughout Milky Way's partner, Andromeda. They're having a love affair right now, those two. They are not separate. They're like, they're like attracting each other. They're like getting ready to merge intimately with, by the way, unspeakable, unimaginable space. They're intimate with inconceivable space. They're so far away from each other, and they're soon going to be less far away from each other. They're going to overlap. And in that overlapping, in every being of their bodies, there will be tremendous space in the being,


that is all the beings, and between their beings and the beings of the other galaxy. These galaxies are playing out what we're playing out in our Bodhisattva practice. We are in a process of realizing intimacy with all beings, just like the galaxies are, especially our local, super-duper cool Milky Way is developing and deepening a relationship with Andromeda. The Bodhisattvas, you could say, did they get the idea for this practice from the galaxies, or did the galaxies get it from the Bodhisattvas? I don't know. You might want to put your mask, it's kind of falling off the side. Thank you.


Number one, that's number one. This is a practice by which we can practice upholding great compassion. Honoring great compassion is part of opening up to it and all beings. Number two, praising great compassion. Great compassion, you are so wonderful, you're so helpful to all beings. Number three, making offerings to great compassion. For example, like today, I just said, you can offer your sitting to great compassion. You can offer your sitting to harmonious relationships with all beings. You're sitting, you've got something to give.


You're sitting. And offering your sitting, our sitting, offering it to great compassion is part of the practice of great compassion. Of course, you can also offer great compassion to the sitting. Number four is called confession and repentance of various kinds of shortcomings. Shortcomings in what? In the practice of bodhisattvas. For bodhisattvas, when they confess shortcomings, they're confessing shortcomings about what they are. Shortcomings about what I am. What am I? Oh, I'm a being who is devoted to great compassion.


So, the shortcomings that are important to me are the shortcomings in the practice of great compassion. So, here's an example of a confession. I was in the meditation hall over the hill, and I noticed somebody was not in their seat. They were absent. And I experienced irritation that they weren't in their seat. And when I felt that irritation, I forgot to pay homage to great compassion at that moment. I forgot to make that moment of feeling irritated


an offering to great compassion. Oh, here I am. I've got a body, a sitting body, who has irritation. So, oh, I can offer this sitting, irritated body to great compassion. I forgot. Is that laid clear to you? When something happens and you feel irritated, and you might be like wishing to be committed to the practice of holding up great compassion, and you forget to offer that practice, I mean, offer your current being to that practice. You forget. But then, not too long after, I thought, well, that wasn't very nice. I missed a chance there. I did feel the irritation, but I missed a chance to use that moment, oh, to practice great compassion.


And now I'm... So, that practice, which I did then, that was part of upholding great compassion, is to confess and repent, to confess and regret when you don't do it, when you don't give yourself, when you don't give this to that. You don't practice offering, for example. And I'm doing it again. And this practice of confessing the shortcomings in the practice of great compassion, that upholds the practice of great compassion. Kriya, did you want to... Was I not speaking loudly enough? I answered it. Great! What was the question that I answered? Okay. That's number four. This great Bodhisattva, Samantabhadra,


gave us these practices to hold up the one practice. The next practice is to rejoice in the merits of all beings. If you see any merit, like see somebody sitting, and it seems like, that's really nice, skillful sitting, you rejoice. You see someone being generous, you rejoice. Rejoicing in the merit of living beings upholds great compassion. Number six. Number six is to ask great compassion to turn the dharma wheel. Someone said to me yesterday, how do we hear?


How do we hear great compassion? Oh no! He said, how does great compassion speak to us? How does great compassion speak to us? And I thought about the question, and now I would say, great compassion speaks to us by speaking the true dharma. Great compassion speaks to us by turning the dharma wheel, which I guess you could see, kind of like a roulette wheel, goes tick, tick, tick, tick. Or like wheel of fortune, goes tick, tick, tick. So we're asking the Buddhas, we're beseeching the Buddhas, we're requesting the Buddhas to speak, to speak, to speak great compassion. Great compassion. Part of great compassion is to ask great compassion to speak to us.


And at the beginning of this chant, the vow we just chanted by the ancient teacher, Dogen, it says, it says we, but in the original he says, I vow, I vow from this life on throughout countless lives to hear the true dharma. To hear great compassion teaching the true dharma. And part of hearing the true dharma is to request that the Buddhas offer us the true dharma, offer us the guidance in the practice. Part of upholding the practice of great compassion is to request great compassion to speak to us, to speak the dharma. Which number was that?


Six, right. Number seven. Ask great compassion to stay in the world. Just in case great compassion wanted to go on vacation, wanted to leave this world of misery, please don't go. Please stay in this world. So it's kind of like asking actuality to stay in the world. Asking the truth of great compassion to stay in the world. Again, of course it will. Of course it will. Actuality cannot get away from this world. However, if we don't ask it to stay, we're missing a practice which verifies that it's here. Was that like real easy or was it really hard?


It's already here, but it's already the truth, but if we don't practice that truth, it's like we miss it, even though it's right in front of us. So one of the ways to not miss it is to practice it. And one of the ways to practice it is to say, reality, please stay. Stay. It's cold outside, stay. That's an upholding of actuality practice. And without practicing, upholding it, we miss the joyful practice. Number eight. Is to do all the practices that any Buddhist have ever done, or to do all the practices of great compassion, which means do the ones we just talked about,


the first of seven, and do any other practices that great compassion does. Does great compassion practice generosity? Generosity is great compassion. Is great compassion being careful and tender with the empty seats and irritation with empty seats? Is it being respectful of irritation? Is it being accountable when we're irritated? Is it being patient with irritation and other pains? Is it being enthusiastic about great compassion? Are Buddhists enthusiastic


about great compassion? Are they up for doing the hard work? Are they enthusiastic about doing hard work of great compassion? Doing the hard work of intimacy with all beings, realizing it. Are they undistracted and concentrated? And do they understand what's going on here? Do they understand great compassion? Yes. Number eight is vowing to do those practices and practicing those practices. Number nine. Harmonizing with all these living beings. The first ones in some ways are harmonizing with the Buddhists. Now turn this great harmonization with great compassion. Turn it over to and put it to work with all living beings.


That's another way to uphold great compassion. And finally, devote the merit of all these nine practices. Do the practice of devoting the merit to all suffering beings. So we start by being devoted and honoring and making offerings to the awakened beings and we end by giving the merit of all that wholehearted upholding to the people who have not yet been able to practice upholding great compassion wholeheartedly. They have tried not much at all or tried quite a bit but have not yet reached wholeheartedness. And we're giving them all that merit to help them practice wholeheartedly. Well,


that was kind of a review for many of you. And I've been talking for a long time according to this clock. And I haven't really got started. Barely got started. So it looks like I'm not going to finish anything. But I just thought I want to mention a difficult point. Which is as we when we open up when we start to uphold great compassion we naturally and even before we practice great compassion many of us are aware of worrying that we're not compassionate enough. Or that


our we're not compassionate enough. Or we're not helpful enough to all the suffering beings. So here we are wanting to help all suffering beings. And then one of the beings that comes to visit us is worrying that we're not helpful enough. People who want to help beings are often visited by worry that they're not helpful enough. At that point if we honor great compassion at the point when this worry about not being helpful enough shows up then we


it would it would be appropriate to honor this worry. Rather than excuse my rather than try to get rid of the worry by getting some sense that you're helpful enough or trying to be more helpful before you try to be more helpful you've got something on your plate. It's called worry. That's what's asking you for compassion right now. Worry. But a lot of people oh worry that I'm not doing enough I should do more. But you just ran away from somebody that was asking you for love and attention. This is very hard for people like be wholehearted with the worry that you're not wholehearted enough. And


if we can be wholehearted with the worry that is the way the worry wants us to be with it. It doesn't want us to be rushing off to do more to be more helpful. It does not want that. It shows it didn't come to say hey do more. It's saying hey listen to me. But it's hard to listen to it so we want to go do more so that maybe it will go away. It's not coming to say would you please get rid of me. It's actually coming and saying hello would you please listen to me and would you listen to me wholeheartedly. And don't try to do something else right now because I'm here saying worry worry that I'm not helpful


to all those other beings. This is really painful. I want to be helpful and I'm worried. I don't even I'm worried that I'm not. Now some people actually instead of saying I want to help all people and I'm worried they also move on from not taking care of the worry to say I'm worried that I'm not and I'm not. That would be another thing and that would also be calling for wholehearted. I'm worried that I'm not and I also figured out that I'm not helpful enough. Those are two things that are calling for great compassion. They want a wholehearted hearing. They want their day in court full of wholehearted listening and that wholehearted listening to the worry that we're not doing enough. That wholehearted listening is just what the worry wants


and it's just what brings blessings to the worry and frees the worry. And not only and this is the way worry wants to be cared for. It wants to be listened to. It wants to be honored. It wants to have offerings made to it. That's what it wants and that's called taking good care of worry that you're not taking good care. Now here's the next step. This is great compassion on the job. Here's the next step. This way of taking care of worry is exactly the same as the way you're taking care of all beings. When you take good care of the worry that you're not taking care of people well enough that good care of that worry is the way


you're taking good care of everybody because everybody's included in the worry because the worry is about everybody. You worry you're not helping enough of those everybody's. If you take really wholehearted care of worry that you're not doing enough good in the world that wholeheartedness is the way you're taking care of the whole world. This is a point which I hope we hear and remember because it's saying what taking care of this is the way you're taking care of everybody. If you don't here's the sad part if you don't take care of your worry if you don't listen to it wholeheartedly if you don't give it the attention it's calling for that's the same way you're not giving all beings


what they're asking for. So the way I screw up with the way I'm not taking care of worry is the way I'm not taking care of anything and vice versa the way I do take good care of worry is the same as the way I'm taking care of everything. So this is the good and inconceivable message for today. And there's more but I've been talking so long I think I will now let you talk some more. Yes? Thank you that's what I want and I also want you to listen wholeheartedly. There is more


I call it occupation more what? Occupation the mind is occupied our mind is addicted or it's intimate or it's degruded in this occupation to the point that it does not even see an occupancy unoccupancy it's so occupied to the next and the next and the next and I don't know if it's the not enough I think the mind has not enough is one of the things that some people are occupied with that's an example of an occupation yeah so that's maybe the translation of but I feel


the way I feel it is like it's a movement like this you know yeah, worry is like this and that's annoying it's irritating it's painful and what you call occupying is calling for compassion let's see calling for compassion or [...] it is compassion it's not even calling well, it's not no, it's not compassion it's not compassion but it's not separate from the compassion it's intimate with the compassion but it's denying if it's intimate yeah so in the intimacy are the things like this? no


no in the intimacy it's like this there's no movement in the intimacy so the occupying which you brought up and then you made these gestures this occupying every moment of occupying is calling for compassion and the compassion is right there listening to the call but the call is not identical to the listening or or maybe maybe the call appears on unidentical to the listening you can say it appears that's fine yeah to just again get what you talked about


get is to get attention yeah great so when there's occupying it's calling for attention it wants attention to get the occupation it wants to get attention yeah and great compassion gives it attention yes ok then my next question was because I had this meditation actually that there was a time that I was just going this spiral movement down and I didn't get the call it seems like a whole universe in the sky but it was down it was not up so my question came I don't know I think we have to be so far away from truth that we are did you say did you say I think we have been so far away from truth yes yeah that's what you think


yes that's what I think yeah and that's not true right no we cannot get the least bit away from the truth we cannot it's impossible however we can think that we are that's when we think that we are away from yeah and we uphold it up uphold it but it's not us it's here or whatever you say yeah you can say uphold means you you support it it means you're you're devoted to it you don't have to lift it up yeah it's like up but it's more like it's more like holding it's more like holding a baby you okay so anyway you're you're holding you're holding this this practice yeah and the practice is to listen to


the thought that the truth is far away yeah such thoughts do occur they're not they they're totally ridiculous but we do think we do think that and and and even though it's ridiculous we we take care of it like it's a precious baby so you would like to you would like to let go of the thought that purity is far away and the way to let go of it is to be kind to the thought that purity is far away the thought purity is far away is calling for compassion and great compassion is totally


embracing the thought that purity is far away and great compassion embraces the thought that great compassion is far away because it embraces the entire universe, and it's embraced by the entire universe. Anything else before we move on to the next major event? Yes? Yes. Intimacy and great compassion. There is a kind of compassion which feels somewhat separate from those who we observe suffering and for those who we want to help. There's some sense that they're not us, but this great compassion, yes? What are the things


that are changing? No, I would say those are functions of great compassion and they're always present. What's being helped or the way people are being helped, that's changing because the beings that are being embraced are changing, but the helping is always right there. The problems are changing and so the way that this problem is liberated is unique and in the next moment we have a different version of that problem or a different problem and so that's in a sense it's different, but the liberation function, the embrace, [...] the intimacy, with different, [...] different beings. So that's part of why this great compassion doesn't


have anything, because since it doesn't have anything it's not holding on to the beings that was helped in the previous moment, it's like open to the present problems, because it's not like, well I've already been helping you I've already been in doing this for a long time, it's not like that, it's like okay, been there, done that, what's up? And that what's up is always fresh and new and never, never been seen before. I just want to tell you that Kriya requested a service for a very dear friend and so after this Dhamma talk would you please help us do a service for her friend? Daul and Patty? I just wanted to check something, check my understanding about


something you said. So you were talking about if we have a worry that we're not doing enough to help all beings, then we listen to that and bring compassion to that and that is great compassion. That's what great compassion would do, is it listens to that worry wholeheartedly and that's exactly the way great compassion is helping all the other problems in the world, exactly the same. And it sounds to me like in this case it's a worry about helping all beings. Or you could even... It doesn't matter what the worry is about, or what it is that's arising, anything that arises as a being internally that's calling for compassion. Yes, you could be worried that you're going to be taken to jail tomorrow,


you could be worried that you're going to die, going to be worried that you're losing money, and you're going to worry that you're getting fat. But I brought up this example because this is a problem that people who are in an assembly that's concentrating on great compassion, so they're quite aware of, oh there's so much to take care of. People can also worry that they're not doing enough for their one child. They can worry about that too, or for their mother. I didn't do enough to help my mother, okay? But now... But a lot of people think, well I kind of did enough for my mother, but nobody thinks that they did enough for all beings. I'm not saying that you should think you did enough for all beings. I'm just saying


whatever... If you do think that, that would be something to be compassionate towards. So if you think you did enough for all beings, or enough for your mother, that's... Great compassion embraces that. But whatever it is, and I just brought up worry because in this current venue of looking at great compassion, a lot of people are worried that some people are not getting the compassion that they need. It's interestable, but then they slip away from taking care of the worry. That's what I'm saying. Don't skip over the worry and realize that taking care of that takes care of what you're worried about. But there's infinite worries and other problems too. The way you take care of this problem, the way you teach and care for the Dharma with this case, is exactly the way you're taking care of all other situations.


And Patti? You'd like to what? Is that okay with you, Kriya? The echo... Linguistically, there'll be a little problem with the echo, because the echo says, this one person. So we're going to say, this one person, Janice Gates, Laila Balchorst. Okay, is that okay with you, Kriya? It could be this one person, because really it's just one person, but if you'd like to change it to


these people, would you like to do that? Okay, no, that's up to you. Okay, so we're going to say Janice Gates and Laila Balchorst. So Laila Balchorst is a long-time member of San Francisco Zen Center, passed away night before last. And so yeah, and we're going to do a ceremony for her at Green Gulch tonight. We can do it here, too. Okay? So shall we conclude this phase of great compassion, this moment of great compassion, and then move on to some more great compassion? And we're going to chant, by the way, a dharani, which is called Great Compassion Mind Dharani. You can pass those in, that's fine.


Giving great compassion to this piece of paper.