Being Soft, Flexible, Honest, and Upright

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

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that she is always close to us and practicing with us. Buddhas are always close to us and always practicing with us. But until we are ready, somehow we cannot see that the Buddha is right in front of us, teaching the Lotus Sutra to us right now.


In this chapter, the Buddha also explains to us when and how we will see the Buddha practicing together with us. So the verse says something like, those who practice all virtues are Soft and flexible, harmonious, upright and honest, we'll see the Buddha. Teaching right now. Practicing all virtues means meeting all living and apparently unliving beings with compassion, with generosity,


careful action, kind speech, respect, gentleness, firm, relaxed presence. patience, enthusiasm for the meeting, undistracted, calm, open mind and body, soft and flexible mind and body, and also with penetrating insight.


Meeting all beings in this way, we are flexible, harmonious, upright, and honest. And we see the Buddha right before us. In the early teaching, we find the report or the story that the founder, Shakyamuni Buddha, was born, grew up, left home, attained unsurpassed awakening, became a Buddha, taught for about 45 years, and then entered nirvana and was cremated.


And that was the end of the Buddha in this world. In the Lotus Sutra, now we have the Buddha telling us that that disappearance of the Buddha, and also that appearance of the Buddha, that coming of the Buddha, and that going of the Buddha, we are told is a skillful device, a provisional teaching given by the Buddha to help us practice all virtues. with all beings, so that we can see the Buddha. The Buddha sees the world, the triple world, which we also see, but the Buddha sees it as it really is.


The way we see it, the way we see the triple world, and triple world means usually the world of kind of gross material appearances, subtle material appearances, and non-material realms. These are the three realms of experience that we, almost all of us are living in, for a long time. The Buddha is in this world with us, but the Buddha sees it as it is. For the Buddha, this world we live in does not have birth and death, does not have existence and non-existence, does not have coming and going. The Buddha is with us in the triple world, but sees it as it is.


And the way we see it is not how it is. And because of that, the Buddha manifests coming and going. So we can see the Buddha in our world and hear the teaching, which will lead us to see the triple world as it is. The way the Buddha sees the world is like the Heart Sutra of perfect wisdom. But that also includes the Buddha sees us, sees us not seeing that. The Buddha sees us not seeing the Heart Sutra as the way the triple world is. And the Buddha sees us not born, not dying, not coming, not going, not existent, not non-existent.


And the Buddha sees that we see coming, going, existence, non-existence, birth, death. The Buddha sees that we do not see the triple world as it is. And so the Buddha expediently appears because we see things appearing. The Buddha expediently comes because we see things coming. And the Buddha dies because we see things dying. But after we hear the Buddha's teaching, and then the Buddha dies, this appearance, this expedient means of the Buddha entering nirvana is given to us so we will practice and see the Buddha and see that the Buddha did not go away and the Buddha did not come and the Buddha is always present with us.


However, the Buddha does not appear to be something that comes or goes. And we're not used to seeing something, a person, a tree, a year, a life. We're not used to seeing things the way they really are. In other words, we're not used to seeing a life that doesn't come or go. But if we practice, we will see a life that doesn't come or go, that's not born and does not die. that doesn't exist or not exist. And when we see that world, we see like the Buddha sees, and we also see the Buddha. Seeing the way the Buddha sees is seeing Buddha. And we can also see Buddha's skillful means to help people see Buddha. The Buddha also in this chapter says quite a few other things.


And the Buddha who's talking in this chapter is not the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, who appeared and disappeared. The Buddha who is teaching us in the Lotus Sutra, Chapter 16, and throughout the Lotus Sutra, is the Buddha that's always with us, who tells us about Shakyamuni Buddha, who appeared and disappeared. And the Buddha in the Lotus Sutra who teaches us about the historical Shakyamuni Buddha is also called Shakyamuni Buddha. So the Lotus Sutra Shakyamuni Buddha tells us the way Shakyamuni Buddha, historical Shakyamuni Buddha was. Namely, he was a skillful teacher. He was a skillful device. who appeared and disappeared. And he's a skillful device of the Buddha who does not appear and disappear.


And the Buddha mentions a few times during this chapter 16, that it wasn't a lie that the Buddha appeared and disappeared. It wasn't a lie that the Buddha appeared to manifest death as Parinirvana. It wasn't a lie. The truth of the Buddha is not a lie. However, the truth of the Buddha may appear to be a lie to people who see coming and going. And the teaching of the Buddha is to liberate people who see lies The purpose of the Buddha's teaching is to liberate beings who see birth and death, who see coming and going. And so some of the teachings of the Buddha may sound untrue.


Now, I think maybe the Buddha said, I will now enter nirvana. I think the Buddha may have said that. The historical Buddha may have said that. Just like the historical Buddha said, you know, when I was young, I did this or that. But when the historical Buddha said, when I was young, I did this or that, that was skillful device because the Buddha, the actual Buddha was not young when Shakyamuni Buddha was talking. So again, the Buddha does acknowledge that teaching nirvana or teaching by manifesting nirvana may appear to be a lie. Also, around the time of Buddha's teaching of dying, the Buddha also said, those of you


who say the Buddha enters the extinction of nirvana are not my disciples. And those who say the Buddha does not, or the Tathagata does not enter nirvana are not my disciples. Again, taking either position is not the way the Buddha sees things. in the Buddha's Pure Land, again, no coming, no going, no increase, no decrease, no birth, no death. And this is a nirvana, a peaceful, blissful realm of liberation, a nirvana which has no coming or going.


And the Buddha wants At the end of the chapter, the Buddhist says, I'm always thinking, how can I help beings quickly attain unsurpassed awakening and enter Buddha's way? And one of the ways that Buddha responds to that question is by telling us that Buddha is always practicing with us and telling us quite simply how to practice in order to see that Buddha is practicing together with us right now. I will go over this chapter. If I live longer, I will go over this chapter with you again and again.


I've heard that our founder in Japan, Eihei Dogen, felt that this chapter was the most important one. I've also heard that the sixth ancestor of our tradition in China, that he felt that in the second chapter, when the Buddha says that there's one great cause and condition for the Buddhas appearing in this world, So once again, our ancestor Dogen said he felt that chapter 16 that I just told you about was most important.


And the sixth ancestor said, the section in chapter two, which explains the main reason, the basic one reason that Buddhas appear in the world, was to open living beings to the Buddha's wisdom. to demonstrate Buddha's wisdom to living beings, to awaken living beings to Buddha's wisdom, and to help living beings enter it. So that motivation, that desire to open beings to the teaching, that desire is the reason Buddhas appear in the realm of coming and going. Buddhas live with us, but they also see that coming and going is not existent or non-existent. And because they care for us so deeply and want us to wake up, they appear in a form that we can see coming and going, that we can see them being born and dying.


So the sixth ancestor felt that The most important thing is the reason for Buddha appearing in birth and death. And in Chapter 16, it says the Buddha does not really appear in birth and death. The Buddha is always present with us in birth and death. And another thing in Chapter 2 that is very important, is that it explains that only Buddhas together with Buddhas can realize this teaching. So for me that also is a very important teaching in the Lotus Sutra that not only have the Buddhas told us how to see them but they've also told us that once we see them that then in order to complete the work of awake of Buddha


we need to meet together face to face, like we're doing right now. So this is, what do you call it? I just set the table, and now we can have a conversation, face to face. Welcome. Welcome, conversation. Anne? Yes, this is so amazing. Thank you. What is the difference between the Buddha behind the Buddha and source, penetrate the source, commune with the source, and the notion of God or eternal?


Are you talking about the Buddha, the statue behind me? No, I mean the Buddha that gave rise to a Buddha, Shakyamuni, that came and went. Oh, what's the difference between... Yeah, so there's one Buddha that appears and disappears. We call that sometimes called Transformation Buddha, or sometimes also called Phantom Buddha, or Magical Appearance Buddha. Shakyamuni Buddha was a magical appearance of the Buddha. a transformation of a Buddha. And the transformation came and went, was born and died. But the Buddha that is always with us, which doesn't appear or disappear, that's the one you want to know about. Is there a difference between that and God?


Yeah, God or source or... God or source? Yeah. Well, thanks for using the word source. So that the Buddha that doesn't come or go, that's always with us, that's always practicing with us, that Buddha which is practicing with each one of us always, always giving us the teaching, always giving us the Dharma, that Buddha is not the same or different from anything. That Buddha is not the same as God or different from God. Whatever God is, that Buddha transcends sameness and difference. So once again, if you want to know the difference, that Buddha transcends difference. But also, it transcends sameness.


Sameness and difference are thought constructions of sentient beings who live in birth and death? Thank you for your question. It has profound implications. Angela? Good morning. Is the tension that our bodies experience, the internal tension that we may feel, is that, I guess, a result of feeling this coming and going rather than


feeling the presence of Buddha at all times. So, Rev, you might have to unmute yourself. Do I have to unmute myself every time I answer a question? No, you're okay now. But I wasn't muted when I was talking to Ann, was I? That's correct. Now I'm talking to Angela. And she asked, some tension in the body, is that the result of karma? And I said, basically I would say... First I said, I don't know, then I could say maybe, maybe so. But before I get into what that's a result of, I'd like to first of all point out that if you want to see Buddha right now, If you want to understand that you're practicing together with all beings, and all beings are practicing with you, that you're practicing with all Buddhas, and you want to hear the teaching that they're giving you right now, then rather than getting into how come there's tension in your body, let's practice all virtues with that tension.


That tension is something that comes and goes, right? Yes. It's something that exists or doesn't exist, right? Yes. So that's an illusion, of course. But we don't... What's the word? Illusion is not an insult. Illusion is an invitation. So, this tension is calling for compassion. It's calling for gentleness, and flexibility, and uprightness, and honesty, and all the bodhisattva virtues, if you practice them with that tension, you will see the Buddha teaching right now, and seeing the Buddha teach right now, you will see that these things are not the way they appear, they're not as they seem, and you will be free of them without getting rid of them. But you could also then say, by the way, the tension in your body is due to these causes and conditions.


And these causes and conditions, which you start to enumerate... Can you guess how many there would be? Infinite. Yeah. And you could... What do you call it? distill down the infinite causes and conditions of the universe to like six causes, or two, or 57. But really the whole universe is what supports the appearance of that tension. And the whole universe is calling for compassion. How's that? It's great. I'll continue to sit with this tension, practicing compassion. Yeah. And if you practice that way with this tension, you will see the Buddha teaching you right here, right now, with that tension. Thank you.


Homa? You mentioned in your talks a lot about meeting. And I am interested to know this meeting. Does this meeting has certain quality with it? Is this meeting what comes and goes? What are you really talking about this meeting? What is this meeting? I don't know if the meeting has qualities. I think maybe the meeting does not have qualities, unless I project qualities on it. But my attempts to join the meeting, for example, in my attempt to join the Zoom meeting with you, I had to get a computer and


and press this little button here and move a cursor. I did various things in order to have this meeting. But now that I'm having this meeting with you, I don't know what the meeting is. And if I have any ideas of what the meeting is, those are ideas about the meeting. Those aren't the meeting. So the meeting... But even though the meeting doesn't have characteristics necessarily, It also doesn't have the characteristic of having no characteristics, by the way. This meeting is the situation in which we realize the teaching which liberates all beings. And so, what is the way of having the meeting? Well, get a computer, press the button, look at the screen, practice all virtues, be wholehearted in your conversation with people, and you will enter the meeting. But to try to get a hold of the meeting is another thing to practice compassion with.


The meeting is ungraspable. If you grasp it, it's not a meeting. In the meeting, you can't grasp the meeting or who you're meeting. That's the kind of meeting that Buddhas have with Buddhas. And that's the kind of meeting Buddhas have with us right now. They have a meeting which they can't grasp and I can't grasp. But I can be wholehearted about this meeting that I can't grasp. So therefore, because I don't see myself in that meeting, because the meeting you're describing, from what I hear, is a meeting with no agenda, nothing attached to it. It's like empty of all my thoughts, empty of all my feelings, and empty, clear, clear.


So since I am not that, because my mind brings, comes and goes, Like it brings that, oh, to this meeting that I need to meet, for example, my dad was 95, my mom was 85 and they're going through a dementia and all that stuff. I need to bring this kindness to the meeting because otherwise being there is too hard for me. So I need help to meet with It's difficult. It is difficult to meet. Yes, difficult to meet. It's difficult to meet in this way. It's difficult to meet even half-heartedly, it's difficult to meet.


But to meet wholeheartedly is difficult. The Lotus Sutra says over and over again, this teaching is difficult to meet, difficult to practice, difficult to understand. And you also said earlier, I need help in order to meet. And that's right. And the Buddhas are with you all the time, And I'm with you all the time. And we're all with you all the time, helping you to meet. And when you, and if you, when you do meet, it's because you're helped. It's because you're supported by all the Buddhas that when you can meet difficulties, like your parents suffering with compassion, that's because we are practicing with you. You cannot meet them in this wholehearted way. without our support, and we are giving it to you. So remember, we're giving it to you, and please accept it and do the hard practice. And when you are involved in the hard practice wholeheartedly, it's because we're helping you.


And also, you're helping us when you practice that way. Yeah, thank you. I think it's the compassion that I need to receive. So I will, I receive, I've always received it and I will continue to receive. Thank you. And so again, as Buddha said, those who practice all virtues with all beings, who are receptive, so being flexible and harmonious is an unfolding of being receptive. Receptive of what? of everything, and if you're receptive to anything, everything, you will also receive Buddhist compassion. Yes. Steve? Well, I've got two questions, but I'll try to be brief, so I'll only ask one.


only a Buddha together with all Buddhas, and then sitting alone on the mystic peak. So some point of, there's some paradox here because at some point, part of this project, part of this practice is to be all alone. And then Another part of the practice is to be with everyone. And so there's, how do you conceive of this inconceivable point where you're all alone and you're with everyone? I see the Buddha activity as a pivoting between being alone and being with all beings. those two things are turning on each other. So ascension beings can feel alone, but actually they're being practiced with Buddhas who are not alone.


Buddhas are never alone. However, they may appear to be alone in order for us to find them. If we tell them, if the Buddha appears everywhere, we may have trouble finding it. even though the Buddha is everywhere. So it appears on a mystic peak by itself. So we can look at it and orient towards it and practice with it and realize that the aloneness, by the way, the word alone also pivots between all one and all alone. Originally, all alone was all one. So we're pivoting between being alone and all one with all beings. And the Buddhas appear sometimes to be something that comes and goes. So to help us practice, and then the Buddha teaches us how to practice in order to see that all one and alone are interpenetrating each other.


And paradoxes are helpful that way. But on a more psychological level, isn't there this dark night of the soul with that the practitioner has to go through at least once and perhaps many times where there's this feeling of being lost? Yeah, perhaps many times, perhaps daily. This is the dark night of the soul. Haven't you seen it? We are in the dark night of the soul here in this world. We're in it. And it's saying to us, be compassionate to this darkness. Be generous and respectful and gentle and patient with this darkness. The dark night of the soul is a common, if not omnipresent opportunity. And the people who brought up the dark night of the soul, again,


They appeared and disappeared. And while they were here, they gave us a nice message. Dark night of the soul. It was a really necessary part of my practice. And I would say it's a daily part of my practice. Oh, hey, here's the dark night of the soul again. Wow. And then later in the day, oh, now we pass through it. Oh, here it comes again. So it is part of our psychological process. Yes. Let's have more dark nights, shall we? Come on, Dark Knights. One of the great historical warriors in English history was called the Black Knight, right? Justin? I read.


Hello. I find myself, I was really glad that Ann brought up the ideas of God and source. And I find myself, first of all, I really appreciated your words and they made a lot of sense this morning. I mean, I really, really, that really resonated with me. And I find myself being very stuck on the idea of God. It's one that, that I feel like has helped me all throughout my life. And I feel like sometimes I'm forcing myself to substitute other ideas for that idea. But at the same time, I see letting go of the idea of, I see it clearly that it is an idea. And I don't see it as a person in the sky, but I see it almost as I try to imagine something with no shape or form, but I recognize that I can't imagine something with no shape or form, but I still feel like I need to stick to that idea to function.


And I see that I also have this feeling that letting go of that idea is exactly what I need to do. But I find myself unwilling to do the things necessary that I know I will need to do or engage in a level of mindfulness I know I'll need to engage in to truly let go of that idea. So I am struggling with how to practice with that. And that's a, and I think that, that conflict is, is something that's, is like the conflict for me. And I'm wondering if you could speak to how to practice with that. I thought I heard you say something like you're finding it difficult to do the practices that you think would be appropriate to letting go of some things that you're holding on to.


Yeah. Yes. And again, the Lotus Sutra basically says that over and over. It says, it's hard to do the practice and to receive the teaching which you need to do in order to let go of holding on to anything. So hearing those words, where do I focus on or pay attention to just the fact that, yes, this is hard? And that's when, rather, is that the Is that the focal point to maintain presence? Like, yeah, this is really hard. Yes, this is hard. No, I don't focus on how hard it is. I just notice that when I try to do what I wanna do, I often find it difficult or I even forget to do it. The thing to focus on is the practice, not how hard it is.


But it is hard because it's like, You know, what is it? It's something you're learning. The Buddha came in the world to teach us something we don't already know how to do. We don't know how to practice, and especially we don't know how to practice ceaselessly. So the practice is difficult to learn, plus once you learn it and, you know, practice it for a moment, which is great, then the next moment, because of various causes and conditions of karmic past, We get distracted. And then, oh, I got distracted. Oh, yeah, it's hard. It's hard. I need help. Oh, and the Buddha, so it's hard as normal. And the Buddha is affirming the fact that you're having a hard time. And the Buddha is also saying, I'm here with you to support you to do the practice which you're having a hard time doing. And so you can remember, Okay, it's hard. That's normal.


And also I love the buddhas are helping me do this hard thing. So I don't have to do it by myself And it's possible. I will be able to do it. So here i'm going to try again and here i'm trying and i'm so glad i'm trying What am I trying to do? I'm trying to do these practices Which will help me let it go of everything including these practices I did find a few practices that worked and that was so great that I'm holding on to them, but then they backfire. They don't backfire. My attachment to them makes the situation backfire. So I want to go forward. If I attach to going forward, I go backwards. I want to go backwards. If I attach to going backwards, I go forward. This is a normal situation. Learning the middle way learning the Buddha way is hard, and Buddha is with you all the time, helping you. The thing to remember is not that it's hard, but to practice when it appears to be hard.


Not that Buddha is helping you, but to practice remembering that Buddha is helping you. To practice meeting everything with great compassion. I think sometimes I think that I'm already practicing, and that's the problem. You are already practicing, but you don't understand that. In a sense, though, right? Pardon? In a sense, though, right? Because I'm not open to learning something because I think I'm already doing it. That's a problem, right? You are open to learning. You just don't understand it yet. You're totally, that's all you want is to learn. You want to learn the Buddha way. That's what you're yearning for. That's what your life's about, is to learn the path of compassion and wisdom. That's all you really are here for, so you can help everybody. That's what you really want, but you don't understand that yet. And the reason you don't understand is because you have various ideas that you're attached to.


So you already understand you need to let go of these ideas, whatever they are, and let go of these feelings, and let go of your stories. You understand that and you try, and sometimes the way you try is just right, and there is letting go. But other times you try in an unskillful way, so you don't let go, you keep holding on. So you're not really holding on, That's not really the way it is. You're not really coming and going. You don't really exist or not exist. You don't really be born and die, but you think so. So you think you're not practicing, but you are. And if you think you are, you are, but you're not practicing the way you think you are. You're practicing with the Buddhas. And the way you think you're practicing with the Buddhas is not the way you're practicing with the Buddhas. The way you're practicing with all beings is beyond your ideas. And if you let go of your ideas, you will open to the way you are practicing together with all Buddhas and all sentient beings.


Thank you. You're welcome. Thank you for your questions and comments and points of view. Enrique? Enrique? You have to unmute yourself. Difficulty finding the button. I think that my question is sort of like the previous gentleman, Justin's. I have, since this COVID era, I've had difficulty practicing, or what I consider to be practice, in the manner that I was able to before. Our sangha isn't able to get together in person. We meet less frequently. And when we do meet, it's by Zoom.


Some of us are meeting in person, but not in the zendo. We're meeting outside. And it doesn't, to me, doesn't feel like I'm practicing much of the time, at least not the way I used to. And I wonder if there is a difference between the practicing and not practice. Did you say it doesn't feel like practice? Yes. Practice is beyond feeling and discrimination. So you may feel you're not practicing, and also you may feel the practice is different from the way it used to be. I fully understand that. But the practice is beyond sameness and difference.


The way to open to the actual practice, which is beyond your feeling, is by practicing compassion with your feeling that the practice is different, or the practice is inferior to what it used to be. So now at Green Gulch, we're in the Zendo again, just a few of us, because we're social distancing, and we wear masks. And we have the doors and windows open. So it's nice and cold in the zendo. And the thought arises, maybe in some people's minds, what if it gets 10 degrees colder? Like this morning it was 42. What if it gets down to 32? So human thoughts like that. It will be difficult to be in the Zen Dojo. I want to be in there, because it's wonderful to be in there. But I can also say it's not like it used to be, when it wasn't so cold, and where we didn't have to wear masks, and where we could all be together.


Now we cannot all be together, just a few of us. So it seems different. But that's just my mind, right? All the practice is different. And I really like the way it used to be. Yes, I do. But the way it used to be, and the way I liked it to be, the practice was beyond how it appeared to me. The practice was not how it seemed to me. And the practice is not how it seems to us right now. Like maybe some of us right now say, it's so nice to see each other. It's so great. I love it. Fine. Let's be kind to that thought. The practice is not how it seems to be right now. And it does seem to be a way, doesn't it? It seems like we're doing something together. What we're actually doing together is not as it appears to us. What we're doing together does not increase or decrease.


But we have a body and mind that sees more sitting, less sitting. More people in the room, less people in the room. We have to deal with, this is the stuff we practice with, moment by moment. Buddhas are practicing with more people, less people. More meetings, less meetings. Together, not together. Buddha practices with all those things. Always. And we're trying to open to that Buddha realm. We're in the process of opening and entering that realm of the Buddha's wisdom. And the Buddhas are teaching it all the time. Right now, we're getting many, many teachings from the Buddha to help us open to the teaching that the Buddha is giving us. And it means address whatever's happening. address, meet COVID wholeheartedly, carefully, respectfully, patiently, flexibly.


Thank you. I still miss the old practice, but I'll embrace the current one. I do too. And I practice compassion towards missing it. Thank you. You're welcome. Karen? Good morning. I wanted to ask a question that sort of follows up on Anne and Homa's and I think Justin's question about the Buddha. And it's sort of three parts. Is the Buddha a being? Is the Buddha a being with volition? In meeting, is the Buddha a party to the meeting or is the Buddha the meeting itself? Or are both of those things true? Those are the questions that came up in response to the previous discussion.


So you said, is the Buddha a being? One of your questions, right? Is the Buddha a being? So, before I answer the question of whether the Buddha is a being or not, I just want to mention that for the Buddha, there's no being or non-being. So, is the wisdom which sees that there's no being or non-being, no existence or non-existence. Is that wisdom another being? And if I say no, then I would say, well, it's a not-being. But the Buddha is neither a being nor a not-being. Being and not-being are thought constructions. Does the Buddha do those thought constructions? Well, not really. We do it for the Buddha.


So we're doing all these thought constructions like being, not-being. and the Buddha is like with us, holding our hand, I'm with you until you can give up those extremes or give up holding on to either one. So I won't say the Buddha is not a being or is a being. I won't even say Buddha is this or that, but Buddha is wisdom. So you could say Buddha is a mind. It's a mind, it's a light, it's a radiance, that illuminates all beings and helps them realize that same mind. And it doesn't push away their belief in existence and non-existence. It illuminates it. It sees the realm of birth and death the way it really is. Namely, the way birth and death is, is that there's no birth and death. That vision, that radiance, you could say, that mind is Buddha.


And that mind is also a body. It's a body which is a mind, it's a body which is wisdom, it's a wisdom which is a body. And that body is with us all day long. All dark night long. Does that body or mind have volition or agency? Or is that a characteristic that's associated with being? It doesn't really have volition. Or what else did you say? Volition, or did you say will? Agency. Agency. It doesn't, it, I wouldn't say, again, I wouldn't say it doesn't have agency. It does have a function. It has a function and its function is to liberate beings when beings are liberated from suffering. That's the function of buddha But it's not like buddha has this function because The function is us being liberated the buddha doesn't really have that that's what buddha is So buddha the function of buddha is us being free Us being and the function of buddha is us being in harmony


When we're in harmony, that's Buddha. Now, does Buddha say, I want to help people do that? In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha comes into language and says, I wanna help beings live in harmony. Yes, I do, I want that. I'm always thinking, how can I help beings enter the Buddha way of peace and harmony? That's what Buddha's always thinking about. So does Buddha have thinking? Not really, but the Buddha skillfully says that to us. Because that's all Buddha is, is thinking about us being free. There's nothing in addition to that. So it's a thought of us being free, which is not in addition to us being free. And so then, connected to being, non-being, in the meeting that Hong was talking about,


Is the Buddha a party to the meeting or is the Buddha the meeting itself or are both of those things true? When the universe meets the universe, is the universe party to that meeting? When Buddha meets Buddha, is Buddha party to that meeting? And I would say, that meeting is pretty good. Or I could say, that meeting transcends anything I can say about it, including that. And that meeting is free of the parties. And that meeting is the freedom of the parties. So I won't say the Buddha is not a party to the meeting with Buddha, or is.


I would say Buddha is free of being a party to the meeting. If I'm having a conversation with you, the conversation is free of me being a party to it, and I'm free of being a party to it. That's the conversation which is the Buddha dharma. Thank you. You're welcome. Catherine? Hi, Rem. Hello. Hi, it's Catherine. Thank you so much for broadcasting from Noah Boad. I have missed seeing the space and the altar since 2018. seeing you there and it just is, I'm filled with gratitude for you being there.


And also to everybody who's on the screen, even some of you, I've never had the pleasure of meeting. I am so grateful you're all present. I've been struggling with the isolation that we are in, even though I'm on Zoom a lot. And so I'm so grateful for these moments. And I want to wholeheartedly confess to you and apologize for my absence in communicating with you. Thank you. Can I say something? Please. So you used the word isolation, right? Yes. So, isolation, if I... If I hear the word isolation, because of certain training I've done, when I hear the word of isolation, I think, oh, isolation, Buddha is practicing together with isolation.


Buddha is practicing intimately with all beings who feel isolated. Buddha does not push away the feeling of isolation. Buddha practices with it. Thank you. And I don't offer this talk to you to eliminate your isolation. I offer this talk to you to help you and I practice together with any feelings of isolation. that may arise in us. In these days a lot of people feel isolated, right? Yes. I'm here to remind you of an ancient teaching which says, Buddha is always practicing with you no matter what you feel.


And the way Buddha is practicing with what you feel is the way Buddha would like you to practice with what you feel. And some people don't feel isolated. They feel like they're living in a space with too many people. They're trapped in a room with too many people. They want to feel more isolated. That's true. I've had some of my college students who are partnered to lock themselves in the bathroom to get away from their partners and spouses on Zoom. So it's intimate. It used to be like, darling, I feel like we don't spend any time together anymore. And now it's like, get me away from this person. I was talking to my daughter. a few weeks ago, and we said to her, how are you feeling?


And she put her head down on the table and she said, I can't stand these people, my beloved family. So anyway, isolation and inundation are alternating. Always, always practice compassion with, that's Buddha's way. And that's hard. That's hard. May I ask something to what you spoke of earlier? Yes. When I was listening to you, I could see that the Buddha loves us so much that he, she, or they are willing to enter our human projections of what or our lack of sight in order to aid us or liberate us?


Is that part of what you said this morning? I would say they enter our situation. They don't necessarily enter our point of view, but they have empathy for our point of view. And they come to live with us no matter what we feel. Yes, but they don't exactly They don't exactly take our view. They more like can see how feeling isolated or whatever. They can see how that would be painful, and then they practice compassion with that painful being. They enter the mud of our life. Thank you, Ram. You're welcome, thank you. Vivian? Hello, Rev. Hello, Vivian.


You're muted. Thank you. But I liked how your humor uh, came out immediately to answer the question of God, um, of the Buddha and the Buddha behind you. And I thought that was your answer that it was, this is my enjoyment so much from you that it's so uplifting. The poetry, the humor to express unexpressible. Uh, and I. So thankful that you have chosen about the Lotus because when I think of the Lotus Sutra, not knowing anything about it, I'm so excited because I love the mud and in yoga we always think about this, about the Lotus with the mud and the practice as a training to be in the mud. And so I'm curious about when the idea came to you, I'm going to teach the Lotus Sutra for the practice and I'm going to do it on zoom.


And the reason that I'm asking is because these ideas come to us as teachers of, okay, I'm going to do this. I'm going to try this. I'm going to try this as we are meeting this COVID now. indefinite time, we have no idea what it is. But I'm very curious when these ideas pop into you, that story of what your idea was, I'm going to be teaching this, yeah, during this time. Again, I don't know. the stories that, you know, the stories that could be told about how this has happened are unlimited. But, you know, I can make many associations. For example, the Lotus Sutra is for difficult times. The Lotus Sutra says, this sutra is for really difficult times.


And so then you could say, oh, I mean, then I think, oh, well, then it would be good to do the Lotus Sutra now, because we're having a hard time in so many ways, environmentally, socially, medically, politically. We're having such a hard time, so wouldn't the Lotus Sutra be just the right thing? That's one story. Another story is, Buddha came to me and said, Study the Lotus Sutra with these people. Another story is some people said to me, would you please do something during the January intensive time when we can't come into Green Gulch and practice together? And I said, okay, what could I do? And suddenly the Lotus Sutra pops in my mind. Oh, this would be a good time to study the Lotus. I could go on, okay? There's millions of stories I could tell about


how it happened that I had become enchanted by the Lotus Sutra. And during the January intensive, I'll tell some more stories. For example, I'll tell the history, perhaps some of the history, but again, that means his story, right? Maybe I should tell her story too. And they story of how I came to study the Lotus Sutra. So one story is in 1968, Suzuki Ryoshi was gonna teach the Lotus Sutra. So I started reading the Lotus Sutra. That's one story. And so for 52 years, I've been studying the Lotus Sutra. It's been my friend and teacher and companion all that time. And now and then it seems time to mention it and to look at it and to share it and to revel in it. And also, I wanted to say something about... You said something like maybe... Did you say Buddha loves the mud or you love the mud?


No, I don't love it, but it is the mud. Did you say that the Buddha loved the mud? Yoga. In yoga, we have to study about the mud Oh, yoga loves the mud, okay. But I thought you said Buddha loves the mud. And I thought, yeah, right, Buddha loves the mud. The lotus plant loves mud, right? And the lotus plant, the plant, the living wisdom of the lotus loves the mud. But it loves it without it being attached to it. It's a love without attachment. I love the mud. but I don't want to be, I want to plunge into it without attachment to it. That gives rise to the Buddha wisdom, to the lotus flower. Yes, thank you. You're welcome. Thank you for coming to Novo today. The wonderful group of three.


Somebody has a question. Okay. I guess it's the three of us then. The Wiesbaden group. Yeah, a fraction of the Wiesbaden Sangha. Can I ask a question? Yes, please. Is Karen in that picture? Okay, Karen, who is the other person? This is Berthold. Who? Berthold, the gentle giant. Oh yeah, hey. I couldn't recognize you, you look so little. Berthold's rather a large person. Yeah, yeah, you're smaller than my head. Okay, yes please.


So this is maybe a a confession and a request for advice or some suggestions about meeting in the realm of words. And I just heard a wonderful little talk about Big Think on YouTube about the arrogance of liberal left-wings. This talk was actually by a liberal left-wing black person and how that makes things more difficult. And so I'm really touched by it because since that, I'm pretty aware of all my like,


dead certain views of how things are right and how things are wrong and the difficulty of meeting people like totally opposed to their view or opinion and I'd love to learn how to meet people, disagree with them but still respect them, like stay on eye level Like usually when I meet people that I totally disagree with, I either, well, yeah, it's usually not on eye level. You know, it's usually I look down on them or, and yeah, and I can see how that makes things, makes things more difficult for everybody. And. Yeah.


It's hard to find a way out because yet I still want to express, no, I don't agree with you. But to do that in a skillful way is... Yeah. Well, thank you for bringing that forth. When you were talking, I thought of one of the nice things about being a grandparent is that you can disagree with a grandchild without looking down on them. They can be doing something and you can feel like, no, but you really don't feel like you're looking down on them, you're adoring them. You know, you see them as wonderful, even though you really disagree about them going into the street without holding your hand. You think it's just not, you just really think it's not a good idea. But the grandmother part of you protects you from being self-righteous to some extent.


So if there's this being in your life who has this view, this is right, Buddha is right there with that view. And Buddha does not look down on those who disagree with that view, or down on you having on that view. Buddha does not look down on right-wing people. Buddha does not look down on left-wing people. But sometimes right-wing people look down on left-wing, and left-wing look down on right-wing. Buddha is not right-wing or left-wing. But some people who are trying to practice the Buddha way have right-wing views or left-wing views. And sometimes when they have those views, if they don't remember that Buddha does not have those views, they make it stuck in those views.


And when they're stuck in the views, they might look down on the people they disagree with. But Buddha doesn't agree or disagree with beings. Buddha meets them and liberates them from their disagreements. But the Buddha does not encourage us to skip over taking care of whatever view we have. So if you have a left-wing view, respect it, be kind to it. And as you are more and more kind with it, you won't attach to it. But when you don't attach to it, it doesn't mean you throw it out the window. It just means you say, I have this left-wing view, which I'm taking care of. And because I'm not attached to it, I can respect and appreciate and love right-wing people, people who have right-wing views, even those who are attached to their views.


I think it gets really difficult when there's an actual meeting and there are words involved. In a way, sitting on the Safu, it feels like I could go to that place where all of that can just be. in an actual meeting where there is exchange of words, it's so difficult to remember. And yet, I don't understand. Pardon? You know that word difficult? There it is again. It is. This way is difficult. Not always, but often. It is difficult. But again, when you say difficult, you can try to maybe train yourself to remember, difficult is normal.


It's not like something's wrong that it's difficult. It's normally difficult to walk the middle way. It's normally, usually difficult, unless perhaps we've been practicing really diligently for a long time. And then there's a few moments when it's not difficult. So it is difficult. And sometimes if it's not so difficult, that's okay. Like I often tell the story about one day I went to Suzuki Roshi because the practice wasn't difficult, I thought something was wrong. And he said, it's okay, sometimes it's not difficult. But let me say to you, difficult doesn't mean you're not practicing. It just means you're trying to do something which is very, very subtle, which is to have a view, which you do, and not hold on to it. And when you have a view and people start talking to you, sometimes in the stream of language, you start tightening down on your view because you think you're going to lose it if you don't hold on to it.


But you can learn how to hold your view without holding on to it. But it is a great skill to have a view and not lose it, and also not hold on to it. my wish is to be able to express it in a skillful way. And that you're being asked to do that. I'm requesting you to express your views in a skillful way. And I'm not the only one who wants you to express your views. It's your responsibility. You have views. It's your responsibility to give them to me and others as gifts. Give me your views as gifts. Skillfully. Please do that. It's your responsibility. And part of skillfully is, you know, to wait your turn. And you did.


And here you are giving your views. And I want you to do it, and I want you to do it skillfully. And part of skillful The key ingredient of skillful is compassion. And compassion makes possible skillfully expressing your view clearly without attachment. And vice versa, to really express your view clearly will be promoted if you don't attach to it. If you're attached to your view, it kind of shakes. while you're delivering it, because you're gripping it. So when you have a view and you're relaxed, it can flow out very smoothly and gently and clearly. And this is something we're trying to learn. Do you want to learn that? Yes. And everybody else wants you to learn it too. So please learn. Maybe I can start with expressing that I'm


feeling attached to my view. That's a really good place to start. O Bodhisattva, Mahasattvas, please witness my confession. I'm attached to my views. I'm sorry. And if you keep attaching your views in the presence of the compassionate ones, you will let go of attaching to your views. But you might have to confess quite a few times. Linda. Morning. Good morning. I would like to return to the early topic, which someone raised of tension. And your attention Roshi so I need to ask you this.


You said tension is an illusion. I think that's one of the sentences you said. And I've been thinking about what that word tension stands for. So examples are speeding heart rate and contracting muscles and certain sensations in the body right here and other places, sometimes a sick feeling. How is that illusion? What is illusion about that? Well, thank you for your question. I guess I would change now to say attention which arises and ceases is an illusion. Attention which exists or does not exist. So I would say an attention that exists is an illusion.


The way tension really is, is free of existence and non-existence. So what are those... The things that I described then are not tension. They are just simply rising and falling states of body and mind. Yes, you could say they're just phenomena. Yeah. And if we say that they exist, then that's an illusion. They don't exist. But they don't exist not in the opposite way. They don't exist the way they appear. So I would say the way tensions appear is not the way they really exist. They're actually Dharma doors. They're doors to the truth in their true existence, in their true mode. But if we think this this pain exists, which is also to say this pain does not not exist, that is an illusion.


That is not true that the pain really exists, and it's not true that it really doesn't exist. So the illusion maybe is in the thoughts about it. Yeah, yeah. It's the the illusion is the way of seeing the tension is the way our mind constructs the attention. What the tension really is, is beyond our ideas. And if we treat the tension properly, then it will be a door to the truth of tension, which is also the truth of relaxation. When you say meet all difficult states and thoughts with compassion, is there somebody doing that?


Is that what Buddha is doing? It's not that's what Buddha is doing, that's what Buddha is. That, that doing is Buddha. Okay. Thank you. Somebody else said does Buddha has agency, isn't that Buddha is one thing, and then he has an agency. She is that activity. Okay, doesn't own it. She is it. Like, you don't own Linda, you are Linda, you know, it's like that. That Buddha doesn't own that agency. Buddha is that compassion. And Also, Buddha's compassion is also wisdom. So Buddha is that wisdom. Buddha doesn't have anything. Okay. Thank you. Like when Dogen came back from China, they said, what did you get in China? He said, well, I got that my nose is vertical and my eyes are horizontal. That was a pretty good thing to say.


but I'm not attached to that idea. Kurt? Am I here? I hope so. Can you hear me and see me? Yeah, you're also here. Okay, good. Reb, I want to thank you so much for your love today. Um, I feel a lot of gratitude, you know, for being able to be here with you. So thank you so much. Um, I guess my question kind of touches on some of the conversation that we've had. Um, cause we're talking about these Buddhas that are, you know, kind of helping us that are kind of always there, uh, able to help us. But the question that I have has to do with kind of the Buddha inside of us, because I assume we all have that Buddha nature.


And what is that communication, you know, between the two? Because I've often had the sense that it's almost like I have this Buddha that's trying to get out, you know, that's trying to express itself somehow. So there seems like there's some sort of communication. And oftentimes when I've called on help from those other Buddhas, I've really, you know, gotten that help. So I don't know how that happens. I guess I'm just trying to maybe confirm, you know, that there's, you know, something like that. But then my other question has to do with our friends. I think it was from Germany. you know, how to respond to other people that might not have our views. Because I'm assuming that if I have this Buddha inside of me, that maybe I can kind of acknowledge, you know, some Buddha, you know, and somebody that I maybe disagree with.


And maybe that's a kind of a form of connection somehow. So. I would say that that thought might help you open to the connection that's really there. And I know it's all kind of a mental construct. Some mental constructs help you open to other mental constructs which you used to be close to. So for example, here's a mental construct, open. And then I might say to you, are you open? And you might say, well, not to that. And I might say, do you feel not open to that? And you say, yeah, I feel not open to that. And I say, can you be open to not being open? And you might say, yeah. And then the openness, maybe it will extend itself by working with the question, by the conversation.


So you hear the teaching of being open to sentient beings, open to their suffering. You notice that some sentient being suffering you're not open to, then you're open to you're not being open. And in that conversation with the teaching, the openness becomes more and more fully realized. Yeah, yeah. And that's very true on a deep level for me. Yeah. Thank you for being here, always. You're so welcome. Dennis? Good morning, Maria. Good morning, Dennis. So, Often my questions are the same questions. Our questions are the same questions, and just recast in a different form.


And I appreciate your, and I thank you for your compassion for answering the same questions, our illusions. I want to have that same compassion for to myself for answering or continuing to have the same questions of existence, non-existence, the illusion, the phenomena of life and death. We say that great is the matter of birth and death, and we also say there is no birth, there is no death, and I want to understand and have Compassion for my illusion. I think there is birth and death. I live in this realm of birth and death.


I see you. I see you on Zoom. You're still here. I feel your presence. I welcome your presence. I feel comforted by your presence. I know that Terry is still alive, and I'm very attached to that, and I assume that in the future, whatever that means, whatever that is, that she will not be alive. How can I make some sense of, there is no birth, the illusion that I have of birth and death, of existence, non-existence. Again, the same question that we've been asking, recast in a different way. So, basically, again, same answer.


Practice all virtues with birth and death. And you will see the Buddha teaching, right now, no birth, no death. But we have to practice compassion with birth and death. and relax with it, and be upright with it, and harmonize with birth and death. And be honest about birth and death. So you're being honest about it. You're saying, I see it. And be upright with it. Don't lean into it. Don't lean away from it. Don't try to go to the right or the left of it. Be upright and meet it fully. And you will see the Buddha teaching. And the Buddha will be saying to you, in the realm of birth and death, I am with you. And I'm teaching you there is no birth and death. And you don't have to make sense of it, you'll just understand it. And then you'll be able to help Terry more deeply and more fully. So, just to be with the illusion, sit in the illusion,


be one with the illusion. I don't know if I'm going to understand the illusion, but I'm not trying to understand the illusion. You know, if we're having a conversation... If we're having a conversation, it isn't exactly that I'm going to understand you, or you're going to understand me. The conversation will understand who we are. The meeting is the understanding, not me or you. The meeting understands you and me. Next.


Deborah? Hi. My question was very similar to Dennis's. Just to add to it, I'm helping someone die now that I love very much. And I'm trying to handle it better than I have in the past with loved ones who've died. One where I'm not traumatized, where I can feel it in a more generative way. And for this loved one that's dying, it is a very dark night of her soul. And I guess I just want to know how to support her the best I can. And I'm just trying to be as present as possible with what's arising and kind as possible, compassionate as possible. I don't know if there's anything else that I'm missing. That sounds pretty complete to me. And one more thing is that you're also in the dark night of the soul would be good.


But I'm also in the dark night of the soul. You're sharing it with her. I am sharing it with her. He has a companion to walk through the dark night. And I think what you said is the way to walk with her. Okay. And remember that the Buddha is joyful about doing this walk with us. The Buddha walks through birth and death with us, holding our hands joyfully. The Buddha is glad to be of service. And I'm glad that you can be of service. And I hope you are too. I am glad. Yeah, thank you. Thank you. You're welcome. Tracy? Good morning or good afternoon, Rev. Good afternoon, Tracy.


I had a question, but I think I just want to thank you for introducing some of us to the Lotus Sutra, which I took up last week with the, by joining someone in reading aloud and then speaking as we felt moved. And we began with chapter seven, because I think that was the one that you had mentioned as one that stood out for you at least two weeks ago. And I just want to thank you for, rather than opening a sutra with this idea in mind that, oh, there'll be some techniques, some practices that will direct me a little bit. The experience so far has been, it feels like in the reading of it, the reading and it going through you is this,


It's like clearing things away, if you know what I mean. It's like creating the conditions for openness. That's what I'm trying to say. It's this indirect, no, here, try this out, see what it's like. No, no, it's not like that. It's more like, you know, kind of prescriptive. No, it's more like, does that ring for you? Yeah, it's the Lotus Sutra Samadhi. Lotus Sutra concentration. You read the sutra, you enter the mind of the Lotus Sutra. And in that mind, all these wonderful teachings and practices come up. But if you're going to the Lotus Sutra to get these wonderful teachings, that sort of forestalls just entering that mind. And so when I entered the mind, I'd say, oh, wow, there's a great practice, there's another great practice.


So there's many, many wonderful practices in the Lotus Sutra. But I don't go looking for them. I just open it, and I open to it, and it opens to me, and we meet, and then sometimes nothing comes, and sometimes that's the best thing of all. Yeah. So please continue to enter that mind with the aid of that scripture. And sometimes, in my early days of study, I would read it and the Lotus Sutra would say, close this book and go be with sentient beings. Uh-huh. Yeah. I will do that very shortly after we finish our conversation meeting today. Thank you. Anne? You're taking a second question.


So I'm imagining that I'm, in a moment, I'm in an expanded, unlimited place, and I'm aligning with sort of an unborn Buddha beyond manifestation. And in this place, I'm bending towards all beings with beneficence and kindness. And that's true when something arises that has a piece, a flavor of mora or mara, I'm bending towards demons, I'm bending towards cruelty, I'm bending towards evil. with love. No, no, [...] no. Don't bend towards evil. Be upright with it. Don't lean away from evil.


Be upright with it. You'll hurt evil's feelings if you bend towards it or away from it. So I'm being upright with evil. And good. And good. And I hear you saying that the universe is a loving place, which was kind of Einstein's question, but I feel like what you're saying is different than what I've heard, like there's emptiness, but what I'm hearing is it's not empty, it's filled with kindness. That is... Yeah, it's an emptiness that's filled with kindness. and with unkindness. And unkindness, right. But I'm constantly aligning, I'm allowing a faith that the kindness will always be greater than the unkindness, if I'm with Buddha.


Yeah, so I would caution you against putting the kindness in the realm of greater and lesser. Can you say more about that? It seems kind of unkind to say that the kindness is greater. Greater than unkindness. More like at the center of the unkindness. The kindness is more at the center. The kindness is at the center of the vast emptiness, and it's surrounded by all forms of unkindness, which it blesses and confers blessings on. So this kindness, I imagine, can be... It's not greater than. Greater than is a little bit like right wing looking down on left wing, or left wing looking down on right wing.


And yet, I have a certain preference because I'm wanting to align with Buddha-vow, not with Mara-vow. So, I have a certain, as you say, function to find that center, right? Yeah. You have the function of living in the center and being compassionate to Mara and Buddha. And it seems to me that that is not really different than having faith, a faith in a universe. It feels, yeah, like there's like a jump cut there. Faith is like a, faith when I'm confronting Mara engulfed in flames and I'm burning up with cruelty. and despair and hindrances, right and left, that's when I just have faith that there's a Buddha there, and no matter what it feels like, Buddha is always there.


So it's a leap of faith to be in the center. Good leap. Please leap into the center, which means please leap into where you are. Oh, come on, guys. And also, what does it say? The Buddha way doesn't prefer Buddha over Mara. Or Mara over Buddha. So, have we called on everybody? We have Diane. Okay. Hi, Reb. Thank you for creating this space for us. I feel... Thank you for creating this. I feel the presence is just really settling and powerful.


My question is about, it's kind of related to the previous question. In the third chapter, the metaphor, I was wondering, when the father entices the children out of the burning house, and what's remains in the burning house, are the ghouls and the, you know, unimaginable, unspeakable evils. How do we understand those entities that remain in the house. And also further on, he talks about people who disparage the Lotus Sutra as being condemned to hell in at least the version that I'm reading. How do we understand that split? I mean, here, we've been talking about unity, but how do we, yeah,


what do we make of those entities that are still in the house? Well, in chapter two, after people bend Buddha's arm three times, he finally tells him this teaching, which he didn't want to tell him because she thought, if I tell you this teaching, you'll just get so perplexed and depressed, I don't want to tell you. And the teaching he didn't want to tell was the teaching of one vehicle. So in chapter three, when you get out of the house, you realize what you get is the one vehicle. And the one vehicle is that all beings, all the ghouls and hell dwellers are in the same vehicle as us. So when you get out of the burning house, then you realize that you're practicing together with the flames and all the suffering in the house and all the beings who are in hell.


Why are they in hell? Because they reject great compassion. Why do they reject great compassion? Because of confusion and attachment. But those beings are on the same path as us. All the right-wing and left-wing self-righteous demons are in the same path as us and all Buddhas. So that's one interpretation of chapter three, is that one vehicle means we're practicing together with everyone, all Buddhas and all suffering beings. And we have the difficult practice of keeping that in mind no matter what we meet, to remember we're on the same path as the demons and the ghouls and the flames and the angels and the celestial music and the celestial flowers.


Again, chapter seven, which was referred to earlier, the Buddha takes the seat. And at first, when we take the seat, we're surrounded by Mara. and we practice with Mara. Then we're surrounded by celestial flowers and we practice with celestial flowers and celestial musicians and celestial florists. With one vehicle, we're all doing the same practice and the same awakening. That's Chapter 3's message, and that's part of Chapter 2's message, which is delivered after people beg for it because it's a very startling teaching. How can we be on the same path as certain presidents? No, no, I'm not on the same path with that person. No, no, no. Even though that person seems to demonstrate all my worst stuff,


How embarrassing. Like people, yeah, it's embarrassing. Why is it embarrassing? Because we're on the same path. Why do I have to be on the same path with everybody? Well, that's the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. And that's the situation we're in. It's really terrible. And we're on the same path in this terrible situation. Okay, Diane? Diane, are you still alive? What happened to Diane? She muted herself. No, I did not. I said you slayed me on that one. I slayed you? Yeah. Did I kill you softly with my song? Yes.


Are we done with all the contributions from the Great Assembly? Oh, there's one more. Philip Harris. Can you see Philip Harris? I can't see Philip Harris. You can't? I see your outline of you. But I know Philip Harris, he's a poet who lives in Wales, right? Greetings, evening from Wales. I didn't set the camera up this way because my face is in darkness and there's a bright light over my ear, right here. But I realize it fits perfectly at the moment. It feels as though it fits perfectly. I feel as though I am in the shadow and in the light. I've been spending quite a lot of time with my mother, some months with my mother, and now she's dying.


She may have days, it may only be hours. She's in hospital. She's getting palliative care, so she's comfortable. She's not in pain. It's always difficult for me to know how aware she is of my presence there, and sometimes I feel as though I know she is aware. And sometimes I think she's quite far away, but somehow she's still there. And this time I spent with her has been... I didn't think I could do it. I didn't think I wanted to do it. Well, more strongly than that, I wouldn't have wanted to do it. But I am.


I am so glad that I've been able to be here with her. At times I've resented it. Now my sister has come as well. She lives in Pennsylvania, but she was able to come and she's been here for a week. And I felt the resentment go away. I felt a great gentleness for her, my mother, and I find it really hard now because these are her last days but I find myself varying between seeing how it is and just being with that and also then wanting it to happen quickly. It'll only happen in its own time. So it does feel like I'm in the presence of a kind of darkness and a bright light at the same time.


Yeah, and I feel as though I want to or I'll just be present with it. I want you to be present with it, too. Thank you, Rob. I'm calling you to be present with it. And if you're distracted, I understand. It's hard to be present moment by moment, but that's what I hope for you. That's what I pray for. Yeah. Yeah, thank you. You're welcome. Okay. Are we... Are we complete? Okay, now we do another vow, okay?


I did Tore Zenji's vow, now I do the universal bodhisattva vow. May our intention equally extend to every being and place with the true merit of Buddha's way. Beings are numberless. I vow to save them. Afflictions are inexhaustible. I vow to cut through. Dharma gates are boundless. I vow to enter them. Buddha's way is unsurpassable. I vow to become it. Thank you, everybody. Bye-bye.


Thank you, Rob. Bye-bye. Thank you, Rob. Thank you, everyone. Bye, everybody. Bye-bye.