Bodhisattva Action is to Remain Unmoved 

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As usual, today is one of a great activity. The situation here in this place is that there is a new physical object has appeared in this room, depending on many causes and conditions. Lots of effort by human beings and other beings. So this altar with this statue of Shakyamuni Buddha is in the center of this space. And there is the intention to celebrate this altar and this statue and bring it alive today,


so that it may be a sacred place in this world. And there is also a ceremony which several people here will be leaving to attend in Berkeley, where Bodhisattva precepts will be offered to our friends. I feel moved to discuss with you something I've talked to you about before, which is termed the place or the sphere of action or the sphere of practice of a Bodhisattva Mahasattva,


of an enlightening being, great being. This term is defined and taught in the Lotus Sutra, in the Mahayana Sublime Dharma Flower Scripture. And this scripture is taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. And in this room we have Shakyamuni Buddha. And inside of Shakyamuni Buddha we place the Lotus Sutra, along with the basic scriptures of Soto Zen. They are inside the body of the statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. And in chapter 14 of the Lotus Sutra, which is called ease of practice, or joyful practice,


or joyful serene practice, or comfortable practice, in this chapter the crown prince of the Dharma, the Bodhisattva Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of perfect wisdom, addresses Shakyamuni Buddha saying, O Bhagavata, Bhagavata is one of the epithets of Buddha. These Bodhisattvas are very rare. He is referring to Bodhisattvas who have vowed in the previous chapter to teach the Supreme Sublime Dharma Flower Scripture in the difficult days to come in this world.


Such Bodhisattvas are rare that make this vow. In respectful obedience to the Buddha, they have made this great vow. In troubled world to come, we will persevere, we will be patient, we will recite and teach this Lotus Sutra. O Bhagavata, how can these Bodhisattvas, these great beings, teach this scripture in troubled worlds to come? And the Buddha addressing Manjushri says, If Bodhisattva Mahasattvas, if enlightening beings, great beings, want to teach this sutra in troubled worlds to come, they should abide in four kinds of practices. The first is to establish the place, the sphere of their Bodhisattva practice


and the place, the sphere of their relationships and thereupon expound the sutra for the sake of all sentient beings. So in this chapter, the Buddha teaches four methods four comfortable ministries, four joyful ministries, ministries of body, speech, mind and vow. The first is the comfortable ministry, the joyful ministry of the body. In the joyful ministry of body, there are two practices. One is the place of Bodhisattva action and practice, the place of Bodhisattva practice, excuse me, and the place of intimacy, the place of Bodhisattva's relationships. I always actually want to talk about this place of Bodhisattva action.


I want to remember this place of Bodhisattva action. I want to live in the place of Bodhisattva action. I want to go for refuge in this place of Bodhisattva activity. Really, we already live there, but we must remember it, otherwise we'll miss the great opportunity. And I've said it many times that when I first read this, I was pleasantly surprised and pleasantly comfortably shocked to hear the Buddha's instruction. The first part are kind of comfortable. If Bodhisattva great beings want to teach this sutra


in troubled worlds to come, they should abide in four methods, four practices. The first is to establish the sphere of Bodhisattva action. Manjushri, what is the sphere, what is the place of the practice of Bodhisattva's, of great beings? If Bodhisattva's great beings abide in the stage of perseverance, patience, is gentle, tranquil, non-violent, and unafraid, and furthermore, if he remains unmoved with regard to existing things, perceives them in their true aspect, and neither acts nor discriminates, this is called the Bodhisattva sphere of action. This is the sphere of action of a great being.


The surprising part is the sphere of action is to remain unmoved, to always be unmoved, as a way to live in the place of Bodhisattva action. And in this unmoving place, we are unmoving with regard to all things. We take no action with regard to all phenomena, but observe them in their true aspect, neither acting nor discriminating. So, as I say, I want to remember this place and talk about this place and praise this place, but particularly today I want to do it because today is an active day, a day of producing a great altar, of bringing to life. The Bodhisattva's action is to bring the Buddha to life,


to make practice places come to life, but the place of that action is being unmoving with regard to things, taking no action and no discrimination. And this is hard for us to understand. It's surprising to hear such a teaching from most of us. We can hardly believe it. People courageously express their disbelief in such a practice, that if someone was suffering, that if someone was about to do some cruelty, that we would be unmoved with regard to that phenomena. How could you say that? How could that be so? How could a Bodhisattva be that way? But I'm proposing that the sutra says that,


and it's good to take it literally. When you meet cruelty, when you meet pain, when you meet unskillfulness, the first thing the Bodhisattva, the first place the Bodhisattva is, is right there with it, unmoved. And from this unmoving presence, from this stillness with this ill, from the stillness with the pain, from the stillness with the sickness, the healing action of the Bodhisattva comes to life. With the stillness and the awareness of the true aspect of this pain, of this suffering, of this great activity, the Bodhisattva is unmoved, does not take action, observes how things are, does not discriminate, and this is where the Bodhisattva's action lives. A friend came to see me recently who


was diagnosed with cancer. What kind of cancer was it? So many people have cancer, I can't remember which kind is which. Was it stomach? What kind of cancer does Scott Rand have? Colon. So he had colon cancer, and basically it's been a very wonderful, happy experience for him. He's been able to see the tremendous love there is in the world for him and from him. But even though he could see this great love going between him and other beings, still he entertained the thought that he could accomplish something. I don't know what he was thinking of accomplishing,


but in the midst of his chemotherapy and everything, there was a time when he wanted to accomplish something. Let's just say he wanted to accomplish something. Let's just say he wanted to accomplish anything. And he could not. He saw he could not accomplish anything. And when he saw that he could not accomplish anything, then he really saw how wonderful the world is. Then he really saw how his life activity was a great blessing. But it's hard to get to the place where you can see that you cannot accomplish anything. Do you need to get cancer


and then on top of cancer take in all these poisons to get to the place where you can't accomplish anything? And when you can see that, you're ready to see the great activity of the Bodhisattva. Or another story I saw about a man who also got cancer. Stomach cancer. Now this is a man who before he got cancer was pretty much... Scott's not this way. Scott's a wonderful, happy person before he gets cancer. But this is a story about a person who was really unhappy and amazingly dead while still being alive who didn't really care about anybody


or couldn't feel any care for anybody including himself. And so then he was diagnosed with cancer but it took him a while to see... but then he thought, well maybe he could, I don't know what, he thought he could maybe do something. But all the things he thought of doing he couldn't do. And all the things he thought that might help him disappeared and he was finally left with nothing. And he had a co-worker who had resigned from his business, his work for the government and she was in the same office with him


in which everybody in the office didn't do anything for any of the people they were supposed to serve. They just didn't care about anybody and she was with them but she wanted to get out of there because she didn't know it was so deadly. And she was very alive. So he was dead and she was alive. And she kind of thought that he was an old lech. She didn't know he was sick. But what he was interested in her after she quit, he spent some time with her, what he was interested in was that she was alive. He was very interested in how she could be so alive. And he finally told her I have cancer, stomach cancer. And he said I want to know how you can be so alive. And she said well, after I quit working with you


I got this job making these little bunnies, these little mechanical bunnies. And when I make these bunnies I send these bunnies to all the children in Japan. That's why I'm alive. Without getting cancer that girl realized that she didn't have anything. That she was wasting her life working for the government. And he saw, when he saw he didn't have anything, he was going to lose his life, his job was meaningless, and his family didn't even care about him. They thought he was on the make with this girl. How disgusting they thought.


But because he didn't have anything, he saw he saw where life is. He saw the door to life opened when he stopped doing anything. When he saw he couldn't. So for us who are not so sick and have loving people around us, you know, it may be a little hard for us to see the place of being unmoved by things. Again, in the surround of this central place of not moving and not doing anything and observing the way things are, the surround is to be patient and gentle and not overbearing or nasty and harmonious and non-violent. All those nice practices surround this place and get us ready.


To not do anything. To get ready to accept that the place, the door where we cannot accomplish anything. If we don't accept that we can't accomplish anything, the door onto the realm of great bodhisattva healing activity, we don't know where the door is. It seems to be closed on us and we feel more or less hindered, frightened, etc. I also think of like the expression in the beginning of the general encouragements of Zazen by A.H. Dogen. He says, Suppose one gains pride of understanding and glimpses the wisdom that runs through all things.


One has gained the initial partial excursions about the frontier. Even if you have when you have, for example, some understanding of the truth, when you are able to do some wholesome things, that's not bad. Now you're on the frontier. You're scouting around and making some excursions, some partial excursions about the frontier. The frontier of what? The frontier of the vital path of total liberation, the living path of total freedom. But at that frontier which we're at because we're being wholesome and wise,


we have to find the unmoving place where we can't do anything. Stop the excursions. Stop trying to get in the door of complete, perfect enlightenment. Give up trying to gain anything by our good karma. Good karma is good karma. Good karma is the sets up the possibility of not being able to of seeing that we can't do anything. And then the activity which is not good or bad karma but the bodhisattva, mahasattva's activity comes forth. And again this


amazing work of carpentry and painting and design exists in a place called no abode. And again this place of no abode, the actual place of no abode is the place where the bodhisattva's action, the bodhisattva's creative imagination, the bodhisattva's great creative vows, always thinking of how to benefit beings and make places for them to practice overlaps with the bodhisattva's not moving. Not thinking. The not thinking. And the always thinking.


Not even vowing. And always vowing. Overlapping. John Sheehy made a beautiful diagram of the overlap between unmoving, always not thinking, unconstructed, unmoving presence. Whatever you meet, don't think about it. Whoever you meet, don't think about her. Don't move. Don't construct. Present without doing anything. Whoever you meet, always think of how you can help her. Always vow to give your life for him. Always. Always. And always is non-abiding. Not abiding and always not thinking. Not abiding and always thinking. Not abiding and not moving. Not abiding and moving.


Always moving. Always acting. Always singing. Always dancing. Always thinking for welfare of beings. Just like the Buddha. Never thinking. Never constructing. Never doing. Abiding in neither realm. Live where they both are alive. The bodhisattva sphere of action. And of course, this is an amazing place to live and we're not used to it, so we want to take a vacation and go back to our little grass shack. Part 2 In this ceremony we do today,


there will be great activity and also the ceremony is about not doing anything. This is a ceremony of celebrating not doing anything and the Bodhisattva's activity. And you are invited to join the activity, be part of the great activity. And you are invited, you are welcomed, you are encouraged, to be gentle and patient, and not nasty or overbearing, and non-violent and generous.


You're invited to participate in this ceremony without trying to get anything, without trying to gain anything. And you're invited to chant, and to support the ceremony, to sing the names, the epithets of Buddha, to sing the Heart Sutra, and to help create a Buddha Land. Do you have any feedback for this priest? Yes. Yes. Yes. She's thinking of the Akira Kurosawa story, Ikiru, which is what I was referring to.


By the way, Ikiru, I think, means to live. Excuse me. Someone told you? Yes. When you see that you can't do anything, you can change something, like Bodhisattvas do. We're changing things anyway, but the way the Bodhisattvas change is based on having nothing. Having nothing. Then the change that's supported from having nothing is the most refined,


the most completely, is the sublime. So the piece that I'm kind of watching these days is in my being with people, that sphere of relationship, that sphere of practice in my being with people, the temptation to do something before I've found the unmovingness. Right, yeah. The temptation to act before you give up action. To act before you don't move. I'm finding that I'm trying to work with at least waking up into that moment in an unmoving kind of way.


Yeah, that's called becoming aware of the shortcomings in our practice. Our lack of faith in that practice of not moving, and our lack of faith of that practice of not moving. Oops, I moved just before it was time to act. Yeah, I moved before it was time to act rather than I missed not moving before it was time to act. I took the action before the non-action. I didn't wait for the action. I didn't unmovingly wait for my job assignment as a Bodhisattva. I wanted to be a Bodhisattva so much that I didn't wait to be told what my job was. I couldn't stand to be still. I so much wanted to help. Sometimes in the middle of that waking up into that and remembering, then it appears that that whole process, because it was in this interdependent thing,


turned out to be part of that initial hopeful unmoving for both me and the other person. In the midst of confessing that you moved before it was time to act, you see that you stop moving and action comes. And actually it was there. Buddha saw you doing Bodhisattva action, but because you were unwilling to not move, you didn't notice that you weren't moving. You're actually already not moving, but you have to do the ritual of not moving, otherwise you miss out on the actual not moving. The not moving is already here for us, but we have to give up something ritually, practice-wise, to go there. Any other feedback from the heavens? The heavenly realms?


One thing, right now in the valley where I work, meditation valley, we're faced with a lot of activity. The most recent being one of the children of my co-worker shot to death. And the immediate urge to take action by everyone, whether it was more destruction or just running in circles, it's almost overwhelming. And I found myself feeling exceptionally guilty when I went into my office and closed the door, grateful that there was a wall right beneath the window, and took my pillows and sat for a while to collect some thoughts, or to just be there for a minute. And then things started to happen. I could see what was already happening, but I didn't know this was happening. I just nurtured that.


And also, I heard you say, hearing of this horrible cruelty, you say there's an immediate reaction to do something. But I propose to you that the immediate thing is stillness. The stillness is immediate. There's no time after which the stillness occurs. It's right there. That's what we need to catch and be practicing, is the immediate stillness that's there with all good and bad action. But if you miss it, then you can recuperate by the ritual and find it again, and then you can see that it was there and there was some good action coming, once you find the place. It's kind of what Holly was also saying. We need to keep going back to this place, and we'll find out that our past will change.


When we go to this place, our past will change. We realize that we were there in the past, and the action was there, but we missed it. And this is part of the healing, is to realize there was kindness when we thought there was cruelty. Not to deny the cruelty, but to go back and find the thread of kindness that was there all along, and is now here to be enjoyed and nurtured. We already know there's some kindness someplace, probably, or occasionally we know there's kindness running through the situation. But to fully see it, to open the door completely, we have to find the immediate stillness in each moment, to find the ongoing kindness and great activity in each moment. Yes? When will we all know we're all here?


When will we all know we're all here? Did you say when? Yeah. At the end of time. At the end of time we will all know. That we're all here. That we're all here. But as long as there's time, somebody will not know, so we still have what we call job security. There's still work to be healing until the end of time, and the Buddhas are joyfully accepting this wonderful opportunity to work with beings until all beings realize, all beings realize and realize that they're realizing it together. And also, this still place is the place where the Bodhisattva action lives, but it's also where the place of Bodhisattva energy lives, and enthusiasm. So we actually feel good about it and enthusiastic about this Bodhisattva work.


Without finding that place, we get tired. We even think of resigning from the Bodhisattva practice, because we're getting... All these beings which you want to help, they seem like vampires to us, because we're not going back to the still place from which our energy to help them comes. Any other responses before we get ready for the ceremony? So during the ceremony, I will be... I will take a brush and I will point it at the eyes of the Buddha,


and I will draw a circle in the air with the brush, and while I'm drawing the circle in the air, if you like, you can chant the epithets of Buddha, the different qualities of the Buddha. And then we'll continue to wake up the Buddha and make offerings to the Buddha. So now, if you like, after we do our dedication, you can do walking meditation out on the deck, and we'll set up for the ceremony and call you back here when we're ready. Okay.