Bodhisattva Precepts Guided by the Teaching of Mind Only 

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Bodhisattva Precepts Guided by the Teaching of Mind Only
Tenshin Reb Anderson
No Abode 10/6/2012 PM


Transcribed by Karen Mueller

(Note: Beating the Cloth Drum: Letters of Zen Master Hakuin [Paperback]
HYPERLINK ""Haukin (Author), HYPERLINK ""Norman Waddell (Translator) Shambala, 2012)


The words we just chanted I think emerged from the mind of a practitioner who lived in Japan. He was a disciple of another practitioner named Hakuin. I recently read a translation of a correspondence course, a course of correspondence between Torei and Hakuin. I would like to share that with you in the not to distant future at one of our one-day sittings here. To go through this very dynamic and apparently very emotional correspondence between them where Tori expresses his very intense vows to understand the truth and also, in his writing, saying that he actually has had a deep realization and freedom from all kinds of things, and then in the next letter, he talks about a new set of problems that he has. Then in the next letter he talks about completely becoming free of them, except that, although he is free, he can’t express them in his daily life. And also in this process, Hakuin is writing back to him and saying “Would you please come back to this, to my temple and help me take care of this place”. And he is saying, “Dear Teacher, I can’t come back because I have all this work to do on myself”. And Hakuin is saying, “You’ve done enough work. Come back.” And he writes back and says, “No, but I’ve got to go on another hundred day retreat, or hundred and fifty day retreat.” And then he goes on another retreat and says, “I really understand now but I still can’t come back because I have to go deeper.” And they go back and forth like this for a number of years and I wanted to share with you this because here’s two practitioners who are having great insights and still seem to, at the same time, be very distressed and upset with each other and with themselves. So it’s like they are so human and at the same time so enlightened. It’s quite interesting. They both think the other one is very enlightened and yeah..It was a very interesting thing. So that person, named Torei, wrote that vow. In this correspondence there are a number of other vows that he makes that are of similar intensity. I think actually that vow was in one of the letters.. The one we just chanted was in one of the letters. But he wrote different renditions of his vow that was coming up for him. We also talked about the Sixteen Great Bodhisattva Precepts this morning. We talked about the first six and then there are ten more. Here’s a card which has them written on here, if you’d like to have one of these cards, they are on the table up there. And they are conveniently,.. they are printed on both sides. The Sixteen are printed on both sides so that you can read them upside down and right side up. Or you can read them up side up, upside down when you are sitting upright and they you can turn them around and stand on your head and read them upside down when you are standing on your head. Or you can read them right side up, sitting upright and then turn them around and do a headstand and read them right side up when you are inverted. Lot of possibilities here. (Comment: Or two people can read it simultaneously.) Yeah. Very good! That’s even better thank you. So how are you doing over there? (Comment: I’d have to be upside down) So two people can do it simultaneously. One standing on her head and the other one sitting upright. Or you can read it sidewise, both of you. This way probably is easier, sideways. So if you’d like to have one of these cards, you may help yourself to them. The last ten are called the ten major, you could say, prohibitory precepts or ten major precepts of restraint which are very familiar to human beings, like not killing is one of them, not stealing, not mis-using sexuality, not lying, not selling intoxicants, not slandering, not praising self at the expense of others, not being possessive, not harboring ill will and not disparaging the Triple Treasure. This is the traditional way of writing them, saying “not, not, not”. At Zen Center, we say, “A disciple of Buddha does not kill.” And someplaces they say, “I vow to abstain from killing.” But the way these are written, they way they are transmitted in this document, this old, this ancient way is to say, “not killing, not stealing, not lying”. I mean “not misusing sexuality, not lying”. So it’s not so much telling people not to do something or saying you are not going to do something. It’s, the Precept is the precept of not killing and when it’s given, the teacher says, the precept of not killing and then the teacher says, “Will you from now on and even after realizing Buddhahood will you take care of this precept?”, the precept of not killing. So, like I don’t know if any of you think you killed anything today or not. I didn’t think, “Oh I killed something today.” I didn’t think that thought and nobody suggested I did. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I practiced the precept of not killing. Practicing the precept of not killing is more than just abstaining from not killing, it’s understanding that precept and living it. (Comment: Abstaining from killing..not abstaining from not killing) Oh, did I say abstaining from not killing? Yeah. So practicing this precept does not mean you abstain from killing and it does not mean you abstain from not killing. You actually engage in not killing. And. But that doesn’t have anything to do with abstaining from killing. It has to do with what? With realizing this precept. When we were chanting a little while ago, I thought it was like…what is it like? It’s like in each thought, have you seen a lotus in each thought? A lotus blossom in each thought? And on each petal of the lotus, there’s a Buddha. That’s not killing. What makes a thought into a lotus? Not killing. When a thought is not killing, the thought is a lotus blossom. Not thinking not killing but when your thought does not kill, is not killing, then your thought is a lotus blossom. When your thought is a lotus blossom, your thought is not taking what’s not given. Your thought is not taking what’s not given. (Comment; Is not killing, life?) Pardon? Not killing is life. Life is not killing and life is not killed. Yeah. Yeah. And a thought that is not killing is a thought that’s a lotus blossom and there is a Buddha sitting on every petal of that thought. And it’s a.. did it say that it’s a thousand-petalled Lotus? Didn’t say that? Didn’t say thousand-petal lotus? No. It’s a thousand-petal lotus and there’s a Buddha on each petal. It can be more than a thousand. And then, so the teacher says, “From now on and even after realizing Buddhahood, will you continue to take care of each thought?” Not killing. Each thought. Make each thought, find in each thought a lotus blossom with Buddhas on each petal. Will you take care of that? And someone might say, “I don’t know how to make, to find a lotus in each thought.” And I would say, “I can imagine you don’t know how to find a lotus in each thought.” That’s easy to understand that you wouldn’t know how to do that. I didn’t ask you if you knew how to do it. I didn’t say, “Do you know how to make a thought into a lotus? Do you know how to find a lotus in each thought.?” I didn’t ask you that. I said, “Will you find a lotus in each thought?” Will you do this thing which you have no idea what I’m talking about which is called “not killing”? Will you see Buddhas in every thought? Will you pay homage to all the Buddhas that are in every thought? And some people might say, “No, I won’t do that.” Ok. But that’s sort of the question. Will you observe these precepts, the precept of not killing? Will you observe this precept of not stealing? Will you observe the lotus in each thought with Buddhas on each petal? Will you observe that? And then you get to say, “Yes, I will. I have no idea how that’s going to happen but I’m going to commit myself to finding enlightenment in every thought. I want to to observe that.” Q. I’m sorry. It’s too… It’s more like “are you capable?” and I don’t think I am capable of it… A I didn’t ask you if you are capable. I asked you, “Will you?” And if you think about whether you are capable or not, then you might say, “No I am not capable”. But I didn’t ask you if you are capable. I just asked you, “Will you commit to the precept of not killing, from now on and even after realizing Buddhahood.?” Whereupon you would understand that every thought is a lotus. But from now on, until you understand that every thought is a lotus, will you observe that every thought is a lotus full of Buddhas, full of not killing, full of not stealing? Will you observe that? Ok. I didn’t ask you if you’re going to judge that you did killing or judge that you didn’t kill. I didn’t ask you that. You may do that. If you think, “Oh, I killed!” I’m saying, when you think you killed, in that thought “I killed”, will you find Buddha? Well you say, “No I’m not going to find Buddha when I think I killed. I’m not going to find Buddha there. No.” Ok. Thank you. You told me you’re not going to do it. I didn’t ask you if you could. This is not something you do. This is something you say, “Yes, I will.” I’m not asking you if you’re capable. I am asking you if you’re going to do it… if you’re going to observe the precept of a lotus in every thought with Buddhas on every petal, are you going to observe that in every moment. Are you going to do that? I mean, “Yes I will.” Now you might say, “But what if I forget?”. Well in the earlier part of the ceremony, which it doesn’t say here (Note; on the cards) you practice confession and repentance. So if you forget what you say you’re going to do, then you practice confession and repentance. But you don’t forget what you said you’re going to do until after you say you’re going to do it. First you say, “yes I will”, then you forget. “Yes, I will.” Will what? “I will practice these precepts. I will observe them.” I didn’t say, “Will you never forget? Will you never slip up?” I didn’t say that. I don’t ask that. I don’t say, “Are you going to be perfect?” I said, “From now on and even after realizing Buddhahood, will you continue to observe these precepts?” And some people, in that ceremony, say, “Yes I will.” If they think, “I wonder if I’ll be able to do it or not.”, that’s ok. They can think that. And then while they’re thinking that, they can say, “Yes I will.” Or they can not think it and say, “Yes I will” and after they say it, they say, “What did I just say? I wonder if that’s going to happen.” You can wonder. But what you just said was that you vowed to find a lotus blossom and you are wondering. This is not about opinions about whether you are following these precepts or not. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about do you want to practice them? And if the answer is, “No”, ok. If the answer is “Yes”, the answer is yes. “Will you?” doesn’t mean that you’re going to think you did. It just means, you wish to. That’s what I would say. You wish to. “Yes I will.” “Yes I want to”. So that’s what I thought I would say to you now and I think I said it. I had a conversation with Thiemo’s uncle in Germany and he pointed out that for Kant, it’s the respecting the precepts that’s freedom; not the judging about whether you’re doing it or not, or can do it or not. So people think, “oh I practice the precepts” or “oh, they didn’t practice the precepts” or “I didn’t practice and they did.” These judgments are going to happen. But do you respect not killing? Do you respect finding enlightenment in every thought? Yes I do. That’s the freedom of these precepts. That’s how this ceremony is a ceremony of attaining, of touching, liberation. I am a person who forgets things, who doubts things, who judges himself and judges others. Now I am going to do a ceremony of liberation from my mind and I’m going to say, “Yes, I will.” To what? To enlightenment. “Yes, I will” to liberation. I respect these precepts. You ask me if I’m going to practice them? “Yes, I will.” My mind will judge after that and when my mind judges that I go against them, I will confess that I went against them. And that’s freedom too. I respect the practice of confession.Yes? Q. It’s been a while since my ceremony of that sort, but as I recall the words were, you would say, “do you vow to”..and state the precept and I would respond and say, “yes, I will.” As you said. And it seems like what I’m saying when I say, “Yes, I will” is will in the sense of having the intention. It is my will, that I will do this. Not that I am capable of doing it. A. Right. Not predicting the future. This is my will. This is my wish right now. Yes. Yes. This is my intention. We could change it to what you just said, however, we pay respect, part of the way we pay respect at Zen Center is by not changing the words at every other ceremony. No matter what we say, we have to, we will interpret it. So we can interpret it, “Will you observe these precepts from now on and even after realizing Buddha?” “Yes, it is my will. Yes I will it. Yes, I wish it. I will. “ And this is the ceremony of liberation. You touch liberation with your tongue when you say yes. The spirit is “yes” to these amazing possibilities. And the other one is, “I think I am just going to keep being stuck in my mind for a while. I can’t, I can’t say yes to these practices, so I’m just going to stay in karmic consciousness,” rather than “I’m going to use karmic consciousness to make my tongue and my lips say, “yes”.” Karmic consciousness is going to say “yes’ to freedom by saying “yes” to these precepts, by saying “yes” to Buddha in every thought, including the thought of “I can’t practice. I can’t practice ethics. But even though I think that way, I still respect the practices which I think I can’t do.” Somehow I respect things I can’t do and that respect, I can say, “Yes, I do respect” and “Yes, I understand that that is taught as freedom.Q So in the ceremony you are really surrendering yourself to the truth? A. You’re surrendering yourself. Yeah. Yes you are surrendering yourself. You’re surrendering yourself to every thought being a lotus blossom. Q, So if there is, say, a violent thought, can it be a lotus blossom if we just don’t mess with it? A. There is lotus blossom there. So we have to somehow be with that violent thought in such a way that we can see the lotus blossom. And if we see the lotus blossom in the violent thought, no on will be harmed. But we don’t deny that the location of this lotus is a violent thought. We see that appearance. We don’t argue with that. We say, “oh yeah”. Q. It’s easier to see a lotus blossom fits a nicer pleasant thought. A. Yeah. It might be easier. Q. Something you said this morning, you spoke of the Buddhas emanating… A. Dharma. Inconceivable Dharma. Q. ..which when it intersects our karmic consciousness gets transformed into.. A. Something conceivable. Q. Mental formations. And then it seems like with enough practice then we can reverse the process and realize the original Dharma. That we can transcend karmic consciousness with sufficient practice and then all.. the Dharma no longer gets converted… the Dharma no longer is perverted into mental formations. It just becomes the Dharma within someone. A. Yeah. By continually receiving the inconceivable Dharma and converting it into conceivable Dharma, and practicing the conceivable Dharma, we transform the basis of our addiction to making things conceivable. And then, when the basis of our addiction to make things conceivable is past attempts to make things conceivable. But if we just keep receiving the teaching and doing the practice in the conceivable form, the basis of our addiction to making it conceivable, of putting it into existence and non-existence and so on, the basis will be completely converted into the inconceivable Dharma. And then there will be no karmic consciousness. However the inconceivable Dharma with then, when realized, will now start emanating back to sentient beings and sentient beings will now provide karmic consciousness to receive the inconceivable Dharma again. And the process goes on like that until everybody realizes Perfect Wisdom. Q. There’s something you said a long time ago, or I recall you saying a long time ago, that you said, “I cannot do good.”. Is that the same sort of thing? That the notion of “doing good” is a mental formation or karmic consciousness take on the actual Dharma of “good”. A. The way I hear it right now is, I cannot do good. Good can only happen together with everyone else. That I can’t do good by myself. And I can’t even do unskillful things by myself. But to think.. And I can’t even think that I can do unskillful things by myself. Everybody supports me to think that I can do unskillful things by myself. And everybody supports me to think I can do skillful things by myself. But thinking that I can do something by myself is kind of unskillful. And even if it’s wishing welfare to beings, if I think that I did that by myself, then that’s a defiling of the good wish. So that means it’s a worldly wish to benefit all beings, wh ich is the kind that I have often. But I can’t do worldly things by myself. Everybody supports me. And when I realize that, then I realize how everybody is supporting me to have worldly wishes and then I am free of worldly wishes, because I don’t believe anymore that I did it by myself. And if I have some idea about how everybody has supported me, that’s not it either. How you all support me to have whatever thoughts I have is inconceivable. And even though it’s inconceivable, thank you very much. I hope you… I supported you. (Laughter) I don’t know how but it’s obvious that I did. I don’t know how I help you like I do. I don’t know how. I just do. I don’t know how you support me the way you do. I don’t know how. You just do. And I will continue to observe that precept. That’s the precept of not killing. I have just said it. That’s the precept of not taking what’s not given. Do you see? That’s the precept of not misusing sexuality. That’s the precept of not lying. That’s the precept of not intoxicating body or mind of self or other. Do you see? It’s inconceivable but do you see? Q. No. A. That’s what you think. Yes? Q. I think I’ve heard so many times.. it’s stuff that I’m into. The idea that “thou shall not kill”, you like, mosquitoes and stuff like that. When I kill a mosquito, I feel pretty bad about it, even if they didn’t bite me, cause I’ve been listening. So you kind of .. sometimes I .. it’s hard. But I haven’t for a long time… A. Thanks for the good news. Yes? Was there a hand over in this direction? Q. I just was thinking about the jukai ceremony I went through and at the end you offered to the audience, to the people that were there observing, to take care of us by checking in with us to make sure that we were practicing these precepts. A. I might have said that but it doesn’t sound like me. It sounds like you. Q. It was me. A. Just now. Just now it sounded like you. Q. It was me. A. I thought I heard you say that. Q. And I did. A But that didn’t sound like me. Q. Ok, But at the time, it sounded like you and it was beautiful. It was beautiful But then my next thought… A. Oh I don’t want to take away me saying something beautiful. Q. You know what, I got how beautiful, how whole and beautiful. And then my next thought was, “Those people? Those family members, those..? I can’t. You know they are unskillful as I am unskillful. How are they going to help me? How are they? You know, they are not going to keep track of me.” And.. A. Yeah, but I didn’t say to keep track of you. Q. Well no you didn’t. Keeping track wasn’t it. A. Yeah. Q. It was just to.. you said, “watch out for them”. (Comment: Keep an eye on them). Keep an eye on them. (Laughter/multiple people talking) A. “Keep an eye on them” sounds more like me. Keep an eye on them. But “make sure they are practicing the precepts” doesn’t sound like me. That’s a little advanced. To make sure that somebody is practicing these precepts. Q. Ok. Did I say that? A. Just now you did. Q. I did? A. I didn’t say.. I mean just now I said it but that was.. Q. Ok. Thank you for the clarification. Ok. A. It’s not.. “Keep an eye on them” and then when you see them if you don’t understand how what they are doing is practicing the precepts, ask them what they are doing. Q. Yes! A. Ask them how they are doing. Was that not killing that I just saw? Was that not stealing I just saw? Ask them. After they say, yes it was not killing or yes it was killing.. doesn’t mean that you’ve made sure that they did or didn’t practice it. Keep an eye on them and ask them how they are doing. Ask them if they feel that they were honoring and respecting the precept. Just now. Right then. Ask them. But when they say, “yes I was.” that doesn’t mean that you’re sure that they practiced it. It just means that you did your job. You asked them, “Do you respect these precepts that you said you will devote your life to?” You asked them and they say, “Yes, I do”. “Was what you just did in accord with it?” “I don’t know.” “Do you wish to be in accord with it?” “Yes, I do.” That’s what I was suggesting. Not to make sure that you’re doing... Because again, making sure if they are doing or you are doing, that is just opinion. My opinion is that you folks are all practicing the precepts. That’s ok that I have that opinion. You don’t mind do you? But the important thing is not that I think you are practicing them, but that I respect the precepts and I ask if you do. I say I do and I ask you if you do I say I do and I ask you and you say, “Yes I do.” Again and again, we ask ourselves and we ask others, “Yes I do”. And keep an eye on people so you know in which direction to talk. Q. So may I continue? A. Or two eyes.. keep two eyes on you. May you continue to talk? Yes you may. Q. Ok. So my thought was “how beautiful” and then my thought was..’ A. It is beautiful. Q. It was. A. This is beauty. Q. This is beauty. And then my thought was; my family, these people that are here, they are not going to ask me. And but, So then what I would like to say is.. A. That’s what you think. That they are not going to ask you. Q. And they haven’t. Nobody that was there has asked me. A. Then you need a little help. To say that they are not going to, if you were to help them to say, “Do you remember what Reb invited you to do?” Q. Yes. Ok. Thank you. A “Do you remember he invited you to check? To keep an eye on me and ask me how I’m doing? Remember that?” “Yeah but I didn’t think you’d want me to.” “Actually I just wanted to remind you that I would like if you did that.” Q. Ok. Yes. Thank you. A. They may need some invitation from you and some reminder from you. So now you can go home and remind them. Q. Thank you. That’s helpful.A. That’s what you think. (Laughter) Q. I know I think that. And I know it is helpful. A. Oh, you know it is. Finally, you know it. (Laughter) Oh, you have more to say? Fortunately you are allowed to do so. Q. What I have come to recognize from time to time is that by them just being them, it allows me to become intimate with my precepts. A. Right. That too. Like today, you asked Carl how you were doing as a mother. Do you remember that? I didn’t ask him how you were doing as a mother. You did. Remember? Q. Yes. A. Remember what he did? What did he do? He shrugged his shoulders and then you asked him again, and then what did he do? You asked him again. What did he do? Q. Ask three. A. What did he do? He walked away. Q He did. A. Yeah. That was him being him. He gave you some feedback. Q. Yes. And what did I yell? What did I yell out to him? A. I don’t know. I missed that part. Q. “Sometimes it's ok to be the worst horse, Carl.” I did. A. You did. I mean, you said you did. Q. You were present. A. I didn’t catch that part. I was watching Jane. Yes, our friends are teaching us all the time. And while they are teaching us we can also invite them to.. if what we are doing is in accord with the precepts and how we wish it to be in accord and whether we still want to practice them. And they can invite us to do that. But before they speak, they are already teaching us. But we can invite them to teach us in this other way so they feel, “Oh you really want me to support you. Thank you. And if I ever say yes to these precepts, maybe I’ll ask you to help me”, they might think. Q. I did recognize that later when I sat, that I have encouraged him to go talk to you and ask you questiona. And I see that he’s “No”. And that I.. A. He does sort of ask me questions though. He asked me today, He said, “What does that character mean?” Q. But I said to him, “Would you like to ask Reb if you have a question?” And then “Would you like me to ask?” because he wasn’t ready to come forward.. A. So did he ask? Q. I asked. And they you said to him, “Are you wondering what this means?” A. Yeah. So he’s doing it. He’s starting to ask about the Dharma. Q. But as the mother, I have recognized, today I recognized I need to stop. Because it makes a separation between you and the community if I am saying to him, “Go say hi to.. go ask Reb” Or I think it could be.. A. Yeah. You could take a break and see what he does. See what he does if you stop saying anything. Because he’s kind of, I think, how would I say, he is asking and then, like I say to him.. he doesn’t ask me a question but I say to him, “Sorry there’s not a work period.” And he responds to me. But I say that to him, because I feel that he’s asking me something. So it’s happening. So you can keep an eye on it. You can enjoy it and watch it. It’s nice for you to bring him here so you can see it with your eyes. But you might be able to see it at home too possibly. I don’t know. But it’s actually happening. He’ have trained him pretty well. So you can just watch him do it. I think he knows how to do it now. I mean he knows how to learn, He knows how to ask questions. He knows how to express his questions to me. Congratulations. Q. Thank you. (Comments from several people; I like having him here too.) A. We all like having him here. And I think you’ve given him enough background so you don’t have to say anything anymore. I think he’s got it and we can take over from here. Q. Ok, because as a mother often times you do.. A. Yeah. You’ve shown him your values. He’s got it now. So now let’s just see how he does it. It’s nice of you to bring him here so he can practice with he wishes. And we’ll just support him. Whatever he does, I think, we’ll appreciate. Q. Wow. A. Right. Yeah. We are pretty much appreciating him and we appreciate you for bringing him and letting him get to know us and letting us get to know him and.. He’s joining the sangha in this way. And in a few years, he can do Coming of Age at Green Gulch. My grandson is doing it this, now. And he said, “If I like it, can I do it again next year?” (Laughter) And the answer is yes. He can do it again next year because he’ll still be the right age. So if Carl wants to, he can do it too in a few years. Once again thank you everybody for another great day at this practice place and you are all invited to come for a ceremony at 3 o’clock at Green Gulch for people who are in this room now who will hopefully live till tomorrow and receive the Buddha’s Precepts and say, “Yes, I will”. Miraculously. To these outrageous possibilities, they will say, maybe they will say, “Yes, I will”. And you can witness it and then keep an eye on them forever. And of course, they are vowing to keep an eye on you. Thank you very much.