Bodhisattva Precepts Guided by the Teaching of Mind Only 

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


Transcribed by Karen Mueller


Tomorrow we might have a ceremony over the hill, down in the valley of Green Gulch, a ceremony which is sometimes called a ceremony of attaining liberation, “Tokudo” attaining liberation. And during that ceremony, people may come forth and request to received what are called sometimes, Bodhisattva Precepts. The root of the word Precept is, I think, “Pri” which means before and “Seppare” which means to take or grasp or seize. So the root of the word precept is something that is taken before, some instruction, some admonitions that are taken before. In this case they are taken before you enter the bodhisattva path. They are instructions that you receive and take before you enter the path of the Great Vehicle for the welfare of all beings. So this morning and this afternoon, I’d like to talk about, or offer some words, in relation to these precepts. Part of the words related to the precepts is about the precept of wisdom, the instruction of wisdom, of how to regard the precepts. And also the instruction to look and study the mind that engages with and receives the precepts. So I wish to offer some words about these instructions for bodhisattvas, these instructions for heroes of enlightenment, for enlightening beings. They are instructions. But also to offer some perspective on the mind which receives and practices these precepts. Some people say that ethics are sort of made up by humans. Some other people say, in some other traditions, they say they come from a Divine Source. I would say that in the tradition of the bodhisattvas, there is a proposal that these precepts are actually coming from enlightenment. That enlightenment emanates these teachings. That enlightenment emanates these precepts. And from the source from which these precepts come, as they emerge from the source of enlightenment, or from this enlightened source, they are not words. These precepts come from a place which is beyond any kind of elaboration of life. They come from an enlightened kind of life that has, that is the fruit of doing these practices for a long time. And this fruit of practice then emanates these precepts out and, again, as they emerge from the source, they are not words. They are kind of an inconceivable warmth or an inconceivable, insubstantial light. And this light, this warmth, this wise compassionate emanation from enlightenment, when it touches sentient beings, sentient beings do the same things to these instructions that they do to everything else. They make up a story about them. So the actual compassion, that comes from the Buddhas, when it touches sentient beings it’s not a word but our mind makes it into an image and we construe or construct a word image version of these teachings. Somehow that teaching, that precept which I just said to you, also has come to us, which I have turned into the story I just told you. So the teaching comes and the teaching tells us, pre-verbally, the teaching tells us, “What I am telling you is not a word and you are going to make what I’m telling you, which is not a word, into a word.” And you are going to understand.. But that teaching is coming to you. So you know that you have just converted the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha’s Dharma, has just been converted into thought images which we now have. Our karmic consciousness, which is where we live, when touched by Buddha’s wisdom and compassion, turns Buddha’s wisdom and compassion into karmic consciousness stuff. And within karmic consciousness, there are all these thought constructions about everything. So there is a teaching about how we know, and the way we know is by making life into something knowable. We make life into something conceivable. We make life into stories. This is not something… I should say, this is something to be compassionate about. This is not something to be mean towards or disparage. This is just actually our version of the Buddha’s teaching which is telling us that our version of the Buddha’s teaching is our version, not Buddha’s version. And if we practice our version together with other people who are practicing their version, we can become free of our version of Buddha’s practice and teaching and enter the reality of Buddha’s teaching beyond our versions of it. I shouldn’t say “beyond”. Free of… it’s not really beyond. So somebody recently said to me, or I said to him, “How’s life?” and he said,…. So now I’m talking about the mind, ok? Now I would like to talk to you about the mind which we have, the mind which can receive these precepts on it’s own terms. The mind cannot originally receive the precepts on Buddha’s terms. Buddha gives these teachings and then our sentient being mind receives them on our own terms and Buddha says, “ok. Go ahead. I can deal with that. We’ll start with what you think I said.” So I am talking about the mind that receives the precepts. So I said, in other words, I am talking about the life we think we have which receives the precepts. So recently I said to a person, “How’s life?” and he said, “Confusing.” And I said, “is it.”... actually what I said was (which I’ll if you remind me, I’ll edit it later). What I said to him, “Is it that life is confusing or is it that karmic consciousness is confusing?” What I would edit is saying, “Is it that life is confusing or is it that karmic consciousness is confused”. I am talking to a sentient being . I am saying, “How’s life?” The sentient being says back to me, “Confusing.” I say to this sentient being, maybe, all you have is karmic consciousness and that’s what you think of life. You think of life in terms of your karmic consciousness, therefore karmic life may seem confusing but actually life is confused with your story about it. Your story about it is confused. Karmic consciousness is not confusing, because there is nobody that that karmic consciousness is confusing. The person who says it is confusing is confused and the person is confused by their mind. It’s not like their mind is confusing them. They are is confused. Karmic consciousness is confused, not confusing. There is nobody outside of karmic consciousness that is getting confused by karmic consciousness. But people in karmic consciousness think they are one thing and their consciousness is another. The teaching is “Nope”. We are just consciousness. That’s all we are. So if somebody says, “How’s life?”, I might accurately say, “Confused!” But I don’t mean life is confused. I mean karmic consciousness is confused. How’s life? My version of it is that it is confused. Karmic consciousness is described as confused, sometimes unclear, but the Chinese way of saying if is that it’s “Bo-Bo” which means that it’s giddy. Karmic consciousness is giddy. It’s not just confused. It’s excited and it’s excited or agitated to the point of disorientation and distraction. So, “How’s life?”. Life is karmic consciousness, therefore life is giddy. Life is distracting. Distracting from what? Well, from reality. Or even from the teachings which we have a karmic consciousness version of. So we receive, we bring. We receive all these precepts into karmic consciousness so we receive a confused version of them and then.. but it’s not just confused. It’s giddy. So we receive them and then the consciousness is so excited that we get distracted from the teachings that we just received. “I had a confused version of it but now I can’t even remember what they are.” “Well, would you like me to remind you?” “Yeah, please.” They were teachings about how to be a bodhisattva. They were teachings about compassion. And you receive them in karmic consciousness. And then karmic consciousness did a flip and you forgot the teachings you just received. The teaching of compassion. The teaching of generosity, for example. I received it and then karmic consciousness did a flip and I forgot what it was I just received. “Oh now I remember!” “Good.” And then it flips again. The normal situation is that when we receive an excellent teaching, in our somewhat constructed form of it, we forget it. It also says in a commentary on the story about “Does a Dog Have Buddha Nature”, it says, “Even a greatly realized person is turned about in the stream of words” (Citation?) We get flipped around by words. So we receive the precepts of compassion and then somebody says something to us and we forget about compassion and think that revenge would be a good idea. So I am saying as I begin, as I approach talking to you about these Bodhisattva Precepts, it might be helpful to remember.. To remember. Oh, I shouldn’t say “remember.” Yeah, remember. To remember that you’re going to forget. You’re going to forget the Precepts and you’re going to forget to pay attention when I am talking to you because you’re going to get flipped around to think about something else. I don’t know what. That’s a normal situation. We are in rough waters. We are in rough waters of karmic consciousness. And again, we also have the teaching, “The boat of compassion is not rowed over smooth waters”. (Citation?). It’s rowed over rough waters. Compassion is not necessary in smooth waters, like smooth waters of dead people or smooth waters of people who have done these practices and become free of the turbulent waters of karmic consciousness. The people who have become free of the turbulent waters of language. It’s for people who live in. It’s for, the practice of compassion is done in the rough waters of karmic consciousness. And the Precepts can get into those rough waters. They get in there in this karmic consciousness version and they educate us and encourage us to accept the rough waters and not to think, not to be fooled and think, “Well, this is the way things really are”. And then flip! “These teachings of compassion are really good.” And then flip! “These teachings of compassion are really a waste of time”. And then flip! “These people don’t deserve compassion even if there was compassion”. And then flip! “This isn’t working very well”. And then flip! “I think I would like to practice compassion, even to that person.” “That was nice.” There’s not.. even if you get flipped totally into the opposite of compassion, you get flipped from there too into, “There was something I thought was good a while ago and I can’t remember what it was”. So then supposedly you’re supposed to go and talk to the teacher and the teacher says, “Remember what you told me the other day that you wanted to practice?” “No. What was it?” “You said you wanted to practice compassion.” “Oh yeah! Right! I know that. Why do I forget?” Why do we forget? Karmic consciousness. That’s all we’ve got. But somehow, miraculously!.. The miracle is that some people have practiced these Precepts in karmic consciousness and have attained liberation. And they are emanating the teaching back to us which says, “Be kind to karmic consciousness”. And also be kind, be compassionate to the fact that the way you are wanting to be kind is also your karmic consciousness version of kindness. So don’t be too attached to what you think compassion is because what you think compassion is is not compassion. It’s what you think is compassion. Be kind to your stories of compassion. But being kind to them doesn’t mean to say that they are true. Being kind to them means to remember the teaching that you are taking care of your story of compassion. If you take care of your story of compassion according to your story of compassion, you will become free of your story of compassion and realize the actuality of compassion. In the early teachings. before the Buddha clearly articulated this teaching that all we are dealing with is karmic consciousness, in the way it was later expressed, the Buddha taught something called in Sanskrit or Pali “shila bharata paramarsha”.. “Shila’ is like precepts, ethical precepts. And sometimes, if you, I looked it up in different places recently and it said “attaching to wrong views of ethics”, but according to the teaching I am just giving you somehow, of karmic consciousness, it would be more like attaching to your story of ethics. If you receive ethical precepts, if you say, “I would like to receive ethical precepts” and then the Preceptor gives them to you and you say, “thank you” and then you practice them according to your idea and adhere to them being your idea, that is the wrong way to practice them. You practice them according to your idea, but you realize “I’m just practicing according to my idea and tomorrow I may have a different idea and if somebody tells me, my idea is off, I can say ‘thank you, I heard that before’, and I understand that my practice of ethics is off in the sense that I can only practice them now according to my idea and I want to and I have the story that I want to.” So I don’t want to adhere to my story about what is good. I want to practice good according to my story of what is good, without attaching to my story of what is good but just use my story of what is good as an opportunity to practice. And I have checked it out and it looks to me pretty clear that the message that has gotten through from the Buddhas, from the Great Bodhisattvas is If you try to practice ethics, try to practice all forms of good, try to help all beings, according to your idea of it, while remembering that you’re doing it according to your idea of it, you will eventually be able to do these practices according to your idea without attaching to your idea. You will still use your idea but not attaching to it. So you use your ideas of compassion to become free of your ideas of compassion. Then you can use your ideas of compassion without attaching to them and then realize compassion beyond your ideas of compassion. One time I was in Japan and my Dharma Brother, the person I was ordained with as a priest had been living in Japan for awhile and we had tea with a friend of his who was the head monk of a very strict training monastery within the big monastery called Myo Shin Ji in Kyoto. So Myo Shin Ji is a big monastery. It’s like a head temple of the Myo Shin Ji School of Rinzai Zen. And one of the temples within the big temple is a training temple where the training is particularly intense. This guy was the head monk and he came to have tea with us. He was drinking tea and smoking cigarettes. And I looked at him and I just really ah.. this guy, and he looked really miserable and kinda mean, grouchy. I don’t remember if he spoke English. I could speak a little bit of Japanese and my Dharma Brother could speak quite a bit. Maybe we were speaking in Japanese. I don’t know. But I was looking at this guy and I really wondered if he was, if this head monk of this monastery, I wondered if he was a compassionate being. I wondered. I thought one would think probably he might be because he was the head monk of this wonderful training monastery, but he looked really kind of unhappy. (Comment: “Like Bodhidharma?”) He looked like Bodhidharma. Yeah. See that’s Bodhidharma up there (Note: on the altar). However he looks pretty happy there. But I am not saying I came to a conclusion. I just thought, I noticed that I sort of had some expectation that he would be a compassionate person. But the way he was, it made me wonder what is compassion? And also, I’ve told this story before, I also knew this teacher named Mu Mon Yamada Roshi (Sp?) who around that time, I think was about to or would soon become Abbot of this big Myo Shin Ji Temple. And I think maybe, yeah, after that I went with some other people from the San Francisco Zen Center, I went to Kyoto to attend his Mountain Seat Ceremony where he became the Abbot of this big temple that included this training temple. And thousands of people were there and there was like, the Emperor didn’t come but there was an Imperial Messenger, and they had this huge ceremony, hundreds and hundreds of Zen monks, both Soto and Rinzai, thousands of people. He became Abbot and then maybe ten years after that I went to visit him and before I arrived at his temple, he had retired as Abbot, because he got old. People describing him said the teacher has become very old, very old. And I went to see him and they had him in his robes, sitting on a lacquered chair and his eyes were kind of watery and he was drooling but they had him sitting up. His attendant brought me to meet him and he said, “Roshi, look who’s here from San Francisco! Remember him?” But he didn’t seem to see me. There was no sign that he saw anybody in front of him. There were some women students of his, laywomen who came to see him. They were sitting next to me and they were crying to see how old he became. I really was strongly struck. I said, where is the Zen Master? Was the Zen Master there before when he became Abbot? Is the Zen Master gone? Well, the Zen Master that was there before is gone. Now here’s a new person. Is this a Zen Master, drooling, and not apparently recognizing anybody? Where is the Zen Master? Where’s life? What is a Zen Master? Well I propose, the actuality of Zen Master.. We see Zen Masters like, “Oh, there’s a Zen Master”. In other words, our mind says that’s a Zen Master. In other words, what we are seeing is our mental construction of a Zen Master. In our karmic consciousness we see a Zen Master. I am proposing that there are Zen Masters in this world but the way they are, like life, is free of our karmic consciousness version of them but not separate from them because being separate from our karmic consciousness would be another story. So the Enlightened Ones, the great Zen Masters, the great Buddha’s and Bodhisattvas, are not outside or inside our karmic consciousness. But our karmic consciousness says things are outside or inside. Looking back I think I was fairly kind to my question about where is the Zen Master? The Zen Master is the result of many moments of kindness towards karmic consciousness. Many moments of karmic consciousness being kind to karmic consciousness create a liberated being who realizes freedom from karmic consciousness and from that freedom, which is not inside or outside karmic consciousness, it emanates these Precepts which then get interpreted back in terms of karmic consciousness. And they emanate something that sometimes gets interpreted in karmic consciousness as “Do NOT grasp your idea of compassion.” Practice compassion if you want to be free of karmic consciousness and don’t grasp your idea of compassion either. Life is actually, basically free of karmic consciousness but sentient beings like to know what life is and in order to know what life is they do a little trick with their mind that makes it into a knowable thing, a graspable thing. And that version of life is confused and suffering. So I say, I suggest to you and me that these teachings are coming from freedom from our idea of these teachings. That the teachings are coming from freedom from karmic consciousness which is the fruit of practicing the karmic consciousness version of these practices until they actually magically, wonderfully work. So our limited version of compassion still can free us from our limited version of compassion. And then we can enter into the unlimited version of compassion which is inconceivable and beyond anybody’s karmic consciousness of it. And being inconceivable, it’s also inconceivably non-dual from karmic consciousness. Only karmic consciousness can create duality. Freedom from duality doesn’t create duality. It just emanates back compassion and wisdom to those who live within duality. So from someplace, somehow this talk about precepts seems to be arising. Precept. Precept. Precept. See? Some of you heard “Precept”, I imagine. So I said the entomology of the word precept is something you take before, some instruction. Another meaning of “precept” however would be the actions you, the actions that arise from the instruction. So somebody says, “Compassion.” That’s the instruction you may say, but then also the practice of compassion is also the precept. So the precept is the instruction and the practice. Or you could say, the theory and the practice. Also sometimes these precepts are called Ethical Precepts and I would say that there’s a narrow and a wide meaning of “ethical”. The wide meaning of ethical is everything that an enlightening being engages in to help all beings be free of suffering. All, anything that contributes to that, is the bodhisattva’s ethical responsibility because that’s what bodhisattvas aspire to do. They aspire to realize freedom from karmic consciousness in order to help all beings realize freedom from karmic consciousness. So everything they do there is ethics in the sense that that is their ethical responsibility. That’s what they want to give their life to. A narrower view of ethical responsibility is ethics in the form of, you might say, restraint. So the bodhisattva’s ethics have three aspects. The first aspect is called the ethics of restraint. The second aspect is the ethics of doing all wholesome activities. The third aspect is the ethical aspect of benefiting or maturing beings. Those three-fold ethics is the ethical responsibility of bodhisattvas. The “benefiting beings” ethics and the “doing all good ethics” or the benefiting beings and the developing all the qualities of an enlightening being, those two are based on the first one, the ethics of restraint. Ethics of restraint is, in a sense, the narrow meaning. It’s sort of the narrow meaning of ethics. The narrow meaning is the basis of the wide meaning. The wide meaning is to do all practices which develop virtuous qualities including the practice of the ethics of restraint. So the first aspect of ethics is the basis of the second aspect of ethics which includes the first aspect of ethics. The first aspect of ethics, the ethics of restraint, purifies the practice of all virtues like giving, ethics, patience, enthusiasm, concentration and wisdom. All those practices are ethical practices of bodhisattvas. The six perfections are the ethical practices of bodhisattvas. That’s the second aspect of bodhisattva ethics. The first aspect, in a sense, I have talked about it in different ways with you but the first aspect, in a sense, is the ethics of restraint in term so “Don’t believe your ideas about ethics”. Abandon holding to your ideas of what is good. Practice good, yes, without grasping what you think is good. But still do what you think is good without really grasping this is good. No. This is what I think is good and I really do want to do it, but it’s really my karmic consciousness version of it. To do good, thinking that it is good and believing that it is good and attaching to it’s good, is called a worldly affair. It’s worldly ethics. “I want to help you and I just did and that is really true and anybody who disagrees with me, I wouldn’t advise you telling me about it.” That’s ethical worldliness. But to wish to do good and to do what you think might be good, with no attachment to self or other, that’s the ethics of restraint. You practice the forms of ethics but you focus on the teaching which tells you that you are a deluded person who is trying to do this. So don’t be too uppity. Because being uppity is a worldly affair. Everybody, even though they have trouble admitting it, is uppity. Karmic consciousness is uppity. (Comment: Can you translate that word?). You think you are right. You’ve been taught that if you admit that they you’ll be punished by certain big people, but deep down inside you, we think that we’re right. We think we know the truth. Karmic consciousness. That’s what’s confusing about it. It thinks what it thinks is true. That is very disorienting. I am whole-heartedly telling you about my imagination. And I also am imagining that I am whole-hearted. I want to practice compassion. I might occasionally think I am. But to tell you actually, I have done a survey of myself, and I don’t very often think I am compassionate. That thought doesn’t cross my mind too often. It’s more often that I think some other people are amazingly compassionate. I do think that often. And I also think, when I see people being compassionate, I often think I think that they think that they are compassionate. Even though they really are, I think they think they are. And the fact that they think they are, I think that they believe it. And the fact that they think they are and they believe it, that defiles their compassion. They are compassionate. It’s wonderful how compassionate they are. It’s amazing how compassionate they are. It’s just too bad that they think that they are and they believe it. That makes their compassion… It’s not that their compassion is a worldly affair. It’s just that they are practicing compassion and they are indulging in worldly affairs. They really are compassionate! Which is totally wonderful! And that will lead them to freedom. But temporarily they think that they are compassionate and they believe that is true and they are caught by that worldly affair. Which I feel..and I don’t believe that’s my story about them that I just told you. I told you the story about this person who is one of the main disciples of this teacher called Sankapa. His name was Drom and he was in a monastery and one of the elder monks was in the monastery and he observed the elder monk. He said to the elder monk, “I’m just so moved to see how compassionately you take care of the young monks. You are so patient with them and so kind to them. It’s just so moving. It would be wonderful if someday you did something, had some spiritual practice.” And another time, he said, “I am just so moved and inspired to see the way you go around the temple and do all those ceremonies. You do them so beautifully and so generously. It’s really moving. It would be nice if you did something spiritual someday.” And he made comments like this where he really was appreciating the person’s actual compassionate activity and each time he said, “Be nice if you did something spiritual sometime.” Finally the elder said. “What do you mean?” And he said, “Stop trying to get something out of life.” He was doing these good things but he still was actually trying, he thought there was something there to get a hold of in what he was doing. Whereas actually, the goodness that we do is ungraspable! But we don’t like that so we make it into something graspable and grasp it. The ethics of restraint is to give up grasping to the good which we’re trying our best to do. And give up all also our calculations of how well we are doing in the process. Like, “That was below average.” “That was above average” “I hear you.” That’s ethics of restraint. I am trying to tell myself about this. I am talking to you about this. That’s the foundation of doing the other practices is that you now practice giving, practice the ethics of restraint, practice being careful and vigilant of every action. Practice patience with all discomfort. Be in the present with your life. Be constantly, if possible, strive to constantly re-activate and refresh your aspiration so that you can have great energy to do these practices, and great enthusiasm about being really calm in the turbulent waters of karmic consciousness so you can see and hear the teachings. Now. And do these practices without trying to get anything out of them. Do these practices and question them every moment of the way. And then along with that, do all these practices to mature beings. These are the three-fold ethics of bodhisattvas which are given to people who are trapped in karmic consciousness. That is who they are for. These teachings are not for the people who are free. These teachings are realized by the free people and they are emanating from the free people to the people who are living in karmic consciousness which is all living beings including bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas come and live in karmic consciousness and receive these teachings along with the people who are not yet bodhisattvas to show them how to receive these teachings and convert them into words and remember that you have just converted a teaching which is not words into words so that you can share it with people who are trapped in words. So the three-fold ethics of bodhisattvas is words because we need them to be words cause listen to what it’s like when I don’t mention them. SILENCE So some teachers do say.. actually I should really say anything. But it’s hard for you to get it when I don’t’ say anything. So let me say that bodhisattvas practice three-fold ethics. That you can hear. And these words are what we are making out of a message that’s coming that isn’t words. It wants us to hear and practice these precepts beyond the words which we just made them into. If we try to practice them in terms of the words, we will become free of the words and actually realize these precepts, these three precepts, these three-fold ethics. We will realize the life of the bodhisattva. So the Precepts that are given in our ceremony of Soto Zen, there are sixteen Precepts. The first three precepts are going for refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The next three Precepts are this three-fold presentation of bodhisattvic life. Bodhisattva life is also the first three Precepts. Bodhisattva life is returning to and relying on enlightenment. It is returning to and relying on the teaching. It’s returning to and relying on the sangha, the co-practitioners who we know we should listen to when they tell us that we’re, you know, off or on. But when they say we are off or on, we don’t cling to off and on. We listen to it. We listen to it. If somebody says, “Now you’re really practicing”, I don’t cling to that. I listen to it. If somebody says, “You’re totally off”, I don’t cling to it. I listen to it. I listen to it. I mean, I vow to listen to it. And the teaching that’s come into karmic consciousness, which is now words is, “The eyes that observe the ocean of words, the eyes that listen to the ocean of words, three-fold bodhisattva precepts.” When I say “three-fold bodhisattva precepts”, that’s actually a cry of the world. That’s the world crying. If you listen to that, if you listen to that, the Buddha Way will be realized. And if you..what? If you say, “I don’t want to listen to that” and you listen to that too, the Buddha way will be realized. The Buddha we return to and rely on is the Buddha which is free of our idea..which has become free of our idea and her ideas of what Buddha is. We take care of our idea of Buddha. We take refuge in our idea of Buddha. We take refuge in our idea of Buddha. We return to our idea of Buddha until we can consistently return to our idea of Buddha. And if we can consistently return to our idea of enlightenment we will realize the enlightenment which is beyond our idea of enlightenment which is totally ungraspable. It’s not something out there or in here. People who take care of their idea of Buddha, their idea of enlightenment.. people who do that and get consistent at it, become free of their idea and realize the actuality of Buddha. They think it is so important to keep going back to enlightenment that they get good at it. And not just their idea of “good at it” or their idea of “not good at it”, but they actually become consistent and go beyond the idea they used to enter it. So I suggested to somebody, how to relate to drinking tea or water..well, why don’t you just, every time you drink, every time you drink, every sip, do this for the welfare of all beings. Sip this tea for the enlightenment of all beings. Do you have time to do that? I have time to sip but do I have time to do it for the welfare of all beings at the same time? Try it. It actually works. So here we go. One. Two. Three. He is going to drink this for the welfare of all beings. Watch. This is his intention. Good tea! Again. For the enlightenment of all beings, here it goes. As an act of returning to Buddha. Ok. Now. I drink the tea to return to the Dharma,..of course, for the welfare of all beings. (Comment: Are you trying to get something out of it?) I hear you. I hear your question. Trying to get something out of it would be antithetical to returning to Buddha. But it’s possible.. so forgetting to do it, forgetting to do the form, the practice of drinking as an act of refuge, forgetting to drink for the welfare of all beings, you miss the opportunity to ask the question, did you do that to get something. When you do it, then you can ask did you do it to get something. And then you know, well if I did it to get something, that wouldn’t be returning.. that wouldn’t be going for refuge in Buddha. That would be going for refuge in what? Karmic consciousness. I wish to go for refuge in karmic consciousness. Well, then I should just try to get something all the time. I should just try to get something all the time because that’s what karmic consciousness is trying to do. It’s trying to get stuff. That’s what it’s about. Fundamentally what is it trying to get? (Comment: Nothing) Well, that’s what you’re trying to get. Most people are trying to get knowledge and you would like to get the knowledge of nothing. But that is antithetical. If you get the knowledge of nothing, that is called nihilism. If you get the knowledge of nothing, then you don’t care about Precepts anymore. But if you get the knowledge of good, that still might promote you to.. that’s what karmic consciousness does. It has the knowledge of good and bad. So karmic consciousness wants to get something to hold on to. It doesn’t like.. it has a hard time with inconceivable mutual assistance. It has a hard time with inconceivable beneficence. It doesn’t know how to reproduce in that space. But actually Buddhas learn how to reproduce in that space. What they reproduce is they don’t make new bodies, in the sense of new sentient being bodies. They make new Buddha-bodies. But sentient beings have trouble living in the space where they give up knowing. But if you practice these Precepts in the realm where you trying to get something, the theory says, you will eventually be able to live without grasping anything. In other words, you will have the life which is not confused. It’s called freedom. It’s the same life as bondage and suffering, it’s just the life where you don’t grasp life. Life when you grasp it, you get karmic consciousness. When you give up grasping, you get Buddha. The way to give up grasping is to be kind to the grasping in a grasping way and then you can notice it and hear it and that’s good. So those are the first three Precepts. And the second three are.. The first three are going for refuge. It isn’t just Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It’s relating to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. It’s wanting to be intimate with Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. And it’s also returning because you always are there. You are never.. Buddha is not outside. So it’s returning to what we sometimes forget about. The Triple Treasure. And it’s practicing those three-fold Ethics of Bodhisattvas. Those are the first six of the sixteen. In the context of “I am doing these practices in the enclosure of karmic consciousness so I am kind of critical, therefore I am critical of what I am doing and I invite criticism, I invite feedback, I invite questionings, questions. So I listen to the cries of the world which sometimes take the form of criticism and questioning of my attempts to practice. And I also hear other people criticizing and questioning their practice and that’s quite compatible. That’s kind of what it’s like in karmic consciousness in the sangha.. is that people are questioning, are expressing their aspiration.. They are expressing their aspiration to do these practices. They are aspiring to their story of the practices. And then they are aspiring.., they have a story of their aspiration to hear teachings about what they are doing. So these teachings can come and help them be self-critical, questioning themselves about what they are up to. So that’s a little bit of talk about practicing Bodhisattva Precepts which, once again, are coming from Buddha, getting translated or transformed into karmic consciousness. But they still work. Because we asked for them. The Buddhas gave them. And the Buddhas understood that they would be converted, so they sent them in such a way that they would be converted into a form that would work for us, that would be efficacious even though it’s a limited version of them. And the limited version of the Buddhadharma guides us to take care of the limited version of Buddhadharma to free us from the limited version and enter the unlimited version, which is not any different from this version. Really. Yes? When you were drinking that tea, I want to ask about that.. Can I raise my hand for the welfare of all beings? Q. Well this is my question. Is it actually for the welfare of all beings or is this a story or is it both? A. I had a story that I asked you if I could raise my hand for the welfare of all beings. Q. Yes. A. I have a story like that. Do you have a story like that? Q. So.. A. I have a story that I touched this cup. I have a story that I raised this cup. I have a story that I… Now I have story that I am going to try to drink this tea. Ok? But going back. I am setting the cup down for the welfare of all beings. I am picking the cup up for the welfare of all beings. Is that a story? Yes. I have a story that that is a story. That sounds like a story, doesn’t it? He picked up the cup for the welfare of all beings. That’s a story that he performed.. he performed the story of picking up a cup for the welfare of all beings. There’s another story which is that I pick up the cup for my own welfare and I’m not going to share it with you. That’s another story. There are two different stories. But they are really, both, actually life. But one tends to be not open to criticism and the other tends to be open to criticism. Q. I think that I am asking about the relationship between ceremony and reality. A. Yeah, ceremony is the way to realize reality. Ceremony is the way to become free of karmic consciousness. To make everything you do into the ceremony of freedom from karmic consciousness within karmic consciousness. Ceremony appears within karmic consciousness. A ceremony of raising cups and setting them down. And you do those without trying to get anything. And you try to learn to raise cups and set them down, within karmic consciousness without trying to get anything. And that exercise realizes freedom from karmic consciousness. Now and later. The only freedom is the performance of it. That’s why the bodhisattva doesn’t stop raising cups when she becomes free of her idea of a cup. She keeps lifting them and maybe keeps saying “For the welfare of all beings.” Q. Trying to get something out of it…? Is this like usual karma trying to get something out of it. A. To say that I wish my actions to be for the welfare of all beings with the additional instruction of not trying to get anything out of that, that puts some restraint on my wish to benefit. What’s the restraint? The restraint is that I am aware that I am dealing with a story about it. If I feel like, if I notice that I am trying to get something out of it, that is connected to the instruction to try to give up getting something out of it. People who are trying to get something out of it, that would be similar to not being aware that you are in karmic consciousness. Karmic consciousness is always trying to get something out of it but karmic consciousness, in the survey I have done, is not usually aware that it is karmic consciousness. Karmic consciousness usually thinks that it’s reality. They don’t necessarily notice..karmic consciousness does not naturally notice that it’s greedy. But somehow karmic consciousness somehow sometimes calls out and there is a response and it hears the response and the response is “Stop trying to get something out of it.”. So in this case, the guy is doing all this good, trying to get something out of it and that leads to him getting some instruction from somebody telling him to stop trying to get something out of it. But you don’t necessarily tell people not to get something out of it before they make quite a bit of effort to do good. If they are trying to do mean things, usually you wouldn’t say stop trying to get something out of it. Q. Would you say this is neutral karma? A. What? Q. The action of not trying to get anything out of it. A. No. It’s not neutral karma. It’s liberating karma. There is positive, negative and neutral. Neutral means you can’t tell. This kind of karma, this type of action in karmic consciousness, liberates karmic consciousness. It’s not neutral. So like again this story is, the teacher says to the student, “Living beings just have karmic consciousness, boundless (giddy) unclear and there is no fundamental to relay on.” “How would you test that in experience?” the teacher says. The student says, “If someone comes, I would say, ‘Hey you!’. If he turns his head, I would say, ‘What is it?’ If he hesitates..” basically I got him. In other words, that’s karmic consciousness, that hesitation. (Citation?) When he turns his head it’s in karmic consciousness, but it’s liberated. The person who turns his head, usually isn’t trying to get something out of it. When you walk up to the food and you salivate, if you intentionally salivated, you wouldn’t be trying to get something out of it. But the part of you that does it that way is like a bodhisattva responds. They just turn their head or they just salivate. Sometimes bodhisattvas are compared to like a “scare-deer”. Do you know what that is? It’s like these devices, they are a bamboo tube that water flows into and then it fills up the tube. And when it gets filled up, it tips and the water pours out and it goes back and when it goes back, it hits the rock that the end was sitting on, it goes “pop” and scares the deer. Bodhisattva action is like that. It responds to beings but without trying to get something out of it. That is liberating karma and we can learn that in karmic consciousness. Q. Is freedom only in the performance of freedom? A. Freedom is only in the performance of freedom. In a way, you know, the beings that are free, they have no freedom except in the performance of their freedom. And the performance of their freedom, the only freedom is that they respond freely to beings. So beings call, and they say, “hmm?”. Beings call and they respond. Beings say “hey you” and their head turns. You say hello to a Buddha and the Buddha turns her head. Before somebody calls, freedom is not an issue. But most people, when you call, they hesitate and think, “Now how can I get something out of this? I’ll turn my head in an elegant way here. Who’s calling? Let’s see. It’s a Buddha so I’ll turn my head in a bu-tiffic way.” That’s not like a scare-deer. That’s not neutral karma. That’s maybe good karma. To turn in a bu-tiffic is kind of good karma. “How would a Buddha turn? I’ll turn like that?” “Very good!” Now turn back like a Buddha. Now drink tea like a Buddha. Ok? And that performance is freedom. But if you hesitate, you are lost. Q. Is that a performance? A. The way hesitation is a performance is freedom. Q. I wanted to ask about a vow or aspiration in what you were talking about earlier. And I sort of lost my question in what was just said but there is this feeling like… I guess that’s as far as I can get in my question. A. Is that the end of the question. Q. I am trying to do that. Yes. Maybe you can respond to that. A. I can! I did. The vow.. the vow to live for the welfare of all beings does not come from me doing it. It does not come from Buddha making it happen. It comes from me having a karmic consciousness and Buddha responding and in that response, this vow comes up. Q. So how is the returning to vow a practice..where is that.. A. That question arose just now, ok? You didn’t make it happen. Something about you called out and you got a response and that question arose. Q. So how can we vow and not try to get anything or how can we return to vow with clarity? A. That’s a good question. And that question arose, not from you, not from karmic consciousness, but by your life calling out and Buddha responding to you and that question arising. How can I not get anything? Including how can I not get not getting anything? That question.. that’s the vow. You didn’t make that happen. I didn’t make it happen. Buddha didn’t make it happen. It arose because you’re a sentient being and Buddha responded to you and that question arose. This kind of question arises when living beings interact with Buddhas. They say, “How can I live without trying to get anything? Sentient beings do not think of that by themselves. Buddhas do think of it, or have thought of it. And then they got over it and became it. Buddhas are just living without trying to get anything. When beings are trying to get something. Breathe. Buddhas respond to them. And in that communion, those beings who are trying to get something say, “How can I live without trying to get anything?” That’s because they are in communion with not-trying-to-get-anything which is Buddha. Buddha is wishing for our welfare without trying to get anything therefore the wish never stops. Those of us who wish for the welfare of beings and try to get it, we have pauses or interruptions in that wish because wishing for that and trying to get it, is tiring and frustrating. Wishing for it without trying to get it can’t be frustrated. Buddha is not frustrated. Therefore Buddha stays on the job and doesn’t take time off. And then when we cry out in frustration, the Buddha responds to us. If we notice it, that takes the form of “How can I live without trying to get something out of life?” Which is like, “How can I be an Ancestor?” because ancestors had questions like that. We don’t think of these questions by ourselves. We think of them in relationship to freedom, to enlightenment. So when those questions arise, it’s appropriate to really feel grateful that we ask such a wonderful question. How can a sentient being, who just has a mind that is trying to get something, live without trying to get something? How is it possible to be free of karmic consciousness? That question arises to somebody who called out to Buddha and got an answer which allowed that question and we called again and we got another answer. The question arose again. But the Buddha doesn’t tell us that. The Buddha responds because the Buddha doesn’t speak English.. The Buddha responds and we English-speakers convert the Buddha’s response which we ask for, which we didn’t necessarily know, into “how can we live without trying to get something?” How can we live for the welfare of beings without trying to get something?” It’s the way to go. Because if you’re trying to live for the welfare of beings and they don’t go along with it and you are trying to get them to go along with it, it’s really hard. But if you want them to be free and you’re not trying to get their freedom, when they don’t go along with the freedom-program, you just go ahead and wish it again and again. The teacher is really patient with the students resisting what they actually want to do. The teacher really wants them to do what they really want to do, but the teacher really is “Ok. Take your time because you’re going to do it anyway. I will totally support your resisting for as long as you need to resist. And I hope you resist as long as you need to resist. And don’t skip over your resistance. That wouldn’t be compassionate.? Ok? Q. So one of the things I heard you talk about was feedback and sources of feedback and the Triple Treasure, for example, as sources of feedback, and I’m just wondering how..that there’s some development of skills and that conflict is one of the skills that… A. Did you say “skills with conflict”? Q. Being skillful at conflict might be a good skill and that there’s probably really good conflict and really destructive conflict. I’m wondering if you could speak a little bit how we serve each other in conflict. A. So she proposed two types of conflict. And there could be other varieties too. One is good conflict. The other is destructive conflict. Ok? So, the bodhisattva wishes to be skillful with good conflict and destructive conflict. So the bodhisattva wishes to engage, to embrace good conflict and liberate good conflict, and wishes to engage with destructive conflict and liberate destructive conflict. Q. I was thinking more about not being the source of destructive conflict. A. Bodhisattvas are not trying to avoid being the source of anything. If they get tagged as the source, they want to be compassionate to being the source. Which means, if I am the source of some good conflict, like stories of a teacher who was a source of good conflict, they do not attach to “I’m the source of the good conflict.” If they appear to be the source.. if the story is that they are the source of the destructive conflict, they are compassionate to that too and they don’t possess, they don’t grasp, that they are the source. They accept that everybody says they are, maybe, or that they think they are. The story is “I’m the problem here’. I know that story. I have that myself. That’s the story today. “I’m the problem” and I’m the source of destructive… that’s the story. I do the same with that that I would do if somebody else seems to be the source. Or if it isn’t somebody else and it isn’t me but our relationship is a destructive conflict. Wherever you want to put it, the bodhisattva practice is basically the same practice wherever it’s put. And they realize that putting it anywhere is not appropriate. Q. So you and I are in conflict, let’s say. A. Let’s say! Q. So you and I are in conflict. And my intention is to benefit all beings by being in conflict with you . A. No. You are in conflict with me and while being in conflict with me, you wish to benefit all beings in this conflict. But you don’t use anything to be, to benefit beings. You just have the opportunity now, while drinking tea, to do this for the welfare of all beings. But I don’t go to drink the tea for that purpose. I drink the tea to drink the tea. And then I do it for that purpose. So conflict is very challenging. Drinking tea is not usually that challenging. So start with something easy, like drinking tea. And then say, “Ok, I drank tea that way. Now this conflict is coming and I want to relate to this conflict in the same way. I want to do it for the welfare, for the enlightenment of all beings.” And somebody has suggested to me, and the person who suggested it, someone suggested it to her so she suggested it to me, that everything can be an opportunity for this ethics. Number one, restrain the idea that we can get a hold of the situation, that we can get something out of it. Number two, practice generosity, ethics, patience, enthusiasm, concentration and wisdom with this conflict. And if I forget what I just said I aspire to, then I feel regretful and that’s part of the practice of these that when you receive these precepts and you aspire to practice them and then you come up short, you feel regret and that regret will eventually overcome the forgetfulness and the hesitation to do these practices. But the regret, quite a few times, that’s going to happen. Bodhisattvas are patient and they are so enthusiastic it’s like, “No matter how many times I forget, I’m going to keep going. Because \ how many times I forget is like how many sentient beings there are. And I need to work really hard to have enough energy to do this hard job. And I have to replenish it on a regular basis. It’s impermanent. And keep going back to my aspiration and thinking how good this aspiration is to do everything this way. I think about how good it is and I feel, yeah, I feel some energy to do this now. But sometimes without going back to my aspiration to do this practice I sometimes feel like, “Oh, I’m tired”. Ok. Be kind to that tiredness and then again when you have enough rest, “Now what was that aspiration again?” “Well, I actually I need a little more rest before I deal with that question.” “Ok now I’ve had enough rest. Now what’s the question” “What’s the aspiration?” “I can’t remember.” “Want some more rest?” “Yeah.” “How’s the aspiration?” “I still can’t remember it. Oh there it is. Wow!” “How does it look?” “It looks really good. Actually it’s a great aspiration. Wow. I feel kind of enthusiastic about it.” Then you go back to work. But don’t stay… you have to go back again and again to find out, “Now what was the point?” “Oh yeah, oh yeah”.
Well it’s one o’clock. Today we’re not having a work period so everything is fine . And now we can eat we can eat without trying to get anything. We can eat without trying to gain anything from lunch.. It’s possible, somebody said. So I know you all have good lunches and I know you’ll all eat in a very skillful way. I just hope you don’t try to get anything out of lunch and hope I don’t either. And that’s quite difficult. So let’s try, shall we? .