The Bodhisattva's Mind of No Abode 

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The Bodhisattva’s Mind of No Abode
Tenshin Reb Anderson
No Abode, Sept 1, 2012 PM

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Transcribed by Karen Mueller


A friend of mine, during our lunch period mentioned to me that.. This person, I have practiced with for a long time in venues other than Zen Center and other than No Abode, sitting in situations where we would practice sitting meditation and walking meditation and where I offer talks and where we have discussion. She came to visit Green Dragon Zen Temple at Green Gulch Farm and she said she was surprised by feeling like she was in a place of religion.  Religion hasn’t struck her so much in previous practice situations where we met. But at Green Gulch she felt something about religion there. And she said that she got a sense that some of the other people there thought that there was something religious about the place. 

That also reminded me that I was considering what to say at Green Gulch tomorrow morning to the children so I was looking at some.. I was looking a book called “Dharma (or something like that) Buddha’s Teaching for Young People.” At the beginning it said something like that.. something like, human beings search for many things. For example, they search for Truth, Beauty, Goodness and Inner Peace. The person who wrote this then said, “Religion has to do with inner peace”.  I’m not saying I agree with that but I just thought it was an interesting statement that.. And you might think about that. Are there some people who actually search for Truth, but they are not so concerned with..  they are not so concerned with beauty, they are not so concerned with goodness, they are not so concerned with inner peace? 

Maybe some philosophers are interested in truth, or wisdom, but they are not so concerned whether that brings them inner peace, perhaps. Some other people don’t thing so much that they are searching for truth, but they do want inner peace. Some other people may feel like they just, they really want goodness.  Some other people, who you might think are artists, some artists might say, “I am just interested in beauty.” But some artists I know are definitely interested in truth and beauty. Like Keats. John Keats.  He said at the end of the Ode to the Grecian Urns, “All we know on earth is truth beauty, beauty truth. That’s all you need to know on earth and all you will know.”  (“Beauty is truth, truth beauty--- that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”) For him, truth and beauty are closely associated.  It’s possible some artists just are concerned with truth, I mean just beauty. But some artists also might just be concerned with truth.  And some artists, if you asked them, might say, “I am not the least bit concerned with goodness. Ethics has nothing to do with art, for me.”  And I know an artist who said that most of the artists he knows, if you say that art has something to do with inner peace, they would say, “I’m not gonna agree to that.”  But if you don’t say that to them, he said, they probably would say that art has to do with liberation from suffering, from distress. 

So these four interests of human beings, some people would say you could be interested in one but not the other. Some people would say two. Some people would say three. And I guess I would say, for me, all four. I am interested in inner peace, I am interested in beauty, truth and goodness. To me I think there has to be goodness in order for there to be inner peace.  But just goodness by itself, without wisdom, may not bring inner peace. But to try to achieve inner peace and not take care of goodness, I don’t think you’ll be successful. To practice goodness, definitely sets the ground for inner peace.  But you need wisdom, otherwise you might think the goodness is what you think it is. So I think that wisdom is necessary for inner peace. And I think wisdom needs to operate on goodness. In other words, wisdom is understanding what goodness is. Understanding what goodness is, is related to understanding what not-goodness is, because they are related. So it seems like, to me, you must have wisdom for inner peace and you must… in order to have wisdom you have to practice goodness. And in order to practice goodness in a liberating way, you need wisdom.

Which is what I said this morning. We try to practice compassion. Perhaps we try to practice compassion  We try to..We do some wholesome practice, like sitting meditation, which we practice in a generous way, an ethical way, a patient way, and of course a calm way. But we also do it without having..without a mind that takes an abode.  Then the combination of the mind of no abode, the mind of wisdom, together with the wholesome practices of sitting and so on, gives you inner peace, gives you liberation. 

Min 7:50
What about beauty? Beauty needs,.. For me, beauty in order to be realized has to be free of any idea of beauty. Just like the full realization of goodness or ethics is inner peace. But in order to get the full realization, in order for there to be the full realization of goodness, there has to be no attachment to the idea of goodness.  And no attachment to the idea of goodness also includes not avoiding the idea of goodness. You have to face the idea of goodness without attaching to it and be devoted to goodness and the ideas of goodness and care for goodness, free of the idea of goodness, in order to realize to full function of goodness which is inner peace. In other words, you have to be wise about how you practice. This is also realizing beauty, I would say.

So for me, those four interests are all part of inner peace. And if inner peace is religious, then I would say the religion needs philosophy or science. It needs science and philosophy. It needs art. And it needs ethics. So for me, religion embraces that whole realm of things. But I also understand that some people conceivably could practice science and philosophy and mathematics without concern for realizing inner peace by that practice. And I think it’s possible that they would find a truth that was very encouraging to them. But I think that when they found it, if it was real, they would accidentally find inner peace. But I don’t know for sure if Einstein and Niels Bohr and so on, found inner peace. Schopenhauer, the philosopher, felt that the art of music brought,.. was really the way to realize inner peace. So many people feel that art is their way to inner peace. But if you don’t practice ethics, it’s hard for you to appreciate art. Many artists who are great, they don’t seem to be into ethics but they seem to be great artists, but I don’t know if they are into ethics.  They don’t look like it and they don’t seem to be at peace and yet their art seems to me to help many people. 

So I’m just throwing that out there for meditation that these four issues for human beings: truth, beauty, goodness or ethics, and inner peace.  

The main thing that the Buddha emphasized, the main point of the Buddha’s teaching was inner peace. But he taught truth. His teaching was the teaching of truth which would bring inner peace. So he said, “I found this Middle Way which brings peace, which brings ease, which brings freedom, which brings joy. I found this Middle Way”. What’s the Middle Way? It’s the Four Noble Truths. It’s the truth of suffering. It’s not the truth that there is suffering. It’s the truth of suffering. And it’s the truth, not that there is an origination of suffering but it’s the truth of the origination of suffering. And it’s not the truth that there is liberation. It’s the truth of liberation. And the truth of liberation is this practice, this path. And all these three truths, we are trying to understand what they are. Understanding what they are is called the Middle Way which brings ease and brings peace, brings the cessation of suffering. 

So the main emphasis in Buddha’s teaching was on cessation of suffering, or inner peace, but he didn’t say, “inner peace, inner peace, inner peace,” He taught, “truth, truth, truth”. And he taught truth in terms of the mind, how the mind works. So his philosophy, his truth teachings were mostly given in terms of consciousness, the truth of consciousness because consciousness is the origin of suffering. Suffering originates in the mind and by the mind and of the mind. We only have problems in mind. We need to become free of mind. So he taught about mind to realize the truth of the mind. And realizing the truth of mind is called freedom or is freedom. It’s nirvana. And nirvana is peace. 

But some people, as they approach the Dharma, when they see some of the stuff that crops up around inner peace, they start to get nervous because it looks like religion. So in that case, we can kind of relax around the inner peace issue for a while and go do truth part, or the goodness part, for awhile. And be gaining some confidence around the truth part or the ethics part, or even the beauty part.. 

Actually the beauty part is kind of.. Particularly the characteristic of Zen is the beauty part. The beauty part attracts a lot of people to Zen. Like the gardens at Green Gulch, the bread in the bakery, the flowers in the garden. For some people, they wouldn’t want to go in the zendo with those people sitting still and those statues, but they feel comfortable in the garden. Or they like the food. And they start eating the food and eating the food and gradually the food takes over.  And they suddenly want to sit because they ate all that food with those little sitting-germs in it. Or like Babette’s feast.  Yeah. These mean people, they ate this food and suddenly they start loving each other. But some people don’t like to eat. They see a picture of a person sitting and they say, “That’s for me”. 

That’s what I saw. I saw a picture of this layperson sitting in zazen on a tatami mat and I thought,.. and the subtitle said “in deepest thought”. I said, “That’s the way I want to think. I want to think in that posture.” The beauty of that sitting attracted me. I wasn’t attracted to the Four Noble Truths. I hadn’t heard about them and when I first heard about them I wasn’t interested.  Now I am a little interested. But the Four Noble Truths did not attract me. The truth did not attract me. People ask me.. First I was attracted by the beauty of the sitting and then after I started sitting, people said, “Why do you sit?” And I said, “I don’t know. It’s just.. it’s real.” And I didn’t think about truth, I just thought that I felt in touch with reality when I was sitting and I didn’t think of ethics at all. However, I realized later that ethics was there in that beautiful sitting. In beauty, in actual beauty, not your idea of beauty, but in actuality of beauty, I would propose to you that goodness is there in the actuality of beauty. And truth is there. And inner peace is there.

But we have a problem with a number of these issues. We have a problem with beauty when we have a fixed idea of it.  Because a fixed idea of beauty is very damaging to beauty. But it’s hard…with something beautiful, we often get a fixed idea about it and then we damage it.  We want to keep the appearance of it the same not knowing that holding onto the appearance of it, maybe maintains the appearance but can kill the beauty. “For I think anything can be killed after a while, especially beauty”. That’s what the man said to his son, Peter, in the father’s poem in Being Upright. It’s in there, isn’t it? “For I think anything can be killed after a while. Especially beauty.”. If you try to control it. 

So we have problems around beauty. We have problems around truth. Again, particularly holding onto it. We have problems about ethics. And we have problems around inner peace, when it starts to look like religion, and then we hold onto religious forms. So basically a lot of problems possible here.  

I thought I would just bring that up and see if you have any response.  So would the person who said that she was surprised to find out that there was some feeling of religion around Zen Center, would she say what she meant by the religion or by the sense of religion?

19 MIN

Q. Yeah. I said that and before we met at Mt Madonna and it has been more like a class or a seminar and it felt more like there wasn’t a lot of rules and I didn’t feel like I was going to make a lot of mistakes.

A. Ah! There we got it. When it comes to religion, you can make a mistake.

Q. And being in the zendo, I felt like I was making mistakes all the time.

A. So, since you felt like you were making mistakes all the time, you were in the land of religion. Right?

Q. Right.

A. The realm of religion is where you can make mistakes. Or where you notice you are making mistakes. That’s one thing for you, right? And you were raised Catholic?

Q. My mom was a hippie Catholic so.. We would go to Mass and she would say, “Don’t believe anything.”

A. She said, “Don’t believe anything and just sit?

Q.  No, “anything he just said”.

A. Oh. She said, “don’t believe anything he just said.” She didn’t say, “Just sit”

Q. No

A. But that’s what you say to your kids, right?

Q. I say, “Go outside”.

A. Ok. So that’s one important thing. When she sensed that you could make mistakes at Zen Center, she felt, “oh, religion”.  And I know some other people, when they went into the zendo­, they walked into the room and they thought this is a room where I can make mistakes. They didn’t say, “religion” but they thought, “Obviously you can make a mistake in this room.” Like “Obviously, there is a right and left turn option here, and there’s also a going straight ahead and going backwards and one of them probably is right and I don’t know which one it is so... And even if I back out of here, I still could be making a mistake”. So, uncomfortable when you enter that realm. Is it uncomfortable?

Q. Yes. Even walking to the Zen Center…

A. Even walking in the zendo, you sensed you could make a mistake.

Q. Yeah, because somebody’s hitting the thing, and I didn’t know if I was supposed to walk when they were hitting or not walk when they are hitting. There were just a lot of rules.

A. You sensed that there were. And some people told you that was so and then you thought you heard them say that. 

Q. I also knew that it’s ok if you make a mistake because all of these people are wanting to practice compassion. I knew that too.

A. Yeah. So if they really were, if they didn’t forget that, you’d probably be relatively safe. You would be protected by their compassion. But what if some of them didn’t?

Q. Yes, and some of them had like short,.. like giving directions, they were curt.

A. They were curt, they were brief, they were brusque.

Q. Not brusque. I didn’t want to ruin the ambience with my mistakes.

A. Right. And you know, there might be some other people who don’t want other people to ruin the ambience by their mistakes. Some people feel, “Mmm we have a nice ambience here”.  And then, somebody does something that disturbs the ambience and some people would maybe think a non-compassionate thought towards that person who just disturbed the ambience… like “would somebody remove that person from this ambience so we could return to the old ambience.” People might think that. People have confessed to me that they have thought that. That they wanted to eliminate the ambience-disturbers.  

Can you imagine? Yeah, you can imagine.


Yes and this is associated with religion. Religion plays with this thing about create an ambience. Create a beautiful ambience, like a beautiful meditation hall, a beautiful cathedral. And then let people in and let them enjoy the ambience and then if somebody comes in and disturbs it, there’s an issue there. Should we do something so that the disturbance is eliminated? Which means, get the person out of there.  Should we enhance the ambience by being very compassionate towards this person who is disturbing the ambience? Should everybody turn to the person and say, “Thank you for disturbing our ambience. You gave us a chance to practice real compassion” and now the ambience is totally disturbed and everybody is dancing and singing in joy that we did not freak out and get mean when you disturbed our ambience. And now the ambience has completely changed into this huge celebration of how the ambience can never be destroyed. That could happen. 


I know this story. I heard this story anyway.  There once was a Zen monastery that had a really nice ambience. And we they ate meals they had a lovely ambience when they ate there meals. They had these special bowls that they used to do a ritual eating practice and they had a nice ambience. One day, one of the monks came to the Master and said, “Somebody stole my bowls”. And they another monk came and said, “Somebody stole my bowls”. And, it didn’t say so, but I think there was a possibility that the ambience of the monastery was disturbed. And then somebody found… Somebody went into one of the monk’s rooms and found lots of bowls in the monk’s room. And the ambience in that room was not good.  So then the Master said, “Everyone come to the room with me and bring your bowls”. And they all went to the guy’s room and they put all their bowls in his room. And then they had this wonderful ambience.


So you don’t want to disturb the ambience and some other people do not want you to disturb the ambience and they don’t want anybody to disturb the ambience. But some people actually would like the ambience disturbed and I’m not gonna say who those people are. But some people, who are called Zen Masters, want the ambience to be disturbed so that the ambience-people can deal with the disturbance with a greater ambience than they had before. Sometimes they hire people to come and disturb the ambience in order to realize the meaning of the ambience. The peace beyond our idea of peace. Excuse the expression.. “the peace with passeth all understanding” of peace. 


But, there would be no opportunity to transcend it if there wasn’t already an ambience which was a result of careful attention to the room and the forms that create this wonderful ambience which then we can take care of and take care of and take care of and create and re-create and then let it go. And one of the ways to let it go is when somebody disturbs it. So it’s disturbed and we let it go. But that’s a delicate balance, right? And you sensed that and you associate that with religion. And I would associate it with, not so much religion, but I would associate it with inner peace, because if we’re attached to the lovely ambience of the Zen Center, like the clean zendo and the monks sitting with good posture. If we are attached to that, there’s not going to be inner peace if there is attachment. So we have some people in Zen who sit very nicely and we have some people who don’t sit very nicely according to some people’s opinion of what nice is. And some people think, “this person doesn’t have good posture and this person does” and they are not attached to that view. Some other people think, “This person has good person and that person doesn’t have good posture” and they are attached to their view. Then we don’t have inner peace.  And then also we don’t have truth. And also then, we miss beauty. And that’s not..and also we miss really the point of ethics. We are trying to be ethical.. to get everybody to sit the right way. We’re trying, but the attachment misses the inner peace and misses the truth.  


But the non-attachment we can also find right there in the form, in the ambience. We got the ambience, ok. Now we got something to not attach to, something really good. Something really good. Now this is something to not attach to. 


So we take care of this place. Somebody fixed the door in the dokusan room so that it actually closes and it doesn’t just keep blowing open. It actually closes. And somebody swept up eucalyptus leaves. Somebody filled holes, cracks in the pavement, in the asphalt so that the water won’t go in there and make holes in the road and have the road cave in and fall into our neighbors backyard. Somebody made new pipes to drain water off the hill. Somebody is taking care of trees so that beautiful, beautiful, beyond beautiful, beautiful plants will grow. People clean. Everything is being taken care of so nicely here so that we can not attach to this place. Because that’s the name of this place. 


The name of this place is “Do Not Attach To This Place”. Take care of it. Take care of it. Take care of it. Take care of it. Take care of it. Take care of it. Say, “thank you” to other people. Let them thank you for taking care of this place that we don’t attach to. And we keep taking care of it so we can not attach to it. But to not attach to a place you don’t take care of doesn’t really do any good.  In other words, wisdom of non-attachment to something that you are not totally devoted to, that you’re not practicing ethics with, it’s not real wisdom. Real wisdom is when you’re totally devoted to ethics and you’re not attached to it.  When you’re totally devoted to a beautiful practice place and a beautiful community with beautiful people and beautiful practice and you know the truth of it is that you can’t get a hold of it and if there’s anything you’d like to get a hold of, this would be it. This would be the best thing to get a hold of. Such a great beautiful practice and beautiful people and beautiful practice place. So let’s make it as beautiful as we can so we can test to see if we’re attached to it. Shall we? I mean shall we continue?

It’s lovely to make the ambience so nice to make the place so beautiful. It’s so nice.  And let’s not attach to what’s nice and what’s not nice. But let’s try to make it really as beautiful as possible and then deal with the specter of religion looming over the place. “This place has a really nice ambience. Be careful”. But mainly be careful to not, excuse me, be careful that you don’t not care about it. Be careful to be careful. Be careful. Take care of it. Like Breck’s on the board of this place. He’s the Treasurer. He takes care of this place. (Secretary..)  He just got promoted to secretary. And Karen and Elenya take care of the place. Elenya goes and buys all kinds of stuff for the place. She bought the liquid asphalt. And David came today and he cared for the place. So be careful to continue to care for it. But most important then is, once you care for it, then take the big step to not attaching to this thing that you care for. 


So really the religion is about not attaching to religion. But first religion says, “This is really important! You see how important this is! This is so important! This is really holy! This is so holy, so precious! Ok! Got it?” And your mother says, “Don’t listen to him. Don’t listen to anything he says”.  “This is the holiest of holy!” Which means, do not attach to it. You don’t have to believe that though. Just take care of it as though it was and if you take care of it as though it was, you will not attach to it. But first of all, you will attach to it. And that will be the period of making mistakes which may go on for quite a while, but eventually you won’t attach to mistakes either. 


But thank you for that comment and we will try to find a way to deal with religion if it crops up.. Which is to treat religion like you treat non-religion. Treat it with compassion. Treat it with kindness and you will realize its truth and realize inner peace. The Buddhas guarantee that. And I am giving it a try. How about you?


35 min


What time is it Catherine?  Yes?


Q. Just when you were talking about what attracted you to practice, it occurred to me, you said, “I wasn’t really thinking about goodness” but I thought your story about your attraction to the stories, like I was specifically thinking of the Hakuin story, was actually an attraction to ethics.


A. It was an attraction to ethics and particularly, I would say, an attraction to bodhisattva ethics. But I didn’t think it was ethics.


Q.  I think it was.


A. You think it was and now, I would agree with you. It’s the ethics of being totally cool.


Q. And not attaching to praise and blame.


A. Yeah. It was ethics that wasn’t attached. It was ethics that wasn’t afraid. It was ethics that weren’t attached to right and wrong ethics. Yeah. So now I see that I was attracted to bodhisattva vows and bodhisattva ethics, but I didn’t think so. If somebody had said ethics, in relationship to Zen, I just wouldn’t know what they were talking about. Basically I didn’t know anything about ethics before I came to Zen Center. I didn’t know anything about good and evil.  I never even used the term. I never said the word “good” except when people did what I wanted them to. 


Q. But you also have a story about good when you were a younger man. .. The older man who told you, “It’s not difficult to be bad; it’s difficult to be good.”


A.  Good. Yeah. It was there, but I didn’t think I was trying to be good. I just thought I was trying to do what was hard…what was manly.  “Don’t be a wimp and be bad. Be a man and do good”. That’s what really takes something. But I wasn’t trying to do good. I was trying to do something that would really require my life energy because I knew actually, and he knew too, it is not that hard to be bad. It takes a little guts sometimes because people don’t like it. But also in those days, you got a lot of praise for being bad.  Because Elvis Presley, James Dean, and Marlon Brando, they were my heroes.


Q.  Marilyn Monroe.


A. Yeah, she was yours?


Q. I was a little younger..but Jayne Mansfield was one of mine.


A.  Yeah, I didn’t know that they were bad. I didn’t know they were naughty girls. I thought they were attractive. 


Q. I thought they were frightening.  


The first time I went in the zendo, for not the public program but for early morning sitting, I was really intimidated as well. It was 5 a.m. and all these people in robes. Dark. Lit only by candles. There were, there was just a lot of stuffand I felt like I was just going to be a bull in a china shop. And I contrasted that as you were talking about this.. I was raised Episcopalian but in the 4th grade my parents switched me to a Catholic school and the first time I went to a Mass in Catholic Church, and this was way back when they spoke Latin, it was different because it was more like being a spectator. You go in the church and you sit in the pews and you watch what’s going on up there.


A. Yeah, you weren’t a performer.


Q. Whereas in the zendo you’re right in the thick of it.


A. You’re a performer, yeah. And in Asia, a lot of laypeople, they don’t go in the zendos. They only go to the temple and watch the monks. Only the monks go in the zendo. So in the West now we have everybody who goes in the zendo is basically a monk because you’re doing a monks practice by going in there and trying those forms on. So you’re a performer


Q. The Ino, and it was just a beautiful thing, as I was walking in I said something to the Ino at the time. This was 18-20 years ago. “What do I do?” And he said, “Just look for somebody wearing a robe and do whatever they are doing.”


A. And they may be looking at somebody else who’s wearing a robe.  




Q Since you’re sharing can I just sort of add to the ambience because I’m thinking of three memories that were really interesting. One was to sit next to someone who was coming down from a heroin addiction for a while period and was making unbelievable sounds. Their body was making sounds. 


A. Gurgling?


Q. Gurgling, belching, and nobody.. we all just sat for the whole period. It was an interesting experience.  And another time during a meal, someone was serving oatmeal and they fell, they tripped and the oatmeal went down the floor.


A. Oatmeal carpet.


Q. And everybody is trying to do oryoki. It was… that was a great moment.  And the other one was down at Tassajara a long time ago, to come into the monastery and you’re supposed to sit tangaryo and there were two guys who hadn’t done it because they had been working all the times when everybody was doing it and it was almost the end of the summer and they had to do it. And as you get toward the end of the summer, you’ve been working really hard and people are tired. And it’s a long time to sit.  And these two guys were in there and they were the only two in the zendo. I guess the story was that at some point around mid-morning one of them just had.. there was a fly that kept coming around and it kinda landed on his lip and he went “pffff”..


A. He blew it away.


Q. He just went “pff” and then two minutes later the other one cracked up and then they started laughing and they went into this laughter that was uncontrollable weeping. It was a wholes summer’s worth of laughing. And everybody walking by heard the two guys completely roaring with laughter. Then they would sort of settle down again and then somebody would go and then they would go and they were laughing on and off the whole day and they had to keep going back and sitting. It was really joyful for the rest of us.


A. You got to hear this.


Q. It was really one of the most joyful. It was particularly fun because they weren’t supposed to be laughing in the ambience..


A.  They weren’t instructed to be laughing.


Q.  They weren’t holding the ambience.


A. But nobody came in and stopped them.


Q. No they didn’t. No. They didn’t stop them. They let them go and they went. I’m sorry I was thinking about ambience and..


Q. You mentioned something in your talk about the meaning of the ambience..for the practice to get the meaning of the ambience.  Is the meaning…English is not my first language..when you say “meaning” is meaning the same as the essence or meaning is the definition of ambience? 


A. Well, the meaning could be the truth of the ambience. The meaning could be the beauty of the ambience. The meaning could be the goodness of the ambience. Or the meaning could be the inner peace of the ambience. It could be all those things. Most people..


Q. It’s not the meaning, you are speaking of the essence.


A. You could say “essence” but when you say “essence” then you make the meaning, you might make the meaning into a substantial thing.


Q. Not really. The essence  of something is not really substantial. It’s just the way it is.


A. Good. I’m glad it’s not anything substantial. So then the meaning is the insubstantiality of the ambience. The ultimate meaning of our practice, of the ambience of the Zen Center, the ultimate meaning of it is its insubstantiality, its self-lessness. And you can call insubstantiality ‘essence’ if you want to but that would be an essence-less essence, wouldn’t it? And that brings inner peace. That insubstantiality of things, when we realize it is inner peace. Also, it’s beauty. Also it’s what goodness really is. It’s all those things.


Q. I’m not quite sure about.. again I go to the definition of goodness, if I go to the definition then it may be different. But today as I was sitting, I could see the beauty of the form and then at some point I felt like the whole beauty of everything comes beyond the form so it’s this vastness of beauty which is..


A. It’s not really beyond though. The beauty of a form is the way the form is created. The dependent co-arising of a form is its beauty. And the dependent co-arising of a form is inconceivable and insubstantial. 


Q. The insubstantiality of it, for me, was the absence, it’s more in the absence of things. It’s not in the things.­


A. It’s not the absence of the thing. It’s not beyond the thing. It’s the absence of a self in the thing. 


Q. Absence of the self in the thing?


A. For example, I appear to be a form and the insubstantiality of me is the absence of a self of me. I come with an absence of a self. I come with an absence of substantiality. That’s the ultimate meaning of me. 


Q. Ok.


A. Ok? Amazing. She said ‘ok’. Did you hear that? Don’t attach to that.


Q. Thank you very much. We had another sitting here. And we had quite a few new people. Congratulations to the new people coming here. You really supported our practice and if you don’t come next time, we accept your not being here. One two three four five six. Six new people, at least. Thank you so much for supporting our practice. 


And I must say, it wasn’t a very hard day for me. I only had to see nine people. It gets a little hard for me sometimes when I have to see 20 people and then be in the zendo a little bit and give two talks and eat a lot for lunch.  It was a very pleasant Labor Day sitting.


Q. I wanted to ask what inspired that practice of chanting the Heart Sutra.


A.  Oh. You want a story? She wants a story. That’s what your gonna get.  Even if she said what inspired and I yelled at her, that would be a story. “He yelled at her”  That would be a story. What inspired it was this monk said when he was a young monk they went around begging and while they were begging they chanted. They do a chant while they beg. He was wondering, will I be able to do the chant while we’re walking begging. Once he got into it, he was able to do it. And he said, “I realized the reason I was able to do it was because of the many hours I spent in the monastery walking around chanting. So then I was able to do the chanting out in the snow”. That’s what inspired it. I want you people to be able to chant in the supermarket, while you’re begging for food. 


Q. Chant-and-walk? 


A.  Chant and walk with your shopping cart.


Q. We should all meet at the Marina Safeway and circumambulate it.


A. So that’s my story of what inspired it. I thought we should maybe practice walking and chanting at No Abode because we have a nice place to walk here. But I really don’t know what inspired it. I really don’t know. That’s just a story,. 


Q. It was nice.


A. Yeah. It was like… Gate, gate, parasamgate bodhi svaha.. Wasn’t it? We went beyond there didn’t we?  Thank you very much.