The Bodhisattva's Mind of No AbodeĀ 

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

AI Summary: 



Transcribed by Karen Mueller


(Begins at approx 1min 30 sec)

There was a time at the Zen Center, particularly at Green Gulch, when we started to offer workshops at Green Gulch on various topics, various themes. One of our members looked at a publication, a brochure about the programs being offered, and the person couldn’t see.. It didn’t look like any of the offerings had to do with what he thought the Buddha Way was. He didn’t see any words about Buddha or Zen in any of the workshop announcements.  I mentioned that to some people in the community and they could see it. There was nothing about traditional Zen language in any of the workshop announcements and a number of the people who were doing the workshops weren’t, either weren’t experienced students of the Buddha Way or they were, but they just didn’t happen to mention anything about that, about Buddhism, in their announcement.   So then we made some changes in the programs we offered. At least some of them.  

So we changed, so then we mentioned the word “Zen” in the announcements.  So, if it was a workshop on bread baking, we would say “Bread-baking and Zen”.  Or if it was a workshop on.. I don’t know what.  It would be “Bee-keeping and Zen” Or it would be such-and-such and Zen. And if the person who was leading the workshop was not an experienced member of the Zen Center we had someone who was an experienced member join them. There would be this person who was offering psychotherapy together with a regular Zen student and that would be called “Psychotherapy and Zen”.  Or whatever, “X and Zen” or “X and Buddhism” or whatever.  Actually I did a workshop one time, I think it was called “Yoga and Zen”.  I did a workshop at Tassajara with a yoga teacher. Now there are many, many “Yoga and Zen” workshops at Tassajara and some at City Center and some at Green Gulch.   So there is putting the word “Zen” in the workshop title, or there is putting “the Buddha Way” in the workshop title and so on. 

But I wanted to talk to you about what actually, what is the relationship between… I don’t know what.. The Buddha Way and X and “X” you can put anything in there.  (From the audience:  Accounting)  Accounting!  Yeah.  Or perhaps I don’t know what. You might say, how about armed robbery.  You say, “Oh, no, we don’t mean “Armed Robbery and Zen”. There was “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, right?  And before that there was “Zen and the Art of Archery”. Right? That’s part of where it came from. And then there was a French movie called “Diva” where there was Zen and buttering a baguette. Remember that scene?  Did you ever see that French movie “Diva”? This guy is explaining how to put butter on a baguette and it is the Zen of buttering a baguette.  So that’s going on.

So what is the Zen part?  What is the Buddhist part?  So basically I would like to talk to you about that today a little bit.  

One story would be, which I think a lot of people think, is that if you are concentrated while you butter the baguette, that that is the Zen way of buttering the baguette. Lot of people associate concentration with Zen.  That is part of the story. Concentration is part of Zen practice. Concentration is part of the Buddha Way.  

But it’s not just concentration, that you butter the baguette with not just concentration, but with wisdom too.  Wisdom is based on concentration and concentration is based on compassion.  Concentration is based on compassion and that concentration is the basis of wisdom.  So to butter a baguette in a Zen way would be to butter the baguette in a wise way.   And the way to butter a baguette in a wise way is to butter the baguette with a mind that has no abode.

So, this temple is called No Abode. It refers to the mind which does not abide anywhere. A mind which does not attach or depend on where it is or what it’s dealing with. That’s the mind of a bodhisattva. That’s the mind which is authentic, complete awakening mind.  That’s an amazing, wise mind. When that mind is together with actions, then the actions are Buddha-action.  These actions. You say, “Don’t these actions have to be wholesome?”  Yes, they do.  They have to be wholesome because “wholesome” means conducive, means an action that is supporting or conducive to an awakened mind.  So if you did armed robbery with that mind, then the armed robbery would be an armed robbery that’s conducive to awakening and that armed robbery would benefit all beings. All beings would be asking you how come you brought weapons to the bank, you know? All beings would be joyfully supporting you to bring the weapons into the bank and they would be giving you the money to take out of the bank and everyone would be free of robbery. There would be no robbery in this. It would be a robbery where nothing was stolen. It would be a robbery where nothing was taken that wasn’t given. It would be a robbery where everyone was practicing generosity. But I don’t know any stories actually of the Buddha performing armed robbery.  


But when the Buddha goes to town and begs, the Buddha doesn’t rob the people. The Buddha just offers the bowl and says, "I’m here to receive your offering." And people don’t say the Buddha is stealing the food from us. They give the food to the Buddha. But the Buddha doesn’t abide in the mind that is receiving the offering. The Buddha doesn’t attach to the giver, the receiver or the gift. Then giving, then if you have a workshop on begging, you know, you could have a workshop on begging but it’s not just begging, it’s “Zen and Begging”.  So it’s begging, there’s a workshop on begging but without trying to get anything by begging. It’s a workshop on begging with a mind of no abode. 


12 min 


It’s a workshop on fund-raising. There’s a lot of fund-raising going on at a lot of Zen centers..”  Right now there’s San Francisco Zen Center is involved in a so-called “capital campaign so they are trying to raise a large amount. Well, it looks like a large amount to some people. They are trying to raise this large amount of money for the welfare of all sentient beings.  To help the Zen Center be sustained for a long time so it can support many beings.  But is it fund-raising and Zen? Is it Zen fund-raising?  Well it’s fundraising-fundraising if the fundraising is being done with the mind of no abode. Is the mind of no abode operating? Well, that’s for each person to look into their heart and see if they have found this mind of no abode.   That’s for the fund-raisers to look and the donors to look and the money to look.  


I have these Chinese characters here.   This is a way of writing a Chinese character which is pronounced in Chinese something like tao, and then in Japanese, it’s pronounced do. It means, the Way or the Path. It also means, in Buddhism it means awakening or enlightenment.  The path and enlightenment are the same character. There are other characters for enlightenment too but this character means both path and enlightenment. The next character means mind or heart or thought.  So it could be translated as the Way-mind, or the Awakened Mind, or the Awakening Mind, or the Awakened Mind or the Enlightened Mind. But also it could be called the mind of the Way. And sometimes it is translated as the way-seeking mind. So when you put this mind together with x, with accounting or fund-raising or­ baguette-buttering or motorcycle maintenance.., if you put this mind together with it, then you have what is called the Way of the Buddha. If you put this mind together with sitting upright and still, like you have been doing this morning, if you put the upright sitting together with this mind, if you use the sitting to express this mind, then you have the Way, the Buddha Way. In some… but you have not.. This mind is not completely the same as the mind of no abode. This mind is the mind which is devoted to realizing the mind of no abode for the welfare of all beings, for the liberation of all beings.  

This mind applies to a whole evolutionary process. You can apply this mind to the sincere thought that you wish to realize the mind of no abode, the Buddha Mind, that you wish to realize authentic awakening for the sake of benefiting all beings. You can have that thought. You could have that thought right now. You can think that. And thinking that sincerely, where you actually mean it, that is “tao shin”, that is the Bodhi-Mind.  That is the beginning of the Bodhi-Mind if it’s the first time you thought it. If it’s the second time you thought it, then it’s the second time of the Bodhi-Mind.  If it’s the millionth time you thought it, it’s the millionth occasion of the Bodhi-Mind. There could be spaces between those millions of thoughts where you forgot it and where you thought, “Actually, this baguette just for me. I’d like to butter this baguette to be a famous movie star.” “Oops!  Now I’m buttering the baguette but this isn’t Zen baguette-buttering anymore. This is just ordinary, selfish baguette buttering. I forgot the Bodhi-mind.  Sorry.  Now here I will try again. Now this buttering of the baguette I wish to do for the welfare of all beings. Now I’m back on track. And I want to be on this track.”  There’s the Bodhi-Mind.  

If you take care of this Bodhi-Mind for a long time, you become a bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas have this mind. They have the thought, “I wish to realize Buddhahood for the welfare of all beings.”  They have that thought but just having that thought doesn’t make you a bodhisattva. You have to take care of that thought for a while and if you do, you become a bodhisattva.  You become a bodhisattva means you become a person who has a mind of no abode. Strictly speaking just wanting to help all beings, wanting to help all beings and wanting to realize enlightenment in order to help them effectively, that wish is a wish which, if it arises in you, you share with all bodhisattvas.  You share with all Buddhas.   But strictly speaking, you are not a bodhisattva until you have this mind which doesn’t abide anywhere.  You can offer a course on accounting and Bodhi-Mind, because you offer the workshop on accounting together with the wish of attaining enlightenment for the welfare of all beings, but you may not quite have gotten to the place where you offer the workshop with a mind of no abode. But if you keep offering workshops and playshops and autoshops… if you keep offering workshops, if you stay in the workshop and you take care of this mind, you will finally realize this mind in the form of this mind having no abode.  

So this mind refers to when you first think of this path and first yearn for it till you attain, actually, the mind of the Buddha, which has no abode…where there is supreme perfect enlightenment together with accounting, together with begging, together with fund-raising, together with cooking, together with walking, together with sitting. We do wholesome practices, wholesome practices mean practices conducive to the mind of no abode, and we do them together with the Bodhi-Mind which wants these practices to evolve to the point of Buddhahood. It wants that. It wishes for that. It wishes for that but at the beginning we may have some abode. We may abide in accounting, we may abide in sitting, we may abide in walking, we may abide in baguette-buttering.  But still wishing to realize the non-abiding Buddha-Mind. Wishing for that, wanting that to be realized, and taking care of that wish until we arrive at the mind of no abode. 

The wish to attain Buddhahood for the welfare of all beings, again, you can abide in that at the beginning. You can abide in it in the middle. You can abide in it in the later middle. You can abide in it in the advanced.  But in the end, you don’t abide in it.  That’s the Buddha-Mind which you have been striving for. Striving to strive without abiding in striving or anything.   That wish to benefit all beings, again, you can attach to it but that wish will naturally promote, eventually, no abiding. 

22 min

It says,.. What we chanted before that “We vow with all beings to hear the true Dharma and that upon meeting this true Dharma we will renounce worldly affairs and maintain the Buddha Dharma”.   You can hear the Buddha Dharma and then when you hear the Buddha Dharma you will be able to renounce worldly affairs. What’s renouncing worldly affairs?  Well, one worldly affair is to be concerned with a limited, the welfare of a limited number of people. That’s a worldly affair.  Limiting the number of people you care about is worldly because you’ve just constricted your life to a limited world. When you care for beings without end, you are not in a world anymore. Also a worldly affair is to abide in beings, to abide in them, to cling to them.  Bodhisattvas are devoted to save beings that they don’t attach to.  Matter of fact, they work to save beings and while they are saving beings, they understand that although they save many beings, there’s no beings have been saved.  That’s how they save beings. But they have always wanted to save beings. They have always wanted to save beings and they are saving beings and they understand no beings are being saved. That’s necessary for them in order for them to save beings.  Most beings think there are some beings to save and then they abide in that mind that thinks that way and that postpones liberation.  

When you combine this Bodhi-Mind together with whatever you’re doing, then whatever you are doing, then whatever you are doing…. Excuse me. When you combine this Bodhi-Mind with whatever wholesome activities you are doing, then the wholesome activities become liberating.  If you do wholesome activities without this mind, then those wholesome activities are conducive to welfare, to benefit and as the benefits arise, they set up the possibility of joining this beneficial action together with the Bodhi-Mind.  And then the actions are not just beneficial. They are liberating.  The Buddha Way is not just to benefit people. It’s not just to benefit suffering beings. It’s to benefit and liberate. It’s to benefit them while they are suffering and then to liberate them from suffering. 

So we join this Bodhi-Mind, this Way-Mind, hopefully with all of our wholesome actions.  Since it’s joined with wholesome actions, if unwholesome actions arise, it addresses the unwholesome and encourages resumption of wholesome. 

That’s my initial offering. Do you understand? Was that clear? Any questions? Yes?

26 min

Q So on this continuum of deciding to start on the path to realizing Bodhi-Mind, is that an accurate description?

A.  Not quite, because the tradition generously calls the beginning the same name as the end.  So at the beginning when you first think of wishing to live for the welfare of all beings, and even attain Buddhahood for that purpose, that gets the name Bodhi-Mind. But it’s a different Bodhi-mind at the end which is the mind of the Buddha. But it’s called the same thing all the way. Sometimes they call the first one Relative Bodhi-Mind and the last one Complete Bodhi-Mind. ­ 

Q. So on the path between relative and complete, you talked about the decision to renounce worldly affairs.

A.  I didn’t actually say decision but I did talk about renouncing worldly affairs.

Q.  My question is, is that a conscious act that I’m going to renounce worldly affairs or is it something that emerges?

A.  It can be a conscious act of thinking “I want to” or “I am” or “I wish”.  Or “I am renouncing worldly affairs.” That’s a thought. But the thought “I want to renounce worldly affairs” is not the same as renouncing worldly affairs.  “I wish to be good. I will be good”  That is a wholesome thought generally.  We don’t know for sure but it’ might be. But to actually then renounce worldly affairs in the deepest sense would be then that you actually would renounce the mind that abides anywhere. So “I wish to realize the mind of no abode” is a wholesome thought, I would say. I feel it is. I don’t know for sure but I think it is. And thinking it is, I think is a wholesome thought too. But actually the mind that has no abode is not something exactly that I decide and then it’s done. I decide I want it and then I practice for a long time and then it is realized. 

Q. So it’s from the intention to the realization?

A. It’s from the intention to the realization. And then there are various practices that we do to promote and care for the intention. So I have this intention and then the way you protect the intention to realize supreme awakening for the welfare of all beings is to do bodhisattva training methods. Generosity. Ethical discipline. Patience.  Diligence. Concentration. And Wisdom,.. which is to meditate on the mind of no abode and all the teachings that remind us and teach us about what the mind of no abode is like. Teachings about phenomenon that help us not to cling to them, not to believe that the way things appear are the way they are. So if I hear a teaching that the way you appear to me is not the way you really are, and I am mindful of that, then I look at you and then I see this person who appears to be a wonderful guy and I don’t think that my story about you being a wonderful guy is what you are.  You are a wonderful guy but you’re not my story of a wonderful guy. You are far, what you are is inconceivable. You are an inconceivable wonderful guy.  You are not my idea of you. And you’re not your grandson’s ideas of you. You are something beyond the appearances that our minds create of you.  These teachings are coming to me but not to your grandchildren yet. They are not old enough probably. If I tell my grandson these stories, he says, “That’s totally inconceivable”, which means, “That’s enough of that”. If I tell you and you say it’s totally inconceivable, you might say, “But I’ll listen some more. Don’t stop talking just cause it’s inconceivable to me”. And I say, “Ok”.  

Those are wisdom…so we do those trainings and that takes care of the Bodhi-Mind.  If you don’t do those trainings, the Bodhi-mind, you forget it.  If you don’t practice generosity and ethical discipline, if you’re not careful of all your actions of body, speech and mind, and you see someone and without that compassionate support you forget the teaching that you’re seeing your mind. Probably. I don’t know, probably. More likely.  But if you do these compassion practices, you are more likely to remember the wisdom practices, the wisdom teachings.  

Q. So are do-shin and  bo-dai-shin synonymous? 

32 Min approx

A. Spelling uncertain. Please help.  Yes, bo-dai-shin is the sino-japanese way of saying.. In Chinese you say pu-ti-shin.  Pu-ti-shin. In Japanese, Bo-dai-shin. And in Sanskrit it’s Bodhichitta. Bodhicitta means Bodhi-Mind. Bo-dai-shin means Bodhi-mind.  Tao­­ equals Bo-Dai.  So the character for Tao is nice because it means both path and Bo-dai or Bodhi and this character Tao connects Buddhism and with Taoism because in Taoism the Tao is the point. It’s interesting to that the Tao Te Ching, I think it starts out by saying something like, “The Tao” The Tao? By the way this character also means “to say”. This character means “to say” in ordinary Chinese and also means “the path”. So the Tao Te Ching plays with this character and says, “The path (the tao) which can be tao-ed is not the tao”.  The path which can be said is not the path. It’s the same character. First it means ‘the path’, then it means ‘to say’, then it means ‘the path’. The path which can be said is not the path. You could also say, the saying which can be said is not the saying. And the enlightenment which can be said is not the enlightenment. And so on. Playing with that word, this character, which means path, the path of Taoism, the path of the Buddha. It also means enlightenment. And it also means ‘to say’. Because this is enlightenment, this is the path as a word. Because for living beings when we hear, when the Dharma is conveyed to us, we receive it and convert it into word images. We do that. And if we are kind to those word images, along with the other word images like ‘enemy’ and ‘friend’ and ‘wonderful person’ and ‘bad person’ and ‘happiness’ and ‘sadness’, if we practice compassion towards all those words, we realize what they are. First we always convert them to words because we like to know things and we don’t know things unless we make them into words. But if we are kind with the way we make things into knowables, we realize what they are. We actually experience the reality of them if we are kind to the appearance of them. Again, this Bodhi-Mind is the way to be kind to appearances in order to realize the non-abiding mind of reality. Reality is a mind of no abode. The mind of no abode is reality. It’s not that the mind of no abode knows reality. It is reality. Reality is a mind that doesn’t abide.

Q. A question about the character for awakening. It’s a very dynamic character and I wondered if you could talk about what it’s made of.

A. The bottom part, this part down here that’s like the little platform that the center part.. This part down here.. This part generally is a radical which is used in all kinds of characters, all kinds of words, which have to do with travel or movement. So you could put.. Sometimes this character is used for roads and paths and going places and things like that. Also if you put something up here it can also be used for penetrating things or entering things. And the part on the top, I don’t know what that character means by itself but I will hopefully research it for you and have the answer shortly.  And it doesn’t look like..Is there anybody here who is expert in Chinese? No. So I’ll try to find out what the top part means, but the bottom part generally has something to do with some kind of travel or movement.

Yes? Would you tell me your name again?

Q. I am raising my hand not because I am expert in Chinese but because some translations of Tao Te Ching, say the path that can be followed is not the true path.  

A. Yeah you can do that too.  The path that can be pathed is not the path. You could also say, the word that can be said is not the word.  The path that can be said is not the word. And so on. The character is very dynamic, especially in Buddhism, because it means “path”, “say” and “awakening”. In other words, the path cannot be grasped. But it can be realized.  The reality of things cannot be grasped but can be realized. But we have to give up the worldly affairs in order to realize things. We have to give up the worldly affair of grasping in order to realize.  

When you hear the Dharma that helps you hear it without grasping it. When you hear it without grasping it, then you take care of it and renounce worldly affairs. Or you renounce worldly affairs and take care of it.  When you hear the Dharma and hold onto it, you can’t take care of it. You’ve got it but because you’ve got it you’re not taking good care of it. You’re supposed to receive it without holding on to it. That’s how you take care of it. Then you receive it again and again probably, endlessly receiving and giving, receiving and giving, receiving and giving. Or we say, receiving and employing.  One of the names for our meditation practice in the Soto Zen School is concentration on receiving and giving the Dharma. You receive it and give it. Or you receive it to yourself and give it away as yourself. 


Q. I believe the path is the path as long as we don’t abide and our abiding is what makes it..So the path is the path.

A. Yeah. The path is the path except ‘don’t abide in the path is the path”.

Q. Right. If you don’t abide in it then, it is.

A. If you don’t abide in it, that’s the path. The path you don’t abide in is the path.  

Q. So there is a path. The path of..

A. You can say that. There is a path. But when you say that, don’t abide in what you just said.

Q. Yeah? But I like..

A.  I know you like to and it’s so kind of you to come and tell us that you like to. And then we can say, “Yeah, well, fine”. We accept that you like to.  And that’s not the path. I mean, liking it is fine, as long as you don’t abide in liking it. You can go ahead and like it. Come here and like it. Like it. Like it. Like it. But if you don’t abide in liking it, then that’s the path.  Then you say, “Ok then that’s the path right?” I say, “Yes but don’t abide in ‘that’s the path’.  Don’t abide in ‘that’s the path’.” And you say, “But I like to.”  And then we start over again. Thank you for the ‘liking to’.  


Q. You’ve been mentioning stories and one of the ways….the character it sounds to me a little bit like one of the ways you could say it is ”the path to beyond words is with words”

A. The path to beyond words is with words. That’s the thing about humans is that the Buddha talks and the Buddha lets… The Buddha speaks but the Buddha doesn’t really speak any words and people make words out of the Buddha’s teaching and people use the words that they make out of Buddha’s teaching as a way to become free of the words.. Of all their words. So we do use words to become free of words. Yes.

Q.  And stories also.

A. Yes, we use stories to become free of stories. 

Q. Yeah, they are a currency of relating.

A. Yeah they are a currency of relating. Right.

Q. So when I think about.. It sounds like you’re saying that no acts are unwholesome in themselves. It’s..  It’s not innately necessarily unwholesome. It might be a.. There might be a wholesome way to do that.

A. “All phenomenon are..  Yes.  It’s possible. We are open to that possibility.

Q. So when you are talking about renouncing worldly affairs.. Renouncing worldly affairs. Just trying to put these pieces together.

A. Go ahead. Try to put them together without abiding in them.

Q. I’m thinking about my teenage daughter and saying “honey how is your homework coming?” And her saying, “I’m sorry mom. I renounced worldly affairs.” It’s this Christian saying “Being in the world but not of the world” in a way maybe?

A. Yeah, is that a Christian saying?

Q. Isn’t it?

A. I don’t know. You could say it’s a Zen saying. I’m not trying.

Q. Being in the world but not of the world. Be in the world but not of the world.

A. Did Jesus speak English?

Q. There you go! He’s quoted as saying it. It’s a story about Jesus.

A. It’s a story about Jesus, right.  But also Sarah said it. 

Q Just now.  So this thing of renouncing, you know there’s this currency of being a householder and currency of having a job. There’s a currency of studying Zen. There’s a kind of the words and beyond the words. And they need care. They require a lot of of us 

A.  Did you say they need care? Yeah! 

Q.  They need attention and diligence.

A. They do. They are calling for attention. They are calling for diligence. They are calling for compassion.  All the words are calling for liberation. If you diligently care for something, if you compassionately care for something you will realize the mind which doesn’t abide in the thing and the thing will be liberated. 

The Bodhi-Mind, the Bodhi Way is to care for things to the point of liberation and then to care for the liberation to the point of liberation from liberation and so on. Care for words, care for stories, care for all beings to the point of liberation. The way to care for them is these compassion practices together, but we also need wisdom teachings. Otherwise we can care for things and still cling to them. So we need a little reminder that you are doing a good job of caring but there’s a little clinging there. I have a story that there’s a little clinging. And then the person can say, “That’s just your story.” And then say, “Thank you.”


 45 min. 

Q.  I was wondering about the point where we say “arising Bodhi-Mind” from the step before to the point of.. I wonder if there is a Bodhi-Mind which awakens Bodhi-Mind. There is something searching for arising Bodhi-Mind.

A. I just want to say before I respond to the last part of your thing, I want to say.. He talked about the “arising of Bodhi-Mind”. Bodhi-Mind, when it first arises, is always like a thought. It arises in the realm of thought. In other words, it appears to arise. The complete Bodhi-Mind doesn’t arise.  It’s realized. And it’s realized in the realm of no abode in which there’s no arising or ceasing for the Bodhi-Mind.  But when the Bodhi-Mind first arises, and usually second and third arises and for quite a while, the Bodhi-Mind seems to be arising. “Oh there it is again! Hi. Thanks for coming. Oh great.” Or even, it stayed for awhile. That’s another way it can appear. The early Bodhi-Mind, the first Bodhi-Mind and then Bodhi-Minds for quite a while, might look like they arise and sometimes we forget them and then they arise again. The complete Bodhi-Mind doesn’t arise. It is just the realization of reality. 

But you also said something about maybe there needs to be a Bodhi-Mind in relationship to the arising of Bodhi-Mind and there is.  So we say Bodhi-Mind does not make itself arise. Otherwise Bodhi-Mind would just have everybody have Bodhi-Mind all the time.  I do not make Bodhi-Mind arise and you do not make Bodhi-Mind arise and Buddha doesn’t make Bodhi-Mind arise. Otherwise Buddha would just make everybody have Bodhi-Mind all the time. “Bodhi-Mind!” “Bodhi-Mind!”  Buddha doesn’t do that. I mean Buddha does do that but it doesn’t succeed. Buddha’s going, “Bodhi-Mind!” “Bodhi-Mind!” “Bodhi-Mind!” “Bodhi-Mind!” That’s what Buddha is. “Buddha-Mind!” “Buddha-Mind!” “Buddha-Mind!” That’s what Buddha is doing all day long, however, it’s only when we say, “Hi. How ya’ doing, man”, and then Buddha says, “Buddha-Mind!”  And you say, “Wow! That sounds great. I wanna do that.”  Buddha’s not in control. That’s the difference. Buddha’s not all-powerful controller, can’t control everybody to have Bodhi-Mind. But Buddha is like, “Buddha-Mind!” “Buddha-Mind!” “Buddha-Mind!” and then sentient beings sometimes go, “That’s totally cool! I wanna do that.” So sometimes Buddha gets in communion with sentient beings. But the Buddha doesn’t make it happen, the sentient being doesn’t make it happen, but when they do this communion this Bodhi-Mind comes up. Or you could say,,.either the Bodhi-Mind is the communion and the arising of it happens in the communion. The Bodhi-Mind isn’t really the arising of Bodhi-Mind. Ultimately it is that communion.  Because Buddhas are communing with living beings. That’s their thing. That’s their concern. And in that communion, Bodhi-Mind arises.  And in the communion sometimes could be, the sentient being could be, can get distracted from the communion and then they get distracted from Bodhi-Mind. But then the communion happens again and they remember it. And after a while they remember it more and more often. In other words, they stay more with the communion. The Bodhi-Mind is.. Again, it’s always present, because it is the realization of reality.The realization of reality is always present but we sometimes think we have something else to do besides commune with it. It takes quite a bit of training to consistently commune with it. But the proposal is that we can get more consistent in our training and more often appreciate that communion and more often appreciate that mind.  

But definitely it’s not something sentient beings do by themselves or that Buddha does by herself. It’s a communion thing. Because there’s no sentient beings without Buddhas and there’s no Buddhas without sentient beings. Next you say, “Well, there could be sentient beings without Buddhas. You have all these suffering beings and no Buddhas around.” Pretty sad. But definitely you don’t have Buddhas floating around totally blissed out without human beings. That’s not a Buddha. A Buddha never floats away from human beings. A Buddha totally arises out of sentient beings and keeps in touch with them through the arising process. 

So we are Buddhas arising out of sentient beings, but not completely realized yet. And in complete realization we stay connected to our roots. Sentient beings are the life-blood of Buddhas.  

Q. So the teaching seems to me like an expression of the Bodhi-Mind.

A. The teaching is an expression of Buddha-Mind. Definitely. The Buddhas are constantly teaching.

Q. So to realize myself as Bodhi-Mind is to realize the teaching as an expression of myself. 

A. Yeah. Right. 

Q. So to follow a teaching, I cannot realize myself as long as I follow it.

A. In a way, that’s right. When the teaching first comes to us, the teaching is inconceivable. The way the Buddha is and the way the Buddha teaches is inconceivable. But the Buddha doesn’t prohibit us, or hinder us, from making the Inconceivable Dharma into something conceivable. So we do. The Buddhas are going, “Hello!” and we turn “Hello!” into “Hello.”  Or the Buddha goes (silence) and we turn it into “Hello.”  But now we’ve got something to work on. And that thing we’re working on, there’s some separation there. When you realize there’s nothing to work on any more you have become it. 

Q. My experience is that I follow, follow, follow and then I realize, hey, that’s an expression of me. And then I don’t follow it anymore. But as long as I follow it, that’s not it. 

A. Right. But if you’re kind to that thing that’s not it, you will realize it. You have to be kind to what’s not it to realize it. In this case. Whereas cruelty, if you’re kind to cruelty, you can realize it. Excuse me. If you’re cruel to cruelty, you can realize cruelty.  But to realize Buddha’s wisdom you have to be kind to it, knowing that what you’re dealing with is not it. Because it’s inconceivable. So you have to be kind to the conceivable version of the Dharma to realize the actual, inconceivable Dharma. You have to be kind to the grasped, grasped Dharma. You have to be kind to the way you grasp the Dharma, in order to realize the Dharma that cannot be grasped or is not grasped. Reality cannot be grasped because we can’t be separate from it. So you hear that teaching and then you can separate yourself from that teaching and then be kind to that separate teaching and realize the inseparable teaching.

Q. So only once I realize that it’s an expression of me, then I don’t have to abide by it. 

A. Yeah. That’s kind of the same thing. If you realize that, you don’t abide by it. If you don’t abide in it, you don’t.. There’s no way to grasp it, no way to separate from it.

There’s an Academy Award winning film called “High Noon” and we’ve just got a little bit past high noon. Did you have something to say?

Q. Yeah. I was reading the “Wind in the Willows” the other day and.. 

A. Is it a good book?

Q. It’s very good. And it talks about there’s a mole and he crawls out of his hole and he goes and finds a river where there’s lots of songs. And then he sees the rat boating in the river and then he joins the rat and is very happy boating in the river. And then the rat says to him, the rat says, “Simply messing about in boats.  Simply messing.” And then they crash into the shore because they are so happy messing about in boats. And then the rat says, “In boats or with boats. Boating on the river, there’s no destination.” Is that like… Bodhi-Mind? 

A.  Is that like Bodhi-Mind?  Are you saying is that like Bodhi-Mind or is that like the mind of no abode?   

Q.  The mind of no abode

A. Yeah. It’s more like the mind of no abode. Because I didn’t hear them say, “I enter this river for the welfare of all beings.” Didn’t hear that part. So that would be Bodhi-Mind, that they.. that you come out of your hole and go into the river for the welfare of all beings. And then if rats and other beings show up you remember that.. that that is what you’re in the water for. But it takes a long time to come out of your hole and go into the water for the welfare of all beings. But in this story, you can maybe say that in a past life, those animals had Bodhi-Mind and then, in this river, or excursion, they realized the mind of no abode. But really, they didn’t say it, that they actually came out of their hole and entered the river for the welfare of all beings. But they actually said that,.. before they left the hole they were already thinking, had that vow. But they didn’t tell us that. Because the children reading the book find that inconceivable so they just told about the mind of no abode. 

But to understand that kind of thing, you kind of have to have great compassion to really realize that.  Like I was taking care of this little girl last night and she comes out of her hole now and then and faces the world, but then she goes back into the hole. It’s scary out there, you know. Lot’s of stuff happens. You know she’s standing in the bathtub and she seems to be fine and suddenly the whole world falls apart. For no reason, she goes from fine to “really, this is not a good situation” and then, like if she has this little zebra that has little ears and stuff on it that she can put in her mouth and gave her some milk and sang her some songs over and over and she went back in her hole and she was very happy.  And she’ll come out again and again and go back until finally she can come out and say “ok. I want to do this for all sentient beings.” That’s going to take a while, I think.  Now she’s going out…oohhh.. and back, out and back, out and back. And we support her until she finally realizes the Bodhi-Mind and then we support her to take care of that. What wonderful journey. 

Shall we have a break now?