Buddha Activity

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The work of buddhas — buddha activity — is realizing intimacy and liberation in conversation together with all beings. In this series of meetings we will contemplate what it is to fully engage with such an activity. Everyone is welcome to come, study, and realize this work together with all beings.

AI Summary: 



So, I begin by offering you conversation pieces. One conversation piece is a Buddha activity is an unceasing process or sometimes we say an unceasing effort to free all beings so they may dwell so they may live in peace and harmony. Did you hear that Barbara-Joan? I heard it. Can you say it? The Buddha activity is an effort, unceasing effort, to free all beings so that they can


live in peace and harmony. Could you hear that? Yeah. So I mentioned that on Sunday at Gringottsch. I mentioned it last night at Gringottsch and now I mention it again. So one amplification of that is that when beings are free they are able to discover and actualize peace, the path of peace and harmony. Peace and harmony. And so the freedom is freedom from the way things appear in consciousness. Because the way they appear in consciousness is often quite mistaken or misrepresenting


what's going on the way things are. And consciousness is a state of awareness where there's an I or a me. It's familiar to most of us. Most of us right now have probably some access to consciousness where it seems like you're here and I'm here and it's kind of like I'm not you and you're not me. So that's consciousness. And consciousness isn't always like that but one Zen teacher when he woke up he said now I am not him and in truth he is me. So sometimes consciousness can be illuminated so that the way things usually appear is not


destroyed but kind of like illuminated or expanded or another point of view is they're simultaneously with the old view and there's freedom then. And then part of the problem of consciousness is that the way things usually appear interferes with, not interferes, obscures a peaceful relationship. Like we think this is the way things should go and somebody else thinks that's not the way things should go and we feel some conflict or stress and it's hard to see a peaceful way to live with somebody who thinks you're stupid and thinks they're brilliant. Have you ever seen anybody like the thought you were stupid because you didn't agree with them? So that makes that step and then you also see them as thinking you're stupid and you


also see them who think you're stupid as not yourself which again is kind of stressful and makes it, it isn't impossible but it makes it hard to see kind of like a harmonious path of living together. So there's a process of liberating us from what seems to be hindering peace with everything, with all beings including beings who say you are stupid, you're my enemy, you're worthless and also with thoughts in your own mind that you yourself are worthless or that other people are worthless even if nobody's around, you're all by yourself and there's thoughts like that in your mind and so it's hard to find peace when you're demeaning yourself or demeaning


others. However, there's a process by which we can become free of this demeaning conversation within and demeaning conversation within and without. And the process of liberation is Buddha activity which again I've been saying for the last couple of days is Buddha activity is conversation which is what we do here, we have conversations and the conversations we have here could have the potential function of liberating our consciousnesses. So we could, yeah, we could right in our middle of our conversations here there could be liberation of consciousness and discovering a peaceful moment, a peaceful path in the moment.


And I think some of you, some of you some of the times have had such moments in these classes. Abraham Lincoln said, he's the one who said you can fool some of the people all of the time. No, some of the people, you know, you can fool some of the people all the time, you can fool all the people some of the time but you can't fool all the people all the time. I think those are the, yeah, yeah. And so sometimes some of us have not been fooled anymore. There's been moments where we were caught and then we weren't caught and then we saw oh, a peace where we couldn't see it before. We felt some obstruction to a peaceful harmonious situation right in this class and we got liberated from that and saw oh, there's peace here and then the next moment.


So, the way we become liberated or not trapped by consciousness is through conversation inwardly and interpersonally. And the conversation, you know, it has to be like, the conversation could be described with various adjectives like wholehearted, compassionate, basically, basically, basically generous. It starts with, you know, an act of giving the conversation. Of course conversations can start off on the wrong foot but then when the kind of conversation that liberates starts, it starts with generosity. And really what, really consciousness in reality, consciousness is basically generous.


But if we don't practice that in consciousness, we don't realize it. That's basically, and then from there we move on to consciousness is actually ethical. But again we have to practice ethics in the consciousness to realize that and a key ingredient in ethics is to be called into question by others, which doesn't exclude being called into question, you know, within your own mind. Because in your own mind there might be a sense of yourself and something in your consciousness which is not you. Another person or an idea of your dog or an idea of your children and then suddenly you


feel called into question by that thing that you think is not. Not you. So again, it is not me. So the it that's not you in your own mind can call you into question. And also another person who is sitting in front of you, they can also call you into question and then you can welcome that because you're wanting to have a conversation. I don't know what you mean by calling you, I thought you were meaning calling into question might be like critiquing you. No, that could be part of it, or like you could give me a gift, I mean you could give me a gift and you could want to give me a gift and I could think you gave me a gift and then I might want to give you a gift and the gift I might want to give you is


to call you into question. And the way I might call you into question might be to say, you are so generous and you suddenly might feel like, I wonder if I really was generous, why would he be saying that to me? Is he being ironic? Like I often tell that story of when I got ordained, I think it was the day I got ordained or right around that time, Siddhartha Krishna said to me, I'm sure you won't be arrogant that you're getting ordained, you know, sort of ahead of your seniority. He didn't say, you're arrogant, that would have called me into question too, you're so arrogant, Tenshon-san, then I probably would have gone, hmm, so, am I? But he didn't usually do that with me, he would say it more like, I'm sure you won't be arrogant, and then that kind of kind statement called me into question.


An other, the way he talked to me made me question myself, or made me wonder what's going on with me. Is there another way to say call into question? Is it the same as question? Is there another way to say call into question, what's another phrase for that, examiner? Call into question, well, you could just take away the call and say question, question what you're doing, but I kind of like call because everything is calling us, and we're calling everything, so, calling has the additional thing, if you put the call together, maybe somebody else is involved in the process. Like we say, I feel called to do something, where is the call coming from?


It's sort of in me, I feel called, but sometimes I feel called because somebody actually called me and asked me to go visit them. I feel called to go visit my friend in the hospital, why? Well, they called me and asked me to come, but they might not call me on the phone, I might just feel it inside, and I walk in to see them and say, I've been calling you, how did you know? And it's not mental telepathy, they have been calling, everybody's calling us all the time to come and visit them, and a lot of people don't know it, so when you show up they say, why are you here, I didn't call you. So anyway, questioning myself and questioning others, that's one way to put it, I feel called, well I actually feel called to question others, I think they want me to, even though when


I do, sometimes they're a little shy about it, but sometimes they say, would you please ask me more questions, sometimes people beg me to ask them questions, and sometimes they specify what situations they want me to ask them questions, like when they receive the ethical precepts, before and afterwards they often say to me, if you see me not practicing in accord with these precepts, would you question me? They don't say, would you beat me up, or would you criticize me, they say, would you actually come and check on me, what's going on, if you don't see, if I don't seem to be going on the path I just told you I wanted to go on, so they invite me, they don't necessarily tell me to question them about some other things, which may be, I don't know if there's anything that's not ethical, but, oh I know, they don't, people don't very often say,


if you see me practicing these ethical precepts, and I seem to be practicing them really well, would you question me, I've never heard that one, and they also don't say, if you see me practicing these precepts which I just said I want to practice, would you please come and praise me, they don't say that, however, they do kind of appreciate it, you know, thanks for being generous, thanks for being honest, thanks for being careful, thanks for not taking that piece of pizza before it was given to you, thank you, they do appreciate it when those things are noticed, but they usually don't ask me for praise when they are on track, but they do ask me for, and they don't ask me for punishment either, they ask me basically for questions, would you please check in with me or question me, or give me guidance if you see me


veering off course, so I feel called to question people, especially people that have told me they want me to, but I also feel called to question people who haven't told me, I feel called, but I almost never do, because I don't think it's the right time, did you follow that last little bit? I know, I see people who I don't even know, and I feel they're calling me, but if I would go and check in with them about what they're doing, they would be so startled, they'd be frightened probably, and at risk of attacking me, so I don't walk down the streets of Laredo and question people about the way they are wearing their six guns, usually, almost never, but if they say,


if you see me wearing my six guns in an inappropriate way, would you question me? Even then, I don't necessarily do it unless I think it's the right time, but people who haven't invited me, I usually think it'll just frighten them if I question them, usually, so I do feel called, I think they would like somebody to ask them about what they're doing, because I think what they're doing is calling for questioning, I think we are, we want people to try to find out what we're doing, yes and yes. Well, we don't know if it's the right time, but oftentimes, the Buddha had these criterion for when to speak, which would apply maybe to somewhat to when to ask questions, you can ask questions non-verbally too, like you can go, but anyway, for speaking and questioning


about ethics is one of the main things to speak about, Buddha said, is it true? So like, yeah, is it true, like you may hear something about, you may hear something about somebody, or you may think something about somebody, but have you checked it out? So to the best of your ability, is it true, do you think, have you verified that it seems to be true, and you can also consult with other people? And I could amplify on that, but to start out with, you do some investigation, like if somebody in this class tells me about somebody else in the class that something they did, I wouldn't necessarily think they did it, just because you told me, I would try to find out more than just what hearsay. And then if I sort of, I thought, somewhat verified that it was true, that's criterion number one. Number two is, would it be beneficial


to ask the question? Because not all, sometimes you have ethical question about someone else, or about yourself, but let's say talk about somebody else, but you think about it, I don't think it would be helpful to ask them, for example, because they haven't asked me to ask them questions. And I think if I asked them, it would actually distract them from looking at this issue themselves, maybe. So it wouldn't be beneficial, even though it's true, that I'm concerned about this, or even though it seems to be true, that they said they wanted to go this way, and they don't seem to be, and so on. That's number two. Is it beneficial? Number three, is it the right time? So right time is like, there's ways to find out. One is like, ask them, is now a good time for me to ask you a question? And there's stories, some of my favorite stories


about people going up to the Buddha and saying, can I ask you a question? And the Buddha says, this is not a good time. But they ask. And yeah, I think I usually ask Sukhdevarsi, may I ask a question? And sometimes people ask me questions, and I do not think it's a good time, like they ask me questions when I'm pouring hot soup. And I often say, could you, you know, I'm busy, or could you talk to me about that later? They didn't like stop, they wanted to ask me a question or tell me something. They didn't stop to think, I wonder if when he's pouring that soup is a good time, or I'm talking to somebody else. And they did they stop and think, I wonder if it'd be good for me to interrupt that conversation. Well, that's usually not a good time, but not always. Sometimes you should interrupt,


it would really, it is a good time. Sometimes I would want you to interrupt me talking to someone else, you know, it would be the right time. But if you don't think it's the right, if you check, and you don't think it is, it probably, it might not be. And you can get more skillful at this, the more you do it, the more you check on timing, the more skillful you become. The more skillful you get at checking on timing. And if you're not sure that's a good time, then ask this other question, which is, is this a good time? So I often ask people, is this a good time? When I start talking to them, that's the first question. And sometimes they do say, no, this is not, or how about later? That's often... It doesn't take that long to say, is this a good time? You can do it quite quickly, even in sort of an emergency situation, is this a good time? Even in emergency situations,


a person might say, no, this is an emergency situation, I'm focusing on this. But actually, what do you want to say? Well, I think you're putting it on backwards. Oh, thank you. So those three can be used, and in a sense, those three are used in the process of ethical discipline, ethical conversations. And there's lots of Zen stories where the teacher and or the student seem to be interrupting one to the other, and many of them, the interruption is very fruitful. It was a good time, even though they didn't say it's now a good time. Like the story I told, on Saturday I told this story, and I told the story on Sunday. The teacher asked the student a question, and as the student was opening the mouth to answer it,


the teacher put his whisk over the student's mouth, and the student was liberated. So it wasn't really an interruption, it was, I'm asking you a question, I'm asking you to answer me, and now when you start answering me, I'm going to respond to you by putting this whisk in your face. Sometimes you say there's a fourth. Once again? Sometimes you say there's a fourth one. Yeah, and I can't never, I should find out what it is. What? The fourth one, as I understand it, you said, is it important that this be said now? Well, I don't mind, I don't mind adding that in. What should it go, second or third? I think that's nice, let's amplify it. Is it true? Is it beneficial, and is it important,


and is it the right time? Fine. Because some things have been, no, that's just about talking. Like, yeah, so that's a nice texturing of it. Like, something might be true, it might be beneficial, but not important enough. But that sort of blends into the right time. Oh yes, [...] that would definitely be part of it, but that would be part of the the beneficial side of it, and the important side of it. Yeah, so I think your intention would fit in there. She said, is intention part of this? In intention, this is all, this is texturing the intention to speak to someone. This is, yeah, this is examining, compassionately investigating the thought that maybe something should be said about something that you're thinking,


or that you've heard about, or that you've been asked to speak to. Yes? I'm not sure, so I've been using this, the three-point version for years, and I don't know if I heard it from you, or if I heard it somewhere else, but the way I've been using it, the first point is, is it honest? Because I don't know if I can say, is it true, necessarily. I can certainly investigate it, so I wonder if that's helpful. I think honest is good too. So like, somebody tells me that you did something, and I honestly think I heard that you did something. You know, I'm not lying that somebody told me you parked your car sideways, all right? I'm honest that when I check with you on that, or speak to you about it, but it might not be true what I heard, even though I honestly did hear that.


So I think checking out to see if it's true should be added, not just honest. Now, if you check out that it's true, whether it's true or not, and you find out it is, then you should be honest about your research. And if you hear something, and you check out to find out if it's true, and it seems to be not true, you should be honest about that too. And maybe you should even tell someone sometimes that you heard something, you checked it out about them, and it wasn't true, but after you check out the other things. And some things aren't important enough to bring up. We have other things to work on. Yes? When you started out speaking to me, I would say, you have to really use MCC in conversation, and so on. And then you started talking about the conversations that we had. And at some point, people started raising their hand and getting into details of either three points or four.


So I liked it at the beginning when you started, but I didn't like it so much when people started going into those little questions about whether it's three points or four points or true or honest or important or beneficial. So will you actually want to go somewhere if you are? Just raise your hand. If you were, I would like you to do that. Thank you. And I actually was, the place I was going to go, the place I was going was to right now when you asked me that question, that's the place I was going. So we're right where I wanted to go. I wanted to go into conversation. And I don't have an idea about where it's going to go. So I want this discussion here, including that people bring up things that some of us feel more


or less comfortable with. I want there to be a conversation with what you feel comfortable with, what you don't, what you feel is liberating, what you feel don't. That's what I like to do here. But I don't know what gifts are going to be given or what challenges are going to arise in the process. But I would like us to, all of us, be responsible for the conversation of all of us. And that's another point that came up on Sunday at Green Gulch, was when I was speaking about this liberation of consciousness, which comes from, comes with contemplating it with compassion and questioning it


in a compassionate way. I was talking about the situation and somebody noticed that that I was speaking about the sense of self that's in consciousness, getting, he said, uncoupled with some activities. I didn't use the word uncoupled, but that's okay with me. Usually, in consciousness, the sense of self is coupled with the activities, or at least some of the activities, that are appearing in consciousness, and coupled in kind of a sticky, habitual, rigid, more or less rigid way. And that coupling makes it hard for us to find peace. But I pointed out some examples of ways to look at the, even if there is this sticking


of the self to the activities, and also sticking of the self to the idea that the self owns the activities, there can be noticing, oh, there is a sense of self, there's an idea that the self owns those activities, there's a belief that that idea of ownership is true, and the whole situation seems to be kind of stuck and stressful. And even though it's stuck and stressful, if anybody would wiggle any of that stuff around, there might be a lot of anxiety and fear. And also there's anxiety and fear about whether the activities which the self owns are going to go forth according to some idea that also lives in the neighborhood of the self. But if you start to look at this, you start to open to the possibility that, well, why don't we also say that the idea


that the self owns the activity owns the self? Why not do that? Or that the idea that the self owns the activity, that that idea really is the one that owns the activities, why not that? Or the activities, why don't they get to own the self? Or why don't they get to own the idea that the self owns the activities? Why not? Because they're actually all just living together in the room. So instead of saying, I own Maggie and I don't own Margie, instead of that, why don't I say, well, Margie owns Maggie and Maggie owns me? Because we're here in the room, why couldn't we switch ownership papers? Why not? Because they're equally nonsensical and ridiculous ideas, actually. The self doesn't own what's going on. The self comes up with this stuff. We think the self's here and then here comes the activities.


If you observe, you see self arises with activities. Do the activities bring the self? The consciousness comes up. Does the consciousness come up and then a little bit later the self comes up and then a little bit later the activities come up? Nope. They all come up together. Consciousness, activities, karma, and self come up together. And attitudes about who owns what all comes up at the same time. None is a priority. None is the maker of the others. And some of the ideas that are floating around are like, this one makes those, but it can't make those if they just come up at the same time. And if you say this makes that, well, then it would be equally true that that makes this, which is sort of, it's kind of like that, that ideas about the self make the self and the self makes ideas of self, but really they're dependent on each other and they come up together.


So anyway, discussing this, this person started to see some uncoupling. And he said, when things start to come uncoupled, like when you don't rigidly stick the self to the activities, he said, then the sense of responsibility might collapse. He said, if the self and the activities weren't stuck together, like those are my activities and I am actually operating the activities, without the self being stuck to those ideas and then those ideas and the self being stuck onto the activities, then without that sticking, someone will say, well, I'm not responsible for those activities because I didn't do them. I was just there at the time that they arose. So the person thought that the sense of responsibility might collapse. And the sense of that type of responsibility might collapse. It's true.


But there's another type of responsibility which is already there that might be revealed, which is not the limited responsibility of me doing that, but the responsibility doesn't have horizons on it, that's responsible for everything that's going on in consciousness. And that responsibility is Buddha activity. That liberates the process. So again, if you fall down, I don't, you know, especially if I'm far away and I didn't say anything, if you fall down, I don't think I made you fall down. And if I push you, I might think I made you fall down, but sometimes I push you and you don't fall down. And then I walk away and you fall down. Did I retroactively make you fall down? Our imprisonment is limited


responsibility associated with possessiveness. And the limited responsibility keeps us trapped in consciousness and makes us prone to blaming. And we have a legal system which backs that up to blame some people, where the I Ching said, no blame. And I'm adding to that, no blame and also no horizons or limits to responsibility. Each person's responsibility is different and really in the awakened mind there's no limits. The awakened mind is responsible to every being. And every being is responsible to the awakened mind. And when the coupling of the things that are going on in consciousness starts to melt or loosen, this new sense of responsibility starts to come alive and then you start realizing responsibility


for all beings, not just some. And you stop feeling responsibility in the sense of I'm in control of what I do and I'm in control of what you do in response to me and I'm in control of what you ask me I can do things which will get you to ask me certain things and prevent you from asking me other things. That's not the kind of questioning situation which promotes ethics, which promotes liberation. Which, you know, there's reasons why we have some hesitancy to opening to that kind of questioning. It's opening to liberation where anybody could ask me anything but maybe they won't, which is okay with me. But I want to be open to whatever they ask. I do because I think that is


Buddha activity. And I also want to be open to asking them, but again according to certain precepts of respect and tenderness and carefulness and so on. And I would like them to ask me questions that way too. I'd like people to be careful when they probe our relationship. Yes? Yes. I'm not really probing our relationship. That's what you think. I don't know this whole class since you started talking about calling. I can see about events stories I don't know very well about a hermit who's calling himself. Oh yeah. So I don't know why, he's just really different. So is he really talking to me about, you know, because that seems more like no, he wants to be himself. He does. He does. And he's not really a hermit except that when he wakes


up in the morning he's the only person there. But he's actually a fully functioning bodhisattva who wakes up in the morning. His name is Vigan. He wakes up in the morning and he says, Master, because he's a master. He says, Master, and then he says, Yes. Are you awake? And then he says, Yes. And then he says all day long, don't let anybody fool you. And he says, I won't. Fool you means distract you from being present with who you are. Because, you know, people don't mean to fool us. They don't want us to get distracted from who we are, really. But we somehow think that they're asking us to do something other than be present. Don't be fooled. He said, I won't be. Yeah. And he's questioning himself to encourage himself to question himself all day long.


And when we're questioning ourself that hopefully will make us ready and welcoming of other people to question us. And they are questioning us all day long. And this is something we can wake up to. Everybody's questioning us all day long. And we are questioning everybody all day long. This is what people wake up to. Yes. Well, the first thing that comes to mind, are you a dancer? Did you used to be a dancer? No more than anybody else. Anyway, what just popped in my head is tango. Tango is not a human being. Okay. It's not a human being. Human beings are often present when there's


tango. Matter of fact, yeah, that's one of the main times when tango is there is when humans are somewhat in the neighborhood of other humans. But tango is there all the time. And it's a wonderful thing. So human beings actually like go and find other human beings to perform tango so they can wake up to this conversation which is not a human being. But that just came to mind. You asked for it. So you want another example of a conversation that's not a human being? How does it go? When an unavoidable force such as you meets an unimmovable thing such as you, object such as you, something's got to give.


So I think non-human things also are doing this, are in conversation. Yes? We'll start with that. Yeah, so we could start with that, that the possibility of tango is always present. And then also I can think about tango. So when I think about tango, it's more than just the possibility of tango. There can be the possibility of tango even when I don't think of it. But then other times I can hear tango music in my head and it's calling me.


But one might say, well, the tango's not there yet, but I'm being called to it. Now, yeah, I'm being called to it by this music and then I also feel the wish to do it. And so then I go maybe meet someone and we start moving together. But I still might feel the tango's not there. And then suddenly the thought may occur to me, which has occurred to me, I think tango has arrived. I think we're doing the tango. And then a few seconds before or minutes before, I actually was thinking that maybe we weren't yet doing the tango, that we were trying to dance, but the tango hadn't arrived. I've had that experience of thinking, well, we're going through the motions and we're not really making mistakes or anything. We're doing the steps and I know the names of them and we're not fighting.


We're kind of, and then suddenly there's this like, oh, it's here. And then there could be, oh, it was here before I realized it. And so people ask me now, they say, are you still practicing tango? And I say, well, in my heart. But I don't go to those rooms where other people are doing it with the music. I don't do that anymore. Another thing that pops in my mind is there was this book which I read back in the 60s called Black Elk Speaks. I don't know when the book was written, but it was very popular in the 60s about this Lakota Sioux who had this great vision. It was a, you know, it was a, what do you call it, it was a historically important vision.


And he went to his teacher and told his teacher and he said, this is very important what you see here. Not everybody, not all Lakota Sioux had this vision that he had. He was, yeah, he was in a spiritual tradition and he had a vision. And the teacher said, someday you should perform this vision. So the vision was there, and the possibility of the performance of the vision was also there, but it wasn't the right time. And a time came when he got, I don't know how many, does anybody know how many people came together? But a lot of people, like a significant proportion of the nation, came together and performed this vision which he had quite a few years before. And they performed it, I think, at a time when the nation was on the verge of extinction. And they performed it and it helped those people stay alive as a people,


that performance. But the possibility of the performance was there for years and also the vision which makes that possible was there. It's hard to say which is more real, the performance of the vision, because the performance of the vision was a performance of the Sioux, you know, of the path of the Sioux people. So even the performance, you could say, is not ... this is really important. The performance, you could say, is not the same as the peace and harmony of the Sioux people, even though they were doing a performance for that purpose. However, the work, the work of peace and harmony of those people in a country where they're surrounded by white people, that work is nothing other than that performance, even though, after the performance is over, they want to also like have peace, you know,


on their reservations. And for the ... how long ago did Black Elk live? I don't remember. In the 20th century, right? Yeah, so the people have had trouble before and after that, but that performance served a function for the actualization of the health and happiness and peace of the people. So this is the part where we get into, which I mentioned last week, ritual. That ritual is sometimes to perform something that you can't see for the sake of of realizing what you can't see in the ritual, which you can see, but also for realizing it in your daily life, which you also can see. So you do a ritual, which everybody knows is a ritual, and then people walk out of the ritual, and they feel what the ritual was supposedly enacting,


they feel it in their daily life, they feel inspired in their daily life, and then their daily life becomes ritual, but now not explicitly ritual, but explicitly encouraged, and then they go back and do the ritual again. So in Soto Zen, we have this teaching which we're discussing, and discussing the teaching is part of the teaching. The teaching says, discuss the teaching. Part of the teaching is that the teaching is realized by people conversing about it, but also the teaching is realized not just by people talking about it, but by something non-human, which we call sitting. So when we sit, we're doing a ritual which practices the conversation without any conversation that we can see.


So when we're sitting, we're emphasizing that the practice we're doing is the realization, and the realization is what we're doing. And then in conversation, we exercise that and try to enact it with each other, that what we're doing in this conversation is realizing enlightenment. Once again, that we're conversing as a practice to realize enlightenment, and the conversation isn't a human being, but human beings can have conversations, and when we're sitting together, our relationship isn't a human being, it's a conversation, which is not a human being, but we're actually coming together and doing this thing which creates a presence which is beyond human activity. Our relationship when we're together is not another human activity.


And most of us do not think that any of us are controlling our relationship. In that same way, tango is always here, the conversation is always here, the ceaseless activity is always here, but we need to perform it otherwise we get out of sync with it, we get out of touch with it, and we are performing it and getting in touch with it, or realizing it. Yes? I'm a little embarrassed to ask this question because you're going to think I'm crazy, and that is probably true. Is there... Are you questioning what you just said, or do I have to? Are you... do you question what you just said? Do you question what you just said?


Do I question what... I'm not sure. Do you think it would be good to question what you just said? Do you think it would be good for you to question what you just said? I'm questioning what you just said. No, what you already said. What you already said, do you think it would be good to question... You just said that I'm going to think you're crazy, right? And I'm saying, are you questioning that? Or do you just... Yes, I do and I don't. You do and you don't. Okay, I'm glad to hear... I thought maybe the don't part was down. Now I'm here that maybe the do part is there too, which I would encourage, that when you tell me that you think I'm going to think you're crazy, that you question yourself when you talk like that. No, the question I'm talking about, I don't feel like you acknowledged. You went on to the next question.


Okay, can I... should I shut up or talk? I think you... well, I think it would be good for you to see if you understand what I just asked you. Do you know what I just asked you? Yeah, I wanted to ask something. But do you... what did I ask you? What did I just ask you? I couldn't understand. What did I just ask you? I didn't hear you. I asked you if when you told me, told everybody, that I'm going to think you're crazy, I would want to know if you questioned yourself about what you just said. You did? Thank you. Now, do you want to ask another question? Yeah. Okay, go ahead. This is another question. Is there an alternate realization... I wasn't going to use the word realization at first. An alternate obligation on our part? Or are there multiple main obligations on our part according to the state of our development?


There's both. There's ultimate... what was the word? Ultimate... Yeah, there's an ultimate obligation. And there's also many individual obligations, many calls. They're both. And those... the many are in conversation with each other in a way that's ultimate. And the way the many obligations are in conversation with each other is the way that they're liberating each other. And we're being asked to realize the conversation which includes all of them, and then also realize that the conversation that includes all of them includes all of them. So, it's also not really just the one that includes all of them, it's also the ones that don't include all of them.


I was thinking ultimate universes and things like that. Yeah, right. And that's why... There's both. And those are in conversation. Those two. So, the Buddha activity includes things which are not Buddha activity. So, for example, questioning what we're doing includes not questioning what we're doing. So, questioning what we're doing is not simply questioning what we're doing. Because it includes not questioning what we're doing, and vice versa. Yes? I was just thinking about conversation, and what happens in conversation when...


And as I was thinking about this question, I was thinking, oh, yeah, the conversation is definitely still happening. That was kind of my question. Is it more that kind of one-sided, or not one-sided so much as... There's a lot of differences in not meeting, because I'm all part, since it's not ready, or... You know what I mean? I think so. But it's still happening, right? Yeah, I think we have that... We have that expression, don't we? A one-sided conversation. We have that expression. And then... It doesn't feel... What? It doesn't have that same feel... The one-sided conversation, yeah. One-sided conversations are a certain type of conversation, which seems like not so much of a conversation. Like somebody says to me, referring to certain people, she says, that person really knows how to hold up their end of the conversation.


Which means that they talk a lot. And I often say to people who come, they actually come to see me, and they don't think before they come, I'm going to go and talk to him, and it doesn't matter whether he says anything or not. They don't think that, probably. And so they come and talk to me, and it seems like they kind of want me to be there. But it seems at a certain point like, well, did you want this to be a monologue? I often ask them. And they almost always say, no. And then, because I asked the question, it stopped being a monologue. And when they say no, it again, although they're talking again, we start to feel like it's a conversation. However, it was a conversation before that. It just was taking the form of them doing all the talking,


and me feeling kind of uncomfortable and wondering what was going on. Yeah. And so then finally I think, well, maybe it would be good for me to ask a question. But sometimes it seems like the conversation is like, one person is doing all the talking, it doesn't seem like a conversation, even though the one who's listening is talking back the whole time. Like I also said that last Sunday, I said to the people in the audience, I said, so like right now, you're not talking and I am. However, everything I say that you hear, you talk back to. You know, you hear me say, you hear me say welcome, and then some people say thank you, and some people say boring, and some people say, well, I didn't come here to have somebody talk to me like that. A hundred different responses to when I say welcome, and almost everybody hears me, and everybody in their mind talks back to me,


but I can't hear it. And when I said that, one of the people said, when I said, and you're talking back to me, one of the people said, no, I'm not. And then he woke up, that when he said, no, he's not, he was. And that before he said, no, I'm not, he was too. We are, that's the unlimited responsibility. Whatever you do touches me, and you're responsible that I'm touched. And whatever you do, I respond to you. I don't know all that I'm doing, but I am responding to you. And when the self isn't stuck with, I am doing the talking, but I'm not doing the listening, well, that's nonsense. Really, when I talk, I'm also listening.


When I talk, I'm also listening. I'm calling and listening all day long. And I say, I'm just listening, I'm just calling. But still, when somebody's doing all the talking, I might start feeling suffocated. And then I might feel a need to raise my hand. I don't want to interrupt anybody, so I raise my hand. And somebody's talking to me, yes, did you have something to say? Well, yeah, I did. Did you want this to be a monologue? Or, you know, we are responding, and it's wonderful that we are. And so, how can we get what's going on? And the more we practice with it, the more we wake up to that it's going on, even when we don't attend to it. And then we wake up to, we are attending to it before we know we're attending to it.


We are listening before we know we're listening, and we are calling before we know we're calling. As we wake up, we realize more and more, I'm calling everybody, and they're calling me, and I'm listening to them, and they're listening to me. That's waking up, when that starts to expand, and the limits start to back off. This is like the Buddha activity is releasing us from this narrow little world where I'm talking and not listening, and you're listening and not talking. But actually, you're listening, that's true, but you're also talking. And I'm talking, it's true, and you're also listening, all the time. You're asking for help, and I'm asking for help. Like last week we were on various people accusing me of being trustworthy, remember? And I don't agree that I'm trustworthy, but I do agree that I'm worthy of compassion.


And I do agree that I'm asking for it all day long. I want the world to be kind to me. I want to live in a world where no matter what I am, the world supports me, and loves me, and listens to me, and is generous to me, and is also asking me to do the same to it. And then as I get old and approach death, it'll be just like that. Whatever I am will still be, you know, more and more unreliable. Like the saliva will not be reliably in the mouth, you know? You can't depend on the saliva staying in my mouth pretty soon. But I'm still worthy of compassion, and I still want it. Even though I might say, I don't need your help. I can dab my lips by myself, I don't need your help.


But still, that's my way of saying, yes, please help me. That's what I'm always saying, even though I might say, do not help me. That's what we're waking up to. And to me, that's a very wonderful world of where we're all calling, we're all listening, all the time. Are you calling? I just wondered what this ultimate obligation was. Buddha activity is the ultimate. That's the ultimate. You can't avoid it. But if you don't practice it, it's like you miss out on it. Even though you can't avoid it, somehow you can miss it. And then we feel this thing called regret. Oh, yeah, I had a life, and I missed it.


I had this opportunity to participate in the liberation of being so that we could dwell in peace, and I missed it. I wish I hadn't missed it. Because it was there all the time calling me. And people, you know, now I realize all those years you were calling to me. I'm so sorry I wasn't listening to you. And the person says, yeah, you're right. I was calling you all those years, and you weren't listening to me. I mean, I was calling you all those years, and you were listening to me, and you were ignoring that you were listening to me, and you were ignoring that you called to me. And you ignored my calls because you did hear them, and you did not want to accept that I was calling you. So you said, you're not calling me. And I'm not, and also, I can say you're not calling me because I'm not calling you.


If I called you, then maybe I'd have to, then maybe I should listen to you. I don't want, I don't want to listen to you. And now, as I'm about to die, I realize that you were all those years sweetly calling to me. I'm so sorry, but now at least I got it. I wish I had a few more minutes of this. Like my father, the last two years of his life, he had many heart attacks and many strokes, and the last two years of his life, you know, he was like with the program. He was starting to realize this situation, and it was so great. And I just wish, and I said, I hope he has a little bit more time, but he only just had two years of this kind of like waking up. It's nice to wake up today so we can enjoy it for the rest of the way.


And also, it helps us go the rest of the way, because we're going into more and more, what do you call it, unreliable behavior. We're becoming more and more like our grandchildren. So again, I use my grandchildren because people do not get scared when I say that the grandchildren are unstable and not worthy of confidence. So yeah, children are, and then we think, okay, they're unreliable, unstable, not worthy of confidence, and then suddenly, okay, now they're starting to be stable and reliable. And what age does that start? Well, I don't think it ever starts. And then people think, okay, now this starts, and then not, but now it seems like they're starting to be like children again. They're like, they're requiring, you have to feed them again, you know, and so on.


And then we have trouble adjusting to that change, but it's been going on the whole time, and we missed some of it. We don't have to miss any more. We probably will, but we can stop missing the situation. We can realize that everybody's calling us to help them, to listen to them, to be compassionate. And that's our ultimate, the fact that everybody is, and then the obligation is to accept that and practice according to that. That's the ultimate. And then all the specific ones, like this person wants this, this person wants this, this person wants this, all those individual ones that we can see. But the ultimate is like opening up to what we can't even see, the unlimited, which is necessary for the full function of the liberation. That we open to what we can't see, and also all the, and that helps us open to all the ones we can see.


And that helps us understand that some of the ones we can see, we're resisting seeing them. That we, but then we say, oh, I resisted seeing this, and this, and this, and I'm sorry. So then that melts away the resistance. You can also have a conversation about that. Yes, and then that's a very important thing. That's one of the most important things to have conversations about. It's very fruitful, is to converse about when we missed a call that we really did want to listen to, but we did miss it. Yes? A couple of weeks ago, did you say everything was a conversation? I did, yeah. You know, like, this little box is a conversation. This cup is a conversation.


I'm a conversation. This class is a conversation. The Buddha way is a conversation. Again, another term which I've used before, bring it back in again. Buddha activity, right? We're talking about that. Another expression is the pivotal activity of Buddhas. The pivotal activity of Buddhas is how Buddhas are pivoting with not Buddhas. Buddhas aren't just Buddhas. They're nothing of themselves. They're in a relationship with sentient beings who are not Buddhas. And sentient beings also are not just sentient beings. They're sentient beings because they're in this conversation with Buddhas. Are you saying conversation and relationship are the same here? Yeah, I'd say conversation is a type of relationship.


And I don't know if there's any other type, because everything is a conversation. Everything is pivoting with not itself. Everything is pivoting with the whole universe. The whole universe is in conversation with every person and everything. And everything is in conversation with the total causal situation which allows it to be. And it actually, the only way we see the whole universe is by particular things that are the whole universe. The whole universe as you, the whole universe as Jeff, the whole universe as Fran. But we can't see the whole universe, but the teaching says that each thing is the whole universe, and each thing is in conversation with the whole universe. When you speak of it that way it makes sense, and then when you speak of it like this kind


of conversation it makes sense, but somehow it feels the intimate, conscious conversation loses its being when we say everything is a conversation. Well, the place where we miss the conversation that's always going on is in certain types of conversations where we're using words with ourself and other. So part of our situation is that some conversations are distracting us from other conversations. So part of realizing that everything is a conversation, which is part of realizing that everything is working to liberate everything else, is to be diligent and compassionate


with the conversations that seem to distract us from how everything is a conversation. So many people are having conversations where they think, for example, this is a one-sided conversation. But there's a way of taking care of a one-sided conversation where you realize that the one-sided conversation is a conversation, and that actually the two-sided conversations are conversations, and the no-sided conversations are conversations, and no conversations are conversations, and conversations are ... but without engaging our conversations, we tend to fall into our idea of conversation and think, now's a conversation and now's not. This is a conversation, but that's not. This is not a conversation, we sometimes say, even though that was a conversation piece.


And your question, too, was helpful. Words trap us, and words are what we lose to get released. Certain conversations have trapped us into a certain understanding, and we need to use conversation to free us from that, to realize that the Buddha activity is always going on. It is ceaseless, it is beginningless, and it is endless. And we need to work with what has beginnings and ends to open to what doesn't. And we can do that. We can work with something that has a beginning, hi, beginning, okay, bye, we can work with that in a way that opens us to, okay, are you ready for something that doesn't have a beginning and ending? Okay, I think so. Let's go. Ready, ready. Yeah.


Like that new movie, First Man, about these people going to the moon, you know? These guys, they open to something, you know, pretty amazing by getting in those rockets and flying off to the moon. It's kind of like a conversation, a very courageous conversation, which they might not live through, and we might not live through our conversations either, but if we open to them, we'll be doing the work. Yes, Elizabeth and Fran and Jeff? Yes, I was wondering if listening to the calls of the call of the conversation is the same as listening to it all the time, or is it the same? Exactly. It's exactly the same. And I'm just emphasizing that, yes, the bodhisattva is called listening to the cries, but I'm emphasizing the bodhisattva's also calling.


The bodhisattva is listening to the cries, and also the bodhisattva is crying constantly. It's not one-sided. Fran? So in the story of the monk with the whisk and the student, I was wondering, what is it about putting the whisk in the student's mouth at that point? Well, I think if you remind me next week, I'll tell the story. It's nice to see the whole story and see what the story is about. What the story is about is, you know, it takes... Yeah, yeah, so if you want to bring it up next week, people won't know what we're talking about if I... It's a very subtle story. Jeff? Okay.


Thank you for all your calls. Thank you for listening. I hope you realized that you were calling and that you were listening. And thank you to Rev for calling and listening. I got a good situation here. Got a good situation here. Got a good situation here.