Buddha Dharma Wants To Be Criticized

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A virtual Dharma talk by Tenshin Roshi for an online gathering of the No Abode Community.

AI Summary: 



Okay, so here we are. And I acknowledge that some of us have not met in person for many years, so it's nice to see your faces. I'd like to start today by mentioning something that has struck me recently, which is light. And a related thing I want to talk about is The characterization of this school, which people call Zen, the characterization has a special transmission that doesn't depend on words or letters.


that characterization can be expanded, but I want to focus on the part about not depending on words and letters. I was reading a scripture, and the name of the scripture is Brahmanet scripture. And in that scripture, there's a list of Bodhisattva precepts, which are the source of the Bodhisattva precepts that we take care of and transmit in this particular lineage. I was reading the beginning of that scripture, and it said that the Buddha, in the midst of a great assembly like this, emitted a light.


And there was a heading above that section of the sutra called admonition. And it just struck me that, oh yeah, we don't usually think of a light as an admonition or as a teaching. But in this scripture, the first thing that occurs is that the Buddha emits a light, gives off, transmits a light. Of course, this light doesn't have any words or letters in it. And this light touched many living beings, and when it touched them, they could all see each other. innumerable beings were touched by the light and innumerable beings could then see each other. And they could see all the Buddhas too.


And they felt great joy. So there was an emission and a transmission between the Buddha and sentient beings that gave rise to great joy and great vision. And again, when I read that, I thought, oh yeah, that's the supposed transmission without depending on words and phrases. And then also I thought at that time of the Lotus Sutra, which also starts out early in the scripture, describing the Buddha emitting from a tuft of hair between the eyebrows emitting a light. And this light illuminated 18,000 Buddha lands in the Eastern direction and everything in those Buddha lands.


And again, when this illumination occurred, beings were filled with joy and awe. So this is a characterization of the Buddha's teaching as light, or the Buddha Dharma as light. Or you could say of Zen practice as the transmission of light. And before I go farther, I want to also mention that I remember reading one in a Zen text, it said, We test the depth of water with a pole. We test the depth of the mind with words.


So this Buddha Dharma light, which is illuminating all beings right now and giving them joy or Yeah. Invoking and evoking great joy, this light, we test the depth of it with words. It's not words, and yet we test the depth of it with words. Or another way to say it is, we realize it and we verify it. We verify what doesn't depend on words by conversations, by dialogue, by criticism.


I also recently read that Nietzsche said, supposedly, of course he said it in German, this is an English translation, Nietzsche said, great truth wants to be criticized, not idolized. The light of Buddhadharma wants to be criticized, not idolized. And I think of, for example, we had a teacher here named Suzuki Roshi, named Suzuki, who we called Suzuki Roshi. And I never felt that he wanted to be idolized. I didn't really feel like exactly he wanted to be criticized, but I did feel like he wanted to be questioned.


And also, by coincidence, I wanted to question him. And he, yeah, and he always seemed to be up for my questions. He wasn't like, oh, not more questions. He seemed to want to be questioned. So there's a difference between being devoted to the teachings being devoted to the light of Buddha's teaching and idolizing it. The light is calling for a mutual transmission, a face-to-face transmission. It seems like the light is being emanated or sent to us, but really the reason it's sent to us is because we're asking for it. And after we get it, we can question it. We can criticize it. The Buddha Dharma is light that is calling for criticism.


Buddha Dharma is calling to criticize itself. Part of devotion to the light is asking it questions. And there's a bunch of stories that flood my consciousness, you know, not in a dangerous way right now, just generously flooding my consciousness or like a tide, a tide of stories is ebbing in the consciousness. And in one of our most frequently studied collection of stories in our school, which we call the Book of Serenity, the first story is called The Buddha Ascends the Seat.


And it starts off by saying, one day, the Buddha ascended the seat. The Buddha got up on the seat of Buddha Dharma and sat. It doesn't say, and a light emanated from the Buddha. But I would suggest to you that the Buddha sitting there is the light of the Buddha Dharma. That the Buddha gives light so that all fear and distress may be forsaken. and disperses the gloom and darkness of delusion. Still, when the fear and distress has been forsaken, we're ready then to question and criticize, to inquire, to dialogue with this light.


And so then Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, strikes the gavel and says clearly observed, Now the words come. The Buddha has transmitted the Dharma without depending on words or letters. And then Manjushri starts speaking to demonstrate, to verify what has been given without words. And he uses a mallet and a sounding block, and he uses words and says, clearly observe. The dharma of the sovereign of dharma. Clearly observe it. The dharma of the sovereign of dharma is thus. It's a special transmission which you have just received. This was Manjushri's attempt to prove depth


that this light had reached. That's the first case in the Book of Serenity. Starting with the transmission of light, and then a testing of the transmission with some words. And since that time, words have continued to be used to verify this transmission. And then we have another text in our tradition called The Transmission of Light by one of the people in our lineage, the fourth ancestor in the Japanese part of our lineage, Keizan Jokin Dayosho. His book is called Transmission of Light. And the first case in that record, the Buddha in the midst of a great assembly like this raises a flower and twirls it.


And one of the students smiled. Here again, the light is transmitted, the light is emanated, the student is illuminated, the teacher is illuminated, all beings are illuminated, and Mahakasyapa, the student of the Buddha, smiled. Then the Buddha talked. And the Buddha said that the treasury of two Dharma eyes has just been transmitted to Mahakasyapa. But that was an announcement after the transmission to verify it. And then another story, also in the Book of Serenity, case number seven.


another one of our ancestors named Yao Shan. He was the teacher of a big monastery and he hadn't gone up and sat on the Dharma seat for a long time. So the director of the monastery went to him and requested that he give a talk. or that he give teaching, I should say. He didn't say talk, I said that he would give teaching. I believe it did not say, it did not say that he would talk. Yeah, please come and expound the teaching, he said. So Yashan went to the hall, the teaching hall, got up in the seat, like Shakyamuni Buddha did in the first case of the Book of Serenity, got up in the seat, sat, and then got off the seat and went back to his room.


And the director went to his room and said, teacher, we invited you to teach, but you didn't He didn't say anything, and he went right back to your room. And Yaoshan said, for sutras, there are teachers of the sutras. For scriptures, there are teachers of the scriptures. For treatises and commentaries, there are teachers of the treatises and commentaries. Pam, behind you, a very interesting show is going on. I guess it's a cat going under the blankets. Is that right? It's my dog. He likes to burrow under the blankets. Dogs burrowing under the blankets. That's the way he wants to listen. Okay, fine. That's his transmission. I've had enough of that, Buddhadharma. Thank you very much. Actually, at first it looked like a skunk, but no.


So anyway, Yaushan went up, sat in the seat, got down, went back to his room. The director says, we asked for the teaching and you didn't say anything. And he says, there's teachers for the scriptures, there's teachers for the commentaries. Why do you question me? Now, when he says that, I think actually he liked that the director questioned him, but still he asked, why, how do you question me? How do you question this old monk? So again, there's a difference between being devoted to the teaching and idolizing it. Buddhadharma is criticizing Buddhadharma. The light criticizes the light. The great Buddhadharma


is sometimes presented as a system of teachings. But that system is calling to be questioned. And questioning as an act of devotion to what is being questioned. Sometimes in the past, in classes or other venues, people have questioned me or criticized me. And afterwards I heard that they were challenged or criticized for questioning me. But I want to be questioned. Not that I'm a great truth, but great truth wants to be questioned and I wanna be like the great truth. And the systems of Buddhadharma, the systems of teaching, are dangerous because, you might say, yeah, I'll just say dangerous.


I criticize them by that comment, dangerous, because people might not feel invited to challenge, to question, to criticize the system. But Buddhadharma, the great Buddhadharma, invites and wants to be criticized. It wants to not be absolutized. It wants to be fully alive through this transmission. It's not just something sitting there. It's a living transmission that thrives on dialogue. And part of what I feel about this practice in the Buddha way of questioning the Buddha way is that we learn how to question and criticize and challenge in the context of deep respect and devotion.


Not that we challenge what we disrespect, not that we question what we think is worthless. We question what we think is most wonderful. And what is most wonderfully true wants that. In this way, we learn how to question what is most wonderful. And then we can use our questioning skills. We can use our critical skills and apply it to other systems. For example, systems of oppression, systems of injustice, political systems, legal systems, living systems, all interconnected networks of all things


are really in their truth are calling to be criticized, probed, questioned. So part of what this particular training in Buddhadharma is to learn how to question, how to interrogate, how to investigate as an act of deep devotion and respect. So we can apply that to areas where we see injustice. We can relate to injustice respectfully, and out of devotion for living beings, and out of devotion for truth, we question the appearance of injustice. The light of Buddha Dharma helps us understand ourselves and helps us understand others.


The light of the Buddha's Dharma helps us do justice to ourselves and do justice to others. And even to do justice to systems of injustice and to do justice to systems of oppression. If there's a system of oppression and it is treated unjustly, it just feeds the system of oppression. Oppression is nourished by disrespect. Injustice is promoted by disrespect. but it is liberated by profound devotion to the light of wisdom and the welfare of all beings in the whole system.


Once again, I have this familiar feeling of I didn't really say anything, but it's already been going on for a long time. So I will, I think I put enough on the table for us to have a feast. So you're welcome now to criticize me interrogate, investigate me, but also interrogate the teaching which has been offered. Okay, ready, we'll get set. Barry. In our opening, we talked about a verified Buddha. Who verifies a Buddha? How does a Buddha get verified? Did you hear the question, Great Assembly? Who verifies the Buddha? Well, I would say a Buddha.


But not just a Buddha, but a Buddha in dialogical relationship with another Buddha. So the Lotus Sutra starts out by saying the Buddha gave off this great light so beings could see each other and do justice to each other. But then in the next chapter, it says only a Buddha together with a Buddha can fully verify the Buddhadharma. So it isn't exactly that the Buddha is verified by a Buddha, but the Buddha in conversation with a Buddha verifies both sides. And the conversation could involve Buddha number one being questioned by Buddha number two, or being challenged by Buddha number two, or being invited to dance with Buddha number two.


It's not so much that this Buddha verifies that Buddha, but rather them being together verifies Buddha. Did that respond properly to your question, Barry? Yes. Do you have a further aspect to that question? Just the whole idea of, well, who decides who is a Buddha? The conversation decides. The conversation decides. Like if you're dancing with someone, if there's two people dancing, which partner decides that they're dancing? Okay. The answer is neither side decides which, the dance decides the dance. Otherwise you, there would be a tendency to, if you substantiate or reify one side of the relationship.


And a lot of people do say the teacher decides that the student understood. I kind of have a different, I wouldn't necessarily, I would criticize that view, which a lot of people have. The teacher decides that the student understands. I would say the teacher agrees that the student understands because of the kind of conversation they're having together. The teacher can't decide that the, the teacher maybe understands the student is Buddha, But the teacher can't realize that until the teacher and the student have a certain kind of conversation. So the conversation decides the situation. The transmission decides, not one half of the transmission. Does that work for you, Barry? I'm going to think about that. Thank you. You're welcome. Anne? Anne and then Delfina?


Can you hear me? I can. Thank you. This is a really fun talk. Light my question has to do with light and is it like light like the light you can see kind of in the peripheral like Flicker or is it as a kinesthetic? Does it leave an impression on the body? Does it have heat does it have? Does it have meta or love in it? Well, how would you describe what that light is when you're being in it? I would say this light is This light is metta, it is metta. It doesn't have metta in it, it is metta. It's not like metta's one thing and the light's another. It is compassion, okay? However, it's beyond hearing and seeing. So it's not in your heart, you don't feel it in the body exactly. You might have a feeling of it, but the feeling of it is not it.


What it is, is you understanding yourself. When you understand yourself, and when you understand others, when you have a way to relate to others justly, that way, that's the light functioning in you. But that might not, you know, the lights in the room might go out when you start treating people justly. It's not something you see with your eyes or ears. It is the just way of relating to what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears and feel in your heart and feel in your gut. All the phenomenal world is calling for justice. And this light is when we are being just with any phenomenal thing. So if you feel warm, if you feel kind, this light is treating that kindness and that warmth justly.


If you feel cold and you feel pain, this light is to relate to that cold and that pain justly. And not, you know, free of your judgments. Justice requires that we're free of our judgments. Just judgments require freedom from judgment. The freedom of judgment comes from devotion to judgments, which is devotion to living beings. Living beings have judgments. That's normal. Moment by moment, judgment, judgment, judgment, living beings, same thing. Devotion to living beings, respect for living beings includes criticizing and questioning. And in that way, We receive and verify the light, and the light which we are given by the teaching allows us to understand others and do justice to them.


No matter what you feel or think, or I should say, no matter what or with whatever you feel and think. And we feel and think lots of difficult things these days. We're having a really hard time in this world. All those things are opportunities for the practice, for the transmission of the light. All those things are opportunities for understanding what we're feeling, what other people are feeling, how we're judging ourselves, how we're judging others. These are opportunities for this transmission, which doesn't depend on words. Okay? Okay, just one follow-up question. I mean, it sounds like what you're describing is that be appropriate, like the meta relationship to all phenomena moving is of a certain,


light but i guess my question is on the level of no pun intended i didn't hear it you said you said the meta relationship and there's there's m-e-t-t-a and then there's m-e-t-a right and then the meta m-e-t-a well actually it's both it's like it's both is meta and meta i guess on a that sounds to me like on a uh on a wisdom level but on like i guess on an embodiment level like I guess it's... Well, when you talk, there's embodiment. So that's... When the light reaches your body, your body can be tested with words. So the light shines in some people, but maybe they haven't yet fully allowed it to be embodied.


And that may show in the way they respond to verbal questions. Like for example, if the light really fills your body and mind, you are welcoming questions. You welcome people questioning what you think is going on if the light is fully inhabiting you. So that way you show that it's embodied by you. You know, you might be in pain, but your pain what perks up when questioned. Okay. Delfina. I noticed when you were inviting or talking about welcoming criticism and the value of that, that my body softened and felt, I just felt invited in more somehow, felt, I think my body felt safe, feel safer in a kind of general way.


And then, you know, when I raised my hand to wanna speak, I noticed a lot of energy um maybe even some fear and just saying it would um so i i just think i'm i i i really want to i'm really taking in what you're saying and and i really uh thank you for that and i'm i'm i'm uh sitting with it i'm welcoming the the energies of my fear of conflict or of questioning authority and my deep desire to engage in that. So, yeah, thank you. It's good to see you and hear you, Reb. Thank you for your receiving and working with what you received.


Homa. Thank you, Red. My question is about verifying Buddha, as you were showing the questioning and answer, Buddha questioning Buddha. I'm just wondering if Buddha can ever be verified. Otherwise, in my mind, when something's clearly verified At least in my mind, there would be no questioning and answering after that. So in my mind, I think Buddha is not being verified. That's why I keep coming with these questions and trying to reach, if you call it, to that space that it just is.


Yeah, verified sounds like there might be an after. Yes, to me, it does feel like. I would say, for the time being, forget about after. The verified is occurring in the present. Ah, okay, then that makes sense. Okay, good. Thank you, thank you. Amanda. I guess I had a number of questions, One of the questions that comes to me is about how to practice refuge. How is it to practice taking refuge in Buddha? Did you say what is taking refuge in Buddha or did you say how to take refuge in Buddha? How is it to take refuge in Buddha in the practice that we are aspiring to practice? That question is a good way. And also, what is Buddha is a good way.


And who is Buddha is both a good way and a pun. Could you say more about that? Pardon? Could you say more about that pun? Well, who is Buddha is the world honored one is Buddha. The world honored one is Buddha, it's a pun. So I'm hearing right now, I'm hearing you offering that continually questioning is a way of taking refuge, continually questioning is a way of practicing, maybe practicing wisdom and taking refuge in Buddha is wondering how to take refuge in Buddha. Yeah. And also, also opening to the irony of Buddha is part of taking refuge in Buddha.


Could you say more about the irony of Buddha? Yeah. Like some people might wish like some bodhisattvas aspire to Buddhahood. And they may understand that they have not yet fully realized Buddhahood. And maybe they even notice a lack of faith and practice of Buddha's teaching, which they confess and repent. And they hear that that's the pure and simple color of true practice of the Buddha way. To notice that, in a way, they haven't really realized what they aspire to. But there's an ironic aspect to it also. which is as you become more mature, you're more able to live in a state of suspended judgment, or not even a state, you're willing to tolerate suspended judgment. So you do have a sense that maybe your practice hasn't quite reached Buddhahood yet, but you also suspend that judgment a little bit, or quite a bit.


You understand, in other words, as you become more mature, that you don't actually know what you're aspiring to. And the funny thing is, the irony, is that we aspire to something which we don't really know what it is. And to know that is to see the irony in the Buddha way. To miss the irony of Buddha way isn't a fully charged Buddha battery. So I'm wondering, in terms of making an expression right now, you know, about refuge, I think one of the things that sort of comes in is the irony that refuge is not a thing, that refuge is in a way no refuge, and leaves you more in just a very dynamic, open space. nothing to hold to, um, no refuge, uh, continually taking refuge.


And if you're devoted and being devoted to going for refuge includes inviting and wanting people to criticize the way you're going for refuge. Hey, Amanda, are you going for refuge today? How's the refuge going today, Amanda? Welcome. Yeah. I welcome your questions of my refuge taking. Hey, Amanda, you really seem to welcome my criticism of your refuge taking. I do, I really do. Thank you so much. Isn't that funny that I do? Yeah. How is it for you that- Yeah, right, exactly. Yeah. Let's see, who, anybody else? Dennis. Yes, Dennis.


I read. Hello, Dennis. Nice to see you. I think I see you. I think I hear you. You think you do, yeah. I think through. Maybe you do. Maybe Manjushree's hammer is working through Zoom. And I appreciate that Zoom helps us bring words to the Buddha Dharma. So my question, criticism, I guess, is how do we bring criticism? How do we bring question? I'm aware that my ancestors before me kept the Buddha Dharma and all systems, all networks alive. And I can continue to keep it alive and dynamic by questioning. But to have that, to be changed by it and to change it, is there a way to bring the question, to bring the criticism to better, best facilitate the exchange of changing and being changed?


Well, a little blip went up in my consciousness when you said best. Best sounds a bit much. For me. Maybe I'd figure that out myself. I just thought, you don't have to be best. Just criticize your practice. criticize the Buddha's practice, criticize the Buddha's teaching, and also criticize by notice, by contemplating whether you're being criticized. Have you been criticized recently in your practice? Yes. Would you give me the most recent example? Oh, golly. I just did it. Did you notice me do it? Yes. What did I say? You asked me a question about how my practice is criticized, which is criticizing my practice.


It is. When I asked you about your practice, I just criticized your practice. But I hope I did it respectfully and out of devotion for your practice. I hope that's what I want. That's how I want to criticize you. And if nobody does, if you don't notice any criticism, I would say, watch out. Go to the, what do you call it? The ER, the practice ER. Say, nobody's criticizing me. Am I missing something? So what if we question and criticize and our criticisms are not heard. If we have a teacher we criticize and the feedback we get is defensive, defending itself, whether it's Buddha Dharma or the justice system or the education system or our system of government.


How do we then bring our questions? Well, basically ask another question. Like for example, I already make, make a statement said, say, I have this dream that you resisted my last comment. What do you think about that? I have this dream that, um, yeah, that you, that you didn't, that you didn't thrill at my question. Is that true? And the person might say, yeah, that was really a lousy question that you asked. But if you really asked the question out of respect for the Buddhadharma in this particular case, you're doing your job. You're performing your service for the Buddhadharma by continuing the questioning. But you're not questioning, looking down at what you're questioning. And you can even check.


with what you're questioning and ask your interlocutor, does my question seem respectful to you? Do you feel like I'm honoring you? And then they might say yes and say, well, great. And they might say no. And you say, well, tell me, please teach me. Would you please teach me how to question you in a way that seems respectful? So questioning with respect. Yeah. And humility. That would be good. That would be good. That's the way the Buddha, that's the way the Buddha questioned people with respect and humility and also confidence, great confidence in the dialogical process. Great confidence in not getting stuck in my own views. Great confidence in not getting stuck in my judgments. And yet I have judgments and I should be, I should serve my judgments too. and honor my judgments and share with people my judgments.


Like, for example, I'm judging that I feel pain. That's a judgment. And I want to honor my feeling of pain and share it as part of the dialogue. But share it respectfully and humbly. Yes, that would be great. And that goes for criticizing, questioning my own pain. Yes, yes. And being in dialogue with that. Yes. Criticizing self, criticizing others leads to justice with self and justice with others. But again, criticizing is in a conversation, not just in one-sided indictment, but questioning and inquiring in this respectful, humble way.


You always talk about conversation, and that is being intimate. Right, being intimate. And this has helped me a lot with my daily life and wanting to have conversation with All systems, all people, all beings. And thank you for that. That's helped me a lot. At the beginning, I quoted Nietzsche saying, great truth wants criticism. Another way to say it is, great truth wants intimacy. Part of intimacy is being questioned and criticized. And some people really do question and criticize me a lot.


And these are the people I'm most intimate with. Jeffrey, maybe? Yeah, so I really want to echo what Dennis just said that I think what you've been teaching about dialogue and criticism that openness has really is very helpful. I'm struggling with it in daily life and one-on-one and even group, small group interactions. But I have a question about how that translates into the other part of Dennis's original question, which also relates to what you said earlier about respecting systems of injustice in your opening remarks. And I'm not quite sure what you mean. by that, and I have a problem with that. What does that mean, respecting a system?


Well, when you play it out on the political and social sphere, like respecting a system which systematically oppresses Black people, for example, I mean, how does that play out? Well, what came to my mind while you were questioning is respecting COVID-19. I don't exactly like COVID-19. but I respect it and so I wear a mask out of respect and I keep a distance from people out of respect and I wash my hands out of respect. These are actions I would say out of respect for this powerful phenomena in our lives. Also I respect the other human beings who might get infected. So I do it. So respecting doesn't mean I like it. It means I want to have a liberating relationship with it. So injustice, I respect it because injustice is so powerful.


It hurts people so much that I respect it. I, and I also, I wanna question it humbly, and questioning it humbly means that I'm not self, that I'm not self-righteous in thinking. I'm not an injustice transmitter. I don't transmit injustice. And matter of fact, I confess and repent my lack of faith and practice could be understood as I confess and repent my acts of injustice. that I sometimes might not do justice to you. But by confessing that, you know, I think I just, I didn't do justice to Jeffrey at that moment. I really didn't listen to him deeply. I interrupted him. I got caught by my judgment of him.


Those are injustices, which I confess. And then, and say, I'm sorry, and now I can try again to interact with what appears to be injustice in a just way. And justice goes with respect, humility, devotion to welfare of beings, and awareness of my own shortcomings. That's part of working for justice. And I want to apply that to political systems, systems of racism, systems of oppression, systems, you know, all those systems, which are in all living beings. I want to apply the same practice to all of them. And that's why I started with practicing in relationship to something we think is really good, like the great truth.


a great teacher. So we practice respect with a great teacher so we can learn how to be respectful. Then we take the respect and we put it over on injustice. But we already had this strong respect practice. Respect and generosity can transform injustice to justice. That's the proposal. which you can now criticize. I will reserve that for another day. It's a long question, I think. I look forward to it. Me too. Thank you for your criticism. Linda Hess. Okay. This question, uh, is related to Amanda's question about taking refuge.


So, and at one point you said we don't really know what we're taking refuge in. That's, that's the practice of taking refuge includes that, right? I hope, I hope it would eventually. Again, when you're, when you're a beginner at something, you know you haven't realized, when you're at the beginning of learning something, you know you haven't learned it. But you may not understand yet that you don't know what it is you're trying to learn. Okay, thanks. So I would like to take this to the practice of confession and repentance, which we've talked about. So when I try to practice that, I feel that even if I say some specific things, I actually don't know what I'm confessing. I don't know. I don't really know what it is. I could say, I did this, which I shouldn't have done, or I didn't do this, which I should have done, which is a judgment or which is a way of improving myself.


So that isn't it. I, it's just a kind of ritual. I don't know what I'm, Repenting, exactly. Not at all, actually. Or on one level I know it, and then beyond that I don't know it. So do you have some wise words for me? Or any old words? Yeah, how about any old words? Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's right. Starting with... It is a ritual. There's a way you do it, which is a ritual. And in the process of the ritual, as you become more mature, as you become more filled with the ritual, you're able to realize, number one, that you don't know, in this particular ritual, you don't really know for sure what it is you're confessing.


But also, you don't fully know what confessing is. So we often use that expression. When the Dharma does not fill your body and mind, you think it's already sufficient. So when people first start practicing confession, they might think that they sufficiently understand what confession is. As the confession, as the Dharma of the confession fills you more and more, you come to realize that something's missing. that you don't fully understand this ritual you're doing. But since the Dharma is filling you, you can tolerate not fully understanding. When you're a beginner, you can barely do the practice. So you can't also do the practice and tolerate that you don't know what you're doing. So you think you do. That's okay. That's when it doesn't fill your body and mind.


Hey, I got this practice down. Okay, fine. But when it fills you, you realize, and this is one slight difference what you say, when it fills you, you realize something's missing. It isn't that you think you don't know anything, because you do do the practice. It's just that you don't fully know it. But again, at the beginning, you think, I fully know it. Like Kadagiri Rishi said, if you talk to graduate students in physics, they think they understand physics. Now, some of the undergraduates think they don't, but by the time they get to graduate school, a lot of them think they know what physics is, but the professors, and not to mention the Nobel laureates, they don't know, they don't completely know what physics is. There's something missing in their understanding. And they used to be at a place where there was nothing missing, they thought.


But as you get into this practice more and more, it isn't that you more and more realize something's missing, you just continue to feel like there's something missing. But you also learn, you're learning and learning, and also you realize there's no end to the learning. And that's a sign of maturity. Okay? Yuki. Good morning. Good morning. I have two questions and I don't know if they're related to each other. So one question is about the about Manjushri and the other is about how these kind of small practices that you're describing, which sound very helpful to me, you said they're liberating. And I don't know how we go from helpful to liberating.


And with Manjushri and that story, I have heard that there's a comment on the story that says, after Manjushri spoke, can nothing be done about Manjushri's leaking? And that sounds really critical and I hear that as a, it would be better if he was quiet. So I don't know if those things are related, but somehow they're coming up together. Okay. So let's go back to the first point you raised, which was helpful and liberating, right? Okay. So, um, for example, confession and repentance of the shortcomings in your practice. Okay. they're helpful, but when you first start doing them, they may not yet be liberating. Partly because you think you know what the practice is. However, you have to start there. So that's a help.


You're learning the ropes of the practice. And in learning the ropes of the practice, you kind of go, okay, I got that. I know that part. Then you learn another part. Okay, I know that part. That's helpful, because that sets up the stage for the light coming in, and you're realizing, oh, maybe I should criticize this practice that I'm doing. Maybe I should question whether I really know what I'm talking about. That's helpful too, and the first phase and the second phase of being critical set up the conditions for actually liberating. Because again, it says by confessing and repenting, the power of the confessing and repenting melts away the roots of the transgressions. When you first start admitting the transgressions, that's the beginning of loosening the roots. Then criticizing the practice of confession and repentance further loosens the roots.


And then the roots actually come to a place where without getting rid of anything, there's liberation. And the next part of your question, which was? About Manjushri. So, so Manjushri in, in a poem celebrating Manjushri and the Buddha, one, it says, one translation is at the end of the poem celebrating this dialogue, And the dialogue is celebrated by saying, the unique breeze of reality, can you see it? So the Buddha just demonstrated the unique breeze of reality. He showed the light, can you see it? And then the poem goes on and says, creation constantly working her looming shuttle. And literally the mother principle


constantly working her loom and shuttle. And the loom is an image for principle and the shuttle an image for phenomena. The way phenomena and principle work together in creation to create the patterns of spring. Creation, working her loom and shuttle, incorporating the patterns of spring into the ancient brocade of history. and then the final line, but nothing can be done about Manjushri's linking. It sounds like a criticism and you can take it that way if you like, but also it says we need Manjushri to say that. We need him to point to the Buddha with words for us to look and see. If there's the teaching, what is it? We needed the words for us to test.


And then the poem that follows can further ask us to look to see, can you see the words are coming to ask us, can you see the light in the Buddha sitting there? And do you realize that Manjushri had to ask that question? But the question in a way is a kind of linking because this light doesn't depend on words. So a light that doesn't depend on words sometimes needs somebody to use words to point to the light. So we need Manjushri to criticize the light and to question us. Do you see the light? Look, did you see the light when the Buddha sat there? When what was the light? Okay. For now. Yeah. Thank you. All right. Next question. Paula.


Paula, Paula. Hi, Rev. Hello, Paula. Thank you for bringing up such a relevant topic, which your talks always are. My question has to do with, so far we've been talking about criticism in dialogue with a teacher, at least primarily, this is the image that has been coming up for me. But I wanted to ask you, in relation to sangha, we have a container and a structure that helps us to maintain equilibrium, or at least an idea of harmonious interaction with each other, where sometimes, even in dialogue with a teacher, And if the teacher is open to criticism, even in that dialogue, there could feel like there's a lot of social pressure not to do that because it could be disruptive to the community.


So I wanted to ask you if you could just speak about, I don't have a direct question about that, but if you could maybe speak to that aspect of criticism and dialogue a little bit. Okay. Could I mention something before I get directly to your question? Absolutely. You talked about, you said, seemed to be talking about dialogue or criticism between student and teacher. Or between two individuals. Or between two, but let's just say between the student and the teacher. So when you're talking, I realized what I'm encouraging is criticism of Buddha, the teacher, Dharma, the teaching, and the community. The critical process should be applied to the triple treasure, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. And if you apply it to any of those three treasures in a social setting, that may create some intensity, some perturbation of the calm,


in the community. Some people might, you might feel pressured to stop talking because you sense people are tensing up. As I said earlier, sometimes when people have questioned me or criticized me, other people then have pressured them not to do that. And then I have to say, no, no, no, please, I need you to do that. And also to tell others, I need her to do that. I need him to do that. I need them to do that. the vitality of the tradition depends on a critical response, a dialogical response to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. But in the Sangha, there's going to, in the community, there's going to be some consequences of that. And, and in the intimacy of it, people may start feeling various kinds of tensions and fears so that the fears may come to the surface in the process of this, of this,


critical analysis, critical practice. That's part of the deal. And that's why I'm part of the reason I'm giving this talk, is to encourage it. And so it's Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. And Sangha, you could extend to not just the Buddhist practitioners, but all human beings and trees and mountains and waters and lakes and plants, all these living beings, all these systems are the greatness of them. The greatness of these systems, the truth of them, the truth of them is calling for criticism. But when I criticize, my criticism may be criticized. Even people may criticize that I'm making a criticism at all. That's part of why I'm trying to encourage this.


But I'm trying to encourage it in the way that the Buddhist tradition has taught, which is the students criticize or question the Buddha and call the Buddha into account. The Buddha called into account to explain herself, to explain themselves. as an act of devotion. Like just one sutra comes in mind, to mind is, it's called, the name of the sutra is called, Fear and Dread. It's the middle link saying number four. And it starts out with a Brahmin student of the Buddha, calling into account, questioning the practice that he does. of going into the forest, the wild forest. He goes in there and the student's kind of criticizing him because he says, you know, are you the teacher here?


And are you the example? Do people follow your example? And the Buddha says, yeah. And he said, well, you, but you go into dangerous places. The guy's criticizing him, questioning him. Then the Buddhist explains, And the Buddha responds and helps them understand why he goes into these dangerous places. But he's being called, the Buddha's being called to account by a student. We need that, a living Buddhist tradition. And I, I've heard that in some Buddhist sanghas on this planet, when the teacher gives a talk, the students almost never ask questions. They just listen. And then when people from those communities come to this Zen Center and they see us questioning the teachers, they're surprised because they're used to just listening. So again, there's a careful balance needed here between listening deeply and attentively and undistractedly to the teaching and questioning it.


out of respect and devotion. That's a balancing act. Okay? That's very helpful. Thank you. You're welcome. And then there was Priya. Did I pronounce Priya properly? Yes, thank you. Well, thank you so much. So first of all, you helped me already. because in the beginning I was very occupied with myself and going through a lot and then now my mind started to ask, are you hot? Do you need water? About you. So I'm already in a good place. I don't know how you did it. I don't either. I don't know how we did it. I don't know how the conversation did it. Yes, something transformed. Yeah, right. Transmission.


So I hope you'll drink water and I hope you're not too hot. My question was, I think, about myself. And I'm not sure, it's not about the Dharma, it's not about the Buddha. It's, I'm not sure if I want to take space now. I have this doubt in my mind. Could I say something? You said you didn't know if it's about the dharma, okay? The light of the dharma helps us understand ourselves. Studying ourselves is the light of the dharma coming into us. So studying yourself is the dharma. Please continue. Yeah, so I need help understanding myself. yeah we do we need help yeah no usually i'm okay i'm very i have a gift of taking things light lighter than other people or i love life and i'm helping people i have a lot of groups and people that i take to the forest to meditate and it's working good i know how to zoom out with other it's very easy for me to help others to zoom out of them their happiness their pain their problem and connect and it's working


It's great, but I have a lot of pain since Tuesday, a lot of pain in my body. I don't know what happened. I feel a lot of pain and a lot of sadness. And then all the problem is coming with negative thoughts about my relationship, about my life. It just came again, like, you know, from, I remember that, you know, those, and it's, it's here. I feel it here sitting on me. And I don't know if to believe it or not. In a way, my mind is telling me, your husband doesn't love you, he's not giving you attention. And it's true, but it's because he's going through something. It's not about me. So I know everything, but still sometimes I believe it. And it's already four days of deep pain. Like 20 years ago, I started to practice when I was 14. So I don't know what to do.


I don't understand. So when you were talking, I remembered something that I said earlier, which is a great truth wants criticism. So you have a life and the truth of your life wants criticism, wants challenge. And you're telling us, that for the last few days, your life is, you're receiving criticism and challenge to your life. And it's difficult and it's painful. Challenge is sometimes quite painful and difficult to open to. But the great truth of your life wants you to open to criticism.


to doubt, to fear. And you have enough strength in your life for this criticism now to come and realize the truth of your life, which is not these judgments. These judgments are criticisms, which will help you realize the truth. The truth needs criticism in order to be realized. So the things you're saying are examples of, of, of criticism and challenge and doubt. And that's a normal part of the process of realizing the Buddhist teaching, but it's difficult. And so part of also part of the practice is to learn how to take care of yourself when you're being challenged.


how to deal with your feelings when you're being challenged, how to be compassionate to your feelings when you're being challenged, and how to be compassionate to the things that are challenging you. Again, that doesn't stop the challenge. It facilitates the continuation of it, which the truth wants in order to be realized. And we are in a huge, a huge community of humans and animals and plants and mountains and rivers and forests. All of this situation is now in the great process of being questioned and challenged. And I'm trying to encourage this questioning too, but in a respectful way, in a generous way, in a way that's devoted to all the things, all the beings in the world. but that will mean that I will also be criticized and questioned.


But I hope that I'm criticized and questioned respectfully, but if I'm not, then I want to respect the disrespect that comes to me. And in that way, the light of the Buddha's teaching will reach everyone and help them look at themselves and see themselves. Thank you, I feel now that I'm open to this criticism, I can hold it. Great. I'm sure that the pain will go through me and I will grow. Yes, this is part of your growing. So next I see Jodi. Hi, Rev.


Good morning, Jodi. Good morning. Thanks so much for this conversation and your talk. And I think I heard you say something in your talk like devotion to the light of truth or something like that. Yeah. And I was imagining practicing, questioning, being in conversation, criticizing, and at the same time holding that devotion to truth or this light. And then also, I think I just heard you say something like, being able to hold, like when respect, but also when disrespect, when what I'm perceiving as disrespect or that kind of interaction, holding that also with respect.


So anyway, I don't really know what my question is, but these are the things that are coming to me and I'm wondering, yeah, I guess I'm wondering what that looks like. And then also when the conversation kind of maybe gets derailed or isn't really a way that I'm holding this devotion. What does the confession and repentance look like? So yeah, I guess that's a two-part question. If someone comes to me and just straightforwardly says, I do not respect you, or they don't say that, but they look like they don't respect me, I vow to learn to respect them.


And respecting them might actually involve me questioning them. Like, would you be willing to tell me more about how you don't respect me? Or if they don't directly say it, I might say, can I ask, can I ask if you respect me? Or I might actually, I probably wouldn't say that. I probably would say, do you feel that I respect you? probably would start with that. And if they say no, then I might have discovered the roots of them maybe not respecting me. Because oftentimes, if people feel like we don't respect them, they don't respect us in response. So if I felt like somebody didn't respect me, I would like to respect them, and I might respect them by offering them a gift of a question, like, do you feel like I respect you?


Or I might say, do you have any feedback for me? Or how are you feeling? And I would work on my relationship with them by trying to respectfully offer more and more gifts to the situation. And until I felt like the respect was mutual on both sides, that's what I would be working for. So do you have any response to that? Or did I address your question at all? Yes. that's extremely hard to do in the moment when I feel like various things are going on including maybe I don't really feel like I can remember how to respect this person because I'm kind of consumed with like my criticism and also I'm coming up against like


all the fear of speaking out of turn. Like you said, like criticizing someone, there's repercussions in the community. There's ripple effects, you know? So it's like, there's various things going on there and it's hard to remember just to, I guess it's hard to just remember to be starting with, asking, like you said, do you feel like I respect you? Or how are you doing? It's, yeah, because there's other thoughts in the mind, you know. So the practice that I brought up, you're telling me that that might be really difficult. Is that right? Yeah. Yeah. it might be really difficult, right?


Yeah. So when it comes to difficult things, we often then go to what do you call it? I don't know what you call it, to the practice of energy or enthusiasm. which means we go and check out, well, what's really important to you? Do you want to learn how to respond to disrespect? Do you want to learn how to respond to disrespect with respect? Do you want to? I do. Yeah. And then you say, I do. And then you might say, but it's difficult.


And then I might say, well, again, ask, do you want to? And you say, I do. And just, I basically go over that again and again until you can say, respecting whatever comes to me, respecting to whatever comes to me is difficult, but I want to learn to do it so deeply that I'm gonna do this difficult thing. Matter of fact, I'm really enthusiastic about doing this really difficult thing because I really wanna learn it. But without that kind of enthusiasm, we probably would say, well, it's just too hard, forget it. Without enthusiasm, you're not gonna try to climb Mount Everest. I mean, I hope you don't. But if you want to really climb it, you might get it together to get to do it. But you have to like tap your wish to respect all beings over and over until that source fills your body and mind more and more so that you do have the energy and enthusiasm.


And we also say courageous effort, courageous wish to do something that's really hard because it's really, really beautiful and really, really what's the most important thing in your life. And I came to Zen after hearing stories of people who were respectful when they were disrespected. I wanted to learn that. And I've been trying to learn that for more than 50 years. I've been trying to learn. how to respect people when they don't respect me. And that's one of the reasons I stay at Zen Center is because this is a place where a lot of people don't respect me. It's very nice. I get lots of opportunities. If I go to certain places, you know, everybody respects me. I can't stay there very long. It's not good for my health. But also my grandchildren at various times don't respect me.


They disrespect me and I wanna respect them and teach them how to respect me. Not that I deserve it, but I want them to learn how to respect even a disrespectful, stupid grandfather. I want them to learn that. I love to teach them that I can respect people, them who do not respect me. And some people, relating to Dennis's question, some people who disrespect us and receive our respect in return, years later, they realized that we had been respectful of them. They don't necessarily realize it right at the moment, even though we truly respect their disrespect. Again, respect doesn't mean you like it.


It means you are humble and generous and careful and patient with it. But it's hard, right? You got the hard part. Now you need the energy part to say, I wanna learn this even though it's so hard. I wanna learn it. I wanna be able to do it in the moment. And for now, I often, miss the moment and then I confess, I missed, I missed another one. I'm sorry. I missed that chance. I'm sorry. But if you confess missing enough chances and say you're sorry, you will melt the root of missing the chance and you'll start catching a few in the moment. Like, you know, um, Woody Allen has become very controversial, so I won't say Woody Allen. But I saw this movie one time, and this guy in the movie had just been indoctrinated, or was in the process of being indoctrinated into prison life.


And the head guard, an older guard, with lots of young guards standing behind him with various kinds of weapons, was confronting this new recruit into the prison. And he basically said, If you do what I say, you know, you'll probably survive. If you don't, we won't get into that. It would be horrible. What will happen to you if you don't do what I say. This head guard was very disrespectful. Very disrespectful of this new prisoner. And the new prisoner with a shaky hand raised his hands and said, May I ask a question? That was hard. Of course, it's a movie, but anyway, that was hard. Can I ask a question? And the guard said, what? And he said, do you think it's okay to pet on a first date? You know, and that totally disarmed the whole situation.


He respected the guard and in the respects creativity starts flowing. And you come up with very interesting questions like, do you think it's okay, would it be all right if I went to the toilet? May I ask you a question? That's not easy. What's easy is just to cower and run away or to strike back in hatred. That's easy. But to really practice the Buddha way in the face of disrespect and injustice, That's hard. You need to keep getting back to that's what you want. And keep drinking the water, this is what I want, until you feel fully hydrated with enthusiasm for doing certain difficult things like respecting all life. Wouldn't that be something? Okay?


Thank you. See you in Nirvana. Tillman. Did you have a question, Tillman? You're muted, I think, Tillman. I can't hear you Tillman. Okay. Pam Walton. Hi. Hi. When I was listening about this idea of treating each other


uh, with respect and, uh, devotion when, uh, we disagree or, you know, or feel threatened. Um, I was thinking, wow, wouldn't that be great? You know, if that's how our world worked, if politicians could talk to each other like that, and then, you know, thinking that's never going to happen because there's so much self-interest. involved in trying to get people on their side, which seems to involve turning them against people on the other side. And I started to feel sad, you know, that this thing would never happen. And then I, you know, was thinking about myself, and started feeling even more sad. It's it's not so hard for me when people disagree with me to listen respectfully and treat them with respect. You know, I can feel that fear that comes up, but I know that my opinion and their opinion are both dependently arisen events and come, they're both equally valid in that respect.


But what happens for me is, is that, um, I have given up. I don't, I don't try anymore to say anything. I don't try anymore to change things. I don't try anymore to speak up because I don't have the energy and I don't think it's going to do any good. And I, and I think that my devotion is lost there to all beings and I don't know how to get it back. Yeah. Okay. So basically, You're saying the same thing that Jodi said. And my answer is the same as for her. You have to go into your heart, into the place that thinks that what you are giving up on is good. You've said you've given up. You have to go back to what you've given up and think about it until you can rediscover that you think that that would be good.


And you have to go there again and again and again until your energy comes back. So that you will keep working on something which may never happen, but you want to work on it anyway. This is the irony of the situation. Occasionally a politician apologizes in public. If someone does the practices that I'm talking about, you would say, well, they'll never get elected because they respect the other side and they confess their shortcomings. Nobody will vote for them. Maybe so. But I'm working for the day when they will do that, when they'll confess and repent and get elected because the other people are doing it too. Everybody's being honest and saying, I have shortcomings, I was wrong. That, you know, I didn't really say the truth at that time. I exaggerated.


I'm sorry. Now, of course, you see, once you get elected as president and you're in your second term, then you can apologize all the time. But anyway, I want to promote a way of life where I apologize for my shortcomings. and where I am respectful to people who do not apologize for theirs, and I'm gonna keep working on that with no end. But I have to keep going back to that's important to me and feel that, and feel it, and feel it until the energy comes. Not only is it important, but I have energy to go to work again. Otherwise, you will give up. It's hard work. And then even after you've accessed that energy and build it up again and feel full of energy and you go to work, you get hydrated with energy for doing this work, still you have to get hydrated again tomorrow.


You use up the spring, you use up the well of your enthusiasm by doing the work. So you have to go back again and again, otherwise you will give up. So this is a normal thing and we have to do more energy cultivation in our practice than we have been doing. We have to do more and more to have the energy to do this great work. Okay. Is there any particular practice that helps build that energy? I heard, you know, remembering, that I am devoted to saving. I wrote this book called, uh, Entering the Mind of Buddha. There's a chapter on this. There's a whole chapter on, on energy generation. There's one. And a lot of other, there's many treatments. It's the fourth paramita called energy or heroic effort or enthusiasm.


Read those books. And if you read them, that will get you in touch with your energy, with your enthusiasm. But you have to do it over and over. Because even after you have the energy to go to work, it gets used up. It's like blood sugar level. It drops after you use it. You have to generate it on a daily basis. Well, you know, maybe not have to, but it's good to generate it on a daily basis at minimum. If possible, several times a day. Because the energy does work. Its energy does work. Horsepower is work. This is bodhisattva power is work, and you need to replenish the fuel, which is your vow, and you need to keep getting in touch with it. And you maybe need to read some books to remind you how to do it. Okay? Thank you. You're welcome. Lara? Hi.


Is this a good time to, is this a good time to walk through that energy generation with us a little bit? Yeah. So what you do is you, you go, um, you try to remember what's most important thing for you. Try to get back in touch with what's most important in life for you. And sometimes it may take you a few minutes or a few days to find it again, because you haven't been looking for it lately. Once you find it, then say, what practice goes with what's most important to me? Like now talking to you, And if there's the dance of the Buddhas happening with the great assembly, and if we're present with each other and evoking some kind of intimacy, there's a sense of like, on one hand, a groundlessness and not wanting to make an abode where there is none.


you know, essentially, and then on the other hand, taking refuge and tapping into whatever appearance is there, you know, if Shakyamuni puts up a flower, then that could be enough to, you know, the corners of your mouth go up or whatever it is, like there's a way to show up with each other and be present But with me, it feels like, like that's, I can't tell if I'm moved by that, if that's like just trying to heal my old, you know, basically childhood wounds and, you know, or is it really something like, deeper devotion that, yeah, of course, infulgence, there's so much energy there, and I don't want to make it into a graspy thing.


You know what I mean? I do, but I hear what you don't want to make it into, but you asked me to talk about energy generation, and that's not so much getting into what you don't want to do, it's getting into what you do want to do. So what do you, what do you want to do? Doing that with, with the realization of impermanence and, uh, selflessness and, or, uh, no self or, but I'm not sure, you know, as soon as I get a taste of, Ooh, this is nice. This feels charged or, you know, then it, it starts to be something that I want to commodify or reify. Yeah. I understand that's a problem, okay? But that's more, what you're doing now is you're talking more about wisdom practice, which is important. To notice when you reify or commodify, that kind of mindfulness is very important, but it's more of a wisdom practice.


And you asked about energy generation. It's a different type of practice. That seems to be where I get my energy though. Maybe that's not what you were talking about. But you asked me about energy generation, and now you're telling me where you get your energy. And if you get energy from that, fine. But I don't see that as energy generation practice. I'm critiquing what you said. Right, right. I'm saying that, Wisdom practice can be energizing. But you didn't ask about wisdom practice, which can be energizing, you asked about energy generation. So then I go back to what's your vow? What's your ultimate concern in life? That's where your energy comes from. This wisdom practice is driven and supported by vow energy. And that's what I thought you asked about.


If you're not asking about it, I misunderstood you. I think that Energy that I was asking about generating was basically the wisdom energy that I was trying to evoke so that we could refer to it. I mean, you might be referring to something else as energy generation, but like the reason that I think that's important in my vows is, you know, as far as like skillful means and all that is that if I can see, you know, tap into the Buddha nature of people, then it seems less likely that I'll be unskillful or manipulative or, you know, like if, if, if I'm saying, Oh, this, this annoying person. Yeah. I agree with you. Okay. That if you, if you realize Buddha nature, that would be really good. So I agree with that.


Steven. Hi, Rab. Hi. Rab, I maybe even shouldn't have even asked this to ask a question, because I guess I don't even know what my question is. it seems to me that there's a difference between a view and a being. So there are zillions of beings and there are zillions of views, and we respect both beings and views, but we respect beings more than we respect views. You're speaking for yourself. Well, I think we're... You're not speaking for me, Stephen. Well, okay, I'm not speaking for you, but I think I'm speaking for reality because I don't know why, I mean, I- Well, you're not speaking, Stephen, if you're not speaking for me, you're not speaking for reality. Well, okay. You gotta speak for me too. All right. And Stephen, Stephen, I do not respect beings more than views.


Views, to me, are beings. Well, views include beings because beings have views. Views include beings and beings include views. Yeah, both ways. But beings are more than their views. That's true, and views are more than being. It seems to me that Maybe I'm shifting and you can shut me down if you want, but it seems to me that we're moving into kind of an environmental apocalypse stage. And I don't see any views that are going to avoid that stage for all beings. That's your view? That is my view, and it's my view of reality. But it may not be reality, but it's my view that that is what reality is.


And it seems to me that a bunch of people have views which don't respect my view, which this is the reality that's coming upon us. And it seems to me that... Do you respect their views? I respect their views, but I don't respect their views as reality. So I am troubled by, it seems to me that a lot of discourse in American Buddhist circles seems to be scurrying this apocalyptic stage, which in my mind, in my view, we seem to be headed towards. Well, I can see how you would see how that could be your view. that some Buddhist circles are skirting the issue of your apocalyptic view.


I can see how you would see that. What I'm talking about is respecting your apocalyptic view. That's what I'm talking about. I'm talking about respecting other people's views. What I'm talking about is how to have a view which is reality. And I believe that respecting my view and your view and other people's views is the path to becoming free of our views and realizing reality. Realizing reality is involves being free of views. But it doesn't mean involve not having views. That's right. Freedom from views would be irrelevant if we didn't have them.


But we do have them and they're very important in our life and we don't have enough freedom from them. And I want to respect your views and the other people who have, and I want to respect your views in order for all of us to become free of our views. That's what I'm working on. Well, that's wonderful, but we're not going to be free of reality. We're not going to be free of reality, and I don't want to be free of reality. I want to realize the freedom of reality. Realizing freedom, realizing reality equals freedom. Yes, but see, then you, it seems to me then you've conveniently avoided the fact that reality might be apocalyptic. I didn't, I didn't know. If I tried to avoid what you just said, that is not the path to realizing reality.


If what you say I'm doing, if I was doing that, I don't want to do that. I don't want to avoid your view. Okay? Got it? Yeah, I got that. Yes? What more could there be other than me not avoiding your view? No, I don't want you to avoid my view, but I don't want to avoid my view either, but I want to avoid... I want to avoid the unavoidable reality of what... Wait a second. Wait a second. You just said you wanted to avoid reality. You don't mean that, do you? No. No. Yes, I do. I do mean that. I want to avoid a version of reality, which is apocalyptic. Wait a second, a version of reality? There's not a... Everybody's got a version of reality, but reality is, there's not versions of reality. Okay, here's what I want to avoid.


I want to avoid a potential apocalypse, which is very difficult to avoid, in my view. Do you know what apocalypse means, Stephen? You should know that, right? Yeah, I know what it means. It means change. It means change? Certainly it does, yes. It also means revelation, but it means a bunch of other stuff. I think you're using apocalypse for disaster and calamity. Yes, that's exactly what I'm using it as. So you want to avoid disaster. and calamity and environmental destruction. Yes. Yeah. So I'm proposing the way to, the way to be free of that is by respecting everybody's views. That's what I'm saying. Tillman. Hello, Robbie.


It's me who has a question. I'm having trouble hearing you. Can you hear me? I can't hear you. Sorry. Talk louder. So you can hear me, but I'm not loud enough? Yeah. Ah, OK. Thank you. I want to come back to one question that was asked before, to ask what's most important. And I think I don't have an answer every time I ask what's most important. I only have doubts and so I cannot trust the things that come up when I ask what's most important.


So that's my problem. How often do you ask that question? I think I always ask that question when I feel pain. So how often is that? How often do you ask that question? Once a day? I'm not so sure. Yeah. Well, once a day, it probably isn't enough. I often ask people and they don't have an answer to the question. Like you. So I just, I keep asking them. And asking them and asking them. But if you keep asking, the answer will come. But it won't necessarily come in a day or a week. But if you ask every day, and it may be more than once every day, but at least once a day, and you keep it up, the answer will come.


The answer is in you. What's most important to you is in you. It's related to what you are. What you really are. is what you want. But you have to keep asking in order for it to come out and show itself. But it will come. But if you ask it once a day, that might not be enough. And once a week, probably not. So, you know, I ask that question to people who I'm practicing closely with, so they can ask that question a lot. And they usually do find it, but sometimes it takes them months to find it. And then we find it and we got it. And then we work on it, but it's not necessarily readily available. Once you find it, then you ask again, you find it again. And the more you find it, the more quickly you can find it again. But this is part of the practice is to remember what's most important to you or to discover it and then remember it and then remember it and remember it and remember it and forget it and remember it and forget it and remember it.


This is normal. but you may have to ask many times to find it. That's normal, too. Okay? Thank you very much. You're welcome. Shindo. Thank you so much, Tenshin Roshi, for the very real Dharma talk. It's very real, every word that you spoke. My question was, you said you talked about the light being transmitted. So I was wondering how does the light get transmitted? In meeting face-to-face. Thank you. You're welcome. Jean?


Hello, Rob. Can you hear me? Yes. When you listen deeply and respectfully to someone, you truly want to know and understand them. Yes? I would. Do you? Yes. Yeah. And in that process of deeply listening, how do you, how do you also deeply listen to yourself and include yourself in that conversation? Well, when you said that, I listened, I just listened to myself.


I just checked in with my body and saw how my body felt at that moment. That's how I did it. So your attention, if you were deeply listening to me, your attention could hold both yourself and me at the same time. It could, or I could go from one side to the other. I could see how I felt, and then see how I felt about you. And in that exchange, if you are engaging respectfully, is that a continual circle of back and forth? In reality, yes. It's back and forth, it's reciprocal all the time. If I don't attend to my own body and mind, it will make it more difficult for me to attend to yours.


If I don't attend to yours, I won't fully realize what my own body and mind is. So attending to you helps me to be aware of myself and vice versa. I often tell the story of the, it's a scripture in which the Buddha tells a story of an acrobat and the acrobat's apprentice. And the acrobat says to the apprentice, now you take care of me, and I'll take care of you, and we can perform our acrobatic feat. And the apprentice says, teacher or master, you have it reversed. You need to take care of yourself, and I need to take care of myself so we can do this feat. Or you need to take care of yourself so you can take care of me, and I need to take care of me so I can take care of you.


And the Buddha said, commenting on that parable, the Buddha said, the apprentice is right. You should take care of yourself first in order to take care of others. So when we used to ride airplanes, we had the thing of, if you're helping someone on board and it's time to put on the oxygen mask, put your own on first before you try to help somebody else. If I don't listen to myself first, it will be hard for me to listen to you. So first of all, I listen to my own body and mind, then I can listen to you. And when I can listen to you, it enhances me listening to my own body and mind, and round and round. And how do you learn to listen to yourself? Again, the Buddha says, and the way you learn is called the four foundations of mindfulness.


Mindfulness of body, mindfulness of feelings, mindfulness of states of consciousness, and mindfulness of mental factors, like fear, attitudes, judgments, intentions, faith. So being mindful of those things is how you learn how to Listen to yourself. Starting with the body, which for most people is the easiest place to start. Starting with being aware. I'm sitting. Start being aware. I'm standing. I'm walking. I'm lying down. Be aware of your breathing. This is the beginning of taking care and listening to yourself. Listen to your body. Look at your body. Be aware of your posture. That's listening to your body. Listen to your breath. and then move on to listen to your feelings. Listen to whether you're in pain or pleasure.


This is how to listen to yourself. Listen to the quality of your consciousness. This is how to listen to yourself. Then you can listen to other people better. Okay? Yes. Thank you. You're welcome. Let's see, have we finished all the questions? Oh, Angela. Hello. Hello. I wish to make these words an offering to the Buddha. Okay. They're ready. Okay. Um, I wish to I need a minute.


I wish to feel the fullness of criticism. You brought the word criticism forward over two hours ago, and my body and mind I could feel tension rising. And so I've been sitting with this tension. And it's like a great fire. It's very full. And I've been taking care of it, not to touch it, for turn away. Great. Great. I don't, I don't, I hear the words.


There's light. We are in the light. The light, the light, the light is you looking at what you just have been looking at. That's the light. Okay. Buddha's light is you looking at your body and noticing tension in your body. Okay. Buddha's light is you learning about yourself. Okay. Okay. So the Buddha's light was working in you when you started to study yourself this morning. That's the Buddha's light. Okay. Yeah. Okay. And you said to me recently about something like seeing the darkness in the light. Yeah. Yeah. If you, if you attend to the light, if you, the, the, the darkness in the light is that is you studying yourself as you're doing.


And you can see, you can see, for example, in the light, you can see how you're feeling, what you're thinking. Okay. Okay. and you will discover through this type of meditation something you can't see yet, which is the ultimate truth of all your feelings that will be revealed to you in your study of yourself. Thank you. The ultimate truth of your feelings and so on is in the dark, or is darkness. You can't see it, but you will realize it by taking care of what you're meditating on now. Thank you.


You're welcome. Reb, there's one more person there somewhere. Okay. Hello. Hello. You hear me? I do. I hear you and you can see me because something is wrong with my computer. I understand. Thank you. I have the deep belief in Zazen at the risk of my life. And as I understand now, is the only way to have this continuous and sustained practice. It is the only way to actualize Buddha way. That means for me, a totally complete determination and faith in this practice of Zazen. Even though


To practice means other things too, but there is something very essential in this posture. It's what I believe and it's the way I try to everyday live my life, a kind of devotion. I witness your devotion to Zazen. Without criticizing? I don't know what you mean. When you say without criticizing, what do you mean? Are you devoted to not criticizing?


I'm devoted to everything that appears. and to everything that disappears. Okay, so I hear you're devoted to zazen, and you're devoted to everything that appears and disappears. Is that right? Yeah. Okay, I witness your devotions. But then you said something about without criticism. I didn't understand what you meant by that, without criticism. Or maybe, or maybe I mean, Instead of criticism, I mean feedback. And I get your feedback because I heard what you say when I told about my devotion to Zazen. Okay. And is that it? Is that what you want to say? Yes, it's what I want to say.


And that also, we had a session two weeks ago in Sweden. We were seven people and I was missing you. But the devotion of Zazen gave me the strength and the humility and the power to go through this session. And I was missing you. Really missing you. Was something missing? Nothing was missing. Everything was just perfect.


When the Dharma does not fill your body and mind, you think nothing's missing. When the Dharma fills your body and mind, you realize something's missing. I don't understand Buddha, I don't understand Dharma, I don't understand Sangha, and I don't know what Zazen is, but I'm devoted completely to this practice at the risk of my life. I witness your devotion to what you think practice is. Do you hear me thinking about the practice? Do you hear my thoughts about the practice? I heard you express your devotion to practice as you see it.


Thank you for facing me. You're welcome. Thank you all. for this wonderful morning and early afternoon. I wish you all safety and peace, and I hope you all take good care of your deep, deep vows for this precious life together. May our intention equally extend to every being and place with the true merit of Buddha's way. Beings are numberless. I vow to save them. Afflictions are inexhaustible. I vow to cut through. Dharma gates are boundless. I vow to enter them. Buddha's way is unsurpassable. I vow to become it.


Thank you, Rob. Bye-bye. Bye. Thank you. Thanks for coming. Great to see you. Bye. Bye, Rob.