The Buddha Way is a Conversation.

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 Dogenzenji's vow and the practice confession and repentance.  Confession and repentenance includes both social and solitary aspects of practice. "The Snowman" poem by Wallace Stevens, the "mind of winter".  Bodhisattvas regard good and evil with the mind of emptiness (the mind of winter) and offer their world to others with the invitation to call their views into question. The buddha way is a conversation and this conversation is necessary to free us from our views.  This conversation opens the dharma.  (Q &A begins at 21 min.) 

AI Summary: 



I've just returned from a session in Sweden and it was a wonderful meditation retreat and several of the people who were there are here today. A little while, just a little while ago, We recited a verse written by our ancestor, our founder in Japan, Ehei Dogen. This is his own personal vow he wrote. Originally it said, I vow, but we've changed it for chanting to we. So he vowed to hear the true Dharma. And that he vowed that when he met the Dharma, he would maintain it.


And in doing so, the great earth and all living beings together will attain the Buddha way. That's his assertion and that's his vow. And then he notes in his verse that due to past karma, we have and may now sometimes become distracted, veer away from this Buddha way, which we vow to realize together with the great earth and all living beings. We vow to realize the Buddha way together with the great earth and all living beings, but because of our past actions and many other circumstances coming upon us, we sometimes forget to practice the Buddha way.


And then he moves on to, assert that if we confess and repent our veering away, our forgetfulness, our distraction from our vow, that we will receive inconceivable help. And that this practice of confessing and repenting our distraction from our vows is the pure and simple color of true practice. Confession and repentance is being put forth as the pure and simple color of true practice, as the true body of faith, the true mind of faith. After reciting these verses, there was attention given to each member of this assembly.


Each member received kind attention, generous attention, and each member was then acknowledged. Here is a practice of the social dimension of Buddha's wisdom. The social dimension of Buddha's wisdom to attend to and acknowledge living beings with eyes of compassion, with ears of compassion, to observe and listen to them and to acknowledge them. And this, the verse also is to attend to and acknowledge our karma. Acknowledge our karma of distraction from the Buddha way.


And also distraction from the practice of confession and repentance. I forgot the Buddha way. and I forgot the pure and simple color of the Buddha way, which is to confess and repent my absent-mindedness, my excitement, my fear, which distracted me. Rather than observing my fear, I turned away from it. and then turned away from the Buddha way. I confess this and repent this. Again, this practice of attending to others and acknowledging them and also confessing and repenting when we're not attending and not acknowledging.


is what is the social dimension of Buddhist wisdom. This practice also has a solitary dimension, which is to attend to our own mind and body, and to acknowledge the karma that is there. And if the karma is in a mode of turning away or touching, excitement or hesitation, transgressing away from our vows, we attend to that and acknowledge it. This is the solitary dimension of Buddha's wisdom. And we need both the solitary practice of confession and repentance and the social


dimension of confession and repentance. We need both. And together, this practice melts away the root of distraction from our vows. That's the proposal. the Buddha way passes freely through the fires of birth and death, through the fires of good and evil. And the practice of confession and repentance, when it's mature, it's just the pure and simple color of true practice. It's the color the simple color, the observable color of passing through the fires of good and evil.


Confession and repentance does not turn evil into awakening. is the practice of awakening, which regards evil and good with an empty mind. When we can face and give attention and be patient and generous with inward and outward evil, with inward and outward good, we realize the empty mind, which is the meaning of the practice of confession and repentance. To be able to regard good and evil with an empty mind, just as the Buddhists


regard good and evil. And in this way we peacefully pass in their midst with harmony and compassion. It's not just having an empty mind, it's having empty mind in the midst of the fires of good and evil. It is having an empty mind in the midst of confessing and repenting. Confessing and repenting in this field, when it's mature, realizes this mind. This mind is the realization that good and evil both lack own being, lack independent existence, are dependent co-arisings.


But the practice is actually to reveal inwardly and outwardly the lack of faith and practice. This morning a poem came to mind called The Snowman by Wallace Stevens. One must have a mind of winter to regard the frost and boughs of the pine trees crusted in snow and have been cold a long time to behold the junipers shagged in ice.


the spruces rough in the distant glitter of the January sun and not to think of any misery in the sound of the wind in the sound of a few leaves which is the sound of the land pull of the same wind that is blowing in the same spare space for the listener who listens in the snow and nothing in themselves beholds nothing that is not there and nothing that is.


For me, this mind of winter resonates with the empty mind of the bodhisattva who regards, who beholds this world of good and evil with an open, empty mind of winter and can behold nothing that's not here, only what's here and also the nothing that is here. In this way, the roots of transgression melt away like dew and frost in the sun. This mind of winter, this empty mind, which is


cared for in the midst of the fires of good and evil in the world outwardly, in the world inwardly. It is developed and cared for by, again, attending to something other than ourselves and attending to ourselves. It is offering our world to the other, offering our view of what's happening to others, and inviting them to call us into account, to attend to others, to acknowledge others, and listen to others. And in the listening, while listening, while listening, offer our world.


Now I am listening to you. I am attending to you. And I am offering you my world. I'm offering you my world. I'm offering my world to your face. with the invitation for you to call me and my world into question. I contemplate my world as questionable. I may even assert my world as questionable. And then I wonder if perhaps you might consider the possibility that your world and your views are questionable.


In this questioning of our own views, in inviting others to question our views, we continue to offer our world, offer our views. This conversation is necessary in order for us to be free of our views and see the Buddhadharma. This conversation involving our generously giving our world to others and inviting them to question us, this conversation reveals and opens the buddhadharma and allows us, this conversation allows us, this conversation is the way we implement, we carry out the buddha way.


This is proposed as the pure and simple color of true practice. to offer our world as a gift to others so that the conversation of the Buddhas, which is the Buddha way, will be realized. As I say over and over, the Buddha way is a conversation. And everything in our world is a conversation piece. and everything in others' worlds are conversation pieces. We give our world to encourage others to give their world. I think I see some new people who I didn't see before in this assembly.


Welcome, Christiane. Welcome, Larry. Welcome, Daisy. Welcome, Gail. Okay, and there's probably some others. I have given you my world. Did you see it? Well, actually you saw your version of what I gave you, and now you can give me and the Great Assembly your world, if you wish, as a gift for the sake of practicing the pure and simple color of true practice. Our first offering is from Irene.


Thank you. You're welcome. I'm wondering, when you talk about good and evil, in my mind, they tend to be like global terms, almost. Can you say more about Confessing what evil and what good may be examples of a confession of good and evil might be. Well, the first thing that comes up is evil is what I think is evil. And good is what I think is good. If I see someone being disrespectful of another living being, that looks like evil to me. If I'm being disrespectful of you, I would say that's evil enough for me.


It may not be the most terrible evil someone may feel, but basically it's a pretty basic form of evil. relying on disrespect, other even more terrifying evils could follow. And disrespect includes that I believe that you are what I think you are. That's kind of disrespectful. Like, you know, even if I think, oh, Irene's really a nice woman, That might be somewhat disrespectful if I believe it. I think it. I think it. I think it may be. There she is, a good woman. That thought isn't evil. Believing it is believing that that's you, believing that it's true. That's disrespectful.


Again, I often mention the word respect means respectus. as in the root. It means look again. It's respectful when you look at somebody to look again and wonder and question your thoughts. Not being open to questioning our own views is a kind of evil. To say to you, oh, I have this thought that you're a good woman. I give you that. But I know that that is questionable, what I just said. That I think is in the spirit of confession and repentance. That's in the spirit of living in the world of attachment to our ideas, which is evil, attachment to our life, which is evil, and evil means is live backwards, Life is not meant to be attached or gripped.


It's meant to be respected and cherished and, you know, honored and listened to and attended to and witnessed. That's what it's for. But just to go putting our thoughts on things and thinking that they're what they are, I would say that's one form of evil and a very basic one. The horrible things that people do to each other are based on a lack of respect. Now, what is good? Well, good is, I think being respectful is good. I do. I think it's really good if I respect beings and cherish them and honor them and attend to them and be quiet with them and be patient with them. I think that those are good things. And I want to have an open mind, a mind of winter with what I just said was good.


Because even though what I said was good is what I think is good, I do think those things are good. Yes, I do. I give them to you. I just gave them to you for you to call me into question about them. For you to look at me like, is that really so what you said? Can I ask you some questions? And the answer is yes. The open mind, the empty mind, the mind of winter says yes to your questions about what I think is good. And what I think is evil. So I just told you what I think is good and evil. And so there they are. And in that field is a fire between the two. Yeah. And I want to pass through that peacefully by respecting both and not attaching to either, not falling into either, but respecting them both with this mind, this empty mind of the bodhisattva.


Thank you. Thank you for your gift. Our next offering is from Jackie. Good morning. Good morning. Could you speak up a little bit, Jackie? Can you hear me? Could you speak up a little bit? I don't, okay. Can you hear me now?


Is this loud enough? It's loud enough. Okay, I raised my hand. I wasn't expecting to be called upon so quickly, because there were several others before me. But talking about karma, And I've had some serious health issues this year, as you know. I had this perforated diverticulitis that was life-threatening and I had to have surgery and I was infected and so on and so forth. And my daughter, Vivian, said, Mom, you've released a lot of karma from your ancestors. she doesn't even practice Zen and or Buddhism or karma really and it just astounded me and I didn't really know what she meant she said it's all this female stuff that you've accumulated and through this disease somehow it came forth and you released it and


And I don't know what I've released or if I have or not. Can you speak to that? Yeah, I can. The first thing that comes to my mind is your daughter gave her world to you. She gave you a gift. She gave you her world. Now, you have the opportunity to question her and learn about her world and offer her your world, which involves your questions. The real, what's the word? The real practice, the pure and simple practice here is to enter that conversation with her about karma. It was about our female heritage and how independent and enabling we are.


Yeah, but the point is that the conversation with her about this is where the living practice is. Because she's the one who gave that to you. I didn't give it to you. She gave it to you. I wanted your point of view on that though. That's my point of view is on disease and why it manifests in our body as it does. My point of view on disease? Yes. I think that, I think that, yeah, I think that disease is sometimes considered evil. One of the evils of our life is disease. So when disease comes, My view on disease is that it's an opportunity to practice compassion. I'm not particularly, what's called, I don't feel called to your, I feel like you may be calling me, but I don't feel like it's my job to give you theories of where diseases come from.


There are lots of theories and some scientists and other people, some religious people, have theories about where disease comes from. What I'm talking about is how to deal with disease in a way that melts away the root of all evil and good distractions from the way. But what about the karmic aspect of it? through the karmic aspect of it? If you are compassionate towards evil of disease, you will melt away the root of the karma. Not you will, the practice will melt away the root of karma. If you get distracted from being compassionate


towards the evil, that is more evil. If we are disrespectful of our suffering, that is more evil. Attending to the evil of disease with compassion is the path of liberation from good and evil. from sickness and in health. Buddhism is not about being healthy or sick. It's about freedom from sickness and health. And in order to be free of sickness and disease and health and goodness, we need to practice compassion with disease. and we have plenty of opportunities to practice compassion with disease.


We need to be careful not to use theories about karma as a distraction from dealing with our current good and evil, our current illness. And if somebody gives you a theory about your illness, that gift that they gave you is an opportunity for you to be generous and questioning. And this generous questioning is the compassionate way to become free of the evil of which they gave you a theory. So I think she gave you a theory about the evil, and that's a gift which you can question. Rep, this word evil sounds pretty intense.


Well, if it's too intense for you, just set it aside and you can use disease in place of it. Does this suggest that somehow I'm affiliated with evil? That you're affiliated with it? With evil? Are you saying that I'm suggesting that you're affiliated with it? Yeah. No, I'm suggesting that we're all living in the midst of good and evil. That's where we live. That's our world. Have you noticed lots of good and evil around? That's where we live. Like now there's floods in Pakistan. That's evil. That's pain, that's suffering, that's disease. There's floods in Mississippi, in the capital of Mississippi, people can't drink water. There's fires in Northern California. This is the realm of good and evil. We live, this is where we live. So now how are we gonna find peace and harmony in the world where we live?


That's what I'm talking about. Thank you. You're welcome. Thank you for giving us your world. Our next offering is from Homa. Good morning. I'm questioning your mind, not in the form of really questioning your mind, but questioning mind. Because when you speak, or at least my experience with you, even the first time I saw you, I was able to actually feel and I say feel, see the presence of here-ness, not going anywhere but here.


That is what brought me to this practice, the suchness, the here-ness. And now I'm questioning like everybody else is questioning, the possibility, not only in the form of it's possible, but is it really practical? Can I bring it into the practicality of mind and no mind simultaneously at every moment, every second? Oops, I got lost here. I have a practicality which I'll remind you of, which is the practical practice of giving attention to others and self.


That's a practical thing to do. And by giving attention to your feelings and the things you see in the world, by giving that attention and acknowledging it, you're on the path to realize this thing about mind and no mind being intimate. But if I skip over paying attention to the mental and physical phenomena I'm given, I'm given these worlds, if I'm not attentive to them and acknowledging them, then I veer off from the path of peace, wherein I will realize that these phenomena and not these phenomena are intimate, that these mental phenomena and no-mind phenomena are intimate. Yes, and I have been, and I can see that clearly now, that how when I started I was constantly


wearing away from the mind, you know, and wanted to skip and go to the no mind. And as you brought me more and more, more and more with the mind as a way of being with no mind, not jumping through the mind to get to no mind. So that's great. Yes, that is success. Success. Very clear. Thank you. You're welcome. Thank you for the progress report. Our next offering is from Marjorie. Good morning, Rep and Assembly. I deeply appreciate every time you talk to us, and sometimes it's just wonderful, and other times, occasionally, like this morning, it feels to me so clear, so spare, so much your deepest intent embodied


that I am inspired to connect it to something that's very meaningful to me. So I have, this morning, first, and this again has to do with your disciple, Georgia Sorensen, who died of, not of COVID, but of cancer in October 2020, and her birthday is August. and so we're between the two. And when you mentioned the Wallace Stevens poem, and I'd appreciate if you tell us the name of that poem again. The Snowman. The Snowman, thank you. I was moved because of causes and conditions your kindness when she died, and then your kindness this last spring, when her daughter came to spread her ashes at Green Gulch, at Muir Beach, were wonderful.


But because of causes and conditions, she has not had a Buddhist ceremony just to recognize her passing. And so I am hoping that people, everybody will accept that I would very much appreciate to be able to show her picture and to have this beautiful talk. This is at Green Gulch in 2009. And to have this to dedicate for me, to dedicate for my part of my world and my truth. This wonderful stair talk. As you probably remember, you named her Pine Wind Spreading Truth, or Dharma. And so, of course, when I heard the snowman, I couldn't help but.


So, if I may dedicate, for me at least, this talk this morning, so beautiful, so stair, to her memory. Thank you so much. I join your dedication. Thank you so much. May the merit of this morning's meeting be extended to Georgia Sorensen. Pined wind spreading truth. Our next offering is from Barbara. I don't know if you can see me, Rev. We're trying here. Can you see me? I don't know.


Oh, you can. OK. I'd like to also, can you hear me? Yes. OK. I'd also, Diego's here also. Diego. La Roche. It's been a long time. Yeah. So I, I'm just, I didn't, Barbara wanted to ask a question, but in the spirit of what you said, um, today, I, I want to confess and repent to you and to the Sangha for, um, for this long break that I've taken. from the social dimension of practice. And I, yes, I deeply confess and repent. And I heard some names of some brothers and sisters. I'm kind of like a new person to many, but, um, anyway, I just wanted to say that and that, um,


I hope to continue to join the conversation and offer my world to you. Thank you. Thank you. And what you said seems to indicate that you heard the teaching well. Thank you, Roshi. That's all. Hello. That's all. We'll let others take space. Thank you for that. Thank you so much. Our next offering is from Rosie. Hello. I've been missing for a little while and missing being with all of you like this. I was just astonished and enjoyed the snowman.


I also really appreciated what Homer said about bringing, I can't get it back clearly, but about bringing empty mind and mind like this. This is my constant challenge in practice. And one of the things that came up in my mind, as you're after you're reading the snowman and and saying about empty mind to those images of winter of Wallace Stevens was, you know, okay, there are three other seasons that we circle through, not so much definitively here in California where I am, in Santa Cruz, but where I grew up in Michigan, and many know these.


And so, I don't know, my mind was going to the other seasons, and how do we keep the winter mind the metaphorically empty winter mind close to each of those other seasons, which each one has its own seductions, for me, of beauty. And we could say good and evil in this. How would you know what what my question would be to you. But you know, I don't want those other seasons to be forgotten as we are, you know, just staying in our frozen winter mind, which we can get seduced by as well. So I would say that the winter mind that the poet is encouraging would be applied to winter.


also. Yeah. So when in winter, he's saying, it's to be nothing in yourself and to behold nothing that's not here. That's the mind. When in summer, you're in summer and summer's here. So the winter mind in summer is that nothing in yourself, you behold nothing that's not here. You don't behold spring. You don't behold fall. You don't behold winter. You only behold what's here. In the winter, you behold what's here, not spring, summer, or fall. This mind of winter is actually not frozen. It is completely flexible.


It applies to being here and being with nothing that's not here. But the inflexible mind gets taken away to places that are not here. It clings to them and goes with them. So the winter mind can be practiced in the summer in California, where we have fires, the winter mind is not to think of anything, not to behold anything that's not here. That's the winter mind. Right now, in this world of fire. So, thank you. That would be like not longing for something else. There could be longing. But noticing. But the longing, if the longing is here, then we're not thinking of anything but the longing. We don't get distracted by our habits from this precious longing, because this longing is nothing other than what we're longing for.


But if we look for someplace else other than the longing, we might derail ourselves from what we're longing for, because we're thinking of something that's not here. Longing's great when it's here. And if it's not here, we've got to be careful not to go looking for it and just be here with the unlonging person we are. Great, Rob. Thank you so much. And I love it when you laugh. Thank you. Our next offering is from Brett. Morning, good morning, everyone. Good morning. I hadn't thought before this gathering. actually speaking here, but you're opening and sharing the world, living in the world of good and evil, brought something to mind that happened with me earlier this week.


I just returned after being away for about four months, being away from home for about four months, and discovered when I walked in late tonight, evidence of a mouse on my bed and on the bookshelf. And then subsequently, I noticed that the mouse had been sharing my kitchen as well. And so I thought, well, I should do something about this. And coincidentally, Wednesday morning, the pest control people were here to spray some you know, herbal oil around the house just to prevent other visitors from joining in. But I have had a problem with rodents wanting to cohabit here. So Thursday morning, I woke up, my jet lag about 3.30, 4 o'clock, and I went into the kitchen and opened the window and clicked on the light and looked over and the mouse trotted right along the counter.


and ducked in behind the microwave. And I was actually very happy. Yeah, I was very happy to see them, to know the gender at a glance. And then I thought, what shall I do? The pest control person who came on Wednesday had put out some snap traps at my request in the living space of the house. And I decided I really, I don't object to mice living in the world, I just don't want them to live in my house. And so I took one of the snap traps and baited it with some asparagus trimmings that the mouse had been chewing on and left behind in the microwave, and then a little bit of peanut butter. And an hour or two later, I put it in the oven, which was the mouse's route from wherever there home was up through, if you might consider, and I heard this noise a little bit later, and the sapcraft had gone off and cracked the mouse.


And initially, I'd hoped that the mouse was just trapped, and I hustled out to release it and take it over to the park. But of course, it was just chainstokes, contractions causing the mouse to still move. And I felt a great sadness. And so I put some paper toweling, wrapped the mouse in paper toweling to make a little shroud and buried it in the backyard. And I wished it a fortunate rebirth. And I went back, I've been back a few times to visit the burial site. It's just been, you know, I don't normally kill cohabitants here or something. I capture them and put them outdoors. Spiders I'm fine with.


I leave them be. Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you. I certainly think about the karmic aspects of it. I don't know where to place in the world of good and evil what I did, but I do take responsibility for it. And in practical terms, I don't know what I could have done differently and just leave it. But I just wanted to share that and share my confession. So. You, I, I, I hear and I witness. your confession and repentance. And this practice, what you've just done, is the pure and simple color of true practice. The true mind of faith, the true body of faith.


This practice will melt away the root of transgression. You're welcome. Our next offering is from Jeevan. Hello, Red, and the Great Assembly. So I have to illuminate the lay of the land a little bit so I can actually extricate a question. It has to do with good and evil, but I'm not exactly sure. I've been spending a lot of time being intimate with evil, both in myself And in my community, I have had dinner with somebody, well, who committed, who was in jail for 20 years for accomplice to murder.


There's lots of felons in this group I've been hanging with and I recently discovered one of my clients confessed that he was a pedophile, that he had a fetish and he was lived a double life in it, abusing children. So I've like been close to people that would be considered somewhat to have crossed the street on the other side of good and evil. And one thing that the felon said that was really perfect was he said, yeah, jail, it's like where a lot of good people have done bad things. That was really, good people have done bad things. And I'm looking at a lot of the evil that I do and I'm trying to be tender with it. And it has to do with things like being distracted and being impatient and being mean and all sorts of things that are really evil actually. And I'm not even having to like fudge it that they're evil.


I can see direct lines that caused evil things from these. So there's a lot of evil in me and I mean, I wish I didn't have to have so much of it. I wish I wasn't so evenly balanced between good and evil. Anyway, I don't know if the question is what I said to the guy or if it's about I don't wanna be condoning evil. I don't wanna be, I wanna be loving, like I wanna be capable of being intimate with it without being, but I don't wanna participate in harm. And so I guess the question is, how does that work? How can I be close to evil and give it compassion. And can I ask, is it evil to want to give evil compassion so it will flower away from evil?


Or is that trying to change it in myself or? Compassion was evil, has the color of Confession and repentance. Confession and repentance helps us melt away the root of the evil. I do not condone evil, but I vow to pay attention to it, to give attention to it, and to acknowledge it. Not to look down on it or up at it, but just listen to it and watch it with eyes of compassion. Our teachers, the great bodhisattvas, teach us to observe evil and good with eyes of compassion.


This accumulates great blessings in the world of good and evil. If we don't compassionately give attention to evil that forestalls the arising of blessings in this fiery world that we're living in. I want to learn to love in the world of good and evil, which is to be free of liking and disliking. I want to learn to love in the world of like and dislike. not condone dislike, not condone liking, to witness them with compassion. That's the path of blessing that I'm betting on. The Buddhas have not gotten rid of evil, but they have created great blessings in the world of good and evil, which we have received these blessings.


We are blessed by the compassion of the awakened ones. And they offer us to join that practice. I really resonate with what you're saying. I feel like I have received blessings by this exploration and this intimacy and really big ways and ways that grow me where I'm really out of what you would call a comfort zone. I mean, past, not even thinking of it as not a comfort zone, but definitely widening my experience. But I did feel when I was with this- Patience. Patience, yeah. Attending, attention, and patience. Attention to the pain and patience. The patience will grow, the intention will deepen and blessings will come from this practice.


Okay. I'm going to give, have faith in that. And I also have one quick question about when I was with this gentleman doing healing touch on him after this confession, you know, I did notice the arising of Jesus around his knee. Jesus arose as his knee. So Jesus was in the room. And I think, so Jesus was affected. the outcome of our thing together. And I was wondering if there was in Jesus a moral stance that isn't in Buddhism that I felt like my unconscious needed to have Jesus in the room to make sure that when I offered what I offered to this gentleman, I told him, you know, he needed, he did harm. We all have done harm. He needs to be compassionate with his harm. And he needed maybe to see the faces of those people he has harmed deeply in his mind's eye and give them apology and wishing for their healing. But I had to have Jesus in the room.


to feel safe enough, to feel like I was gonna be guided maybe to say the right thing. I didn't put him there, he came there, he was there, Jesus was in the room. So what is your take on the Christian, like the moral stance of right and wrong versus the Buddhist stance of what you say, there's blessing in offering compassion to evil. I needed a different protection. I think or he did or what, what is that? I haven't noticed any, what do you call it? I haven't noticed any conflict between Jesus and the Buddha, the Buddha's Dharma. I haven't seen any conflict. That's very good. Thank you. Our next offering is from Ko.


Hello. Hello, Assembly. Hello. I think I have a question and a confession. And I'll start with confession. Right now, I'm in a very sweet period in my life. I'm with a toddler who I'm about to adopt. And I am cocooning and not wanting to connect outside. And I, I worried that I'm, I'm not entering fully into the conversation of the world. So I confess and repent my attachment to this sweet bubble at this time. So you, you're taking care of a sweet bubble. I am.


A bubble of sweetness around a bubble of sweetness. And that's, that's what you're working on. And you what you're noticing is some attachment. And you're confessing that? Yes. Are you confessing that because you think maybe the attachment will not be beneficial? I think it's beneficial to a small area, but I don't think it radiates. What's the small area that it's beneficial to? The little girl that we're caring for and my husband and myself. You think the attachment is beneficial? No. I think the commitment. The commitment to taking care of her is beneficial?


Yes. So is the compassion helping that commitment? Yes. I question that. You question the compassion? No. I question that attachment benefits the commitment. Yes. My question is, do you think that the attachment benefits the commitment? No. I agree with you. The attachment increases the likelihood that the commitment will burn out. Yes. The commitment, that's the thing. You want to protect this precious living being. That's the bodhisattva way. Attachment to that undermines that commitment. And that would be a good thing for us to confess. Yes. First of all, I confess that I'm totally devoted to this being and I don't regret that.


Yes. I confess that I'm attached and I regret that. Yes. Because I can take better care of her if I'm not attached to my commitment. My commitment blooms in non-attachment. Like we say, flowers fall in our attachment. So yeah, so I hear your confession of some attachment around this very good thing. And confessing and repenting in that way will melt away the root of transgressing from the commitment into attachment. You're committed to her welfare, to her protection, to her life. You're not committed to attachment. But when we take care of something, attachment can sneak up on us.


Like Suzukiroshi's wife said to me famously, sometimes when we take care of something for a long time, we think we own it. So this precious being that you're taking care of, you do not own her. You have the great joy to care for her, but you don't own her. However, in your great care, this, this feeling of ownership may sneak up on you. Gotta watch out for that. I don't own her, but if I was taking care of her like you do, I might think I did. So you're the one who is being so kind and generous, and the more kind and generous we are for something, the more the ownership might sneak in. Watch out for that. And when we notice it, give it attention, acknowledge it, and see if you feel sorry about it, because it's not helpful to the flower of compassion.


It is, however, helpful to undermining your compassion. So thank you for your confession and repentance. And I have a question about the true color of practice. Yeah. I think I heard... It's the pure and... It's the pure and simple color. So this practice is a very pure and simple color. There's other colors in the practice, but this is the pure and simple one. There's also complicated colors. But this is the pure and simple one. I did that. I witnessed that. I attended to that. I acknowledge it. And I'm sorry. That's a simple practice with your little girl is almost ready to start that one. Mommy, I'm sorry. I did that.


She's almost ready for that practice and you don't have to tell her to do it. Just demonstrate it and she'll appreciate it. Sweetheart. I'm sorry. I was impatient with you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't pay attention to you. I'm sorry. Thank you, Mommy. And then she'll learn that from you, which will be so beneficial to everyone. So that's the pure and simple color. And is that how it's perceivable? I think you said it was perceivable or observable. Is that how it's perceivable? That's how it's a color. That's how it's a color. So practice has that color. The Bodhisattva practice has that color of confession and repentance. It also has not a color. It's just space. It's like space. But space isn't a color. So the Bodhisattva, you know, the Bodhisattva practice is like space, but it also has a color.


And the color of it is this practice, which you can see with your eyes. And you can hear, it's also the sound. He said it was the color, but it's also the sound. The sound of practice is, I wasn't kind to you. I'm sorry. I wasn't listening to you. You can hear that. And it's a touch. And it's a touch. So we can perceive this practice of confession and repentance, which opens us to a path which is really like space. which is totally free. But in the realm of color, here is a color of practice. In the realm of evil colors and good colors, here's the color of practice. Thank you.


Thank you. Our next offering is from Angela. Good morning, Rep. Good morning. Good morning, Great Assembly, or good day, Great Assembly. When you brought up the fires of good and evil, It feels as though they're presently dancing within this body. And I wish to receive your invitation and Dogen Senji's invitation to confess that


I recognize all the time that I want to veer away from this intensity. And so I'm sorry for wanting to veer away. And... Excuse me. First of all, you acknowledge that. Yes. You acknowledged it. You paid attention, you acknowledged it, and now you say you're sorry. Yes. Thank you. So, and I feel... I feel sorry for doubting the practice. That's how it feels to me, when... Yeah, so there again, you acknowledge you're sorry, it would be good to acknowledge first.


I acknowledge that I doubted the practice and I'm sorry. Okay. You did it, but maybe just be aware. Okay, and now I'm acknowledging that I doubted and I'm sorry. Okay. Okay. And I wish to be generous. Here's your vow. Yes, I wish to be generous and ethical and patient and enthusiastic with this wanting to veer, with this doubting in practice. And being that way, will be available after you confess and repent. So you confess and repent, and then you do all those things with it.


Then you're ready to practice the precepts with this situation. But it's good to start with acknowledging, I want to get out of here. I'm sorry. Now I'll do all those good things with it. And even when I think I can't. That's another one. So I acknowledge that I think I can't. And so I confess that I think I can't. And then being attentive and caring for that. I wish to be attentive to it and care for the thought, I can't. Yeah, and I also wish that you'll be generous to that thought. However, one small detail. is you had the thought, but the thing to be sorry about is not that thought. So you confess the thought, but you didn't say, I didn't hear you say anything that you need to be sorry about.


You don't need to be sorry about that thought, but you do need to be kind to me. And you didn't say, I had that thought and I believed it. I didn't expect that thought. I believed it. And that's what I'm sorry about. But you didn't say that you believed that thought. You just said you had it. I could have a thought like that too, before I even get into, and that's true. I just said, oh, now I'm visited by this thought that I can't. Hi. I love you. Let's move on. But if I have the thought and believe it then I'm sorry. Okay, because I had the thought and then I was not generous. Because I believed it. So I think may you might have missed something there in your confession. You might have missed the I'm sorry. I believed it.


Yes, I believed this thought I can't and I'm sorry. I believed it. So now I can be kind to it. You're good, great teacher. Thank you. You're better than me. Thank you. You're welcome. Our next offering is from Scott. Hello, can you hear me now? Yes, now we can hear you. Greetings, dear Reb Roshi and Assembly. I just want to address my own experience and question the designation of illness and sickness and disease as being evil.


I don't think that's really the case. It's not that they are evil. They are forms of evil. Well, let me discuss this with you. A year and a half ago, I had heart surgery to repair my ascending aorta that was failing and they went in there and they patched it. And it was a profound experience for me. And I understand from the nurses that I very nearly died during the procedure. And I know that I have, I literally felt my heart open after this procedure. I felt like a very different, just very different in some fundamental way that was good and an opening that occurred in that process of the surgery and the recovery. And then, on top of that, I've had the great privilege of serving as a chaplain in a local community hospital for the past year, and in that capacity,


Whenever I go in, I have a list of patients, all of whom are extremely ill. Otherwise, I wouldn't be sent to talk to them. And I have found that this, that the people who are experiencing serious, profound illness and maybe on the point of passing away, many have come to a place of letting go, and accepting what is happening to them and to have come to a kind of, for them, a new peace and reconciliation with who they are and what's happening and their possible imminent passing away.


And I found in my work as chaplain that this person that I didn't know five minutes before I go into the room and I begin talking to this person and quite often you fall into this intimate relationship. This person I didn't know becomes someone that I can see into their heart and they can see into me and All, you know, all pretension, all pretending, all, you know, all of the stuff that we normally in our healthy lives do without even thinking about it, and you're covering ourselves and pretending to be. And, you know, I want to be important and hiding things for themselves for for many of the people that I have served in my capacity all that falls away. It falls away and then they're just they're just themselves.


They're just this this human being who is was on the verge of possibly dying and in any case of being seriously depleted in various ways. And I've encountered the most extraordinary courage and even joy in some of these people that I've had the privilege to work with and sit with and talk to in that circumstance, in which I've found that their illness has often served, even if they did not intend to, really is a profound spiritual journey for these people. And for me, every time I encounter this, and I certainly have found that there's no evil there, you know, you know, that we're all dependent arising beings, and our bodies are designed


to break down, they're designed to fall apart, as we all know. And the acceptance of that, it seems to be a very important step in our spiritual life. So I just want to bring that to you from my personal experience, Rev, and just have that perspective about sickness and illness, that it's not necessarily something terrible at all, even if it's terrible, because of of what it can bring out in a person in their deepest spirit and define themselves in a much more intimate relationship with their own life and with their own death. So I just want to give that to the simply and to you. Thank you for your gift. Our next offering is from Lori.


Oh, sorry, Leslie. That's not me. Also, I wasn't ready because I thought other people were ahead of me. I just have a short question. Let's do Lori. Yeah. I think Good morning. Good morning, Rev and Great Assembly. Hi. So this, I have to say, I probably asked you this question 20 or 30 years ago at City Center, my problem with noise with neighbors. And when you're talking about confession, I am confessing that I still have great anger with noisy neighbors and people just moved out and I had to really look at this that for a whole year I've been angry with them every day and it goes to a feeling of being attacked by their noise although they're probably not doing it on purpose to me that's what it feels like and I have to admit I'm not even I was thinking about confession and repenting I'm not even ready to repent I'm still holding on to that anger


And I know that what will happen is new neighbors will come in and I'm going to go through this whole cycle again. So I'm asking you for your help in sorting this out so that I don't go through this cycle. It's been going on for too long. Thank you. So it sounds like you, you did the first part of confession. You confess that you had a certain response to this attack on your ears, but you're not aware that you regret that anger. You're not aware that you're sorry about it. That hasn't come yet. I am sorry. I feel kind of embarrassed and ashamed, like I should be a better student. There's the repentance. Embarrassed, sorry, there's a repentance. So the proposal from the ancestors is the practice of acknowledging the anger towards this noise and the people and feeling embarrassed about it and sorry about it.


To do that practice like you're doing right now in this assembly, this practice will melt away the root of the anger. and perhaps anything else unhelpful in response to these people, if you confess it and feel sorry and embarrassed, and you do that like you're doing right now with the assembly or with the Buddhas and ancestors, if you do that, that practice has the power to find a peaceful path through this situation and melt away the root of the anger which is interfering with your peace, with this noise. So, on a very practical level, new people move in, they make noise that I don't find acceptable, and I'm feeling attacked, then I need to repent right then, like, I'm sorry, I'm being angry?


If you're feeling attacked, you don't have to... If you're feeling attacked, if I'm feeling attacked, I want to give attention to that feeling of attack and acknowledge it. Okay. If I'm feeling attacked, I should respect that feeling of attack. If I'm really respectful of the feeling of attack, I might not get into ill will or anything. I can be attacked, and if I take care of that feeling, then I'll be fine. But if I don't take care of the feeling of being attacked, then I may slip into, I don't know what, revenge, hatred, whatever. Then I want to acknowledge that, and if I feel sorry, to say I'm sorry, and that practice will free me and everybody else of this ill will that's arisen in response to feeling attacked.


So you just did the practice that will work for you if you again are attacked and instead of just taking care of the feeling of attack with compassion, you slip into, you know, whatever, trying to get rid of these people or... Yes, knocking on the wall, like, be quiet, be quiet. Well, again, you can offer knocking the walls as a gift, not as ill will, not as disrespect. But here, this is Laurie's world. Laurie's saying, please be quiet. That's your gift. It's not anger, it's not hatred. It's just, I'm stressed, please give me a break as a gift. And you can confess that too, but I wouldn't feel sorry if I, gave people a gift like that, but I might say, yeah, I did give him that gift.


I told him, I asked him to be quiet. I helped them understand me. But if I start hating them, then I'm embarrassed by that and I'm sorry about that. And the two together is the pure and simple color of practice. Really? Wow. That's so wonderful. It's wonderful. Okay. Yeah. Thank you so much. I'll have to rewatch this. That is such a revelation to me that I could actually give a gift. Okay. Thank you, Rob. Doug and Zanji really thought this was a great practice. Yes. Thank you. You're welcome. Our next offering is from Pam. Good morning. Good morning. Um, so I just wanted to offer a little bit of my world at your invitation. Um, so, uh, I just want to share my experience that I had, uh, in listening to, you know, you're, you're talking about confession and repentance and it, um, you know, brought up the, uh, one particular way that I have not been following the precepts.


And I was thinking of that, and then I was listening to you read the snowman poem and really listening to it. And I was hearing the message of the interdependence of things and of not putting anything extra onto it and just being with the thing itself, which is an expression of everything. And I felt, I was really moved by that. And I felt a feeling of forgiveness. I felt that I had been forgiven. And I, you know, I cried a little bit. And then I brought up a question. And the question was, well, you know, in seeing the interdependence of the causes and conditions of why I might have behaved in this way, you know, the feeling of forgiveness arises.


But what about the accountability? That was my question. And then I thought, well, what is that about? You know, and it's kind of goes back to what Ji-Ren was talking about, like, like, there's kind of this, you know, this need, you have to hold people, yeah, hold people accountable. Yeah. Well, a while ago, for example, Carol, told us that she wants to create a really sweet bubble for this baby. She's committed to that. No problem. And she also told us about some attachment. Problem. And, but she didn't, she didn't, it wasn't clear, but she gave me her world in the way she gave it. So then I could ask her questions, you know, The commitment is good, right, Carol? Yes. Is the attachment good? No, that's not what I want.


I'm not committed to attach to this bubble. I'm committed to care for her. So that's an example where she gave me her world and then I could look in that, I could ask her questions about the world because she gave it to me. And I felt when she gave it to me that she was also welcoming me to question her. If I wasn't sure, I might've said, Well, I heard you tell me something about your world. Are you open to me questioning this a little bit? And she probably would have said yes. And also with Angela, when she told us about this situation, I questioned her about, well, where's the repentance? And she said, we looked at that. So I need, when you give me your world, I need to question you. And when I give you my world, I need you to question me. And if you give me your world, then I check, can I question you? And you say, yes.


And so now there's the accountability. And when you give it to me, you can say, I'm giving, hey, Rev, I'm giving you my world and I'm giving you this for you to question me about it. which you just, you just did. You gave me your world and you kind of said, question me about that. So I'm doing that. But it's sometimes to tell the person I'm giving you my world. And please understand that this is a gift that you can question. I need you to question my gifts, but I need to give my gifts first. Do you have a question for me? Not, no, not right now, but you kind of asked a question for me about where's the accountability and I showed you. Well, I, I was, that was just part of where I was going in my story. So what occurred to me then was that, that, that question of accountability, it was coming from kind of this, you know, my upbringing and kind of a way that our society is structured where you have to single somebody out and they have to


be punished in some way for what they've done wrong. And I was thinking more about that, and I thought, well, that's really, in this case at least, I think it's kind of beside the point. It's not really necessary. It's not really helpful. It doesn't add anything. It doesn't make anything better. What doesn't add anything? Having to punish. In forgiveness, sometimes it's very close to condoning. You see the causes and conditions, you understand where the behavior comes from. There's a forgiveness and understanding it from that perspective. But it almost can feel like condoning sometimes, even though the two are really different, they're really close. By the way, everything's really close. Yeah. So some people don't want to forgive because if they forgive, people might say you condone.


Right. Right. And I think it just sometimes for me, it does kind of go there. But the police who are going around apprehending people, you know, and they're not condoning it. They're actually interacting with what they're doing and trying to stop them from doing it. They can, while they're doing that, they could forgive the person. And also, you know, basically use force to stop them from doing some harmful thing. And forgive them. Forget about the police. You could do that. You could intercede or interact with some harmful situation and really work to protect being from it. totally not you're wholeheartedly not condoning it you're wholeheartedly trying to protect people from it and forgive the person it's possible it feels like the the condoning yeah but yeah go ahead it feels like the condoning like condoning and punishing are just like like uh what is it


touching and pulling away or something like that like they're both wrong and they're both opposite sides. I agree and so the punishment it seems to be necessary in order to tell people we don't condone this. Right. But punishment doesn't bring out usually doesn't emphasize or doesn't clarify the forgiveness. Yeah. But there can't be punishment making clear we don't condone and also forgiveness right along with the punishment. It's possible. I felt like in that place of listening to you read that poem and considering the emptiness of it that I was also able to see the root of it in that place of forgiveness and the intention to to make right, to like to apologize to someone who is also involved in the situation.


And seeing the harm that it caused me was all very clear. And I wasn't connoting or punishing. It was just in that space of forgiveness, there was a lot that happened in there. And so none of the other parts of it were necessary. So I just wanted to share that because it was really helpful. Thank you. And the thought just occurred to me that in the system of blaming people and punishing them, one of the virtues of this punishing and blaming, which is not forgiveness and is not usually associated with compassion, It gets people's attention. They pay attention to the process of studying this situation. I'm sorry that we have to punish people in order to get people's attention. Like without punish, if we don't, Floyd, would people, possibility of punishment.


That possibility helps get, want punishment. But the people who don't want punishment, everybody's looking at it. So I, in Buddhism, and in the I Ching, there is no blame. But maybe in society, we need punishment and blaming in order to help people realize that there's no blame. I don't know we anyway, we've got it. But I think We can protect beings. We can protect beings from harm and forgive the harm. And forgiving the harm actually might make us more wholehearted in our protecting activities. I think it does. It certainly opens up the heart of wanting to repair


It opens up the heart and helps us engage more wholeheartedly in protecting beings from the harm, which we might want to blame and punish rather than open to it and heal the world. Yeah. Thank you. Well, we're, I'm sorry, there's several people waiting, but, um, I think it's time to say so long. May our intention equally extend to every being and place.