The Buddha Way is Ongoing Crisis 

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meditation. We have a set of precepts called 16 Bodhisattva Precepts and we have them typed here on this piece of paper. And if any of you would like, I'll put this on the altar. Would you put this on the altar please? And you can have one of those to put on your altar at home if you'd like. These 16 Bodhisattva Precepts, as far as I know, first appeared in this way in Japan under the teaching of the Zen teacher, the Zen ancestor Ehei Dogen, who was the person who wrote what we chanted at the beginning. So he, I think, created these 16 Bodhisattva Precepts. So since we're in his lineage and he's in ours, we have these


16 Bodhisattva Precepts. I want to say that the Buddhas live in the Buddha way. That's probably not too shocking to hear. They live in the Buddha way. The way they live is the Buddha way. They live the Buddha way. All those, could you get those nuances? And so basically these Buddhas are living in crisis.


The Buddha way lives in crisis. That part may be surprising to some people. Is it? Yes. This relates to the statement that we chanted. Because Buddhas and ancestors extend their great compassion to us freely and without limit, we are able to attain Buddhahood and let go of it. So Buddhas are living in Buddhahood. They're living in the Buddha way. And they're


also letting go of the Buddha way, moment by moment. And this is the Buddha way, is to be in crisis, is to be at the turning point of attaining Buddhahood, letting go of Buddhahood, attaining Buddhahood, letting go of Buddhahood, attaining Buddhahood, and you know what comes next, right? Give it away. And giving Buddhahood away, you attain Buddhahood. Whenever you give Buddhahood away, at that time, you attain Buddhahood. Whenever Buddhahood is attained, it's when you give away Buddhahood. Because of Buddhas who practice this way, and because these beings extend their compassion to us, we are also able to live in crisis. We are also able to live in the Buddha way and give the Buddha way away. I'm happy that I said that to you.


And I'm happy to remember what I just said. When I remember this, I'm happy. Even if I forget it, I might be happy for a little while afterwards, because the effects of remembering the Buddha way extend beyond the time of remembering. So that even when you forget, sometimes you still feel not that bad. Please remember, if you have a chance, the Buddha way lives in crisis. It lives in turning, in leaping, turning, leaping, giving away your life, attaining Buddhahood, giving away Buddhahood, attaining Buddhahood. This is the Buddha way. And also, this attaining Buddhahood is not just because you give away your life, it's


also because Buddhas are giving away their life and extending their compassion to you, so that you are supported to do this amazing thing called making your life a gift, called letting go of your life, attaining Buddhahood with the aid of the Buddhas, and then letting go of the attainment with the aid of the Buddhas, and with the aid of the Buddhas, attaining the Buddha way, and again, living in crisis, living there serenely, joyfully, unmovingly. Turning point. Turning point. Buddhas live at the turning point. We live there too, but we might miss it. That's why I mentioned that the Buddhas are living there serenely.


So if you sit still, you'll discover you're at a turning point. And if you relax with that turning point, you enter the Buddha way. Did you want to say something, Patty? Oh, I was just trying to say that this happening, that we're just not noticing it. Exactly. Buddhas are living with what's happening. They live in the midst of the fierce flames of change, serenely, with all beings, and because of their compassion we dare to wake up to this reality where we're already living. But we're so concerned sometimes with controlling things and keeping things a certain way and avoiding other ways that we miss the way things are turning. And if we should ever attain something so wonderful as quite a bit of enlightenment,


we might want to hold on to it just for a little while. But Buddhas are actually helping us not to hold on to the most wonderful thing. Yes, Linda? When you chant this, and then when I just heard you say this, I think I don't really understand the question about Buddhas extending their compassion to us freely and without limit, and how that actually can happen. I can see they've demonstrated the possibility of the path, but I don't think I understand. Do you see that the Buddhas have demonstrated the possibility of the path? Do you see that that's a part of what I mean? Part of the way Buddhas extend their compassion is by showing the path. That's a big part of it, but that's not the whole thing.


The other part is that it completely includes everything that's going on. That everything is actually Buddha extending compassion to us freely and without limit. There's no limit to this extension. But you just thought of one example that makes sense to you. If somebody was showing the path, you could say, well, that's compassion. You're right, it is. And that's helping. But all the other things which you don't think are compassion, those are limits that you're putting on compassion. You don't see that as compassion. Or you don't see what's happening as the Buddhas extending their compassion to you, or to somebody. There's no limit to it. But we sometimes see a limit to it. We say, well, that's compassion. I can see that, but I can't see this. Okay, fine. If you confess that you can't see compassion,


then the Buddhas will help you see it. If you can see it somewhere, great. Start there. Start saying thank you there. Thank you, Buddhas, for showing us the path. I feel so grateful. I might even follow it. I might even walk it. And the more you walk it, the more you discover any limits you have about what it could be. And then you confess, okay, I don't believe this is the practice. I don't believe that Buddha is here with me now, extending compassion to me now. This is like, I don't get it. Okay, I confess. And then you let go of that. Yes? To me, it's the stillness, the still point, that is creating all those things around it.


No, it's not necessarily creating the things. We don't call that the creator. It's the still point. It's just that in the middle of all the things that are happening, there are innumerable still points. But the still points aren't all that's creating all the things that are happening. So the intention, is there intention in the still point of all the stillnesses? Is there some... Yes, there is. There is an intention in each of the still points in relationship to all the other still points. Each still point has within it the intention to be... to encourage all other still points to realize Buddhahood. What? What is Buddha? Buddha is not nothing. But that was... I wanted to talk to you about that.


So this morning I said to you, now while you're sitting, now while sitting, are you practicing the Bodhisattva precepts? And the first Bodhisattva precept is, in our tradition, but really it's the first precept of all Buddhist traditions, the first precept of Buddhism, of Buddha way, is to return to the Buddha way. That's the first precept. Obviously. The first precept of the Buddha way is to return to Buddha, to take refuge in Buddha. That's the first precept. And then one might wonder, well, what's Buddha? Like, Homa even wonders that, right? And sometimes Homa thinks Buddha is nothing. Well, according to Buddha, that's not correct. Buddha is not nothing. Get it? Got that? Buddha is not nothing. Also, Buddha is not something. Buddha is the Buddha way, which is not nothing and not something.


What is Buddha? Buddha is sitting in the midst of crisis, serenely, wishing for all beings to find their place in crisis and be still, unmoving, serene. This wish is part of what Buddha is. But this wish is not nothing. But you can't get a hold of that wish. It has no limits. In its fineness, it fits into spacelessness. In its greatness, it is utterly beyond location. But it's not nothing and it's not something. It's better than something and it's better than nothing. I think. That's my opinion. That's an opinion. So anyway, I asked you, when you're sitting, are you practicing the Bodhisattva precepts?


Are you practicing, for example, are you practicing going for refuge in Buddha when you're sitting? Is that sitting going for refuge in Buddha? Is that sitting returning to Buddha? Is that sitting returning to Dharma? Is that sitting returning to Sangha? Is it? If you want it to be, it is. If you don't want it to be, then it's kind of like it isn't. If you don't want to go for refuge, then that's not going for refuge. Wanting to go for refuge is part of going for refuge. If you don't want to practice the Bodhisattva precepts, you're a success. You didn't practice them. If you want to practice them, you're a success. You are practicing when you want to. And I thought I might mention to you what they are. What are they? Number one, going for refuge in Buddha. If you don't want to go for refuge


in Buddha, Buddha says, OK, maybe later. I'm here. If you want to come home, I'm waiting for you. I'm kind of inviting you to come home, but you know, take your time. If you want to come home, you're already home. But then, what is Buddha, by the way? Oh yeah, what is Buddha? Homer used to think it was nothing. That's not right. Somebody else used to think it was something. That's not right. What is Buddha? I wrote it down here if you want to know. Want to know what it is? No? You do? Buddha is...this very mind is Buddha. I did too. It says right here, what is Buddha? I wrote it right here. Doesn't that say what is Buddha? What is Buddha? It has a B with a circle around it. A B with


a circle around it is my icon for Buddha. Press that icon. What is B with a circle around it? Buddha. What is Buddha? Buddha is Sokushin Zebutsu. This very mind is Buddha. What is this very mind? Is that nothing? Is that something? So, the great Zen teacher Matsus was asked by one of his darling disciples, what is Buddha? And he said, this very mind is Buddha. And that disciple was greatly enlightened. And then later Matsus changed his teaching to, no Buddha, no mind. Or sometimes he said,


no mind, no Buddha. He said it in Chinese though. He changed his teaching. So he sent one of his disciples to this enlightened disciple to tell him about the change in the teaching and see how he felt about it. And when he told him, the disciple said, he can keep his no mind, no Buddha. I'm just going to do this very mind is Buddha. So, this very mind is Buddha. Some people don't like Buddha, so okay. Then you can practice the Bodhisattva precepts of taking refuge in this very mind, returning to this very mind. That's the same precept. And this very mind is also living in crisis. This mind is living in crisis.


Now can you sit still and calmly and joyfully in the middle of this turning mind, this crisis mind? That's where Buddha is. Do you want to go there and sit there with the Buddhas in the middle of this very mind? Are you practicing that when you're sitting today? Please check it out. Or as we say, when you come to no abode, I could say, when you come to no abode, are you coming to no abode to take refuge in this very mind? When you come to no abode, do you take refuge in this very mind? When you come to no abode, do you take refuge in Buddha? When you come to no abode, do you take refuge in no abode? As soon as you take refuge in no abode, you take refuge in Buddha. As soon as you come to no abode, you take


refuge in Buddha. You can resist that, or you can say, okay, I'm coming to no abode, I'm returning to Buddha. I open the door, I come in, I've come home to Buddha. When you go out the door here, into the parking lot, I leave no abode, I let go of no abode, I enter no abode again. When you enter no abode, you enter no mind, no Buddha. When you enter this very mind, you enter no abode. Being mindful of this is being mindful of the first bodhisattva precept, which is going for refuge in Buddha. So that's what Buddha is. Please take care of that. It's not nothing. Just because you can't grasp it, it doesn't mean it's not nothing. That's true. Also, it doesn't mean it's not nothing, just because


you can't grasp it. Why not? It goes beyond being ungraspable and becomes graspable, just so that you can say that. So sometimes you can grasp nothing, right? And then you become what we call a nihilist. A nihilist is something you should look up in the dictionary. You should do some research on that big English word, nihilism. It's a word you should study. That's the first time I've heard it. Nihilism. N-I-H-I-L-I-S-M. Did I spell it right? Yay! Google it. Wikipedia it. Study that word and then come back and we'll talk more about


it later. It's a very good word to know about because it's one of the pitfalls of studying the deep wisdom of our tradition. Yes, Simon? Is there an antidote to that pitfall? Is there an antidote to it? There are innumerable antidotes. One is to, for example, say it's nothing and then get a response. Say it's nothing to somebody who is in the nihilism antidote business. Practicing the Bodhisattva precepts is an antidote. Returning to Buddha, coming home to Buddha. And then, again, calling that nothing and getting feedback on that


and seeing if you're holding on or whether you can receive that feedback. See if you can make a big, wholehearted commitment to returning to that which you can't grasp. If you're falling into the pit of nihilism, it's hard for you to commit to a going-for-refuge exercise program. It's hard for you to make every moment of your sitting practice, to sit wholeheartedly and give yourself completely to this mind, this body. Give your whole attention to that as returning to no abode. And to do that wholeheartedly will be hard if you have any nihilism affecting you. On the other hand, if you do that, you'll notice the nihilism


will not have much effect, even if a part of you thinks that the ungraspable is nothing, rather than the ungraspable is our life, or that our life is ungraspable but not nothing. How about practicing the Middle Way? Practicing the Middle Way is the same thing. This is another language. The Middle Way is ungraspable, but we can realize the ungraspable. It's called Buddha's wisdom and compassion is what it's like to realize the Middle Way. Buddha found the Middle Way, Buddha found the Middle Way. Finding the Buddha Way is finding the Middle Way. When Buddha found the Buddha Way, Buddha said he found the Middle Way. Finding the Middle Way is the Middle


Way between nihilism and realism. Existence-ism and non-existence-ism. Would it be possible to be in the non-existence, would it be possible to be in the non-existence but be the ungraspable? I just want to get rid of this. You want to be rid of something? I just want to get rid of this nihilism. You want to get rid of it? Yeah. Nihilism is not something to get rid of, it's something to take care of. Nihilism is a living being. What? Living beings seem to get in the way sometimes. That's why if you take


care of living beings, they won't get in the way. But living beings can have nihilism arise in their mind. So we have to take care of this person, this being who has nihilism. If you take care of this being who has nihilism, then the nihilism won't get in the way. Now if you think this being who has nihilism has, that their nihilism is a correct understanding, then you've got another misunderstanding to take care of. So these things get in the way if you don't take care of them. But if you take care of them, they become Dharma doors. But it's hard to take care of nihilists sometimes. They're very obnoxious. Yes? I was thinking the other day about where our perceptions come from. Like if I was placed


in a white room and sitting completely still, everything was, you know, like lighted up. If someone threw a ball in, how would I know that that's a ball? Is it from the motion? Is it from the stillness? Is it from our conditioning of knowing what a ball is and what motion it is? Where do our perceptions arise from? Well, I gave a course a year or so ago on where our perceptions arise from. It's called The Course on Buddhist Epistemology, because epistemology is about where do perceptions come from? What's the basis of them? It's a very unpopular class. I gave three years ago? Yeah, three years ago. So the teaching about where perceptions come from is they come from basically three main conditions. One condition is called the, well I'll just say it in English, the immediately


antecedent condition, which is that there was a perception immediately antecedent to the one that we have now. The second condition is the condition of an organ, a sensitive physical being. And the third condition is the object condition. So when you have an object, like the basic objects are, we call them colors, sounds, smells, tastes, intangibles, and mind objects, when you have those objects and you have sensitive organs, sensitive physical areas, like called eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and when those sensitive areas are stimulated by these sensitive physical beings, are stimulated by these other physical beings, or these sensitive mental organs are stimulated by mental objects, in dependence on a previously antecedent condition


of another consciousness, those are the conditions that give rise to a perception. That's the philosophy of how it happens. Fortunately or unfortunately it's necessary in the Buddha Dharma, so some people are kind of having a hard time with that part of the Course. Because it is epistemology, it's philosophy. Thank you for asking the question for us to give another little moment of epistemology. But without a previous moment of consciousness, which arose from similar conditions, we would not be able to have this moment of consciousness. So this perception depends on a previous perception. A previous perception isn't enough. You have to have a living organism, a living sensitive being, and it has to be stimulated. But that


combination of those three gives rise to the new cognition. Yes, Roberta? It's in that previous condition, isn't that the source of a lot of suffering and error, that you see something or encounter someone, and you think it's all the same as before, when you've got this sort of picture of the situation that person is in. That's not the previous condition. That's the condition for the present example that you just gave. What you just said the person is thinking or perceiving, when that arises, that depends on a previous example. But the previous example is not the example you gave. It's a different consciousness. The previous one isn't the one you just gave as an example.


But the one you gave as an example, which is the source of suffering, in order for that to arise, it depends on a previous state of consciousness. But the previous state of consciousness doesn't have to be like the suffering one you gave as an example. It could be, but it doesn't have to be. Yes. It's a condition necessary for a moment of non-valid cognitions, like the one you just exemplified. I'm trying to connect that back to you. You were talking about the Buddha as a turning point. How does that relate to this? Well, like when I'm talking to you now, when I was talking to Roberta, and when you were talking to me, and when Roberta was talking to me, were we, are we, when we're having


this conversation, simultaneously practicing the Bodhisattva precepts? Can you have a conversation with someone and practice the Bodhisattva precepts as you're having a conversation? So you're talking to somebody about epistemology, perception, the causes and conditions of the arising of suffering. You're having conversations about these topics. Now, are you also going for refuge at the same time? And I propose it's possible to have conversations, we say, in the weeds, and remember the Bodhisattva precepts while you're talking to somebody. It's a basically neat trick. It's the trick of the Buddha way. It's to remember the Buddha way while you're being a human being. By your being, not just a human being, but this particular


human being that you are, is talking about whatever. That no matter what you're doing, in the middle of that, there's turning. And there's a possibility of returning to Buddha no matter what's going on. Is it because there could be a precondition of openness? Say again? Is it because there could be a precondition of openness that surrounds this conversation? Well, yeah. But it's not just that there's a precondition for openness, but also that there's a possibility that that precondition will be realized as openness. We can always be open to what's happening as returning to Buddha. And there's conditions which make it possible for us to actually realize that. There's also conditions which make it possible for us to not open to this as being returning to Buddha. There's conditions which make


it possible for us not to feel like we're practicing Bodhisattva precepts while we're talking, while we're here together. There are conditions for that. But because there's conditions for not feeling like we're practicing, and maybe even not wanting to practice, because there's conditions for it, we can become free of those conditions. And we can open. Because there's conditions for our closeness to what's happening, our closeness is ungraspable. And because it's ungraspable, we can become free of it. We don't get to have it, but we don't have to be trapped by it. So when we practice the Buddha way in the conversation, is Source speaking? Did you say Source speaking?


Yeah. Yeah, Source speaking, right. Source speaking. It sounds like you're trying to get a hold of something now, rather than just let it be Source. You got distracted from Source speaking and now you switch to try to get a hold of something that's been spoken. So you just lost track. For a while there you had this nice Source speaking. Because of causes and conditions you can't let go, sometimes. That's the reason. But when you said Source speaking at that time, you were right, that was Source speaking. And then you tried to get something, because of past conditioning of trying to get something. Source speaking, so forget about Source now, I just want to get what the Source spoke. Well then you block more Source speaking, by this kind of diversion from just enjoying


Source speaking. Last time I was here, I offered some calligraphy, and some people did not pick up their calligraphy, so I brought some more for those who expressed sorrow of having missed the opportunity. Here they are again. So these are the four great Bodhisattva vows, which we will now chant in English. This is a Chinese, in case you didn't recognize it. Chinese. And so we say in Chinese, we say, SHU-JO-MU-HEN-SEI-GAN-DO. Sino-Japanese. The mass of living beings is without limit, vowing to carry them across. Afflictions are without exhaust, can't be


exhausted, vowing to cut through. Dharma gates are without measure, vowing to learn them all. Buddha way is unsurpassable, vowing to become it. Did you hear that? Were you happy to hear that? Were you? I was happy to say it. Now let's vow. Ready? Thank you.