Causation and Non-Self 

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Check, check. Check, check. I brought some Chinese calligraphy which I brought to previous classes. This Chinese calligraphy could be translated as deep faith cause and effect.


And usually it would be translated as deep faith in cause and effect. And it's the name of an essay written by the ancestor of this lineage named Ehe Dogen. He wrote this towards the end of his life. Towards the end of his life he more clearly and literally was expressing deep faith in causation. Deep faith in the teachings, the Buddha's teaching of causation.


Deep faith that the Buddha's teaching is about causation. And deep faith that studying, meditating, understanding causation is very important. It is not so common in my overview of Zen literature, it's not so common to hear Zen people saying that understanding causation is essential.


But I think that my understanding is that Dogen was of that view, at least for part of his life. That understanding dependent co-arising, understanding causation was essential. And in the early Buddhist teachings, it seems to me, and certainly now in the way that Buddhism is taught and studied in Southeast Asia, in the Theravadan tradition, it is more common for them to explicitly say that dependent co-arising is a important teaching, or one of the most important teachings, or the most important teaching of the Buddha. Dependent co-arising, of course, is very closely related to the reality and teaching of impermanence.


And also it is said quite commonly that if we do not understand dependent co-arising, that we will be more or less stressed out. And if we do understand dependent co-arising, we will be at ease and free within the reality of dependent co-arising. There is no other reality than dependent co-arising. There is no place else to live. There are no things that exist that aren't dependent co-arising. So some of you already have this piece of calligraphy.


If you'd like another one, you may have it. And if you don't have one, you're also welcome to come and receive one. At lunch at Green Gosh Today, I overheard the head of the guest program saying something about something. And I said, what are you talking about? And it turns out what she was talking about, which I suspected, was that they've made now t-shirts with this calligraphy on it to sell in the Green Gulch office. And at Tassajara also. Tassajara also. The same person who is now at Green Gulch was the one who got the Tassajara t-shirts going at Tassajara. But now, instead of saying Tassajara on the sleeve, it's going to say Green Gulch. Green Gulch Farm. Which my grandson will actually be very happy about.


Because he wants a Green Gulch t-shirt. Also, I have a reading list, an extensive reading list, about dependent cauterizing. And just a moment ago, I thought this reading list should be expanded. And a book called Being Upright should be added to the list. Because Being Upright has a chapter kind of to it. I have an introductory chapter on dependent cauterizing. So I'm going to add Being Upright to this reading list about dependent cauterizing. I, in my view, is that I cannot see causation.


My individual consciousness, and certainly my sense consciousness, cannot see cause and effect. The fleshy eye can see an event, followed by an event, followed by an event. And some people think that this moment is the cause of the next moment. Which, to some extent, is true. But you can't see this moment followed by the next moment. You can't actually see that. You can see a particular object in this moment, followed by an object in the next moment. So we can't actually see causation. In my view, causation is not something seen or understood by sense consciousness.


So this deep faith in causation means various things, as I mentioned. But part of it would be that we would be paying attention to, or remembering, or being mindful, that causation is important. And at the same time now, I'm suggesting that you're aware of something that you can't see. Or rather, you're directing your attention towards something you can't see. Everything you see is a dependent co-arising. But seeing a thing that's a dependent co-arising is not the same as seeing dependent co-arising. Say it again? Everybody you see is a dependent co-arising, but seeing a dependent co-arising doesn't mean that you see dependent co-arising. To see what has dependent co-arisen is not the same as seeing dependent co-arising.


So we will see dependent co-arising with a wisdom eye, and the wisdom eye is not an individual consciousness. And yet, the wisdom eye can illuminate individual consciousness, which is important to individual consciousnesses, that they be illuminated. Also, I said this before, I'll say it again, the Buddha said, one who sees dependent co-arising sees the Dharma. One who sees the Dharma sees me, the Buddha. But again, seeing dependent co-arising is not something that we see. We see with our sense consciousness. So how do we see it? So that's part of what I want to explore with you.


And I started last week by suggesting being silent and still is, I think, seems to me, essential. Essential for understanding the central teaching of the Buddhas. And also, I said earlier, silent and still, present and ready for, I said whatever comes, whatever, I could also say, present and ready, silent and still, present and ready to meet silence and stillness. So dependent co-arising is silent and still.


But it is also silence and stillness. So we can practice the ritual of silence and stillness to make ourselves available, present and accountable, present and available to meet silence and stillness. To meet dependent co-arising. So another song which can be changed slightly is Silent light, holy light, all is calm, all is bright.


In this case it's referring to dependent co-arising. Dependent co-arising is a silent, unmoving light. Dependent co-arising is the light of all things. And this light is, of course, bright, and it's silent, and it's still. Which, of course, is the same as the Buddha. The Buddha of each thing is its beauty, is its dependent co-arising, and this beautiful dependent co-arising, this beautiful, brilliant dependent co-arising of everything, of each thing, is silent and still.


And I'm proposing that we practice being silent and still as the first step, which we repeat over and over. Moment by moment we do the same practice of silent and still to meet the Dharma, to meet the Buddha, to meet dependent co-arising. I may not say that every moment to you, but I'm suggesting that every moment we practice that way. If we wish to make ourselves available to the Dharma and to the Buddha.


So remembering to be silent and still is similar to remembering to return to Buddha and return to Dharma. And, of course, return to Sangha, because Sangha is the community which is dependently co-arising together. So now another step deeper into this meeting. I guess I'll just use the word concentration. Concentration. I would guess that maybe you're not surprised


that silence and stillness might be a place in which concentration could be developed. Does that make sense to you? Does that make sense to you? Even if someone's singing, or playing the piano, or dancing, maybe it makes sense to you that if they were silent and still as they were singing, that would go with them being really concentrated while they're singing. Does that make sense? And, of course, we're in a yoga space, so the same with yoga. You're doing these postures, but silently and immovably. And then everything changes and there's another posture, a different posture, even if it has the same name. Now here, in this context of learning this teaching


and realizing the Buddha way, the postures that we assume are not just for the health benefits of the posture. We're using a posture to, first of all, be silent and still with that posture, to use that posture to be silent and still. And we're using that posture as an opportunity to open to the truth. So we might start now a life where we are going to try to remember, in the midst of all of our activity,


in the midst of all of our singing and dancing, in the midst of all of our crying and shouting, in each moment to be silent and still. So that no matter what's arising, there's a possibility to meet the light of wisdom, the light of truth in the moment. And not concentrate on this. Concentrate on this, but what I mean by concentrate is not so much that you focus on this, try to limit yourself to it, but rather now, in addition to silence and stillness,


we now open and unite with the world. Open and unite to our whole environment. And that's concentration. So, silence, stillness, and now concentration. And our environment is, our whole environment is, all the conditions and causes that give rise to us. All the things in the world we depend on is our environment. Our environment is all the things we depend on.


So now we're going to open to this world, which is now opening to dependent co-arising. We're opening to the world, we're opening to dependent co-arising, and we're opening to the dependent co-arising of the world. And we're opening to the world of dependent co-arising. So the gesture is silence, stillness, presence, openness, and openness which is allowing unification. Silence, stillness, and now concentration on dependent co-arising. Not necessarily thinking of the word dependent co-arising,


not necessarily thinking of the word dharma, although you can. You can think of the word wall, the word ceiling, the word dharma, the expression dependent co-arising. Anything that comes up, you're open to it. But being open to anything that comes up, I would say means you're open to dependent co-arising. Being open to part of what's coming up is not appropriate to opening to causation. Opening to part of what's going on, or noticing part of what's going on, is our usual way of seeing things. Like I see John's face now, now I see Steph's face, now I see Marsha's face. I don't see everybody's face at once. And when I see one face after another,


or one room after another, or one life after another, this is the kind of seeing where I don't see dependent co-arising. So the place I see dependent co-arising is to open to everything, which means I'm not opening just to what I can see. And of course I'm not opening to what I like among what I see only, or what I dislike among what I smell or hear. I'm basically just concentrating, which means I'm basically open to my whole environment. Silence and stillness will help me dare to open to more than I can hear, smell, touch, taste, or think. But including everything I hear, smell, touch, taste, see, and think.


Open to all that, but more open than that, and more united with more than that. Thank you. Some of you have already heard and recited a text also by this person who wrote this essay on deep faith and cause and effect, Bill Ginn. He says that the true path, he says, now all Buddhas and all ancestors have made it the true path of enlightenment to sit upright in the midst of self-fulfilling awareness, but more literally it's in the midst of self-fulfilling concentration.


A concentrated awareness of receiving and employing a self. And so again, he doesn't use the term, but to me, my view is he could have said, now all Buddhas and all ancestors have made it the true path of enlightenment to sit upright in the midst of concentrating on causation. What causation? The causation of receiving a self from the whole world and giving a self to the whole world. Concentrating on that is the true path of enlightenment. So here again I'm proposing that this Zen ancestor is teaching concentration on dependent co-arising with that expression. And that, I think everyone would agree practically,


that is the central meditation of Soto Zen. In other words, the central meditation of Soto Zen is causation. And for each of us, the causation of our self. And how the world is caused by us. How we are based on the world and the world is based on us. This is the central Zen meditation of this tradition. And I have faith in this tradition and the meditation practice of this tradition. And I have in some ways more faith in it now that I feel that it's actually so non-sectarian. So that's the next step.


This is the concentration step in the process of entering into, not so much in the process of you or me, understanding dependent co-arising, but the process of you and me entering into the realm of understanding and living there. And the price of admission to the realm of the silent light of the Dharma is silence and stillness. And the next thing you have to pay is concentration. You have to pay attention to concentration. And it would be good if you could learn to do this every moment. Including during times when you're taking a break from it, do it.


Learn to do it when you're not doing it. Because the whole world is depending on you to get with this program. Otherwise, you're a stress factor for innumerable beings. And you shall be forgiven for that if you ever happen to forget to practice. The Buddhas forgive you and feel compassion for us when we forget to be silent and still. Tracy? I was trying to practice that this last week. Mindfully, consciously. So I got to my stuff would happen, and I'd be silent and still, and then I'd have my plain old regular reaction. So it was just like a delay. The other reaction was right there behind it. I just put this little middle step in. And I wonder if you have some advice about that. Well, if it's a middle step,


I would suggest you make it a middle and a next step. I noticed I was just kind of waiting for the anger afterwards. Yeah, and then if you can do that, this would unfortunately open up the possibility of perpetually postponed anger. So if you kept practicing this way, you might never get to be angry again. But you have your past anger. So, you know, it isn't like you didn't get a chance. You know, you've lived. I mean, it just seems like you wouldn't be able to do anything but silent and still. Is silent and still a practice? Which I can see on the cushion, Yeah, if you enter this, you will not be able to do anything anymore. However, you will have your activity,


you will enter into a realm of understanding of a much greater activity than any being can conceive of. You will enter into inconceivable activity, inconceivable, unlimited vitality, and unlimited function. But no more you doing anything. Because that was always just an illusion. The heart of concentration is giving up. If you're holding on, you're not really open. Yeah. The wind might be a problem for the microphone? What problem would the microphone have with the wind? You think large, low rumbling is a problem?


The microphone might think so. Wow! You brought quite a microphone with you. If anyone listens to this recording, you now know what the problem is. Somebody is fanning you. And this fan is fanning the Dharma into the marrow of your bones. So let it come. Let that low rumbling come into you. Open to it. Even though you probably can't hear me because of the rumbling. Great activity. Naturalizing. Good.


Silence, stillness, concentration, and you enter into this great activity. You can still perhaps, you still might be able to see some activity, occasionally. And if you do, it would be good to be silent and still with it because then you'd be more ready to accept responsibility, share the responsibility for the activity you see. Yes? Fran? I'm wondering how to think about that with silence.


Silence. So I proposed, again last week, I proposed that movement comes and goes, sound comes and goes. The appearance of arising and ceasing. There is the appearance of arising and ceasing. There is appearance of things dancing with each other. And the way this is actually happening, this dance, is that this dance is occurring in silence and stillness. That's where the dance is occurring. The dance of the dependent co-arising of the world, which includes all visions of movement and stillness.


All visions of stillness. All appearances of stillness. Like in music you have, what do you call it, rests. You have music and then you have a rest. So in music too there's movement and there's stillness. And in movement there's movement and stillness. But that kind of movement and stillness, that dance, occurs in unconstructed stillness and silence. You hear what I'm saying and you guess what? I can't conceptualize how that works. You can't conceptualize how it works, yeah. Well, even if you did conceptualize how it works, to some satisfaction, that would be a conception of it. Dependent co-arising is inconceivable.


It is beautiful and it is inconceivable. I would suggest to you also that beauty is inconceivable. You can conceive of it, but the conception of it is not the beauty. Light also is inconceivable. So this thing is inconceivable. This actuality of how we live is inconceivable. And it can manifest as appearances of movement and stillness. And appearances of sound and quiet. And also, again, the Zen teacher Dogen says, all this dependent co-arising, this beautiful dance that everything is doing with each other, with itself, it does not appear within perception.


Perception occurs within it, but it doesn't occur within perception. The dance of all things, the perception occurs there, and the appearance and disappearance of perceptions occurs in silence and stillness. And this is not... We do not perceive dependent co-arising. But the understanding of dependent co-arising is accessible, because we're living in it. So the question is, how can we make ourselves available to it? How can we make ourselves present to what it is presenting itself to us? And how do we understand it? If it's understandable, how do we understand it? Well, we understand it by... When we're kind to each other, we understand it.


Our kindness... It's not me being kind, or me thinking I'm kind. But the kindness of us, our kindness is the understanding of this. Our compassion is the understanding of this. So compassion is not a person, but it's compassion, something that lives among people sometimes. When there's compassion and loving kindness among people, then this teaching, this reality, is manifested in the relationships. And then you can think, Oh, I understand when there's compassion that that compassion understands dependent co-arising. But that thinking is not the compassion. And so if we practice loving kindness and compassion,


we're manifesting this reality. I mean, not we are. We are giving ourselves to a practice of loving kindness and compassion, and that practice is manifesting dependent co-arising, is manifesting unconstructedness and stillness. Compassion isn't moving. Compassion isn't talking. Compassion is the radiant way that talking and moving are happening. So I didn't say this, but this is another approach to the study,


is practice loving kindness and compassion every moment towards all beings. That's another way. But still, I would suggest that if you're practicing compassion, that you might also simultaneously be silent and still. You can talk to people, but simultaneously be silent and still. You can say, May I help you? Do you need something? And if there's compassion in that question, how about a little silence and stillness along with it? That's not going to hurt the compassion. How about opening to what's happening?


That's not going to hurt the compassion. How about being compassionate towards all beings? That's not going to hurt the opening. So the opening and the compassion and the silence and the stillness, that's what understands this teaching. It's how we can practice so that we will open to the teaching and enter the teaching. And the way we open and enter it is the way we understand. It's not the way I understand, it's the way, the practice I give myself to understand. The practice is the understanding, not me. I don't have the understanding. But I can give myself to a practice which understands. And I can give myself sometimes a hundred percent, where there's nothing left over. All there is is the practice and no me left over. And yet I'm completely taken care of.


And that is the understanding at that moment of the Dharma, of the Buddha, of the Pinnacle Rising. You can even speak rather loudly and be silent and still. And all the noise or all the little quiet murmurs that we make, I'm suggesting they all occur within silence and stillness. But if we don't practice silence and stillness, we might not realize the silence and stillness. If we don't practice being silent and still, we might not realize the silence and stillness in which all events are dependently co-arising.


So we kind of have to give ourselves to the practice. And we kind of have a self to give, so it's quite convenient. Jeff? I was wondering if you're talking about being playful. That's a sign that you're not conscious of it. Somehow you have some awareness of it. What did you say about playfulness? Like a person, you were just saying about passion or kindness. A manifestation of dependent co-arising. So you're suggesting that playfulness is a manifestation of dependent co-arising.


I agree. And so I also agree that compassion is playful. Compassion is generous. It's calm. It's gentle. It's flexible. It's relaxed. Even relaxed with pain. And it's playful. And it's open. It applies to... The compassion I'm talking about applies to everything. And playfulness also, I would suggest, is when you're kind of open to everything. You could have partial playfulness


where you'll play with just some people, but not all people. But the real playfulness is where you're actually willing to play even with the limit of who you play with. I don't want to play with those people, but I'm just kidding. I really do. No, I don't. So I appreciate that we practiced silence and stillness last week, at least part of the time. And so now this week I'd like to add to the silence and stillness, or being silent and still, add to that being concentrated. Being open to our whole environment.


Open to being intimate and unified with it. Nancy? And tonight, when I was driving here, the exact same thing happened. All of a sudden I was in Berkeley. Suddenly I was in Berkeley. I don't know where I was. I've never had that happen before. Well, I'm glad you made it. I thank all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for getting you here. Thank you.


Is there something more to be expressed? You became quiet. I don't know how that happened. Yeah, I don't know how it happened either. Actually, I don't know how anything happens. We don't know how things happen, actually. That's part of the outrageousness of this class. You're coming here to hear that we do not know how things happen. We have theories. And in a sense, some of our theories, I think the Buddha would say, yeah, that's right. That's right. It's right what you said, but that's not actually how it happens, even though you're right. So if you say everything happens depending on things other than itself, well, that's correct. But that statement that I just expressed isn't actually, it's just words.


It's not actually what the words are referring to. That is utterly inconceivable. And so that's what I think, and that's what I sometimes act like. And that's how things even seem to me. So anyway, I hope you get home tonight, so you can come back next week and tell us what next week's like, and the other amazing things that happen. Yes, Elena? Yes, Elena? Yeah, you could say that.


But I would even say that any movement you make actually doesn't even have a beginning. That it starts from beginningless time. In other words, yeah, it starts from beginningless, it began at beginningless time. Huh? It did not begin, no. So all of our actions actually don't have beginnings. The Pinnacle of Arising is a teaching to help us understand that there's no beginning or end to our life. Beginnings and ends are imputations which human beings put on a life which transcends beginnings and ends. Some animals do not think that their life has a beginning or an end. They do not conceive of that. Little babies, for example.


They're pretty cute, aren't they? They're pretty adorable, but they don't think they have a beginning and an end. They have some other delusions, but they don't have that one yet. They have to learn that one. They think they own the universe, but they don't think they have a beginning and end. But they learn how to do that, how to think that. And then suddenly there seems to be one. They're active, but they don't think the way they will later think. Michel. When you started, you said that Dogen had a deep faith in causation. I don't know if he did, but he talked like he did. And he wrote a fascicle about it. But there's no beginning. It's the same right now, in some way. And so what we see is a faith with no beginning, no causation.


So what you were saying right now, there's no beginning, no causation. I didn't say no causation. I just said no. There is causation, but no beginning. So part of this is, there's no cause of causation. So that's one of the things about Buddhism. We don't have a causer of the causation. There are other religious traditions which say that there's a cause of causation, that something set causation in motion. Buddhism says, no, you won't be able to find a cause of causation. There's no fundamental underlying this causation process. There doesn't need to be. Whether there's a fundamental or not, if you don't understand the causation process, trouble.


And if you do understand it, it's wonderful. But understanding it does turn out to entail that you understand that there's no cause, there's no beginning of causation. However, there is a causation of beginnings. Beginnings do appear and there's causation of them, but they're illusions. You'll never be able to find a beginning or an end. For example, of yourself. And that's another Buddhist exercise, is see if you can find the beginning of yourself, or the end of yourself. And if you look and verify that you can't find it, that turns out often to be very helpful. And it's a very closely related exercise to silence and stillness and concentration. I have this, you appear to me,


my mind makes the appearance of you all being very deep, deeply considering the situation. You look like you're contemplating something really deep. Either something deep or you're contemplating deeply. That's what you look like. I hope you are. I hope I am. And I pray that you will be able to continue to deeply consider this thing you can't see. And the way to consider it, so far I'm suggesting, is just keep returning to silence and stillness. That's Kadagiri Roshi, he didn't write the book, but one of Kadagiri's first books is called Returning to Silence, isn't it? So I'm suggesting, return to silence and stillness.


And concentrate. Be open. In the midst of being silent and still. Be open to silence and stillness. Because that's where the Dharma is happening. Be silent and still and open to great compassion and loving-kindness. Because compassion and loving-kindness happens in the openness of silence and stillness. Steph? I guess I have a sense of why it's problematic if we don't understand causation, but why do you say it's so beautiful and so wonderful to understand causation? I don't know, I'm just kind of a puppet of this program.


And I'm being made to talk like that. I don't know why I'm talking like that, but I am moved and created to say that the Pinnacle of Arising is beautiful beyond any idea of beauty. And it's just kind of like the best medicine for all problems. That's the way I'm talking. And it's nine o'clock. Don't forget your party favors if you want them. And here is the most intelligent microphone of all time.