Causation and Non-Self 

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Nancy, and Dick, and next to Nancy, what's your name again? Eileen. Eileen. Can you all hear me pretty well? Okay. Can you hear me up in front also? The title for this series of evenings, I think, is something like Meditation on Cause and Effect. Is that right? On causation and non-self. Causation and non-self. Okay. That sounds good to me, I'm glad I came. You could say, and it would be all right, I think, for you to say that the main teachings,


or the main points of Buddha's teaching is causation, non-self, or selflessness, and living for the welfare of all beings, so the main points of the teaching and of the practice. And all three are closely related. At the beginning of the year, I vowed to make this year a year of concentrating on studying causation. So I have been working and devoting myself to this kind of study, the study of causation. And the study of causation is one of the main ways that we come to realize non-self,


or selflessness. So sometimes we say that Buddha discovered cause and effect. Discovered causation, but I like also to say sometimes that Buddha chose causation as that which is good to pay attention to in life, if you wish to benefit others.


Buddhas are primarily, their primary function is helping others. And one of the main ways they help others is by teaching about cause and effect, encouraging people to pay attention to causation. The expression that Buddha used for causation was dependent co-arising. And the tradition teaches that everything that exists dependently co-arises.


And because everything dependently co-arises, well not everything, but almost everything is impermanent because it dependently co-arises. And also because it dependently co-arises, it is insubstantial and has no independent existence because it arises in dependence on things other than itself. And so all things are, all phenomena, all phenomena are dependent co-arisings and all phenomena are selfless. And there's a teaching of dependent co-arising, and dependent co-arising is the teaching.


And the teaching is a dependent co-arising also. Not all teachings are about dependent co-arising, but all teachings are dependent co-arisings. But the Buddha's teaching is a teaching of dependent co-arising. The Buddha's Dharma is dependent co-arising, both in the sense of the verbal expression of dependent co-arising, but also the non-verbal reality of dependent co-arising. So they're both the Buddha's teachings. So the Buddha can put dependent co-arising into words, into language, and speak about it to get people to pay attention to it. But also the Buddha has chosen something which is not just the words that the Buddha uses to refer to it. The actuality of dependent co-arising is also the Buddha's teaching. And by paying attention to the verbal teachings about dependent co-arising,


by paying attention to the verbal renditions of dependent co-arising that we can think about and read about and say, by paying attention to this topic, we open to the trans-linguistic reality of dependent co-arising. We also, by paying attention to the relationship between causation and selflessness, we also open to the selflessness which is not just the words about selflessness. What is dependent co-arising?


To attend to the teaching or the law of dependent co-arising. So the word dharma, the Sanskrit word dharma, has a number of meanings. One of the meanings of dharma is the law or a law. Another meaning of dharma is teaching. Another meaning of dharma is phenomena. Another meaning of dharma is truth. So you could say the truth of dependent co-arising, the teaching of dependent co-arising, the law of dependent co-arising, the phenomena of dependent co-arising, and did I say the truth of dependent co-arising? If I missed any, maybe you know what they are.


All those things apply to this teaching, this dharma, this law, this reality, this phenomena. And I'd like to mention to you that in this context of a teaching which is in order to help beings become free of suffering and not just become free of suffering but also to realize great wisdom and compassion, so that they can not only be free of suffering but they have the wisdom and compassion to help others. Because for me Buddhism is not just about us becoming free but us becoming free so that we can be wise and compassionate and help others. The point of Buddhism is about helping others, all others. So this teaching liberates us from suffering


and liberation from suffering is pretty much the same as liberation from resistance to helping others. Liberation from resistance in helping others is pretty much the same as freedom from suffering. That's why I mentioned in the sitting this evening, I mentioned if we sit for the sake of all beings, we're sitting like a Buddha. If we can sit with no resistance to giving that sitting over to the welfare of all beings, then we're sitting like a Buddha. But it takes a little bit of training,


well, maybe a lot of training, to sit with no resistance and to sit with no resistance to having this sitting be an offering for the sake of all beings. And I mentioned there's different kinds of resistance. One kind of resistance would be not wanting your sitting to be for the sake of all beings. It's possible that someone would actually be sitting in this room and that they might want the sitting just to be for themselves. You know, I would like this sitting to be for my welfare, I would like this sitting to be for my calm and my ease and for nobody else. It's possible someone might think that. Matter of fact, some Zen students actually do practice meditation primarily to get their mind to be calm. And it's allowed, you know, we allow that.


We allow someone to practice meditation to benefit themselves. But I'm encouraging another practice, I'm encouraging the practice of the Buddhas, which is to sit for the welfare of all beings. So one form of resistance is to resist that, like not want to do it. Or some people might be willing, you know this variation too, I'm not just sitting for myself, I'm sitting for my uncle. But I'm not sitting for my aunt. And I'm not sitting for aunts in general. And I'm not sitting for cockroaches. But I am sitting for lions and tigers. So that's resisting the way of sitting, which is, I think, the point of the tradition. The way of sitting which is the way the Buddha sits. To say I'm sitting for the sake of enlightenment is the same thing.


I'm sitting for the sake of all beings is the same as I'm sitting for the sake of enlightenment. It's the same as I'm sitting for the sake of the way, of the Buddha way. Different ways of saying the same thing. The Buddha way is for all beings. Sitting for your own welfare is actually fine too. It's just that that's not the Buddha way. The Buddha way is sitting for the welfare of all beings, with no exception. So if you resist that, that's kind of normal. That there's somebody you don't want to give your life of practice to. Somebody you'd rather not be sitting for. That's one kind of resistance. Another kind of resistance is forgetting that that's why you're sitting. You sort of slip back into, now what am I going to get out of this? What's in this sitting for me?


That wasn't a very good period. I didn't get anything out of that one. Matter of fact, it feels like I lost some time here. I could have been doing something more interesting. So that's also forgetting. Forgetting what? Forgetting, oh yeah, this sitting, this moment of sitting, and this moment of sitting are for the welfare of all beings. I forgot. Sorry. And the other kind of resistance, well there's more than, another main kind is to possess the sitting. You can possess. This is my sitting, and also my sitting for the welfare of all beings, it's mine. I've been taking care of this sitting. It's a wonderful sitting. I'm sitting for the welfare of others. It's great, and also it's mine. I possess it. That's resisting sitting like a Buddha. A Buddha sits for the welfare of all beings,


but does not possess her sitting. And if you just, and another thing is that if you do practice this way and take care of the sitting and really are devoted to it, at the beginning you might not have the form of resistance called possessiveness of it. But if you keep taking care of it really wholeheartedly, you might slip into thinking you own the practice. Like most of you now probably don't think you own the Buddha way. But if you're really devoted to it, you might slip into it. Just like some people go to the San Francisco Zen Center, and they sit there, when they first arrive, they don't walk in and say, I own this place. Most people don't. My grandson actually does, but most people don't. He used to come to Green Gulch. He's a bigger boy now, he's nine. But when he was about four,


he used to come to Green Gulch and go to the children's play area where they had all the children's toys and bicycles and stuff. And he would come in and say, these toys used to be mine. They're still mine actually, but he actually kind of said that. And it's almost like he believed, I didn't argue with him, but he thought all the toys used to be his and he had donated them sometime in the past. Maybe he did. I'm not sure. Anyway, if you keep practicing at the Zen Center for six months or one year or two years or three years or ten years or twenty years or thirty years or forty years, then you might think, hey, it's my Zen Center. I've been here practically as long as the Zen Center has been here. It's mine. I own it. You could do that. Or Donald could have slipped into thinking he owned the yoga room. I don't know if he did, but he could have. This is my yoga room. So that's a kind of resistance to the practice,


is to think you own it. And there's actually a Bodhisattva precept which is not being possessive of the Dharma, not being possessive of the Buddha's teaching, not being possessive of the truth. So I recommend that you, in studying this wonderful teaching, that you watch out for... Well, first of all, that you do the study of this teaching the same way I asked you about your sitting. So I ask you when you're sitting, are you sitting for the sake of all beings? And now, are you listening to the teaching about dependent co-arising? Are you studying dependent co-arising for the sake of all beings? So while you're studying it, it's not easy. In some ways it's easier to remember when you're sitting quietly. But even then, sometimes people have a hard time remembering what they're sitting for. And when you're studying and listening to something,


you're maybe trying to understand it, and then because you're trying to understand it, maybe you forget that the reason why you're listening to this teaching is for the sake of all beings. You're not just trying to become better educated so you're a smarter student. You might become better educated in this process, but that's not the main point. You're learning this stuff to help others. You're learning this stuff. This is a teaching which is for enlightenment, which means it's for helping others. But don't be possessive of it, equals do all these studies for others, and that will help you not be possessive. And also watch out, because you still might get possessive of this, or try to get something out of this class. That would make it harder to understand this teaching, because this teaching is trying to help you


not be possessive. So if you study it in a non-possessive way, that will make it easier to learn it. It will also make it easier to not worry that it's very, very deep, this teaching. It's very, very deep. This teaching cannot be understood by a sentient being, or any sentient being. They cannot understand it. Bodhisattvas are the most elevated of sentient beings. They also cannot understand this teaching. Who can understand this teaching? Only Buddhas can understand this teaching. But also, even Buddhas cannot understand this teaching by themselves. They can only understand it together with other Buddhas. That's the only way this teaching can be understood.


So some of you might say, well then why should I come to this class if I'm not going to be able to understand it? Somebody might have thought that just a second ago. If you're telling me I can't understand this teaching, what am I in this class for? Well, the type of teaching it is the point of this teaching is so that you can help others. Or not even so that you can help others, but the point of this teaching is to help others. So again, my telling you and telling myself that you are not going to be able to understand this teaching, that you cannot understand this teaching, goes along with that you're in this class for the welfare of others. You're not in this class for you to learn this teaching. Now, if you are in this class for the welfare of others, you will learn this teaching,


but the way you'll learn it is not by you understanding it, but by you practicing together with the rest of us, all of us together, practicing together, studying together, all of us together practicing for the welfare of others. That practice is the knowledge, that is the knowledge, that is the understanding of this teaching. And this knowledge, this understanding, fortunately, will illuminate and encourage all of us to continue the practice which is the knowledge of this teaching. So this teaching can illuminate our consciousnesses and encourage us to continue to practice, which continues to maintain and dependently co-create this knowledge, which illuminates us and encourages us to keep practicing.


That process is called the Buddha Way. That can go on if we don't resist it, by trying to get something out of it for ourselves, or excluding somebody from the process, or forgetting. And actually, I said that, but now I revise it by saying, even if we forget, even if we're possessive, even if we want to exclude somebody from the process, it still can go on. It's just that those resistances kind of postpone or block the illumination of our consciousnesses. But we can still be part of the process even if we're resisting it. And in fact we are part of the process, and most people are basically, most of the time, resisting this process because this dependent co-arising, this causation,


is the actual process of our life together. It's actually the truth of our life together, and most people are resisting it, trying to ignore it, and being kind of successful at ignoring it. Ignoring their life of their life lived for the sake of others. They're ignoring that. Ignoring how others are living their life for the sake of us. Ignoring this is what we call ignorance. That's basically what ignorance is, is to ignore this teaching, and to ignore the reality that everybody is giving you your life. So when I ignore that you're giving me my life,


then I get concerned about what I'm getting from you, or what I'm getting from study or practice. So when I get concerned about, what am I getting out of this again? Then I realize, oh, I've forgotten the teaching. I've forgotten the practice. Sorry. Then go back to the practice, which is go back to the practice. What's the practice again? The practice is, whatever you're doing, you're doing it for the sake of all beings. That's the practice. Then whatever you're doing is the practice. And if you're doing some nice practice, like sitting upright and quiet and still in a Zen meditation hall, looks good, but if you're not doing it for the welfare of all beings, you forgot the practice. You remember part of it, in a way.


You remember the form of it, but you forgot the spirit. So most people are resisting this truth, which is the same as resisting our actual wholehearted living together. So at some point in this class, I will give you a piece of calligraphy that looks like this, which I have been giving to people lately. I gave it to the development office at Zen Center. They wanted a piece of my calligraphy, so I wrote this. It says, Deep Faith in Cause and Effect, or Deep Faith in Causality. And you can now find it featured on sweatshirts


and tote bags. So I'm hoping to encourage in you and in me and in all beings, deep faith in cause and effect. Deep faith in the teaching, in the law of cause and effect, and once again, as a way of studying it, don't try to get it, right? Don't try to attach to it. As it comes, as the teaching comes, try to receive it without attaching to it. Try to listen to it, try to think about it without attaching to it. Because it's a teaching to help us give up attachment. So this law,


this law is a path of study. It's not a law to get a hold of and have a law. It's a path to study. Dependent Co-Arising is a law and it's a truth. But it's not a truth to get and hold. It's a truth which you can study. It's a truth which you can move along with and remember. And again, remember, try to remember it without trying to get a hold of it. Because you can't get a hold of it. You can't get a hold of it. And trying to get a hold of it blocks the way you can, blocks its function. It can illuminate you. It can.


But you can't get a hold of it. And if you try to get a hold of it, not only will you be unsuccessful in getting a hold of it, but the grasping for it will block, will impede its light coming into your life, into your consciousness. Once again, my consciousness and your consciousness cannot reach it, but it can illuminate our consciousness, which can lead us to practice study without attachment, which can encourage us to remember something without attaching to it. Just like, again, taking care of grandchildren. Remember them without attaching to them. My grandson does want me to remember him, but he does not want me to attach to him. He wants to attach to me, maybe, but he doesn't want me to attach to him. He wants me at his service,


at his beck and call, but he doesn't want me to attach to him. And if I'm willing to go along with that, of remembering him, [...] always keep my eye on him, always be concerned for him, remember, remember, and not attach, then the Dharma is being demonstrated to him. And then I can study causation with him. But again, even though I'm studying with him, I cannot see it. But our practice together, our practice together, that realizes it. That is the realization of it. It's not just that that's one of the ways to realize it, that is the way to realize it. And actually, I've told you this before, but he taught me this thing


when he was about three, he would say, Granddaddy, let's do X. And sometimes what X was was something I was not feeling a lot of enthusiasm about, sometimes. Granddaddy, let's do X. Let's do one of your not-so-favorite activities. And he would look up at me and reach out his hand and say, Together. And I would take his hand and I would go with him. Whatever it was, I would go with him. Because that's what realizes this teaching. Not my mind, not his mind, not our minds even, but us practicing together, our minds practicing together, in that overlap, in those joined hands,


we realize this teaching. In that space, I'm not trying to get anything. You're not trying to get anything. Nobody can get that space while we're practicing together. And that's dependent co-arising. That's the reality of dependent co-arising, plus that's the way to open to it. Once again, if we get into trying to get something, that's okay. It's just something to confess. So again, this teaching is not something to get. It's a path, a path of study, a path of analysis, a path of inquiry. And how do you proceed? Give yourself to it.


Not to get this teaching, but to help all beings. And that's the way it gets realized. Nobody gets it, but it gets realized. It gets actualized in our relationships. Again, nobody gets it means whoever receives it gives it away. That's the realization of it. You receive motherhood, you give it away. You receive fatherhood, you receive spousehood, you receive grandfatherhood, you receive that and you give it away. You don't hold on to it. That's reality. You're given what you are and you don't hold on to what you are. You're given what you are and you immediately give it away. This is a meditation on dependent co-arising. Also, to ask myself and to remember,


to ask myself, am I sitting for the welfare of all beings? That's a meditation on dependent co-arising. It's opening to meditation on dependent co-arising. I vow to sit for the welfare of all beings is a meditation on dependent co-arising. It's a meditation on this vow is the vow of Buddhas. I have faith in causation, therefore I have faith in paying attention to the cause of Buddhahood. The cause of Buddhahood is the vow to live for the welfare of others. That's a meditation on causation. And then you meditate on that and you see, okay, if there's the vow to live for the welfare of all beings and now I'm sitting, then it would be that this sitting was vowed to be for the benefit of all beings.


And the sitting is the cause of the effect or the fruit of Buddhahood. But the cause and the effect are simultaneous. This is a meditation on dependent co-arising. It's not like you have the vow to sit for all beings while you're sitting and then later there's Buddhahood. That is Buddhahood. So, that's another meditation on dependent co-arising. And you can also, a meditation on dependent co-arising is to look and see that maybe you don't quite see that. That's another meditation on dependent co-arising. And to express, I don't get it. I don't get this teaching on dependent co-arising. That's a meditation on dependent co-arising. To ask questions about it is a meditation on it. To meditate on it means to ask questions and to express your doubts. To remember that, to notice that you forgot


is a meditation on it. To look at how you feel when you forget is a meditation on it. To look at how you feel when you remember is a meditation on it. Well, it is now... Yeah. Boy, it's already almost quarter to nine. That boy... That boy talks a lot. Okay, I have a reading list here. That's on paper. You can have a paper copy of the reading list, if you like. It's also... This reading list is on the internet.


You can get it through my assistant. And also, a number of these precious readings are also on the internet. One of the best things on this is on the internet. I don't know if all these are on the internet, but why don't you check it out? So here's a list of things, but the texts aren't on this piece of paper. It's just the title of the things. But, for example, the Great Discourse on Cause and Effect by the Buddha is one of the things that's on the internet. You can read that. And I recommend you read that. That's early teaching. The Great Discourse. I think it's called Mahanidana Sutta. So there's a tremendous amount of material here about causation. I hope it would be great if we lived long enough to read these things,


but most of us will not. There's more than most of us can read in our lifetime on these two pieces of paper. This stuff is not... Because it's slow reading, too, especially if you memorize it, which I recommend highly. Especially the canonical texts, it's very good to memorize them. So if you want to study these things, here they are for now and the rest of your life. And when you get old and you can't see anymore, you can get your grandchildren and students to read them to you, scream them at you. But these are precious teachings which I offer you. But you don't have to study them, but if you do and you want to come and ask questions about them in class, I would very much welcome your questions about these readings. And I will bring up some other material


which I will try to present to you in a way that you can listen to without trying to get a hold of and let them in. Like you have let in what I've said tonight. But I think some of this stuff, I want to talk to you about it, but it's kind of difficult. So I'll try to talk about it slowly and carefully. Maybe even what I said tonight was difficult. I don't know, was it difficult? Not too bad? Depends. Depends, yeah. So maybe I've said enough for now and we have some time now for discussion about whatever, because it all is part of dependent co-arising. Everything is. Nothing's excluded. Everything's causation. Yes, what's your name again? My name is Irene. Irene? Yes.


Yes, Irene. You speak of making a vow or a commitment to practice for the welfare of all beings. Yes. And you've listed a number of forms of resistance, most of which I'm familiar with. There's another one that either you didn't quite discuss it or I seem to have missed it, which is this, in order to make some sort of commitment to sit, let's just talk about sitting practice, to practice then in sitting for the welfare of all beings, you have to have some sort of idea that your sitting is going to benefit all beings. And that, as far as I can see, is a pure matter of faith. And it's very difficult. Okay, that's a great question. She said, in order to sit for the welfare of all beings, in order to vow to sit for the welfare of all beings, you have to have some idea that your sitting is going to help all beings. That idea, if you believe that idea, is a form of resistance. What then motivates you?


Well, can I wait on that question just a second before I deal with the earlier one first a little bit more? Yes. So, to say that I want to help you, to say that I want to live for you, is not the same as me thinking that I'm helping you. I actually, right now, I would like to have this speaking I wish to be for your sake. I wish that. But I do not think that that's helping you. I don't think it's not helping you either. Just keep it open. I keep it open. That's the thing about this vow, is that not just I'm living for your sake, I'm living for the sake of everybody. That makes my mind open.


That opens my mind. Now, I can't attach even to that vow, and then my mind closes again. So this vow is to open my mind, to say, I must know that this does help in order to make this vow, then the mind closes again. Now, I kind of, here's the faith part, I do kind of believe that this, when I sit with this vow, I do kind of believe that this opens my mind and is conducive to non-attachment. So devotion to others with no limit, wishing to love others with no limit, makes possible, is necessary for me to not be attached to myself or others. You can be attached to the vow to help others, all others, but you can be attached to it.


It's not immune from attachment. However, in order to really be non-attached, we need a vow like that. Otherwise, you just vow to help those people which go along with your attachments. But everybody doesn't go along with anybody's attachment. So I do not know that I help you. However, the knowledge of you being helped is opened to when my mind opens. And that knowledge then illuminates and encourages me and you to continue to be open and receive that encouragement and continue to be open and receive that encouragement. And this way, by practicing together, we realize, we enact this thing which we cannot know. I cannot know how I'm helping you. You just said the knowledge of being helped, the knowledge that I'm being helped by what you do, helps to open your mind.


No, no. Where did this knowledge come from? The knowledge comes from us practicing together with this vow. Excuse me, the knowledge is realized by us practicing together with this vow. That's how the knowledge is realized. But it isn't realized by my consciousness of reaching it because it's not the kind of thing that a consciousness can reach. But it is the kind of thing which can illuminate a consciousness and encourage a consciousness. So if the consciousness can't reach it, there is an element of faith in there at some point. There is an element of faith sort of from the beginning. The fact that you're willing to listen to this talk about causation is some faith in causation. Some.


And the more you practice it, the deeper the faith in causation gets. Because the deep faith in causation goes with a practice which realizes it with all beings. And we need some encouragement to keep practicing. And the encouragement helps us be more and more committed and encourage us to be more and more aware of our resistance. And the more we're aware of our resistance, the more faith we have in giving it up. John, did you have your hand raised? I was just going to say that what you were saying triggered that


it doesn't occur within perception. Yeah, right. But that always, somehow that always troubles me. Because, you know, the term realization has kind of various meanings. Let's say something is realized but then it doesn't occur within perception. Yeah, that's what it's about. I keep trying to make it occur within perception. So where does perception fit in this pattern here? I often use the example of


if people are dancing, particularly the tango, because everybody knows it takes two, when they're dancing, they both may have a perception that they're dancing. And in some sense, they're right. And they also may both have a conceptual cognition that they're dancing. And if they have a conceptual cognition that they're dancing, we have a teaching that says that that's a mistaken conception because when you have a concept of the dance while you're dancing, you mistake the concept of it for the dance. And you say, what about a direct perception of the dance? Well, that's less mistaken. If you could actually see the dance with no concept, the non-conceptual is less mistaken. However, the dance is not the perception of the two dancers.


The dance is what they're doing together, and they're not having the same perception. But the dance is the realization of the thing called the dance, not the perception of it. But they do have perceptions. But sometimes they don't have perceptions of the dance, and they're still dancing. So they could have a perception or not, but when they're not dancing, they're not dancing. And when they are dancing, they are. And the perception is not mixed with, actually. It's in the same room, but it's not really mixed. Or it doesn't really get the dance. The thing that gets the dance is the dance. And the practice of this Dharma is the way we are dependently co-arising together,


and that's the practice. And our perceptions of it are going on, and we're talking about it right now, but this discussion, there's something that's not reached by our perceptions of this discussion. But that doesn't mean we don't pay attention to our perceptions. We should pay attention to our perceptions of what's going on, because those are the places where one of the things we can do then is around our perceptions we can tell if we're attaching. Around our perceptions we can, to some extent, we can spot, we can perceive that we're trying to get something, or that we think we've got something. You can perceive these illusions. For example, you've got something by yourself that not everybody gave you, and that you're not giving to everybody. These things you can perceive, and you can perceive them directly, and see, actually, that they're empty.


And you can also conceptually cognize them, but be somewhat mistaken about it, because you're confusing your concept with the thing. However, these perceptions aren't the thing. The perception of emptiness is not the emptiness. The perception of selflessness is not the selflessness. The perception of dependent co-arising is not dependent co-arising. But learning to perceive it, more and more with less and less resistance, we become more and more a servant of the truth. Along with our perceptions. We can still be human beings who have perceptions. It's just that our perceptions of things are not the things. However, they're not separate from the things either, because the perceptions and what they're perceiving are also dependently co-arising. And our existence is a dependent co-arising of our perceptions with the things we're perceiving. That, however, is more like the dance, which we're doing. Now the question is, how do we open to the dance?


Yes? When you describe the role that perception plays in the setup here, I guess I hear two things. One is sort of a negation, that perception is not the dance. And the other thing is it has a utilitarian purpose, as an awareness tool to help us with that. But I guess I'm also wondering, can we use our perceptions as play? Is there yet a third way of working with perception? Changing perception, shifting perception? Yes, you can use the perception as play, and one of the ways to play with it is to realize that one of the playful things to do is to realize that perception is not the thing being perceived. That's one of the ways to be playful, which some people don't want to do, because they don't want to be playful. So then how can we not be attached to them being playful? Because we have a perception that they're not playful. Well, we should be kind to the not-playfulness in others and ourselves. That's part of the way to work with playfulness.


I mean, un-playfulness. It's to be kind to it. Yes, can you tell me your name again? Terry. Terry. Could you say more about why we're so resistant to the word? Yeah, well, that's another discussion. I will say that this is another big discussion. I'll be talking about this a lot more than I will say right now. But basically, the deep faith in cause and effect could also be said to be deep faith in karmic cause and effect. So the Buddhist, what do you call it, the right view in the Buddhist teaching is karma has consequence. Karma, human action, is both the product and the initiator of existence. And karma is our cognitive construction of what's going on moment by moment. So, because our mind is constructing


a story of the universe moment by moment, the story of our relationships with others moment by moment, the consequence of that is to be closed. Closed to what? Closed to the actual causal situation in which our story of the causal situation is being constructed. So we live in a complex, pulsating, constantly changing, ungraspable, wonderful causal relationship with all beings, and we're constantly making a story about it. That's our karma, basically. As a result of that, we do it again, and again, and again. And we start to make a world that seems to be realizing this limited conceptual, cognitive construction about the world. So it's hard for us to open up. First of all, to the enclosure which our karma is making.


But that we can observe. We can be aware of the enclosure that our mind makes. And then we can be kind and playful with that as a way to study causation. Because that's why we might want to do this. Because we hear karma makes it hard for us to open to the truth. Well, it would be good then, the truth of dependent co-arising, the truth of cause and effect, well then it would be good to study now. If karma will let us, if our karma will allow us to study the karma, then our karma is being kind of like somewhat enlightened karma. And we have in Buddhist teaching the thing about what we call good, bad, and neutral karma. Heard about that? You've heard of bad karma, right? And good karma? There used to be a restaurant in San Francisco called Good Karma Cafe. It's not there anymore. Anyway, there's good karma or wholesome karma,


unwholesome karma, wholesome karma, unwholesome karma, and you could say neutral. In other words, some kinds of thought constructions, it's hard to tell whether they're wholesome or unwholesome. And someone said to me a while ago, but what's good about good karma? It's still karma. It's still a kind of enclosure. The good thing about good karma is that good karma allows you to study karma. And bad karma, the worst thing about bad karma, aside from making you scared and depressed and at risk of more bad karma, the bad thing about it is that bad karma won't let you study karma. Because you can do bad karma without paying attention. But to do good karma, you have to pay attention. So if you pay attention to do good karma, then the good karma is letting you start to pay attention,


so then you can start to notice the karma. So you're studying cause and effect. So if you pay attention to your action, that has the effect, generally speaking, of making it possible for you to pay attention to your action. And doing good karma, you naturally pay attention to what you're doing. And the more you pay attention to what you're doing, the more you're studying cause and effect. And the more you pay attention, the more you notice that even though you're doing good karma, you're still doing it not for the welfare of all beings, and stuff like that. You can start to notice these things. But because of our past karma of not being like that, we have a tendency to say, well, I'm not doing this for the sake of all beings. But the reason why we think that is because quite a few times in the past, we didn't think we were doing it for the sake of all beings. We thought we were doing it for the sake of, like, maybe nobody, or maybe me. Like, some people actually think they're doing bad karma


for everybody, including themselves. So then it's hard for them to think of doing good karma for everybody. That's one story about why it's hard for us to shift and remember and not resist this way of living. Because it's unfamiliar, because there's a strong habit to not do that. But there's pressure on us to learn this. It's called suffering. Just one more thing. You were talking about faith, but it seems like what you're saying about this practice is that it's sort of a way of knowledge, that there's something that arises. Yes, it is. It's actually a way of knowing. It's a way of knowing, yes. That knowledge arises. The knowledge is created, and it is realized, both, by this study.


That's the proposal, that this kind of study creates knowledge of the thing we're studying and also realizes it. However, I also point out to you that you cannot see causation. You can think you do, but you can't see causation. Causation is not a sense object. When I noticed this class, Donald told me, I was kind of thinking, usually the yoga room classes, there's a waiting list. And I thought, we're going to a bigger room, so I thought, well, more people can come. We won't have to turn anybody away. So he told me the number of people, which was less than the usual number that come, and I felt kind of sick when I heard that not too many people were going to come. And so I thought, as I'm studying causation, is the reason why I felt sick because of the small number? Did the small number make me think,


okay, well, maybe people aren't interested in this study because it's so hardcore or whatever? If they don't want to do it, they want a more sexier course or something? Is that the reason? But then I noticed that I was trying to, with my own perceptions, I was trying to see causation. I kind of had a couple of theories about why I felt a little bit sick, and I could go on for some other ones too, but all those theories that I would have about why I'm sick, those aren't actually the causation. My theories and your theories cannot reach it. However, you can have a theory, like in science, about that, and then I study it and you study it, and we practice studying this theory, and by studying the theory, we create the knowledge. Like scientists, scientific knowledge is not theories. They use theories to create knowledge. They interact with the theories and do experiments


and have coffee and donuts, and they argue with each other and they think about it. They do all that stuff around these theories and knowledge accumulates, and then because the knowledge accumulates, then they sometimes revise the theories. The knowledge illuminates them and illuminates the theories and they change the theories, but the theories are not the knowledge. The theories are what people can look at and see and perceive. You can perceive a theory, but you cannot perceive scientific knowledge. But theories and testing them is the work of creating knowledge, and same here. We have a theory. The theory is if you study causation, you'll become Buddha. If you study causation with other people, together we will create knowledge of the truth, and that knowledge of the truth will illuminate our theories,


and our theories will change. And then we'll test the theories, which say practice this way, and you'll become selfless. Practice this way, and you'll notice you're not resisting. Practice this way, and you'll notice you're not resisting. You'll notice that you're more and more free. You'll have perceptions like that. But the thing that's illuminating you and causing your life to positively evolve, that is not known by your perception. But what we can know is various theories about this, and I'm telling you these theories, and you're hearing them and you're testing them in your mind, whether you're asking questions or not, you're testing them. And you're going to practice these or not, and if you do practice them, you're going to get certain results, and if you don't practice them, you're going to get other results, and you get to see. So the theories are being put forth, you are getting a chance to test them and practice them and study them, and this work creates and realizes knowledge.


You are actually doing the work of creating knowledge of the truth by hearing these theories and putting forth these theories and asking questions about these theories together with the rest of us. We are accumulating Buddha's wisdom and knowledge this way. We are realizing it. And if you don't think about this between now and next week, you'll notice what that's like. And if you do, you'll notice what that's like. And then you come back here and so on. This is how we do it. This is the path. We're all on this path of learning this teaching. Charlie? Did you say that one person on their own can't have knowledge, but they collectively through obeying and discussing it can? No, it's not that one... It's that we together practicing


is the knowledge. It's not that one person can't by himself and I can't by myself, but when you and I get to practice then we get it. No, it's that you can't get it and I can't get it, but we practice together and work with whatever the teaching is. That practice we're doing together, that dance we're doing together, that dance, the way you and I relate to each other, which is not... The way we're relating is not my perception of the way we're relating and not your perception of the way we're relating. However, one of the ways we relate is both of us having perceptions of our relationship. But there's other ways we're relating which are not perceptions. Our physicality is not a perception. We can perceive our physicality, but it's not a perception. So the way we're actually relating, that is the knowledge and the more we study the way we're relating, by paying attention,


by perceiving the way we're relating, the more we're open to the way we're actually relating. And that knowledge then illuminates what we can perceive and encourages us to continue the study. Just like scientists have perception of scientific knowledge which encourages them to continue their work which creates more scientific knowledge or which causes that scientific knowledge to evolve. But a given scientist's perception of scientific knowledge is not scientific knowledge. So what if a group of people get together and they're all mistaken about something? They all have this mistaken perception. How does that distinguish from when they're right about something? Well, one of the things about Buddhadharma and science is that even if you think you're right, even if you think that you just have confirmed your theory


and you've got a bunch of other people who also think that the theory was confirmed, you're not supposed to stop. As a matter of fact, a theory that gets a lot of people to test it and comes up with positive results is a theory which encourages more people to test it. And the more people that are testing it, the better they say the theory is. But a theory that six people test and get positive results on and they stop is not as good as a theory that five people study and get positive results and one gets a negative result but it's not negative enough to disprove the theory, which means it's not negative enough so that people won't try his experiment over. The one where people keep studying it is the one where scientific knowledge is alive and evolving. So if there were a situation


where everybody agreed and thought they had it right and they stopped studying it, I would say that would be dead dharma. The scientific knowledge would go away. It would be lost. Do you understand? It would be lost. I don't know how long it would take but it would be lost and forgotten because nobody is paying attention to the theory anymore. You say, well, they kind of remember it. Yeah, they kind of remember it but how many days will they remember it if nobody tests it again and nobody talks about it? They will eventually forget it and even if computers will forget it, then the theory will be lost. Same with Buddha's teaching. If people aren't working on it, it will be lost. And in fact, the Buddha says it will eventually be lost. That will happen, that people will stop working on this and they'll move on to some other thing which maybe they'll agree on but if they agree and stop,


that knowledge will be lost. If they agree and don't agree, that's fine, that's the normal situation. But still, if they don't keep studying it, they won't develop knowledge. So if we interact and have different opinions, which we do, around some teaching, that interaction is how we get, we don't always immediately get knowledge but that's how knowledge is arrived at. It's arrived at socially and it's maintained socially with beings who have perceptions. And part of the knowledge we have which can illuminate us is a knowledge of how to study perception. That's one of the key things to study which we're studying here tonight. Does this class usually end at 9.15?


No, 9 o'clock. Oh, 9 o'clock! Oh! Sorry. I think now I probably remember. Thank you. So here's your reading list if you want them. And I believe, Reb Assistant, you can get this online and get some of these texts online.