Chapter Three, Shoveling Dung

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By revealing and disclosing our lack of faith and practice before the Buddhas, we melt away the root of transgressions by the power of confession and repentance. By revealing and disclosing our lack of faith and practice, we receive, what does it say, we receive inconceivable help, profound help. We receive profound help, but another translation would be, we receive inconceivable help. And when we were chanting just now, I said, we perceive profound help.

[01:05]

I said that. But that's not necessarily so, because the help we receive is deeper than we can perceive. So you may perceive, if you practice confession and repentance, you may perceive some help. But also, you will receive a help which is too deep to perceive, too grand to be a perception. And yet I mistakenly said, perceive profound help. Perceive the imperceptible help. But in a way, you can perceive the imperceptible help in the form of continuing the practice.

[02:22]

So when you practice confession and repentance, you can perceive your confession and repentance. So you're perceiving the help. The help is, you're being helped to confess and repent. You can't see how you're being helped, but that's a way you can perceive it. Also, this ceremony which we do at the beginning of the talks of saying our name, and have everyone recognize our name, recognize our name and say it back to us, that ceremony is a realization of our true home, our true family. Where we express ourselves with the support of all beings,

[03:25]

and all beings express themselves with our support. I'm in the process of, kind of in a way, creating books the way they used to a long time ago, which was students of the Dharma would teach it, Dharma teachers would teach the Dharma, and then the audience would remember and write it down, and they would make scriptures out of the talks. Like the Buddha didn't read the talk the Buddha just spoke,

[04:29]

but then people remembered it, and eventually they wrote them down. So now I'm speaking with the intention of making a book about Zen training, about Bodhisattva training. How do you feel about me giving talks for the sake of the creation of a book? Is that okay? Okay. So, the way I am is that I don't really have anything to say unless I'm talking to somebody. So without you, I really can't give this talk, and without you, there won't be a book.

[05:35]

And there's already a large number of talks that have been transcribed and edited, talks which I offered to people, and they've been transcribed and edited, and they're all about Zen training. And these talks come from like decades ago. And then I was presented with all this work, and I thought, how can we embrace them all in such a way that they make a coherent book rather than talk after talk? And then the thought arose in my mind of a way to do that, which was to use a parable from the Lotus Sutra, the Great Mahayana Sutra,

[06:48]

to use a parable from this sutra, which is pretty big. This is, I think, a handwritten version of it. And in this kind of large scripture, there's a parable. And the parable, in a way, I thought would be a good structure, or you could also say a good trellis or arbor to grow, to put all these different teachings about practice within this story. So I've been telling you this story for two months, and this is the third time. So some of you have heard this story before.

[07:53]

And some of you have not. Like, Jean hasn't heard it, have you? It's actually, again, it's a parable. And the parable is, in the scripture, in the sutra, the parable is offered by the Buddha's disciples.

[08:56]

And these disciples have just been informed by their teacher that they are going to become Buddhas. And they didn't know that before the Buddha told them. They were devoted disciples, and they were wise, devoted disciples. But it never occurred to them that they were on the path to become unsurpassed Buddhas. And the Buddha says, you are on the path. Your present attainment isn't the end of the story. You're going to go far beyond your present sagehood to become Buddhas, all of you. And they were very happy to hear this. It was very enlivening and inspiring to them. And they were filled with joy. They were filled with joy because they received something

[10:01]

that they had never received before. Okay. Let's see, Karen, could you read this parable? Would you feel comfortable reading it? Anyway, if it's okay, I can... Where are your sunglasses? Now, if maybe you could come and put your chair here

[11:04]

so you can talk in that direction. Okay. So the disciples are very happy, and they want to tell the Buddha how they feel. And in order to show the Buddha how they feel, they're going to do it by telling this parable. World Honored One, we now wish to speak this parable

[12:06]

with which to clarify this meaning. Suppose there was a man who was young in years and who also, forsaking his father, and running off, went long in another country. You know what I mean? Whether 10 or 20 or as much as 50 years. Not only did he grow old, but he was also reduced to destitution, running about in all four directions in quest of food and clothing. At long last, in his wandering, he accidentally headed toward his native land. His father, who had preceded him and who had sought his son without finding him, had stopped midway in a certain city. The father's house was great and rich with treasures and jewels immeasurable, gold and silver, hydoria and coral, amber and setika, and other jewels. His treasure houses were filled to overflowing.

[13:06]

He had many servants, assistants, vassals, elephants and horses, carriages and chariots, oxen and sheep without number. The profits that flowed in and out would fill the whole realm, and also merchants and itinerant traders were very numerous. At that time, the poor son, having visited various settlements and pastured kingdoms and metropolises, at last reached that city where his father and mother were staying. They were thinking of their son, for it had already been more than 50 years since they had parted with him. Yet, without mentioning such matters to others, they always thought to themselves their hearts harboring regret and resentment. Old and decrepit, we have much gold and silver and many precious gems with which our treasure houses are filled to overflowing, but we have no son. One day we shall die

[14:07]

and our riches will be scattered, for we shall have no one to whom to bequeath them. For this reason, we are earnestly and constantly recalling our son. Again they thought, if we should get a son to whom to bequeath our riches, we should be calmly happy and have no further cares. World Honored One, at that time, the poor son, hiring himself out as a laborer in his wanderings, by chance reached his father's house where stopping by the side of the gate he saw in the distance his father seated on a line... Okay, now would you... He's found his way back to his parents. Okay? So read this part a little slower. He's come back to where his... He's stumbled upon his parents and now he's seeing his parents. Okay? He saw in the distance his father seated on a line internal, his feet resting on a jeweled footstool.

[15:11]

Robins, kshatriyas and householders all deferentially surrounding him. His body adorned with pearl necklaces valued in the thousands of myriads attended on his left and right by vassals and servants holding white feather dusters in their hands covered by a jeweled canopy from which flower banners were hanging down. The ground round him sprinkled with scented water and strewn with many outstanding flowers with rows of precious objects that were given and received upon entering and leaving. Having, in short, various adornments of this sort whereby he appeared most majestic and distinguished. As soon as the poor son had seen his father with this great power straightway harboring great fear he regretted having come to this place

[16:11]

and privately thought this is either a king or the equal of a king but at any rate this is no place for me to hire out my labor and earn anything. The best thing for me to do is to go to a poor village where there will be room for me to use my strength to the fullest and where food and clothing will be easy to obtain. If I stay long in this place I may be coerced to work I may be enslaved. When he had had this thought he quickly ran off. At that time the great and wealthy man from his lying throne seeing his son and greatly pleased at heart straightway thought my treasure and treasure houses now have someone to whom they can be bequeathed. I constantly thought of this child but had no way of seeing him. Then quite suddenly

[17:13]

he came of his own accord fulfilling my hopes. Though I was decrepit and aged still I was eager for an heir and reluctant to die. Accordingly he dispatched an attendant to follow the young man and bring him back. The messenger ran quickly went and overtook him. The poor son was alarmed and cried out resentfully I have committed no offense why have I been seized? The messenger grasping him all the more firmly forced him to return with him and at that time the poor child thought to himself I am guiltless and yet have been seized for surely thus surely must I die. All the more terrified and helpless with agony he fell to earth. Seeing this from afar the father said I do not want this man do not force him to come with you.

[18:14]

Then sprinkling him with water he brought him to what is the reason? The father knew that his child's ambitions were mean and he knew that he himself being rich and powerful would be a source of trouble to his child. He knew perfectly well that this was his child but for reasons of expediency would not tell others this is my child. The messenger said to the son I am now I have been I have been to let you go wherever you wish. The poor son rejoiced having gained something he never had before. Rising from the ground he went to a poor village there to seek food and clothing. At that time the great man wishing to entice his child devised an expedient he secretly dispatched two men whose appearance was miserable

[19:16]

to an immediate bearing saying to them you may go to that place and say gently to that poor person there is a workplace here to which we shall accompany you. If the poor child agrees bring bring him done and put him to work. If he asks what you wish him to do you may say you are being hired to sweep away Don. We too shall also work with you. At that time the two messengers sought out the poor son directly. When they had found him they told him the abiding detail. The poor child first first took his head then swept the dung with them. The father seeing his son was struck by both pity and amazement. Then on another day through a window the father saw the son weak and emaciated soiled with dung

[20:19]

dirt and dust. Straightway he removed his necklaces his fine outer garments and his ornaments and put on his head a rough, torn, dirty garment and smearing dust over his body took in his right hand a dung shovel. Now frightful in appearance he addressed his workmen you men work you may not slacken. And he began to approach his child. Then he addressed the child saying, Aunt, my dear work here always and do not go anywhere else. I will increase your wages whatever you need whether pots or vessels rice or noodles salt or vinegar or that sort of thing. Do not trouble yourself about it for I have other servants aged and decrepit whose needs I supply and who can well afford to put their minds at ease. I am like your father

[21:19]

have no more cares. What is the reason? I am old my years are great while you are young and vigorous. Whenever you work you are never guilty of lying or cheating of anger or resentment or of hateful words. I have never seen you and from now on you shall be like my own son. Straightway the great man gave him a new name and called him his son. Excuse me? I just want to point out right there bodhisattva initiation ceremony implied by that little interchange the precepts the new name the new Buddhist child. The poor child although delighted by this treatment

[22:21]

confused as before continued as before to call himself a lowly workman from elsewhere. For this reason he was kept constantly at work cleaning away dung. At the end of this time he had complete confidence in himself and came and went without anxiety yet he was lodged in the same place as before. World Honored One at that time the great man was taken ill and knew himself that he was to die before long. He addressed his poor child saying I now have much gold and silver and many precious jewels with which my treasure houses are filled overflowing. You are to find out whether there is much to be found there. What is to be taken in and what is to be given out. Such are my thoughts and you are to understand my meaning. What is the reason? It is that you and I

[23:22]

are not to be different. You are to exercise care and to not let anything get lost. Okay, stop there please. He is telling the son you and I are the same. You are like this. I am like this. The way I am is the way you are. The way you are is the way I am. And I want you to stay here and take care of this. And then from there further training comes. So he is actually like recognizing the equality of the great man and the humble man and from that position a new practice will start now. At that time the poor son receiving his instructions straightway took charge

[24:22]

of the multitude of things. The gold and silver, the precious jewels and the several treasure houses. Yet he had no craving for so much as a single meal but continued to live as before in the same place still unable to put off his lonely thoughts. Then when some time had passed the father knew his son had at length become more at ease. That having achieved a great ambition he was ashamed of his former state of mind. When facing his end the old man commended his son to gather his kinsmen as well as kings, great ministers, kshatriyas and householders who were all to gather together. Then the father himself proclaimed to them Sirs, know that this is my son begotten by me. Having forsaken me in such and such a city and run off he suffered loneliness and hardship

[25:24]

for more than 50 years. His original name was so and so. My own name is thus and so. Formerly in my native city affected by greed I sought my child. Some time ago I encountered him by accident and got him back. This really is my son. I really am his father. Now all the treasure I have belongs to my child. What was formerly paid out and taken in my son knows it all. World Honored One at this time upon my father's words straightway rejoiced greatly on having gained something he never had before. Then he thought formerly I had no thought of seeking or expecting anything and now these treasure houses have come to me of themselves. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for reading.

[26:25]

I would encourage you to read that in one of the many translations of the Lotus Sutra to read it yourself to become familiar with the story. Now in the first talk I gave I talked about something that's not really I expanded on it I expanded on the situation the original situation of this child living with his parents. I talked about what this original home is and I suggested basically that this original home our original true home is imperceptible mutual assistance between our life and the entire universe. That's our original home.

[27:39]

And we we project on this original home this imperceptible original home we project our mind projects a perceptible home which we have which we work with but deep down in our being we yearn to realize our original home and so as part of the as part of the process of becoming Buddha which the disciples have found out about we leave our perceptible home and go wandering looking for our true home. So the second talk the first talk was about the original home and our need to leave it not leave it

[28:47]

the need to leave our perceptible home in order to realize our imperceptible home and then our wandering in various perceptible realms trying to find it and the more we wander trying to find it by our own searching and seeking the more destitute and out of touch we become with our original home. And then by chance we will all find we will all come into contact with our original home again and I should take it back it's not that we will become in contact we will see some perception which will make us realize that we need some kind of training in order to realize what we're looking for and that's what I was going to talk about today. The part of the

[29:50]

the part of the parable I'm talking about today is the part where he meets his father he cannot face the reality of the situation that this that this is his family that this is his home he can't deal with that so he's given something else to deal with which he can deal with which is shoveling dung that he that he can do he can perceive dung he can work and shovel it and he can shovel it and shovel it and he can receive pay for it and he can accept the pay and by dealing with the dung he becomes more and more confident of what? of dealing with dung and the more confident we are with dealing with dung the more we are ready to accept

[30:53]

our imperceptible original home so in the story you see he does accept the position of shoveling dung he's happy to have it and he works hard and little by little he can accept more responsibility and more responsibility and finally he can accept you know being offered the opportunity to go up into the house the treasure house and to live there and work there but the part the beginning of the training is a temporary training it's not the long-term open-ended training it just goes on like in this case in the parable

[31:55]

it just goes on for 20 years or 30 years or 40 years of what? dung shoveling and after that we have the confidence to enter into the work which is open-ended which has no end which is open-ended and inconceivable but we need to do this dung shoveling phase which is the temporary perceptible training so in my case I I left my perceptible home and went wandering and I thought

[32:57]

well maybe I'll wander over to the university of Minnesota maybe while I'm wandering in the university I'll find I'll find where I want I'll find my right my right livelihood I'll find my work I'll find what I really want to do I didn't know what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to do something with my life I knew I I knew I had to leave my perceptible home and go looking for my true profession my true occupation my true vocation and so I worked shoveling dung in the university and then in that process in those eight years at the university I saw

[33:57]

I saw I got a perception of the imperceptible I saw images of of Zen practitioners I saw perceptible versions of the inconceivable true home of all beings and I was I said that's what I want I want to do that I want to be like those monks but how could I be like those monks I want to be like those Zen practitioners who gave me kind of like a glimmering of what I was looking for but how could I

[34:58]

be like that and then after some time contemplating and wondering about that it came to me that these people were not that way just by good fortune they all went through a training process and the training process had quite a bit of variety but it also had some some what do you call it some shared quality and the shared quality was to use the human body and mind for sitting still and quiet and upright together with others who sit still and quiet and upright this is the dung shuffling that I saw so I started

[36:02]

to do that dung shuffling however I had trouble in this case the dung shuffling I was doing nobody was paying me for and also I didn't have any co-workers so my dung shuffling was kind of irregular and I sensed that this this training really should be like daily if not hourly and then I thought maybe if I was with a group of people that were doing it it would become more regular and also it might be good to have a teacher in this training so I went to a place

[37:03]

where there was a community and there was a teacher and the training did become more regular you know and of course that was good fortune it was good fortune to be able to enter the training however I still wasn't ready I I hadn't even heard about that actually I had this true home I hadn't heard about the inconceivable wealth of our true home that wasn't that wasn't in my awareness my conscious awareness but I did want to be like these things I could see these human beings who could respond

[38:03]

in this wondrous way because they had trained in this in this program I I in some sense I was trying to become like those people and I was doing the training to become like those people who had done the training I did not I was not seeking enlightenment I was seeking becoming a certain kind of person and I guess I had

[39:08]

the sense that dealing with myself the way I am now was the training of becoming the person I wanted to be again I thought in a sense without having this image that shoveling dung would help me become who I really am and there was there was dung to shovel but with the support of all beings I was able to continue to shovel dung and the thoughts and part of the dung was the thought arising in my mind what am I doing you know just sitting here shoveling dung dealing with my body and mind I'm not accomplishing anything other than being here dealing with my life other people were like

[40:15]

you know accomplishing things becoming really good at this or that I was just dealing with being me this is it occurred to me it's a strange thing for a young man to be doing just sitting and living in a community dealing with himself and dealing with his relationships with others that's all I was doing well when I was and then I'll just stop there it did occur to me that that was unusual and so I did slip into actually trying to get something you know here I am just dealing with my life so I thought

[41:17]

well maybe I could like try to get something and there were rumors starting I started to notice rumors in the community of people who were shoveling dung with me some rumors about you know some kind of like something you could get out of dung shoveling maybe some you could become somewhat wealthy perhaps or I don't know rise in the hierarchy of dung shovelers or something so I started to see images of of a hierarchy of dung shovelers like there was there was the people who countered their breath they were at the bottom of the hierarchy then there were people who followed their breath they were a little higher and then there were the people who like just sat they were the highest so there was some sense

[42:18]

of like hey there's an opportunity to make things more interesting rather than just sitting here and doing the training you could also like attain some fame maybe or get something out of this and I also could hear other little comments like don't slip into what I just don't don't get into like climbing the hierarchy of the Zen of the Zen community don't do that that's not appropriate and yet people were talking about doing that very thing and so part of part of like moving up the hierarchy would be able to do the lowest stage really well to get really good at counting your breath so rather than just sitting there I actually tried to get really good at counting my breath I tried to gain a high level

[43:20]

of skill in breath counting this actually is not the training it's more like a regression into wandering around wandering around looking to get something but it happens so even when the training starts you still slip back into maybe your own contrivances to get something even though you know the training is to train in just shoveling what's happening just dealing with what's happening that's the training the training is not to become the leader of the dung shovelers but that human impulse to become the leader or the best dung shoveler arises among the dung shovelers which is not really discussed so much in this story but in a way it's implied

[44:21]

when the father comes and tells him that he hasn't been doing that you have not been trying to get anything for yourself you've just been diligent in doing your work and because you haven't been you're just like me because I haven't been either trying to get anything because I already have everything but you you know you have not been able to accept that you already have everything so I gave you something to work on where you you know where you would get your livelihood but you didn't turn that into like getting anything more than just enough food and shelter to continue the work of dung shoveling and I just recently

[45:24]

remembered I think maybe my first doksan with Suzuki Roshi where I was sitting in front of him and he said something like I think he said something like your breath is quite natural or you're breathing quite naturally but the way he said it was like well that's the way to breathe you know you're breathing the way you should breathe naturally he didn't say to do this technique or that technique he didn't say get better at breathing he didn't say get better at counting your breath he just said you're breathing quite naturally and just a few days ago I realized he told me right then he told me right then in my first doksan that I was breathing naturally and that's all I had to do was just keep breathing naturally this is before

[46:25]

I got into getting really good at breathing and counting but I didn't notice that he was telling me you're just like me I breathe naturally too I'm just like you I didn't understand he's saying you are you know you are my child you're what I'm here for the way you breathe is what I'm here for the way I breathe is what I'm here for the way we're breathing together is what we're here for I didn't understand now I do However, as I tried to get good at counting my breath, which is discussed in this new book, I did get in a way, I don't know, I didn't exactly get good at it, I got obsessive

[47:25]

about it, I got myself under control so that I could follow my breath and count it without missing a beat. I thought that would be, I thought being good at counting your breath would be that you would actually count it, and you wouldn't do anything else, and you would never lose count, and I didn't. And when I finally arrived at that place, I realized this is not right, this is not what I came for, this is not what I want. So I gave up that kind of practice and kind of went back to breathing naturally, and I've been kind of breathing naturally since. In other words, I slipped from dung shoveling into getting my dung shoveling under control, and then I saw where that went, and gave up trying

[48:28]

to be in control of the dung shoveling, and just naturally shoveling dung. And when I became ordained as a priest, Sri Krishna gave me a name, and part of my name is naturally real. Just being who you are is shoveling dung. But it's an open-ended process, it isn't just like you shovel one load of dung and then you're done, you just do it ongoingly, naturally be yourself. But then there are other things, there's a variety, endless variety of dung, and then can you just keep shoveling it? Yeah, without basically trying to get anything other

[49:29]

than just be able to continue the practice. So you need food and shelter, and you have it, but the purpose of it, I would say, is to continue shoveling, or you can say the purpose of shoveling is to get food and shelter. It's a cycle. Food and shelter, shoveling, food and shelter, shoveling. Endless practice of breathing naturally, sitting naturally, walking naturally. But in the process, when certain kinds of dung come up, maybe you get caught by it and think, oh, I should get something out of this. I should become better at this than other people. I should get approval for this, or something like that. But that's more dung to shovel. So I just had this

[50:42]

feeling that we didn't give a very good talk today, and you share responsibility for that, and I do too, of course. So I think maybe I might try again next time. This kind of practice, again, the dung shoveling does not require that you try to get something from it. It does not require that you try to get it done. But part of the dung is dealing with not only the dung itself, but thoughts of gain come up while you're shoveling dung. So part of the work is to deal with that.

[51:48]

And when you actually deal with it long enough, you may be ready for a teaching which is not about gaining anything, but about realizing that you have nothing to gain because you already have everything. You have nothing to gain because you already are everything. You have nothing to gain because you're in your true and original home, which is complete and perfect. But we need to wean ourselves from the story of this kind of low view of ourself, which is that this low view of ourself is that we do not include the whole universe, and we are not included in the whole

[52:52]

universe. That's a low view of ourselves. But we can eventually start opening to practices which are given to us from the perspective of our original home, where we realize we are just like the Buddha and the Buddha is just like us, where we contemplate we are just like the Buddha and the Buddha is like us. We are thus and the Buddha is thus. But to do those practices, we need to be able to be kind to the impulses to gain something, or to be something other than what we are.

[53:53]

So in a sense, one of the main forms of dung to shovel to deal with is this attitude that we're separate from complete perfect enlightenment, that we're separate from the perfect Buddha way. And again, we don't deny or get rid of those attitudes, we shovel them. And we shovel them with practices of compassion, which are dung-shoveling techniques. Yes? So, I'm focused on this notion of perceptible and imperceptible. Perception, when I perceive with

[55:08]

conscious mind, it's almost like it's an effort, something to get. And there have been times when I perceive, I know I perceive with unconscious mind, and just going apart from what I think I'm getting or not getting, I'm getting. Being here, it comes. So it feels like I don't have to worry about whether I can perceive or it's imperceptible, because sometimes perception to me seems like it's not just conscious mind. Well, I agree, you don't have to worry. However, worry is allowed. So you don't have to worry, but it's an option for you. And you said something about you are receiving, you're receiving what? You're receiving true home, yeah.

[56:25]

And in true home, you're also giving true home. In our true home, we're receiving and giving. Whether you perceive it or not, that's the case. Now, I'm using perception in a kind of technical way, meaning that you make this imperceptible process, this process which the conscious mind cannot see how the whole universe is giving rise to it and how it gives rise to the whole universe. The conscious mind cannot actually comprehend that. That is incomprehensible. The conscious mind has coherent appearances in it, perceptions which allow us to get something. The conscious mind is involved in getting something. So it might get a perception of how it's receiving and giving,

[57:28]

but that's a narrow version of how we're actually receiving and giving. And whether we perceive that we're receiving and giving or not, we still are. So you may have some sense, some knowing of how you're receiving the whole universe and giving to the whole universe. You may have some knowing of that, but that knowing is very quiet compared to the way you know perceptions. And again, some people do perceive that they're not supported by the universe and that they don't support the universe. And this is the way we become when we wander around looking for our true home on our own for a long time. That's how we become destitute and we do not believe that the inconceivable resources of the universe are just for us and just for everybody else.

[58:43]

And how we are just for the inconceivable resources. We lose the ability to accept that version of our life. But by training with our perceptible version of our life, we're more and more open to the inconceivable, imperceptible reality of our life, which we know all along, but we know it in a really different way than we consciously know. We know something that cannot be grasped, but we know it in an ungraspable mode. So we are receiving and giving all the time, and we want to realize that. Because it's part of the whole story of our life, the whole reality of our life is that.

[59:44]

By the way, in the back of the room, a person named Homa raised her hand, and I said to her earlier today, I said, Welcome, Hom-a. Welcome, Hom-a. Yes, Hom-a. There's my Hom-a. I question the nature of life itself, as if the nature of life is perceptible and perceptible. You're questioning the nature of life, and then you said, if the nature of life is perceptible, and I would just say right there, the nature of life is perceptible and imperceptible. The nature of life is that the perceptible and the imperceptible are interfused. That's the nature of life.

[60:53]

The way our life is imperceptibly according with all other life is imperceptible by definition, but we also perceive the way we're related, and the way we perceive that we're related, and the way we're related that we cannot perceive, those are two different ways that we're related. We're related by perception and by an imperceptible relationship, and those two are interfused. That also cannot be grasped, but it can be enacted. At the beginning of this talk, saying our names and having other people say our names is an exercise in enacting the imperceptible, which you can perceive. You can perceive the person's name. You can perceive your own name. You can say it. You can hear it. Other people say it. Other people hear it and say it.

[61:57]

That is a ritual enactment of the imperceptible, which we can perceive. Our true life is not just imperceptible. It's not just imperceptible. It's not just the way we include all beings and all beings include us. It's also that we make up stories of not including beings and not being included. That's also part of our life. Our true nature is that those two are in conversation all the time. That's our true home. That's our true nature. But for me, it looks or it appears like constantly mine for me or mine. Constantly I'm given perceptions. You're given perceptions, yes. I'm given perceptions and I constantly need to, I must constantly be vigilant,

[63:09]

be wholesome with whatever is being given or perceived. And my question is, I'm wondering if this whole process of perception that is constantly being given, does it have a nature of stopping or it just has a nature of coming? So if it has just a nature, it's nature of just coming, then... No, perceptions don't just come, they also go. Perceptions come and go. Yes, but my question is, does it ever stop coming and go? Or this is like, all it does is come and go. That's the nature. The nature of life is just coming and going. Not the nature of life. It's not that the nature of life is coming and going,

[64:13]

but the nature of consciousness is coming and going. Consciousness has this arising and ceasing. It's not that the nature of life is birth and death, okay? Once again, birth and death is not the nature of life, it's just part of life. So part of life is birth and death and birth and death, round and round. Another part of life is no birth, no death. And those two, the no birth, no death part of life and the birth and death part of life, they are in conversation always. So what comes and goes is in conversation with what does not come or go. And we can contemplate what comes and goes, and if we're able to contemplate what comes and goes,

[65:16]

like perceptions coming and going, if we contemplate them purely, that means we contemplate them generously and carefully and patiently. If we contemplate our perceptions which come and go in that way, we become more and more integrated with what does not come and go, which is already integrated with the coming and going, but if we're not kind to the coming and going, we have not yet integrated the coming and going with the not coming and going. So the coming and going of perceptions, for example, is already integrated with the not coming and going of perceptions, for example.

[66:16]

But if we're not kind to what comes and goes, we close the door on the integration of what comes and goes and what does not come and go. The integration is already there, but if we don't practice compassion towards our perceptions, we're not yet ready to realize this interfusion. Yes? I think it was in July, Tracy said something like, I find it easier to practice compassion to maybe those who are not so near to me. And you brought up, from the Book of Serenity, Case 98, and you said something like, enmity...

[67:20]

I think the phrase is, the ultimate familiarity, ultimate familiarity is almost like enmity. To seek outside yourself is heart-rending. So, in the story, the young man is seeking outside himself. For what? For his true home. He's seeking his true home outside of where he is, and it's heart-rending, and he becomes more and more destitute and... yeah... almost dead. And then, yes? So, maybe I heard it like sitting upright, practicing compassion with not moving,

[68:23]

or the tension that we may feel after sitting for a while. I feel like there, too, it's almost like war. It's very... Yeah, it's almost... If you're being upright with what's going on, and you're at a distance, you may feel like you're kind of being compassionate to it. Like, I'm okay. I'm okay with that. But as you get closer, in one way, you start to notice some resistance to this thing. And in one sense, the resistance to whatever it is

[69:25]

is resisting the inconceivable interpenetration of that thing and the observer. So, as you get closer to the interpenetration, you also might become more aware that you have some resistance to the interpenetration. And then, if you get closer, the resistance might get really intense, almost like a war. Resistance can almost be like enmity. But when it's at a distance, it's kind of like, well, I'm not interpenetrated with that thing way over there. It's not interpenetrated with me. I'm kind of easygoing with that. But when something gets closer, if you continue to feel like this thing's not interpenetrating, even though it's kind of like saying, I'm going to penetrate you,

[70:26]

and you're going to penetrate me, wait a minute. Now it's more, I don't know if I'm ready for this interpenetration. And again, at a distance, most people think, it's way over there. It's not interpenetrating me. And I'm not interpenetrating it. So, no problem. But as it gets closer, resolving this situation, realizing our true home becomes more and more critical, you could say. And again, critical is a turning point. You're getting closer to the place where you're actually going to allow the closeness. But before you really fully allow it, it might get more difficult to accept. And that's when it comes to me, one of the teachings, it's like a massive fire. Are you touching it,

[71:29]

or are you turning away from it? So, you don't have to touch it or turn away from it to live with it intimately. Matter of fact, touching it and turning away are, they kind of go with not accepting the interpenetration. You already feel the warmth, but also you already are the warmth. You don't have to do anything to make that so. You're being warmed. It's warming. So, turning away and touching are instructions to be upright with it and to allow yourself to become more intimate with it, into it, and of course not more intimate by leaning away from it. It's not even by being more intimate, it's just like be with it in such a way that you realize you are intimate with this massive fire. You already are.

[72:31]

So, you hang out with it, but you don't try to get it or avoid it. Those do not go with realizing the intimacy. We're already intimate with this massive fire. It's what we really are. We're already, that's what we really are. So, and being kind to any attempt to touch it is appropriate to being free of trying to touch it. And being kind to any impulse to get away from it is appropriate to being free of impulses to get away from it. So, we're doing dung shuffling now.

[73:35]

This is dung shuffling. I think this dung shuffling talk is the very best talk. Ah, more dung to shuffle. So, maybe so, maybe this failed talk is the best talk. Thank you so much for saving this talk. Nice work, guys. It was close there for a while.

[74:39]

Thank you.

[74:41]