Deep Faith in Cause and Effect has now become Deep Faith in Being a Sentient Being 

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One of our members here today, his name is Ted Brown, he was sitting in the other room there towards the back I think, more or less shaved head. He practiced at the Zen Center a long time ago and recently came to me and said that he wanted to start practicing again. I heard him talking on the telephone earlier today about his mother and I asked him what was going on and he said he took his mother to the emergency room today and she was short of breath and she stayed and he said basically she is in good hands and now he just got a call from his wife saying that she seems to be dying so he left early. She is becoming in critical condition.


So here we are, you know, we are living in birth and death and we have the opportunity to vow to embrace and sustain all beings in birth and death, to stay close to them, basically stay close to them and not do anything, which is, in other words, to stay close and teach the Dharma. One of the ways to do nothing is to come to Novo Bod and sit for a day and we did that today, we have been doing that now at Novo Bod for about eight years we have been practicing


here and on January 3rd we will have another one day sitting, you are welcome to come again and sit and at the end of the day there is an optional ceremony and I do not prefer that anybody do the ceremony or not do the ceremony, I just welcome you if you like to and if you do not wish to do it, you are totally supported to not do it. Some of you may wish, may not be able to come to the sitting and just want to come to the ceremony, some of you may want to come to the sitting and leave at the time of the ceremony


or just witness it and some of you may wish to come to the sitting and also do the ceremony and the ceremony is an opportunity to formally invite me and encourage me to live another year, to play the game of being a teacher for another year and to ask me, to encourage me to do that and to ask to be able to practice with me for another year and the ceremony is usually done between priests and their teacher but we are experimenting with opening this to what we call householder bodhisattvas or zykaya bodhisattvas, so you are welcome to do that if you like. Maybe at the end of one day sitting have a little break, little recess


and then have the ceremony at the end of the day, like five o'clock. For some reason or other I feel joyful practicing here with you and I feel grateful to you for your great, warm, wholehearted practice here. And I hope that this practice place can be a resource for many years to come, although


it is in a state of constant deterioration. Is there anything you wish to express this evening? Yes. I would like to offer an appreciation for your teachings on deep faith and cause and effect this year and the trajectory of those teachings to deep faith and wholeheartedly dancing with delusion where we are today and just to share that my intention, which I believe I shared last January, this year was to study endarkment and I feel that your teachings this year greatly enrich that intention and greatly inform that. So thank you very much. You are so welcome.


I would love to offer my gratitude and I'm sure everybody's gratitude just for your presence to just be here. You are welcome. And you can offer other people's gratitude too. There are people who can't be there on the 3rd but who want to do that ceremony with you. Is there an alternate way to accomplish that? Again, traditionally, you can send in the mail the statement. So the ceremony involves offering in the Japanese tradition, offering mochi rice, which is the traditional New Year's rice. Take a little piece of mochi, put it on the altar for 3 days, make the offering and pray for the health of the teachers. And then after 3 days, I think maybe start on


New Year's usually, but it can be before, if you're going to have the ceremony on New Year's, it could be before New Year's. But in this case, you can start on New Year's, make an offering, offer various prayers in relationship to that offering, and then send it in the mail. That's why a little piece is good. Send it in the mail with your written statement so it can be done from a distance. And if people want to have a face-to-face ceremony, we could find some time maybe later in the year. But I have had the experience of priests who are living far away sending me these things in the mail. Yes? I have two questions. One, how is mochi usually presented?


Well, you know what mochi is like? Sort of glutinous? Yes, it's kind of sticky. So how is it presented? Usually you wrap it in paper, in white paper usually. Wrap it in white paper, a little bit, and offer it. But sometimes people offer, if it's not going through the mail, you can offer a little mound of it. It doesn't have to be tiny, it can be quite a sizable offering on your altar. But in the mail, usually people just send a little wafer of it or something. And I have another question prompted by some of your discussion this morning. How would you define the term dharma as applied to a phenomena? Well, one of the meanings of dharma is phenomena. Yes, so does that mean phenomena unreconstructed in silence, or does it mean phenomena subject


to cognition, cognized phenomena? Well, you know, for the most part it means objects of perception, it means things that depend on mental imputation. That means existing things, not potential or not the probability of things, but things that have been precipitated by cognition into a kind of like entity. So like pain and pleasure and confusion and colors and smells and ideas, all these kinds of, these are dharmas in the sense of phenomena. All phenomena are objects of sense, senses. So this is the dharma in the sense of all the objects of knowing, through the senses and through the mind consciousness.


In this ceremony, should we also be thinking about what our intention is for the year? Is that part of the expression? It could be, yeah. I mean, usually the way we priests do it is we bring these statements, which are, most people's statements are pretty similar, or almost identical. They offer these pieces of writing and then we bow to each other three times and then we usually sit together and at that time sometimes people say something. But we don't usually go through each person stating their intention for the year. However, I sometimes, when I have time, when I'm around, I sometimes meet with the people, each one of them briefly at the end of the year and hear their intention for the next year. But if you like to individually


meet and express your intention for the year, that could be a later event, but it wouldn't be part of that ceremony. But after we do the prostrations to each other, we usually do sit for a little while in silence and stillness to observe the living enlightenment. And then people sometimes get a little excited and say something. By the way, when Dogen is speaking of the dynamic working of the process of the Middle Way and he says, all this, however, does not appear within perception because it is unconstructedness


and stillness. It is immediate realization. The character for stillness, that character also means silence, but it's usually translated as stillness. But the character means both silent and still. Unconstructed stillness and silence. That's where enlightenment is doing its thing. Could you say again the translation of the calligraphy? The calligraphy says, the first two characters are assembly or gathering of living or birth, which means sentient beings. The next character means nature or condition. So the nature of


sentient beings, the nature of living beings, the next two characters can be translated as immediately is, immediately is or namely. And the next two characters mean bodhi, enlightenment. It's bodhi. And the last character is therefore or in consequence. So it can be translated as the condition of a sentient being, namely enlightenment. Therefore, the condition of a sentient being immediately is awakening. The nature of sentient beings itself is, immediately is awakening. And where did you find that?


I found it in what's called the Taisho Daizokyo, which is a collection of all the scriptures. And it's a Mahayana Sutra, which I would translate as the non-activity of all phenomena. The non-action. But this section is about the non-moving of all things. It's about the non-moving of a sentient being. The non-moving of a sentient being is a sentient being being a sentient being. That's what we mean by not moving. And that is, that not moving sentient being is attaining enlightenment. This sutra has been just translated very partially but someday it might be translated completely. In the meantime, please be content with little


snippets here and there. This is a literal copying of the text, of this Chinese text. There's enough available now for everybody. And someone reminded me of something I said a while ago, and it was that one time I was talking to someone, and someone I really appreciated, and I said, you know, I'm not going to talk too much, but I was feeling a kind of aching in my heart area, in my heart chakra, and a kind of achiness and deadness and dustiness in my heart. And I kind of thought this person


knew that I loved him, but I felt like, I felt like I didn't. I felt like I didn't love him. I felt like I needed, that my heart needed for me to say, I love you. So I asked if I could say something, and she said yes, and I said, I love you. And she said, I hope you don't say that to everybody. But not because she didn't want me to feel that way for everybody, but she thought some people should not be told that. And then I noticed that my heart was still somewhat blocked, so I said, thank you. And I felt it was a


little blocked, so then I said, I'm sorry. And that seemed to open it, those three. I love you, thank you, I'm sorry. May our intention fully extend to every being and place with the true merit of Buddha's way. Beings are numberless. I vow to save them. Delusions are inexhaustible. I vow to end them. Dharma gates are boundless. I vow to enter them. Buddha's way is unsurpassable.


I vow to become it. Oh, I forgot to mention one other thing about the ceremony, and that is, we bow to each other three times, and then we have these bowing cloths priests do. So then we fold up our bowing cloths and put them on the ground, and then we say, Happy New Year! And do one more bow.