Embodying the Lotus Sutra 

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Yeah. The title of the Lotus Sutra in Sanskrit is Sādharma, and Sādharma means something like


good dharma, good truth or good teaching, and the lotus of the good teaching. Pundarika means lotus flower, and in Chinese it's called Miao Fa, and Miao means, this character here is Miao, and Fa is the character for dharma or teaching or truth, dharma teaching or truth, and Lian Hua means lotus flower. So this character Miao means beautiful, wondrous, excellent, mysterious, subtle, inconceivable, and Fa means dharma or truth, I mean teaching or truth,


it's dharma, it means teaching truth, and also can be used for a phenomena, and same as Sanskrit, dharma can be a teaching, the teaching, a teaching, a phenomena, or the truth, and there's other meanings too. And as I mentioned last week, at the beginning of the sutra, there's this scene where this vast multitude of people come to hear the Buddha, and the Buddha enters into concentration, and this great beam of light comes out of the Buddha, and it goes in all directions, and in the assembly there's the great Bodhisattva Manjushri, I mean Maitreya, who's wondering what all this light is about, and also this


celestial flowers are falling on the Buddha, and the earth is trembling, so this is great energetic and brilliant display of cosmic radiance, and the great Bodhisattva is wondering what's it all about, and Maitreya then asks Manjushri Bodhisattva, the Bodhisattva of wisdom, Maitreya by the way means basically love, so it's the Bodhisattva of love, asks the Bodhisattva Manjushri, and Manjushri means sweetness and splendor, or sweetness and light, or sweet radiance, and Manjushri consults his memory and says that he does


remember that there was a time in the past when he saw this kind of display, and at that time there was a great teaching of Dharma, so that this time, this light and this flowering, flower showers and trembling earth is also signifying that the great Dharma, the wondrous of this trance, and tells people that it's very difficult to teach this inconceivable truth, and he hesitates to do so, and in the process of being begged to do it, a lot of


people leave the assembly, thousands of people leave the assembly, and then after they're gone, the Buddha says fine, and then he tells some parables, and the leader of the monk disciples in the assembly is very happy about all this, and is singing the praises of the Buddha and the praises of the teaching, however, in all this excitement, sometimes people don't notice that the Buddha didn't actually say anything about this wondrous truth that he was going to give, and I mentioned last week that this is a kind of special thing about


the Lotus Sutra, is that it, as dramatically or perhaps more dramatically than any other scripture that we now have available to us, there might have been some that have been lost, but this very dramatic promise of this very great teaching by this very great teacher, and then the teaching is not given. And this unique quality of the Lotus Sutra, of it actually proposing that it will teach the highest truth, and the highest truth, it seems if you read the Sutra, you get the impression that the highest truth of the Lotus Sutra is the same highest truth basically, or I should say, it's in accord with the highest truth that's taught in other scriptures in what's called the Mahayana. In other words, in other scriptures, in other discourses


that are given to teach Bodhisattvas, the highest teaching in most of those scriptures is pretty clearly specified as emptiness. Emptiness is the highest truth, and emptiness is discussed in many Mahayana sutras, and this is what the Bodhisattvas are being taught, is this doctrine of emptiness. The teaching of emptiness. So, I don't know how clearly it says in the Lotus Sutra, it doesn't say much like this, but there is basically a little bit of discussion of emptiness, but since the Lotus Sutra doesn't really give any teachings about the highest truth to speak of, and the highest truth is emptiness, and the highest truth is also this wondrous Dharma, so the wondrous Dharma


seems like it probably is emptiness, but we can't be sure. But the Sutra itself, the way it's presented, is actually that the Sutra itself is empty, and it's empty also in that it won't tell us what emptiness is. And the Sutra also does say, however, it tells us that the Sutra, the Sutra tells us that the Sutra is the embodiment of this thing that they won't teach you. The Sutra is here to teach us the highest truth, and the Sutra is telling us that it is the embodiment of the highest truth, and it won't tell us what the highest truth is, which means it won't tell us what the Lotus Sutra is either.


And I wanted to write the word emptiness here, on this blackboard, which hasn't been written on for a while. This is the character for emptiness, maybe not so clear, I'll try to write it clearer. Character for emptiness, that the Chinese finally settled on. The Sanskrit word that it's come from is, emptiness is shunyata, and shunyata is related to the adjective shunya, shunya means empty, shunyata, the ta on the end of shunya, makes it into an abstract noun. So, things are empty, everything is empty, you're empty, I'm empty, all things are empty, the Lotus Sutra is empty,


empty of what? Empty of any inherent existence. Things are empty of any idea you have about them. Like any ideas you have of me, I'm actually empty of them. And the quality of me, of being empty of anybody's ideas about me, including my own ideas of myself, that the adjective is empty, and the quality is emptiness, I have the quality of emptiness, everything about me is emptiness, everything about you, everything about everything is emptiness, and this is a basic teaching of the great Bodhisattvas. So on the path of compassion, those great Bodhisattvas, what they're studying is the highest truth, of emptiness. When the Chinese first translated this Sanskrit term shunyata, they used a character


which means nothing, or there isn't any, it means an absence. But this absence had a kind of substantial quality to it, like it was a nothing from which everything came. It was kind of like a nothing, a substantial nothing. So the Chinese, as they understood emptiness better, they thought this isn't a good word, so they chose this word, and this word doesn't mean nothing, its basic meaning of this word is space, or sky. So they chose a word which means like open, open space. So this emptiness, this lack, it's actually an absence, it's actually a lack, but this lack is not a nothing, and it's not a substantial nothing either.


It's more like a spaciousness, that allows everything, like space does. So the Lotus Sutra, by not telling us what the truth is, allows a lot of space for what the truth might be. And the Chinese character also, if you look at this character, which is a character for space, it's often seen, people often see in this character, that it's actually a schematic of the human body. This is the head, this is the shoulders, see the shoulders, shoulder, these are the arms, and these could be the arms, this is the ribs, this is the pelvis, the legs and the feet. So the character for space looks like a picture of a body.


And the Lotus Sutra is like that, you can say, because the Lotus Sutra is empty at its core, it allows us to read it, and hear it, and interpret it, and apply it in a very wide way. It allows us to flesh out its emptiness, with all kinds of ideas, and it itself also fleshes out its emptiness with many stories. So the basic story is a story of this marvelous event that's going to occur, this wonderful teaching that's going to be delivered and expounded in detail


by this great master, which isn't done, that's the basic story. And then there's many other stories which fill in, but never do give what was promised. So we never do grasp the main point, and yet the Sutra shows us that we can have many stories about this main point, none of which reach it. So, it can be fleshed out with all kinds of stories, it can be fleshed out with pictures, you can make pictures, you can draw pictures of the story, of the stories in the Sutra, and the stories in the Sutra can be to teach the stories, I should say, you can draw pictures which help to teach the stories in the Sutra, but you can also draw pictures which offer opportunity for people to worship the Sutra,


which means worship the ultimate truth, which means worshiping emptiness. And you can worship it in many ways, because there's no teaching of what it is, there are teachings of ways to worship it, but it's not like the ways of worshiping are limited to the ways that are mentioned, because there's no way to eliminate any of them, because the truth has not been taught. But we are taught that it's okay to talk about the truth and try to explain it, even though there's no source upon which you could actually reach by your explanation, and also it's okay to worship it. Not only okay to worship it, but the Lotus Sutra recommends that you worship this truth which it won't tell you about. Also, it can be fleshed out by by expressing it or impressing the Lotus Sutra on the landscape of this planet.


It also can be fleshed out by seeing the Lotus Sutra as a source source of an ever-branching stream of new religions. Because of its empty core, you can mass-produce religions from the Lotus Sutra. You may not be interested, but in fact many religions have been made from the Lotus Sutra. You can make many Mahayana religions from the Lotus Sutra, you can make... Basically, there's no end to the branchings and manifestations of religious life that you can make from this Lotus Sutra, because of its openness and emptiness. The Lotus Sutra also can be the basis


for a template for world conquest, for world transformation and world conquest. And it has been used that way. It can be used for or exchanged for or changed or transformed into political power. It has been in the past and it can be in the future. All this because of the wonderful Dharma, which the Lotus Sutra does not teach us about. So there's no limit on it. And I think I can go back over that material and give you examples for the rest of the class. But before I do, I wanted to say also that the Lotus Sutra, although it doesn't tell us what the


Buddha taught, but it kind of tells us that the Buddha didn't teach. But it didn't exactly tell us that the Buddha didn't teach, it just said the Buddha didn't teach what the Buddha said he was going to teach. That's the kind of teaching. The Buddha did teach, but not what the Buddha said he would teach. And then the Buddha taught some other things which the Buddha did not say the Buddha would teach, but which I mentioned in past classes here. And one of the main things I mentioned before was that the Buddha taught that if you practice all virtues and are gentle and harmonious and honest and upright, you will see the Buddha, Shakyamuni, right now teaching the Lotus Sutra,


the way Shakyamuni taught the Lotus Sutra in the past. You will see that. And the Lotus Sutra says you will see the Buddha teaching the Lotus Sutra. However, that Buddha who you get to see teaching the Lotus Sutra, the way the Buddha teaches the Lotus Sutra is that the Buddha will not tell you what the Lotus Sutra is. It will be the same wonderful teaching that you can't grasp, but you'll be able to see it and enjoy it and be there with it. And another basic thing is that although again the Lotus Sutra doesn't say much about what's called Buddha nature, it looks like to people who have meditated on the Sutra for a long time, it looks like to some of the great people who actually started religions based on the Lotus Sutra. One of the great religions that was based on the Lotus Sutra is called


Tiantai, and it's founded by a person who lived on a mountain called Mount Tiantai. And millions of people practiced that religion, which is based on the Lotus Sutra. It's one of the religions that comes from the Lotus Sutra, and the founder of that tradition understood, his understanding was, that the Lotus Sutra, the highest truth in the Lotus Sutra is in accord with emptiness. The Lotus Sutra agrees that all phenomena are empty, all phenomena are emptiness, but also that emptiness is identical to Buddha nature. So it isn't just that everything's ungraspable and innocent of any ideas you have about them. It isn't that everything's just spacious and empty, it's also that everything is


a revelation of the Buddha Dharma and of the Buddha nature. And then a basic teaching of the Lotus Sutra is, if you behave in a certain way, you'll see the Buddha teaching, and then if you continue to behave that way, you will see the Buddha revealing the Buddha nature without pointing at it or saying what it is. And if you want to see the Buddha nature, the basic practice is the basic practice of earlier teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, before the Lotus Sutra, which is basically the practice of giving up self-concern, the practice of being selfless. So by practicing selflessness, you realize selflessness. By practicing selflessly, by giving away


your self-centeredness, by donating your self-centeredness to all beings, and surrendering your self-centeredness, surrendering your self-centeredness, surrendering your self-centeredness. By doing that, you see the Buddha teaching, and you realize emptiness, and you realize Buddha nature. And I told this story before, about there was a person, his name was Bahiya, and I'll tell the short version tonight. If you want to, I'll tell a longer version later. But the short version is, Bahiya found the Buddha, was looking for the Buddha, and found the Buddha, and went up to the Buddha, and said, please teach me the Dharma. Please teach me the highest truth.


And the Buddha said, this isn't a good time, monk. And the monk said, but we might die this afternoon. It was in the morning, this request. The Buddha was, it was morning time, and Buddha begged for his lunch in the morning. So he was begging at the time. Please teach me the highest truth. Please teach me the wondrous Dharma. Buddha said, I'm begging now, it isn't a good time. The monk said, but we might die this afternoon. So Buddha said, we might die this afternoon, so please teach me. Please give the teaching of the highest truth. And Buddha said, I'm begging now, this isn't a good time. And the monk said, really, we might die this afternoon, please give the teaching now.


And the Buddha said, it's not a good time. And the monk asked a third time. And the Buddha said, okay. And he said, Bahiya, train yourself thus. Now right there, train yourself thus, right there, he could have stopped there, but anyway, he didn't. But I would just stop there, and say, train yourself thus means, train yourself the way things are. Train yourself to be the way things are. And the way things are, is you're selfless. Train yourself to be selfless. The Buddha maybe gave that teaching a different time. Somebody says, please give me the teaching. Buddha says, train yourself to be selfless. Train yourself to be thus, and the way you are, is selfless. So train yourself to be thus, selfless. Okay, that's another teaching. A teaching which, if you practiced,


you would see the Buddha nature. If you practice being thus, you would see that things are empty, and you would realize the Buddha nature. So in this case, the Buddha said, train yourself thus, but then he gave a little bit more detail. He said, in the heard, there would be just the heard. In the seen, there would be just the seen. And then he said, in the reflected, but that's a technical term, which is a summary of tasting, smelling, and touching. So, to elaborate it would be, in the smelled, there would be just the smelled. In the tasted, there would be just the tasted. In the touched, just the touched.


And in the mentally cognized, just the cognized. Can you see that that is a training in giving up self? Usually when you hear things, there's me hearing, or I'm hearing, or there's the hearing in the heard. Right? That's the usual way. Hear the car, there's the sound of the car, which I'm hearing, and there's me hearing it, or there's the hearing in the sound of the car, which is heard. Are you familiar with that way? That's the usual self-centered way of experiencing hearing. But to train yourself so that when there's the sound of the car, that's it. There's not the sound of the car plus me. But usually there's the sound of the car plus there's thinking about me in the car.


But as I said, train yourself so that there's just, in the heard, there's just the heard. That was the instruction that the Buddha gave to the monk who wants to hear the Dharma. This instruction isn't exactly the Dharma. This instruction is how to be selfless, and when you're selfless, when you train yourself into selflessness, you will hear the Dharma. You will see the Dharma. This isn't really Buddha nature. This is the way for you to realize Buddha nature by giving up self-concern. So Buddha gives that instruction, and he says, when for you it's like that, you know, when for you, when for you in the heard there's just the heard, and so on, then there will be no, you will not locate yourself in it or outside of it. You won't be over there in the car sound, or over here separate from it.


You will not identify with it, or, he didn't say that, but he said, you will not identify with it, but I would add, or disidentify with it. If you see something, you won't identify with it, or disidentify with it. If you see your picture, you won't identify with it, you just see the picture. If you see somebody else's picture, you won't disidentify with it, you just see the picture. And when it's that way, there will be no here, or there, or in between, and this will be the end of suffering. The monk heard the instruction, and he immediately practiced it and realized it. And then, and he told the Buddha that he realized it, you know, now for me, that's the way it is, and there's no here, or there, or in between, and this is the end of suffering, and thank you very much, I'd like to become your disciple now.


And the Buddha said, fine, because I want to point out, after, after he wakes up and practices selflessness, after he realizes selflessness, and understands the truth, and understands that he's not separate from the Buddha, then he wants to become Buddha's disciple and practice with Buddha. And the Buddha says, fine, and he says, do you have the requisites for ordination? And the ordination ceremony requires that you bring the teacher a robe and a bowl, if you're going to be ordained as a monk, and then you give it to the teacher, and then the teacher welcomes you to come, and you go forth, and the Buddha gives you the robe and the bowl, and that's the ordination in early days. But he said, no, I don't have the requisites. So the Buddha said, well, get them and come back, and you will be ordained into the group of disciples. And he went to get the robe and the bowl, but he got situated between


a mother water buffalo and her calf, and was killed that afternoon. But he received the Dharma, he heard the Dharma, before he died, and the disciples were upset, but the Buddha said, don't worry, he's fine, he heard it, don't worry, he's just fine. Now, the Buddha nature, which one of the religions founded on the Lotus Sutra, equates with the highest truth of the Lotus Sutra. The highest truth of the Lotus Sutra is Buddha nature, which is the same as emptiness. But it is a kind of fleshed out, or fulfilled emptiness.


It's not just the absence, it's also a presence. And the Zen teacher Dogen says, if you want to realize this Buddha nature, if you want to realize the highest truth of the Buddha's teaching, the highest truth of the Lotus Sutra, the wondrous Dharma of the Lotus Sutra, then give up selfish concern. And in the way he recommends it is, he says, he says, think just as you now hear, just as you're now hearing, think as you are now hearing.


Same instruction. If you can think just as you're hearing, you will hear the true Dharma. But most people, when they think, they don't think like they're hearing, they hear and think. You know, I'm sitting here thinking, I'm thinking, I'm hearing. There's a thinking in addition to the hearing, rather than my thinking just being like my hearing, or when I'm hearing, that is my thinking. So right now you're probably all hearing my voice. But is there any thinking that's in addition to that hearing? And probably so. So recently I brought this teaching up with some senior Zen center priests, and I said, I'd recommend you practice that, practice this, practice thinking as you're hearing, make your hearing what you're thinking.


And one of them came to me and said, it's really hard to give up selfish point of view, which means it's really hard when you're hearing to just hear. Because you're actually thinking when you're hearing too. But to make your thinking not anything in addition to when you're hearing. And if you're seeing, to make your thinking not in addition to your seeing, but make your seeing your thinking. That entails surrendering self-centered existence, that training. And this wonderful training, it's not really the highest inconceivable dharma. But if you practice that way, you realize the highest inconceivable dharma. Because the highest inconceivable dharma, we're not going to,


nobody's going to, those sutras are not going to tell us about it. Now some people will tell us about it. But they're just telling us about it in a way to get us to be selfless, so we'll hear what they're not telling us, which is the truth. Because they can't tell us the truth. The Buddha can't tell you the truth. But the Buddha can, whatever, you could say trick you into being selfless. And when you're selfless, you will hear the truth. And when you hear the truth, you will be selfless. Today I was visiting an old friend, who was having, I heard he was having a real hard time. He's been sick a long time, and he's having trouble swallowing. And he was afraid, I heard, that he was going to choke, choke to death. And, anyway, he's been sick a long time, and he's been a real inspiration to people,


the way he's continued through this, you know, decades of illness, being very kind, and gentle, and good-spirited. But I heard, you know, things are getting more difficult. So I went to see him today. And I never saw him, I never saw him before, looking so troubled. He really looked scared. His brow was very furrowed. And I, just before I came in, the nurse was putting some eye drops in his eyes, so he looked like he was crying, but I think he was crying, too. And, anyway, he looked really, really upset, really scared, really having a hard time.


And I went and sat down next to him, and he started talking to me. And talking, kind of like, it's going to be hard for you to hear what he was talking like, because I couldn't hear him, and I had my ear right next to his mouth. He was kind of talking like, So he was breathing kind of fast, and as he was exhaling, he was saying a few words. And I didn't know what he was saying. But I wasn't saying anything to him. I was just near him. And at one point, I reached over and got his juice, and I asked him if he wanted some.


I did say that, and he kind of nodded, and he drank some juice. After he drank the juice, his voice was a little bit closer to me being able to hear him. And I tried to practice this hearing him. I tried to have what I was hearing, which I didn't understand. I was hearing some sounds from his mouth, which I didn't understand, but I tried to make my thinking be the hearing. My mind partly was trying to think of what he was saying. My thinking was trying to get some meaning out of what he was saying. But it was a nice opportunity to give that up, because I wasn't going to get any.


But anyway, whether I was going to get it or not, how about doing the practice? So, I really tried to just have my thinking be what I was hearing. I just worked at that, and it was really hard. And also, when he was talking, I had my ear by his mouth, but then I would also look in his face. And his face was, like I said, very troubled and pained. But I didn't feel like I should just have a troubled look on my face. I didn't feel like I should just copy it. Although I also, part of me was thinking that I should copy his face, and I shouldn't have a calm face if he had such a pained face. But I really felt like, well, just let what I see be what I see. And let my thinking be the face I'm seeing. And when I did that, my face was not his face. All there was was his face, and my face was not an issue.


But it was really, really hard. He was having a really hard time, and I was having a hard time with him. And it was hard, and in addition to being hard, it was hard for just my hearing the sounds and the spaces between the sounds, to have that be my thinking. But when it was that way, that I was just hearing him, and there was no thinking about what does it mean? Should I say something? Am I wasting my time? Am I helping him? None of that. When he was talking and I was hearing, that's all there was. We got to that place together that all I was doing was hearing him


when I was hearing him. And all I was doing was seeing him when I was seeing him, and there was no reb thinking about it. It was still hard for us to be together. And it was hot, because the room was real warm. But in the hot, there was just the hot. No, just the hot, just the hot, just the hot. And I told him I was going to come over to Berkeley. But that I'd come back and visit him again on Saturday. And I said, is there anything else you want to tell me before I go? And he did that thing again. And then I gave him some more juice.


And I said, is there anything else you want to tell me before I go? Is there anything else you want to say? And he said, You've been just doing your life in this valley for a long time. You're a good man. You're a good teacher. And his face cleared up. The pain went away. And he was smiling. We got to that place, just suffering together, like that. But it's hard when you're with somebody who's suffering.


For there not to be a here, and a there, and an in-between. For there not to be like, they're making sounds, they're crying, they're audible, or they're inaudible. I mean, they're audible, but undecipherable. You know. And there's something in addition to that. It's hard for there just to be that. But there can be just that, because there is just that. So anyway, I was very happy to have gone there and suffered with him. Not for very long, actually. But, when I left, he was... I don't know how long he and I, when we were separated, would be able to continue that practice. But here I am now with you, bringing it up again.


I don't know if he... I don't know what he's doing tonight, but that's what we did this afternoon. And that's where the Buddha nature is realized, in that way of being together. That's how the highest truth, which... You know, I can say a lot about it, and I probably will if I live longer. But I can also say nothing about it, like the Lotus Sutra, really. But I mostly say how to realize it. Which the Lotus Sutra does tell us, and which the Buddha told us in other sutras, too. But the Lotus Sutra is really nice, because the Lotus Sutra goes much more than most. I'm sorry, I can't tell you. Actually, the Buddha in that first story


was kind of like that, too. He's sorry, I'm begging, I can't tell you. If you look at the story again, actually the Buddha was telling him there was a Lotus Sutra, right? Except that when the guy came, as he approached the Buddha, the Buddha didn't say, now I'm going to tell you the great, the great, the great, the great. And the guy comes up and says, well, tell me the great. He said, I can't, I've got to beg. So in this case, just when the guy came, he just said, I can't tell you. And in fact, he didn't tell him. Okay, if that's not enough for you, okay, now I'll tell you how to be selfless, and then you'll realize that I can't tell you. And then you'll hear what I can't tell you. But the Lotus Sutra, like, really works it up and, you know, gets our hopes up. And we get very excited about it before it doesn't tell us. And then it says, which other sutras don't so much, then it says, now that I've told you about this great Dharma, which I'm going to teach you, which I didn't teach you, now worship the non-teaching of this. And so the teaching


I talked about just now is, in some sense, is more of a analytical or intellectual teaching. But there's another teaching in the Lotus Sutra, another way to realize the Buddha nature, another way to realize emptiness, another way to give up self is by worship, is by veneration, is by devotion. That's another route to selflessness, which I'll bring up next week. I mean, I brought it up, but I'll work it next week with you. So there's teachings of how to be selfless by which you realize the truth. And there's practices and rituals of veneration and offering and so on, by which you realize selflessness. In both cases, through the realization of selflessness, we open


to this emptiness, which is the wonderful Dharma, and the wonderful Dharma is empty, therefore we can flesh it out in all these ways. So another thing which I'm saying is that we can hopefully go into some detail later in the class about how to flesh out this emptiness in the form of, for example, political power or transforming the world. I'll just give you one little story about that, but then I'll open up to questions. When I was in Los Angeles last weekend visiting my daughter and her son, who you maybe can figure out is my grandson, and


she said, Here, Dad, here's a present from you. And she said, It's too big for me. I got this, but it's too big for me. And it was a white t-shirt that had a picture of, actually kind of a sumi circle, with Barack Obama's head on part of it. It said, Obama in 2008. She said, Here, this is for you. You can wear this. So I put it on and wore it around L.A. for a while. And then I actually wore it on the airplane, Southwest Airline, before they got fined for not doing safety checks properly. I walk on in this kind of positive way, quite energetic male flight attendant looks at me and says, Welcome aboard. He said, Did somebody vomit on your t-shirt? So see, there's an


opportunity there to flesh out the Lotus Sutra, to bring the Lotus Sutra into that political situation. One idea I had since then, a number of ideas, but one of them is that I wore three t-shirts under my robes. And I sort of shot Barack Obama and then lift up and there's a McCain one. Lift up, there's a Hillary one under there. Which one do you like? A lot of possibilities here. A lot of possibilities here. The Lotus Sutra is allowing a lot of possibilities. It can be a resource to transform or flesh out the ultimate truth in the political arena. Yes,


Tracy? We were doing right now what you're talking about, this whole last half hour. We were just being with you and having the herd just be the herd. What does cognition fit in that whole class we did on cognition? Is that a separate thing? Well, if you're visiting your sick friend and you're thinking something about your friend, like you think I need to go to Berkeley now, then in that thought that I have to go to Berkeley, in that thinking, in the cognition of that thought, that's all there is. There's not me. There's not me thinking that way. So just like when you're


hearing something, usually there's I'm hearing, or there's what is heard and there's the hearing of it. There's some separation there. Or some self-centered point of view, like there's a self here, which is hearing. It's not that there's no self. We're not saying there's no self. We're just saying there's no self separate from the hearing. In other words, the self-centered view is there's a self-hearing. There is a self, but there's not a self separate from the hearing. So by training yourself so that in the hearing there's just a hearing with no self in addition, then the same way when you're thinking some thoughts, which aren't sounds or smells or tastes, but maybe some story, like a story of somebody saying that you're wearing a stupid T-shirt. You're wearing the wrong kind of T-shirt. You know, you think that.


Well, in that cognition of wrong kind of T-shirt, there's just the cognition wrong kind of T-shirt. There's not a cognizer doing that. So in the same way that you can make your hearing, in the hearing process there's just a heard, just a heard, just a heard. In cognizing mental objects, there's just a mental object, just a mental object, just a mental object. Like in a teaching situation, there's you're talking, I have a cognition, which is like maybe I understand it, maybe I don't understand it. Right, that's not it. So then in that case, you said, I have a cognition. So there would just be the cognition. It wouldn't be, I have a cognition. There would just be the cognition, maybe I understand. Or, that seems clear. But there's just, that seems clear. There's no, Tracy has this cognition, or Tracy's having the cognition, that seems clear.


And it's hard to get to that place where the Tracy's surrendered. The Tracy that's separate from the, you don't have to get rid of Tracy, but the Tracy that's separate from what she's thinking, that's the self-centered point of view, to give up. And it's, in some way it's easy to work up to that, that's the most subtle, to work up to it, by hearing and seeing and so on, and touching. So there's touching, and there's just the touched. There's not me touching. And there's looking, and seeing, and there's what's seen. Now, let's make it to, there's just the seen, there's not something, somebody in addition to the seen. We think there is, give that up. Train yourself to surrender. The point of view, of I'm


over here, seeing you over there. Just you, just you. I'm completely included, but I'm not in addition. My view of being, that things are centered over here, or over there, is dropped. Yeah, Lois? Worship. Every time you say it, I think until tonight, I was struggling with, okay, and now we're going to worship. I was very interfered with, and every time I'm trying out this thing you're saying, or not saying, I think, okay, that's it. It's not, and now we're going to worship. And now, I mean, I don't like that concept of, and now. And even when you said, now we're going to talk about veneration next week, I feel, am I, is it right, or right, whatever I mean, that it's embodied. I'm already worshiping, and now I don't have


to be worshiping. I don't have to do something separate to now do that. If I'm already here, I'm worshiping. It may not make it slippery, but... I agree. Is that what you're saying? That's part of what I'm saying, yeah. And that way that you're worshiping, right now, anyway, nobody knows what that is. People don't think you're worshiping, now that you said that, maybe she is. But before you said that, you weren't doing something that we could point to and grasp as worshiping. But you are worshiping. So worshiping is a way to realize that that's really what our life in reality is, is that we're worshiping. We are exercising that we think there's some value in this universe, in this life. And then, to do the practice without thinking that's something in addition


to what's going on, that's the skill. But the thing is, if you think, well, okay, we're already worshiping so we don't have to worship. It's not true. You have to do something which is not separate from what you're doing to realize what you're doing. It's like writing or painting. It's like writing or painting, yeah. And writing or painting are, in reality, worship. Everything is actually venerating reality. But the only reason you know you said that, the only reason you do it is so that you know that you're worshiping or that you know that you're writing. Yeah, that's kind of the only reason. I mean, I don't know if I say the only reason, but anyway, it is, I think, the most important reason is that


unless we make offerings, unless we practice making offerings, we don't realize we're making offerings. If we think we're making offerings but don't practice it, we don't really realize it. If we think we're being compassionate but don't practice it, we don't realize it. It's true that we are. If you think you are, you're right, but you don't realize it unless you practice it. And then also, to practice it in a way that you realize you're not doing anything in addition to what you're always doing anyway. To practice it so wholeheartedly that there's just compassion. So there's just the suffering person, and you're totally with them. And there's not you here and them there. And it's hard somehow to suffer, and it's hard to give up any


separation from it. But not impossible. Yeah. Michel. In your experience, I do it in breathing with somebody who's dying. And I'm just breathing, and a moment comes, the idea of the recognition is not breathing fast because it takes a long time. And then the moment I have that, it's stopped. Or the observer has stopped. It feels like it's not the breathing, it's an observer. It's observing, I'm breathing, observing. It's more than breathing. The way you said, when there's a recognition, is there an observer


who realizes the suffering in the moment, or just suffering? If I express it clearly, you feel like there's a duality once there's an observer. It's not just the breathing. When I breathe, I feel like I don't feel anything. Well, you said, when you're breathing, you don't feel anything, you're just breathing. Do you hear that? When I'm breathing, I don't feel anything, I'm just breathing. In other words, when I'm breathing, I'm just feeling breathing. But you said, when I'm breathing, or when I'm just breathing, I don't feel anything. We usually think that when we're breathing, if we don't feel something, that means there's not somebody in addition to the feeling of breathing. But when you got to the place where, when there was just breathing, you didn't feel anything. In other words, there was just breathing. And there wasn't somebody in addition to the breathing, feeling something. The feeling was breathing. The moment an observer comes,


and says, I'm breathing, or whatever, when the observer comes, in addition to the breathing, yes, that's a problem. But if the observer comes, and in the observer there's just the observer, then it's the same thing as when there's breathing, and there's no feeling, but the breathing. All there is in the breathing is the breathing. The breathing includes the body, the breath, it's all there, it's just there's no separation. There's no self-centered point of view. And it's, we're so unused to it that when it gets there, we think we don't feel anything. Because what we're used to feeling is separation. That's the main thing that we're into. So when that drops away, we feel like nothing, but actually, there's breathing, or there's hearing, there's the touch of the breath, or there's the hearing of breath. It's just that there's no awareness of that. There's no awareness


other than the feeling of the breathing. But that is awareness. That is awareness. But it's not self-centered awareness. Yeah, and that's okay. And then that's a cognition, a mental cognition, rather than a sense cognition, and that mental cognition, you can practice with that the same way. And then it would be like, I'm not thinking anything, you might say. But really, I'm not thinking in the way I'm used to having me thinking. There's just thinking. And when there's sound, my thinking is sound, or what is heard. Okay. Yeah. I heard you say something along the lines of you can base numerous


religions or world conquests on this Lotus Sutra. Yeah. And my question is, does that imply that all those things that are based on it are authentic? Or are they somehow, could they be a perversion of that teaching? They could all be perversions of the teaching. What's the difference between those which would be authentic and those which would be perversions? The ones that would be authentic would, they would be practicing selflessness. The selflessness of the Lotus Sutra allows all kinds of ways of manifesting it. But then once the manifestation occurs, which the Lotus Sutra allows, in its fresh appearance, then if the practitioners bring back


selfishness into it, it perverts the place from which they were allowed to arise in the first place. So, emptiness allows things, because things are empty, they can happen. Because things aren't substantial and graspable, they can function. If things were substantial, nothing could happen, everything would just be done right now. The world would be done. There would be no change, there would be nothing happening anymore. But because of emptiness, because things are the way they actually are, many things can happen. So emptiness, the teaching of the Lotus Sutra is saying you can change this religion in any way you want, but the reason why you can do that is because I'm not going to tell you what it is. Now, if then you change it and then you say, now we've got this new religion and this is what it is, now you're not,


now you're blocking the next religion. You made a new religion, but now you killed it. And it's not a source of many new religions. Now it's this one, and we got it, and it's doing pretty well. Is that okay? No. It's not. And it could be the source of some religions, but nothing like what the Lotus Sutra allows. It probably won't be the source of another religion, because if another religion arose, that religion would say, that's not us. We're not connected to that religion, because it's not ours. This is this one. But practitioners of the Lotus Sutra can actually, once they lose sight of the place that the Lotus Sutra came from, which is emptiness, or which is the ultimate truth, which it cannot be grasped, once they lose sight of that, then they can start fighting with other


new religions coming from the same place. And they do fight with each other. So the Lotus Sutra sponsors not just all Buddhist schools, but Islam. The Lotus Sutra totally sponsored Islam. Islam may not wish to give credit where credit is due, but some Islam, those who realize selflessness, they would realize that. And one strange twist of this is that Saddam Hussein, Saddam comes from Sadarma. He was actually studied the Lotus Sutra for various reasons. Memorized the Lotus Sutra. Worshipped the Lotus Sutra. Saddam. And so he got the nickname Saddam from Sadarma. Is it true?


I don't say it's true. But what is true, please remember, what is true, I will not say what that is. But I will also want... But I'm not going to also say that story is true, but I did hear that story, that he was a student of the Sutra, and he got the nickname from his friends for his study of it. So you might say, let's change to a different sutra that doesn't have any political uses. So you could... There are other sutras like that where you can see almost no political application. So then there's no danger of you know, conflicting troublesome political applications. Because you can't see any. And that's generally speaking, people can't see how you apply Buddhism to social life. That's often the criticism of Buddhism.


Lotus Sutra is different. Lotus Sutra, you can easily come up with lots of political application and political use of it. Because it allays... You name it. You name how you want to use it. We can use it that way. However, there still can be some discussion about whether you're using it properly. And whether you're violating the basic truth. Are you now trying to grasp the truth in this application? Then that would contradict the way the Buddha taught the sutra. So although you can't see what the truth is, you can see how the Buddha taught it. So if now you're teaching the truth in such a way that you're saying what it is, you're doing it differently than the Buddha did in the Lotus Sutra. And you don't have the Buddha sort of with you at that time probably. But, we can talk about that. And I'm really not trying to advertise the Lotus Sutra so much, but I have told you that the Lotus Sutra is heavily advertising itself. It's telling you


that you should worship it. But I'm not telling you you should worship it. I'm just saying that worship is a way to realize selflessness and open up to the truth which the Lotus Sutra is dedicated to but won't tell you about. It's totally about you realizing the truth and because it wants you to realize the truth, it doesn't tell you what it is so that you can realize it. Some other people want you to realize the truth and in their endeavor to help you realize the truth, they tell you what it is. And then later they say, I just said it that way to help you. But the Lotus Sutra is nice that way that it does not tell you and that's all what it's about is you realizing it. But it does tell you how to realize it in a way. And it does show you


that it's not telling you what it is. It's the main point and it's not specified. That's why. I wouldn't be surprised if you understand now how to practice selflessness basically and that if you give it a try this week you'll have a hard time. But that you probably understand how to do it so you can have a hard time at it rather than not even knowing enough to have a hard time. I think you know enough to actually try it and really find it challenging. I think so. Probably. If you try it and it's challenging, it doesn't mean you're wrong. It means it's just hard to make the transition from this deep habit of me thinking and me hearing and me seeing to what's seen, what's heard, what's thought and so on.


But it's pretty simple. Don't you think? Just really hard. It's hard to surrender self-centered point of view. It's deeply entrenched. If you want to realize the ultimate truth this is how to do it. According to some people. Thank you Donald for getting the blackboard up.