Embodying the Lotus Sutra 

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As you may know, the title for this class is Embodying the Lotus Sutra, and the full name of the Lotus Sutra, as I've mentioned over and over, is something like the Lotus Flower of the Wondrous Truth scripture. So the title of the Lotus Flower scripture includes Lotus Flower, Wondrous Dharma scripture. So the Wondrous Dharma is in the title. So in a sense, it looks like this scripture is about the Wondrous Dharma. And again, as we've


mentioned, just to warm up on this meditation again, that there's a discourse telling us that the Buddha seems to be ready to give us a discourse to expound the Wondrous Truth, the marvelous, inconceivably great, and supremely helpful truth. That's what it seems is happening, and it's kind of promised by the Buddha that this discourse on this truth is going to happen, but then it doesn't happen. And then I also mentioned that in the Lotus Sutra also is, the fuller name for the Lotus Sutra is the Mahayana, the Great Vehicle, Lotus Flower of


the Wondrous Dharma scripture. And one of the things that's shared in the Great Vehicle practice and Great Vehicle teaching is the teaching of the Wondrous Truth, the ultimate truth. And the ultimate truth is called emptiness, literally, or that's a common, or voidness. And it's the truth that everything is empty, or everything is voidness. Everything is empty and everything is emptiness. So that truth is the highest truth in the Great Vehicle teaching, and the Lotus Sutra is part of this Great Vehicle movement in the world, so its teaching must also be, its truth must also be emptiness. And the proposal in the Great Vehicle is that in order to be liberated,


we must understand the highest truth. We must understand the truth of emptiness. We must understand emptiness. But it's also taught that in order to understand emptiness, the truth of emptiness, the highest truth, we must also understand and be familiar with conventional truth. So an example of conventional truth is a book. A book is a conventional truth. For example, a book that tells you it's going to teach you the highest truth is a conventional truth. Not all books, which are conventional truths, say that they're going to teach you the highest truth. But the Lotus Sutra is a book, a conventional truth, which tells the story of the Buddha saying that this highest


truth will be offered, and then it's not offered. But the description of the Buddha being ready to give this highest truth teaching and not doing it, that's a conventional truth. And if we become familiar with this conventional truth, then we might be ready to receive the ultimate truth. In fact, we have to be familiar with conventional truth in order to receive ultimate truth. The conventional designations, it tells us that this book is the embodiment of the ultimate truth. The book is a conventional truth, which is an embodiment of the ultimate truth. We have this conventional truth, that it is


this type of conventional truth, which is the embodiment of the ultimate truth. And one of the ways it embodies it is by telling us that it's going to teach us and not teaching it. Not teaching it directly. It kind of teaches it by saying that it's going to, kind of does, promising it is related to it, but it doesn't go so far as to actually give the detailed, full exposition or expounding of it. And last week, I think I mentioned, maybe I did the first week, but I said it this week. What did I say last week? What's the price of admission to the seeing and hearing of the ultimate


true Dharma, the ultimate truth? What is necessary? Just hearing. Just hearing when you're hearing. And just seeing when you're seeing, and just smelling when you're smelling. And what do all those ways of being have in common? What's happening when you're that way? Emptiness. No self. No self. You're kind of practicing no self, but you're also practicing emptiness, because emptiness is selflessness. So no self, or non-self, or selflessness, is a synonym for emptiness. So in order to realize selflessness, we need to be selfless. In order to not just hear about it, and kind of understand it, but to realize it, we sort of have to get with the program. We have to practice being selfless in order to realize being selfless.


We need to practice being the truth in order to see and hear the truth. So that seems like really straightforward, right? I don't know. Is it? And then, yeah, we have to give up self in order to understand selflessness. We have to make ourself a gift in order to hear and receive and realize the truth of our selflessness. In some sense, it isn't that we reject or throw away self, because that would be a little bit like saying that there was a self. Does that make sense? To reject it or throw it away, it's more like you actually are believing in the self.


But to make it a gift, you see that actually, oh, it's not something to hold on to. It's something to give away. It's actually not something to have. It's something that's given. So it isn't that it doesn't exist at all. It's just that its independence doesn't exist at all. So I make myself a gift, and one of the ways I make myself a gift, we talked about last week, would be when you hear something, in what you hear, there's just a heard. When you're that way with what you hear, you actually have given away yourself. You maybe don't think you gave away yourself, but you did, because you're not holding on to the self who's hearing the heard. You're getting with the program of selflessness when you take care of yourself that way.


How do you take care of yourself that way? Well, you've got a self. Charlie's got a self. Roderick's got a self. They do, but their self is not an independent self. It's a relative self. It's a self having to do with Charlie having certain qualities and depending on many things, and so there's a self. And the same for all of us. But we don't have a self that we can hold on to. But we do have a self that we can give away. And how do you give it away? In the heard, there's just a heard. At that time, you give away yourself. But if in the heard, there's the heard and you, then you haven't really gotten with the program of yourself being a gift. There's still some feeling like the self is something that's separate from the hearing which makes it. Whenever you hear anything, that's part of yourself.


Like, for example, we human beings hear certain things that other animals don't hear, and they hear things we don't hear. And also, some of us hear things that others of us don't. But the fact that some of us don't hear certain things and some of us do is what makes the different selves. Does that make sense? So we are actually created by everything we hear, see, smell, touch, taste, and think. And when there's just these activities, and no self in addition to them, then we have become actually familiar with and intimate with conventional truth. We become so intimate with conventional truth that there's no self in addition to conventional truth. There's just conventional truth, like the heard, the seen, the smelled, the touched, the taste, the mentally cognized.


So that was the way last week I talked about how to give up the self, make yourself a gift, or get rid of, you could say, the idea that you exist separately from what you hear. That you exist separately from the sound of a truck, or you exist separately from the voice of another person. And when in the heard, there's just a heard, then there's not you and me. When you hear my voice, and in hearing my voice there's just the sound of my voice, there's just what you hear, then there's no you and me. There's no you separate from me. You and me are still here, I'm talking, you're listening, but there's no you separate from me. That's called getting with the program of conventional truth and being ready to receive the ultimate truth, which is actually the truth of the Lotus Sutra.


The Lotus Sutra has a little bit more to say than just that. It actually is teaching the ultimate truth, but it's also teaching us how to practice with it. How to practice with conventional truth in order to open to the ultimate truth, which it won't indicate. And so I mentioned that there's another kind of practice, another way to sort of get with the program of selflessness, or another way to practice selflessness, which I think I just spoke of as worship last week. So this week I would like to move over and look at that way of becoming familiar, intimate, with conventional truth. And again, becoming intimate with conventional truth means you get more and more ready to be selfless. But before I do that, I wanted to tell two Zen stories, which I feel are related to the Lotus Sutra, although they don't mention it.


One, I'll use conventional truth to relate these to time. One occurred before the other. That's a conventional truth. And one occurred after the other. That's a conventional truth. One occurred before the Tang Dynasty. Actually, one occurred in the beginning of the Tang Dynasty in China, and the other one occurred at the end of the Tang Dynasty. So, in the first story, a monk comes to visit the person we call the sixth ancestor of Zen, and the sixth ancestor says to the person who comes, What is it that thus comes? Which is a kind of pun, because the person has just come, and he's saying, What is it that thus comes? But thus comes is also an epithet for Buddha.


So he's asking him, What is it that just came here? Namely, What are you? Or, What has come when you came? But also he's saying, What is Buddha? And also he's asking, What is the Dharma? Because the Buddha and the Dharma are not separate. And the historical Buddha says, When you see the Dharma, you see me. When you see me, you see the Dharma. And again, parenthetically, whenever you see the Dharma, if you're looking at a person, if you actually see the Dharma, what you're seeing is the actual person. When you see somebody, when you actually see somebody, you're seeing the truth. So when you see the truth, you see the Buddha. And you can see it while you're looking at a person. But in order to see the truth when you're looking at a person, you need to make yourself a gift.


And in fact, again, you need to get with the program of you being a gift. You are actually a gift. That's part of the true Dharma, is that everybody's a gift. So you have to make yourself a gift in order to get with the truth that you're a gift. And the truth that you're a gift is the same as the truth that you're empty. That you're emptiness. Same truth. Put conventionally in different ways. So anyway, back to the story. Close parenthesis. The monk comes to see the sixth ancestor. The sixth ancestor says, what is it that thus comes? Actually, I shortened the story. I'll make it a little longer. The monk comes and he says, where are you from? And the monk says, Monsung. And then the ancestor says, what is it that thus comes? And the monk said, to say it's this misses the point.


That's the Lotus Sutra. What is the Dharma? To say it's this misses the point. The Buddha doesn't say that. He just says, I'm going to teach you the true Dharma and then he doesn't tell us what it is. He doesn't say it's this or not this. If he had said it was this, he would have missed the point. But he wasn't in the mood of missing the point in the Lotus Sutra. He was in the point of saying, the Dharma is really important and I'm not going to miss the point. The Dharma is really important, I'm going to tell you about it and then not tell us. He did not point at it. He did not indicate it. He did not say it's this. And not to criticize many, many Buddhist teachers, but many Buddhist teachers say this is the truth. It's very kind of them to miss the point by telling us what it is.


So that the Lotus Sutra can just sit there and be weird. So anyway, he says, to say it's this, to say the Buddha is this, to say the Dharma is this, misses the point. And then the teacher says, what does that mean? There's no practice or realization? Because if you won't say what the Dharma is, how are you going to practice it? How are you going to realize it? How are you going to wake up and be free by seeing the truth if you won't tell us what it is? And the monk says, I don't say there's no practice or realization, just that it can't be defiled by saying what it is. You can say what it is, but that won't defile it. But also, I won't say what it is, I won't even try to defile it. And then the Sixth Ancestor says, in parenthesis, very good, close parenthesis,


this undefiled way is what is being protected by all Buddhas. Now I'm like this, and you're like this too. Again, a pun on thusness. Now you are thus, now I am thus. Now you are Buddha, now I am Buddha, and I can't tell you what that is. Now you are the truth, now I am the truth, and I can't indicate it, and you can't indicate it. And being with this is how to be selfless. This is instruction on being selfless. So we're giving a lot of attention to this truth, and we're not being told what it is, and we're not trying to get it, right? We come here to this room to hear about the ultimate truth that will cure all our ills, and we don't try to get it. Matter of fact, we just try to give ourselves away, with no expectation,


and we understand that if we do that, with no expectation, we will realize this truth. And then another story is of one of our ancestors, who is the founder of our lineage in China, and one of his students said, I'll just kind of make this more idiomatic, he said, you met a lot of great Zen masters, and some of them recognize you, and then you met this other guy, who is not so famous, and doesn't seem to be so special, but this is the one you seem to venerate the most. How can you venerate him when you've met all these other great Zen masters that are famous all over China? How can you venerate this kind of, I don't know what, apparently mediocre master? And he said something like, it's not the profundity and brilliance of my teacher that I appreciate,


but what I really appreciate is that he never directly indicated anything. He never told me what the truth was. And some of these other great Zen masters kind of did. Okay, now, time for another way to give up self, and that's through, you know, well, that's through giving up everything. And one way to give up everything is to worship something. That doesn't mean when you worship that you automatically give up everything, you have to worship in the right way. But anyway, worship or veneration is a way to give up self, to let go of self.


Someone said to me just recently, she said that she's been doing a ceremony of going for refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. So there is a practice of going for refuge or returning to the ultimate truth. You can return to conventional truth, but also you can return to ultimate truth. Returning to ultimate truth is another way to say, there's a practice of realizing ultimate truth. So the Lotus Sutra is talking about the ultimate truth, the wondrous inconceivable truth. So there could be a practice of returning to, going for refuge in this ultimate truth, which is the same as going for refuge in Buddha, which includes also going for refuge in the Sangha.


And I think she said something like, in doing this ceremony, is it necessary to relinquish something? And I said, yeah. And she said, what? And I said, everything. So when you go for refuge in the Buddha, when you return to the Buddha, when you return to the highest truth, in order to actually have that happen, you need to relinquish everything. And relinquishing everything means you open to the Buddha, you open to the Dharma, you open to the Sangha. So the Lotus Sutra, the book, or the speaking of the book, the hearing of the book, in order to actually realize going for refuge in its truth, you have to open to it.


In order to open to it, you have to let go of everything. So, worshipping it in the sense of opening to it. But also you have to focus on it at the same time. So you're paying attention to it and opening to it. You're paying attention to it and you're venerating it. When you venerate the Buddha, when you worship the Buddha, you return to the Buddha. Venerating a Buddha, then there's one Buddha, not two, or not you and the Buddha anymore. Now, if you venerate the Buddha and there's still you and the Buddha, that's like when you're hearing something and there's still you in hearing.


So, seeing somebody and training yourself so that in what you see there's just a seeing, there's not you in the seeing, is the same as venerating the person. To actually look at somebody and venerate them in the proper way, in the effective way, means that all there is, is who you're seeing. In the seeing, there's not you seeing them. There's you in them, but in the seeing, there's not you seeing them. There's just seeing them. And when you see somebody like that, that's giving up yourself or making yourself a gift to them. And it's also venerating them, and it's also going for refuge in them, and it's also going for refuge in the truth. And then some kind of subtleties in this, which I kind of already alluded to,


is, and I heard somebody say the other day, that devotion may be a path, but worship just makes everything worse. Worship just makes things worse. And the person went on to say more in the sense that devotion, focusing on someone, giving them your attention, heightens energy in attention. It heightens your attention energy, your energy attention. But there's a tendency in humans, and other kinds of people, there's a tendency to, you could say, idealize the focus of the worship.


To idealize the focus of the worship. To idealize the focus of the veneration. And that idealization of the focus of the veneration, and you can do this with the Lotus Sutra too, if you worship the Lotus Sutra, and you could hear a lot of wonderful things about the Lotus Sutra, which might contribute to idealizing it as the greatest sutra or something, as the embodiment of the highest teaching, of basically being the Buddha, incarnate, right in your hands, you can go on and get quite excited about that. In that process, if you idealize it, can you say it's the highest sutra without idealizing it? It may be hard. When you idealize it, you get into emotional projections, go back into emotional projections, and you reinforce kind of dualistic thinking.


So that's why it's nice to put these two kinds of teachings together, is that can you venerate so fully that there's no identification, excuse me, no idealization, which is similar to no identification. And there's a verse which I've said here before, it's a verse for bowing, person bowing, person bowed to, their nature, no nature. Person bowing, person bowed to, both are empty, both are selfless. This body and the other body, not two, plunge into that inexhaustible truth. Live in the vow to be selfless


and realize thereby the truth. So, without talking about the Lotus Sutra or the true Dharma, we can just practice, in the herd there will be just a herd, in the scene there will be just a scene, and if we practice that way, that will be a way for us to be selfless, and by being selfless, we will see, we will realize, the Dharma that the Lotus Sutra is about. But another way, which is the same thing, but just seems different, is to venerate this truth, venerate these Buddhas,


and in that way go for refuge in this truth, go for refuge in the Buddhas. And again, when you venerate things properly, you go for refuge in them, when you go in refuge with them properly, you venerate them. And then one additional big point is that another aspect, you don't have to think about this necessarily, but after I tell you this, you might think about it for a little while, and that is, that when there is this kind of veneration of something, of somebody, like veneration of a Buddha, or veneration of the highest truth, when there is that veneration, when it's the right kind of veneration,


there is going for refuge, and when there really is going for refuge, that is what's happening there, is you and the thing venerated, if it's, I should say, in the case of the triple treasure, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, you and the Buddha are in spiritual communion at that time. So this veneration, or this selfless way of being, is actually happening within a communication between you and what you're venerating. I see you, Elena, and I'll be right with you. Okay, so, and I want to say one more thing, just sort of like, so you're sort of in on something,


and that is that, when I wrote the Chinese character for emptiness on the board, the character that they wound up using for emptiness, for the highest truth, this is voidness, but the character looks like a schematic drawing of a body. Okay? And one of the wonderful things about the Lotus Sutra, from my perspective, is that it's giving us a teaching about emptiness without indicating what the teaching is, or what emptiness is, but it also gives us, because it won't indicate it, it leaves us lots of room for how to flesh out the ultimate truth. And how to flesh it out means how to embody it, how to flesh it out, how to embody the ultimate truth in the world together with everyone. And I've alluded to this, but I just wanted to say it again


so you feel my commitment to bring up how the Sutra teaches ways of embodying this truth in our own body, in our own family, in our own nation, in our own planet. But, I'm not ready to do that yet, but just keep telling you that that's part of what the Lotus Sutra is about. This class is about embodying the Lotus Sutra, which means it's about embodying the ultimate truth and the Lotus Sutra, which doesn't tell you what the ultimate truth is, is the embodiment of it, and we want to embody the Lotus Sutra, which is the embodiment of it. We want to embody that truth. Embodying the Lotus Sutra is the same as embodying the highest truth, and the Lotus Sutra is very much about embodying the highest truth and teaches us how to do that. I think we'll have time to talk about how it teaches to embody it,


but before embodying it, it's good to get in touch with it. Now I'm talking about how to get in touch with it, how to open to it, how to realize it, how to understand it, and then we can start to work it. So at this stage, I'm wondering how you're doing with basically opening to this truth, this truth which is so open. How to open to the unindicated supreme Dharma. How's it going? Is there anything you want to bring up now? Elena? Is veneration intentional or is it receiving? Did you say, is it intentional or is it what? It's receiving, right? It's intentional and it's receiving. Veneration is intentional, namely I want to venerate.


I've heard veneration is a practice, a ceremony actually I can do. It's a ceremony I can do which won't reach the actual veneration, but I have to do some ceremony because the veneration is also empty. The Dharma is empty, the Buddha is empty, so I have to do ceremonies in order to realize what's empty. So veneration is also empty, because in other words, ultimately, it doesn't have any self by itself either, so I have to do rituals about all this stuff. So I have to intentionally do, I have to intend to do veneration, but veneration isn't just my ceremony. So I can intend to venerate you as the Sangha, I can intend to venerate the teaching, I can intend to venerate the Lotus Sutra, and when my mind intends to do that,


when I think of that, actually I'm doing a ceremony in my mind of veneration, but the actual veneration is not the ceremony. The ceremony doesn't reach the veneration, the actual veneration. But I have to do what doesn't reach it in order to realize what is not reached by what I do as a general principle of practice. You have to do a ceremony to realize what the ceremony can't reach, because we're doing ceremonies about ultimate truth, and our ceremonies don't reach ultimate truth, because it's not some place, it's ungraspable. But by doing things, and knowing that what you're doing doesn't reach it, you realize it. So we can realize it, but we can't get it. So it is an intention, but it's also received. You receive veneration. When you do the ceremony of opening to what's happening, you receive veneration,


because your veneration is actually your life. Your life is a veneration of the truth. You are disciples of the truth. You are working for the truth. There's nobody else you can work for, but the truth. You are working for the way things work. Everybody is a disciple of actuality. However, if you don't practice a ceremony celebrating that, you will miss it, because you'll do some other ceremony, which will be a ceremony of falseness. It will be a ceremony of something you can get, but you can't get anything. So we have to do ceremonies which don't get anything. Which celebrate that we don't get anything, and then veneration is one of them. Worship is another one, and these meditations are other ones. Going for refuge is another one. So these are going for refuge and veneration are the same


when done properly. Yes, Elizabeth? I don't understand the word veneration. Before when you were talking about worship, I was confused, but it was clear to me, you say worship by opening to and focusing, so that kind of cleared up worship for me. But veneration, I haven't a clue what veneration is. Just etymologically, worship comes from the root worthy. So worship is to acknowledge worthiness or the worth of something. So you acknowledge that something is worthwhile. Veneration is related to Venus, means to love. So I'm talking about both, acknowledging the worth of something and expressing love for something, but then there are some details about how to do that. Namely, both of them are,


it isn't like loving, like trying to get a hold of something. It's loving like opening your body and mind to it, or making yourself a gift to it. Receiving it and intending to receive it, but not knowing how that receiving will go or what you will be receiving, because you're actually being generous, not manipulative. You're not trying to get this truth or that truth, this Buddha or that Buddha, this person or that Buddha. So that's the type of veneration we mean here. We don't mean veneration which is to idealize or to identify what you're venerating. To idealize or identify what you think is of worth. Now there's some tentative identification, just so you can focus, but it's not really identification, it's just enough to be able to pay attention to something and then test your selflessness on it.


And if you test your selflessness on it and you're successful in your selfless testing, then the truth will be revealed. And then you can work to realize it with all your future intentions. Was there another hand back there? Yes? Linda? You went from just hearing, just being, to veneration. Yeah. That all, and not to one. Yes. That felt, you know, I was right with it. Good. But then somehow when you talked about taking refuge, that feels like something extra to me, and maybe I'm not understanding what you're meaning here about taking refuge, but that almost feels like backing away and going there's someone here who's going over there


instead of the others. Okay. Well, again, the English word refuge is nice because it's like the Sanskrit word and like the Chinese word. The basic meaning is to return. And again, what is meant in the tradition by venerating the Buddha means the same as to return to Buddha. Yeah. But also veneration doesn't elucidate the function that when you venerate a Buddha, you return to a Buddha. But if you venerate, I don't know what. Yeah, I guess the word refuge emphasizes that when you venerate something, you kind of become it.


The veneration doesn't tell you in its linguistic structure that what you venerate you will become. Refuge tells you that you're going to return to what you're going to refuge in. You're going towards it, but you're actually returning to it. You're becoming it. It fleshes out the emptiness of it. So we go for... And the most common word to use in this relationship between ourselves and the Buddha and the relationship between ourselves and the truth and our relationship between ourselves and the community, the most common word that's used throughout the Buddhist world is to return to and rely on. And also someone would say to respect...


Who said this? Somebody... Oh, a samurai said this. A famous samurai said, it's okay to respect Buddha, just don't rely on it. But the Sanskrit word for refuge is to return to and rely on. And we do rely on Buddha. We need Buddha. But how do you rely on without grasping? So some people say... Well, a lot of people, of course, people usually rely on things and grasp things. That's what they're into. Now we're talking about relying on something that we're not supposed to grasp. So you think, well, maybe if I just don't rely on it, I won't grasp it. And that's what a lot of people do with their teacher, their human teacher. They notice that if they rely on their teacher, that they try to control their teacher. If they rely on their teacher, then they love their teacher, and they venerate their teacher, and then they want something from their teacher, because they're relying-getting a hold of the teacher


and trying to get something from the teacher. So they think, well, maybe if I just won't rely on the teacher, then I won't try to get something from the teacher, and then I won't be frustrated anymore that this teacher is not giving me what I'm trying to get. So I actually have a relationship like this with some people who are actually trying to get something from me. And they really love me. But they're frustrated, because they're not getting something that they're trying to get. And I'm like this... I don't know what to call myself, other than it sounds like I'm a really good teacher for this person, because I just can't give them what they're trying to get. I can give them lots of stuff, but as soon as they try to get something, I can't be something to get. And that's very painful for them, because they love me so much, and in that love they want to get something from the one they love, but they can't. So then they think, well, maybe if I just stop loving,


or just stop relying on the teacher, then it wouldn't be so painful, because if I didn't rely on them and love them, then I wouldn't try to get anything. So then I'd be all set. Well, you'd be good on the side of not trying to get anything. That side's good. But to not love people to avoid trying to get something, that's not so good. So we do need the teachers. We do need the Buddha. We do rely on the Buddha. But we need to learn how to rely in a way that we're really just returning. We're just one. We need to find that. So we need to bow to the Buddha and venerate the Buddha without trying to get anything from the Buddha. And that's hard. It's hard. As I said to you last week, somebody tried to do this practice, which I told you. Dogen says, if you want to see the Buddha nature, if you want to realize Buddha nature, then think as you're hearing,


or hear as you're thinking. Think as you're hearing. That was the instruction in how to be selfless. Somebody tried it. He said, it's so hard to do it. It's so hard. Right now, listen to me and have what you're hearing just be your thinking. And have no more thinking other than hearing me. No like thinking, oh, that's pretty good what he's saying, or that's not so good what he's saying, or I wonder how much more he's going to say. None of that. Just when you hear me, that's your thinking. You are thinking. You do think. You're a thinker. But when you're hearing me, the thinking you're doing is actually that you're hearing me. And there's nobody in addition to you hearing me than the hearing of me. Try it. It's hard. However, it's highly recommended as the mode in which you will be able to receive the wondrous Dharma of the Lotus Sutra. And it is also the mode


of going for refuge. Of relying on the truth which will be revealed to you without trying to get it, without trying to get anything beforehand. And then when you actually get to see the truth and feel the truth and realize the truth, not grabbing a hold of it, not attaching to it. Not identifying with it or disidentifying with it. Being intimate with it. And the same with conventional truths. Being intimate with conventional truths means you're open to them. You're familiar and open to them, not trying to get anything from them. Because conventional truths are what? What's an example of a conventional truth? Hearing. A sound is a conventional truth. If you can be this way with the conventional truths, that means you're open. Doesn't mean you're open to the conventional truth. When you're open to the conventional truth, you're open to the ultimate truth. Gary?


I just wanted to check what you're saying to make sure that I'm understanding the same words. Because when you talk about selflessness, the word that occurs to me is clinging, which, for example, Yvonne Rann used, I think, when she was teaching about the Eightfold Path or one of the other classes. And I kept, every time you were trying to describe what it meant to be selfless or to not grasp, I was putting clinging, not clinging. You mean... To be free of clinging. You were equating... I'm just trying to relate as clinging a reasonable word to... For what? A synonym for selflessness? No, no, it's not. Not grasping? Not clinging. I mean, I'm sorry, yes. Yeah, watch it. So, non-clinging goes with giving. Venerating without clinging. Venerating without grasping.


Venerating without trying to get anything. Yes. Non-clinging goes with non-grasping. Yes. Just basically synonyms. So, in order to realize selflessness, we have to realize non-clinging. But as I've often mentioned, so often, is that it's difficult to realize non-clinging. However, it's a little bit easier to notice the clinging. You can probably notice a little clinging now and then. And if you can notice clinging, then you can confess it in the presence of the triple treasure, in the presence of the Buddhas. And by revealing your clinging, the process of revealing the clinging, and revealing that you don't feel so comfortable with clinging either, that just some sorrow and pain around clinging, revealing that,


and confessing and revealing that, repenting it, melts the root of this deep habit. The deep habit of, in the herd, there's the herd and me. That's clinging. So I confess it, oh yeah. It's not just the herd yet, it's still me in the herd, me in the herd, me in the seeing, me in what I'm thinking, me thinking, me hearing, me seeing, there's still that. However, I can notice it, I can confess it, and I feel a little, actually, although it's normal, it's also normally painful. To have that separation. And by going over that, you can go over that. People can be aware of this, and [...] reveal this, and disclose this, over and over, and it melts, this process melts the root. And then there comes a time when there is actually, in the herd, there's just the herd. And there's an opening to the truth,


and there's not any grasping of it. But part of the confusion of this world, or the challenge of this world, is some people say, grasp the truth. So it's a little bit of an oxymoron to grasp the truth, unless the truth you're talking about is the truth of suffering. You can grasp that, I think, pretty well. But that's not really the truth of suffering, that's just the experience of suffering. You can do that. But really you're not grasping it either, it's just that thinking you can grasp suffering is also suffering. Thinking that you can grasp pleasure is also suffering. Anything that you think you can grasp, a color that you can grasp, is suffering. A sound that you think you can grasp, if you think you can grasp a sound, that's suffering. That's what suffering basically is, is clinging. And becoming familiar with that process, and being generous with that process, and venerating that process of clinging, opening to that, you open to non-clinging.


If I close to some part of the conventional world, some part of the world of suffering, the conventional world is the world of suffering, if I close to part of it, it doesn't work for me to open then to the ultimate truth. I have to open to the conventional world in order to... conventional truth, in order to open to the ultimate truth. And as you know, it's difficult to open to conventional truths sometimes. To really be open to them. It's difficult to see something, and in seeing it, be open to it to the extent that all there is is seeing what you're seeing. But you almost can get there, can't you? Like you can almost look at me, and just have there be... all there is is seeing me. You can almost do that. You can hear my voice, and almost like... in what I'm hearing, there's just... No, there's something extra. There's something extra. Almost not something extra.


Almost just the sound of his voice. It's really not that far away sometimes. Would you just stay still? Is that long enough? I'm bleeding. Was there another hand? Michel? And Tracy? It sounds to me that there is two different senses. The heard, the seen, and the mental activity, in a sense. And... it seems... that is the concept. It seems harder when the mental or the... the thoughts are part. It's just the hearing. It's a little more subtle. More subtle, yeah. Yeah, I think it is, yeah. So as a way, that's...


Which one is more recommended, whichever... Well, the Buddha said he started with the heard. He said, in the heard, just the heard. He started with hearing. And then he went to seeing. And then he went to a summary of the next five, next three. And then he went to your mental objects. So I think... that may be order of subtlety. But all I recommend, we need to open this way to all of them. And when we do that, then there won't be anymore the self, separate from other. Or a space between. And that will be the end of suffering. But as a practice, he says... As a practice, he said better to start just with hearing.


No, he didn't say that. He didn't say it was better. He just said... I'm just saying, he said, in the heard, just the heard. That's where he started. But he didn't say you should start there. But even if you start there, then... you have to go back to the beginning again. In other words, for all these things, train yourself to be that way with every experience. And that type of instruction is not... You don't see so much that kind of instruction in the Lotus Sutra. It's there to some extent, but... The Lotus Sutra is using more... recommending worship and veneration as a way to be selfless, so that you can understand what the Lotus Sutra is working to help us understand. And then, the Lotus Sutra also will tell us how to... how to embody that more and more as you realize it. How to make it more thoroughly embodied


once you see it and understand it. Therese? Did you hear that? Yes. A little more than that. I heard a passage this week, a Christian passage, that just lit me up. I even put it on my desktop, on my computer. And it might be... I think this is what we might be talking about. And it's from St. Augustine's Letter to God. And it says, I will yearn for Thee until I rest in Thee. I will yearn for Thee until I rest in it. Yeah. Until I rest in Thee. I will yearn for Thee until I rest in Thee. And then you started talking tonight, and I think you might be talking about it. Yeah. Yeah. That's similar. I will yearn for Thee until I rest in Thee. I will venerate Thee until I rest in Thee. When I first start yearning for you, I maybe feel like there's you and me. So I'm not really at rest, I'm still sort of like trying to get something probably.


But I yearn and I yearn until finally I'm not identifying or disidentifying, I'm not idealizing what I'm yearning for, I'm just yearning because we're related. And I'm resting in our relationship so fully that there's no me and you. What a coincidence. What a coincidence, yeah. Yeah, Laurie? Some people describe a way of, it sounds, you know, describe that they do something like in the scene there's just the scene. In some way that it doesn't work for them or it's not wholesome for them, like they kind of lose themselves in a not good way. So I mean, when you describe this, I feel like my self-centeredness is kind of straightforward and what you're talking about kind of works for me.


But I've talked to people who have this, the way they talk about what they're doing that's a problem for them is kind of like what you're saying in a way. It's not explained very well. Well, you could explain more, but before you do I just thought, if somebody isn't in touch with the, you know, kind of in the herd, there's the herd plus something and it happens to be me, if they're not in touch with that sense of I think I'm hearing, then maybe we should check out to see if they can get in touch with that, because it's there, but if they can't feel it, then it's like maybe too much in the background for them and we need to bring that forward a little bit more so that then they can confess it and drop it. It's like what they think they're doing is completely merging with the object. Yeah, right. So they don't notice that there's still somebody there thinking that they're doing that.


So we need to help them identify that. Otherwise this would be a kind of additional trick than the one we're usually bewitched by. Or in this case you might say they've idealized merging with the object, which again is like reinforcing the emotional projections. So that would be a subtlety to catch and help them become aware of it so that they could watch that and notice that that's not really the veneration which is really like selfless veneration. But we're going to go through some selfish veneration before we get to selflessness, so that's going to be part of the deal. Just like if you try to do the practice of in the herd there will be just a herd, there's going to be some period of time when there's not just the herd and the herd, there's you and the herd. But if somebody can't find that, they're probably just a little unconscious of that


and we need to help them. So it's nice if they come forward and tell us that. So we say, oh no, let's notice that you're idealizing this state of when it would be that in the herd there was just a herd. Somehow work for this, train for this without idealizing it, without trying to get there. Because you might not notice that that's the same thing you're trying to get over. Does that make sense? Yeah, I think so. It's kind of like they feel that the other is more real than the subject. For me, I step on myself, but some people describe that the other is more real. When you start worshiping, I think to some extent you're willing to, I don't know what the word is, give a little bit more strength to what you're venerating. So there's a beginning of loosening your... The word idealize is one word, and another word is identify.


Because when we identify with something, we're actually idealizing it. Because we really do idealize ourself. In some ways, when we start venerating something, we notice and we slip into idealization, then our own idealization of ourself is coming out in the open. But at the beginning anyway, when you start venerating, for a lot of us anyway, it's a little bit weakening our self-importance. And then to notice, where do we go from there? Does it get to be that they get more important rather than equally important? Equally important is enough, considering how important we think we are. I just want to make sure I'm understanding what you're saying. Are you saying that merging with the object of veneration is the problem, or thinking about merging with the object of veneration is the problem,


or idealizing the merger is the problem? Is the merging, the separation of self and other, the problem? A problem? A problem? Is merging a problem, as you said, basically? Yeah, merging, I wouldn't say merging is always a problem, because in some sense we are merged, because we're interdependent. But there's a kind of merging, which would be that you would basically just take yourself and put it into the other. You would merge yourself with them, rather than realize, which is a kind of merging, which would be that there's no you separate from them. Realizing that, you're not really merged, but you're just not separate.


But to sort of slip yourself into the other person, or make them more important than you, you're still separate from them, when they're more important than you. So then to avoid making them more important to you, to sort of enter them, go under the auspices of them, and hide within them, that's not the same as realizing that there's just them. In other words, there's no you in addition to them. Because there is no you in addition to what you're hearing. But you are a person, because you're hearing. So you depend on the other person. You can't exist separate from them, or you depend on the colors that you're seeing. There's no you separate from it, but you think there is. And because of that, you're in pain, and because of that you'd like to merge with it, maybe. Some people would like to merge with it. Some other people like to get control of it. But in some cases, merging would be a technique for avoiding trying to get something, for example,


and all those sufferings. It's subtle, huh? Yes. So, I'm not sure if this is much of a question. It's sort of about the word realizing. Yeah. Which, at least in my past, I've had sort of a stigma about realizing things, that it's sort of embarrassing if you don't realize something. Someone says, oh, didn't you realize that your car is running? As if it's something... It's also this sort of... My understanding of that word has been that it's just a mental process, that you can realize things just by knowing them, just by finding them out. But when we talk about realizing, for example, realizing the truth of emptiness, it seems like it's more than just someone telling it to you, or you coming to understand it.


So, I guess maybe this is a question. Does it involve also an intention, or does it involve something more than just knowledge, to realize in that way? One of the advantages of the word realize is that it has two meanings, one being to understand, and the other to manifest. Or make real. So, if you hear the truth of emptiness, and you understand it, that's part of realization of emptiness, is to have an understanding, even mental understanding. But the other part of realization is that you become emptiness. You act like it. You behave in accordance with your understanding. So, the word realize has two meanings? It does, actually, the English word. Those are two different things, though they're related?


Yes, some people can understand things but not manifest them. Like some psychologists, they perfectly well understand that there's no graspable self, but they don't manifest it in their life. They act like they thought there was one. Even though they've studied this, they're quite convinced, but not convinced to the extent that they actually are acting like that. I think I've spent a lot of time... And I say psychologists, but I mean, I say psychologists because oftentimes they do understand that. Or some Zen Buddhists don't yet understand it, in some sense as well, but they actually act like it. So, they actually do understand it, and again, in some ways, doing the ceremony of veneration is actually manifesting and understanding your relationship with the Buddhas,


or with the truth. The understanding is not something in addition to the thing you're doing. Your action is the understanding. That's more like realization. It is an understanding because you're actually demonstrating the understanding. You do have it. But you're not just saying, Oh, I understand venerating. You're actually thinking of it and understanding that there's no additional realization or understanding over what you're doing. So that would be, again, understanding correctly and embodying it. That would be realization. Which is different than just thinking you understand it. Yes? So, is it sort of one meaning of realization includes the broader meaning and then the narrower meaning?


Is one included within the other? Is the understanding meaning included within the actualization of it? Is that part of what you were saying? Is the understanding included in the actualization? Yes. In other words, the type of understanding that's important is the actualized understanding rather than just the mental understanding. So wisdom isn't just that you understand something like, I get it. It's actually you're that way. I mean, because you're understanding the way you are. In this case, you're understanding the way you are. And actually your action is now the way you're showing your understanding. So, do you understand me? Yes, and then I'll show it. But also, another thing you could understand would be that if you don't understand,


that you can practice confessing that you don't understand. And then when you practice, when you actually confess that you don't understand, you've realized that teaching of practicing confessing that you don't understand by confessing that you don't understand. There's a realization there. And that's also a practice. So the practice and realization are the same. Whereas there's some tendency to think that you practice and then there's realization. But there's no practice separate from the realization. And that's what you mean by realization. That's the kind of realization we're talking about. It's one that there's not a practice that's separate from it. It's getting a little late. Is it a short one, Roderick? It's a comment. A comment? Ah, that's short. I was geographically getting closer to here this afternoon. You were getting close geographically? And also my mind was kind of


getting close to what was happening last week. And this thing came to me. I didn't get it. And then it came again. I didn't get it. And then it came again. Three or four times. Things were coming, but you weren't getting them. No, that was the words. They were coming, I didn't get it. Very neutrally. Oh, the word, I don't get it? The phrase. The phrase quotes, I don't get it, unquote? Yeah. In a very neutral way. And it happened several times. And I just felt very assured and neutral because of it. It kind of seemed like... Yeah. Because I was thinking about the heart of the lotus and that. Yeah, and it sounds like the way you were with the quotes, I don't get it, unquote, the way you were with that was that you just... I practiced. You practiced with it. But it came to me rather than me saying, I'm going to practice, I don't get it. Yeah, right.


It was a little fun. Yeah. It was a little fun? It's okay to have a little fun, don't worry. Yeah.