Embodying the Lotus Sutra 

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How can I call living beings into the unsurpassed way and quickly perfect the body of a Tudor? Would you be comfortable opening that window a little bit more? Would that be okay with you, Luz and Lynn and Sarah? Is that okay? Open it a little bit more. Is that alright? Charlie? In one sense, I'd like to have the whole evening open for whatever you'd like to offer, but I also felt it would be good to, in a sense, go back to the beginning, to reiterate something very basic,


and that is the beginning of the scripture, wherein we were told that the Buddha was dwelling in the city of Rajagriha on Vulture Peak, with a huge assembly of a wide range of beings, great Bodhisattvas, male and female saints and all kinds of followers, and many kinds of beings that weren't human also, celestial beings of many kinds. They're all there, and they come to the Buddha and make offerings, great offerings to the Buddha, and then the Buddha gives a discourse called the Discourse of Innumerable Meanings. It doesn't say what the discourse was, it just says he gave the discourse and that was the name of it.


That's all we hear in this scripture. And then he entered into a concentration, a contemplation, called the Station of Innumerable Meanings. So he probably enters into contemplation of the discourse of the teaching he just gave. And after he enters this contemplation, the sky rains down a wide variety of fabulous flowers, and the earth shook. Innumerable earths or lands shook in six ways. This whole assembly is there, seeing the Buddha, making offerings to the Buddha, seeing the Buddha, hearing the Buddha, seeing the Buddha enter into concentration of the teaching that he gave. The flowers falling, the earth shaking, they're all there. And then the Buddha, from the tuft of white hair between his eyebrows,


a great light is emitted and goes off in all directions, and in each direction illuminates innumerable lands, and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and other beings in all those lands. And so these people are sitting there, seeing the whole universe illuminated, spiritually illuminated. And in the assembly is the great Bodhisattva Maitreya, the next Buddha in the next world epoch that will follow this one. And he's wondering what this... He's amazed by this scene and wonders if there's some meaning to it. And he thinks, oh, Manjushri Bodhisattva is in this assembly,


and he has studied with innumerable Buddhas in the past, maybe he has seen this before. So he goes to Manjushri and asks Manjushri, and Manjushri considers his past study with Buddhas, and he says, yes, I have seen this before. The same amazing events of Buddhas in the past. And when I saw this in the past, following this, they expounded the lotus flower, the great vehicle lotus flower of the Sublime Dharma Sutra. So probably that's what's going to happen now, is that the Buddha will expound that Sutra again. And Maitreya and other beings hearing about this


are very happy that they're going to get a chance to... They've just heard this other Sutra, which we don't know what it was, but they've heard this other Sutra, and they've seen this fabulous event, and now they're going to hear this sublime teaching that follows this. So they're very happy at the end of the chapter one, and then chapter two starts with the Buddha quietly and serenely arising from his concentrated state, and right away telling people that this wonderful Dharma is very difficult to understand if you're not a Buddha. And he goes on for a while about how difficult it is to understand. And nonetheless, the people are still happy at the prospect of hearing this teaching,


even though the Buddha says it's very difficult to understand. And then Shariputra begs the Buddha to teach, gives a long speech and then begs him to teach, and the Buddha says, That's enough. That's enough. But I'm afraid if I would teach this, people would become shocked, and dismayed, and perplexed. So better not do it. So then Shariputra, Shariputra is like the leader of the monks, he asks again, and begs again, and Buddha says, enough, enough. It would just be too shocking to the people, I wouldn't want them, they might get really disoriented and get in trouble if I teach this.


And so he asks again. And then the Buddha says, Well, since you've asked three times, okay, I will offer some skillful devices. This teaching, this truth, this wondrous truth, this wondrous truth, this wondrous law, it's very difficult, but I'll try to find some way, some device to help you with this difficult teaching. And around that time, five thousand people walk out of the assembly. And the Buddha kind of chastigates them, and after they leave, and says that it's good that they're gone, that they were kind of proud, and arrogant, thinking, you know, well, if it's difficult to understand, well, let's go someplace else


where the guy teaches some stuff that's not so difficult. I've heard enough about how hard this is. Let's go someplace else. Or, you know, he's just going to say the same thing again anyway. He said before, which wasn't much anyway, so let's get out of here. So they left, and the Buddha kind of says, good that they're gone, but then the Buddha says, it's good that you stayed. Very good that you stayed, and you will all become Buddhas. So if you excuse me for saying so, it's good that you stayed. Even though you didn't hear about what the wonderous truth was, you still stayed, just like the people in the Sutra. So you will become Buddha, according to the Sutra.


You didn't hear what the Sutra was teaching, and you didn't hear the truth that the Sutra is named after, but you did stay, just like the people in the Sutra, and the Buddha said, you people should know, you will become Buddhas. Did I mention here last week about the Buddha, I mean, about Dogen, when he was dying, writing a passage on a pillar. Is that right? Did I mention to you that the Jodo Shinshu headquarters or institute over on Durant had this big altar that they wanted to find a home for? Did I tell you about that? So, part of what I've been doing coming to Berkeley is I've been coming over in a truck


and carrying a huge altar from Berkeley back to this place called No Abode Hermitage, which is being secretly renamed as the Lotus Sutra Hermitage. So, I made several trips to bring this huge old altar over there to put it in this hermitage, partly as a place to honor and revere the Lotus Sutra. But it's a secret that it's been renamed as the Lotus Sutra Hermitage. It was a secret. And so the shrine, the altar will be assembled and then there will be a place where people can come and pay homage to the lotus flower of the true Dharma. Even though the Buddha doesn't tell you what it is,


you can come there and become Buddha. My wife, when she saw the altar, it hasn't been assembled yet, but when she saw it she said, I don't know what got into you. She says, I don't know what you were thinking of when you accepted that thing. It's going to take over the whole building. People say, well it's okay with me as long as we can still get in there. And then last Monday, we started a so-called, sometimes called a koan class, also called a class on stories at Green Gulch. And so part of what I'm asking people to do is when they hear the stories, when they hear these old stories,


to think about how the old stories are their stories or how their story is the old story. So the first story that I just happened to bring up will just happen to be the first story of the Book of Serenity. Story number one. And in the story, the name of the story is The World Honored One, the Thus Come One, Ascends the Seat. So the case is, one day, the World Honored One ascended the seat. I didn't say so, but one imagines that he ascended the seat. Manjushri struck the gavel, boom, and said, everyone clearly observe


the dharma of the king of dharma. The dharma of the king of dharma is thus. And the Buddha ascended the seat. And it struck me this week how similar and how different that case is from the Lotus Sutra. So the Buddha just gets up in the seat and sits there. Doesn't say anything. In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha sort of gets up there and sits there and does say something, but he doesn't say he doesn't say what he said he's going to say. He doesn't say what people say he's going to say. But he's there with the people,


with the students. He's there with them. He's not someplace else, he's totally there with them. But he's not saying what the truth is. So, very similar to the Lotus Sutra, I thought. In the Book of Serenity, they don't have the lights coming off of them and stuff like that, but anyway, the Buddha's there. In this case, though, Manjushri, instead of saying, well, instead of being asked, well, what's all this fancy stuff he's doing, means, in this case, Manjushri, nobody's saying anything, it's very quiet, people are just, the assembly's there. So Manjushri, with nobody asking him, apparently, strikes a gavel and tells people to look to clearly observe the Dharma


of the King of Dharma. The Buddha's there, not saying anything, and Manjushri says, clearly observe the truth of the King of Truth. And then he takes one more step, he says, the truth of the King of Truth is thus. He kind of tells them what the Buddha wouldn't tell them. And the Buddha gets down. And then I also thought, I was also struck by how in a way, yeah, a lot of Zen stories are about this, about the Dharma being shown, but not directly. And then people walking off


in disgust, or receiving it, or somebody coming and telling them it is there. There's a variety of possibilities. So, yeah. And I feel like the style, particularly the style of so-called Soto Zen is very much like the style of the Buddha's teaching in the Lotus Sutra and the style of the way the Buddha taught in the beginning of the Book of Serenity, before Manjushri says anything. The Buddha is always teaching, but sometimes the way the Buddha is teaching, it's very hard to understand. The actual truth that he's teaching is very difficult to understand. So then some people


help you by saying, observe it. And then they say it's thus. But what does thus mean? That maybe doesn't help that much. Where's the thus? So, a story I've told you quite a few times is one time there was this Zen teacher named Hui Nung, and a monk came to see him, named Huai Ran, and Hui Nung says to Huai Ran, where are you from? And he says, I'm from Mount Sung. And Hui Nung says to the visiting monk, what is it that thus comes? What is thusness? What is thus


come? And the monk says to indicate it misses the point. When Geshe indicated it, and he missed the point. But he couldn't help it. He couldn't let it just be like the Lotus Sutra and have everybody walk out, I guess. Well, not everybody, but some people. So he indicated it. But this monk who's being asked by the teacher what is the Buddha or what is the coming of suchness, the monk says, well, I'm not going to indicate it because I would miss it. So the teacher is not indicating it, he's just asking what is it? The student is not indicating, he's saying if I would indicate it,


I would miss it. And the teacher, they go on a little bit, but basically the teacher says, well, I'll go on. The teacher says, well, is there no practice and enlightenment? And the monk says, I don't say there's not parenthesis, I don't say there is either. I don't say there's not practice and enlightenment, just that it can't be defiled. Just that I'm not going to defile it by saying what it is. I'm not going to say what the Buddha is, in other words, I'm not going to say what the Buddha's teaching is, I'm not going to say what the Sangha is, but I'm also not going to say there isn't a Buddha and there isn't a Dharma. And the teacher says, this undefiled way is what all Buddhas


are caring for. And this undefiled way that all Buddhas are caring for is the Lotus Sutra. It's this sutra which you can indicate it, but that defiles it. And if it's not indicated, but you stay with it, you will become Buddha. If you walk off, you miss the chance. If you say what it is, you miss the chance. But if you stay with it, you will become Buddha. The Lotus Sutra doesn't tell you what the Lotus Sutra is, it just shows you, but it doesn't tell you how it's showing it to you. But it does show itself to you. Every single word shows you Buddha, without, of course,


indicating that. And then another important person in our tradition is named Dongshan. He's sort of the founder of what's called Soto Zen in China. And he met many great teachers, but some of those great teachers were like Manjushri. In the first case, they indicated, they showed it, they defiled it by showing it. But they were great famous teachers because the ones who show it are more popular. Because people can get it. They were great and they were popular, but there was one kind of not very popular, not very great teacher that he also visited.


And he became, he was recognized by all these other teachers, but he also became recognized by this person who not many people would even care about being recognized by. It's kind of a nobody. And so actually after this nobody died, somebody asked, he was doing a memorial service. He made an altar where he put this teacher, which is similar to an altar where you put the Lotus Sutra because the teacher was the teacher who didn't teach him anything. Like the Lotus Sutra is a Lotus Sutra that doesn't directly teach you anything. The teacher and the Lotus Sutra are very similar, I think. But he honored this teacher among all the much more famous teachers. And he said, how come you honor him instead of these other famous teachers who recognized you? And he didn't say anything against the other teachers, he just said, it's not because of the profundity of my Master's teaching that I revere him most.


It's because he never directly indicated. Indicated. He didn't schwa pa in Chinese. He didn't directly indicate. We were together but he didn't directly indicate. That's why I venerate him most. And so, that was his teacher. Dunshan's teacher is Yunyan. And Yunyan's teacher is Yaoshan. Yaoshan was good but he was more famous. Partly because he had famous teachers. But he was in the same kind of way of practicing. And his teachers taught him this way. There are many ways to teach but the way they taught him was he went to see them and he asked them, what is the wondrous Dharma? What is the supreme Dharma of the Buddha? So, he went to this


great teacher named Shirto. And he asked that. And Shirto said, Being thus won't do. Not being thus won't do either. Being neither won't do at all. How about you? And Yaoshan didn't understand. He said, can you say more? He said, you should go see another teacher. Go see Matsu. So, he went to see Matsu, who is even more famous, great master. And he went to see Matsu and he asked the same question


and Matsu said, Sometimes I make him raise his eyebrows and blink. Sometimes I don't make him raise his eyebrows and blink. Sometimes raising the eyebrows is right. Sometimes raising the eyebrows is not right. How about you? He understood. And went back and Matsu said, Yeah, yeah, that's great. But Shirto is your teacher. So he went back. So this is the sort of the way of teaching. You can't It's too difficult to teach it. So they have this skillful means by which we can open to the teaching. But still, Manjushri had to do that. So there is a verse which celebrates


the case which says, The unique breeze of reality. Can you see it? Creation constantly working her lumen shuttle incorporating the patterns of spring. Into the ancient brocade. But nothing can be done about Manjushri's leaking. Manjushri's what? Manjushri's leaking. His leaking means his defilement. His you know in studying this case we it's often mentioned by people that Manjushri is like the Judas of Zen. In that story. He tells people where they can find the Buddha.


Right there. The Buddha is there. The Dharma is you see, it's right there. He tells people. And defiles the Buddha. But he couldn't help himself. He had to show the people where the Buddha was. So he could be in history. So there's this opportunity to yeah to revere and take care of to read and recite and copy and teach and practice according to this wonderful Dharma. Which doesn't tell you this Sutra which doesn't tell you what the Sutra is. It lets you


and me be with it and practice it and realize it. Even though we can't or we're not supposed to grasp it. So I really I've really I've really been inspired by you and the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas and the Sutra. Inspired and I really don't know why but I am. And I'm happily building this this big altar over there at Lotus Sutra Hermitage. And I also feel good


you know about because Zen is not supposed to be depending on any Sutra, right? So to be really intimate with the Lotus Sutra is not to depend on it. To really worship it and embody it is not to depend on it. So I feel like you and I have embodied the Lotus Sutra here in Berkeley, California this this spring by coming here and hearing the Lotus Sutra and not getting anything out of it. And coming anyway. Not to get something but to give to give to the Lotus Sutra to express devotion to the Lotus Sutra to make it alive in this world by listening to it by revering it


that's what makes the Lotus Sutra alive that's what embodies it in your body in our bodies in this world. A vehicle to realize emptiness a vehicle to realize what can't be grasped a vehicle that unifies all vehicles is a vehicle that cannot be grasped and that's what the Lotus Sutra is saying it is although it says that's what it is it also has to make itself ungraspable in order to perform its function to unify all vehicles and to unify all paths of all beings. And we talked about


one of the chapters chapter 14 which gave instruction to Bodhisattvas who want to teach this sutra we spent quite a while on that chapter and that chapter is called you know Pleasant Practices or Pleasant Ministries and relatively speaking it is quite pleasant in the previous chapter which is called sometimes exhortation to be firm or exhortation to devotion and in that chapter what is implied is a more aggressive a more aggressive style of teaching it doesn't literally say it but a lot of people interpret that that that style of teaching is what's being referred to in the previous chapter


so we read chapter 14 could you get me some water Stephen? so chapter 13 the Bodhisattvas say tell the Buddha not to worry if he has to do this if he has to do this show called disappearing so he is going to do that he is going to go away now and disappear thank you and and he is in a couple of chapters he is going to tell us that he hasn't really disappeared that is the chapter we just recited but it is going to look like he disappeared to a lot of people and it is going to look like there is a it is going to look like things are really bad and that the whole world is you know at risk of you know of falling into serious ill health it is going to look like that


so the Buddha but the Buddha has got to do that otherwise some people won't practice so when that difficult time comes in the future and I am not and I have disappeared when I have to even though I am still here who is going to take care of the teaching and these bodhisattvas come forward and say we will and also they want to know if we do come forth and we are going to teach then how can we teach under such difficult circumstances so chapter 14 tells you how to teach when things are tough chapter 13 also tells you how to teach when in a sense they are tougher the same tough situation but now in chapter 13 not only is the world a tough place but everybody is being real mean to you you are teaching the lotus sutra


for their welfare but people are beating you up and reviling you for teaching it I don't exactly understand why the people of ancient times put chapter 13 before chapter 14 it seems like it would be better to reverse them because advanced usually follows but anyway those two chapters are there and it is more advanced to teach the lotus sutra in such a way that it aggravates people so the chapter 14 is not an aggressive style of teaching it is a very gentle style of teaching but chapter 14 and also chapter 20 are more aggressive styles of teaching 13 and 20 in 20


it is called never disparaging it is about a bodhisattva that walks around and everybody the bodhisattva meets the bodhisattva says I don't disparage you you will become Buddha he says that to everybody he reveres everybody and a lot of people get riled up by him revering them and telling them they are going to become Buddha in his heart he really does revere them and he really wants to tell them this good news that they will become Buddha but some people get really irritated if somebody tells them that they are going to become Buddha and they beat him up but he still keeps revering them and he still keeps saying this like Desmond Tutu getting beat up and being concerned for the people who are beating him up


so part of what is going on in the Lotus Sutra is one style of teaching we just did which is kind of difficult to understand but not that it is not aggressive but chapter 13 and chapter 20 are talking about there is another dimension of teaching where you teach in such a way that people have a hard time with you and give you a hard time they don't like the way you are and these Bodhisattvas say even when they give us a hard time for teaching we will continue to teach yeah well it is for more advanced people yeah no no just maybe more intense you know more intense more I don't know what not so gentle maybe huh could be demanding you could be just demanding


could be demanding of yourself that can irritate people you know like if you live in a community and you don't eat very much people can feel you know threatened or like in a koan class the other night somebody said that she felt a strong impulse to cut off one of her fingers and make it as an offering to you huh to you well not exactly to me but as an expression of her devotion and so it created quite a stir in class that she might do that and so one person came up and said please do not do that and another person came up and said I think that's great not that you cut your finger off but just that you'd feel that way so this is like you know either she might get beat up or I might get beat up for having a class where people might cut their fingers off this is like so the people


who beat the people who beat the person up who is teaching in this way they're not advanced right right but some people when they see that kind of teaching it's just the right thing for them it really pushes them over the edge into the truth but it's very you know it's a teaching it's an advanced teaching and so I told you this story I think last summer and recently I told you the story of Lin Ji's enlightenment Lin Ji is this very important spiritual figure in the history of the world actually millions of followers come from his teaching so he's a Chinese Zen master the founder of the so called Rinzai school of Zen which you know was the dominant form of Zen in China at its height and he was


in a monastery with a big teacher a huge teacher and the head monk who was also a great became a great teacher said to him how long have you been here? and he said two or three years he said have you gone talked to the teacher yet? and he said no so we should go ask him question what should I ask him? ask him about what the what the what do you call it the lotus flower of the wonder wonder's Dharma is what's the quintessential truth of the Buddha way so he went and asked Wang Bo and Wang Bo hit him kind of aggressive teaching I would say for an advanced for an advanced practitioner and but even he didn't get it didn't understand he just thought he got hit and didn't quite think that was he just didn't see the point but Wang Bo was


I think this is not what he would do with most people so the head monk says to him how did it go? and he said well he hit me he said oh you should go ask him again so he does and Wang Bo hits him and he sees the head monk again and the head monk says well he said he hit me again oh well you should really go see him again and he does and he gets hit and the head monk says well how about this time he said he hit me again and I'm leaving right on the edge there he's almost like those people that left the Lotus Sutra almost like perhaps some of you in this class there were moments maybe when you thought I don't get it


I'm out of here but it doesn't look like you got that far into that because you're still here so then the head monk said ok you can leave but at least go say goodbye so he said ok and then the head monk went and told Wang Bo he's leaving he's really a good monk be careful of him don't help him and Wang Bo said I know so he goes and says goodbye to Wang Bo and Wang Bo says well don't go too far there's a friend of mine lives over the hill I think he could help you so he goes to a nearby monastery and visits this other person and tells him the story and the other person when he hears the story he says oh my god how kind Wang Bo was with you he gave himself completely to you


he really put himself out there you know like very aggressively because that's what you needed you were this very strong monk but he needed this intense interaction apparently and Wang Bo Wang Bo put himself out there for Linji in a way that a lot of people might think that he should be you know what do you call it what's the word when you get kicked out of the bar disbarred disbarred he should be disbarred he should be you know like my grandson said to me you know if a Buddhist master knew how you were teaching they would fire you so anyway


sometimes when you're really teaching intensely to help people some people really don't like it and Linji kind of didn't like it kind of didn't think it was really teaching but then he saw it was and that was his great thing so now these other people like other stories they were also teaching in a very difficult way they weren't giving they weren't giving they weren't indicating that's hard too but there's another story I think a number of these stories are in Being Upright there's another story that's in Being Upright I think which is about a monk an arrogant monk who went to see the teacher Hakuin and he came to see Hakuin and and his teacher sent a letter with him which said this guy's got a problem so be careful of him you know take care of him but he's he's really arrogant


he thinks he understands perfectly enough I can't teach him anything anymore so I sent him to you and Hakuin was real tough on him and it broke the guy he went insane because of the way Hakuin yelled at him he went insane and stayed that way for years and later Hakuin said I made two mistakes in my life and that was one of them the way I treated him was not appropriate I pushed too hard so it's a it's a dangerous path sometimes to do the teaching that a person needs so we have to be very careful at advanced levels you can really hurt people if you're but sometimes at advanced levels people need to be pushed kind of hard because they're quite they're quite stable and nothing disturbs them so they can stay in their position very calmly


and you can push them around and they can adapt but still at some subtle level they're holding so sometimes something really intense needs to be offered to them in order to get them to shift a little bit but that's also very difficult to offer such intense teachings so the Lotus Sutra has chapter 13 in it and chapter 20 to exemplify very intense high energy kind of teaching like where you would walk in the street and say that to people where you would be considered a fanatic, right? if you said to everybody I don't disparage you you will become Buddha that's a very advanced person in a very advanced practice but so that's part of the mix of the Lotus Sutra to show this kind of this variety and we can talk about this more later but I I just wanted to kind of tell you that other side of the story in terms of teaching styles that the Sutra offers so you've seen a number


of different teaching styles you see the style of the Buddha and you see the style for Bodhisattvas which are somewhat different does that make sense to you now? yes? about Manjushri about Manjushri, yes he helped himself and you said he had to say it because why? he felt I guess he felt you know the Buddha was sitting there we don't know how long the Buddha was sitting there but the Buddha was sitting there maybe he felt like they're not he couldn't stand it they didn't understand what he was teaching you know he felt like he had to draw their attention to something you know


who knows maybe they're sitting there saying well I wonder when he's going to start teaching you know or maybe they're asleep I don't know but in a way he shouldn't have done it he should have let the people have this boring Buddha who just sits up there and quietly and they don't think he's giving them anything even though he did make the effort to get up on that seat it's kind of like not being able to just trust and wait or you know and I was just reading another fascicle teaching by Dogen called Buddha Nature and it's a chapter where he's dealing with this issue of Buddha Nature which in the Lotus Sutra Buddha Nature the word Buddha Nature doesn't appear but many people


think that what the Buddha Nature in the Lotus Sutra is is just the emptiness of the Lotus Sutra is the Buddha Nature the emptiness of the way the Lotus Sutra teaches and the emptiness which the Lotus Sutra recommends Bodhisattvas meditate on in chapter 14 part of the Bodhisattvas place of practice place of action and place of intimacy is to meditate on emptiness to meditate on Buddha Nature so in this chapter Dogen says you know many people teach all living beings have the Buddha Nature but a higher teaching in a way is all living beings are without Buddha Nature and you can hear that two ways one is all beings


are without Buddha Nature or all beings what they are is without Buddha Nature that's what they are and then he says and he likes that all beings are without Buddha Nature what we really are is we are without Buddha Nature that's what we are that's our nature but then he says to say that all beings are Buddha Nature or have Buddha Nature slanders Buddha Nature and to say that all beings are without Buddha Nature slanders Buddha Nature but you must say that they have Buddha Nature and that they are without Buddha Nature you must say that wow you don't have to say that yes is the reason that


the monk got hit when he asked about the Buddha Sutra is that because he was defiling the truth by wanting it to be told to him I don't I'm not sure but I think his problem was that he was thought he was fine and he was kind of fine he was a wonderful monk but he thought he didn't need to go talk to the teacher so the head monk said to him what have you gone to see him I don't need to see him I'm fine he thought he was ok I think he was yeah he was he couldn't tell that that he had some limited idea of what the truth was he was doing quite well but he had some limited idea so when he went to see and he was he was fed that question


so he went to see the teacher the teacher gave him something to find out if he was holding any place and he was balanced enough to have his place of holding indicated but he didn't see that as kindness he didn't see how the teacher was trying to help him well when the teacher slapped him he didn't think it was he thought you know it was just a slap he didn't feel like how kind of you to slap me you got you know you got me right where I was holding in that one but later when he went to see the other teacher he could see that the teacher that there was really kindness and then his whole style of teaching was that way of teaching yeah that was and he was very successful had lots of great students and


cause that's what that's what worked for him so he did that with his students and but still at the beginning of his record at the beginning of his teaching record he says if I were to accord strictly with the source I wouldn't be able to open my mouth but if I don't many of you won't be able to get a foothold so he didn't say anything he just says if anybody wants to interact with me come on so they come up and they interacted with him he still couldn't he still didn't say what it was but he interacted with people and in the interaction somehow the skillful interaction they could open to this thing which is very difficult to understand buddhists can understand it but for non-buddhists to understand you sort of have to like do it through interaction


through some kind of device of interaction like go to a class where you don't get anything that's a device to go to a class where you get something that's not a device that's just your usual way of trying to get something so somehow the skillful means is like to offer enough to have people come and not get anything and then somehow encourage them to come back and not get more and when they've done that enough give them something they really don't think is good at all but it's difficult to give people things they don't think are that they don't think are good at all it's very difficult like in that class the other night it was very difficult when she said she was thinking of cutting her finger off I really didn't want her to cut her finger off but I also didn't want to tell her not to cut her finger off I just wanted to know


how oh she also said but I'm afraid if I cut my finger off that I'll become very arrogant and think I'm better than other people so that was good so then I said but I don't think my job is to tell people what to do and some people want me to tell people what to do if they say they're going to cut their finger off they say you should tell them not to cut their finger off but fortunately other people in the class tell them not to cut their finger off and I can ask them how is the story you're telling me now the story of the ancestors show me that I think that's my job is to get people to look at what their story is not to tell them to change their story but people kind of want me to tell them to change their story if they say they're stupid they want me to tell them that they're smart if they say they're smart they want me to tell them that they're stupid or at least they're not smart they have stories about what I should be doing too and my story is


I should be helping us look at our stories and I hope we have a story no I'm not implying that no I'm not because even in the Lotus Sutra the Buddha didn't give them the truth but they were very very happy at the prospect well they were very very happy just to see Buddha and you know I myself was very happy to see my teacher I didn't get anything from him but I was just very happy to be with him and when he went away I wasn't exactly happy that he went away but I was kind of happy that he went away because I knew that he had to go away for me to grow up


so I was just kind of happy about the whole thing even though I didn't really get anything out of it but if you think you got something it's okay that's your story but according to Lotus Sutra you're going to become Buddha because you came to this class and you listened to the Lotus Sutra not tell you what the truth was didn't you? now I sort of told you what it was I told you it was emptiness but I didn't tell you what emptiness was did I? I mean I told you what it was but I didn't really tell you what it was did I? but even if I did nothing can be done


about my leaking if you force me I will I will indicate something but you haven't been pushing me too hard thank you you've allowed me what did you say? you used several times the word become a Buddha and that has several implications time and become something that you are become what you are to become what you are you used the word become which implies time a goal time, yeah part of the Bodhisattva path which I we had the class last summer class on vows making vows which also talked about in the koan class and here last summer making vows means


to solemnly promise and to promise you're getting into time because you're saying my thoughts right now are thinking of committing myself to a course of practice to a way of life and I I'm willing to live in the world of time and I'm willing to speak of the future I'm willing to commit in the future in the present I'm willing to commit to the future and that's another danger and that's what probably brought up this thing about cutting the finger off because when you promise and when you commit part of what you need to do is you need to have enough development to be able to deal with time and future you also need to be able to develop you need to be aware that there's a difference


between yourself and others and you need to be aware also that whatever commitment you make there's conflicting intentions whatever vow you have there's conflicting intentions at least one and that means that it's not necessarily going to be possible for you to fulfill whatever your vow is without any problems and the last point about this is that when you make a vow when you solemnly promise you need to do it in the presence of someone who you respect like the Buddha or a Bodhisattva or a teacher or in the presence of something abstract like your own honor or your own authenticity but then another way which they used to do more is or that there will be some punishment if you don't fulfill your commitment


and that led to the person saying well I'll cut my finger so that's a dimension of time is part of this becoming Buddha thing because in the realm where there's no time in some sense we don't have a problem with this Buddha thing but bring our Buddha realization into the world of time into the world of birth and death okay like we're talking about last week the way things really are is that they're unborn but with perverted thinking we tip them upside down and make them born so in the world where things are born is the world where Buddhas appear and disappear that's the world of time and in that world I make vows in the world of emptiness you don't have to make a vow but in order to realize


the truth in this world we need to deal with time yes so I heard you say earlier that there are teachings of the Buddha and teachings of the Bodhisattva and they're somewhat different would they be characterized by what you just described that the Bodhisattva teachings are found in this time phenomenon versus the Buddha's not being and I'm wondering therefore I was just thinking the Bodhisattva teachings usually teachings about defilement in that sense whereas the Buddha doesn't teach in a way that you see defilement of what he's holding the truth yeah I think the Bodhisattvas can be more defiled than the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas Bodhisattvas are sentient beings like the rest of us and they are willing to be reborn again and again whereas Buddha


you know is just a show on the part of the Buddha they're not really being reborn they don't have to they don't have to do this kind of upside down perverted thing in order to get born they appear by pure vow so they're more perfect and more complete so that the Bodhisattvas like in the Lotus Sutra the Bodhisattva teachings is it like in a Shakespeare play where you have the dumb play where you have the lower characters act out the higher themes in an accessible way or I'll think about that but I think it's more that that the Buddha is eternal and only appears in this way to come and go whereas Bodhisattvas are like other sentient beings they're not eternal they're still going through birth and death the Buddha doesn't really


go through birth and death the eternal Buddha just appears to go through birth and death so there's a difference there we can relate more to the Bodhisattva in that sense exactly we can relate to Manjushri with the weak in there yeah and we go and their path is our path whereas the Buddha's path isn't exactly our path the Bodhisattva path is the way we become Buddha but the Buddha isn't like a person really but the Buddha can be a person Bodhisattvas are persons human persons or some other kind of person whereas Buddhas really are eternal all pervasive you know limitless being and Bodhisattvas are limited they show us how to be limited in a playful relaxed liberating way the Buddhas don't really show us how to be limited except that one special way where they do this thing of being born and so on basically that's not their basic function


their basic function is they're with us all the time according to this sutra so there's a difference and I I think our lives will change I think our lives will change in probably a beneficial way if we arrange our living space sometimes called our home home in such a way that there's a place in the home for venerating the Lotus Sutra, for


venerating the Buddha. But in particular, venerating the Lotus Sutra also makes it a place where you can actually read the Lotus Sutra, and write the Lotus Sutra, and chant the Lotus Sutra, a place where you can embody it. If you make a place to embody it and you embody it, that will transform your whole house, your whole neighborhood. It will become a quiet place, it will become a holy place. So I'm kind of encouraging you to think of ways that you can make a place for the Lotus Sutra and watch and see how that affects your whole life, how your body and your house and your family are benefited by making a place to honor, copy, recite, and so on the scripture. Having a statue of Buddha is fine too, and again that could be a place where you also make Buddhas and do ceremonies, but


all these kinds of things are ways to embody it. And be gentle about it. Don't be nasty and overbearing about this. If you can't figure out how to set up a place for the Lotus Sutra in your house, be gentle about that. Don't get down on yourself for not having a Lotus Sutra place in your house next Tuesday. But just consider that, how your life would change if you had a place to read, recite, make copies, and place the Lotus Sutra, and think about it and study it and so on. How would that change your life and would that be beneficial to have one place like that? And would that place become a place you took care of really carefully? Probably it would. Maybe not. Some of you are real, I don't know


what the word is, but maybe you'd say, well, the Lotus Sutra place is going to be in the garbage pile or something. Okay, that's kind of creative. Does that make sense? No? Tracy? You look quizzical. What I mean by make sense is, does it make sense that if you made a place like this, it would change your house? I just want to mention, I didn't go looking


for this shrine, it was offered to me, and if somebody else got it that would have been okay with me, but it was calling out for a home, like an animal at the animal rescue league or something, and I said I'd take it and nobody else said they wanted it. So, it's in my life and in yours too now. It's funny how this stuff happens. I hope you don't mind that it's in your life too, because it's in my life. Yes? I'm sitting here pretending to have understood something that I didn't. Oh, thank you. You were pretending? Thank you for letting me know. When you said you didn't get anything out of being your teacher, I feel like that's right-speak,


Zen-speak, but I don't believe you mean that, or whatever you mean I don't understand, and I feel like I should. Well, thank you for telling us that you were pretending that you understood that for a while, and you got over that, right? Yes. So, now you're in the place of, I don't understand what you're talking about. I think it's important that I do. You feel bad about it? Oh, I feel good about it. So, I hope our good health continues so we can keep talking about what the devil I'm talking about. I think this is a wonderful thing for us to talk about for the next period of time, into the future, and I'm really glad you're not pretending to understand. It's already been beneficial that you would try to pretend to understand and let me know


that you were pretending. That's already helped the story. This is a good story. The story of Rev not getting anything out of his relationship with Suzuki Roshi. Would it make any difference if you do that with the Heart Sutra, for example, versus the Lotus Sutra? If you do it with the Heart Sutra, I would think that also will change your house. If you do it with the Buddha statue, if you do it with the Heart Sutra, watch how it changes your house if you make a place. Like in my house, I actually have, which I will give to somebody if they want me to give it to them. I have a beautiful piece of paper. Unfortunately, I bent it recently, but it could be ironed. It was a kind of cardstock paper of the Sutra card that we used at the Zen Center when it was in Japantown.


We had these Sutra cards, and it has Heart Sutra with Chinese characters, and then Romanized pronunciation, and then English translation on these cards. I have one of those old cards, and it's in my bedroom, and it's on top of a big pile of other Sutras, just lying there, and it's the Heart Sutra. But, you know, the way I put it there, I keep putting it there carefully. Sometimes it gets moved around a little bit, and I straighten it, and I keep the whole area around it clean, because it's such a lovely little thing, and it's just sitting up there. And if anybody wants it, I'll give it to you. I've been looking for somebody to give it to. Maybe I could give it to Michelle. Do you want it, Michelle? Sure. Okay, I'll give it to you, and then you can take care of it, and keep straightening it and making sure it's clean in the area around it. And your house will change, and I hope it's okay with Linda if he brings that in. The whole world starts to move around things like that that we value.


But it's different from, like, if you had a diamond ring, you might, like, build a safe around it or something, which might not be very nice. But to have a Heart Sutra, maybe you don't try to protect it from everybody, you want to share it with people, and you want to show people that you have it there, and they can look at it too, and you keep it in a place where they can come and read it, and recite it with you, and you have a nice place to do that with them. So you have a little temple there where you have your Heart Sutra. So these kinds of things happen. And, like I say, it's kind of aesthetically pleasing, it's not a tacky kind of thing. I just wanted to say I kind of did that without thinking about it when I moved to my new space. You set up an altar to chant the Heart Sutra? Before all of the Sutras, I just wanted that space. And what happened was I hadn't expected anything. It's really wonderful to go home to, but my roommate, because I have a roommate, I didn't realize it started giving tours of my room.


It's not that big, but... And so people were like, hey, can you come to my place? But it's just a good feeling, and I hadn't expected anything like that. That's very good not to expect anything. So I'm not saying you should expect something when you set the altar up, I'm just saying, set it up and see what happens. I don't know how it's going to change your life, to bring the Lotus Sutra into your house, but it will, and I'd be interested to see how it does, if you make a place for it. Like this thing I chanted, this thing that Dogen wrote, where you have the Lotus Sutra, the place you recite the Lotus Sutra, the place you put the Lotus Sutra down, that becomes the place where the Buddha is enlightened. That becomes the place where the Buddha practices. That becomes the place where the Buddha enters Parinirvana. So put the Lotus Sutra in your house and see what happens. See if it becomes the place where Buddha is practicing. I don't know what will happen if you put it there, but it might transform your world.


So you can see. But don't expect anything. That will make it hard for you to see what's going on. If you expect, oh, this is going to really like... Then you might miss what really happens. Something will happen. I don't know what it will be. And if you don't do that, something will happen too, and I don't know what that will be either. I really don't know. But I just thought I'd bring this up. And I'd be happy to hear more stories about what happens to the Lotus Sutra. And Donna looks like we're running over time. It's time to stop. And if you would like to keep these, you may. If you don't want to keep them, just give them back. Thank you.


Sorry I didn't get in touch with you today. That's OK. I'll bring my thoughts back.