Embracing and Sustaining All Beings in the Midst of Climate Crisis

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A Dharma talk by Tenshin Roshi for a gathering of the No Abode community.


AI Summary: 

The talk focuses on engaging with the concept of climate change from a spiritual perspective, emphasizing the Buddhist precept of embracing and sustaining all beings. The speaker discusses how facing difficult realities, like climate change, requires not just awareness but active engagement through compassionate actions. The conversation touches on the significance of treating all experiences and beings as gifts, even in challenging or dire circumstances, suggesting that this approach can lead to liberation and a more profound engagement with life.

Books and sutras discussed:
- Flower Adornment Scripture
- Heart Sutra
- Diamond Sutra
- Lotus Sutra
- Samdhinirmochana Sutra

The approach urges attendees to commit to compassionate action, transforming understanding into tangible help for all beings, advocating a mindset where even overwhelming global issues like climate change can be approached with generosity and empathy, embodying the true spirit of Bodhisattvas. This thorough immersion into complex teachings aims to foster resilience and proactive engagement in the face of environmental and existential crises.

AI Suggested Title: "Compassion in Action: Buddhist Responses to Climate Change"


The thought has arisen, and then it subsided. And then it arose again. And one might wonder, what is the thought? The thought is that this may be the last Dharma talk of this year at this temple. And that in the next year there may be a first talk of that year in this temple.


Now, I hear quite a bit and think quite a bit about change. And one of the greatest changes that I think about is called climate change. I'm contemplating that expression, climate change. I think I was somewhat aware of climate from early times, and I didn't hear the word climate change.


When I was a young person, a boy, I don't remember the expression climate change. Now I hear it and think it. And before, when I was a boy, I heard of climate change and heard of the possible disastrous consequences of climate change. Before I heard about all that, I heard a song. And the song I heard was something like... There may be trouble ahead So while there's music and love and romance Let's face the music and dance


Before the fiddlers have fled Before they ask us to pay the bill And while there's still a chance Let's face the music and dance Soon we'll be without the moon Humming a different tune And then There may be teardrops to shed So while there's music and moonlight And love and romance Let's face the music and dance.


I heard that song before I heard about global warming, climate change. I had heard of bad weather when I was a boy, but I didn't hear the word climate change. I didn't hear that the climate may be changing in such a way to make human life impossible, perhaps, or almost impossible. I hadn't heard that. But now that I have heard it, I still think that I still hear that song. And I think that song is really good teaching for us. Some people say the song's rather romantic, because it does say love and romance, but it also has this dynamic statement, which is, face the music.


Face the music is also used as the connotation of face the problems. face the problems of our life, not just face nice music, face the music, which is sometimes almost intolerable, the music. But that song saying face the music, and then after you face it, I would say after you face it wholeheartedly, after you embrace it and sustain it, then dance and sing and this will be the end of suffering. If we can dance and sing after recognizing the most serious difficulties for this planet


So there's many views on climate change. Some think it's not an issue, it's not a problem. Some think it can be stopped. Some think it can be stopped. They think it's serious, but they think it can be stopped. So in the face of the terrible music of climate change, I wish to embrace it and sustain it, which means to embrace and sustain all beings, which is the third of our Bodhisattva pure precepts, to embrace and sustain all beings, all beings in all situations.


Climate change is a being. It needs to be embraced and sustained so that there can be freedom, so that there can be singing and dancing leading to understanding and liberation. And the dancing needs sometimes to be joyful and the singing ecstatic. For what purpose? To free all beings so they can dwell in peace. in the midst of dire circumstances. And it's difficult, it may be difficult to actually embrace the horrible,


predictions of some people of what will happen in climate change. It may be difficult. And we may slip into, as some people have told me, despair. And perhaps even worse things than despair, like not caring. Not like it's so bad I can't even love anybody anymore. I'm just too discouraged, depressed, frightened, angry, confused. I cannot embrace all this. So I wish to encourage all beings, including myself, to find a way to be enthusiastic about embracing and sustaining all beings under our present and future conditions of life on this planet.


And again, many people just, they feel like, I cannot embrace it. I cannot be intimate with it. It's just too horrible. We, under such circumstances, we need to find a way to find the enthusiasm, the joyful effort to face the climate of this planet changing and all the things and effects of that on human and animal and plant life. And so where do we get the enthusiasm? Well, one place we get it is by remembering our job as bodhisattvas.


Our job is to embrace and sustain all beings in an unceasing effort to free them so they can dwell in peace. We need to contemplate that practice until we feel joyful about it, wholehearted about it. But again, before we can sing and dance, we have to embrace it. Embrace it means embrace each and every living being in this world.


Each and every particle of dust in this world. And in this temple, earlier in this year, in the past part of this year, so now I guess 11 twelfths of the year have passed, and in the early spring of this year, there was a commencement ceremony, a ceremony where we began to open up an oceanic teaching. And the purpose of opening up this oceanic teaching was to encourage the practice of embracing all life and death.


so that we can work to free all beings. We opened an oceanic teaching which has the title Great, Extensive, Vast, Buddha, Flower, Adornment Scripture. This scripture is for people. for humans and other beings who wish to make an unceasing effort, to wish to learn how to make an unceasing effort to free all beings so they can be at peace in this world. The scripture is for that purpose. And we have been looking through these last six or seven months at this scripture and discussing it.


And in the process, we have been encouraged. We have been enthused. We have been joyful at the possibility of bringing this oceanic teaching into the world to support beings to embrace it and sustain it and be free with it and be at peace with it. Without pushing away any horror, without pushing away any depression, without pushing away any apathy, without pushing away any fear, As a matter of fact, to embrace all those things. When I have no energy, when I'm discouraged about the possibilities of life for me and others, the Sutra is coming and lifting me up to do the work.


And some of you have seen how this sutra is uplifting me into enthusiasm. Some of you have seen it in the early part of this year, earlier part of this year. And before this year, Actually also before I heard the term climate change, I read other and studied others and explored others and discussed other sutras for the same purpose. What's the purpose? To free all beings so they may dwell in peace. We studied the Heart Sutra, we studied the Diamond Sutra, we studied the Lotus Sutra. We studied the Samdhinirmochana Sutra. We studied many, many scriptures in order to lift our practice up to face the world of suffering.


To encourage us to close the scripture and go out and embrace and sustain all beings. And while reading this scripture, to embrace and sustain all beings. But what I have not done before in this life, in the midst of the climate change which I didn't know about, which was full of suffering and confusion and fear, I was trying to do the practice with these other sutras And of course, all the Zen stories, we've also used those to encourage us to embrace and sustain all life. We hadn't used this scripture in many reasons, but now we are. We're opening up a new ocean. new ocean for new unprecedented encouragement to do the great work of Buddha's compassion.


In reading this, particularly in reading this scripture, many people have told me, and also I have felt and told myself, that it is difficult to face the music of this sutra. This sutra is a vast song, and it's got lots of voices in it. and some people have difficulty opening to the music of this sutra. And part of the reason, I think, part of the reason they have difficulty opening to the music of the sutra and facing it and dancing with it, is that as you listen to the music of the sutra, you open to all other kinds of difficult music within yourself. Reading this oceanic scripture opens to the ocean of beings and all their suffering.


It stirs up the whole universe. It stirs up the whole universe by talking about stirring up the whole universe. It is repeatedly, repeatedly, over and over bringing up the whole universe. And also, as it brings up the whole universe and brings up all the things that happen to us when we bring up the whole universe, it then tells us that in each one of our feelings that we have while we're reading the scripture, the whole universe is in each feeling we have. If we feel fear, if we feel impatience, if we feel a lack of understanding of this oceanic teaching, it's saying in every particle of your lack of understanding, in every particle of your resistance to the scripture, in every particle of your difficulty with it,


the entire universe is in that particle. All beings are in that particle. All the Bodhisattvas are in that particle. With all their teachers, all of it is in each thing. The sutra is saying, basically, respect every particle of your life because it contains boundless universes of Buddhas, The sutra's saying there's nothing that's not worthy of your respect. And it says it in a way that tests, tests to see if you actually can respect the sutra word by words. Just like it's telling us to respect each being, being by being by being. Yeah, earlier today I thought, oh, I have been, what do you call it?


I have been offering myself to be an usher. I've been offering myself as an usher. I have been ushering people into the ocean of this teaching, into the ocean of Dharma. I will be your usher today. I have been offering myself as a servant. I am your servant. I am here to serve you while you sit at the table of the ocean. I am also a conductor. I have a baton to conduct the study of the ocean, of the Dharma, in which all beings will be liberated and living in peace.


The sutra also tells us about light, and it tells us that in the light people are singing. In the light are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas singing. And it also tells us that in the singing, there's light. And a musician said to me that when you, with the aid of light, you look at a musical score, the light bouncing off the score, when you look at that light coming off the musical score, you can hear the music. In the light, of the music, you can hear it. And this sutra is full of light in which there are teachings being offered.


And within all the teachings that are offered, every particle of teaching is emanating light. In this sutra, there's no particles of suffering that are not emitting a great light and a great voice. And it seems that we have to offer ourselves to the ocean in order for this process of freeing all beings to operate, to function. And when we offer ourselves to the scripture,


which means we offer ourselves to the Buddhas. And offering ourselves to the Buddhas means we offer ourselves to all sentient beings. Offering myself to the Buddhas entails offering myself to the teaching, which entails offering myself to the Great Assembly. So just as every particle of experience is calling for compassion, Every particle of experience, every atom of experience is calling for compassion and it's also calling to be listened to. And it's also giving off a light.


When the particle calls for compassion, it's giving off light. Light is calling us to listen. All the Buddhas are available for us to offer ourselves to them in their presence. And all the Buddhas are here in this room with us right now. And it seems to me that


we are called upon to offer ourselves to meet the buddhas to embrace and sustain the buddhas in order to be able to embrace and sustain all each particle each being of experience moment by moment We are required to be upright and offer ourselves. And then, again, there will be a response to our offer, and we will be conducted into the ocean. And one of the big concentrations or samadhis of this sutra is the ocean seal samadhi.


It's called, what's it called? Saraga, Saraga, Saraga, yeah, Saraga, Saraga mudra samadhi. Saraga, ocean, mudra, the seal, Samadhi. We will be conducted into all the Bodhisattva Samadhis by sitting in front of Buddha in the present, offering ourselves to Buddha, and Buddha responding to our humble offering, our particle of dust which we offer. whatever the particle of dust is. My body, my fear, my confusion, whatever I am, including all the individual unlimited particles of me, all of me and part of me is offered to the Buddhas in the presence of Buddhas, and then a conversation starts.


between offering of this being to Buddha and Buddha responding to this being. And what is Buddha? Buddha is actually the offering and responding. And in this offering and responding, we enter the wonderful realm of the Bodhisattva meditation, the Bodhisattva Samadhi. which is the ocean seal samadhi, which is the way everything in the ocean is intimate with everything else. And therefore, everything deserves our utmost love and respect, our full intimate embrace. So I see this sutra as inspiring me and all the people I'm ushering and all the people I'm serving to enter into the intimate relationship of each of us with each of us and each of us with the great Buddha conversation.


Yes, particle of dust, As a habit, you know, from being a child, I always prayed to God. She has a habit of praying to God? Yeah, like, help me please. Is that the Buddha that you refer to? What is it that when you say... Oh, you mean, is the Jackie who said to God, help me, is that Buddha? Well, I'm comparing it to the reference you make to the Buddha. Yeah. I would say that child who hadn't maybe heard about Buddha yet, who was offering herself to God... Now I'm telling you, Buddha was there when you did that. But what is Buddha? I'm not going to tell you. When you offer yourself, when you ask for help at that moment,


something responds to you. And in your request for help and the response that you get, that's the Buddha which is always present. But when you offer it and open to the response, you start to accept the presence of Buddha. Or you could say the presence of God if you want to. It's similar. You could say similar, yeah, or exactly the same. But it's the response... It's the response and the request. It's not that the Buddha is the response. They say Buddha's response, but that's not actually Buddha. Buddha is not just the response. It's the response with the request. That conversation is Buddha. Realizing that conversation is realizing Buddha.


And as a child, you were gesturing towards that by asking for help. But also, you might not have realized as a child that when you asked for help, you also were giving a gift to God. When you ask for help, you're giving a gift to Buddha. because Buddha's business is to listen to your requests. And listening to your requests is a response. And then, your calling for whatever, and Buddha listening, that has been going on all the while, and we're in the process of waking up to this conversation in which, conversation in which, the conversation in which, what? beings are liberated and dwell in peace. And so you saw an example of this process when you were a little girl.


Now you're learning more about what was going on there. Praying to God, yes. Being responded to by God, yes. Praying to God and actually also the Buddha's right there, yes. And the Buddha is not pushing away the word God. You can say God, you can say anything, but it does seem to be necessary that no matter what you say, it's an offering. No matter what you gesture, it's an offering. To what? to the great conversation, which is Buddha. It's necessary at some point, perhaps now, to make whatever you are a gift to the process of liberation through you giving and receiving, and receiving and giving.


That's reality, that's where freedom is right now. But we need to basically start by sitting upright and offering ourselves to the process, also called Buddha, God, and so on. So Buddha is the process by which we, the Buddha is the process which we offer ourselves to. And it is the process which we offer ourselves to which is also liberating beings. Offering ourselves to Buddha is offering ourselves to freeing beings. But as a child, maybe you didn't think, Oh, I'm offering myself to free all beings. But that's a way for you to enter, not get a hold of. You can't get a hold of this process. But a way to enter it is to ask God for help. That's a start. So that interaction... Pardon?


So that process... Yeah. ...is what you refer to as Buddha. Yeah, the process is Buddha. And maybe that process is also God. I don't know anything about God, but I can still say, maybe that's God. Or Jesus. Maybe that's Jesus, but also maybe that's you. Maybe that's what you really are. Maybe you are really a conversation. Maybe. Now, earlier this year, I didn't say maybe. I said, you are a conversation. I am a conversation. It's not that I save all beings, but the conversation which is me saves all beings. The music, which is me, saves all beings. The dance, which is me, saves all beings. I don't, but the way I'm a dance does.


The way I'm a dance liberates me and you. And the way I'm a dance is the way the universe is a dance. And one of the chapters in this oceanic scripture is called the formation of worlds. And the way the worlds come together, and the way they're formed, and the way they fall apart, the way climate change works, actually, we are told in that chapter four, we are told it's inconceivable. And the Buddhas, The conversation knows how the world is formed and how the world falls apart. It knows how that works. And this knowledge is inconceivable.


But the conversation does know how the world is formed and how everything in the world is formed. It knows that. Is the conversation inconceivable? The way the conversation happens is inconceivable. but we can actually, and we can have concepts of the conversation, like we could have a conversation, a concept of the way I'm conversing with you, but the actual conversation is not just your idea of it or my idea of it. Our conceptions of the conversation don't reach the conversation. The conversation is beyond our conceptions of the conversation. But that doesn't say we should push away our conceptions of the conversation. It says, what does it say?


It says, offer yourself to the conversation. And the conversation knows how worlds are formed and how they fall apart. Okay. Thank you. Thank you. for bringing your whole life. Yes. Thank you. I would like to ask for... Can you hear her back there? Great. She would like to... Oh, hey, here's another person asking for something. This sounds auspicious. I really, truly, genuinely like to ask. That is my heart wish and I'm going to ask it and I have I'm going to ask, and the asking is, I'm asking for ease in this process. You're asking for ease?


Absolute ease. Okay. Such requests are welcome. Not enthusiasm, not anything, just ease. Okay. Yeah. And she's asking for it. And she's not asking for enthusiasm, she's asking for ease. And I would say, in response to her request for ease, there's a response coming. It was there even before I started talking. The response to her request for ease was to listen to it and embrace and sustain the wish for ease. And then after it embraced and sustained your wish for ease, it also has a message for you, which is... What is the message? The message is... In order to fully realize what you just asked for, you asked for something, in order to realize


what you asked for, ease, it is required, it is necessary that you make your request a gift. That you make this request for ease an offering. Offering to what? To the process of ease. What's the process of ease? It's the process of liberating all beings so they may live in ease. So you're asking for all beings to be living in ease, and there's a process which realizes this ease you want. Yes? I didn't mean to interrupt you. Okay, shall I continue then? Yes, please. Your request has been registered. the process of realizing the ease that some of us want to have in this world.


That process requires us to realize that when we wish for the ease and when we ask for the ease, we are being generous with the process which grants ease. We're offering ourselves to the process which brings the freedom and ease. If we don't join and open to the fact that we are giving ourselves, we keep ourselves a little bit away from the realization of the ease which Homa wants, and we want to help her with that. Wanting to help her, another opportunity for our wish to help her is another gift we're giving. And we're giving that because she gave us a gift of saying what she wanted, and then we responded. Charlie, way in the back. They don't even ask.


They don't even do the first step of asking for what they really want. They're just looking at us, just shaking their head, judging us, or shouting at us from the car next to us. They're not even making a request, let alone making that request again. doesn't have a lot of, doesn't work too effectively in situations where our dance partners are not interested in our pantheon. They want results. Some of the people, who the bodhisattvas vow wholeheartedly vow to embrace.


Some of those people do not want to dance with the bodhisattvas. They're not interested in dancing with the bodhisattvas who are devoted to them and wish to embrace them and enter the dance with them. some of our dance partners do not want to dance with us. And the bodhisattva offers himself or herself or themselves, offers themselves, bodhisattvas offer themselves to all beings including the ones who do not want to have their life be a gift. They just want to get. And there are quite a few beings who think, I do not want to give anything to anybody. I just want to get stuff from me. That's an example of one of our dance partners. And that person who does not want to have their life be a gift to me or you or anybody, and just wants to get stuff, that being is actually


giving us a gift, even though they don't think that way, that's the gift they're offering. And also, that being will not realize, they will not realize that they're giving us a gift no matter what they're doing, unless somebody teaches them that. In order to actually understand that they're actually living a life of generosity when they don't think they are, Somebody has to respond to that gift of them being that way by really saying wholeheartedly, totally saying in this body and mind, thank you very much for this great gift you gave me by telling me you don't want to give me anything. Thank you so much. Somebody has to teach these people who do not want to give us anything or give me anything. I need to embrace them, and one of the ways I embrace them is to thank them, totally, with my whole being, for their lack of interest in giving me anything.


And that's the gift they gave me. And I'm so joyful that I can want to be generous with people who do not want to be generous with me. And I am betting, I'm betting that if I can give myself completely, I will enter the process by which those beings will be also drawn into the awakening that they're being generous all along. But we do need at some point to get with the program of offering. And somebody has to teach us how that's happening. Even though it's inconceivable, somebody needs to teach us about this inconceivable process of generosity, which reaches everywhere, including the people you just exemplified. It's reaching them too.


Do they know it? No. Do they think it? No. But it's pervading them. Somebody has to teach them. Bodhisattvas are the ones who are going to teach them that they're actually already generous. Way before they realize they are, they were already generous. While they were saying, I don't want to give you anything, that was their gift. Just like your example of them was a gift to me and everybody. I actually do have peripheral vision, thank you. No, please, I do thank you, but I wanted you to know I have, just a piece of information for you, I have peripheral vision. I'm kind of bragging that I can see the person, but please continue to point out just in case I don't, okay? So, again,


there's a possibility that the people here can start, can be ushered into being somebody who does see what they're doing as gifts. And in this way, you can teach and awaken people who do not see their life as gift. You can awaken them to it by showing it to them, by making a demonstration of it. Even though it's inconceivable, we make demonstrations of it. We can, and somebody needs to be doing demonstrations. Okay, now we had Kurt and Sonia, and who else? Kurt and Sonia, is that it? Yes. Good morning, and thank you so much. Good afternoon, it's become, things have changed. Oh, good afternoon, yes. Yeah, good afternoon. Time flies. Time does fly. Through your talk, and also through the conversations that have been going on, a quote from Rumi keeps coming to my mind, which, and I paraphrase it, it has something to do with, as you look around and all you see is darkness, don't forget to turn around and see the light within yourself.


And I really like that. It's comforting. So I thought I'd share that. Was that a gift? Total gift. He gave a gift. Thank you. I had no idea where it came from. Yeah. Where it came from is inconceivable. And the conversation knows where it came from. But I don't, and you don't. And if you thought you did know, that would be your story about it. But your story about it is not actually where it came from. Where it comes from is something that's inconceivable. The whole universe is coming together to produce this gift. Sonia? Thank you. As I'm listening and thinking about Charlie's, not only Charlie, the question, and I hear you offering generosity, I was thinking of the Parmitas, and actually my gift could be the gift of patience, that the generous, you know, that my notion that my arms and my being and my heart is wide enough to hold all this misunderstanding in the world, and that it has some faith, the kind of faith in that


patience that things change, that everything is becoming, maybe not in my lifetime, but anyway, everything is becoming itself the gift. So to me, as I think of language, the generosity is enthusiasm and patience and being ethical and all of that. And I hear that as the encouragement Not that it's not being said, but that you're inviting. Is that a need? So one of the things we can give is patience with the pain of people telling us that they do not want to be generous. That might be quite very painful for us to see and hear. And so one of the gifts we can give them is to really let them be the way they are, and let our pain... Actually, letting them be the way they are is more like generosity.


Patience is to be present and generous with our pain, that they're refusing to see their life as generosity. It's a gift to me. I'm not yet the perfection of patience. in case anybody doesn't notice. But if that happens, if that is a gift to me, then I have an ability to maybe exercise that. And be patient with my impatience. Because my impatience is painful. Yes, Denise. So are you satisfied with this as a climate change activism, this practice? Yeah, this sitting is a, you could say, a climate action. The sitting changes the climate in a way to promote people under these circumstances today to be free and at peace.


It's a climate action. Being kind is a climate action. Working for Fair elections is a climate action. Working to have a stable democracy is a climate action. Studying this sutra is a climate action. The formation of worlds is the formation of climates. And these worlds are formed by our actions of practice. So the renouncing worldly affairs is not actually renouncing worldly affairs. It's really renouncing clinging. It's really renouncing lack of generosity. Lack of generosity is a worldly affair. Generosity is not a worldly affair. Being uncareful is a worldly affair.


Being disrespectful is a worldly affair. Being impatient is a worldly affair. Being depressed is a worldly affair. Renouncing all those worldly affairs and then being generous, being careful, being respectful. We may need help. It says, and when we hear it, we will renounce. So somebody has to give us this dharma for us to listen to. When you listen to the dharma, you will renounce not being generous, not being honest, not being respectful. In the meantime, before you hear it, try to do that anyway. Try to let go of it before you hear the Dharma if you don't think you've heard it. But actually, when you do practice generosity and ethics and patience, when you do, that's the way you're really hearing the Dharma.


So it's a cycle between doing these liberating activities and acknowledging the worldly affairs and being compassionate with them and letting them go. Because we should also be generous towards worldly affairs, patient with worldly affairs, respectful of worldly affairs, gentle with worldly affairs. Those are not worldly affairs, those are compassion towards worldly affairs. And the Dharma is teaching us how to be compassionate to worldly affairs. And when we're compassionate to worldly affairs, we let go of them. and then we can maintain this dharma which supported us to let go of the worldly affairs. When we're still holding on to it, we're not totally available to maintain the dharma, because our hands are full of pushing stuff away, or disrespecting things.


Thank you. I have another question. Just before you have any other questions before Jackie, she's on number two. Okay, number two. Thank you. So all this darkness that comes our way, how do you interpret it as a gift? When the darkness comes, how do we look at it as a gift? Yes. Generally speaking, if something's coming and you don't see it as a gift, for example, darkness. Here comes the darkness and I do not see it as a gift. I might say, would you want to see it as a gift? And the person might say, no, I don't. Get out of my face. Are you crazy? Whack. Anyway, when something comes like darkness and you do not see it as a gift, you do not want to honor it as a gift,


But do you want to see it as a gift? If you want to, then the way you're going to see it as a gift is by giving yourself to it. But why is it a gift? If you want to see why it's a gift, give yourself to it. Yes. Yes. Give yourself to it. Give yourself to what you don't think is a gift. Give yourself to what you don't think is giving. And you will wake up! You will wake up! And realize, oh my God, it's a gift! They're giving to me! And you might not be surprised that sometimes people come to me and they say, the people around me are not generous towards me. They're not generous. They're stingy. They're not giving me gifts. And also, they aren't gifts. and say, well, do you want to see that they are?


Some people say, no, I don't want to see all their gifts. But if you want to see the world flip on its head and become completely turned around, then be generous towards the people who aren't being generous with you, and you will discover that they are generous. But some people say, I don't want to discover that that Shinji creep is generous. I don't want to wake up to that realm. Okay, well then just don't be generous with them, and you won't see how they're generous with you. Now, sometimes people who are not generous with other people still sometimes see, oh, they gave me a gift. Well, yeah, good, you can still sometimes see, I felt no generosity towards her or him, and they gave me a gift. Okay, that's a start. But when you can't see the generosity, which is quite common, that's the problem, is you don't see that your life is a gift.


You do not see that your old age and sickness and approaching death, you don't see it as a gift. Okay, right, that's quite common. Do you wanna see it as a gift? And the person said, no. I said, well, do you want to know why I brought that up? Because you do need to see your life as a gift if by any chance you want to free beings. If you want to free beings so they can dwell in peace, it is necessary to understand that the universe is a gift to us, and we are a gift to the universe. If we don't understand that, we are partially or significantly disabled in the work of freeing beings. From what? From not being able to see gifts, for example. So again, if you don't see that something's a gift, be generous towards it and you will wake up that it is a gift.


And then you can teach other people who don't see, like Charlie doesn't see these people as generous. If you practice generosity towards those people, you will wake up from this nightmare of all of these stingy people. That's one of the worst nightmares, to be surrounded by stingy people, or maybe stingy lions and tigers. Anyway, the normal world, and where we do our worldly affairs is in a realm where the universe is not understood as a gift and where I'm not understood as a gift to the universe, where I don't understand that it is and I don't understand that I am. So the medicine is practice giving, practice being careful and respectful, practice patience and get enthusiastic about this. Enthusiastic about what? About respecting every single particle in the universe, including the ungenerous ones.


Yes. Well, this is a story that is an example maybe of what you're talking about. In the part of California where I live, some of the tribal communities who have every reason in the world to be resentful and depressed about the way they've been treated, have also, out of love for the rivers and the salmon, really engaged in very effective action to bring the dams down on the Klamath River, to restore salmon habitat, to bring condors back to Northern California. And in doing so, they've kind of invited everybody in, which is both the most effective way to do it, and it's a beautiful thing to see. And I'm just in awe that they've kind of left that. It's awesome. It's wonderful. So, in the world where they may feel like people don't respect them, if they find some area for them to practice respect,


for them to save what they wanna love. So they find, okay, these people, these humans are not being respectful of me, but I love fish, I love salmon, and I'm gonna save the salmon. And as they practice generosity towards the salmon and save the salmon, they will start to see that people are starting to respect them, which is right. People do respect them, but sometimes people don't know that they do, and sometimes they don't know that they do. But by them practicing love and respect of the salmon, they wake up, they will wake up to that these people are actually being generous with them. They will become enlightened. And then they will help those people who don't know that they're generous with them. who don't know that they respect them, they will help these people wake up to that. Oh.


Michelle, you didn't tell me about her. It's okay. It's okay. You're not fired. I'm thinking about applying this to Something that may seem far away, but it's right here as an ache, I think, in a lot of our hearts, which is the hate and fighting that's going on, particularly right now in the Middle East. Yeah, that's part of the climate. Right. So, OK, so could you remind me? Yeah, I can see. I mean, I could remind you, but let's hear you remind yourself. Please remind yourself out loud. You might say, Linda? Well, seeing it as a gift. Seeing it as a gift, yeah. And I think that's going to take... But again, just to flat out go at such horrible things, just like flat out, okay, see it as a gift.


If you already see it as a gift, no problem. Then go to work and relate to this gift. Oh, oh, thanks for this gift. Thank you so much for this gift. Now I can work with this horrible situation which you gave me. Thank you so much for bringing me this great illness, this great suffering. Thank you so much. So you do see it as a gift. But if you don't see it as a gift, I don't recommend you start turning on what you don't see as a gift and try to. So thank you for your question. It's not like, look at all the things you don't think are gifts, and try to think that they're gifts. I don't really recommend that. What I recommend is, look at all the things you don't think are gifts, and then... Be compassionate to the ache in your heart. Start with the ache in your heart. You went back to another example of gifts. Your ache in your heart is a gift. If you don't see the ache in your heart as a gift,


How do you relate to that? You don't see it as a gift. If you don't, how do you relate to that? What does this mean? Embrace it. Embrace it. Be with it. Practice giving towards it. If you don't see your own suffering as a gift, be generous towards it and you'll wake up to it is. Now, if you don't see the thing you feel the pain about, as a gift. I'm not saying see it as a gift. I'm telling you what it is. But if you don't see it, be generous towards you're not seeing it. And if you're generous towards you're not seeing it as a gift, you will wake up to that. This horror is being given to you to take care of, but don't try to see that as a gift. First, first of all, first of all, see a way to be generous towards what you don't think is a gift. And again, my painful heart, I might get caught as, excuse me, you know the word flat-footed?


So if you're flat-footed and the pain in your heart comes, you're not ready to dance. When you're flat-footed, you're not ready to dance. In order to dance, you have to put weight on one of your feet and off the other. So you can dance. You have to just like settle into the pain and shift your weight and start dancing. So again, the... Or let it dance you. Say again? Or let it dance you. Yeah, let it dance you. And it already is. But in order to wake up to that, you're already dancing, you're already a gift, and everything about you is a gift, and everything about you, it's already going on. To wake up to it, practice giving. In order to wake up to how everybody's being gentle with you. You know how people aren't being gentle with you, right? You know about that, right?


Sometimes people aren't gentle with you. In order to wake up to how that's gentle, be gentle with others. The people who are really gentle with others, they see how people are gentle to them and to each other. And so they're able to teach generosity and carefulness and gentleness because they practice it. And practicing it, they wake up to that reality. Gentleness is reality. The people who practice gentleness are the ones who know that. The people who don't practice it think, no, that's not gentle. Okay, I got it. I see. It doesn't look gentle to me either. But fundamentally, we are gentle with each other. Fundamentally, we are giving each other life. And if it doesn't look that way, be generous. Be careful and respectful and gentle. Be patient.


This sutra is telling us the way things are. The way things are is we are including everybody and included in everybody. We don't see that. In order to awaken to this complete harmony between us and all beings, which the Buddhists have awakened to, we need to be generous towards our unawakened state, where we don't think, we don't act like other people are included in us, and we don't act like we're included in them. We don't, okay? So be generous with that, and you'll wake up to the reality of it. We already know how we think. Some people are definitely not included here. And we're not in those people. We're not in those unspeakably terrible people. We're not in them. Right?


We know about that. If you want to wake up from that nightmare, here's the teaching, which is that's a nightmare. That's not reality. Reality is nightmares are gifts. Nightmares are the dharma coming to us as gifts to teach us how to wake up. Charlie? Actually, perhaps myself, maybe I'll ask a question this afternoon. Okay. John. Amanda. Yes. Amanda. And maybe extending some nightmares are the whole of the universe, totality, nightmares. I'm just thinking, actually, about something that I'm struggling with and working with, which is some of the people who are living under the free will.


And sometimes I notice that I feel so overwhelmed by what I imagine to be the suffering And I just cannot stand it at times. I just want to look away from it. Because I think, oh, what can I do? It just seems so overwhelming. But I'm feeling encouraged with this teaching to, well, maybe that's not true. And maybe I could open, turn and open and regard this person as the whole of the universe and the whole of everything, my whole life right now, and I could just open. to that, and maybe within that samadhi would come forth some way of making an offering, even though I can't imagine it from the outside, but maybe joining in opening and not turning away something like blinds. And, before this opening is going to really happen,


Thinking about it's fine, but if you actually want to actualize it, then what's being called for is to see the feeling of overwhelm as a gift. So, it's not like, again, don't jump away from the feeling of overwhelm and try to open. Is that clear? I'm saying, don't skip over taking care of the feeling of overwhelm. Be generous towards the overwhelm, which might also go with titrating the amount of pain you're opening to. Okay, I opened to some pain, and it really was too much. It's overwhelming, okay? Now, maybe take a break in the opening, and let's now pay attention to the feeling of overwhelm. let's be really generous to the feeling of overwhelm until we see that the overwhelm is a gift.


And when we see the overwhelm is a gift, we can open some more. But in the meantime, when I take, you know, Chinese herbs are often bitter. Have you heard about that? There's a bitterness in this suffering. There's a pain in it. When we take it in, we sometimes need to take it in in bite-size amounts. Bite-size amounts are good, you know, so we don't choke or vomit. Take it in, bite by bite. And if you feel like that bite is too big, well, stop. Don't put another bite in until you chew that, until you take care of that. When I'm taking in kind of like this poison or these bitter herbs, homeopathy is like taking in small, small versions of poison, right?


Tiny pieces of poison. I'm taking in tiny pieces of poison from the Middle East. But they've been transformed. What? They're not poison anymore. They've been transformed. But they're originally poison. and then they're transformed. But also, they're taken in very small amounts. If you take them in big amounts, then you're not ready and you'll just be poisoned. So this suffering of the world is like bitter herbs or homeopathic medicine. It's for us to take in in the right amount, and when it's too much, stop. And now trying to find a way to be generous with it again. And this way we are on the path to freeing all beings. But on the path to freeing all beings, we maybe start with, let's just free this particular being, which is a feeling of not being generous. Or this particular being, a feeling that wasn't a gift.


Okay, that's one being. The being is, that's not a gift. Take care of that's not a gift, be generous with not a gift, and that being will be saved. What's the being? The being is the thought. That's not a gift. and just keep giving to that thought until that thought turns into a gift. And then move on to the next one, but you might be quite tired after that first salvation. So you may need to take a little break from the next being that you're going to save. Part of being enthusiastic on this oceanic bodhisattva path is resting. taking a break from this inconceivably vast work, this total work. We sometimes need to rest. You're making a funny face.


What does it mean? You gave me a gift. The gift she gave me was... Yeah, it doesn't seem... Yeah, I think, okay, well, rest. And then, there it is. There's practice. When you rest, there's practice. Yeah, rest is a practice. Rest is not not practice. It's a practice of resting so that you can be enthusiastic again about this great work. But sometimes in the process of doing this work of embracing of embracing what seems to be not a gift is a challenging job and we sometimes get tired even when we're successful of waking up to that it is a gift, still it took a lot of energy. So we need to rest and sort of restore our energy so we can take in the next piece of poison. But that's a practice.


That's not a break in the practice. It's a change in the practice. It is, as we say, giving it a rest. Give it a rest. In the process of taking care of it, give it a rest. And in music, how it rests too, right? Face the music and dance, and that part of facing the music and dancing is resting. That's for Homa. That's for you. Can you... use the word enthusiast, I mean, in ways that I don't quite, I understand resting easily, but enthusiasm. No, it's okay, I don't need anymore. Not enthusiasm, I'm kind of, what is enthusiasm? Well, etymologically, enthusiasm means to be full of God. I don't even know what God is. To be full, yeah. It's to be full of what you don't know is what it is. to be up to your eyeballs in what is beyond your ideas.


Like you said, to be up to your eyeballs in an absence. That's enthusiasm. From the periphery? Something from the periphery, an offering from the periphery? I get caught on global climate change and these dark visions of the cataclysm that's coming. It's apocalyptic. It's really dark and difficult to deal with. I think about the change in life, the loss of life, this great extinction that's occurring. Then I think of my immediate family and my children. I'm not going to be around for the worst of it, probably, but they're going to suffer in big ways that I'm not. And I find myself thinking that a lot, this darkness. Many people share that with you. Yeah, and then I also find that the world comes forward to give me the gift without my even realizing it's being presented to me until it's like in my arms.


I'm thinking, too, of my youngest daughter, Haley, giving birth to a daughter on November 10th, Isabel Aurelia Bittner. And I went over there to see my new granddaughter and found myself holding her and swaying and speaking soothingly and singing to her and just, you know, enjoying this new life in my arms. in the midst of this world where this darkness is occurring, there's this wonderful... It was music. It was dancing. And it came quite naturally without my having to look for it or make any effort. It was very easy. It just arrived. Well, you said you didn't look for it. That's fine. But you say you made no effort. I didn't hear that. You did make an effort. You gave a gift. You went there and were generous. That's an effort. And also, going there and being a gift. Okay, here comes a grandfather giving himself to this beautiful being.


You did practice reality. You practiced giving. And practicing giving is not to get anything. It's just you gave yourself. And then when you gave yourself, you saw a gift coming to you. And then you gave yourselves some more, and the gift came to you more, and you entered into this life of dancing in the midst of dark music. Dark music, but generosity, and generosity, and generosity, saving beings in the midst of dark times. So if people say we're in dark times, okay, let's be generous with dark times. And let's be generous with everybody we meet. And then we'll realize that everybody we meet is a gift, and we'll gradually open to the dark times are missed, a gift, and then we can embrace the darkness.


In the meantime, you did make an effort, but the effort he made was not to get anything from that girl. you just were giving. And she was not trying to do you any favors, but she gave herself to you. She was 100% gift. And you were 100% thank you. And then your thank you was another gift. This is the practice right there. This is the practice. Giving ourselves to each other in the midst of whatever. Times of radiance and times of darkness. But in times of darkness, when we practice this way, the practice is radiant. And we're not in control of it, and yet we do wind up practicing the reality of giving, and the reality that everything's a gift. So please continue loving your grandchildren and saving them in this world as it is, so they can learn


how to practice, too, in the world that they're coming into. If they can learn this now from us, before we go, then we're better able to deal with the darkness that's coming. But also, before I heard about climate change, I heard the song, and the song starts with, ♪ There may be trouble ahead ♪ It starts with, there may be trouble ahead. Before I heard the trouble that's ahead, I heard the song that there may be. And I didn't think, oh no, there's not going to be trouble ahead. I thought, yeah. That makes sense to me. There's going to be... We had trouble ahead of us. And we had it from time immemorial. Living beings had trouble ahead. Living beings had trouble. That's normal. Living beings have death. et cetera. There is trouble, and we need to have enthusiasm to take the trouble.


We say, take the trouble, to see the trouble as a gift. And if you don't, then see your lack of generosity as a gift. Or I should say, your lack of vision. If you can't see, practice generosity, and you will see. Anyway, you weren't trying to practice generosity, but you did. And you weren't trying to get a gift from her, but you did. And you also didn't think, oh, she's not generous with me. You didn't get to that point. But later, when she grows up and you're around, she might do some things, and you might think, that wasn't very generous of you, darling. I think that the practice is to give it all Like with my grandson, I used to play various board games with him and he cheated. But, you know, in his case, I was able to see his cheating was a gift to me.


He wasn't being generous to me. He wanted to beat me. He wanted to win. He didn't care about me losing. But I had the joy of seeing this cheater as a gift. And then we're playing soccer with two players. I'm the goalie and he's the kicker. So I'm sitting there in front of the goal and he kicks, but he says, you can't move to get the ball. And then we switch and he's the goalie, but I can't kick any place. I have to kick it right to him. I said, well, why do you want to play this way? I was kind of mystified. Why do you want to play this way? He said, because I really want to win. And so the blessing of being a grandparent is you can love this person who really doesn't have on their screen being generous to you.


All they see is beat granddaddy at whatever. And that's this precious gift of this totally selfish, radiant grandson. So we need to teach him, and he's learning that. He's learning, he says, I can do no wrong with granddaddy. So he sees it, so he can do that with his grandchildren. Or anyway, we need to teach people they can do no wrong, because whatever they give us, we're grateful for. And then they can learn that with the people they're not yet grateful for. Eyes of compassion observe sentient beings as gifts, assembling an ocean of blessing beyond measure. May our intention be to extend to every being and place with true merit of will


I vow to save them. Illusions are inexhaustible. I vow to them. Dharma gates are boundless. I vow to enter them. Buddha's way is unsurpassable. I vow to become. So also we're doing a few small revolutions here. One of them is to drop the apostrophe S on Buddha. The Buddha way is unsurpassable. It's not Buddha's. It's not ours. We also say my Buddha way. But we're not saying my Buddha way. If we did, I might say, well, let's change it to our Buddha way.


Our Buddha way and Buddha way. Our Buddha way, not my Buddha's way. You can try that out here without causing any disturbance. Thank you. Thank you for the beautiful lecture. Thank you for the beautiful event. We did it together, right? I could not do this without you. That's why I come here, for you to help me. Be me. It was a nice climate to live without you. And you definitely can't do... You can't do anything without me. Is that a challenge? But also, you can't do anything without each other. I'm just one of the people you can't do anything without. Any questions?