On Enlightenment and Delusion 

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In a sense, I am the descendant, or a descendant of the Rev. Anderson that was here at the last yoga room class. I'm fresh and new, and strangely, older than the one that was here last week, who was also fresh and new. So, yeah, you're all older than your ancestors by the same name, but still you're fresh and new. So as I've said before,


the nature of a living being is itself enlightenment. And I calligraphed that in Chinese. It says, sentient being nature is itself bodhi, enlightenment. If you'd like a copy of this, it's here for you to receive. Another way to say it is, the condition of a sentient being, and the condition of a sentient being is to be a sentient being. The condition of a sentient being, being a sentient being, is exactly what we mean by bodhi. And right where you are, right now,


is the place where you are a sentient being. I also said that for a sentient being to attain enlightenment is nothing other than for a sentient being not to move. So enlightenment is living in stillness, and it's living in the stillness of each of us being ourself. So we don't really make the stillness of ourself being ourself. But we seem to need to work


at being ourself. Because the kind of being we are is a being which can be distracted from being itself. We have the ability to be unenlightened in the sense that we have the ability to be moving away from where we are. Before we've even left. We can think of the next moment before we've arrived completely here. In stillness, we say in stillness, mind and object merge and enter enlightenment. And then leave enlightenment together.


In stillness, you merge with yourself. When you merge with yourself, you enter stillness, and you also enter enlightenment, and you don't stay there. You go beyond it. In stillness, awareness and objects of awareness come together. In stillness, awareness and delusion dance together and enter enlightenment. And then go beyond enlightenment. And then have a chance to embrace each other and enter, embrace each other in stillness and enter again and leave again. So the dance is the dance of


embracing ourselves and entering enlightenment. Embracing ourselves in stillness. Because we don't have to move to embrace ourselves. In stillness, we embrace ourselves and enter enlightenment. We enter enlightenment. Mind and object means awareness and delusion, because objects, graspable objects are delusions. But to completely be with the delusion, so completely that there's stillness, there's no wiggling with it. We enter with it. There's entering with it and leaving, entering enlightenment and leaving enlightenment. Not stopping there.


So enlightenment is this embracing and dancing in stillness with delusion. Enlightenment is living in the stillness of this dance. Enlightenment is for a living being to be a living being. Enlightenment is not for us. It's not just a kind of, an abstract stillness. It's the stillness of a living being that's enlightenment. It's the stillness of a living being who can imagine movement and imagine avoiding stillness. Who can imagine not being able to find the place where she is. And still, while imagining not being able to find the place you are, to find the place you are and be there is enlightenment. For a sentient being to be a sentient being is enlightenment


and for a sentient being to be a sentient being is the bodhisattva precepts. Sentient beings can break bodhisattva precepts. They can kill, they can lie, they can take what's not given. But for a sentient being to be a sentient being is not killing. In the stillness of being ourselves there is not killing, there is not stealing, there is not lying. There is enlightened action in stillness of being ourself. And there is a leading ourselves into ourselves and a following ourselves into ourselves. There is a kind of


invitation of ourselves, strong invitation of ourselves to be ourselves and there is a surrendering ourself to ourself. In the dance, like in the dance, like in tango, there is an inviter and a follower, a surrenderer. The follower does not move until invited and then when she is invited she surrenders to the invitation. The inviter, the leader, makes the invitation and then surrenders the invitation and surrenders the inviting and becomes a follower. Did I tell you that


I practiced tango with my wife? Did I tell you that? You did or you didn't? I did and I will. We went to tango classes and the tango teachers helped me and helped her. They said to her, you're not following him. I didn't say, you're not following me, but she wasn't. She was supposed to, but she wasn't. She was kind of leading me or she was moving before I invited her. It's kind of like, man, you're too slow with the invitation, here we go. And the teacher saw her and said, Rūsa, you're not following him.


And she surrendered and she learned to follow a not very good leader. She gave up, she surrendered her leadership and became a follower. It was an amazing thing. I know a lot of, you could say, women who are very good dancers and they can follow and they can lead if they wish. Sometimes when they're dancing with not very good dancers, they think maybe this would be a time not to follow because this person doesn't know


what he's doing. As a matter of fact, if they led, the dance would go quite nicely. But in some cases, the teachers are watching and they say, no, it's true, he's not too good, but still, do not move until he leads you. And if he doesn't lead you, nothing's going to happen. So then we have to get him to lead. So then they say, you're not leading. Lead. We have to lead ourselves, we have to invite ourselves to be ourself. It's hard, actually, for people to invite themselves to be themselves, and then it's hard to follow that invitation or that instruction or that lead. It's hard.


Even though all the time the condition of being ourselves is enlightenment, and all the time, actually, the enlightenment is that we're not moving. The enlightenment of us is that we're not moving. The enlightenment of us is we are actually being ourselves. And that not moving is the dojo, is the place of enlightenment. The place where we are, we don't have to move to get to the place where we are, and the place where we are is the place where we are ourself, and that is enlightenment. But we have to somehow find the place, which, of course, is here. But we have to find it. We can't just assume that we're where we are. We have to find it. Oh yeah, I'm here. Oh yeah, I'm here. Oh yeah, I'm me. We have to be ourselves


and find our place right where we are, and then the practice occurs. We have sentient beings live in what we call samsara, or birth and death. And birth and death is uncomfortable. Usually, birth and death is uncomfortable. It's also inconceivably wonderful, but uncomfortable. Being born is uncomfortable, and dying is uncomfortable. We resist the discomfort of birth and death.


Being a sentient being is uncomfortable. We resist the discomfort of being a sentient being. We have to invite ourselves into, we have to merge with being a sentient being. In order to realize the stillness in which enlightenment is living. And so I'm mentioning all these different modes or ways of expressing enlightenment. Bodhisattva precepts, not moving, being a sentient being. Dancing with delusion, not resisting birth and death. Mind and object merge in stillness


and enter enlightenment. These are all the same place, the same time, the same life. And we have to perform this stuff. We have to work at being ourself. The nature of a sentient being is it has to work at being itself. It has to work at finding the place where it is. It has to remind itself and be mindful. You don't have to be mindful to be a sentient being. You can be unmindful and forgetful and still qualify as a sentient being. But in order to realize enlightenment as a sentient being,


you have to remember to be a sentient being. You have to exercise. You have to make being a sentient being an exercise, along with the other exercises, like the exercises of getting something and accomplishing something, and being famous or becoming a goddess. Along with those exercises, you have to do this simple and most difficult exercise. Among all the other exercises, the most difficult and unusual and rarest is the exercise of being yourself. One could say, so we go to the trouble of writing out these characters. But it wasn't really trouble.


It could have been, but it wasn't that bad. A little bit of trouble. And this dance is fleeting. It's just like, for a moment, and then for a moment, and then for a moment, in stillness. For a moment, feel the difference between being a sentient being who's not remembering to be a sentient being,


and being a sentient being who's remembering to be a sentient being. And I'm not recommending to spend a lot of time into the difference between those two different ways of living. But there is kind of a flicker of awareness of the difference, and maybe some encouragement there. For me, it's encouraging. So far, I haven't regretted the moments when I merged with myself, when I remembered to be a sentient being. And I have various levels of regret when I forgot. These characters come from a Mahayana Sutra,


which can be translated as the inactivity, or the non-action, of all things. The inactivity of all phenomena is the name of the scripture. And only little fragments have been translated, and you've heard most of them. Maybe someday somebody will translate the whole sutra. Is there anything you'd like to express from your stillness, from the stillness of being yourself? Would you read the characters,


just the names of each one, go down? The names of each character? Yeah, what each one just says. The first character means assembly, the second character means living. Those two characters together mean living beings. So these first two characters are often translated as sentient beings. It can be one, or all. Next character means nature, or condition of. Next two characters, this character means then, and this character by itself means is, or yes, or this. And together they mean immediately are, or are themselves. Like in the Heart Sutra where it says form, sometimes we say form is emptiness. It says form, and then it has these two characters.


Form is emptiness, but sometimes we say form itself is emptiness. Or form in reality is emptiness. And emptiness is forms. So emptiness is form, it's emptiness these two characters form. And form, these two characters, emptiness. So these two characters are like mediators between conventional and ultimate truth. So sentient beings, the nature of sentient beings, and then here's enlightenment. The nature of sentient beings, the nature of a sentient being is itself. This is bodhi. All three of those are bodhi? These two are bodhi. This last one is kind of like, it goes, it's a grammatical thing which goes with these to say,


to make it work, to make the sentence work in such a way that this up here is itself this. And then this is part of my name, and my seal. And my name means, translated as the whole works, which is also kind of what this is saying, that the bodhi works through sentient beings, in stillness. So this is a condition of sentient beings, so the condition of a sentient being, in a sense, is stillness. A sentient being never moves from its condition. So the condition of a sentient being, or you could say, a sentient being in stillness, is itself enlightenment. A sentient being who is not running away from her nature,


who is exercising her nature, moment by moment, is itself bodhi. A sentient being who is ignoring being a sentient being is just a sentient being who is ignoring being a sentient being, who is missing out on her condition, which is itself enlightenment. Is it possible to say that movement is form, and stillness is beyond form? You could say movement is form. Did you say? Yeah, movement is form. Sentient beings are forms.


And stillness, you say, is beyond? Beyond what? Well, stillness is form entering into form, and not being stuck in form. So in stillness, mind and object, mind and objects are like forms. So form is one kind of category of phenomenal experience, of sentient beings. Sentient beings have form experience, colors, smells, and so on, sounds. They have eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, sense. So those are forms that sentient beings have. Then sentient beings have feelings. Sentient beings have perceptions. Sentient beings have active consciousness. Sentient beings have basic awareness. They have these different dimensions.


Each one of these are like movement. Movement is like all those things. So movement can be form, movement can be feeling, movement can be ideas, movement can be perception, movement can be thinking, movement can be hatred and confusion. Those are different. You could say those are movements. Stillness is when those things are themselves, and when they're themselves, they go beyond form, they go beyond stillness and enter enlightenment, but they also go beyond enlightenment. They don't just get stuck there. So stillness isn't exactly beyond form or beyond feeling or beyond being a sentient being. Stillness is a sentient being entering into being a sentient being, but then entering into being a sentient being. That's enlightenment. But enlightenment,


being entered through being yourself, enlightenment being entered by stillness, also leads to going beyond enlightenment. So when we enter into what's going on, we don't move, and we enter enlightenment, but also we go beyond enlightenment into the next opportunity to be still. Because this isn't a static, this is dynamic, fleeting stillness, which has to be found again. Now, now, now. Not just on Thursday nights for an hour or so, but all week long. Living in stillness,


we find that enlightenment's living there too. But the hard part is that a sentient being's living there, and we have to be this sentient being. And it's hard work. Anyway, it's work. Sometimes it's hard, sometimes it's joyful, but it's definitely an exercise. We have to practice being ourselves, otherwise we miss enlightenment. Now, if you don't practice being yourself, you don't miss being yourself, you just miss the enlightenment that is there in the stillness of your being yourself fully. So being ourselves is often quite uncomfortable, comes with a very challenging situation of birth and death. And so I'm offering these teachings


to help us get over our resistance to being ourself. A fresh, new self, who's older than all the previous ones that we are the successor to. I heard that some microbiologist said to somebody, you know, people used to not know that aging is a disease. You know, sometimes you say, birth, old age, sickness and death, but another way to say it is birth and disease, and death. The whole aging process is basically a disease. I said, what about, no, no.


It's only in the later part that it's the same as a disease. Okay. But teenagers seem to have the hardest time. They really have suicide rates so high there. So anyway, birth, aging, disease and death. Sentient beings are into that. But they're usually not dancing with it. Usually they're waiting for a better partner. Usually they're not inviting. They're usually not inviting this, or they're usually not inviting themselves to enter it. Usually they're not surrendering to it. Usually they don't hear, or sometimes they do hear the invitation, Would you please come and visit me? And then they sort of resist the invitation sometimes.


But not always. Yes. I have a question about the practice. I've noticed that most of the time expressing things in a positive form rather than a negative form. For example... You noticed? I've noticed that... In yourself? In myself on a good day. And in most of the Zen teachers who I've heard speak, I've noticed a habit of saying something is good or not as good rather than saying something is bad or not as bad.


And I've received some criticism for that recently. Because a friend of mine was really into saying that these things are good and these things are bad. And it seems like... I see something there and then it kind of misses... It feels judgmental to say things are bad. But I'm wondering what you have to say about that and how much of that is a conscious intention to only express things positively. Okay. I don't know if I only express things positively.


I don't know if I would say stillness is positive and movement is negative. I don't know if that's so. I think what I'm saying here is that judgments of positive and negative or expressing things positively and negatively for sentient beings is part of a process of delusion usually. So, whether I'm expressing things positively or negatively I'm bringing up now to embrace the positive and the negative. Yeah, just to embrace them. To be still with them. To dance with them.


If you have experience of your history of hearing certain people express things positively then that's something about the sentient being that you are. If you're in some situation and you think other places I hear people speaking negatively that's about you, that's your view of some situation. Completely. It's completely on my side? On your side you say? Yeah. No, I'm just talking about what you're... It's not so much that it's completely on your side but what you're describing is your side of the story. You depend on what you're talking about. But your story about it is your sentient being's story.


Before anything else happens there's the stillness of you having this view that somebody is expressing something positively and somebody else is expressing something in terms of good and bad and somebody else is not even addressing good and bad. So you have experiences of these situations and your experience of these situations is a diluted rendition of these situations because you're a sentient being and you like to dilutify everything. That's what sentient beings do. They make the universe into little delusion packages that they can work with. But we're not trying to get you to stop doing that.


We're trying to get you to dance with that because enlightenment is already dancing with it. But you have to be still in order to do this dance. So before you move away from the fact that you have a delusion or a story about what's going on here in this universe, before you move away from that, first of all, remember to be that person. Then, if you wholeheartedly don't get distracted from being this person, like some people get distracted from it, they get into the delusion rather than being aware of the deluded person who is aware of this delusion and believing it maybe. So they're sort of resisting being this person who's got, they're more into the objects. They're going outward towards the objects


rather than being the person who is living with these objects, this living being. So I'm saying, be this living being and being this living being enters enlightenment. And so this living, this enlightenment can occur with a story of somebody expressing things positively. It can occur with a story of people expressing something negatively. It can be, it can occur with a story about people being totally confused. It can be with a story about people being enlightened. But a sentient being has got its own little deluded story about whatever is going on. If we're willing to be ourselves, we enter enlightenment and then we're in a good position to deal with all this stuff, whatever it is. And to show others how to join the dance and enter enlightenment


and leave enlightenment together. And this process is freedom from the thing which we're no longer resisting. So resisting birth and death, resisting birth, aging, disease and death keeps us in birth, aging, disease and death. That's resistance to birth and death runs birth and death. And so part of our resistance to, well, yeah, so birth and death comes because of our imagination. It comes because of our delusions. Our delusions create birth and death. Our resistance to reality takes the form of us packaging it


in such a way that we create birth and death and then we resist birth and death and then what we say, we're off to the races. So our mind creates birth and death together with other people who are supporting us and we're supporting them to create birth and death and most of the people in birth and death are resisting it. Which means they're resisting being a person who is contributing to the ongoing process. So sentient beings are the ones who are driving birth and death and most sentient beings are resisting the process and thereby redriving it. So I'm talking about how to be still with it, dance with it, dance, give up resisting it. Then, by not resisting birth and death we become free of birth and death. But not by taking it away, which is our usual thing.


Well, if I don't resist it anymore, will it go away? Like how people say, well I have been pre-experimenting with not resisting it and it's still there. I say, I didn't say it would go away. If you're a little bit trying to get rid of old age and sickness, then you're a normal sentient being. So now if you could stop resisting being the person who's trying to get rid of disease, really join that, you'll enter into the place which is, without changing anything, is a totally different way of living in it, called enlightenment or freedom and peace, without moving any of these things around. And the bodhisattvas like that kind of enlightenment because then they're right in the same situation


showing other people how to do the same. And again, the reason for learning this is not for your own freedom, but for other people's freedom. Because if it's for your own freedom, it gets back a little bit of resistance there. So your story that you told, I heard, as an example of a sentient being, as an example of birth and death, of noticing over here these people are supposedly speaking positively, and those are the Zen teachers. And over here are some other people who are speaking negatively or good and bad, and those are not the Zen teachers. Oops, there's a Zen teacher who's talking about good and bad. That's all fine with me. This is all opportunities to be the sentient being


who is having these different experiences. Does that make sense? Mike? Thanks. I'm curious if you have anything to say about the body. Are bodies embodiment and illusion and enlightenment? Well, the body is like... Usually in Buddhism, when we say body, we mean the organs. We're referring to the receptive, sensitive, responsive. Aspects of a body. Like the eye organ, the ear organ, the touch organ, the smell organ, the taste organ.


So this is the body which is like sort of dancing with physical objects, physical phenomena like electromagnetic radiation and heat and colors and smells and so on, and pressure. So that body is a key ingredient in being a living being. So when you have a body that's having sensations, being willing to be with those sensations, in other words, inviting yourself and surrendering to the sensation. Completely not moving with each physical sensation, with each sense of color and smell and so on and so forth. So that's usually where we start in terms of being a sentient being. We start with being a sentient being's body. And not moving away from it, in the moment.


And then again the next moment. So remembering to be a sentient being is to remember to be a body. Because human beings, for example, are very often not being their body. In other words, they're not with the stillness of their current bodily experience. Even though they're standing right there, they're not remembering, I'm standing right here. And they're leaning forward a little bit, but they're not being aware that they're leaning forward a little bit. And that feels a certain way in the back and the stomach. And if they start paying attention, they won't always, because they can't always, but they will often then stand up straight once they realize that they're leaning forward


just mostly because of inattention. But whatever position we're in, the encouragement of this class is dance with it. Be with that posture. Be with this [...] sound. Be with this sight. Be with this touch. So actually, being a sentient being, usually we recommend starting with the body. It's the easiest, in a way, to start with that. If you can't start with that, okay, start with something else, like feeling or your ideas. Some people are so out of the habit of being a sentient body that it's really hard for them to get back into it. But for most people it's the easiest thing


to start noticing. So we start there. Did that address your question at all? Is the current bodily experience, is it reality? Is it reality? The way it exists is called a conventional truth or a conventional reality. The way it exists depends on mental imputation. But beyond the way it exists, ultimately, its ultimate, its highest truth is that you can't find any of these things. You can't find any of these physical experiences. They cannot be found. They have no substantial existence.


So if you reach for them, all you get is the conditions they depend on. They have no core. All you get is all the things that make them that aren't them. There's nothing about them that makes them. That's the ultimate truth of them. But the ultimate truth of them isn't reality. The ultimate truth isn't reality. Reality is both ultimate truth and conventional truth. It's not just ultimate truth. It's that ultimate truth is the way conventional truths really are. And ultimate truth is also a conventional truth. Ultimate truth also is insubstantial. So the ultimate truth and conventional truth are intimately related. Conventional truth itself is ultimate truth. So reality includes conventional truths like bodies and mental activity. It includes conventional truths like living beings.


But it also includes ultimate truth is that you can't find any of these living beings if you really look carefully. You cannot find them. They cannot be found. Reality includes both of them, ultimate and conventional, and their relationship. But in order to realize reality, we have to work with conventional truths, like a sentient being is a conventional truth. A sentient being is not an ultimate truth. However, all sentient beings have an ultimate truth, namely, you can never find any sentient beings. And if you're willing to be the sentient being that you think you can find, if you stop resisting being a sentient being, you will discover the ultimate truth of a sentient being, which comes along with the enlightenment package. One of the things you get with enlightenment


is ultimate truth. But the other thing you get is the ability to stop resisting birth and death and freedom from it. And realizing ultimate truth helps us not resist, and not resisting gives us access to ultimate truth, and ultimate truth encourages us not to resist, because there's not really something there to resist. There aren't any beings, actually, to not accept. So, mouths will accept them. Vice versa, if you really accept things, you realize ultimate truth, and then you're free from further resistance and also further clinging. And round and round we go. It's like you're saying that everything is an illusion. Everything is an illusion?


Yeah, everything that exists is an illusion. So ultimate truth is what, again? Ultimate truth is what, again? Ultimate truth is not an illusion, but the way it exists is an illusion. When you realize that something cannot be found, not just that you can't find it, but it can't be found, when you realize that something is insubstantial and cannot be grasped, when you understand that, that truth is not an illusion. However, that truth as it exists is another illusion, because we don't make the truth that things are insubstantial into a substantial thing. But in order for it to exist for us,


we convert it into another illusion. So this teaching is in some sense saying all things, all things that exist are illusions, but it's also saying if you have any resistance to any of these illusory things, then you'll be enslaved by them. So birth and death are illusions, and the pain of birth and death is an illusion. But if you don't invite yourself into the pain of birth and death, if you resist the pain of birth and death, then it will seem like birth and death are heavy-duty, substantial truths, whereas birth and death are actually only conventional truths, and you can't actually find them. And when you can't find them, you're released from them. But you can't realize that you can't find them


if you resist them. If you resist pain, you keep thinking it could be found, and that's why you resist it, because you think you found it. I found it, and I don't like it, and I'm trying to get away from it. That's the usual sentient being. So to stop resisting pain is similar to stop resisting being a sentient being who normally resists pain. So I'm willing to be somebody who's resisting the pain is similar to I'm willing to be with the pain. I'm willing to be somebody who's running away from this is similar to not running away from it. I'm willing to be somebody who's afraid is similar to not running away from the fear. And if you face fear completely, you realize its ultimate truth, but you have to be compassionate to these things in order to surrender to them.


And you have to be compassionate to yourself in relationship to them in order to stop resisting. So being a sentient being is hard because it requires so much kindness. It's hard, it takes a lot of love to settle into being somebody who's got the problems of a sentient being. It's hard to be a sentient being. Sentient beings have a hard time. They have a hard time being born. They have a hard time growing up. They have a hard time falling apart. They have a hard time with all kinds of illnesses. They have a hard time with fear. They have a hard time with gain and loss. Sentient beings have a hard time. How can we possibly be a sentient being? How can we turn around and be who we are? We have to be really kind to ourselves to get ourselves to do that. You have to be really kind to people in order to encourage them to be bodhisattvas.


But some people, because of feeling a tremendous amount of kindness, they stop resisting being an ordinary person. Because not only does the kindness tell them please be an ordinary person because that will help everybody else who's having a hard time being an ordinary person. It'll help them be an ordinary person and then it'll help them be enlightened. It'll help them become free if you're willing to be you. But we're not saying be reality. We're saying be a deluded person. Embrace and dance with being a deluded person. Okay? That's hard. So we're trying to encourage you to do that. Yeah? A poem comes to mind. May I recite it? Yeah.


It's by Luke Welch. It's about surrendering to the ordinary. I think it goes something like when doing something ordinary or better when doing something necessary like urinating or feeding yourself or bathing the baby or yourself stop and say to yourself so it's come to this. Thank you. Jeff? Was there a political speech? Pardon? Last week you said something about you're going to talk about American history with politics. Yeah, well, maybe you could remind me. Earlier. It is nine o'clock. Like I told you a story. My wife told me to wean my daughter from her pacifier


as she went off to Europe for a couple of months. Yes. So I told her when we were alone and her mother was gone, I said, your mom wants me to wean you from using your pacifier. And she said, you know, Dad, it helped me go to sleep at night. And I thought, well, yeah, that's a reasonable thing to do considering what adults do to go to sleep. So I didn't try to get her to get off the pacifier. But she accidentally broke it and we were at Esalen. She broke it one night and she was very upset because she broke it and she wanted me to go buy her a new one in the middle of the night. And I said, the nearest grocery store is 50 miles away, so I'm not going to go now,


but I'll go tomorrow morning if you remind me. But she forgot to remind me and it got to be nine o'clock again when she reminded me. So I said, if you remind me during the day, I'll go. So remind me earlier and I'll tell you the story of American history, of American political history, which is very relevant. It might be a nice way to end the class is to discuss this, the current difficulty of this nation struggling with how to not resist birth and death. This is sort of what the whole country is like, struggling with this right now. So remind me earlier next week. Thank you very much. And if you like, you can have one of these.