On Enlightenment and Delusion 

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Before I forget, heaven, I'm in heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak, and I seem to find the happiness I seek. When we're here in... no, when we're in silence, sitting week to week. Heaven, I'm in heaven, and the cares that hung about me through the week


seem to vanish like a gambler's lucky streak. When we're here... no, when we're still, when we're still dancing, when we're still, when we're in stillness, when we're in stillness dancing week to week. When we're in stillness, dancing week to week, there we go. So I propose that the point of Zen is to dance with and understand delusion, our own delusion.


The point of Buddha's teaching is enlightenment, no surprise. The point of Zen is enlightenment. The point of bodhisattva practice is enlightenment. And it's the same as saying the point of Zen is helping others face their delusion and become free of it, face their delusion and become free of the suffering that arises from delusion. And this facing the suffering, facing the suffering, facing delusion, occurs most intimately in silence and stillness. Delusion is not silence and stillness, but when we live in stillness and silence and meet our moment-by-moment delusions, this encourages other people,


other deluded people like us, to meet their delusion in stillness and silence. To dance with it, understand it, and become free of it, and become free of the suffering that arises from it. So I'm happy to hear from some of you that you have been trying to be mindful of being silent and still throughout the week. Opening to silence and stillness throughout the week. And finding, perhaps, in that silence and stillness, that enlightenment is living. I could spend the whole evening reviewing, but I'd like to deal with some new points.


One is, I received a question from someone, which goes something like this. In class on Thursday, you made the point that one's practice must be motivated by bodhicitta, rather than the motivation or wish to become enlightened for oneself. The question actually says, the wish to become enlightened for oneself. I did say something like that, that in order to actually do the work of facing delusion, it's hard work to face delusion. In order to be able to do that, it helps to have this thing called bodhicitta. Bodhicitta means mind or heart of enlightenment, or spirit of enlightenment.


And it is usually defined as the altruistic wish to attain enlightenment, or the wish to attain enlightenment for the sake of others. So you actually are wishing to become enlightened, but not for yourself, but for others, to help others. It's an altruistic, compassionate desire to be enlightened, not a greedy, selfish desire to be enlightened. And then the question goes on to say, because unless you have this bodhicitta, you would retain an element of grasping. Unless you're practicing for the welfare of others, your practice would at least have some grasping in it. And so, that seemed to be a catch-22 to the person who asked the question.


But I wanted to make clear that bodhicitta, at the beginning, when you first wish to attain perfect enlightenment in order to help others, there may be some grasping still in you when you have that wish. So that bodhicitta is used in two senses. One sense, it's used in a relative sense. Namely, when the wish arises in you that you would actually like to live for the welfare of others, and you would like to help others, and you would like to have the supreme skill in helping others, when it first arises, there still may be some clinging in you. But this can arise in a person who still has some clinging, like us. Even rather highly developed bodhisattvas who really have been working on this


and feeling this desire to help others for a long time, they still may have some subtle grasping. So it isn't necessary to have zero grasping in order for this wish to arise. But there's another meaning of bodhicitta, and that is the mind of the Buddha, the mind which has no grasping in it anymore. So it both means the seed of the whole Buddha path, this altruistic wish to attain enlightenment for the welfare of others, and it refers to the whole path, the cultivation of that spirit for a long period of time until one still has that wish, the Buddhist to have that wish, the Buddha's wish to help all beings. They wish their enlightenment would help, they are enlightened already, but they wish their enlightenment would help others. And so that's also called bodhicitta.


You can also practice just to help yourself, but that's more heavy duty than just wanting to help others but still having some clinging, some expectation, and so on, of how that would go. Bodhicitta is the practice of the mind of the Buddha. There was this expression that the metaphor of dancing was sometimes rather difficult to understand how that would apply. And so I'll just say a little bit more about that.


I'm suggesting that when our body-mind awareness can interact with delusion, and delusion is basically all objects of knowledge are pretty much delusion. Everything that seems to be out there, separate from us, is a delusion. So I see you, and when I see you as out there, sort of on your own, separate from me and separate from each other, that's a delusion. When I have an idea of what is good or bad, and see that idea as having some substance, then that idea is a delusion. So meeting my own delusions moment by moment in a dance means that I would be intimate with them, that I would be relaxed with them,


I would be playful with them, and in this intimate relationship, I would realize the insubstantiality of them. I would realize that they're delusions, which they are. And I would also realize that because delusions, although delusions are delusions, because they're insubstantial, because they don't have any inherent existence, delusions are also not delusions. So I think also, as someone said after class, maybe last week, delusions are beautiful. They're actually beautiful. How are they beautiful? They're beautiful in their insubstantiality. They're beautiful in their interdependence. But we have to open to the delusions in order to open to their beauty. If we believe delusions, we're not really open to them.


If we believe that what we think is true, we're not open to what we think perhaps is just an illusion. And being close to that possibility, we close to things like understanding, and freedom, and beauty. And we could also spend the rest of class asking questions about what I just said, I'm sure. But before we do that, I also wanted to introduce something, which is kind of a big topic, but I promised to discuss it, and if I don't wait pretty soon, it's going to be brought up at the last minute again. Also, I want to put this calligraphy down. So I wrote this calligraphy and passed it out.


Some people got this last week, but some people weren't here last week. And this calligraphy is from a sutra, and it could be translated as The Nature of a Sentient Being. Now, sentient being, there's two kinds of living beings. Well, there's two kinds of beings in a sense. One kind of living being, which we call a living being. The other kind of living being is called a Buddha. Bodhisattvas are living beings. So this says that the nature of a living being, or the living being's nature, namely enlightenment. A living being's nature, to be a living being, is precisely what we mean by enlightenment. Bodhisattvas are beings who are willing to be living beings. They're living beings who are willing to be living beings.


And when they are actually able to be a living being, then they realize enlightenment. Which is again to say, when they're able to dance with their deluded being, they realize enlightenment. But even before we learn to completely be a living being, our condition is already completely what it is, and our condition being completely what it is, is enlightenment. So I would like to be a person who is willing to be a person to encourage other persons to be a person. And in fact I do feel that a person who feels encouraged and willing to be a person does encourage other persons to be persons,


even though there really aren't any persons that can be found. There's nothing actually there. But we won't realize that unless we're willing to be a person. We won't be able to give up our personhood unless we're willing to completely accept and open to our personhood. And so at the end of class last week, Jeff brought up a question relating to something I mentioned, which is that I kind of feel encouraged that this kind of practice we're talking about here would be helpful in this world. And I read an article in The New Yorker which gave a nice history of North American politics, or gave a nice political history of North American politics. I say North American because this is not South American politics so much.


And in particular North American politics starting from the 18th century particularly. In the 18th century America was influenced by something that was going on in Europe at that time and earlier called the Enlightenment. And this philosophical movement had a big influence on the educated people, educated men anyway, in the British colonies on this continent. So both Canada, what we now call Canada and the United States, had these British colonists. And as I understand it now, that the Enlightenment proposed that there were basically three rights, well, three main rights of a human being.


The right to life, the right to property, and the right to freedom. And a lot of the American colonists felt that they had those rights. And when they wrote the Declaration of Independence they wrote an additional right which was the right to pursue happiness. They didn't say the right to be happy, they said the right to pursue happy. And also they didn't explicitly mention in that phrase life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They didn't say life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. But if you look at the documents more you realize that property was a right for the colonists. And in, for example, the Massachusetts state constitution, it did say life, liberty, and property. It didn't say pursuit of happiness. So, historians suggest that


after these rights were put forth as inalienable rights of human beings, that then they had a war. And the war was about one of the rights, and the right was liberty. The colonists actually felt that there was a tyrant in the British Isles who was wanting to take away their rights. And so for a lot of them they were fighting for the right to liberty, excuse me, wanted to take away their liberty. So they particularly felt that they were fighting for liberty at that time. They weren't actually complaining that much about the property. They were more complaining about the liberty as it related to the property, but other kinds of liberty too. So they had a war over the first of these, one of these rights, the right to liberty. Then we have in the 19th century there was a big, people felt that the right


to property was threatened by another government. They're no longer afraid that England was going to take away their property, but they thought that the U.S. government was going to take away their property, was not going to respect their property rights. So we had another war. Now the war did not conclude that people do not have the right to property. It did not refute that. It said you do have a right to property, you just don't have the right to property in the form of human beings. You can't have slaves. But slaves were a huge piece of property for a lot of powerful people in America. So there was a war, and after the war it was kind of settled. We still have a lot of problems around that, but there's no longer a war about it. Now we're arguing about it. Now, in the last 50 years, particularly the last, yeah,


in the last 50 years, in the North America area, we've been fighting over the right to life. And so that's, in some sense, that's the big one, the right to life. And some people who are concerned about the right to life call themselves pro-life now. And they would like to call the people, some of the people who disagree with them, they would like to call those people pro-death, but so far they haven't been able to pull that off. Because obviously the people who disagree with them about what the right to life means are not just pro-death. They're more pro-choice or pro-compassion towards life. That's how they would say it.


Both sides, or many sides around the issue of life also have now to do with the right to death. So there's right to life, particularly around birth, and there's right to death and right to life around death. But it's really a right to life around death and a right to life around birth. In both cases, it's a right to life. It just, and then there's a right to life between birth and death. There's a right to life around disease. And then there too, there's different opinions about what does right to life mean around disease. So in a way I'm very happy because this country seems to be kind of like focusing on the same thing that Buddhadharma has been focusing on the whole time. Namely, birth and death as a life issue.


And what's the appropriate response to birth and death such that we could have freedom in the midst of the difficulties of being born and dying and having disease in between. How can this kind of practice encourage beings to engage their delusions? To be aware that they're deluded beings relating to other deluded beings rather than our position is not deluded, their position is deluded. No, I'm a sentient being. I might want to be a bodhisattva sentient being. I'm a sentient being who would like to help all beings. I would like to help those who have this opinion and I would like to help those who have the opposite opinion.


I want to help everybody and I think I got a feeling like it would help everybody if I would be willing to be me. And to be me so completely that I don't think I'm better than other people even if I disagree with them. And they could feel that I really value them and respect them because I do and the reason I do is because I'm willing to be me completely. So I feel that this bodhisattva practice can be very helpful in this sort of this war that's happening around this issue of the right to life. And another thing, another phrase that came to my mind the other day was if one is given to deception there's no better place to exercise it than the juncture between religion and politics.


So there's a lot of dishonesty and deception going around between the political right to life and the religion, the religious values in relationship to life and how you can get power, political power and economic power and other kinds of power if you're somewhat deceptive around what you're doing in relationship to these agendas. And those people also need to be helped. And if I am not aware of my own deception it will be difficult for me to help others who are not aware of their deception. And telling lies oftentimes is easier when you don't know you're telling a lie. So some people stand up in front of large groups and put forth a deception.


They actually manage to deceive people. They actually say, we're doing this for this reason and that's not the reason that we're doing it but in order to say this wholeheartedly I have to not notice that I'm being deceptive. And I don't notice it so I'm not being deceptive. How do you help people like that? Well, I think I have to be aware of my own deception. And that's not easy. And even once I notice it, it's not easy to dance with it and relax with it and become free of it without getting rid of it and to be able to admit somehow I feel some deception in me and to do that and at the same time respect other people who are also being deceptive. So that's what I was referring to.


And I feel like we're probably going to be struggling with this for quite a while longer. Because it's, you know... Yeah, it seems like it's... I don't know to what extent that the American politics were involved with the right to life, you know, a while ago but it just didn't seem to be that big a deal. Other things just seem to be more... Other rights seem to be more crucial. I don't know if there was big, you know, political brouhaha about anybody that wanted to have an abortion in the 18th century. I don't know, maybe there was, but I don't see people going to war over it. But we seem to be going to war over these issues now. So I myself, you know, I guess I would say, you know...


And this can sound kind of weak. I wouldn't exactly say that I'm pro-choice or pro-life according to the way some people who say pro-choice or pro-life. I would say, and I'm not really pro-delusion or pro-enlightenment. I'm not really pro-samsara or pro-nirvana. I think I'm pro the middle way. Now the middle way does lead to enlightenment, yes, but part of the middle way is that you're not pro to where it's leading. So I'm kind of pro to be balanced and respectful of different sides and I think some people might not like that. But I think I can see some deluded human compassion


in people who have both positions. And I think that compassion can be cultivated in such a way that we can have a peaceful society. And I would be... I haven't... It's not that I haven't really taken a pro-life position, but sometimes when people talk to me about having abortions, I seem to be encouraging them to have the baby. I notice I do. I've offered some people who were thinking about having an abortion, I said, well, why don't you just have the baby? Because it wasn't a health issue, it was other issues. I said, why don't you have the baby and then give it to me,


I'll take care of it, I'll find somebody to take care of it for you. That was a long time ago before adoption was so popular. I had a lot of confidence that the baby that would come would be... a lot of people would like to take care of the baby. And they had a miscarriage. But then they got pregnant again, and then the next time they didn't talk about having an abortion and they had the baby. And the baby was born and everything is going really well. And there are some other cases too, where people came to talk to me and I encouraged them. Now, some people who didn't come to talk to me, it's possible that I would have something different. I didn't have anybody coming to me who was telling me that her life was in danger to have this baby.


And in that case I might have said, well, I support you to have an abortion. So I do not have a fixed position in this matter, myself. But I'm happy that we have this problem. I think it's a wonderful opportunity to find the middle way around this issue of the right to life. So American politics is dealing with, I think, crucial issues of life and death now. I think that's good. I think it's more interesting, actually, than property. And more interesting than property, anyway. So, that's enough from me.


Thank you very much for letting me sing my song. Is there anything you'd like to bring up? Yes, Ted? May I ask a question about something that Suzuki Roshi said? Ask a question about something Suzuki Roshi said? Sure. He said you cannot reach a full understanding of emptiness with your thinking mind or your feelings. That is why we practice Zazen. If it's not the thinking mind or the feelings, what is it that reaches this understanding? The thorough engagement with thinking reaches the realization of the emptiness of thinking. The thorough engagement with feeling, that practice of thorough engagement with feeling,


is what you could say, I just said the thorough engagement with feeling reaches the emptiness of feeling. But I would change it now and say it again, the thorough engagement with feeling is the realization of the emptiness of feeling. The thorough engagement with feeling is the realization, is the enlightenment of feeling. It's the enlightened understanding of feeling, it's thorough engagement with it. If you're willing, or not even you are, but the willingness to be thoroughly engaged with a feeling is the realization of its insubstantiality. Dash is enlightenment. Because we do not understand the emptiness of our feelings,


we cringe from certain feelings, and we attach to others. If you fully engage with your feelings, you only will be able to do that when you understand that the feelings cannot be grasped. You say, well, I don't understand that they can't be grasped, but I'm fully engaging with them. And I say, well, your understanding that they can't be grasped is none other than your ability to fully engage. Even though you may not think, I understand they're insubstantial, you act like someone who did understand, who does understand. And even if someone said, I understand everything's insubstantial and nothing can be found, I understand that, but I can't stand to be here for my feelings. Another example, Suzuki Ueshiba uses,


he actually was a member of a brown rice society in Japan, I think before the Second World War, a group of people that thought it was really good to eat brown rice. And when he came to America, he was no longer in the brown rice society, but when he went to Tassajara, when we started Tassajara, there was lots of interest in serving quite a bit of brown rice, and he really appreciated the way the students ate and chewed their brown rice. And he said basically at one point that emptiness is like chewing brown rice. When you really chew your rice, you realize the emptiness of your rice. The thoroughness, the thorough engagement, realizes emptiness. So you can approach the realization of emptiness through thorough engagement,


or you can approach thorough engagement through emptiness. But most people start by trying to be more and more thoroughly engaged with what they're doing, noticing their resistance, and then being kind to that until they get more and more into the dance. And in the fullness of the dance, you realize the emptiness of the dance and who you're dancing with, or what you're dancing with. Okay? So it isn't my thinking that reaches emptiness, it's my engagement with my thinking. It's not my feeling that reaches emptiness, because emptiness is the nature of feeling. So if emptiness is the final nature of feeling, then you should completely engage with feeling and you'll realize its final nature, its ultimate nature. But you can't realize the ultimate nature of it if you just want to be a little bit involved in it,


or, again, a little bit involved. And one way to be a little bit involved is to be possessive of it. So to have a feeling and to think you can get a hold of it, you're not really fully involved with it. Does that make sense? Just like with a person. If you possess somebody, you're not yet really intimate with them. And when you're intimate with them, you do not possess them. You cannot find them. You can wonder who they are. That works okay. You can be amazed by them, the way they change and the way they appear. But that amazement should be conjoined with respect and non-grasping. And then you realize the emptiness.


Then you realize the ultimate truth in the relationship. Do you have more questions, Ted? And is it right to say that our practice is not to judge or to try to understand anything but to become understanding? Is it right to say that? No, it's not right to say that. Our practice is not to try to understand. And it's also our practice to not try to understand. It's that if you're trying to understand, if you want to understand, then you must be the person who wants to understand so completely that when you're completely being a person who wants to understand, you become who you are. And who you are is, you know, that you're not who you are, etc. And if you don't want to understand anything,


I do not want to understand anything about Buddhism, okay, then be that person. Completely. And you will understand. If you're completely yourself, you will understand. You will be enlightened. You will be enlightenment. But no way that anybody is, is the practice. The practice is to be whatever you are. And part of what you are is a deluded version of yourself. So we have a responsibility to take care of who we think we are. That's part of being who we are, is to accept and embrace that we think we're something. But it's not that the something you are is the practice, because then the rest of us wouldn't be the practice.


But we're not the practice either. The practice is all of us together. And when you're willing to be yourself completely, you will open to all of us practicing together, the same practice. The same practice of each of us being ourself, which is a practice that a lot of people are not into, even though that's what they are. Carmen? I'm not sure how to ask this question, so bear with me. I'll bear with you. Going back to what you were talking about insofar as people with different viewpoints worrying over a topic or disagreeing about a topic, I'm becoming very focused on that idea because I find that I'm very impassioned about certain things, and I also find I have a very difficult time


talking to people who have very opposite viewpoints from me. And I want to think that I'm respectful of different viewpoints, but I realize that's part of my delusion. I'm not. But I have no idea how to begin to really engage with that person productively. Well, I think my idea of engaging productively has some element of wanting to convince them of my point of view, which I realize is problematic. I guess I've just had a hard time learning how to engage in that situation without becoming so passionate that I can't function in that relationship. So I'm wondering if you can talk more about


how to deal with that. It can be very contentious, that kind of engagement, and how to deal with that contention. Again, I'm thinking of dancing again, and how in dancing, you can dance with people who you have a difference of opinion with, but you might not have a difference of opinion about the rules of the dance. So one of the rules, for example, in tango, is there are certain forms that you practice, and it allows the two people to be quite close to each other physically. And it's like to be actually quite close, physically quite intimate with somebody you don't even know. That could happen by using the forms.


And then the usual thing is that when the dance is over, the intimacy, in a sense, the intimacy doesn't have a form anymore, so it's over, pretty much. And now the two people part, and, for example, the follower might go over and sit at the edge of the dance floor, and it's not part of the form that the leader would go over with her and sit at the table with her, especially if he never met her before. Now, that's actually the usual part of the form, is that the forms that allowed for intimacy, one of them is that we don't have a form at the table at the edge of the dance floor. We don't have form for that. There's other social forms for that, but those forms do not allow people to be that close. If you went over and tried to get that close to the person at the table, people would probably ask you to leave the dance area.


And yet, you actually can invite someone to get really close and she might accept the invitation, and you get really close, and you can, in that way, be intimate. And the person might have different views from you politically, but they're agreeing on this form of interaction. So I think we need some form of interaction in order to be intimate with people who, usually, anyway, or often we need forms in order to be intimate with people who we disagree with around those forms. In a sense, the follower and the leader are in disagreement. They don't do the same thing. They don't agree to have the same position. They have different roles. And yet, having different roles, the Republican role and the Democrat role, having different roles, how can we have a form by which they can be intimate? And I think right now, for various reasons,


we don't seem to have the forms for them to be intimate. And some politicians are saying, you know, I used to go out to dinner with my friends from the other party. We used to be closer. Somehow they had forms, social forms, where they could actually work together, and that seems to have somewhat deteriorated. And at Zen Center, too, we have people who are different, but we have forms that we can be intimate with each other. So again, I would propose intimacy is reality, but we need forms to realize it. And without those forms, then the difference between us can seem to make it difficult to be close. So I completely understand how, if I sense that somebody has a really different view of me and that they feel very strongly about it, and maybe I feel strongly, too,


it's hard to imagine how we can get close. We need some form. So we have legislative bodies that have forms to allow people like that to be in the same room. We have lawyers. We have mediators. And we have teachers of Buddha Dharma to help people also find a way to be close when they really feel differently about something and they can hardly imagine how to get together. I'm thinking more about engaging with people in my community. Yeah, people in your community, right. Friends or family. Friends or family, yeah. So I would think it might be necessary to offer some forms,


some formal way to interact, particularly if you're a lawyer. Especially if you're family members, you don't think you need forms to talk about things. But in fact, when you get intimate with each other, you do need forms. And especially, you could say, when you're playing quite different roles in a social interaction. So it's pretty easy to, without forms, you don't really need forms. You need forms, but you don't need to agree on forms in order to have a fight with somebody. You know, they can say, I want to fight with you this way, and then you can say, I don't want to fight with you that way, and the fight can go on quite nicely. And they can say, you're not playing according to the rules. And you say, I don't want to play according to your rules, but I do want to fight you, and I do hate you. So that's a form, but it's not a form you agreed on in order to be close. So tango has forms so that people can be close. And part of the form also is that


when those forms are not being used, you shouldn't expect to be close. So in some sense, with your family who you might expect to be close, expecting to be close is kind of, I would say, antithetical to realizing closeness. I just came to my mind, my daughter and my wife, my daughter was with me for about two months while my wife was traveling in Europe, and when they got back together, I saw them get back together after two months, and I was sort of in between them, and they were about 50 feet apart, and I watched them approach each other, and each of them had an expectation of their intimacy. Of course they're intimate, but they both had an expectation of their intimacy. They expected it to have a certain form,


and I could actually see this golden mist between them, kind of a golden arc of warm golden light. It was actually kind of a sunset or something, so it helped. And they approached each other, they sort of ran toward each other in this mutually created sense of, I'm going to be with this wonderful person. And they got together, and then I watched them fight for two weeks. Because they both had their expectations of who the other person was and how they were going to be intimate again. And after two weeks, they worked out their forms again, and they realized their intimacy. But again, you think of when musicians get together, they go, they have to get attuned, and that attunement is irritating sometimes to listen to.


And then they get attuned, and then they separate from each other for a while, and they get out of tune. So with family members, you're right that you're intimate, but you assume that the way you think you're intimate is the way that you are intimate, and they assume that the way they think you're intimate is the way you are intimate, and then you clash. If you assume, if you expect. Now if you know I have an expectation, but that's just a delusion, I don't really know what it's going to be like to be with this person. That I think would promote looking for some form by which how are you going to meet. So we're going to get back together, now how should we meet? Well, how about let's have a policy that for an hour, neither one of us deal with any e-mails. It's a form we agree on.


Or like my daughter says to me, what do you want for Christmas? And I say, a walk and a talk. Because I have to take a walk with my daughter usually to talk to her. If she just comes into the house, it's pretty hard to like walk right up to me and be intimate and have a talk. You know, hi, hi, I love you, I love you. And then have a snack, make a telephone call, go on the computer, go to the toilet, take a nap. Which is, those are okay things, but she's not talking to me. So if we take a walk out of the house, she doesn't take her cell phone. We take a walk out of the house, there's no snacks, there's no naps, there's no telephone, we're just walking together. And when we're first walking together, she's not really talking to me, maybe. Or I'm not really talking to her.


It's not really talk, it's like, I don't know what it is. It's a walk, we're walking, yeah. And then we start climbing the hill and that kind of talk that was happening on horizontal surfaces stops because of the incline. And then we start talking. Maybe before we get to the top. But the talk that comes then is a talk that comes from silence. Of us being able to be together in silence for a while. There's no bull going on for a while. And then something comes, and maybe just a few words before we start going down again, or go back. But we need that form. Or we say, okay, let's sit down at two o'clock at the table, you, me, and your mother, and let's have an hour for that purpose.


We create a form, and then the same thing happens. This is fussing for a while, and then gradually you become still, and then you start expressing this intimacy, which is there, but without creating that space, that formal space, it's easy to avoid it. We don't want to avoid it, but we do want to avoid it, because it's so intense, and we feel so nervous, and embarrassed, and all that stuff, about our intimacy. So we need to do that with our children, with our spouses, with our parents, with our brothers and sisters, which, and hopefully, that group includes some people who disagree with us about something. Otherwise, we need to go do that same thing with some other people who disagree with us about something.


So it's kind of nice if a family does have people who have difference of opinion, because maybe there's a motivation to work on realizing intimacy with people who we disagree with. That's what we need. We need intimacy with people we disagree with. We really need that. And we need intimacy with people we agree with, too. But we really need the other thing, because the other thing is kind of harder, usually. And that's one of the nicest things I heard Arnold Schwarzenegger say, was, I get in bed every night with somebody I really disagree with politically. Yes? So, I've noticed that in the forums of Soto Zen, there appears to be very little physical contact between people. It's bowing instead of shaking hands.


I don't think I've ever seen anybody at Zen Center hug. And I'm sort of wondering if there's a reason for that, or whether or not there's a reason about how that came about, if that serves some role in the practice. Could you hear what he said? You didn't? He said he hadn't seen... Well, you have seen people hug at Zen Center and shake hands. I can't seem to remember that. Well... It's always bowing. Yeah. He hasn't seen any people at Zen Center shaking hands or hugging in his time at Zen Center. But I would say we do not have a traditional form of hugging in the Zen tradition. We do not have a traditional way of shaking hands in the Zen tradition. We do not have a traditional way of kissing in the Zen tradition. So it's true,


those forms have not been transmitted as far as I know by almost any school of Zen. However, there is hugging and kissing at Zen Center and shaking hands at Zen Center. However, these, I would say, excuse me, this is my opinion, but these are not the occasions in which people are thunderstruck, awestruck by intimacy. Within Zen tradition and within Zen Center. I haven't heard about that. It may happen, but I haven't heard about it. I do see people hugging, but I don't hear later that they said, when I was hugging that person, I felt most intimate with them. I felt the most intimate that I've ever felt in my life. I haven't heard that. What I have heard is, though, when I was bowing to so-and-so, when I was offering incense to so-and-so, or when I received incense from so-and-so,


or when so-and-so looked at me, when both of us were sitting upright and said, yes, I never felt so intimate in my life before. I've heard that. I have people that I've been practicing with a long time, like for 30 years or even more. For example, we have certain forms, traditional forms, which are very elaborate, and it takes about 20 or 30 years to be able to do these forms together. And when we do these forms, I say that this is like, in some sense, the most intimate thing that either of us do in our life. Not necessarily more intimate than some relationships, but more intimate than almost all relationships. And we have to be highly trained


in order to do these forms. So people often ask me, can I hug you? Or is it okay to hug you? Or can you hug a Zen priest? And they often ask me, and when they ask me, they're being somewhat formal. People don't so often just come up and hug me. But people often say, may I? Or is it traditional, they almost say. Is it a traditional thing to do? And sometimes when I'm in a room alone with someone, they say, can I hug you? Or I want to hug you. And I say, now I say, and I've been saying this for a decade or two, you can hug me, but we need to go outside this room and do it in public. Or I feel the need to do that. So then we go outside,


and sometimes they forget about it, but sometimes we go outside and we hug where everybody can see us. And I don't know, I don't have a clear sense, but that's a formal way of hugging that I have developed as a way that I think is appropriate, and also it's a way to be intimate with someone, like a hug with someone, in a way that I feel like almost everybody supports. But if I hug somebody in private, I think a lot of people would not support it, would have a problem with it. If the person said, yeah, I hugged him in that room the other day. But if the person says, I hugged him, but we hugged in the Buddha hall,


where everybody can see us, then I don't hear any problem with that. And also my wife says, I like your hugging policy. She says, I think that's a good way to handle it. Because we don't want to be cold to people. And one time a young man told me, in public he told me, he told me my father just died, and I reached out and hugged him. And then later he said, you know, I really felt violated by you. He said, I need you to ask me before you hug me. Now if I had asked him, he might have said okay, or he might have said, no, I don't feel comfortable doing that. But I thought, well here I'm just trying to be compassionate, right? But intimacy isn't just to act on what you think is compassionate. It's to use some, what you expect would be intimate. What you expect would be intimate for the other person. No.


We need a form usually. And even between mother and daughter, they need a form. They can overwhelm each other without a form. Daughters can feel overwhelmed by their mothers, and vice versa. So, people do hug at Zen Center, but, and we may actually have, in the, what do you call it, in the Catholic Church, now at the Eucharist, sometimes they have, go around the circle of the people at the Eucharist and hug each other. That's a form there that they agree on. And I did, a couple of times at Zen Center, I suggested to a group of people in public that we go and hug everybody else in the room. We did that. But it didn't catch on. That ceremony, that ritual didn't catch on.


And I haven't felt a need to sort of encourage it. But I do feel a need to encourage lots of forms and I do feel that with these forms, people feel comfortable with me being intimate with people through those forms. And, but as you watch Zen Center more, you'll see that there is some hugging going on, but it's not necessarily intimate. I think when the hugging is intimate, I think you'll find that the people who are hugging have some formality about the way they're doing it. Like they've had considerable discussions about the hugging thing that you might observe. Some other people are hugging, but it's not really, it's not necessarily intimate. But we can go on about this and we will.


And I really appreciate your devotion to these meetings. It's really great at the end of the class to have almost everybody here. And we'll be offering another class in the springtime here, starting in March, I think. Yes, starting the first Thursday in March. And that will be on basically some practices to get ready for enlightenment or practices for cultivating compassion, which I hope you can come if it works for you. Thank you very much. Thank you, Daniel, for taking care of the door. And if anybody wants this calligraphy,


please come up and receive it. And thank you, Charlie, for taking care of the recording. People really appreciate it.