Entering and Embodying Truth 

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You Yesterday I went to a meeting at what's called the Soto Zen Education Center in San Francisco. It's an office set up in San Francisco at


a temple called Sokoji. Sokoji is a Japanese Soto Zen temple in Japantown. It's located on Laguna Street and Sutter. And Sokoji used to be on Laguna Street and Bush, and that's where I first went to practice Zen with Suzuki Roshi. The Zen Center was in a Japanese Buddhist Soto Zen temple on Bush Street and Laguna. Now it moved a block. And this office of this Soto Zen organization, which is an office of a large organization in Japan that administers 15,000 temples and about 15 million Soto Zen Buddhists are organized by this office. And


this office in San Francisco is a branch of that large organization in Japan. And they were having a meeting with American Zen priests and with the Japanese representatives of the main organization in Japan. And just to tell you one point that was raised in the meeting, one of the American priests said that he got some emails or he saw something on the internet about that the level of support of the temples in Japan was decreasing. And he asked the representatives of the organization in Japan if that was so and they said yes. The number


of priests in Soto Zen is about the same, but the level of congregational support is stable or shrinking somewhat. And then another point was raised was although it may be stable, is it the case that most of the people who are practicing are older people? And they said yes, there's not so many young people who are practicing Zen in Japan. And to some extent there is an aging of the Zen groups in America too. The average age is going up compared to the time when Suzuki Roshi was alive. In the first monastic training period at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the average age someone calculated was 28. And then about maybe 10 years or so later, somebody did the


calculation again and it was 38. And then in a recent practice period I did, the average age was 43. Now sometimes we have practice periods where there are several people who are older than the founder of Zen Center was when he died. And nobody was as old as him when he died. So there's an aging. However, there are quite a few young people still coming to Zen Center. And one of the reasons they come is because Zen Center has responded to some extent to the so-called ecological crisis that we have on the planet. So Zen Center has, for example, an organic farm and garden. Organic, so we don't use pesticides and things like that. We're not


poisoning the earth. As a matter of fact, the earth at Green Gulch Farm has become more fertile and less poisoned over the 35 years that we've been there. At Tassajara also, not entirely by our own intention, but for various reasons, we've cleaned up the land around Tassajara which is also polluted by about 100 years of white men and women living there and polluting the land. So we've cleaned up Tassajara also. The roof of the building is covered with solar collectors. So the city center is now, I believe, producing enough electricity for its own uses and sells some electricity back to the grid. So I'm not saying Zen Center is doing that great, but there's some work at Zen Center to respond to ecological dangers. And as a result, young


people who are more attuned to this now than, for example, when I first went to Zen Center, are kind of attracted to Zen Center as a possible community where those who are interested can practice together and have a sympathetic environment to develop sustainable ecological ways of living. And I heard yesterday and today on the radio, there's this thing called Macfound.org and their thing is, Macfound.org is for a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. And some of the members of this group here and also at Zen Center are actual members


of Greenpeace and some of them work for Greenpeace. And somebody in this class works for Pachamama and the charter of Pachamama is, what is it, spiritually fulfilling, ecologically sustainable, and socially just. So those two organizations have justice as part of their mission. Whereas Zen Center mission, I think, it doesn't actually say justice in the mission. Superman says justice, but Zen Center mission is not so much about justice and Soto Zen organization also is not about justice in their mission statement. It's about transmitting the path of Buddha. And the path of Buddha as taught by Dogen Zenji. So some people really find his teaching and the teaching of his disciples


very encouraging, like one of his disciples was Suzuki Roshi and other disciples of his people find encouraging. So some people want to study Soto Zen and want to go to a Zen Center to learn about Soto Zen. And that's what Zen Center is there for in its charter. And that's what Soto Zen organization is about. However, the young people are not coming so much. Is perhaps Zen losing its relevance for the modern world? Some Buddhist priests in Japan are actually opening bars to teach Buddhism. Some Zen priests actually have some bars where they hope to meet young people and introduce them to Buddhism in the bars because the attendance in bars is not going down among young people, but the attendance in temples is.


So part of a problem with any traditional practice is how to maintain the tradition which is with its great resources and wisdom and compassion sometimes. Some traditions are espoused to transmit wisdom and compassion and some in particular wish to transmit the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha and the Buddha's teaching. So you want to be careful to transmit it correctly. So you don't want to change it too much because you might get it wrong. So among those who perhaps got it right, could they change it a little bit and still not without hurting it? Some number of years ago someone said to me, actually a long-time practitioner said to me, why don't we sing? And I said, well, we do. She said,


what do you mean? I said, well, she said, I know, but that's not really singing. I said, yes it is. She said, no it isn't. And I said, you mean singing like... Like that you mean? She said, yeah. Why don't we do that? I said, okay, well, I'll start doing it. So some time ago, I don't know how long, ten, fifteen years ago, I started singing. And some of the people, particularly I would sing in the venues where new people would come, where young people would come, not the hardcore, indoctrinated, conservative, totally


sold Zen students, but the young people and new people who were kind of like, well, what's Zen about anyway? They come and they would see this guy talking about Zen and at the end of the talk he would start singing. And they would come and tell me afterwards, I really enjoyed the singing. And some people really don't like Zen, but they love the bread we make. Some people are kind of afraid of Zen, but they like our gardens. Or some people like the way somebody answers the telephone. So it's not exactly that we're trying to attract people, but we are trying to attract people. Especially we want to attract young people because we're going to be gone soon, some of us. So it would be nice if there were some


young people practicing so that they could carry on the teaching. But it may be that you have to make good bread and not poison the land and sing and dance in order for some of the young people, a lot of the young people, to come and hear about the incredibly profound and inconceivably wonderful true Dharma. But another thing that young people are interested in, and not just young people, but it's a key issue going on in the Western world, and we live in the Western world here. A key issue in the Western world is justice. It's not such a key word, as far as I can tell, it's not a big key word in that huge country called


China. Maybe it is, but I don't hear much from the Chinese people about justice. I hear about other people talking about justice for the Chinese people, but they have other agendas. And also I don't hear the word justice as a big word in India, even though they speak English there a lot, and the Chinese are learning English too, and they're learning the word justice, but it doesn't seem to be right up there in the front for them. However, if you look at what they're doing, they actually are concerned with justice. In some sense communism is about distributive justice, but they don't use the word so much, but we do in the West. So part of what I'm doing in this class is I'm offering this class as a way for us to try to figure out a way to bring the tremendous resources of this very subtle teaching from the East about the truth and about how to be compassionate and peaceful and fearless and honest and ethical and skillful in this world, to bring that together with


this very important concept in Western society called justice or social justice. I did a little survey, or I read a little survey about surveys, and in the ancient texts of Buddhism there's very little mention of the word justice. Of course they don't have the English word justice, but there's very little mention of a word which even they would translate as justice. And even in modern surveys of Buddhist ethics there's very little discussion of the word justice. I proposed to you last week that the Bodhisattva precepts actually are, I consider them to be about justice. But still, when I say that, a lot of people,


a lot of Buddhists, even Western Buddhists, not to mention Eastern Buddhists, they might never have thought that before, and certainly never heard it before, that the Buddhist ethical precepts are about justice. I think they are, but I think we have this kind of a big job, a lot of work here, to integrate, to synthesize the Buddhist teachings of ethics with the Western idea of justice, so that Buddhist ethics and Buddhist meditation will be seen to be relevant to an issue which is in the forefront of a lot of organizations and a lot of Western governments, and Western people's hearts, and young people's hearts. That's part of what I'm trying to work on here with you. And I'm enlisting your participation because it's not so much that I'm going to tell you what justice is, or how Buddha Dharma


is about justice, but rather I'm sort of relating to a basic principle in Buddhist practice, which is that the meaning is not in the words. The meaning of teaching is not in the words that the teaching is given in. But the meaning comes forth, or emerges, through the practice in the advent of energy brought to the word. Like poetry, for example, for me anyway, when I read poetry I usually don't get anything the first reading. I don't even hear the beauty of it usually the first reading. If I hear it read, particularly if I hear it read by the author, I sometimes can hear the beauty of the words. But I usually don't get the


meaning until I read it enough to have memorized the text. If I start to memorize the text by putting all that energy into it, and in some sense people who have a hard time memorizing poetry have an advantage because for them to memorize they have to put more energy into it. The more energy you put into the poetry, the more meaning comes forth. I propose that. And the same with Buddhist teachings. The more energy you put into them, the more blood starts to flow. So I'm again proposing here that if we put a lot of energy, bring a lot of energy to the Buddhist teaching and to the word justice, meaning will arise in those of you who give your energy to the discussion, to the meditation, to the contemplation of the word justice and the teachings of the Buddha, and also for the issue of their dynamic


of their relationship. So again, it's not me to tell you how this works exactly, except as to offer you something to bring your energy to and to interact with, and in that interaction meaning will arise in the interaction. Not so much in you or in the words or in you or in me, but in the interaction between us, this new creative energy will arise. So, we have definitions of justice, we have theories of justice, and we can also have debates about what justice is. All of this can be part of this class and future discussions. But again, the definitions are not just sitting there, we have to interact with them. The


theories are not to be believed or just disbelieved, but if you're going to disbelieve or argue with the theories, the point is that you bring your energy to it, and in bringing your energy to it, understanding can come. Someone said to me just the other day that I don't know if I'm being just. So justice means, one definition of justice is righteous, morally correct, morally righteous, equitableness, being just, the quality of being just. So


I don't know if I'm being just either. But what I'm proposing to you is if you give your energy to the word just, and to the word justice, if you devote your energy to those concepts, to those definitions, to those theories, and to the discussion of those definitions and theories with others, I'm suggesting to you that if you give your energy to the word just, that there's a good possibility, I would say an actually unavoidable outcome, that the meaning of our life in relationship to justice will be realized. Also, just on Saturday at Noah Abode, somebody said, we're talking about the practice, the


Bodhisattva practice of the Dharma of non-abiding, of not taking a fixed position in anything, of being open, which is the way to practice perfection of wisdom. So you have the word justice or the word injustice, and then there's instruction about how do you understand justice and injustice? By practicing perfection of wisdom with it. And how do you practice perfection of wisdom? You practice it by a way of not taking a stand in anything. And then someone said, well, how can you fight for justice or fight injustice without taking a stand? And I proposed to that person, you first have to love the world before you can


save it. You have to love injustice before you can free people from injustice. You have to love justice before you can free people from their ideas of justice. Love injustice? Yes, love injustice. Love injustice. Injustice means if you've got a human being who is being unjust, that person is an object of love in the Buddha Dharma. Unjust, confused people are objects of compassion. Buddha loves them. Buddha doesn't like them. Buddha doesn't dislike them. Buddha loves them. How does Buddha love them? By practicing compassion imbued with perfection of wisdom. Practicing compassion with unjust people, unjust causes, unjust


behavior, unjust situations, meeting them with compassion and perfect wisdom, which means you don't abide in them. Which again means you don't grasp them according to what you think they mean. You bring your energy to them and find the meaning. But you don't avoid unjust situations. You go to them. And when I also said you love the world, by loving the world you have to get some assistance to love the world by asking people for feedback to make sure you don't love just part of the world. Again, some people just love certain neighborhoods or they love certain colors. There are some obnoxious colors that they don't love because they find them obnoxious. So there's no selection, but we don't abide


in selection. So we study in, we love the world, we practice compassion with the world, the whole world. And so we need help to make sure we don't get too narrow. So we don't just practice compassion with our family or we don't just practice compassion in our workplace or we don't just practice compassion in our church or we don't just practice compassion in the Buddhist temple. We practice compassion, our vow is to practice compassion everywhere which comes along with not abiding anywhere. So if you live in a Buddhist temple you practice there, but you don't abide there so then when you go leave the Buddhist temple and wind up someplace else you practice it there. And you don't abide there so you don't stay there you practice it somewhere else. Now if you talk about this, if I talk about this way I keep thinking, well that sounds like justice. That sounds like a basic principle


of justice is equality for all. That everybody should be loved and that we shouldn't get into likes and dislikes with anybody. So we do like some people but we shouldn't abide in that if we want to realize perfect wisdom and if we want to realize justice. I propose that to you. And of course if we see people we don't like we shouldn't abide in that. We should practice non-abiding with those we don't like and practice justice with them. Treat everybody equally even though of course everybody you treat differently. I mean everybody you respond to differently but there's some way to be just with them, to be righteous


with them and that's the way of being basically treating them equally although differently. You treat old people and young people differently but there's a way to treat them equally. What's the equal way? It's the just way. What's the just way? It's called non-abiding. It's called loving them without abiding. It's compassion connected with perfect wisdom. So I propose, you see I'm trying to work here with how does the teaching of the Bodhisattva's meditation, how does the Bodhisattva's compassion and the Bodhisattva's wisdom work with justice. This is just working on it with you a little bit here. Maybe that's enough for starters


to see if you can start playing with it now. Bring your energy to it. Is that enough for starters? Ready to play? Okay. Ready to sing? Charlie? I think maybe what you said about poetry coming to life and the meaning coming to life. When you study it and memorize it, it applies to songs. Yeah, it applies to songs too. And many, many religious traditions have songs with words, like our chants. Why doesn't Buddhism have that kind of song? I mean, I don't know if there's an answer. It does have those kinds of songs, and like the Heart Sutra is a song.


And like the Jewel Mirror Samadhi, the Hokyo Zanmai, the teaching of suchness has been intimately communicated by Buddhas and ancestors. Now you have it, so keep it well, that thing. It's called the song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi. But there's no melody. Huh? There's no melody. But in Chinese, there's a melody. They have a melody in Chinese, but if we chanted the way the Chinese did, if we tried, I mean, they would either think that we were really silly for successfully copying them, or they would think that we were really silly for unsuccessfully copying them. So in the context in which these things were composed, there is a song, and they had a


song there. But when we listen to their song, we don't hear it because we haven't done it enough. We didn't grow up with it. We haven't learned that singing, so we don't hear the melody. But the melodies of Asian music, of Indian and Chinese and Tibetan and Japanese and Korean music, we don't hear it the way they do. And we also don't make the same sounds as they do. If you go there and you listen to the music, it doesn't sound like ours, but you start to get moved by it. And when you learn how to do it with them, you enter into the level of meaning, which happens when you put a lot of energy into vocalization. And singing and poetry, as you just said, singing, when you put a lot of energy into it, some meaning comes. And they have traditions of training people how to do this.


Chinese poetry in the old days was only recited by highly trained musicians. Chinese educated people played instruments, but they also played their voice. They were supposed to be able to play instruments, they were supposed to be able to write poetry, compose poetry, and do the calligraphy, and also be able to sing it. That was part of their training. And if you went through that training from an early age, you would hear that music. But the word melody has a different meaning there than it does in the West. We live in the West, so if I sing a song like Summertime, in fact, when I sing it, because I've sung it for some number of years and because I've heard it for some number of years, it has


some meaning for me and those who hear me. And they somehow even hear it in the words of teaching of Buddhism. And sometimes they change the word of our songs. For example, that Summertime, it says, So hush, little baby, don't you cry. So I changed it to So rest, little baby, even while you cry. I changed the words to make it more clear that it's a song about practicing justice. So if I keep singing, and you keep singing, and we sing together in meditation retreats, pretty soon, pretty soon, it'll be clear in the West that in the Zen tradition, we sing.


That singing is part of it. And also, if I keep dancing, and you start dancing or keep dancing in the Buddhist context, the Zen context, it will become clear that dancing is part of the Zen tradition. They dance in Asia, but the way they dance in Asia doesn't look like the way we dance in the West. It doesn't look like the minuet. Actually, it looks more like the minuet than it does like the tango. But recently at a Sashin at Green Gulch, recently like last December, someone came up during the Dharma talk and asked me to do the tango with her, and I did, in my robes. And she's quite a good dancer, so it actually worked. She made me a successful tango dancer there during that Sashin.


So in a way, you could say, well, we're making the initial partial excursions into understanding the profound understanding. We haven't yet reached the most profound understanding of the Buddhist teaching, but we're starting. And also, we haven't really made it completely Western yet. So I would think that in order to actually become fully alive, there needs to be singing and dancing as part of the practice. I agree. And hopefully that will come before Buddhism dies on the planet, because it could get weaker and weaker. However, there are certain things which attract people still. It's like


the ecological crisis is a crisis in Buddhism, too. It's like, will it become more relevant before the current generation disappears, so that the next generation will find it meaningful? And a big part of Buddhism is, what I'm talking about is adapting Buddhism, adapting the Buddhist teaching to become relevant to the issue of justice. I'm talking about that, but that's how it could be flexible. And it always has been. That's how it could move from India to Central Asia, to Tibet, to China, to Southeast Asia, to Korea, to Japan, to San Francisco. It can do that. It has this flexibility thing. It doesn't hold and say, you people must be Japanese. You people must be Chinese. It says, we are Chinese, and we want to give you this


gift. But we're Chinese, so we do it, and we give Chinese gifts. But we want you to receive these Chinese, or Japanese, or Korean, or Vietnamese gifts, and we want you to make them American. John? In the spirit of playing with stuff, this may be something that's occurred to everyone before, but I was hearing justice, and I was thinking just is. Yeah. It's kind of a nice little play on words. Yeah. So, some Buddhist scholars would say that justice is actually, what's the word? Equivalent to dharma, or dharma, or dhamma, is equivalent to justice. Some people would say that. Or, the way things are, suchness is an equivalent to justice. However, there's


complications in that. There's some problems there. We have to be careful with that. Quite a bit of work needs to do so that doesn't get misunderstood. Vera? Well, I'm having a lot of thoughts about this, and I like to, well, the connections come to me, so I see them. I like things that overlap. And I was thinking about some things in Judaism. When you said before that somebody practiced Buddhism in a bar, and would that be alright? Some of the scriptures, I'm not exactly sure where, and I know God isn't the word that's used in Buddhism, but there's a saying that God is everywhere, so he would be in a bar, he would be in a brothel, he would be anywhere. So, relating that to Buddhism


could be practiced perhaps anywhere also. And then, there's been this ongoing, funny debate, I think specifically, mostly between Christians and Jews, that Judaism is a religion of justice, and Christianity is a religion of love. And so, some people will say, yes, but if there's love, then there is justice. And then, the other reply is, but justice is love. And when you said before, these are just words, and they have to be put, I can't remember how you said it, but it makes you realize that these are just words, and you can do almost anything with them. Right. And playing with them, being playful with these words, what do you call it, to be, in Zen, Zen is known, perhaps more than almost any other kind of, it may not be, I'll


just say Zen is known, perhaps more than any other form of the Buddhist tradition, to be involved in sincere wordplay. Dogen, for example, is very playful with words, and he brings so much energy to his words that they really start spinning around and jumping all over the place in a very playful way. And so, being playful with words is part of what happens when you bring your energy to it, and as you give your energy more and more, you actually start to relax more and more with the words, and the words start doing all kinds of amazing things, which reveal the truth. So, being playful with these words, and daring to say, for example, that the Bodhisattva precepts are justice, or that the Dharma is equivalent


to justice, to play with that, but don't stop there and hold that, but keep working with it and invite people to debate you, and say it to conservative Buddhists, say it to liberal Buddhists, and say it to Jews and Christians, and also in Islam, Islamic law is a big deal. Law is a big deal there, but law is a big deal in Buddhism, too. Dharma can be translated as law, and one of the meanings of justice in the West is legal justice. So there's justice in terms of human rights, or individual rights, there's justice of distributive justice, and there's legal justice. Those are three of the main meanings, the three main headings under which justice is discussed in the West. But in Buddhism, these are not really discussed so directly in the texts, in the old texts. Now, part of what we can


do is also do ethnographic and anthropological study of Buddhism and realize, oh, they have it, they just don't use that word. And also in ancient texts, they didn't use the word, but the society that grew out of those texts had it. So playing with the words justice and God and love, the bodhisattva precepts are a dimension of love, are a dimension of compassion. Not stealing is an aspect of compassion, not lying is an aspect of compassion. Compassion is justice. However, there could be justice without what people think of as compassion. You could have a just relationship with someone, like distribute material with the person in


a way that they felt was just and equitable, but without a feeling of love and devotion to all those involved. Enemies, people who don't like each other, who actually don't feel compassionate towards each other, would actually could be compassionate towards each other by being just, by just not stealing from each other. It's a kind of love, but they wouldn't think of it as love. They'd just think, okay, I'm not stealing from this rat, and they're not stealing from me. So it's a dimension, a basic dimension, a very important dimension of compassion. I'm saying that to you. By the way, I just recently heard about this movie called Charlie Wilson's War. Did you know about that movie? Oh, yeah. I didn't get that until recently. Fortunately, he's a Democrat.


Charlie Wilson's what? Charlie Wilson's War. What about it? What about it? What about it? It's my name. This is Charlie Wilson. I was looking at it, and I just thought, oh, this is Charlie Wilson. He's not at war, though, exactly. Yes? I happen to think that in Jewish law, they say one phrase that I've heard is, do not do to others what you would not have done to yourself. This is the whole of the law. That would be the golden rule, which is in basically every religion. Certainly, the basis of Buddhist compassion, too, is that your connection with everyone makes you want to treat them the way that you yourself want to be treated. But then this contrast with our legal justice in many cases,


you hear about people feeling someone has to be brought to justice, meaning they should be punished, so that someone who was injured can feel some satisfaction. Then you hear about victims' rights, and they don't feel that they can be satisfied until the person who killed their daughter or their son is dead, too. And yet when that event actually happens, there's no satisfaction. And maybe when people have this sort of idea of justice as punishment, it turns out to be kind of an empty, in a bad sense of the word. It often turns out to be unsatisfactory to all concerned, yes. But there are stories where the person has done some unskillful thing,


and where punishment is involved, but where all concerned feels that there's justice. Like the story I told last week. This person did these terribly cruel things, and then this rabbi came to give him his punishment. That was his punishment, that he would go through this process of repentance. That was his punishment. And I think maybe a lot of people would feel that that punishment was just, and that justice also enlightened him and liberated him. And I have another story I could tell you about that occurred in Japan, where somebody killed an innocent person, and he was brought to trial and convicted, and he admitted he did it, and he was sentenced to death. And between the time of his sentencing to death and his execution,


tremendous energy was given to him to help him meditate on what he had done, and come to terms with it. And in this story, he basically became enlightened prior to being executed, and was totally at peace with being executed, and he basically had a successful life. So in that particular societal situation, they sentenced him to death, but they also gave him a tremendous amount of moral support to evolve morally to basically a successful life before he died. So his life was shortened by the execution, but it seemed a very just treatment he got, in this case, that he died happily and willingly. But he wasn't able to do that by himself. He got a lot of help in this process. But this wasn't a case where the reason for doing it was because the family


thought that they'd be happy if he got killed. That wasn't the point of this particular story. The society felt like it was best for society and for this person. In this case, it was good for society, and I think good for those who hear this story, to hear the story of this man coming to terms with what he did, becoming basically enlightened, and accepting execution as part of the process. I heard a story about a Zen priest who was invited to talk to prisoners in Japan, and he told them that they were lucky because they got a chance to meditate as much as they wanted to while they were in jail. Yes, Norbert? The example, the story that you just told, the example that you just told about them giving this convicted killer who was headed to be executed all that attention,


how is non-abiding practicing in that or working in that? Well, it seems to me that somebody in that social situation wasn't abiding in him being a ruthless, evil murderer. Somebody was practicing compassion towards him. Also, in that story I don't really know, but in that story I didn't feel like the people were abiding in that he didn't do anything wrong, and that there really was no issue, or that I didn't feel anybody was abiding in this story here too, that the people who helped him were not necessarily abiding in he should be executed, or they weren't necessarily abiding in he should be released. The man confessed that he did this. It was a robbery. In the process of the robbery he killed some people who were just around.


He didn't really intend to, but he did. And he had a history of being brutalized and traumatized, so he was a person who you could say was the result of decades of injustice. He lived in an unjust situation. And then he did this terrible thing and created this great harm, which he confessed to. But then somebody didn't let them stop themselves from being compassionate to him, and gave him, it looks like just exactly what he needed, the assistance to evolve in this spectacularly successful way, and to go from being extremely unskillful to being unusually skillful and kind and happy.


And also feeling terrible about what he did, but happy that he is no longer that way. Somebody was not abiding in the situation, I think, in order to help him that way. I'm not saying the people were perfect, but they somehow guided him to be able to do this. And he had enough time from the time of the conviction to his execution to go through this evolution. And there was the intention that he would go through this evolution. Almost as though, since we're going to take his life, we're going to make him successful. And it's almost like, well, if there's people like that, maybe we should all offer our lives to be taken that way. If you can train me like that, I'll give you my life, you can do whatever you want with it, if you'll bring me to that point.


And in some sense, there's Buddhist stories like that. You know, like, somebody meets the Buddha or meets the teacher and the teacher says, will you give your life to me? And the person gives their life, and they become enlightened. Yes? I think I have some aversion to the concept of justice because it feels un-Buddhist in some ways. And justice seems like it is about taking a position. That's my story of it. So George Bush would say what he's doing is just about justice and I can have a different story. And the non-abiding for me or the way is to focus on the stories.


It's like so much of what you've taught me over the years. So my story about justice involves compassion and emptiness. So there isn't non-self. And does my story kind of meet those standards? And somebody else's story about justice meets another set of standards, maybe whether businessmen have freedom to do, invest the way they should. That's another justice story. Yes. And it seems like when you talk about justice, you ultimately come up with these different stories and then it feels like somebody has to be a winner or something like that. It feels like somebody has to be a winner? A winner. And so it takes away that, when you talk about non-abiding, that validity, somehow justice ends up locking, it feels like it locks you into varying points of view. Your example is a good one. This is a particular struggle you have around the word justice.


And it's kind of related to what I was saying before. Somebody said, well, how can you fight against injustice if you don't take a stand? And so you're coming at that same area from a different angle. The proposal is, here's part of the proposal of the Mahayana, the Bodhisattva tradition, is that those who learn how to practice non-abiding can convert those who are abiding. That when someone who is abiding meets somebody who is not, they have a chance to realize that their suffering is coming from them being stuck. The one who is not stuck can teach them that their being stuck is really kind of the fundamental problem. Or as I said here before, it is the job of those who know how to play


and sing and dance to teach those who don't know how. So people have the stories of justice, songs of justice, dances of justice, but they don't know their songs and dances. They're overly serious. They attribute substantiality to the story they have of justice. So they can't play with it. And if they can't play with it, they can't understand it. They're just stuck in their little box of their story and their suffering. If they meet somebody who knows how to play with their story of justice, they have a story of justice too, but they know how to play with it. And they can teach the other person how to play with it. When the person feels that, they start to feel their suffering slip away. They start to feel some life flowing in them again. They start to notice their rashes


and their seizures are subsiding. So the proposal here is that in the area of justice, we want to bring the bodhisattva's miraculous powers, which come from love, that has no abode. We want to bring that bodhisattva spirit to meet those beings all over the world who have, particularly in the West, who have ideas of justice that are very important to them and that they're stuck on, that they're rigid about, and that they're suffering because the word justice is important to them, the idea of justice is important to them, the principle of justice is important to them. And we're not trying to talk them out of what they think is important. We're trying to free them from their attachment and abiding in what they think is important. So if they think something is important, fine. I'm here to support you thinking that it's important.


But I'm also here to teach you to lighten up and start singing and dancing. No, I can't do that. I've got to hold tight to this justice thing. Yes, but watch me. Watch me play with it. See how happy I am. See how fearless I am. Notice how frightened you are that you lose your grip on your idea and actuality of justice. So even if you get your justice, you're still scared to death. Whereas my justice, which I don't get and I don't have, I'm not frightened. But I can still give you my justice and accept yours. Wouldn't you like to be like that? Everybody would. Okay? This is easy to say, but I really think that we should go to this word where there's so much tension and rigidity


and play with it. We give our energy to this word and the surrounding principles and issues and all the fear and tension around it and teach ourselves and others how to play together around this word. Okay? Okay? All right. Elizabeth? Elizabeth? Well, I am in a situation of justice legal. Yeah, you are. You are. And I'm trying to teach you to... I am suffering. Yeah, and I'm trying to teach you to play with it. And I don't know how to play with it today except by speaking here. Sing a song about it right now. I was afraid you would say that. Yeah? I don't know which song would be the best. I don't care, do whatever you want. Summertime


and the justice is sleazy. Yes, it is. Fish are jumping and they take advantage of me. And all I have is justification. So rest, little baby, even while you cry. One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing. You're gonna spread your wings and you'll take to the sky. Until that morning there ain't nothing can harm you with singing and dancing standing by. But if you stop singing and dancing you'll break your arms and legs. When the tractor comes you'll get in the way. You won't be able to sing and dance. So this is your koan,


this is your test of your playfulness and you're saying, honestly, I don't know how to play with this situation. I don't know how to relax. Okay, fine. I would like to help you relax and be playful for this. I have to admit that I really have a lot of fear underneath this. I have fear of, right now I know in my gut what I think is the right thing to do. I am very afraid of retaliation, physically, to me and my property and my dogs. So I have such compassion for anybody in this world who has stood up to anything in the face of what the consequences could be. But when you stand up, don't tense up when you stand up. Stand up and then say, I'm standing up, but I'm also getting out of the way. See you later. I'm standing up, but I'm not standing up to hurt myself. I'm standing up as a demonstration of my flexibility. I could be someplace else.


I don't have to be here. But I did a special trip here to stand up and to say, no, I don't agree with this. But I'm not going to get tense about that. I'm not going to get self-righteous about that. Not me. I'm just playfully saying, I don't like this. And I've got my lawyer here to play with you. And I'm standing up to you, but I'm not going to be tense about this. However, if you're afraid, then it's easier, harder to relax. On the other hand, if you're relaxed, it assuages the fear. The more you can be playful, the less you'll be afraid. When you're caught in the fear, because I feel my stomach. When you're caught in the fear, yes. How do you play with that? Well, relax. Relax. Be playful. Start singing. Start dancing. And remember, relax.


Relax with everything. Meet everything with complete relaxation. Whatever. And then you can say stuff like, I disagree. And then somebody can say, No, you don't. And you can say, you're so right. I disagree. You said that before. I know, I'm saying it again. I can't help it. I love to say, I disagree. And I really mean it. But I also am just playing to tell you, I disagree. I think I'm right. I think this is just. I do. And then, somebody can come and say to you, No, you don't. And then you can say, No, I don't. Because, you know,


you can say that. Without abiding in either position. And yet your karma, your background is such that you maybe feel it again and again and again. And then someday, you don't. Someday the person who disagrees with you, you realize that they're telling you your story. And I propose that in this kind of negotiation, justice is realized. But it's a painful process. And it's supported by being playful and relaxed. And before we learn how to be playful and relaxed around issues of justice and what's right, and what's fair, and what's equal, before we learn how to do that, there's some fear. So we can't wait to start practicing this until there's no fear,


because we're going to have fear as long as we don't practice it. So we have to start practicing before we get over our fear. And as we get better and better at it, the fear calms down, and eventually the fear will be dropped by this practice. Thank you. Yes, Laura? I wanted to comment on one thing that you said that I thought was really good, and then I wanted to say something. I think what you said about how people can not really like each other, but work well together. Yeah. Like me and my students. Or, you know, people who are working for the public health department, for example, they're all at the table, but yet you have a common goal, and you want to achieve that goal. Say, give everybody food,


or give everybody clothes. Yeah, right. So I thought that was really good to say. And I also think that the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, Triple Jewel, can be really, like when I think about, I think it's totally okay that there's different points, and like, I'm walking on this world, and you're walking on the world, and everybody's walking on the world, and that we're all a part of Buddha, and that there's this... Is that your story? I want to tell you my story. Is that your story? Did you just tell me the story? My story right now is to try to contribute to this justice understanding. Right, but then what I'm saying to you is that are you abiding in that story? A little. But my tongue wouldn't move unless I was abiding somewhat. That's not true. My tongue just moved that way. The way I tell you it wasn't true.


But I wasn't necessarily abiding in anything to say that to you. I think you were. Are you abiding in that story? A little. A little? Well, a little is sufficient. A little counts. Yeah, it's enough. A little bit counts to make you afraid. But I'm not afraid. Yes, you are. Are you abiding in that? A little. It looks like it, yeah. It looks like it, yeah. That's the main thing. Don't abide in the stories which you... Are you afraid that I have different opinions? No, I'm not afraid of it. Are you sure? Yeah, I'm sure. I need you to have different opinions. Otherwise, there's no point in me coming over here. There's nothing wrong with fear. What? There's nothing particularly wrong with fear. I didn't say it was wrong. I'm just pointing out that's where it comes from. You can be afraid. That's okay with me. I'm not abiding in you. I don't have this agenda like you should not be the way you are.


You know, if you're afraid, that's fine with me. I didn't want to talk about that anyway. I wanted to talk about my... That's enough for me. What you said so far. You told enough of a story for me to ask you how you practice with it. Are you abiding in that? In what? Enough? No, I'm not. Yes, John? I was wondering if it might be helpful when talking about bringing energy to these concepts of justice. Yeah. This dialogue of Western social justice. Yeah. To think about the qualities of energy that are brought to these two concepts. The what? Qualities of energy. Yes, qualities, right. Last week you talked about masculine and feminine qualities of energy. I don't know much about the roots of social justice in the West, but I have an impression


it arises from Judeo-Christian traditions of abolitionists and social gospel movement and social progressives. And it seems to be a very masculine concept of justice that we fight for justice, that we feed out justice. And that seems to be a different kind of energy than you're describing coming from Buddhism of being much more feminine. Accepting, being open and loving the injustice. It just strikes me that looking at how you make Buddhist justice relevant in the West is what you were saying. The two have to marry in a sense. The Western has to see that they're lacking in the harmony of that. So that's one picture of what benefit the Buddha Dharma might bring to the Western issues and ideas of justice. Maybe the somewhat masculine


Western presentation of this very important word justice, this very important concept justice. These organizations are really concerned with justice. But it's partly being presented in the background as a masculine thing. But there's maybe a more feminine approach to it coming from Asia and Buddhism. I heard one psychologist typified the West as a power-centered concept and the East as being an empty-centered concept. The empty-centered may be more feminine. So the picture in the West coming from Greece is of Zeus, the most intelligent and powerful being at the center of the divine mandala, administering thunderbolts all over the place and controlling all the other... And in your picture,


Zeus sitting on his throne, it looks a little bit like a judge sitting on a... He's kind of like a judge. A celestial judge. Very intelligent, very powerful. At the center of the picture. Whereas in the East, it's more like everybody's sitting around a big hole. There's nothing in the middle. And even the leaders are sitting around the empty center. And these two actually... These two pictures of how things work would make a nice marriage. There was forgiveness for people who created horrible atrocities against human rights violations, but they're sitting around this hole now. Even though that injustice is in the circle. I heard this one guy being interviewed. I think Terry Gross was interviewing him. He was a guy who had been tortured and


his torturer, one of his main torturers, came forth and confessed that he did this. And Terry Gross asked him, asked the person who had been tortured, if he thought this guy should be given amnesty. Or, you know, partial amnesty or something like that. And the guy said, not partial, I think he should be given complete amnesty. He's come forth, he's confessed, he's apologized, I think he should be completely forgiven. Of course, that's the person who has the most authority to say that. But he really felt that way. He said, if he comes forth and doesn't feel sorry, then I don't think it's ready to, we're not ready to forgive him then. He has to really be sorry, and he was. He met the guy and the guy was really sorry. He felt satisfied. Yes?


I was also thinking about the South African Truth and Reconciliation Council, I think they called it. And a phrase that seems to apply to justice when we were talking about it is maybe the word intimacy that you've used in other classes about being close to evil even, and how that lessens it. So in this justice process, I think besides being compassionate, I think opening yourself to being very close to whatever it is creates that ability to have the just solution. I think in the South African hearings, they had to say they're sorry, but they had to give a lot of detail. They had to really go into exactly what they did and how they felt. I think there was a lot of detail, but I could feel,


I can see now that you're a human being. Yeah. On a much reduced scale, sometimes people come and confess to me. And sometimes they tell me something they've done that they feel bad about, and I sometimes tell them I don't understand what the problem is, and then they tell me the rest of the story. Then they tell me the details, and I go, oh, okay. Now I see what you're saying. But sometimes they give me a kind of a reader's digest version of it, and it sounds like, why are you wasting your time confessing that? But then when they put the colors in and the details or tell the second half of the story, then I go, oh, okay. If they'd told that in the first place, I just would have listened. But when they told this abbreviated version, I didn't quite understand what the problem was. It sounded fine to me. And they didn't realize


when they told me the abbreviated version, they didn't realize it was an abbreviated version. They thought they had actually confessed what the problem was. It's kind of like in a dream. You have a story, but you don't realize that it's not the whole story in a dream. Do you know what I mean? When you write it down, you realize, oh, that wasn't the whole story. Yes? In the first class, I think you said something about or you pointed out when you brought up the social justice arena, you said you brought a lot of energy out of it. It's a prickly topic for people. You said something about that, and it kind of felt like that in the room once you brought it up. I think there's a quality of social justice or of justice that inside the Zen Bell, when we talk about it, it feels a little disembodied to me. It feels a little conceptual when we're talking about it tonight.


Tonight sounds conceptual. Yes. I think the lack of... I'm at the moment not clear between social justice and justice. I'll say social justice. I think that the lack of that is like this huge pain in us. This huge, huge pain, and we don't talk about it. We don't act like it. We don't talk about it. We don't deal with that particularly. We can have a conversation about justice here, justice there, but I don't feel yet I've gotten the tools inside the practice to deal with the huge pain that we live privileged lives and others don't. I can put on a hat and show things just the way they are and don't get caught in my life or someone else's life, but sometimes it just feels like a coating on top of something like this red-hot ember of being and that pain. So I don't have a question


or I don't know what to say about that. So if you in this class can think of some way to bring that dimension of injustice or bring in the pain that's involved in the neighborhood of justice, if you can find some way to bring that out in this venue, and then we'll see how we can practice with it. Pardon? How about being invited to give input and then when you want to give it somebody doesn't want to hear it? Or somebody wants you to you know to be aware of what he wants. And so that's one-sided.


It's one-sided? How is it one-sided? Because you're saying he can say what he wants but she can't say what she wants. No, she said what she wanted. She wanted to tell her story. And he wanted her to stop. He heard enough and he wanted to tell her enough so he was like, I'd like you to stop. And if that's painful that would be a new story. And if somebody else has pain that would be a new story that they could tell. So if there's some pain in the room right now around this issue maybe that would be a rich way for us to proceed. I thought Elizabeth brought up quite a bit of pain there. She's in a situation where she's standing up to someone and she's afraid that they're going to physically hurt her. So I thought we were working with it there. If anybody else has some situations


where they're actually feeling pain and fear around some issue of... I'm talking about a little even bigger than that. I think that's important. The real example. Bigger is fine too but we don't have to skip over those. Please acknowledge those as real, in the room problems that people in the class are having right now which are bigger than any other problems in their life right now. And if you want to bring up any of you have or anybody you know has any actual... You said grounded so let's talk about your body or somebody's body. I welcome those kinds of things right in this class to work with. Elizabeth? I wanted to say that listening to where the conversation has gone since I spoke was so helpful to me and I had a second mediation today on this issue and one, to hear what was missing for me today in mediation which I understood and loved


hearing that it wasn't just my problem was that the details weren't allowed to be fully said and that the other party is not speaking accountability. If they would speak accountability it's much easier for me to forgive them on a level of where we could talk about maybe my pain or something but as long as they're not taking any accountability and as a matter of fact justifying it back onto me it makes it very difficult for me and social justice, I'm in a position where I have a lot more money than they do so for me this is money that I could afford to pay them and it may be very hard for them not to receive so I feel very uncomfortable in that position and that's a social justice position and yet I've been encouraged from the beginning by checking with people I trust the most not to just pay them to be generous and nice which was my first instinct so I feel extremely uncomfortable in this position where I could easily afford to pay them this money


but then what would I be doing by that act so this is I keep walking step by step but just to hear today that more of the details in there and the accountability I'm missing are keeping me from forgiving. From wanting from perhaps, I don't know from forgiving From forgiving and also perhaps being generous in a certain way in a certain way. You're actually being generous in another way right now which maybe they don't really appreciate but you're actually being generous because you don't have to do this you don't financially need to do this you're doing it for some as a gift yes and if they would go into more details about what they did then that would make it, you'd be more ready to do something different than what you've been able to do so far we can't forgive the person before they tell us certain things so this is, I appreciate


what everybody's brought up and so we have two more meetings and it might be nice if you could bring a real painful issue to discuss in the group if you feel comfortable or write me a letter about it and if you don't want to say it in the group then I can bring it up in the group I would think that's very important maybe we have enough ground now to start actually working with like Elizabeth actually presented her own current main main event around justice in her life if you have any things like that in your life I welcome you to bring them forth and Charlie Wilson wrote an interesting letter which I didn't get to tonight but I'd like to bring it up later


okay let's try to make this a grounded discussion in the next two weeks again this is something which you can contribute to I think perhaps I think one more yes to eat animals is unjust yeah a lot of people feel that way and


so I bring a lot of energy to this feeling I know that there are a lot of vegetarians but most of my friends are not vegetarian and so I this is an issue for me I've even thought of joining an organization to encourage the teaching of not eating animals not necessarily okay that's enough this is an issue of your concern of justice in regard to animals if we eat them and I think probably everybody in this room shares this question maybe somebody here doesn't but I wouldn't be surprised if every person in this room is troubled around what the just relationship to this issue of eating animals is


I'm always pained about this myself not always but much of the time of course at Green Gulch if I'm not eating animals at Green Gulch it's not so intense but a lot of other times it becomes more intense but even at Green Gulch it's somewhat an issue this animal eating thing how much should you be contributing to supporting it because at Green Gulch we have two offerings at most meals, the vegan and the non-vegan so some people at Green Gulch feel like even dairy products involve the production of male offsprings from cows which then what do you do with the males so in some sense drinking milk relates to killing bulls, baby bulls


and eggs in some sense disturbing the chickens and so on so even at Green Gulch the vegan non-vegan thing is kind of a painful issue of how do we have justice around the food in a basically so-called vegetarian but there's two kinds of vegetarian and then some people at Green Gulch eat the Green Gulch food but they aren't vegetarians they're just eating non-animal foods except maybe some even vegans aren't vegetarians they just eat not vegans, they just eat vegan food so all these different kinds of people even within the Zen Center community where there's no meat or fish served there still is dairy products and eggs and then there's sugar and then there's coffee and then there's bananas so the previous Tenzo, no bananas because of what it they're too far away


and also so we're eating we're eating fairly closely produced fair trade coffee and then some people are going over the hill to Starbucks so we have all even within the kind of confined reign of Zen Center we have this issue of justice around this particular issue so we're struggling with this and this is the realm of justice of working with these struggles so please bring these painful issues to us in this class next two weeks please, thank you