Entering and Embodying Truth 

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.

AI Summary: 



Yeah, Seymour. I think I told this story last week, I think, and I tell it quite often. It's a story about a Zen monk who's sweeping the ground. Did I tell that last week? So, Zen monks who live in monasteries, they often do grounds work. They work on the ground of the monastery, taking care of it. And, you know, they also work on the ground of their mind. They take


care of their mind and their body to keep things well cared for. And sometimes when they're taking care of the ground or taking care of their mind, they get kind of busy and excited. Zen monks sometimes are also working in the monastery to take care of the community, too, and try to make the community clean and tidy and just. Try to have a feeling of harmony and equitability and fairness among the monks. And the monks have different positions in the monastery, like there's teachers and junior teachers and senior practitioners


and beginning practitioners, and people who have jobs like director and head of the work or construction head or head of the garden or head of the kitchen. And they have all these different positions and they do that work with all those positions. And they do that for the purpose of having a peaceful, equitable, happy community. And they work on their own body and mind that way, too, while they're doing their work and while they're doing their formal meditation. And while they're doing this kind of work, which is for this good purpose, you could say for the purpose of having a just society among the monks. They want to have social justice. Although they don't use the word justice in Buddhist tradition much, I think we can see they want to have social justice. And they want the people who are


in the different positions and have different type of responsibility, unequal responsibility, they want them to fulfill their different positions for the welfare of the whole community. The Tenzo has a different authority from the abbot or the head teachers, different. But it's possible to fulfill their job in such a way that everyone's benefited. And some monks have a simple job, like sweeping. But there is a possibility while doing one's job for the welfare of the community to get kind of excited and distracted. Distracted from the truth of what you're doing. Get distracted from the teaching that the form of your position


or the form of your work, which is being done for the welfare of all beings, that the form is ungraspable, is empty. And that you're not doing it by yourself and so on. And when we get excited about our work, we sometimes forget the teaching about our work. So then in the story, when the one monk is sweeping, doing his job for the welfare of the community, his brother comes and says, you're too busy. He accuses him maybe of getting too caught up in his work of social justice, of meditative development for the welfare of the whole community. But the one who's accused says, you should know there's somebody who's not busy. So I'm basically suggesting that whatever we're working on, and in particular the consideration


of taking care of our life for the sake of the ongoing work of social justice, to be participating in the conversation between our broom and the earth, in the conversation between our thinking and other people's thinking, our views, our opinions about justice and other people's opinions about justice. In that conversation, which is for the welfare and the justice of all, that we be careful because we can get excited and confused in our excitement. And in our confusion, we can start thinking we're better than the people who disagree with us about what's just. Or we can think other people are unjust and we're just. And we can believe that and get really excited and confused. So the story is saying, whatever you're doing, whatever you're devoted to, even though you're


working hard, remember there's somebody who's not busy. There's somebody who's not involved in grasping the form of what's going on here. That person in some sense isn't really working for justice. But that person is alive and wants justice. That's why I ask you to look inside and see if you can find a place of quiet and stillness that's alive and that wants justice. This is like the fountain that's in the water. The fountain or the source of your aspiration and inspiration to do the hard work of sweeping


the ground and conversing with and thinking about all the different ideas and opinions of what justice is. So we have to go back to that source, that nourishing place in ourselves on a regular basis. So the Zen lifestyle is to return to that place on a regular basis and then from that place work. But then while working try not to lose contact with that place. While you're formally doing some work, try not to lose contact with that place. And then you can also not lose contact with the teaching that the form of what you're working on is ungraspable, that your opinion about what justice is is not profound. It's superficial, but


you're still taking care of it, just like the ground in a way is superficial. So, I think that it's really good to keep returning to the place that wants to work for justice and remember that place where you're not doing anything and where nothing can be grasped. And return to that place and feel that place and check again whether you want to go back to work. And rest there until you feel rested and enthusiastic about going back to work, sweeping the ground, sweeping the mind, tending to your relationships with beings, working on the issues of justice. And then when you go to work, try to remember that there's somebody who's always with you who's not doing anything, because it's somebody who knows there's nothing to be done, nothing


can be grasped. And then you can maybe work really hard and not get confused. And not get confused and think that some people are not as good as you, and so on. People are different, but the difference is for the welfare of all. And if you don't see that, then we need a conversation. And in the conversation we do not need somebody to think they're better than the one they're conversing with. We don't need that, I don't think. That's an opinion I have. So I think that equality is an issue, but it's not that there's two kinds of equality.


One kind of equality is the equality that we all have the potential to develop wisdom and compassion. We're all equal in that we all have that. We're all equal in that we all want that. But we are not equal in our position in the monastery. We're not equal in our place in the mandala. But we should all have a chance to take the different positions. All the positions should be open to all of us. And I think that, again, in the Buddhist teaching all the different positions are open to all beings. But we take turns, and we fulfill these positions under the criterion of how our work in the position is to the welfare of all. But we need to keep going back to this place where we remember that somebody's not busy


so that we can be open to looking at how our position is functioning in the whole picture. I appreciate you helping with this class. It's kind of a, for me, a new experience. New area of conversation in a class setting, in a teaching and study situation. I feel like we've just kind of started to work this issue, and now the class is coming to an end. And I'm wondering how to continue this kind of work, this kind of study. This kind of meditation. And as I said, I was just talking to someone a little while ago, and I think the Bodhisattva


precepts are justice, but to understand how the Bodhisattva precepts are related to the thinking that people in the West are doing about justice, that requires quite a bit of conversation. So I'm proposing that, I'm asking us to consider a commitment to a conversation about justice, and a conversation with justice with people who have different opinions about what it is, for the sake of realizing it. And with the understanding that being able to be calm and in touch with the spiritual source will be helpful to our practice, and if we can show that to others, it will encourage


them, because a lot of people are really working hard for justice, but they don't tap into the resources they have available. They don't even know where to look for some of these resources. So we can help people who are really wholeheartedly working in this way. Just before, earlier, I was over at that coffee shop on College and Ashby, and I met a lawyer who usually works on disability rights, and he just lost a trial, which is a class action suit on behalf of all the veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars, all the American


veterans. And it was a class action suit related, for example, to the post-traumatic stress that so many of them are experiencing, and that there is, not just for the veterans from the Iraq and Afghan engagements, but also going way back, there is a waiting list for disability assistance of 650,000 person waiting list. So they come back with post-traumatic stress, and some of them don't get medical coverage, and some get medical coverage but not psychological therapy coverage, and also don't get financial coverage. So a lot of these veterans coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq are coming back with post-traumatic


stress and are unable to get work, unable to get support, and are becoming homeless. But he lost the trial to a judge that was appointed by Nixon. But he said it was, although they lost the trial, the judge recognized pretty much their whole case. So in his 50-page brief, or decision, maybe like 47 pages, he was recognizing the points made by the disability rights class action suit. And then the last few pages he talked about why he was not going to, what's the word? Allow the claim.


It had something to do with what's called juridical restraint. Judicial restraint. In consideration that the Veterans Administration, aside from the military, is one of the largest organizations in the world. And it does a lot of good, but it doesn't do a lot of good because it does provide some really high-quality medical assistance to the veterans, but it's not doing an adequate job taking care of these people coming back with post-traumatic stress. He didn't want to rattle this huge organization with this judgment. However, it's in a good position now to be appealed because his judgment included the recognition of basically all their claims, I mean all their information. This is a person connected to us who I had met with who's working for justice. I am offering


my friendship and support to him doing this wonderful work. In this case there's not too much of a conversation because I don't really differ with him on anything in this regard. But I do give him my support and I sympathize with how hard it is and I pray for his good health. So, as a temporary farewell on this topic, I just wanted to make a commitment myself to keep working on this. And again, I have a couple of other things that are helpful to me. One is that I'm reading a book by another friend, which is called Social Justice, and An Unjust World. So I'm reading that as part of my devotion to this topic.


And also I commit to continue to study these things, not to find out what justice is, but to be aware of the different positions and see if I can find some way for me to participate in a helpful way around this concept, social justice. Like last week at Green Gulch too, last Sunday at Green Gulch I talked about this, the relationship between our traditional practice and the issue of social justice. So I'm going to try to keep working on this and I would appreciate you giving me your feedback on how this is going and tell me your feedback, including how you're continuing to work on this issue in your practice. And also, as I said on Sunday, when I hear of the concerns of a number of organizations,


a number of groups, and I hear the description of their work and their goal, like for example here on the radio, this organization is dedicated to a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. This kind of justice is about... Oh no, in another organization which somebody in this group is working for called Pachamama, it's dedicated to a more just, verdant, and peaceful spiritual fulfillment, ecological sustainability, and social justice. Another friend in this book is talking about social justice is the realization of the worth


of an individual together with ecological sustainability, equitable social justice, economy, and some other point. But anyway, when I hear about this, it sounds like these people are concerned about nirvana. And nirvana is not the same as utopia. Nirvana can be found in a situation where there's injustice, but the nirvana is medicine for the person for the injustices. So there's a potential conversation here between these different agendas and different opinions about how to realize them. But again, we need to take care of ourselves so that we have actually the spirit, the freshness, the willingness to


do this work. So I welcome your feedback for the rest of the class and any conversations you'd like to have. Yes? I don't know, I haven't thought this through, but it seems like justice involves kind of working in the world, involves a lot of judgments. It seems like a difficulty with me, just like you alluded to, that if you have a judgment, then there's a tendency to attribute bad motives to others. You know, like if there's an injustice or someone is sustaining injustice, there's a tendency to either say they're ignorant or they have bad motives. So it very quickly gets into kind of a bad situation. And along with that, I find, because I've heard a lot of people talk about it, they focus a lot on just kind of the media-political realm.


There's a lot of, I think, a lot of people use that all the time. They use what all the time? They use that tendency for demonization. They use a tendency for... To demonize. To demonize, uh-huh. To judge, to categorize, to say these are bad people. Yeah. And on both sides, but I see that. And I see that it's very difficult, I think, the frustration I always have, and it's funny when I think in the political realm, but I see that it affects me emotionally. And what I always feel is that I'm not being heard, that I'm being denigrated, kind of like by the views I have. I feel that dialogue is very difficult. It's very difficult. There's not really like a space or an easy space in kind of public discourse to talk, you know, because it's very quickly, there's forces that want to divide and make people see as other. And I was trying to think of how to kind of get


beyond that. I mean, one way to kind of get beyond that, I kind of have this naive faith that people kind of want the same thing. But it's very even difficult to kind of get people to say that they have similar things, like they have a similar goal. Like maybe it's just happiness or, you know. But it very quickly becomes demonized about you're bad or evil or you're stupid. I don't know, that's about as far as I can go. That's true. It's easy to slip into demonizing. In this example of the veterans, I don't know if anybody thinks it's good, I don't know if any Americans think it's good that these kids are coming back with post-traumatic stress. I don't know if anybody thinks that's good. Also, another factor is that my friend said that, and this may not be accurate, but


he said 90% of the enlisted men in this war have less than a high school graduation, a so they're like uneducated, the uneducated part of our society are being recruited into this situation. And he said the case around this, he said it's kind of like the liberal paranoid dream, that the administration, part of the reason why they're not taking care of these people is the administration doesn't want people to recognize the cost of the war. Because to take care of them would not only draw attention to the cost of the war in terms of human damage, but it would also take a lot of money to take care of these guys. So the country got involved with the war, but they didn't say, by the way, not


only is it going to cost this much to do the war, but it's going to cost this much to take care of the soldiers afterwards. They didn't even look at that. Now that we find out that to take care of these boys and girls, they're children from our perspective, they're just kids. They're practically, I can have grandchildren their age, and they are not being taken care of, and to take care of them would be very expensive for the American people. And so we probably should do that, but who's responsible? And maybe the people who are responsible don't want us to know that they're responsible, because then we would be more challenged to respect them and appreciate them than we are now. So when we hear these things, it's very easy to demonize them, or at least to say that they were really not


thinking straight when they got into this, because they didn't consider the cost. I think that there's also a sense in my mind that people, the way I see things, is people, not much is ever asked of us as a society, so in some sense we're also all in some sense complicit because there's a kind of a fiction that goes on that we don't really see the problem, or I don't know how to say that, but it's not just the people that don't want us to see the cost, but we're very willing to kind of turn our head away from the cost. I think, I mean, I feel that. Yeah. Yes. A friend of mine is working in Martinez at the VA hospital as a psychiatric social worker, and she was referring to a very similar situation, but I don't think it's from very young soldiers


returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. She mentioned that they were older and they're homeless, and she doesn't really have access to enough shelters to even find temporary shelter. And then I have a little agenda because I have another question. You know, I think it's hard for me personally to find that balance of the person that's not busy, the quiet person, because it's so easily to get caught up emotionally, and then sometimes I feel that if I stay too quiet, I'm not going to take any action. I think the person, or me, who can be quiet, that's not the one who's not busy. That's the busy one who's being quiet in that case. And the busy one should be quiet sometimes


too. But whether I'm quiet or talking, whether I'm sitting still or walking, that's the busy one. The one who can sit down and stand up, the one who can talk and not talk, that's the busy one. And if you remember the not busy one, the not busy one is where you get the fuel to get up and act from your connection to all beings, which is your connection with all beings is the one who's not busy. So it's good for the busy one to be aware that she might be lazy or afraid or indolent. It's good to be open to that possibility. I don't want you to get frightened that you're going to become indolent, but I think it's good


to be open to the possibility that you're being indolent or cowardly. I feel that way. The busy person here would like you to be open to the possibility of being negligent in your inaction and also open to the possibility of being negligent in your action. And if you act self-righteously, I think that that's negligent vis-a-vis justice. But I think it's good to be open to that we could be self-righteous about issues of justice, because I think that openness will promote justice. And then if people feel like we're being self-righteous about our opinions of what's just, and we're open to that we could be self-righteous when they come up to us and cite us for being self-righteous, we can say, oh, okay, I hear you. As a matter


of fact, I think you're right. I think I am being self-righteous, thank you. I appreciate that. I mean, I kind of suspected it, but when you said it, now I get a chance to say, yeah, you're right. So the one who's not busy sponsors me to be open to that I'm a bad guy or even that I'm a bad girl. And to be open that I could be negligent, lazy, etc. Open to that. Open to that you could be unjust. Open to that your friends could be unjust. Open to the people that you respect being unjust. Open to the people that you don't respect, that they might be just. Open to your lacking of respecting people as really


stupid. But most of you probably are open to the possibility that your lack of respect for people is stupid, right? You're open to that, right? It's pretty tough. You say it's tough for you to be open to that it's stupid for you not to respect people? There are moments. There are moments when you think it's not stupid for you to disrespect people, that it's smart? There are those moments. Okay, well, thank you for telling us. I'm glad we have one evil person in this class. Please keep coming, we need you. But anyway, you might change and you might continue to disrespect some people but be


quicker to notice, hey, I'm being kind of stupid. I'm disrespecting people and I don't think that's cool. That's not the way I want to be. I'm off my track when I'm being disrespectful. But I still get off track sometimes. I do sometimes have a disrespectful thought about some people. But I don't then think, well, that's good that I have that thought. But maybe I still even think that's good that I have the thought that there are some exceptions to the general practice of respecting beings. There are some beings we should not respect, right? No, that's not the Bodhisattva way. There are some beings it's hard to respect. How about that? Yeah, Bodhisattvas often say there are some beings who are hard to respect and I vow to respect them. Challenging people are numberless, I vow to respect them. Beings who are difficult


to respect are boundless. I vow to learn to respect them. I vow to consider the possibility that I may be one of those challenging beings. That's good too. I think this is an exercise which supports the realization of justice, these vows. That's an opinion that occurs in my mind. Opinions are arising about the singing. Various opinions. But perhaps no disrespect. Thank you so much!


I think there's nothing she has to say. It's nothing that hasn't been said, I guess, but I find it particularly challenging. You find what challenging? I find it particularly challenging to practice this concept. I believe it's the right thing to do. When I'm in an intense work environment, like my work is, where people are very competitive and where the preferred state of mind seems to be presenting yourself as being very self-assured and it's a very judgmental environment. I work with lawyers. No offense to any lawyers in the room, but I find it's a very challenging personality to work around.


Not like they're all the same personality, but there are certain traits that I think are similar. And it's really difficult sometimes because as you try to adopt these ways of being that are not those things, not aggressive, not judgmental, not all these things, it seems that you can be viewed as something lesser. Or you can be viewed as something greater, particularly by yourself. You could think, I'm greater for not being competitive than these people are who are being competitive. I'm better than them and I'd rather be better than them and have them look down on me


for not being competitive than being competitive. I like my superior position. But I think the realization of justice requires that we respect people who we think are doing unskillful things. That we respect them. Not like them, but respect them. Love them, not like them. Because we don't like that someone's doing something that's hurting them and distracting themselves from what is really important in their life. If somebody's that way at work, then they have some kind of post-traumatic stress when they go home. Then they go home and do the same thing with their spouse. Like these soldiers, they go home and they duck when the kids come in the room.


It's reasonable to duck. They duck when the garbage collectors come. So the same way, if you're competitive and trying to beat people at work, then when you go home, there'll be a post-traumatic stress version of that at home. And your family will suffer. You're working to help your family, not to hurt your family. But if you hurt the other people at work, then you go home and you hurt your family. The process, as Ivan often says, is pervasive. But if you can respect these people, then you can go home and you can respect your children as they grow up and turn into competitive creatures. So it's to love these people, to learn to love them, even while they are being unskillful. Not to like harmful behavior, but not to dislike it.


Of course, not to like it, but also not to hate it, but to love it, to respect it as a force of nature. And some people are like forces of nature, unskillfully manifesting. If you can respect them, if you can love them, that will help them change into more and more skillful beings. The first way to help them change is for somebody, not to like them or dislike them, but somebody to love them, and who sees them as they are. Then they can change in a positive way. The first way you change them is by being generous. But it's difficult to be generous to people who are beating up on other people and trying to beat them. That's a person that's difficult to respect.


And respect again means that's a person that's difficult to look again and say, now they look unskillful, now let's look again and see what else is there. Let's take another look. Let's close our eyes and start over with this person. Oh, now I see a frightened little boy or frightened little girl. They're afraid to fail, they're afraid to be beaten, they're afraid of what will happen if they lose, and so they present this aggressive front. So, yeah, this is very hard, but this is an area where you can work for justice, where you can meet somebody who has a different style than you. So sometimes in this situation, it's sort of like so-called preaching to the choir. But fortunately, some of you spend time outside the choir booth, or where does the choir go? The choir loft. The choir loft. Some of you leave the choir loft and go among people who do not value being gentle and kind with other people.


You go among people who are frightened and aggressive. Into the tavern. You go into the tavern, leave the tabernacle and go into the tavern. So it's nice that you work there, Carmen, and it's nice that you work where you work, John, and it's nice that my friend is working with this judge, and he's going to repeal it and appeal it and appeal it, because he cares about these kids, and he's 72, and he said, this is why it's hard for me to cut back in my work, because I want to work on this case. I keep working on it. And over the years, he's become less self-righteous about this kind of thing, disability rights, and he's had wonderful successes. It's wonderful. But this is a loss, which he said we don't usually like to lose trials, but there's quite a bit of hope here for the appeal.


So I'm glad that some of you are right up there against heavy opposition. The judges who are standing, in some sense, still protecting the government officials who are not taking care of these kids. So this is a great place for you, and it's very hard, and if you can't do it perfectly yet, hey, I wouldn't be able to either. So thank you for working in such an environment. I'm one of those people she's talking to. Thank you for working with people like her. I'll use this as a way to tune in. Yes? I think that what I'm going to say is a little bit naive, or very naive,


and probably has many aspects. That's a good introduction. I would love to go to a group of people who work together to refine, if you want to, in the way that we're doing in this class. A sense of social justice. I know there are many pitfalls in this kind of thing, because a group could become superior to other groups, other people who are not part of our... Yes? ...of our endeavor to seek justice with compassion and tolerance, and so on and so forth. We could become, this group could become proud that we're doing this.


But I personally would like to go to a group of people who are interested in this subject, and who would like to meet occasionally and check with each other. Yeah, that would be great. And like I say, I'm trying to form a clear commitment to keep working on this in some way that's realistic for me. To literally offer a class on this topic is one way to do it, but there may be some other ways too. To practice is one, I mean, a sequel to your teaching, to do a practice together on this subject. And just for me to just... Well, you know, in my case, in the situation of playing the role of a teacher with students, it's not that the teacher equals the student.


We have different responsibilities. The student and the teacher have different responsibilities. The student doesn't have to give up being the teacher. The student has to give up being the student and become the teacher. The teacher has to give up being the teacher and become the student. So you have different things to give up in order to realize justice, and ultimately to realize equality. But temporarily we don't have equality, but how do we justly work with the inequalities in a way that really seems wholesome, gentle, upright, flexible, and so on. This is the ongoing work. To recognize the inequalities in Buddhist organizations, Buddhist communities, student-teacher relationship, and try to find justice and peace in the relationship by inviting people to look at whether the way we're doing it is really helping everybody.


So is the way we're doing this class helping everybody? And if not, please give feedback. I'm going to say this with love and respect. But as teacher, and you kind of felt like there was an invitation to say this, there were a couple of times where I thought that you had maybe stifled the participation of someone here, or a couple of people here. And I know, I can't say I know your intention, but I think as a teacher, and I know as a teacher myself, there is that power differential. And there is sometimes a track that I can be on of trying to either maintain control or whatever reason. I think we're, as teachers, vulnerable to being unjust


or not valuing somebody in a particular moment, a point of view or someone's participation. And I think opening that discussion up, especially as a teacher, and as prominent as you are in the same communities, that's part of the investigation for me, is that power differential is real. And I think it makes people vulnerable to unjust behavior in particular moments. Well, I invite you, in cases where you feel some injustice, or if you feel some stifling is going on, or if you feel like there's lack of respect for someone's contribution, to bring it up.


If you see it sort of at the time and say, now I'm feeling some lack of respect in that, or lack of appreciation in that. And do you feel that? Teacher, do you feel that? And then, I welcome that kind of on-the-spot questioning. Do you think that would be good? I think that would be great. I appreciate that, and I think why sometimes injustice continues, is that, you know, like in that case, I was too fearful to bring it up at the time. For however power is attributed to you, or whatever power means, it feels like it exists on some level. It feels substantial. So it's hard to be that open. Right. So there might be some fear, even though I asked for feedback, there might be some fear that if you gave it still,


even though I asked for it, something might happen. Oh, yeah. Like right now, I might get clubbed up in the head. Right. But I still would encourage you, even if you're afraid, to remember that the invitation is there, and that also the invitation to others is there, to give feedback on how I would receive your feedback. So if you say, I feel like you weren't appreciative, respectful, or whatever, of what so-and-so just contributed, and if I'm not appreciative of you, but you can't even say anything, because it hurts so much if I'm not appreciative of you, and then somebody else is invited to say, well, now I don't feel like you're appreciative of his. And eventually, if people realize that they're invited to do this, things will start becoming justified. Things will start flowing.


But it does require that you don't shut up every time you feel frightened. Sometimes, if you only speak when you're not afraid, there's some opportunities that are going to be missed. So, yeah, the rope is being spun, you're being invited to enter, but it doesn't mean you're not going to get hit in the face by the rope if you don't synchronize right. But you are being invited to join the process, but it's not guaranteed that you'll never get hurt, but it is guaranteed that you will learn. That's guaranteed. You will learn if you enter. And if you're afraid when you jump in, that sometimes makes it harder to get with the flow, but then you learn that too. But it doesn't mean you still won't try again, and after a while, maybe you're not afraid, and you jump in and you're not afraid, and you can join right away without the extra burden of the fear


and more confidence that you can do that, and that that will be helpful. And then you can also invite people to give you feedback when you give feedback, and so on. So this is another way, I think, that we can keep working on justice without necessarily having the whole event be about justice, that we realize justice in whatever we're studying, in whatever kind of practices we're working. The ongoing work of justice in the social venue of the practice is an understood agenda, understood value, that we have to keep working on that. Yes? An issue came up to me during the five weeks of this course. It was interesting that you were talking about disability tonight,


because I got sick this year, and I have been eligible for disability insurance. But during the course of this class, you know, so I was working full-time, but then I went to my supervisor and I said, I really don't want to work full-time anymore, and I want to work part-time. But I never, so I'm collecting disability, but I'm not really working full-time. But they're paying me, so I'm working full-time. So I started thinking, there's something wrong about this. You know, I shouldn't be paid for days when I don't go in on my own volition. You know, I'm not really sick, I'm just not going in because I want to go in, or I don't want to work full-time. And it became really a big issue for me. I didn't know what to do about it. And I just cut off the disability.


I just said, okay, I'm not going to accept it anymore. And I think what I should have done was call them and say, this is the situation. I'm not really working full-time, I'm working part-time. And there will be days when I'm working part-time when I'm not going to go in because I'm ill or whatever. Anyway, I'm just giving you this as feedback. This is what came up for me in the course of the class. Thank you. I had the thought that you can think you're doing something that's honest or whatever, and not realize that you might be doing something a little dishonest. That's kind of what happened to me. And then I didn't know what to do about it. You didn't know what to do about it when you realized that you didn't feel like you were being honest. Or when you realized that you might have been dishonest, at that point you didn't know what to do. But anyway, you did discover that, that's really good.


What I discovered is that you can slip into being dishonest kind of without realizing it. Yes. That's good to discover that. So it makes you a little less judgmental about other people being dishonest. When you realize that, yeah. However, when you slip into being dishonest without realizing it, it makes it harder for you to be less judgmental with other people who are being dishonest and thinking they're being honest. It makes it harder. So the key is to be aware of my own shortcomings. That helps me tolerate other people who are doing the same thing who do not yet know about it. Because I know that I once didn't know. So then I can go up and tell these people who don't know about their shortcomings about mine and they wonder why I'm telling them about my shortcomings. That's weird. I mean, he does have his shortcomings, but why is he telling me?


That's funny. I didn't ask him, I didn't accuse him. He just volunteered his own shortcomings. Could he be implying perhaps that... No, no. No, no. He's always talking about how fearful he is. Thank you, that was a good example. Any other feedback? Yes. I thought it would be helpful in proceeding and talking about this more, to talk about all the other underlying philosophy or psychology of Buddha and how that actually can be useful in understanding how to deal with injustice. For example, working with the precepts in justice or the whole concept of dependent origination and dependent co-arising and how we make judgments about people and how we use that understanding of dependent co-arising


as a way to deal with someone else in a situation where we feel there's injustice. You've lectured about telling stories, recognizing your own delusion, and so you see something and you paint a picture of injustice and evilness, but maybe you better think about telling another story about that and see how that works. So there are a lot of things you've talked about over the years that I think can be integrated into how do we then actualize this concept of living social justice. Yes, so when I or other people are painting pictures of injustice, we could have an exercise of could we open up the storytelling a little bit here to recognize that that was a story of injustice.


Could we tell a different story? Perhaps that that wasn't it. Could we tell a story about how it wasn't injustice? And then somebody might say, no, we can't tell that story. And then you say, okay, so now can we discuss the possibility of opening up the story? No, we can't talk about that either. Or being curious. Having yourself to be curious. Is some curiosity about this story, about other people's evil, is some curiosity allowed? All these evil people around you. No, no curiosity is allowed. Okay, so then that's pretty good because people are starting to admit that this isn't allowed, this isn't allowed, this isn't allowed. All that's allowed is that what I say is taken as true about these injustices. That's all that's allowed. And that's maybe enough for today. Thank you. So now we've identified an intolerant, opinionated person. Yeah, without anybody saying anything about that person.


But that person did get to demonstrate that. And then they can see how that works for a while. We could bring their examples of injustice to talk about. In detail, though, so we can really get the story. And then we can consider sometimes not telling any stories, but consider the possibility of questioning all the stories. Like this guy, what's his name? Is it Milo Kundera? Milan Kundera, right? Milan Kundera, yes. So he wrote this book called The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. He tells these stories which take place in Czechoslovakia during the time of the communist domination of Czechoslovakia. And so he tells this story. And then at the end of the story he says, Well, that's not really true. That didn't really happen that way.


And then he tells another version of the story. And then he says, But that wasn't what happened either. And then he tells another story. So then he explains after the book's over. He said, I tell stories, and then I tell another story which contradicts the first story to stimulate questioning of the stories. He said, Questioning is the life of wisdom. And believing your stories or knowing your stories and having answers to your stories is stupid. A lot of conflict happens, doesn't it? A lot of polarization happens. But we need to process where we tell stories and we welcome other people to tell other stories. Or we tell stories and then we tell another story about our own story. To show people that we tell stories but then we're willing to tell a different story that contradicts our first story about ourselves. So then maybe they could tell stories and then they could tell a story to contradict their story. Or we could tell a story to contradict their story.


And in this way, it's not to say their stories are wrong just because we don't agree with them. But by the conversation to give rise to questioning. To give rise to wisdom by the confrontation of these different stories. To get wisdom rather than just better and better stories that are more and more impregnable to ever being wrong. Yes? I think goals are really important because everyone lecture the common value of everyone being fed or having housing or something. Like everyone in San Francisco has housing. Then we can talk about how to create that rather than, for me, the last 10 years of my professional life it's amazing how much psychology and spirituality people's thoughts come into mind and how that plays into the dynamic and how much people think they know within that including myself. I think it's very good when we're in our place


and really value each other and share a common goal. That's the only way I've ever seen it particularly work well when people at the table are like, okay, we're going to have a conference. You're going to get the food. Each person has a role in the place so it's common value for people to share things. That's why I keep on saying what you're saying because I think it has potential for very good teaching in our place of honor and embracing wisdom and compassion. When we haven't found a shared goal yet then what do we do? Talk about it. Talk about what people want. Converse and converse and converse. What people need. Because oftentimes we don't know what people want. We can take a poll of everybody in here just basic needs like math.


What's that guy's math class? Whatever you know. That's happening. Who has a job? Okay, now who knows what? You just start to talk like that. Just basic needs and then equalization. Oh, you've got millions. Whoa, you've got $7. Yeah, and is that helpful? That arrangement? If not, any suggestions? Yes? Well, maybe to echo a bit of what Jerry was talking about I'm reflecting that the goal of this class has been problematic. And the story I'm hearing is when you're experiencing the stress and tension of pursuing social justice return to the source of justice as a means of renewing yourself and remembering the one who's not busy. But as the class goes on


it just strikes me that the moment I have an idea of justice is when I distance myself from recognizing my connection to all beings. And that sort of sets up this polarization. Did you say the moment you have an idea of justice you distance yourself? When I'm seeing myself I immediately feel this polarization, I feel this tension because I don't feel connected to all beings anymore. I suddenly have two poles of this is social justice and this is social injustice. And there's an immediate lack of equilibrium between the two. There's a tension, like a rubber band that goes right there. And then, I think as you started this whole class five weeks ago, you said energy is the life force that we bring to these questions. Well, that tension is like a life force to me. I'm immediately attracted to it. I'm immediately attracted to it because it's energy, it's the life force. And that's where I start identifying with the tension. And that's where I find it difficult


to be compassionate in that polarity to people who I'm not seeing as part of my idea of justice. So, it just strikes me that thinking about the setup of the class it's not working for me because the source of the challenge for me is going to that immediate idea of social justice that distances me from connections with other people. And it strikes me that my goal in a contemplative life is not to fall prey to that attractive energy that comes from that tension. To recognize that it's part of the life force around me. To recognize and be compassionate to people who are pulled into it, attracted to it. And yet, myself playing it, but not with that kind of attraction that just creates the tension in myself. And that's all I identify with at the end. So, I've been struggling with this course just because I think the setup needs to be retooled in some way. You need to come at it differently. Than what I'm hearing in goals. So, do you have some suggestion


of how to retool it? Well, I think what Jerry started talking about resonated with me. It's sort of getting to the psychology of how our ideas of justice create that polarity and exploring that more. And the psychology behind it. That would be one way. I was very encouraged to hear that. Thank you. Yes. I had a thought. There's a poem by Wallace Stevens called, The Well-Dressed Man with the Beard. And it begins, After the final no, there comes a yes. And on that yes, the future world depends. And then the last line of the poem is, It can never be satisfied, the human mind never. And I was thinking that as we formulate an idea of justice,


true justice goes further. There's always going to be a more perfect justice just outside of our vision. And we'll just sort of chip away at our idea of it anyway. As we think about it or talk about it. We're going to chip away. What are we chipping away at? Well, as if we were sculpting some ideal of justice. We have some sort of rough idea and then gradually polish it. So we're sculpting this idea of justice. That might be one way to think about it. Yeah, and then what does Wallace Stevens tell us to do as we're doing this? Well, at the end he says it can never be satisfied, the human mind never. And I think just realizing that there's some ideal justice that


might help us to be a little more tolerant of people whose ideas about justice don't exactly match ours. And also to realize that we aren't really going to be able to realize what justice is. Just continue to... We're not going to realize what it is because we're never satisfied. We'll never be satisfied. It's almost like there's a mountain you're climbing and you get up to one thing. Oh, there's another little hill ahead. Oh, just another tiny little more hill. And you don't have a realization that the mountain is actually ten or thirty thousand feet high. I mean, things that were considered normal and right and healthy for society a hundred years ago today we're shocked and appalled because they're happening in some other part of the world where we were doing the exact same thing here


a hundred years ago, for instance. Women going outside without a hat on was considered very loose in this country not so long ago, and yet we think, well, Muslim women are really oppressed because they can't go out without a head covering. And, I mean, I think we just need a little more perspective in a way and at the same time it's important for our goals to have a goal that goes further than what we can reach. Yeah, a little further. Yes. Well, in light of that... What was that last comment? It's feedback. It is feedback, yes. I saw a bumper sticker three years ago that's really stuck with me and I'm sure this is not the source... It's stuck to you? It's stuck with me.


You know, this is not an original thought necessarily but it hit me at the right time to absorb it which was the statement that there is no way to peace. Peace is the way. And I feel like that applies to justice. That it's not a state to be achieved but it's a process to be carried on. And there's no end to it. There's no end to it. Yes. I have some feedback. When I came to the first class and found out you wanted to talk about justice I couldn't believe it because I had a very fixed idea about a learning I had about justice and that justice was the universal... the one universal thing all violence had.


That all violence stemmed from justice. Well, what I want to say is it's been great for me over these weeks can you hear me? to really get... I mean, well, I don't know if I got what you intended but my own mind opening up about that as a concept and that actually justice isn't a thing. Pretty much what he was just saying. And it's really been a great learning for me to sort of feel like I'm getting sort of the... it's almost like a keto thing that you do around it. And it's not fixed. It's alive. So thank you. You're welcome. Thank you for the feedback. We have the basic principle of the meaning is not in the word justice. The meaning is not in the word.


But if you bring energy to it the meaning emerges from the interaction between the energy and the word. Meaning comes forth. And that's not a one-time thing. If energy comes forth again, more meaning comes. The more energy you bring to the poem or the word justice or whatever, the more meaning, the more life comes out of this interaction between the word justice, the thought justice, the concept justice and the energy we give to it. And it's endless. And you can go to other words, too. But this is one of the words I think we should be bringing energy to. Otherwise, the meaning of the word justice will be missing from our repertoire. I was just going to ask in the parlance of what you've talked about before,


would you say that's creating a ritual with justice? Yeah, I kind of feel like this class was a ceremony dedicated to justice, including the ceremony of asking for feedback and you giving feedback. I see that as a ceremony for the sake of realizing the meaning of the word justice. But the word injustice also has a meaning. And if we brought a lot of energy to the word injustice, that would also bring meaning. Various things have meaning. So the words justice and injustice have been the recipients of a lot of energy for the last five weeks from this group of people. And I hope we continue to give our life to this topic. And we said truth and justice. This class is about truth and justice.


But truth gets quite a bit of attention in Buddhism. A lot of energy is brought to the word truth to get the meaning of the word truth. The word justice has not been brought out. That English word has not gotten much attention. But it got some the last five weeks and I think that was great. I hope you continue to contribute your life to this interaction. Yes? I have two images that have been coming back for the last few weeks. One is the traditional image of justice which is a scale and it's constantly a motion balancing on a point. The other is the intersection of the vertical and the horizontal. Which is that we have this absolute notion of non-separation that intersects with the conventional.


And that that point of intersection somehow justice is somewhere in that point of intersection. Yeah. Dogen actually uses the image of a steel yard which is a piece of steel balanced on a beam as a measuring device as a way to talk about the truth. So what's really the truth? Somehow the truth is somewhere in that intersection. Yes, Laurie? No, Laurie? Yes? Well, I would like to say something like what Jerry just said in a better way than I thought I was saying.


That I thought that there is all kinds of conventional interpretations of justice and there is the justness that comes from emptiness. Because, for example, when raising children I think it's necessary to use some conventional concepts of justice to introduce the idea of justice into children's lives and so on. And we're like, I think we're children also and to come to that union of the conventional ideas of justice and what comes out of the realization of emptiness


and I'm using emptiness of realization as if they were synonymous in any way or another. I guess it's the same thing that Jerry was saying that I shouldn't have said everything. But I thought that there's a training involved to be able to even know where this point of contact is between the, as she said, the earth and the world around you. Well, thank you for your the gift of your energy to this kind of frontier study


within the Zen tradition. This frontier discussion of a topic that doesn't get discussed in the usual ritual setting. Anything else tonight? Thank you.