Facing the Wall for Nine Years 

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Thank you. Thank you.


Someone came to talk to me recently and I heard before he came to talk to me that he was about to leave this country and go over the ocean to another country. I think I asked him if there was anything he wanted to tell me and I think he said something like, I don't believe that this is it. Or he might have said, sometimes I don't believe that this is it, or I have trouble believing


that this is it, and I said something like, I don't go there. Or I could have said, let's put that aside for a little while and let me say that I believe in giving wholehearted attention to this. So I'm not going to say I don't believe this is it, I'm not going to go that far, I'm just going to say that I'm talking about what I do believe in rather than what I don't believe in. There's quite a few things I might not believe in. What do I believe in? I believe in giving attention to this. Now, if I give attention to this, I might find out that this is it, or that it is this.


I might find that out. As a matter of fact, I believe that if I give wholehearted attention to this, I will find out the truth of this. I don't believe in this, but I do wish to realize the truth of this. What this is, is to some extent my idea of this, or my opinion of this, or the appearance of this. I have to deal with the appearance of this, or this is an appearance. When I meet you, this meeting, this meeting, is partly how this meeting appears to me. This meeting is partly my opinion of this meeting, and it's partly your opinion of this meeting. You might think, this is really an above average meeting, or you might think, this is not a good meeting, this is a really unwholesome meeting.


You might think that. Without getting into whether you trust your opinion of this meeting, without getting into that, I just say, I want to let you know I believe in giving wholehearted attention to the appearance, to your opinion of this meeting. Notice that grip. Now, many people have opinions about the meeting between me and this priest trainee. I believe in giving attention to it. Now, my faith is not 100% perfect, so I occasionally forget to pay attention to this. But when I do pay attention, it's like never been regretted by me.


I never said, I wish I hadn't paid attention to that. I never felt that way. And as a matter of fact, I think, this is good. And when I suggest to you that I believe it would be good for you to pay wholehearted attention to this, I think, that sounds good, I think I'll try myself. Right now. I might even propose to you that there's a theory in the Buddha Dharma that if you give wholehearted attention to this, you will find out that this is not this. And when you find out that this is not this, you realize that this is it. When you realize that this is not this, you realize the Dharma.


But if you don't give wholehearted attention to this, you're going to keep thinking that this is this. You'll keep believing that you're right or you're wrong, or in between. So that's what I said to this person who was about to leave the country. And then I said to him, are you going on pilgrimage? And he said, well actually, I don't know, I'm going to celebrate a wedding of some friends of mine. I said, I hope you make it a pilgrimage. And what I mean by pilgrimage is I hope, I pray, that every this, from here to England, and every this when you get to England, that you give wholehearted attention to it.


Then going to another country is a pilgrimage, it's not a pilgrimage to the country, it's a pilgrimage to being present while you're moving, or while you're still. So, like one of our ancestors on pilgrimage said, no matter where I go, I meet him. Wherever I go, I study what's going on. No matter where I go, or no matter who comes to me, no matter what place I go to or what place comes to me, I study it. So, the term that is used by one of our ancestors for pilgrimage is a Japanese term or a Chinese


term, henzan. It's sometimes translated as pilgrimage, but it also means, literally means, hen means everywhere or everything, and san means practice or meet. So, the word for pilgrimage means everywhere, practice, everywhere, meet, meet everywhere. As you move through the universe, if you're on pilgrimage, everywhere you meet yourself, everywhere you meet him, everywhere you meet her, everywhere you meet it. Another translation of this term for pilgrimage is thorough exploration.


So, wherever you are, you continue the exploration of the truth. There's no place, you know, you don't just study the truth at the bus stop, you also study the truth on the bus, and you study the truth at the cafe. You're thorough. You're thoroughly exploring life. Then your life becomes a pilgrimage, even if you're not moving. You're thoroughly exploring. As you know, sometimes when you're traveling, you have to sit still and wait in order to travel. Sometimes people complain, they want to travel, but actually they're being required to not move and to sit and wait for the plane or the train or the bus or the car.


Part of the travel is not to move. But do they enjoy it? Sometimes they don't. Sometimes they forget that they're on pilgrimage. They think that they're actually just trying to get someplace other than where they are. So, I prayed that he would give attention to where he is. I'd like to relate this to some other ways of saying the same thing. One of them is that I was traveling from the Sierra Nevada, the mountain range where it


And on the way up to the mountains, my spouse said that she wanted to go car shopping at a Toyota place. And I said, okay. So on the way back she reminded me, so when we came to the Toyota place, we went in and looked at their hybrid cars. And we got into the process of purchasing the car. And they offered to finance it at zero percent interest. The Buddhist rate of interest. But also I think it's the Christian rate of interest.


And then they checked my credit. And they came back and the guy said, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves here. We checked your credit, but one way to put it is you have zero credit. You don't have good credit, you don't have bad credit, you have zero credit. Or another way to put it is, in the realm of credit you do not exist. And the guy said, it's like you're a ghost. Where are you? Where have you been? I almost got proud. This person who said, it's like you're a ghost, man.


He also found out that I was ordained as a priest about 40 years ago. And he thought, well maybe that's appropriate for a priest not to have zero credit. Yeah, maybe that makes sense. In order to, I think, in order to verify, in order to realize thorough exploration, I think we need some form. When thorough explanation is realized, we have what's called a Bodhisattva.


We have a person who, we have the kind of people who attracted me to the Zen Bodhisattva training program. Because they had explored thoroughly, they were not attached to any forms. They weren't attached to forms of Zen practice, they weren't attached to the forms of Buddhist practice, they weren't attached to the forms of Bodhisattva practice, they weren't attached to Buddhism, they weren't attached to Taoism, they weren't attached to Christianity, they weren't attached to Catholicism. And when I saw them behaving in their unattached way, I thought, I don't want to be like that. I want to be the way a person is when they don't attach to themselves and others. But then I found out, these people went through a training program


where they were offered forms. And then when they were offered the forms, they were trained to not be tight about the forms, or loose about the forms. They were encouraged to study the forms, to thoroughly explore the forms. But it is kind of difficult to thoroughly explore a form if you don't even have anything to do with it. If you don't look at it, if you don't hug it, if you don't kiss it, if you don't pat it, if you don't pick it up or set it down, if you don't enter it or leave it, if you don't relate to it in a formal way, it's hard to prove that you're not attached to it. Like a lot of people say, I'm not attached to Zen practice. I never even heard of it. I never went near a Zen center, so I'm not attached to it.


Well, maybe so. But Zen practice is sitting there, waiting for you to come and verify that if you fully engaged, or I should say, that if you engaged in Zen forms, that you could do so in a thorough way, which is the same as saying you could do so without being tight about the forms. Like tightrope walking is a form you can use. And some people, it's possible that they could get up on the tightrope the first time they got up, and they could step on it with no attachment to the tightrope. Just put their foot on it without any attachment to the rope. without attaching to a tight rope, and maybe walk for a little while on it, without attaching


to it, it's possible. But it's kind of unlikely that they could walk very far without attaching to it. But let's say they walked just for a few steps, without attaching to it, and then they fell off. And they fell off, you know, in an unattached way. They stepped on it in an unattached way, and then they stepped in the air in an unattached way, and then they fell not too far, but far enough so the next time they got up on it, they started to attach to it, because they didn't like falling that much. So then they tried to stay on the thing. How can you balance without it being attached to balancing? You actually can attach to being balanced without attaching to being balanced. It is possible to learn. But it takes quite a bit of training. But you can do it once, you know, for a second, or twice. You can do it a few times without attachment, but eventually you start getting attached


to it. But then if you train more and more, finally you find a way to walk on the tight rope and not fall off, or fall off, either way, without being attached to falling off or not falling off. But it requires quite a bit of training. And all the forms of Zen, like sitting a certain period of time with a group of people, these are forms. Bowing, offering incense, studying scriptures, cooking breakfast, bowing to people, shaking hands, talking, all these forms are setting a context for you to not attach to anything. Starting with the forms. All these forms are set up to help us give up trying to control our life.


Most people are trying to control their life, which means their life and their relationship with other beings. Most people are trying to control. What attracted me to this tradition is some people showing what it looks like to not be trying to control. Not some people who are not in control, I've seen a lot of people who are not in control. I wasn't attracted to this tradition by seeing somebody drive off the road and kill herself. What attracted me is somebody not trying to control the car. And the wonderful way of life that that is. Not trying to control her thoughts, not trying to control her speech, not trying to control her body, giving it up. After many years of training and caring for her body, her speech, and her thought.


This is where having zero credit comes in handy. I don't know if I got, I think I eventually might get some credit, it's possible. Because I co-signed with somebody who has excellent, unbelievably good credit, who happens to be married to. She buys a lot of stuff and pays it off in time. So she has this celestial credit. So because I co-signed with her, that credit might come over onto me. And then I would have the difficulty with having some credit. But I think eventually it will go back to zero, if I just keep practicing long enough. I won't be defiled by all this credit.


But anyway, the car is now over at Green Gulch. And someday some payment has to be made on it. At no interest. If I make the payments late, I think, then I'll be paying something, probably. But if I pay on time, although I have zero credit, I make great payments. I pay a lot. So, we'll see what happens. I'll let you know if I ever have anybody check my credit again in a few years, to see if anything happened to it. Get a credit card. No, thank you. I'll use yours if you like. I have credit cards, but they're not mine. So I don't get any credit.


But I use them. I'd be happy to use any of your credit cards if you want me to. And then if you pay the stuff off on time, you'll get good credit. Do you have an aversion to credit cards? An aversion? I wouldn't say I have an... I don't really feel an aversion to unwholesome things. But I kind of think credit cards are... I'm not so sure that they're wholesome. They seem to be... What do you call it? Some people can use them properly, but I think a lot of people... It's not the credit cards that's the problem, but... It's like cars aren't exactly the problem. It's that when people get into the cars and drive them, it seems to be the problem. So, and alcohol itself isn't a problem, but when people drink it, it can be a problem. So, I think credit cards are being used by people who... They don't know how to use them in such a way that it's good for their health.


So, I... But I don't exactly have an aversion to their unskillfulness. I have more... I feel compassion from the people who are suffering because of the way they use the credit cards. I don't wish to have an aversion to them or their unskillfulness with them. I don't exactly have an aversion to various kinds of addictions that I'm not participating in. I'm more kind of in awe of them. I see them as very powerful possibilities to disrupt people's happiness. But I don't really have an aversion to them. I think that makes me more at risk in relationship to them than being... Being what? Giving them my full attention.


So, I give credit cards my full attention. I get lots of credit cards in the mail. Although I have zero credit, they want me to have better credit, so they send me all these credit card opportunities. I just got one yesterday from... What is it? Travelers... Travelers... What's it called? American Express, yeah. I got one from American Express. They're going to give me all these miles. Thousands of miles if I... If I get the credit card, but then I looked at it and I said, you have to buy something to get the thousands of miles. You don't just accept a credit card. On your first purchase, you get these miles. And then at the first $10,000, you get these miles, $10,000 of price charges. So, I would have to start buying stuff with the credit card in order to reap the benefits offered. So, I did study it a little bit. And I thought...


I think I had... Now I've studied enough, and now I move on to the next thing to study. If you pay it back... Pardon? If you pay it back, then you're not... Within the 30 days, you're not charged anything. Yeah, I understand. I pay other people's credit cards. I know about how to do it. You pay it back quickly, and then there's no charge, plus your credit gets better. So, I do that. But I don't wish to do more of that and have more cards and things like that. I don't think that's necessary. Unless you do think it's necessary. I think it's good to have credit for you so that when you go and buy a car, you could get one without any problems. But I could have got the car without the credit. I could have just paid in cash. But we live in a world that...


I know, but... No, we live in a world where I could pay for it in cash. That's the world we live in. I could have done it that way. And I said, can I pay in cash? And they said, yeah. And they said, but we have this other credit. We recommend you do the credit thing. I said, okay. But I could have paid in cash. But time is money. Yeah, I could have paid in time. You live in a world where Rev Anderson can pay for cash for certain cars. Certain cars I can't pay in cash, but I could have bought it outright and then I wouldn't have to write any checks. And I might actually change my mind and just write a check and pay it all off because I don't want to be paying every month. And I can do that. That's okay. Because it's zero credit. I'm in zero interest. I can pay it all off next week. Just because I don't know if I should be spending my time writing 12... 12 times 3 checks.


It takes time to write the thing in it. $661. I don't know if I should write that 36 times. I don't know if that's a good use of my time. You can auto-pay it. Can we talk about something else? Yeah, we can. Is that okay, Jackie? Has this been a request to talk about something else? Yeah. And one of the things I've noticed in this practice of these forms, which offer an opportunity to give up trying to control our life, is that sometimes we feel like the forms are controlling us. Or that the people who are giving us the forms are giving us the forms to try to control us. And I want to point out a pivot here, and that is that when we give up trying to control our life, we readily...


we readily become fearless. Or put it the other way, most people's attempt to control their life comes from fear. And then when they act to control, they perpetuate the fear. By learning to give up trying to control, we open the doors to fearlessness. And part of the way we open it is that as we begin to give up trying to control, we become more in touch with our fear. When we start to give up trying to control, it helps us get in touch with our fear. And by getting in touch with our fear, we have a chance to give full attention to it. And if we give full attention to it, we'll realize, among other things, we'll realize that fear is not fear.


So, fearlessness doesn't mean there's no fear. It just means we understand that fear is not fear. And I am not me, and you are not you. And you are me, and I am you. And everywhere I go, I meet it. So, now I'm on the verge of going down to Tassajara for a practice period, and some other people in this room are going to go also. But some of you are not going to be going to Tassajara, probably. So I wanted to speak to those going to Tassajara, but they're going to hear this again when they get there. And to those of you who aren't going, is that I encourage you to create a form, create forms in your life, to support you to give up trying to control your life. So, here today we have a form of sitting and walking together. And I hope that this form,


for the rest of the day, you use this form when you're sitting, and when you're walking, you use this form as a context for giving up trying to control your life. In other words, give up trying to control your life today, here. We're all here to support you to give up trying to control your life. Today, here. I'm here to support you to give up trying to control your life today. I'm here to support myself to give up trying to control my life here today. And when I think about it, and when I embrace the possibility of giving up trying to control, I do feel more intimate with fear and fearlessness. Could you speak on the fear and the strength?


Because I feel I lack the strength, therefore I fear. Yes, so you may feel I lack strength, and I feel afraid, and you might think, well, you might think, if I get some more strength, then maybe I wouldn't fear. In other words, you try to control your strength level. Or some people are like, feeling kind of sleepy, and they're afraid, you know, in some Zen monasteries, they're afraid somebody's going to hit them, because they're kind of sleepy. Or that someone might ask them a question, and they might not be able to respond very well, because they're kind of sleepy, and they can barely understand what the person's saying. Or people might say, what's the matter with you? You look sleepy. You shouldn't be sleepy. So then I think,


well, maybe I should drink some tea. I've got some tea right here. I'll drink some tea, and then I won't be so sleepy. But if I'm drinking the tea out of fear of sleepiness, am I trying to control my sleep level? Or should I give up trying to control my sleep level? How can I drink tea without trying to control my state of mind? Without drink tea to get strength, so I can give this talk. And here's the tea. Should I throw it away? So, whether I drink the tea or not, whether I drink tea with caffeine or not, I'm saying thoroughly explore what I'm doing. Am I doing this to try to control my state of mind?


Check that out. Now, how about trying to give up trying to control my state of mind? If I don't drink this tea, do I feel fear of my ability to give the talk if I didn't drink the tea? Yeah, I feel afraid. I won't be able to give the talk if I don't drink this tea. Or it won't be a very good talk, and then that won't please the Sangha if I don't give a good talk. He came in there and he was kind of sleepy, and it was kind of a stupid talk. He just didn't say anything interesting. It was really boring. I'm not going to go hang out with him anymore. He's no fun. He used to be fun because he used to drink a lot of caffeine and say funny stuff. But no more. He's lost me. I'm going to go someplace where it's more interesting. So, if I'm afraid of that,


and I can feel that, then do I try to control myself to be more entertaining? So, it's my job to look at that, to explore myself and see what I'm up to here. Could you speak to asking for what you want in relation to controlling, not controlling? As a matter of fact, I could. Will you please? As a matter of fact, I will. So, I can say, Alenia, would you please be kind and intimate with yourself? For the rest of your life. I just said that to you?


I will try. Yeah. But I really did not feel afraid of you not doing that. And I wasn't saying that to get you under control. So, that's an example. You could say, well, that was an easy one. I'll do a hard one. But anyway, that was an easy one. I started with an easy one. So, I ask all of you. Actually, I asked you a few minutes ago. Please, those of you who aren't going to go to Tassajara, try to create some form that will remind you and support you to give up trying to control your life. Which is the same as find a form that will support you to be kind to every experience you have. So, again, in the Lotus Sutra, Chapter 14, where it describes how to practice with your body if you wish to be able to help the Buddha transmit the Dharma,


the teachings there, the wonderful practices there, one of them is giving up trying to control. It says, whenever you meet a phenomena, a person, a feeling, a smell, a touch, a taste, a color, inwardly or outwardly, whatever phenomena you would meet, give up trying to control it. Be patient with it. Be non-violent with it. So, create a structure that will support you. One structure you can do is read that chapter. Read the first two, three paragraphs of that chapter every day. And then, after you read it, then perhaps vow, or talk to yourself and say, will you commit to practice that today? And you say, yes, I will. That's a form you could create to support that. And then you can notice, do you try to control yourself into doing that practice?


And you probably would. The forms you use to support yourself, to give up forms, you tend to attach to those forms. But that's part of the training. So, the people who are going to Tassajara are going to be going into a place where a lot of forms are going to be offered to help them not attach to the forms. So, I'm suggesting to you that if you're not going to be at Tassajara, create some forms and then see if you can be with them in a relaxed and playful way. But have the forms to see if you can be that way with them. Like one person has trouble following long days of sitting meditation and walking meditation without getting tight about them. One person told me that recently. When she does a few periods of sitting, she can do them without getting tight with them.


And then it's beneficial. But if she does a lot of sitting, she starts to get more and more tight around them. And then it kind of injures her as she spends a lot of time tightly following the schedule. So, I said, why don't you experiment on your own, outside the community context of sitting and walking and stretching and other things, until you find a way to relate to these forms of practice without getting tense. Which means, probably, you'll discover why I didn't get tense. Well, then stop. And you can just stop and do something different. Do a different form. And then, you may notice, then you attach to that. So, when you start to notice you're getting tense or tight around the sitting, and you're starting to get distressed because of the tightness around the sitting, get up and walk. And then, if you get tight around the walking... Like, in my case,


I tend not to get so tight around sitting, but I get more tight standing. I'm not so good at standing as I am at sitting. Walking I'm okay, but I actually have a problem standing without getting tight about it. You don't have to do it, but I think we do need a form to surface our basically innate tendency to tighten around things, to grasp things, to attach to things. And these forms are opportunities to discover this by your attachment to the forms. And then, work with the forms in such a way as to learn through the forms how to be relaxed and playful and creative. But it's difficult maybe to do that in a situation where there's a lot of other people involved. So, you can actually try that on your own and have some extended period of practice


in your home where you feel comfortable sitting for a short time, walking for a short time, sitting for a long time, walking for a long time, sitting for a short time, walking for a long time, and so on. We can try all different kinds of patterns of sitting, walking, stretching, until you find a way to be formally engaging with your body all day long. In a way that, when you're over, you say, that was really wonderful, I enjoyed that, and no harm was done. And you find your rhythm. Like, when I first started sitting, I couldn't sit full lotus for 40 minutes. So, I sat full lotus for less than 40 minutes. When I actually first started sitting, I could sit in full lotus. It wasn't very good, but I could. And then I worked at it, and it got more and more, the posture, the crossed legs,


got more and more, what I would say, healthier, authentic. But still, I couldn't sit very long that way. So, what I used to do is sit on my own, not in the Zen Do. And I found that when I could sit 20 minutes, or 25 minutes outside the Zen Do, I could sit 40 minutes in the Zen Do, in a way that worked. But that's just one period. And then, gradually, I was able to do more and more by consistent practice. But I didn't push myself too hard, like some people do. I didn't push myself too hard. Well, sometimes I push myself too hard, but then the next day, I didn't push myself too hard. But I didn't push myself so hard that I quit. Yeah. A form to help you not be attached?


So, can I suggest a form to become freer of trying to control life? Yes. So, the form I would suggest is to walk around your house silently. For 10 minutes. I would suggest that form. Thank you. You're welcome. The Lotus Sutra, what book is this in? It's a Lotus Sutra, yeah. Is it part of a book? It's a book called the Lotus Sutra. Yeah. I could show it to you later if you like.


We have several copies, several different translations here in this building. One is hidden in there. Yeah. There's one inside the Buddha. We put one inside the Buddha. But let's leave that one in there. It's kind of hard to get it in there. But I have some other ones. Yes. So, I want to see, if I'm getting this. So, the goal would be to not control a lot, That's not really the goal. The goal is to benefit all beings and to transmit the truth, which will liberate all beings. That's the goal. But in order to be able to receive the truth and transmit the truth, one needs to give up trying to control life. One's life and others' life. Your life and my life. You need to give up trying to control your life and my life in order to receive and transmit the Buddhist teaching.


And the point of transmitting the Buddhist teaching is for the welfare and happiness of all beings. That's the goal. It's the benefit of all beings. The freedom of all beings. The happiness of all beings. That's the goal. This is a requirement. Okay. And then put in some forms that will support you in doing that. My question right now is, some of the talks we've had about intention in the past. Yes. And intention feels like it's a side show. It doesn't feel like it's part of what you're talking about here. No, intention... For example, now, if you intend to... Like, for example, let's say you might intend to receive the Buddhist teaching and transmit the Buddhist teaching in order to benefit beings. That's an intention. And you might also promote that intention to avow by making that intention avow, which you did when you received the Bodhisattva precepts.


You had the intention to practice them before you received and promised. Then you did a formal ceremony where you received the precepts and you promised to practice them from now on and even after realizing the Buddha body. You promised to practice these precepts. And avow is the highest level of intention. It's the highest level to take an intention to. So you had the intention to practice these teachings of compassion. You promised to practice them. That's intention. And one of the precepts which you vowed to practice is to embrace and sustain forms. That's one of the vows you made. You vowed to practice, to work with forms. And the point of practicing those forms is to learn how to practice those forms without attaching to them. You vowed to practice forms


so that you could learn how to practice the forms without trying to control the forms. You vowed to learn how to, for example, sit in a traditional way without being tight about that traditional way of sitting. So in Zen we have formal sittings which we try to practice in traditional ways and we try to do that to see if we can do it without being tight. And in fact people try to do them and they do get tight. And then they train more and more and they get feedback on their tightness until finally they can sit without being tight about the sitting. All this makes sense to me in the context of... And intention is going... Sahara, Greenbelt, I'm talking about driving the streets. I'm talking about not controlling life in whether you clean your closet or your relationship with people. Yes, so like cleaning your closet. You could have one... Another thing I was going to mention today is


in the toilet earlier today I noticed this magazine and it's a Martha Stewart magazine and it said on the cover Outward Order and Inner Calm. Okay, or you could say... What issue is that? Huh? What issue is that? What issue? I think it's the newest one. I think the magazine is called something. Whole Living. No, this one is called Whole Living. And it says at the top Martha Stewart magazine. Maybe she has another magazine but this one is called Whole Living. Or Whole Life or something like that. And it's got a picture of a flower in a vase.


And a flower in a vase is an outward form which we use to promote in this temple. We offer flowers which are outward forms and we do them with some attention and some intentionality. We offer these flowers in order to promote inner calm. But also outer calm. We use outer calm, outer forms to make inner calm. So I'm doing this because Tracy said closets. So in Zen practice we have outer forms to promote inner calm. In other words, outer forms to promote inner not being tight with the forms. If you're tight you're not calm. If you're tight you're not tranquil. So we use forms like this stick, like the flowers, like incense offering, like a posture in sitting. We use these forms and the point of using them


is can you do them wholeheartedly. And wholeheartedly means do them without being tight about them. That's what I'm saying. When you clean the closet when you clean the closet, is that an outer form, an outer order that you're doing to be calm? Are you trying to get your closet under control? So now this afternoon, we're going to have a work day probably where we're going to put some debris in a dumpster. We're going to kind of clean the temple. But I'm not trying to clean this temple to get this temple under control. I should say I vow not to take care of this place to get this place under control because that's antithetical to no abode. No abode is clean the place so that we can not dwell here. Clean this place so we can be calm here.


Don't clean this place to get this place under control because if we get this place under control then we're going to be sitting here afraid that it's going to get out of control. But we don't do that here. That's why people like to come here because you don't come here to get this place under control. You come to play here. You come here to order the place and take care of the forms and closets here. Like there's a big closet project that we've been doing here. Now some of the people maybe try to build those closets to get people's stuff under control. I don't know. But I'm not trying to get your stuff under control. I'm just letting there be a form called a closet where you can put your stuff. So that you can give up trying to control. When you're here, like you say, when you're here you can give up trying to control. When you go home and you clean your closet, don't clean your closet to get your closet under control. Clean your closet to be calm. Clean your closet so you can be calm.


And if you notice you're cleaning your closet just to get the closet under control, stop and go do something else that you can do to promote your calm. Like, for example, take a walk. And don't go anywhere on the walk. Just walk in a circle around your living room. Or go sit on the toilet and read Martha Stewart. What does she say? She says, outward order for inner calm. Like get the toilet paper in the right place. But not to get it under control, but so you can be calm. Now I've cleaned the bathroom, now I can sit calmly. So cleaning your house is a traditional Zen practice. But the point of it is not to get the house clean, the point of it is so now you can sit and give up trying to control. So same as the tightrope walking?


Same as the tightrope walking. That was very helpful. So all that you have to find, you have to commit now to some forms. I still will come back and do one day sittings here, but since I'm going to be in this training situation between the one day sittings, I would like you to be in a training situation between the one day sittings. Think about the forms you're going to be practicing which will support you to do something, that form that you're going to be doing, to do that form, not to get control through that form or to get that form under control, but just do that form to see if you can do it without tightening. To clean your closet without tightening around it getting clean. So if somebody comes in and dumps a bunch of garbage in your closet, you can welcome them. And you might welcome them by saying, could you dump this stuff someplace else? And they might say, no, I got to dump it here. You say, wow, this is amazing, I can't believe how Reb got these bodhisattvas to come and dump garbage in my closet to test me.


It's amazing. Suddenly people knock on the door and say, we have a delivery of garbage for your closet. Reb sent us to test to see if you're trying to clean your closet in order to get your closet clean, or if you're cleaning your closet in order to test your fearlessness. So that's why he asked me to bring this garbage to you. However, if you really don't want us to put it there, we won't. We're not attached to getting it in the closet either. Our assignment was to deliver the garbage, your assignment is to welcome it. But you can welcome it in many, many ways. The point is, are you practicing this precept which you vowed to practice, which is forms and ceremonies, which ultimately means that everything you do all day long is a ceremony. When you clean your closet, it's a ceremony, it's not done in order to get the closet clean. When we offer incense, it's not done in order to offer the incense,


it's to test non-attachment. Do you give this incense away, or are you trying to get the incense into the bowl and make sure it stands up straight? I remember one of the first times I saw Suzuki Roshi offer incense, I was struck because when he put the incense in, I felt like he put it in, and then I felt like he was kind of surprised at what happened. It's like he put it in, and it sort of stood there. It's like, I wonder what's going to happen now. Oh wow, it stood up! But sometimes actually, it tilted over a little bit. That was a surprise too. So you don't put it in, now I've got the incense offered, now what's the next thing to do? It's not like, I give the incense, I do the bow, I do the bow, but it's not like I do the bow to do the bow, I do the bow to see what the bow is, to explore thoroughly this bow, rather than to get this bow,


get under control there bow! Got that under control now, I'll cross my hands in control, I'll walk in control. Some Zen monks slip into that. And the Sangha, and the teacher says, you seem to be kind of tight. I mean it's a really beautiful gassho, it's lovely, but I kind of feel like you wouldn't be willing to do an ugly gassho, is that right? Well no, I can't do an ugly gassho, that would be, I would be terrified if I did ugly gassho, I've got to do this perfect one. So could I please, would you please let me change your gassho a little bit, make it a little bit less beautiful. Could I pull your hands, could I push your hands a little tighter together, could I push your thumb down here, pull it back? No, no! Okay. Fine, see you later. Or I might say, I thought you asked me to give you feedback on your forms. Yeah, but not this way. You can give me feedback, but not this one.


Oh, I see. I told you the story one time about the guy who came to serve me at Tassajara, in the meals, and stood in front of me, and I was looking down at my bowls, and I could see his feet, and I noticed that almost every time he came, one foot was straight ahead and the other one was turned off to the right, and I kind of thought it was kind of funny that one was straight and one was off to the side, because he walked in a normal way, he didn't seem to be having any kind of walking problems, but when he stood in front of me, one foot was straight, and one was turned out, the toes to the right. So I asked him one time, not in the zendo, outside the zendo, I said, did you hear this story before? I said, can I ask you a question about your form, of serving? He said, yeah. I said, well, when you serve,


almost always one foot is straight and the other one is turned out to the right, your right foot is turned out and your left foot is straight. He said, do you do that intentionally? Because I thought it would be kind of, by accident, it didn't seem like it would happen by accident, and if he was doing it intentionally, I wondered why? What was his motivation? And he said, I said, I was wondering, do you do that intentionally? He said, something like, well, what difference would it make to you? Or, so what? And I said, oh, okay, well, I'm going to go swimming. And then the next time he came to serve, both feet were straight. And then from then on, both feet were straight, and I thought, hmm, I wonder what happened? And then, like, 10 or 15 years later, after he left Zen Center and moved back to his sort of home state in the United States,


one of his close friends told me that he saw him, and they were talking, and he was thinking of his time at Zen Center, and he said, the most important moment in his practice at Zen Center was when I asked him that question. That was the most important thing that happened to him there. So, these forms, and, you know, like having one foot turned a little bit, we get tight around that, and when somebody asks us about it, it can have a big impact on, you know, we can get very frightened if somebody's talking to us about how we put our feet, how we put our hands, how we wear our clothes, whether we're leaning to the right or leaning to the left. These are ways for us to be intimate with ourselves and intimate with each other. And as we get, as we get more and more intimate,


we, we go through various layers of fear. Because, again, the forms that are supporting us to be intimate with the forms, the forms which are offered to realize intimacy, we usually start by being too relaxed with them or too tight with them. And then, and then we start, and as we're too relaxed or too tight, and we are, excuse me, and we are too relaxed or too tight because we're afraid of what would happen if we weren't too, if we weren't too tight or too loose. We're afraid of what would happen. So being too tight or too loose with the forms are ways of trying to control them. When you're not trying to control them, you're not too tight or too loose. You just do them. But almost nobody hits the mark every time. Most people are like a little too tight or too loose.


In other words, most people are trying to control their life through what they're doing. So as we get more and more deep, you get deeper and deeper and more and more subtle levels of trying to control. As you get with the grosser kinds of control, you get more and more subtle kinds of control. It's virtually endless, this thoroughness about the subtleties of the, of the controlling. Yes? I, I, one place I get stuck is I think that, you know, a little effort is a good thing and a lot of effort is a better thing. And I don't, I don't notice when it's time to stop and push too far. So I'm wondering about what that signal, you know, how to tune into that signal that now would be a time to stop. Is there a signal now would be a good time to talk, stop?


Yeah. So there might be a signal which you don't notice. So then when you don't notice it, then you get in trouble. So then you say, I think there might have been a signal there that I didn't notice because I went too long on that one. So next time I'm going to watch more carefully for that, for that signal. I often think in myself of like painting, like painting a room. You know, you're into painting a room and actually it's time to stop but you want to finish it. When you feel this, this sense of, you know, I want to finish this rather than I'm just painting. I want to get it done. That's maybe a signal, a little alarm. You're not just painting, you're now trying to get the room under control. In other words, get the room painted. Rather than I'm painting, I may never finish this room, but I'm painting. I can stop any time, I can also continue,


but at some point you feel like, I think I want to finish. That may be what you feel right after you get this message of it's time to take a break. When I'm doing calligraphy, oftentimes it's going along, you know, it takes a while to warm up and then to get into a place where it's going pretty well. And then sometimes it goes too long and I start to make mistakes. Part of what really helps me do it is if I kind of feel like I'm crying when I'm writing. I'm sort of surrendering into it rather than getting it done. I'm surrendering to the process rather than getting the process under control. And if I'm kind of crying into the process, it's pretty easy to pick up on the signal that it's time to stop. But if I'm bulldozing the process, then I keep going maybe beyond when I should stop and I start making mistakes.


But sometimes when I'm doing any work or anything, I've noticed when I'm joyful, when I'm happy, that is what to me is ultimate. Ultimate of doing something joyfully. But then sometimes when that joy is not there fully, then I feel like I'm doing a job. So the form becomes like dull or whatever I'm doing becomes like a chore rather than the joy of doing it. Well, it sounds like you're saying when it gets to be a chore, it's like you're trying to get the activity under control. You're trying to control it to get it done. And then it loses its life. So when we try to... So, trying to control our life is kind of violent.


So nonviolence is another message for how to practice with what's happening. Not being overbearing, not being oppressive, being nonviolent, being gentle. Gentle, but some people feel like they're gentle, but they're still gently trying to get it under... They're gentle, but they're still trying to get it under control in a gentle way. I'm gently trying to... How about gently and also giving up trying to control it? Maria? My question has to do with two questions about day-to-day life. Day-to-day life, yes. The asphalt. And I think I'm doing pretty good these days. My house is not in order at the moment, but that's okay.


I have other things that I put as more important, and it doesn't make me nervous. I have a preference of things being in order, but it is how it is. Can I say something? When you're working on ordering something, and you notice that you have a preference for it being ordered, the preference for it being ordered hinders the activity calming you. The preference to order hinders the activity in what? Hinders the activity calming you. Yes. So, if we set the altar in an orderly fashion, because we want to, but we don't prefer for it to be that way, then it's more calming. And if we do it with the preference that it wind up under control.


Yes, I understand what you're saying. Good. Now you have the very difficult thing of practicing it. Yes. It's all the time. It's hard. From my experience in a Zen center and in a monastery, there's a lot of places you can check yourself. Yes. All the time. That's how it's set up. And I don't think I have those checks, because there isn't... Yes, I understand. It's hard to find the checks, so I'm encouraging you to look for the checks. Here's a check I have, a new check I have. It's a new car. I have a new car? That's a check that's been given to me. You can't talk about that. I'm not talking about credit. I'm talking about the car now. The car is in order. The car is in order.


Now how can I continue to use this car in order? It's like in perfect order. And so I actually... People said, How is your new car? I said, I'm kind of nervous driving it. Because it's so in order, I can feel my fear of it getting out of order. Not only is it in order, but it's a new type of order. Like it's on and you can't even hear it, so it can drive away without you even knowing it. So it's in order, and also I feel its impermanence. Because it's so in order, I feel the impermanence. So I actually can feel my fear more in that car. Like if I get in one of the Green Gulch trucks, I feel no fear. If I run into a tree, Timo will forgive me. If I tell him, he says, Oh, thank you for telling me. He says, It's okay. It's already all dented up, no problem. I can't even see what you're talking about.


But this new car, this pristine thing, actually I can feel my fear of it losing its order. So driving that car, I'm actually really have a great form for testing whether I can drive it without trying to control it. And I'm really challenged to drive this, more challenged to drive this car and find a way of driving it with attention but not trying to control than the last car, where I got kind of used to how to drive it without noticing that I was trying to control it. But now I can really notice I'm trying to control this car. So if you can find new situations like that and get them in order, they often will help you find this controlling thing and the fear of losing control. My tendency in the natural is to forget about not tend to certain things.


Not tend to certain things that don't have to be there ultimately but it would be good that they tended to. Yeah, that's what I say. There's two ways to try to control your life. One is don't pay attention. The other is pay real close attention. If I pay close enough attention, I'll get it under control. If I pay close enough attention to this car, it won't have an accident. So that's one thing I do when I'm afraid. It's one way to try to control my life, is to pay close attention. The other way to control my life is to not pay attention. These are ways to control. So you notice one way is to not pay so much. To have an altar in your house and to really clean it offers you an opportunity to put something on it and notice you're trying to control. So we do need to have some order to see if we're like, when we have the order,


are we being too lax, not paying attention as a way to control and not be afraid or we do it the other way. So you're noticing you have one kind of tendency. I mean they're different. Because you've learned the other side, you don't want to do that side. We do both at different times. You do both at different times, yeah. I think most of us do. Some people tend to specialize in one most of the time. Most people do both. But if you look at Zen students, they say this person is like 30% too much, too tight around the form, and 70% too loose. Actually, 30% too tight, 69% too loose, and 1% they're actually right there and they're totally on the mark and it's really amazing. When that happens, and that's what encourages them, is to find that place of fearlessness in this life.


And some other people are 70% too tight and whatever. There's different patterns. But we get to see each other and help each other with this. And it's not the same every day. It changes all the time. Yes, Susan. I'm going to ask you a question because I can't figure out where this goes with me. In this particular situation, income taxes. Yes. Your IRS returns. Yes. Usually if I, just in general, I'll either get very over-involved and keep going until I finish it because I can't stand doing it. Yeah. So then what happens is that my approaching it at time to do it, I start not wanting to do it at all. So that keeps getting pushed off. So what I decided to do is I set up a time


and I literally put a timer on in the bedroom while I'm working in another room. It's for one hour. And whatever I do, I do. Even if it's just I'm looking and going, Oh, I didn't even remember this. Oh, this is what happened this year. Even if it's off the mark, when the alarm goes off, I stop. And then I have things going on, like keep going. You didn't really get that far. You just didn't organize. You haven't even gotten into a topic. You haven't finished one thing. And then I say, Well, that's interesting, but it's time to stop. And then I get up. And I go back the next day and do the same thing. Yeah, so that's an example of order to promote inner... Order... Well, you could turn that into control too. In Zen, we have forms for us to... Through using, we use the forms


to help us give up trying to control. And then we start to try to use the forms to control. But noticing that you're using something to try to control is necessary in order to stop, in order to learn to give up control. We have to find the places where we're trying to control in order to give up trying to control. So, to set something up, for the main reason of setting it up, is to surface the tendency to control. Even though it sounds controlling, where I'm saying... Well, your case is a mixture, because you still sound a little bit like you're trying to get your income tax stuff done. Well, I'm talking about the fight that happens. Even though I know... I say, wow, that really worked well last year. And it does. It works well. It's a good thing for me. I tell my clients it works for them too. Yeah. And... You're not quite getting it. Now watch. You set it up.


And you set it up and you say it works well. But if you set it up because it works well, that's still a little bit trying to control yourself into doing something that works well. That's a little bit off there. So you need to set it up just to find out what you'll think when you set it up. And in fact, it is a form. And sometimes you do the form and you say, OK, I want to do more. You say, but that's not the form. Now, in that case, you notice the tendency to want to do more to get control, but you also notice, perhaps, the tendency to hold to the form. Right. However, if you do not follow the form, you might not learn anything. All you know is you vaguely know you're miserable, but you don't know what it's about. And you think, well, maybe it has something to do with the IRS work. Maybe that's what I'm miserable about.


So let's set up a form so I can find out, is that what I'm miserable about? It's not about the IRS. It's about trying to control our life around that issue. That's what's making us nervous. It's about not thoroughly exploring this thing. If we thoroughly explore this IRS thing, we'll come to a place of honesty and authenticity and intimacy, of fearlessness around it. But we need some form in that regard. And it's the same driving a car. We need some form. It's the same cleaning the closet. You need some form in order to find out that if you use the form, you find out how you're trying to control the process. And also, if you're not trying to control the process, then you say, oh, this is really working well because I'm not trying to control the process.


This is really nice, I like this. So then you say, well, I better use this form. Then you find that you're attached to the form, which allows you to be free from the form. So the Buddha used forms to become free of forms, but then he kept using the forms, and then people said, and the Buddha said actually, people might think that I'm attached to the forms that I use to become free, because I'm still doing the forms, but I'm not attached to the forms. So you have this rule of doing one hour as a form, which you do so that you can be free while you're doing the work, and free somewhat after the work, and free from your discussions about the work. Or you do the hours so that you can be aware that you're not free of it, but becoming aware that you're not free while you're doing this work is necessary in order to be free. And the more that works, the more you'll be likely to be attached to the forms of the one hour.


So the more Zen forms work for Zen students, the more they become at risk of attaching to the forms, which set them free from attachment. So then they think, well maybe I shouldn't do the forms then, because I'm attaching to them. No. That's another attempt to control. Charlie, if you have a second, would you look at the sign that says Erica laying on it? The sign that says Erica? Yeah, would you look at that? And call us and tell us how you suggest we fix it. Thank you. So basically creating form and letting go. It's not so much creating form, it's more like find one. Find a form and let go. Find a form, embrace it, without being tight about it.


That's what we're trying to learn to do. Something came to my mind, which was, I keep going to the lack, I keep lacking, lacking the ability to be in the moment, of that moment of now. That is what I'm lacking, so maybe I'm holding to something that I lack. Well, you could say lacking, that's okay. But you could also say that we can become more thoroughly present. But the fact that I'm not thoroughly present, now it doesn't exactly mean I lack the ability, you can put it more optimistically, that I haven't realized my full potential to be completely present in the moment, moment after moment. Is that because I'm still holding to the forms that I'm practicing? Yeah. We could say, like this chant we do, we talk about receiving the true Dharma


and then renouncing worldly affairs. What are worldly affairs? Worldly affairs are basically attachments. Worldly affairs are being tight about our activity. So when you see the true Dharma, you will renounce being tight about your activities, because you understand your activities are not anything to be tight about. But then it says, although our past evil karma, you could also say, however, our past evil karma has greatly accumulated, being a cause and condition of obstacles in practicing the way. What way? The way of not being tight about our life. The way of giving up trying to control our precious life. Those are worldly affairs. But we have trouble giving them up, because we have this past karma of such a long time of trying to control. So it's going to be difficult to give up trying to control. So that's why we have to practice confession and repentance. Oh, I'm trying to control this new car.


Because of my past karma, I tend to try to control things, especially things that are very pure, like a pure complexion, you know? Like a baby has no marks on its face, so mommy doesn't want to scratch on that baby's face. The baby doesn't really maybe mind that much. But the mother, looking at this pristine cheek, does not want a little scratch on it. So the mother is like, very difficult for the mother not to be attached to this perfect cheek, either on the face or on the rear. Beautiful cheek, beautiful body, perfect, stupendous, beautiful thing, you know? When you see that, it's very difficult not to attach. That's natural for us. Not to attach or not...it's difficult... The fear comes of breaking it, of destroying it. Yeah, the fear comes of it being destroyed. Yeah, the fear comes of it being destroyed.


So how do you deal with that fear? So let me say, the fear comes of it being destroyed, so then what we do is to try to control it. And by trying to control it, we don't exactly destroy it, because destroying doesn't really happen. We're just afraid it's going to be destroyed. So we don't really destroy our life, because you can't destroy your life. You can ruin it, though. You can crush it, you can distort it, you can maim it, but you can't destroy it. You can harm your life, if you fear that it's going to be destroyed. If I fear that my life will be destroyed, that fear will harm my life. It won't destroy my life. My life cannot be destroyed. Nothing can be destroyed. That's the Buddhist teaching. However, things are changing all the time, and if we interpret change as destruction, we very well might get afraid. And then when we get afraid, we try to control the thing so it won't get destroyed. Well, it won't get destroyed anyway. We control the thing, so it won't get harmed then.


Okay. So if you want it not to get harmed, then give up trying to control it. And this is hard. Give up trying to control my baby so it won't be harmed? Y-E-S. Give up trying to control Noah's boat so it won't get harmed? Yes. Give up trying to control yourself so you won't be harmed? Yes. Fearlessness comes with being relaxed with fear. So if we feel afraid of harm coming to beings, and we relax with that fear, then we can be fearless and relaxed with the being, and that's the best way to protect the being. But we have to admit that we have the fear in order to relax with the fear, in order to stop trying to control when we feel fear,


rather than look at the fear and don't try to control the fear either. But if we don't notice the fear and act out of the fear to control, then we don't take care of the fear and we don't take care of the thing that we're trying to control. The thing we're trying to take care of is not something we should try to control, but it's always something we should embrace and sustain, not try to control. But we have this long history of wanting to protect things and being afraid that we won't be able to, that we don't have the strength or ability to protect them, and then becoming afraid and then thinking, well, since I'm afraid and I care about this thing, I should get this thing under control. I have to control my child. I have to control myself. So, I'm afraid this is a difficult topic because in many Buddhist texts, it talks about controlling your mind, controlling your body, controlling your actions. Controlling your appetite. Controlling your appetite. So, I'm kind of feeling like...


I'm kind of feeling like... Control your teacher. Get him to stop talking soon, otherwise everybody's blood level is going to plummet. And once it plummets, we're going to have big problems. So, in order to protect beings, I'm going to start doing this thing now. I'm not controlling you. I'm not trying to control you. Buddha's way. Beings are numberless. I vow to save them. Delusions are incessant. I'm about to pass out, but I'm not trying to control my blood level. Dharma gates are boundless. I vow to enter them. Buddha's way is unsurpassable.


I vow to attain it. And I'm not... And Carolyn wasn't trying to control me. Were you, Carolyn? Well, I was on the edge there.