Faith that Allows Doubt and the Idea that All Ideas are Contingent and Empty 

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So, to perform the Buddha way is the Buddha way. To model the Buddha way is the Buddha way. To learn the Buddha way is the Buddha way. To perform the Buddha way, which is the Buddha way, is to perform yourself. You do perform yourself, but if you don't notice it, if you're not aware of it, you


might miss it. And if you miss it, it does seem like you miss it, and therefore you miss also the performance of the Buddha way, and therefore you miss the Buddha way. So noticing that you're performing yourself is something which I highly recommend. Although I don't recommend movies, I do recommend that you perform the Self. Someone said earlier today that they heard a teaching about fully expressing yourself. Did somebody here bring that up? Who did? She left. Who? Elizabeth. Yeah. Elizabeth went off to perform herself, to fully express herself, someplace else. So, today I hope that you enjoyed performing yourself here.


Yes? I would like to make a confession that I'm noticing my performance is stirred towards ideas of good practice or good practitioner. So they're very strongly bent on my ideas of what a good performance is. Thank you for the confession. And then I ask you that when you notice that you're a person who's concerned about being a good student, do you perform that? Say good student again? Do you perform, I'm concerned. Good student. But now you confessed.


Did you perform that confession? Yes. And before you confessed, when you were being concerned about the concerns you just shared, did you perform them? Did you fully express them? I expressed them throughout all the time. But do you feel like I am now expressing that? And do you feel I am now performing a student of Buddha Dharma concerned with these things? That's my question to you. Yes. Well, good. That's the Buddha way. The Buddha way is when you're a person who's concerned about the things you're concerned about, that you perform that person with confidence. In other words, wholeheartedly perform a person who's concerned about whether they're right or wrong.


Wholeheartedly perform a person who's strongly bent in a certain direction. I am a bent person. I perform a bent person. Twisted and turned in certain ways according to ideas. Do you perform that person wholeheartedly? I am performing. And I'm doubting right now. And you're what? I'm doubting right now. Yeah, you're doubting. I'm doubting. Are you performing that dart wholeheartedly? I don't... I do. You look like a pretty good performance adult there, Cho Ho.


It looked pretty good. Kind of like, oh God, I'm full of doubt. Oh, geez, wow. You look pretty good, you know. Did you feel the wholeness of your doubt? Did you exercise it? Somebody's just telling me about... They're reading this book called Warm Smiles from Cold Mountain. Of course, she didn't remember the name exactly. But anyway, that's the real name. And there was a part in it about giving up self-improvement. Something like that in the book. I can imagine it's in there. Giving up self-improvement. Giving up trying to improve yourself. And when she said that, I thought, yeah, give up trying to improve yourself. But exercise yourself. So I actually exercise myself. I do. Have you noticed? I do.


I even go to special exercise areas to exercise myself. And I might think when I'm there to improve myself, you know, to lift... instead of 250, to lift 300 pounds. Improvement. I might think that. But if I remember, the book said, don't try to improve yourself. How about just maintain yourself? How about prevent degeneration? So, the book says, give up trying to improve yourself, give up self-improvement and give up self-maintenance. But exercise yourself. Exercise. So as I'm degenerating, from a certain perspective, I am degenerating. Degeneration. Losing, losing, losing various things.


No, giving them away, giving them away, giving them away. Losing, giving. Losing, giving. Gave it. Losing memory. Gave it. Losing teeth. Gave them. Losing strength. Gave it. Gave it, gave it. Even though there seems to be degeneration, the exercise of this degenerating being can even become more wholehearted. It's possible. But you better start now, not later. Now, with what you've got now. Exercise what you've got now. And then maybe tomorrow you can exercise what you are given tomorrow, which might be considerably less than what you have today, or it might be more. Spiritual practice has this great possibility that you can exercise yourself more when you're in a degenerate state than you could when you were like


nothing but increase. In fact, we are always fully alive, but if we don't practice being fully alive, being fully ourselves, we'll miss it. We miss it. Which is really the main problem. And there's all kinds of karmic background which makes us kind of like, oh, I don't want to be this person. But you can perform, oh, I don't want to really be this person. You can do that. You can be that person who doesn't want to be this way, or who wants to be a certain way. You can perform that person wholeheartedly, and that is the Buddha way, is to perform the creep that you are right now. The self-concerned, petty, twisted thing you are. Concerned about mommy liking you, or teacher liking you.


Concerned about you. You can perform that person, like, really brilliantly. You can. Or you can kind of like, I want to be this way, but I don't want to be a person who wants to be this way. I want to be someplace else. You can do that. You can always be yourself. So, that's the performance of the Buddha way. What's the difference between performing and not performing? The difference between performing and not performing? Well, when I say performing, I mean that you consciously perform. Not that you perform unconsciously. People are unconsciously performing. Like somebody unconsciously being... You're always being a certain way. You're always being a certain way, and in that sense, you're always performing the way you are. But if you don't consciously accept that responsibility


and basically say, yes, I do. Yes, I will. I will be this person completely, right now. I'll be this crabby, pouting, frightened, resistant... I'll be the person that I am. I will perform the person I am already performing. The Buddha way, what is it? It's all pervading. You can't get away from it. But if you don't perform it, it's like... Even if you don't perform it 98%, 2% is enough to be sort of like off, to miss it. I would say 98% is better than 24%, but still, even a little bit missing it, it's a big miss. But we can be 100%, because we've already got 100% working for us.


We are actually 100% the way we are. Other people actually can see that. She's just that way. She's like exactly that way. That's the way she is. But she seems to be slightly resisting it. A little bit. Or some people just like not paying any attention at all. Two, not paying attention at all. So it's acceptance. Acceptance and presence, and welcoming and being here, and really accepting the great thing that you are, which is somebody who is doing a performance of a person. Is that why Dogen says no doubt will arise in us then? At that moment? Yes, like that little doubt, maybe it's not okay. There are two possibilities. One is that he is saying that because in that wholeheartedness, there is no space for doubt. Because even if there is doubt, you are just performing doubt. It's just a painting of doubt. There are only paintings of doubt,


and there are only paintings of Buddhas. There is only performance of Buddhas. There are no Buddhas. There is only performance of Buddha. And performance of Buddha is performance of yourself. And if you are doubting and you perform that, well then, there is no doubt. But you can perform doubt. Like, I doubt. Boy, do I doubt. The other possibility is that Dogen is being kind of self-righteous and dogmatic and saying you shouldn't doubt. But we don't have to accuse him of that. I think he acknowledges kind of that feeling of a little gap between what you are and what you think you ought to be. Yes, that could be existential doubt. Like, I am not quite the person I want to be. Well, okay, fine. I am not quite the Buddha I aspire to be. Okay, fine. Or I am way far away from it. Fine. But now perform that. Be that person who has that doubt.


Exercise that person, because that's the person we've got right now, is the person who says, Buddha is two and a half miles away. Buddha is ten light years away. Buddha is actually really close right now, but I can't see it. But it's very close. I've heard it. I kind of got it. So the person I am is somebody who really feels the closeness of Buddha, but doesn't see it. And I'm exactly that person. That's me right now. And I'm crying about that, or I'm laughing about that, and I'm performing the laughing Zen student now. Did you have something to say, miss? What about the karmic consequences of doing something completely, or not doing something? What do you say? What are you expressing? How are you completely full of whatever doubt? If you're full of doubt, what about karmic consequence?


If you're full of doubt, that's because you're... Well, you're always exactly as full of doubt as you really are, but when you perform, when you consciously perform the fullness of the doubt that you have, you're also aware of cause and effect. It's one of the major byproducts of this practice, is you become aware of cause and effect also. It isn't that cause and effect is blown out of the water. No, it's that you get to see it. So you get omniscience along with this, by the way. So it isn't that by performing your actions that you're free of cause and effect. It's that freedom from cause and effect is that you're performing cause and effect. It's that you're actually seeing cause and effect now, because you're fully participating with it. So the trick is to think, Oh, well, if I watch cause and effect, I'll become free of cause and effect.


It won't bother me anymore. But no, I'm doing karma, and I'm doing it so fully that I'm actually totally into watching to see what I am doing while I'm doing it. So that way we don't fall into cause and effect, and we don't not fall into cause and effect. We study it. How? By performing it. We are nothing but the performance of cause and effect, and we are nothing but empty, and we are nothing but realizing that that emptiness is another painting of emptiness, so we're nothing but the middle way. And being on the middle way, you study cause and effect, which you're exercising. Exercising and studying. Studying the exercise. Exercising the study. Of what? Of what you're doing, which is the main kind of cause and effect that we're focusing on here.


Don't you have some choice about how you perform? The choice is another thing you can perform. It's another thing you're performing. When you choose, I'm going to perform that, you performed the choice. And she said, don't you have choice? And when you really perform the choice, wholeheartedly, you realize you don't have it. When you perform something wholeheartedly, you don't get to have it. You give it away. You give it away, when you do it wholeheartedly. And also, you don't have it, because it's you. You're nothing but your performance of, for example, choice. You choose to, like, practice Zen. Yeah? Yeah? You actually perform choosing, practicing Zen. Yeah? Yeah? But when you actually are consciously, wholeheartedly,


totally into your performance of choosing Zen, you don't get to have Zen, the performance, or the choice. You just are the performance of the choice to practice Zen. That's all you are. That's yourself. But you do get to be a person who's performing a choice sometimes. Or you could say, quite frequently, you perform choosing. You could say that. I frequently perform choosing. Or you could not say it, and I'll say, you frequently perform choosing. But I'm saying that if you are conscious and totally engaged with that choosing, that's the Buddha way. This person, performing what she's performing, performing herself, which is a choice machine.


Did I choose to say that the way I said it? Do you understand perfectly now? Yes. I think if I said I understood it perfectly, I would be self-deceived. And you don't want to be self-deceived? No, I don't. Yeah. So now you're performing a person who'd rather not be self-deceived. That's correct. And I'm saying, perform that person. Enthusiastically. Great. Can you explain why the word perform? Why the word perform? Is there another one or two words you could be using instead of perform? I just don't know why you picked that word. It seems the opposite of what we're talking about. Perform seems shallow and not real and fake. So I don't know why you're using that word. What do I understand? What you think you are.


What you think you are is a shallow version of who you think you are. And you do think about who you are. And you do think that you are something. Karma is shallow. However, it creates worlds which are shallow and empty. Empty. Thinking is something you perform. It's your basic action. When you understand emptiness, you understand everything you do is superficial and shallow. Emptiness is deep. Form is superficial. Going to a Zen center and doing a practice period is a superficial thing which you perform. It's a ceremony of the Buddha way.


It's not the actual Buddha way. However, there's no Buddha way aside from the performance of the ceremony of Buddha way. Your version of yourself is a shallow version of the truth of you. Thank you. So, yeah, we do this superficial thing which does not reach the profundity of reality. And we must perform in order to realize the profound. We must do the superficial in order to realize the profound. And we do do the superficial. No shortage of superficiality. But there is a shortage of wholeheartedness in our superficiality. And in our superficiality we're concerned with like gaining, improving and stuff. You know, like, with this little thin layer here we're concerned with like making this little thin layer quite a bit thicker. Like, instead of being like this I would like to be like ten times that high and still this little tiny little thin layer. And that's what I'm into.


Because I'm like a sentient being into like improvement. Oh, whoopee, whoopee, whoopee. This is me. I do that. And now it's like, oh, it's not improving. It's getting worse and [...] worse. Oh, yucky. Oh, yuck. But if you perform that you realize the emptiness of it. If you resist this little, you know, Oh, I'm improving. Oh, I'm not improving. Or you're going, oh, I'm improving a little bit. But you're not really like, OK, I'm performing improvement. I'm performing. If you resist the shallow you miss the deep. If you try to get the deep, it's just kind of similar to miss the shallow. Anyway, we've got plenty of shallow. Shallow self, little me. Perform it. Decisions, blah, blah, blah. Gain and loss, blah, blah, blah.


Perform it. Exercise it. On this superficial level. Open to how superficial it is. And that will be the gate to the profundity of all activity. The emptiness of our karmic play. And performance and play and relaxation and graciousness, they all go together. Rather than really do something in reality. At a very superficial level, please. But I don't have to ask you to do that, and you will. I will. We already got that done. We need to engage it more fully. That's all. We don't have to be any more superficial. We're just the right amount. Each moment, you're actually perfectly the right amount of pettiness and superficiality. This is the exact thing you should be working on right now. And then exercise it. Which you're already doing.


But join the program. But you're just describing the performance to me like no karma. The performance is no karma? This description... No, it's not no karma. Holy complete, holy heartedly, it's exercise. No, wrong. That's wrong. There is no karma. Well, no, there is karma, but you can't find it. If you can't find it, then there is not. That's wrong. The fact that you can't find something does not mean that it isn't there. In the not finding, it's not there. But it doesn't mean it's not there in the not finding. I mean, it's not there in the finding. When you find it, it's there. When you find suffering, it's there. There is no two in one. What you're describing is one. So, are you exercising what you just said now?


Yes. Good. And I see it, and it is. Yeah. And then I... Now you see it and see it is, now what? And then I had another question... Wait a minute, what about the isn't there? You just said it is there, now. What's there? Whatever you said. You said, and it's there. I don't know what it was, but you said, and it's there. You performed... Is it space? I don't know. So, you don't know. And are you performing this person who doesn't know anything? A lot of times. How about now? How about now? I was when you asked me the question that I'm... What about now? Yes, I am this. I am this now. Okay, good. Do you want to do that some more?


I could. Do you want to do some of this now? This one. Do this one. Come on, do it. Wholeheartedly. There you go. Yes, settle into it and do it. But now do this, not that. Do this. Are you ready? No. Did you perform that fully? Yes. Good. That's it. Now again. Okay. Yeah, good. Again. One more. Okay. Where are you going? Don't go away. Be this person. Are you being this person who is going some... Yes, I am being this person that constantly... Not constantly now. Things creeps in. Something that... Yeah, I'm being this person that allows things to creep in. You're being this person who allows things to creep in.


Okay. Yeah, all right. And absolutely doing that. Yes, I'm sure. Okay. Now continue that kind of practice. Being this person who allows things to creep in. When you're the person who allows things to creep in. Then I don't want. When you ask me to do it, then I don't want. Yeah, now be this person who... Now I don't want. Be that person now. Okay. Come on, do it all the way. I don't want. I'm not going to do it. Okay. All right. Yeah, that's the one. That's what we've got now. And now we have somebody else. Yeah, I have this somebody that is deciding. Yeah, now you're somebody who's talking about being somebody else. Yes, it's a decision. You're somebody now who... It's a decision. You're missing that you're talking about somebody else. You're missing it. No, that's me. But I like to decide. I like to decide. I see that you do.


Yeah. Yeah. And you get to be a person who likes to decide right now. That's who you are. Okay. Are you enjoying this? Am I what? Are you enjoying being this person you are? I love it. I like to decide and be here. Yes, I love it. Okay. Well, that's what we've got now, isn't it? Somebody who loves that. Yes, absolutely. All right. Thank you. You're welcome. I'm going to be you. Okay. Well, it is a good time to stop because we usually stop at this time. Can I ask a very superficial question? Yes, Vajra. What does that strange thing to the right of your head tell me? I always wonder about this. I do too. A drum used to be around. It's a drum stand. Should we put the drum back on for fun? Do you want the drum on here, Vajra, or not?


Yes. Okay. We'll put the drum on for you. And how about this one here? What goes on here? And what's this? Okay. Well, I hope you all had as beautiful a day as I did. Rev, I really want to make a special thank you to Erin. These flowers are just inspirational. Thank you, Erin, for those flowers. Urban flowers. What did she say? Urban flowers. Well, all over.


And, you know, one of the things that was beautiful for me today, which is often the case, is that the temple is already clean when we get here. So then we can play cleaning the temple. It's really just, you know, we don't have to do any work, so we can play doing work. And it was fun, wasn't it? Cleaning the temple, even though we didn't have to. And I hope that you do the same when you leave here, that you go out and take care of and clean the world that's already clean. That's Zen. We clean the clean. We don't really have to, so we just play cleaning the clean. And I know some other situations people say it's dirty, clean it. Don't let that stop you. To continue just playfully taking care of this world. And it's nice that Novo Bod can be that way.


You know, we don't really have to do anything, and yet there's plenty of stuff we don't have to do to do. So thank you for coming to play here. And Happy New Year. May our intention be equally good.