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

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Someone gave me this Barack Obama doll. And inside I noticed there's some quotes I think maybe by Barack Obama. One of them says, my faith is one that admits some doubt. And I thought of, I guess I feel like,


my faith also admits or allows some doubt. And then I was thinking that what we just chanted was, I vow to hear the true Dharma and that upon hearing it no doubt will arise in me. Nor will I lack in faith. And so one way to hear that is that when you're hearing the Dharma, that the hearing doesn't, in the hearing no doubt arises. That's one way to hear it. The statement of when I hear it no doubt will arise. And I guess I could, I guess for me when I'm hearing the Dharma maybe at that moment,


the doubt doesn't seem to be an issue. But still there might be openness to doubt. It might be a Dharma that allows openness to doubt. I certainly feel that the process of wisdom involves questioning. And that when wisdom knows or when wisdom realizes the Dharma, the questioning goes on. So doubt in the sense of questioning seems apropos of the true Dharma. And also the wisdom which knows the truth,


it seems like for me it has an open, flexible quality to it. The Bodhisattva's mind of no abode, a mind which doesn't reside in any kind of mental object. So even though the object of the consciousness might be the truth, the mind of no abode doesn't reside in the truth, doesn't reside in anything. And the truth it sees, the wisdom which knows the highest truth,


the truth says, don't abide in me. The truth says, you can't abide in me. Don't camp out here. That's the kind of truth this is. And the wisdom says, fine, I won't camp out here. I won't abide here. Satsang with Mooji


And discovering this mind of no abode might involve the study of our self. And the study of our self, I feel, involves studying our thinking. For example, studying our self might involve studying that we think that we do things.


Or, you know, there could be the thought, I think I do things. Or there could be the thinking, I think I do things. In the background, or at the base of my talking to you now, actually is a kind of faith. A faith that it would be good to pay attention to our thinking.


Or, I have the idea that it would be good to pay attention to my thinking. I have the idea that certain ancestors have said that the Buddha way involves studying the self. That the Buddha way involves studying self. That the Buddha way involves studying thinking. So there is that value, I feel, in the background of me bringing this up here. So I'm both bringing something up, that I have the idea, it's an idea, and I have the idea this is a helpful idea, but I'm also letting you know that behind me bringing it up is a faith that is somewhat useful to bring it up. And I'm also going to bring in, to relate this,


not only to the ancestors of the Zen tradition, but some of the thinkers in the American history that I think relate to this. And one of the thinkers that I'm thinking of is named Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson. And John Sheehy told me about a book called The Metaphysical Club. So in reading this book I read this thing that Emerson is said to have thought, or have some thoughts. He avoided abolitionism and he avoided, he dropped out of the Unitarian Church


because he felt like those, he dropped out of the Unitarian Church because he felt like institutionalized religion and abolitionism, or maybe isms, would discourage people from thinking for themselves. And when I read thinking for themselves, I thought, yeah, people talk about thinking for yourself. And I thought, well, I guess what I would understand thinking for yourself means is that you actually are studying your thinking. Everybody thinks for themselves, I mean everybody does their thinking. But how do you encourage people, not just to do their thinking, like, this is right and that's wrong, this is true because Jesus told me it was, or this is true because Buddha says it was, or slavery should be abolished.


These kinds of thoughts, these are thinking, people are doing the thinking. Or slavery should not be abolished, people are doing the thinking. Thinking for yourself, what does that mean, thinking for yourself? I think it means look at your thinking. Be aware that you are thinking this. So I thought that the term thinking for yourself that Emerson is talking about, the way we put it in Zen is, I think, clearer. Study your thinking, study yourself. That will help you more realize your thinking and realize yourself. But first of all, study yourself. Study your thinking. And I think institutional religions do actually often, even if they teach people to study their thinking, they still might discourage people from studying their thinking. But some institutional religions or some religions, period, but particularly institutionalized ones,


might discourage people from looking at what they're thinking. They tell you what to think, but they don't say, now look at that and see what you're doing. They don't necessarily do that. Even in Zen center, people might say, okay, we're at Zen center, we're going to have a sashin. And they don't necessarily say, and please look at yourself and see how you think about this sashin. Or, you know, this is what we think is valuable here. Now, let's look at this. Let's examine this. It's possible, I have this idea, it's possible that if we study our thinking, we'll become free of it. And...


So I would like to teach, if I was a teacher, I would like to teach students to think for themselves. In other words, I would like to teach students to study their thinking. I would like to encourage, rather than discourage them from studying their thinking. And our own habits are really what discourages us from studying our thinking. Our own habit of thinking and then moving on to the next thinking, rather than thinking and stopping and looking at what we just did. Or, while we're thinking, be aware that we're thinking. Our own habit is to not do this meditation, is to not be mindful. And we can find a social reinforcement for not being mindful of our thinking. I also, when Norman Fisher's wife Cathy,


or I should say when Cathy Fisher, was Xu Tso at Green Gulch, I wrote in Chinese something that Emerson said, which was, the secret of education lies in respect for the student. So the teacher should be actually looking at the student's thinking. And if the student wasn't looking at their thinking, the teacher's interest in it might draw the student's attention to it, rather than the teacher telling the student how to think. So the book I'm referring to, Emerson is in the background there, but the main characters in the book are three Americans Oliver Wonder Holmes Jr.,


and Charles Pierce, and William James, and John Dewey, those four. And three of them I'm somewhat familiar with, and have always appreciated. I haven't really... I have almost no... Up until this book I had almost no awareness of Oliver Wonder Holmes Jr. But it turns out that these four people were in a club together for nine months, I think. And the club was called the Metaphysical Club. And what they discussed at that time, according to the author of the book, is what the book is about. And it's about basically one idea. And it's an idea about ideas.


They are very different people, but they shared an idea about ideas, or you could say a belief about beliefs, or a view about views. And I think their basic idea about ideas was that ideas are entirely dependent. That ideas do not develop according to their inner logic, but they develop in dependence on things other than themselves. In other words, their idea is that ideas are empty of inherent existence. Entirely dependent means that they are nothing but what they depend on. They have no inner logic, inner logos, inner essence.


Like, slavery is bad. War is bad. And actually these ideas existed in America very intensely. They had an intense life before the Civil War. And often no war was in the same person as slavery is bad. And then there was also slavery is bad and should be abolished. Thomas Jefferson saw that slavery was bad, but I heard he said, it's like holding a wolf by the ears. It's terrible to be holding a wolf by the ears and it's terrible to let go of the wolf. So, before the Civil War started, a lot of people thought slavery is terrible,


even people who had own slaves thought it was terrible. Many people thought it should be abolished and often the people who thought it should be abolished also were Quakers and opposed to war. This was their idea. But I don't think that before the war people were aware that these ideas were entirely contingent, were empty. I think that was not a well understood idea about those ideas. I think those ideas were more like ideologies for these people. In other words, they thought that there was actually something actually inherently true in those ideas, other than that they were entirely contingent.


And then this thing happened, according to the book, overnight. People who thought something should never be done, now thought that their very thing should be done. Their ideas about what was appropriate changed. And some of them, Oliver Wendell Holmes for example, right in the middle of the war, recovering from a wound in battle, a battle wound, did an extraordinary thing. In the midst of this horror, this terror, that he was in the midst of, he decided to check out his philosophy and see how it applied to the horror that he and the country were going through.


I think before the war he grew up in a family that was opposed to slavery. Actually, he was in many ways opposed to all kinds of even more subtle forms of cruelty. And what he saw when he checked out his philosophy, he saw that the test of an idea is not its immutability, but its adaptability, which is similar to... Ideas, you know, ideas actually can last because the concepts can last. But their viability, their survival, their survival, their continued life in people, is due to adaptability, their life doesn't continue.


They don't have permanent life. So this is the idea that these four people had about ideas. That it's not the immutability of them that gives them life. But their adaptability. And the idea that war is bad, that we shouldn't do it, that idea lost its life in the United States. That very wonderful, it's a wonderful value, it lost its life. Pretty much. And a new idea came called this war needs to be had. And people had all these different agendas for why that was so. So we had this horrible war,


but some of those ideas, for example, that war is bad and we shouldn't do it, or that it should be abolished, that idea lost its life after the war. And not just because people went to war, but because they were kind of in shock about what happened to their ideas. And how they themselves flipped. Like Emerson even said, sometimes gunpowder smells sweet. So these men, this one particular young man, in the war, he fought for himself. He wasn't thinking for his daddy, or for Abraham Lincoln. He fought for himself. In other words, he turned around and looked at his own philosophy in the middle of the war. And he got together with other people


who, during the war, and after the war, were willing to actually study their own thinking. And when they did, actually, John Dewey was not in the metaphysical club, right? He was too young. Too young to be in the metaphysical club. They wouldn't let him in. But these three, when they turned around and looked at their thinking, they found that this is the nature of their thinking. And not just their thinking, but everybody else's too. That's what they thought. What effect this has on American culture, the assessment of this, we can consider, but it may be part of what made our country able to open to the teachings of Buddhism, to the teachings of emptiness. That some of our ancestors had actually come to the conclusion where they could see


that ideas are empty. That they're contingent. And they live when certain conditions are there, and when they're not, they don't live that way anymore. Actually, without going to war, some fashion designers understand this. You know? They understand the idea of green is alive this week. They can see that green is the adaptable color right now in this area of the planet. And they actually also understand that they can make a living because green will not continue to be the


in color next week, next year. But on certain issues like whether we should go to war or not, and whether we should have slaves or not, that is harder for people to be creative about that. They need sometimes a war to wake up to that the vitality of that position depends on the conditions which support it. And Elizabeth asked me the other day about the teaching, you know, learn the backward step, or take the backward step, which turns the light around and illuminates the self. But actually it's take the backward step which turns the light around and shines it back on your thinking. Study your thinking. Be aware of your thinking, which in other words, be aware of your karma.


Turn the light back, search back into your own vision. Think back into the mind that thinks. The Zen ancestors have been teaching that off and on turn around, step backwards, think back to your thinking, think for yourself. And then, what do you find? What kind of thinking is there? Who is there? Who are you? And what are your thoughts? So, again,


these American thinkers, these American philosophers, these American, yeah, I guess you could call them all kind of philosophers, in a way, certainly Peirce and William James was originally a psychologist, but towards the end of his life became more of a philosopher. So, they're all kind of philosophers. One of them was a judge in the Supreme Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. But really, he was a philosopher even in the battlefield. He was a philosopher. Or at least right after the battle, when he was recovering. So, I don't know, I think it is possible for a person to be a philosopher without studying their thinking. Maybe it's possible. But these philosophers did study their thinking. And, in this sense, they are philosophers where they're studying their psychology,


but it's not just psychology to notice that the psychological process is empty. That's more of a philosophical insight. So, you're studying psychology, you're studying ideas, you're studying thinking, that's studying psychology. And then you see that these psychological phenomena are entirely contingent. And that their vitality, their actual engagement with the society will depend on conditions. Some of your thinking, like I just also saw this article about this woman, she's called the leader of the new left. What's her name? Naomi Klein.


So, she had an idea, and now her idea, the conditions are coming together, so it's like it's alive. And then people will, I don't know what they'll do with that, but you can see the life of it is entirely contingent on, for example, Barack Obama dolls and the economic crisis. You have economic crisis, and then people suddenly, then her ideas become very alive. And then people think, well, then there's actually some truth to them. And then make an ideology out of Naomi Klein. Ideas, right? These philosophers, and the Buddhist philosophers, are saying something different. They're saying, yes, she's popular now, and some of your ideas may become very popular too.


Now Barack Obama is the savior of the world. You know? That's a popular idea. It's a lovely idea. My grandson has been betrothed to one of Barack Obama's younger daughters. So he's going to be marrying her at some point. That idea will have life, will come alive, if certain conditions are met. It'll be a kind of a big, lively idea. Not just for my grandson, and whatever her name is. What's her name? Sasha? Not just for Sasha and Maceo, but it'll be a national idea.


And it'll have vitality, but conditions have to be met. My daughter has to work things out with Michelle. And then there's the kids to consider, whether they want to or not. These conditions. The idea is there. I just told you about it. How much life does it have? Well now it has some life according to the conditions of no abode hermitage. It has some life today. But will it live any longer? Probably a little, but not much necessarily, unless certain conditions come to bear. If you go out and tell stories about it, maybe it'll become national news, and then Sasha will hear about it, and say, what's going on, and so on. So I guess I'm just saying that


I am I am happy to, if the conditions are there, I am happy to direct my attention towards the ways in which these people studied themselves, these western men studied their minds. And I want you to know that I've seen there's some sign in the book that some western females also did the same thing. And they are recorded in the book. Is that correct? Yeah. So there's some women who did the same practice, who looked at their own ideas. So here's an idea, which comes in relationship to this idea, and that is that if a person does the practice of studying themselves, and studying their ideas, of learning this backward step, they will become


a Bodhisattva. They will become a great being, and be a blessing to the world. They will have ideas like everybody else, but they will understand the emptiness of their ideas, and then their ideas will become opportunities for them to express their understanding of the nature of their own ideas. And they will not think that their ideas are better than other people's ideas. They will think that other people's ideas are empty, and their ideas are empty, but they will still give their ideas to the world. But the world will see a being which can give ideas with understanding of what the idea is. In other words, they will see beings who have gifts to give, and who understand the nature of gifts, which is the same nature as the nature of ideas.


And I have that idea, and that idea has life for me this morning, so I'm giving it to you. And then I will keep watching, I vow to keep watching, so that I don't think that that idea actually has some independent existence from those who disagree with me. But actually, no one disagrees with me. Yes, Jackie? Especially Jackie. She doesn't disagree with me. Does Jacqueline disagree with you? Yes, Jacqueline disagrees with me. That's just an idea. It sure is. So, are you using thoughts and ideas to have the same meaning? One meaning of thought is concept. Thought can be used as a synonym


for ideas and concepts. Sometimes people use thought, however, as a synonym for consciousness, which makes things more complicated. But a Buddhist thought is like a Buddhist idea or a Buddhist concept. And sometimes people also use thought for thinking, but I tend to not use thought for thinking, but to use thought. I usually use thought for equal to idea or concept or image. But some people use it more widely, and so it's a little confusing. It has, for me, a little take of a belief in it. The word thought? Idea. Idea has a take of a belief? To me, it's more like at the base of a cluster of thoughts with certain intention.


Whereas a thought can come and just fly away. But an idea, it's more like a philosophy, more of a belief. Is that accurate or not? I think when people, again, it depends who we're talking about. When a person is a person like these gentlemen I'm referring to, when they have ideas, they are aware that this idea is entirely contingent. But even their beliefs, they also have beliefs, and they believe, but also they actually see that beliefs are also, the vitality of belief is also contingent. So at different phases in human history, not just human history, even non-human history, non-humans also have concepts and ideas, I feel. That's one of my ideas that I have. So,


even if you're right that the word idea refers more to the belief side, it's possible to believe and actually to see that beliefs are empty, that beliefs are contingent. In other words, you could have the belief that beliefs are entirely contingent, including the belief that beliefs are entirely contingent. And you could have the idea that ideas are contingent, and the idea that thoughts are contingent. Yes? You referred to your mind and watching its intentions. Watching its intentions, yes. You know, in sitting, and just watching my thoughts, I I don't I feel like I don't get to to see the changes


that Now I'm getting myself into trouble, I can see that, but the changes that I wish to see happen within me. And I think that's because I'm just watching the thoughts superficially versus versus the intention, the idea, behind the thought. Can I say this back to you and see if I got what you said? May I say this back? So I kind of feel you're saying that if you study your intentions or study your thinking, that if you devote your time to this study, that it's hard for you to see that this study is promoting or bringing about certain changes in your being which you'd like to have. No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying that there are different levels of it. That watching my thinking


Yes. is superficial in bringing about a change. In bringing about change. Of ideas. So you're saying that you feel like watching your thinking is superficial vis-a-vis bringing about change of ideas. I feel like there is there is a and maybe that's why we can't change our habits. Maybe that's why we're like these patterns that are so ingrained. There's more to just... Okay, so I actually have a nice difference to offer you. So I'm saying if you superficially observe your thinking that will be that observation process will change your ideas. I think


sometimes people think that their ideas can't change because they're good, like for example the idea that slavery is bad. They don't want that to change. Dash, it's not going to change. Or that war is bad. They don't want that to change, so they hold it. Their mind holds it. I'm saying if you watch your thinking if you watch your intention you will notice that ideas are changing. Not so much the idea changing, but the ideas you're considering, the ideas you're open to are changing. You will notice you're less clean to your ideas. And in that sense, your ideas the ideas you have the ones that belong to you, the ones you're lined up with the alignments will start shifting. You will feel less aligned or I should say less stuck


in your values. If you study your thinking. And some people might say I don't want to be less aligned with slavery is bad. And so what I'm proposing here to you is that if you wish to bring about the welfare of the world including you wish for the welfare of all beings who are in slavery, if you want to realize that for them that not being attached to the idea that slavery is bad will help you realize that. If you want to help people realize the Bodhisattva precept of not killing I'm proposing that studying your thinking, which includes I want to practice not killing studying your thinking, which is I think killing is bad if you study that thinking that will help you realize non-attachment to your thinking quotes I think thinking is bad


and realize the precept of not killing. So I'm saying, although you maybe don't see this yet really clearly, that your study of your thinking will not so much bring about the change of, it will bring about a change of your ideas in the sense that you will become more fluid and relaxed and playful with your ideas. Already you have already you are what do you call it aware of many many ideas, some of which you don't call yours. Some of which you do call yours. So what will happen if you study this way is that your ideas will become the ideas of people who aren't you. That the ideas of people who aren't you and who you used to think weren't your ideas will become your ideas.


You know, and who says, well I do not want George Bush's ideas to become my ideas. Well, they won't become your ideas the way your ideas are now your ideas. They will become your ideas the way your ideas are when you let go of your ideas. You won't hold on to those. It's just that then you can be friends with George Bush and help him let go of his ideas. So now we have the idea of a President-elect who is willing to talk to the Cubans, who is willing to talk to terrorists. You know, people say, are you going to be buddy with the terrorists? No. But I might actually start to talk to them. The point of this being that we have the value that it would be good to disarm the terrorists. It would be good if the terrorists disarmed themselves. That would be good. We have that value. So because of that value, I want to engage with them. But even that value that it would be good if the terrorists disarmed, I realize that's contingent too. And if I study my thinking,


I will be able to be more relaxed and playful with the idea terrorism is bad or terrorism is good. George Bush is bad, George Bush is good. Talk to the Cubans, not talk to the Cubans. In other words, you could skillfully use the world to benefit the world, including that you realize that that agenda is also contingent. Its vitality is contingent. Its death is contingent. So this is, I think, making a big case for the value of the truth. And the truth is that my ideas are empty and your ideas are empty. And if I study my own thinking process, if I can open to that process, I will learn emptiness. Just like if you can open to the process of surfing, you will realize the emptiness of water and of life and of


surfboards. So not all of us are surfing, but in this room, all of us are pretty close to being ready to study our thinking. Jackie says, she's not so sure that studying her thinking is going to open her to the deeper understanding of her ideas so that, of course, my ideas will change. In other words, my ideas will no longer be my ideas, they'll be just ideas. You haven't seen that yet, but I'm saying you will. And I'm telling you also, the fact that you can tell me recently that you've noticed a tenacious relationship with your ideas comes to you because you've been studying your thinking. You used to be tenaciously holding to your ideas, but you didn't even notice it. You thought, I'm not tenaciously holding to them, they're just absolute reality, that's all. It's not that I'm holding to them, they're just true.


Everybody that saw this would be holding to it, because they're reality. Now that you've been studying yourself, you notice, hey, I'm holding on to these things pretty tightly. This is the beginning of the end of holding to your ideas tightly. And you just keep studying yourself and you will finally have perhaps very similar values to the ones you've already had, but you'll be much more flexible with them. And the way you use them will inspire people to study themselves. They will see the beauty, not so much in your ideas, but in the way you relate to them. Everybody knows how to hold on to them very tightly. Little children can hold on to their ideas very tightly. They knock themselves out, literally, by holding to their ideas. In the earlier part of the day they're holding them, a little bit of looseness there, but as the day progresses, they get tighter and tighter, and then they just crash. They melt down in the


futility of thinking that holding these ideas will protect them from disaster. Elizabeth? Reverend Shoho? And Homa? Yes? So first, is it an idea that ultimate truth is emptiness of ideas? Is that an idea? Yes. Ultimate truth. The emptiness of things is also empty. And so we say, you know, that which dependently co-arises, or that which is dependent co-arising, I proclaim to be emptiness. Even our highest teaching in Buddhism, dependent co-arising, everything's, only things that exist are dependent co-arisings. There's no other things that exist. If something doesn't dependently co-arise, it doesn't exist. Everything that does exist, is a dependent co-arising.


So, that which dependently co-arises, everything that exists, I declare to be emptiness. That being a conventional designation, is the middle way. Very simple. Little bit deep, but very simple. Little bit deep means it's hard to understand. It requires tremendous effort to understand that statement. But anyway, there it is. Would you say it again? Maybe. But basically, everything that exists is dependent co-arising, everything that exists is empty. What I just said, being a conventional designation, what I just said, because it's the way I'm talking now, is another dependent co-arising. But isn't it also an idea? What you just said? Well, conventional designations are ideas. I could say that being idea, but that's not the way he said it. That being a conventional designation, it's not just an idea. It's a conventional designation.


In other words, it's a concept that has some vitality because of the contingency of society that can make sense. In the Buddhist world, what I just said makes sense. So, it's not just an idea. It's a conventional idea within a certain linguistic context. So, it's an idea, it's a concept, and it's a conventional... Now, I'm uttering this concept. The fact that this is a conventional utterance, adding that to my... I proclaim the ultimate truth, and in proclaiming it, I actually gave you a conventional truth, a conventional designation of it. Keeping that in mind about statements about the ultimate truth is the middle way. I'm telling you the ultimate truth, but I'm telling you it's empty. That keeps you balanced. So, I'm telling you the most important idea that there is, and now relax with that. And apply that to everything, which will help you relax with everything.


I want to check on my idea of wisdom. Okay. It seems to play in different teachings I've heard recently over the years. One is your teaching to express yourself fully. There's a teaching which is, please express yourself fully. Yes. There's that teaching, yes. And there's also one of the things we chant sometimes about if you're a ship in the ocean, the ocean looks circular, and when you fill it entirely, then you see that something is missing. If you don't fill it entirely, you don't see that something is missing. So, that, to me, is linked with full self-expression. Filling that full circle, then you realize the ocean is so much bigger than your full... Your idea, your point of view, the ocean is so much bigger than your point of view. But you might not realize that if you just go out


in a circle of water. You might think, hey, a circle of water. But that's because you think you know something about the circle of water. But if you really engage with that circle of water fully, you realize there's something more than the circle of water. You understand that. There's something missing in the circle of water. This whale that I'm just meeting now didn't come from the circle of water. The ocean must be bigger than this because this whale is bigger than the circle of water, etc. But, it's possible that, you know, to be in the circle of water and not be engaged with it very fully and think this is the complete story. Studying yourself and fully expressing yourself are two different ways of talking about the same process. These men in the West that we're talking about and the women who followed them in the West and the men and women in the East who studied themselves. Through studying themselves,


they fully expressed themselves. So, full self-expression and studying the self is the same thing. And if you study yourself, you realize something's missing. For example, the self of the circle of water is missing. Or, if you study yourself, the independence of yourself is missing. The self of yourself is missing. The independence of yourself is missing. You see that when you fully engage yourself. The self of your ideas, if you fully engage with them, you realize it's missing. When I first started studying my ideas, like when I first started studying... Actually, I wasn't even studying. When I first received, war is bad. When I first received, Jews are good. When I first received, Jesus is bad. When I first received, Jesus is good. When I first received these ideas, I didn't study them. I just took them and held on to them. When I started to study them, I finally realized that all these ideas and all these values, there's something missing. And what's missing


is an inner logic, an inner truth. That's what they're missing. I realized that because I fully engaged. So, again, Oliver Wendell Holmes, a very smart young man, he had slavery is bad. Actually, even war is bad. But particularly slavery is bad. And some other values he had about kindness and so on. He gets into war and he starts to fully engage these values. And fully engaging them, he realizes that they're empty. He begins to realize they're empty. And spends the rest of his life trying to bring that realization into his relationship with people. Totality.


So once we realize the emptiness of thinking, once we realize the emptiness of ideas, we open the door to the totality of ideas. And that's the great being. Once we realize the emptiness of our thinking, we open to the great being of our thinking. And the great benefit of that truth is the great being which is realized through that truth. It isn't just to realize the emptiness of things, it's to realize the emptiness of them and not be attached to them and then use them to help beings because you understand. Reverend Shoho? Yeah. One logic I'm seeing in all these ideas is the dynamic of feelings of being a being and feelings of crownlessness and then using ideas to orient myself.


And so I wonder if this engagement of study Can I just enter right there? We do use ideas to orient ourselves. That's not a point these people are making. Ideas are tools to be used to orient in the world. But we sometimes forget that they're tools and confuse the tool with the world. Because sometimes the tool is a way of construing the world. I like the example of glasses. You put glasses on your eyes to see in a different way than you would with them off. But once you get them on your eyes you can't see the way you saw them before you had them on. Your vision before having them on is lost to you and you think that what's going on is actually the way you're seeing through your glasses. But in some ways it helps you cope if you're trying to read a telephone number


to call an emergency room. It kind of helps you cope with the world to have these glasses. But then there's a fundamental error in the glasses. Not just that they're a different view, but the error is that you tend to confuse them with what's there. Like my eye doctor said, the world is a lot clearer out there than you see it through your eyes. But the world actually is that way. But really what he means is the world is clearer in these glasses than it is in your eyes. But he said it's clearer out there. These glasses are a tool to deal with the world in a way that you can't deal with the world without them on. It's not that the world is actually the way it is in the glasses, but you want it to be the way it is in the glasses. In other words, you want to be able to read that number. So they are tools, and we lose sight of them being tools. And that's a big problem, that we lose sight of it.


But if you study yourself, you realize, oh, I am losing sight of them being tools, and that's making me rigid. And etc. If I remember that they're tools, then there's more possibilities here. Homa? I was just looking at the ideas, and what came to me was, first of all, there is this idea, that I give the importance to my idea to become it. So I kind of see my existence there. However, giving so much importance of it, importance to my idea, then I have this fear on the other side of it, which is not existing.


So the more I'm afraid, the more I hold on to the idea. Okay, excuse me. I just wanted to point out now, at this point, that you are telling, I hear you telling me this, and I have the idea, that you're telling me about how you study your thinking. You're giving me a report now. You're observing your thinking. And then as I observe my thinking, I see like in between, and I want to see how can I neither be this nor that. Yeah, so part of your thinking is, I want to discover the middle way. Okay, so I hear you


saying that you're observing your thinking, and I hear you saying that you want to stay in the middle way. And I think that in order to stay in the middle way, you should stop trying to stay in the middle way. But you have to watch, I'm suggesting this, but you have to watch your attempt to stay in the middle way in order to not be holding on to the idea of staying in the middle way. The idea of staying in the middle way is fine, but if you hold tightly to the idea of staying in the middle way, that will make it hard for you to be in the middle way. You can't actually stay in the middle way. Being in the middle way is the mind of no abode. But your mind wants to stay in the middle way. If you watch your thinking that wants to stay in the middle way, you will find a way to be in the middle way, free of your idea of staying in the middle way. And you are observing


this. It's hard work. It's similar to what you're talking about, I'm saying. She's studying her thinking, you're studying your thinking. And one of the things she's finding, one of the things Homa is finding, is that her thinking is that she would like to stay in the middle way. And if you keep studying that, you will give up trying to stay in the middle way. And if you give up trying to stay in the middle way, you will find the middle way. And if you keep studying, you will find the middle way without trying to hold it. Because the middle way cannot be held. It's light is saying, do not hold me. Receive me. Live me. Let me live you. But don't try to hold me. So this let me live you, There is this,


I don't know what words, discrepancy, you just used, you just used words. This, let me live you, you used those words. This is a messenger, this is an angel. Telled from the truth. Telling you that it wants to live you. And if you keep watching how you're attaching to the wonderful things, like freedom and the middle way and all that, if you keep watching your thinking, attaching to this stuff, you will become free of this process and you will be able to let the truth live you. You saw the what? Yeah, right. You're not accepting it. Because of a habit of holding on to something. Even the most excellent thing we can't hold on to. And if you're willing to


study your thinking and see the kind of things that you're seeing, see the kind of things that other people are seeing, if we study our thinking, if we're open to that process, I'm predicting that we will actually find a way to be with the truth without grabbing it. In other words, without making it something that has independent existence. The truth, again, that things don't have independent existence, you can also make that into something which does, but we're trying to not do that. The way you don't do that is watch your thinking, which tries to grab on to everything. Yes, Rachel? I mean, Kondo-san? Yes, Kondo-san? How is it possible to, if you see that your thoughts and ideas are empty and not really true or false, how is it possible to still act on them? Well, once you see


your ideas as empty, then your action becomes the enactment of that vision. The vision of the thought? The vision of the thought being empty. So, once I see my, for example, if I have a thought of compassion towards you, and I see that my thought of compassion is empty, and also the compassion is empty, and you're empty, then the way I relate to you is basically unfolding that vision of the emptiness. It's not so much relating my vision of it's not so much relating my vision of compassion or my vision of you, it's primarily that I'm actually trying to express the fact that I've realized that you're empty. Or, in other words, that I'm trying to express that you're me. I understand that you're me. So then what I do is an expression of that understanding, which I understand


will be compassion, but I've actually emptied compassion, my mind is emptied of compassion, and you and me. And so now, from that, so I do act, but my action is an expression of that understanding. We do keep acting. Just a question, upon what understanding? Are we acting upon the understanding that our ideas are permanent, immutable, and have a self? Or are we acting from the understanding that our ideas are contingent and relative? And then we still have ideas and still act, but it's coming from a different understanding and this is also up for testing. Yes? So using Naomi Klein, who you mentioned before as an example, Yeah. And so what's she an example of?


An example of somebody who has ideas and wants to put them out in the world. No, she's not an example of that. I mean, she's no more of an example of that than anybody else is. She's an example of somebody who has ideas and seems to want to put them out in the world, but her ideas have life now. Whereas a while ago, her ideas, oh I don't know, they might have had life, but not as much as they do now. Because of the financial crisis and because of a new administration and because of the Americans having a different country, the contingencies are such that her ideas are like really hot. People were listening to her before, but now everybody wants to listen to her. But her truth is contingent and the vitality of it is contingent. That's what I was pointing, she's an example of that. Okay, I thought you were implying that the way she was doing it though was not with that understanding. I haven't talked to her, I haven't tested her.


She might be, if I talked to her, she might be just like George Bush for all I know. So, the way you originally described her could have equally applied to George Bush or who knows who, even maybe Barack Obama, I don't know. Barack Obama looks a little bit like he understands these people that I'm talking about. The fact that he says my faith admits of some doubt. Admitting of some doubt is a little bit like I admit that my faith is somewhat contingent and maybe I'm like you know, not only maybe is my thought contingent, but maybe I'm even attached to it. So that kind of language makes me feel like he's an example of someone who understands this. What you said, I think she, like all of us, likes to put her ideas out. But what you said originally, she would be just like George Bush. Whether she understands the emptiness


of what she's saying or not, for me, remains to be seen. And so in order for her to give her ideas as a gift to the world, how would she do it? So again, now we have the basic Bodhisattva practice of giving gifts. If you have ideas, which you do, if you have thinking, which you do, and your thinking is always a gift, you will understand that your thinking is entirely dependent. Entirely contingent. If you make all your ideas gifts. If you understand that all your ideas are empty, then you will understand all your ideas are gifts. But if you don't yet understand that your ideas are gifts, I mean are empty, make them gifts and you will understand that they're empty. If you understand they're empty, you'll realize that they are gifts. That's the way you'll give them. You won't give them to manipulate things because you don't see the world that way. You know the causes and conditions will make


them, give them their currency, their coin. So, whether she has this flexibility of the mind of no abode or not remains to be seen by me. Maybe if I met her I'd feel like, oh wow, we got a Bodhisattva here. And this Bodhisattva just happens to have these ideas for this time. If she really is a Bodhisattva, her ideas won't be the same next year. However, the contingency will determine whether they will have life. But I think Bodhisattvas actually, because they're in touch with this, their ideas tend to have life because their ideas are gifts. So they keep living. They have the gift which keeps giving. Because they keep letting go of their ideas. They keep letting go of their ideas. Their ideas keep being giving, so their ideas keep having vitality, but also


they're not their ideas. They're just the gifts that are flowing through them. So I wasn't using her as an example. I was using her as an example of someone whose ideas have now become very alive. They're wonderful to hear about because they're all courant. They're like the time has come for them and it's beautiful to see sometimes. The coming together of the conditions to make a certain idea really shine. And these ideas of these 19th and early 20th century philosophers, it may be that now they have a new birth of freedom and life of their ideas will come now because of this book. People will now see all. And the Buddhists will say, oh great, somebody's pointing out the Buddha's wisdom in some of our American ancestors. Maybe this would be a way to help people open up to the Bodhisattva


practice. So it's kind of like, that's probably why John read it and told me about it. Because he probably said, I think I see some Bodhisattva activity in this story here. And I think I do too. Sometimes it helps Americans if we talk about Americans rather than East Asians. And then after they listen to us talk about the Americans, they might open to the East Asians. Which might help them understand the Bodhisattva spirit in American history. Lots of good people in America but not too many of them realize the emptiness of goodness. Which limits the goodness of our good people. Karen? I can see how the notion that slavery is bad and I want to stop it. I can see how that will create a lot of trouble for me and for other people. The notion that slavery is bad and I want to stop it. That's a problem.


It's not a problem by itself. It's a problem if you make it into an ideology. If you think it's inherently true, if you think it has a self, then we have an ideology and then we have a war. So I'm trying to translate it into, in my mind, into a statement about I don't know if it's good or bad but I'd like to alleviate the suffering that is bound up in it. Is that a more subtle version of the same problem? I don't know if slavery is good or bad but I'd like to alleviate the suffering around it. It could be a new version of what the person held before and then they let go of it and they came up with this other version. And so the newly released the new baby of the released old program often will have this freshness to it.


And so you might be able to talk to a slave owner with this brand new idea of, you know, I'd like to alleviate the suffering. He might say, I would like to too. Actually, I've been wanting to alleviate their suffering for a long time but I need them in order to build my new house. But I would like, is there some way to please help me? They like us to come to prison. A lot of people like us to come to prison to make the prisoners more comfortable but they still want to keep the prison going. But if we come in there acting like the guards and the establishment are creeps and the prisoners are good, they don't want us to come. So that thought might be a new thing that has life in giving away the immutable, slavery is bad, it must end. And this new approach might be coming from loosening up with the old idea. But then you have to do the same now with the new one. You have to let go of that too.


But that was a nice one. Give it away, Karen. Give it away. Let's see if we can find a new one today. And so you say, OK, OK. Give it away, Karen. Just a minute. Give it away. Give it, give it, give it. And you gave it and it's gone. Now what was that idea again? You might be able to remember but actually forget it. Let's have a new one, Karen. A new thing for today. You gave away that one. It's been given. Now what do you want to give us today? Well, today I'd like to say blah, blah. Which might have nothing to do with slavery. And that might be just the best thing for all concerned. That might be what's really apropos of alleviating suffering. Yes, Charlie? Do you have some suggestion for how to deal with other people? Wait a second.


Wait a second. Before you say that. Do I have some suggestion about how to relate to other people? You can stop right there, can't you? I can stop there if you want. You can stop there. The way to deal with other people including this dandy little subset which you are about to bring up. The way I would suggest will apply to all the subsets. So what am I going to say? It applies to this subset. We can go to the subset later if you want to check it out. But it applies for dealing with other people. What's the way of dealing with other people? What? What? Yes, realize their emptiness. That's the way to deal with other people. Which means to realize their yourself. Which means to make every action you


give, every action that you're involved with, to make every action a gift. That's the way to deal with other people. Make yourself a gift. And receive their actions as a gift? When you make yourself a gift, when you really get into that practice, you will understand that everything they give you is a gift. But you can start with the other practice. You can say, the way to deal with other people is to be mindful that they are a gift. They are a gift. Charlie is a gift. Max is a gift. Yuran is a gift. That's one way. The other way is, I'm a gift to Yuran. I'm a gift to Max. I'm a gift to Charlie. Which means, I give myself to them with no expectation. That's the way to deal with people. Which is the same as other people are myself. Which is the same, other people are empty. And then, Max, you want to give a subset now? Yeah. Charlie is a subset. Max is a subset. Yuran is a subset. Men are a subset. Women are a subset.


Children are a subset. They're all treated the same way. Which is the same as ideas are entirely contingent. I have an idea of you. It's entirely contingent. Dependent on things other than itself. Entirely contingent means there's nothing to itself. It just depends on other things. That's the way to deal with everything. Not just people. Tracy? Is make yourself a gift? Is another way of saying that? What's the relationship between that and kindness? I don't want to know, is kindness overrated? Kindness comes basically as giving, Bodhisattva precepts,


patience, enthusiastic effort, and concentration. Those are kindness. That's a summary of kindness. That's kindness put in terms of virtues. Now, wisdom, strictly speaking, isn't exactly kindness. It's just understanding. However, wisdom is what makes the kindness fully function. Wisdom, but wisdom in some sense is a different dimension than kindness, because wisdom is just understanding. It's just reality. But it protects the kindness practices from being lost. And the kindness practices are what develop the wish to benefit beings. And the first one is giving, which is connected to the last one of wisdom. You practice giving, you'll have wisdom. You practice wisdom, everything you do is a gift.


But if you don't understand that other people are yourself, then act like that. Give yourself to them, but if you give yourself to someone who you understand as yourself, you don't expect anything back, or forward, or sideways. You just give because of your understanding. But if you don't understand that, well, just give yourself that way and you will understand. So the beginning practice of giving and perfect wisdom are really the same thing. So, I heard we're going to get some kind of so-called moisture, some wind, and some rain. And this morning it was bright and sunny, and I thought, well, it looks like we get to start the day of no abode with sun, and now the weather is coming, so maybe we can have lunch before the storm hits. You can eat on the deck before the wind and rain touch your


perfect body and your perfect mind. May our intention equally extend.