A Family Style for Realizing the Oneness of All Families 

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Welcome to the people who are here for the first time. I pray that you've had a good morning. In the Zen tradition, in the tradition called Zen, there's a story about the historical Buddha Shakyamuni in India. One day, he sat and he raised up a flower and he twirled it and Mahakasyapa smiled, oh excuse me, he twirled it and he winked.


He didn't say blink, he winked. And at that time, Mahakasyapa broke into a smile. His face broke into a smile. And he said, the Dharma of face-to-face transmission is now realized. I have the true treasury of Dharma eyes, or the Dharma treasury of true eyes, or the treasury of true Dharma eyes, the treasury of true Dharma eyes and the inconceivable


subtle mind of nirvana. I now give this to Mahakasyapa. That's a story that's told in the Zen tradition and scholars have not been able to find any record of that story in India. And also no record in China before the maybe the 9th century or 10th century. But this is a story that's being told in the Zen school. The transmission of Dharma can occur like that, a teacher just raising a flower, twirling it, winking, and the student smiling.


And this then is proclaimed to be the teacher giving the treasury of true eyes of Dharma, or true eyes of the teaching to the student. Very simple. And in that story, I think they say that only Mahakasyapa smiled. Now when I raised the flower and winked, a lot of people smiled. So things are different now. In fact, 2,500 years ago, the students didn't know that this was funny.


A moment ago we said we vow from this life on throughout countless lives to hear the true Dharma. And also that when we meet it, we will renounce worldly affairs. In one sense we vow this, and in another sense maybe we understand that if we met the true Dharma, we would renounce worldly affairs. What are worldly affairs? Well, like being unkind is a worldly affair. Being distracted from generosity is a worldly affair. Being unmindful is a worldly affair. Putting ourselves, our welfare, ahead of other people's welfare is a worldly affair. These kinds of activities make worlds in which beings live in birth and death.


But when we see the Dharma, it's easy to, when we meet the Dharma, it will be easy to let go of selfishness and practice compassion. It will be easy because we will renounce distractions from it. So we will renounce worldly affairs. If we renounce distractions from being kind to each other, we'll renounce distractions from being devoted to each other. We'll renounce those things and we'll maintain this Dharma which we have seen. We'll take care of it. Once meeting it, really meeting it, we'll take care of it. Before that we sometimes think there's something else to take care of. But when we meet it, we say, oh, now I'm going to take care of this, when we really meet it. And then we'll continue to take care of it from then on. And we'll keep letting go of distractions from taking care of it. That's what we chanted. That's another Zen story.


As we said, I vow to hear the true Dharma, but also I vow to see the true Dharma. When someone raised a flower, I vow to see the true Dharma. When someone sets the flower back down into the vase, which his sister gave him, I vow to see the true Dharma. When people speak, I vow to hear the true Dharma. Not just when the Buddha speaks, but when the birds speak and my friends and enemies speak, I vow to hear the true Dharma when anybody's speaking to me. I vow to listen to everybody. And if I can see the true Dharma in everyone's face, and I can hear the true Dharma in everyone's face, then I will renounce distractions from the Buddha way, and I will take care of the


Buddha way, and the Buddha's teaching. I will do that. So, this is my aspiration, is to hear this Dharma, so that I can plunge into the life of helping all beings. This is mine. This is Ehe Koso Dogenzenji's, in his verse we just recited. And then, of course, I ask you, is this your aspiration? Do you have an aspiration basically like this? And I've been repeating a story which I told at Green Gulch Farm.


About a month ago, to the children who came to the talk. I've been repeating this story in Texas and Brooklyn, and now I repeat it here. I told the children that once upon a time there was a person who lived in a very nice house. He was very comfortable. It was his father's house, and he was very comfortable. And he went out of his house one day, and he saw signs of suffering, which he had never seen before. He saw sick people, and poor people, and aging people, and dying people, and dead people. And it looked like these people were having a really hard time. The dead people weren't having a hard time, but he had a hard time with the dead people.


And he was shocked by birth and death. He didn't see any babies being born, but if he'd seen them, he might have been shocked by that too. To see the pain that the mother was going through. And the pain she has when she worries and cares for the suffering of her baby. Anyway, when he saw that, somehow he felt that he awoke to the wish to find a way to relieve beings from the suffering of birth and death. And he left home and searched for a way, and he found a way that would bring peace to the realm of birth and death, and free beings from suffering. He found it. And I told the children that what he found was, he found that we're all in the same family.


That's what he discovered. Discovering that we're all in the same family, and not only that, but a family that we're happy to be in. That we find a realm of happiness and peace in seeing that everyone's in our family, and seeing that everyone is our life. That that's what the man found. And this man is the man we call the Buddha. This is the Buddha, and he taught other people this. And not only are all the suffering beings in just one family. But among the suffering people who are just in one family, there's two kinds of suffering beings. One, or maybe not two, but some of the suffering beings are suffering beings who have this


aspiration to help all the other suffering beings, who wish to realize the understanding of the Buddha in order to help all suffering beings. Those are the Bodhisattvas. So all the Bodhisattvas, and anybody who has not discovered this aspiration of the Bodhisattvas, all the Bodhisattvas and all those people who have not found the aspiration are in one family. And all the people who have not found this aspiration with each other are in one family. And all the Buddhas who have realized this aspiration are also in that same family. So all Buddhas, all Bodhisattvas, and all other beings, all living beings, are in one family. Now, if you realize this, and aspire to help other people to realize it, this is the Bodhisattva aspiration, which you've heard about now quite a few times.


And then the question is, how do you get to hear the true Dharma? Because if you want to realize this aspiration, it would be appropriate to not get distracted from it. Does that make sense? Because if you get distracted from it, you can actually forget it for the time during which you're distracted. And the distraction can go on for minutes or hours or days or longer. So, when we're distracted, this aspiration is lost and doesn't get developed. It must be developed in order to be realized. And we wish it to be realized. It's not just that we wish to have the aspiration, we would like it to actually come into realization. Both that we understand it, and it would become real in the world. We want that.


But we have to train. So, one of the things I didn't tell the children, which I will tell you, is another story. Well, I already told you. I didn't tell the children. And if you want to realize what the Buddha realized, if you want to realize everybody is in your family, and actually I asked the children, not all of them wanted to realize that everyone was in their family. Actually, I asked them if they would like their family to get bigger, and some of them said no. But then one of them said yes, and then they got into kind of competition about who had the biggest family. So, actually some of them said they wanted to have a really big family, but I didn't tell them that in order to realize that aspiration, they needed to practice Zen. They went away before I said that. I didn't want to say that to them. And actually I don't really want to say that to you either.


But what I would like to say is that in order to realize that everybody is in one family, that you're in one family with everybody, that everybody is your life, in order to realize that one family, I think, here's the story, I think that you have to practice a particular family style. I think so. I don't want to be rigid about that, but I think maybe that's the case. In other words, you have to enter a particular house that has a particular style, and practice that particular way in order to realize that that family style, or in order to realize how that family style is the door to realize we're all in the same family, including people who do not even know they have a family style.


In other words, everybody needs some form, which is a family form, not a form you make up by yourself, but a family form, a form you receive from somebody other than yourself, and a form that you practice completely in order to realize that all the forms are one family. And the form could be something very simple. There's a school of people who aspire to the welfare of the world, and it's called the Nichiren School in Japan. It's named after the founder. And the practice of that school is to pay homage to the name of the Lotus Sutra, to


say homage to the lotus flower of the true Dharma. They say that. That's their practice. That's their form. They say that. They focus on that. They say it over and over to train their mind into a particular family style in order to realize the reality that all beings are our life. Namo Myoho Renge Kyo. Quite a simple family style. And some people say, in Zen, the family style is to sit. And I would say, okay, that's the family style. However, it's not just the family style of Zen.


It's the family style of a particular house of Zen. There's actually just one big family of all beings. But you have to actually have quite a specific family among all beings to realize that all beings are one family. Like specific, like you and your body together with another person with a body. Or it could be two people or three people, but it's specifically one person together with you or two people together with you or three people together and it's those particular people and their bodies who are sitting in a particular place. That's, we need that particularity to test and prove the truth that we're all in one family. Because again, you might say, I'm cool with that all being in one family.


Okay, well, fine. You want to realize it? And I would say, well, I've already realized it. I don't even need to talk to you anymore. See you later. But this person isn't in a family. This person is just, they think they've realized. That all beings are one family. To be in a family means you have ancestors. You have parents. And they're around or they're not, but they're part of the family and they're definite parents. Not vague. So I'm proposing that you need to be in a particular family, moment by moment, in time and space. Because as you know, sometimes people who are in a family, who are living with someone, they sometimes have difficulty with that person. Like, I don't know what, you know.


Maybe that person, you had an appointment with that person who you live with and it didn't show up on time. And you had a form, you had a date, and they didn't show up on time. And how do you relate to that fact without getting distracted by worldly affairs? If you can relate to that thing of the person being late, and also maybe you're thinking, well, that was kind of disrespectful of my close family member not showing up on time. They do that frequently. This thought might come up. Because when you get specific, those kinds of thoughts come up. When you just say, oh, all beings are one family. Oh, cool. You don't get into, well, why are they late? You don't expect all beings to be on time in each moment.


Or if you did, how would you tell if they were late? Are all beings on time right now? Well, yes. Are all beings late? Yes. How do you tell whether you've agreed on a form and you think it's been met or not? How do you tell whether you've committed to a form and whether you're following it or not, and whether the people you agreed with think you are too? Well, you do it with a particular form in a particular family. And it can be really simple. In the bodhisattva practice of using a form in a particular family style, which with a particular student and a particular teacher in a particular house, a particular temple, it can be something very simple.


And there's basically two styles, or two sides of this, and one's called lay and the other's called monastic. But they both share using a form in this way. There's a particular family style for a so-called lay person and a particular family style for the monastic. And the forms may be different, but in both cases the forms are being used in a particular family style. And you could say on one side the lay side is going to be simpler, to agree on what the forms are will be simpler, so in some sense it's harder because the lay side has to be aware of this one or few simple things. What could it be? Well, it could be, for example, sitting.


And the monastic side, there may be more forms that are involved in the monastery. So it might be simpler, more complicated, but in that way they don't have to have such a big mind. So the monastic mind doesn't need to be as big in a way as the lay mind. Because the lay mind has to, in many diversities of life, to remember one simple practice, whereas in the monastic situation the forms actually are more diverse. So it's easier to check yourself and be checked, and check others. But actually both ways are difficult. But in a way the lay mind, you could say, requires a bigger mind, which is more difficult. How can you have a form, a family style, that would always be available to you? So you wouldn't just work on it once in a while.


How could you make it all day long? What could it be? And the majority in this room could be called non-monastics or lay. So today I guess I'm now in a situation of talking to you about what the family style could be for you, so that it could be non-stop. That you could work with a family style non-stop. So we are in a certain situation here,


where I'm asking you to imagine what the family style could be for you. And I'm willing to, you know, what's the word? I guess I'm willing to point out that you need, that once you find the family style, then somebody would have to give it to you. Well, yeah, somebody would have to give it to you. You could think of it though. Yes. May I take your silence to be, what?


That you can't think of anything? Or that you can think of it and you don't need to mention it? Scared. Pardon? Shy? Yeah. You're feeling shy? Is there something you want to say? Even though you're shy? In response to what I said? Yeah. So she said the practice of presence sounds like a really good idea to me. And so, so there's a precept for beings to train with, called the practice of presence. And in the practice of presence, some forms are given to practice presence with.


So that's what I'm asking now. If you want to, practicing presence will be the way to, to what? To hear the true Dharma. Yes. Be upright and relaxed throughout the day. Okay. Let's just stay with the first one. Be upright and relaxed throughout the day. So that's the form, is to be upright and relaxed with your, for example, your body and mind. That could be the form. So now, I could say to you, I give you the practice, do you aspire to practice being upright and relaxed throughout the day? Yes, I do. And I could say, okay, I give you that precept.


Yes. And can you, does it seem theoretically possible to be devoted to that throughout the day? Yes. So he didn't make that up, actually. He did, and yet his mind did make it up. But also he heard that from somebody before. And because he heard it before, it arose in his mind. And he told me. And when he told me, I gave it back to him. I asked him if he aspired to it, and he said he did, and I gave it to him. And now he's going to try to practice that. And can one practice at all? Is it possible? I should say this, is there any situation where you couldn't practice that? Is there any situation where it wouldn't be appropriate? Anybody? It seems, huh? Sure. There are going to be times


where you're going to be called to be off-balance to catch something. You're going to be called to be off-balance? Like what? The child is calling. Catch the child. So you feel like you're off-balance when you're catching the child? Yes. If you lunge for the child, without regard to your safety, just in order to get on to the kid, you can be off-balance. But would you be relaxed then? No. At a moment, you would be instantaneously off the thing. But then, probably at the time you caught the child, you wouldn't be absolutely rigid. Well, you weren't absolutely rigid when you moved either, were you? No. So I'm saying, Brecht is aspiring to be relaxed when he lunges to catch the child. He better give up anything other than catching the child at the moment when he's catching the child. And would that be relaxed? I don't know.


Would I don't know be relaxed? I would not be attacking the thing. If relaxation is conscious, no, he wouldn't, because he wouldn't be conscious of anything but catching the child. Well, no. Relaxation isn't just thinking that you're relaxed. Relaxation is actually being relaxed. We're talking about being relaxed, not just thinking about it. So in your example, it seems to me that the person you gave an example of was relaxed. They weren't thinking about themselves. They were not. No. They were just responding in an appropriate way. And I see relaxation in that story. And I also see uprightness. The person is upright. Because they're doing this compassionate act. Upright means, you know, it means to be good. It means to be righteous. If this person was wishing to practice being upright and relaxed


in order to realize the truth, in order to benefit all beings, then your example would be an example of it. I say. That you just gave an example of where being upright and relaxed would be exactly your example. And the example you gave, you thought, was an example of doing good. Of being helpful. And of being selfless. Without thinking about being selfless. I think what I... A devotion to one particular side. It is necessary sometimes to grasp and sometimes to release. I think you're talking about a... state that has not to do with the grasping or releasing


or the muscle contracting or releasing. I think you're talking about... living in a... in a way without catching hold. Yes, that's right. I'm talking about living in a way where there's no grasping. And, yes, that's right. And so one way to talk about that is living in a way where there's no grasping. Another way to talk about it is being upright and relaxed. And being upright and relaxed is part of being present. And being present is part of being upright and relaxed. I'm not talking about being upright and relaxed and not being present for that. Being present, upright, relaxed, and no grasping.


And in that state, you can respond appropriately. And we need particular forms... to work with. Like, for example, our posture. And then when our posture... when we're practicing being upright and relaxed, see if, when someone asks us for help, if we're able to respond to it. Watch the response to it. See if there's any clinging to any idea of upright and relaxed that would interfere with responding appropriately. See if responding appropriately is facilitated by being present, by being upright, relaxed, and not attached. And also, this... part of what I'm proposing is that it's a family style. So...


and the family style is that you receive a family style to work with. So... now, would you like me to give you that precept, which is to respond appropriately to the needs of beings? Yeah. So I give you that precept. Yeah. And you didn't make it up yourself. But you aspired to it, and I gave it to you. And now you can take care of it. And in both your cases, you may sometimes fail. So what I'm... part of my proposal is that if you practice a family style, if you've received some precept, like the precept of presence, and you're using some form to practice the precept of presence, that you will sometimes probably find that you fail.


And that's part of the process too. What I'm talking about is the Bodhisattva path. It has two sides, monastic and non-monastic, or monastic and lay. But both sides have the same practice. But the forms are different. So, again, since most of the people here are non-monastics, I'm talking to you about what forms we can use to train with. Because both sides need a family style. A style that you're working on in a family. And the family can be quite small, that can have two people in it. For example, it could have a student and a teacher could be the whole family


at the given moment. However, in this tradition, there's many other people in that family, previously, and many other people who are doing the same thing in a different form, which you will realize. But you have to have a particular form. So you can, for example, argue with your teacher about, and clarify with your teacher about what the form is. And once you get clear about what the form is that you're working on, which you've received from someone else, and clarify with somebody else, and what you aspire to practice, then you can fail. And the person you received it from can assist you in your failure. And of course, rejoice with you in your success. But even rejoice with you when you fail,


and you feel embarrassed. You can rejoice with your embarrassment because the embarrassment when you fail at this form you're using to realize that we're all in the same family, this particular family style you're using to realize we're all in the same family, that is wonderful to be embarrassed because the embarrassment will purify the distractions, the worldly affairs. Yes? I don't really like failure. You don't have to like it. It's okay if you don't like it. I've been trained to avoid it and not end up there. You've been trained to avoid it and yet you're not successful. You know, I've been trained to avoid setting myself up for failure. But I hear you proposing that we set ourselves up so we can fail in a specific relationship. Yeah, I guess that's a nice point


that I'm actually suggesting. If you wish to realize reality, you will, almost everyone will, for quite a while, need to repeatedly set themselves up for failure. Yes. Because until you actually enter reality and practice there for a long time, you will fail at the practices which support you to enter reality. The practices, the training of this aspiration, which cause it to be realized. If you already were doing them, you would already have realized what you're aspiring to. There would be no difference between your aspiration to realize the welfare of all beings and your aspiration to realize the actuality of benefiting beings and to live, actually live in the actuality of benefiting beings and live no place but there,


which is called Buddhahood. You would have already obtained it if you'd never failed at these precepts. So in order to enter into the optimal situation of benefit of all beings, which is Buddhahood, we will have to accept that we will fail at the practice which will take us, which is that we have not yet totally made it an all day long thing. We can easily get a little bit off or more. So yeah, if you've been trained to not take on things which you might fail at, then that would make it difficult to receive a precept. If you receive a precept and aspire to it, now you're set for failing at that precept. You could fail at it now. If you aspire to it but haven't received the precept,


then you can't fail. If the precept's out there and you haven't aspired to it, you can't fail. But if you aspire to be present and you use a form to see if you are, then you can fail at being present with that form. Yes? There's something about the claims and the sensibility that seems to be very non-Buddha-like. If you're aspiring, it's like the real definition psychologically of failure is not trying. That's the real definition of failure. That would be true failure. Well, but if you're trying and you don't achieve your goal that you're aspiring to, you're succeeding. You're just not achieving your goal. There's something about...


Well, you could say you're succeeding or you could say you're in the process of realizing it. Yes. And some things we have not yet realized and we wish to devote ourselves to their realization. Like, for example, learning Spanish. You might want to learn Spanish and when you start, in some sense you haven't really learned it yet. But you're willing to, like, not be too good at Spanish for quite a while. But you're actually in the process of learning Spanish and you actually are speaking Spanish at a certain level. So you're actually in the process. You're not really failing at learning Spanish, but you are failing at speaking Spanish, for example, like a native speaker of the same age that you are. You're failing in that way. And you aspire, actually, maybe not to speak like a native speaker, but to speak... You might have a certain standard. I would like to speak well enough to, you know, order a meal.


Whatever. But yeah, I think that's part of the process, is to let you know that you're in the process, you're in the boat of compassion when you see something, when you see a precept that you want to be present with and you want to realize, you aspire to it and you receive it, and when you don't follow through and you feel uncomfortable about that, you're in the boat. But if you do aspire to it and you're clear about it and you don't follow it in a particular moment, you will feel uncomfortable about it. And that discomfort is essential. As we said in what we chanted before, we will melt away the root of transgression from, for example, the precept of presence, which realizes reality. By the power of noticing that and feeling uncomfortable about it, we'll melt away the root of being distracted


from the kind of presence that enters reality. But that's difficult. When people are actually experiencing, they're feeling, oh, I feel bad. I say, well, you feel bad, but this is what it's like when you're practicing. This kind of... When you don't do what you want and you feel bad, this is what bodhisattvas feel like when they're just like you. This is how a bodhisattva feels. It's like how you feel is like a bodhisattva feels. This is the practice. There's not some other practice from this one right now. So this is also training in presence. This is how to be present when you notice you weren't. But again, we need some form to help us notice when we're not present. Otherwise we could say, I'm never present, or I'm always present. But the problem is not so much to say, I'm never present. The problem is, I want to be present, but I'm having trouble finding out if I am. So you want to know if you are or not? Well, here's a form. Use this form,


and we can work on this form together. Yes? When you use the word present, is it basically synonymous with being mindful? It's basically synonymous with being mindful, yes. And we're saying, okay, be mindful, and now this, in a particular family, which means with particular people, let's pick a form to practice mindfulness with. Something that you could work on all day long. And also something that you would say, I'm working with this all day long, and then I'm telling perhaps the person I received the precept from that I'm working on all day long. So then if I go, and that person won't be with me all the time, but if I'm working on it all day long, if I ever ran into that person,


I could show them how I had been working on it all day long. Because I would be working on it perhaps with them when I saw them. Because I had already been doing it all day long, so when I see them I say, hey, look, I'm doing what we agreed on me working on. And the teacher looks at you and says, great! But you might not go to the teacher and say, I've been working on it all along. You might just think you are. And the teacher might say, have you been working on that all day long? And you might say, yeah. And they say, well, how come you didn't put your shoes over there properly? How come you look like you didn't, did you actually see where you put them? Well, actually, no, I didn't. Oh. So that's a story I often tell, you know. This Zen monk trained with his teacher for a long time, and he was practicing mindfulness with his teacher, right? And finally they finished their training because he had been practicing presence with the forms that they were using in their training family. And the teacher said, you're doing pretty well. See you later. And the monk went away and he came back to visit one night on a rainy night,


and he came in the house and said hi to his teacher. He said, which side of the entryway were your shoes and which side is your raincoat? And he didn't know. So then he studied six more years. So it's basically mindfulness, but it's not just like, it's mindfulness where you expose yourself by picking a form. Like, you say, I'm going to practice relaxation and uprightness. In other words, I'm going to be mindful to be that way. So then, you know, it's okay. And so you practice it all the time, wherever you are. Riding around on your bicycle in Mill Valley, at the community center, when you're with your wife, driving your car, you know, brushing your teeth, eating, walking, sitting, all the things you're doing, you're practicing being mindful of your body and mind. And noticing, is your body and mind relaxed? Upright? Okay, you're watching that.


And then you notice, sometimes it isn't. Well, if you notice that sometimes it isn't, you don't need your teachers too much at that point, unless you're getting discouraged. Like you say, some people come and say, you know, I've been doing this, whatever the form is, and I'm not doing very well. I'm slipping up a lot. I'm really getting discouraged. I think maybe I'm going to switch to another practice where I don't have to fail so much. And the teacher says, this is what it's like. The great Bodhisattvas have gone through this kind of situation, and they hung in there. This is the right way. Now, if you come and tell me that you're not embarrassed by not following through on that, then we've got a problem. Because you said you wanted to do this. Bodhisattvas have not followed that path. So if you're cool with not fulfilling the precept that you're using to realize your aspiration, the thing you aspire to, plus you're using this aspiration not just to get good at this precept of presence,


but to enter reality and save all beings. If you're not uncomfortable about slipping up on that, what's going on? But again, people don't usually come and talk at that point to their teacher because they don't care. That's the tragedy, is they don't care. And they don't talk to anybody. They've left the family. They're not in the family anymore. They're not using the family. So laypeople do not necessarily have to see their teacher every day, but when they see their teacher, they need to bring their teacher what they're working on to show their teacher how well they're doing or to show their teacher that they're doing, that they forgot to do the practice a lot, but they feel uncomfortable about it, so they're doing well because they're not giving up and they're coming and showing that they're not giving up, but they're thinking about it because it's so hard. And the teacher says, I know it's hard, but this is what it's like. This is normal. This is healthy. This is the healthy process of perfectly aligning yourself with presence


through which you will enter reality and then meet the true Dharma, see the true Dharma, and then really be able to take care of it consistently. But basically it is mindfulness. But it's not just you mindful walking around. I'm mindful of this. I'm mindful of that. But it's you being mindful of some particular form in your family that you're going to show your family how you're working with that form so they can say, Good. Are you practicing the form? Are you in our family still? You look like you've changed families. Did something happen here? What happened? What do you mean? Well, you said you wanted to go north, but you're going south. Oh, yeah. Oh, oh, oh, yeah. Well, as you know, my wife is very good at pointing out


when I'm going south, when I say I'm going north. Say you want to go north. So I have to say it's been... I know you're not supposed to practice hoping to attain some particular thing, but what I have noticed it's been marvelous around my marriage. It's okay to practice aspiring to attain something. Just don't try to gain anything when you attain something. By the way, I just recently checked. I knew that the word attain, what the etymology of the word attain is to touch. I looked it up again recently and it's actually at touch or at the touch. A tenge or tenje, tanje. Tangible, right? At the touch.


Attain means at the touch. You touch it. You touch, but people often turn attainment into gain. There's no gain. It's just touch. You touch what you aspire. You aspire to the welfare of beings and you touch it. You realize it at the touch. You touch somebody and you realize it. You touch yourself and you realize it. You hear something and you realize it at the touch. And touch is the most basic sense. Seeing and hearing grow from touch. We're originally tangible beings, touching beings. So we do aspire to this great thing, to a great marriage. We aspire to a great marriage with all beings. One at a time. We aspire... Pardon? One's enough. Well, one's enough to start with and then you expand it to other beings in different ways, in appropriate ways.


So you can be married to your children and married to your parents, married to your friends. And have great, wonderful marriages because you know how to be present. Because you know how to be present and because you're in reality with them. In order to have the great marriage we have to be living in reality. If we're in reality, we are somewhat living in the world of our idea of our relationship. But when we do these practices we understand that our relationship we've been working with and even our understanding of these practices is just our idea of them. But by practicing presence we learn to do these practices like being upright and relaxed. We learn how to practice being upright and relaxed actually rather than just our idea of it. And then it's, of course, much easier.


Does that make sense? Yes? Can I follow up on that analogy? I'm just thinking about the monastic versus the lay and following up on your marriage analogy a little bit. When you come from a family and you marry, you marry into another family. So there's a blending process there. Yes. And that strikes me a little bit different than the monastic setting where it's a very consistent kind of family style of what you're practicing. So now you're blending with this other family style and I'm just wondering if that even brings up being caught the traps of being caught in the idea of being mindful. You have an idea of what your family style is and now you have to blend with this other family style that is not the family you're coming from. And that creates more challenges, I feel, for the lay person to remain upright with their family style.


It's also a challenge as to whether they simply are practicing an idea of the family style. And that seems a little different than being a monastic where you don't have so much of that blending challenge facing you. Does that make sense? It makes perfect sense. But I have a feeling like maybe I disagree with you in some sense. So that's blending of family styles. I do not disagree with that some situations might seem easier than others.


I know that that's the case. So whatever situation we're in it seems to me that what I'm proposing is we try to find some form that we can practice together with somebody who is giving us that form. And it's possible to do that with your spouse that your spouse would give you a form to work with. So your spouse would give you a form to work with and you could accept that form and work with that form and your spouse could help you possibly verify that you're practicing presence with that form.


Whether the form that your spouse offers to you is a blending of her family and your family or his family and your family whether that's a blending or not I'm not so concerned with. I'm just saying what forms is your spouse offering to you? What forms are you offering to your spouse? What forms have been given to you and your spouse? What forms have been given to you and your family? That you, people in your family now agree these are the forms we're going to work with. I think we need to be... we need to... we need to receive these forms correctly means there is a statement we need to receive these forms correctly correctly means we need to be clear about what the forms we're working on are. For example, some families they have the form of being on time other families don't. But still when you get together with somebody okay, now we're together are we going to work on being on time? Are we going to work on that practice of


of setting times and being there at that time? Are we going to work on that together? Maybe yes. Okay, and what does that mean? I think when you hear about different cultures that means different things. Some people means somewhere in the neighborhood within a range of several hours. But I would say that's not that's not what I would call the type of... well anyway for me anyway, if you're talking to me I would say well I don't agree with that range of time. So with me to correctly receive the precept from me means that you know maybe there's no space about it it's actually at that time and then we deal with what happens when it's not at that time. That's the precept I'm saying I'm going to work with you. Somebody else would say I'm willing to work with you five minutes either way. So actually the date is actually a ten minute zone. I'll meet you within that ten minute zone.


But it starts here and ends there. That's the form I'll use. It can be anything. It can be anything. You use that and then you see okay are we mindful and present with this form? Given our tremendous complexities of our background that bring us to this form this is the form. Do you agree to it? Do you want to practice it? Do you aspire to it? Now in a student teacher relationship the teacher has already received something like that and now is giving it to you. So you're not but in a spouse relationship you could take turns of giving each other precepts or you could say okay we don't have a teacher here this is not a tradition we're making it up right now and I would suggest that you supplement that kind of arrangement or realize that those kinds of relationships supplement or complement a tradition that does the same thing. And it may be difficult to find these things


but you don't have to find that many things to start. Just find something. Some form that you're going to use to practice presence. What's the point of practicing presence? By practicing presence you enter reality. In order to practice presence you need flexibility and relaxation and uprightness. You need that in order to align yourself with the thing because it's changing all the time. Although the form is quite clear it's constantly changing too. So we need and then when we find the form that which we practice with the aid of all kinds of virtues are needed to realize this presence which enters reality and then the presence which enters reality in the reality all the virtues which sponsored the presence continue to be practiced. But I'm proposing that we need some particulars


and we need to be clear about what they are. And we need to be generous about finding them and agreeing on them and careful about that and patient with how much work this is. And then patient and generous and careful with how easy it is to get lost and start over again. And to continually maintain this thing. So when we receive a precept from another or agree on a precept with another then we practice it when we're together or not and when we get back together we test, we help each other check to see whether we practiced it. That's helpful. I'm hearing in your description there that at least for me the purpose of practicing these forms is cultivating intentionality. And when I look at the monastic setting it seems like there's a really high quality


if maybe I'm wrong it seems a high quality intentionality going on. That would be a good monastery. Yeah, that would be a great monastery. And in a household that was called a lay household if the same thing was going on that's what you'd like. That's what you want. And you sometimes see that in some households you see the way the parents care for the children you feel that there's a precept there that they're practicing and they're quite mindful and quite present and quite relaxed and quite upright with the way they take care of their children. There it is. Now, do they have help? Do they have a teacher? And a lot of parents do not have a teacher even though they're doing quite well it looks like they're practicing some precepts they're quite well and it's wonderful. Maybe their teacher was their own parents who are not around or sometimes come to visit. So yeah, there's a lot of good things about monastery practice


and these lay people who are in this room right now are using some of the forms which lay people in Asia do not usually use. A lot of lay people in Asia who are in the Buddhist tradition the main practice they use is generosity and they also then move into ethics but again they do not necessarily work closely with a teacher about their ethics practice and they don't usually practice sitting in meditation which is another form you use to verify presence because in the concentration it's not just that you're focused it's also that you're relaxed and open and flexible and alert it's not just focused it's open too focused and open and again to use that precept of concentration practice


with a teacher getting instruction practicing it and showing it lay person can do that too you are doing it yes yes I want to say that


to bring awareness to simply consistently bring awareness to the rising of self and other then to bring awareness to that when I grasp that I would say now when I grasp that it's easy for me to exclude either myself or some other individuals from the universe of time so you'd like to use the form of being aware of what you just described hmm? yeah and and then you need a family so if you're leaving a big family like the San Francisco City Center


and you're going to another country who are you going to be sharing this form with? so I'm saying I'm saying you need a family to, you know that knows you're working on this form for you to tell them to show them how you're working on it and sometimes maybe tell them that you're kind of troubled because you haven't been working on it very well and have them say, you know we're totally there with you on that too you know, you're if you get discouraged somebody to go just get encouragement from to continue this wonderful practice wonderful form you're using so I'm just adding that although you may not be living in a monastery you do need a family still the bodhisattvas still have to be in a family but the family can be a lay family not the a lay family means they're a lay person but they still have to work with a teacher I would say not just their spouse


or make their spouse their teacher so listening to you the one question I have maybe mostly for myself right now I'm sorry about that is so with that intention with that form mind yes let's say you go to a place where you haven't been yet yes how do you reach your family? well, I think the first thing is that you maybe you feel like I don't I don't see anybody that's working on this right now I haven't yet found anybody who was working on this practice right now so I have to find somebody or I have to I have to find somebody and I don't know how much distance I can tolerate I know some people who I told this to back in California and they said that's a good form and I support you to work on that


and I support you to show me how you're working on that whenever we meet and if you've been working on that since we met last I would like to see the fruit of you working on this form to realize the welfare of the world but if you go some place where you don't know the people I think you're going to have to find somebody or say okay I nobody here knows I'm doing this practice nobody's going to call me on it and I'm not going to tell anybody I'm doing it and I'm not going to tell anybody I'm failing at it and I'm getting discouraged and I'm embarrassed I'm not going to tell anybody about this but I'm going to work on it anyway and the people I'm working on it with I don't see because they live on another continent but when I go visit them I want to go back


and I want to show them that I've been working on it 87% of the time if that's how long I would like to go back and show them the fruit of me working on it so I'm still in the family but I don't see my family members very often but there are people who are working on the same thing and they would actually help me if I met them they would be interested in me showing this practice because they're doing the same practice they are doing the same practice of using this family style which I have just specified which they understand and agree to in order for us them and me to realize we're in the same family with all these people who don't have a precept and aren't practicing presence we're in the same family with them and traditionally like the story I told


the monk was sent away from his teacher with the idea that he was going to go do this practice and teach others how to do it that he was going to form a new little family for starters it's going to be little so that's another way to understand it that you're going to go and find a family the other one is you're not going to find a family but I think if you do this practice you will a family will be created eventually unless the practice is too weak in which case you should go back and study six more years so if you go back to visit your teacher and your teacher says you've been away and it looks like you haven't been doing the practice I mean maybe you have but just now you didn't do it and the teacher I don't know if the teacher said you should stay here I don't know how they worked that out but the guy said I'm not ready to be out there so far because the practice is so weak that when I come back to my teacher I don't do it so I think I should stay


and have somebody who's calling me on it more frequently so now you're going away so are you ready to do the practice when people around you are not necessarily knowing that you have this intention so they're not like watching is Barrett clinging to some separation between himself and me? Barrett are you doing that? if they don't know they might not be watching you to see if you're doing what you want to do right? but if you do it if you're doing it they'll start picking up on it when they start picking up on it they're going to say what are you doing? and you're going to explain they say I want to do that too let's make a little family that does this practice but if you start a Zen center then people are going to be more likely to ask you what are you doing? what's your practice? what's your form? what's the precept you're working on? are you being mindful? of the separation between self and other and if you do that


then you start to see oh a family there's a family forming here and now I'm in trouble again I think I'll go back to San Francisco so you're not going to get away from a family I think you're going to find a new one but when you first get there it's kind of just dreaming to say you're in a family except in the sense I'm in the same family with everybody all the time but how do I form a particular family style? like again somebody used the word strict with me a while ago and I looked the word up and the first meaning of strict is precise so we want to be precise but not pedantic as T.S. Eliot says we want to have what you just said was precise the form you just specified was quite precise and you want to do that form strictly without being pedantic without being rigid but again the root of the word strict is tight


strictus the root of it is tight but the meaning of it is not just tight it's precise but an implication of strict is rigid so if you're rigid about this practice it'll break it won't work and also people won't be attracted to practice it but if you practice this precisely without being pedantic without telling everybody in Germany that they should be doing this they will join you because this is an excellent practice I'm not saying you are pedantic I'm just saying we want to be we want to be strict and precise and flexible and upright and sometimes let go of our idea of strict and upright and do what's strict and upright we want to be observing


our diluted mind which imagines self and other separate we want to be careful of that we want to be compassionate towards that mind we want to be mindful and kind to that mind but also be careful of it we want to be precise about oh, I think I start here and end there this is I think this is my body and that's your body be quite precise and I think there's a separation be quite precise and thorough and kind and present and you can use that form to enter reality well it's now 12.30 we could go on for a couple more hours or we could have a little break and eat some food in a very precise way would that be okay to have about some lunch time now? thank you for your assistance in the practice


of realizing the welfare of the world to equally extend to every being and place with the true merit of Buddha's way beings are numberless I vow to save them delusions are inexhaustible I vow to end them Dharma gates are boundless I vow to enter them Buddha's way is unsurpassable I vow to become it please attend sessions


and position yourself