Fifty Years of Priest Practice

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A virtual Dharma talk by Tenshin Roshi for an online gathering of the No Abode Community.

AI Summary: 



Tomorrow is August 9th. And it's the 50th anniversary of me becoming ordained as a priest. So I'm feeling... I'm feeling deeply about these 50 years of practicing as a priest and feeling grateful to the whole tradition and the great sangha and the teachings and the teachers and I just feel so grateful. So thank you for your support of the practice that's upheld me these 50 years. The joy to see your faces, some of your faces I haven't seen for a long time.


So it's wonderful to see your face again. I'm sad it's not in person, but it's great to see your face and see your name again. And to remember our long history together. some of you I've known for 40 years. So we, as always this morning, We are calling to each other and we're listening to each other. And we are being called to listen.


to the suffering of the world and to our own suffering, to the suffering of others and our own suffering. We're being called to witness it. We are being called to account We are called to account and to accept responsibility for all our actions of body, speech, and mind, which may have contributed to the suffering of the world, We are being called to quietly explore the farthest reaches of the causes and conditions


of our responsibilities. And as we chanted a moment ago, quietly explore the farthest reaches of these causes and conditions. As this is an exact transmission of verified Buddhas, The Buddhas have themselves, the awakened ones have themselves felt called to be awake, have been called to free beings from suffering. And part of that responsibility, part of responding to that call is to examine our own karma to contemplate it to accept responsibility and to be accountable and to be questioned about our karma buddhas have done that and this exploring our own karma our responsibility is a transmission


This practice is a transmission of the Buddhas. So accepting the responsibility of being accountable is also accepting the responsibility of being awake. Exploring the causes and conditions is part of our responsibility for our own actions It is confession and repentance, but it is also the work of awakening. And the world is calling us to awake, to awaken. And since the time of the Buddha, there has been the appearance in the world of racial injustice.


There was racial injustice at the time of the Buddha in India. There was and still is racial injustice in China. Racial injustice all over Asia, Korea, Southeast Asia, Japan, and of course, in the United States, we have racial injustice. We have what's called white privilege. and the doctrine, not the reality, the doctrine of white supremacy and the system of oppressing Black people. The work of the Buddha Way is to free all people from oppression.


so they may dwell in peace, free all people from injustice, to free both the oppressed and the oppressor from such relationships, so we can dwell in peace. But in order to do that work, we have to accept our responsibility. We have to quietly explore the farthest reaches of our responsibility for white privilege, for racial oppression, for oppression and injustice to minorities. For 50 years, not every day, but whenever the community gathered, I've been living, not only have I been a priest, but I've been living in temples, mostly three temples, City Center Temple, Tassajara Temple, and Gringos Temple.


I've been living there in these temples for 50 years. And in the morning, When the community gets up, I go and sit with them in silence and stillness. And now I feel called when I'm sitting in silence and stillness, I feel called to confess and repent, to open to confession and repentance when I'm sitting or standing or walking in silence. Sometimes I say the standard verse, all my ancient twisted karma from beginningless greed, hate, and delusion, born through body, speech, and mind, I now fully evolve.


If I'm in the Zendo, I don't say it out loud, I think it. That's a general, kind of universal formula. But it opens the door. Sometimes nothing much comes. Sometimes something, huge comes sometimes nothing in particular comes sometimes something particular comes this is the work this is part of the work of sitting in silence and stillness is to open the door to contemplate the pain of the world and also to open to our responsibility for it.


And if we see the responsibility, to confess it and repent it. And confessing our responsibility is also accepting responsibility for being awake. Some black people have told us, told me, that they want us to wake up. They want us to wake up to our karma. They want us to wake up so that we will become harmless and beneficial to all beings. And this is hard work, but we can do it by supporting each other to do it. And when we do it, and we're specific about it, we will be forgiven and liberated.


One time someone told me about something that someone else said about me. about how someone felt that I was being self-serving and, I'm sorry, insincere, hypocritical. And the person who supposedly said those things about me was someone who I really cared for and respected. So I really felt bad, but I, I also was wanting to forgive her. However, I couldn't forgive her because it was hearsay. Somehow I needed to hear from her that she said that. And if she could say that to me, then I really felt I would be perfectly glad to forgive her.


And one time also during the time when there was a great deal of truth and reconciliation being practiced in South Africa, I heard on the radio a man from South Africa saying that he actually met a person, a white person who tortured him. And that man confessed and repented to him and apologized for what he did. And the interviewer said to the man, do you think he should have amnesty? And the man said, totally. And the interviewer said, but he tortured you. And he said, yes, he did. But he told the truth and he said he was sorry and I totally want him to be forgiven.


But we need to be specific. We need to be, it needs to be an exact communication and we need to help each other be exact in our communication. we need to become more and more skillful at saying, I'm sorry. Elton John had a song called, sorry is the hardest word to say. And some of you have heard the story that maybe 30 or 40 years ago, I was talking to someone and I felt my heart was closed to the person.


I felt some deadness in my heart. And I felt like I had to confess something. I had some responsibility for the deadness. in my heart and the deadness in the space between us. So I said, I love you. And she said, I hear you, but I hope you don't say that to someone who's not able to hear it and deal with it. And I said, thank you. When I said, I love you, my heart opened somewhat and was cleared, but it wasn't yet completely clear until she made her comment and then I could say, thank you. I love you and thank you. And still it wasn't completely clear.


And then I said, I'm sorry. And that cleared it, that opened my heart all the way. So some people say, some white people say, I love black people. Great. But we also need to say, thank you. And we also need to say, I'm sorry. And then we need to be ready to be examined. We need to examine ourselves and let others examine us. What are we sorry about? In what way are we sorry? Exactly, specifically. And again, this is a practice which is good to do on a daily basis, not just once in a while, not just when something special happens. So in Buddhist temples, all over the world, where there has been for 2000 years,


racial injustice, the practitioners, every day confess and repent. Every day they open the conduit. And again, some days maybe not much comes through, but if we don't keep the conduit open when it's needed, it may not be there. So we need to keep it open on a regular basis if we wanna do this work. If you wanna free all beings from injustice. We have to do the practice of quietly studying our history, our karma, our past, and our present as a regular practice in silence and in conversation, and to be quiet and still as we make the confession, as we say we're sorry.


Also, I wanted to share with you some, if you excuse the expression, news. At Green Gulch, we had, for me anyway, the sad situation of not being able to sit together for five months. Nobody was going to sit in our zendo, our lovely Green Gulch zendo. Also at no abode for five months, we've had nobody sitting in our Zendo except me. Unless somebody else snuck in there when I wasn't looking. But about a week or two ago at Green Gulch, we started to re-enter the Zendo. I'm happy to report. So we're sitting in the Zendo again at Green Gulch, but not as many people as usual, because we have to be far apart from each other.


And we have all the doors and windows open, so it's nice and cool. And this time of year, it's not too cold. And we wear masks. But we are back in the Zendo together, sitting at Green Gulch. which, yeah, it's, for me, it's, yeah, it's wonderful. Also, we are exploring the possibility of having a one-day sitting at Noah Boad. And we're trying to figure out how we can do that we're thinking of doing it outdoors. So on the decks around the temple. And so we might be able to have a one day sitting at Noah Boad on the Labor Day weekend, on the Saturday of the Labor Day weekend.


If we can figure out the logistics of how to make it safe, we will send out an announcement and give it a try. One complication for me, though, is that if I do a one-day sitting at Noah Abode, because people will be coming from around the area, I will have to do two weeks quarantine when I go back to Green Gulch. But I'm willing to do that so that I can sit with some of you at Noah Abode. And so that's the newest from Noah Bowen. Is there anything you'd like to discuss about anything? This is Scott, can you hear me? I can, Scott Lowe? Yeah. Okay, Scott Lowe, I can hear you.


I just want to remind everyone that we need to include brown people in that list of people who are subject to racial injustice. So I just want to add that. Thank you. You want to include brown people. So shall we say people of color? Yes, we shall. Shall we also say that, shall we also mention that from the time of the Buddha, there has been oppression of women, that women have been treated unjustly since the time of Buddha in India. And it seems to me still going on in India, that women's rights are not really


just. I know some amazing stories about how unjust women, how unjustly women are treated in India and same in China and Japan and the US. So it's also women have been treated unjustly. And people who have unusual sexual orientations are treated unjustly in India, China, Japan, and in the West also. And people who look different, like people who have unusually shaped bodies and who are disabled, they are also treated unjustly. And we have responsibility for all these injustices.


And all these injustices are to be contemplated. And contemplating all this injustice is the work of the Buddhas, is the exact transmission of awakening. We are being called to do this work, right? Do you feel called to do this work? Yes. So if people could, if you want to participate, go to participate and click on it and you should see a place to raise your hand. Okay, Katie Dionne. Hi, Red.


Oh, there's Katie. Hi, Katie. Hi. First of all, I just wanted to say it's really wonderful to be with you on the eve of this really important anniversary for you and for all of us. So I just wanted to take a moment to honor that and honor the gift that that long, deep practice has brought to so many people. Thank you. Yeah. It's a gift from Suzuki Roshi. He ordained me and yeah. And he gave me a name too, which was a great, has been a great teaching for me.


And you in turn have given us names that are great teachings for us. So I feel the power of that lineage. Great. Yeah. And I wanted to offer an appreciation of the story you shared about the moment that your heart was closed in an interaction with someone and how certain kinds of speech gradually opened it. Sorry, can you hear me now? Yeah. I was offering an appreciation of the story. I heard everything you said. Okay. And how what finally opened it was saying, I'm sorry. And I just, I thought that there was so much truth for me personally in that story, in my own experience of how that last sort of letting go is what can really open the heart.


Um, so I just wanted to appreciate that. Um, and then also say that there was a part of when you were talking, when I noticed, um, I started to feel really nervous and, um, my heart rate increased. And I think, um, I think part of what made me nervous was the connection that was maybe implied, I'm not sure if it was explicit, between the apologizing and the being forgiven and sharing the story of the person you had heard speaking about his relationship with his torture in South Africa. And I feel like part of what makes me nervous is just, it seems to me really important that the act of apologizing isn't attached to an outcome around an expectation of being forgiven.


And I think it's also important that, well, speaking for myself as a white person with white privilege, that I don't have the right to demand a certain kind of response from someone I've harmed and really it's up to the people that I've harmed to choose how they want to relate to me going forward and that it would be totally natural and healthy even to have certain protective barriers in the absence of trust and in the absence of me being able to demonstrate that I can act in a more non-harming way and so I just felt like that was important to say. And I think it's really, in Buddhism, I have found that in certain strains, there's a real kind of, there's a real problematizing of anger.


And I think that that has really been very harmful to many, certainly women in the tradition who have felt angry about the patriarchy in, Buddhist structures in the West. And so I can only imagine that what it might feel like to be told as a person of color, like not to be, have to be angry, to have to forgive. And I just want to make sure that we're embodying that that is not a requirement or an expectation around any apologizing that we're doing and that who we've harmed is really in choice around how they respond. And so I wanted to know if you wanted to talk a little bit more about apologizing and forgiveness and how they might be coupled or completely not coupled. I appreciate what you said.


And I also, I think that forgiveness is more than somebody saying I forgive you. Forgiveness could be that you say you apologize and you are liberated and nobody says anything to you. The forgiveness could be that your body and mind are completely liberated by accepting responsibility for what your body and mind have done. what forgiveness looks like. Sometimes people say, do you have forgiveness in Buddhism? They don't hear the word so much. What we hear in Buddhism is liberation. And liberation isn't what you think it's gonna look like. What we talk about is awakening. So forgiveness is really awakening.


And awakening is forgiveness. But we can't awaken without accepting responsibility for our karma. And we can't be forgiven unless we do. So forgiveness very definitely does not look like what you might think it does. And if you're looking for a certain type of forgiveness, that is another type of karma to be responsible for. Oh, I see, I was trying to, make forgiveness be that way. I was trying to make freedom from my problems look this way. Part of the, I don't know, part of the joy is that liberation doesn't look like what you thought it would. And right when you, what was it? Right when you're in the situation in which you never thought would be liberation, that's where you find it.


And right when you're in a situation that doesn't seem like forgiveness, you realize, oh, this is forgiveness. Not what I thought it would be. I thought forgiveness would be that. I never thought it would look like this. But sure enough, this is what it looks like. And it's happening. But how it looks isn't it either. We're even free from how it looks. So I appreciate you bringing it up. And yeah. You know, part of forgiveness might be, oh, good, now I have tons of work to do that I didn't know I had before. Thank you. How's that for you, Katie? That's very helpful. And I, yeah, I really appreciate that. And I think Homa was next. As you were speaking of injustice, a big wave of pain, literally pain, just took over my whole, whole body.


And then As you talked about the sitting at no abode of colors, beings of colors. My mind does not go in the colors. My mind goes in pain. My mind goes in lack, intolerance. So I would love to make an invitation for all who show up in no abode, who lack intolerance. Who lack tolerance? Lacking intolerance. Lacking intolerance? Yes. Like lacking in patience? Lacking in patience. Lacking intolerance. I have


experience within my own self every time i lack patience i lack tolerance my mind hops into all kinds of imaginations all kinds of perceptions what is what is not and every time i am still i am in my mind and body, that has no color. So I wish to be more in our bodies. So my question is, why, why Why does my mind, why do we keep hopping?


Did you say, why do we keep talking? Hop, hop, getting out, jumping out, going out. Why all these perceptions, separations? That's your question? Yeah, why? Do you feel a responsibility to take care of that question? I want to say yes, but then I feel my limitation. I feel limited. I feel limited. And I must be, unlimited, boundless, to take that responsibility. Being limited, I don't know how to. So I'm calling you now, and I think all beings are calling you now, to accept responsibility for your being limited.


If you can accept responsibility, and she's saying no, by the way. No, I say yes, I can see it. I mean, you're clear. So I'm calling you to accept responsibility for being limited. That's a job which I request you take care of. And if you take care of the job of being limited, if you accept the responsibility for being limited, that will free all beings. the pain that you feel from being limited and the pain you feel from, yeah, and the pain of not being patient with your limitedness. We all have, this is part of our work that we're being called to do. Thank you. You're welcome. Linda.


Linda H. Hi. Hi, Linda. I tried to write my real name there, but it didn't let me. But thank you for recognizing that I'm Linda H. As I got ready to answer, to ask my question, see, there was a meaningful slip. I kept alternating between how ever since I've known you, I always wanted to ask you for help. And then, and I still do, I'm always inwardly asking that. But often when you talk, I have the idea that I'm going to give you some help or some advice or some suggestion. And that's what just did come up today. Katie started the topic that I would like to just add something to.


You know, when you talk about the process of apology and forgiveness, it's different from when we're just sitting in the Zendo. It's like two people, or more than two, but at least two people having this exchange. So, as Katie said, we can't expect the other person to forgive us. And then you gave a good response to that. But also, people who have been really thinking about this lately, and that have been helping me understand it, have said apologizing isn't enough. Doing something, changing, making amends, really enacting your apology is utterly essential.


Otherwise, it's just too easy to apologize. I know you don't mean an easy apology, but people can easily be deluded about that. And I guess that's it. Also, I wanted to recommend a couple of beautiful films. One is called Forgiveness, and one is about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. in South Africa, which is just so profound and illuminating about this process. I don't know if I have a question. Just saying. Well, thank you for what you said. I think if we apologize, maybe somebody will give us some further instruction. And then And maybe the forgiveness will take the form of, oh, thank you for your apology, now do this. That may be what the forgiveness looks like. Or maybe they won't say thank you. They might say, okay, then do that.


So then we can listen to that and let that be our accounting, what they say. Yeah, so. Forgiveness might not, again, look like what we think it was gonna look like. It might be further work to do. Enrique. Hello, Rob. Enrique. Can you hear me? Yes. Okay. Um, thank you for bringing up this subject of racial injustice. And I felt it was, uh, you're connecting it to, uh, what we chanted at the beginning was also,


very helpful to me and kind of reframing the issue of the problem of racial injustice. It's something that's been, I've been wrestling with for all my life. And I, I see it in a somewhat different way now. You know, I've been chanting this chapter several years since I've been practicing, almost 10 years now, and this is the first time I'm relating it to the problem of my lifelong problem with racial injustice. I think I shared with you a few years ago an incident that happened in our sangha that touched off our own, within the sangha, own kind of re-examination of injustice within the sangha prejudice within the sangha it's an encounter between two people black person and i'm not sure what the color of the other person was but it's from this story i've heard it sounded to me like they were white and the black person felt unwelcome and shunned


I think because this other person chose not to sit next to them. And in thinking about that incident now, it was this, what I understood it, the harm was this feeling like, you're not welcome. This person did not feel welcome, did not have a home in the Zendo with us and the Sangha. And I think part of this question for me is the importance that people have to feel welcome, to feel they have a place, to feel they have a home. And then what came up was something I was meaning to ask you. And I guess that this would be my question.


You know, I've wondered what you mean by no abode. Because I understand it's the name of your temple. And I've tried to, I've been just wondering what you mean by no abode. To me, it relates very much to the idea of home or belonging. or not belonging. But I'm curious about that and hear what you have to say. Thank you. A kind of, what's the word? A statement which I read not too long ago, written by a person who represents what's called critical theory or the intellectual process of criticism.


This person said, the highest level, something like the highest level of moral development is to not feel at home, even when you're at home. Isn't that kind of startling statement? So the term no abode comes from the Diamond Sutra and there's a section of the Diamond Sutra which is a big highlight in the history of the Zen tradition. which is that in section 10C of the Diamond Sutra, it says that a bodhisattva, a being who's on the path of Buddhahood for the welfare of all beings, a bodhisattva should give rise, should generate a mind which basically does not abide in anything, does not abide


in colors, sounds, smells, tastes, touch, or whatever, that in order to do the work, we need to not abide in anything, including our own home. It doesn't mean we have to move out of our house. It just means, I guess, we have to be accountable for our house. We are being called to look at the causes and conditions of us having a house, of having maybe a nice house. And considering how maybe having a nice house is a privilege that a white person has in relationship to being white.


And some other, even though you have a house, you're not entirely comfortable being there because some people don't have a house. And you're not really that comfortable with this, that somebody doesn't have their house. Now you can move out of your house and move into a house that's not so nice, but even there, you're still accountable. And if you don't have a house at all, that won't, that's still, still you're, You have the privilege of being aware that other people don't have a house and you're not comfortable with that. It's a privilege to be uncomfortable with some people not having a home. That's a privilege. Everybody should have. Everybody should have the privilege of being uncomfortable that anybody doesn't have a home. That's a privilege. That's a privilege on the path of Buddhahood, is that we can feel pain when anybody doesn't have a home.


But I don't feel pain when people don't abide in their home. I'm happy when people don't abide in their home, their car, their fame, their wealth, because they're on the path of Buddhahood when they aren't dwelling in their good fortune. Of course, dwelling in bad fortune isn't good either. So we don't dwell in good fortune and we don't dwell in bad fortune. What do we do? We quietly explore the farthest reaches of the causes and conditions of where we are right now. This is the path of Buddhahood. And that story, when this person called the sixth ancestor, when he heard that section of the sutra, that was his first awakening from his causes and conditions, when he heard about a mind that doesn't abide.


But once again, not abiding in the causes and conditions of our life, for example, white privilege, not abiding in that comes by thorough examination of it, by being an ongoing work in project, project, work in progress of being responsible for the causes and conditions of our good fortune. Okay? Thank you, Rob. You're welcome. Thank you for your question. Scott? Scott Lowell? Yes. Yes, Scott? I just want to say that I've been your student for 35 years, actually.


And I just want to take this opportunity, because I don't know how many of them will be left, the situation the way it is. I just want to let you know. how profoundly, deeply grateful I am for you and my life and your guidance and inspiration as a teacher to me and the name you gave me, which inspires me every day that I practice. And so I just want to acknowledge how much you mean to me and how much Zen Center means to me. And thank you so much. I'm deeply touched. The feeling is mutual. I think, let's see. Next is Bruce. I don't really have a question, Reg. That's okay. Hi, Bruce. Hi, Reg. It's good to see you. I look forward to being at Noah Boat again.


I miss it. No further comment. You feel complete? I feel OK. Yeah, I'm doing OK. Well, thanks. Thanks for your face. OK. OK, Rick. Always good to see you. And I think next was Paula. Paula? Hi, Ren. Hi, Paula. Nice to see you, and congratulations on your anniversary. Are you in Chicago? I'm in Chicago, yeah. I have a lot of ideas bouncing through my head around the question I have, but I think it has a lot to do with what we're talking about now, enacting certain things in the world


Our practice has repentance, precepts, and contemplation. How do we know, and I feel like doctrine and talking is somehow, this is my opinion, the way we practice Zen in America Contemplation, doctrine, and talking has gotten very closely entwined with each other. And I feel sometimes we're losing embodiment of the practice. How as students and disciples can we tell if we're disembodied? in our practice and getting lost in conceptual tail chasing.


I sometimes feel that if we were better at embodying our practice, it would be easier for us to then move into the world and manifest these concepts and these feelings we have very strongly, but yet we seem to be unable to have them come to fruition in any practical way. And I could get more just pragmatic about that with just the everyday example, but it really encompasses larger concepts. Go ahead. Okay, well, you know, I do martial arts. So I do Kung Fu. Kung Fu also comes from Bodhidharma, from Damo. And one of the underlying tenets is that we don't want to get lost in concepts. We don't want to get lost in words.


We want to experience the practice. When you're doing a very physical practice, it's very easy to just experience the practice because it's very dynamic. So the way we practice Kung Fu in the West is we sometimes forget about the Zen part of it, the contemplation and the doctrinal part of it. So my coming to Zen is to get that part in and to see how they complement each other. I feel that from doing martial arts that myself personally and the people that tend to be in my close community aren't as confused about racial interactions and our place in them and how to interact. But yet at the same time, what I found is that we lack


the compassion and the aspirations that words and ideas sometimes lend to the practice. So I've tried to institute more discussion and talking because I learned from Zen how much it inspires people. And it really opens their imaginations to the possibilities of the world, of what could happen. So I wanted to ask you, because of your experience, as you're steering the boat, do you look for things when you could tell it's kind of getting out of whack, or do you make suggestions? Now, I know you just talked about no abodes, so that's kind of the answer I know. but I wanted to see if you have a more direct sense or explanation of how we can tell if we're keeping our practice in balance.


I think. Yeah. Well, um, I think that Buddhist practice has, it has kind of a theoretical and practical side. The practical side, for example, is to like sit down and be quiet and still. That's a physical practice. But that practice can or may not be integrated with a teaching. And we need to have both the theoretical and the practical. So someone may be talking to me about some theoretical issue, some teaching, and I might say to them, how do you feel right now?


and they might not be able to respond. So then they can see that although they're discussing this theory, they're not actually able to embody it. Or again, one of the stories that I was struck by in my early reading about Zen was a Zen monk who had trained for a number of years and was sort of finished his training with his teacher. He went back to visit his teacher and it was a rainy night and he came in to see his teacher and the teacher said, which side of the entryway did you put your raincoat and which side did you put your shoes? And he didn't know. So he realized his practice was not embodied at the time he entered the temple.


And then he stayed and studied with the teacher six more years. So with the help of others, people can sometimes ask us questions which may make us look to see if we're actually embodying the teachings of mindfulness and compassion. So we do need each other because sometimes we might think we've embodied the practice. For example, there's a theory that we should confess and repent on a regular basis. That's a theory. And that that practice is part of the practice of awakening that the Buddhists have done. The Buddhists have confessed and repented. That's a teaching. We need to do it with our body and our thought and our mind. So we need to do it by, for example, by bowing, and by saying, and by thinking, body, speech, and mind.


And we could be doing that, and we could notice in ourselves that we're not really there. Or someone else could say, did you notice the way you just bowed? Did you notice what you just said? And they may sense that we didn't, that we weren't there as we spoke, that we weren't there as we bowed, that we weren't there as we opened the door. So, yeah, so we not only practice confession and repentance, we not only quietly explore it, but we explore it with others and we get feedback and we learn. a more and more thorough embodiment. So in so-called Soto Zen, we have this basic sort of principle of silence and stillness. But the way we embody the principle of silence and stillness is by speaking and by moving.


And then the question is, is my speech embodying silence? Right now, are these words embodying silence? Is there silence in my words? Are my movements embodying stillness? This is an ongoing contemplation, an integration of teachings and physical verbal and physical postures and thoughts. And when you said, how can you tell? It's almost like sometimes when people say, how can you tell? It's almost like, how can you be sure? I don't know about being sure, but we do get feedback if we tell other people, I'm trying to do this form to express compassion. and I ask for your feedback.


I wish to practice peace in the world, and I practice martial arts as a way to embody that wish. And so I invite you, fellow martial artists, as I practice martial arts, please ask me if my martial arts practice seems to be embodying compassion. Okay. Thank you very much. Thank you, Paula. And next was Miu Yu. Miu Yu. Are you still here, Miu Yu? Oh, Camille. Is it Camille? Miu Yu. Oh, okay. That's your next meal.


I didn't know you go away. Maybe he left. So, okay. Camille. Oh, hi. It's good to see you. Hi. Good to see you. He's from Brooklyn. The East Coast. I don't really have a question. Um, maybe more of an observation if that's okay, just based on... Observations are welcome. It's not particularly profound either, but, um, yeah. So thank you for your talk and, um, just, uh, um, sort of like being in the world in a, in a black body, uh, um, in a world where there is definitely, um, anti-blackness, which is sort of ingrained in the foundation of our country. Uh, it's, it's what brought me to practice. Um, a great deal of, can you hear me? Uh, it's what brought me to practice. Um, and, um, uh, yeah, it's interesting, um, being on this path.


Um, and, uh, when I said those four vows, I didn't know what dharmic gates were. But I said them. And now I think I know what they are. And they seem connected to the delusions part. Delusions are inexhaustible and dharmic gates are boundless. And the dharmic gates are boundless. And the delusions are inexhaustible. It's great to enter those Dharma gates. It's like on the other side, it's, it's, you know, if you can really engage with it and stick with it, that's, it's great, but they are boundless and, um, and they do come with, uh, pain. Um, yeah. So, uh, some reason i i stick with the pain i don't know why but i do um and um you study it yeah it's painful though to see like that you've created these selves in order to um survive something that would that would have otherwise crushed you it served a function you know perfectly


It had a reason for being this selfie you created, but just to actually be able to look at it, it was quite painful to see that. How it was constructed and the fact that it was, you know, so. It's painful work. On the other side, there is love, you know, but it's just the fact that I'm It is boundless. It's sort of like, it's like I, because it wasn't happening, I did have some traumas come up, reemerge, racial traumas reemerge, and I've been working with them and working as in just sitting with them. And that wasn't very easy to do. I was surprised at how painful it was. But I do see something.


I try to avoid talking like this, but you see through the delusions of things. And I think that in itself is quite rewarding, to see the truth. And part of the truth is to realize you're not separate. I just really realized that deep in your body. Um, yeah, but, um, yeah, but, uh, you know, an open heart is a broken heart and broken heart is open heart. So, um, I know this will probably happen again. I don't know right now. I feel fine, but, and I feel this great connection and, um, and I'm happy for the insights, but it might happen again. And then to sit with it, I'll probably do the same thing and try to avoid sitting with it. And when I eventually do, just the heartache of it is tremendous.


And there's no avoiding it. But somehow I do it. I don't know. Anyway, I just wanted to say I'm happy to see you and greetings from Brooklyn and hopefully I'll see you again in person. That would be great. Thank you so much. Let's see, Yuki. Good morning. Good morning. I have been thinking, as you've been talking about, for me and language, there's a difference between saying I am responsible for something, which to me means that I am actively a part of the causation.


and saying I'm responsible to something, which implies to me a little more like whatever the causation, I'm responsible for dealing with the consequences I've inherited. You know, and I think that when we talk about racism or the patriarchy, you know, where causation is so vast, um, you know, personal responsibility is tied up in there, but not blame. And I just, I wish if he could talk about that a little more. Because it's easy to blame and get angry, either at myself or with, you know, someone. And that seems very unhelpful. Thank you. I would say I feel responsible, but I don't feel that I'm to blame.


I may feel blamed. People may blame me, but I don't so much feel blame, I feel responsibility. I contribute to everything, but I'm not in control. but I'm still responsible. So I would say I'm responsible for, without blame, I'm responsible to, in other words, I have some response to offer, and I'm responsible with, because other people are in the responsibility with me. Those three prepositions all seem to have their use in contemplating the causes and conditions of awakening and the causes and conditions of causation, of karma, of suffering. So sometimes for me when the situation is so vast I feel


You know, I can respond to what's in front of me, I can respond to what I see, but it's so much bigger than my individual vision or ability. Yeah, well, I think that part of our individual responsibility is to deal with limited individual actions and individual feelings of pain. and individual feelings of brokenheartedness. And working with those, we open to the vastness of the causation, the vastness of awakening. But we can't open to the vastness of causation unless we're willing to intimately and thoroughly deal with the particularities of it that are coming up in our own body. And opening the door and saying, okay, welcome particularity, and sometimes you don't see one for a while.


You just keep welcoming, and then they come. And they might come in the form of being blamed. Yeah, being blamed might break your heart. And seeing someone else blame themselves or be blamed might break your heart. And then that's your opportunity, your broken heart. to see if you can really open to that and be quiet with that and explore that and study that. That will open to the totality of awakening. Okay? Thank you. You're welcome. Anne Schulman? You're muted, Ann.


Okay, now you're back. I'm unmuted. Okay. I'm trying to condense a lot into something little. I've been caretaking for my dad, who's 90, and he's got a lot of trauma, and he's enacting it on the people around him. The other night, he was sleeping in the stairwell with two bags packed, screaming about blood and violence. And he's violent to everybody, really. And he's internalized a lot of shame, and he hasn't looked at it. So it's pretty horrific. And this, I say this because this is the ground that I come at this work from, because there's lots of care in my heart for this, this issue. And the more I read about the systemic cruelties, just the details of it, like you say, the details of how things have worked, the kinds of cruelty, the kinds of close hearted othering that have gone on for years and years.


and the blindness to turning a back to like a person being sold or anything like that that's large. It's so vital, it's so vital like a laser to me that this not turning away, like the Zen practice of not turning away, not using privilege to turn away from the details of how this trauma has unfolded is real concentration and the non-defensiveness with allowing trauma to arise. Because for my heart, I know from my body that I feel at times like I don't belong. I don't belong. It's because I'm carrying the weight of not belonging that was delivered to me from some other place.


And I, I'm not even in trauma. And so my imagination allows me to understand a little bit of how this, how this trauma thing works. And so as a white person, all I can say is not looking away from race right now. and not being defensive about allowing other people to be angry in my face, to be raging in my face, and to allow my heart to be seen for a loving response. Like, I think that's what's being called for. It's not like an apology, it's a presence of feeling somebody else's shoes. Does that seem? Apology, the apology that we're talking about, the repentance we're talking about is to help us be more present.


Just like in that story, I wasn't completely present in my meeting until I added to thank you. Thank you helps us be present too. Thank you helps us be present. I love you helps us be present. Yeah, and I'm sorry helps us be more present. All these things are basically to be present. And then if we're really present, then let's embody it by continuing that practice. Justin. Hi, Rob. Hi, Justin. I really liked that quote that you mentioned about, um, I was wondering if you could say it again and, and who said it about, um, I think to paraphrase one of the highest moral practices is, uh,


being in your home. Can you say it again? It's by a man named Adorno. And it is, I think, the highest state of moral development is to not feel at home, even when you're at home. Thank you. And it feels like such a ripe opportunity for practice and something to think about, you know, in so many different perspectives. You know, when I think about the fact that it feels like home is one of the first places where we make a distinction between mine and yours and inside and outside. And a place where we like, or you think in a much more practical sense, You know, we all are brought up with this idea of being on our best behavior in other people's homes. And when we're in our own homes, we tend to slip or relax or go to sleep or feel a sense of separateness and privacy that is unique to being at home.


And I just think there's so many opportunities for contemplation and practice, you know, in that quote. Yeah, when you were talking, a line from, a refrain actually, from a poem by Rumi came up to my mind, which you've heard me, so many of you have heard me recite before. It's, the breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you, Don't go back to sleep. You have to say what you really want. Don't go back to sleep. People are walking back and forth. All people are walking back and forth on the threshold where the two worlds meet.


The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep. So we're at the threshold between, I don't know what, self and other. The threshold between peace and war. We're at that threshold. And we might wanna turn away. from violence and cruelty and injustice and go over and look in the direction of justice and kindness and peace. But the call from the poet is to sit at that threshold between justice and injustice. and not go to sleep.


Not turn away from the injustice and look over to justice. Not turn away from justice and look over at injustice. Be in the presence. And it's not that comfortable to be in the presence of injustice. And it's not that comfortable to be in the presence of people who don't have a home, but they're right here. We're face to face with them all day long. It's a question of not going back to sleep. Because we have gone to sleep, but when we wake up and start to develop, we start to feel the discomfort of the injustice, which is always close at hand. We're never a little bit away from it. But we're also never a little bit away from justice.


But don't lean over towards justice, be upright with the justice and be upright with the injustice. This is a great opportunity and it's not like being at home and cozy. It's being challenged and questioned. It's being open to great discomfort, and it's a great opportunity. And this is where Buddhas sit on this threshold. And they don't turn their back on peace, and they don't turn their back on war. They're open to both. Thank you. You're welcome, thank you. I think next is Breck. Hi, Reb, can you hear me? I can, thank you. You're welcome.


I have to admit that when you said you would be starting sittings again at no abode, that my heart sank a little bit that we might not be having these Zoom interactions as well. because you know I'm away for a while and I know there's some other members in the sangha as well and I hope that we can at some interval also have these kind of meetings with you over this medium as well as in person. I hear you and how can I refuse? I've become a prisoner of Zoom. Oh, dear. I also wanted to express my gratitude. I saw on my calendar that tomorrow is your 50th anniversary.


And I'm grateful for everything back to the Big Bang and beyond that led to you being here. And thank you so much for all the years that I've been interacting with you. It's been transformative and loving and a lot of fun. Thank you, Rob. And I think next is Miuyu. Is that right? Are you there, Miyoyu? Yeah, I am. Okay, good. I see you. Okay, there you are. Hello. Hello. To the whole Sangha, I'm sorry that I have not seen or listened to you. Thank you.


You're welcome. Thank you. And next is Tracy. It's great to be with everybody. It's really great to be with you, Reb. And I'm kind of blown away by 50 years of practice and commitment and your leadership. So thank you for mentioning that so we could let that in. I was poking around the San Francisco Zen Center website yesterday and somehow was looking at the online portal and saw that there are all these videos, not all these, at least some videos of Suzuki Roshi, which I had never seen. despite what I had planned for myself for the morning, I just went down that rabbit hole and watched every single one. And I was really moved with that tiny little taste of him.


So I wanted to share that with you. And then what I want to talk to you about, when I was thinking about it, I realized It's the exact same thing I've asked you about, maybe not a thousand times, but over and over. And so I started to think, maybe you're a bad teacher, or maybe I'm a bad student. It's good to be open to both those possibilities. I mean, how could I, you know, and I'm sitting here, I'm not like bringing this question from the past, it's right here again. And, but then it was a little help, I think it was Camille who was, when she was talking about the never ending part of it, it's like, okay, but, you know, so, you know, so maybe it's not my accusation about either of us, maybe it's a confession that,


Whatever that sitting at that doorway is, that presence, in the domain of the world's suffering, I confess, I find it virtually impossible to just be with, to just be with. And you said something, it's not that comfortable. It's like, what are you talking about, not that comfortable? It's like, for me, It's beyond devastating to let in, the little tiny bit of the suffering that I can even let in. And so, I don't, and I know what I'm supposed to do is not turn away and not get hooked. That's my, that's the assignment. That's my Zen assignment. So my confession is I have not mastered that at all.


And it's a little upsetting to me that I don't feel like I'm making progress in that. So to me, if I let in one more bit of suffering, I'm just gonna run screaming out into the night. So I'm not gonna open that email or I'm not gonna read that article. So, I don't know. So that's my jumble of impressions and concerns and failures. I don't know what to share. I mean, and I could ask you for a tip, but you'd probably give me one and you probably gave me one last time and I must've forgotten it or not done it, because I still have the questions. or a teaching, you know, not to diminish it to say a teaching. Another sign of moral development is opening to wider and wider suffering.


Okay, so you're saying that you sometimes, or anyway, that you sometimes hesitate to open any more, to open to any more suffering. Okay, I heard you say that. So, and that's a situation. And when you're ready, opening more is part of the program. However, part of that heroic work of opening to more suffering, which is moral progress, caring about more people, caring about some problems, which you didn't think before were a problem, you know, or you thought there were too, either you didn't think there were a problem at all, and you weren't going to open to people who had such petty concerns, or the problems were too big.


Those were the limits of how, of your moral development. Part of expanding is not opening an email sometimes. Resting is part of the heroic path. So like, yeah, I heard doctors without borders, they go to these places and they help people. And the line never stops. They're never gonna finish. And if they just keep going and keep going, eventually they will collapse and then they will not be in Doctors Without Borders anymore. I don't know where they'll be, but they will not be available to help people. They have to leave and rest before the line comes to an end, which is another difficulty. So your sensitivity to the boundlessness of the suffering and that you're reaching your limit and it's time to rest.


Part of being a hero is to realize I have worked enough today. And if I work anymore, I might make some big mistakes and hurt somebody. So it's time to rest even though I'm not done. It's time to close the door and rest, even though. It's time to say, that's too much for me to take. Even though the suffering people don't get to do that. They don't get to say, I want to take a rest from this suffering. That's what feels weird to me. You don't get a chance to take a rest from the suffering. You can't take a rest from the suffering either. What you can take a rest from is the work. Take a rest from the work. What work? the work of opening to it. Nobody can take a rest from suffering, but people can turn away from it. It's still there.


They're just ignoring it. But it's not a rest. Ignorance isn't a rest. Taking a nap can be part of the work so that you can get back up and go to work again. What's the work? opening to the suffering, practicing generosity with it, practicing ethics with it, practicing. So a growth in ethics is to grow the situations that you practice ethics with. But in order for them to grow, we need to rest sometime. We need to know when we've done enough work today so that we can work tomorrow rather than keep working today and just start causing trouble. Because we work too long. It's lazy to overwork. It's not diligent to keep pushing yourself beyond the time to rest.


There's a doctor, I remember his name is Farmer, Dr. Farmer. And he probably still does work in Haiti. And he's right there on the front lines helping people through civil wars and earthquakes and fires. epidemics, and he had this concept, which I appreciated, which is called, which I abbreviated is AMR, Area of Moral, no, AMC, excuse me, it's the same as that entertainment company, AMC, Area of Moral Clarity. So there's certain areas of moral clarity where we're pretty clear what our work to do is. And he recommend work in that area. And you work in that area where you're clear.


Okay, I'm clear about working here. And he says, by working there, your area of moral clarity will expand. But right now there's certain areas where you're not morally clear. And to go there isn't necessarily helping anybody. It's maybe better to work where you're clear and work on that. And then if you're successful, it will grow. The Bodhisattva path is for that area to grow and grow. So it's an open-ended growth and it involves resting. And it's resting from the work of not turning away. from freedom or bondage, from peace or violence, not turning away from either, but also resting on the threshold, rest. Rest without going back to sleep.


In your sleep, remember your career as to help people. So that's a tip. How was that tip? That was brilliant. I just, I realized this is being recorded. I should try to watch it again. So that next time I forget, cause this seemed very, very clear to me for this moment. Great. Appreciate that. Thank you. You're so welcome. And Trisha. AKA Patty. AKA Patty. Thank you. Hi Patty. Oh, Patricia. Oh, Patricia. I said to Rusa the other day, do you remember Patti Dameron? And she said, oh yeah, China. I think of Rusa about her swim across the Golden Gate, what a badass she is.


It's wonderful to see a lot of you I haven't seen for years. I think of all of you. And Rev, it's lovely to see and hear you. And I second what Brecht says. I'd love to liberate you from being a prisoner of Zoom, but it's wonderful for some of us who live far away and can't make it to no abode. And Tracy, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your feelings, Tracy. And what you said made me think about taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. And it's a vow I made years ago, and sometimes I forget. And now I'm taking refuge in Zoom. I never thought I'd take refuge in Zoom. But being with all of you and hearing your talk, Reb, and hearing all of you be vulnerable and express, you know, difficulties with what's happening in the world and just being in the world. I feel refuge and I'm really grateful for that. Thank you.


And happy anniversary, Reb. Thank you. By the way, today I think was the first time I expressed Zoom prison. And actually, I also have been in the Zendo prison for 50 years. Zendo sometimes feels like a prison too, but I voluntarily go to it. So now I have to like get in touch with voluntarily going to Zoom prison. So I guess from now on, I'll be in two prisons, the Zendo prison and the Zoom prison. For me, the Zendo prison is easier than the Zoom prison. Although I do know that Zoom prison does have certain advantages. It's easier in the environment. You don't have to drive a car to go to Zoom prison, which, yeah.


Don't be such a sissy, Reb. Maybe it's a Zoom-do instead of a Zem-do. Zoom-do. OK. Jared. Hi, Reb. Hi, Jared. Yeah, thank you for your talk today. I really appreciated you bringing up confession and repentance. It's been a huge thing in my life recently. I guess for a while now, but mainly recently. Yeah, let's see. Oh, I was thinking a lot as we were talking about, I don't know if I read this or I heard it in a talk you gave, but something about how you were at Tassajara and there was a food shortage. And you recognized in yourself this wish to kind of get some food for yourself because maybe you wouldn't be able to get it later.


And you walked away and it really hit you hard that, in this food shortage, you were kind of interested in getting food for yourself. And I think you even said, at that time, I felt like I began real practice. I think you said something like that in the book or where I heard it. And recently, I've been having all sorts of things coming up about, things that I've done, things that I've said, people that I've hurt. And I mean, I'll just say it. This is a process of me recognizing that I have addiction problems and I have to take care of them. I want to take care of them. I am taking care of them. And I, you know, I've been having these blow ups


real blowups, like anger blowups, mainly in relationship with my mother. And it's been amazing to have those happen and then to do my best to make amends for those events and get some clarity. And it's really humbling to think you're going along, doing great, which maybe you are, and then all of a sudden, you have a barbaric blow up. And it's like, for me, as of late, the practice of confession and repentance has felt like kind of like, I've been thinking of that thing I read or heard, and it's been feeling like a much more real sense of practice and something that Norman Fisher said, which I really appreciate. He said, I don't think we can forgive ourselves. And I always thought that was kind of harsh, but I really feel as though the forgiveness is in that communion.


And it's huge. Like it's, yeah, I don't know. I'm really grateful for the practice of confession and repentance and the faith in it, because these things just weigh on my heart. And it's amazing when you get clarity around it and you feel that opening. And then you get feedback and you kind of know where to go from there. Like, and you see how deeply vulnerable you are to hurting people. It's possible. Like, I didn't know how possible it was for me to hurt somebody. But it's, it's huge. So yeah, I just thank you. Thank you very much. I'm happy to hear this report, Jared. And part of the problem with addictions is sometimes they numb us to our problems, you know, so much so that we never get angry because we're, we're so numb.


And when we come off the addiction, we start to feel the pain more. And then we have the opportunity to start dealing with the anger that comes from not being able to be compassionate to our difficulty. And then we learn the compassion. But we need to confession and repentance. Confession and repentance is a compassion practice. And as it says at the end of the verse, This practice of confession and repentance is the pure and simple color of true practice. It's the true mind of faith. It's the true body of faith. And that story that Jared's referring to, remind me some other time when we're in Zoom prison again, I'll tell you the whole story. But it's too long to tell at this point, I think.


But I can just briefly tell you that the punchline of the story, what I cried about was not that I didn't get the food I was concerned about, but I cried because I saw what a petty person I was. I just cried seeing how petty I could be over a little scrap of food. Here I was supposedly studying Zen in a monastery. And what did I care about? A crouton. And that really humbled me and made me realize more deeply how petty I am. And that's real practice when you realize, or when I realize how petty I am. Then I can really practice. I didn't know beforehand how petty I was. Okay. Somebody named Sunday. Somebody named Sunday.


Oh, yeah. Hello, Reb. Oh, Eric Sunday. Okay. Hi, Sunday. I didn't know your name was Sunday. Some reason they put me down at that. I couldn't change it. But, um, It's not a bad name, but- Can I call you that from now on? Sure, call me anything. Okay, Sunday, welcome. I just wanted to say something quickly that I was sitting with somebody who was in tremendous pain from terminal illness. And I said, I said, I'm sorry, I'm really sorry. And they said, they looked at me and they said, you're not you're not to blame, it's not your fault. And then I thought, I have to rephrase this. And I said, I'm feeling so full of sorrow for your pain. And then my mom looked at me.


So that's really all I say is that just saying I'm sorry sometimes just doesn't cover everything, doesn't cover it all. Yeah, I sometimes when people say something horrible about that happened to them. Sometimes I'm saying I'm sorry, and they often say to me, it's not your fault. And then I say what you said. I said, what I mean is I feel sorrow. So maybe I should, in those cases, when I'm not talking about my karma, and somebody's telling me about their pain, I should just say, I feel sorrow. The Spanish is nice that way. Lo siento. which is translated as I'm sorry, but it means I feel it. I feel your pain. So I feel sorrow. It's good on that case. And when it comes to my life and my actions, I'm sorry. Thank you, Sunday.


And Carolyn Burke. You're muted, Carolyn. Can you hear me now? Yes. Thank you, Reb. Thank you so much for the 50 years, for today, for all the teachings. I want to tell you a little story that feels now like a pre-COVID fable. As you know, Last year in September, I had a heart attack and was treated in Paris where I was in the wonderful cardiac unit of the hospital. This is a story of gratitude for all that I, the love and care I received and the love and care I discovered on the way back to the hospital after I'd


recovered enough to go for my final exam. I wasn't sure how to get there. Friends said, well, we don't think you should take the metro. That's too much for you. And the bus is a bit dangerous. This bus line, which goes to the north of Paris, where my hospital is, goes to the suburbs where all the people of color live, the Africans, the people from North Africa. And those are mostly the people on the bus. So there was some sense among my advisors that at this moment I might not be so comfortable in my condition. Well, I went anyway. And here is where the practice comes in. There were very few seats. There was only one next to a beautiful African woman in a turban and a long robe, but I wasn't quite sure whether she would want to move over.


It would require a bit of moving over. So I asked her, would it be all right for me to sit down? And she said, yes. We rode along together. This is pre-COVID. of course, sitting very closely side by side, almost as if we were meditating together. And when it came to my hospital stop, I indicated I was going to get up, asked her permission. And she said to me in the most, what can I say, comforting way, au revoir madame. So I said, au revoir madame. We recognized each other. It was a rolling zendo, that bus. There we were all together, all these different kinds of people in our different conditions, sharing our space. And in a sense, you were with me too.


You were all with me. I felt you in that rolling zendo, that bus that goes to the north of Paris. And I am so grateful. Thank you. Thank you for the story. It's amazing where we find the practice guiding us, inhabiting us. It's amazing. It's amazing. Okay, so tomorrow's my anniversary and you're welcome to come. I'll be in Zoom prison again tomorrow morning. at the Green Gulch Zoom prison. And again, I look forward to maybe, I don't know if we're gonna have one day sitting, but I think the next month I will be able to give a talk to Noah Bode from Noah Bode.


We're setting up the Wi-Fi there so I can actually give a talk to the Noah Boad community from Noah Boad. So I'll sit in front of the altar and talk to you next month. And maybe we'll have a one day sitting too, in addition to the Zoom talk, Breck. Thank you, Reb. So anyway, thank you for coming to the anniversary party. And I pray for your continued good health And I pray for your continued practice of compassion. And I pray for your continued quietly exploring the causes and conditions of your life and your awakening. Thank you so much. And for you as well, Reb. Thank you. May our intention fully 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 way is unsurpassable. I vow to become it. Bye-bye. Bye. Thanks, everyone. Thank you, Rev. Happy anniversary. Thank you, Rev. Love you, Rev. Love you, Rev. Bye-bye. Bye, Rev. Thank you, Rev. Bye, Rev. Love you. Bye. Bye, Rev. Thank you so much. Great to see you. Bye, Rev. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Happy anniversary. Thank you. Bye. Love you. Bye. Bye bye. Thank you. Great to see you.