The Four Aspects of Practicing the Threefold Ethics of Bodhisattvas 

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About a month ago we were here, I think it was the second, was it the second of January or the third, second of January, so it's been a month and a day or so, and I offered to look at training in bodhisattva ethics, and I mentioned at that time that, I think I did at that time, that one becomes a bodhisattva by caring for and developing a great aspiration, an aspiration to realize Buddhahood for the welfare and happiness of all beings.


And suggested, in accord with the ancestors, that although one may have such an aspiration, the aspiration will not be realized without training. It's partly that human beings have some limitations in their ability to work for the welfare of others, but it's also that the training itself not only makes the person more effective in service, but the training itself is the service. The training of the being who has the aspiration is the realization of the aspiration. Without the training there's not realization, with the training there is realization of the aspiration of Buddhahood for the welfare of all beings. And the training method is described in many ways, but two ways that it's described, one way is as bodhisattva


ethics, which has three aspects. The ethics of restraint, the ethics of gathering all wholesome factors, and the ethics of maturing all beings. Those are the three-fold ethics of bodhisattvas. The three-fold ethics of training, which realizes Buddhahood for the welfare of all beings. And there's also, bodhisattva training is described as sixfold, the six perfections, which are giving, ethics, patience, enthusiasm, concentration, and wisdom, those six. And those six actually are also included in the previous three. The second of the previous three includes the six, because the second is to gather all the wholesome factors,


and all the wholesome factors are gathered in those six trainings. So those are two different ways of talking about how bodhisattvas train. And then, in the intervening time between that meeting here last time and now, we had an intensive meditation retreat at Green Gulch, and during that time we studied these bodhisattva precepts, this three-fold bodhisattva precept. And there is a wide and a narrow understanding of ethics. The wide understanding of ethics is the three-fold ethics, because the three-fold ethics embraces


the totality of the Buddha way. Sometimes in the tradition, it's taught that the training of a practitioner is training in ethics, training in concentration, and training in wisdom. But the ethics here, the bodhisattva ethics, includes all three of those. Plus also, in Asia, when they talk about those three trainings of ethics, concentration, and wisdom, they assume they don't even mention the training in giving. That's just understood. But even people who aren't in training, not all of the disciples or devotees or members of the Buddhist faith, not all of them are in training, but they all practice giving. So the giving is understood. So it really is giving, ethics, concentration, and wisdom. But in practicing


those, patience and enthusiasm have to be involved too. So the six perfections, the three learnings, and these three precepts are mutually including each other. At Zen Center, we transmit 16 bodhisattva precepts. The first three are going for refuge in the triple treasure, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The next three, but maybe before I mention that, those first three are for all the different kinds of Buddhist traditions practice the first three, going for refuge in the triple treasure. Not all the Buddhist


traditions are bodhisattva traditions, but in the bodhisattva tradition we have these three pure precepts, which I just talked about, and we spend a lot of time in the last eight intervening months at Green Gorge looking at these three pure precepts. Maybe I could say that the reason they're called three pure precepts, the reason why all three are pure precepts is because of the first one. The first of the three pure precepts is the purifying precept. The precept of restraint, which is the first of the three, is the purifying precept, is, you could say, restraining imperfection. It's restraining defilement. It's restraining outflows. And based on the first precept, which is the purifying precept, then the other


two precepts follow, and they are also pure. The purifying precept of restraint, which is the second precept of gathering wholesome factors, one could practice that without first practicing the ethics of restraint of outflows, restraint of defilement, restraint of impurities. One could practice the second one of gathering wholesome without first practicing the purifying precept. However, if one did that, the second precept would not be a pure precept. It would also be, it would be defiled because of not practicing the precept of restraining defilement. Or restraining outflows. And outflows are the


illusions, the delusions, the misconceptions that naturally flow out of and arise in unenlightened beings. So what does it mean to restrain the outflows, restrain the defilement? It means that you notice that you haven't, that the outflows have not been restrained, that the illusions are arising. And how do the illusions look? Well, they look like there's an illusion when you look at a person, or you're aware of a feeling, or you're aware of a thought, quite naturally these outflows arise with the experience of a person. The outflow,


for example, the illusion appears that the person is separate from you. The illusion is that they exist independently of you, or that you exist independently of someone else. That illusion, seeing someone that way, your vision of them is not pure. Or you could say it's impure. It has this, these outflows of illusion are coloring or staining your vision of the person, or your awareness of your own experience. So the first precept is to restrain that. Another aspect of this is that when you see people, or trees, or animals,


or food, or money, anything, when you see pain and pleasure, you can restrain that. When you see pain and pleasure as separate, then you think you can grasp it. It appears to be graspable. You think you can gain it. So another thing that arises is that we look at beings, we look at relationships, and we see some gain possible. Or we see some loss possible. The appearance of gain and loss in our relationships is the appearance of outflows. You can actually see an outflow when you see a situation and you see it in terms of gain. Or when you see it in terms of loss. When you see things that way, you're now seeing the world in a defiled way. And most people can do that. Most people can see


going to the grocery store to buy an apple, and then they buy the apple, they can see that in terms of I gained. First of all, I gained the grocery store. I walked over there and I gained the grocery store, then I gained the apple, but then I lost some money, because I gave some money. I didn't give some money, I had to give the money to the people who worked at the grocery store. So I gained an apple, but I lost a dollar. So most people can see that. In other words, most people have defiled vision of their life. They don't see the grocery store was given to me and I gave myself to the grocery store. The apple was given to me and I gave myself to the apple. The food was given to me and I gave the food away. Excuse me, the money was given to me and then I gave the money away. The vision of giving is the vision of outflows being restrained.


Another way I spoke of this first pure precept over and over is that it's training in presence. It's the precept of presence. So the precept of presence means you restrain not being present. It's a precept of training. It's something that's given to you to remind you to train in being present. And training in being present for living beings means train yourself to restrain your going away from being present. Because sentient beings naturally have outflows which take them away from being present. When you see somebody and you think, oh again, you've just lost your presence. When you're holding a cup and you think you gained the cup, you're not present with the cup. When you're present with the cup, there's no gain


or loss. When you drink tea and you give yourself to the drinking of the tea and the tea gives itself to the drinking of the tea, there's no gain or loss. The outflows are restrained. Then you're purely drinking tea and you're practicing wholesome dharmas like you're practicing the dharma of being generous. You're generously receiving the tea and giving yourself to the tea. You're practicing a wholesome practice called giving and it's pure because you don't see drinking tea as a gain or a loss. And perhaps there have been moments in our lives when we drank tea and we didn't think it was a gain or a loss and we thought, how wonderful to drink tea. We had a taste of practicing that first pure precept. Maybe we didn't even


think we were, we weren't trying to, but we were present and we didn't think, oh I gained some tea, I gained some hydration, I gained some caffeine, I gained some pleasure. And now the tea's gone so I lost the tea. We didn't drink the tea that way. We drank the tea practicing the first bodhisattva pure precept, the precept of purifying our presence. This means to live, to be present without outflows. And being without outflows is a definition of enlightenment, of Buddha's enlightenment, is to live without outflows, to live without gain or loss. The word gain and loss still appears in the world, but there's no involvement


in it. We're restraining ourselves from getting involved in it. You've heard me say, and here I'm going to say it again, our practice is not just concentration. It's not just concentration. Our practice is not just giving. Our practice is not just ethics. Our practice is not just wisdom. Our practice is complete perfect enlightenment. Practice without outflows is enlightenment practice. And enlightenment has to be practice, otherwise it has outflows. If enlightenment isn't the practice, then it's not enlightenment. If enlightenment's not the practice, enlightenment


would have outflows. And enlightenment is the lack of outflows. But put it positively, enlightenment has to be practice in order to be free from outflows. Enlightenment has to be practice in order for there to be an end of outflows, because if practice is trying to get anything, it's a defiled practice. But when practice is not trying to get anything other than practice, there's no outflow, and that way of being is enlightenment. And then, all the activities we do, all the practices we do, which are not trying to get


anything, are enlightenment. And then, if we try to help beings, we try to help beings, we devote ourselves to helping beings, but the main way to help beings is to show beings how we can be with them without trying to get anything. We're working to mature beings without trying to get maturity. So then, the working for beings is purified of outflows, the practicing of wholesome factors is without outflows, and the practice of restraining outflows is successful. So the zazen of this school is not just learning concentration, it is without outflows. It's


not trying to get wisdom, it's not trying to get concentration. When you're really present, not trying to get concentration and not trying to get wisdom, you have wisdom and concentration united. What I said can be elaborated quite a bit, but I want to stop just for a second and mention that not always do we drink tea without any gaining idea of what we're doing. Not always do we drink tea without any outflows. Not always do we drink tea in this purified way. So part of the training in this ethics, in the ethics of presence, part of the training


in the essence of bodhisattva ethics is number one, to be aware of the precept, whatever the precept is. In this case, the first pure precept is we have a precept which I just told you about called the precept of presence, called the precept of restraining any outflows, called the precept of restraining concern for gain and loss. We have that precept, you got the precept, I gave it to you. It was given to me, I gave it to you. You might be clear about that precept now since I said so much about it. If you're not, you're welcome to ask questions so that the precept will be clear. Number one, I gave it to you. It was given to you, you didn't take that precept, you didn't make it up, it was given to you by somebody else. Somebody else who's not separate from you. Somebody else who you can't get anything from. That's me. I'm somebody other than you who's not separate


from you that you can't get anything from. That's me. And everybody's like me. But not everybody gives you the first pure bodhisattva precepts, because not everybody got the opportunity to have it given to them. But I did, so now I'm giving it to you. You got it, please take care of it. But I know you might have trouble. First of all, here's the precept. Number two is you want to practice it, maybe. You aspire, aspire to what? To practice the first pure bodhisattva precept and the other two in accord with that first pure precept. You maybe aspire to practice these three pure precepts. Now if you hear this precept, if you receive this precept and you aspire to practice it, then you may notice that you don't practice it.


You may notice that perhaps you fail at practicing it. That you forget to practice it. Even sometimes you don't want to practice it. Anyway, for whatever reasons we sometimes feel like we're not practicing it. So then we come to the third aspect of bodhisattva ethics. The third aspect is failing at practicing bodhisattva precepts and feeling regret. Because we wanted to do this practice of being enlightened. What's the practice of being enlightened? It's the practice of not trying to get enlightenment or anything else. It's the practice of not seeing the world through the lenses of gain and loss. It's the practice of restraining


that stuff. And we failed and we regret that we failed because we really do want to be practicing enlightenment. And we want our practice to be enlightenment because if our practice was enlightenment then there would be no gain. Someone said just recently, I think the person said, the important point is the journey not the goal. Is that what I heard? The important point is the journey not the goal. Well, in this situation, that's right, the important thing is the journey and the important thing is the goal. The journey and the goal have to be the same thing. We have to practice right now, practice which is the goal. Then our practice is undefiled and the goal is undefiled. Then our practice


doesn't have outflows. I'm practicing right now talking to you and I'm not going to get anything for it. And yet, it's enlightenment if I practice that way. But I forget sometimes. And if I notice it and look at it and I feel regret because I'm not doing what I aspire to do, I feel regret, I feel embarrassment. Here I am saying I want to become a bodhisattva, saying I want to take care of this aspiration, saying I want to practice the precept of restraining, trying to get something and I just tried to get something, I'm embarrassed. And I know this is a hot word these days in California, but I'm also ashamed. I'm ashamed that I aspire to not be trying to get stuff for me or get stuff for anybody and I'm slipping into gaining.


I'm sorry, I'm ashamed, I'm embarrassed, I regret. Those first three practices are the conditions for the fourth practice, the fourth aspect of ethics, which is that you don't forget anymore, that you remember, that you don't fail. You don't fail because you practice failing with regret and embarrassment. And you also, you take your regret and your embarrassment and you bring it to your teachers, you bring it to the buddhas and bodhisattvas and you tell them, I failed in practicing presence. I failed in restraining gain, I was trying to gain. So many people come to me and practice the third one, they confess, they notice that they're trying to get something from me, they notice it, they confess it and they regret


it. They notice it, they confess it and they regret it. For years they come and try to get something from me. And I told many stories during the intensive about how I was trying to get something from the great Zen masters who went to visit great Zen masters in hopes of getting something, in hopes that St. Nicholas would soon be here. They went way out of their way over mountains and through valleys of the shadow of darkness to meet the great Zen master so that they could get the true dharma from the great Zen master. And then the stories about the great Zen master not giving them what they were looking, trying to get. But of course it wasn't that he wasn't, he was actually giving them just what they wanted to get, which was he was restraining their attempts to get something. He or she was giving


herself completely and in that way there was no gain. And they were frustrated because they wanted to gain something. And they trained a long time until finally they realized that they didn't need to gain anything and that's what they actually came to learn. Let's see, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. About 10 or 11 of the people in this room were in the intensive. So I was also thinking perhaps to ask the people in the intensive


to share what they learned about Bodhisattva precepts and I'm mentioning that now. But before we get into that possibility, since we have this resource here of different people's learning experience around these Bodhisattva ethics, these Bodhisattva ethics which somebody's smiling about something. What are they smiling about? What are you smiling about? I was smiling at her face. What happened on her face? Something about, I don't know, there was some kind of response to me. It made you smile when you saw that? You smiled? Okay, now I know. You smiled in response to something, a facial expression. Could you do it again for us? Okay, so I'm saying Buddha's enlightenment, or in the Zen school we do sitting meditation,


Buddha's sitting meditation is these three pure precepts. The body of Buddha is the practice of these three pure precepts. And the true body of Buddha is the first precept, the precept of restraining concern for gain and loss. The bliss body of Buddha is practicing gathering all wholesome factors based on the first pure precept, based on the precept of restraint, based on the true body of Buddha, we have the reward body of Buddha. And the working to mature beings is the transformation of body of Buddha. So the three bodies of Buddha are these three pure precepts.


Practicing Buddha is practicing these three pure precepts. One could think how marvelous that is, that we have a way to practice Buddha by practicing these three pure precepts. Any questions, or feedback, or finger pointing to the air? Yes? The moon, you're pointing to the moon. Oh, that moon. You were a little late on step number four, or what you said today about step number four, didn't sound like what I've heard in the past about step number four. You receive the precept, you aspire to practice it. Receive the precept correctly from another, not just receive it, but from another and


also correctly, in other words, you understand it. Number two, you aspire to practice it. Number three, you fail, and you confess and repent. And number four? I thought number four was recommit. Recommit? Number four, no, your recommitment actually happens in number three. Thank you for your question, Tracy Apple. You're welcome out of nothing. I didn't think you were, but I just want to stress that the recommitment happens in the third aspect of practicing ethics. Because you don't have to recommit if you didn't slip on your banana peel. It's the third one where you recommit. Oh, I forgot, but I still want to do it. No, it's different. No, it's the same. Your recommitting are not the same. I did say they're the same. I didn't say they're the same, and I won't say they're the same no matter what you do.


I don't say they're the same. You notice that you flipped, that you slipped, that you didn't do it. Then you confess it, and confession is not the same as noticing. Is it? No. And then after confession you notice you feel regret. And then because you feel regret and embarrassment and shame, you recommit. All that's in number three. Number three is a big fat one. Number two is not even big. It's just like inexhaustible, infinite. Wishing to practice these precepts is the unlimited mind of enlightenment. It's the seed of the mind of Buddha, is that you want to practice the precepts, the pure precepts of the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas. You want to practice them. And the first one is the teaching, is the practice method. The third one is all the stuff that cures, at least for the moment,


for the moment it cures the slipping and allows you to recommit to number two and number one. Number four is just flat out, number four is actually just number one and two. Number four there's no regret. There's no need to recommit. You are committed and you are successful and you're not slipping. That's number four. But really number four, when you get to number four, really you're just doing number one and number two. So is there a number four? Yeah, there is. Number four is a special aspect of number one and two. When number one and two are all that's happening, then you have a special situation which is mentioned in number four, which is you do not regret your life anymore. You do not regret the way you're living. You're not embarrassed anymore.


You're not ashamed anymore. You're just very happy to be a Bodhisattva. And in fact, that's all there is. That's just Bodhisattva now. That's all there is. There's not even you in Bodhisattva. There's just Bodhisattva happy. There's just happy Bodhisattva and there's not you in addition to it. There's just rumbling Bodhisattva motorcycles. So number four is no more regret. Because you're not slipping. And when you're not slipping means, because number four is based on the first three, number four is based on the first two, but it's not really something in addition. It just mentions that when you're practicing the first two without slipping, you don't have regret and shame and grief and remorse. All that stuff, you know, which you can turn up really intensely. How bad you can feel when you do something cruel.


You don't have that anymore. Because you trained yourself out of cruelty. That was the thing I wanted to comment on. It seems like a little hidden pitfall here. For me at least. Hidden pitfalls. Okay, let's get those hidden pitfalls into the open. Let's not hide any pitfalls. You feel regret at first. It seems kind of noble. Oh, I failed. I went off the path. How wonderful of me to notice it. And you feel pretty good about that. But when you get to the shame and embarrassment, one of the things I got out of the intensive that's very hard for me to remember is being kind to that. That thought or that realization. It's just almost impossible so far for me. So I'm underlining what you haven't mentioned yet today, which is the whole kindness piece. The whole what piece? The kind being kind. Oh, the being kind, yeah. Yeah, being kind to yourself, noticing yourself, having slipped for benignly fine. Yeah. Well, if you're not kind to yourself, then you just have another thing to confess. Confession is confession.


It's not confession and punishing yourself at that time. It's just that when you confess, you feel shame. Feeling shame when you're not doing what you want, what you really aspire to, that shame is part of compassion. And a slippery slope for some of us. Because when you just said that, that sounds great. But when it happens to me, it doesn't feel like compassion. Well, slippery slope is what number three is about. Number three is about that the first two, for example, the aspiration to restrain outflows is a slippery slope. It's hard for people to restrain lack of presence. Most people slip away from presence. Most people slip away from presence. Most people have a hard time being present. Matter of fact, I just heard Trungpa Rinpoche said, all there is is the presence, but people are terrified of the presence, so they like need religion.


We have to make these religions to help people be present. It's so hard to be present. Here we are, all we've got is the presence, and we're terrified of it. So we have all this religious equipment to try to help us be present. Presence is very easy to slip off of. A tight rope is very easy to fall off of. Presence is a tight rope that has no forward and backward on it. It's very slippery. And if we ever get to stand on it, that's exactly what we want. That's enlightenment. We have to have big religions around it to help people be present. And of course, when you're present, that's inexhaustible, unbounded point. But very slippery. So, we're going to probably slip quite a few times, so we're going to have a lot of opportunities


to notice that we slipped. And then, okay, I noticed, do you want to take the next step? No thanks, unnoticing is enough. Okay, see you later. Okay, maybe I do, maybe I want to confess it. Okay, fine, I hear you. Is that enough? Yeah, that's fine. Well, maybe I should mention I feel ashamed. I feel embarrassed. Okay, now we're getting pretty close to doing a job. Yeah. And you said you could then think, oh, how noble of me, but then that's another slip. Okay, there's another slip. Okay, I caught that one. No, actually, it was terrible of me to think I was noble, so there's another slip. Well, not so much terrible, but in a mean way. Terrible, terrible. That kind of, not nice terrible, but how about, oh, that was terrible. How noble of you. That was an adorable terrible. The adorable terrible twos, right? You can see that's terrible and really have no ill will and have total generosity towards terrible.


Towards mistake, failure. You can be really kind to that. And eventually, you can be not afraid to make mistakes, so again, when you're not afraid to make mistakes, you still make mistakes, but you're not afraid to admit them either. But this is quite a training course, isn't it? Yeah, you're welcome. Yes? Pardon? I couldn't hear you. I thought I interrupted something you were going to say, but I want to ask you a question. Yes? Because the word comes to my mind, perfect. I'd love to be perfect. Yeah? I'd love to, let's say, be totally pure, generous, loving, forgiving, wonderful, and obedient. I have a hard time being... I mean, the first few,


I guess we all sort of in a way share that. I wasn't talking so personally, but I was in a way. But obedient to the right things. But I notice that... you know, I fail at all of this. And so I realize that inwardly there's a desire to be perfect, to be a wonderful human being, a wonderful Bodhisattva. So isn't it better to say, well, I'll do sweetly the best I can, even if I fail at every step. And even if I have to not try to do it perfectly,


do it in such a way that doesn't awaken this snake of guilt and recrimination and so on. It's good just to be human and forgiving and not perfect necessarily. So are you saying you aspire to be forgiving? And what else? Loving. And loving. Generous. Yeah. And courageous. And have fortitude. And have fortitude. You aspire to all those things? Yeah. Okay, you aspire. And those are precepts. Fortitude. Love. What was the other one? Forgiving. Generosity. Those are the precepts. Some of the precepts. And you aspire to them. And if you aspire to them,


you will wake up the snake. The snake will wake up. We're trying to wake the snake up. You know, the snake is now, the snake is down in the pit. Asleep. You know, but if anybody moves, it knows what to do. It will attack. So we want to wake the snake up so the snake can practice the Bodhisattva precepts. Right? And completely, the word perfect means complete. We are imperfect, but we can aspire to being perfect. We are incomplete, but we can aspire to be complete. To be courageous. Have fortitude. All that stuff is part of, those are completing practices. Those are practices to be complete. To be completely, if you happen to be a human, to be completely human. That's what those practices are for. And they're all just trying to hear, they're here to try to help us be present. Present, present, present.


Present, present, present. They're just here to help us be present. Not to be distracted by getting anything from being present, or avoiding losing anything by being present. And if we're present for a moment, and then we're not present in the next moment, we might be able to notice it. Say, oh, I was there for a second without trying to gain anything, and now I'm trying to gain something. Wow. Well, there's a practice for that. Number three. What? The snake. A snake is a sentient being. Pardon? No, it's not that the snake makes you feel bitter. No, the snake doesn't make you feel bitter. The snake is bitter. The snake is bitter. The snake is a living being. With compassion. Okay. So, you want to... You say, well, there's compassion.


That's the only way. So, I'm going to be fallible. I'm going to be fallible because I'm going to be fallible. Well, it's not so much that you're going to be fallible. You're going to admit that you're fallible. And you're going to notice examples of it, hopefully. The snake is fallible, and we're going to train the snake to be aware that it's a snake, and that it's fallible. And we're going to train it by being kind to it. It's going to learn that it's getting lots of love to support its study of the Bodhisattva precepts. And the snake will become Buddha if the snake practices these precepts. Just like a human who practices these precepts. When practicing them, Buddha is realized. And it's a slippery slope. But then we have these four aspects of practicing these precepts


which remind us that slipping is going to happen until we're fully trained. And then we have a practice of dealing with slipping called confession and repentance. And then that will lead us to be consistent in the practice of enlightenment. I'm starting to feel uncomfortable of how much time you've been talking. I've given you this much. I'd like to have you let other people talk now. Okay? Give them a chance, would you? Thank you. Yes? I think my biggest challenge that I would like to put it out or bring it out... You're bringing out your biggest challenge? Yes. Oh, wow. It is because I constantly make something out of nothing.


And if I could just stay in that, what you said, like that, just be that, that is what I... that's where it makes me happy and I can't... I cannot hold that. That's wonderful. But if you stopped doing what you said you just did, of making something out of nothing, if you stopped that, you wouldn't be a sentient being anymore. And if you weren't a sentient being, you wouldn't have a problem. Okay? But for the other people who are sentient beings, they need to take care of that person who's constantly making something out of nothing. Those living beings. So if you weren't a living being anymore, it's true, there wouldn't be a problem. Living beings suffer. But non-living beings, dead people, don't suffer. You cannot be a living being and be dead, right?


No, you can't. No. But... Yeah, I hear you, that you want to be dead. You want to be dead, that is one of the things that living beings want. Living beings want to be dead, but as long as you want to be dead, you're not dead. So there's three, there's three kind of, what do you call it, sometimes the outflows are characterized as threefold. Instead of like gain and loss, they're characterized as the desire to be dead, the desire to be alive, and the desire for sex. Those three. So living beings have these desires, and you're an example of a living being who sometimes wishes to be extinguished. Dead. But that's something that living beings have, that kind of desire. Dead people do not desire to be alive or dead. They also don't desire sex.


But living beings desire at least one of those three. If they don't desire any of them, then they have ended outflows, and they're Buddhas. The sentient being is no longer there, now you have a Buddha. Somebody who has trained herself so that she's restrained the desire to be dead, to be extinguished, to be non-existent. So, in Sanskrit it's called bhava-raga. The lust or the passion for bhava is the passion for existence. Abhava-raga is the passion or desire, craving for non-existence. And then there's kama-raga, the desire for sex. So, right now, you're specializing in abhava-raga. Abhava-raga, abhava-raga, that's your game today. But that's a game sentient beings play. If you don't play the game anymore, then we have Buddha.


But Buddha is not just a dead person, Buddha is a living thing, that has no craving for existence, no craving for non-existence or for sex. But now you're telling us, I, sentient being Huma, here I am, and I have a craving for non-existence, that's my thing. So now, if you restrain that, you'll be Buddha, if you don't, you'll suffer. I don't know if I can do it though. Well, it's not so much you can do it, but it can be restrained if you practice these precepts. And you don't have to stop being who you are, you don't have to say, okay, I changed my mind, I really don't have this passion for non-existence. No, living beings do sometimes have a passion, a desire, a strong desire for non-existence. But that's a characteristic of a living being. And so now we can be kind, somehow,


not that you can do it, but it can happen, with the support of the Sangha, with the support of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, it's possible that there will be compassion towards what? Towards this desire for non-existence. And that compassion will eventually relieve that desire for non-existence. And then we have Buddha, unless you switch to one of the other ones. Okay, now I got over that one, now I'm into desire for existence. Most people flip back and forth between the two. We actually have not had a census, you know, a survey to figure out if most people are into desire for existence or non-existence. You could say, well, probably most people are into desire for existence. What do you think? I don't know, because a lot of people have desire for sex. So at a certain time, all there is is a desire for sex for some people. But then sometimes when you threaten their existence,


then they switch from sex to existence. But then sometimes when they have existence and sex, they just want to get out of here. Just get me out of here, I exist and I'm totally obsessed with sex, I want to be out of here. So, I don't really know, but most of us flip between the three for a good share of our life. And sometimes we hang out in one for a long time, but basically they're all opportunities for compassion. They're all opportunities for training. And, for example, training the restraint of the desire for non-existence. How do you train it? You train it by noticing it's there, and by confessing and repenting it. To notice that it's painful. People who want to commit suicide are having some difficulty with that. It's painful to want to kill yourself. And it's painful to want to kill yourself and be extremely cruel thereby


to everybody who cares about you. It's very painful, but people get into it. We need compassion. A lot of compassion has to come to the person who's contemplating suicide. A lot of compassion. Because it's very easy to just think, well, let's just get rid of this existence. I'm drooling, I can't remember anything, my skin's falling off, I'm just a mess, it's painful, all I can do is deal with my bodily fluids. I want to get into non-existence. Yeah, but that's not really compassionate. How can I be compassionate to myself when I'm such a mess? That's my question. If I use the non-existence of death, maybe I use it in a wrong way, what I mean is there are times that when I say non-existence, that means I'm just... melted in the hole,


melted, and I don't exist. That's what I call non-existence. Yeah, that's what I call non-existence too. That's dying? What word do you use for that? Is it dying? No, it's not dying. It's something that a living being feels. And you want that. And you want that. And wanting that other than this, wanting that other than this, is an outflow. It causes suffering. And when you have it, to want to hold on to it, causes suffering. When a living being feels non-existence, that's not a problem. It's desiring it when you don't have it, and holding on to it when you do. And most people, of course, have existence, and they desire more of it, and they are holding on to it. And also, when people have sex, they want more of it, and they are holding on to it. This is normal. But when you're dead, you don't have those problems.


Do I have a question? For a while, anyway. Yes? Should I have a confession? For repentance, as long as we're doing that. I've had a lot of body difficulty lately, and pain, and physical limitation. And I've thought about suicide. Yeah. But, the thing that's really been helpful is exactly what you're talking about. Is to think about precepts. About, well, first confessing it, like I'm doing now. And confessing it to another bodhisattva. And, you know, acknowledging it to myself has been probably the biggest. But then, the... In some ways, I'm just kind of acknowledging what you said, because it's pretty poignant to my life. But I think the biggest thing has just been the practice. Having the bodhisattva practices. And remembering that,


you know, I took these vows, you know, once upon a time. And, remembering the third precept about not killing. I don't know if that's too simple or not. I don't know either, but it's a pretty good start. You're confessing that you, that when you have bodily difficulties, you sometimes think about putting an end to them by doing this thing called suicide. And, many people share that impulse to, again, desire for non-existence when existence is very painful. And even thinking of some way to realize it called suicide. And, I just heard this story about this Jain nun, who, her, they have a practice in Jainism,


which is, I can't remember the name of it, it's salikana, or sali, does anybody know what it is? Something like salikana, which is a ritual, a ritual starvation. You know, a very careful thing that they do together with their teacher. And, where they starve themselves. And, I thought, you know, it's, in a way, and also this, the one particular example shown in this case was not a, was about this nun's sister who she was ordained with, who was very sick, and her teacher said, okay, you can do this salikana. You can do this ritual process of gradually, kindly, gradually, eating less and less and less, drinking less and less and less, as a spiritual exercise. And I thought, well, you know, it's pretty, it's a pretty non-violent way, in a way, of dying. But bodhisattvas are like,


is it okay with people if I leave? I kind of feel like, I finally feel like going someplace else now. Is that alright? And, if everybody says okay, maybe so. I'm just going to go someplace else and, you know, and do some other work for now. I'm going to trade in this body for another one. Is that okay with everybody? And people might say, actually, we'd like you to stay around a little bit longer. And you might say, okay. We don't want you to do this ritual starvation thing right now. This is not, this is not like, this is not, this is not blowing your head off. They don't do that. Jains are very, very, very intense on non-violence. So they don't do any violence to themselves, but they do this thing of gradually reducing, in a very gentle way, reducing the food, over months and months, with the community. But I thought it was a little bit different in Buddhism. Maybe we're not quite as intense on the non-violence as they are,


but we're a little bit more into like, if people need me around, even though I'm kind of a wreck, and I don't think I'm very useful, if they want my kind of not very useful person around, okay. And then you might say, but what if they don't take care of you? And you have to take care of yourself, and they won't even assist you. They say, stay around, but we're not going to help you deal with your, you know, incontinence and etc. We're not going to help you, but we still want you to stay around and show us how you suffer. Say, okay, I'll stay with nobody even, we'll watch you from a distance. We're not going to assist you, but we'll just sort of watch you. You can have a video on you, we can watch you if we want to on the computer. But we don't want to hang out with you, because you smell bad, and it's really obnoxious. We can only stand a little bit of you. But we want you to hang in there, because it would really encourage us. Bodhisattva says, well, if, you know, and the Bodhisattva thought,


yeah, I think that would be helpful to people, I'll do it. They practice the first pure precept. They're not trying to gain anything, they're not afraid of losing anything, so they serve beings. And if you can serve beings by being, you know, a pile of putrescence, okay. It's not the way I want it to, I want it to be like a well, well, what do you call it, well-clad, well-coiffed priest. I want it to be like a big, nice, shining, upright meditator. That's the way I want to help people. But now, I can't even sit up anymore. I'm just a wreck. People find me repulsive, but they still want me to stay around, because somehow, they still think I'm somewhat useful as a teacher, even though they don't want to be too near to me anymore. And nobody's trying to get anything from me anymore. So... And nobody's trying to get anything from anything in my neighborhood.


So maybe it's good that I'm around. Maybe people are practicing, even though I'm such a wreck. So maybe I'll stay. And there is a big thing in Buddhism about asking people to teach, asking Buddhists to teach, and asking them to stay in the world. This is a little different, but... Asking them to stay in the world. But I often... You know, I pretty regularly think about how much longer and how much more trouble is a good, is it beneficial for me to put up with in terms of the body and the mind, which is body-based. So you... You change the brain situation and the mind is affected. It functions differently. And... But how wonderful if the practice would continue even when the body and the mind


go through these radical, these tremendous changes. How wonderful and encouraging it would be to people. How much it would inspire them and encourage them and give them the gift of fearlessness and the gift of Dharma. Okay, so... What's your age now? What's your age? Yeah. So, the people who are 58 and above, they know what you're talking about. Such thoughts fleet through their minds quite frequently too. So we'll... If you have any questions, let me know if I want you to go. Okay? I'll let you know if you ask me. And I say, I think it's time for you to go, Bob. Then you can go. Okay? Okay. Yeah, okay, good. Anything else this morning? Yes. I mean this early afternoon?


Yes. Yes. Well, I was going to encourage people in the practice and... I came to Green Gulch to farm, but also because I had this big fear, you know, that big fear. And I wanted to know what that fear was. And... You came to Green Gulch to find out what your fear was? Okay. To face it. You wanted to face it. Great. It was getting more and more maddening, you know. It was... Like, things were getting more and more narrow. The closer I got to the fear, you know, and it would manifest as, like, you know, sometimes suicidal thoughts or... Anyway. But... So I went into that fear and looked at it


and I saw I was afraid. I was afraid because because I love the world and because there's this deep... There's... My aspiration is to be intimate with everyone and be close to everyone and love everyone. And I was afraid that if I did that, the world... You know, if I gave up that love freely, the world might say, No, we don't want that. No, we don't want that love. You know, at some point. It just appeared that, you know, that love wasn't wanted. But then I realized... Then I realized that giving up the love is so much better than getting anything from it. And so that's the great gift of... So it's like going to the fear, meeting fear,


seeing that the fear is just sorrow. Fear is... The part of me that was really sad about not feeling met and giving that love, you know. And then... And then the sorrow... When I really cried about that sorrow, I realized that aspiration. And then... And then sorrow just turns into joy. And that's... A lot of joy. Psychedelic joy, you know. But then I'm letting that go. So I think dragons can really turn into... Dragons of fear can turn into dragons of wisdom. Really, I guess. And I have a song. A little song I wrote. The last night of Sashim. When the moon was...


The moon was on his back. And here's the song. Sometimes even the moon Is an empty bowl Sometimes even the moon Is an empty bowl And I would build you a fire And carry water from the frozen lake But when the moon shines on us, dear To get some rest, it's getting late Thank you. Yes. I'd like to just share something that happened as a result of a retreat in relationship to outflows.


And during the retreat, I found a little bit of a padlock when the double bell would ring indicating that you were starting at Dōkasan. I would have all these different thoughts come up. Maybe I should schedule one. Gosh, he's walking really late. These kinds of thoughts would come up. And the one that really came to me over and over was how many of those meetings you had and how much energy I thought that that would require. And sort of an admiration for that and a sense of, you know, feeling that you had boundless energy. And once commenting to you about that and having you say back to me, you have boundless energy too, but not feeling that. And so I started, we got up Friday afternoon, and Monday I started a new contract with a client. And I had meetings with seven principals back to back to back to back for eight hours, including one that was over lunch, which was a two-hour meeting. And what I realized


in the course of meeting those individuals, I was meeting one-on-one in a small conference room, that it was really easy to be present because of all the practice. And that the amount of energy required for me to be present because I was restraining outposts was, like, minimal. Where when I would meet with people before, I worked at those meetings and worked at, I would say today, maybe manipulating the meeting instead of letting the meeting sort of co-arise. And so it was tiring. And thinking that I needed to comment or respond to something you said was absent. And so I just felt, at the end of the day, I wasn't tired, which I found remarkable, considering, you know, 21 days are a very different pace. But the one thing I noticed about presence


was that when I had the lunch meeting for two hours, it was very hard to be present. You know, this notion of renouncing worldly affairs. I mean, here you are in the middle of a very busy restaurant in the middle of San Francisco. And I noticed twice that I lost contact with the person I was meeting with because somebody had dropped a jacket off the back of their chair and then something else. And both times, I could feel the person looking at me and sort of get distracted by the fact that I went away. And you know, I never had that awareness before. And I think I was distracted a lot of the time. And the same experience that you described occurred. I went away. I thought it was a good concern that someone dropped their jacket and my impulse was to help them, but it wasn't my place to do it in the middle of a lunch. So I wasn't unhappy, but I felt regret for having somehow disrespected this person


sitting in front of me. I felt regret. I felt remorse. And then all it did was made me feel so much more grateful to be back present with him at this lunch. And none of those experiences are things that I've had before in my business. So I wanted to share that this notion of restraining outflows, there's great economy in that, in such a way that I've never experienced before. It makes me feel a glimpse of what balanced energy really means. So thank you for your teachings and giving me the opportunity to practice presence with you as I did. You're welcome. Is that enough for now? Okay, well we can now have a lunch meeting.