Honoring Student-Teacher Relationship (Flower Adornment Scripture)
That’s part of the teaching is, “Go away” and it’s hard to go away from something really good. But we know that’s what something really good might say to us. “Let go of me!” and everything. But start with me or finish with me because you really want to hold onto me, the teacher of truth. Let go of me and move on. That’s part of abiding in the goodness of the teacher is part of the reason but the other thing is that when you abide all kinds of turbulence arises in your mind and then also distraction arises and makes it hard too. The teacher gives you a teaching and, if you’re abiding in anything, there’s turbulence and the turbulence makes it hard for you to remember the teaching while you’re going to the next teaching. (Referring to Sudhana in Avatamsaka Sutra) He is remembering the teaching but it’s hard for him to remember the teaching. It doesn’t say it’s hard. It talks about his successes but then he tells you, “It’s hard for me to remember.” It’s hard for us to remember the teaching of the teacher because of the turbulence of consciousness and because of the lack of perfect wisdom. It’s hard. But still, here’s the practice. There is the practice. See if you can remember the teachings of perfect wisdom. Try to and notice that when you can, you don’t regret it and that you do often have a hard time. That’s what I am saying here. This whole spiritual benefactor thing is hard even though it’s wonderful. It’s hard to settle into it and be on good terms with it and find it again and again and again. It’s hard. That’s what the great disciple is saying, this super disciple is saying, “This is hard and I am doing it.” And then he does it again. He says, “it’s hard and I’m doing it” Remember the teachings of perfect wisdom and notice that when you do remember you have a hard time and you don’t regret it. That’s what I am saying. This whole spiritual benefactor thing is hard, even though it’s wonderful, it’s hard to settle into it and be on great terms with it and find it again and again and again. It’s hard. That’s what the great disciple is saying. This is hard and I am doing it. And then he does it again. He says, “It’s hard. And I am doing it.”
Q. He’s going from one teacher to another so he’s always ..
A… He’s trying to reflect on it without grasping it. So like the previous teacher who taught about how bodhisattvas study language very carefully and then they realize ultimate truth, which is free of the language that they thoroughly studied. So we have to study so thoroughly that we don’t abide in what we are studying. But I think he is saying, even in him, there’s still a little bit of an abiding but it’s more of a problem than what we’re supposed to be doing. We are supposed to be devoted to the teaching without abiding in it. We are supposed to be devoted to the welfare of beings without abiding in anything, even this excellent intention. We must have these intentions and we must have these teachers and we must approach these teachers, we must open to these teachers. We must listen to these teachers and the teachers are there to teach us not to abide in them as we are devoted to them. How not to be influenced by them while we accept their influence. It’s hard.
Q. But each teaching is sequential so what you got from one teacher helps you with the next teaching so by the time you get to the finale you are able.
A. You’re able That’s the idea. Right.
Q. I feel like you are telling us to be careful and to get ready for when that traveling music starts playing.
A. Yeah. That’s part of what’s being told. And there will be traveling music, I hope. There will be traveling. At the end of the day today, there will be traveling. And I hope there’s music to accompany you. I hope that the teaching resonates through you as you leave this place. Because you are going to leave this place and you’re going to go someplace else. And I have not been able to tell each one of you which teacher you’re going to. I’m sorry. But maybe I can say, when you leave this place, please go see your next spiritual benefactor and listen to the teachings you’ve received so far in your life as you travel. See if you can remember the teachings that you have already received as you travel. That’s the traveling music and you might travel and travel and you’re listening to the teaching, you’re listening to the music of the teaching you just heard. You are listening to the teaching you have already heard and you travel and you travel and then you see, “Oh here is the next teacher.”I was with Suzuki Roshi one time (I’ve told this story many times.). It was novel for me. I had been having a hard time from the time I first arrived at Zen Center until that moment. I had been having a hard time being there and with the practice. And being with him. Not that he was hard on me or a difficult teacher. It just was hard to not get distracted. (Oh, look there’s a scene from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind up there … pointing at a wasp on the inside of the window) Anyway I experience a diminution in difficult and I thought, “Is there something wrong?” So I went him and I said, “I’m feeling it’s not too hard and I’m wondering is something wrong.” He said, “Maybe sometimes for you it’s not difficult.” And then he took a piece of paper and folded it over. He said, “When we do origami, we fold the paper but before we fold it again, we press on it.” Folding is quite difficult sometimes. But once it’s folded and you press on it, it’s not so difficult. It’s not so difficult to press on it when it’s folded. But you don’t feel like you’re doing anything. You don’t feel too challenged when you’re just pressing on a fold. But that’s part of what makes the fold settle down onto itself. So I understand him to say, “You’ve done a fold or two and maybe now you’re just pressing on it.” And then the next day, they had a Board meeting. I was at Tassajara at that time and they asked me to leave Tassajara and go to City Center to be the director of City Center. I went to Suzuki Roshi and I said, “The next fold has come.” There’s a rhythm in it, you know. It’s not always difficult. It’s just difficult and then it’s not and then it is, right?
Singing, “First there is the mountains, then no mountains then there is.” Etc.
It’s a little bit uncomfortable, in a way, to sit in the teacher’s seat and play the part in the ritual of being a spiritual benefactor and it helps me if I just remember I don’t know what a spiritual benefactor is and how could I tell anything about what it is. And yet I am playing the role of spiritual benefactor with you. So that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.