Liberation from Passion

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I just found a ladybug on the back of my neck, and it's now sitting on a story about Bai Zhang's wild ducks. Some of you may not be familiar with the story of Bai Zhang's wild ducks, is that right? Well, I brought this story up recently at a session at Green Gulch, and I remember told this story, and he always laughed, and I sort of never myself thought it was that

[01:17]

funny, but anyway, he always laughed. Here's the story. You want to hear it? It's a story about two men, apparently. One is the most prolific of all Zen masters, Matsu, Master Ma. He had 139 enlightened disciples. I guess the Buddha had more than that, but anyway, he had 139, and one day he was out walking with one of his really great students whose name was Bai Zhang Wai Hai, and they saw some wild ducks fly by, and Master Ma says, what is this? And Bai Zhang said, wild ducks. And Bai Zhang said, where have they gone?

[02:19]

And Bai Zhang said, did I say Bai Zhang said? Matsu said, where have they gone? And Bai Zhang said, they've flown away. And Master Ma grabbed his wonderful student's nose and twisted it. Is that the funny part? Is that the funny part? That's the part where Suzuko, she would always laugh. And you know, I kind of wish she was here so I could say, teacher, why did you laugh? What's so funny? Anyway, I'll talk more about that later. And then Bai Zhang cried out in pain, and Master Ma said, have they really flown away?

[03:24]

That's the story. And I just happened to bring it up because Ladybug was sitting on this piece of paper that had the story written on it. But in some ways it's also appropriate to what I wanted to talk to you about, is that a number of women who really do appreciate stories about men practicing, and do appreciate male practitioners, they've requested that there be more stories about women. They've asked me to tell more stories about women. So I've been trying to find how to do that. In a way, you know, that's meaningful to me.

[04:29]

So I was looking through one of the great scriptures of the great vehicle. In Sanskrit it's called the Avatamsaka Sutra. And I had in my hands the last chapter of it, I think, which is a whole big book. Yeah, it's the 39th chapter, and it's called in Sanskrit the Gandha-vyuha. Which is translated here as entry into reality. Avatamsaka Sutra, translated in English, the flower adornment scripture.

[05:33]

In Chinese it's called, what's it called? In Japanese it's called kei-gon. In Chinese it's called hua-yen. The hua-yen jing, and the kei-gon kyo. That's Chinese and Japanese. I think many of you know that in the Zen school we chant the heart sutra every day. So the heart sutra is very important to us. The diamond sutra also is very important to the Zen tradition. Basically the Prajnaparamita scriptures are fundamental to all of the great vehicle schools. But in some ways the Avatamsaka Sutra is the sutra that sort of like gives the particular coloration of the Zen school.

[06:38]

The Zen school approaches these perfect wisdom scriptures like it approaches the diamond sutra. But the Avatamsaka Sutra is kind of like the great magnificent body of the Zen approach to perfection of wisdom. And also the lotus sutra, which became very important for the Japanese approach. So all these scriptures come together. And I remember one time one of our Zen center teachers named Kadagiri Roshi said, the hua-yen sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra is so complete that no one reads it. Almost no one reads it. It's so big and this is only one of the three volumes and this is a smaller one.

[07:42]

But at Green Gulch, wonderfully, miraculously, on New Year's, we recited it for several hours. How many hours did we recite it, would you say? About six. Six hours, people recited it non-stop. I think Reverend Rudinger began. That's good. Did you start that practice at Green Gulch? No, I didn't start it. You just got credit for it. I thought you started it. But now we know that you're not accepting that. It's good that I'm recording this. Great. So here it is. And I brought this because this particular volume, the last chapter,

[08:44]

one of the reasons I brought it is because there's lots of stories about female bodhisattvas in here. So the hero of this book is a boy and his name is Sudhana, which I think means something like good in wealth, but sometimes some people translate it as good in talent. So he had the occasion to meet the bodhisattva Manjushri and Manjushri sent him on a pilgrimage of visiting bodhisattva teachers,

[09:50]

teachers of the bodhisattva way. And in this book he visits 53 teachers, as I said many of whom are female. And I brought a painting of him, this painting here. He's this boy over here on the side and over on the left is a girl. So he's a boy and she's a girl and she's called the Nagakanya, dragon girl. And there's a story about her in the Lotus Sutra, chapter 12. She demonstrates great wisdom in the Lotus Sutra.

[10:54]

As this boy is going to visit various teachers, the 27th teacher he meets is the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of infinite compassion. And because Avalokiteshvara is featured and so important in the Lotus Sutra, the dragon girl and the boy Sudhana became in Chinese Buddhism her attendants. So here's a picture of her with her two human attendants. And over there is a sculpture of Avalokiteshvara with the dragon girl on one side and the good boy on the other side. And in that room there behind Michelle is another triptych.

[11:59]

Is it triptych or triptych? Triptych. There's a triptych of Avalokiteshvara with the dragon girl and the boy. Lucky? It could be, yeah. He happened to be the son of a millionaire. But that's lucky, I guess, or fortunate. So, that's some background on this boy who is the hero of this sutra, who visits many teachers. And there's a repetitive pattern in each story. I can't say that this happens in every single story, but everyone I've found so far has this repetition.

[13:05]

So, here's the repetition. Now he meets a teacher, like for example, he meets the great Bodhisattva Manjushri. And again, this place is full of idols. In the room there behind Michelle, in the center, is a statue of Manjushri Bodhisattva sitting on a lion, which I got in China when I was there. And also the triptych there I got in China, and that other triptych over there I got in China. So, in China today, if you go there, or at least when I went there a few years ago, if you go around into the markets of China, a country which is, lots of people live there, at least they were, a lot of people were there when I was there. And the markets are full of Buddhist statues and pictures and scrolls,

[14:16]

even though it's not any longer what you might call a Buddhist country. Still, even if a small percentage of Chinese people are Buddhist, that's a lot of people. And also they know that the people who come to visit China, a lot of them are coming because they have in their history this tradition which people from around the world think is really amazing. So, either they have antiques or they're making new ones, but anyway, I found these, the Manjushri I found in China, and these triptychs I found in China, and also up in the room to the left of the altar upstairs, the Avalokiteshvara with the many arms we found in China. All these were purchased for practically nothing. Anyway, Sudhana meets Manjushri in this story,

[15:20]

and Manjushri says, OK, go off to visit so-and-so, a Bodhisattva teacher. And the pattern is, after he leaves a Bodhisattva, like he leaves Manjushri, he goes away very, very happy and inspired to practice the Bodhisattva way. He's so happy to have met, well, a great Bodhisattva, and so inspired to practice the Bodhisattva way that he practices as best he can, but even if he's not good at it, he's still so happy to be trying. And he's going off in ecstasy of inspiration to visit the next teacher. And then he goes to the next teacher and goes through various things to get to the teacher, and then when he meets the teacher,

[16:23]

he says, in each case he says, Noble one, to all the teachers he says, Noble one, I have set up my mind on supreme, perfect enlightenment, but I don't know how to learn and carry out the practices of Bodhisattvas. Every time he meets the teacher, he says, I set out to realize complete, perfect enlightenment, supreme, perfect enlightenment, my heart is totally set on this, but I don't know how to learn and carry out the Bodhisattva way. I hear that you give enlightening being instruction.

[17:25]

I hear that you give Bodhisattva instruction. And I hope, I pray, that you will tell me how an enlightening being, how a Bodhisattva is to learn and carry out the practice of Bodhisattvas. He says that 53 times. And then the teacher tells him a little bit. And he's very happy with the teaching every time. And then the teacher says, you should go see somebody else. And he tells him who and where they are. And then he sets off so happy, so elated, so inspired, so focused on the Bodhisattva path, as he's proceeding to the next teacher. So happy for the teaching he's received, so happy to go and receive more teachings on the Bodhisattva path.

[18:31]

And he gets there and he says again, after going through, you'll see what he goes through to get to them, after going through what he had to go through to get to the teacher. And sometimes he has to go through a lot to get to the teacher. I'm just going to tell you one story today, which is going to be maybe too much. But he goes through a lot. Once he gets to the place, once he finds the place, he goes through a lot and finally meets the teacher. And then he asks again, he says again, Noble One, I've set my heart on realizing perfect enlightenment, but, all the way through, but I don't know how, I've set my life on a path of learning something, of realizing something, and I don't know how to do the practice. Please show me. And he says, and I've heard you teach it,

[19:35]

so please give it to me. He never says, and by the way, I've learned how to do the practice, what do you have to say? And then the teacher teaches him. And then when the teacher finishes teaching him, every teacher says, after they give the teaching, they say, I know the enlightening liberation of X. Each one knows an enlightening liberation of X. The story I'm telling you today will be the enlightening liberation of ultimate dispassion. But each teacher has a different enlightening liberation which they know. And then they say, but, how can I know the practice, or tell of the virtues of Bodhisattvas? That's the paradigm. The teacher, after giving the teaching,

[20:37]

which is so good for this boy, then they say what they've realized, and they say, but how can I teach the Bodhisattva path? And then he says, so you should go see so-and-so. And he sets off, and every time he sets off, he's so happy, and so on. Okay, so here's the story for today. Are you ready? I've already been talking a long time, this is going to be an opportunity for you to be, I don't know what. Patient, yeah. But before I tell you the story from the Sutra,

[21:50]

I wanted to tell you a Zen story about Master Ma. Remember him? Do you? Anybody not remember Master Ma? Master Ma is the guy who was walking with Bajang, and they saw the ducks. Remember that story? That was Master Ma. So here's another story of Master Ma, and of all people, Bajang. It's very much like Laurel and Hardy, except there's 139 Hardys, or Laurels. But there's three big ones. So anyway, I think I got this right. So a monk comes to Bajang and says, Beyond the hundred negations and the four alternatives,

[22:52]

what is the Buddha way? That's kind of like, what is the Bodhisattva way? And Bajang, Matsu says, I'm really, I have a headache. Go see Brother Bajang. So he goes to see Brother Bajang and says, Master Ma told me to come to you and ask you, beyond the hundred negations and the four alternatives, what's the way of the Bodhisattva? And the other guy says, I'm too tired today. Go ask Brother Chitang. So he goes and asks Brother Chitang, and Brother Chitang says,

[23:53]

When it comes to this, I don't know at all. Go back to Master Ma. So he goes back to Master Ma, and he tells him what happened, and Master Ma says, Jang's head is white, Tang's head is black. And you see, it's the same story, same way of working with people. Nobody knows the Bodhisattva way, but we keep going to visit people. If you had been there, that might have gone that way. So, the story I wanted to tell was about a about Sudhana visiting Vasumitra, and Vasumitra is the name of a female Bodhisattva, and we also, in our lineage,

[24:59]

which might be mostly male, one of our Indian ancestors is named Vasumitra, and Vasumitra was important in India to organize the scholastic literature commenting on the Buddhist teachings, called the Abhidharma. So that's one of the people in our lineage, but that isn't the same Bodhisattva as this one. So he's going to visit this person, this woman, and I read a summary of this story, which I'll read you the summary, it's a nice summary, so you get an overview of the story, and see how you're doing after you get the overview. This is a summary, a simplified version of the story. So, a nun encouraged Sudhana,

[26:03]

and the nun who encouraged him is the previous story. The previous story, he went to see a nun, and he approached her and said, Noble one, I have set my mind on realizing supreme, perfect enlightenment, but I don't know how to learn and carry out the practices of the Bodhisattvas. I've heard that you teach the Bodhisattva way, would you please teach me? He said that to the nun, and she gave him the teaching, and then told him to go see Vasumitra. So he goes. So here's a brief version of the story. Okay? In this story, it says that the nun encouraged Sudhana

[27:12]

to meet a courtesan named Vasumitra. In the sutra, it doesn't say that she's a courtesan. But I think that this person who's summarizing the story was trying to make it clear that she thinks the woman's job was the job of a courtesan. When he arrived in Vasumitra's city, people said to him, Why would you want to meet her? You should not be under the power of such a woman. You should not enter the realm of temptation. Other people, though, knowing of her virtues and wisdom, directed him to her house. Vasumitra was more beautiful than a goddess.

[28:15]

She had golden skin and black hair, and a body that was decorated with jewels and emanated light. She knew every language and mastered every possible way to help others awaken. Sudhana went up to her respectfully and asked her for teachings on how to practice as a bodhisattva. She said, I have attained the enlightening liberation called ultimate dispassion, and I appear in the form of a female of splendor and perfection. People come to me with minds full of passion,

[29:18]

and I teach them freedom from passion. Some attain freedom from passion as soon as they see me. Some merely by talking with me. Some by holding my hand. Some by staying with me. Some by gazing at me. Some by embracing me. Some by kissing me. They enter various states of concentration, various states of samadhi, including the light of freedom from bondage concentration, and the womb receiving all sentient beings without rejection concentration, and all experience this liberation. She then directed him to go on to the next teacher.

[30:24]

So, now I could go through the sutra, but I wonder how you're doing so far. Can you tell me how this is going so far? Are you okay? So that was a nice summary, I thought. And here's the sutra. He's just left this non-bodhisattva teacher, and he pays his respects to her with gratitude, and sets off on his way. And as I said before, after he's met these teachers and leaves them, he's in a certain state. And each time they describe it differently. So this is the description this time. His mind,

[31:35]

illumined by the lightning of great vision. Or you could say, with his mind illumined by the lightning of great vision. I'll just tell you ahead of time. He practices in these ten ways. So here he is, traveling to see her, and he's going with his illumined mind, and he's meditating on the light of omniscience. As he's walking. I assume he's walking, he might be flying. Might be riding a horse, but anyway. As he's going towards her, he's meditating on the light of omniscience. He's observing the manifestations of power of essential nature.

[32:43]

He's making firm the mnemonic commands of the treasury of verbal communications of all beings. He's extending the mnemonic commands to retain the cycle of teachings of all Buddhas. He's establishing the power of great compassion as a reference for all sentient beings. Excuse me, as a refuge for all sentient beings. He's establishing the power of great compassion as a reference for all sentient beings. He's examining the power of omniscience in which the source of the means of perceiving the principles of all laws. He's following the purity of vows

[33:46]

extending throughout the universe. He's clarifying the light of knowledge illuminating all things. He's developing the power of mystic knowledge pervading all phenomena. Arraying the worlds of the ten directions. He's fulfilling the vows to remember, to undertake and to accomplish all the deeds of Bodhisattvas. Sudhana made his way to the city of Ratnavyuha in the country of Durga where he sought out Vasumitra. I'm holding myself back from commenting

[34:59]

on all these practices this boy was doing as he was approaching his next teacher. When he got to the city, people who did not know of Vasumitra's virtues or the scope of her knowledge said to Sudhana, I'll say it briefly first, what has someone like you have to do with Vasumitra? People who did not know her virtues wondered what this radiant pilgrim wanted to have to do with her. So they said, you know, what has someone like you with senses so calm and subdued, so aware, so clear, without confusion or distraction, your gaze focused discreetly

[36:02]

right before you, your mind not overwhelmed by sensation, not clinging to appearances, your eyes averted from involvement in all forms, your mind so cool and steady, your way of life profound, wise, oceanic, your mind free from agitation or despondency, have to do with Vasumitra? And then they say, it would be like, you know, there is this beautiful, like the most beautiful brothel imaginable, and you see this radiant being approaching it, asking, you know, where is the person who lives in this place? And people say,

[37:03]

why do you want to go there? They don't know who she is. And then they say to him, you should not have lust for her, your head should not be turned by her, you should not have any such impure thoughts, you should not be ravaged by such desires, you should not be under the power of a woman, you should not be so bewitched, you should not enter the realm of temptation, you should not sink into the mire of sensuality, you should not be bound by the snares of the devil, you should not do what should not be done. But then he ran into some people who knew of the excellence of the virtues of Vāsumitra,

[38:06]

and who were aware of the scope of her knowledge, and they said, good, good, you are really on the right track, if you ask to see Vāsumitra. You surely seek Buddhahood if you want to see her, you surely want to make yourself a refuge for all sentient beings, you surely want to extract the barbs of passion from all living beings, you surely want to transform the notion of purity. Vāsumitra is in her house north of the town square. Hearing this, Sudhana was delighted. He went to Vāsumitra's house and saw that it was surrounded by ten jeweled walls.

[39:14]

So I didn't know, I was trying to imagine, was it like one complete circle of jeweled walls, and then another one inside, and another one inside, or were they set in some other pattern of ten jeweled walls? I myself, when I read this about the jeweled walls, I feel a little bit, you know, I'm not so much into jewelry as you might be able to see, but this Indian sutra is into jewels, this one. And there is here a description of her house, which I imagine would be just, you know, maybe not time to read today, but basically it was an inexhaustible, inconceivable treasure house,

[40:28]

and treasure grounds, and treasure gardens. So I guess the point is, whatever you think would be a beautiful place to meet somebody, imagine it's that. Like some people might think a room with nothing in it would really be beautiful. Anyway, finally he meets her, and there he saw Vasumitra, who was beautiful, with golden skin and black hair, her limbs and body well proportioned, more beautiful in form than all the celestial and human beings in the realm of desire. Her voice was finer than that of the god Brahma.

[41:33]

She knew the language of all beings. She had a pleasant voice that could pronounce any sound and was skilled in freedom of phonetic organization. She was well versed in all arts and sciences. She had learned to use the magic of true knowledge, and she had mastered all aspects of the expedient means of bodhisattvas. Her beautiful body was decorated with assorted jewelry, draped in radiant mesh made of all kinds of precious substances,

[42:36]

shining with an array of countless celestial flowers and ornaments. She wore a tiara of large, wish-fulfilling gems. Her waist was adorned with diamonds, and she had lapis lazuli necklace on her. She had a large, attractive retinue, all of whom had the same virtues, the same practice, and the same vows. She was an inexhaustible treasury of goodness and knowledge. She also saw the whole house, with all its jeweled apartments and furnishings, lit up.

[43:39]

He also saw the whole house, with all its jeweled apartments and furnishings, lit up by the lovely, refreshing, pleasant, blissful, enrapturing light that emanated from her body. I was struck when it says that her retinue had the same virtues, the same practice, and the same vows. This is a Zen practice. Our practice is the same virtues, the same practice, the same vows, the same enlightenment of all beings. The practice we do is equally the same practice, equally the same enlightenment of all beings. The practice I do, when it's Zazen,

[44:43]

is the same practice and the same enlightenment that you do, which is the same practice and the same enlightenment of all beings. In other words, this woman was practicing Zazen. Vasumitra went up to Vasumitra, paid his respects and said, Noble one, I have set my mind on supreme, perfect enlightenment, but I do not know how to learn or carry out the practice of Bodhisattvas. I hear that you give Bodhisattvas instruction and I hope that you will tell me how an enlightening being is to learn and carry out the practice of Bodhisattvas.

[45:47]

Vasumitra said, I have attained the enlightenment, I have attained the enlightening liberation called ultimate dispassion. To gods in accord with their inclination and interests, I appear in the form of a goddess of surpassing splendor and perfection. To all other types of being, I appear in a form of a female of their species, of surpassing splendor and perfection. And all who come to me with minds full of passion, I teach them so that they will become free of passion. The word passion means an emotion,

[46:56]

a strong emotion, a strong, barely able to tolerate emotion. And it also means, in Christianity, it means suffering and death. She wishes to liberate them from emotions that are so strong that they can barely be experienced. She wishes to liberate beings from passions which disorient them from the path of ease and happiness. Those who have heard my teachings attain dispassion, achieve an enlightening concentration called

[48:00]

the realm of non-attachment. Some attain dispassion as soon as they see me and achieve an enlightening concentration called delight in joy. Some attain dispassion merely by talking with me and achieve an enlightening concentration called treasury of unimpeded sound. Some attain dispassion just by holding my hand and achieve the enlightening concentration called basis of going to all Buddha lands. Some attain dispassion by staying with me and achieve the enlightening concentration called

[49:03]

light of freedom from bondage. Some attain dispassion by gazing at me and achieve the enlightening concentration called tranquil expression. Some attain dispassion by embracing me and achieve the enlightening concentration called womb of receiving all sentient beings without rejection. Some attain dispassion just by kissing me and achieve the enlightening concentration called contact with the treasury of virtue of all beings. All those who come to me I establish in this enlightening liberation of ultimate dispassion on the brink of the stage of unimpeded omniscience.

[50:07]

Sudhana asked her, where did you plant the roots of virtue and what kind of deeds did you accumulate that you got to be like this? She replied, I recall that in the past age a Buddha named Reaching the Heights appeared in the world. When the Buddha went to the royal city where I lived, out of compassion for the people, as he crossed the threshold, the whole city quaked and appeared to be vastly extended and made of jewels, adorned with the luster of many jewels,

[51:16]

strewn with flowers of various jewels. The whole city was like that. A variety of celestial musical instruments played and the sky appeared covered by high immeasurable clouds of celestial beings. At that time I was the wife of a grandee. Impelled by the miracle of this Buddha, I went with my husband in a state of exalted serenity and presented a coin to the Buddha on the street. At that time, Manjushri was an attendant of the Buddha. It was by him that I was inspired to seek supreme perfect enlightenment.

[52:17]

This is how I got to be the way I am. I know this enlightening liberation of ultimate dispassion. But how can I know the practice or tell the virtues of enlightening beings? Who are endowed with the skill of endless means of knowledge? Who are vast, inexhaustible treasures of goodness? Who are in the realm of invincible knowledge? South of here, in a city called Shubhaparam Gama, there is a householder named Vishtila.

[53:22]

He is presenting offerings to a shrine of the Buddha's sandalwood throne. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practices of enlightening beings. So, Sudhana paid his respects to Vasumitra and left. This is a story about a woman teacher. There are many points that could be discussed here. But again, I want to say that when I was reading this, I felt like this is the life of Zen in China, where these people were going around China, men and women were going around China, visiting teachers with great inspiration, having these interactions, and then going on to visit another teacher. The Chinese Zen people

[54:32]

were kind of like enacting this drama, this spiritual drama. So, I thank you for listening to that, and if there are any responses you care to offer, they're welcome. Yes? Thank you for bringing the story. I found myself feeling kind of hurt as I was listening to the story, and I just wanted to speak to that a little bit. You feel kind of hurt now? I felt pain as I was listening, and the pain that I felt was related to the fact that initially I thought, oh good, a story about a female teacher. And then I felt this kind of historical woundedness

[55:35]

of the fact that she's painted as a dazzling object of desire. Of course, that's kind of how I felt. And it was disappointing, because we don't hear about Dogen's physical beauty, or the beauty of this teacher's voice, or the captivating nature. There's something about the image in my mind of the jewels, the jeweled walls. It's dazzling, the amount of light. It would be sort of taking you out of your normal senses somehow to be seeing something like that. The very specific descriptions of her body, and her skin, and her hair, and her jeweled waist. And it just disappointed me that she was objectified as an object of desire. Because we do live as women in a world

[56:39]

in which that's such a huge thing, and it feels like it's through a male lens. And the story before was of a nun. I didn't read you that story, because that's even longer. So if you want to hear that story, that's about another woman teacher. But anyway, I hear that you're of your pain, and I think the way the male lens looks at this story is this is like she's doing all this stuff which we usually think of, which men maybe see women as, and she's saying, I'm using all this to liberate beings. Anybody who comes with passion with regard to jewels, and light, and beauty, and pleasantness,

[57:40]

and all these pleasant things, anybody who has passion or emotions about this, I'm here, while this stuff is happening, just so you can feel it, I'm here to liberate you. People who do not have this problem, we have other teachers for you. But this is dealing with what people who are attractive can do for people who have passion for them, or around them. What people who can make attractive places, and there's pain around this, and this is about somebody who's liberating, who wishes to liberate people from the pain around passion for attractive things. So, the pain that comes up

[58:45]

is what she's there to address, and she's saying, because of my aspiration, I now can look at people, and so on, and when I do, they become free of all this dazzling light and pleasure. But there's some pain there in the situation. Yes, thank you. And the pain is also the cultural context that we live in as women, which is that youth and beauty are more valued than other attributes, and even politicians and people doing great service in the world still have to be concerned about their looks, in a way, as women, that is very... I mean, I think probably all the women understand what I'm talking about, and maybe the men do, too. Maybe men feel this, too,

[59:49]

that women historically have been valued for their looks, and devalue ordinary looks don't mean a certain... in a way that's distorted. And so we're making that kind of distortion all the time, and so it's a difficult... Thank you. Yes, Nettie? I heard it said the same as you, Sarah, but I also heard a piece in there, and I heard a piece in there about acknowledging her expertise in the arts and sciences. So it was almost like a... she was this beautiful individual, but there was an added piece to it, which, I don't know when this was written, but I found that quite interesting that there was this piece acknowledging for her and acknowledging beauty, too. So I thought that was... I was hearing it after, and then I said, oh, look, they're also saying this about her,

[60:50]

which I was very pleased about. And I don't know exactly when this was written, either, but I think this was written around... I think this was written after Cleopatra. And Cleopatra, they don't talk about how beautiful she was, actually. We don't know what she looked like so well. What they talked about was that she knew all the arts and sciences, and she could speak nine languages fluently, and her voice was very pleasant. And she was... Well, you know, here she was, this 18-year-old girl who met Julius Caesar and... The rest is history. And she was the queen of Egypt,

[61:53]

but actually she was the king of Egypt. She was a female, but she was the king, really. She was the monarch of the richest country in the world. And she got that way by speaking nine languages and knowing all the arts and sciences and having this great skill. She had many other problems. Some of her skills were, like, unwholesome skills, but Egypt was a place, at the time she lived, where women could own property. Not just queens, but women could own property. And women could divorce their husbands if their husbands were abusive. They could go to court and divorce their husband if he was abusive. And their queen was actually not an Egyptian. She was a Greek. But she learned all the Egyptian languages,

[62:56]

so she was really their queen. And after... Julius Caesar died and she was eliminated, the Roman spirit came in and took away all women's rights in the whole empire. The Roman country, the women didn't have rights in the first place, but everywhere where women had rights, the Roman empire came in and took them away. And so that became a big influence on our culture. And until recently, women couldn't own property and couldn't divorce their husbands. And some places in the world they still can't. And couldn't vote, yeah.

[64:01]

So, this is a painful story, but this lady could vote. She did have power, and she had it, and not just because she was some rich man's daughter, but because she practiced the Bodhisattva way. Yeah. What do you make of the going from teacher to teacher? What do I make of it? You're saying it was kind of a... It sounds like a lively tradition in China of Zen, but I just wonder what... And I think part of the reason for it being a lively tradition in Zen partly was influenced by this book, that the Chinese were inspired by the idea of, you know, you go to see a teacher, but you don't just graduate from one teacher, you visit other teachers too, to test your understanding, to not feel like,

[65:05]

oh, you got enlightened with this teacher, so you're done. The feeling is, you know... And... After one of these meetings, it could have been the end of the story. But no. These teachers sent him on, but he might have been able to go on on his own even if they hadn't sent him. So, I think... Part of what we sometimes think is that when we're enlightened, we're done. And that now we can enjoy our enlightenment rather than... We're enlightened now, it's even more interesting to continue to study. So one of the characteristics that people are advised to look at if you want a Bodhisattva teacher, a teacher of the Bodhisattva way, is to look to see if the teacher is still studying. Or does the teacher feel like, you know... And that's one of the things to watch out for, to sort of see...

[66:05]

If this teacher is still studying, that's one of the things to look for. Yes? This tradition of going from teacher to teacher and continuing to study till the end of your life reminds me of the tradition of learning to be a jazz musician. In many forms of music, but especially in my experience with jazz. All jazz musicians know no real teacher would claim their way is the one way. If they did, that would be a joke. And jazz musicians traditionally perform and practice as long as they can in their life and move from teacher to teacher and synthesize multiple traditions from those teachers. Yes. Another way to say it is that our practice is... is an inconceivable, immeasurable, unthinkable collaboration. So we're trying to perform

[67:11]

in the world of appearance, we're doing a performance of an inconceivable collaboration, which is the actual practice that's going on. It's a gesture with our body and our voice and our thought, a gesture of collaboration, a gesture of practicing together in Sangha, but also between Sanghas, which is a gesture towards the actual, inconceivable collaboration, which is enlightenment, which is the practice. And the sutras demonstrate in that, and the Zen people in China kind of enacted that. And those people who did it a lot were praised. Because a lot of people kind of want to settle down.

[68:13]

And I must say, you know, I'm kind of like a bad example in a way, that I kind of settled down. I went to Zen Center, but I stayed a long time. What do you think of that, though? Do you feel... You said a bad example. A bad example of traveling. So would it be good to... Maybe you need a dazzling place where lots of other teachers come through, so teachers are washing through. Or I should go to some hovel where lots of teachers don't come through. Perhaps I'll read you stories of some of the people he visited who were not living in palaces. Yes. I just wanted to mention,

[69:17]

although when I heard it, Sarah, I started to think, oh, it has to be fortunate. You know, when you hear a story about focus on, or, you know, I was looking for something simpler. And then I realized that living in a palace is not necessarily better. And being beautiful is not necessarily better. And in fact, she was practicing in the mud of pleasure. And transforming that pleasure and that beauty, which is painful if you're at all out of alignment with it. So by thinking that that's better, we're part of the problem. It's in us to want to think that that's better, but it's just the mud. It's just the mud. So that was what I also saw. One of the things that she said is that she...

[70:18]

What did she say? She wants to transform the ideas of purity. Is that it? Yes. I have a couple of threads. When you first started describing the ten walls of Jules, I was reminded of a medieval story called The Pearl, in which there is a description, an elaborate, gorgeous description of some such place, which is an attempt to allegorize Jerusalem, the idea of Jerusalem. And from there, I realized that I wasn't embedding this story

[71:24]

of, quote, a woman teacher into necessarily a woman's political or social context. I felt and started to see her as something that often comes out in Tibetan Buddhism, this very elaborate, visual gorgeousness that is a kind of enlightenment, a description of enlightenment. And I didn't want to go back to any kind of puritanical way of limiting my imagination of what an enlightened experience would be like into making her plain or where she lived a hovel or anything. It felt like it illuminated me. So you would go to see a giraffe and see this gorgeous spotted creature. You would not comment on the spotted creature. You would say, look at these spots,

[72:25]

or your ladybug. And so for me it was, in addition to the context, it was a lifting out into something quite dazzling, but not rejecting the external, but using the external to enlarge the internal awareness. Thank you. Yes. I was fascinated by the fact that she could appear to every species in the female form. And I thought that was such a beautiful, what a beautiful gift, what a beautiful manifestation to be able to transcend all species in that manner. And I thought the ten walls, he had, I think, and forgive me if I'm wrong, had received ten teachings

[73:25]

before he came to her. And I thought perhaps it was the reflection of the ten teachings. And if someone had received eight, maybe it would have been eight walls. And if someone had twenty, maybe it would be twenty walls. That would be reflected when they meet her in her presence. And there also were ten moats and ten gardens. And somebody pointed out that this text was probably written at the time that India was being impacted by the decimal system. And they were really, you know, they were getting off in the mathematics of the wonderful thing that you can do with tens. I've heard of the ten directions and always meant to ask what the ten directions are, but I've never asked. You want to ask today? Yes, I would like to ask. It's the four cardinals and then the four intermediaries.

[74:27]

The intermediates, which make eight. And then the zenith and the nadir. Not too complicated. No. And the three times are past, present and future. Past, present and future, yes. And the three realms? The three realms are the realm of desire, which is where, you know, there's like the appearance of hamburgers and lentil beans and male and female humans and male and female dogs and trees and Cadillacs. That's the realm of desire. And then there's a fine material realm, which you can enter by certain yogic practices, where there aren't these composite forms, but there's just like colors and smells. There's colors and smells and sounds, but there aren't words.

[75:27]

There aren't English and Chinese and Japanese, but there's sounds of certain types, tastes of certain types, but there aren't like tastes of, there aren't like smells of bananas and chocolate and coffee and stuff like that. There's just pleasant and unpleasant. And then there's another, that's the second realm. The third realm is there's no material appearances. Everything's just cognitive, and there's no cognitive representations of forms anymore. So it's formless realm, desire realm. Formless realm, fine form realm, and desire realm. Subtle form. So there's forms in the desire realm, but they're more gross, you know, they're more static. Rather than just blue, it's blue, dark blue, light blue, shades and so on. So there appears to be three-dimensionality and things like that, wonderful things like that. And that realm is called the realm of desire.

[76:30]

The word for desire means sex, kama, as in the Kama Sutra. It's the realm of sexual desire. There isn't the same kind of sexual desire for green and purple. So are there negations in the three alternatives? Those are logical applications to the teachings, and the four alternatives are it is, it isn't, it is and it isn't, and it's neither is nor isn't. These are teachings for developing perfect wisdom. It is, it isn't, it is and isn't. It both is and isn't, it both is and isn't, and it neither is nor isn't. So somebody said, one person in one of the scriptures,

[77:32]

it says, to say that it is, is slandering the Dharma by exaggeration. To say that it isn't, is slandering the Dharma by underestimation. To say that it is and isn't, is slandering the Dharma by contradiction. To say that it neither is nor isn't, is slandering the Dharma by nonsense. So none of those ways of relating actually are the path of peace. The path of peace is the path of not abiding in any of those alternatives. So this guy is saying, aside from these teachings, what's the way? You know, what's the actual living way aside from all these teachings? And Matsu says, I have a headache. In other words,

[78:36]

yes, I am the Grand Master, they say, and I have attained wonderful disciples, and I am practicing the way, which is the inconceivable collaboration of all beings. Yes. But when it comes to saying what the Bodhisattva practices, how could I do it? Go talk to him. It's kind of like, you know, at times like this, I remember the story of the billy goats gruff. You know them? Everybody know the billy goats gruff? Well, there were three billy goats, and they lived on a billy goat area, where they ate billy goat grass. You know, billy goat means boy goat. It's a male goat, billy goat. What are the females called? Nanny goat.

[79:38]

Nanny goats? Nanny goats and billy goats. So the billy goats, this is a story about billy goats, we don't know what the nanny, this is not about nanny goats. So the billy goats were eating grass, and they looked over... Huh? Well, that's Sarah's version of the story. They ate all the grass, and they saw some more grass. Another version of the story is they're eating the grass and they looked over and the grass over there looked greener. So they decided that they would go over to see the grass. But how did they get over there? Over there means over the river. Kind of difficult to go across river, but there was a bridge to go over to the river, I mean over to the other side. Under the bridge there lived a troll, and trolls are powerful male or female beings

[80:39]

who may or may not have had lunch. And so they said, I don't know if they had a plan or something, but anyway, they sent the littlest billy goat first, and he goes... Excuse me. He goes across the bridge, you know. And as he's going across, the troll says, Who's going over my bridge? He says, Oh, it's me. I'm little billy goat Gruff. I just want to go across the bridge. Well, I think I'm going to come up there and eat you. He says, I understand, but you know, it's really a waste of time. I'm so little. You should wait for my bigger brother. He'll be much better. Okay, so he runs over. So then the next brother comes. Boom, boom, [...] boom. Who's walking over my bridge? I'm medium-sized billy goat Gruff,

[81:45]

and I want to go to the side. Well, I'm going to eat you up. He says, No, no, [...] no. Don't waste your time. There's a really big, delicious one coming. He said, Okay. So then the next one comes. Boom, boom, [...] boom. The troll says, Who is that going over my bridge? He says, I am the older, the bigger, of the three billy goat Gruffs who you've been waiting for. Each one says, It is I. Oh, thank you. It is I. Large, economy-sized billy goat Gruff. And the troll says, Well, I'm going to come up there and eat you. And the big billy goat says, You're welcome to do so. And he comes up,

[82:47]

and the big billy goat Gruff gives him a butt, and he goes flying into Vasumitra's palace. And he sees her, and he becomes free of his passion. And all live happily ever after. What happened to Sudanda? Or is that for another time? I think it's for another time. Well, he goes to see about 35 more. He has more fun. And in the end he gets to meet Samantabhadra. So he meets Avalokiteshvara on the way, he meets Samantabhadra,

[83:48]

and he finally gets back together with pleasant splendor Manjushri. So, can I tell you later about Sudanda? And if you wish to hear more stories about female teachers of different sort from the Avatamsaka Sutra, let me know. I have the Sutra here, I know where they are, I can find them for you and tell you about them if you want to hear. So, we have experienced this amazing story from this amazing Sutra. And I appreciate you practicing with all that happened to you while you were listening to this recitation of the teaching. May our intention equally extend

[84:53]

to every being and place. If the true path of Buddha is worthy, beings are immoralists, I vow to save them. Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them. Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them. Buddha's way is unsurpassable, I vow to become it.

[85:36]