Liberation Through Intimacy

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A Dharma talk by Tenshin Roshi for a gathering of the No Abode community

AI Summary: 

The talk focuses on reinterpreting the four universal Bodhisattva vows, emphasizing intimacy over elimination of afflictions. Several key themes are explored:

- Shifting from a traditional understanding of the vows to approach sentient beings, afflictions, Dharmagates, and the Buddha way through intimacy.
- The exploration of intimacy involves a compassionate and complete embracing of afflictions, which paradoxically leads to their "end."
- Recognizing afflictions as opportunities to practice compassion and liberate oneself through understanding and acceptance.
- The discussion evolves to cover broader philosophical implications, such as how dealing with personal afflictions reflects larger ethical and existential dilemmas.

- **Eihei Dogen’s fascicle "Kato" (Twining Vines)**
- Dogen's text metaphorically discusses afflictions akin to twining vines, challenging the notion of cutting them off and suggesting a practice of inheriting and dealing with them intimately.

- **Susie Gersh’s teachings**
- Mentioned as a source of perspective on dealing with afflictions and emphasizing the practical application of these philosophies in life's challenges.

This re-framing combined with anecdotes and philosophical queries invites a deeper meditation on the relationship between suffering, liberation, and ethical living, suggesting that true liberation occurs through intimate engagement with life’s challenges rather than avoidance or elimination.

AI Suggested Title: "Intimate Vows: Embracing Afflictions in the Bodhisattva Path"


Today we are planning on having a Bodhisattva vow ceremony at the end of the day. And this morning I'd like to bring up Bodhisattva vows also in this talk. During a good part of 2022 I was bringing up the ten vows of the great Bodhisattva Samantabhadra. And this afternoon's ceremonies will bring up many other vows besides or along with his ten vows. And also


at the end of our Dharma talks we often conclude by reciting what are called the four universal Bodhisattva vows. The four universal Bodhisattva vows are probably the most familiar version of Bodhisattva vows in East Asia and in the West now. So the first one is sentient beings are numberless. I vow to save them. Afflictions are inexhaustible. I vow to cut through.


Dharmagates are boundless. I vow to enter them. Buddha way is unsurpassable. I vow to become it. In my in my being and in my consciousness the way I think about these four vows is I could express by changing the language a little bit. Sentient beings are numberless. I vow to be intimate. Afflictions are inexhaustible. I vow to be intimate. Dharmagates are boundless. I vow to be intimate. Buddha way is unsurpassable. I vow to be intimate. That's how I feel about these four vows, that they're about intimacy, different dimensions of intimacy.


Intimacy with suffering, all suffering beings and in particular intimate, for the first one intimacy with all living beings. Next one intimacy with all affliction in myself and in others. And affliction is a general term which includes greed, hatred, delusion, selfishness, cruelty, which flows naturally from hatred and so on. All kinds of painful phenomena in our life under the heading afflictions. In Zen Center's history they chose one of those afflictions, delusions and highlighted that. So at Zen Center it often said delusions are inexhaustible. I vow to end them.


So you can change that to afflictions are inexhaustible. I vow to end them. But what I'm bringing up today is not so much about ending affliction. Although that might be nice if there was no greed, hate and delusion in the universe. But that seems kind of like not what's going on in my life. I don't see like no greed, hate and delusion. So for me it's more about being liberated and being at peace with greed, hate and delusion. It's about being awakened to what greed, hate and delusion really are. And being awakened to what they are is called awakening. Awakening is about the afflictions. It lives in the midst of the afflictions.


Great awakening in the midst of affliction. That's Buddha. So I vowed to become the Buddha way and in becoming the Buddha way that would be involve becoming intimate with all the different kinds of affliction. So in my life, in my presence, people often show me affliction and wonder how to practice with it. And also I feel affliction and I wonder how to practice with it.


So in my experience of affliction I want to practice compassion with my afflictions or with the afflictions of my body and mind. And some people who I meet also want to practice compassion with the afflictions of their body-mind. So the phrasing of ending them I find I find some need of interpreting what that vow is translated as Afflictions are inexhaustible. I vow to end them. I want to interpret that. The Chinese character that's translated as end them actually the character


more usually is translated as cut. Like cut, cut through, cut off. But literally that character usually is translated as cut. And the character looks a little bit like an axe. So back to the translation Afflictions or delusions are inexhaustible. I vow to end them. I think closer to intimacy is Afflictions are inexhaustible. I vow to come to the end of them. And the way to become to come to the end of something is to be intimate with it, is to complete it, is to be completely with it. In that way you come to the end of it and at the end of it


in a sense, it's not really there anymore. You come to the end of it. So I'm emphasizing the way to come to the end of affliction is by being completely intimate with it or with them. And I'm proposing now that I guess these four include each other. These four Bodhisattva great vows, these universal vows include each other. When we become intimate with affliction, our own, and others, at that time sentient beings are saved. When we accomplish the second vow of becoming intimate with all the inexhaustible afflictions


sentient beings are saved. Also at the end of being intimate with affliction we enter Dharmagate, we enter the Dharmagate of that affliction. And in saving beings, in being intimate with beings and being intimate with affliction and being intimate with the Dharmagate, the Buddha way is accomplished, is manifested. And in this vast assembly of beings who are devoted to practice the Buddha way some people do actually talk about eliminating something. They say eliminate this, eliminate that. And I'm not wishing to eliminate the people who are trying to eliminate.


I'm not. I want to be intimate with all the people who are trying to eliminate, to get rid of something. In a way trying to get rid of afflictions is trying to get rid of a living being. I'm more into let's liberate living beings rather than get rid of them. If we did get rid of them, there would be no need for liberation. There'd just be no life. So I'm not really, you know, I'm not aspiring, I'm not vowing to get rid of living beings. I'm not vowing, I'm not aspiring to get rid of affliction. I'm not trying to get rid of hatred. What I mean is I aspire to not try to get rid of hatred. I might slip.


I'm at risk of trying to get rid of hatred. Like if one of you hated me, I might slip into trying to get you to not hate me or try to get rid of you. Like I was just talking to someone who told me about these people who hate her and she had confessed an impulse to get rid of those people who hate her. Can you see that we might be at risk of trying to get rid of the people who hate us? Get rid of them? Eliminate them? Get rid of them. That's not my aspiration. My aspiration is to become intimate with the people who hate me and to become intimate with my hatred. I'm not aspiring to have no hatred. I'm aspiring to, when there's an affliction called hatred, I aspire to be intimate with it. Because that is attaining the Buddha way.


So, how do we become intimate with hatred, and greed, and confusion, and fear, and cruelty, etcetera? How do we practice compassion with it? We become intimate with afflictions by being in a compassionate relationship with them. And a compassionate relationship with them we could say starts by being present as much as possible and then being gracious, and generous, and welcoming. To the afflictions. Being generous with afflictions


comes to fruition as coming to the end of them. Embracing them completely. And then again, at the same time, beings are liberated at that same moment. So, I'm suggesting now, here it comes, that when we, when our practice, not so much we, but when our practice completely embraces our affliction, that liberates all sentient beings at the same time. The way we become free by being intimate with our affliction, all of each, it can be just one actually, one present affliction, being completely intimate with it,


is Buddha. And that saves sentient beings at that moment. The way we are intimate with our suffering is the way everybody else is intimate with theirs. And the way we are liberated by working with these teachings on our affliction is the same way other beings are liberated. And if I say, if I bring up this thing about being gracious with affliction, someone may say, I can't stand the affliction. So, another dimension of being compassionate with affliction in order to save beings, in order to be free of affliction,


is to develop patience with it. To learn how to be present with it. And if we have difficulty, which is very common, being with the pain, with the affliction, then we practice being present with our difficulty of being present. To be present with, I can't stand this, be present with that. So again, when I bring up being generous towards pain and suffering, people will often say, I can't stand the pain. Being generous with it will set up and enhance our ability to be able to tolerate the pain.


So we usually don't start by directly trying to tolerate it, the affliction. We usually start with being generous towards it. Welcome it first. Then we usually go on to don't harm it. Don't try to get rid of it. Don't try to control it. Give up trying to control it. Respect it. Honor it. You don't have to like it. And if you dislike it, be generous to that. And then develop the capacity to be present with the suffering. So these first three compassion practices are for our afflictions. The next three are also being diligent and enthusiastic


about what? About being intimate with affliction. How can you be enthusiastic about doing this work, this challenging work of being intimate with affliction? Well, one way would be that you would review the teaching that being intimate with the affliction was the Buddha way. And think about that until you feel more and more enthusiasm about it. And if you don't feel enough, think about it some more. Think about how great it would be to really be intimate with all living beings. All of them. And thereby realize world peace. That we have a chance to do our part, our part, our job


of realizing the Buddha land of world peace. Which the Buddhas have just mentioned. Yes, we have realized a Buddha land of world peace. And it's not the slightest bit separate from this one. It's this one as seen by the awakened mind. And so if you wish to realize peace in this world, your job is to be enthusiastic about that. About what? About realizing peace. How? By becoming intimate with affliction. By being tolerant of affliction. Okay, before I said I couldn't stand it, but now I feel like I can give it a try. Now I feel like I can't again. So one of the


sources for my inspiration to practice the second universal bodhisattva vow is rather than getting rid of affliction, my inspiration is to be intimate with affliction. What's the reason for being intimate again? The reason is freedom and peace. One of my inspirations comes from the ancestor Ehe Dogen, who wrote a fascicle called in Japanese Kato, which can be translated as twining vines. Some people translate it as wisteria,


which is a twining vine. I think it has wisteria and another kind of twining plant put together and translated as twining vine. But I think when Ka was first translated, I think he translated it as wisteria. Now it's translated as twining vines. Twining vines as a metaphor for afflictions. Twining vines could actually have thorns in them too, right? Just to liven it up a little bit. But even when there's not thorns, still twining vines can be awkward to live with. And one person translated Kato as complications. Complications.


Which kind of is not so metaphorical. Anyway, complications, entanglements, afflictions. So the teaching is basically starts off by saying many sages, many wise people have tried to study the Buddha way by cutting off the root of the twining vines. They tried to study the Buddha way by cutting the root of the afflictions. Many wise people have done that. And these wise people may be the ones who are talking about eliminating the entanglements eliminating them, getting rid of them. Wise people have taught this. Wiser than me. But I'm not


following their way. Even though Dogen honored them as sages. Now what do these sages do? They have tried to study the Buddha way by cutting the root of these afflictions. And then he goes on to say these sages do not regard cutting the vines with cutting the vines as cutting. So what they're trying to do is cut the root of the vine. And he says these sages do not regard cutting the vines with the vines. Cutting the vines with the vines. Cutting the vines with the vines. They do not regard cutting the vines with the vines.


They do not regard cutting the complications with the complications. They don't do it that way. They want to cut the root. It's a different approach. To get rid of the root. But they aren't into cutting the vine with the vine. Cutting the vine with itself. But that's the cutting of this second vow. There is cutting, but what kind of cutting it is? It's cutting affliction with affliction. Cutting pain with pain. Letting pain be completely pain. By being completely compassionate with the pain. Not getting rid of it and then saving it. Save it right now.


By using the pain to liberate the pain. This is a different way from some other sages. And then he also says also they do not know twining and vines entangled with twining vines. So part of part of using twining vines to cut through twining vines is to understand twining and vines entangled with twining vines. Like some people try to get rid of some pain or some affliction. But they don't notice that the way they are trying to get it is more affliction. They don't notice how the vines and all the ways we relate to the vines are more vines. And


kind of like furthermore how can they understand inheriting the vines through twining vines? Inheriting the vines? Who would want to inherit these vines? They do not understand they cannot how can they understand if they don't know how twining vines are entangled with twining vines how can they understand that inheriting twining vines is through twining vines? So again, why would you want to inherit twining vines? Why do you want to inherit affliction? And here is the reason. Those who notice that inheriting Dharma is twining vines are rare.


When you inherit the twining vines through being intimate with twining vines you inherit the Dharma. Inheriting the Dharma is twining vines. Inheriting the Dharma is affliction itself. And affliction itself is intimacy with affliction. And in order to be at the height of inheriting Dharma we have to be at the site of the affliction. And we have to be completely at the site of the affliction. Fortunately, as Susie Gersh used to say, fortunately or unfortunately


we are at the site of affliction. We have it sort of in our consciousness and all around us. We got what we need to practice the second Bodhisattva vow and thereby to practice all the Bodhisattva vows. What's being called for is now to be intimate with the affliction and realize that affliction itself is inheriting the Dharma. And affliction is sort of halfway, not really reaching the place of affliction itself completely. We don't inherit Dharma. The price of inheriting Dharma is to be intimate with affliction. The price of becoming Buddha is to become intimate with suffering. Now,


that's the second vow. One might consider which vow do you want to aspire to? Ending affliction or do you want to aspire to intimacy with affliction? Intimacy with affliction. The title for today's talk I suggest is Intimacy and Liberation. Or liberation through intimacy. Rather than liberation through getting rid of. And, so, we've got plenty of suffering and we have plenty of trying to get rid of. I just thought of a what's it called? Don't help me.


Okay. Don't help me, but I'll just say. I'm going to try to remember just a second. Oh. Okay. Anyway, a cancer doctor. What are they called? Oncologist. I can imagine an oncologist who wants to help people with their disease of cancer. And some of them may be trying to get rid of the cancer. They may be doing surgery. Does the oncologist do the surgery sometimes? They might be doing surgery to cut cancer off. They might be doing that. And they might be doing that without trying to get rid


of anything. I think many of them might do the surgery and remove the cancer with some of them maybe trying to get rid of it, but some of them may not be trying to get rid of anything. They're just removing the cancer. And they don't think they're getting rid of anything. They might think that they're becoming intimate with the cancer in order to benefit the cancer patient. And their intimacy might entail removing a tumor. But they might not have any thought of getting rid of any illness. They might have the thought of liberating themselves and the patient from all suffering on the occasion of removing a tumor. And this way of removing the tumor is transmitted to the patient.


The tumor is removed by somebody who wasn't trying to get rid of anything. Or to complicate it a little bit more, to twine the vines a little more, this patient received transmission of compassion by somebody who was trying to get rid of something but who was intimate with their trying to get rid of and was liberated from trying to get rid of. That's another twist in the plot of what? Of affliction. To use the entanglements to liberate the entanglements. So I'm a doctor and I think it seems to me beneficial and I think my client would like me to remove the tumor and see what life is like


after the tumor is removed. But secretly I'm here to liberate everybody right now. And then tomorrow too. How? By being intimate with cancer. By being intimate with disease. Now on a less dramatic scale, it is possible to clean the house and put the dust and dirt into a dustbin. It's possible to do that as an act of intimacy. Not an act of getting rid of dirt. We clean


we I clean the house to clean the clean. I clean the house to realize that the house is clean. And before I clean it I'm not practicing with it. Before I practice with it, I'm not practicing with the house. But when I practice with the house I practice with the house to realize the original nature of the house is clean. The original nature of people who are sick is Buddhahood. I'm not trying to get rid of these beings whose original nature is Buddhahood. Who are innately Buddha. I'm not trying to get rid of them. But I might clean them to help realize that their innate


aversion is Buddhahood. So, these Bodhisattva Vows which we will be reciting and committing to this afternoon from my perspective they are vows to become intimate with all beings. To become intimate with all experience. And realize that all experience is the intimacy. All experience is the intimacy of all beings in the form of this experience. All experience is intimate communion between all beings in a particular form. .


This afternoon some people will say, will chant together three times. Person of good lineage before me, I wish to receive the Bodhisattva Vow. Therefore, if I am worthy to receive it, please, in your mercy for me, please bestow the Vow of the Bodhisattva Ethics. In our usual ceremony of giving precepts, we don't actually say, I vow sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them. We don't say our usual Bodhisattva Vows, which strikes many people as kind of funny that we're doing this Bodhisattva Precept Ceremony, but we don't say the vow. In some forms of Bodhisattva Precept Ceremonies, they do say the four vows. But the Zen Center one


doesn't say it. And that's also the one that's done in Japan. They don't say it. Where do the vows go? In that precept ceremony, the precepts are the Bodhisattva Vows. This afternoon, and I say that because this afternoon, we will be receiving these vows and committing to these vows. And these vows are Bodhisattva Ethics. Sentient beings are numberless. I vow to save them. That's a Bodhisattva Ethic. Sentient beings are numberless. I vow to be intimate with them. That's a Bodhisattva Ethic. My afflictions are inexhaustible. Our afflictions are inexhaustible. I vow to be intimate with them. That's an ethical vow. I vow to practice the ethics of intimacy with all living beings, inwardly and outwardly.


Liberation from affliction through intimacy. Intimacy through thorough-going compassion. Thorough-going compassion brings us to the wonderful meeting of intimacy with affliction and thus with liberation and thus with awakening. Is there anything anyone wishes to bring up or down? Yes? Yes? Thank you for your offering. You're welcome. It made me fully realize that I is unethical. This I


is unethical. And because of the unethicalness of it, it keeps giving vows, it keeps coming back, it keeps doing all this stuff that it is doing is simply because it is fully unethical. Can I say something? Did you hear what she said? No. She said that what I said she actually said, what you said made me, but actually I would say what I said was an occasion for her to realize that myself, did you say myself? Yes, self is unethical. She had this thought that this self is unethical. Okay? And when she said that I thought that's kind of like the thought this self is an affliction. This self is unethical.


And so what am I saying how am I suggesting to take care of this unethical self? How am I suggesting to take care of the unethical self? I don't know how you suggest but my only way of seeing it is by just seeing it. That's all I can do. There's nothing I can do about it. That's part of what I would suggest. That's part of it. So we heard and we saw that youth had the thought this self is unethical. Part of the way I would vow to deal with this thought and this feeling that this self is unethical is to note that, be aware, here's a thought which sounds like an affliction and now bring great compassion to this thought this self is unethical.


That's what I vow to do with such a thought. So question, it appears to me, whatever I bring to this self, whether it's called compassion, whether it's called whatever it is, whatever I bring to this unethical self it's part of its unethicalness. That's right. So we got this tangling vine of this self is unethical and if we bring compassion to it that's more tangling vines. However, it's a new kind of tangling vines which is ethical. Ethical and tangling vines. It's the bringing now a new thing called generosity towards this unethical self thing. It's called patience with the pain of unethical self. But it also is a kind of, it's not separate


it's also tangling vines. It's using the tangling vines to liberate the tangling vine of this self is unethical. What you're bringing as compassion what you're bringing as generosity is not something we bring it. I don't know how to describe it. I could get rid of the word bring and just say this self is unethical and then the way of being with it is don't bring anything just be with it. Just be with it. And by the way, just being with it involves just letting it be. Just being with it involves being generous with it. Don't bring any generosity just let it be.


Just let it be itself. There's somebody ahead of you Do you want to go before her? No. Pardon? You raised your hand Helen. Okay, Helen has a question. Go ahead Helen. You can take your mask off if you want to. It feels like it loosens my attachment to whatever thought, feeling or experience stuff like that. Do you say it feels like it loosens your attachment? Yeah, it has something really to do with attachment. Twining binds attach to each


other. However, they don't just attach, they also then go beyond the attachment and attach again. So there's both freedom and attachment or there's both attachment and letting go in the twining binds. What is being recommended now is to look at how twining binds relate to twining binds and this is how you become free of twining binds is to notice that we've got a twining bind and then as you notice it, you realize there's some release of attachment and then there's more attachment to be released from. It's an ongoing process of twining and untwining, of twining with twining and cutting free. It's not getting out of this mess. It's not even getting into it. We're already in it. So we don't have to go towards it or away from it, we're already in it. Now let's just look at it carefully and let it be what it is and then be respectful and patient with it because


discomfort is part of the situation. So there is discovering liberation not the slightest bit separate from the bondage. The attachment and the liberation are pivoting on each other all day long. But if we try to get rid of the attachment, we get rid of the liberation. If we try to get rid of the affliction, that's a new kind of affliction. But becoming more intimate with the bondage, we notice, oh my god, the freedom's right there, it was all along. But because I wasn't giving myself fully to this affliction, I was a little bit away from it. And that hair's breadth difference made it, made liberation seem very far away. But when there's not the slightest bit of discrepancy with the affliction, we discover the Dharma gate of repose


and bliss. It's right there. It can't be anywhere else because that's where we need it. We need it right in the midst of the pain. And that's where the liberation is. So we vow to get to that place where the bondage and liberation are inseparable. Where samsara and nirvana are inseparable. But it's hard to get to that place because it's hard to be completely open and gentle and vulnerable and patient and enthusiastic and calm with this mess. I'm going to try... I'm going to try and make sense. Excuse me, could you hear me in the back, what I just said? What's that roar?


It's the heat. My hearing aids turned it into a roar. It is a roar. We can be quiet for a little while. It'll go off pretty soon. Your hearing aids are listening to the heating system. What? Afflictions are inexhaustible. I vow to liberate them. Afflictions are inexhaustible. I vow to


liberate them by intimacy. Afflictions are inexhaustible. I vow to save them. Through love. This loving work is really hard sometimes because I think there's an alternative. I think if you say your question and I say it again loudly. Okay? Might this be of entangled binds? I had a question earlier and my question that came into my mind was is intimate communion


is there unskillfulness? Can there be unskillfulness in intimate communion? And then when you were talking First question, right? May I do that? Can there be unskillfulness in intimate communion? Okay? Intimate communion, Buddha. Can there be unskillfulness in Buddha? There is unskillfulness in Buddha. Buddha has unskillfulness completely in it. How about skillfulness? Can Buddha have skillfulness within it? Yes. Buddha includes all unskillfulness and all skillfulness. Thank you. I noticed some resistance because then I wanted to finish talking. I wanted to continue my story. I'm just confessing that


I noticed myself needing to really be here and compassionate to listen to what you were saying. And not move away. Not turn away. Did you did an impulse to turn away appear? Oh yes. And was that impulse to turn away cared for? Yes. That's the practice, right? Okay. So then when you were talking about entanglement and then I thought, okay, right. That's the care. That's how we do realize the welfare of the world and to care for all beings is to meet that entanglement. Because


we are not separate from that. We are that entanglement. So then my question that I had, I thought, okay, well, of course there's unskillfulness in intimate communion. And then I envisioned this kind of working, going on, entangled and then not entangled. And my thought, my initial thought of of intimate communion is like seeing it as separate. Seeing it as separate from okay. I get excited and then I lose my train of thought. So I'm just going to take a minute. So the intimate communion that there that there's unskillfulness


that there could or could not be unskillfulness. And that there's my mind was seeing some sort of separation there between the two. But then as you were speaking I no longer saw separation. And so maybe I was witnessing this tangled, untangled, tangled, untangled. That's my offering. Yeah, and all experience I proposed to you, all experience is entanglement with all beings. All of my experience is entanglement with all beings. And at the moment that I have the experience of entanglement with all beings, all other beings


experience this entanglement with me and everybody else too. So it's a question of fully embracing the entanglement. Which is challenging because we have habits of creating a little difference between entanglement and liberation. It's easy for us. So I see the order of hands was Catherine, Karen, Linda, Norbert. Are you first Norbert? I don't know. Go ahead Norbert. Today is an


anniversary of sorts in the popular calendar being April 1st. Can you take your mask off please? Today is an anniversary. Today is April 1st so I always I have an illusion about April 1st which came up as I was listening to you talk and thank you very much for this talk. So I used to have a kind of maybe negative feeling about April 1st April Fool's Day and in my evolution I don't have that I question that negative feeling now or I don't have it. And I try hard not to go to the other end of the text. So it just that made me


that came up about April Fool's Day and in my mind for me and then I thought so another way of saying what you're offering us is not to, is to really get the memo. Complete? Catherine? I hear you say that if you cut off the afflictions at the root, in a way it's the same as being intimate with it and it would be like a preference to do one thing versus the other. I think the problem, I think that the cutting the afflictions off at the root is not what Dogen is encouraging.


Even though he honors the people who have taught that. Wise people have taught cut the root, in other words separate from the violence. Some people seem to be wise and yet there's still a little bit of separation between them and the afflictions. They think liberation is by cutting them off. So you're saying liberation is not by cutting it off. I don't know if I'm saying that but I would say I aspire to me it seems like, I guess I do think that liberation is the cutting off is through intimacy rather than getting rid of. So can we cut as an act of intimacy rather than an act of distancing or separating? Can we cut to realize non-separation?


A clear cut to realize our intimacy. I think we could do that, right? You can put your hand up and go put our palms together. As an act of mutual cutting and realizing intimacy. Non-separation and not to cutting and intimacy is the same. Yeah. And then Karen? I have a thought I want to check out, an observation. The thought I want to check out is as you were talking just in the last few minutes I started wondering if maybe the basic nature of affliction is that it's not intimate. All of the afflictions are just different forms of non-intimacy. Could that be the case? I would say


that all the afflictions are intimacy in a deceptive way that looks like not intimacy. Even separating is really intimacy. But it looks like it's not intimacy. It looks like it's dualistic. But it is. Actually intimacy is where it's at and intimacy can appear like get away from me. Leave me alone. I hate you. You're no good. I'm leaving you. And those experiences that I just mentioned those are manifestations of twining vines entwined with twining vines and inheriting Dharma. We have to get closer to them. We have to open to them more completely to realize that it's just a joke. I don't care about you it's a joke. You're not me.


It's a joke. So affliction we call it affliction when we believe the phantom of separation and when we believe the phantom of not being intimate. It's painful. And then the pain can be greed. You're not me. We're separated so I'm going to hold on to you. Or we're separated so I'm going to get rid of you. I hate you for being separate to me. Or I'm confused about it. I'm just a mess and I don't want to be there either. When I hate I don't want to hate. When I attach I don't want to attach. When I'm greedy I don't want to be greedy. When I'm confused I don't want... That's actually intimacy right there too. The whole universe making this fool. So April Fool's Day is a good day


to study affliction and foolishness and to be loving to affliction and foolishness foolishly. Foolishly be a Bodhisattva. I see two more in hand. Linda. I was realizing why I've been hanging around you more than I used to in the last six or seven years or whatever. I used to say to people, his teaching is radical. then they would say, what do you mean? Sometimes I could say something and sometimes not. So I think that why I'm hanging around you is for this teaching of not getting rid of anything.


It's like all of the teachings that we've heard that I've heard and when I actually get an inkling of what actually that is it's like, oh! Why didn't I get that before? Of course it's not why. I know why. Why? That's because of the exact thing that Rev is talking about. Afflictions and the habits associated with them are very hard to penetrate. So the radicalness of what you're saying for me is actually to not try to get rid of it. And


you've insisted on that. Even just now when Yuki says affliction is not intimacy I thought you might say, right. But you didn't. You got more radical than that. Anyway, I'm going on. So sometimes I'm just saying this for my own learning. And it helps me, as you all know, to say it out loud in a group of people. I don't know why. Sometimes in trying to practice what you're saying, which I've only just got a glimpse of, that that's the practice that I should be doing. Sometimes there's a roar like that roar, but it's even bigger. And it's so big I can't hear anybody. I can't end it. But even that, as long as there's a trace of awareness, you can be intimate


with that, right? You are. You are intimate with it. That's the situation, but you can also remember to practice with it. Because we have to practice with it. Somehow it's what we already are, and we have to practice in order to realize it. Yeah. Somebody like you has to say that to yourself. Or say it out loud. Yeah. Somehow we need to say, oh yeah, this too. So a simple question is that those lines that we got sent by the email and that you just said were going to be offered this afternoon, are you just offering us all? Is there some particular people that are saying those lines? Oh, everybody who comes to the ceremony will say it in unison. Okay. At the beginning, the assembly makes a request to the preceptor,


who's going to be me today. I'm the one who's going to say them, and then I'll hit the clappers and you say them after me. Okay. It's not like I have to say yes, please let me have those lines. Everybody gets those lines. Okay. Thank you. Let's see. Was it Justin and Breck? Okay. I think I have an answer for myself to this question, but I wanted to ask it anyway. When you're talking about Dogen teaching cutting tangling minds and talking about how previous wise ancestors taught cutting the mind, it seems what is being taught is fundamental


to the understanding, or completely basic to the practice that we're doing. So what is the other wisdom that those ancestors who understood the cutting minds in a different way? What was that? I guess I could kind of answer you. What are these other stages you mean? That he's referring to? In a sense, yeah. I guess so. Yeah. What is the... Do you see that as an incomplete understanding? Well, you could say incomplete or I could say it's a phase. There was a phase of Buddhism where people were interested in liberating themselves. That was the thing. Some of them thought about cutting the root of their own entanglement. It worked pretty well for a lot of people. But then later there was


the next step of realizing well, actually, my liberation involves everybody else. It can only work for so long, right? That phase has to be a phase. Actually, you said two things. One is that phase has to be a phase, and I would say in a sense, all the people who come to study the Bodhisattva way, not all, many that come to study the Bodhisattva way do so with this point of view of personal liberation. You know, how they can set their mind free by their attention to their mind. And that's the way the Buddha taught at the beginning. Study your mind and you can become free of that mind. But then later people realized, got the message, well, actually, everybody else is involved in my mind, and also taking care of my mind takes care of other people's minds. So this is called the individual vehicle and the universal vehicle. So, I guess I do feel the universal


vehicle is another step forward into Buddhahood. And the individual vehicle was not about Buddhahood. It was about being an individually liberated being who then would be a wonderful thing in the world because you've got this liberated being who is free and compassionate and that's a good thing. We can call that person a sage. And the Buddha encouraged that kind of sagehood. So maybe we all go through that phase, or many of us go through that phase on the way to the Bodhisattva practice. And then there's also Bodhisattva practice on the way to Buddha practice. But Buddha practice includes all the different kinds of sages and all the different kinds of Bodhisattvas and all the different kinds of unskillfulness and evil. And some people in a certain phase of Buddhism did not aspire literally to become a Buddha. They aspired to become


a liberated sage. And they kind of were liberated sages. And they understood like the Buddha understood. But they didn't get into this entanglement with entanglement with all beings kind of practice. So Mahayana needed to be brought out and it did. And was that an evolution of Buddha's understanding or an evolution of Buddha's teaching? The evolution of Buddha's teaching is the same as the evolution of Buddha's understanding. The evolution of how Buddha works with people, the way Buddha works with suffering beings, that's actually how Buddha's understanding is completed. The contents of how Buddha teaches is the contents of Buddha's enlightenment. And in the early phase actually we have this scripture called the Avatamsaka Sutra the Flower Adornment scripture. And that


scripture is supposed to be what the Buddha taught right away after awakening to the Bodhisattvas. Because they could handle that teaching, basically the teaching of intimate communion. The inconceivable majesty of how all beings are in intimate communion, he taught that first. But ordinary people who weren't kind of advanced Bodhisattvas, he said, and he taught the Four Noble Truths instead for them. Oh yeah, right, there's suffering, and there's a cause of suffering, and there's liberation from suffering. That teaching was very effective and people became liberated personally by hearing that teaching. And then later, the Avatamsaka Sutra which was taught to the Bodhisattvas right away is brought up again maybe in the 4th century


of the Common Era. People were ready now for this kind of... Actually, I found these notes among my notes and it was a talk I gave in 1974. And maybe it was 73, anyway, I thought it was 50 years ago I gave this talk and the talk said that when Buddha first was awakened, if he would tell people about his division of the four Dharma scriptures they would think he was crazy. The Bodhisattvas didn't, but if he told people who weren't yet up for the Bodhisattva path, they would think he's crazy. So he taught this more reasonable thing, the Four Noble Truths. So I've been talking about this for 50 years. Thank you. Yes? If your goal is personal liberation, meaning that you attain personal liberation at some point


that dissatisfaction whatever you think personal liberation is is going to creep in and help you evolve to the next... Maybe, yeah. Like you said, it works for a while. And in the Lotus Citra, all these Arhats who, all these sages who attain personal liberation it says they were getting kind of tired, you know, of this personal liberation. So then Buddha came up and said, Hey guys, you're actually you are personal liberated, you are my great disciples but by the way, you're also going to be Buddhist. And they go, Wow! And they're very happy to hear this. They never thought that before. So we never thought that we were going to be Buddhists and we're getting tired of just being sages. Yeah, so Lotus Citra says after a while, it's time for you to hear that you're going to be a Buddha even though it wasn't what you were signing up for. And again, many people come to Zen centers and they say, I'm not signing up to be a Buddha.


I just want to get through the day. That's what I'm here for. I want to be a slightly better person. This Buddha thing is like too much. Okay, you can practice here. Perfect. So my friend who died recently had a long series of physical afflictions emotional as well. And her response at times was to cut off contact with not just me but with family and friends. And so what I did over many years is I just kept being there. And I kept being intimate with her lack of communication. And that brought us a lot of intimacy in the end. I'm very grateful


for that. Yeah. I am too.