The Light of Buddha's Wisdom - Precepts of Compassion

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Buddha sheds the light of wisdom on the true nature of suffering, liberation, and the human mind, on the teachings of compassion, moral causation, and the whole phenomenal universe. This retreat offered an opportunity to receive, study, and contemplate Buddha's teachings on mind, precepts of compassion, and moral cause and effect. The discussions and contemplations were framed in the light of wisdom which is far beyond all discussion. Wonderful teachings were offered together with ways of not clinging to those teachings. There were periods of quiet sitting, walking meditation, oral teachings, and group discussions, with opportunities for individual interviews as time allowed.

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I would like to begin by saying I'm happy to see you all, and thank you for coming here. And I would like to have an introductory ceremony, to ask each of you to say your first name, and then after your name is said, everybody say your name. And after other people's names are said, you say their name. Okay? Tina. Shirley. Bruce. Susan. Lenore. Amir. Nazanin. Clarence. Dale. Elizabeth. Angela. Homeland. Karen. Peter. Lon. Katherine.


Catherine, Paul, Roberta, Andy, Allen, Lucetta, Marjorie, Suchitra, Seema, Keith, Gordon, Salvi, Janice, Rudy, Abby, Caroline, Jack, June, Roma, Fred, Barbara, Kate, Roseanne, Leon, Steven, Roeb, Vasudev.


Would you tell me your name again? Roma. Roma. They're not from me. They just stopped with me. They're not from you? They're kind of from you. They're from all of us at this point. Could you give us your name? Yamuna. The title for this retreat, as you probably noticed, was called The Light of Buddha's Wisdom.


Could you tell us a little bit about that? Welcome. Would you give us your name please? Anne. The light of Buddha's wisdom is the same as your light. Each of you, I could say, has a light or has light. And that light you have is also the light of the Buddhas.


Buddhas are those who are in touch with, who realize this light, who see this light, and who act in accord with it, act in behalf of it, act in accord with it. And part of what those who realize this light do is they think, and they talk, and they make various bodily postures, and like all of us, in their thinking, in their talking, and in their bodily postures, they convey this light. And they know they're conveying light,


and they also convey it in a way that will help other people open to it, open to the light which they're sending, and the light which people, the beings which the Enlightened Ones are addressing, so that the beings that the Enlightened Ones are addressing who do not yet see their light will awaken to their light. We'll see the Buddha's light, which they didn't see before, and we'll see their own light, and we'll see other people's light. And we'll see the light not just in people and Buddhas, but the light in everything. So each of us has light, or is light, and all things are light.


Even, I mean, well, all things. Everything is light. I thought of this story, which I heard, and I didn't review the story, so I remember it a little vaguely, but it's a story about a French boy, a story about a French boy, a French person who lived in France when he was a boy. And he was a boy like, you know, probably in the twenties or thirties in France. And he could see, he had vision, normal vision, or fairly normal vision, and then fairly rapidly, when he was maybe eight years old or something like that,


his vision started to get darker. And I think in a fairly short period of time he lost his vision, his ordinary vision, pretty much completely. And I don't remember him saying this so clearly, but I have a feeling that he was somehow able to really accept the darkness into which he was plunged. But I don't remember him saying,


I completely accepted the darkness into which I was plunged, but I have a feeling that's what happened, is that he was able, he was ready to accept that he lost his normal boy's vision and was now in darkness. And then not too long after that, I don't know how long, maybe it was weeks or months, but I don't think it was years, it might have been weeks, and I don't remember exactly what happened, but he realized there was light. In accepting, I would say, this is my commentary, in accepting that he was in the dark, and understanding that darkness was different from light,


which is one of the advantages of having light and losing it and accepting it, accepting the loss, accepting the darkness, he was able to find another light, which I guess you might say was not a physical light, but a spiritual light, a light which most of us have to be trained to see, because we're so enamored of other kinds of light. But anyway, his training was a combination of having it taken away and accepting it, which is similar to giving it up. You know what I mean? If somebody is taking something from you and then suddenly you realize,


I'm going to give it up since it's going. So he was able to see this spiritual light, and the spiritual light that he saw was such that he actually could maneuver in the world, not the same way other people do, but by following this light he could get around and he didn't fall over stuff. I don't know if he got to the point where he could ride a bicycle. I have another story about bicycle riding, but he did get around with the other boys and he wasn't going around by holding hands with them, he was moving along with them, and he got around by this light, he followed the light. So it's a light, and I propose there is this light, like you have it, and this light is the same light


that's in darkness and in light. It's the light of darkness and in light, it's the light of you and me, it's the light of good and evil. Even evil, all things have light, even evil has light. And if you see this light, you can move through evil without getting tripped up, and you can move through good without being tripped up. If you encounter good and you can't see the light of good, you can get hung up on it. If you encounter evil, of course, and you don't see the light of it, you can get tripped up on it. If you encounter a person and you don't see their light, you can get tripped up in your relationship with them, and so on. So the spiritual light's not the same as ordinary light, but it's not separate. The spiritual light is the nature of ordinary light.


Ordinary light is ordinary light, but also ordinary light is, you know, also mysterious and has this true nature, which is light. But ordinary darkness also is mysterious the same way and has a light. So he could see this light, and then he, and then the Nazis, the Nazi army attacked France when he was, like, maybe early teens, and they conquered a good share of it, and he joined the French resistance, and he was very energetic in his resistance to the Nazis' occupation, and he was kind of a leader of the movement, an inspiration to the other people.


But anyway, even though he was blind, they still found out and sent him to concentration camp with the other resistors, resistance fighters. They got sent to the same concentration camps as, for example, Jews and gypsies, but they were treated somewhat differently. And through the, oh, well, I'll just finish. And throughout his time in concentration camp, because he was able to stay with this light, he was, you know, a medicine person for all the other prisoners because he could relate to them from this light and even help them find it in prison. So they were in this terrible situation, but he saw this light, and he was therefore in a position to help his fellow sufferers.


He could see the light in the horror of being in prison. And one thing he realized early, actually, quite early, was that he would lose the light if he became angry or afraid. And by angry I think he means inappropriately angry. Inappropriate, unskillful anger and fear. Then he would lose it. He would get distracted. He didn't mention if he became greedy for something, that he would lose it. Maybe that wasn't his problem. You can imagine that it would be easy to slip into fear and anger if you lost your sight. And he did, occasionally, I guess. He verified that when those states arose in him,


he would lose his vision of the light. So again, I'm proposing to you that this light of things is all around us all the time. It's coming towards us. It's emanating from us. And wisdom beholds this light. So Buddha's wisdom gives off light and Buddha's wisdom beholds the light. And part of what opens us to this light is being willing to give up our ordinary life and ordinary darkness. Give up our ordinary vision.


During this retreat, I propose the following schedule. I propose that we have a meeting now. And then tomorrow morning, I propose that we offer periods of meditation starting at 6.30 in this room. And so a period of sitting meditation, a period of walking meditation, a period of sitting meditation. And then we'll have a little break and then we can have some discussion. So that would be between 6.30 and 10, we do those things here. That would be our second session. I propose that this be our first session. That would be our second session. And then we have breakfast, our brunch, excuse me, over at the main building.


And then come back here at 11 to have our third session from 11 to 1. And then another break, a longer break from 1 to 2.30. And then have another session from 2.30 to 5.00. And a break for dinner until 7.00. And have our fifth session. So, first one starts at 6.30, second one starts at 10, third one starts at, no, second one starts at 11, third one starts at 2.30, fourth one starts at 7.00. No, second one starts at 1.00. Oh, so 1.00. Tomorrow morning is 2.00. At 11.00 is 3.00. At 2.30 is 4.00.


And then 7.00 tomorrow night is 5.00. And then next morning, 6.30, will be 6.00. And we have breakfast earlier that day, so then we have 10.00 on Sunday. We have our seventh meeting. So, seven meetings in this room. Schedule will be out on the table. And there'll be a schedule on the table. So, and, yeah, and I request you to let me know if you're not going to come to something, if you could please. Let me know directly, face-to-face, or give me a note, or you could also tell my assistant, Catherine, that you're going to not be here for a session, if you would please. As an exercise in something or other, what would it be? An exercise in,


a feedback, exercise in feedback. I want to talk about feedback as a tool, as a practice to open to the light. Anyway, I want you to know that now that you're here, your comings and goings mean something to me. I'm not trying to control you. I just want you to know that you affect me now in a way that you didn't before you started this retreat. So, if you want to do something other than be here, I appreciate you letting me know. Okay? Thank you. Yes? Yes? A little louder? Okay. Well, I could also do this.


Does that help at all? Does that help at all? And also, I appreciate that, and I also, you could just go like this, or you can speak, but also you can just point like this, and I'll understand what that means for me to speak up. Okay? It's partly the quality. Is that better now, do you think? Huh? Should I try a little higher even? Is that better? Is it? Okay. Well, thank you. Yes? Okay.


He had my permission. Does he have your permission to record these talks? He does? Okay. If people would like copies of it later, I guess, we could have a sign-up list. Okay. All right. Thank you, Paul. Thank you. Let's see. I offered in the announcement for this weekend,


and I feel fine in trying to follow through on the offer, to bring up Buddha's teachings on the precepts of compassion, suffering, moral cause and effect, and also Buddha's teachings on everything. Another way to put it is, Buddha's teachings on the true nature of precepts of compassion, the true nature of suffering, the true nature of moral cause and effect, the true nature of everything, and the true nature of everything is that everything is light. But Buddha doesn't just say that the true nature of everything is light.


Buddha says other things about phenomena, and in talking about phenomena, it may help us open to the true nature, open to the light of all things. I recently read a review of a television show based on a radio show, and the radio show was called This American Life, and now there's television shows being made on this. But there was one of the things that the reviewer said that we're actually going to talk about One feels that one should speak in the third person when talking about this American life, because one feels that if one is critical at all of this American life, one will experience perhaps being attacked by those who are lovers of the show.


So one speaks in the third person for safety purposes. But one has to make a living, so one writes this article. And one has heard from the person who created the show that the structure of the show is basically the structure of a sermon. And then the reviewer said, when I heard that, I realized what was bothering me about the show is that I felt like it was like the sledgehammer and I felt like meaning was being forced into my mind by the comments on the stories. And I thought, well, is that what a sermon is? And I think a sermon could be that, where someone's telling you the meaning of things. But I don't want to do that. Because I don't want to speak to you in a way


that I'm putting meaning into your head. What do I want to do? I want to encourage you to find the meaning in everything. So I'm more into trying to help you find the meaning of all events, rather than tell you what it is. And there is a possibility, like this weekend, or even this evening, that you may actually open to the meaning of things. Because the meaning of things is available. And then another meaning, one of the meanings in the dictionary,


the meaning of sermon, which is listed, is a religious discourse delivered as part of a church service. And another meaning of it is an often lengthy and tedious speech. And it says, of reproof or exhortation. And I thought, of course I do not mean, at this point so far anyway, to deliver a tedious speech of reproof. It could happen someday, but right now I don't feel like it. And I wondered, how about exhortation? Exhortation, I thought, I want to encourage people. But how about exhort? And I looked up exhort, and the root of exhort is to encourage, or to urge. But I don't want to urge you to do something you don't want to do. But I do want to urge you to do what you do want to do.


And so what do you want? So you might want pleasure. Do I want to encourage you to want pleasure? I don't want to encourage you to want pleasure. I do want to encourage you to be aware if you want pleasure. I want to urge you to be aware of your desire for pleasure. My desire for pleasure, your desire for pleasure, is basically motivated by the delusion that pleasure will give you relief from suffering. In our delusion we sometimes think that some pleasure might give us relief from suffering. And I would say that it doesn't give us relief from suffering, but it might distract us from it for a while.


And distraction from suffering might almost seem like relief. But it's not actually relief, it's just distraction. It's postponing the work of facing our suffering. And the work of facing our suffering is to see the light in the suffering. Once we face it, we have a chance to see the light in the suffering. Because suffering has light, just like everything else does. Then we can see the truth of suffering, the true nature of suffering. And seeing the true nature of suffering is happiness. I don't exactly want to urge you to be happy. And I don't want to urge you to want to be happy. I just want to urge you to do what you need to do in order to be happy, because you do want to be happy.


And happiness is relief from suffering. Because happiness is, even if you're in pain, you see the true nature of suffering, and we're very happy to see the truth of anything, and in particular the truth of suffering. I would like to encourage you to face suffering, and to face it in such a way that you're open to its truth, to its true nature. And so we have sitting and walking meditation, and we also have lots of other opportunities during the weekend. But in particular, during the sitting and walking meditation


is a good time to practice sitting and walking meditation. And the way I would suggest you practice during the sitting and walking is, I suggest you practice sitting wholeheartedly. So what's it like to practice sitting wholeheartedly? Well, it's like you're sitting, you're in the sitting posture, either on the ground or in a chair, you're sitting and you're giving your whole heart to the sitting that you're doing. Or you're standing and you give your whole heart to the standing. Or you're walking and you give your whole heart to the walking. And what's it like to give your whole heart to the sitting?


Well, it's to give yourself to the sitting, pretty much period. Now, if you gave yourself halfway, it's maybe not a period. If you give half of yourself to the sitting, it's like, well, how about the other half? But if you give your whole self to it, it's pretty much that's the end of the sitting. That's the end of the story for the moment. It's the end of the story. In other words, you don't give yourself to the sitting expecting something. So you sit in a moment, here I am sitting, that's it. Here I am sitting, I'm not expecting anything for this. Here you are sitting. Now how about, you are sitting here, right? How about sitting here without expecting anything? Just for the moment, without expecting anything. Without expecting reward for being a meditator.


Just wholeheartedly sit. Since you're sitting. As you're sitting. For your sitting. And this way of wholeheartedly sitting, of giving yourself completely to what you're doing at the moment, in that giving, you're basically starting to open to the light. I might or might not have the occasion to remind you to be this way, to practice this way. But you're welcome to remind yourself to sit and walk.


Giving yourself completely to the sitting and walking. That's kind of basic. Now we could add to this a little bit if you'd like. This is optional. When you're sitting and walking, you might also basically give yourself to your sitting, give yourself to your walking, but also give yourself to the breathing, give yourself to your breathing. But again, give yourself to your breathing, without expecting anything. Be that way with your body and your breath, when sitting and walking and standing. Or even reclining. Some of you might be reclining in meditation. It's possible to meditate in any posture.


Four basic ones are sitting, standing, walking, and reclining. Those are the four basic ones. And meditation can be done in any of the four. The Buddha, the historical Buddha, practiced meditation in those four. There are statues of the Buddha practicing meditation in those four. There aren't too many statues of the Buddha leaning over to pick up a rock, or the Buddha swinging from a tree, or the Buddha sitting on the toilet, or the Buddha, I don't know what, crawling out of the bath, or the Buddha washing her feet. But those things happened. And in those postures too, the Buddha was wholeheartedly being in those postures without expecting anything. And therefore the Buddha is giving off


and receiving the light, which is always being given off and received, the light of our true nature. Maybe that's enough for starters on the meditation. Yes, Salvi? Pardon? Well, the one that the Buddha recommended was the posture of reclining. Lying on your right side. And with your head propped up a little bit. And maybe with your right hand


kind of under your neck or under your head. In the last few years I've been having trouble reclining on my right side. Some problem with my shoulder. It doesn't work so well to recline on my right side. So I've been reclining on my left side. Or reclining on my back. Sometimes it doesn't work for my shoulder. So I wouldn't be strict about whether it's right or left side. But if you see statues of Buddha, usually on his right side. And he usually recommended that. There is an advantage to the right side. One of the advantages is that your heart is up on top. Rather than you're lying on your heart. But if you have shoulder problems like me, it might not work to do on the right side. You can also be on your back. But it's a little bit more alert to be on your side. Also your breathing is a little easier.


Your diaphragm goes in and out on the side a little bit more easier than when you're on your back. So it's slightly better in certain ways. But the point is, whatever posture you're in, there is a possibility of wholeheartedly giving yourself to the posture. Now, I said maybe that's enough, but I thought of something else I wanted to say about this. Not only give yourself, in this practice, not only give yourself completely to what you're doing, with no expectation. Give yourself to inhaling with no expectation. Give yourself to exhaling with no expectation.


Not only that, but also give the inhaling to the inhaling and give the exhaling to the exhaling. Not only give yourself to everything, but give everything to everything. It's just another dimension of wholeheartedly sitting, wholeheartedly being present, as you actually give everyone to everyone. You give everybody to themselves. Give yourself to yourself. Give your posture to your posture. Give your breathing to your breathing. And give everybody else to themselves, with no expectation. Make everything you do a gift,


and make everyone else a gift. Again, this is a meditation to open to the light. We don't have to make the light, we just have to open to it. And then, if we're open to it, we may be able to see it. However, it is possible, I feel, to be open to it and not yet see it. And if we're open to it but don't yet see it, we'll still be kind of a little bit unhappy, or quite unhappy. It's possible.


There's a poem about this, which goes, this leaky, tumble-down grass hut left opening for the moon. Light? Now I gaze at it. Now I see it. All the while, it was reflected in the teardrops fallen on my sleeves. If we don't see the light, we may cry in pain and sorrow from not seeing it.


And in every tear that falls, the light is shining in the teardrop. But we don't see the light, and we don't see that it's shining in the teardrops that we shed because we don't see the light, but it is. The light is shining on us all the time. But even after we're open to it and let it in, and actually we are open to it, and we are letting it in, unless we kind of get with the openness program, we may not see that we're letting it in. We are letting it in. We are open to it, but somehow we have to practice being open to it. Otherwise we won't realize that we're open to it. And if we don't realize we're open to it, even though it's shining right into us and shining out of us, we won't realize it. So one way of opening to it is just to be here,


completely be here, moment by moment. That's it. Which means be here moment by moment. That's it means without expecting anything from the practice. Of course you will get something from the practice. And you already are getting something. But if we get distracted by trying to get something, we'll miss that we're already getting it. Now maybe that's enough. So now I would like to suggest that we do walking meditation.


And then follow that with some sitting meditation. And see if you can practice these, I hope, simple instructions. Simple but completely demanding, completely requesting. These instructions are completely requesting you to give everything to what you're doing. With no expectation. Couldn't ask for more, because they're asking for everything. And you have everything to give, so the request is please give everything to your walking and your sitting, with no expectation. With the also additional understanding that you are opening to the light of wisdom. Opening to let it shine out of you and into you in this practice. And when you're walking,


it might be helpful for you to be aware of whether you're inhaling or exhaling. Just tune in to noticing. Maybe before you start moving, when you stand up, before you start moving, noticing, check out whether you're inhaling or exhaling. And get yourself in a position where you have your you're standing on two feet. Everybody here is a biped. You're standing on two feet, and when you stand on two feet, then put most of your weight on one of the foot, one of your feet. Put most of the weight on one of your feet, so that the other foot can step. So I would suggest when you stand up, position yourself with one foot a little ahead of the other one. Put most of your weight on the front foot, and then check out your breathing. And notice when you're inhaling and exhaling. And then when you notice you're exhaling, when you're ready, step on the exhale.


And then notice the inhale. And as you notice the inhale, shift your weight onto the lead foot again. And when you notice exhale, step. So, tune into your breathing, give yourself to your breathing, give yourself to your posture, give yourself to your walking, in this way. And I request that you walk in a circle, and it can be more than one circle, around the perimeter of the room, clockwise. Okay? So, would you please do walking meditation now?