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.

AI Summary: 



I think I mentioned earlier that I proposed that spiritual light and physical light are not separate. And meditating on physical light might help us realize spiritual light, and vice versa. And I wanted to begin by mentioning, so again, the mind and nature are interrelated, but mind isn't the same as spirit, and it's not separate from it. Meditating on the relationship between mind and nature is one of the opportunities for realizing wisdom.


And I drew on the board a circle with a line going on it, which represents a light beam passing near the sun, and its path being sort of bent around the sun. So, for some time, people thought light traveled in straight lines. And also there's a kind of geometry called Euclidean geometry, founded by a Greek person named Euclid. And in Euclidean geometry, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But then they developed another kind of geometry, not too long, I think in the late 19th century,


they developed another kind of geometry called non-Euclidean geometry, in which the shortest distance between two points is no longer a straight line, not necessarily. And Einstein predicted that a light wave passing near a massive object would bend around the object, because when light travels, or when light propagates, it needs time to do so. In other words, light travels through not just space, but it travels through space-time. But space-time gets bent by massive objects. So, if light tried to pass by a massive object and keep going in the same direction, straight,


it would have a very hard time, because it would be going against space-time. It would be going against the shape of space-time. And light cannot have a hard time. Light having a hard time isn't light anymore. Or I should say, light can have a hard time, but it has to have an equal hard time. The difficulty it has is constant. It always moves at a certain speed, it never slows down. So, it has to find a path by which it can keep moving at its normal, constant, high speed. So, when it comes around a massive object, the only place it can go at its top speed is to go with space-time, which has been bent.


In other words, light moves in a path that takes the least time, not the least distance. So, we have that situation in our life. Should we go from Green Gulch, the shortest distance, which will take a really long time, or should you go on a road where you can go much faster? And then another story about this is that there was like 2,500, 3,000 years ago, there was a Daoist, perhaps semi-mythical Daoist figure named Zhuangzi. Two founders, the two historical or legendary founders of Daoism,


of the Daoist tradition are Laozi, who wrote the Tao Te Ching, and Zhuangzi, who wrote, not wrote, but whose words have been recorded as the Zhuangzi. So, one of the stories is about, I think it's, I think the title of the section is called The Art of Life, or The Art of Happiness, or something like that. And it's about, I think, some aristocrat talking to a butcher, or Zhuangzi talking about some butcher who worked for some lord. And this butcher said, you know, most people's knives last for whatever, two months or something. But I've had this knife for 19 years or something, and it's still sharp.


And the reason why it's still sharp is because when I slaughter animals, I don't cut through the flesh, I cut through the space between the bones. I always go through the emptiness. And therefore, the animal just falls apart, because I pass through the emptiness, and my knife never gets dull. So, wisdom, the wisdom that can come to a living being, it actually, the place it goes through is it goes through the space. It goes through the easiest path, like light would. It goes through the space, or it goes with the shape that you can move through most quickly.


And that shape is kind of the place in our experience that offers the least resistance. It's where the forces of the way we're made come together in such a way that there's a passageway, like light would go through. And wisdom, the light of wisdom is meditating on this space. In particular, it meditates on the space between the elements of our story. It finds a way, looking at our story, to move through the story without sticking to it. Wisdom is in that light beam, meditating on the space, the spaciousness.


So it moves right through. And so then it looks like things are flying by, so it doesn't attach to things, and things don't attach to it. So, the light of Buddha's wisdom is like going through us and through our stories all day long. It's flowing into us and through us all day long. And so, our opportunity and challenge is to tune into that wisdom, which doesn't belong to us or belong to Buddha.


It's just a type of wisdom that some beings have realized, but that wisdom is just flowing all the time through all formations. And it flows through the emptiness of the formations. And all formations have this quality of being empty. In other words, everything has this quality that you can't find it. And you can't grasp it. Everything is bottomless and vast. But, of course, everything is also chunky. But it has this vast quality that offers lots of space to move through it. And, of course, we also know our bodies actually are mostly space. And there's a way that certain things can go through it,


and other things can't. Other things have to go around it. I feel that a number of you have, many of you here and many other people have become aware that they get stuck on their stories, they get stuck on their intention, they get hung up on their will. But being aware of that sticking point is very useful, because if you can be generous with that sticking point,


you can discover the emptiness right in the sticking point. There's a way through it that can be revealed, that will reveal itself, actually, if you can sit quietly with a story that seems to not have any passageway through it. And the story will eventually just part and say, here's the way through. And then the vision moves through it, or the vision sees the light which moves through it. The highest wisdom is contemplating this way through everything, the most efficient and freest way to be with formations. And we have been, this morning for example,


blessed with the opportunity to sit quietly and enjoy being quite close to this possibility. Being, you know, it's right nearby, just a simple place moving over a little bit to the place where the emptiness is. It's right next to, it's right there close to every form, every feeling, every emotion. There's an emptiness right there too. Let the light through and not be caught. Let the light through and not be caught.


We have a strongly developed discriminating consciousness which wants to grasp things, even though it's heard the teaching about what grasping can't accomplish. The discriminating mind, the grasping mind cannot reach the light of wisdom. But wisdom can illuminate it. But it can't grasp wisdom. One time I left Minnesota to come to California to practice Zen.


The first time I went, I tried to come on a motorcycle. But the motorcycle I had was called a dirt bike. It's a bike, it's called a scrambler, it was called a Honda scrambler. It was built for like riding in hills and stuff like that. It wasn't really built to be on the highway. It wasn't a road bike. So anyway, I tried to drive it to California. Maybe I should tell you all some more about this bike. I bought this bike. It was fairly new when I bought it. And I parked it outside where I was staying. And the next morning I came out and it wasn't there. And I hadn't had time to insure it. And I was a poor college student.


So for about two years I would go to the bank once a month and give them money for the motorcycle that I didn't have. One of my wonderful opportunities. And then after two years I got a message that they found it. And it turns out it had been in storage the whole time. You know, the police found it right away, abandoned. It had been in storage but they read the serial number wrong. And then they tried to charge me for two years of storage. I don't know, somehow I just said, mm-mm, and they accepted that. So then I had my motorcycle back and I fixed it up. It had become, you know, it hadn't been driven for two years. So I got it running again and I tried to fly. And then that coincided with the time that I wanted to go


to Zen Center in San Francisco to learn about Zen and to practice with the community. But it was the springtime of 1968 and I had already been to Zen Center to visit and practice. But then I went back to Minnesota to decide to move there. So I was driving west in the spring winds through the prairies. And the motorcycle just couldn't do it. And I couldn't hear the motorcycle in the wind. So I couldn't run it at the right RPMs. And if you run a vehicle at the wrong RPMs long enough, it just poops out. It kept happening. So I'd drive and it would poop out. I'd drive and it'd poop out. So I turned around with the wind and flew back to Minneapolis.


Yes? What? I took the roads. It's true, I could have gone straight. It probably would have worked better because I would have been going much slower over the mountains. I didn't think of that. But then again, I wasn't enlightened. So, you know. Actually, no, I didn't. I had a long mustache. I had a bald head and mustache. So I went back. Then I bought a Volkswagen bus. And I tried that. I had the same problem with that. I just couldn't. It was a 1958 Volkswagen van and it just didn't have the strength to go against the spring winds.


And I turned. And it's the same problem of not being able to hear the engine. I turned it around and flew back to Minneapolis. I sold. And I sold the van, kept the motorcycle and bought a 1954 Cadillac hearse from a small town in North Dakota. And it was basically in quite good condition. The body was in perfect condition because they just drive them out and back. They're easy on these hearses. A friend of mine gave me the idea. And he said, you can drive it to California and sell it in California because a lot of rock groups want hearses. They're popular vehicles for rock and roll people. Hearses and ambulances and, of course, buses. Anyway, so I put my motorcycle on the back of the hearse


and my dog and went off. And it had a big, powerful Cadillac. It had no problem with the wind. And I had, but still, I did have three major car problems on the way. One, in the middle of the night in Wyoming, the car stopped. And then me and my dog, walking through the landscape in the dark, we finally found a restaurant and got a tow truck. And by the time it was light, we took the car to a garage out in the middle of nowhere. And what happened was the arm, the rod which held the generator to the band, to the, what do you call it? Is it a band or a belt? That turns the, you know, that keeps the battery going. It had come loose so the generator wasn't charging the battery,


so the battery died. So they fixed that. And then, I don't know exactly what happened, but then something went wrong with the carburetor, like in Utah. And I, again, found some place to fix it. I was spending most of my money on these repairs, found a car to fix it, I mean, a place to fix it. But in the process of fixing the carburetor, they got a little bit of tiny little metal fragments in the carburetor. So then the carburetor still wasn't working properly. And so I got in a situation where if I stopped the car, it took me a really long time to get started again. So I tried not to stop the car. And I drove that way a long time, not stopping the car. And particularly, I was trying to get to Salt Lake City. And I went into Salt Lake City,


and I knew that if I stopped the car, like stop at a stop sign, that that would be the end of it. Then I'd have to get, I wouldn't be able to get to a garage. So I drove into Salt Lake City without stopping. So I didn't go in a straight line. I went in a line where I wouldn't have to stop. I just, you know, it's just, you know, amazing what happened. So I'd be driving, you know, and if there was a stop sign, not a stop sign, a sign that said, stop light, I would either have to turn right or left because I was not about to stop. Now, if there's cars up there at the sign, I wouldn't be able to turn right and left because they'd be in my way.


So then I'd have to turn someplace else, which I did. I'd either make a U-turn or go into a driveway. And I drove around like that and survived. Like I'd drive into, you know, into drive-ins, drive around and around until I saw a way to get out. Drive through gas stations, drive into parking lots for grocery stores, drive in, drive around, then go out. And I just kept driving until I saw a garage. And then I drove into the garage, stopped the car, and it died. And they fixed the car, and it cost more to fix it than the money I had. But they were kind and just accepted all the money I had. And that's the place where they found these little metal filings which happened when they were fixing the carburetor out in Utah.


They found these metal filings, and it took them a long time to find them and blow them out of the carburetor. But then I had no money, so I had to wire back to Minnesota to get some money, and then I went the rest of the way to California. So this is like... I said that because I went the path, not the straightest path, I went the path where there was no traffic congestion. And that's where wisdom goes. It goes where there's no congestion. It's with the light of the space between things. And there's a flow there. And the light circulates, the wisdom circulates, in, through, and everything. It's flowing all the time. And this wisdom is what is the main point of what the Buddhas are about, is to show people this wisdom


and help people awaken to it and enter it. This wisdom light that's all the time flowing everywhere, through all of us. But we have habits of... the discriminating mind grasps things, like it grasps good and grasps evil, rather than the non-discriminating wisdom, which passes right between the two, which passes between their interdependence and their ungrasp... It passes in the space where you can't grasp good and evil, which is right in the relationship between good and evil. There's a space there in good, and there's a space in evil, and the space in good and evil is due to their relationship. If things existed on their own, there would be no space, but they don't, so there is. So looking at good and evil is an important topic


because good and evil is a place where we grasp tightly, so you can tell when you're not grasping anymore because you're usually grasping so tight, that if you give a little loosening there, you can feel like, Oh, wow, I wasn't totally freaked out about that evil. So again, generosity with these phenomena get us ready to open to the spaciousness of them, and then we don't deny good and evil, we just find the way to flow through them, through them and beyond them, and then back into them to test again to see if we can see the light flowing through. So we flow into and out of constantly, and this is actually one of the things that Linji said, Linji, you know that guy? That guy you're like? He said, there's a true person of no rank,


and all day long this person is moving into and out of your five or six sense doors, moving into you and out of you, through your eyes, through your ears, this true person is moving there. One more. And, you know, Albert Einstein, somebody who meditated on physical life, physical light, and I think he developed wisdom by meditating on this physical light. He mostly just sat there, you know, by himself,


inwardly meditating on physical light, and he had some experiences where he found the spiritual light, I think. He found the space between the stories which physicists were telling about light, where they were stuck on that, and he found some space there where his mind could pass through into other realities. And when he found those places, he was very happy. He was very happy to see the truth. But even Albert Einstein, after that period of happiness where he found the space, the spaciousness of light, and found how light and nature


are actually free of all the stories he grew up with and all the stories of all the other brilliant physicists around him, even he, after some years, had trouble continuing in the practice, and he kind of got a little bit bogged down in his stories. So even a person who achieves wisdom has to keep practicing. You have to keep practicing, even if you have wisdom. Otherwise, you lose it. He still, you know, was a great guy, but he wasn't any longer tuned into that real happy place, and he wasn't as happy as he was during those times when he was actually able to have the concentration necessary to not be caught by his own stories or the stories of Western physics.


Nobody taught him how to meditate like that in the first place. It was just his, I don't know, his intense interest in studying. He was given the gift of really being interested in a lot of stuff. And that interest freed him from discriminating consciousness, freed him from the consciousness which grabs dark objects. So one of the teachings of Suzuki Roshi, which I often mention, is that non-discrimination is not not to discriminate. So sometimes people think that they shouldn't discriminate between good and evil. But that thought is another discriminating thought. The thought, I shouldn't discriminate,


is a discriminating thought. Non-discrimination, Suzuki Roshi said, non-discrimination doesn't mean not discriminating, it means to study everything. When you study everything, not when you think of studying everything, but when you actually study everything, that's non-discrimination. You study men, you study women, you study adults, you study children, you study black people, you study yellow people, you study white people, you study red people, you study trees, you study light, you study pain, you study pleasure, you study good, you study bad, you study war, you study peace. When you're that way, that's non-discrimination. And when you have non-discriminating wisdom, you're interested in everything. Or, when you're interested in everything,


you're open to non-discriminating wisdom. But discrimination, people are a little bit more interested in good than evil, or vice versa. They don't give equal attention to both. And they also don't give equal attention to their non-duality. So again, being generous with every experience is pretty much non-discrimination. And through non-discrimination, by giving your wholehearted attention and study of everything, that's the same as being generous with everything.


Giving yourself completely to everything, you will realize that everything is giving itself to you, and everything is giving you life, rather than just some things are giving you life. Another expression is, I think it's in one of those books that have my name on it, it's a story about George Washington Carver. And when he was a little boy, he used to go out in the woods, and just walk around and see the woods. And then at some point, he developed this kind of nursery for sick plants. And I heard that all the women in his area would bring him their sick plants, and he would heal them and give them back to them. He loved to heal sick plants. And some women would say, he was still a little boy, I don't know what age, but pretty young,


to have this gift of healing these plants. And they said, where did you get this from? And he said, well, I just go out in the forest and I love everything. And the plants give me their secrets. So if you love your stories, all your stories, if you go out into the woods and the forest of your stories, and you love them all, they will give you their secret. They will tell you how to pass through them, how not to be caught. Don't do that with us, do this. Don't try it that way, hold it, do it this way. Let us help you. Don't try to do it by yourself. If you're generous with things, they will tell you, don't do this by yourself, let us help you. And let us help you do it a way other than the way you wanted to do it. And since you're so generous,


you're probably listening to that. Yes, I am, you're right. So we're going to make you into somebody you didn't used to think you were. Okay? Okay. So, wholeheartedly give yourself to each moment, wherever you are, and with no expectation. Something will happen always, but you don't know what it will be, and you have no expectation, or rather, you're giving away your expectations all the time. And you may have judgments, but you give your judgments away. Here's my judgment of you.


Here's my judgment of you. I'm giving it away. Giving it to you and giving it to the whole world. I'm not holding my judgment. Or, if I have a judgment of you, I'm studying my judgment of you. I'm studying it. I'm studying it. I'm studying it. And in that study, I will let go of it. I'm not trying to get it and prove it, I'm trying to understand it. But in the context of trying to understand everything else, too. Otherwise, I'll get too focused. My study will get too tight around it. So, non-discriminating wisdom, excuse me, discriminating wisdom cannot grasp reality. Because reality is not enclosed by discriminating wisdom.


But we do have discriminating consciousness, which is trying to grasp things. And you can watch it try to grasp things. And as you meditate on it and watch it, and see how it can't grasp reality, when you understand that, you will release the discriminating consciousness. The discriminating consciousness will be released. And then you will open to non-discriminating wisdom, which can let reality in. It can't grasp reality either. It just lets it in and it just enters it. It enters into that relationship, which is available all the time. Gatte, gatte, paragatte, parasamgate, bodhisvaha,


gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond, welcome enlightenment, welcome Buddha's wisdom. So that's my morning introduction to practice, which is available now for you to enjoy, studying everything, learning about everything, including learning your stories that you superimpose on everything. And now it's, you know what, breakfast time.


And then the Mount Madonna staff is asking you to, in the next hour and a half, move your stuff out of your rooms to someplace else. I guess so they can clean your rooms for some next guests. And then after that, please come back here around 10 o'clock if you could. All right? Thank you very much. Are you okay, Leon? You look consternated. Thank you for showing me that.