Meditation on Great Compassion

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A virtual Dharma talk by Tenshin Roshi for an online gathering of the No Abode community

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Today, I am here to continue the practice of great compassion, to continue the meditation of great compassion, Buddha's compassion, Bodhisattva compassion. So again, I situate our practice at the center of all suffering beings, for each of us to take our seat there, or take our seat here, at the center of all suffering beings.


And pay homage to great compassion, to praise great compassion, to practice great compassion. Great compassion protects and liberates all living beings. It's the ongoing process of protecting, respecting, caring for, liberating living beings. It is the practice of the Bodhisattva precepts. Great compassion is being intimate with all living beings.


That's what it is. In this intimacy, this compassion understands that self and other are the same. It listens to the cries of the world. It observes all living beings and understands that all beings are the same as self. This understanding helps people. This compassion, which understands others are our self. No separation. This liberates beings. Listening in this way, observing in this way, observing the many kinds of suffering in this world, in this way.


This compassion responds appropriately to each living being. At the center of the world of suffering, freedom from suffering, freedom with suffering, peace and harmony are realized. This is nirvana, to realize intimacy with all beings. Nirvana is to realize that and to be at peace with it and harmonize with it and liberate it all.


Of course, it is a great, great challenge to be intimate with all suffering beings. With all of our personal pain and with all the pain we see in the world. To be intimate with all harm. To be intimate with all cruelty. And through this intimacy, respond appropriately. So, I am at the center and you are at the center. And I am responding and you are responding to all living beings. And recently, someone said to me, I don't see you saying that in some situations we need to intervene to stop harm.


You seem to avoid saying that we should intervene to stop harm. And I thought, oh, and I think you do that because you are trying to teach great compassion. And I would say, yes. I don't hear myself saying you need to intervene in order to stop harm. I don't hear myself saying that. I also don't hear myself saying you need not to intervene in order to stop evil, to stop harm. I don't hear myself saying that you should or you need to practice great compassion.


I do not find myself feeling the need to tell people what they need to do. I more find myself trying to practice my understanding of Bodhisattva's compassion. And to praise it and to share my understanding with others to see if they would like to practice great compassion too. Generally speaking, I do not hear myself almost ever telling living beings what they need to do, what they should do, what they must do. They sometimes ask me, what do I need to do? What should I do? What must I do? And I want to support them to find out if they want to practice compassion, Bodhisattva compassion and help them do that.


Not tell them that they should. And it's possible that as I try to help people practice great compassion, someone might think that I'm intervening. It's possible someone might think that I'm intervening. I might, it's possible I might intervene. But that's different from telling you that you should intervene or not intervene. Or I might not intervene. That's different from telling you that you should not intervene. There's a scripture in the old Pali Canon, and it's called, I think, Prince Abhaya. And the Buddha is having a conversation with this prince. This Prince Abhaya has invited the Buddha to come and have lunch at his palace.


And the Buddha accepted the invitation. And I guess after the prince serving the Buddha with her own hands, the prince served the Buddha with her own hands. And after the Buddha had enough to eat, the prince asked the Buddha, Does the blessed one sometimes speak in an unwelcome and disagreeable way to others? Does the gentle, compassionate Buddha sometimes speak in unwelcome and disagreeable ways to others? And the Buddha said, there's not a one-sided answer to that question. And at that time, the king, the prince had a baby in his lap.


And the Buddha said to the prince, Now, prince, if that child should put a pebble or a stick in its mouth and it gets stuck there, what would you do? And the prince said, I would take it out right away. And if I couldn't get it out right away, I would take the baby's head in my left hand. And with my right hand and a crooked finger, I would reach in and pull the stick or the pebble out of the mouth. Even if it drew blood, I would do this to get that stick out of the baby's mouth. And why would I do this? Because of my compassion.


For the child. That's what the prince said to the Buddha. And then the Buddha said. If something is not true. And not beneficial. And not welcome or agreeable to others. Did you get that? If something's untrue, not beneficial, and disagreeable, the Buddha will not speak it. If something is true and beneficial. If something's true, but not beneficial, and agreeable, and welcome, the Buddha will not speak it.


If something is untrue and beneficial, and it's agreeable, and welcome, the Buddha will not speak it. If something is true, and beneficial, and unwelcome, and disagreeable, the Buddha knows when to say it. The Buddha knows the right time. If something is true, and beneficial, and welcome, and agreeable, the Buddha knows the right time.


Once again, if something is true, and beneficial, but unwelcome, and disagreeable, the Buddha knows the right time. The Buddha will only speak what is true and beneficial. Whether it's welcome or not, they'll only speak those things. But it doesn't mean that the Buddha will speak everything that is true and beneficial. The Buddha knows when to speak it, even if it's unwelcome. And the Buddha did speak some things that were unwelcome on some occasions. Disagreeable things were said by the Buddha to living beings, because they were true and beneficial.


Not because they were welcome or unwelcome, but because they were true and beneficial, and it was the right time. Great compassion makes the appropriate response. It knows when and how. When we are intimate with living beings, they are liberated. When we are with all kinds of suffering, and we embrace the suffering, and practice the six perfections of generosity, ethical discipline, patience, diligence,


then we can practice concentration and wisdom with suffering beings. And today I offer something I've offered before, which is six, not the six perfections, but six aspects of developing intimacy and liberating beings. The first step is, again, compassion. The first step is practicing generosity with suffering beings, with our internal suffering beings, and with so-called other suffering beings.


We practice compassion in the form of giving. This is the first bodhisattva practice, and it's the first step in becoming intimate with suffering. We welcome it. We open ourselves to it. We are respectful of it. And then we practice being very careful with it. Not killing the suffering, not trying to get some other thing than what's being given to us.


Beholding nothing other than what is here. And then we practice patience with the suffering, which again is to be in the present with this suffering. If we can do this, we do not in the least bit overlook or disregard or avoid the suffering. We're completely with it. And if we're completely with it, there is the possibility of relaxing with it. This is the second stage. The first stage is to respect it and settle with it. And the first sign that we've really settled is that we allow ourselves to be with it and relaxed with it.


So this is a key point here. I'm suggesting that to be intimate with the suffering and the intimacy with suffering is the liberation of the suffering. That the intimacy requires not running away from it, not turning away from it, not touching it, but just being completely with it. And a sign that we're completely with it is that we can relax with the pain. The tensing up separates us somewhat from the pain or being somewhat separated from the pain, there's a tension there. And we cannot actually relax with the pain unless we're close to it. And we are close to it.


We are all day long close to it. I'm close to it. I'm close to it. I'm close to it and I'm close to it. You're close to it. You're close to it. You're surrounded by it. All the suffering. Are you ready to relax with it? The realization of intimacy with the suffering, which is great compassion and liberation, requires that we relax with it. We soften with it. If we can be relaxed, then we can enter the next aspect of intimacy. We can be playful with the suffering.


It's still suffering, but we're relaxed with it and we can play with it. And this play, you could say, is serious. But it's not so serious that we aren't relaxed and playful. A serious, a sincere, a sincere play. And if we can be close, which means generous, tender, respectful, patient. If we can be close with these practices and we can relax and be playful with the pain, we can be creative with it.


Or we can enter into the creativity of self and other. We can enter into how self and other is a creative process. And when we enter this creative process, we will understand what suffering is. And in this understanding of what it is, suffering beings are liberated. Embracing all suffering beings as much as we can. Feel that we're really there giving ourselves to the embrace of all living beings. And then check it out. Am I relaxed with it? Am I trying to, you know, be in the future a little bit or when it's over?


Be in the past how it used to be? Am I really here? And am I relaxed with this, with these terrible things? Great compassion relaxes with them in order to benefit beings. It responds to them in a relaxed way. It responds to them in a playful, creative way. In a way that is understanding and expresses understanding and liberates. I was inspired to bring this up by reading an old New Yorker article about the poet Wallace Stevens. A person who suffered greatly. And yet in the midst of his great suffering, his great depression,


there emerged somehow a great creative mind and a great creative heart. And the person who wrote the article said that the story of Wallace Stevens demonstrates T.S. Eliot's principle of the separation of the suffering person and the creative person. And I thought, well, that's a good opportunity for me to say it differently. It demonstrates how the creative person is living at the center of the suffering person. And there's no real creative person who is not situated at the center of suffering.


They're not separate. They're mutually including. We've all got the suffering person and suffering people. Now, at the center of it, we will discuss, we'll discover the creative person who understands suffering and liberates it. Together with all the beings that she lives with. So Wallace Stevens says, one must have the mind of winter. No, a mind of winter. One must have a mind of winter. And then later he says, speaking of the wind, for the listener who listens


in the snow, who nothing in themselves beholds nothing that is not here, nothing that is not here. And the nothing that is in the midst of suffering. We listen. We listen to it all. And we behold nothing that is not here. And we discover the nothing that is. We discover reality of suffering. So now I welcome the Great Assembly to


bring forth your great compassion. And and that includes everything. Bring it on. Great Assembly. Our first offering is from Dawu and Tim. So my first question is one thing that I had learned previously about right speech and when you were telling the story about the Buddha and sort of what he was saying about speech, it made me think of this. So I remember those three things that you said. you mentioned that beneficial and true and timely.


And then I remembered a fourth one, which is kind and actually beneficial and kind. Yeah. So then the question came up for me because in some way the question was about you were saying, even if it's unwelcome and even if it's disagreeable in some way, I'm not sure if those are different. So then it kind of brought up this question for me. What is what is kind speech? Because I understand sometimes it has to be strong or firm or difficult for someone to receive. So, yeah, that's my question first. Yeah. So like the finger reaching into the mouth, if it can get to stick out easily, fine, but maybe it can't. And it might seem that it might seem harsh or rough.


But it's kind, it's an expression of compassion, but it might look fierce or intense or rough. And so there's many stories about this on people acting not like Shakyamuni Buddha did, but once in a while, Shakyamuni Buddha was kind of a little bit harsh in disagreeing with people sometimes. But it's always it's always beneficial. If it's not going to be beneficial, he doesn't do it or she doesn't do it. And in this place at the center, when you have realized creativity and understood, you know, what has been, you know, this, this compassion knows what's beneficial, even if it takes a rough form. You can see that this is a creative, a mutual creative process of liberation. But it may be part of becoming free,


maybe, maybe receiving something that's disagreeable. So are you saying that beneficial and kind. Are. Are meant to be the same thing or that kind brings an additional kind of intention of. I think I think it says I think it actually says beneficial and kind in some translations, beneficial and kind, but beneficial doesn't always look agreeable, is not always welcome, something of beneficial speech is not. People may think it's not not kind. But the target knows. That it is beneficial and will say it at the right time. But other people, when they first. When they see it before the benefit is manifested, they might think that doesn't look kind. And so if I think something's beneficial, but I feel like it won't be welcome.


Part of knowing the right time might be for me to think about, you know, contemplate, is it really beneficial? I may have to work on that for a while before it's the right time. The Buddha may be gets to that place more quickly, but even the Buddha who has arrived at clarity, this is beneficial, still has to wait. So I think it's beneficial, but I'm not sure. So I made part of my timing issue might be to question whether it really is beneficial. So this questioning of is it beneficial is part is part of the process of of being careful of ethics, questioning whether I have something to say, I think it's beneficial, but I feel I question myself. And also, I might ask a friend. What do you think of this? Do you think it would be beneficial? To to question what I think is beneficial,


to question what and also what I think is true, to question it. So part of settling in with suffering is to question whether we're settled in with suffering. Like someone might say to you, you know, you know, Dawu, I'm completely settled with my suffering. And you might say, oh, really? That's amazing. And then they might realize that they weren't, you know, that your your questioning of them made them feel like, oh, yeah, I don't want to hear that, I'm not, you know. Are you being sarcastic, aren't you? And I don't like that, so. But if I keep it to myself, then you can't say, oh, congratulations. And again, there's many stories of I'm doing great and the teacher says, oh, congratulations, and the student realizes what they were overlooking. But if they hadn't, if they hadn't put that forth and allowed


themselves to be questioned in a perhaps ironic way, they wouldn't realize that they hadn't really arrived with, you know, fully with their suffering. They're still resisting the first noble truth, so they don't understand it. They don't they don't yet understand suffering, the truth of suffering, because they're resisting it. And they didn't notice they were not relaxed with it until somebody said, good work. Yeah, I've been. So something that I've been suffering about recently is I had gotten this job in Bhutan and had my work permit and then just recently got notice that the government is cracking down on foreign workers in a particular way, and so the job doesn't seem like it's going to be possible.


And so sort of thrown into some feeling of. Disappointment and uncertainty. Sort of this feeling in my like, oh, I really want to contribute. And I thought this was this was my path. And now, you know, I don't know. And there's some kind of despair and concern and, you know, dreams that seem to be saying I want to be my authentic self. But I don't know if I can do it. I don't know it, you know. And one thing I've noticed in this process to as I've been trying to bring bring compassion is there's. Sometimes a little voice saying, well, but. But you're so privileged, like, how can you? This is sort of invalidating, like your suffering is not something that. Is real suffering, like if you were if you were a better Buddhist, you would just,


you know, accept that things are uncertain. And, you know, this is this is your ego being attached to something. And, you know, it's not like somebody died. I can hear this voice. And there's another part of me that's sort of like trying to bring compassion to that that being. That seems, you know, quite. Judgmental and. Yeah, kind of this is a violence in a way. But, yeah, I just that's something that I started to notice is a challenge that comes up. Yeah. That being is important, just as important as the other beings you want to help. And helping that being will help you help the people you want to help,


the other people you want to help, if you skip over that. Those judgmental thoughts, you'll be less able to help others who have different kind of suffering. Or put it positively, if you can take care of your thoughts about how you're going to help others, you'll be less able to help how you're doing in your practice. If you can take care of them, you'll be better able to do the practice you'd like to do. But the practice is really to take care of those, too. Don't skip over your own self judgments. Those are perfectly good sentient beings. Please take care of them. Our next offering is from Peter. Hello, Rob. Hello, Peter.


It's such a blessing to be here with you and with the Great Assembly. I feel very much buoyed by it. I've just had your head. I have been your head. I have been practicing with trying to be present with pain and relaxed with pain and to various degrees of success, I wanted to ask if maybe you could give an example of being playful with pain. Initially with one's own, but of course, it becomes significant to be able to do it with others as oneself. But so how would one go about being playful with one's pain? Well, two things popped in my consciousness when you said that. I didn't put them there. But when you said that to them, they popped in my consciousness. The two things were. Rather, I don't I personally do not try to be relaxed.


I know it's important. And I want to practice it, but I don't try to be I'm more check to see if I am. And if I if I notice that I'm not, then I play with it. I play with the lack of relaxation. In order to realize it and one way to play with it is to notice where am I where am I resisting where am I tense? So actually, we need to relax in order to play. But also, you know, we can find our relaxation by playing with our lack of relaxation by being by being generous towards it. And being present with it and then check out to see. Where am I, where am I clinging, where am I, where am I uptight, where am I self-righteous, so in a way, exploring the lack, the tensions is kind of playful and. In the process, you might discover


the relaxation without making it, it's right there and you discover it. The other thing I thought of was an example, a wonderful example of a child psychologist, actually just a psychologist who is working with children. And he was working with this. This young, this little almost an infant, but anyway, maybe two years old or one year old. Who was really having a hard time having seizures and rashes, just suffering terribly, and the child was brought to him and. He he let the child sit on his lap and the child actually bit him a few times and he he dealt with that, you know. Somehow, kindly. And. And then.


He was relaxed with her. With her biting him. He was relaxed with her suffering. He was embracing her suffering. She she she was not relaxed with her suffering when she met him, but she's after a while, she relaxed enough with her suffering that again, she she maybe continued to bite him. I'm not sure, but her biting became more playful. And. He had these tongue depressors in his. Breast pocket and she pulled the tongue depressors out and started playing with them. And. And so she was still suffering and he was relaxed with her and he was he was supporting her being playful with him, biting and and pulling the tongue depressors out and throwing them around the room. And then.


Was it. Oh, so then she started to play with her feet. And she's doing all this play in his lap, right, and she's relaxed enough to feel like she can sit on his lap, pull his tongue, depresses up, bite his hand a little bit and play with her feet. And so then she pulls her socks off. And then she tries to pull her toes off and she notices that her toes don't come off. And she's just like totally surprised by this wonderful thing of discovering the toe socks come off and toes don't. And. So this kind of a realization that came to her while he was playing with her and she was playing with him. There was enough relaxation in the situation so she could she could enter into some play and discover this and be creative with it and pull off her socks


and then even try to pull her toes off. And then in that process, she had this great realization that toes don't come off. And. She was released from the hospital the next day. And her seizure stopped. Maybe not the next day, but the next day her seizure stopped and within two weeks she was released from the hospital because she found a way to be with her suffering. And with him, he showed her how to be with it. He was with it, he was relaxed with it, he was playful with it so she could relax with it, she could play with it, she could be creative with him and then she could understand and be free. Did you ask for a story or an example? Yeah, yeah, that's what that's an example. Yeah. Thank you, Peter. Our next offering is from Enrique.


Enrique. The poem that you. Talked about at the end, there's one I'm. Very meaningful to me for a long time, I. I grew up in a very cold place, and the poem is called The Snowman, so. I feel like I've lived a good part of my life like a snowman. And I was wondering. If you might connect your understanding of the poem or why you what brought you to invoke that poem for this talk. The thought that occurred to me, the first line and talked about the one must have a mind of winter, and I've spent a lot of time actually


thinking about what kind of mind that is. But I was just wondering if you could just expand on that, if what you thought sees the connection with. The poem and sitting in the midst of something like that. Thank you. So sitting in the midst of suffering. Listening. Listening. In the listening in the snow. Listening to the suffering. Not adding anything to it, not subtracting anything from it. Letting it be what it is. And also nothing in myself, I'm just there's just listening.


There's just observing the suffering. And. Beholding nothing that's not there. I thought that that was where the suffering person, Wallace Stevens, found his creativity and freedom was in being with his suffering that way. And being with our suffering in that way, he calls that the mind of winter. And being with our suffering in that way, we can relax, be playful and creative in the world of suffering and liberate all beings. Our next offering is from Greene.


Good morning. Thank you for your talk this morning, Reb. And I wanted to ask you about, I guess, my experience and more about it. Maybe you could comment on it. I I've had an idea that. When I'm experiencing suffering or I'm aware of pain, I've had an idea. Of meeting it, I think that's the language I've been using is like meeting it. I mean, I have an image in my mind of sitting upright with it, like I've heard you describe. But that meeting still has like a feeling of edge and it still has a feeling that like is defining like self and other.


And then when I heard you speak and say. When you were describing, I think this morning, compassion in the form of generosity, I think I heard you say. Not killing suffering, not trying to get something other than what's been given to us. And I kind of had that thought this morning when I was sitting because I was realizing. I'm I'm meeting the suffering, but I'm still wanting it to be something else. I'm still like I'm trying to meet it, but I'm still thinking maybe if I meet it right, it will change. And then I had this experience where just for a moment when I remembered not to kill it. I felt that it entered my body and like actually entered my heart, and it was kind of like. In some ways, it was like an alive kind of warming sensation,


but in some ways it was a little scary, it was a little disturbing because I felt like actual pain entering my heart and anyway, that was just a little bit of the experience I was going through this morning, and so I wonder if you could speak to any of that and help me. If you excuse the expression, good job. I think you're you're. This this morning, you you to some, even though you didn't necessarily think it, I think you opened and welcomed the suffering. I mean, there was an open and welcoming of the suffering. And the Buddha doesn't exactly experience our pain, but the Buddha experiences the pain,


a pain. The Buddha feels pain for our pain, because the Buddha, because of Buddha's compassion, Buddha feels a pain. One of our suffering and this pain is is a great joy to the Buddha. And the sense of an edge between us is another thing, another sentient being to be open to. So there's you and me and there may be a sense of separation. That's another thought. To be open to and to be generous towards that thought. And maybe to feel the pain of that thought. The thought that we're separate. And then.


Can you welcome that, that thought and that pain, and can you be careful of it? And and just we say not kill it, but another way to say it is. Don't look at anything other than that thought at that moment. And if you're trying to be someplace else. Or some other time or wish for something else, that's also a lack of patience. Patience is with the pain of the separation. It's not thinking about when the pain is going to end. It gives up the thought of when it's going to end. It's with the present suffering. So being with the present suffering is patience. Not leaning into the past suffering. Is patience, not leaning into future suffering is patience, not leaning into


future, no suffering or leaning into the past, no suffering, being present with this one. Is like. Not beholding nothing that's not here. And that patience sets up the possibility of being more thoroughly present with the suffering. And relaxing with it and opening to it even more. And calming down with it. And being playful with it. To some extent, the very fact that you can relate this story is a kind of creative act. In response to the suffering. There's some relaxation and some playfulness in the way you have been working with suffering today. Which entailed feeling some pain. Working with suffering is not in this way, is not trying to avoid the pain.


Trying to avoid the pain is another suffering. Which we want to be present with. Generously. Carefully. Patiently. And then we can be present with it in a relaxed way. Good job. Our next offering is from Isabel and Tilman. Hello, Rev. Hello, Tilman. So I have a question that is, yeah, more to the last


talk you gave or discussion we had a month ago. And in that, I heard you say that because the Bodhisattvas are compassionate with beings, that they also feel pain when there's mundane joy. And they perceive mundane joy or something like that. No, I take that back. Okay. I think Bodhisattvas can accept. I don't think it's so painful when people have mundane joy. It's actually like a child, you know, like the little girl who took off her socks or through the tongue depressor across the room. Those little successes she had. I don't think that's not so painful. What's painful is that because I care for her and she's suffering, I feel the pain of that.


And that pain is transcendent joy. The pain that I feel for you, for your suffering, that's the greatest joy for me. But I also might feel mundane joy if I hear that, you know, you just high jumped six feet or something, you know, or if you fixed your toaster or you fixed your car and you were just so happy to fix it, I might think, oh, that's nice. I'm not. Mundane joy is wonderful. It's just nothing compared to the joy of compassion, which is painful. I don't feel pain when I see a child succeed at something and really enjoy it.


It's a joy to me, too. It's a mundane joy for me to see the child's joy. But there's another but that comes and goes, you know, and I might feel a mundane, but then if the child is unsuccessful and is suffering, if I care for her, I feel pain. And that pain is my great joy, and that doesn't come or go. OK, thank you for clarifying that, because I think that for me, I was sort of yeah, I couldn't get clear how that had some thoughts, but I wasn't really clear if there would be any pain about maybe the temporality of the mundane joy or well, anything on the mundane joy that is potentially pain to the bodhisattva. That's that's another kind of. Yeah, so. When we have a mundane joy and we realize it's temporality,


when we realize this temporality, when we realize it's impermanent, that might be painful for us. That's that's a kind of pain. That's called the pain of joy or the pain of pleasure. That's the pain of pleasure. There's a pain of like. You know, falling down on the ground and breaking your face. That's why that's the pain of pain, if you don't accept it completely, but also joy when you realize this impermanence or that's painful. That's that's not a joy. But if I see myself or someone else feeling suffering because of the pain of the temporality of mundane joy, and then I feel a pain for their pain. That's bodhisattva's joy. The bodhisattvas can also have the joy of a warm shower. The Buddha can have the joy of eating rice.


It's a joy. It's a mundane joy to have the blood sugar come up. It's a joy. We're not against that. We're just not addicted to it. And we're not addicted to our compassion either. So if I'm not trying to get the joy that comes because I care for suffering beings, I'm not trying. I'm not I'm not trying to get the pain that I feel when someone I love is in pain. I'm not trying to get that. And I'm not addicted to it. But it's it but it's the most wonderful thing when it's there. So you don't need to keep suffering to feed my addiction to the spiritual joy of your suffering. It's good to hear.


Thank you very much. Our next offering is from Charlie. Hello, Reb. Hello, Charlie. Thank you. Thank you for this instruction. And I've contemplated this sort of three point test or rubric before opening my mouth for many years. But actually here it's presented as a story of. Of of how the Buddha does it. And I've I've realized that we're not Buddha. And so I think that I thought I have to practice it.


Right. At least I put different words on it in day to day life. For example, is it true? I don't know. Buddha maybe has that wisdom, but I try using is it honest because maybe that's the best I can answer, you know, is I think it's true, like based on on my what I know and feel now. And I guess what I'm doing, I'm asking, may I use these words? Is it honest? Is it helpful? And is it is it time? All three of those, though, I feel like we don't. We don't know and we're guessing, you know, it's so I find a real I find it humbling to try to ask those questions and try to answer those and but I think humbling is good before I open our mouths.


Do you have any other words that you use there to substitute since we don't know the truth and we don't know the perfect time? Like, how do you quickly assess that when you're trying to respond to people like me right now? I'm not I'm not telling you how I'm responding, right, but I am responding to you right now, right? Yeah, but I'm not telling you how I do this. And so here's my here's here's more response. What I'm talking about is the appropriate response. And the appropriate response comes at in the creative process. But the creative process depends on being generous with what's going on with us and being careful with what's going on


with us. So if you if you have some thought. Part of being careful with your thought is to wonder to to wonder if it's true, but also just to question to question, is this true? What I think I feel that. I feel that this is I feel I feel uncomfortable, I feel uncomfortable right now. I don't know if it's true, but I do feel uncomfortable, but I also am I'm open to I'm I'm I'm open to being questioned about my discomfort. I'm not absolutely sure I'm just uncomfortable. But honestly speaking, I feel uncomfortable. But also, I'm somewhat humble about my even my own feelings. My even my own feelings are questionable. So but honestly, or I think it's true that I feel uncomfortable,


but it's not a truth like this can't be questioned. So practicing ethics with my feelings. Allowing them to be here, my generosity. Being patient with the discomfort. And then think, would it be beneficial to share this discomfort with someone? But again, that question to questioning that or being open to that being questioned is, again, being ethical with my sense of what's beneficial or helpful. Eventually, by this kind of groundwork, we can enter into the creative process where the creativity is making the appropriate response. It's not excluding my own. Analysis and questioning of myself, it includes my humility and my honesty. But it's really a creative process.


The creative process is doing the work, not me, but I'm there with it and I get to be there in the middle of it by taking care of. Being being generous with my my offering, my words, being careful of them, questioning them, being patient with them and being patient with the situation in which they're rising. And then checking, am I you know, I think this would be beneficial, but am I relaxed? And working with that, and if I'm not, again, working with that, so, OK, now I have something to say, I'm relaxed and now I can now I'm just going to you could say playful, but you could also say experiment. I'm going to do an experiment now. I've got something I want to say and I want it to be helpful, but also I'm not sure about it. Can I tell you something? I'm not sure if it's helpful or not, but I'd like to do a little experiment.


Experiment with you. Of of saying something just to see if, you know, explore its truth and explore its beneficialness with you. So in this way, we might together enter into a space where neither one of us are really in control of the situation, but we're being creative together. That's where I think the real that's where the Buddha's living. And this conversation we're having right now, where it really is that is how we're co-creating the conversation when neither one of us is really in charge, where I'm speaking for you and you're speaking for me. That's where I trust is the real life of the Buddha's appropriate response. But it doesn't exclude any of our questions and


examinations and dialogue. It includes all that. Are you saying that you don't really think about these things when you're when you're responding to somebody that you think you're thinking more about? I'm I'm more I'm more like you're you're checking if you're being creative. I'm just a servant of creativity at that time. And the other person is, too, because they're they're, in a sense, I am what I am because of them. Sometimes, though, I really find it helpful to think of these things to use this little three point check, especially when I what the feeling that's coming up is like, oh, I feel a little off right now, like that's totally included. That's totally included. But it's possible that those that thinking is part of,


in a sense, it's a more comprehensive process of creativity. It's it's like the colors in a painting. But the process is not just those colors or those paints or those brushes or the canvas, the process is not just the instruments and the music. Like one time I was listening to Yo-Yo Ma in person, and it really struck me that I couldn't tell whether he was a good musician or not. I mean, I didn't have this thought, oh, he's he's really good. And. You know, at the beginning, you know, well, this is Yo-Yo Ma. This is going to be really good. Right. And then he said and I got that that sort of was not an issue anymore. There was something else going on, which I don't know what that was. But it wasn't me figuring out how good he was or being or thinking he was great. Although that could that was there for a part of the thing. But what really struck me was when there was no thoughts of how good he was anymore.


There was something going on that wasn't me judging him. Even if I judged him as as a great cellist. That wasn't going on anymore. There was something else that was going on. And I am now that I'm talking to you, I don't think he was sitting there thinking, I'm a good cellist. I don't think he was sitting there thinking, this is really good music. Right. Or I don't think he was even thinking this is music. And I don't think I was thinking this is music. I got we we the whole audience and him got beyond thinking this is music. But, you know, when we went to the concert, we probably thought we're going to go listen to music now, but that's kind of ridiculous because the music's already there before we enter the auditorium and when he practiced for the concert, he probably checked in. Was that good? Should I should I work on that more? He probably did for many years. And then we get to a place.


That's free of all all human judgment, that's free of anything. But what's going on? But it doesn't you don't get there by excluding anything, you get there by include you include everything, and then when you include everything, there's nothing but what's going on. Everything's already included. And there we find freedom. Together with everything that's included. OK, I'll try to get beyond my judgments. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Our next offering is from Sylvia. Hello, Sylvia. I've been waiting a long time to


raise my hand, and so I'm kind of, oh, how did I do it? And it's good to see you and. I thank you very much for this talk. It's been it's it's like right on for this. For this last month. Where it failed, I'm going to go right into it. Is that OK? It felt like I've been in situations for like cons, like in a role, in a successive role with intimate people, friends and very close people where I'm. Deep anger and deep


and stability, instability was lashed in my presence and almost like towards me, like wow. Fire dragon. I'm. And what strikes me is the succession of it. The the kind of coming at it like in a successive time and my response and my thinking about it, how am I helpful? How am I creating? How is this dependent co-arising? How am I part of this? Where is my part in it? Where is this? Almost like my trying to be with the by trying to be with it, am I good to myself? Am I


allowing this? How did I put myself here? So the question is about the dependent co-arising of an event. The intimacy of wanting to be helpful, but at the same time, they're noticing that, of course, there is judgment. Of course, there is. This is not OK. This is inappropriate. This is not the way I welcome. And difficult. Mind, brain, heart. But also, how am I creating this? How am I part of this? How what is my part in this? And how in a way, kind of whatever it is, it's


I know it's asking me to be kind, relaxed, compassionate, but also not not too judgmental, but something about the boundary, something about. This is not OK. And another aspect of it, something about the animal nature of like the predator and the prey type of mind, like you are a threat for me, I'm going to attack this arising of such raw content in a human being. Thank you for listening.


I have missed being in your presence and also all these people that I have not totally looked at yet. Thank you. So the the feeling and maybe also the thought this is not OK. So there's a situation that's, you said, raw or difficult. There's that situation and that situation is calling for compassion. That raw situation, but also the thought this is not OK, that thought this is not OK.


That's calling for compassion, too. And when you have this raw. It's a fiery situation that's calling for compassion. I hear that there's a questioning arises. Which is how do I contribute to this? What is my responsibility? You didn't say it, but one could also say, I am responsible for this situation. Yeah. Yeah. And I wonder and I wonder, what is my responsibility in this? Intense, raw, difficult moment.


You had those questions and those questions are part of compassion. Those questions I didn't hear, I didn't feel when you asked said when you asked those questions, I didn't feel you were pushing the pain away. I felt that those questions have the potential to help you be more intimate with this very difficult experience, with this great pain, with this rawness and tenderness. The questions, I think, could help you be intimate with them. And then the question, then there's also the other situation, this is not OK. I don't think that should not be pushed away either. And again, how do I contribute to the situation of the thought, this is not OK? What's my responsibility to this is not OK?


When the thought this is not OK arises, the Bodhisattva is responsible in that situation of this is not OK. And she doesn't and she's wondering, what is my responsibility in this is not OK? And we're living in a world now where many people think this is not OK. What is our responsibility here? What do we want to contribute to the world of this is not OK? And great compassion embraces this is not OK. This is not OK. It listens to this is not OK. It's generous towards this is not OK. It questions. This is not OK. It's patient with this is not OK.


And finally, it relaxes with this is not OK. And plays with this is not OK. And makes a great artwork out of this is not OK. Like I often bring up Marcel Proust, do you know that name? He wrote a very big book, which is called Remembrance of This Is Not OK. Remembrance of all the time I wasted. His artwork. So. Taking care of this is not OK can be a great work of art. We don't push it away. We wonder about what is this? This is not OK. The world is suffering.


It's easy to say this is not OK. OK, let's work with this is not OK. Do you want to work with this is not OK? Do you want to practice compassion with this is not OK? I'm not telling you you should. But there's an opportunity here. Yes. Something that comes up also is that. Any thought I may have of what the world or the other person has to work on. It's not under my my responsibility totally. I can only take care of I can think, oh, I think here there is something to work on. There's something unresolved that I see. But it's not being in the seat of them.


I mean, being a friend, I this is where what you say comes. It's like is the person ready to hear what I think? Perhaps not. So any suggestion? That's where what you're pointing out becomes a little more clear, like. When it's time to speak about and clarify things. To wait to the right moment. Thank you so much. Thank you very much. Our next offering will be from Josh. Hey, Rep.


Hi, Josh. Hmm. You talked about. Feeling the bodhisattva feels the pain of other suffering, and that pain is a great joy. Now, the bodhisattva sees other suffering. Mm hmm. And seeing their suffering, seeing the suffering of those I love. I feel suffering. I feel the suffering of my love. I don't feel their suffering. I feel the suffering because I care for them. I have my own suffering. Mm hmm. So I. Yes, sorry. Like, for example, you don't feel the suffering of a little girl, you know, tearing her party dress. You don't feel that.


But because you love her, you feel a great pain. But the pain you feel because you love her is a joy. So that's the bit I don't get. And I've been wondering since I raised my hand to ask the question. I've been wondering if sometimes I get it and sometimes I don't get it. But in a particular moment earlier when you were saying it, I just thought or the thought came up. Well, when I see other suffering, I feel pain. And that's not a great joy. It's. So you haven't. You haven't found that you haven't found the pain, which is a joy. This is a special pain. This is the bodhisattva pain. And that pain is the greatest joy. And you're telling us that you haven't discovered that particular type of suffering. Okay. But I have discovered a kind of. You've heard about it. You've heard about it. Heard about it.


And when I heard about it, I thought this is one of the most amazing things I've ever heard. That they're saying that this kind of suffering is the greatest joy, but it's not a mundane joy. Like the mundane joy of you love the little girl and her dress gets fixed and she's happy and you feel happy for her. That's that's a nice joy. It's a mundane joy. So it seems like there's a kind of sympathetic suffering or something, which isn't the same as what you're talking about. Yeah. Empathy is a little different. Like. You might not know what it you know, you you might not know what the you could have empathy and compassion. Like somebody could be suffering something and you understand how they feel with the suffering they feel. You understand you understand it. That's empathy.


The compassion is a little different though. It's more like you're with them. Whether you understand how they feel that way or not. You're with them. You're intimate with them and your intimacy with them hurts. So there is empathy. But because of compassion. There's pain. But the pain that's because of compassion is a joy. Okay. Okay. The empathy is more like the empathy more is in some ways. Yeah, you see you can feel both empathy empathic pain and you can feel compassionate pain. So I could possibly feel them both at the same time, but maybe I'm not you can feel them both kind of discerning that clearly. Yeah, I'm not spotting the pain. That's a joy. And sometimes you might you might feel compassionate pain. But not really understand why the why that situation is bothering them.


You don't kind of you don't get it. You just don't get it. Somehow you don't you just can't put yourself in their shoes. However, even though you can't you love them. And you see their suffering and you feel pain because you love them, even though you don't understand why they're feeling that way. And that's a joy. And that joy helps you not run away from being with them. So I think I do experience and have experienced sort of being with someone. So being really intimate with like one person who's suffering and listening to them, for example, someone might want to talk to me about their suffering. And I can listen and there's some joy in that. But I thought or think it seems like the joy comes because I feel like I'm being helpful. So I'm kind of feeling good because I feel like I'm being helpful. Yeah, that's a mundane.


That's a mundane joy. Yeah. I think I feel like I'm being helpful. And maybe the person says, Josh, you're being really helpful. And that's like, yeah, and Josh, you fixed me. Oh, great. It's a mundane joy. Which goes away, which is, you know, it's fine. But that mundane joy doesn't necessarily help you go into the suffering with them. What helps you go into suffering with them is compassion. Whereas you go into the suffering and you feel suffering for them, not their suffering. And it's a joy. So you can keep working with them. Because it's so joyful. But it's painful, too. The joy of, Josh, you're really a very helpful person. When that goes away and they say, Josh, you're really unhelpful. And then you feel that pain. That pain, that may not make you feel like, oh, I can stay here with them forever insulting me.


But the pain that comes because you care about them is a joy. So you can stay with their pain. You can stay with them with no break. Which is what we want. We don't want to run away from the suffering of the world. Because in the center of that suffering is where beings are saved. And we need a great joy to be in the center. Meantime, there's mundane pain and mundane joy. They're all part of it. They're not. They're completely included. They're completely included. Thank you. I feel like I've, there's a lot to, something's hit me in a place where there's a lot to kind of contemplate and look at. Yeah. Great. Thank you. You're welcome. Lovely to see you. Thank you. Our next offering will be from Susan. I read, can you hear me?


It was wonderful. It's been wonderful to see you again. I've missed you. Missed you too. I love what you talked about. It hit me in my heart that I needed so much. Just looking at you was just, thank you. Thank you. And there's been a lot that's been going on. I think just to start and then go into where I, yeah. So I saw my doctor. Everything is okay. But he was saying, how are you doing? So I said, well, tell you how I'm doing physically, which is basically just small things. I said, but mentally I'm pissed off. I'm okay. I'm angry. I don't want to be around anybody and I'm okay again. Then I realized that, you know, Hey, you know, everybody else is doing this and then I can't stand it. You know, he's listening to all this. And I said, that's about how I am. And, and I'm okay with all of it.


I had to work with it because, you know, I don't like it. But getting used to a new way of being in the world is not an easy thing. And everything is changing all the time, more noticeably than I'm used to. Then what happened? So that worked out. I mean, I got into, you know, when I got home, I got a text, which I was not used to getting texts this way. Talking about a man that I know that had his COVID shots and he ended up in the hospital and for a couple of weeks and he died. And I was mortified. I was very sad to hear that. This was yesterday. And I just needed to share that with everybody. I, what I did is not used to getting a text.


Usually I would get a text from my family saying, call me, or somebody would call on the phone and say, please call. And so what I did is I called my cousin because over the years, since we were like 10, 11 years old, we would talk about grandmother dying or this one dying. So I called Lainey and we talked about it and I talked about the shock of getting something like that on the, on the text that it felt very personal and it was hard for me to hear about this man. And so we talked about it and then as we kept talking, we, we kind of got off the subject and, and we were talking about things that we were watching and I got into talking about Lupin, which is wonderful on Netflix. It's funny and wonderful and magical. And I was happy. And then I had to do some errands and I came back and I read the email, the text again and I went right back there.


Feeling just very, very sad that that happened. It was a surprise. So, thank you for hearing that. It's important. Thank you so much. Next we have time for one more offering. Deborah. Hi Rob. Hello Deborah. Hey. Um, I just want to check in about my understanding of. So I feel the most pain when my son suffers. Um, and recently he had a big disappointment and we were in the car and I just tried to be with him, not before I might have been a little more intrusive saying, trying to get him to talk about him just with him just being with him.


And then a distraction happened. We actually passed a sheep farm with a lot of fat sheep so we stopped and looked and he had joy again but I guess my. And then I thought, and then we kind of let it go and now I'm feeling like I need to address it. And I heard what you said I think to Charlie which was very helpful of just, you know, asking if it's okay to talk about it, you know, just, you know, I feel like I can negotiate that but my question is the joy that comes with that bodhisattva love and compassion. I mean I find it. When I'm really with some, like my son's pain it's the most painful and I thought it's the joy that intimacy is that the joy of really being with being interconnected of just having that intimacy. Yeah. Yeah. Intimacy is basically a synonym for great compassion.


There's some kinds of compassion which really are not intimate, but great compassion is intimacy with beings and intimacy, you could say, is an unsurpassed joy. But intimacy also means it's a suffering. Because he's suffering, you're suffering. That's intimacy. Because he's suffering and you love him, you're suffering. Right. You're not suffering because you hate his suffering. You're not suffering because you hate his suffering. Right. If you hate his suffering, that's mundane suffering. Bodhisattva suffering is you're suffering because you love him. Or bodhisattva intimacy is you're suffering because you're intimate with him.


So, please enjoy this unsurpassed joy of suffering because you love him. And he's going to continue to suffer from now on, and you're going to continue to be compassionate, and you're going to continue to feel pain because you're intimate with him. And that's where the bodhisattva's sustaining joy is. So, the suffering and the joy are the same in a sense. Are they together? Bodhisattva suffering and joy are the same. Thank you. You're welcome. Thank you.


Great assembly. May our intention equally extend to every being and place with the true merit of Buddha's way. And may we together with all beings realize unsurpassed awakening for the welfare of this world. Beings are numberless. We vow to save them. Afflictions are inexhaustible. We vow to cut through. Dharma gates are boundless. We vow to enter them. Buddha way is unsurpassable. We vow to become it. Thank you, Rob. Thank you, everybody. Thank you.