Melting the Root of Transgression

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Charlie, is this working? Yes, it's recording. part of our practice seems to be repetition. And there's a tension between repetition and being repetitive. We have an unrepeatable life and yet in a tradition we sometimes seem to be


repeating things. We just chanted a verse written by Dogen of eternal peace, the lofty priest of eternal peace wrote a vow and we just recited it. It starts out, I vow from this life on throughout countless lives to hear the true Dharma. In the vehicle, sometimes called the bodhisattva vehicle, the vehicle of the path to Buddhahood, we sometimes ask, from where or how is this path


sustained? Where does it receive its nourishment from? And an answer is often given, the Bodhisattva path is carried out by great vows. It is sustained by great vows. It is supported by great vows. So at the beginning here today, we recited some great vows. Did you hear them? So the beginning of the path is vows. And the path is, in some sense, we're already on the path, but we may not notice it.


When we feel and express vows, in a sense, we just begin the path again. So, in a sense, this morning, when we recited these, it could be like a new beginning. Again today. we have recited, I vow from this life on through our countless lives to hear the true Dharma. Do you? Do you vow to hear the true Dharma? Is that vow living in you? Are you sustained by that vow? Do you carry out that vow?


Upon meeting the true Dharma, I will renounce worldly affairs. I will renounce distractions from the Dharma which I have met. And in doing so, in renouncing distractions from the Dharma I have met, I will maintain the Buddhadharma. I will maintain it in meeting it by renouncing distractions from it. And in doing so, the great earth and all living beings together will attain the Buddha way. This is a vow. This is a vow. It's not exactly my vow. It's a vow which supports me. It's a vow which I am carrying out. It is a vow which I'm living.


How about you? Are you living the vow that when you meet the true Dharma, you will renounce worldly affairs and maintain it, and in doing so, the great earth and all living beings will attain the Buddha way? I'm not trying to talk you into this. I am trying to talk myself into it, though. And I'm enjoying talking myself into this vow. I'm enjoying the ongoing process of making myself this vow, of letting this vow become me, of letting this vow make me. I'm enjoying that. So, first there is, well actually,


First there is, somebody gave me this file. First, I received this file. Somebody offered it to me, it was offered to me, and I received it. And after I received it, I said, I commit to this. Does that make sense at all? Does it make perfect, complete sense? I received this vow. What vow? To hear the true Dharma that was given to me. Have you received that vow? Now I commit to it. After committing to it, then I can practice it. In other words, I can make my life, I can offer my life to the practice of this vow.


And this verse about arousing the vow, it goes on beyond the initial vow. It goes on after And in doing so, the great earth and all living beings together will attain perfect freedom and peace on the Buddha way." It goes on. It says, in this translation, it says, although, but it could also say however. However what? You've just made this vow and there's a however. What's the however? You can forget it. You made the vow. but you can get distracted. You made the vow that when you meet the Dharma you're not going to be distracted, but after finishing that vow, the next moment you could be distracted. Therefore we say, however, karmic accumulations have occurred somehow, becoming an obstacle to practicing the vow which I just said.


And then, as you know, the verse goes on, to extol the virtues of confession and repentance. The repetition is, we keep going back to the vow. and committing to it, and practicing it, and then noticing that there's obstacles to it, that we get distracted. Then we practice confession and repentance. Then we go back to the vow. We receive it again. We commit to it again. And then we try to practice it again. And then we get distracted again. And then we confess and repent. And then we go back and receive the vow again. And we commit to it. And we practice it.


And then we get distracted. That's a repetition. We go through that process. Recently someone came to see me. And I think I said to him, is there anything you want to tell me? And he said, I feel like every time I come to see you or meet you, I confess and repent. And I thought when he said that, yeah, that's right, good. I didn't say that to him, but that's what I thought. He comes and confesses and repents. He comes and confesses his distraction from his aspirations, from his vows.


He has aspirations. to walk the Bodhisattva path. And he comes to see me and he confesses he gets distracted from his aspiration. And he feels kind of embarrassed about it. So he tells me, he noticed that he does that, and I asked him if he wanted to tell me anything, and that's what he told me. And then he said, beforehand, in the lead up to meeting you, I feel uncomfortable. I feel resistance to going in the room. And then I go in the room, and I confess and repent, and I feel


cleansed and fresh and encouraged and feel like it was good that I went. And I said, that's normal. I think a lot of people don't necessarily feel like, oh goody, I get to go and confess my shortcomings now. I get to go and confess how I got distracted and how much sorrow I feel about that. Repentance, the first word, definition of repentance is sorrow. But it's not sorrow in general, it's sorrow related to my karma, my activity, and it's the part of the sorrow that reforms me in line with my aspiration.


Repentance is when I feel sorrow that I'm not in alignment with my aspiration, and then expressing that lines me up. Or I should say, the way of expressing sorrow, that I'm out of alignment, that brings me into alignment, that's the repentance which is recommended. And it's not recommended that we resist going to confess and express the sorrow which realigns us. It's not recommended that we resist that and feel uncomfortable about it, but we may feel resistance to it. We may feel uncomfortable. I think there's a song sung by Ray Charles which says something like,


Sorry is the hardest word to say. Sorry is the hardest word to say. Why is it so hard to say, I'm sorry? Do you know that song? You do? And maybe it wasn't Ray Charles, but anyway. I'll research that. Sometimes, once in a while, expressing sorrow you might not have resistance to. It's possible. But a lot of times we do have some resistance to expressing our sorrow to somebody else. And the verse, after talking about the vow, the verse explains, it recommends that not only do we practice confession of our distractions from the path of compassion, But we also check to see if we feel sorrow about it, and then also express the sorrow by saying, I'm sorry.


I'm embarrassed. I regret. I feel not good about being out of, when I'm not in alignment, I feel uncomfortable. And then it says, do it in the presence of Buddhas and ancestors. In other words, do it interpersonally. In your own mind and heart, you notice that you got distracted, so you have that to confess, and you notice whether you feel uncomfortable about it, and then you go and you do it in the presence of the Buddhas and ancestors. And it's also good to do it in the presence of a preceptor, of a teacher, The teacher is not necessarily the Buddha's ancestors, but you could say the teacher is kind of an ancestor. I am in some sense literally the ancestor of some people.


I'm not saying I'm a Buddha, but I am kind of an ancestor. In the Bodhisattva precept lineage, it has my name and it has the names of my ancestors. and it has the name of the people who follow me in the lineage. So there are one or two or three generations following from this generation in the Bodhisattva precept lineage that I'm in. So a person can come to me and confess and repent in the presence of an ancestor. But they can also invite the Buddhas to come too, and the other ancestors to come too. And if you don't have an ancestor, a human ancestor, that you can meet with face to face, like this person did, you can, wherever you are, you can say, O Bodhisattva, Mahasattvas, O Buddhas and Ancestors, please concentrate your hearts on me.


I, you can say your name. If you have a Bodhisattva name, you can say your Bodhisattva name. If you don't have a Bodhisattva name, you can say you're not a Bodhisattva name. So I could say, O Bodhisattva Mahasattvas, O Buddhas and Ancestors, please concentrate your hearts on me. I, Tenzin Zenki, Buddha's disciple, feel sorrow that I was not kind to so-and-so yesterday afternoon. I feel sorrow that I got distracted this morning from practicing silence and stillness. I'm sorry. And now I reaspire to remember and receive and practice and transmit the Buddha's stillness. I reaffirm and recommit to practice, to receive,


and practice and transmit the Bodhisattva precepts in my daily life. Now, thinking of that, I don't feel uncomfortable about saying that to the Buddhas and ancestors. But you might, if you actually go in a room to do that with somebody, you might feel uncomfortable. But many people, even though they feel uncomfortable, They come anyway. They don't let their discomfort stop them from doing this practice, which the lofty ancestor of eternal peace says that it's the pure and simple color of true practice. The true mind of faith, the true body of faith, which is receive the precepts, Aspire to them. Try to practice them. And if there's any lack in the practice, or the faith, then you confess and repent it.


And that confession and repentance will melt away the root of getting distracted. And actually, I didn't mention faith, but I guess faith is there in the sense that when these precepts are transmitted to us, When the Buddha's mind is transmitted to us, I guess we have faith that it would be good to receive it. The Buddha's mind is being offered to us, the Buddha's precepts are being offered to us, the precepts of compassion and wisdom are offered to us. I guess it's our faith that we think it would be good to receive them. So now I receive them. And now that I've received them, I aspire to practice them. So the faith, in a way, is the reception. It's opening our body and mind to the practice of stillness.


And then there's the aspiration to practice that. And then there's the practice, which most of us occasionally get distracted from. And then there's the practice of confessing distraction and revealing if we feel sorry about it. It's possible to confess before you feel sorry. And then say, I'm confessing, but I don't feel sorry yet. But I just thought I should confess before I forget. Oops, now I feel sorry. This is the pure and simple culture of true practice, this whole process. Receiving the gift of the Buddha's mind, aspiring to it, committing to practice it, and then sometimes practicing it. And then if we lack, if our faith is not strong enough, and our practice is not there, we confess, I wasn't practicing, I'm sorry.


And then we go back and receive again, aspire again, practice again, practice, get distracted, confess and repent. Before you get distracted, you don't have to confess and repent. You just keep practicing until you get out of alignment. Did you want to ask something now? Okay, go ahead. Some time ago, you described this process in a way that changed everything for me, but now maybe I misunderstood it. I thought you said the image was like, here's your vow. You make your vow. Here's your vow. And here's you. You're going along in your life toward your vow, and then all of a sudden you find yourself over here. You're not on the path.


Once you find yourself over here, you then confess and repent. And what I thought you said, the whole process is being on the path. So I always thought, here's my vow, here's me, go along the path, and here's bad me, I'm off the path, I'm about to go along the path, but I thought, I thought you said, no, once you confess and repent, the whole thing is the path, not just a straight line. I probably did say something like that. Do you still agree with that? I do. Okay, so what today sounds a little... Well just a second, I agree with it, but not completely. Because you said, you're using this gesture, you're going along, and then you feel like you're off the path. You notice you're off the path. So again, that's a subtlety. You aspire to walk the path of compassion. And you have a story about what that is. And then you have a story that you're off the path. Now, you're not really off the path.


You're always on the path. This is a teaching which has been given to you. This is Buddha's mind. Buddha's mind is, you're always on the path. That's given to you. Now you receive that. Now you get distracted from that. You get distracted from it, but you're still on the path. But you have a story, I'm distracted from being on the path. But you're still on the path. And now, you notice that you're distracted and you confess and repent the practice, and you said, and the confession and repentance makes the whole thing part of the path, right? The Confession of Repentance is definitely on the path.


As a matter of fact, I don't even have a story that the Confession of Repentance is off the path. The Confession of Repentance is definitely a downtown path. It's a central path. Confession of Repentance is not a transgression. It's a realignment. But the Confession of Repentance is happening in relationship to a story of transgression. Confession and repentance is pure and simple compassion. And it's compassion about a story that I transgressed. The story of confession and repentance is not the story of transgression, it's the story of realignment. So when you said that the confession and repentance, which you're saying, is part of the path, it never wasn't. One way to get distracted is to get distracted from confession and repentance, when you should be doing it.


But the distraction that you imagined is part of the path. And by confession and repentance you realize that the story of transgression is part of the path. And you really didn't transgress. Like somebody I heard recently said, it's never too late to have a good childhood. In other words, it's never too late to redeem every moment of wasted time. Because you never did waste time. But if we don't confess and repent, we don't realize that we wasted time. That we didn't waste time. If we don't confess and repent in relationship to the story of wasted time, we don't redeem that story. The story is not liberated.


It seems to be true, I did waste time. But if I confess and repent, I wasted time, the wasted time is redeemed. So confession and repentance is part of the practice. And the thing you're confessing is also part of the practice. But what you're confessing is, I feel like I was not practicing then. My story is, I was not kind to her. And I feel sorry about that. And by being kind to that story, you melt away the root of such stories. They melt away. The stories that this is not a good life, that this is not compassion, they melt away. How? Well, partly by receiving the precept and aspiring to it, but also, after you receive the precept of compassion and aspire to it, when you get out of alignment with it, confessing and repenting it, melts away the root of getting out of alignment.


We never really are out of alignment, but when we think we are, we need to acknowledge that. Otherwise, the thought, we need to acknowledge and repent it. Otherwise, the story of non-alignment will seem to be true, and we'll be miserable. Miserable. If you receive Buddha's mind and you aspire to it, and you have this story that you're distracted from it or out of alignment with it, you suffer. But you're not out of alignment with it, you just have this story. So when you're practicing the Buddha way, one of the things that happens, one of the things that happens trillions of times, is a story that you're out of alignment with the Buddha way. A story that you're out of alignment with complete perfect enlightenment. Those stories arise ongoingly.


And you feel bad about it, because you want to be aligned. So, I saw your hand a few times, I saw your hand a few times, who else's hand did I see? And she didn't finish, and the cushion? So, yes, and John, so we have John, Linda, did you have your hand raised for me? Delfina, Tracy's not done, Enrica, Karen, And red. Okay, so... And it's almost noon. Okay, ready, let's go. So, should we let Tracy complete her... I didn't get my question. That was all the setup. Oh, no. Wait a second. That was the setup, and now when she said the setup, that was the punchline. And now that was another punchline.


And now let's see if you can do another punchline. What sounded discordant to me today is the feeling bad part. Because if we know we're always on the path anyway, we notice we have a story, we're not, we're to be compassionate about that story, why don't we just say, oh, did it again, here I am, having that same experience. Slow down and say it again. And let me point as you say it. Tell the story again. You felt some discordance with the sorrow, with the repentance. Why can't it just be acknowledging, ha, it happened again. Why do we have to feel bad? Why is feeling bad and sorrow part of repentance and confession? Let me just say I don't know why, for starters.


So is it possible that you aspire to compassion and then you act in a certain way and you think that was not compassionate and you feel perfectly comfortable about it? Is that possible? I think, yeah. People say, yeah, I was really nasty to so-and-so, I was really cruel, and I don't feel any sorrow about it. Is that possible? Huh? Is it? Yeah, it is possible. And we have names for people like that. We say psychopath. That they do something and they say, that was really cruel, or somebody says it's cruel and they don't feel any sorrow. Is that possible? Yes. Yes, it is possible. Got it? It's possible.


It's also possible that you think, oh, you have a story. I was not a good disciple of Buddha on that occasion. As a matter of fact, I even hated Buddha on that occasion, thought Buddha was stupid. And I thought all those Buddha's precepts were stupid. And yeah, I don't feel any sorrow. And sometimes people tell me that they do something like that and they don't feel sorrow. And then they do. It comes later. When you notice your shortcomings, you don't instantly, every time, feel sorrow. But there's something about it, it's maybe just something, you say, why? And I say, one possibility, I don't know if this is true, is that the nature of an aspirational being is that when they receive something, that they believe is really important. Like the cat's meow of life. They see this gorgeous example of compassion and they just think, that's so beautiful.


It's like, that's the truth in my life. That's what I want. And now here comes the aspiration. I want that. I commit to that. Okay? This is our nature. We sometimes do have faith that something is really good and we aspire to it. And then we don't follow it. And we notice it and we don't necessarily feel bad about it. But sometimes we do feel bad when we don't follow what we thought was the greatest thing. And then we also aspire to it. And I've also told you many times that people see these precepts of Buddha and they think they're great, but they don't dare aspire to them because they sense, as a human being, if I would aspire to them and commit to them, I would be more susceptible to feeling sorrow if I didn't follow through. But if it's just gorgeous and beautiful, and I don't aspire to it and commit to it, then if I don't follow it, it might not be so painful.


But if we do commit to it, And not only that, commit to it with an ancestor right there, saying, good, good. Do you really want to do this? Mm-hmm. Do you really want to do this? Mm-hmm. Do you really want to do this? Mm-hmm. Are you going to do this from now on? And even after realizing Buddhahood, do you want to do this? Yes. After going through a process like that, we have a sense that if I don't follow through now, I might feel regularly sorrowful if I don't follow through on these things. Does it have to be sorrowful? No, it isn't. Sometimes it isn't. But if you do want this thing, if you want something, and you commit to it, then if you don't follow it, you might feel sorrow. And if you do, if you do feel sorrow, I'm not telling you you should, if you do, then disclosing that will bring you into alignment with what you want. Okay, got the picture once again?


You see something, this is the life I want. You receive that, you commit to it, and then you practice it, and if you don't, and you notice it, noticing that you're not practicing it, noticing that story will help you... Yeah, well, you did notice the story, so you got the story. Noticing that story will be part of what will lead to your realigning. and the sorrow, if you have it, then disclosing the sorrow will realign you. If you don't have it, then you don't have it. It's about being yourself, right? If you've got sorrow, if you notice you didn't do what you want, if you notice this is what you do want, if you notice that you commit, if you notice that you don't commit, but for those who do receive these precepts and do receive means who do believe that these are good and do commit, and take the chance, the chance of commitment and all that it involves, which is a possibility.


If you don't follow through, you might feel not so good. So one teacher said, asked a student, or the student asked the teacher, what's the greatest happiness? And the teacher said, to follow the Bodhisattva precepts. to receive them and aspire to them and follow them. That is the greatest happiness. To receive the mind of compassion, of great compassion. Buddha's compassion, to receive it, commit to it and practice it, that's the greatest happiness. What's the greatest unhappiness? It's to not follow through on what I just said. It's to receive, aspire and not follow through. That's the greatest unhappiness. People who do not receive the Buddha's precepts and aspire to them who do not receive them and aspire to them and don't follow them, they're not as unhappy as the people who do receive them and aspire to them.


Isn't that strange? That's a little bit strange, right? The people who are committed to the Buddha's way suffer more deeply than those who are not. But that's what, when they're off base, that's what puts them back on where they want to be. And the people who do not commit, they're not getting pushed as hard back onto the path, and they don't commit to it. So committing to it, then what happens is a bunch of guardians come to help you stay on it. So if you look at a Buddha and say, how gorgeous, how wonderful, how adorable, and stop there, then the guardians don't help you as much. They maybe keep offering you the opportunity. You want to say, here's Buddha again, here's Buddha again, here's Buddha again, here's enlightenment again. They keep offering it. But when you commit, then the guardians come and say, but now that you've committed, it's not going to be so easy to not follow through.


Do you understand that? And in our ceremony, we say, Are you going to continue to do the practice of... In the ceremony where you receive Buddha's precepts, we say, are you going to continue this practice of confession and repentance? In other words, are you going to keep feelings... Are you going to welcome the guardians of repentance to come and poke at you and say, you didn't follow through on what you said you wanted to follow through, right? That's part of our ceremony. Are you going to continue to practice repentance, sorrow, and disclosing it to the Buddhas from now on and even after realizing Buddhahood? You said you would. Anyway, I did want to talk about this today, and we are. We're talking about the pure and simple color of true practice. And it's got some grit to it.


But if you don't enter it, it doesn't have grit. It stays as a great possibility. Perfect wisdom and great compassion. How gorgeous. Yes? Tracy addressed a little bit of what I was feeling, but I still, I feel like in the question of distraction, that it's possible to be practicing with distraction because distraction is an intimate part of our karmic mind, and not feel it as a transgression. and not feel remorse, but rather feel compassion, or be more identified... When you feel compassion to transgression, you're not transgressing. Yeah. Okay. So, every time you're distracted, you don't have to feel... You don't have to feel what?


Sad and bad. Wait a second. Wait a second. Wait a second. You said every time... Every time you feel distracted, is that what you said? Well, every time I see that my mind gets... Every time you feel distracted, you don't have to feel sorrow, you said. You can be here with it, with compassion. Yes, but if you have distraction, and you're there with compassion, there's no distraction. You didn't get distracted. That's not what you'd call distraction. No, you called it distraction. You got the story of distraction. And you said, but then you're compassionate with it. If you have a story of distraction and you're compassionate with it, you're not distracted from compassion. Okay. I agree. That's the path. That's the path, is you have a story of...


distraction and you're compassionate with it. No need, no need for repentance because you did your job. Okay? Now, what about when you're distracted and you don't bring compassion to it? Then you have a story, I was distracted and I wasn't compassionate. Now, if you're really fast and you're compassionate with that, then you don't have any sorrow there. If you're not the slightest bit out of alignment, okay? Huge, terrible story of distraction comes up, and you're not out of alignment, you're right there with it. There's no sorrow, because you didn't get out of alignment. Now, can you give me another story, even more monstrous, a more terrible distraction, and see if when it comes up, as soon as it comes up, boom, I meet it with compassion. Or is there like a hesitation to say, I don't want to practice compassion with that one, Well, then you just got out of alignment.


You missed your chance. But if you're right there with compassion with whatever story comes, then you don't have to... nothing to confess, nothing to repent. It's when you have a story, distraction came up, and I was mean to it, and then I was mean to myself for being mean, you know? If that's the story, you're not yet ready to say, now I want to confess it. Once you start to confess it, now you're practicing compassion again. Confessing repentance is compassion towards the transgressions. And all the time you're on the path, you're never off the path. Yes? So that's helpful. And I think I was having a kind of a sense of, well, you know, let's see, when one is mean, you know, I'm mean to myself for, oh, I did this and that.


That's a... That's a what? That's an opportunity for compassion. And if you miss the opportunity for compassion, that's an opportunity for compassion. Missing opportunities for compassion are opportunities for compassion. And the form that would be appropriate on that occasion for myself is confession and repentance. If I miss the opportunity for compassion, then I confess and repent. That's my compassion. And that brings me back into alignment. If I see you and you tell me that you are not being compassionate, then maybe I don't Maybe I feel compassion for you, so I don't have to confess anything and repent anything, because I feel compassion for you telling me that you got distracted. And then maybe I ask you, how are you doing with that? And maybe you tell me, oh, I'm practicing confession and repentance, so now you're back on line too.


But I don't confess and repent. your distractions, I confess and repent mine, and that brings me back into alignment, but I always was. It's just that I had a story that I wasn't, then by confessing and repenting, I don't believe that story anymore, because confessing and repenting is in line. Like somebody told me, actually she's very troubled about some of the people in Zen history, that seem to have done some unkind things." She said, well, what do we do about that? When our lineage has a history of doing some unkind things, I said, well, we confess and repent. That's what we do. But they did it, not that person. Well, but it's my lineage. I'm confessing that my lineage has a certain history. And I'm sorry about that. I share responsibility for that. But I don't think I did that, but I do think I received a lineage which has a certain history and I accept responsibility for that.


And maybe what I confess and repent is any ways that I would do something like that. And I confess my vulnerability to make the same mistakes. I think Karen was next and then Delfina. It's sort of underneath this discussion. I'm thinking about there's a story of confession and repentance. And then there's another story I heard recently about no blame, no control, but complete responsibility. And I'm wondering if that's sort of a working definition of compassion. How does that fit with confession? How do these issues of responsibility, blame and control fit in with confession? With compassion? I think that's a good definition of compassion.


Unusual, but Complete responsibility, no blame, and giving up trying to control. Not trying to control beings. Buddha is not trying to control us into enlightenment. Right? And if Buddha was, Buddha is not really in control, obviously. I wouldn't say Buddha is unsuccessful, but Buddha does not try to control. Buddha just keeps offering these precepts. not trying to control us into receiving them or aspiring to them, just continually offering. And Buddha is working on herself while she offers to make sure she's not trying to control people. And if people don't receive them, she doesn't blame them.


And she's responsible for them. And she's responsible for her actions and for them. So we're responsible for each other, and we're not controlling each other, and we're not blaming each other in compassion. And I don't blame myself. If I have this story that I'm being unkind, I don't blame myself. I just accept responsibility for my action. And that's not all I accept responsibility for. At that moment, I accept responsibility for the consequences for other people and myself of my actions. And I accept responsibility for your actions. and I give up trying to control myself, and I give up trying to control others. I trust the practice to make things go the way I want them to, rather than me controlling things to go the way I want them to.


I give up me controlling myself on the path, and trust the practice to guide me on the path. Dolphina? I definitely help you and you help me. We help each other, yes. We're helping each other attune to the proper alignment, yes. We're working on that together. I may have the thought, you're out of alignment. I might have that thought. But then that's something for me to be taking care of in myself. And if I take care of that thought in myself, that so-and-so is out of alignment, I'm demonstrating to them how to align.


You're watching me right now align with my ideas. Right now you're seeing how I'm doing it. And if one of my ideas might be, Delfina is in perfect alignment, I might have that thought. But how I deal with that thought is what's important to transmit. I mean, that's what we do transmit. We do transmit how we're dealing with our ideas of each other. So if I have ideas of respect for you, or disrespect, the idea of respect isn't the same as respect. But I might try to remember respect to help me align with it. And I might remember the idea of disrespect to help me align with respect when I have the idea of disrespect. I'm metabolizing that.


I don't quite get it fully, but it does make me think about the other part of your question about like I have a situation right now where I'm in this group and reading a book. You're in a reading group? I'm in a reading group, yes. And there's a way in which it feels like there's some unskillful, or I'm looking for skillful means to But I'm uncomfortable with a certain dynamic in the group. It feels like they're splitting their helpings sometimes around certain things. And so I'm uncomfortable with it. And I'm thinking about what are skillful means to be able to say, I wanted to talk to the person leading it and say, oh, I'm uncomfortable with this. I guess I'm trying to sit with what is the right, what is skillful means? Well, first of all, Skillful means has a special meaning. I would not use the word skillful means right now.


Skillful means is actually the way you relate to things when you have perfect wisdom. It's a technical term in Buddhism. But you can talk about compassion, which is not yet skillful means. Skillful means is way up the evolutionary process. But you can be compassionate long before you have skillful means. So, what's a compassionate response when you're feeling uncomfortable in this reading group? How can you be compassionate to your feeling of discomfort? Your feeling of discomfort is calling out for compassion. Your feeling of discomfort doesn't sound to me like something to confess and repent. It sounds like just something simply calling for compassion. To be generous towards it. To be careful of it. To be patient with it. To take good care of it. this feeling of discomfort. Now, if you've had the thought, I wish that person who I'm feeling uncomfortable about would get a serious illness and die soon.


That would be like something unkind that you're thinking. But feeling discomfort, if somebody is being rude to somebody else, or to you, that feeling of discomfort is not necessarily That's not a transgression, necessarily. But if you had ill will towards the person who you see as you're uncomfortable with, that would be something to be compassionate with in the form of confession and repentance. Or confession, at least. But you might not actually go that far. You might actually just feel uncomfortable. So some things that arise are not shortcomings lack of practice, they're just feelings, and then you can be compassionate with them. Now, if I have a feeling that's calling out for compassion in me, and I miss the chance of being compassionate to it, I might notice, oh, I missed my chance, I'm sorry, I confess, I missed a good opportunity there, I'm sorry.


Now, if I was with you, and I saw you being uncomfortable, I thought you were uncomfortable, and you were, and then I saw you taking good care of yourself, I would think, great, if I could see that. If I saw you speaking disrespectfully of someone, if I thought you were, I had that story, I might say to you at some point, Delphine, I had this fantasy that you were feeling disrespect towards that person. Is that true? And I might ask you because I have this sense that you told me you wanted to practice respect for everybody. I thought you told me that. Did you tell me that? Yeah, you did. And I asked you over and over, do you want to do that? And you said, yes, I do. So now I'm here to support you. If I ever have a fantasy that you're not being respectful, I think you would like me to find some way to ask you, how did you feel? Did you feel like you were being respectful? And you might say, yeah, I did. And you might tell me about it. And I say, oh, I get it. OK, fine.


And you welcome me to inquire, are you following through on these precepts? So if I do see you out of alignment with these precepts, I might say, I have this dream that you're out of alignment. You want to hear about it? And you might say, yeah, tell me. And I tell you to say, no, no way, I was perfectly in alignment. Or you might say, yeah, I was out of alignment, thank you. As a matter of fact, I noticed it even before you brought it up with me. At the same time you saw me looking out of alignment, I was feeling out of alignment. you might feel that way. And then someone might come and check with you, did you think you were being kind with so-and-so on that occasion? And you say, no, and say, I didn't think so either, okay? We help each other this way. That make sense? I've always thought of ritual, daily ritual, as a means of sort of checking up on alignment.


After I meditate I recite the refuges and prostrations in the morning as sort of a check up. I was listening to you talking about the relationship of the depth of connection. so many prostrations. And it made me wonder, I mean, obviously he felt very deeply about his commitment, but is ritual like that a means of confession and repentance itself? Is he confessing and repenting? Could have been. And we do a ritual here. That's how I started. Rituals often are things we repeat. So when we start these meetings here, we recite these verses. It's kind of a ritual we do here. And when we say, I vow from this life on throughout countless lives to hear the true Dharma, that's a time for us to check in.


Do I feel that today? Am I really making that commitment? Do I think that would be good? To hear the true Dharma? Yeah. Am I committing again? Yeah. And if the commitment is really deep, I think that makes me more susceptible to slight distractions, slight variations, slight lacks of alignment. The people who make the deeper commitment tend to be more sensitive to being out of alignment with it. And some people say, well, I don't want to make a deeper one then. But for most people it's a gradual process. As they become more deeply committed, they find out they can tolerate the sensitivity, And then they go deeper, because they feel like, I think I could tolerate a little bit more sensitivity, a little bit more awareness of more and more subtle misalignments. Or, you could say, more and more subtle proper attunements.


So rituals are times to check in. Like, I confess all my ancient twisted karma from beginningless, you could have a deeper or shallower feeling of that. But to not even say it, you might not have the opportunity to see how you feel about it. And so we say these vows, and at the end of this talk, we're going to say the vows again, and you can listen to those vows as you say them and hear them. And check, do you really feel these things? Do you really want to liberate all beings from suffering? Do you want to take everybody across to the other shore of peace. Yeah, we do that to keep realigning. And we have different feelings at different times. Enrique? I think, I mean, I kind of feel like I'm missing a piece here.


Like, for me it's important to with repentance, confessional repentance, to actually, if I hurt someone, to actually make amends. Because that would be healing the relationship. Yeah, I agree. Making amends. So again, if you commit to do to practice compassion, and if you don't, making amends starts often. You start with confessing that on this occasion you were not, and you're sorry. That's the beginning of making amends. Then the rest of making amends is you try again, and again. The making amends goes on forever. But it starts. When we receive the Bodhisattva precepts, we say in the ceremony, we say we start with Confession and repentance. We start with making amends.


For our ancient, all of it, we make amends by confessing, and then we go to practice the precepts. But making amends to a person or her? That we don't do. Because, I mean, by that we don't do, is in the ceremony we do not have time to go to all the people we made, that we've hurt, and we don't even know all the people we hurt. If you know a particular person you hurt, you might be able to apologize to that particular person. But that's not the whole story of making amends. If you go and say you're sorry and then you hit him again, that's not making amends. Making amends is confessing that you're sorry and then to commit to not doing it again. Right, but it's an addition for me at least. deterrent to have to go and make a mess personally to a person I've hurt.


That's why it's not necessary to go to the person, but you need to go to somebody. And often times it's easier to go to the Buddhas and ancestors, because the person you tell might say to you, might punch you in the face, and tell you that that was a lousy apology. You know? I agree, but... You agree with what? In a way for me it opens the door to get myself off the hook for potential more harm. Because it's easy, I don't have to go to a person and make amends. It gets you off the hook if you don't have to go to the person. I'm not saying you don't have to go to the person. I'm saying it might not be a good idea to go tell the person. I understand that. It might not be helpful. It might not be right away a good idea. Maybe I have to look for a good time and opportunity here. But in the meantime you can go to work. You don't have to wait to go talk to the person. Most people who come to tell me about their lack of compassion have not yet told the other person about it yet.


Most of the time. Most they tell me first. I'm the first one to hear. And then later they might be able to tell the other person. But sometimes they tell the other person, but they're still not done. They want to tell me too. Or you can tell the other person, but you're supposed to also... It's also helpful to tell the Buddhas and ancestors, not just the person. I agree with that. So you tell the person when it's helpful to that person. Not just to you. Tell the person when it's helpful to that person. And then... Not then. Period. But don't forget to tell the Buddhas and Ancestors. And you can do that in every case. In the meantime, when you tell the Buddhas and Ancestors, you're getting ready to find the time to tell that person. which may never happen. It may not be necessary. I actually had that situation.


What? I actually had that situation that I thought I need to make amends to someone, and something internally shifted. And I don't know why all of a sudden it became obvious that, no, it's not necessary. I don't know why, but it's just... I don't know why either, but probably you confessed and repented. inside and you may have done it to the Buddhas and Ancestors too. I became okay with saying what I was saying. I had benign intentions. And that's why it's good to go and tell the Buddhas and Ancestors because they're kind of smart. They're trained at this kind of stuff. So they might notice something that you didn't. And they might actually say to you, you should go tell that person. Or they might say, it's not necessary to tell that person. They might say, actually, if you tell that person, I think you've already told somebody, you told me, and you did a good job, and I examined the situation with you, and you seem to understand what you did, and you're sorry about it, this is good.


And I actually know the person you're talking about, and I think that would not be helpful to tell them. I think actually it might really discourage them. But the work you've done by telling me will help your relationship with them. And I think you feel clearer about how to proceed with this person now that you've told me. I think you're going to do a better job in your relationship. And telling them, I wouldn't advise it. But again, you're not under my control, so you do what you want. But I think that person would be not served by hearing the confession. So the example is, it's often good for parents to apologize to their children. Often good. It's often good to do so. But sometimes, there are certain things you should not tell children, because it will really confuse them and discourage them. But you need to have somebody to tell that stuff to, that you can't tell children. And Buddhas and Ancestors you can tell everything to.


And then they can tell you who you should go talk to, if necessary. And they do sometimes say, you should go talk to so-and-so too. But a lot of times I don't feel it's necessary for people to tell anybody. They've already told somebody. A person whose job it is to listen to it, as a matter of fact. So that's good. Good job, let's keep it up. Once in a while, I say go tell somebody else. I would say less than 5% do I recommend they go talk to somebody else. Either the person that they did it with or somebody else who needs to know. Red? aspiration to be more broader. I mean, if you did what you're saying, I don't know how I'd ever get anything done.


I used to take the iron, which is a samurai sort of thing. It's a two-piece weapon, a scion and a sword. In practice, this is drawing and cutting. That's the tradition. So I'm pulling it out, and the more I noticed, I was trying create something I thought was the ideal, I couldn't do it. I just kept altering until I stopped doing that. And somehow, I could draw things. I don't know if I can even say why. But when I had this idea of how to do it, I couldn't do it. And the same thing with surfing. I kept surfing unless someone taught me before. I'm trying to get on the board, and I have this idea. I've got to align and do this. And every time I did that, it was a disaster. And the lines are between them. Somehow my mind stopped having this idea.


I was able to get up on the board. I didn't even know how I did it. It seemed like a sword. It was like it was done without thinking. I'm trying to reconcile what you're saying with all this perceived interaction thing. I don't think my mind is capable of compassion. I'm going to hurt people, offend them, and I'll never be perfect to others because I'm deluded. The only thing I can do is notice it, and then let it go, and just move forward. But I'm not sure how that reconciles with this clinging to something that's happened already, Okay, I understand. So, your practice is to notice it and let it go. Is that right? Do I think it's ideal practice? We're not getting into ideal practices, right?


We're just saying, this is your practice of noticing and letting go. Is that right? The idea you want to have, that's your business. What you want to be lined up with, or maybe you don't want to get into alignment. Just something you want, that's what you want. Yeah, well, that sounds fine. You want to do... Yeah, it does sound like delusion. So you're going to give that up? Oh, okay. So you can't give up delusion? Did you say?


Wait a second. Did you say you can't give up delusion? Did you say you don't want to create more delusion? I didn't say any of that stuff you're saying. I'm deluded too. So we're both deluded. And I want to give up my delusions. And I agree, it's a delusion. My delusion is, I want to give up delusion. So that's where I'm at. I want to give up delusion. As a matter of fact, I'm going to make a vow to give up delusion in just a minute. I'm going to say, delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to give them up.


I vow to give up delusions. And giving up delusions is not having any, it's giving up whatever delusions there are. Whatever delusions there are throughout the universe, I want to give them all up. That's my vow, that's my wish, is to give up delusion. When I make that vow, I just feel full of love and peace and freedom and courage when I say that. To me, this is the path of happiness and freedom and peace. Here's the path of happiness and freedom for me. Delusions are inexhaustible. I vow to let them go. This is the path of happiness for me. And if anybody says what I just said is delusion, I say, thank you very much for calling my practice delusion.


It's fine. I'm happy for you to call it. You can also call it enlightenment if you want to. But I'm a little more scared of that one. Are you ready for our vows? Yes. Is everybody ready for some vows? Yes. Okay, here we go. May our intention equally extend to every being and place with the true merit of Buddha's way. Beings are numberless. I vow to save them. Delusions are inexhaustible. I vow to end them. Dharma gates are boundless. I vow to enter them. Buddha's way is unsurpassable.


I vow to become it.