New Year's Conversations

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

AI Summary: 



I will now offer three bows to this great assembly and to each of you. And you may, if you wish, return the bows. Then after I finish my third bow, I will fold up my bowing cloth and set it down, and then I will wish you a Happy New Year and do one more prostration, which you may also return if you wish. Does that make sense? Are you ready for this? Happy New Year.


Can you hear me okay? Yes. Good. I want to thank you all for coming to this New Year's meeting in this precarious world that we are living together in. It's wonderful that we still managed to assemble here. On New Year's Day, I walked among the giant redwoods. And I don't know how they see time. But in the realm of human reckoning, it seems like a very deeply difficult year has just ended and another difficult year has begun.


I don't feel on the verge of death, even though it may be so. Wonderfully, I do imagine being on the brink of complete perfect awakening. on the brink of the Buddhadharma manifesting right before us. So now I recommit to sit upright and still with all of you for at least ten eons. I will continue to practice with you another year since you have requested it. Thank you for coming today.


Thank you for all you do for the Buddha way and our practice of the Bodhisattva. We have entered a period of studying the wondrous teachings of the Dharma Flower Sutra. Next week we will intensify the teaching. Some of you may be involved in that intensive, three weeks, we'll focus on it.


And I understand that many of you have been studying together in groups. And I wanna thank you all for doing that. And I wanna thank the facilitators, the conveners of your meetings. Thank you so much for supporting this practice of studying the Dharma flower scripture. We don't know really definitively what it is, but we study it anyway. And I hope that you get the joke of such study. The Lotus Sutra offers various expedient means, various provisional teachings.


And one of the provisional teachings is that there are provisional teachings. Another provisional teaching is that there are ultimate truths. Another provisional teaching is that by studying the provisional, the ultimate truth will be revealed. But the Lotus Sutra never tells us what the ultimate truth is. It just gives us provisional means and tells us to study them, to open them, to awaken to them, and to awaken to the ultimate truth which is always present in the conventional provisional truth. Everything you see all day long is the skillful means of the Buddha. And in that skillful means,


is sitting brightly, the invisible ultimate truth, never apart from each moment of daily life. The Lotus Sutra teaches this, but I won't tell you where. If you, however, discover it someplace in the Lotus Sutra, or in your backyard or front yard, welcome you to let me know. But I'm not going to tell you where to look. I'm not going to point to it. This is the way of the Lotus Sutra. So now you have it, of course, as always. So please take care of it. Does the Great Assembly have anything to offer this morning?


If so, you may do so. Pam. Good morning, Reb. I just wanted to say thank you so much for being here and for continuing to be an inspiration for my practice. Thank you. You're welcome. Thank you for making it possible for me to exist. Oma. Thank you, Rab, for offering the one-pointedness and the no point of the Lotus Sutra.


You're welcome. Please take care of it. Enrique. Thank you, Rep. I was wondering if you could offer any guidance on how I should approach the Lotus Sutra. I've started reading it in bits and pieces. And I find it a little bit of a hard read. And I also noticed there are a lot of different translations. I work with the one I have, but I was wondering if you have any suggestions for someone who's new to the sutra, how to approach the study of it.


Which translation do you have? I was afraid you'd ask that. I don't know. It's one I got for free on the internet. If you talk a bit, I'll see if I can find it. I don't know offhand. Well, it's probably a good one. And in brief, I have a 52-year history. A 52-year history. of studying the Dharma flower scripture. I started in autumn of 1968. And I continued into the winter of that year, studying it.


And In the beginning of the sutra, the translation I read at that time was the only one I knew of, and that translation was from Sanskrit, and it was done, I think, in 1884 by, I think, a Dutch person, Mr. Kern. So he left the Sanskrit names in Sanskrit. So I was reading the Sanskrit names of all the bodhisattvas, and I stopped studying the Lotus Sutra. I closed the book. I did not force myself to read the Lotus Sutra. When I lost my joy in reading, I stopped.


I'm not telling you what to do, but that's what I did. And then later, when I felt some joy at the possibility of reading, I would open it again. And I did. And when I felt like I was proceeding by momentum rather than by dharma joy, I stopped, closed the sutra, But then I came back. And I did that off and on for two years. And after about two and a half years, one day I opened it up, and it started to speak to me. The lights went on, and the lights have been on ever since. But I didn't force myself to read it. I didn't force myself to recite it.


I didn't force myself to make copies of it. But over the years, without forcing myself, I have read it, I have recited it, and I have copied it. And the Lotus Sutra tells me, close this book and practice the Lotus Sutra with everyone. teach and be taught by everyone, and you will see the Lotus Sutra. So it says to me, and if you ask me where it says that, right now I won't tell you. Did you find your translation? Yes, I did. Three-fold Lotus Sutra translated by Buno Kato. Are you familiar with that? I am. It was like the second one I read.


It's a good one. However, there's about eight or ten other good ones. So, sometimes when I'm reading the Lotus Sutra and I get to a difficult spot, something that doesn't make sense, at that time I often go read another translation. I find that in translations of Buddhist scriptures, at the places where the scripture is most intense, the translations tend to be most different. They kind of like burst into all kinds of different flowerings at these concentrated points. And the different translations sometimes almost are opposite of each other at these difficult places. So that's one of the times when I go to other translations to get other perspectives on places that I'm having a hard time.


One thing that has made it easier for me are the parables, the stories. that are in the sutra here and there. And lately I've been thinking a lot about the parable of the burning house, for example. So I am encouraged by that. I find it, the stories or the parables make it more accessible to me. Yeah. So again, if you take care of the accessible parts, the inaccessible parts will be revealed. The ultimate truth is inaccessible, but it will be revealed if you wholeheartedly take care of the accessible parts. Take care of the accessible parts of your life and the inaccessible parts of your life will be realized.


But you can never grasp the ultimate truth. You can just receive it and enjoy it and practice it. Practicing it doesn't mean you get it. It means you live it. Thank you. You're welcome. Samir. Thank you. Thank you, teacher, for this year. And thank you for your support and your teaching. And I want to wish the whole Sangha around this world a Happy New Year. And I'm really looking forward to continue the study of the Lotus Sutra with you next week. Thank you, Reb. Thanks. Thanks a lot. Thank you. You're welcome. Me, too.


Happy New Year, teachers. Wish you a wonderful New Year and a Hosanga, wonderful New Years. Same to you, Meichu. Jean. Hello, Reb. It's nice to see you and to take a moment to share some intimacy with you. Sometimes when I see you, I want to hide and today I'd like to be seen. So it's nice to see you. When I woke up this morning and I knew you were on my schedule for a talk, I was quite excited. because I thought this is a New Year's talk. And during this talk, Rev will probably encourage my practice.


And you did. And you mentioned recommitting. And I love to recommit at the beginning of the year. It always infuses my practice with integrity. And so I want to thank you for that. I want to thank you for being my teacher and for encouraging me. My practice is our practice. And I'm grateful for that. I've been really enjoying the Lotus Sutra. I particularly love the parable of the phantom city and Without going into detail, I want to say that I thank you for once presenting me a phantom city for refuge. I appreciate your skillful means and teaching. I've been the recipient of turning points with you that have been life-changing, and I thank you for that.


I have one question about the Lotus Sutra because I haven't read any other sutras. And so my question is, the book goes into the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, the Twelve Chain of Causation, and I'm wondering, is this the first introduction of those teachings in the Lotus Sutra, or are they mentioned elsewhere also? They were mentioned, see, we are told the Buddha mentioned them about 500 years before the Lotus Sutra started to be composed. I see. So part of what the Lotus Sutra does, it's a revolutionary teaching. It's a revolutionary movement. However, it wants to keep in relationship to the earlier teachings.


The Buddha's teaching was originally a revolutionary teaching. in India. But then, hundreds of years later, a new revolution came. But the new revolution wanted to stay in close relationship with the earlier revolution. And the earlier revolution was the Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths, the twelve and ten and eight aspects of the Pinnacle Horizon. Those were revolutionary teachings So the Lotus Sutra keeps in touch with the earlier revolutions, but it has a revolutionary way of seeing the earlier revolutions. The earlier revolutions needed to be refreshed and turned, and the Lotus Sutra offered that. I see. I also have one other question, and that is that I've read


or heard that this is a teaching that, I don't know what other word to use, but dangerous, a dangerous teaching that is not offered to the uninitiated or that it should be very carefully transmitted. And I'm curious why that is. The Lotus Sutra itself at different points says, that this teaching should be only for very wise people. The Lotus Sutra says that. And at the same time, the Lotus Sutra says this teaching in this scripture is for bodhisattvas. And everybody is a bodhisattva. So the sutra says this teaching is for everybody, And this teaching is only for the most wise people.


And that could be seen as a dangerous teaching right there. The Lotus Sutra has been, just like in other traditions, now people use the Koran as a foundation for suicide bombing. People use the Bible for war, as the basis for war. People use the Bible as the basis for environmental injustice. But people also use the Bible for acts of great compassion. And they use the Koran for acts of great compassion. and they use the Lotus Sutra for acts of great compassion. So it is a scripture that can be used inappropriately and appropriately.


Some scriptures maybe that almost nobody can figure out of an inappropriate way to use them. They just say, be kind, be kind, be kind. But the Lotus Sutra is, Yeah, it's the basis of some of the most uplifting teachings and some of the most discouraging statements. Like the Lotus Sutra says that people who do not respect the scripture are going to get in big trouble. That's in there. That's part of the Lotus Sutra. And we have problems with that. And so part of our study of the Lotus Sutra is to discuss the problems we have when we read it. And if we see something that seems to be potentially misleading, we are being called to discuss that, to converse with the difficulties that we see, to protect beings from misunderstanding the Dharma.


But the Lotus Sutra can be misunderstood. Just again, all over the world, various revolutions can be misunderstood. And they can be understood in a way that is liberating and beneficial to all beings. So it's a very challenging world we live in. And so now we have a very challenging scripture to go with our difficult world. And we need to bring all of our practices of compassion to the study of the scripture. Which is to bring our compassion to the study of everything that appears in our life.


Because the Lotus Sutra is our life. Thank you. Happy New Year to you. May you be well, happy, safe and filled with loving kindness and to the Sangha. Karen. Hello, Rob. Hello. I would like to offer you my deep gratitude for your teaching and example and also for your friendly encouragement that we study the Lotus Sutra together. Thank you.


And I wanted to tell you the other night and a group of friends that were reading the Lotus Sutra It just happened that we were reading on a very rainy night in the world that I live in. And we were reading the chapter on the Dharma rain, falling on everything, kind of blessing the whole earth. And it just seemed marvelous. It was such a wonderful vision and incorporating, you know, where I was at least at that moment. It's really lovely. And that sweetness, you know, kind of balances some of the sharp edges for me. I just really loved it. Thank you. Yeah. Thank you so much. You're so welcome. Thank you so much for studying Lotus Sutra. In Northern California and Oregon, and I guess in Washington, where they get lots of rain,


Sometimes people get a little depressed when it's not sunny for months and months. So they named their Zen centers Dharma Rain to remind themselves that this depressing weather is actually the rain of Dharma. And then in Minnesota, they have Dharma Snow and Dharma Cold. Anne. Anne, are you there? Yeah, sorry. I'm sitting in a lot of sunlight because it's snowy here and I have to be in the sunroom.


So I especially appreciate the Lotus Sutra group effort out loud deal. In this particular difficult time, it's just so amazing to be surrounded by George Floyd and like just a lot of stuff going on and to be able to dig in a trunk and hold on to the ancient voices that are in all of us now alive. I just, it's so meaningful to me. I can't even say, just it's the path for me and it's very helpful. And before I read the Lotus Sutra, the first time on your kind of encouragement, I was in the middle of reading the flower ornament scripture. And then after reading the Lotus Sutra one time, I went back to finish that other one because it felt like such a dear friend.


And it, for whatever reason, it explodes in my mind and heart more easily, which makes me feel like I am a traitor to the Lotus Sutra and I am being damned. No, seriously, I'm like, it's not as, it's not, maybe it's good to hear you struggle the first time, but the flower ornament scripture just kind of grabbed me. I could just like read that book over and over. So I wanted your take. I know I don't necessarily need you to like compare what they're doing or what they're about. You could, but, you know, as you say, it's our life. So what's the difference for you in those books? What's the difference? In the Flower of Dharma and Scripture, it puts forth the teaching that all living beings fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the Buddhas.


However, because of attachment and misconceptions, they don't realize it. So they need teachings. And so the Buddha gives teachings. But the basic message is, they already fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the Buddha. So it offers this teaching of Buddha nature, and the Lotus Sutra does too. maybe some slight difference in the Lotus Sutra and the Tamsaka Sutra, the Flower Adornment, is that the Lotus Sutra says not only does everybody fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the Buddha, but everybody is doing the practice of realizing it, and everybody will realize it. So that's one of the main things that the Lotus Sutra adds into the wonderful world of the Flower of Dharman scripture.


It says all the living beings who have this wonderful inherent Buddha nature, they will realize it. And not only that, but the Buddha is still living in the world right now. That also is very strongly stated in the Lotus Sutra. So those are some things which Yeah, which are not so clearly found in the flower adornment scripture. And also I think the flower adornment scripture seems to be a little less dangerous. It hasn't been misused as much. So there is a difference, but they're both great vehicle teachings, the Lotus Sutra, does pay respects to other great vehicle teachings like the Flower Dharma Scripture.


However, some people think the Lotus Sutra offers some things even beyond the Flower Dharma Scripture, but not really different, just beyond or further unfoldments. Thank you. Marjorie. Thank you. Can you hear me? Yes, I can. Thank you. I want to thank you for this morning's service.


Can you hear me? Can you hear me Marjorie? and the Zoom services that have been helping me. And I want to thank you for your teaching. I mailed off, and can you hear me? You know, I could hear you when you said, can you hear me? But before that, it was like being underwater with you. You sounded like an octopus, which is cool. That's wonderful. It is wonderful. Can you hear me now? So let me move it.


I could hear you before, just now I could hear you say, can you hear me now? Okay, let me move it. Can you hear me now? Now I can hear English. Okay, good. Thank you. So, I'll say quickly, thank you for your teachings about the Lotus Sutra. I mailed off for two versions. The circumstances of my life right now, taking care of my life. don't really permit me to take care of my life and also read the Lotus Sutra, so I especially appreciate your teaching this morning. I just want to say briefly, I'm thinking about how it is when I need to travel light, as I do now, and I realize that's a long-term future. You first began to help me 50 years ago in the spring, when you allowed me to, at a troubled time in my life, to move into Zen Center.


And there I heard a lot about sincerity and warm heart. It took me a while to appreciate you very much, personally. I had some resistance. How long did it take? Well, it took until either 78 or 79, I forget which year it was, probably 79, when you came around the corner from the dining room and I came along the hall in front of the pictures of the stained glass window of the hands, I think it was, and the quality of your bow was so absolutely pure and unmistakably sincere that I really got it that whatever our differences, that your sincerity made me able to trust you completely. And it took me another 10 years then to, at another troubled time, to have you help me through part of the session and become a student.


So I travel light with two things all the time. One, the importance to me of trying to use my own sincerity to perceive the sincerity of whomever I'm practicing with. and then warm heart expanding to kindness. And if I use those two things, they help no matter what. I want to thank you very much for that through all the years, and I hope and pray that that will get me through the rest of my life, and you through me through the rest of your life, whoever makes it longer. that we all keep, that I keep being able to do that. I thank you so much. And I bow with only one hand because sitting outside, I need to hold up my iPhone with the other. Thank you so much. And may you please keep teaching us all. You're so welcome.


Thank you very much for that story. Now I'll go back inside because I won't be talking now. Thank you. And the story of your difficult times with me could be somebody else's story with the Lotus Sutra. Hello. Hello. I ran. Good morning, Katie. Good morning. I I'm not currently reading the Lotus Sutra, but I or not, but that's just what's happening. And, and I wanted to offer an appreciation of you this morning. And I've really been in my own practice sitting with the great


need that I'm feeling and perhaps many people are feeling of the urgency of the shift we need in our relationship to the climate, the environment, and to each other, particularly in the realm of racial justice and been sitting with how my individual what might benefit my individual practice in being part of that change and also what might be of benefit in our collective practice as well and just as I was reconnecting with your face this morning and feeling your uprightness and your practice it It really was a bodily somatic experience of the vulnerability and courage that I experience you continually modeling in your practice.


And those qualities seem so pertinent right now as we try to engage somehow in this shift individually and collectively. And part of what I was feeling in that was just how I was recognizing that it's actually, it's rare for me still in my life where I go into an interaction where the outcome feels completely open, where I don't know where it's going to go, I don't know what the other person is going to say, but I feel a spaciousness that that the person I'm with hasn't decided something about me, I haven't decided something about them ahead of time. And so often when I meet you face to face, I have that experience of the uncertainty, the not knowing where it's going to go, and And I imagine, I don't know what it's like for you, but I imagine that that takes over and over again, both a kind of vulnerability and courage.


And I feel that vulnerability and courage every time I meet with you. I just want to honor that experience, even if it's different for you, and just also share my own prayer for myself and share it to be witnessed by the Sangha to keep trying to cultivate that kind of vulnerability and courage to go hand in hand together. I would put it differently. What I pray for is not, I don't pray to be vulnerable. I am already. I've never not been. What I pray for is to accept my vulnerability and remember it. I'm not praying for vulnerability. I'm praying for accepting it and not forgetting it and not denying it. Which is similar to, I pray for, I pray to remember the Lotus Sutra, it's the same.


So I'm not trying to be vulnerable, I am, but I am trying to remember it, to not deny it, to not numb my feeling, to not numb my sense of it. And I pray for that for all of us. That will lead to a more peaceful, gentle world or not to lead to, that is a more peaceful world. That's a more peaceful world. So I'm looking at all of you. I see vulnerable people and I see people who are growing in the ability, the capacity to honor vulnerability. But as you know, there's a part of what we're vulnerable to is the impulse to deny vulnerability.


We're vulnerable to that too. Denying vulnerability, vulnerability means able to be hurt. And when we deny vulnerability, that hurts us right away. And so people, not people exactly, but the impulse to deny is part of what we have to have to live with. And that is another thing to be compassionate towards. Thank you. And you said you're not reading the Lotus Sutra, but by the way, when you express your gratitude to a Dharma teacher, that's the Lotus Sutra. The Lotus Sutra teaches that, but when you do it, you're living the Lotus Sutra when you express gratitude to Dharma teachers. Linda.


Good morning. Good morning. Thanks for what you just said about vulnerability. That was really deep for me. The reason I raised my hand was something else. You spoke of, you did some comparing at the beginning of the different holy books of different religions, and you said they could be used for not good purposes, that they're dangerous. And you gave some example of the Bible. And about those parts of the Lotus Sutra, which are very problematic for many of us readers, you seem to think that they were, the problem was just that they'd be misinterpreted, that they have a deep truth, but they were just, there was a danger of misinterpretation and the same with the Bible and Quran.


I want to propose to you, when the Bible says certain things, like slaves should obey their masters as if they were God, or homosexuality is an abomination to God, or you should stone your child to death at the gate of the city, you know, if they're disobedient, that's not just a danger of being misinterpreted. That's just wrong. That's just really wrong. It's a product of historical causes and conditions. I believe that some of the things in the Lotus Sutra are just wrong like that. What do you think? I think that when you see something wrong and you think it's true, that's a big problem. And if you think it's wrong and you don't study it, that's a big problem.


So, when some scriptures tell people to be cruel, you think that's wrong. And I agree, it's wrong. But it is in the scripture, and what the scripture is saying is, what does that mean that that's wrong? What does it mean that it's wrong to denigrate any living being? So rather than the sutras just saying, don't denigrate, they also sometimes say denigrate. What does that mean when it says denigrate? It sounds like they're encouraging you to denigrate. Well, it does sound like that. But what's the meaning of that? What is that about? That's something to have a conversation about. That's a conversation proof. It's not a truth. And you agree, it's not the truth.


Okay, so if it's not the truth, what do you do with things that aren't the truth? You penetrate them. If you leave them like that, you haven't penetrated them. Then they're just sitting there as not truth. Where's the truth? You need the truth too, right? Yes. Where are you going to find the truth? You find the truth in penetrating what you think is true, and you find the truth in penetrating what you think is evil, what you think is wrong. And the Lotus Sutra isn't just full of things which almost everybody would agree with as good. It has evil things in it. So part of the teaching of the Lotus Sutra is that in the greatest, most precious teaching, there is evil in it. But Buddha's teaching does not have no evil in it. That's part of the message of the Lotus Sutra, and that's dangerous. Some scriptures say this scripture is just pure.


It has no evil in it. And if you find any evil in it, let's edit that out. The Lotus Sutra has things in it that to many people, to you and to me, look wrong, look unkind, look disrespectful. Okay, what does that mean? Let's talk about that. The Lord's Sutra, one of the ways the Lord's Sutra is dangerous, is dangerous if you do not penetrate it. It's dangerous if you just go with your first take on it. Which is not wrong, it's just your first take. My first take is, this is wrong. Okay, now let's start talking. You say the same thing about the Bible saying that Slaves should obey their masters. You need to penetrate that rather than just say, I reject that. You can say you reject it, but don't stop there.


And also, when you say you reject it, don't stop. Just penetrate your own rejection. But penetrating your rejection doesn't mean you throw it out the window. It means you use it to open the truth. You did the same thing with your affirmation. Like somebody may come up to you and say, that was a really good lecture. And you go, well, maybe so. Now, you penetrate that. What does that mean when they say it's a good lecture? Well, one of the things it might mean is they agree with you. So everything is calling us to study, including evil in so-called deep teachings. But the Lotus Sutra is one that's kind of saying, hey, it looks like in the Great Sutra there is evil. And that's part of what people say, yeah. That Buddha is not separate from the evil world.


That's part of this teaching of this sutra. Buddha includes it. Yes, go ahead. Okay, thank you. of upsetting. Yeah, and that's part of what I said at the beginning of studying this. We are living in upsetting times and the Lotus Sutra is for upsetting times. It says this sutra is for evil times. Okay, conversation started. This sutra is for times of upheaval and the sutra is full of upheaval. It's not a smooth ride. And as one of our ancestors said, the boat of compassion is not rowed over pure waters. But just remember which boat you're rowing the compassion boat.


over these impure waters. Catherine. Hi, Rob. Morning, Catherine. You have been amazing in my life. And I'm so glad to hear that. Just thanking you gives me some credit that I'm embodying the Lotus Sutra because my dilemma has been, I came from a very serious intellectual father who forced a lot of lectures and reading on me. So I almost don't read, which is bizarre. No one can believe it, but I sort of have like traumatized with books. So what's cool about you is, and I became like an athlete comedic actress, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so what I get from you is very visual.


It's like someone listening to a song but paying attention to the music and not the lyrics. The first time I met you, I watched you for 10 minutes get into your chair. And I was on the edge of my chair watching you get settled into your chair. It was fascinating at some workshop I went to. And then I got, you asked me to come on stage. And despite me having been on stage for years, I was absolutely petrified. And it was the first moment when I realized this idea of authentic self for me, the practice. is teaching me about authentic self. And that's what you do for me the most. It's like, I'm a little bit of, you know, who am I really with all these years on stage? And then I get on stage with you and you're singing and I want to sing along and I don't. And it was like very interesting for me. And so I just want to say the other thing you did that was fabulous on the way down to Mount Madonna, my very first interaction with you after that first time,


On the way down, I get a call that someone was in the hospital in my family in New York. And I met with you. I'd never met with a teacher before. And I said, so should I jump on an airplane or go there right away or something? And you said, you said very kindly, you said, I don't think you're in any shape to help anyone else. If I were you, I would just stay here as long as you can. And those two things, I just want to say, And I mean it seriously, we're very life-changing for me. It just shook me totally about what I thought about myself and life. And that's what you do. I feel like even if I'm not reading, you embody you and yourself and the way you are. And the fact that you sing shifts you from my serious father, who's just reading and talking and studying to someone I can connect with. And so to me, that's a great, great gift that I can listen to the melody and I can watch your movement and I can get and learn about the way that way.


Forever indebted. Thank you. Patrick. Hello. Hello. It's Lee. Can you see me or hear me? I can see you and hear you. Okay, good. Now I can see you too. I am so thrilled with the questions this morning. Um, and I'm so glad that you just opened it up pretty quickly. because I get so much from each question. I wanted to thank Linda for asking that question about, you know, having, because I had that same experience of thinking things are wrong and really feeling the conviction of that like in my body viscerally. But I wanted to clarify what you meant by penetration and seeing through.


I'm going to try to tell you what I understand, and then you can tell me if that's accurate or not. That the penetration is one's effort to be with, for example, the conviction in myself that something is wrong. It's just wrong. And be willing to penetrate. to some other truth that is behind what appears to be wrong. That's what I've got at this point. Does that feel remotely like what you mean by penetration, penetrating? Or you could say investigate. Right. But again, it's a compassionate investigation. It's a respectful investigation. So how can you respectfully investigate what is wrong, what you think is wrong?


Right. And I usually have to start with my reaction because the reaction is often rigidity. And the reaction, too. The reaction deserves respect also. Right. Like Katie was saying, the feeling of vulnerability. Right. And I actually had that moment of feeling when Linda said, when Linda said it was hurting her heart, I felt that her vulnerability and felt it in my own heart too. It's hard to be with what appears to be wrong. But it's also hard to be with the pain in your heart. Yeah. So if you see something that you think is wrong and you feel the pain in your heart, I'm saying that investigating or penetrating to the truth would be to take care of the feeling in your heart. Yes. Be respectful of that, to have a conversation with that pain. Right. And then it could happen first, you know, before I can be with a pierced rod.


What Catherine was saying, before she goes and helps her family, she should take care of the pain in her heart before she gets on the airplane. They don't need somebody who's not taking care of themselves to come to visit. So again, first of all, take care of your body and then go take care of the evil. Respect your own pain and then respectfully study the evil in order to protect beings from evil. Because unstudied evil, evil loves to be unstudied. I mean, it thrives on the lack of study. Like people burning up documents, right? So that nobody can study them. You leave the documents, somebody can study them and protect people from what's in them. I feel like, I just want to thank Linda


for asking that question. Thank you, Linda. Yeah. And I have one other question. Thank you for supporting Linda, Lee. And Linda, thank you for supporting me, which you did by asking that question. And Rev, all your responses, obviously very helpful. But the other thing I wanted to ask about, because I'm not reading the Lotus Sutra and I I don't, I think I believe that I won't understand it, so what's the point? So when you said, we read it and don't understand it, but we study it anyway, and I hope you get the joke. There's part of me that, I don't totally get the joke, but I do feel the absurdity. And it's confusing.


You say absurdity, but you also say irony. Yes. And it's... The Lotus Sutra is an opportunity to develop the ironic dimension of human life. And irony is actually funny. When you get the irony, it's funny. What's funny to me is that here there's intelligent people studying something they don't understand that that does feel ironic. Yeah, and the Lotus Sutra says quite a few times that this sutra is very difficult to trust or believe and very difficult to understand. It keeps saying that over and over. That sounds very challenging. The Lotus Sutra says the Lotus Sutra is challenging. And sometimes the Dharma says the Dharma is easy.


But that's also ironic. So I wanted to ask one more thing. If one is upright, sincere, honest, has integrity, and has appropriate guidance, which is really important, does it matter which text, scripture, one studies. And I don't mean that rhetorically, I really have that question. I wouldn't say, no, it doesn't matter, or yes, it matters. I would just say that this practice should be applied to every single thing. But I won't say that it doesn't matter which thing you study. Just I would say, study each and every living being. Study each and every sutra that comes into your life.


And if somebody says, it does matter, it doesn't matter, that's another thing to practice with. Before those practices which you just listed, it says, to practice all virtues, but another meaning for practice all virtues is practice with everything. So I won't say it doesn't matter what you're looking at. I would say whatever you're looking at is the opportunity. Don't skip over what's in front of you now. So if I chose to put Koran or the Vedas in front of me, approach it with that same respect and honoring and interest and curiosity as you're asking for the Lotus Sutra. Yeah, if somebody put you in a room full of Korans, I would suggest you look at the... I'm not saying what page you should open or even if you should open the books,


But I think it'd be good to admit, I'm in a room full of Korans. I'm in a room full of Bibles. I'm in a room with moss on the wall. Don't skip over where you are. And you might eventually open the Koran and discover, oh my God, it's the Lotus Sutra with a Koran cover. I remember a story. This is a story from the culture of Islam. So this guy gets put in prison and somebody sends him a prayer rug. And he thinks, why are they sending me a prayer rug? Why don't they send me money or food or a key or a saw or a gun? They didn't have guns, but anyway, a sword. And then, you know, I guess he didn't immediately think, oh great, a prayer rug, I can pray.


He wanted to get out of prison. Of course, he was in prison because he didn't know how to pray. If you really know how to pray, you won't be in prison. Anyway, he was in prison and somebody sent him a prayer rug. So after some time, he got over his... what's the word, his anger at getting a prayer rug instead of the keys. And he thought, well, maybe I'll start using the prayer rug. So he started, he rolled it out and started, you know, bowing on the prayer rug, right? And he did it over and over. And after a while, he started to actually look at the prayer rug that he was bowing on. And then he looked at it, and he looked at it, and he looked at it. He started to see patterns in it, and he looked at it. And then he saw, oh my God, this prayer rug has the design for a lock in it. And so he opened the lock and walked out of prison.


Everything has the design of liberation in it, but you have to study it respectfully. You know, not spit on the rug. Get down to your knees and touch your head to it, and you will see the truth in the Quran, in the moss on the walls, in the Lotus Sutra. When we first started studying the Lotus Sutra, when I was at Tathagara and we first started studying, a lot of the students said, wouldn't it be just as good to study comic books as the Lotus Sutra? And I don't say, no, it wouldn't be. I just say, I don't think there's any comic books at Tathagara. But we have a bunch of Lotus Sutras here, and Siddhartha is going to come and teach it. So maybe we'll look at the Lotus Sutra. But if we were in a monastery that just had comic books, well, what would we do? You know, maybe we would look at them. And maybe we'd discover the Dharma in the comic books, if we practice being upright with them.


Maybe. If we practice right with anything, we will discover the Dharma. And that means everything, everything in our life. Don't skip over what's in front of you, study it. Open it up and discover the truth, and then you can really help people. And also, helping other people study is also a way for you to learn how to study. So you're talking to me, I'm talking to you. This is also opening the teaching. This is also learning about myself. I can't see you at the moment.


Let me find you. There you are. So I wasn't sure what I wanted to ask, but I felt like I wanted to ask something. And I think it came to me in terms of what you were saying just now, that this desire to open up whatever is right in front of me, in a way, becomes like an obstacle to actually relating to what's right in front of me. Because I have a hard time accepting it as this opaque surface, like it appears to be. And it's like I'm rejecting how it appears and I want to go through it to something amazing that it must be hiding inside of itself or something like that. And, uh, I don't know if that question makes sense, but. Oh, okay. You're muted. I forgot that I can talk. No, I got, I got muted.


So you can answer, you can speak for me, Bajra. So part of the subtlety of penetration is to not skip over the surface. So if you want to penetrate to the profound teaching, don't skip over the surface. Don't try to get rid of the surface and go deeper. That's not how to penetrate. Just be totally wholehearted with the surface and the deep will be revealed. and brought up the flower adornment scripture. And the main samadhi of the flower adornment scripture is called the ocean seal samadhi. And that's almost like a pun, but the character doesn't refer to a mammal. The word means the ocean mudra, the ocean circle, the ocean seal samadhi.


And Dogen commenting on this ocean seal samadhi says that this samadhi is to be on the surface of the ocean. And at the same time, have your feet on the deepest floor of the ocean. But we don't realize our feet on the deepest floor of the ocean unless we're really up there swimming on the surface. So don't skip over the surface to get to the depths. Take care of the surface and you'll realize the depths. They're simultaneous. I think this is struggling to develop that confidence that I can just relate to the surface that appears to me and that's sufficient. We're struggling to do, it's an endless, it's an eternal struggle. to take care of the surface, where there's evil and good popping up and out, to just take care of the surface.


And remember that when we take care of the surface, our feet are also on the profound truth at the same time. And we will realize that. We will integrate the surface and the deep by taking care of the surface. Whether I know it or not, it's there, right? Whether we know... We don't know it. We don't know it. We can't know it also, right? We cannot. But we can realize it by taking care of the superficial. And we can realize that the superficial is superficial. It is superficial. Like, you know, the prayer rug. But right in the superficial is the profound liberation without moving anything. It's right there. And we will discover it by being faithful, by being confident in what's being offered to us right now.


Thank you. And thank you also for this opportunity to meet face-to-face. representation of a face to representation of a face, painting of a face to painting of a face. You're welcome. Thank you for coming to meet. Patty. Did you say Patty? Yep. Thank you. Thank you, Reb. Thank you, Patty. For being our teacher. this past year. And thank you to Linda, for bringing up her difficulty with the Lotus Sutra. I'm reading the Lotus Sutra with Linda. I mean with Karen Mueller, and they came across this one part and I wrote down the page numbers. Pages 98 and 104 were very


racist 93. And she spoke in page 105. He spoke partially of disabled persons, page 107. He spoke against animals. And I haven't haven't wanted to pick up the Lotus Sutra since then. Because I felt very discouraged. But I am, I'm definitely feeling encouraged by the way that you have been suggesting that we investigate since Linda asked her question. Yeah, so the Lotus Sutra is saying study racism. It's saying study disrespect for different categories of beings. It's saying study this stuff. But it doesn't say it that way.


It says it in a way that makes you really want to quit studying. Yeah. So, if you come back to study, you realize you're getting into hot water, or they say cold water. You're getting into some difficulty. And at first, like me, When you first run into it, you say, I've had it. I'm out of here. And again, I think of a number of Zen stories where somebody is interacting with some teacher and they get angry. And they say, I'm out of here. This is stupid. This is absurd. And then they leave the monastery, and sometimes they never come back. But sometimes as they're walking away, they think, hmm, maybe I should give it another chance.


And then they go back, and the same thing happens, but they see it in a new way. It doesn't take away, It's just they get another perspective, which they couldn't get the first time. And the first time what they got was something that made them want to give up and not study anymore. And they came back and they said, I want to study more. Let's try it again. Oh, now I see what life's about. I thought I knew what it was about, and what I thought I knew it was about made me want to give up. Now I see what it's about. It doesn't make me want to be racist. Now I see how to take care of disabled people. Now I see how to take care of animals. Now I see how to take care of trees. Before I thought I knew how, but now I really know how.


And this isn't the end. So there's many stories of people getting discouraged by many teachers. And the Lotus Sutra has stories about that. There's a chapter in the Lotus Sutra called Never Disparaging. This one bodhisattva went around and said to everybody, you will become Buddha. I will not disrespect you. I will not disparage you because you will become Buddha. And people who didn't like that guy, they thought that guy was evil, was stupid, and they punished him, but he didn't give up. And he became Shakyamuni Buddha. Thank you, Patty. Thank you, Reb.


And take your time. get your compassion outfit on before you go back. Yep. Tracy. Good morning, Reb. Good morning. About 10 or 15 years ago, I was at a no abode day. And it was work period. And I was given to wash the door. Yeah, wash the glass of the doors that go outside to onto the deck. And so I have my Windex and paper towels. And I was, you know, really, I was going to do a good Zen job, like a perfect job of cleaning the windows.


And you walked by And you said, be sure and don't try to accomplish anything here. And I was just like, stopped in my tracks. It's like, what are you talking about? I have to say, I've been thinking about that for 10 or 15 years. Like, what were you talking about? So, and at another time you've said something like, when I've, argued, I've questioned your use of language. Sometimes you said, Well, my job is to unseat you or to have you not just carry on to be thinking. And so today, when you talked about your relationship with the Lotus Sutra, that you started reading it, and then it was like, not so much. And so you went away until a sense of joy returned. And I was thinking, I don't know that I would characterize my Zen practice with joy.


I mean, I think I would characterize being at the intensive at Green Gulch. That was joyful for me, but like if I think right now, it's 2021, things are tough out, it's gray. Here's a Lotus Sutra by my bed, here's Netflix, which, I don't know. If I were saying now, really, what would give me the most joy? I'm questioning that word. I'm questioning that word in relationship to plowing into the Lotus Sutra. And I wonder if you have any comments. Well, I don't know if I actually said the things you say I said. I, wow, I'm good for something. Anyway, it's not that the Lotus Sutra gives me joy, it's studying the Lotus Sutra that gives me joy.


The Lotus Sutra doesn't come walking over to me and zap me with joy. The Lotus Sutra said, the Lotus Sutra is sitting there. And if I am practicing compassion towards it, I become joyful. If I turn it, it turns me. I turn it, it turns me. So you said something about my job is to, you said unseat you. That's a word can be used. You know that game, what is called, What's it called? About the chairs. When you go around, change chairs. What's that called? Musical chairs. My job is to unseat you, to give you another chair, or my job is to turn you and be turned by you. And your job is to turn me and to be turned by me. So when you're washing the windows, you turn me.


And when you turn me, I say, you're not trying to get anything out of that, are you? And that turns you. The Lotus Sutra is turning and being turned. That's my job. That's the Lotus Sutra job. But it doesn't give us joy. It's that when we turn it, joy comes. And when it turns us, joy comes. It's the interaction. So if... And if you turn Netflix, it's the same. Do you turn Netflix? It's possible. It's possible. Any Dharma, any phenomenon is possible to turn if you apply the practice to it. And any Dharma then can turn you. Any phenomenon can turn you. And in that turning, you see the truth.


The Dharma wheel's turning. And we need joy in the process, and there is joy in the process. And the joy nourishes and fuels the process. And the process includes renewing the resources of joy. So you said, I don't think of my practice as joyful, but you said, but in the intensive I do. Well, the intensive, you're doing so much turning, you find the joy, and because you find the joy, you do turning. Because you do the turning, you find joy. If you practice with the Lotus Sutra the way you practice during the intensive, it's the same. If you practice with Netflix, the same way you practice with the intensive, it's the same. comic books, Netflix, Lotus Sutra, moss-covered trees, they're all, there's nothing that's not an opportunity for practicing compassion.


There's nothing that's not an opportunity to wholeheartedly study. And we're here to encourage ourselves, each other to do that, plus to turn each other in the process of study. Not just to encourage each other like, Tracy, would you please wash the windows? But then when you wash the windows to come over and talk to you about how you're doing it. You asked me to wash the windows and now you're asking me, just give me a break and let me wash the windows. But when you say that, you're turning me. And then I can say, sorry, I just wondered, and that turns you. So washing windows, Netflix, comic books, Lotus Sutras, white walls, demon faces. This is one of the great things about the Lotus Sutra. It says, study them all. Dennis.


Good morning, Rev. Happy New Year. Happy New Year to you. Thank you. I'm so grateful for another year, another moment with you, with your teaching. Thank you. I have nothing so profound to say except for just my gratitude for how wonderful it is to be with you the sangha, the questions, the penetration. And, um, I'm just so grateful for that. One of the things, um, you've made, uh, you've helped me stop and think about the way we use words, the way we. And that means so much to me.


You've stopped me a couple of times and asked me what I meant by a question or a word. And it has made me investigate the usage of, so often we use a word without thinking what that word actually means. The word investigate, If we investigate that word and unpack it, it's the vestige, the construct, the structure, looking at the structure, taking it apart, unpacking it. And that's so helpful for me to think about it in that way that I I can't understand impermanence. I can't understand the Lotus Sutra.


But I can, what is, as you say, what's accessible to me, I can take that, unpack that. I can't know the whole thing right now, but slowly, forever, and continually, I can unpack it and just understand this much and investigate, study that small portion. And that feels good to me. That's joyful to me that I can understand this much right now. And I don't get so frustrated. Well, if you ever get frustrated, you know what to do with it, right? Investigate it. Linda.


Excuse me for speaking twice. I just wanted to say that I understand that the world this, our world has evil and cruelty and suffering, and that it's up to me to penetrate that both outside and inside. But I would like to compare you to the Lotus Sutra. Precious, beloved, venerated, trusted. If you started saying things that were very that were cruel and violent as if they were true. I would, you know, I don't know what I would do. I haven't heard you do that ever except I've heard you made a mistake now and then that was unconsciously cruel and you were vulnerable and you worked with that.


But to say it as if it's true from such a position of being trusted and loved, not okay. I would be terribly, terribly hurt by that. So, is that a valid comparison with the Lotus Sutra? I think so. The Lotus Sutra says those things as if they are true. Yeah, but if I said it, you said if I said it as though they were true, that would be very painful and It would be terrible. It would be such a crisis that I would either be crushed or, you know, it would not be just full rubbish, just using skillful means. It would be terrible. It would be terrible. Because you would be spreading that to the Great Assembly. It would be terrible. However, the way you respond to it could be wonderful.


Yes. And it's not easy when you're feeling terrible or when you're feeling crushed. It's not easy to come back with compassion. I come with compassion to the author of the Lotus Sutra who unconsciously spread violence? Let's talk about with me. If I did something terrible, it's possible that you would come back to me with compassion. and tell me that what I just did seemed terrible to you, that you would help me when I was being terrible and hurting you or other people. You might do that. Now, that would be a lot to ask of you, but that's what is being asked of you. But it's very difficult. And if I make a mistake and quickly say, I'm sorry, that makes it not so difficult for you.


But if I make a mistake and then say I didn't make a mistake, that makes it harder for you. But again, could you, after I refuse to say I'm sorry, still hang in there with me and help me? And say, can I try this again with you? Are you open to the possibility that you just did something harmful? And I might think, oh yeah, you finally get to me. I'm sorry. So what you do for me, if I get off track, do with the Lotus Sutra, if it gets off track. Yeah, I would do that with the Lotus Sutra. But I wouldn't say, oh, the Lotus Sutra is telling the truth, I just need to understand it better, in that particular instance. I don't say that the Lotus Sutra is telling the truth. I say the Lotus Sutra is the truth, and the truth includes falseness.


The truth includes evil. It isn't like in some other world. The truth penetrates and cohabits the world of evil. That's the Lotus Sutra's teaching. So, when we see evil, we are being called to go there, to enter it and liberate it. And yeah, and that's not, that's so difficult. We've kind of, get me out of here. I don't want to deal with that. Okay, fine. But the Lotus Sutra says practice with that and how the upright, gentle, harmonious, honest, I think this is evil, be honest about that. But in a, like the Buddha would do it. And this is the path of liberation, but not the path of elimination.


The Lotus Sutra isn't eliminating anything. It's including it all And that means we're going to run into some really tough stuff because everything's included. And the worst thing is harming beings. So if I do something that's harmful, I need your help. And if it gets so bad that you're on the verge of giving up, tell me that you're on the verge of giving up on me because I'm so evil. That might get my attention. As I said earlier this last year, I said quite a few times, and the year before I said quite a few times, what I am is questionable.


That means you can question me. I am debatable. I am open to questioning. I am to be called into question. And so is the Lotus Sutra. And so are you. You're like the Lotus Sutra. You're questionable. You need to be called into question by others. The Lotus Sutra is being called into question by others. This is the process of ethics. Elphina. Thank you, Reb, and to everyone who is speaking this morning, and Happy New Year.


I just wanted to acknowledge how live the dialogue feels and really appreciating that it feels like there's a lot of heart and connection in a form that's challenging at times for me. But I wanted to thank you, Reb, for helping me over the years being a real healing force in my life. And one thing in particular is that I struggled, I think I would come to you a lot with feeling this feeling of being alone and separate and you would say, you know, you're not alone. And I really didn't feel that. I mean, it was really taking quite some time to really get that. But I do feel like I have a much greater sense of being able to let the love in.


So I really feel, you know, it's time to thank you for that. Yeah, to thank everyone in a way, really, I feel like that's been quite something for me. And the last thing is just, I wanted to thank Katie and others who have brought up racial justice and racial injustice. And I've been working, investigating a lot this year, what is my heart and being in this system of white body domination. And I don't have a lot of answers, but I do feel like I've been more able to feel uncomfortable and just hang in there with it.


I appreciate that conversation in our Sangha, like how can we together bring awareness and open to the unconscious ways that I'd like to be more conscious or welcome what's in the unconscious around that. Thank you. I think if you have anything to say about that, I would love to hear. I think what comes to my mind is the way of relating to your feeling of being alone is kind of in concert with your way of feeling the pain of racial injustice and your responsibility for it. If you feel alone and I say you're not alone, I also wanna say that if you can totally embrace feeling alone, you will discover that you're not.


And if we can embrace the pain of racial injustice and the pain of our responsibility for it, we will discover racial justice. But we can't skip over the surface pain of our understanding or the pain of our superficial understanding of injustice. We have to feel the pain of it. Open to the pain of it. And that will open to us seeing new ways of relating to the injustice. There is justice, but we aren't gonna find it if we skip over the injustice. There is a joyful, peaceful feeling of justice, but we can't skip over the painful feeling of injustice to get there.


Thank you for bringing that up. Kim and Barry. Hi, Rev. Hi, Barry. Is that Barry? Yes, it is. It's Barry. And Kim? Is Kim sitting next to you? Hi, Kim. Hi. Hi, Rev. I want to thank the sangha. I want to thank you for all the wisdom and the teachings. The questions today have been really good. Um, I have a question for you and in my practice, um, I am, I'm able to get in touch with the stories that I tell about other things and people, the stories that I make up in my mind. And when I get in touch with them, I realized that there's often an emotion behind them. That's making me tell the story to justify the emotion that I feel. Um, and, um,


But when I get in touch with that emotion, I realize that it's a much deeper emotion like rage or greed or pain of some kind. And I want to know how to deal with or to get in touch with, take care of that deeper emotion that seems to be from my childhood, almost like really a powerful, strong emotion that is triggering all of the the stories that I make up in the present. Does that question make sense to you? Yeah. So you have some experience of pain, of rage, and you have stories circulating around those feelings, and those feelings are interfused with the stories. And if you want to get in touch with something deeper, about the pain or deeper about the stories, I'm suggesting that you practice compassion with the current stories, the current pain.


And as you practice compassion with these stories, remember that part of compassion is that you're called into question by others about how you're practicing compassion. So you got a story, and let's say you're ready to now compassionately study the story. That's good. But also, you need to be in conversation with the story, and for example, with Kim, about the way you're studying the story. Don't study the story all by yourself without being questioned about how you're studying. Because you can study the story and think you're studying it, and Kim might notice that you're overlooking a certain aspect that you could be questioning or you could be looking at. So if you study your stories wholeheartedly, which means you do it together in conversation with others, you will realize the profound truth of your stories.


If you study your feelings in this way, you will discover the profound truth of your feelings. All your feelings have a superficial and a profound truth. And you can actively, consciously work with the superficial appearance of your feelings. But you need to do it together with Kim and me and everybody else. You can't do it thoroughly by yourself. You can do somewhat by yourself. But the most important part is to include other people in your study, which you're doing right now. You're studying your rage, you're studying your stories, and you're talking to me about it. So please continue this way of dialogue around these superficial things, and the dialogue will open up the profundity of these things, the profound meaning.


I think I hear exactly what you're saying, but it feels like the deeper emotion is so powerful that the trivial emotion in the present is just being fueled by this bigger emotion from the past or this bigger, more powerful rage that, you know, that is an unjustified in the present moment, but it's, it's in the, where it's coming from is this powerful. Yes, that's true. Emotion that I, that I don't, I don't know where to, how to get, you know, not get rid of it, but how to sort of make sense of it. I can see what you're saying. And what I'm saying further is that when you deal with, you could say, the superficial emotion. When you deal with it in a compassionate way, which again means compassionate with other people helping you be compassionate with it, that transforms the place from which this emotion comes.


This huge, you could say, field or realm from which this current emotion comes, that huge storehouse, gets transformed by the way you take care of this current little emotion. And the power of that source of this current emotion is because of the way from ancient times you unskillfully led, took care of your emotions. And it is huge, but it is transformed It is immediately transformed by the way you deal with the current emotion. And it can be transformed into growing bigger and darker, bigger and more unfortunate, if you don't take care of the little superficial thing. But if you take care of the little superficial thing, the huge thing gets transformed.


Not all at once, though. But every single time you're compassionate with your current emotion, this place you feel, this place which you've heard about, which is the source of these superficial things, it gets transformed. I just got the image of the way you take care of a mushroom transforms the fungus of which the mushroom is a flower. The mushrooms are just the flower of this vast system of fungi. The way you take care of the mushroom, it immediately transforms the whole fungus. The same with your emotions. The way you take care of their manifesting presence transforms their source, which is huge. Thank you. You're welcome. And Rabbi, if I can have a twofer, I just want to thank you so much for your teaching and


for another year of your teaching. And I also wanted to ask, because I think my mind does a little trick when I'm looking at something that I disagree with, let's say in reading the Lotus Sutra, because I think what I think of is an investigation of something that I find unpalatable or wrong. ends up actually sort of bringing it around to my way of thinking about it. So then if I extend that to somebody who has an opposing viewpoint of how life should be or whatever, that I kind of justify their way of looking at it so that it comes back around to my way of looking at it, like I make an excuse for it. I don't think I'm actually being skillful in that way, in the way that you're talking.


You might be right. And if you tell your friends about that, they might say, hey, what are you doing, Kim? You just pulled a fast one there. You didn't really deal with the problem the way you turned it. So we do turn it, but we also turn it with feedback. Yeah, because what I say is, well, what that writer really means is... Yeah. And sometimes that's helpful. Sometimes that's good. But still, even though it might be good, you still might say, ask Barry what he thinks of it. And he might say, you know, I think you took kind of a shortcut. you kind of bypass the real problem. When you did that, that was nice and you feel good now, but I think you still have some more work to do there. So bring the solutions to the problems to your cohort and see if they think you really solved it.


Thank you. Robert. Okay, I'm unmuted. Can you hear me? Robert, I can hear you. Great. Can you see me? I can see you and I can see your books. Okay. I've been reading a lot of Bernard Ford recently, and I've always enjoyed his books, and particularly recently I've been reading them. And one of the authors that he talks about is, or one of the works he talks about, is Barth's Pleasures of the Text. it reminded me of my being a working class kid who just lucked into college.


At that time, they actually still had public university scholarships and stuff, and I went to college and I learned the pleasure of reading. And I bring this up because, so, Sorry for my random thoughts, but my heart really starts beating. And you know that we've had discussions before, and sometimes it's a little difficult to talk. So about 15 years ago, I read Brian Victoria's work on Soto Zen in imperial China and imperial Japan. And I almost let go of Soto Zen because it so upset me to hear the history of Soto Zen and its participation in the war. And as I was listening to the discussion this morning, it reminded me also that in reading the Lotus Sutra,


in the last six weeks that a lot of class injustice came up for me because all these images and stories are always of the rich. And the poor hardly make an appearance, or if they do, they're treated somewhat meaningfully. And since I was a working class kid who lucked into college, I still carry a lot of that in me, a lot of resentment. for that kind of treatment. So I bring up these things because one of the ways that I have sort of managed to get a lot out of the Lotus Sutra is for me, texts have karma and they carry karma with them. And I see my bodhisattva my bodhisattva way is to work with karma.


Reading your work on the Samjnir Mokana Sutra and reading some other works that also, plus the work itself. One of the things that really struck me was that in every moment, We have a whole of karma that resides with us, that comes with us, that is renewed with us. And what we do in that moment with all that karma and how we move to the next moment is really what's important. And when you talked about penetration, and really reading the text and not accepting everything in the text, but working with that text. And, you know, it's sort of like the historical and the ultimate dimension to really take in all that historical dimension and let yourself go somewhere beyond that.


That to me has really been important. I just want to tell you thank you for staying for some eons and I want to express my gratitude and I'm looking forward to the intensive. And I think you've heard me say this before, which is a general recommendation not to ever swallow anything whole. Don't swallow even the Lotus Sutra, or the Heart Sutra, or anything I do. Don't swallow it whole. However, you might take a bite of it, and then chew it, and [...] chew it. And if you chew thoroughly, you never even will notice that you're swallowing. But you will, after you've thoroughly chewed the material.


But if you swallow it whole, it's not good for you. Chewing it, study it. But you might think about taking a bite now and then. And don't take a bite that's so big that you can't chew it. Whatever size bite you take, chew, [...] chew. And chew compassionately so you don't break your teeth. or, you know, so you don't put something in your mouth that's too hot or too cold. May your study continue. Tillman and Isabel. Thank you. I wanted to Well, thank you, Reb, and the whole Sangha for this, for me, very precious talk.


And because I feel, yeah, it very touches me and it feels very close. And yes, initially, I just wanted to say that and when I raised the hand, It's that I started to be stressed because I was about to talk at a point and now I wanted to share that too. And thank you. Thank you all for the evening for me, morning for you. Thank you. You're welcome. Homer. Thank you for calling me again. I've been hearing you for many years and hearing a lot of teachers for many years.


I find myself always in a problem. And the problem is I either believe it's one or two. It's either this or that. And from the teachings, I'm hearing it's neither one nor two, either one or two. And I, my problem is I have a hard time and you speak about that hardness and compassion and be compassionate, be compassionate, be compassionate to the hardness of slipping into one side or the other.


I guess as I look into myself, I'm realizing that I am not, and I cannot, and I don't see that compassionate heart. I have to be that compassionate heart, and I'm not. And the not side of it, it keeps me going. And I don't, that's the problem. That's a problem. It's a big one. It's not the whole problem. What's the whole problem? Even if you are compassionate, it's still difficult. So you say, not one and not two, okay? Not one, not two, not both one and two, and also not neither one or two. And living in that place,


where it's not one, not two, not both, not neither, living in that one place is hard for us. It's so demanding. And you practice compassion with that difficulty, yes. But even if you get over your problem with compassion, you say sometimes you're not even compassionate. Well, that's a problem. But the compassion also, it's hard. So this is, it's hard, this is again an expression of being upright. Not one, not two, not both, not neither. And be upright with that. And that's a great challenge. And we'd have to be compassionate with how hard that is. And also, when we slip into one, or we slip into two, or we slip into both, or we slip into neither, then to be kind to ourselves when we slip. So it's hard to be upright, and it's easy to slip, easy to slip, and maybe hard to be kind to ourselves when we slip.


But when you're kind to yourself when you slip, then you can come back to being upright with not one, not two, not both, not neither. That's where the truth is alive. And it's a constant struggle to re, knew the uprightness and to be kind when we slip off. Yes, and if you can give a little bit more comment on my not wanting the constant struggle. I want to not have this struggle. Constantly I want to deny, I want to avoid or I want to go beyond, or I want to skip, I want to do anything I can... So that's slipping into two. That's what it's like when you slip into two, that you want something else.


I agree. I agree with that. But I call it, that's me. That's who I am. My being is that. So how can I be free from my being? So who you are at that moment is you just slipped. You're an unskillful person at that moment when you slip into that of wanting something other than this. So be the unskillful being. Be the unskillful being. You already did that. That's good. And then admit it and forgive and be kind to yourself for being a slippery person who keeps slipping into unskillfulness. Be kind to that person. And then we're back to work again. I try. Please do. At least for one more year. Amanda. Happy New Year.


Happy New Year. I'm gonna love you like nobody's loved you. Come rain or come shine. That is something I feel like I've learned from you. And it's been coming up, that song's been coming up a lot. I don't actually know the whole song. Perhaps I will learn it someday. But it's reminding me, actually, as we're talking, it's kind of the same. I'm going to recite you like no one's recited you. Come rain or come shine. And it's kind of like, you know, I'm going to study you like nobody studied you.


Come rain or come shine. I'm gonna question you like nobody's questioned you. Come rain or come shine. Happy together, unhappy together. Won't it be fine? Yeah, let's keep studying. Let's study everything. Thank you. Thank you. Maybe we have completed our conversation this morning. And may we continue together for at least 10 eons. Thank you very much.


And once again, Happy Blessed New Year. May our intention equally extend to every being in place with the true merit of Buddha's way. Beings are numberless. I vow to save them. Afflictions are inexhaustible. I vow to cut through. Dharma gates are boundless. I vow to enter them. Buddha way is unsurpassable. I vow to become. And I want to say thank you again to all of you who are studying the Lotus Sutra and all the people who are facilitating your study. And I also wanted to mention that I said a few months or so ago that I got some clearance from Green Gulch to meet with people individually here at Noah Abode outdoors, social distancing and wearing masks.


But with the current and past surges, Green Gulch has become stricter and they're still not ready. Now they've withdrawn permission for me to meet with you in person under those outdoor conditions. So I'm sorry to postpone our meeting longer. I think, I hope you understand. And yeah, I hope we can be together in the same place. I should say closer, six feet away instead of six miles away or 6,000 miles away. I pray for that. Thank you so much. And thank you, Eileen, for being our host today. Bye-bye.