No Abode Dharma Talk - July 31st, 2021

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

AI Summary: 



We have a series of meetings through the venue called the Yoga Room, and we've been discussing, we've been meditating and contemplating and discussing great compassion and many forms of compassion. I just saw a new person. Did I see June joined? Did she? Welcome, June. And is Jack there? Welcome, Jack. So we've been talking about compassion, and in particular, towards the end of the last session, I was talking about the difference, the relationship between loving-kindness and compassion.


We could also say great loving-kindness and great compassion. So I would start by saying that there can be what might call loving-kindness and compassion that is not yet completely, what's the word, completely intimate. And that kind of loving-kindness and compassion are very important. We have them in the world, and they're wonderful. And loving-kindness in that form is basically to wish yourself and others peace and ease and lightness


and freedom from anxiety and pain, wishing well yourself and others. And that practice is, when we get mature in that practice, it is a great joy. And then there's compassion, which we've also spoken about, of having different types. But again, the immature compassion is a compassion which has objects. And I would say the immature loving-kindness is also a loving-kindness which has objects. Where we wish people well, where we wish beings well, but we still see them as objects. And in compassion, that has compassion for suffering beings and sees them as objects,


this is what we might call sentimental compassion. Great loving-kindness and great compassion is to wish others well and to practice compassion with them where there are no objects. We practice loving-kindness, we wish well, we wish all beings well, we practice compassion, we are intimate with all suffering beings, but we are free of seeing them as separate. We are completely intimate with those we wish well and those with whom we are intimately practicing together in the world of suffering. And one of the issues that came up again is, there is a difference between wishing people well and wanting them to be different.


Just as there is a difference between being compassionate towards suffering beings and wishing they weren't the suffering beings they are. Just the other day, someone said to me that they came to practice Zen to reduce suffering. And I think that the practice or the exercise or the skills of reducing suffering are really wonderful. And if I'm in great pain and some medical person gives me help and my pain is reduced, I feel grateful to them and grateful to their skill. But loving-kindness and compassion are not so much about reducing.


For me, they're not about reducing suffering. They're not about reducing pain. They're about wishing people who are in pain, wishing them well, wishing them freedom. They are about practicing compassion towards beings who are suffering, practicing compassion with beings who are trying to reduce their suffering, being with them and protecting them from suffering, protecting them from their wish to reduce suffering, to be with them and protect them, to be their friend, to be their support, to be their companion, to be their refuge.


Being this way with suffering beings, this is what I mean by compassion. If their suffering is reduced, we all might feel a joy. And here's the part which I say very gently because it may be shocking. But although we feel joy when our suffering decreases or when the suffering of someone we love decreases, that kind of joy of a decrease in suffering is what we might call mundane joy. Practicing compassion with beings in suffering is not about reducing suffering. It's about protecting beings who are suffering. It's about liberating beings who are suffering.


And when we feel compassion for beings who are suffering, even if we don't see them as objects, we feel pain. And in that pain that we feel for those whom we love, in that pain there is a joy which is not a mundane joy. It is the joy of the Buddhas who are with us as we are, and who are our friend as we are, and who are friend with our suffering as it is, and they understand it as it is, and they protect us while we're suffering,


and they liberate us while we're suffering. This kind of compassion protects and liberates. It doesn't increase or decrease suffering. This kind of compassion protects and liberates. It doesn't reduce or increase suffering. There are things which seem to reduce and increase suffering, and the things that reduce it, most of us would appreciate. And again, I feel a happiness or a joy if my pain is decreased. But that is, again, mundane happiness, and that does not protect me from suffering, and that does not liberate me from suffering. What liberates me from suffering is to feel joy,


not just in any old suffering, but in a special suffering. The suffering of the bodhisattva, which is a pain, a suffering, because of loving beings and wishing them well. Yesterday, I had a very clear experience of mundane happiness, mundane joy. I was taking care of an electric hot water pot, hot water kettle, and this hot water kettle stopped working.


You could say it became broken. And I endeavored to repair, or we might say to fix, the hot water kettle. And in trying to do so, I looked at the bottom of the kettle, which had three screws holding the bottom on, but they were very unusual screws. They weren't, what do you call it, pentagons, which are usually what Allen wrenches fit into. And they weren't Phillips screws, and they weren't regular screw heads. The screw heads were not the usual three types of female part that I'm used to.


It had a rectangular head. And I went to the Green Gulch maintenance people and asked if they had a rectangular screwdriver, and they didn't. Anyway, we found something else, and with great effort, managed to get the screws out. So I got the screws out and took the bottom off, and looked at it, and played with it, and cleaned it up. But I couldn't see anything wrong. I just kept turning the switch, which didn't work. The thing that was broken was the switch didn't work. I kept working the switch back and forth, back and forth. And anyway, I couldn't see what the problem was, and I didn't feel like I fixed it. But I thought, well, I'll just put it back together and see what happens. So I put it back together, and the switch worked. And it was really a, what do you call it? A mundane joy came from this experience of,


not only did it work, but I fixed it. So this is a mundane joy, which I did experience, and I don't mind saying so. I'm a little bit embarrassed, but anyway, that's a mundane joy. It does happen to us, and it's fine. But there's another joy, which I'm bringing up, which is that when we love things that are broken and sick, and we feel pain because we love them, and we feel compassion for them, and we want them to be free, and we want to protect them, and we want to be their friend, we feel pain. We feel pain in being friends with suffering beings. And that pain is the pain of the Buddha.


The pain of the Bodhisattva. And that pain is another kind of joy. That pain doesn't go away when the pot breaks. That pain doesn't come when the pot is fixed. That pain doesn't go away when your friend who you love becomes healthy. That pain comes because you love. It comes because you love people. And if people who you love are in pain, or if they're happy, either way, you feel pain in the suffering that they feel when they're happy and when they're in agony. In both cases, they are suffering, and that hurts you.


You may have questions about this later. So again, I do sometimes appreciate broken things being repaired. Some of you know, about a month ago, a little over a month ago, a great wave of pain came over my left knee, and I could barely walk for several days. And now I can walk almost normally. The pain has been reduced quite a bit. And as the pain went down,


it was kind of a... What do you call it? I guess I felt happiness about the reduced pain. But at the same time, I also missed, in a way, not so much the great pain, but how present I was with every step I took when the pain was really strong. That was a benefit that came with me being kind of forced, or you could say strongly encouraged to pay attention with every step I took. I was very mindful of every step for about a month. I was so attentive to my legs and feet. It was wonderful. Now, I'm still quite careful, because I still have to be careful, otherwise the pain may come back. But the pain is reduced.


The pain has quieted down. I still can't walk down stairs without pain, but... Yeah. My great joy is not the joy of my reduced pain or fixing broken things. Or even my dear friends having less pain, which I am happy about if you have less pain. My great joy is the suffering I feel because I care for beings. That is my great joy. And that keeps me going in the ocean of suffering. That keeps me from running away to the land of reduced pain, where I don't have to deal with people whose pain is not being reduced. I came to Zen Center not to reduce pain.


I came to learn how to be with pain. Stories of people who knew how to be with pain in creative and liberating ways was what attracted me. Not stories about people who could touch someone and take away their pain. I wasn't attracted to miracles of pain reduction or pain elimination. I was attracted to miracles of being with my own and other people's suffering. And I'm still attracted to that. And this is what I call bodhisattva compassion. And even if I still see people as objects,


I can still be friends with their pain and be friends with my pain. I can still be with them and work to protect them from pain. Protect them from whatever pain they have. And also, I think, for me, there's a difference between reducing pain and healing it. I can imagine that healing pain does not necessarily reduce it. And one of my favorite healers is a person who exemplifies what we call the wounded healer. He was a crippled person named Milton Erickson. And he was a wonderful healer who helped people be with their illness, be with their pain.


He was with his pain and he showed them how to be with their pain. So, I have pain, you have pain, and if we can become good at being with our pain, we can be with others and help them become good. Become good means be good friends with our pain. Be good friends with our pain and then be good friends with our pain. Our own pain and other people's pain is going to keep coming to us. And we have the opportunity to welcome it and embrace it and be with it and feel pain for it and feel the joy of that pain. So, maybe that's enough. And we could open up now for feedback to this teaching. And our first offering is from Justin.


Good morning, Justin. My question is, and we're talking about not trying to change someone or take away their pain and also talking about trying to liberate them from suffering. Is the liberation from suffering offering the example of being with their pain without trying to change them and the hope that they can be with their own pain without trying to change it? Maybe I wouldn't... I use the word hope seldom. The word I would use is wishing. I wish for them to be free and liberated with accepting the way they are now. What do you see as the difference between hoping and wishing? I think the English word hope has some expectation in it. It's not just wishing. It's wishing together with an expectation.


And that part, that part of the word I have a problem with because expectation is a little bit disrespectful and rigid. It's a danger in the compassion business. So, if we're practicing compassion with suffering beings, expectation is kind of a drain. You can work for people without... If you have this joy of compassion, you can work for people without expecting that they're going to get better. You can wish that they'll be free and this joy can help you not get into expecting that they will. And if they don't, the expectation isn't... Not having the expectation will protect you from being disappointed and giving up on them. So, the awakened one looks at the world


and sees a lot of people are not yet Buddhas, but the Buddha does not give up on people. The Buddha wants everyone to become Buddha wishes that they will, but doesn't expect that they will. And our wish is that the person with whom we're contemplating compassion will also have the same wish. We hope that they will develop compassion and we don't expect that they will. So, if they don't, we don't abandon them for being, you know, not very good students of compassion. And they can feel, if we expect it of them, they can feel that that's defiled compassion. If we expect it, here I am coming to help you and I expect you to be better. I expect you to feel free. I expect you to be protected. I want to protect,


I want to liberate, but I don't expect it. And you can feel that too if I don't. You can feel, you know, if I don't get the instructions or if I don't get with the compassion program, he still will stay with me. I know he will, but I'm going to test him just to make sure and I'm not going to get better, just to see if he'll stay with me if I keep being sick. And sure enough, he stays with me even though I've been sick all these years. He never left me, but I had to keep testing him to make sure that he wouldn't leave me if I didn't get better. And he didn't. So now finally I can accept. Thank you. Our next offering will be from Angela. Good morning, Assembly.


And good evening, Assembly. Oh, and good evening, yes, to those around the world. I thought I heard you say protecting beings from pain. Yeah. From pain and suffering. This mind, I noticed when I hear the word protecting, I associate it with eliminating or taking away. So can you speak? Yeah, it's not protecting from beings is not eliminating the suffering. Yes. Like for example, somebody has cancer. You don't have to wait for them to be healed, for the cancer to be in remission. You can practice compassion for them now while they have compassion, while they have cancer. You can protect them from the suffering of cancer


while they have it. Mainly, you know, the first thing that comes to mind is practicing the Paramitas. You know, you start with welcoming this condition, this illness. You practice being careful of it, being tender with it, being respectful of it, and you practice patience with it. Patience protects us from suffering, but patience does not eliminate suffering. It is, if you take away the suffering, there's no patience. Patience is, protects us from, with, from, no, protects us with suffering, protects us in suffering, just as generosity protects us in suffering, and being ethically disciplined and careful, being honest and, and gentle


and careful protects us in suffering. And it also, in addition to protecting us, it's being friendly with the suffering. Being friendly with suffering protects us from suffering. So if I wish to protect others who are suffering, I want to practice friendliness towards them in their suffering so that they can learn to be friendly with their suffering. If they can be friendly with their suffering, they will be protected in their suffering. And this friendship will eventually open the doors of liberation. So they, first I protect them by doing these practices and letting them learn to do these practices, and then these practices lead to liberation. So it is protecting and liberating, it's not eliminating suffering. And all along, hopefully, I feel joy because it's painful for me


to see them suffer. I know this, this pain has a joy, and that joy can take me in to hell and out. Okay? Thank you. You're welcome. Our next offering will be from Patrick. Hi, Rab. The question I have is about the joy. Yes. Is that a recognizable joy? Is that a joy that can be... How do you identify that joy? How do you... Is there any bodily experience of it? Is there... How is that... Yeah, how does it manifest?


Thank you for your question. Let's see. You said something like... One of your questions was, is it recognizable? I would say you could recognize it. It is possible to recognize it. However, the recognition of it is not it. It's like, I don't know what. It's like your blood sugar level. It is physical. It's a physical joy. And it makes it possible for you to walk into hell to help people. And, you know, joyfully, not kind of like, oh, I have to go to hell again to help people. You joyfully enter, but you don't necessarily think, oh my God, I'm joyful about entering. You enter joyfully, and you might recognize it. Somebody might say, Patrick looks like he's actually happy to go help those people. But you might not notice that happiness,


but it would sustain you. So, again, the recognition that you're a human is not being a human. You don't have to recognize you're a human to be a human. You don't have to recognize that you're a bodhisattva to be a bodhisattva. But you could. But recognizing that you're a bodhisattva is not the same as being a bodhisattva. And this joy can be recognized, but you don't need to recognize it. If you've got the proper blood sugar level, you don't have to need to recognize you have it. You've got it, and you can go to work. If you've got this joy, it sustains you in this work of wading through the ocean of suffering of all beings. It sustains you, and it completely fills your body. It fills your mind. It lifts you up and carries you through the great work.


As you've heard the expression, the boat of compassion is not rowed over pure or smooth waters, right? It's on my rakasu. It's on your rakasu, so you've heard that. And this joy makes it so you can row, put your whole body into the rowing. It's like those Olympic rowers. You really get into rowing this boat, but you don't necessarily think, boy, I've got a lot of energy. You're working, rowing the boat. But you could stop and say, hey, I'm really working here. I have a lot of joy. You may or may not think that. But I might notice it. I might say, look at that guy work at that rowing that he's doing. It's amazing. But you may be too into it to recognize that you're into it. Again, those rowers in the Olympics, I don't think they're thinking, oh, I have a lot of energy. They're just like, their whole body's doing it.


They aren't judging themselves. And they know from experience that's a waste of energy recognizing that they're, you know. So I would say it can be recognized, but the joy is not the recognition. The recognition is optional. Yeah. So what comes up as I'm listening to you talk and I'm hearing myself in this conversation, the joy is, in a sense, simultaneously with the pain and the being with the suffering. Those are simultaneous. They're not separate. And what I noticed in my own experience, to whatever extent I've actually been fortunate enough to manifest this, the pain and the suffering can be overwhelming. And that's why I'm asking about the joy


because, and so within that overwhelm then, even if I'm invested, if I'm fully and wholeheartedly with being with myself, with another, I trust that is the joy itself. That's what I'm hearing you say. Yeah. And if the name of the game is called overwhelming misery, this is the joy you want to have. Because otherwise you'll run away. Yeah. With this joy, we can be in overwhelming suffering. Somebody has to go into the overwhelming area. Yeah. This joy makes it possible to enter there. Yeah. It's a razor's edge, really. I can feel how, yeah, it's a razor's edge. Thank you. Thank you.


Our next offering is from Tracy. Since our class on Tuesday and today, someone who's very, very, very close to me asked that I join her in an intervention in another city for a member of her family, which I did. And it was a horrible experience for everybody. It went bad. And I did, I,


I did have in my head from time to time, remembering that the point was not to leave the suffering, which was all around in every person in the room. I could tune into that sporadically and in myself. And but I guess, you know, it feels so abstract when we're talking about it in class. On Tuesday, it felt like, oh, that's really interesting. And today, it's really interesting. But kind of in the moment, it's so excruciating. And I do share Patrick's question, or I did share it. And, okay, I felt the blood sugar of that I was there and I was of use and I was of use to my friend and I will be for the rest of this long journey. But I guess, maybe that that's joy. I mean, certainly not what I ever thought joy was, that feeling.


Yeah, I, so I guess I'm letting you know how much I appreciate the timeliness exactly in this moment of this teaching and I'm, I am paying so much attention after spending a day in hell. Yeah, and you said, it's not what I thought joy was. This is not what I thought joy was. I thought joy was something else. But this joy is the joy that lifts you up so you can actually go into terrible situations. Other people may be going to terrible situations too, but are they going from this joy? Are they going to,


to be friends with the situation? And if after this terrible thing happens, you feel like, well, I'll do that again, rather than, well, I'll never do that again. So, with this joy, you can say, yeah, well, I'll do that again. I'll do it again. I'll keep visiting this person, even though they keep being sick. I'll keep visiting them, no matter how long they're sick. And something's sustaining me to want to be willing to do that. And that's not what I thought joy was. Not what I thought happiness was. But now I have a new happiness, which is the happiness of, I will continue. I will, I will go into all kinds of


terrible situations that will come to me. With my own body dying, with other people's bodies dying, with people who love each other and fighting each other. I will, I will be friends to those situations. Because there's something in me that says, I will go there and I will be friends with that situation. I will be a refuge in that terror. And this is not what I thought happiness was. This is not the happiness of fixing the disease, the disease going away. Different happiness. This is the happiness that sustains protecting beings. This is a happiness which doesn't go away when beings feel worse. It also doesn't get stronger


when they feel worse. It just comes from the pain of caring for them. And it sustains you to continue your work of being with all your suffering friends. To continue to be a friend with your suffering friends. Thank you. Next offering will be from Maggie. Hello. Good evening. Good evening, yes. Very nice to see you. Yes, very nice to see you here. I'm glad that today's topic is compassion. Because I've


been working on this for several years. Yes, you have. Maybe more. Never ending. But quite intensive these years. There's another form of compassion that is so hard for me to practice is to say no to my family. It is the kind of balance that I'm always trying to find. But every time I'm not sure whether I should say no or yes. Yes or no, yes or no. Sometimes I say yes because I have a fear that the family relationship will be cut if I say no.


So because of that fear I said yes. But then the other times when I'm ready, when I think I'm ready to say no, then I said no. And then after the no there was consequence that really the family relationship was cut because I said no. So I've been like sitting on a volcano and this volcano can explode anytime. I don't know when but every time when it explodes I always have to decide to say yes or no. It's so hard to learn to say no and then to live with it. I mean to live with the consequence


of the no. And I'm always not sure whether I did it right or wrong. Should I say no or yes? my question is maybe more about I call it something like upright compassion. Maybe it's more about the skills that I'm lacking to be clear and to be firm when I say yes or no. And this is always a question for me. Story is not ended but I'm still like every day I'm practicing and try to prepare myself for the next breakout of the volcano. So I have always had this question.


Did I do it right or wrong? I hear you. Was I too hard or was I sound too hard and not something enough? You had that question and you're not sure. Yeah. So many people are like you they wondered did I do it right? Did I do it wrong? And some of them are like you and they're not sure. And some of them actually are not like you. They're sure. They're sure they did it right. And then some other people are sure they did it wrong. So we have these different situations. But these situations they're not really compassion. They're situations they're painful situations you've just told us about. Compassion is being with those situations. Compassion is


being patient with the pain that you're in from which you say yes or from which you say no. So you're in some painful situation and you sometimes say yes and you sometimes say no. Also you're in a painful situation of not being sure about what you did. That's another painful situation. These are painful situations. The compassion is to be with them. Is to be generous towards the situation. And from that generosity and from that carefulness and patience you will say yes or you will say no. And then you have the consequences which is more painful situations. And then you practice compassion


with the consequences. And if you practice compassion with the consequences then you're doing the practice of compassion from which you might say yes and no again. And then you have consequences. And then you practice compassion with the consequences. And then you say yes and no again. And then you have consequences. And you practice compassion with the consequences. Compassion doesn't eliminate the consequences. Compassion doesn't eliminate Eight, not knowing if you did right or wrong. Compassion deals with not knowing whether you did right or wrong. Compassion also deals with thinking that you did do right. So whether you, if you think you did right, there's suffering. If you think you did wrong, there's suffering. If you're not sure if you did right or wrong,


there's suffering. And all of these situations, there's suffering. And then you're being called to be compassionate towards these situations. If you practice compassion, then from that compassion comes your offering. And then there's consequences, and around you go again. So I'm not wishing that you will stop not being sure. And I'm not wishing that you will stop thinking you're right or stop thinking you're wrong. What I wish for is that you practice compassion with not being sure, with being sure, and with being sure you're wrong, and being sure you're right. I am not being sure, all those situations, I pray that you will be compassionate with them. And then from that compassion, you will act,


and there will be consequences. And I pray that you practice compassion towards the consequences. But I don't pray that there will be an end to your uncertainty. That's an unrealistic prayer. There's an ocean of uncertainty in which you live, in which you live together with us. I don't pray the ocean disappears. I pray that we practice compassion with the ocean of uncertainty, with the ocean of consequences. That's what I'm praying for. I'm praying that you practice compassion with that ocean. And you will say yes, or you will say no, or you'll be quiet. And no matter what you say or don't say, there will be consequences for you to deal with. There will be consequences for you to be compassionate with. And I pray that you are compassionate


with all the consequences. And also, the consequences of acting from compassion are just as challenging as the consequences from not being compassionate. Both consequences are challenging. It's just that the consequences of compassion are consequences that lead to protection and liberation of beings, and the consequence of not compassion just keep the cycle of suffering going. But still, the consequences of not being compassionate, if they're dealt with compassionately, lead to protection and liberation. That's where the joy comes from, right? No, the joy comes from caring for people who are suffering. That's where the joy comes from.


And then there's another joy which comes from people feeling better or things getting fixed, which is, you know, it's not a bad joy. It's just that joy is not undependable. But the joy that comes from caring for suffering beings, that joy is indestructible. Thank you. You're welcome. Our next offering will be from Barbara Joan and Jeff. So, I'm wondering whether we might be able to call mundane joy relief because when my pain,


like my back pain, subsides and I don't feel excruciating pain and I can move freely, I feel relieved. But having had the pain for many, many cycles, so having had this unfortunate great teaching of my own body and working hard in my life with myself to accept that I will have pain, whether it's my back or not, and that likely it will go away also, that this is just how my body responds to certain stresses and movements, I feel relief. And I think, and I was just wondering if you could speak to the, I felt like the wording of mundane joy


felt more to me like relief than the joy of just having the experience of being in my body, whether I'm in pain or not. Like when I'm not in pain, I get to dance and that makes me happy because it offers more endorphins. So I feel elation and a kind of lightness and gratitude and grace. And when I'm in pain, it does bring my focus in a different way. And as I've aged with it, I've become more gracious toward it. So can you help me with that languaging? Just, I wanna hear what you would say. Yeah, I think relief is very closely related to, well, not of what you call it. Some forms of mundane joy aren't really relief.


Like for example, if you're watching a sporting event and your team wins, you don't necessarily feel relief, but you feel joy that they won. Yeah. Or if someone you care about does something really skillful and you appreciate it. It's not really relief, but you feel joy. And that's wonderful. Okay? So, and when the pain in my knee subsided, I felt relief. And it was quite pleasant to feel that relief. Yeah. That joy is, you know, that's gone. You know, the relief is gone. And that, or if the joy of relief, if now the pain would come charging back, that the relief joy would be gone. So that is, it's a good joy and it's nothing. It's part of our body.


Endorphins are part of our body and endorphins are kind of helpful. However, they're not dependable. This other joy is dependable. It's there when you're in pain. It's there when you experience relief. And it's there after the relief subsides and you're back to sort of like, maybe not excruciating pain, but you're not feeling the joy of relief. You were relieved, you know, a few hours or a few days ago and you get over it. Now you're back to your ordinary life. But this other joy is there through the whole process, through all these different times, the other joy is there. It's with the joy of the coming and going of the relief. It sustains us before we're relieved, while we're relieved and after the relief, you know,


evaporates and it's there for the next onslaught. And it's a joy that we don't have to, that we aren't getting pushed around anymore by the pain. The other kind of joy, it's a little bit, it can be addictive and we can get pushed around by it. Opiate addiction is relief addiction. Opiate addiction, yeah. So this kind of joy helps us, protects us from addiction to pain relief, from pain reduction. But it doesn't mean pain reduction isn't sometimes really helpful. For example, if you have open heart surgery and then you, and afterwards, if you don't breathe deeply, you're gonna, your lungs are gonna fill with fluids and that's not good. But it's so painful to breathe deeply


that you might not wanna do it. But you need to breathe deeply, otherwise you're gonna get in trouble. So they give you some pain medication so you can breathe deeply. However, they wanna be careful because if the pain medication they give you so you can breathe deeply and clear your lungs, if you're not careful, you get addicted to the pain medication. But this pain, the pain of compassion, which is a joy, we don't get addicted to. I haven't seen people addicted to it. It's not that kind of joy. It's the joy which encourages us to not run away from pain. And it encourages us to not run away from relief. It's not like, oh, here comes some relief, I gotta get out of here. I'm like, okay, relief, I can handle,


I can be here for relief. Can we take you the relief away? I'll stay with you if you take the relief away, I'll stay with you if you bring the relief on. I'll stay with you in pain, I'll stay with you in happiness, in sickness and in health. So that's the difference. But it doesn't mean that pain reduction isn't sometimes really helpful. It's just, we gotta be careful not to get addicted to it. Thank you. You're welcome, thank you. Our next offering will be from Leslie. Hi, good morning. Good morning. So, I, because I've been doing,


I'll go also attending the Tuesday, your Tuesday talks. And it's some of it for me, I'm really trying to grasp the difference between protecting from pain and trying to get rid of pain. And I'm sometimes wondering what that looks like in reality. For instance, this morning I woke up overwhelmingly sad. Not even sure why. And I don't know what it looks like to try to show the same kind of awareness as you would in your knee. Like I can imagine if I woke up with a terrible like pain, somehow having compassion for that, because maybe it almost seems like a thing. But when you're just feeling inside of yourself sad, how do you do the same thing? Even if I don't have the kind of joy


that I'm talking about, but especially if I did have the joy that I'm talking about, the joy of pain, which comes from caring about somebody. If I had that joy and I wake up and I have a very deep sadness, then that joy sustains me in the outrageous activity of compassion, which means that I would welcome that suffering, that morning suffering. The joy would lift me up so that I could say, welcome sadness. It would lift me up so I could listen to the sadness, joyfully listen to it. I'm sad. I'm sad. But the sadness is calling me to listen. And because of that joy, I say, okay, I will listen to you, darling.


I will listen to you wholeheartedly sadness. That wholeheartedly listening is compassion. And the joy of this compassion makes it possible to do that really hard work of listening to deep, deep sadness. But that's what deep sadness wants. It wants us to listen to it deeply. It wants us to feel it. And opening to the sadness, what does it do? It frees us from something we're holding on to that we don't know, that we can't let go of. But when we open to the sadness, we let go of the thing which we're holding on to, that the sadness comes to heal us of. And the difference between trying to get rid of the sadness


and protecting us in the sadness is this kind of welcoming and patience with it. Patience is not getting rid of the sadness. It's being right there with it. But again, we need some joy to enthusiasm about being with the sadness and enthusiasm about giving ourselves to it. If we completely give ourselves to the sadness, we will be protected from it. I should say we will be protected in it. And that way of being with it will heal us. Which is what the sadness came to help us do. The sadness didn't come and say, run away from me.


The sadness didn't come and say, ghosts don't go away. It came and said, be with me, feel me, feel me early in the morning. And it didn't even say, I know it's hard to feel me early in the morning, but would you do so anyway? But that's what it wants. It wants us to feel it. And we need joy to do that hard work. And there is joy available. And it's right there in the pain we feel because we love beings. But at the same moment, you're feeling joy and sadness. You're feeling joy in the sadness. And the joy makes it possible for you to be with the sadness. Because the sadness, it's not just sitting there, it wants to be met. But without that joy, we may feel like, I don't wanna be sad and we run away from it or we do something to reduce the sadness.


Just getting really active sometimes is enough. Or like, some people wake up sad and they go running and the endorphins come and I'm not criticizing that. But they don't actually feel the sadness and then go running. While they're running, while they're feeling sad, they run and the endorphins come and push the sadness away. They never really feel it. So the sadness then comes back the next day. Say, will you feel me today? No, I'm gonna go running. That's the nice thing or the difficult thing about sitting is if you sit still, the sadness comes and you don't run away and you feel it. And that's what the sadness wants. It wants us to feel it. I'm not saying you shouldn't get your exercise when you're feeling sad. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying we should give our sadness its due. We should give it its day in court. We should give it our wholehearted listening. But it's okay to take a walk.


It's okay to get exercise. But if you sit still, then you're gonna listen to it. And that's what it wants. Sadness wants us to listen to it. I tell you, I've learned that. I've learned that sadness comes and when I just sit there and listen to it, it says, thank you very much. And it drops away. Because it got me to do what I needed to do, which was to be still and listen to it. And when I was still and listened to it, some part of my body and mind was released from something it was holding onto. And the sadness came to help me let go. So now I'm refreshed and I can go on to some other difficulty. Thank you very much. You're welcome. Thank you. Our next offering is from Pam.


Good morning. Good morning. I've had about a half a dozen different questions and they keep changing. So I'll just go with the current. Good for you. So I have the experience, this is my practice, what you're talking about, of being with the sadness or pain or anger or fear, what's ever present. And listening to it. And I'm a therapist. So when I work with clients, I work with the same thing. And sometimes people get a little bit confused listening to it because there's all the thoughts that come with the emotions. Like, oh, my life is horrible. Oh, I'll never, you know. Yeah. So I tell them this, let go of the thoughts and just be with the feelings. Okay, go ahead. Mm-hmm. They're with the feelings. Yes. You want them to do that, right? Yes. Then thoughts come up.


Yes. Then do it with the thoughts. But there's listening to the thoughts and then there's believing the thoughts. Right, well, you know, watch them do that. So they have a feeling and you're trying to help them be with the feeling. Yeah. And then they start judging and commenting on their feeling, which you didn't ask them to do, right? And it's kind of a distraction from feeling the feeling. Right? Yeah. So you got the feeling and you're trying to get them to be there with it. Right. If they want to do it, they think about it or they comment on it. Well, then turn, do the same thing with that. So just, so what I would think is that that means noticing the thoughts. Yeah, that's the same. Noticing the thought is the same as noticing the feeling. Yeah. Being compassionate towards the thoughts. Yeah, the thought may not, you know,


maybe they missed the chance of being with the feeling. It would have been good. But even if they did be present and wholehearted and really felt the feeling, still a thought might come up like, that was good. Well, then practice with that the same way. Or I can't be present with it. That's not the feeling, that's not a judgment. Or I wasn't very good at being present. That's another judgment. Or I shouldn't be feeling this way. Then do the same with that. Practice compassion with the thoughts. It's not like you're trying to help people be with the feeling and then they get rid of the thoughts. No. They're gonna have them. Yeah. But don't just let them have them. Say that too, that too, that too. In other words, try to not miss a beat. Even though you started with feelings, apply compassion towards feelings,


towards thoughts, towards opinions, you know, whatever. I think the confusing part is if you tell people to like, you don't wanna tell, I mean, if you say, listen to the thoughts, it's hard for people to distinguish between listening to the thoughts and believing the thoughts. Well, tell them that. Okay. Tell them that or ask them as they're listening, then you can ask them, did you believe that thought? Did you think the thought was true? So once you're with the thought and being kind to it, then you can start asking questions about it if you want. And you may notice that some people say, I think this. And then some other people say, this is this way. So I think this is a thought, but it shows some self-reflection. Like, I think you're a good therapist and you are a good therapist.


So you are a good therapist, maybe say, you could ask, did you actually believe what you just said about me? And they might've said, well, yeah, I did. Say, okay. And then you might discuss the difference between I think you're a good therapist and you are a good therapist. See, what's the difference in those two ways of talking? Yeah, one is you know you're having the thought versus just believing. Yeah, but you can be equally compassionate too. You are a good therapist and I think you're a good therapist. You can be present and patient with both of those, even though one may sound more awake than the other. But you're not more friendly to awake people than sleepy people, are you? When you listen to the sadness or fear or pain or whatever it is, do you like hear things?


Like, does it say something or is it more like listening and just as a way of just receiving and welcoming and being present with? It starts with receiving and welcoming and being present with. And then from there, things may move on. Was there something else besides that you talked about? Well, sometimes, you know, in internal family systems, we, you know, the pain, the sadness, whatever is a being and you talk to it and it tells you things and yeah. Oh yeah, so sometimes you might be listening to the pain, might be listening to the pain and you're welcoming it and open to it. And then in the middle of the pain, you may hear another little whisper. Right. You know, you may hear, I'm just kidding or guess what I'm really saying. Right, or you need to be stronger or you're, you know.


Yeah, you might hear some other kind of, some other voices that you didn't originally hear might happen, but that's like a gift. And you weren't trying to get the gift, you were just open. But in that openness, you may get a bunch of gifts that may happen, but not necessarily. And partly, not necessarily, because partly the cry wants to see if you'll listen, even if you don't get any gifts, any treats. Will you keep listening if I don't give you any treats? Yeah. Or will you just keep listening if I keep feeding your ego? Right. And yeah, and the person who's calling says, yeah, you do keep listening when I feed your ego. Yeah, I see that. I do that too. So let's just keep that up, shall we? But some people say, actually, I want to see if anybody will care for me if I don't give them what they want. I'd like to see if somebody could listen to me


even though I'd give them no present, no. Right, listening for the sake of listening. I'd like somebody to teach me how to listen like that. Yeah, yeah. Thank you, Rev. You're welcome. Write down your other questions for future reference. I still got them. Good, good. I used to carry a notebook with questions for Suzuki Roshi, but I didn't ask him all the questions at once. I saved them for other times. My dog's got a question too. He's like, when are you going to take me for a walk? When are you going to take me for a walk, right? Thank you. Thank you. Our next offering is from Houma. Good morning, everybody. Good evening. Yes, and good evening. I would like to offer this question,


which is more of a quest for me. And that is fear. Fear of anything. Fear of birth, fear of death, fear of all the investments that I can see myself. And I can hear when everybody is speaking how invested we are in our suffering, in our emotions, in our feelings, in everything. And my question is the possibility, questioning if there is a possibility that we talk about freedom, if there is an actual possibility of not being invested in our investments. I would say yes. And if that possibility is true,


why are we after all these years still invested? Because I see these people that they're coming, these people who have been practicing, they're very intelligent people. They're not like stupid people that they don't go deep. So why after all these years, I still see investment? So you asked, is it possible? And I said, yes. And then there's another possibility, which is the possibility that if you are completely invested, you will be free of investment. Thank you. And even if you are completely invested in your investments and free, then that's great for the moment, but then another one may come and you have to do it again. And if you don't do it with the next one,


then you'll be stuck in it. Okay, hold on, hold on, hold on. The fullness of investment. Then the question is what, then the fullness of investment is not investment. No, no, it's free of, you become free of investment by total investment. But total investment is, most people don't get to total investment in their investments. For example, if you're totally invested, you have no expectation. Yes, my question was that you said when you're totally invested, then it's free, you're free. And then the next thing comes. Why is this next? I'm just saying that this is not a permanent state. So when investment comes up, if you're totally invested, you'll be free, but that's just for the moment. And then another situation comes up


and then you have to do it again with the next situation. So you asked, why are these people still after all these years? It's because of inconsistency in their practice. So they probably have had some freedom along the way, but then they're inconsistent. So then another investment comes up and they aren't wholehearted about it and then they get stuck in it. But if they would be wholeheartedly, then they would be free. But then the next moment comes up and we have to do it again. But it works. This is the way reality works, is that when we're totally something, we're free of it. Yes, so totally everything at every moment. Yes, yeah. Being totally everything and being totally nothing and everything in the moment all. And some people do that and that's great. And then they take a break for a week or a year and then they suffer because they're not practicing again. But the practice is, this is the possibility.


Total investment is freedom from investment. Okay, when you speak, then comes my next question. You say, take a break when you're totally in the moment, you're totally free, you're totally in the moment, you're totally free. What's this break about? I don't understand the break. The break is everything changes. Then if you're totally the change. Yeah, if you totally change, then you practice the same way with the next offering, the next investment. Okay, so the question to my answer is that, I'm not being totally, I'm not the totality of what is, therefore I suffer. Each moment is a kind of investment. Yes, every moment is. Yes, yes, yes. Thank you. Thank you. You're welcome. Our next offering is from Linda.


Oh, yeah. Good morning. I'm beginning to understand something of what you mean by great compassion. And I would like to clarify the relation of that to mundane compassion. Because I don't think you're discouraging us from practicing acts of mundane compassion, but just not to be fooled by them. To think that that's... You say not to be fooled by them? Yeah, not to, that is, there's so many examples that I've thought of while you were talking to people. From providing oxygen cylinders to people in India who are dying because they don't have it. So, you know, that kind of mundane compassion. I want them to be saved. Or giving a pillow to somebody who needs to be sitting up.


There are all so many food or all these things. I want to take away that pain. So that mundane compassion. And you... I just want this to be clear for myself and possibly others. You're not saying, Oh, what a fool, you're just practicing mundane compassion. You're letting us know, giving us a glimpse of great compassion, so that we don't keep making mistakes with mundane compassion. Is that correct? Great compassion liberates you from mundane compassion, but it doesn't stop you from doing it. Yeah. It just lets you do it without getting hung up on it. Yeah. For example, you adjust somebody's pillow, and then somebody tells you that you adjusted it wrong. And then you get angry. Because you got caught by, I'm this helpful person. So great compassion lets you adjust the pillow. And then when people criticize you for the way you adjust it,


you say, thank you. Yeah, I'm actually... I'm going to take a course on Jeff pillow adjustment. And everybody's free of this good person, this good pillow adjuster. Everybody's free of her. And then she says, can I adjust the pillow again? And she just joyfully adjusts the pillow, but she's not hung up on it. Rev, is it like... I've been thinking, as you discussed this, of the story of Hyakujo and the fox. And his wrong answer is, yes, the Buddha is free of cause and effect. So better answer turned out 500 years later to be, the Buddha does not ignore cause and effect. Right. So like that, we can be moved to relieve suffering or to take away pain. That's that part of it. Is it?


Well, you can be moved to relieve suffering or to adjust a pillow. You do that and you don't fall into, that was free of cause and effect, or I fell into cause and effect. You don't do either of those. That was right or that was wrong. You're just watching and you're ready. And then people say, you move that pillow perfectly or you move that pillow in a very cruel way. And again, you don't fall into, well, I fell into cause and effect or I didn't. You into, hey, hey, look at this. This is wonderful. It's like that story which I tell over and over about people accusing the Zen monk of being a terrible person. And he says, oh yeah? And he looks, he doesn't fall into, well, I'm a Zen master, I couldn't have done that. Oh, I fell into cause and effect. He says, is that so?


Ah, so desu ka? Is that what's happening? Oh, okay. Joyfully looking at cause and effect. Still involved in the world of people insulting us and trying to help and all that. But great compassion embraces a situation and now we're like meditating on it and not hung up on it. But we still were like active participants. And to stay away from being an active participant would be another kind of mundane compassion. Which again, we can be with that and not hung up on that. Thank you. You're welcome, thank you. Oh, by the way, can I just say one more thing, Linda? You know, the case 89, I think, of the Blue Cliff record, I think it's called... Who is it? Anyway, the question is about great compassion.


So somebody asked a Zen teacher, you know, what are the thousand hands and thousand eyes for? And he says, it's like reaching for a pillow in the middle of the night. So that way of moving the pillow, you know. Yeah, hard to be in that state. And meanwhile, you, I don't know, do your best. Well, maybe the darkness of the night is, you know, is our mind, right? So to reach for the pillow in our confused mind. Great compassion is doing that all the time. It's reaching for pillows in the darkness. What a wonderful opportunity. Our next offering is from Ji Rin. Thank you for taking my question.


Can you hear me? Yes, you're welcome. I really appreciate your taking the time and the care to unfold great compassion and transmit it. I feel like I don't have a question exactly about what you're explaining. I find it to be, it feels wise. But I do have a question about Chapter 25 in the Lotus Sutra, which I have right here. I read it every night. And, you know, I'm just going to read a couple of, what? Thank you. Yeah, I'm going to read a couple of lines because I want you to answer to the way this describes compassion because it sounds like there is a getting rid of element. And I have experienced that this kind of litany has helped do that. Like if it just says something like, if someone with harmful intent should push you into a fiery pit by mindfully invoking Avalokiteshvara's power, which I believe is great compassion, the pit of fire will turn into a pool.


The billowing waves cannot drown you. If someone were to throw you down like the sun, you would stand firm in the sky. If pursued by evildoers, they could not harm a single hair. Thanks, that's enough. You don't have to read the whole chapter. Okay, thanks. So I don't necessarily hear that, that if you are mindful of Avalokiteshvara, something's eliminated. I don't hear it that way. How do you hear it? I hear it as this great blessing arises. And the blessing changes the reality of the pain. So like if one fell to fire... The blessing is to realize the reality of the pain. The blessing is to realize the reality of the pain. But if something is fire and then it's water? It's not that it was fire and then it's water. I don't read it that way.


I'm saying in the fire, if we're mindful of this compassion, this great compassion, a great blessing will come. And rather than just say blessing, we can make it cool, clear, refreshing water. But we could just say blessing. So another way to write that chapter, which is not so poetic, but also maybe not so shocking, is for all these problems that they're exampling. If you remember great compassion, great blessing comes. But great blessing doesn't eliminate all these problems. So at the end of the... Okay, let's just stop there. All this suffering, remembering great compassion, great blessing comes. But it doesn't eliminate the ocean of suffering. It doesn't get rid of the suffering.


It just brings a great blessing. It frees beings in the midst of the fire. It frees beings in the midst of the pain. It doesn't eliminate the pain. It doesn't eliminate the suffering. That's what I'm saying. And I think some people think that Buddhism eliminates suffering, but I don't think so. I think the Buddha way protects beings and liberates beings in suffering. Avalokiteshvara, great compassion, is living in the middle of suffering. It's not living in some other place. It's living in a pure land in the middle of suffering. It's living in a joyful, peaceful place in the midst of war. It's practicing compassion with the flames and torment. It doesn't get rid of the flames and torment though, I would say.


So again, at the end of the chapter, it says, eyes of compassion observe sentient beings, which means, which I translate as eyes of compassion observe an ocean of such sentient beings. And observing the ocean of suffering beings gives rise to an ocean of blessing. So an ocean of suffering observed with great compassion brings an ocean of blessing. So the ocean of blessing and the ocean of suffering are together. The compassion does not eliminate the ocean of suffering. It gives rise to the ocean of blessing without touching or manipulating the ocean of blessing. In this way, it heals the ocean of suffering. But it heals the ocean of suffering. It does not eliminate the ocean of suffering.


It heals the flames of pain. It does not eliminate the flames of pain. Okay? Yeah, I think what you're describing about the healing, I see this in people. When there is great compassion and people can sort of face their own death, there is great joy. But it does change the tone of the pain. So it may not get rid of it, but I think that kind of... I don't know if it changes anything. You say it does. I would say the situation changes. But this kind of thing doesn't really change anything. It awakens to the truth of the situation. Thank you. And you may see some changes. But the awakening, it doesn't really change the situation. It just sees the truth. I mean, I think how it changes is that in our hearts, what we really want is to have indestructible compassion.


And that if we feel like you can do anything to me, but this compassion will not falter, then I feel courageous. And that in itself is everything I want anyway. So it does heal in a way that's profoundly... Yeah, I agree. Okay. Thank you. You're welcome. Our next offering is from Breck. Hi, Rev. Can you hear me? Good evening, Breck. Hi, Rev. Can you hear me? I can see you, but I mostly see that you look funny. Your face is kind of green. So my question is pretty straightforward. I think it was Linda mentioned a story of someone in the Fox. And I'm not familiar with that story. I was wondering if you could tell that story, please.


So it's a story of the great teacher, Bai Zhang. And he gave talks to his assembly. And whenever he gave a talk, there was an old man at the back of the room. But one day after many talks, the old man came forward and said, I'm not actually a human, I'm a fox. And a long time ago, I used to be the head monk of this monastery where you're living. And someone asked me if a highly cultivated person still falls into karmic cause and effect. Or as Linda said, does Buddha fall into cause and effect? And I said, no. And then I lived 500 lives as a fox. In other words, because I denied


that a highly cultivated person like me would fall into cause and effect, I really fell into cause and effect. So if you deny that a great person falls into cause and effect, you seem to fall into cause and effect. And if you would say that they do fall into cause and effect, you also might fall into cause and effect. But he didn't say that they do. He said they don't. And so then he went through, I would call it a karmic spanking. A 500 years of you're in karmic, you fell, you fell, you fell, you fell. And then he says, please, teacher, give me a turning phrase. So the teacher took the expression and turned it from does not fall into does not obscure or does not ignore. And then he was liberated. So if you take a position of falling in or not falling in, then you act out the drama of falling and not falling.


But the Buddha way is the drama of compassionately observing sentient beings in karmic causation. The ocean of sentient beings is the ocean of karmic causation. And we compassionately observe all that. That's the path of liberation. We don't avoid falling or not falling. We don't get into falling or not falling. We don't avoid, we don't get into either one of those alternatives. We practice the middle way of contemplating all suffering beings with great compassion. Thank you. The name of it is, you can look it up. It's called Baijiang's Wild Fox. It's B-A-I-J-H-A-N-G, Baijiang's Wild Fox. Your next offering is from Basia.


Good day, Reb and the friends in the assembly. Great to see you all. And nice to do this again. Yeah. So I wanted to share some ideas of gates and stumbling blocks to great compassion in my practice that I noticed. For me, the turning point that was really important in kind of falling into something that might be great compassion and discovering it is when I, in moments of difficulty, and life has been giving me all kinds of difficulty in personal relationships for the last so many years now. And some of them were very challenging. And my instant reaction was like, I got to do something. I got to fix it. This is not right. Did you say that some of the difficulties are challenging? Yeah, all of them. Very challenging.


And when I was doing it, I finally started to notice that I was creating a lot of suffering by creating that split, by creating that split that I have to do something. It's like going back to Dogan who says, if a fish tries to jump out of the water, it will die at once. If a bird wants to jump out of the air, it will die. So that's what I was creating. I was creating the state of anguish that I want to jump out of my environment. So when I finally recognized that I was creating my suffering, anguish, pain, on top of whatever is going on, I stopped. And when I finally stopped, it was just this incredible joy that, wow, it's okay. Now I'm dealing with the situation.


And then I started to gradually sink into this recognition that this is my life and I'm here to just respond to life as it needs to be. And I will know what to do and things will be okay. Just started to really open to these things. And the more I practiced that, the more I was discovering the joy of just knowing that I am where I need to be in my place. This is my place in life. But of course, stumbling blocks arise all the time, right? My husband will do something totally out of the left corner of the field. And the urge arises to do something, to fix it and else. And then if I quickly notice to just let go of that urge, I will find.


So gradually I fell into this trust that it's all good. I don't have to. Of course, there are bigger surprises still that, like you said, we still meet. I think it's just endless practice, right? Even on the deathbed, something will piss me off and whatever. And there will be more opportunity to practice. But that sense of knowing my place and that all is good was incredibly joyful. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that with us. Thank you for listening. This is my life. Our final offering for this morning will be from Karen Yuki. Good morning.


Good morning. I would like to go back to the question about protecting beings. And that has sort of progressed in my mind. Time's gone on this morning. And I kind of understand it as becoming a refuge. But in my mind, when I imagine that there's sort of an image of getting between beings and harm or providing shelter, sheltering beings as part of being a refuge. And I just, I think that that's maybe a little bit off. I wondered if you could say something about what it means to be a refuge. Well, it's kind of like that. It's kind of like getting in between. Like, in a way, it's kind of like patience is in between misery and us. We have this patience practice which we put up to meet the suffering.


It's kind of in between. But really, it's a way to be with it. It's an in between that helps us. It's a type of in between which actually collapses into intimacy. It's not intimate. It's not like a protection that's, you know, pushing the thing away. It's a protection of helping us be intimate. So patience and generosity and being careful and respectful. These are, in a way, they're in between in the sense that we have a sense that we're here and then here's this practice out here which we're going to use to deal with this pain. Kind of seems like it's in between. But really, it's about helping us to be with it and, you know, in a way that protects us so it doesn't harm us. Death doesn't have to harm us. Birth doesn't have to harm us. Fear and confusion don't have to harm us if we meet them with these practices.


And we can be that for others as well. And so, yeah, if you're practicing these practices, in a sense, then they see it. And then you are kind of in the mix of them and their suffering. They see, oh, here's pain. They get the patience in there. You teach them patience by practicing patience yourself. They pick it up. You're patient with their difficulty. They sense you're not trying to get them to stop being a sick person. So then they learn how to give up trying to stop being a sick person. And then they get to be a sick person and say, oh, this is my life. But somebody has to teach them that. And if you can practice that way, that gets transmitted to them, even if they can't see you. So as long as there's any subject-object, it could seem like these practices are in between. So if I seem like I'm a subject, you're an object.


And if I'm practicing patience with you, it's kind of like patience is between us. But really, patience is a way for us to get over subject-object separation. But in the meantime, it's facilitating our subject-object relationship. So it appears to be in between, but it's really not in between. And that's how we are a refuge. Yeah, that's how we are a refuge. Yeah. And that's how we are a friend. Yeah. And that's how we are a Buddha. Thank you, everybody, for another wonderful morning, and another wonderful afternoon, and another wonderful evening. We have people from all over the United States,


from the West Coast to the East Coast. And we have people in England, Sweden, Germany, and Switzerland, and maybe other places in... Pardon? And Canada, yeah. Canada, and also, I think, Colombia. Thank you, everybody. May our intention equally extend to every being and place.