No Abode Dharma Talk - October 2nd, 2021

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

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Today, and I think for a while, I want to bring up another facet of practice, or emphasize another facet of the Dharma Jewel. At the beginning of this year, we had a intensive study of the Lotus Sutra for 21 days. And then after that intensive study at the beginning of the year, since then I've been emphasizing great compassion, as many of you know. Day after day, hour after hour, we are aware of the great suffering of human life, and


the great suffering that arises for other non-humans who are living with us. For example, all the animals that we humans have domesticated and slaughtered, and whose lives are unnaturally confined by our needs, by our wishes. So much suffering among humans, among animals, and then also the plants, and the land, and the sky, so much suffering, so many suffering beings. In response, or in relationship to all this suffering, we've been emphasizing the practice


of great compassion, which is to be practicing compassion with every living being. And sometimes we have trouble practicing great compassion, in other words, sometimes we feel unable, or distracted, but let's just say unable, to practice compassion with some forms of suffering. And we've been working on trying to be consistent and even in the practice of compassion. Consistent means moment by moment, and even means equally giving compassion to all beings,


in different ways, but learning to be gentle, and respectful, and generous, and patient, and kind with all beings. And we have also been studying the different forms of compassion, and we've been studying the limits of our compassion, and the shortcomings in our compassion. So again, I bring up suffering, compassion, and today, I want to bring up ignorance and confusion. Of course, ignorance and confusion are totally enmeshed with all suffering.


But I want to start today by emphasizing the admission of ignorance, the acknowledgement of confusion. In the chant we did at the beginning, part of the chant says, by revealing and disclosing what? I would say, by revealing and disclosing our ignorance, our confusion, our lack of compassion before the Buddhas and ancestors, the root of transgression is melted away. By revealing and disclosing and admitting our ignorance, even though we are ignorant of the full extent of our ignorance,


and we can confess that too, I confess my ignorance, but I also confess that I don't know the limits of my ignorance. I confess my confusion, but I don't thoroughly understand my confusion. I confess it all. By doing this, the root of transgressing, of getting distracted from compassion melts away. And when it melts away, this is the part I want to emphasize today. When the roots of being distracted from compassion melt away, then we can start exploring. When we realize our ignorance, or we admit our ignorance, we may feel motivated to research it.


When we admit our confusion, we may feel the spark of interest in researching our confusion, and researching all suffering beings, of investigating and examining all aspects of life. So, by revealing and disclosing our ignorance, the obstruction to study melts away, and we start to feel motivated to do the challenging work of examining our life. Of exploring our life, which also means to explore all living beings.


Exploring our life, examining our life, means examining the land and the seas, and every living being, and the problems and suffering of every living being. Many of you have heard probably the saying of Socrates, that an unexamined life is not worth living. That's rather a strong statement, but it could be rephrased as, you may be practicing compassion, but the really vital way of practicing compassion is to examine your practice.


We're trying to practice compassion, we're trying to listen to the cries of all living beings. Yes, great, but we are also ignorant of what those cries are, what they're asking for. Knowing that I'm ignorant, to more or less an extent, I want to examine my practice. I want my practice to be examined by me, and by you. So Socrates might say, a life of compassion that's not examined is not worth practicing it. But a softer way of saying it is, the real life of compassion is to examine it and be examined.


To explore it, to question it. It's wonderful, I see people, you see people, I hope you see people, who are practicing compassion. But even though they may be practicing compassion, which is wonderful, they may not be examining themselves. And they may not be welcoming others to examine them. In which case, the compassion is not fully realized. Recently I thought of the example of this person who we call Christopher Columbus. Another suffering, ignorant person. However, his studies led him to come to the understanding that the world was not flat.


And therefore it would be possible to sail from Western Europe around the globe and reach the East Asian coast. A new way to reach an old world. He knew the ignorance of the world, and knowing that, he wished to explore it in new ways. And I just imagine a little bit of setting out from Spain or Portugal, I'm not sure where he left from. Sailing out in the Western direction, into that vast unknown expanse, beyond where any European boats had gone.


On and on, into the unknown. Motivated perhaps by greed to make money in the spice trade. But still, imagine, going forth into the unknown. And then, running into land. And he found a new way, yes. A new path, yes. And he came upon a new world. But in his confusion, he thought the new world which he ran into, was an old world. He didn't realize he discovered a new world. One that he knew nothing about. And because he knew nothing about it, being a normal human, he assumed that it was what he already knew.


Namely, it was East Asia. And apparently, to the end of his life, he thought he had found East Asia. He could not understand or believe that he had discovered another land. One unexpected by the European mind. Here is an example of, if we explore the unknown aspects of our own suffering, and other people's suffering. We will discover new, unexpected possibilities of life. We will be free, and excuse me, I should say, if we admit our ignorance on a regular, rhythmic practice basis.


Our mind opens to explore, to question, to examine. And in this process, to discover new possibilities of life. And again, like Columbus, when we discover these new possibilities, we may not know that we've discovered a new possibility. We may think we discovered what we were looking for. That's not really a discovery. We will discover things that we were not looking for. But I should say, in our confusion, we did not realize we were looking for. And even if we think we find a new land, we still are surrounded by confusion and ignorance.


So even when we make discoveries of things which we thought were impossible, that's not the end of the story. As this chant says, we will be able to attain Buddhahood and let go of it. And the Buddhahood, when we attain Buddhahood, we attain something. We were looking for something else, but we attained something which we had no idea about, which is beyond the horizon of our ignorance. And we're very happy to make the discovery. And that's not the elimination of our confusion, but the awakening to our confusion and understanding it in new ways. Freedom from it, and able to do things unhindered by confusion and ignorance without touching it, without getting rid of confusion and ignorance.


Open to new possibilities of life, a possibility of peace and harmony in situations where we had not been able to find it before. But when we find this, that's not the end. We're still surrounded by ignorance and confusion. So we continue the process of examining and being examined. The stories of traditional Zen practice are stories about examining and being examined. And also there are stories about people who examined and were examined, and then they thought the examining was done. They thought they found the new world of peace and freedom. And that was the end of investigation, the end of research, the end of examination.


But for our compassion to be fully alive, I'm proposing now that we embark on a compassionate journey of examining. That we examine compassionately all aspects of our life, and that we enlist each other's help to do so. So I may feel like I'm examining, but if you examine me, I may feel, I may notice that I overlook something in my research. And I need that. And it's being given to me, and I need to learn how to accept this support. One story which I bring up so much about this process of exploration, and also this process of ceasing exploration.


Exploring and discovering wondrous new possibilities of life. How wonderful. And then, how sad, stopping and resting, or making a nest out of the discovery. So this is a story about a Chinese Zen teacher. His name was Fa Yen. He lived in the 9th century. Fa Yen means Dharma eye. And in his monastery, he had a director. There was a director. Director Tzu. And he asked the director, he examined, he examined the director.


And he said to the director, how come you never enter my room? Enter my room is a Zen term for, you know, come into the teacher's room, but also come into the teacher's room and examine life together. Fa Yen said to the director of the monastery, how can you never come into my room and examine life with me? How come you don't come in and examine me? How come you don't come in and let me examine you? But what he literally said was, how come you don't enter my room? How come you don't enter the room of great compassion? The Lotus Sutra says, if you want to be a teacher of the Lotus Sutra, if you want to teach the Dharma, you need to enter the room of great compassion, Buddha's room.


And in that room, you examine life together with the Buddha, which involves you examining the Buddha and all sentient beings. And the Buddha and all sentient beings questioning you, asking you, investigating you, exploring you, and you exploring them compassionately. So, the director did not enter Fa Yen's room of compassion, and Fa Yen said, how come? Why don't you? And the director said, oh, didn't you know, teacher, that I attained entry into awakening with Ching Lin, Master Ching Lin? In other words, this is my editorial.


He attained awakening with another teacher, and he thought his inquiry was done. And Fa Yen heard, oh, he thinks his inquiry is done, so I think he doesn't understand. Didn't you know, teacher, that I attained entry into awakening with Master Ching Lin? And Fa Yen thinks, oh, you think it's over, huh? I'm afraid you misunderstood. Tell me more about it. So, the director said, I asked Ching Lin, what is Buddha? He was examining, what is Buddha?


And the teacher said, Fire God comes seeking fire. And the director said, when I heard that, it was like the bottom of a bucket dropping out. And Fa Yen said, the teacher's words are good, but I'm afraid you misunderstood. Oh, no, no, not yet. So, the teacher's words are good, tell me more. So, then the director said, I'm Buddha, but I was still searching for Buddha. And Fa Yen said, oh, that's what I thought, you don't understand, you misunderstood.


In the examination process, he saw that the director monk's understanding was not fully alive yet, and said so. And the director monk thought he was beyond further examination, and questioning, and became angry. He contained his anger, and left the teacher, and left the monastery. Fa Yen said, when he heard the director had left, Fa Yen said, if that monk comes back, he can be saved. If he doesn't, he won't be able to be helped. Even if we reject the opportunity to continue to study, if we come back and try again, it's possible to go on.


But we must come back after we run away. If we run away, we must come back and say, okay, okay, okay, ask me that again. I want to study more. We need this kind of questioning for our great compassion to be fully alive. We need this service to be given to us, and we need to give it to others. Compassionately questioning our compassion. Anyway, the directors left the monastery, but as he proceeded on his way, the thought occurred to him, this teacher is highly respected, has many students, maybe he has a point. And he went back to meet the teacher again.


And the teacher said, okay, welcome back. Now ask me what you asked the other teacher. And the director said to Fa Yen, what is Buddha? And Fa Yen said, Fire God comes seeking fire. This time, when the director awakened with his teacher, he understood there's no end to this process of examination of what is Buddha. So this fall, for the rest of this year, I want to research, I want to explore,


I want to examine with you our practice of compassion. I want each of us to self-examine and to invite others to examine ourselves. And to find out who wants us to support them in their self-examination. I want to examine as much as possible, many different kinds of suffering in this world. And one particular example of suffering which I'd like to examine, which I'd like to question, which I'd like to explore, is racism.


Racism. I want to compassionately learn about the ignorant state, the ignorant being. Racism. I want the Sangha to self-examine and help others self-examine our understanding of racism and how to practice compassion in a world where there's racism and all that comes with it. But also any other form of ignorance and confusion and suffering. I want to study with you and examine with you. I want to research.


I want to go beyond what we know, beyond the horizon of what we can think and discover more and more possibilities of our life and death. So I set the table now for the rest of the year. I'm offering a class through the yoga room on the relationship between compassion and science. I see science, and by science I mean European, modern European science, as understanding to some extent that we're ignorant and exploring our ignorance.


Christopher Columbus is an example of scientific exploration. And I'd like to find other ways to practice scientifically studying compassion and compassionately studying scientific research. So Great Assembly, thank you for coming this morning. And some of you may have heard that I had what might be called a major surgery a couple of weeks ago, and I'm in a process of recovering. I've had ice packs on during this talk, and I'm doing quite well.


I do have difficulties adjusting to the process, but, you know, it's a great opportunity for practicing compassion and researching, examining this body and examining how to take care of it. And I thank you for your support, and I give you mine. And if there's anything you'd like to bring up in the remainder of our time together, I don't know how much longer I can go on this morning, but I feel kind of okay now. So I think I can go on a little longer here in this position I'm in. So if you'd like to bring anything up, you're welcome to do so. Our first offering is Sarah. Thank you.


I'm so glad you're doing okay. And thanks for the email kind of letting us all know how you were and for doing this today. I was really surprised that you felt well enough to meet with us. So thank you very much. So great to see you. And I want to ask a question about if we're going to study racism, I wonder how we want to define racism. You might. One definition, which I just recently was given to me. Well, one which I heard before is to judge or to prejudge, to have any kind of prejudice towards anybody on the basis of race. But then a modification of that definition is to judge or be prejudiced towards someone based on race in a way that reinforces systemic racism.


That second definition is one that I'm trying on now. So I don't know if there's any way. Yeah, you might you might judge someone on the basis of race about something. But it might not reinforce racist systems. But it often does reinforce systemic racism. Like systemic racism would be a system where race is now used in a system to hire people for jobs or give them housing or give them educational opportunities. And if we if we speak of race or relate to a race, relate to someone based on race in a way that reinforces that system. That's what I think is more painful and more harmful.


And the part of the racism we should be looking at. So if you if you talk about relating to white people on the basis of race, like you might say white people are like that. That's kind of a racist statement. However, that statement might not reinforce racism against white people. It might hurt their feelings deeply for you to say you white people are like that. But it wouldn't reinforce a system of discrimination against them, which makes it makes it hard for them to get housing and loans at the bank and educational opportunities and jobs. But if if we if it's done towards somebody, a person of color, it might reinforce a system of racism, which is already which is already there and gets fed by more racist comments.


So that's the that's the definition of racism I would like to use and study and see how that's living in my life and practice compassion with that. And find out who wants to examine that with me. I think one of the things that I wonder about is how I relate to difference. Of any kind. I'm living in a place now where I feel culturally kind of different from a lot of the people I'm serving and. Boy has a lot of arrogance and. You know, I think it's also what's happening kind of in the country is that, you know, we're right. And those people are ignorant or those people are.


However, you want to classify it and race is one of the ways, but there's other ways as well. And there's other ways as well. The idea of relating to difference. You know, having lived in the Bay Area a long time, which is so diverse. There's also the amazing richness of diversity and difference and exploring differences, whether it's cultural or cuisine or, you know, working in an environment with lots of different A big racial mix a big cultural mix a big age mix. It can be really rich as well. But there is there seems to be a An interesting reaction to difference or perception of sameness to, I mean, you know, this idea that you assume someone is like you. Maybe they're really not like you. So I find that a subset of this conversation.


That's another thing. Another opportunity. Thank you. Thank you. Our next offering is from Miriam. Thank you. Hi, good to see you. Good to see you. And I'm glad you're feeling better. I I had this. I use the word impression. I do a lot of walking since this whole COVID and I do a fast walker walking and I had an incident where And I see it a lot. Cars are not stopping at stop signs. They just keep rolling and rolling and especially around here in San Francisco, where we have a kind of streets that are closed.


So I am pretty much almost three quarters crossing and this guy pulls in with a car and he won't stop. He keeps rolling and rolling. And so I just stopped and went like this with my hand. And he just started screaming and yelling in the car, you know, like just so upset. And I was like, well, you know, like, okay, fuck you, whatever. And I move on. And about halfway walking, I realized that I caused this guy to go ballistic. And that for in the previous moment, he was, he was okay. And I could have cleared that whole crossing without having to take him on. And I, I felt bad about that. I mean, it was like, why did I create conditions? I am responsible.


In creating conditions in others, not just others in me, but me to others. And, and I think the only thing I can do right now is just see it for whatever that means. And that I, I have to fake that it does permeate the body, some of that knowledge and impressions you get, because it's a stop for the next time at some level. Yeah, you, you examined your life. Yeah, you examined, you looked in, you looked at yourself. That's, that's, that's necessary for you to practice. You're practicing compassion. And then this person starts intruding on you and not being respectful of you. At that moment, you have a chance to study yourself and see what reactions you're having. And then you might be able to discover some really wonderful way to relate to him. I don't know what.


Perhaps you might have, you might have been able to make a gesture to him, asking him if you would please be kind to you, you know, and let you go. Or you might say, would you want, you know, make a gesture of do you want to go? Really? May I go? You know, like, look at him. But you didn't do that. But you did do something which is very, very good. You examined yourself. This is the path of discovery of new possibilities of freedom. So that was great. I pray you continue. Thank you. I have one more thing. And that's it. One last thing. In practicing racism and all that, would you also be, are we going to be also looking at anti-Semitism and things like that? Okay. Yeah.


Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. And you name it. All these, all living beings. Anti-Semitism. Anti-Muslim, Islam. Right. Anti-Christian. Anti-women. You know, anti-Buddhist. Anti-racism. And racism. Let's look at it all. Everything. Let's examine everything. Together. Our next offering is from Bodhi. Namo Buddhaya Namo Dhammaya Namo Sanghaya. Namo Buddhaya Namo Dhammaya Namo Sanghaya.


Namo Buddhaya Namo Dhammaya Namo Sanghaya. Thank you for inviting us into your room to examine ourselves in this way. Thank you so much. One thing I wanted to say is a new understanding that I have come about from a previous talk that you gave on generosity. And my understanding previously was in terms of giving things and not being attached to things, and you know material generosity. And the generosity that you spoke of was an opening to whatever appears as it is. So I learned to be, because of illness, I'm not able to keep my house as clean as I would like


and I get agitated. So I have been practicing a generosity to the filth and a generosity to my incapacity and just an opening and a compassion. So I never really made that connection between generosity as an opening to painful situations and situations in which I am a racist of material things. The other thing is that I would like to confess that I am a racist. That I have prejudgment of the human race and that we are not as smart as we think we are. And part of my judgment is that we even need to change the word


humane because humanity is not humane. And to consider is it humane or is it not humane is that this is the depth of my racism of humanity. So I offer my judgment of the human race to the noble assembly and humbly request to liberate from this judgment and to be generous with these judgments and restore compassion for all beings and all phenomena, all dharmas. And you were somewhat compassionate and generous towards the judgments. You were.


And you also went on from there to examine them. So please continue to be generous towards your and other people's racism. And try to examine together with them. Please continue. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Next offering is from Homa. Good morning, Rev, and good morning, assembly. On the topic of racism, you were defining or at least I understood some definition of what racism is. And I'm questioning and I'm wondering if we're entering racism with some kind of


some definition, how would it be different from Christopher Columbus, who went into his exploration and inquiry and then found America and he in his mind, he said, this is Asia. This is the extension of Asia. So in my mind, the way I see it, he went back, he went to the exploration, but he returned back to his own definition. Then how would us approaching this racism with some definition that we will not return back to where we are already defining it? So in my I'm questioning whether our questioning or our looking into racism is really comes from a clear view or some prejudgment of some of our definitions. What I'm suggesting is our examination of our ignorance comes from our ignorance,


but the acknowledgement of our ignorance. Acknowledging our ignorance, we examine it, but it isn't that after we examine it and explore it, we come to the end of it. There's no end to it. No matter how far we go, there's no end to it. I see. Okay. So we still explore it. And also we have to remember there's not going to be an end to this exploration. So it's what I'm hearing, we come to and then we keep letting go of the end. We come to, we keep letting go of the end. And if we don't, hopefully someone will say, how come you never come to my room? I didn't catch this part. If we think we've come to the end of it, hopefully we'll have a friend who says, how come you never come to my room? I can ask you, do you think you've come to the end of exploration? You know, have you discovered Buddhahood? And so you think the exploration


is over? Well, yes. Well, that's not understanding correctly. We do make discoveries, but then we need to go beyond them. But sometimes we make discoveries and we don't go beyond them. We stop. And so we need a friend to say, do you think you're done? And well, yes, I do. As a matter of fact, you know, yes. Oh, well, you don't understand. Yes. And I also like to take this moment, if I may, to just confess my lack of tolerance with pain. And that I have felt deep, deep sadness, just in my lack of tolerance with pain, because that's what keeps me separate from being with what is. And I like to confess that. Yeah. May we continue to examine our pain and the pain of others.


I'm examining my pain right now. Our next offering is from Josh. Hi, Reb. Hi, Josh. So I was wondering about, I was mulling over the definitions about racism. You were talking about these two different definitions. I want to add one more definition. Racism is whatever people of color say it is. Could it also be more than that? Definitely. There's no end to it. There's no end to racism. And therefore, our study of racism has no end.


But I'd offer it a working definition. And here's another working definition. When a person of color says that's racist, you study that with them. You listen to them. You don't ask them to prove it. You study it with them respectfully. But that's not the end of racism. That's just one example to study. So from what you were saying with these different definitions, it seems to me there's there's some forms of racism that are more problematic right now in terms of their systemic racism. And some groups are more oppressed. And that racism towards them seems more urgent to work on. And yet. When I look in my own mind, I can see all sorts of prejudices towards all sorts of different groups of people. And some of those groups of people are oppressed and some


of them are not oppressed. But I still think my prejudices against those groups, I have a lot of prejudice against the British ruling classes, all sorts of prejudices. And if I meet someone from that kind of background, I have to overcome my prejudices to actually meet them. So I think those kind of prejudices can still they may not be manifesting problems right now in the same way. But like a prejudice against the ruling classes can lead to can lead to the guillotine. You know, it might manifest problems in the future, even though it's not part of systemic oppression right now. Yes. And what and and that is that prejudice you have towards them. That prejudice must be examined in order for you to meet them. And you must meet them in order to practice the Buddha way. But we have trouble meeting sometimes


because of our prejudices, our views of who people are. That's why we need to realize that our views are ignorant. And we need to explore them. And we need to explore them with others and have others question us about our our views. Otherwise, we can't meet. We stay trapped within our own mind. So I guess what I was wanting to bring up, and it wasn't really quite clear in my mind what it was when when I first raised my hand, but it's to do with how. Yeah, when we are examining the forms of racism that are more problematic right now in a particular culture. How we sort of balance that with also the fact that there's there can be racism that maybe isn't so problematic right now, but it might manifest


other times probably, you know, that we shouldn't ignore. I shouldn't be let off the hook for my prejudice against people who happen right now to not be oppressed because it could cause it could cause a lot of problems, even if it's not causing a problem right now. Well, I don't want to go into that sort of probably is causing a problem right now. It's it's interfering with you having a deep, compassionate relationship with that person. That is a problem right now. And how that view fits together with the necessity to prioritize looking at racism against oppressed groups and the experience of oppressed groups. Well, you could say prioritize. That's OK to say prioritize. But I'm just talking about, well, how about giving the how about giving the most oppressed people equal standing


to these other cases? You don't even have to prioritize. Give it its due, you know, which may seem like we're prioritizing if I haven't been paying attention to it. Give it enough priority to have it stand on an equal footing with my problems with my partner and my children. So, yeah, let's let's let's really listen to people of color because we have not been doing it enough. And that might seem like prioritizing. OK, that's fine. What I haven't been paying attention to, and if I start paying attention to it, it might seem like I prioritized it. OK, yeah, right. When you start paying attention to what you haven't, but you gave it priority, you moved it ahead of things that you were paying attention


to. Fine. And then someone might come up to you and say, could we prioritize something else now? Like, what are we going to have for dinner? So, OK. Again, exploring the priorities are shifting all the time and examine whether we're overlooking some of the priorities which are infinite. And I just feel I'm just bringing up this very important priority, which is racism in America. And you can bring up racism in Europe. It's different varieties. Yeah, it feels when you say that racism in Europe, it immediately brings


up with me. To me, the big issue or a really big issue that comes to my mind in Europe at the moment is the attitude towards people who are coming from other places. Yeah. Who need somewhere to live. Yeah. And Europe and Britain particularly are like, well, not here. You know? Yeah. Yeah. That seems very poignant in our country at the moment. Yeah. So what am I doing to contribute to the systematic racism that's going on in relationship to immigrants? Yeah. And what could I be doing to challenge it? Yeah. Yeah. Plenty of food for thought and examination. Thank you. Thank you. Our next offering is from Angela.


Good day, Assembly. I, as Bodhi said, appreciate you inviting us into this room of exploration. Exploration. I wish to take the opportunity to express how I'm feeling presently. And I'm here feeling pain and suffering and fear and compassion with the suffering and the pain and the fear. And I think this is why I can present my face and voice now.


This practice of compassion. I would like to take the opportunity to confess my harmful judgments towards others and myself. And to confess that I feel great sorrow for my unskillful behavior. And I wish to grow in practice. And I appreciate the Assembly coming forward and sharing so we may all realize freedom from our judgments of self and other.


Thank you. I, when you were talking, I had the thought arose that when you look at... Did you say when you feel sorrow about your unskillfulness? Is that what you said? Yes, I think I did. Yeah. So it's almost like you say to your unskillfulness, I'm sorry. But I thought, can you also say to your unskillfulness, thank you? Can you respect your unskillfulness and say thank you? And can you say I love you to your unskillfulness? And I'm sorry. Yes, thank you. This is entering the room with your unskillfulness, bringing your unskillfulness into the room.


Our next offering is from John Donnan. Hello, Reb, and Great Assembly. Hello, Donnan. I would like to offer an additional definition of racism that occurred to me as we've been talking. And that is, as a white person who has enjoyed all the privileges that come with being a white person in our society, I think that I represent actually the face of structural or systemic racism. I say that because of the subtle ways in which I may not even be aware that this attitude of being a privileged person within our society affects my worldview and


my view of other people, or how I consider them. I know from reading and conversations with many of my black friends that their experience of the world is very much linked to their bodies, just as is the awakening process itself related to our bodies. And they speak of the history in which their bodies have not been treated as their own, but there is a kind of claim upon their bodies that exists, pre-exists as part of their world experience. And that's not my experience as a white person. And that's one of the privileges of being in this society that I think exists for people who are not black, or not Asian, or not colored. And so, I think of racism as being systemically and structurally tied to my


own sense of being a privileged person, being raised white in the society. I just offer that as one more definition to be explored. And thank you for your reference to Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the new world. It's so apropos of this journey that we're embarking upon with you, discovering this new world that is opening for us as we meet today. Thank you. Thank you, John. Thank you. Our next offering is from Basha. Good afternoon, Reb and the Assembly. It's so nice to meet you in your examination room.


Thanks for the invitation. And as soon as you brought up the topic, I remembered participating in dialogue racism project that was happening in Houston Zen Center, led by this famous woman, Cherry. And I found out at that time that actually racism is totally insubstantial. It's not only that it's a concept, but it has no ground for existence. So I actually, remembering that I googled racism and it says in Wikipedia, a race is a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society. But then it goes on to say the term was first used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations.


By the 17th century, the term began to refer to physical traits. Modern science regards race as a social construct and identity, which is assigned based on rules made by society, while partially based on physical similarities within groups, race does not have an inherent physical or biological meaning. So it's fascinating that there is so much suffering created by something that completely does not exist. And I looked at the assembly at the faces and I'm white and I used to think that I, because I experienced, I used to call myself, I'm the audible minority, because as soon as I open my mouth, I fall into a different category than any other white people in North America.


And I thought I understood what prejudice would be like, but it is an endless task to truly clam those, what it means to be, to be prejudiced against. When I worked with Aboriginals in Canada, it was, it just completely blew my mind, even though I thought I was sensitive enough due to my own personal experience on this continent to work with them. It's just, it's endless. Yeah. So I just wanted to share that with you because with the rest of the group, because the group is mostly waspish. It's so, I don't know how you can even begin that really without experiencing the suffering of prejudice. I guess people have prejudices in their own


personal lives and maybe that's how the entry may become, but it is a difficult topic that you're bringing up. Thank you. It appears there may be time for additional questions. Are there some more? Not at this time. Okay. Well, then I would like to say that I'm imagining ways that this assembly might get together to examine,


to self-reflect on racism individually in our own minds, but also in some kind of groups that we might form to help each other do this examination of racism for us white people to do that in this particular sangha, this Noabode sangha. You know, I look forward to the time when we can meet in person again, but also some people might be willing or interested to do it in online Zoom groups. So there may be some offerings to you if you want to do that kind of thing online with others in this community. And I also want to do it in person at Noabode.


So thank you very much. And may your healing continue. 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 it. Thank you very much. Thank you, Rev. Thank you, Rev. Be well.