Protecting and Liberating All Beings

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A residential weekend retreat at Mount Madonna.

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the illusion that there is the universe and that we are a self in addition to it.


So I've been getting ready to start observing our consciousness, the karmic consciousness, self-consciousness, afflicted consciousness, and also I've heard that the sound has been turned up. Can you hear me well, Peter? Pardon? It's a little afflicted? Did you hear that, Paul? There's a report of affliction in the sound. Is it irritating or painful? Irritating. Irritating. It's hard to hear? Do you think, Paul, it might help to turn it down a little bit, or what do you think?


We can test it. Let's do some testing, okay? How's this? Is this good? Good over here? Is it good over there? Yeah. So, how is the hearing going now? Good. Good? Great. Great. So, this field, this enclosure, this enclosed awareness, is one of the types of awareness that we have in our life, and if we take good care of it, we will understand it, and if we understand it, we've done our Buddha responsibility. We become, we do Buddha's work when we contemplate this and see its beauty and truth.


These things are not, I don't think we're supposed to eliminate these things, and nobody's, we're not, and the Buddha's not going to come in and fix the situation. We may want somebody to come in and fix it, but Buddha's not going to fix it. Buddha's going to teach Dharma about this situation, and by teaching the Dharma, and if we listen to the teaching and experiment with it in this field, we will understand these phenomena, and understanding these phenomena is Buddha, but it's painful work sometimes, and we're all doing it, like Elizabeth just observed some irritation in her consciousness and reported it. It's returning. There's a static in the sound. The static coming back? Okay. Anybody else hearing the static? No. No? Maybe you're...


So, I can definitely move this. And how is that? Better? Better? I'll keep talking and you'll see. Okay. So, there's a teaching from ancient India, from the wonderful Bodhisattva Basubandhu, and he said that in this consciousness, there is a sense of self. There's the phenomena of self, and all the phenomena in this kind of consciousness comes in five varieties,


and anything that's going on there, if you report it to someone who's trained in this teaching of these five varieties, also in Sanskrit called five skandhas, in Pali called five khandhas, and skanda means aggregate or heap. It's a category. So, there's many phenomena, but basically five types, and anything you observe there, if you would report it, someone who's trained in this can tell you which of those five it goes in, and you might not be able to surprise them. With anything that they couldn't see as one of these five types. And if you report a self, they would ask you to tell more about what the self is. Is it material data? Is it a light?


A smell? A sound? A taste? A touch? And those physical phenomena could give a sense of self. Like, oh, that's my smell. That's my sound. Or that's the sound of me. Or that's my touch. And the sense of self might just be one of those experiences, one of those data. But most people would say, well, that's not really my self. That color, that sound. But that could be your sense of self at the moment. Even though you might see that's not usually what I think of as myself. And it could be a feeling. Pain, pleasure, neutral. It could be an idea, a concept. It could be many different emotions.


And it could be consciousness. And if you would report your phenomenal experience of this sense of self, you might find that it's never anything more than one of those kinds of data, one of those kinds of phenomena. And yet, people often think that the self is something in addition to those things. It's something in addition to feeling. It's something in addition to emotions. It's something in addition to karmic awareness, karmic consciousness awareness. Many of you know, I draw this picture, you know, of everything, like a circle. Everything, and then there's something more. There's everything in the universe plus something. There's something in addition to everything. And it just happens to be me.


You don't think that. You don't think I'm in addition to everything. But there is something that you might think is in addition, and it might be you. Even though that doesn't make sense, there is that idea. So, the self, according to Vasubandhu, comes with four afflictions. One is self-confusion. And again, I just talked about the self-confusion. That way, if you have any experience of it, it must be one of these types. And if you look at that, it's kind of confusing, because you don't really think you're a pleasure. You don't think you're pain. You don't think you're a neutral sensation. But, in fact, you know, that's what you're experiencing at the time, and it's kind of confusing. Well, that's where I'm getting the sense of self.


So, there is basic confusion, because it's like, it has to be what's going on here, and yet it's not one of those things. That's a sample of self-confusion. And that confusion ranges from irritating and nauseating to excruciating, to intolerable. Yeah, some people just, they just, they cannot stand the confusion around the self. And, of course, then there's an emotion which can come up, which might be seen as a self too, but just the emotion, I want to get rid of this, get rid of all this, and if I got rid of the self, I'd get rid of that. It's true, if you didn't have a self, you wouldn't have that self-confusion. But wanting to get rid of it is just, it's another affliction. It's probably, it's probably the self-pride.


The self-pride is, I think, associated with the idea that in this field of consciousness, with all these afflictions, whichever ones are here at the moment, and that overall pattern which is the thinking or the the actual action of the consciousness is the overall pattern, there's this pride that the self is actually operating this pattern, that the self makes it, that the self is doing the action. Like, I'm angry. That's a kind of prideful thing, is that I'm doing the anger. I'm greedy, or I'm not angry, and I'm not greedy. I'm thinking. I'm feeling. So the self is in the, the sense of self is in the field


where there's something going on, and then there's this, there's this affliction, which is the thought that the self is actually operating what's going on. And that's aggregated to the self much more than it actually is due. It's actually, it's like, you know, a big family with like 50 members in it, and one of them says, I own all you, I own the rest of you. And human beings can think like that. They can have a thought. That's not really thinking. Human beings can have such a thought. Thinking is the pattern in which that thought lives. And you don't have to teach people how to think like that, or how to have those thoughts. They come up with them quite naturally. Like I use the example of my grandson. He came to Green Gulch one time, and there was a play area, and there was lots of toys there, and he, like, after he'd only been there a couple times, he said, these, all these toys are mine.


I left them here the last time I was here. Children can think like that. It's kind of a complicated thought. You walk in some place and say, I own all this stuff, and then, but I've never, I haven't been here before, I never saw those toys. Well, I left them here the last time I was here. Kind of clever. To back up this idea that the self owns what's going on. Usually, semi-reasonable adults, when they arrive at some place and have never been there before, they don't walk in and think, I own this place. But after they're there for a while, they kind of succumb to the idea that the one, this one idea, or this one feeling, or this one emotion in the field owns everything else in the field. And it's very rare, although I think it's a good exercise, it's a good experiment,


that there's the idea that the feelings operate the self, or that the feelings own the self, or that the thoughts own the self. It's more like my thoughts rather than my thoughts are me. The reversal of it helps see that it's not true. They just coexist. They're actually all companions, and they all come up together. It isn't like the self is there first and then brings on the rest of the events. But the self's there, and then the self makes the thinking. The consciousness comes up, and it has a pattern. It always comes up with lots of stuff. And the stuff has a pattern, which is clear or unclear. And there's a sense of self there. And then the consciousness goes away, the self goes away, and the whole pattern goes away. And then the next one comes up. None of them are there beforehand pushing the rest of them up. They all come up dependent, co-arising.


They all come up together and go away together. They're born together and die together. But there's an affliction of, I did this. And again, even I'm responsible. This is that word responsible which we can play with. I'm responsible. But actually, everything in the field is responsible. Not just the I. The I is responsible, but not uniquely. But again, that's the affliction of self-pride. The other one I mentioned is self-esteem or self-love, which is that even though we sense all the affliction around the self, and we kind of want to get rid of it when it's really tough, we don't want to trade it for somebody else. Even though it's a problem, if we're going to have one, we'll want this one. And the other one is, that's self-esteem or self-love,


and the other one is self-view. There's this sense of egocentrism, that the self is center, that the self is at the center, but the feeling isn't at center. The idea isn't at center. But actually, they're all equally at the center, and none are uniquely at the center. All are at the center of a huge pattern of dependent co-arising, about everything coming together to make this feeling, this emotion, this idea, this fear, this pride, this faith, this appreciation. Each one of those things is at the center of the universe. But there isn't usually a view that they're at the center. There's the view that the self is at the center. So those afflictions which were told by that ancient teacher, they just come up every moment.


So the self comes up, lots of other stuff comes, and these four afflictions always come up. Greed comes up, but usually greed doesn't come up at the same time as hatred, they usually alternate. Or even when neither one of them is there, you just have confusion. But the sense of self is, if it isn't there, it isn't karmic consciousness. The karmic pattern has a self with it, and the self is actually part of the pattern. It's not like up above or over to the side. You could put it at the center, but it doesn't really have to be there. It's only the center in the sense of everything else being at the center. So studying this field is for the sake of relief from the fixed patterns of affliction. And actually for the sake of understanding what the self actually is.


And how to study is, you know, that's the art. How to study the art of studying karmic consciousness. It's an art, and it's a science. So Buddhist science studies this field. It observes, it experiments, it plays, and the observation works well in silence and stillness, when we feel supported to really like, just have the responsibility to clearly observe. How's the sound? Sinking? Okay, well, why didn't you tell me? I'm just kidding. It's sinking. It's sinking now? Okay. Well, let me know if it's sinking. Just say sinking. Sinking.


Thank you. So here's a story about one teacher who was really good at testing karmic consciousnesses and helping people test karmic consciousness. So one time a student came to him, and he became one of the leaders of his community. He became the director of the monastery. But he never came to see the teacher, the great, wonderful teacher, whose name was Dharma Eye, or Dharma Eyes, Fa Yen. And so one day Fa Yen said to the director, How come you never come into my room to discuss the Dharma with me? And the director said, Oh, didn't you know? I had, you know, I had awakening with this other teacher.


Some people think that after you have awakening with maybe a really good teacher, that that's the end of the story. And you don't go talk to other teachers then, or you don't discuss the Dharma then anymore, because you're done. Anyway, there was something like that in his understanding. And Fa Yen said, Oh, well, tell me about it. Fa Yen is probing his own mind and the director's mind. Tell me about it. He's experimenting with his own mind at the same time that he's inviting the director to look at himself and tell him what happened, how he sees things. And it started when he first said, You've been here for quite a while, how come you never come? That's testing consciousness. I don't see him coming. I have a question about that. I think I'll give him a question.


Questioning as a gift, as a Dharma gift. So the teacher says, How come you don't come? And he explained, and the teacher asked more questions. Tell me about it. So the guy says, Well, I asked the teacher, What is the self of the student? In other words, what is my self? And the teacher said, The fire god comes seeking fire. It's actually a fire boy god. The fire god comes seeking fire. And I became awake to what the self is. And Fa-Yin said, Well, tell me more. And he said, Well, in the realm of the fire god, the fire god comes seeking fire, even though he already is fire.


And that's like, in the realm of Buddha, Buddha comes looking for Buddha. And Fa-Yin said, Oh, okay. Well, that's what I thought. I didn't think you understood. I thought you didn't. And now I'm asking these questions, and now I say, Yeah, you don't understand. Actually, he said, I think those are fine words of the previous teacher, but I don't think you understood. And I would say, in light of our conversation, that the director then did not look at his consciousness. He did not look to see what was going on there. And therefore, he became, what do you call it, a puppet of his anger. He didn't look and see, Oh, I'm angry. What's that about? He just got angry. Angry about what? Well, the teacher is saying,


I don't think you understood. He didn't look and see, What is that? And so he did get angry, but he didn't yell at the teacher or whatever. He just left the monastery. And as he was leaving, after a while, he thought, Well, he's the teacher of all these people, and maybe I should give him another chance. So he went back to the teacher and he said, Okay, I'm sorry, I got angry. I'm sorry, I ran away, but I'm back. So how shall we proceed? And Fa Yen said, Well, ask me again what you asked the other teacher. And so he said, What's the self of the student?


And Fa Yen said, The fire god comes seeking fire. And he understood. He actually understood at that time. But I think Fa Yen helped him study more deeply, so he saw it in a more authentic way, what his self was. He learned something about himself in the process, in that dialogue that they went through, and in the anger he went through, not taking care of it, and storming out and walking away and coming back, all that. Now we're going to do it again. It's a good teaching. What is the self? Fire god comes seeking fire. He understood. So that was the way the teacher in conversation helped the student understand the self. And he did that same method of getting people to look again at the situation in subtle different ways,


or subtly different ways, or slightly different ways, to get different perspectives on their clinging, or their being charged up around some part of the process, so that they could become free. Not by getting rid of this, but by seeing it more deeply and more kindly. Yes? So did Fa Yen see that the director had this anger? Is that what he was saying? I think he probably could see it, because he probably could see something in his body language. But I think what he saw before, he saw this person is not coming to see me. And usually, people in this monastery come and talk to me about the Dharma. So that's already kind of unusual. Like, are they afraid of me? They might be afraid of him, because big important teacher,


they might be afraid to share their questions about the Dharma. They don't want the teacher to see that they don't know very much, even though they're in a leadership position. Is it that he thinks he's finished, and there's no more depth that he can go in the Dharma? Unlike Dogen, that he knows everything? Is that another possibility? A lot of reasons, but the teacher didn't know. The teacher didn't know. But the teacher did see, he's not coming to study with me. But he knew to talk to him about fire, and fire god seeking fire. No, he just knew that the person wasn't coming to see him. He didn't know why. So he said, well, how come you don't come to see me? And the guy told him, well, I'm already awakened. So now he knows. And that was a possibility in the first place. Maybe he's not coming to see me because he thinks he's perfect.


Some people do think that about themselves. Can you believe it? In religious practice places, people think like that. Quite often. And we have all this violence now in the world because people think they understand spiritual truth, and they're done learning. They're no longer students. Some people think like that. I'm no longer a student of Islam, or Judaism, or Christianity, or Buddhism. I'm a master. I don't need any further training. Here's another story. How many people heard this one? One time I was at Tassajara during guest season, and I was having breakfast with the guests, and the guest I was having breakfast with said to me, do you live here? And I said yes. How many people heard that story? Can I tell it?


Do you want to tell it? I don't remember. I remember it, and I don't remember it. Yeah, I remember it, and I don't remember it too, and this is the way I don't remember it. She said, do you live here? And I said yes. She said, are you a student here? And I said yes. And I wasn't being modest. I am a student. It's fun to be a student. I love it. I've loved it from the beginning, and I'm not planning on retiring as a student. She said to someone in the service, she said, who was that masked man? And the service said, that's the abbot, and she was so happy to hear that the abbot was a student, rather than the abbot not a student anymore. So anyway, this person wasn't a student. He was done. He was a master. So that's already a sign. Something's funny here. Something's not being examined,


so let's do some examination. How come? And then he told him, because I had this awakening. Oh, how did it happen? And then he told him. Well, I asked him this question, and when he answered my question, I understood what he meant. I understood what my self was when he said, the fire of God comes seeking fire. He understood the self. That's what the director said. And I don't think Thay Yen was kind of suspicious, but it wasn't like he was, he wasn't at the conclusion. He said, well, tell me more. I'm afraid you might have not understood him, so tell me more. And he did, and then he listened. He said, oh, yeah, I guess,


yeah, I don't think he did understand. And then the teacher probably wasn't surprised that the director got angry, because here's a master, and somebody's saying, well, actually, there's something you don't understand, master. And then he probably could see he got angry. Oh, by the way, one thing he said, when this guy left, he said to his attendant, if he comes back, he can be liberated. If he doesn't, he's trapped. But he did come back, so it's a happy story. And you can see Thay Yen's method throughout. And then the final thing is just to go back to the original thing and just play with it a little bit and help the person see that things are really different from what they thought. It's not some whole new teaching, but just take what they were actually focusing on and just show it slightly from the other side.


And it worked. And there's many stories with him doing that with people. Checking them out, and they respond, and he checks them again, and they respond, and then he checks them again, and they see the truth of the self. Any further questions about that? Well... You will? Yes. Well, yes. I'm curious to know what he discovered through that. What had he missed? What was the difference between... Well, part of it was that he was lacking, in the first instance, any further inquiry or willingness to inquire. He thought he got it, so that was a mistake or a misunderstanding. Yes. But the second time he had to look at fire gods


he can fire with Bayan, what was his understanding that time? What was really... Was it just that he revealed himself to be... to have... He understood that anger had come up with him, and that was a tendency for... Well, he probably understood that before he came back. That's what I think. He was learning more throughout the process. And then, instead of giving him... instead of talking about his anger or whatever, or his arrogance, Bayan used the original incident where he thought he had awakening and brought it up again and to see what his awakening was now. And he could see that it was... I think he could see it wasn't the same. And it wasn't. And maybe this time, when he saw it, when he awoken the second time, maybe he saw it in a way


that he saw he wasn't done. And maybe he saw how arrogant he was. You know, maybe... The scope of what he saw could have been very large. And the funny thing is, if it's very large, you're not done with it. And if it's kind of small, you think, that's it, I got it. I got a hold of it. But if it's very big, you say, oh, now I see... Now I see... Yeah, now I see self-pride is ridiculous. You know? Or now I see thinking that I could get a hold of the Dharma like I used to think I did. Or the understanding. Now I see how silly that is. This reminds me of... There was this Christian person who they call St. Thomas Aquinas. And he was one of the great philosophers of the Christian Church in the medieval times.


And he wrote all these magnificent teachings of systematizing the science of Christianity. And then he had an awakening. And he saw how all the stuff he did, which was like, made him a saint. He said it was like pieces of straw thrown into vast space. That was his great awakening and he stopped writing. So again, when you have a really big awakening you might not think that you could write anything about it. Before his awakenings were great and he could write about it. But when he finally had the big one he couldn't say anything. He just continued to live as the great saint for the rest of his life.


But no more writing because it just it didn't reach. It didn't touch it. And he didn't destroy his books which some Zen teachers want their books destroyed. Because in a way people think that's what they understood is his words. So a lot of Zen teachers several of the great teachers they saw that this teaching that they gave should not be written down. But then their students wrote it down. So we have all these books. The students writing down what the teacher didn't want to have written down. No, I don't. But I think he must have been pretty old because he wrote so much. He couldn't have written all that before he was 50. He just wrote a tremendous amount. So he might have he was, I don't know how long he lived after that


but he didn't write anything after that. But he might have lived peacefully you know for quite a while after that. I don't know the dates of those things. I could check the dates of his last major works and then the date he died. It might have been 5 years, 10 years. But he wasn't a kid when he had the insight because he had already done a huge I guess he's the most prolific philosopher in the Christian Church. Yes? In college they made me read Thomas Aquinas' works and take exams on them but they never told me about the straws. Yeah. I'll do that. I know a way to do that. I'll be right back. I'm going to go to the control panel


which is modeled on my consciousness. Is that good? Is that good? These here? How about how about the the lighter scale ones? I'll check but at first sight I do not have a preference for my work.


My bodhisattva work I don't have a preference for it. But I'm committed to it and I love doing it but I don't prefer it. Therefore I can sit at the table without giving a lecture. Do you understand? No. So if I sit at the table with people they do not want me to give a lecture. They want to eat and talk to each other. They don't want to have a lecture on Buddhism or they don't want me to liberate them. They want to be left in peace and I can just drop the whole thing. In other words I can be liberated from my job because I don't have a preference for it and I can accept that they don't want me to do any liberation work at this time. Leave me alone granddaddy. What? It was just a giggle. Does that relate to your question at all? It relates to it. It doesn't answer it


but it relates to it. Yeah. So anyway I don't really prefer Buddha. Really? If we had a lie detector on you right now you like the science. If we had a lie detector I have a lie detector on me and what it's doing right now is it's giggling and that means that I'm telling the truth. So I don't prefer Buddha and my understanding is I do not prefer Buddha. I know some other people do but I don't and part of the reason I don't is because my understanding is Buddha doesn't prefer Buddha. Buddha doesn't prefer Buddha over us. Buddha loves us but not looking down on us love but intimate love where there's no way for Buddha to be preferred over us. There's no Buddha but us. Do I prefer sentient beings?


You know, if you forced me to choose between to prefer sentient beings or Buddha as one or the other it would be tough. If I was forced I might just out of stubbornness prefer sentient beings but I actually don't prefer sentient beings. I want to love them I want to be compassionate practice compassion with them but that doesn't mean I prefer them and I want to honor Buddha and praise Buddha who doesn't prefer Buddha over sentient beings but is totally devoted to them and is their liberation and protection. And this involves studying sentient beings and studying Buddha and it's different it's a different study but I would like not to have one get


way ahead of the other so don't just always study sentient beings and never study Buddha or vice versa and also be be questioning about it am I studying sentient beings too much? Am I studying karmic consciousness too much? Without also looking at teachings about how to study and questioning how I'm studying and telling people how I'm studying so you know it's an ongoing work of art, right? But I really don't prefer Buddha I don't prefer Zen over Christianity or vice versa I really appreciate your answer, thank you You're welcome Susan and Yuki? It seemed like you mentioned Dogen earlier Yes And I never heard that Heard what? That he said that Yeah that was isn't that great? It really is, thanks Yeah But this when you first drew this picture


and were talking I was thinking to study Buddhism is to study the self Yeah And to study the self in infinite ways in millions of ways It never ends It never ends But we have the joy of study But you didn't mention forgetting the self, right? Yeah But we're not there yet Well, forgetting could also be understood as when you deeply study it you can't get a hold of it you can't find it It's ungraspable You realize it's ungraspable Because it's nothing other than these phenomena and we don't really think these phenomena are self and it has no independent existence but we tend to think it does and that it's a great bossy thing But it's not It's another fragile beautiful dependent co-arising The whole universe


is conjured up in concert creates this self moment by moment It's a wonderful thing to be studied and to not attach to but to study it Am I thinking? No A little thinking How's that? Is that enough for now? For now For now, okay Yuki? When you're talking about Buddha I wanted to ask you What is Buddha? Does Buddha have a self? Does Buddha have a self? Well, the historical Buddha Some people say the historical Buddha certainly before awakening had a really big ego and a number of Buddha's disciples had really big egos but they studied them and became free of them Now


in the incarnated human being Shakyamuni that person still he still used the word he used conventionally he still used the word I or my He did that Did he actually still have that sense in his consciousness? I think quite likely it may have still been there or it may not have been there anymore but he used it so he could talk to people but some part of Buddha does not have the self at all does not have does not have a what do you call it? does not have the unconscious cognition process doesn't have that those are three minds at a certain point in the development of Buddha there's just wisdom period there's no additional facilities and this this consciousness uses the this wisdom


uses other beings consciousness to conjure up ideas of self that's the true body of Buddha but the transformation of body of Buddha takes on things like an ego in order to show people how to work with it it sounds like their their Buddhas are a thing a self it may sound like that does it also sound like sentient beings are a thing than the self? no, I'm just saying in language when we say you prefer Buddhas or sentient beings it sounds like we're talking about two things yeah, and I'm just saying do you think that sounds like the sentient beings are a thing? he said one of the things yeah but sentient beings that the sentient beings that are things okay they don't exist independently


and neither does the Buddha so Buddha can appear as a thing and sentient beings can appear as a thing either one but with study we realize they aren't independently existing things they are independently co-arisen things and that's so wonderful that's what the Buddha discovered These things are dependent co-arisings they're not independent entities so Buddha isn't that and sentient beings are not that and that way they're on a par Buddhas are dependent co-arisings too Buddhas are dependent co-arisings and what's the dependent co-arising of Buddhas? Bodhisattvas are the dependent causing of Buddhas All beings are dependent causing of Buddhas could be an active consciousness for another self? No, no. I'm using consciousness for the type of awareness which has a self.


Is there consciousness that is not self? I don't, I, that type of awareness that doesn't have a self is the unconscious cognitive process and wisdom. Wisdom doesn't have a self. And the unconscious cognitive process, which is doing most of the work of our cognitive life, which is most of what our nervous system is operating, it doesn't have a self there. There's nobody there. There's no, nobody's sitting there. This is my cognitive regulation of the heartbeat. This is my assessment of the environment. All that's going on, but there's nobody there owning it or disowning it. And there's fear there, but it's not I'm afraid. It's just fear of these strange things that are all around. We don't know if they're, there's all that kind of thing going on. There's vigilance. There's fear. There's cruelty. There's ill will. There's violence.


There's kindness. There's compassion. All that stuff's in there, but nobody's there. And that's a big, rich part of our life. And that gives, that dependently contributes to the arising of consciousness. And consciousness does have a sense of self. You take away the sense of self, it's not consciousness anymore. It would be unconscious. It would just kind of like flop back into consciousness, into unconscious. Which it does, like I say, when you're in dreamless sleep, the consciousness just sort of melts into the unconscious. And the equipment for giving rise to another moment of consciousness is there and can be used when appropriate. And sometimes the unconscious says, this person will get a better night's sleep if we just turn the consciousness off. Deeper sleep.


And then it says, I think we should wake this person up. So it wakes him up, and then comes the self. So I guess the consciousness is manifest and latent. And when it's latent, it's latent and unconscious. And sometimes, like we say, in dementia, it's latent, but it's very hard to revive it. But ordinarily, it gets revived every morning, even after it becomes latent. And some nights, it's manifest all night in dreams. It never takes a rest. And that's not as restful. But that happens. Even though the person's asleep and they're getting some rest, they're basically conscious all night. But other times, the consciousness just resolves itself into a dew of the unconscious. That's my story.


So can there be awareness for those forms? Yes. In terms of our body, in terms of our nervous system, most awareness is unconscious. Again, if you look at the neurological activity that upholds a moment of consciousness, I've heard there's 11 events in a very short period of time. And the unconscious is 40 million. Vastly more going on unconsciously than consciously. But consciousness is very important, because consciousness can do things that unconscious can't. The unconscious cannot do math problems. It cannot ask certain kind of questions. It cannot make breakthroughs the way consciousness can. So consciousness is very useful for examining and questioning. Even though the unconscious could answer the question much


faster than the consciousness, it's often biased by its history. The unconscious, the conscious can also be biased. But the conscious can notice the bias and take it into account and do something that requires more work but is more accurate. How do different kinds of mental illness fit into this picture? How does mental illness fit into the picture? Like psychosis or schizophrenia. How does that fit into this picture of consciousness rising from subconscious? We have an unconscious process which can give rise to a consciousness that misinterprets what's going on. So in that sense, every state of consciousness is at least neurotic. So normally, the afflicted consciousness that rises is neurotic, is mentally ill.


We could say four afflictions accompany self, which causes, say, four illnesses. These are illnesses. These are ill. They're suffering. So normal karmic consciousness is mental illness. What about psychosis? Psychosis, I would say, somehow the cognitive unconscious gives rise to a mind where there are unusually excessive boundaries and very rigid patterns so that the person can't interact with the neurotics anymore. And so the neurotics send the person to have psychotherapy or take medication because he's got mental problems that they don't have to the same extent. One, I remember Gregor Bateson had this double-bind theory.


And he also said he defined schizophrenia. The person takes what is intended as a metaphor, literally, and takes literal things as metaphors. That's a pattern that arises in their consciousness. And they do that. His theory was, and some people feel he should have got more credit for this, the theory is that in certain families, the parents show the child one thing and tell them that it's another. And that type of presentation, like, for example, a mother who really feels perhaps sexual affection for a child acts very coldly because she feels it's not appropriate to have those feelings. That's what she feels. So she tells the child, I don't have these feelings. But the child feels them.


Or the mother hates the child and is having homicidal thoughts. And she says, I love you. You're the most dear thing in the world to me. And the child sees that she's angry. And she's saying, I'm not angry. That disturbs their consciousness in such a way that it transforms their unconscious. And they misinterpret the world in ways that are especially inverted and painful and troublesome. So that would be a possible story of the genesis of psychosis as somewhat special. Also, the bodies of some people give rise to cognitive processes which are conducive to, more than most, to depression or anxiety or schizophrenia. And so these processes then are in the body


and in the unconscious. And they tend to contribute to the production of certain special varieties of mental illness. But pretty much, excuse me, I'm very simple minded. All of these illnesses are calling for compassion. And compassion, in all its varieties, will observe and experiment with the situation and work and work until the person is protected and liberated. Like another story which I often tell is this wonderful wounded healer named Milton Erickson. And he worked in New Mexico, I think, and Arizona. And he was called into, I think, the state mental institution in Las Vegas, New Mexico. And he went there regularly.


But one time he went, they brought a patient to him who thought he was Jesus. And he wouldn't talk to anybody, staff or otherwise, unless they would acknowledge that he was Jesus. So of course, almost no one would do that. So he wasn't talking to anybody. And Milton Erickson met him and compassionately interacted with him. And then he thought, oh, I heard you're a carpenter. So he got this experiment. He observed the guy and he did this experiment saying, oh, he could acknowledge that the guy was a carpenter. He honestly could say, I understand you're a carpenter. And the guy said, well, yeah, I am. Because Jesus is a carpenter, right? He didn't say, I understand you're Jesus. He said, I understand you're a carpenter.


And then he said, would you build me some bookshelves? And the guy said, sure. And he built bookshelves. And then he could start to relate to people as a carpenter. He still thought he was Jesus, but he couldn't relate to other human beings because he didn't require that they acknowledge his divinity, which he was requiring before, which is not very workable with most people. So Milton Erickson could kind of acknowledge him, but honestly only as a carpenter. And that was enough to reach in and touch his consciousness with compassion and do that experiment and find things could start moving then. He wasn't so rigidly hung up on his ideas, but probably still had them. We can, and that's a challenging situation he had probably for the rest of his life. But we can find a peace with our current karmic setup


if someone teaches us how to be kind to it and find peace with it. So here's an extreme case, but this compassionate person found a way to make contact. Another Hail Mary, right? He got in there and said, he could find a way to relate. We have to find ways to relate. And in this case, I talk about the CNN doctor. They asked, did you get to him? They didn't ask him, did he get to you? But I would say in the Milton Erickson story, Jesus got to Milton, and then Milton could get to Jesus. He let him get to him. Oh, you're a carpenter. And then based on that, he could turn around and relate to him. So I kind of think, I would like to say, if two people don't speak the same language, the more intelligent one should learn the other person's language. So I speak English, and I'm more intelligent than you,


so you should learn English, is the British way in the imperial age. But no, we should learn the other person's language. And I also remember when Atisha, I think it was Atisha, when he went to Tibet, the king of Tibet said, thanks for coming. Tell me about Buddhism. And Atisha said, well, tell me about your religion. So again, this is like the teacher needs to show how to be a student. So the healer needs to show how to be a student of the illness and start helping the person who has a particular form of illness show them how to study. And there's so many different types of illness. Like, there's 10 million types, and Dogen didn't understand them. But he had the joy of faith that study, that observation,


and experimentation with phenomena in a state of stillness and silence was going to open up the doors of wisdom. Kurt. In listening to you, I'm reflecting on my own experience with consciousness. And what it feels like to me, and it fascinates me, is there's like this just constant, I'm going to call it an energy, that just seems to just be on, and [...] on. And so I find myself being conscious of that. So like in sitting, it's just kind


of watching this consciousness, essentially. Thank you. Thank you for watching it. But there's this witness that's watching it. And I guess I'm asking, what part of consciousness is this witness that's looking at this? Well, I would say, for starters, I suggest that consciousness is the awareness in consciousness. That's the job of consciousness. So it's same, same. But it doesn't mean that the parts, the consciousness is aware of all the contents of all this energy. So the consciousness is the total impact of all this energetic activity enclosed in the consciousness.


And it's an enclosed awareness, and it's the awareness of this whole universe, small universe, called consciousness. So I would say consciousness is the word that we use for that awareness. But it doesn't mean that all the parts don't share in the awareness, because they're not independent of the awareness, because the consciousness arises with and of these things. So to some extent, they're also witnessing. But the overall witnessing is, we call that consciousness. And the individual witnessings are the individual dharmas. Like greed is a kind of witness. Hatred is a kind of witness. But the overall impact of all these phenomena, and also the overall pattern of thinking, the karma, that's registered on the consciousness. That would be one thing to check out. And I've been checking it out.


I feel that's still my understanding. So the witness isn't over here. The witness is this whole situation is the witness. It's consciousness itself. And it's contents, which again, it's not more important to them because it comes with them. And they're not more important than it, because they come with it. They're born together. They're equal existential status. They create each other. Nothing's in charge of anything in the field, including all these ideas of who's in charge. And we do have sometimes ideas of who's in charge, right? You've seen some of them? Well, those are just delusions. Those are afflictions, if you believe them. But if you just hear them as silly ideas, then they're not so harmful. But they're risky. Or they're tempting to fall for, because they also


have subtitles which say, this is true. And I'll pay you if you believe me. And they will pay you if you believe them. But they're not to be believed. They're to be listened to and witnessed with compassion. And then if we can do it with them, we can do it with the way other people appear to us. The other thing I find is that the more that I pay attention to all of this, it seems that more unconsciousness kind of becomes conscious. In a way, I think that's true, that there's some parts of our unconscious which may feel unsafe if they feel like appearing in consciousness would be disastrous to them. So some things are hiding out, because they feel like if they were allowed to surface, they would be treated unkindly. But if we treat, you know, if I treat Barry kindly,


maybe Tina will dare to show me herself. But if I'm not kind to Barry, she's to say, I'm not going to show him who I am, because look what he did to Barry. So if we, if what, because everything that comes up in the conscious is based on the unconscious. And, excuse me, everything that comes up is based on the unconscious. But some things that have come up are coming from wisdom. So wisdom comes in there, too. And sometimes wisdom says, I ain't going in there, because every time when those unconscious things come up there, they get treated cruelly. And I do not want my dear Dharma teaching to be treated cruelly. That wouldn't be good. It's not because I'm trying to prevent damage, but I don't want this person to get it. When this comes, I want them to receive it well. And if the wisdom feels like we're receiving other phenomena well, it reveals itself.


So just, by the way, just happened to have written here what I'm talking about. That if you're like this to the stuff in your consciousness, then the Buddha will reveal your wisdom mind to you. And this is from the Lotus Sutra. In the Lotus Sutra, chapter 16, the Buddha says, I'm always with you, but I'm not going to reveal myself to you until you're ready. And when you're ready, I'm going to show you that I've always been here, that I'm here now, and I always have been. But you have to do this work before I'm going to come out of hiding or take the veil away. And this says harmonious. No, it says flexible, relaxed, open, harmonious, upright, and honest. If you're that way with the stuff in consciousness, unconscious stuff will come.


But also, Buddha wisdom will come. But it'll be hidden, in a way, until you're ready for it. And to some extent, the unconscious will be that way, too. So sometimes, part of the preparation is you practice this with your conscious material, and the gift is you get unconscious challenges come up. I should say, the unconscious just gives you tests to see if you'll be nice to them, too. And if you're kind to them, then the wisdom comes. Like, I always think of that story of the miller who said his daughter could spin straw into gold. So she spins straw into gold, and her reward is she gets another room with more straw to spin into gold. It's kind of like that. When you're kind to beings, your reward is more beings come for your kindness. If you're not kind, they're not going to give you more chances. They're not going to fuse you more vulnerable beings


if they see you don't take care of them. But if you take care of them, they say, oh, look, she took care of that. Let's send some more vulnerable beings, because she knows how to take care of them. And in that way, we get ready to receive the big visitor, Buddha's wisdom. And we have to do a lot of that before we're ready to really open to this wonderful, wonderful, wonderful Buddha's wisdom, which is right there, waiting for us when we're ready. Isn't that nice that I have that written here? Suzukoshi's son wrote this. Marie, and Judy, and Leon. You've been talking about the unconscious and conscious and wisdom. And I know a lot of people, because I'm saying this, but my understanding is very good.


It almost sounds like there's the unconscious here, and there's the conscious, and there's wisdom. Yeah, it almost sounds like that. Yeah. Well, it does sound like that. Yeah, OK, all right. But I feel uneasy about that, because that seems like they're separate things. Another picture of it, which I mentioned in that book, Third Turning of the Wheel, which talks about this material. But I don't recommend it. It's really hard books. Don't read it. But anyway, in that book, I think I quoted D.H. Lawrence. And he said, this is what I know about the conscious self. It's like a clearing in the middle of a dark forest. So it's more like the dark forest of unconsciousness is surrounding our consciousness. And there's a clearing. And then over here, there's millions. There's infinite clearings in the dark forest, which is unlimited.


And each of our consciousness is a little clearing where we can see stuff that we can't see in the forest. And wisdom is understanding this whole relationship. It's not above or below. It is just the understanding of how all these different clearings are related to each other and how the forest is feeding and giving and taking with the consciousnesses. That's another image. So it's not levels. It's more like that. I think that's really a nice. What? Does the wisdom sort of feed somehow the unconscious? Did you say feed? Is there some kind of? Well, I would say wisdom, again, this wisdom is also compassion. Compassion, you could say compassion supports and loves the unconscious.


And wisdom allows it. Wisdom is devoted to it. But it's more the understanding of it. It's just the correct understanding of the unconscious and the conscious and how they relate to each other. So wisdom has told us about this relationship. Wisdom has told us about karmic consciousness. And Buddha has told us Buddha is the understanding of this unconscious-conscious interaction. That's what Buddha is. So in a way, the life of the unconscious is simultaneous with the life of wisdom. So they kind of, and the unconscious and the conscious, they're the contents of wisdom. And not the contents, but they're the contents at peace and in harmony with each other. Judy? So the last thing you were talking about was former ladies.


The last thing you were talking about was your former ladies question. So I relate to it differently. And so I'd like to discuss it with you. So I see the study of self as what allows the self to be less the self. And that then what you said, the natural arising of the unconscious and or the wisdom comes through. And so what I'm pointing at is, so my focus has been on studying the self so that the self can be less, that there can be less adhesion there, less constriction, such that, and this is very simplistic terms, such that the unconscious can come through


and the wisdom can come through. As opposed to what I thought I heard you say, which was wisdom saying, well, if they can take me, I'll let them, I'll come through. I sort of view, as I can say I do, wisdom and unconscious as always being available. And that it's my constrictions, it's my filters, it's my obscurations that are keeping that from presenting itself. Well, I think what you just said is true. But it's not one-sided like that. The other side is also saying, you're not ready for me. Like if somebody goes to see a psychiatrist or a doctor who's got addiction problems, the person says, you're not ready for this. You don't really realize how much you need this. So come back when you're more sincere. So it's two ways. It's because of my constrictions that I'm not ready. But also on the other side, the other side


is saying, you're not ready for this. Come back when you're ready. It's both sides. It's not just on one. Yeah, that's very beautiful, because as you were saying that before, it was almost grandfatherly. It was like, oh, my god, that's so dear. OK, we're here, and we love you, and we will come out and hug you. That didn't seem like a movie to me, as opposed to. Well, that's where the movies come from. What did you say? That's where the movies come from, this drama. And you said less, but I kind of feel like you mean less substantial. Not less, but just less stuck, less rigid, less substantial. And another way to say it is, it's not really less. It's that you wake up to that it is less substantial. It already is. And you study. You realize, oh, it's not so substantial as I thought. But it isn't that your study makes it less substantial. It's your study takes your blinders off, and you see,


oh, it's not. Yeah. My grandson says to me, what's your favorite animal when he was little? And I said, humans. And then he said, well, humans aren't animals. And I said, oh. And then he asked me again, what's your favorite animal? And I say, humans. And he says, humans are not animals. But over the years, he asked me, and I say, humans. And he starts to open to that. He's able to be a little bit more flexible and open to possibility, and also maybe talk to his mother. Yeah, they are. And also, his little sister, I said to her little sister, I said, referring to her mother, I said, we were talking about her. I said, she's my daughter. And the granddaughter said, she's not your daughter.


She's my mother. And I said, oh. But little by little, she realized her mother is her mother, but her mother also is somebody's daughter, and somebody's wife, and somebody else's mother. But when we were little, we really substantiated stuff very, very, very stringently. And so our compassionate parents can gradually help us open up to the things that aren't so fixed and substantial as we thought, which is good. Leon? What I have to say is quite similar to what Judy just said. But it seems to me that the study itself, and at least what we're doing here, and attributing to the Buddhism as something we should do, is that it will relieve, it will remind me of the fact


that I really don't know who I am, and that myself is something that my consciousness is not quite aware of, and that I'm not fully aware of. And that if I can really get that, if I can really understand that, it will relieve me of the belief that myself acts in a very reliable way, and that I can count on to respond to certain events in the world, like I've always had, because myself made me do that, because that's who myself is. But if I can relieve myself of that, it's that freedom will come from that. Yeah. And that I then have a chance to become something more than what I've been to this point. Yes, right. You become a more beneficial event in the universe. And one thing I would sort of like to give you feedback on,


and that is that I don't say that you should practice Buddhism. I don't say that you should. I don't even say you should want to. But I want to, and I want you to want to. Yeah. And I don't want you to think you should. I want you to want. And even if you shouldn't, I want you to want. Yeah, so I'm not telling you should be a Buddha. I'm just telling you what I want you to be. And a Buddha wants you to be, but Buddha doesn't think you should be. And Buddha doesn't prefer for you to be Buddha. That's what I'm saying. And I don't either. But I still want you to be. That would be good to have 50 Buddhas here. But I don't prefer that. This is great. This is great. And I also have wishes. And I wish you have a wonderful dinner.


Last night was good. I hope tonight's good too. Thank you so much. So we'll start again at 7. And we're sitting quietly with our mental illness.