Remembering And Forgetting What Is Most Important

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Lately, these Dharma talks at Novo have been video recorded, and audio too. And so there was a proposal to make this one, maybe have this one be published on the internet. And so if any of you have a problem with that, maybe you could tell Mr. Wilson, if you have reservations, that we will definitely take that into account and see if you have a problem with it. I'm not saying we're going to do it, but before going any further, I'd like to hear if you have any problems with it. And then... I wanted to talk about the vow we just said.


But before that, I wanted to talk about the vow we just chanted. But before that, I'd like to hear the things that were not brought up this morning that some people might want to still bring up. Were you one of the people? I was. Okay, so you want to speak now, or never? Yes, just briefly. My takeaway from this morning was speaking well upright. Speaking well upright. Because right speech, I think, I've heard discussions get bogged down, is this the right formulation to use? As if, you know, saying things right is more important than saying the right things. What I heard you say this morning is if we are attentive to our practice, in other words, upright, we will do a better job of saying the right things.


Basically, I agree with that. So in the Song of the Precious Mere Samadhi, which some of you are familiar with, it says, it acts as a guide for beings. This Samadhi, this Precious Mirror Samadhi, which we are, some of us aspire to practice, the Precious Mirror Samadhi. We sing songs about it. We want to practice this Samadhi. This Samadhi will guide beings. If we enter this Samadhi, our action will be right. There doesn't need to be any figuring out from the samadhi, the appropriate action will arise. Our human consciousness does not figure out Buddha's action, but our human consciousness can receive


the Buddha mind, and the Buddha mind can act... I always say, Thy will be done can come through us if we enter and open to the Samadhi. And in order to open to the Samadhi, we need to open to compassion towards all sentient beings. If we open to compassion, we open to the samadhi. We enter the samadhi. And the samadhi will guide the right action, the appropriate action, which is beyond right and wrong. It's lined up with what brings peace and freedom to beings, which human minds cannot actually figure out. But human minds can remember and receive compassion and when they do they can enter the samadhi and then the samadhi can use human minds to express itself.


But human minds can't figure out the activity of the samadhi. The samadhi is inconceivable. But it guides beings and its use removes all pain. Anything else from this morning? uh... walker uh... I tend to think sometimes that I have a thought or an expression that I'll find even more valuable than what they have. You sometimes think that? Yeah. Sometimes I express myself thinking that. Even though I'm not really sure about it, but I kind of want to engage in a little debate or talk about it, something to see if I'm right or wrong, so maybe we both, or whoever, can understand it more about what I do more liberating.


And I'm wondering, It might be valuable that you're not sure. Yeah, it might be. And it might be valuable if you're open to not being sure. And it might be valuable to be open to being sure. So if there's various thoughts that have arisen in human consciousness, one thought that has arisen quite a few times is, I'm right. Another one that's arisen quite a few times is, I'm wrong. Another one is, you're right. Another one is, you're wrong. Such thoughts arise in consciousness, and to be open to them is part of compassion. It's part of Samadhi, to be open to all these opinions about right and wrong.


Now if I think my ideas are better than yours, I want to be compassionate towards that thought, that my ideas are better than yours, even though my thoughts kind of violate bodhisattva precepts. There's a bodhisattva precept which is don't put your opinions above other people's. Like two plus two is four is not worse than two plus two is five. They're different, But I wouldn't say 2 plus 2 is 4 is better than 2 plus 2 is 5, or vice versa. But if I did say that, then I hope I pray for compassion to my opinions, that one of those is better than the other. Or whatever I think, I wish I pray for compassion towards everything I think and have thought and will think. I pray for it and by continually praying for compassion and remembering it, invoking it and joining it, this being together with all other beings will enter the samadhi and the samadhi will guide proper action.


Anything else from this morning? Oh yeah, trust and respect. Yes, trust and respect. So, what kind of trust are you speaking of at this time? I'm speaking of a trust that somebody or entering the state of Samadhi and Staying in the trust it makes me very uncomfortable when you come out of the state of Samadhi. And I see that for myself and I see in others it makes me very losing trust because people act in certain ways that it totally blows my mind and I just distrust. This does not look right.


So they act in ways that in my mind is not appropriate. Well this kind of does relate to some things we were talking about this morning. Could you pass me that card again? The cards we were just playing with. If by any chance a person should turn against us or against others, become a sworn enemy, abuse and persecute us, we should sincerely bow down to her and with humble language and reverent belief


that he or she is the merciful avatar of the Buddha. It's not that I trust this person. I trust this person who seems to be cruel. I trust that this person is coming to reveal the Buddha to me. So you have that kind of trust. That's the trust of the Zen master. Yes. Mr. Tore Zenji. That's his trust. Do you have that kind of trust? He also respects everybody he sees, he respects, which means he looks at somebody and says, oh that's a human, that person is being cruel, now I look again for the Buddha. Do you trust that? And in or out of Samadhi, do you trust that? That's the question.


The question is about the teacher. The student who trusts the teacher. That the teacher is what is giving the state of samadhi. The teacher is whose shining light. And then seeing the teacher that they always thought as respecting. And when the teacher goes wrong. I'm talking from the place of student. and the teacher going wrong and it totally breaks my... I totally kind of... Can we talk about somebody who's not a teacher for a second? Okay. So if somebody who's not a teacher behaves in cruel and abusive ways, That I can have respect and I can understand because they are not coming from the position of trust me and I am trustworthy.


They are coming from the position of a human being. Yes, so maybe you should start with those people and when you can do this practice with those people then you can try to do the same practice with teachers who are acting like those people. I don't know if anybody besides me followed that. It's similar to when people tell me about themselves sometimes, and I encourage them to be compassionate with themselves, and they say they just can't do it. And I say, well, what about if your grandchild acted that way? And they say, well, I could be compassionate to them if they acted like I'm acting, which I'm not compassionate towards. And people do the same thing, you know, they are compassionate towards children when they do harmful things, but then they stop and won't do the same with an adult, I should say, with an older person.


No, not quite. Just a second. That's what you just said. You would do it with this person, but you wouldn't do it with the teacher. Yeah, because the teacher is claiming. The teacher who claims... What if the teacher doesn't claim? If they don't claim, then I'm fine. So I'll tell all the teachers to stop claiming when they're around you. Because if they claim, it makes your life too difficult. Because the teachers are human too. So I'm going to tell all the teachers to remind Homa that you're a human, because if you're a human, she can be compassionate to you and she can regard you as an avatar of the Buddha. But if you claim to not be a human, don't say that to Homa. That's too hard for Homa. Then I'll tell him not to do it. And the rest of us will just continue to have a hard time to do it with the humans.


Anything else from this morning that somebody didn't ask or wanted to ask? Yes? I was thinking about the story of the burning house and the lotus sutra around where I feel our country is and our world is, I feel, maybe we're all in the burning house. Maybe! Maybe we're in a burning house and also maybe the Buddha is standing outside the house inviting us to come out. I was going to ask you, is compassion, I could envision compassion and radiance as the carriages that we're invited to get into from the story. Yeah, so Buddha is standing right next to us and Buddha sees us in this fire and Buddha is sending us messages about ways to practice which will get us out of the fire. in some way that's attractive, like, you want a new Prius?


No. You want a Corvette? Yes. I have a Corvette out here for you. So you come out, and the Buddhist says, well, actually, it's a Tesla. You said it was a Corvette. Well, sorry. I wasn't lying, I was just trying to get you out of the house so he can give you a really nice car. And the Buddha is feeling compassion for the beings who are in the flames of the burning house and they do not understand that the peaceful realm of freedom is not the least bit separate from the burning house. So Buddha invites them to come out and experience nirvana so that they can realize that nirvana and samsara are not separate.


Yes, go ahead. In the Precious Marrow Samadhi, when it talks about hexagrams, which has always really been a puzzle for me, and you drew them on the chalkboard, and so I see them every time I'm here in the kitchen, today I wanted to ask, where the two are, one, two, three, space, and one, two, three, I wondered what was in the space between the hexagrams? Actually, the way I drew it isn't proper. It should just be six lines evenly spaced. Yes? When you said that, that nirvana and samsara are not separate, it made me think of what came up this morning. I remembered when you were talking about this. I was on the bus a couple weeks ago in San Francisco in the evening, There's a situation that was conflictual and scary with a group of people.


German tourists got on the bus and then there was this man who... She's on the bus and a group of German tourists got on the bus. And then there was a man who got on who was very agitated and was calling them names. An agitated person got on the bus and started calling the German tourist names. And I was sitting in between them. They were standing up and I was sitting in between. The experience I had that was unusual was that my I was frightened. It was disturbing and I was frightened. And my body just stood up. That's how it felt, like I just stood up. And then I sort of questioned, what is my motivation? Like, is that really a smart thing to do? I didn't know, but I found myself standing up in between them. So I don't really know if that helped, although it did seem like he settled down. I gave them a little advice that they could get off on the front of the bus if they needed to.


But anyway, so for me, it was the first time that I felt, it reminded me of feeling both like, oh, my body did that, and yet my mind was kind of, I still was afraid, and I was questioning, you know, and I didn't like, you know, I was... You didn't like that the person was being abused, too? Yeah. But I don't know, is that... Could be. Could be. So sometimes when you're sitting here, for example, you're sitting in meditation, your body's sitting in meditation, you might think, I wonder if this is a good idea. You might wonder that. Meantime, your body is sitting here. In this world of suffering, you're sitting upright. and your conscious mind could say, what good is this doing? Is this a good idea? Such thoughts can arise while you're doing the practice, which is bringing peace to the whole world.


So while you're doing the practice which brings peace, you may think something like, I wonder if this is helping anybody? what am I doing here, etc. And the sitting doesn't say what you're doing, the sitting just is the sitting. And the standing is just a standing. The thing that's actually saving the world is you being you. That's what saves the world. That's the samadhi. And you being you, to line up with that, you have to be kind to whatever you are. If you're not generous towards you, that will hinder you being you.


You being you is a is the big job of bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas are hard-working, enlightening beings, and their job is to be themselves. But in order to be yourself, you have to be compassionate towards all the things that are appearing in your mind. If you're not kind to them, then you're distracting yourself from being yourself. And you're distracting yourself from joining you being you. And the basis of you being you is no abode. You can be you because you don't abide in anything. That's how you get to be you. You don't have to go anyplace to be you.


But if you do go someplace, you might distract yourself from being you. Which means distract yourself from the actual beneficial reality of your life. The beneficial reality of your life is that you are you. But if you don't practice not killing, not stealing, not lying and so on, if you don't do those practices, then you're distracted from being you. And so on. All of our practices are just to help us sit when we're sitting and stand when we're standing, regardless of what we're thinking. And think what we're thinking, regardless of what we're thinking. When you're thinking what you're thinking, it's generous and compassionate to let your thinking be. trying to control yourself. You distract yourself from being yourself.


But if you are trying to control yourself, if you're compassionate, you can let yourself try to control. So then you're not trying to control anymore. So maybe your body did save all sentient beings at that moment. Maybe. Maybe your body was being your body, even though your mind was saying, I don't know if this is a good idea. And mere mind being just like that also might have saved the world. For another day of Zen practice, So I got this to read that part about if somebody should abuse you, but I also want to say about this person, Tore Zenji, this Zen teacher was also a disciple of Hakuin.


So he had a wonderful teacher and his teacher thought, Hakuin thought Tore was a great student, his main disciple. And Hakuin begged Tore to come to his temple and take over, to be the abbot of the temple. And I don't know if Hakuin tried to control Tore, you know, to manipulate him into coming back and taking over. But he wholeheartedly begged him to. But the great Zen master could not control his disciple. And his disciple said, you know, who totally was devoted to his teacher, said, No, I don't want to come back and take over the running of the temple. I want to do another hundred day retreat.


And Hakon writes back, Please come! And he says, No, I can't come. I've got to do another retreat. Now, I don't know if Tore was trying to control his teacher when he said, I'm not going to come back. And I don't know if Hakowin was trying to control. I don't know. But I think maybe Hakowin was being Hakowin and giving his student the gift of being Hakowin. And Tore was being Tore and giving his teacher the gift of being Tore and saying, you know, I'm not coming back. I'm so sorry, dear teacher. and this happened again and again on other occasions. You could say, Tore stood up for himself, the student stood up for himself, and the teacher stood up for himself. The teacher stood up, I'm the teacher asking you to come back, please. The student said, I'm the student, saying no. I imagined the possibility that they were interacting in this


you know, world-class intensity between these two people. These are like the two of the most intense practitioners among all Japanese Buddhists, these two at that time in history. Intensely interacting and neither one trying to control the other one and both of them strongly making requests of each other. And the more we give up trying to control, the more intense it gets. And the more intense it gets, the more careful we have to be to not slip back into trying to control. Because we sometimes get afraid when it gets really intense. We think almost like the world's on the verge of bursting into flames. John? Oh, thank you. You're welcome. It's not a question. It doesn't have to be a question, it can be a tap dance.


Or a song. Or a storm. I can do a song. Okay, let's hear it. Everywhere is where followers of the Way lose their lives. Everywhere is where followers of the Way tune their minds. Everywhere is the treasury of endless capacities of followers of the way. Everywhere is not. Everywhere it is called. Everywhere. And the answer is aligning my values with what's important.


And what's important, he suggests, is what enlivens me, what really quickens me, where I find myself coming alive. And I find myself coming alive in meetings like this, with friends, and in practice. And that was what came to me after your talk this morning. And I think that's... Yeah, totally. Yes? This morning you were talking about the source of your energy is your aspiration, but hearing this afternoon also, it seems to me that you have incredible faith in this, and I wish for that. You wish for faith in the practice? I wish for you to have faith in the practice too.


I do, I wish for it. I wish you have faith in the practice. How do you know it works? How do I know it works? I guess the first answer is, I don't know how I know it works. Do I know it works? Catherine says yes. I have confidence in the working of it. My name, by the way, is the whole works. Yeah, there is one heart samadhi, the whole works.


So, each of us is the whole works. As us. You are the whole works as Karen. You are the whole works as Enrica. You are the whole works as Jane. I am the whole works as Rev. Each of you includes everything. I include everything as me. I don't include everything as everything, I include it as me. The way I am is as you. That's the way I am. And there can be faith in that. There can be confidence in that. Which goes with respecting everybody.


There's nobody left out of being the whole universe as them. But that doesn't mean the person's not being cruel or disrespectful or abusive. It's just that I'm now approaching this disrespect, this abuse, this cruelty, I'm approaching it as the whole universe as this. There's a tremendous opportunity here for compassion and wisdom. And it's difficult for most of us to be compassionate towards cruelty and hatred and self-righteousness and maybe confusion and fear. It may be hard to really be compassionate to these appearances. But this is what the Zen master believes in. Believes in being compassionate towards everybody because everybody is the whole universe as this.


This is where the whole universe is revealed. This is where Buddha is realized. And that applies to everything. How do you know that? I don't know. Do you have confidence in that? More and more. All of you have more confidence in that than you used to. All of you are more open to the possibility that what's appearing in your mind is Buddha's teaching coming to you in this form. But there's still some moments where we hesitate and doubt that this is an opportunity for compassion. We think, no, I think now it's time to not be compassionate.


This is a special case. And then later you notice, oh, I'm sorry I did that, I'm sorry I tried to make an exception, I'm sorry. And in that way we will melt away the root of being diverted from compassion. I wanted to remind you to tell this to me Oh, thank you. So, some of you have heard this story before. So one of the nice things about being a grandparent is that you have a great opportunity to give up trying to control somebody called a grandchild. Parents sometimes have trouble giving up trying to control their children.


But somehow, I don't know, grandparents seem to see an opportunity to give up trying to control the grandchild. The possibility of relating to this person and giving up trying to control them seems to be a real possibility and not an evil thing. It is possible to take care of someone without trying to control them. So, one day I was taking care of my granddaughter, which means I'm trying to protect her from being harmed or harming anybody else. I'm trying also to protect other people from her. And I'm a little bit trying to protect myself from being hurt by her, but mostly trying to protect her from being hurt.


And she says she wants to go to the playground. So, we head off to the playground. We get to the street, and crossing the street, she understands, she agrees that she can cross the street, but she needs to hold my hand. She agrees with that. Am I trying to control her into holding my hand? That's my meditation. Am I trying to control her into holding my hand? I'd say, you can cross the street, but I need you to hold my hand. And she did. I didn't control her into holding my hand, but she did. I asked, and she granted me that favor. So holding hands, we crossed the street, and we're walking towards the playground. And she says, I don't want to go to the playground. And I say, Okay. She says, I want to go home. And I say, Okay. And so we turn around and head home.


And as we start heading home, she says, I don't want to go home. I want to go to the playground. And I say, Okay. And we go to the playground. And then she says, I don't want to go to the playground. I want to go home. And we say, Okay. We go home. I am feeling it's one of the happiest moments of my life to go with her wherever she wants to go and not trying to control her at all. I am at peace and free, and I'm willing to do this quite a while. Finally, she said, let's go to the playground, and we actually got there. But I was also happy that I said it would be so much fun to tell many people this story. Because it's such a joy to be with someone and be like totally devoted to them, ready to give your life to protect them and not trying to control them and also know that you cannot control them.


We cannot control people. People are the whole universe as this person. You cannot control somebody who is the whole universe in this form. You can make your contribution to them because you're part of the universe. You're part of what makes them. But some other people are contributing too. Not to mention her mother and father. But it's not just them. Nobody can control anybody because everybody is the whole universe, everybody is the whole works. And the universe is working through everybody. People are not controllable, you cannot control the universe. And it can't control you, but it is you as you. But it's such a joy to pay your respects to somebody and say, this is not a person to control, this is a person to serve. This is a person to protect, to protect the universe in this form, in this form, in this form.


How wonderful to protect the universe in each of these forms, to remember that. Now she's a little girl, now she's four and her big brother is sixteen. I just got a video, he ran a 400 meters in 55 seconds. It was so beautiful to see this boy run. The whole universe was there. When he was her age, actually younger than her, when he was about 2, he lived in Chinatown with his mother. And we would go from his apartment quite nearby to a park where the big Chinese kids were really nice to him. He's only half Chinese, but they were nice to him. Actually, he's only a fourth Chinese, and they were really nice to him. And then we left the playground.


The playground was on San Francisco, Changchun. One of the main streets is Stockton. So we were on Stockton, and he wanted to go into the street. And Stockton during the daytime is a very busy street, even at night. Lots of trucks and business. He wanted to go in the street and I was trying at that time to give up trying to control him. But I actually was kind of sneakily trying to control him and trying all kinds of non-brutal ways of stopping him from going in the street. And I was pretty successful. He didn't feel abused and overwhelmed by my superior physical strength. Later I realized that what I should have done was not let him go on the street, I should have gone with him into the street.


Hold my hand, we're going to go on the street. Even going with your grandfather in the street is somewhat dangerous. But it's also dangerous on the sidewalk, even with your grandfather. But I didn't. I think if I had taken his hand and gone in the street, he would have quickly realized what the street was, and he would have decided to leave the street. So from that time on, when he wanted to do something ill-advised, I would almost never try to talk him out of it, I would just do it with him. And we would go on various dangerous adventures together, and me being with him made it quite a bit less dangerous. And almost always he would see, this is dangerous, and he could see. So the Bodhisattva is not trying to control people, the Bodhisattva is going with everybody where they're going, and going with them where they're going, people will learn what they need to learn.


They will learn, this is a stupid path, this is a harmful path. The Bodhisattva doesn't stop them, the Bodhisattva goes with them, intimately, so they can learn. rather than try to stop and then you go away and then they go do it without your accompaniment. People will learn, but they need a teacher with them, they need a friend who loves them with their whole heart and loves them so much that they don't try to control them. They respect them so much they know they're the whole universe. and they just stay close and try to protect the whole universe by loving it, by being kind to it in this form, in this form, in this form. It's the most wonderful thing.


I have lots of confidence in it. It's just a matter of remembering and having the courage to love that much, and that you'll go with them so that they can learn. You've already learned. But what you're now learning is not just that this is a mistake, but you're learning how to go with somebody to help them learn. And they will. Compassion will show them the wisdom. And I hope that I continue to have faith in this practice, and I hope you do too. Not hope, I want you to. I beg you to. Thank you very much.