Remembering Fred Maroth

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Today our dear Fred passed away. He was 84 and a half. I last saw him on Tuesday evening and he said since the last time I saw you I've gone and he didn't say down but he had his hand in the air and he brought it down and I said you seem much weaker and I asked him what was most important now and he said to

[01:20]

die right that was Tuesday and I said I wish to join you in that practice and he said how can you and I said I will live right. I vowed to live right. Some of you don't know Fred but Fred almost all almost every one day sitting we had here Fred came and he often came in the mornings and he always came in the morning and sometimes

[02:23]

he just stayed till noon so I would usually see Fred in the morning and Fred would usually ask a question and he asked really good questions. He also would often confess his lack of faith in practice before his teacher who he let me be and so he would confess his lack of faith in practice before me over and over and he would ask questions and often I would come and share his questions with the group. He loved this group, he loved this community, he loved the Green Gulch community.

[03:30]

Fortunately, as you can see right up to the last time I saw him every time I visited him he asked for instructions about how to practice and I would give them to him and he said that he would practice them as fully as he could and sometimes he would say that he's having trouble concentrating on the practice but he still wanted to focus on the practice of breathing in without dwelling in body and mind, breathing out without abiding in the elements of consciousness. Just like I instructed you today, he was trying to practice that way and he had trouble concentrating

[05:03]

just like we do. Last night one of the members of the Sangha was with him to support him along with his wife. His name is Myo-Yu and he helped Fred's wife Elena get through the night and he stayed with Fred after he died and Elena had to leave the room but she came back and she said he looked very relaxed and peaceful. They chanted the Heart Sutra in his room. So, our Sangha will not be the same without Fred, but speaking for me, I'm so happy that

[06:42]

he practiced with us for about 25 years and Fred was very honest with me about how hard it was for him to practice. But whenever I suggested a way to practice with how hard it was, he always said, I will try and thank you very much. And then as I said, he'd come back and tell me that he failed and I would tell him again and he would say, I will try and thank you very much.

[07:43]

And I said to his wife Elena, on Tuesday, I said, you have been very devoted to Fred and you're very devoted right now and you seem fine. And she said, yes I am right now, but what will I do when he's gone? I said, you need to find other beings to be devoted to. And this morning when I talked to her, she said, you told me that I've been devoted to Fred and that I need to find new beings to be devoted to and I want to do that. Please help me find who to be devoted to now. So let's help her find who to be devoted to now, because she realizes that that's healthy life for her, is to be devoted to human beings.

[09:11]

She also asked me, she said, I can't stand to bring Fred's ashes home to the house, may I bring them to you? And I said, yes you may. So she will bring me Fred's ashes after the cremation. She also thought that Fred loved Green Gulch and would want to be put into the earth at Green Gulch. And I said, we can do that for Fred. We don't do it for everybody, but Fred did many, many January intensives at Green Gulch, so I think he qualifies. So if you want to qualify, you know what to do. It's not a public cemetery at Green Gulch, it's for practitioners. It's not open, so if you want to be at Green Gulch,

[10:25]

come and practice there, intensively. People are saying to me, sympathizing with me for having so many sick friends now, and I feel grateful that you're all supporting me to take care of my sick friends. And so I don't know how many more years you'll support me to be with my sick friends, but I'm up for it. More precious years of supporting people to practice through sickness and health. How wonderful. So help me help people. Let me help you help people.

[11:34]

Okay. We're doing it. Let's continue. And in order to help people in the best way, I feel we need to take care and pay attention to our body. We help people best when we're aware of our body posture and our breathing. This is a basic mindfulness for us to take care of, which is the path of wisdom and the path of being a skillful supporter of other people's practice. And to train to give up being distracted from our mindfulness of our body and our breathing.

[12:51]

And to give up distraction from listening to the teaching, and remember the teaching, and listen to the teaching, and remember the teaching. So that we can be good supporters and servants of all living beings. I frequently ask human beings, what is most important in life? This question arises in consciousness, and then it gets expressed in words, which I give to people, and they hear me.

[14:16]

And then they hear me unconsciously, and they hear me consciously, and then maybe they see an answer to that question, and then they tell me. And they see the answer to the question, they can see the answer to the question in consciousness. The question appears in consciousness, and the answer doesn't always appear, but when it appears, it appears in consciousness. It appears in consciousness. Consciousness is where things appear. Part of our life is not about appearances. We're alive and we're functioning, but there's no appearances.

[15:27]

And that unconscious mind supports the conscious mind, and in the conscious mind there's an appearance of the question, what's most important in life? And the answer may appear there too, and that answer then we can use to guide our practice. So, just recently I said, what's most important? And someone said, to be present. People often say, to be present. And then they sometimes say, to be present in the moment, or to be present here. I offer you the teaching that the moment is something that appears. Moments appear, and they appear in consciousness. Here appears in consciousness.

[16:27]

So in consciousness we can be present with here, and this moment. And then we can also do something called study the self in this consciousness. That there seems to be somebody here, there is a subject here in this consciousness, and we can study that subject. And when we understand that subject thoroughly, we'll be free of misunderstanding it, and being free of misunderstanding this subject, this self, which lives in consciousness. We will be wise, and our wish to be compassionate will be unhindered by distraction and confusion about what the self is.

[17:45]

We have the opportunity to study consciousness, to study what appears there, to learn to be undistracted in our study, and to study the self there, and become free of consciousness. And when we're free of consciousness, we can use it to benefit beings, to help beings join the same practice and the same enlightenment as all beings and all Buddhas and all Bodhisattvas. Consciousness is where all of our problems arise, and consciousness is also where we learn to practice.

[18:52]

And when we learn to practice, it transforms our unconscious body and mind, and our transformed unconscious body and mind supports a new consciousness, which is again now more ready to practice and study itself. Because consciousness can know itself, and it can know itself. It can know itself, and it can know itself. It has a self. Many people tell me, before and after they tell me what's most important, they tell me that they kind of would like to get rid of the self. They kind of wish the self, which is connected to self-concern and fear, etc.,

[20:00]

they kind of wish that maybe they could get a glimpse of not having a self around, like just not there. And I would say to you that nobody is going to get a glimpse of a self not being around. Could you see how that's impossible? First of all, if the self wasn't around, there would be nobody to see that. Second of all, if there's not a self around, there's no consciousness. Third of all, and this number can be increased quite a bit, third of all, whenever you're in dreamless sleep, there's no self. Every time you go into dreamless sleep, you get a break from having a self. Which is fine. It's quite restful. It's a vacation from self-concern and all that comes with it.

[21:07]

It's fine. It's good. It's restful. Enjoy it. And when I say enjoy it, I mean unconsciously enjoy it. And you do. And then, when you had enough dreamless sleep, then you get dream sleep. And in dream sleep, the self comes back. In consciousness we have the outrageous fortune, the outrageous slings and arrows of fortune are in consciousness. But then you can die, which is basically the same in a lot of ways. Conscious-wise, dying is like dreamless sleep. To die, to sleep dreamlessly, perhaps to dream. Ah, there's the rub.

[22:08]

When you've rested enough, there's the self. Consciousness arises again with a new set of dreams, and in dream-ville, there's the self. And then, when you've had enough of that, you wake up from sleeping, and then you have awake dreams with the self. And this is where we have our trouble, but it's also where we hear the teaching, and sometimes think, Yes, I want to practice. I really do. And I'd like to learn how. And I've heard that this is the place to learn. The place where I hear the teaching and think I want to practice this, that's where you learn to practice it. I learn to practice it in the place where there's problems, where there's birth and death, where there's sick friends. That's where you learn.

[23:10]

There's a self there. We're not trying to get rid of it. We're trying to practice compassion towards the self, and the sick friends, and say thank you to the teaching, and put it into practice. Learn how to do it. And if you get distracted, reveal and disclose the distraction before the Buddhas and ancestors, and go back to work. Go back to play. The wonderful work of learning the path of enlightenment, which is the work of learning how to study the self in consciousness. To study the consciousness which has a self, and has perhaps some, or quite a bit, of misunderstanding of the self, and with that misunderstanding comes stress, distress, nausea, and turbulence,

[24:15]

giddiness, and so on. This is normal. That's why we have to, even before we understand the self, we need to learn to practice compassion as best we can before we're wise. And some people are actually quite good at practicing compassion, even though they still don't understand that the self is totally process, and not at all anything you can be concerned about. Because there's nobody outside the self process. All the selves are inside self process. There's no self outside of self process, and there is a self process. There really is a self process, and nobody can get a hold of it. But part of the self process is that you think you can get a hold of a process.

[25:18]

So, that's part of the deal. But you can see through the illusion of that if you study it. And you can study it if you want to. And you can want to if you look inside and find out that you do. And if you look inside and you don't find out that you do, it's going to be hard to do it. Because it's not necessarily fun. But if you look inside and you say, I've heard that studying the self is the Buddha way. I've heard that it's going to be really helpful to everybody if I would understand myself. So I do want to do it. Then you have a chance. Then we have a chance. But you have to check and find out that you want this, because it's hard work. It's hard work because there's so much going on in consciousness, right? It's so...

[26:22]

Well, it's really alive. And it's not sitting still. And it's got so many interesting things other than studying the self going on. So you have to really say, yeah, I really do want to study it. I want to actually be kind to all that's going on, so I can calm down and understand the self. Yes, I really do. Maybe. Check it out, see if you do. If you do, there's a lot of resources to support you doing that, because a lot of people want you to do it and think it really would be good, and they want you to learn it so you can help them learn it. We can help each other become very skillful and more and more undistracted in the work of studying the thing that's in consciousness

[27:23]

called self. To study the process that lives in consciousness, to study the process that gives consciousness life. Self gives conscious life, life consciousness includes the self, consciousness is the place where the self lives, and self lives in consciousness, and we can study it. We can. And Fred studied himself and he told me what he saw, and I was happy to hear that he could see something about the self, and it was a wonderful practice we had together.

[28:25]

And the merit of this is going to help us and Elena and his stepson and his grandchildren. They have been benefited and they will continue to be benefited by the effort he made in the painful work of studying the self of Fred Meroth. He could see his resistance and tell me about it, which he did over and over. We also could look inside, we can look in consciousness,

[29:30]

we can be aware and notice any resistance, and we can be kind to it, and we can understand it. And we can become free of it. And then again. We will, many of us will really miss Fred. Our community will be different now. But I think perhaps you could join me in being encouraged by the way he practiced, and be encouraged by his life, by the way he practiced, and that we will carry on

[30:33]

the work which he wanted to practice and did his best to practice. Thank you. Would you lead us in a song for Fred? I'd be happy to. Any suggestions? They say you're leaving this valley. Okay. I haven't sung this song for a while,

[31:36]

so I'm not sure I might get the words off. But, of course, something like this. Come and sit by our side if you love us. Do not hasten to bid us adieu. But remember the Green Gulch Valley and the cow people that loved you so true. Now they say you are leaving this valley. We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile. For they say you are taking the sunshine that has brightened our path for a while. Thank you.

[32:41]

How's that, Fred? Pardon? I was asked that earlier and I do not remember. But I can find it and at future ceremonies we will use it. But I don't remember what it was. It was something amazingly wonderful, though. I don't know. Yes? One time I sat sashimi next to Fred because we both sat in chairs. We sat next to each other and we took the meals together. And at the end of the sashimi he told me that he indicated that I caused him quite a bit of trouble. During the sashimi. And the reason was that I sat

[33:44]

still. And I never forgotten that. I mean, it was just so amazing for him to share that with me afterwards. And I never forgotten that. You can cause trouble for people. Many ways. Many ways. Thank you. I have a picture of Fred if anyone who doesn't know him would like to see it. Thank you for bringing it. It's so hard for me to imagine anything without Fred. I don't think I've ever seen

[34:44]

one without the other. But in my memory I'm sure that I love him so far. All those years and years and years we were always staying together. I've always been moved by that mutual emotion. Two very different colors of people. Well, is there anything else that you wish to say at this time, anybody? Yes. Thank you. Not the first time, but one of the early times that I saw Fred I was in the Berkeley Zen Center sitting quietly at that time in a chair. And I was

[35:47]

disturbed because somebody was clumping in. And I looked up and I had this view of my goodness, stop clumping. And of course it was Fred. So I say of course because when you I mean, there were many oceans between us close and after that. And when you said he kept confessing that it was hard for him I decided I would confess what I observed about myself or this self. And also how wonderful it was that he could come clumping in and still be serious and practice and be devoted to it. So I take a lot of faith and hope today that all of my narrowness and over responsiveness

[36:49]

to things that don't need to be responded to in the way that I've learned can be overcome. At least I can try. And I'm very grateful to you. Thank you. Yes? I remember I think that many of us were there for his jigpry and he was so happy and he was so proud that he'd actually managed the stitching. He was just very happy that night. Mm-hmm. Yes? Fred was really one of the sweetest men I've ever met. I remember once on the balcony he was tired one time here and I said why don't you lie down on the zabaton and take a nap

[37:50]

and rest. And he said can I? It was like I had given him a gift just saying that and I felt he had given me a great gift in saying what he said. Well, excuse me I have a P.S. to my comment based on what you just said. Could you speak up, Lois? Thank you, Gordon. I have a P.S. to my comment and that is the observation that I made that you the perfection of wisdom is not in just following the rules it's to expand into whatever rules they are and somehow be flexible about that. I mean why shouldn't he clump? Why shouldn't I clump? Why shouldn't I you know that's not the issue it's not to be disrespectful

[38:51]

to anybody but it's to enlarge from within and to use use what we have use become what we are given and what we keep indicating and let it illuminate us you know and so this narrow view of mine in that regard has melted in a way thank you we can do this service for him this morning

[39:51]

or we can do a service for him in a few minutes if you'd like may our intention equally extend to every being and place with true merit of this way beings are numberless I vow to save them delusions are inexhaustible I vow to end them Dharma gates are boundless I vow to enter them Buddha's way is unsurpassable I vow to become it better than the one we're doing now

[41:16]