Rounding Out Three months of Lotus Sutra Study

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.



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

AI Summary: 



Welcome to the Great Assembly. And today is February 6th, which is about three months since November 7th, where we inaugurated, where we commenced a three-month practice period. focusing on the Lotus Sutra. And in a sense, today we will complete that three-month period and commence a new period of practice. We also, last weekend, finished a three-week intensive study of the Lotus Sutra with about almost 300 people.


Some were most were able to come almost every day. More than 200 were able to come every day. And that was great. One thing I wanted to mention as a kind of bridge between our usual language about Zen practice, and the language of the Lotus Sutra. In Zen, we sometimes talk about wholeheartedly sitting, which is a expression for entering into Samadhi, wholeheartedly sitting as a practice for opening and entering into deep silence and stillness.


Practice of being mindful throughout the day in whatever posture we're in, remembering silence and stillness. Receiving it. It's given to us. Receiving it. Remembering it. Practicing it. And transmitting it. This is a teaching which we bring up often. An encouragement, a teaching, for entering Samadhi. And then another aspect of Zen practice is sometimes described as, meet the teacher, or go and meet the teacher, and listen to the teaching, or converse about the teaching.


In the Lotus Sutra, I kind of see a parallel to that. From the beginning, the Buddha gives a teaching of a scripture called the scripture of innumerable meanings. And then the Buddha comes out, and then the Buddha enters into a samadhi. After giving the teacher, the Buddha enters into samadhi. Or you could also say, after giving and receiving the teaching, the Buddha enters into samadhi. And then in that samadhi, there's a great function, a great activity is emanating from this deep, open stillness and silence.


And the activity at the beginning of the Lotus Sutra, again, the Buddha is sitting in this Samadhi. And by the way, the name of the Samadhi is taken from the teaching which the Buddha gave before in the teaching of innumerable meanings. So the Buddha's teaching innumerable meanings scripture, then enters the Samadhi of that scripture. And then in that Samadhi, great activity continues in silence and stillness. And those of you who have been studying Lotus Sutra can maybe remember what, what the activity that occurs when the Buddha is sitting in Samadhi, which is great light comes out from between the Buddha's eyebrows and illuminates innumerable lands to the east. And the earth shakes in six ways and celestial flowers fall.


This is all the activity of the Samadhi that the Buddha has entered. Then the Buddha comes out of the Samadhi and teaches, starts teaching or is available for teaching. And so that cycle of, you could say, teaching, entering Samadhi, teaching, entering Samadhi, teaching, entering Samadhi. That's a cycle of the Lotus Sutra that happens over and over again. And in Zen practice, we sometimes describe our practice as teaching, entering Samadhi, teaching. Or being taught entering Samadhi, being taught entering Samadhi.


Again, elaborating this pattern, this cycle. Being taught and teaching, entering Samadhi. Teaching and being taught, entering Samadhi. So again, we sometimes go to the teacher and listen to the teaching, but I here go to the teacher and converse about the teaching, ask about the teaching, and in that way go and teach the teacher and be taught by the teacher. Come out of samadhi, bringing, not bringing, but come out of samadhi, or you could say from samadhi, in samadhi, but also letting go of the silence and listening to the teaching.


And then after listening to the teaching, converse about the teaching. And conversing about the teaching is again teaching the teaching. And then enter the samadhi again. And then from that samadhi, teach again. So this cycle of the Lotus Sutra is also one of the pictures of Zen practice. But again, reading between the lines of Zen practice and reading between the lines of the Lotus Sutra, I am saying, go to the teacher and listen to the Dharma, but also go to the teacher and ask about the Dharma, and go to the teacher and converse about the Dharma. And then again, the teacher receiving the visitor listens to the visitor. teaches the visitor. So both teacher and disciple, both Buddha and sentient beings are realizing what they are by being taught and by teaching.


Usually people do not think when they go visit the Buddha that they're teaching the Buddha. When they become Buddha, they realize that they were teaching Buddha all along. Buddha knows that the sentient beings are teaching the Buddha. Sentient beings do not understand that at the early stages or even the middle stages of the path. So I want to again remind you that you have the opportunity to receive, remember, and practice and transmit samadhi together with teaching and being taught, together with asking and responding. At the end of the


intensive, I brought up the last two chapters, well not the last two, the sort of the last two chapters of the central part of the Lotus Sutra, which are chapters 21 and 22. And those chapters were dealing with the Buddha's or the Tathagata's divine powers. That's chapter 21. And chapter 22 is called Entrustment. So in chapter 21, at the beginning, innumerable bodhisattvas who had been living in the earth, in the earth, discreetly emerged from the earth and appeared before the Buddha.


That happened in chapter 15. In chapter 21, those Bodhisattvas come before the Buddha, who's sitting in a jewel stupa together with the Tathagata abundant treasures, Prabhuta Ratna Tathagata. And they tell the Buddha that they will, after the Buddha's nirvana, after the Buddha's gesture of extinction, they will teach this scripture that the Buddha has taught them. So the Buddha has been saying repeatedly that there needs to be Dharma teachers who will take over the work


after the Buddha's departure. The departure is not a real departure. It's a departure to give the next generation opportunity to do their work, which is teaching the supreme dharma, teaching the Lotus Sutra, teaching Zen, these bodhisattvas say, we will teach. And in this chapter, the super, the divine is actually divine, sacred powers of the Buddha, the Buddha then


does a little demonstration of these divine powers. And from my perspective, the demonstration is a little bit funny. Maybe in India, it wasn't so funny. But anyway, it's a little funny from my recent existence as a human being. And so the first aspect of the divine power is that the Buddha extends her tongue out of the mouth, and the tongue becomes very broad and very long, and it stretches to the highest heavens. It occurs to me that this could be interpreted as the Buddha's divine power is that the Buddha's divine teaching reaches everywhere, high and wide, deep and broad.


So Buddha does that. And then, along with this tongue power, comes a light and the light is great and it is composed of innumerable colors. As we have found out in the last hundred years or so, there are actually almost innumerable colors but most human beings only see six or seven or 10, and highly skilled human beings, maybe see 200. But actually, there's many more possible colors to be seen. The Buddha gives off this light, the full spectrum of innumerable colors, and also the earth shakes.


And at the same time, all the embodiments of this Buddha innumerable embodiments of the Buddha who have come from all over the universe are now present with the Buddha. They also have these powers and they extend their tongue broadly and widely and at great length and they also yeah and they also give off this great light. And then they all simultaneously withdraw their tongue back into their mouth. One, two, three, like those party favors that go out and snap back. Their tongue goes out and all their tongues come back at the same time, boop, and they all cough together. Simultaneously, innumerable Buddhas cough. And then they all simultaneously snap their finger.


So I see this as a demonstration of Buddha's power. This is just one aspect of it. And then the Buddha goes on to mention that, kind of like, if I can paraphrase it, Buddha is saying, did you see those powers? Well, there's more where that came from. And all these powers, if I used my powers, all these powers, which this is just a little sample of, to describe the virtues of this teaching, the blessings of this teaching, I would not be able to exhaust them. Even with these powers, we could not exhaust the blessings of this teaching. And the blessings of this teaching, in brief, this isn't the exhaustive description, this is just a tiny little speck of the blessings of this teaching.


In brief, this teaching is that all the teachings of the Buddhas, the entire storehouse of the Buddha's Dharma, all the divine powers of the Buddha are proclaimed, are manifested and transmitted and in the lotus sutra and then the buddha says therefore you you who you bodhisattvas who have just come and said respectfully that you will teach this dharma Therefore, since you said you would, you should. And you should receive and embrace, read and recite, copy and explain this sutra.


And he said this over and over throughout the scripture, that the people who wish to teach the Dharma, which is what the Buddha needs us to do, they should receive, embrace, protect, sustain, read, recite, sing, copy, and discuss and explain this sutra for all living beings. When we receive this teaching, people may or may not be able to see us, but they might be able to see us receive it.


When we embrace it, they may or may not be able to see it. But receiving the teaching is teaching the teaching. Embracing the teaching is teaching the teaching, is teaching. Reading the teaching is teaching. Reciting the teaching is teaching. Copying the teaching is teaching. And of course, discussing it and explaining it is teaching. So the Buddha is telling the people who said they would be teachers of this scripture, he's telling them how to be teachers. And when they do these things, they are teaching. The activities necessary to be a teacher are the same as the activities of teaching.


Again, turning this in relationship to our Zen practice, if the Bodhisattvas had come before the Buddha and said, we will teach this supreme Dharma, the Buddha could have said, well, then you should receive the practice of sitting upright. You should embrace wholeheartedly the practice of being upright. You should read the practice of being upright. You should recite and sing the practice of being upright in silence and with words. You should copy the practice. You should, what do you call it, reproduce the practice.


of sitting wholeheartedly upright, standing wholeheartedly upright. And you should discuss and explain the practice of sitting upright in silence and stillness. When we sit upright, silent and still, we are receiving, embracing, reading, listening, singing, copying, and explaining. We're explaining to also the supreme Dharma. just like people doing the same thing with the Lotus Sutra are teaching.


One more thing I want to mention today, which you can bring up again and again is that Something I would assert, something I would suggest, is that the Lotus Sutra is a fruit of people who are devoted to the Buddha's teaching, who read the teachings of the Buddha, and read between the lines of the teachings that they heard and that they read. They read between the lines. Perhaps you can see today that I read between the lines of the Lotus Sutra. And I discovered between the lines of the Lotus Sutra, I discovered our traditional forms of Zen practice. Did you see that?


Again, I saw between the lines of what I said that that's what I did. I invite you to read between the lines of the teachings you hear and discover the unprecedented Dharma of the Lotus Sutra and the so-called Zen school. Reading between the lines works really well or is enabled by practicing Samadhi. When you listen to the teaching, when you read the teaching, when you recite the teaching, when you make copies of the teaching, in Samadhi, you can see things written between the lines.


When you sit in samadhi, you can read between the lines of your sitting and discover new meanings of the sitting. And then emerge from the sitting and teach what you discovered between the lines of your sitting, between the lines of the sutra. Come from Samadhi and teach people the Lotus Sutra that you discovered in your sitting. Come from Samadhi and teach people the sitting that you discovered in the Lotus Sutra. I was talking to one of the members of this assembly recently,


And she expressed great pain in the Lotus Sutra telling, saying that if people slander or reject the Lotus Sutra, they will go to hell. And I don't know what I said to her, but I might have said, and I would say if somebody said that to me, I hear that this is very painful for you to hear the Lotus Sutra say that, but now that it's been said, and now that you feel this pain, what's written between the lines.


And what I hear written between the lines is when the Lotus Sutra says anything, it says things you think are wonderful, or says things you think are harmful, or says things that are disrespectful, or said something that denigrates any living being, when you run into things like that in the Lotus Sutra or in the streets of our world, in the marketplace, whenever anything like that comes to you, including from the wondrous Dharma Flower Sutra, I suggest questioning it. I want to teach the Lotus Sutra. Again, I hear the Bodhisattva saying, we will. I want to teach the Lotus Sutra.


That's written down. Between the lines is, and because I want to teach the Lotus Sutra, I will question the Lotus Sutra. I will challenge the Lotus Sutra. I will challenge with great compassion. I will compassionately challenge everything. Not, you know, you could say, especially things that you think might be harmful, but I would say, not especially. Don't skip over the good parts. don't skip over the bad parts. Whatever comes, I hear the Lotus Sutra saying, question it. That what I just said, you might not be able to find in the Lotus Sutra, but I read that between the lines. And I can read, again, I read between the lines best when I'm living in Samadhi. ordinary life I might see a line and then another line.


In samadhi I see a line and then I see a huge space and then I see a line and I see a space and in that space there are revelations, wondrous revelations and those revelations often take the form of, I have a question, So reading between the lines, somehow you can also find lines that support your reading between the lines. For example, in the Lotus Sutra, people see the Buddha and amazing things are happening as the Buddha and around the Buddha. And they don't understand what's going on. They doubt what's going on. They're perplexed. And they're in wonder too. And what do they do? Well, actually, they don't necessarily right away ask a question.


But some of the people who have read Between the Lines see their doubts, see their questioning, and ask for them. And again, one of the ways we teach is teach sentient beings how to question by questioning. We show them how to question by doing the questioning. So I see the Lotus Sutra teaching us how to ask questions. And not just for ourselves, because like Shariputra does that many times in Lotus Sutra, ask questions, but he sometimes understands what the Buddha is doing, but he thinks other people don't, so he asks in their behalf. Whether you have the question yourself or you see that it needs to be asked for others, I see the Lotus Sutra saying, question, but don't question to be mean, question to help people.


And if I say, don't question to be mean, question me about that. So you are questioning me, thank you very much. You are challenging me, thank you very much. And also don't question to be somebody who's trying to get thanked for questioning. Question for those who are not yet able to question so that they will be able to question soon. And again, that they will not, they will ask question out of compassion, not to get something, but for the sake of the teaching and for the sake of those who are wondering and those who are not yet able to question, those who need instruction and demonstration and examples of questioning. And hopefully when you question, you feel great about it and you feel you did a great service.


So once again, some people read the Lotus Sutra and have not yet seen between the lines that the Lotus Sutra is saying, question the Lotus Sutra. Don't slander it, don't denigrate it, question it, challenge it. And of course, I'm not the Lotus Sutra, but... But what? But I'm just like the Lotus Sutra. I'm no different from the Lotus Sutra. The Lotus Sutra, again, in between the lines, the Lotus Sutra says, Reb is not different from the Lotus Sutra, and neither is anybody in this assembly the slightest bit different from the Lotus Sutra. The Lotus Sutra is for you. It is you.


It can't be anything other than you. If it is, it's not the Lotus Sutra. I read that between the lines of the Lotus Sutra. And I'm happy to show you right where it is in the Lotus Sutra. And also, what I'm saying resonates with the Bodhisattva precepts. So we have one precept like, for example, the precept of not killing. And then we have another line, the precept of not taking what's not given. Okay, those are two lines of precepts. But between those two lines, something can be read between them. And what can be read between them, I say, I see between not killing and not stealing between those two lines of the precepts, I see some things written.


What do I see? I see many other precepts written between them. Between not killing and not stealing is not lying, is not disparaging the triple treasure, is not praising self at the expense of others. All the other teachers are written between the lines of every precept. All the teachings are written between each line of the teaching. And also all the teacher's teachings are written in each line of teaching. So there's a lot to question. And now, I don't know if you're coming to this assembly in order to tell the assembly and me sitting here at no abode. I don't know if you wish to tell me and your friends that you will, in the future, teach the Lotus Sutra.


I don't know if you're saying that you will, in the future, teach Zen practice by practicing it. But the Lotus Sutra shows people who do do that. So you could do that. You could find a way to say, now and in the future, I will practice Zen in order to teach it, in order to transmit it for the welfare of all beings. I will study the Lotus Sutra for the same purpose. And also, I'm here to question you about that practice. And also, as some of you know, I sometimes ask you, may I ask you a question?


So before I do the magical show of disappearing, which might be done quite soon, I welcome you to express yourself, to state your vows, to ask your questions for the welfare of this great assembly. I take it I'm Anne here. I would like to share that I don't have trouble with the Lotus Sutra in this respect. When I hear, don't disparage or you'll go to hell, what I hear as the lesson is, if I'm of a disparaging mind, I literally will go to hell.


and that if I am a Arahant, which I'm not, and I hear it as slighting me for like a personal enlightenment, I am hearing slights and that knocks me out of a non-dual place. So to me, it's still teaching by bringing in that kind of tone. That's how I hear it, so it doesn't seem evil to me, it seems truthful. And I have in my own experience, the idea of a personal enlightenment, I really feel gifted to be a part of a practice that seeks a great vehicle enlightenment, Because I feel as though all that is in me that is unskillful and not able to have personal enlightenment, which seems practically impossible, is being cared for.


And so I can have some kind of a great vehicle enlightenment without being an enlightened being. So it feels inclusive to me. really am very grateful for that difference. I don't think I belonged on a path of personal awakening. And in regarding to teaching for myself, I just wouldn't really be able to make a vow, except I would like to pay homage in the way I see you, Tenzin, Rev. Anderson, teaching, is that you lead by doing. And I can vow to keep practicing and getting better. But what I see you do is just being the Lotus Sutra, being, reading between the lines, being, allowing people to question and vibrate with the teachings.


And that in itself is awakening me. not me awakening me. So those are my thoughts on the Lotus Sutra and I will invite comment. The Great Vehicle includes all personal awakenings. So even if you feel like you're not into the personal awakening, you're into a vehicle which includes them. I've seen them in people around me. I've experienced them. And the great vehicle embraces and sustains all the people who are having personal awakenings. They're all welcome too. The people who do and the people who don't, they're all embraced by this teaching, by this practice.


And I hear that you're devoted to that all-inclusive practice. Justin. I read. Good morning, Justin. I wanted to share something that was a great benefit to me during the three weeks and hopefully might be a benefit to the assembly. For much of the time I've practiced and studied Zen, I felt like there was an irreconcilable difference between what seemed like teachings of modern teachers and the teachings of the Buddha.


The main teaching that I struggled with was the idea of parinirvana. I thought to myself, we're learning and teaching the great vehicle. And we're taking vows as bodhisattvas to live in the world of birth and death endlessly until all beings have been enlightened. And I thought to myself, well, why is the Buddha, the one that is purported to have all these powers, why is he checking out at some point? becoming extinct and I thought to myself, you know, it just seemed to be such a dichotomy from what I felt like I was learning. It's like, is that the end goal to like disappear?


And when you first started the teaching, I talked about everything is skill and means, it started to kind of I started to kind of think about weight is the idea of perinirvonoscillin means. And I had my hand raised for eight days with that question. And I really wanted to ask it and I thought it was amazing that so many people were sharing and that were being able to share for the first time. So I just sat with that question. And it felt like a good question to sit with and I felt like it was giving me energy but I really wanted to ask and I really needed that answer. It became more and more important for me to have that answer. And then you referred to the gesture of extinction a couple of times and I thought, okay.


I feel like this is being answered for me, and it makes sense. Maybe the Buddha needs to go away so everyone's not going to just rely on him and idolize him and use him as an excuse not to do their own practice. And then when you told the story of the children and the doctor and the medicine, and that was in large part a culmination of the Lotus Sutra, I thought, wow, so this is a very common misunderstanding and a necessary misunderstanding. And the Lotus Sutra is clearing that up for us. realizing that made, realizing that just all the differences between what I thought was another brand of Buddhism and Zen or the great vehicle kind of just evaporated and opened my mind to the fact that, you know, all of the teachings are turning each other


And when you're talking about reading between the lines, they're all reading between the lines, they're all interpretation, and they're all fitting to the common misunderstandings of the time. And it has made it, has brought me a renewed sense of joy and enthusiasm and an openness to being on the Mahayana vehicle, I don't feel like that there's some, it's removed impediments in a major way. And I'm so grateful to the Lotus Sutra and to you and to all beings. And I mean, there's nothing I don't feel grateful to with that. with that and the way you taught, um, uh, and a lot over those three weeks, I mean, there's just so many.


Just every day was like another aha moment for me. And I just wanted to express my profound gratitude and, and also hope that that misunderstanding that may be shared among others in the assembly is, uh, is evaporates for them as well. Congratulations, Justin. Thank you. Angela. Good morning. Morning, Angela. I'm meeting fear here. right now. Thank you. Fear needs a friend. May I meet him?


Yes, please. Thank you. Can I stand with you in the fear? Yes. You're welcome, too. May I sit with you in the fear? Please. And thank you. Am I hearing you say that the Lotus Sutra, whether we recognize it or not, we're immersed in it at all times? That we're actualizing it throughout our daily practices without discrimination? and also with discrimination. When we're discriminating, we're still embraced by the Dharma flower.


We can't get away from the Dharma flower. And the Dharma flower can't get away from us. And our fear, can't get away from the Dharma flower. And the Dharma flower is not trying to get away from our fear. As Justin mentioned, this turning. Yeah. And Tillman and Isabel, in December I was listening to a talk about the turning and the two fear and the flower just turning with one another, turning together. Thank you.


Thank you. Enrique. Good day. Tenshin Roshi and Great Assembly. I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to listen to people's teachings, reactions about the Lotus Sutra. I was especially grateful for the opportunity to participate to the extent that I could in the intensive. I got a lot out of it because I realized I have a hard time reading the Lotus Sutra.


but listening to others talk about it, I'm not sure that it's easier, but I feel like it enters into me more readily than it does trying to read it. So I really appreciate everyone who shared their thoughts on the sutra. I particularly, I guess my question, I'll get to my question first, which is, you know, it's been said that the Sutra is a Sutra for difficult times, which is kind of part of the appeal for me wanting to participate and learn more about it, because I feel like we're in difficult times. But I'm not altogether clear exactly how. this sutra is particularly suited to help us in times like we have now.


So that's my question. And I just want to say one more thing about the sutra that really struck me, and that is the character of the Medicine King Bodhisattva. who offered up his body. This, I guess it reminded me of some images from Vietnam War protests where the monks who self-immolated themselves in protest, you know, very powerful image. It was brought back to me, you know, when I read that and heard about the Medicine King Bodhisattva. And there's, that's just one example that kind of reached me, but that's one of the things about the sutra that's so rich in the stories and in characters and colorful names.


You know, I, I'm deeply touched by it, even though I still have a hard time reading it. Thank you. Well, the Lotus Sutra, it's, as again, Buddha says over and over, this sutra is difficult. This sutra is hard to believe and hard to understand. So in a sense, You could say the same about Zen practice. Zen practice is difficult, is hard. So part of the difficulty of the sutra, kind of, it's a situation where we can practice dealing with difficulty and then use what we learn in dealing with the difficulty of the sutra to deal with the difficulty of daily life. And see,


maybe in the way we deal with the difficulty of the sutra, see maybe some shortcomings in the way we deal with how hard the sutra is. And confess and repent the unskillful ways we respond to the difficulty. Like you, you can look at the difficulty you have reading, and I'm not saying to force yourself to read, I'm just saying that the Lotus Sutra is a chance for you to look at your difficulty with reading. Not so much so that you can read, but so that you can learn to deal with your difficulty with reading. If you read something that's easy to read, that's okay, but you don't have the opportunity of dealing with difficulty in reading. So here's a text where if you can read it and and then take care of and be compassionate to your difficulties in reading it, you will develop, you will be practicing and teaching the Lotus Sutra by teaching people how to deal with difficulty because you're dealing with difficulty while you're reading.


And the Buddha also says that it's difficult, the sutra is difficult now and it's going to be even more difficult after I leave. So I'm telling you beforehand, And if you can keep studying this sutra in the times to come, again, that will help you deal with all the other challenges and horrors that are coming. So the Lotus Sutra is a kind of warm-up. It's almost like a hothouse in which we grow our bodhisattva courage under the difficulties in the hothouse of the Lotus Sutra. And then as we grow up a little bit, maybe we can transplant the sapling out into the open field where you get the wind and the rain and the animals nibbling on you and so on. And this, you know, the same as Zen, we don't make Zen difficult just to be difficult, but it is difficult.


And learning to be compassionate with the difficulty then can be used for other difficulties, like, and show other people how to deal with difficulties because you learned in your Zen practice how to deal with difficulties that you voluntarily entered into, like sitting a lot. Thank you, Enrique. Karen. Good morning. Good morning. For me, I'm having this problem, and it's especially this morning, where it seems to me that the Lotus Sutra presents this very ornate, kind of beautiful, non-rational view And I'm having trouble reconciling that with, you know, what I understand is the everyday reality that I think I'm living in.


It's like, you know, how much the non-rational and the everyday can be reconciled, or are they two separate things, and it's just interesting to go between them, or I'm not quite sure. what to do with that. And, you know, if I if I think about the sutra in a really literal way, it seems very non rational and maybe irrational. It's so different from the world that I think I inhabit. I'm just trying to figure out how to be with those very different views of reality. Well, Do you want a response to that? Yeah. The difficulty you're having dealing with the situation that you described, that difficulty is ordinary daily life, right? Are you having irreconcilable views?


No, no. You're feeling a difficulty, right? That's like a daily thing you have, right? Difficulty. Yeah. So that feeling you're having about these irreconcilable differences, that feeling is not an irreconcilable difference. It's a concrete opportunity for compassion. And it sounds pretty daily life to me. Like a lot of people are having trouble reconciling conspiracy theorist enchant ease with other people. There seems to be a difference. It seems to be a real, almost irreconcilable difference. And that is a great challenge. And compassionately dealing with that difference is a daily life thing that many people are feeling now. Now, to move on to the difference, I would say,


that taking care of the difficulty of this difference, and the stress of this difference, and the questioning about this difference, and the issue of reconciling them, dealing with that difficulty compassionately, I say, is the path of reconciliation. I'm proposing that the reconciliation is possible by dealing with the experience of irreconcilability, or the thought that things are irreconcilable. And when that thought is painful, or even if it's pleasurable, practicing compassion with irreconcilability, I'm saying is the path of reconciliation of very different views, very different minds, very different worlds. That's what I propose.


The difficulty you're having this morning is the opportunity for practice right now. And one more time, receiving this difficulty, embracing this difficulty, just like you would the Lotus Sutra. But even if you wouldn't do that with the Lotus Sutra, do with your difficulties what the Lotus Sutra said to do with the Lotus Sutra, which is to receive your difficulties with irreconcilable situations. Receive your difficulty with conflicting worldviews. Receive that and embrace it and protect it. and read it, and sing it, and copy it, and converse with it.


I think what comes up for me is that if I stand in one of those views, the other one seems kind of crazy, you know? Right. That's correct. Yeah. If you were just overwhelmed by that crazy fun, you might switch to the other side and notice that the side you had before, which you thought was right, that will seem crazy to you. Right. Right. Yeah. So that's good to know. But you notice I didn't mention figuring out. You also mentioned trying to figure out. Yes. So trying to figure out is not the same as receiving and embracing. Trying to figure out how to reconcile irreconcilable is not the path. It's another thing to be compassionate towards. If we're compassionate towards our attempt to reconcile irreconcilable, there will be reconciliation.


Not by the figuring out how to reconcile, but by being compassionate, by having conversations with the impulse to reconcile. Trying to reconcile is one of the irreconcilable positions. Because this person wants to reconcile, this person does not want to reconcile. I do not want to reconcile with you. I want to reconcile with you. That's a different thing. You don't have to get rid of wanting to reconcile. You just need to treat it like the Lotus Sutra teaches you how to deal with the Lotus Sutra, how to deal with everything. Receive, embrace, become intimate with it, which means converse with it, together with everybody. This is the path of making peace among your reconcilable worldview.


I do not see a world where there would not be... Actually, I do not see a reality. I see some worlds have no differences in them. Some worlds have lots of differences. Some worlds see the possibility of reconciling. But there is already reconciliation in the Lotus Sutra's teaching. Between the lines, the Lotus Sutra is saying, you already contain all the irreconcilable worlds. They're already in your mind every moment. That's the scene between the lines of the Lotus Sutra by great Samadhis of the past. Is that another way of saying there's nowhere to stand or there's nowhere to abide? When you fully embrace something, you will find that there's a place to abide in the embracing. It's like if you're in a wholehearted conversation, you're not stuck in your position.


You're not abiding in your view. You have a view, but you're not abiding in it. The conversation is free of the people who have these different views. That's helpful. Thank you. You're welcome. Tracy. Good morning, Reb. Good morning, Tracy. I want to thank you, like many others have, for the intensive. I confess to having had grave reservations that an online intensive could be any good or would be much good. And it was awesome. It was awesome. And so thank you for


being brave enough to try the form and thank the community for being so wholehearted. You know, I have to say, mostly, I practice with you. I like being with you and what you say. And I have to say something blew open for me in those three weeks at the wisdom of this community, of the Great Assembly, as you call us. So my apologies to the Great Assembly for all these years for wishing you didn't talk so Red would talk more. Seriously. So I wanted to say that. One of the things that particularly has jumped out at me from the Lotus Sutra is this concept of skillful means. I don't know why, it just had never occurred to me as a thing. And I now accuse you of using skillful means all these years. And I'm intrigued by that. I'm just intrigued by that. Because I think I always thought when you said something, it was true. or at least to the best of your ability. And now I accuse you of being skillful in what you, in talking to me and all of us in ways we could get it in here.


And that's, I don't know why that's, it's gonna open something up for me. Great. So what I would like to offer now is a Lotus Sutra parable. Can I say something just briefly? Yes. You said something about the courage to try this intensive? Yeah. I think it did take some courage. I agree. So good boy. You went ahead and did it. But another, I'd want to tell everybody that the thought came to my mind a number of times during the intensive. Fools rush in where wise people fear to tread. I'm also foolish enough to try that. A wise person probably wouldn't have gotten herself into such a situation. But being a fool, I leaped into the situation. Okay, now I'm ready for your parable.


Thank you. Okay, so you announced the Lotus Sutra as the topic. I have never read it. I've never read anything, really. I, you know, I, I'm a practitioner, not a student. That's how I've related to myself. So I never, I never picked it up, never seen it. I get the book. And it's like, Oh, you got to be kidding. flowers. And I mean, it was so the opposite of anything that I associate with Zen, that it was out of my faith in you in the whole thing that I could persist, but it really didn't make much sense to me at all. And then I saw how seriously the great community was engaging with it. And then when Linda Ruth quoted Suzuki Roshi, when she said something like how fancy it is, and he said, yeah, not fancy enough, that stopped me in my tracks. It's like, wait, there is something here I'm missing.


So that was my general approach. So on we go, and I don't know which week it was, maybe the last week when we learned about Devadatta. And I don't know if this is what it says or not, but this is what I heard. So here was Devadatta who really, who tried to kill the Buddha, who, you know, was just this terrible being. And what the Buddha's response was, was a whole chapter of thanking Devadatta. And then I think we also heard right around then is that everyone's going to be a Buddha. And I was like, really? And then this is like, I wasn't trying to think this, this is like Wednesday and we're going to end on Friday. And I'm sitting there in Zazen and I'm thinking, I just happened to remember that I had never forgiven my husband for leaving me for another woman with two children, 32 years ago.


And I'm just sitting there and it comes into my mind that not that I forgot to forgive him, but that I never did and I never would consider it because what he did was unforgivable, period. And so I'm sitting there thinking, well, I don't know if the Buddha could forgive Devadatta. I should probably do it. I should just forgive him 32 years later. So I sit there and I realize I couldn't, I didn't know how to, I don't know how to, because what he did was unforgivable. So I'm sitting there and thinking, yeah, I know, but there are only two more days to the intensive. And I really, I was putting some pressure on myself, but I realized I actually did not know how to do it. I didn't know how, I couldn't do it. So I decided to write a letter, an email, and in the email it was, saying, you know, what you did was unforgivable, but I'll be magnanimous enough to forgive you if you apologize.


I don't think you ever apologized. I sent the email to a friend, say, I'm going to send, I'm going to send this. Just, you know, I'm wanting to give me any feedback. And her feedback was, yeah, this is terrible, terrible. She said, she said the email was terrible. And I was so proud of myself. I thought, God, I've finally broken out. And then I saw she was right. Because I was like, if you do this, if you do this, if you do this. And so now it's Thursday. I'm thinking, I will feel really disappointed if I end this intensive not having forgiven. And then, I don't know, all of a sudden, and this is how it ties into the Lotus Sutra, which I say is so magical. All of a sudden, magically, for no reason, it just seemed like, just let it go. Just let it go. There's nothing he needs to do. There's nothing he needs to say. It's 100% over here. 32 years of not doing that, and it just, it disappeared.


And that night, Thursday night, I'm sitting Zazen, and I hear myself, may all beings be happy. May all beings be free. And then I hear myself saying, may Ted be happy. May Ted be free. I've never done that. I've never thought it. I never thought it was possible. I never wanted it. I couldn't even imagine wanting it. And that's my Otis sitting there. That wasn't a parable. It wasn't. Parables are where you You have something stand for something else, but this was about you. This is your story. It's a story, not a parable. Okay, that's my Lotus Sutra story. It's your Lotus Sutra story. And what a coincidence, it's about you. Okay. Congratulations. Thank you. Thank you for sharing this with your friends. You're welcome. And I'm glad your friend Told you it's terrible.


Good friend. Good friend. Yeah. And I'm glad you showed it to your good friend. Yeah. It was smart conversation. Okay, well, let me not end on the marvelous and romantic and let me just say one little question here to you. I was reading the Reeves book, Lotus Sutra Stories. last night, I think, or the night before. And the part about teaching, I read about it and it jumped out at me like almost messianic. And I was a little surprised because one thing I've appreciated in Zen is silence and not feeling like I'm supposed to talk. And all it just like, no proselytizing, maybe that was the word. And I never ever thought that was we were interested in it, we were called to do it. So I read that. And now you're talking about it today, too. You did say, it's okay to teach by practicing, which I'm more comfortable with than having to think I'm supposed to go out and recite the Lotus Sutra in the streets here.


But um, Yeah, I guess I have a floating question mark on that. I easily empathize with that. And even before I heard about the Lotus Sutra, I think even before I came to Zen Center, I think I kind of saw that the Zen practitioners were prophetizing by not proselytizing. Some people find that very attractive. Somebody who's sitting up on a hill in a temple still. And for me, that converted me. These people who weren't trying to get me to change, but just getting me to be myself. So... But inspiring isn't the same as proselytizing, do you think?


What? Would you say inspiring and proselytizing are the same? I don't think I said inspire, I said they converted me. But you said they proselytized you. Oh yeah, they proselytized. They proselytized by sitting still and quiet. I like that style of proselytizing. And that's, you know... Basically, the Zen style of proselytizing is when people come and they're all caught up in their view, we convert them by being quiet and listening to them, by showing them stillness. And the stillness doesn't say, why don't you be still too? It just shows it to them. And then they walk down and they say, she was really quite still. And then in the stillness, they're converted. So Zen is a kind of proselytizing that doesn't look like telling people that they should do this or that. It's showing them what you're doing.


And by showing them what you're doing, they get to see who they are. Yeah, good. I'm glad we don't have to do the other kind. But also the Lotus Sutra says, embrace this teaching by just reading. When you read the Lotus Sutra, you're proselytizing. Nobody sees you, maybe, but that converts beings. The conversion that happens to you while you're reading the Lotus Sutra is the same as the conversion of other people. And that's in the Lotus Sutra, between the lines. For you to take care of the Sutra, is to take care of others. For you to sit quietly and still takes care of other beings. For you to sit quiet and still, a great light emanates throughout the universe.


The Bodhisattva's arts are encouraged by the Lotus Sutra to be teachers. And the way it says, You teach by reading the Lotus Sutra. But Zen people are encouraged. Suzuki Roshi, as I've often said, he said, the job of a Zen priest is to encourage people to practice Zazen. But I don't walk into Whole Foods and say, you people should be practicing Zazen. I sit in a Zendo. And that sitting is not just for me to sit, but it's to encourage other people to sit, even the people who don't see me sitting. When I'm walking in Whole Foods, if I ever do walk in Whole Foods again, people can see me sitting. And when they see the sitting in Whole Foods that's emanating from me because I practice sitting, they are converted and they will start sitting.


They're inspired to practice Zazen because they see me practicing Zazen in Whole Foods. But some people miss it. When Suzuki Roshi went into the grocery store in Japantown, some people saw Zazen and were encouraged, but most didn't. But he went in there and practiced Zazen in the grocery store anyway. And then he went to the Zendo and practiced Zazen. So he was proselytizing, but in this way of doing the practice. which some people will notice eventually by offering it again and again, they'll say, oh my gosh, who was that masked woman? Now we're in a time when the long ranger is really coming into her own.


Reb, you asked about our vows. Yes. And I so appreciate it. during one of the weeks when you said, when somebody said, you said, if you don't feel like reading the Lotus Sutra, don't read it. If it wouldn't delight, I don't know, I think you might've used the word delight. If you wouldn't be delighted. And I think you said something like, you could just put it by your bed stand, or at least what I did was I put it by my bed stand, but I'm not making myself open it and read it if I'm not wanting to or feel drawn to. But it does feel like I can vow to say, I will continue to practice, and I will keep the Lotus Sutra as near to me as delights me, with an openness to want to actually open it and read it. And that's what I vow. So I vow to practice zen, right? I vow to practice zen meditation, right?


And I meet people. I've been meeting people for decades who come to me and say, I don't want to practice zazen anymore. I have no enthusiasm for it. And I usually, I don't say it in public, but I say to the person, don't practice zazen if you're not, don't force yourself to practice sitting. Don't do it if you're not doing it out of love. Wait until you rediscover your, aspiration to sit like a Buddha. And then start sitting again. And the Lotus Sutra is another example. Don't read it because you're poor, don't force yourself. But you hear about it, you know, I heard about it. So I said, well, for 2000 years, I've thought this is worthwhile, maybe I'll give it a look. And I give it a look, I don't want to read it, close it. But I remember So yeah, I do not force myself to practice Zen.


I do not. And I will not. But sometimes I love to and I do. And I don't force myself to read the Lotus Sutra. Sometimes I want to. Thank you. Thank you. Pam. Good morning, Ram. Thank you for teaching. Good morning, Pam. So this follows pretty directly on what you were just saying. When you were asking us about our vows and teaching that it occurred to me, we are always teaching something. So I vow to teach being fully and completely and wholeheartedly upright, because If I'm not being that, then I'm being less than upright and I'm teaching being less than upright.


And if I find myself being less than upright, then I vow to be fully and completely intimate with that. And in that way, that's how I practice being fully and completely upright. So that is my vow for the best of my ability. It's a wonderful vow. And in order to realize that vow, you might not be surprised to hear me say, you need to have a conversation about the vow. Do you agree? A conversation with myself about the vow, with others? With yourself's good, but with others is kind of more important. For example, with me. Wow, here it is. Oh, right. Most of your vow, I thought were great. Most of it. But part of it wasn't exactly a vow was more like, your vow was great.


But you made some statements, which I didn't agree with, which I think it would help you for me to tell you, please. Thank you. You said something like, if I'm not upright, blah, blah. Okay. So I would like to add to your vow. Your vow is to be completely upright. The statement that if you're not, then you're not upright. Look at that more carefully. You're always upright, really. That's who you really are. You're upright Pam. And you vow to realize that. And I support that vow and I'm happy to hear it. But I don't agree with that you're sometimes not upright. I think you think you're not, or it appears that you're not. But then you also said, if it appears you're not, you practice with that confession and repentance of that appearance.


And in that way, you realize being upright, right? but you're always upright. But if you don't practice it, if you don't practice it, if you don't vow to practice it and practice it, then we don't realize it. But even when you're leaning to the right or the left, really you're still upright, but it looks like you're not. So then you say, it looks like I'm leaning to the left. Okay, I'm still leaning to the left, but I'm upright now that I recognize that. So, I support your vow and I want you to remember that you're vowing to be who you already are all the time. And you know that you need to vow in order to realize that. Okay? Yeah, thank you. I'm so happy to hear your vow. Thank you for reminding me that I'm always upright because it doesn't feel like it.


Being upright isn't a feeling. But your feelings are upright. If you feel good, that feeling's upright. If you feel bad, that feeling's upright. Being upright is who you are, it's not a feeling. You have feelings, but who you are isn't just your feelings. That's just so hard to be who I am. is to be who you are, which is the hardest thing is to be upright. Because there's zillions of ways to not be upright. There's only one way to be upright, and that is called the Lotus Sutra. It's also called PAM, meaning PAM, completely. Thank you. That's so hard. Thank you. John. Hello.


Hello, John. I'm always questioning myself about not having questions. Good. So I'm kind of looking at myself saying, why am I here? What am I going to say? I've written down a bunch of questions. That's a good question. None of them are very good. Yeah. Why am I here is a pretty good question. You know, as an aside, I have found that asking what is this or why am I here just kind of stops everything. At least that's my experience. And I find that No answer is given, no answer is kind of needed. It just brings me back somewhere. And one of my problems is I don't ask that question enough when I'm on a roll, going down the road too fast, ensnared by words and thoughts.


And if I could do that, I think that would be pretty good. Yep, I agree. The one thing that occurred to me on the topic, I want to thank you for the teachings, for the Lotus Sutra, I really enjoyed it. It's nice seeing all these people, however we see them virtually. On the topic of the Lotus Sutra, I'm not really troubled, but I'm going to pretend I'm troubled, because I'm not troubled by the Lotus Sutra. And so I fear that I may not be questioning it enough. Thank you for pretending. And it's kind of like, it's easy for me to just let anything that's kind of enmeshed in words or doctrines or far-flung fantasies they don't disturb me and uh... so i hope that's okay what i've kind of seen and what i'm hearing from you but also how i see the lotus sutra currently is as a massive encouragement and and uh... i've just seen too many too many uh...


Buddhist scriptures and stuff that kind of say, this too is a dependent co-arising, this too is a construction, that I have the faith, I think, to let these things be, kind of use them as encouragements. And I hope that's okay and I'm not losing, like missing out on using some incredible, critical faculty to question things. Could you comment or if you understood that? Well, you said, is it okay? I don't want to say yes, it's okay. Okay. I support you to continue this way. And also, the time will come when you will be invited to put to use intensely your critical faculties? Well, maybe right now you're not being requested to do that in your Buddhist practice.


You know, I think, for me, I think my critical faculties are all too acute. I use my critical faculties I use them in my professional life, I use them in my social relationships. And for me, it can be kind of a pitfall. So in some sense, I look to the... I'm encouraged by the Lotus Sutra where I have a respite from... Well, you're encouraged by the... I hear the Lotus Sutra encouraging you to find the upright way of using your critical faculty. So while you're using your critical faculty, maybe you can remember, what are you doing? Yes. So your critical faculty, you don't lean into your critical faculty too much. You're upright with it. You don't necessarily stop it. You attend it with gentleness and kindness and uprightness.


So the Lotus Sutra is telling you how to use your critical faculty, not saying don't use it, it's telling you how to use it. Well, I like hearing that and I agree with it and I will just give you a little reminiscence of a yoga class in the yoga room, probably many years ago, And I will just ask you to correct me on my recollection. But one thing I really remembered from this particular series of classes is that there were four kind of virtues or conditions that we talked about. And I can't remember them, but they might've been like patience, flexibility, and equanimity, and there was another one. And did you just, and I seem to recall that in this last series, you said those were in the Lotus Sutra, and I can't remember which chapter. Well, there's two sets of four that are in the Lotus Sutra. Okay. One four is loving kindness, compassion, equanimity, no, loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.


Another four is generosity, kind speech, beneficial action, and quality action, which means acting with the understanding that you're in the same boat with who you're talking to. Yeah, it sounds like my recollection was... Go ahead. And Shakyamuni Buddha said that Devadatta taught him that, helped him do those practices before he tried to kill him. He taught him those practices. Well, thank you. Thank you for kind of refreshing my memory. And I just want to say, as far as a vow, the only vow I could come up with, I actually was that I would vow to be on the lookout to rediscover my aspirations and to look for new aspirations.


Yeah. making a vow to rediscover your vow. Yeah. And just the final word would be, I have a good friend... Go ahead. I have a good friend that I, you know, confess to and talk about my difficulties probably too much. And one thing he always says to me, which I always get a tremendous kick out of, is he always finishes with, it's not easy being you, John. It's a big job. Patrick. Hi, Reb. Hi, Patrick. Yeah, what I wanted to say a few minutes ago has just been kind of like musically


intertwined with everything that's been going on. And that's pretty much the way the entire intensive went for me. Amazingly inspiring to me. And I say amazingly because I certainly didn't expect that kind of format to be what it was. So I have deep gratitude for that. And I also wanted to say that being upright has taken on a new dimension for me. My resistance to the Lotus Sutra, or what I was characterizing as my resistance to the Lotus Sutra, and I don't characterize it that way now, but I realized that what I was doing was leaning backwards. I was recoiling. And I guess I think it's coming out as a kind of confession now to myself that rather than fully engage, and I can say that now because I can see that as a possibility, I would run from what I felt were the kinds of things that many people have brought up,


kinds of images and so forth that are presented in the sutra itself. And now I can see and feel into actually being fully engaged with it. To be fully engaged does not mean I either agree or disagree. It means I'm just fully engaged and available. And yeah. even as I'm speaking now, I can feel how my body itself rises to the occasion if I welcome that. It wants it, that uprightness wants that engagement. And what I've been doing or had been doing for quite a while, I think for many, many years in my Zen practice is backing down, and in backing down, not having the availability to the inspiration that's there in the full engagement.


So anyway, yeah, that just feels to me like a tremendous gift, and I wanna thank you for that, and also thank you for allowing me into the Dōkasan room for three weeks with probably over 100 people, and now addressing the Great Assembly, the gratitude that I feel for having you allowed me to be witness to your sincerity, to your love for the practice, for your full engagement has been, yeah, the gift of a lifetime to me. I just so appreciate that. So, yeah, thank you. Judy. Hi.


Hi, Reb. I went to turn my hand off numerous times. I feel sort of like it's been answered, but I'm going to try and get view of just you. I'm not being successful now. Let's see, I'm going to try one more thing. Got it. Okay. So what's up right now? Because as I said, it's transformed a bit. Initially, I did not do the retreat, the intensive. I noticed. Yeah, and I'll tell you why I didn't. I'm a little slow in the uptake these days in that it was at least a week into the intensive that it really hit my consciousness. The good part is that I am fully engaged in life.


That is good. That is good. I'm very pleased that that is good. Yeah. In fact, it's a finishing. I'm sorry. That's what the Lotus Sutra tells you to do. Well, this is precisely why I raised my hand because it was humorous because when Karen asked or shared her thing, it was like there was a laughter that came up in me because to study the Lotus Sutra, to not study the Lotus Sutra. I mean, there was a moment when I couldn't be part of the intensive, that there was a sadness, you know, it was like, oh, oh, and okay, oh, and my plate is full, you know, like every minute this plate is appearing and


And so I don't, I wasn't there for three weeks. So I don't know the Lotus Sutra. I mean, over the years, I've heard bits and pieces, but I guess what I was going to raise my hand initially for was, there's really no difference. There's, I mean, to study the Lotus Sutra, to not study the Lotus Sutra, if that's what arises, great. And if that doesn't arise and something else arises, Great! Yes? Yeah. So you didn't come to the intensive but you understood the Lotus Sutra anyway. Maybe, without, yeah. Definitely, you had definitely understood it. Yeah. So, again, for you and the Great Assembly and me, to study the Lotus Sutra, the Lotus Sutra says, to study the Lotus Sutra, is to not study the Lotus Sutra.


And to not study the Lotus Sutra is really to study the Lotus Sutra. That's what the Lotus Sutra says. And so you realize that, so now you can read the Lotus Sutra all day long. Will you be offering both the recordings of the teachings and also the dokusans, as it has been referred to? I think that because it Everybody would have to approve the DOCSANS, right? I don't think people would want people who weren't there to hear their meetings. I don't think so. I think that part has to remain just for the people who were there. But I think the talks before that will be available. So I'm grateful for the talks, and there is another one of those, aww, that the dokusans, and I ask the question, is that true, that they can't be shared?


I don't know, but that... They're shared in this meeting right now. Always, yeah. We heard people report how the intensive was, how their interactions were, But the actual showing the people's face, I think some people don't want that. We respect that, right? Yes. Nice to be with you. Great to be with you. Thank you very much. You're so welcome. Thank you for coming. Christiane. I don't have the... Speaker view, I could see the owl. Okay, well, I'll just leap in. Hello. There you are. Okay, so, first of all, I just wanted to, I really want to express my appreciation for during the three-week intensive, you mentioned that it was difficult for you.


I'm not totally sure what you were talking about, but it surprised me. And I realized that I have a way of putting you up on a pedestal, like nothing's difficult. It just seems like things come so naturally to you. And it was helpful to me to hear that. And also your comment about fools rush in. There's an intimacy there of your openness and willingness to kind of express that vulnerability that I just really appreciate that. And thank you for those kinds of comments that you've made over the years. I wanted to just express something about, I think this came up when you were talking to Enrique earlier about difficulty and how the Lotus Sutra is about how to deal with difficulty And by bringing compassion and courage and uprightness to those difficult difficulties.


One of the things that I feel like the intensive and the Lotus Sutra has really helped me with has been encouraging about is, is dealing with difficulty and It's, it was that I brought this up during, during the intensive as well. It's, it's inclusivity of, of the great vehicle, Buddha Dharma reaching everywhere. And the Lotus Sutra is so powerful about that message. I feel like it's nothing is excluded and something that turned something in me and thinking about. my own difficulties and thinking about difficulties in the world. And the idea that I think one of the things I struggle with is like, I'm this individual self having to like go forth and make things happen. And the idea that it's everywhere around me and that I can call on compassion.


It's not just like, I have to generate compassion. It's like, it's all there and I can just gather it and, and be with it and be open to it. And that to me was really transformative. And of course I'm, you know, struggle in my day to day life to enact that, but it was eyeopening and I just, I'm so happy. I just want to express that to you and to the assembly and thank you so much for your teaching and for the, for bringing the Lotus Sutra to us. Thank you. Thank you for helping many beings. Me too. I repeat in my mind and I


would like to make a request for the way of info. Dear teacher, you continue to reside in this world, continue to teach. Do not disappear soon. And I also open for your question on my practice. I see a future Buddha. Can you hear me now?


Can you hear me? Yes. I see a future Buddha. Please take care of this future Buddha. What do you say? Basia. Hi, Brad. Hi, Basia. Hi. I'm sorry that I missed your talk today.


I hope there's a way of getting the recording, but... I think there will be. Wonderful. But I guess The reason that I missed it is related to my vow to embody the Lotus Sutra, as I wrote to you, if you recall. And it seems that for me, the learning curve is the aspiration to stay in the one vehicle is pretty It's a challenge, right, to live there, to embody it. And for me right now, it is especially like, how I am perceiving the way, the path, is that to embody the sutra is to welcome


say yes to whatever comes my way. Sort of like the river that I live by right now, it's a tidal river, the Avon River. And it says never, it never objects to the waters of the ocean, just, it comes in and it lets go. So, and when we start objecting, that's thinking. So thinking is the barrier to to the sutra, no? That's another thing to welcome and say thank you to, the appearance of thinking. It's another thing to be friendly to. Right, be friendly. It's not, people are, our friends are not obstacles. Yes, but my, I guess right now I'm sort of like, perceiving thinking as a way of, yes, I need to be friendly with it and very intimate with it.


But right now, for example, I'm in an unstructured life. We're looking for a house and trying to restructure our new place here, a new life. And it requires thinking and decision-making and negotiating with my husband. So today he wanted to look at a house I didn't dare to say no. He was really excited about it. And I just, I thought, no, I don't have in me to object. So we went. Thank you for being kind to your husband. And to myself, believe me. So yeah, so this is for me, this is the kind of a challenge. that I'm sort of like in my, I have a mental picture of receiving and not putting my expectations on it.


So even though I had the aspiration to be here and listen to this talk and participate fully, I went with the other request. So this is something that I'm still a bit, you know. I'm confessing. Thank you very much. I'm glad to hear what you're trying to work on. Yes, and let me see if I... Yeah, so the one thing is that what I realized through the gift of Lotus Sutra during this retreat, I mean, it was really such an incredible three weeks that I almost felt guilty that I became removed from life. It was such a way of just completely submerging myself in it and loving it. And I'm still pretty ferocious about it.


I'm copying and studying and reading it. And I'm still loving it. And I sometimes I wonder if it's too much. Wondering if it's too much is part of being upright. Also wondering if it's too little is also. But I was really grateful to the fact that understanding that reading the sutra or studying or copying it, it is a way of teaching multiple beings that are not immediately visible. That gave me a purpose in life because I was missing the contact with my family in Houston. And now I guess I don't have to have that contact. I can just do the practice. And that gave me a structure because my life became very unstructured for a while until we find a home and decide what to do next.


And this is a very incredible gift to have this structure. So I'm really grateful for that. Homa. Hello, Rob. Hello, Homa. I want to thank you, the assembly who were in the retreat, because I definitely benefited a lot from listening to every single one of them. And I also, by listening and sitting here, I realized that


All we're doing here, all the readings, all the reciting, all the writings of the sutras, Lotus Sutra or any sutra, is simply to wake up to who we are, which is kind of funny, you know, you do all these things to realize, oh, this is me. So I really appreciate when you say you are the Lotus Sutra because I see that. I see I am the Lotus Sutra and that's why every time I read, you know, you recite it or I read it from here and there, I just say, oh, this is me. So it's kind of funny. And also what I was amazed by the Lotus Sutra was in such how in such a profound detail, tiny little piece by piece, it's been able to come into words.


That's what it really amazes me because to bring it into language is just mind boggling, mind boggling for me because in the being, in the sense of it connected to it, to me, it's easier, but bringing it into the language, which is a different level, that is like mind boggling to me. That's why every time I listen to you even speaking it, I say, oh my God, this is like beyond my imagination. So I like to give my vow because questioning I learned questioning in the sutras questioning yourself questioning the self is liberation the question is the liberation and that's why I always love the questioning because every time I question I feel being liberated and then when I listen


I'm more into another question. You know, it's just like, it's a continuous liberation, continuous. It's an unending liberation. And the last thing this is, I would just like to express myself in this form, that it's very easy for all of us to understand when your child is happy, you're happy. When they're not happy, you're not happy. When your pets are happy, you're happy. When they're not happy, you're not happy. This is very simple. This is very clear. And to me, it's no different than enlightenment. There's no different than enlightenment of wanting Everybody to be enlightened is the same as everybody wants to be you want everybody to be happy So I like to just bring my thought into that that I don't see enlightenment for all any separate than happiness for all and happiness for for everything so Thank you.


I agree with you Linda Hello, Reb, and everybody. I was going to, I wasn't going to raise the hand and I'm now among the stragglers who raised my hand at the end. Because I've already had a chance to talk about these things. But I found myself kind of, so I was just listening, but I found myself getting upset. And this upset built. So I'm speaking now to relieve myself, maybe, of that upset. About the, you know, I shared with many people, many moments of joy in that intensive.


because I'm harping on something else doesn't mean that isn't true. But this is in the way for me. And the way you've spoken about the problem, you know, the problem of predicting hell for those who criticize the sutra and so on and the other problems which most people seem to have gotten past. They're at peace now, but I'm not at peace. Your response to that, Reb, feels still to me incomplete. It does not satisfy this deep restlessness and distress in me. Today you said, read between the lines, and you'll see the Lotus Sutra is welcoming our questions. That still puts it on us to get a deeper understanding of it. I will read something I wrote yesterday. Sorry if it takes, if I'm taking too long, which I hope is my last offering about what the problem is and what I feel is incomplete in your response.


So this is what I wrote. In the Heart Sutra that we recite, we say, this is true, not false. And another group that I was in said, this is the truth, not a lie. It is important to know if something is true. It doesn't all just escape into a huge network of relativity. It's important to know if something is false and to say if something is a lie. Lotus Sutra statements about the incalculable periods of horrible punishment in hell worlds for disrespecting the Lotus Sutra are false. They are a lie. I'm saying that they cause harm. We can practice with them. Yes, just as we can practice with the harm and suffering in the world, but it doesn't mean we accept them as true. It doesn't mean we should tell ourselves that we would understand the truth if we went deeper. The problem is not just our incomplete or inaccurate interpretation.


The statements are false and harmful. And the same is true of other statements and implications like things on gender and disability. So I conclude by saying that the sutra is a historical artifact that we can study in many ways. We studied its spiritual depth and power and beauty with you in the Great Assembly. We can also look at it historically. It's not just a seamless fabric of beauty and wisdom, but an uneven historical artifact revealing its conditioning in time and space. There are historical and cultural and political reasons that it would say such things about punishments for critics of the sutra and its devotees or ideas about inferiority of women or the karmic nature of disability. They're all enmeshed in cultural assumptions, which we are familiar with and are trying to liberate ourselves from. I do believe in hell states and I've created them and experienced them.


Cruelty and violence create hell states. Greed, hate and delusion create hell states. The sutra says nothing about that. It says you will be consigned to hell if you criticize or lack faith in the sutra or its adherence. And I can't bear that and I can't be free of that. What is it that the sutra doesn't say? You just said the sutra doesn't say that. What doesn't it say? The sutra doesn't say that what creates hell states is cruelty and violence or greed, hate and delusion. It says that if you criticize or lack faith in the sutra or those who believe in it, you are going to be consigned to hell. I find that unbearable and false. Excuse me for speaking so long, but I hear the sutra saying what you just said. It doesn't say. You said it doesn't say that greed, hate and delusion cause... You didn't hear the Lotus Sutra saying that?


I didn't hear it say cruelty and violence cause hell states. I want to hear that, but I don't hear that. Cruelty and violence cause hell states. Do you hear it now? Yes. So, cruelty and violence create hell states. I am speaking for the Lotus Sutra right now. Then, Mr. Lotus Sutra, why would you say that I would live in a hell state if I criticize or question, not, you don't, or if I criticize the adherence of the Lotus Sutra, why would you say that? Would you ask me now, why would you say that cruelty and violence have terrible consequences? Ask me, why would you say that? Okay. Why would you say that? Because I think it would be helpful to tell people that violence is bad in itself, cruelty is bad in itself, and it has consequences in addition to its current misfortune.


it's bad now, and it will have many kinds of bad consequences. And I might say that sometime to some people. But my experience is that when people are being violent, I usually don't say that to them. What I do when I see people being violent, what I aspire to do is meet them intimately with nonviolence. because when they're being violent, they're usually not ready for me to mention to them that what they're doing is harmful. That's my experience. But if I can get close to them while they're being violent, I sometimes have the opportunity to disarm the violence and have them wake up to that what they're doing is terrible. But then later, maybe I might mention to you, by the way, also, there's going to be consequences of this.


But I don't usually tell people right away because they're usually frightened. And if I tell them that what they're doing is going to cause terrible consequences, they usually just flares it up. So I try to meet them with this wonderful thing called nonviolence, which sometimes works quite quickly disarm the situation, then when they're calm, I might mention, do you want to ask me any questions? And they might say, yes. I say, do you want to talk about possible consequences of what we just saw? And they might say, yeah. I say, what do you think there might be? And they can tell me the consequences. Do you think I've been violent just now? Do I think so? Yeah. Why does the sutra say that people who criticize the sutra or its devotees will go to hell? I don't know, but I'm now telling you that the sutra does say that the cause of hell, I think that, I think I could rephrase it as those who are violent to the Lotus Sutra, those who are cruel to the Lotus Sutra,


Those who are cruel to any being, including the Lotus Sutra. And if I practice the Lotus Sutra and people are cruel to me, if I'm cruel back to them, then there will be terrible consequences of me being cruel back to them. I feel I'm being kind to the Lotus Sutra when I say that is stating something that is not true. That statement can be an act of kindness. That statement can be a gift, because you want to be kind to the Lotus Sutra. That's what I want. That's what I want too. That's what I want too, is be kind to the Lotus Sutra by holding up your view, your truth. That's one of the kinds of way I would like you to be kind to the being called the Lotus Sutra.


All right. I feel like saying excuse me for talking so long. I receive your Sangha. Thank you. And I thank you for Sangha. And I will continue to welcome you, making your offerings. Thank you, Reb. And I wanted to express my gratitude for the unlimited opportunities to practice, including by not having participated in the intensive and also by having participated in today's gathering of the Sangha.


Deep gratitude for all. Thank you. Susan. Hi, Reb. Hello, Susan. Oh, good. I'm on my cell phone, that's why I'm not sure, because I'm just seeing you as an owl right now, so... Hi, Great Assembly. Thank you so much for this, for three weeks. I have my hand... Huh? I am an owl. Okay. It's... Some... My hand was raised and then it wasn't because everybody was kind of... saying the things that I was thinking of, and I wanted to thank you for that. What was also going on with me during those three weeks, which I wanted to just open to the assembly about, was that back in 2018, I got a senior flu shot and came down with polymyalgia rheumatica, which is


very, very painful and last for a number of years. Couldn't, I couldn't sit down for more than 10 minutes, walk for 10 minutes, lay down. It was going like that for six months. And I'm toward the end of it. I've gotten off to some medicine, thank God. And, but during the time I was having to lay down on the floor. And so I was hearing everybody. And I kept wondering about how can I make a vow to the Lotus Sutra, which I, in my heart, I definitely am there. I make a vow. And I thought dealing with the uncertainty, which is kind of what we've been talking about for three weeks, is how I saw it. I thought it gave me, encouraged me that I could do this. Because even though I was lying down Whatever I had to do to take a break and then get back up sometimes, not get back up, but I had to do it longer.


It was uncertain, but I also didn't want to remain faceless around what was happening because I'm very much there. And I was really loving what everybody was saying because it mirrored me. And it was lovely. So I wanted to thank you and the Great Assembly for that. And of course, my question, probably when it was up and down was also, how do you deal with uncertainty? But I thought that's what we're doing. So I thought, do I get this COVID shot or not? Or, you know, I'm afraid, you know, so So, you know, it's uncertainty and I'm looking at it more like I just gotta see how it goes when it gets up to that time, whether it's time for me to do that or not, see how I'm doing. But my love levels are a lot better from this thing. I know this is bizarre.


I've never, but Other people got it from that shot too, which is very strange. But anyhow, I don't wanna go on with that. The point is, is that I've never had where I've been really out of communication for years because I couldn't be. I mean, I really couldn't do it. So I'm grateful to be back and I'm grateful for knowing that I can make a vow and do it in a way that my heart is there, but maybe sometimes I'm not facially there. So thank you so much for everything. You're welcome. Ira. Okay, here I am. I also only see an owl, but I've been seeing Reb. But right now I don't see Reb. I see you, Ira. Oh, now I see you. Let's see.


I guess I feel like, you know, I vow to do whatever I'm capable of. That's my vow. It's my vow too. I mean, I think I have limitations probably in how I learn or how I, you know, but I think there's a sense of, well, again, it's like the universe decides, you know, what am I capable of? I don't think I decide that. I vow to do what I'm capable of. And I welcome your questions.


Debra, go ahead. Hi, Rob. Hi, Debra. Hi. I just see the owl too, but that's fine. I have been seeing you. I also want to thank you and thank the Great Assembly. I'm having a time right now where I'm feeling disconnected and from people that I love due to various reasons, some that they've passed away. And I've almost forgotten my question. And I guess I want to show my face because I deeply appreciate you guys, Buddhas and ancestors. I'm having trouble connecting to all the Buddhas and ancestors. So I just Um, wanted to connect to you guys and just show my, and just say, I really appreciate, um, our discussions and our sharing.


And I did have a question and it's totally, Oh, I know what the question was. Um, so what I'm avow for me is to be present with what's arising, try to meet, try to welcome everything. Um, at the moment, well, everything is painful and I tried to have compassion for that pain. Sometimes it doesn't feel. that I'm authentically having that compassion. But now as I'm saying that I'm thinking I'm getting caught in the feeling instead of just having that compassion. Does that make sense? Yes. Any other thoughts about it or am I okay now? You're okay with a great opportunity. Thank you. This is almost done. May I respond to Linda?


Linda, I don't know. In the Lotus Sutra, the Chinese version that I read, I think some place it talk about the 12 causal link. I don't remember which chapter, but I think mentioning it recently. So I just want to mention that in the Lotus Sutra, I do mention about the 12 causal link. In chapter seven, after the Buddha sits for 10 eons, on the verge of enlightenment. When he starts teaching, he first teaches the Four Noble Truths, and then he teaches the Twelve Links of Causation, which, as you know, feeling, greed, clinging, all that.


That Buddha does teach that. And Meijiu, I request that you all don't go away before I do, okay? Okay. You can go away at the same time as me, all right? Diane. I read and great assembly. Um, I guess I'm kind of struggling towards the end hearing everybody speak and express their gratitude. Um, I, and also, uh, awareness of impermanence. Um, I just want to say that, uh, this opportunity when you started talking about the Lotus Sutra all these weeks ago, I pulled out my connection to the Lotus Sutra that started a long time ago.


And I think through this process, my faith has been strengthened. And I particularly want to thank you and everyone for having the chance to grow in faith to the point where I do want to share the Lotus Sutra, the message of the Lotus Sutra, the message of Buddhism with other people. And particularly, it feels like a miracle that I'm able to talk with my son about it. and he's actually asking questions. I'm starting from the very beginning and just telling him about the Four Noble Truths. And it's amazing to hear his responses. Reb, you have an understanding of the background of this. So it's my wish to make you very happy.


deeply happy in your heart. And anyone else who can pick up on this message, I wish you deep happiness in your heart. And thank you. You seem to have disappeared. Fazia. Hi again. I just wanted to respond to one of the previous speakers who spoke about the anguish that the negative statements threatening the sutra that were threatening the reader if they rejected the sutra or slanted it or whatever.


When I read that, maybe it will be helpful i don't know but what for me the the reading of the sutra this time was almost it was a convergence of the religion that i was raised with it was christianity and at some point i i divorced it because of such statements there were so many statements like that in the bible And I really objected to that. I didn't like them at all. So I kind of ran away from that. I didn't like it. I didn't agree with it. My left brain started to be very critical about it. And that's it. I divorced it for quite a good while until I advanced in Zen at some point where I returned. And I started to study that religion as well. I kind of embraced it with the tools of Zen. So as I was reading this and what I was doing with that was I was seeing that it creates a double bind, like an emotional conflict.


I was like, wow, this is just skillful means. That's how I perceived it. That skillful means puts me in a place where I've been from which most human beings want to run away. We don't like conflicting messages. And we do not like to stay in that discomfort of the anguish. So I read that and I stayed with that and it was really liberating. It was truly a disengagement from words and recognizing that that's another skillful means that by putting us into those mental conflict and emotional conflict, At some point one realizes that there's something more than words and the conflict is created by words, by those words, that's all it is. So it was almost, it was really a profound letting go and finding something beyond words.


So that's, and I call it double bind. So that was the gift of Lotus Sutra. to realize that Christianity and Buddhism are leading to the same place. Exactly the same place. And I was really happy about it. Deep inside, I knew it for many, all my life, I thought it cannot be that one religion can have monopoly on the truth and others don't, that God plays favorites. So I was so happy. coming to that place of convergence. Yes, I'm at home now. Catherine. Hi, Reb. Hi, Catherine. It is extraordinary seeing you. And I'm very low tech, but I'm one of the few people here that realizes


that you are sitting amongst all of us, your image. The owl is the main center, but you are amongst us in the gallery view. And I just actually love that metaphor. that you are amongst us, but not everyone found you there, but I did. So that's exciting. And I want to say, it reminds me of the World Series, this experience right now. I don't like baseball. I don't care about it, but I get excited by other people's excitement. And I often jump in at the World Series, you know, it's the World Series, let's watch it now. And I feel that way here. I wasn't with you throughout, but I experienced with you, whether I get the first five minutes, the last five minutes, the song that we're departing on, every single time, whatever you're offering, I get it. And that's what you've offered for me. I come from a family of, if it's possible to question too much, I come from a family that questions too much.


So what you have offered for me actually is permission to not question. Not obedience necessarily, but just like be yourself. And whether or not you think you're funny, I think you're hilarious. And I, I need funny and levity. Otherwise I'm not going to read the book. I'm just not going to read the book. So I just can't tell you that every time I've passed you by walking by you, smiling, singing, hearing you, you embody something that's so unbelievable because I have rejected every religion, every, you know, controlled thinking view. And the freedom that you offer, even you're so learned, and it's very specific. And I spent, if I remember correctly, you did a weekend at Mount Madonna on the Lotus Sutra.


And it was tense, intense. I got half of it. You had diagrams. We had pictures up of the mud. Even if I don't understand what you're talking about, Rev, I understand what you're talking about. And I just want to thank you for making it make sense at every level that we're entering into this. Thank you so much. Oh, welcome. Wise owl that you are. Ira. Okay, here I am, and I see the owl, but I don't see Rev. He's amongst us. Okay. So, let's see, Rev, I felt we didn't finish our interaction.


So, I wish I could see you, because that would help. Let's see. There you, okay, I see the, yeah, there you are, okay. So I just, I thought you were starting to say something when I asked if you had any questions and then it switched. So I just wanted to complete the interaction. Have the interaction. You're right, I was going to say something. But it didn't come across very well, did it? Well, you started to say something and then it switched to somebody else. Anyway, we're here now together, okay?


You and me. We're practicing together right now. And I hear your vow to continue. Thank you. Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, or gentle people, we have set a modern record two hours and 50 minutes. Congratulations, you attended this record-setting meeting. And I'm glad I can still laugh. I hope you can too. May we continue to sincerely be devoted to each other, to be kind to each other, to be generous with each other,


Be patient with each other and keep conversing, okay? May our intention equally extend to every being and place with the true merit of Buddha's way. Beings are numberless. Afflictions are insignificant. I vow to cut through. Dharma gates are boundless. I vow to enter them. Buddha way is unsurpassable. I vow to become it. Thank you, Reb. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you, everyone. Thank you, Reb. Thank you, everyone.


Extraordinary. Yeah. Extraordinary. Thank you, everyone. Thank you, Reb. Thank you very much. Bye, everyone. Bye-bye. Bye. Bye, Rosa. Bye, Charlotte. Bye. Hey, Charlotte. Hey, Wendy. Thank you, Reb. Thank you, Reb.