The Seeds and Fruits of True Awakening
The Seeds and Fruits of True Awakening
April 5, 2012 at The Yoga Room
Part four of a seven part series based on the Six Paramitas
Transcribed by Barbara Byrum
This series of practice events has been titled Zen Meditation: The Seeds and Fruits of True Awakening. It also has been re-titled Zen Meditation is the Seed and Fruit of Entering into Reality. True enlightenment could be called entering into reality. So Zen meditation is the seed which leads to entry into this awakening, and it is the fruit of entry into reality, or entry into enlightenment. That’s the title, or theme, for this series of meetings. There are a few people in this class tonight for the first time, but even if they weren’t here, there would be a few people who have not been here before…namely, everybody else. None of us have been here before. You might assume that the people in the room are the same people who came here before, but you don’t assume that the people who weren’t here before were here before, do you? You think that they weren’t. Some of you may think that you were here before, but you weren’t. You are here right now for the first time, and so am I. It is a reasonable assumption in the sense that it is a conventional assumption. However it is a mistake. It’s a mistake that we share in. By the end of the class, we are kind of like, we become in tune with each other, even though at the beginning of the class, we meet somebody that we have never met before and think that we have met them before, because of that, at the beginning of the class, we are not that well attuned. As the class goes on, some of us realize that we have not met these people before, and there are some problems. We have to get in tune, because we are out of tune, because we didn’t really…we weren’t ready to start completely from scratch with everybody, so there was some dissonance. We gradually accepted that, and by the end of the class, there is a whole new group of people, but we are kind of in tune. Then we leave the room, and somebody else comes next week, and a lot of those people assume they are going to meet the same people again, and then we have to get attuned again, and so here we are again, tuning up, getting to know each other, getting in tune. I often think that one time I was with my daughter, my younger daughter. Her mother went to France, and I was taking care of her for two months. Then we, then this daughter and I went to a place called Tassajara, and we were going to rendez-vous with her mother, who was coming back from Europe. I was in a position where I could see my daughter when she saw her mother, and her mother when she saw her daughter. I saw them when they first saw each other. They were about a hundred feet apart. The daughter thought that the person she was seeing was the mother she used to have, and the mother the daughter she used to have. They were very happy about this. It was a funny day, and I saw this golden arc of light joining the two of them. They ran to each other in this delusion that they were going to meet their dearly beloved, who they had been separated from. Then they found out that there was a new person there, and they fought for two weeks. They were both frustrated that this person had shown up. New people kept showing up, and it took them a long time, because they had such a great expectation to meet this fabulous creature that they used to know. Sometimes we human beings feel like, Okay, okay, okay, okay, I know, but I don’t want to go through all that every time I meet somebody. I don’t want to start from scratch, like “Who is this”? Can’t we just say that this is the same person that we used to have here? Yes, you can, but then you are going to have a problem. I am sitting here thinking that I had some things that I wanted to talk about, but do these people want to hear about that? Even the people who said before that they wanted to hear this stuff, maybe, there is a whole new group of people. Are they going to accept this? I don’t know. I don’t know if you will accept this. I don’t know if you are accepting this. So I am sorry to give you something which maybe you didn’t ask for, but this is what I am offering. I can’t do otherwise, but I am also kind of apologizing, because I don’t know if you want this. I don’t know if you want to hear about how to enter authentic awakening, how to enter into reality. I don’t know of you are interested in that. Even if you were interested last week, maybe this week you aren’t interested anymore. It is hard to ask each person individually, and there are social pressures like probably I should say who I am. So I don’t know if you want to hear about how to into reality or not, but even if I ask you, and you say yes, I really don’t know if you are being honest with me. Still, do you want to hear about the path of entering into reality and the fruits of entering into reality? Do you want to hear about it? Do you want to hear a story about it? A few people nodded their heads, and the other people – I don’t know what you mean by not nodding your heads. [Laughter] Also, this place is called The Yoga Room, and I don’t know who is in charge of naming this place, but tonight I am asking if it is okay to be Buddha’s Room. Tonight I would like it to be Buddha’s Room, because the stuff I am going to talk about happens in Buddha’s Room. Sometimes people call this the Yoga Room, but maybe the room out there is the Yoga Room. Where is the Yoga Room actually? Do you know? [inaudible answer] This is The Yoga Room! Sometimes when people come into this room, they warm-up. Do they? I have a story. At the beginning of this series of classes, there was a warm-up. Tonight I am saying, Yes, there was a warm-up, but I feel like every week we have to warm-up. Warming up last week is great; it’s not that it doesn’t count. It does count, but that doesn’t mean that just because you warmed up last week that you don’t have to warm up this week. In the practices which lead to the entry into reality, in those practices need repeatedly be warmed up to. It isn’t that you warm up to them on Thursday, and then next Thursday you don’t have to warm up. You have to keep warming up to this kind of practice. So at the beginning of this series, I mentioned aspiration. Aspiration is the warm-up practice. It is the warm-up practice for entering reality. Aspiration is the warm-up practice for entering into reality, because aspiration is the warm-up practice for the energy to do the practices by which you enter, then it is the energy to do the practices that follow from entry. It’s the source, the root, of the energy to do the practices of enlightenment. So it is the root and also the way of refreshing. It is a way to start and to refresh. Every week, in a sense, if I don’t mention it, you might forget to do the warm-up exercises. Some people – even me, might feel like that. But if we do the warm-up exercises every week, we’ll have less time for the exercises. Well, that’s normal. As a matter of fact, the more muscles you get, the more practice muscles you get, the more you have to warm up. Like little kids, when they start various forms of yoga, running, or something, they hardly need to warm up at all. As the intensity of their exercise program and their muscles get stronger, they have to warm up more. Because they get strong, they have this strength, so without warming themselves up, they can hurt themselves. Most four year old kids do not pull a groin muscle from running. Or pull a hamstring, or whatever, from running fast. When you get to be in your teens, fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen, and you get big muscles, you can hurt yourself if you don’t warm up. It is the same in spiritual practice. If you don’t remember what you are doing this for, and you just start doing some spiritual exercise, that you got pretty good at, you can get hurt. Remembering what the point is. What’s the point? Well, what is the point again? That is your aspiration. It is the big wish of your life. What was it again? I don’t know. You didn’t tell me. So, I am not assuming that you all want to enter reality. I am not assuming it. I am just telling you that if you did want to enter reality, if you did want to enter enlightenment and practice from that enlightenment, then this is a course for that intention, for that wish, if you wished. So if you don’t have this aspiration, then you are welcome to be – I don’t know what you call it. A witness. You can witness somebody talking about these practices, and maybe if you witness it, you think, Oh, actually I would like to join. I feel the aspiration to do these practices. So I am asking your permission to talk about practices, that you don’t even know if you want to practice yet. One of them is the practice of aspiration. Those who aspire to true enlightenment for the welfare of others are called bodhisattvas. Another way to put it, those who aspire to true enlightenment and aspire to teach the true dharma, to teach the truth, to teach the reality that they have entered, are bodhisattvas. A lot of people say, Okay, I want to enter reality, I want to enter enlightenment for the welfare of beings, but they haven’t necessarily heard that what you do with enlightenment, in order to benefit beings, is to teach them the thing that you have entered. A lot of people are modest, Me teach the true dharma? I know, I know. It is very grandiose to think, Can I say that I wish to teach the true dharma? That’s the thing that is really going to help people, if somebody could teach that to him. That is the Buddha’s main job is, to teach the dharma. The Buddha doesn’t just come in to take peoples’ delusions away. The Buddha teaches and when people listen and listen and listen, they change. When they change they can hear more and more deeply what the Buddha is saying, what the Buddha is teaching. When they really hear it, then they are really helped. So the aspiration of the bodhisattva is an aspiration is to enter the reality, and then help beings from that reality, and also help beings before entering reality, to try to help beings, too. The training which initiates us into reality is to try to help people the best we can now. So the aspiration is not just to enter reality and help beings from that place, but to train the aspiration. So I aspire to enlightenment, but I also aspire to do the practices, which lead to lead to and realize and follow from the realization. I aspire to the practices, and I aspire to an enlightenment which is the practices. I aspire to practices which are enlightenment, and enlightenment which is the practice. I aspire to practice enlightenment, to enlightenment practice. That’s an aspiration that bodhisattvas, or Great Vehicle aspiration. I want to say again that the bodhisattva path is an aspirational path in the sense that bodhisattvas want to help beings, want to realize the practice enlightenment, the enlightenment practice, but they don’t spend their time necessarily thinking that they are doing that. Bodhisattvas think various things, but they don’t necessarily think they are practicing enlightenment. But they do think that they want to. They don’t necessarily think that they are being helpful, but they do think that they want to. In other words, they think about their aspiration, and when they think about what they are doing, they realize what they think they are doing is not really, actually, what they are doing. It’s just what they think they are doing. If they think they are helping people, and people say, Excuse me, that’s not helpful, they can listen to that quite easily, because they realize that they are not really doing what they think they are doing, but they do realize that they are thinking. This is what they are thinking, for example they sometimes do think, I’m Mr. Helpful. I’m Miss Boon to the World. They sometimes think that way. Or they sometimes think, I’m the worse mother on this block. Or, I am a terrible father, or I am a lousy teacher, or I’m a great teacher! They think all kinds of stuff, but they listen to the Great Vehicle teaching which says, This stuff is just thought constructions. When people think they are a bad teacher, and people tell them that they are a good teacher, then when they hear people say they are a good teacher, they realize that that is what they are thinking too. So it’s not like I think that I am a bad teacher, and you tell me I am a good teacher, and I was wrong, and now what I hear you say is right. No, it’s not like that. The bodhisattva aspires to sit on the seat of the Buddha, which is to sit on the seat of the insubstantiality of all phenomena, to sit on the seat of insubstantiality of all thinking. In order to sit on that seat, as I mentioned earlier, it is recommended that you enter the room of the Buddha, the room of great compassion for all living beings, which means the room of great compassion for all thinking, because living beings are thinkers, or living beings are thinking. So we have compassion for the living beings, especially for the living beings who believe that what they think is reality, because when we believe what we think is reality, we suffer. Like when we believe that the person we saw two months ago was the person we are meeting now, we have stress. If we practice compassion towards that stress and towards that story, we are gradually start to be ready to put on the robe, which is the robe of being gentle with this stress and be flexible with this stress, and then we are ready to enter into that the story is not a substantial truth, and the person we are meeting now has never been met before, and we don’t know who it is, and we still feel great compassion, even though we don’t know who it is. Now we are ready to enter reality, to enter the place of meeting each other without grasping. So I have to… admire the story here…the story is that I have to keep returning, almost constantly, to the aspiration. I have to stay in touch with the aspiration, because it is the root of the energy, the energy to do the practices. /////////////////// What are the practices that take care of this aspiration, so that the aspiration supports us to enter reality? The first practice is generosity. Phenomena come in moments. Moments are moments of phenomena. As far as I know – correct me if I am wrong – there are no moments floating around which are not phenomena. There are no little packets of time that aren’t phenomena, as far as I know. What I am working with is phenomena. In other words, a moment of experience, a phenomena, whatever phenomena there is. I was particularly looking at – I didn’t even say what it was – a chimney in a building. That was what I was looking at. I was exercising my aspiration while I was looking at this chimney on a building in Berkeley. I remembered my aspiration to enter reality and teach this reality for the welfare of anyone who will listen to the teaching. What practice will take care of this aspiration? I thought, Generosity. So I practiced generosity towards the phenomena of a chimney on a building in Berkeley in the afternoon sunlight, before the wind came up. When the wind came up, I would have to remember, What’s my aspiration again? What am I here for? What do I want to do with this life? I want to enter reality when it’s windy, when it’s cold, when it’s hot. I want to enter reality, not just to get reality for myself, but so the aspiration will be purified, realized, and give use to all beings. If this thing is going to be of use to all beings, it probably would be a good idea to do the practice with all beings before I enter reality, too, just to get in the mood. That means having he experience. All beings, not just all living beings. It means every experience, because all I know about all of us is my experience of you. For me, all of you are phenomena. My take on you as phenomena…I’m not saying you are really phenomena; I have to deal with you as phenomena. If I deal with the phenomena of you, and if I deal with the phenomena of me properly, I will be able to sit on the seat of the Buddha, which is the insubstantiality of my experience of you and my experience of myself. From that seat of my experience of you, we are going to have a good time here in this suffering world. We are going to be able to have peace. Number one, I start out with compassion to an experience of a stove pipe, or a chimney…I don’t know if the chimney was functioning or not. I didn’t even call it a chimney. I just remembered that I was looking at this image of this thing up there, when I was saying, “What’s the first practice now?” And I remembered that it is giving. Practicing giving not exactly towards the stove pipe or chimney, but on the occasion of my seeing a chimney, what is the practice? There are a lot of Zen stories in our tradition where two people are walking along together, and they come to a street corner, or they come to a yoga room, and one says to the other one: On the occasion of entering The Yoga Room, what is the practice? On the occasion of crossing the street, what is the practice? On the occasion of seeing a stovepipe, what’s the practice? Well, tell me your aspiration, and I’ll tell you the practice. I wish to enter the reality of this experience of entering the The Yoga Room. You want to enter reality? Okay! That’s what you want? Then practice generosity towards this occasion or with this occasion. Which is towards the stovepipe, towards the person, or towards your story of the person. “Towards it” is a little off, because they are not actually “out there.” Before entering reality, when a phenomena comes, there may be some sense of experience and experienced, or self and other. This is the pre-reality practice. I wish to aspire to beings, but I have not yet realized that they are not separate from me. I still have the story that they are separate. But that doesn’t stop the practice, and I still aspire to enter the reality of non-separation. It looks like the chimney is separate from me up there. It looks like the person is separate. I can be generous towards that illusion. I’ve heard that it is an illusion, and I can be generous toward the teaching that it is an illusion. I can welcome the teaching, and I can welcome the appearance of separation. This is immeasurably wonderful to do. It takes care of this aspiration. The aspiration reminded me of the aspiration, and the aspiration reminds me of the aspiration and takes care of the aspiration. The aspiration gave me the energy to think about what the practice was and then to engage in the practice of generosity towards Now I can practice generosity, towards the phenomena of you. And I want to do that. And I don’t have to think that I am doing it. I just want to, and I want to continue to remember what that would be. It would mean that I would really welcome you, that I would really let you into the room. Into the room. It isn’t my room; it’s Buddha’s room. Which means I really want to welcome you. I am not saying that I am, but I really want to welcome you into the heart of great compassion for all living beings. I want to be in that room, and I want you to come in there too. Even if you don’t come in, you are still welcome. You are welcome to stand outside. You are welcome to come in. I welcome you wherever you are at. Inside at the threshold, outside. I welcome you with whatever your aspiration is. I want to. Then maybe I can say that I do. But that’s just me thinking I do. I don’t know if I really welcome you, but I definitely want to learn how to do that. That’s the first practice I thought of in regard to that chimney. That’s the first thing that I think of in regard to you and me. The next practice is ethics. I mentioned last week that the ethics on this path has three aspects. One aspect is the exercise of restraint, or, you could say, the exercise of presence. The precept of restraint, or the precept of presence. That is the first ethical discipline on the path of entering reality. After welcoming what is happening, the next practice is to practice ethics with it. The first ethical practice for bodhisattvas is to restrain distraction from being present. Me and the chimney. Let go of any distraction, any going away from just this chimney. Or me and this sentient being. Just give up distraction from being there with them, being here with them, just being present. Just being present is similar to just don’t try to get anything out of this meeting. So, restraining distraction, or restrain yourself from trying to get something out of the wind. Restrain the impulse to get something from this person, from this being, from this pleasure, from this pain. Also restrain yourself from trying to avoid anything. Trying to get something and trying to avoid something are two ways of not being present with what is happening. That is the first ethical exercise, to give up those defiling ways of being with the phenomena. People come to study Zen, as I mentioned last week. They often go out of their way to find a Zen teacher. They walk up to the Zen teacher. They meet the Zen teacher, and then they do not restrain themselves from trying to get something from the Zen teacher. They go ahead and try to get something, and then the Zen teacher mentions, Hey, we have a practice of not trying to get something from Zen teachers. Sometimes they don’t put it that way. But basically they are saying, You came a long ways to practice Zen, and I am here to tell you not to try and get Zen from me. Then the student says, Thank you so much. That’s right. I was trying to get something. Then the teacher says, What did you come here for? I’m trying to get something. Before that, I wanted to practice Zen. Well, practicing Zen is not trying to get something. As a matter of fact, it is like welcoming. If you are trying to get something, it is welcoming that, and then it is giving up trying to get something. It is also giving up trying to avoid something. The other two aspects of practicing with things, so that the aspiration to enter reality is realize are to practice all the practices: generosity, ethics, patience, enthusiasm, concentration, and wisdom. The other one is to do the practice of…you could say, helping others, but usually the word is more literally “to mature beings.” It isn’t just to help them. It’s to help them – yes, to help them – but also mature them. Before they mature, help them. But then, after helping them, mature them. In other words, help them find their aspiration. You can benefit people even before they are willing, before they are even ready to look at their aspiration. So people who have forgotten their aspiration, or who haven’t found it yet, are not ready to do the practices of entering reality. They have to find the aspiration first. Because the energy to do the practices for entering truth come from the aspiration to enter truth. Some people have not yet realized they want to enter truth, so they can enter the process of liberating beings. In that case, you can still let them in the room. They could still come into the room, even though they don’t want to do any practices. In other words, you can practice generosity toward people who have not yet found their aspiration to do the practices. But when they see the practice of welcoming generosity, it may stimulate the arising of the aspiration. If it doesn’t, you continue to practice generosity. Then you also practice ethics with them. For example, you don’t think you are better than them. They see, they sense, that you have this big aspiration that has taken over your life. They don’t know what theirs is, and you don’t think that you are better than them. They can see that you are going to town on your aspiration, that you are taking good care of it….they can see it. They are impressed by it, but they are not yet clear that they want to sign up for such a thing. They can see that you don’t think you are better than them. Or they can see that this person of great aspiration doesn’t look down on them. They think, How cool. They have this great, amazing thing, which I am not interested in, and they don’t think they are better than me. They don’t think they are better than me, not only because they don’t think I have it, but because I don’t even care about it. I’m like a bad boy. They don’t think they are better than the bad boy. But I think that I am kind of better than them…Maybe not. Maybe they think I am worse than them, but they don’t think I am worse than them, and they don’t think I am better than them, and they don’t think they are better than me, and they don’t think they are worse than me. Wierdo. Anyway, the weirdo keeps dumping compassion on them, opening the door to the room, and eventually the aspiration will arise. That’s the program. The practitioner may have to enter reality before the force of this compassion becomes so pure that nobody can stand up to it, against it, or avoid it. But some people can be converted from being distracted from finding their aspiration, even by somebody who hasn’t yet entered into reality. Lot of possibilities here too. I mentioned last time, and I am mentioning again, and I am maybe going a little deeper this week, this practice of purifying our practice from trying to get something, it is good to pick some form, so that you can do the form, then you can notice the impurities are discovered and disclosed, and then they can be dropped. It may be hard sometimes to spot the way you are trying to get something out of what you are doing. So this first bodhisattva ethics practice, which is basically a purifying practice, purifying our practice…and what is our practice for? Our practice is to mature this seed, this aspiration, into enlightenment and the fruit of enlightenment, which is enlightened compassion. To take care of and purify this seed, we need to reveal that we are trying to get something out of this process. It’s a wonderful process. What could be better than bringing this beautiful aspiration to flowering fruit? It’s a wonderful thing, but for it actually to proceed, we have to not defile it by trying to get something out of it. We naturally do try to get things out of things, so even the best thing, we will try to get something out of. Even the best thing, when you try to get something out of it, will be stalled to some extent. So part of an ethics practice is to choose a form, do it, and you can see the defilements. Be kind to them, and they can drop. Then you can do the same practice as before, but now without trying to get something from it. Amazing. And when you practice that way, you are almost home, except you’re not home, so you practice patience. Also, you are not home, so you keep doing these other practices helping beings, to find more and more subtle versions of trying to get something. This kind of gaining attitude toward the practice has been revealed: Yeah, I’m trying to get something out of this. Okay. Hi. Be kind to that and drop that, and it’s gone. Here I am doing the same practice, pretty much, a new, fresh version of the practice…here I am doing the practices, doing the form. For example, sitting. I am doing the sitting. I noticed that I was trying to get something. I was kind to it, and now that gaining thing dropped away, and now I am just sitting. I am continuing to do it. Now I see a more subtle version of it. I now see that I am not trying to get anything anymore; I am trying to avoid getting something. The more you do it, the more you notice, and that is part of the ethical training. The giving is not so much about that. The giving is more like, Okay, come on in everybody. Of course, that’s when it is working. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and you say, Okay, come on in, but not everybody. That is giving that is hindered. But sometimes it really is, Okay, come on in everybody. Did anybody notice what happened there? Did you notice that I let everybody in? Somebody let everybody in? Wow! That was spectacular, and it just happened to be…I wonder…yes, I am famous! I am famous. They noticed. Okay, get rid of that one. Notice when I let go of that, that is the ethics that follows generosity. I also mentioned last week, and I want to say again, because none of you were here last week, in this practice of whatever form you are using, whatever practice you’re doing, whatever form this practice has….this practice of purifying the practice unites lay and monastic bodhisattvas. The forms that people do in monasteries are somewhat different from the forms that people do in the streets of Berkeley. In the streets of Berkeley, for example, a person sees a chimney –monasteries don’t have chimneys! On the streets of Berkeley you sometimes see a chimney, and then what you do is practice this precept of presence with that chimney. In the monastery, if you saw a tiled roof or a bell, you would do the same practice. So in that sense, in a monastic situation, or in a non-monastic situation – a monastic situation is a place that people say is a monastery. This is a place where they sayis is not a monastery. This is a place that does Zen forms. People in a grocery store say, This is not a Zen temple. If a Zen monk walks in…like I walked into a grocery store in Berkeley one time, and a person came up to me and said, Are you all right? What are you doing in the grocery store? Are you having a stroke? [laughter] I said, Yeah, I’m okay. That was a grocery store. You can imagine other places where they might ask what I was doing. A bodhisattva can be a monastic and can be a lay person. The practice of generosity unites them. If you are in a monastery, you welcome whoever comes. If you are in the street, you welcome whoever comes. The forms, like sitting upright, with your legs crossed, or sitting in a chair, trying to be upright, these forms you can use, and if you practice this way with these forms, you are doing the same practice on a different form that somebody is doing in a monastery, with a bell or a prostration. Or whatever. So it might be good to choose one form, that you are always pointing toward, or that you are always zeroing in on, all the time, all the time, all the time, all the time. And you…I was going to say that you can choose, yes, it is true, you can choose, but I also suggest that whatever you choose, after you choose it, you ask someone to give it to you. Whether you are a lay bodhisattva or a monastic, the form that you use, that you focus on, for your ethical training, is something that is given to you. It is given to you by somebody who received it from somebody else, who gave it to them. It is given to you “correctly,” means to check out to see if you understand it and some agreement about what the form is. Then you work on it. I am saying to you to choose a form, and then find somebody to give it to you. You, if you wish, can help me try to figure out how to help you, if you want to do that. This is a traditional teaching. It is not a form. The form is that the form you use to purify your practice, and then the purifying function applies to all the varieties of practices you would do. But you choose some form to focus on, to purify all your practices. For example, in Soto Zen, in the 13th century in Japan, a Zen teacher called Dogen chose sitting meditation as the form. He said, That’s the form that I am using. You can do this sitting, and you can practice that sitting without trying to get anything from it. Or practice that sitting without trying to avoid anything with it. Some people might sit to avoid the problems of the world. That doesn’t sound so bad, except they are trying to get something from the practice, and that will not, actually, free us from the problems of the world. If you are trying to avoid the problems of the world in this tradition, is not the way. In this tradition, the way to be free and at peace with the problems of the world, is by acknowledging them and fully embracing them. Also to get the problems of the world, to get a better world, is also not something to try to get away from. But welcome that and practice ethics with it, be present with it, and not try to get away from it. Don’t try to hold on to it. In that tradition, use the sitting form, as a particular form, as we do it in this room. Every time you come here, you sit here at the beginning of the class, and you can just sit there, and use that form on Thursday nights. See if you can practice that form without trying to get anything, or avoiding anything. If you want to, you can ask me, and I will give it to you. Or you can ask somebody else, and they can give it to you. But I suggest that the person who gives it to you is somebody who asked somebody else for it and received it from them. Every class you can start that way, and between the classes, you can remember the sitting. You can remember this any time of day or night, and you do not have to be sitting. You can begin walking down the streets of Berkeley and remember sitting upright. You might have to stand still for a little while, because when you first think of it, you might not be able to concentrate on where your feet are landing, so maybe you stand still for a little while. I am standing, and I am remembering just sitting. Not trying to get anything. I am standing here and not trying to get anything. Now I notice that I am trying to get something. There it is. Amazing! I’m standing here, and I am not going any place, and I am trying to get something from that. Be kind to that, and you can drop it. It is possible to stand on the earth without trying to get something out of standing on this earth. You can sit, you can choose a form, and you can remember that form, whether you are doing it or not. You can remember a form that you are not doing and still try to get something out of it. If you are forgetting the form, it is hard to notice that you are trying to get something from it. You have to remember it. You have to go back to the form and say, That’s the form. I’m not doing it now, and I am not trying to get anything out of it. I think. Wow! Now the form is happening, and I’m not trying to get anything out of it. Wow! And now I am. Maybe that “wow” is how strong that impure trying to get something out of everything is. That’s Soto Zen of that particular lineage that use this form. You are not sitting cross-legged all day long, but you can remember that form all day long. You can always be thinking of “just sitting.” You can always think of being just present, not trying to get anything out of your life. You can catch yourself innumerable times, and the more times you catch yourself, the better. It’s not that you forget the more times that you are not present, the better. The more times you notice it, the better. When you notice it, noticing it, and then feeling a little bit of regret that you got distracted from doing it in a pure way, you will eventually learn how to do things without trying to get something from them. You will eventually learn that. In other words, eventually you will get really good at ethics. The first part of ethics, and if you get good at this part of ethics, then the next two parts of doing those practices of giving, ethics, patience, enthusiasm, concentration, and wisdom…those practices will thrive under this training, and then working for the welfare of others will work much more easily and joyfully. There is another school that arose in Japan around the same time as Soto Zen called Nichiren. What the teacher in that school was, the one practice that he taught everybody to do was Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. What does that mean? Homage to the dharma to the Lotus Flower of the true dharma scripture. Always think of that scripture. That scripture says that when you think of that scripture, when you think of that scripture, Buddha is born. Buddha goes to day care. Buddha leaves home. Buddha attains enlightenment. Buddha teaches the dharma, and Buddha enters into perfect nirvana, when you think of the Lotus Sutra. The Lotus Sutra tells you that. But it also means that when you think of the Lotus Sutra. Rather than when you think of the Lotus Sutra so you can be Buddha going to day care. So you say Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, but you notice, Did I try to get something out of that? And, of course, the people who do that practice..some of them notice that they are trying to get something from that practice! But the practice is the same practice. There are monastic and ay Nicheren practitioners. There are strict monastic practitioners and lay practitioners, but they have the same practice.. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. In fact, on the street, people are trying to get people to practice on the street, and they tell the people, when people are walking by, they say, Do you want a new car? They actually say that if you do this practice, you can get whatever you want. You can be a movie star. You can get a girlfriend or boyfriend. You can rich. They actually tell people that. I have seen them do it. In other words, they catch peoples’ gaining idea, and they say, Here, use this. I think that if they get people to do it, then the people will do it, and they will notice that they do this, and they will notice their gaining idea. They’ll see, Oh, I’m doing this to gain something. And then they notice, I’m not getting what they say I will get. I’m getting something different. What I am getting I noticing that I am trying to get something. So I think I will stop this practice and do something else. But if you keep doing it, you will stop trying to get something from saying Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. Anything that you do that helps you notice that you are trying to get something from your life, and you keep doing it, and you keep noticing it, doing the thing which shows you your gaining idea, and the noticing the gaining idea, and continuing to do it, and continuing to do it, and you notice it, you will become Buddha. If you just say Lotus Sutra – you don’t even need to say Namu Myoho Renge Kyo – or just say Buddha, or just say compassion. All these are possible except one thing. One little catch is it looks like somebody has to give it to you. Now that might be a trick for a priest to have a job, but, anyway, it has been said for quite a long time that you don’t just pick it yourself, you ask somebody for it, and they give it to you. There are a lot of difficulties around that, because if you ask somebody for it, they can help you, if by any chance, you think you are not trying to get something out of it. They may help you notice that you are.
Some people say, Everybody is trying to get something, so I am going to start by saying, “Hey, you want to get something? Here.” The it would be easy to say, Are you trying to get something? Of course. You asked me if I was. I just wanted to check and see if that is what you were doing it for. Are you still trying to get something? Yes, yes, yes, yes. And eventually, I don’t know. Maybe. So, again, it can be anything, but you need to do it with somebody else. Because this whole program is doing something with somebody else. The somebody else you are doing it with is complete, perfect enlightenment. This whole thing is about doing something with complete, perfect enlightenment. You are not by yourself. You are not doing this practice alone. You don’t chose it by yourself. You chose it because you have a relationship with the thing that you want to realize. You want to realize complete, perfect enlightenment for the welfare of all beings, and that is what you are in relationship with. That will help you realize how deeply you don’t believe that; therefore, you do things that follow from not believing it. If you notice the things you do from not believing it, you’ll drop them, and then you will believe it. Aspiration, generosity, ethics, and I am focusing on the first of the three type of ethics tonight. I encourage you to look at this, and starting now for a little bit, but next week, if you want to, bring me what you discovered about this practice. I told you a little bit about what I discovered. Now you can tell me, and we can try to work out the difficulties. Is there anything you wish to say in the remaining time? Q: When your daughter and her mother re-united, they had difficulty attuning to the new people. How did you support that? Did you wave your arms and say, Hey, you guys! You are new people now, or did you just stand there and watch? What did you do? A: I just watched. I knew that they had to go through that. It’s like when the orchestra gets together, and they make those funny sounds? Except this is a much more intense thing than getting ready to play. I knew it would take them a long time. Actually, I stood in awe. I witnessed it in awe, because they really love each other, and it is really hard not to try to get a hold of the person you love. So they loved each other so much, that they were tempted to make the other person into something that wasn’t so mysterious and awesome. They gradually adapted. They adjusted to reality, and then they got more and more peaceful. Then they go to sleep and wake up in the morning, and it is another day! Another day of, Who is this? We worked really hard and we got attuned, and now that is all over. Now it is another person. We don’t have to go back to the beginning, do we? It’s not like starting all over. Couldn’t we get advance credit for all the work we did yesterday? You do, in a way. You can remember, There was a lot of work yesterday, so I guess it might be as much work today, even more! Rather than every day being a little bit easier. Maybe. But maybe the easier is everyday realizing that I don’t expect it to be easier. Being open to everyday being harder than yesterday. Taking longer. Taking longer might mean going deeper. Now I am trying to get something. And so on. Are we up for how vast the enlightened mind is? If that is what we are talking about, then maybe starting from scratch every day would be appropriate, if it is that big a deal. There are some people who really want to practice enlightenment. Oh yeah, it’s really set up. We can work on it together, but, actually, maybe later. I often tell the story that I went way outof my way to study with a certain Zen master, and then I had the opportunity to be with him. Sometimes he would say, like, I’m here for you. I would say, Great! I don’t want to take up your time. So, yes. I watched, because they really love each other. I must say that I feel a little bit left out sometimes. This mother-daughter thing is a special love thing. I have to go to past lives to check it out. I’m a little left out. That’s my struggle. Oh, geez. I wish I had something like that. It’s so intense and so horrible. I wish I had something like that. [Laughter] I supported them. I held them together, to create a space where they would have this intensity, and my presence supported their process. I feel like I did serve that purpose.