The Seeds and Fruits of True Awakening

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The Seeds and Fruits of True Awakening

March 22, 2012 at The Yoga Room
Part two of a seven part series based on the Six Paramitas

AI Summary: 



Transcribed by Barbara Byrum


In our first class, mainly I talked about aspiration, I think. I left the class towards the end with the kind of encouragement to contemplate what your aspiration or what aspiration is, living in your life. What’s the big wish of this life? I had a big wish that you would wonder about that. I still have a big wish that you would wonder about that, and that would become clear to you, what the big wish of your life is. If I had the big wish of enlightenment being realized in this world that would include the wish that beings would have that wish. Beings having the wish for enlightenment is…concerning Buddha’s enlightenment is fundamental and necessary. Enlightenment is the fruit of this wish for itself. The Buddha’s enlightenment is helping others with the understanding that others are who we really are. It is the kind of helping that goes with the understanding that others are not separate from us. There are other ways of helping that are not joined with that understanding. That’s not the Buddha’s enlightenment. The Buddha’s enlightenment is the kind of help that helps people in the context of that wisdom. So it is the kind of helping that not just helps people, not just benefits people, but will eventually liberate them, and not just liberate them, but initiate them into helping others in the same way that they were helped. The buddhas want to help people in any old way, but the central way, the most important way to help people, is to help people become helpful in the most helpful way. When I see and hear about the way this world looks to people, at that time, the world kind of looks that way to me. When people tell me the stories that they have about the world, I often kind of see the world the way they do. People tell me stories about how horrible the world is, and they tell me stories about how unhelpful some human beings are to each other, to animals, to plants. So I hear a lot of stories, and I hear about problems which almost seem like, How could it ever, how could we ever do anything with such a terrible situation? At that time, I often do not have any bright ideas. But I do have a wish, still, often. I still wish that enlightenment could be realized right now, and I also understand for that to happen, I have to wish it, or that has to be the wish. And there is the wish. So that part is good. Also, I understand that for this wish to come to fruition, for this wish to be realized, I have the understanding, which I am happy about, I am happy to have the understanding, that there is not only a seed, a wish to realize enlightenment in this world now and now and now, but, also, there are practices which take care of that wish, and bring that wish to the point of supporting the entry into reality, a reality which does not deny the stories, does not deny the unhappy stories, it just understands them as insubstantial, ungraspable. In that understanding, there is a liberation from those stories, without messing with them, without degrading them, like disparaging them, without saying they are stupid. That the stories are stupid is another story. While those stories are going on, while they are being witnessed, there is an understanding that they are actually insubstantial. There is liberation with them. Then, the practices, which take care of the wish, the aspiration for buddhahood, those practices are then engaged in more fully than before the entry into the understanding. Then those practices continue to care for this wish, and continue to bring it into full realization, as the best understanding, the most helpful possible understanding, the most helpful possible wisdom in the world, as it stands, as it sits, as it is, for the moment. Then the job is done, and then buddhahood just keeps working and working on living beings, stimulating them, somehow, to give rise to this wish, then stimulating them to hear the teachings of how to take care of this wish. Then they take care of the wish, and enter reality, and they continue to take care of the wish, and then they join buddhahood, and then, again, they join the process of stimulating living beings, somehow, to give rise to this aspiration, take care of it, enter reality, and take care of it beyond entering into reality to buddhahood, and so on. That’s the picture of this class. That’s the story of this class. I wish that this story will come true. The practices that take care of this wish, and bring it to the point where the wish gives rise to a wisdom, which is able to enter reality, those practices are called the six bodhisattva training methods, the six basic bodhisattva precepts, the six basic bodhisattva practices. They are also called The Six Perfections. They are six perfect practices. They are six perfected practices. They are six perfecting practices. These six practices are called giving, ethical discipline, patience, courageous effort, concentration, and wisdom. Those six practices take care of the wish that Buddha will be realized, and that everybody will join in that realization. That Buddha will be realized, in order to help everybody become most peaceful and happy way possible, now. That process will go on until everybody is participating in it. That wish is protected and developed by these six practices. They cause the entry into reality, and then after entry into reality, after initial awakening, those six practices are continued, but now more effectively than before, now with the correct understanding of what they are. So that is a basic picture that I offer you, basic picture for this class. Any questions about that basic picture, or the innumerable implications of it? Questions you might have about it? Q: (inaudible) A: Good idea! One, two, three: giving, ethical discipline, patience, heroic effort, concentration, wisdom. All these six are actually the ethical practices of someone who wishes to realize buddhahood, because if you wish to realize buddhahood, you have an ethical responsibility to realize buddhahood. Does that make sense? If you commit to realize buddhahood for the welfare of this world, then you have an ethical discipline to follow through on it, and these six practices are what you do to realize buddhahood. The second one is called ethics, but they are all included in the ethical responsibility of one who wishes to realize buddhahood. Q: (inaudible) A: Did you hear what he said? He said that there are some stories about people, who the story is they had no training, and somehow they had awakening. So, for example, the Sixth Ancestor of the Zen tradition in China, was walking through the marketplace in Guangdong, which used to be called Canton, was walking through the marketplace in the late seventh century, and he walked by a fortune telling booth, or something like that, and the person in the booth was reciting the Diamond Sutra, and when he got to section 10-C, he said that a bodhisattva – in other words, somebody who is aspiring to realize buddhahood for the welfare of the world – a bodhisattva should give rise to a mind that has no attachment or no abode. When he heard that, I think, he – as I understand the stories – entered reality when he heard that. When he heard that, he entered reality. He is saying that the story is that he had no training before he heard that. But I never heard the story that he had no training. All I heard was that he was a young man selling wood in the marketplace, and he heard that. But I never heard that he wasn’t trained. The bodhisattva teaching is that when somebody hears the teaching like that – the story I heard is that he heard it. Somebody who hears that teaching and enters reality – well, other people were in the marketplace. This guy was chanting there, and other people were walking by. Did they hear it? Well, they heard it, but they didn’t hear it in such a way that they entered reality. He did. In the background of what I am saying to you is a teaching from India, coming from a bodhisattva named Asanga, who lived about 200 years before the Sixth Ancestor did, in India. He had a friend named Maitreya Buddha, who was his teacher. Anyway, Asanga now is teaching us that the people who enter reality are the people who hear a lot. In other words, listen to the teaching a lot.So, according to that, this bodhisattva who became the Sixth Ancestor had been listening to that teaching a lot. It doesn’t say that a sentient being the first time they hear this teaching – for example, about what a bodhisattva is like – the first time they hear it, they go from believing that these things can be grasped, and they hear the teaching not to grasp things, and as soon as they hear it, they stop. They have to hear it over and over. The Mahayana teaching, the teaching for bodhisattvas, says that the people who can hear this teaching – that there is nothing to grasp in this world – enter reality and save the world, like the Sixth Ancestor did, are people who will listen to that teaching a lot! When you listen to this teaching, just as you’re listening now, when you listen to this teaching, your body and mind are transformed by listening. But the people who actually hear the teaching and enter are the people who have done a great deal of listening. The story of the Sixth Ancestor does not say that he did not train before he heard this. It just tells us: here he was, a lay person selling firewood, he heard the teaching. Mahayana teachings say that somebody who can hear the teaching that deeply has been listening to it for a long time. But I don’t know the story of his listening career, and I don’t know Ramana Maharshi’s story – maybe they do say he had no training. We also have a story of Shakyamuni Buddha, right? What about him? Did he hear these teachings before he discovered them? The historical Buddha did not say that when he awoke, that he hadn’t been studying for a long time. He told us that he studied with other buddhas before, and he listened to their teachings before. One of them said, You are going to be a buddha, and your name is going to be Shakyamuni. So our historical Buddha told us that he studied with buddhas in the past, and he listened to their teaching in the past, and he had lots of enlightenment experiences with those previous buddhas, but his enlightenment experiences were the ones that where he entered. The Sixth Ancestor, also, when he heard that teaching and he entered, he was still not a Zen master. He was pretty good, but the person who was reciting this told him that if he wanted to know more about this, there was a person up in northern China that could teach him. He knew enough to know that he needed more training. He didn’t think, I had no training, and now I am going to start training. He knew that he needed more training, so he travelled north to receive more training from the so-called Fifth Ancestor. Again, the story that I’ve heard is that on the way, the Sixth Ancestor, who heard this teaching and awoke in the marketplace, on the way he met a nun in a temple. He talked to her, and he realized that he was awakened. She asked him to give talks, or to give a talk at the monastery. He gave a talk, and the people appreciated it, so they asked him to give another one, so he gave another one, and pretty soon, there was a huge congregation listening to his talks. But the person who was giving the talks was on his way to study with his teacher. So he finally realized, Wait a minute. Here I am stopping. Now I have this huge congregation of students, but, actually, I need more training before I am a teacher. So he said, Sorry, folks. I hope you enjoyed the show. I have to go. I really have to go. (Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) He is moving on up north. He goes to see the Fifth Ancestor and gets more training, and then after he becomes the successor of the Fifth Ancestor, the Fifth Ancestor says, Okay, get out of here now and do not teach for a long time. Go hide. You are not ready to teach. So then he continues to train after he becomes successor and receives this responsibility and this authority. He still has to mature more before he can come out and do the responsibility of teaching. So, from the time he awoke until he started to teach was a long training period. The first part of it was relatively short. In other words, the time from when he heard it until he walked to his teacher, and the time he spent with his teacher; he only spent eight months with his teacher, but the time from there until he started teaching himself was sixteen years. He trained for about seventeen years from the time he awoke before he became the Sixth Ancestor. How long did he train before? I do not know the story about that, but I am saying to you, if anybody here didn’t wake up tonight, don’t worry. All you have to do is do a lot more listening. The people who enter reality are those who listen to the teaching a great deal. When your mind, your karmic mind, when my karmic mind thinks about things like stillness, rather than thinks about things like gain and loss – the karmic mind is a mind that has a shape, and the shape of the mind is the karma of the moment. When the shape of the mind is the shape of the teaching, there’s the consequence of the mind that is shaped like the teaching, and the consequence is the unconscious mind, which supports the conscious, karmic mind. The unconscious mind then supports the arising of another conscious mind, which has a better chance of shaping itself around listening to the teaching. If it does, the consequence of that is that the unconscious mind is again transformed and transformed and transformed, until there is more and more conscious mind that is like coral, or something, like looking for the sunlight, just ready for the dharma. Is there any dharma around here? I want to listen to the dharma. So, that is what I would say about those stories. If you just look at the historical Shakyamuni Buddha and don’t listen to what he said, it looks like he only had one life. But the Buddha and Suzuki Roshi and so one would say that, If you think that Shakyamuni Buddha is the only buddha, then you don’t understand Shakyamuni Buddha. Shakyamuni Buddha was preceded by other buddhas and studied with other buddhas, that’s what Shakyamuni said. So, again, I don’t know the story of who the Sixth Ancestor studied with before he was this wonderful guy, walking through the marketplace. I don’t know his story before that. However, his teacher, the Fifth Ancestor, there is a story about him, an amazing story. Want to hear it? The Sixth Ancestor’s teacher, the Fifth Ancestor, was a Buddhist priest. Once upon a time, there was a man in China, before there was a Fifth Ancestor, there was a man walking around China, and that man met somebody who was called the Fourth Ancestor. Are you following it? So before the Fifth Ancestor, there was the Fourth Ancestor. There was a man in China who met the Fourth Ancestor and said to the Fourth Ancestor, Please let me be your student. The Fourth Ancestor said, You’re too old. Get a new body, and you can be my student. So the man went down to the river nearby, and that is the last we hear of him, and there was a young woman down by the river. When she came up from the river, shortly after that she found out she was pregnant, and she didn’t know how she got pregnant. Her parents were very upset with her, because here she was pregnant, and she wasn’t married, and they weren’t nice to her. So here she was pregnant, so she had this baby, and she was kind of ostracized and rejected from her family. She had this baby, she had a hard time, she’s walking along the road in China, and she runs into the Fourth Ancestor. The Fourth Ancestor says, Would you like me to take that boy off your hands? She said, As a matter of fact, I would. And so she gave him her son, and that boy became the Fifth Ancestor. Now, when you go to the Fifth Ancestor’s temple in China, there’s a big building there, which is called something like The Great Mother Hall, dedicated to this woman, who performed the service of making The Fifth Ancestor. There are stories like that, but there is not a story about what The Sixth Ancestor was up to, before he this guy walking around the marketplace. If I have the aspiration…if there is an aspiration to realize buddhahood for the welfare of this world, if there is an aspiration to help people in this world, be at peace with this world, and then help others be at peace with this world…it isn’t like I aspire to be at peace with this world, with all these terrible stories, I aspire to be at peace with it and happy with it, and everybody else continues to be miserable with it. That’s not what I aspire to. I aspire to work for the thing that will make everybody be happy with this world, or in this world. I aspire to realize buddhahood so that everybody can find peace and happiness in this world, not waiting for it to get fixed before they get happy, but waiting to be happy and at peace, so they can help others be happy and at peace. If everybody is happy and at peace, I don’t know about fixing the world. But maybe if some people were happy and at peace, maybe some things would get fixed. I really don’t know. Can we work on this before things get fixed? Because I just can’t figure out how they are going to get fixed, and it’s not very soon. But I can figure out that people could wake up and be happy right now, if they would just stop believing the way they think. I just said quite a bit. Any questions? Comments? Q: (inaudible) A: Well, that’s a difficult question, because it is a little bit tricky about calling people Zen masters. So and so is a Zen master, and blah blah. Who are we going to say is a Zen master? Q: (inaudible) A: I personally cannot figure out, I cannot see, I cannot understand how I could possibly be in a position to be able to be supported to think about the dharma so much. I can’t figure out how that happened. It makes sense to me that, I have a lot of background that makes it possible for my mind to be thinking about dharma a lot. When I became engaged to be married, my mother-in-law said this Chinese phrase, which means, He must have broken a lot of mokugyos… A mokugyo is a wooden fish, a wooden drum that people strike when they are chanting. So she said that I must have broken a lot of those to have the good fortune to marry the person that I married. They really don’t break, unless you work them quite a long time. She said that I must have broken quite a few. The Chinese expression for, You must have been a beautiful baby, because baby look at you now. Or You must have done a lot of good, because look how fortunate you are. So that’s a concept, but to see how many mokugyos have been broken…I can’t see it, actually. I do not understand how I could be so fortunate to meet the people I have met, and to receive the encouragement I have received to study the dharma. For example, all of you are encouraging me to study all week, to listen to the dharma all week, so I can come and tell you how important it is to listen to the dharma all week. I don’t know how that comes to be the case that I am so fortunate. I don’t know how that works. I cannot see how it words. The teaching is that the ability to enter into the teaching is dependent on doing these practices, and the ability to do these practices comes from listening to these stories about the practices. When you hear these six practices, and you hear those, tonight we have listened to those practices. You have heard those practices. Your mind has been transformed, has been perfumed by your mind thinking about those practices. Also one would say, or even to be in this room, you must have done a lot of good things to be in this room. To be able to spend this evening in a quiet place…lots of causes and conditions make that possible, that you could have such a nice, quiet place to be in for a few hours. I can’t actually see how each of you have gotten to be so fortunate as you are to be here. Some people almost never have a chance to sit for half an hour quietly, and to hear that enlightenment is living in silence and stillness. That’s a very fortunate thing to hear, that you are hearing the Great Vehicle teachings. When you hear that, you are hearing the Great Vehicle teachings, and when you hear the Great Vehicle teachings, they are not separate from you, when you are hearing them. You can’t hear something that is separate from you. You are a person who is hearing, and your hearing is not something different. What you are hearing, and the action of hearing that you are going through right now, is not something in addition to who you are. It is not like there is you and there is your hearing. You are hearing. You are a hearer. What you are hearing is not separate from your hearing. When you hear these teachings, you are these teachings. When you hear the Six Perfections, I am not saying you are the Six Perfections, but you are the hearing of the teaching of the Six Perfections. When you are the hearing of the teaching of the Six Perfections, then there is the possibility that you will practice them, because you are the hearing of them. If you look at the hearing of them, you will realize wisdom. In the hearing of them is reality. It’s the reality that there’s not the teacher and the teaching and you. When you hear the teachings, the teacher is not separate from you, and the teaching is not separate from you. If you hear that over and over, you have realized wisdom. At that time, your aspiration is nicely protected. Q: You said earlier that the mind has that shape of the karmic moment. A: Yes, the shape of the mind, in a given moment, the shape of your mind is actually the definition of the karma at that moment. Technically speaking, the historical Buddha defined “karma,” he used a Sanskrit word, and he used another Sanskrit word cetana. Centana means “the shape of your mind in a given moment.” Cetana is often translated as “intention or will or volition.” So if you look at your mind, in your mind there is some tendency. Just before I started talking, I looked in my mind, and I noticed there was a tendency to want to tell you that there was a tendency. I looked in my mind and saw an intention to speak, and I stopped before I spoke, because I was intending to tell you later of what I just told you. What I told you was that I looked in my mind and saw the intention to speak, but I paused so that it would be easier for you to understand that I actually looked in my mind, saw an intention, the shape of my mind was that it intended that it wanted to tell you something about the definition of karma. So I actually did an example of looking in my mind. Reflecting on the shape of my mind, I saw that intention. That intention is the karma of that moment. Then I expressed that intention verbally. That verbal expression was a physical ramification of the mental karma. It was physical karma, vocal karma to reflect the mental karma. Karma is always cognitive, but there are three kinds of cognitive action. One is mental cognitive action; one is verbal cognitive action; and one is postural cognitive action. They all have shapes. The shape is the definition of karma. Then the karma is wholesome, unwholesome, or neutral. Neutral means that you can’t tell whether it is wholesome or unwholesome. I, in this case, thought that those intentions were wholesome, because I felt pretty clear that I wanted to make something clear to you. I wanted to help you understand this, so I thought, I’m looking, I think this a pretty wholesome intention. There wasn’t much trace...I really didn’t see any ill will toward any of you there. But sometimes when you look in your mind, you might actually find ill will, which means ill intention, which means ill volition. That you actually look in your mind, and can actually think, Oh, I would like that person to not do too well. For example, if you were in a race, you might actually wish the other person not to do very well. That would be called an “unskillful action.” Those kinds of actions, generally speaking – you can’t say for sure – look kind of unskillful, and they will probably make you unhappy soon…or later. But we don’t know exactly how it works. We hear from the Buddha to watch out for ill will. In other words, watch out for minds that have the shape of wishing somebody to not be happy. Or wishing somebody to be sick. That’s ill will, and that is a shape that your mind could have. Most of you may have occasionally seen that in your lifetime. You have certainly heard about it: someone actually wishes for someone to be sick. That’s ill will. A mind shaped like that is a karmic consciousness that has that shape, and we usually call that unskillful, because ill will really does usually cause – we don’t know exactly how; Buddha knows how – it causes suffering, especially to the person who has a mind shaped like that. Shaped toward, I wish this person would be sick. Rather than, I wish this person would be happy. I wish this person would be at ease. That’s another shape. Then there is the mind that thinks, I wish this person would be happy, but there is another feeling, which says, That really wasn’t that sincere. You could have that thought and think, I really wasn’t so whole-hearted about it. I said it, but, a little bit, I hope that are not too well. Or, I rather have somebody else be as well as I just wished she would be. Or something like that. In that case, you can actually look in your mind and see this, and what you are looking at is the shape of your mind. You can also, when you are thinking of a teaching, like, I would like to practice giving, just to think of giving your mind is in that shape, and your mind is now in the shape of a practice, which is conducive to awakening and benefitting all beings. Then, in addition to thinking of the shape of giving, to think, I really like the practice [of] giving that enhances the shape, and makes it more receptive and in accord with that which will protect and develop this wish. I’ll stop there and see if you have any questions. Q: Could you say something about dependent co-arising and karmic formations? [remainder of question inaudible] A: Could you say a little more? So you are in prison, and people are telling you about their minds now in prison? Stories about the past? Do you want to give an example? Q: They were talking about violence and young kids, and how they used violence to survive. A: Okay, so you have a karmic consciousness, and it thinks – this is a common story – I must be violent, otherwise I won’t be able to survive here in the street. That’s a karmic thought. These people told you that they remember that they had thoughts like that. Okay, now what’s your question? Q: It seems that there was an environment that supported that. It was not like a karmic production, or something like that. It was coming to be in this particular context. A: Right. So, like I said, How did I get to be so fortunate to be in a situation like this, where none of you are wishing that I would think that I need to be violent in order to survive. Right? None of you are wising for that, probably. I guessed that. None of you want me to think, If I’m not violent, I probably won’t survive the night. So I am in a situation where everybody is supporting me not just to think violent thoughts, but you probably all want me to think nonviolent thoughts, I imagine. If I would do anything violent, you probably would have lots of questions for me about what’s going on. I imagine that. So I think, How could I be so fortunate to have things supporting me to think of nonviolence? So then you wonder how does it happen that somebody gets in a situation where everybody seems to be saying to them, If you’re not violent, people will attack you. Kids say to each other, If you don’t come on as tough, people will think you are weak, and they will attack you. They tell that to each other. So you wonder how does a person get in a position where people are talking to them like that and making it so hard for them to dare to think a nonviolent thought? Because they think, If I think it, these people tell me that they will attack me, that I’ll look weak. Then thinking that thought, I will get hurt. How does a person get in that situation? What did I say about being in the situation where you all supported me? What did I say? I said I do not know how I got in such a good position. I do not know what training led me to be in a position where you all are supporting me to think of nonviolence as the way to go. You are all supporting me to think, If I think nonviolent thoughts, I won’t necessarily get beat up tonight. But, you are also not telling me that if I think nonviolent thoughts that I won’t get beat up tonight. You aren’t telling me that, are you? Because you don’t know. I might get beat up, but you are not telling me that I would be a fool, if I wasn’t thinking of violence all the time. You are not telling me that. I do not know how I got in this position. I don’t know how other people get in the position where other people are saying to them, You must be aggressive. You must not show people the slightest weakness. I don’t know how to get in that position. But I do know that some of those people will live in those neighborhoods, something happens to them, and they change. They dare to be vulnerable. I know that there are those stories, too. They live in the neighborhoods where they were told when they were kids, If you show weakness, you will be attacked. They listen to that, and they showed toughness. How were they fortunate enough to see that what happens when they acted tough, and when they got in trouble. How did they come to learn that? But now, after going through that course of, Be tough, otherwise you won’t survive, they were tough, and they did survive, and somehow, at some point, they got to a place, where somehow they thought, I’m not going to be tough. I am going to dare to be vulnerable. How did that opening happen that they dared, in the same environment where they heard these stories all these years, and they were tough all these years, what happened that they somehow tried something different? And then when they tried something different, they thought, This is what I am in life for. I am not here to beat people up, so that I can survive. I tried that, and I did survive, and here I am alive. I was mean to people, and I just tried something really different, and I thought, this is what I am here for. How could they be so lucky as to make that turn? I don’t know. But when they make the turn, then they make the turn, and it’s not that they never turn back the other way and say, That was foolish. That story in Les Miserables, where this nice guy steals something and gets put in prison, where if you show your weakness, if you show your goodness, you get attacked. He got tougher and tougher and tougher, and then he escaped from prison, and then he met this priest. Then he stole stuff from the priest…do you know that story? So he stole the stuff from the priest. He was a mean guy. He got mean. How did he get mean? By being in prison, and if you showed any goodness, this prison warden saw this goodness, and he attacked him. Just like people say, You show your goodness, you get attacked. Who did he get attacked by? He got attacked by somebody who doesn’t dare to be good, who thinks that they’ll get attacked. They see you and they do what they’re not allowed to do. He got attacked and attacked, and he got harder and harder, and he escaped from prison. He was running around, looking for help, and he met a priest – actually a bishop. The guy took him in, and when the bishop left the room, he stole the bishop’s either the candlesticks or the plates. He ran away. Do you know the story? It’s in Being Upright. I haven’t read it either. [Laughter] Anyway, he stole these silver candlesticks, and the police caught him, and they brought him back to the church, and they said, We caught this thief with your candlesticks, and the priest said, I gave them to him. Then the police said, Okay, and they left. The he said, You didn’t give those to me. I stole them. He said, I gave them to you, and here are some silver plates, too. Then he snapped. How did he get so lucky to run into that priest? I don’t know! These stories are saying that only Buddha can see how people get in these situations where people are telling them, If you are not violent, you are going to perish. I don’t know how they get in that position. However, we are being told that somebody has to come and help them; otherwise, they will just keep spinning around there forever. How they got spinning around there, I don’t know, but somebody has to go there and say, I gave you the candlesticks. Somebody has to show the person that vulnerability is the natural state of affairs, and if you admit it, you can open to the beauty of this life. Somebody has to go and show this person. If somebody shows them, they can turn around and wake up. How did they get in the situation in the first place? The Buddha says, Do not try figure it out. He doesn’t say, Okay, I will tell you, but after I tell you, don’t spend any more time figuring it out. You have the next situation. Do not put your energy into that. Put your energy into your aspiration and what do you aspire to? [and one says] Oh, I aspire not just to be nonviolent in this neighborhood where everybody is violent. I aspire to teach everybody in this neighborhood nonviolence. How am I going to think that? Somebody is going to have to walk up to me and show me how cool that is. Without that, I am not going to think of it. Just like that guy – the priest had to show him. Whenever this aspiration arises, the only way that this aspiration can arise is because we hear it. Somebody has to say it to us. Our karmic consciousness, which has been doing this normal stuff, being selfish, and so on, does not think of this. It does not think of it. It happens because somebody talks to us, and we hear it. How do we get to hear it? Somebody talks to us. In another way and we hear it. How do we get to hear that? Somebody talks to us in another way, we hear it. And gradually we start to open to more and more outrageous stories. This woman of whom I heard lives in the streets and helps in the streets, who was one of the tough kids, and she was in gangs, she said, I did what was necessary. Somehow somebody talked to her. Somebody got through to her, and now she gets through to the other girls. She shows them that the path of nonviolence is somehow cooler than the path of violence, is somehow more beautiful. So, I aspire to realize nonviolence in such a way, so thoroughly, that other people would actually open to nonviolence. I do not know how people get in a position where they are not open to hear that yet. I do not know why the other people in the marketplace did not hear it, and the Sixth Ancestor did. I just know that the story is that he heard it, and then he was this great person for many thousands of people, because he heard it. I aspire to work toward that type of realization, not for myself, not as myself, but to have that kind of realization in this world. There was a person in these classes in the past, one of the people in the past classes here, who taught and teaches poetry in prisons in California, and she also teaches poetry to the kids in Richmond and Berkeley. One of her students in prison, she decided that she wanted to be married to him. So she married him, and she is married to him. So her husband is a prisoner, and she visits him in prison. She is his wife. They have a marriage, and he’s in prison. I told the story many times. Here it is again. She said to him, When you were doing those things that led you to prison, could anyone have stopped you? And he said, No. I had to do those things. She said, Did people try to stop you? What would have helped you? He said, What would have helped me would have been if somebody loved me. So, if someone loves us, it doesn’t mean that we’re not going to make mistakes. It just means that if somebody shows us love, when we do make mistakes, we have a way to learn. Like we’re violent, and somebody showed us love, so we can say, Oh, there is another option. I think I’ll try that next time. Matter of fact, I think I will try that from now on. However, I probably won’t be able to do it from now on, because I have a habit of violence. But that’s the way I want to go. I know this violent path, I don’t want to do it anymore, but I probably will, but I want to learn this new one. Somebody showed me that. I want to try it. But I don’t know. If you do this path long enough, you will enter into the space where you understand how this all works, you can see how it all works, but you won’t necessarily go around telling people how it works. You tell them they can get in a position to see how it works. In other words, you teach them how to be a buddha. When you are a buddha, you can see how it works. Before that, you should focus not on figuring it out, but how to get into a position where you will be able to see it, where you won’t have to figure it out, even. You just see it. In other words, you will aspire to know whatever will be helpful to people. How do you do that? You have to want to. You have to actually want, to devote yourself, to the best possible thing for all beings, and then you have to do the practices to take care of that. You will eventually know how all that works, and that will be one of the facets of your realization. It’s not the most important one. The most important one – that gives you confidence, because This is really the way to go. I can see how it works that way. The thing that is important is that you be able to get people to practice. That’s what the buddhas can do. And not just buddhas. Lesser beings can encourage people. Q: [ this was a long comment, only partially audible, about women in prison learning to listen to each other.] A: Any other responses, questions? Q: inaudible A: Yes, the story is about one of these “women interrupters.” [note by bab: The men and women, known as "violence interrupters," work with an organization called CeaseFire.] She was a tough cookie. She was a gang girl. Now she is an interrupter. Now she dares to be vulnerable, in a skillful way, you know? In a way that will encourage nonviolence. There was a documentary about it, and Teri Gross was interviewing the people who made the film, plus this leading example, this woman. Q: I people who are committing violence are the most vulnerable. A: People who are committing violence are the most vulnerable? You may be right, but I kinda think that everybody is vulnerable. I think that the key to nonviolence is to witness vulnerability. The more you can witness vulnerability, the more you can respond nonviolently. I propose that. Martial artists are really good at witnessing vulnerability. They can really relax with it. Q: Reflecting on what makes a shift from one situation to another situation, from the way he has been living as a gang member to opening to the light. I am thinking of a young man, who it seemed he really identified himself with his thoughts. He had a lot of violent thinking going on. And they thought they were that, so they were very…they couldn’t see any other self. I kept thinking during that time, I wish, you know, somebody help them reflect on their thinking. And just that simple act, that you are not your story, and you are not your situation. A: Okay, I heard you, I think. Now I have a different view. I think we are what we are thinking. I don’t think there is me and what I’m thinking. I don’t say that I identify with my thinking. That is too dualistic. All I am is a karmic being is my thinking. What is helpful is not somebody to come in and fix me, but to witness me. And then in that witnessing, the person might say something like, This is what I witness, and I think you can do something better than that. Like somebody witnessed me when I was a boy, witnessed me enjoying being a naughty boy, and then he told me how he was a naughty boy, when he was a boy. Then he said to me, You know, it’s easy to be a naughty boy. What’s hard is to be a good boy. He wasn’t trying to fix me. He was just trying to challenge me with something more interesting. Q: inaudible A: I am not telling you so much that you are that. It’s not like there is you and your unwholesome thoughts. You are not other than it. If you wish to realize buddhahood for the welfare of all beings, then what do we do with such a thought? What do we do? Q: observe it. A: Yes, but what practice do we do after observing it? If we’ve noticed that it is unwholesome, what do we practice? We have this unwholesome mind, and we also have this wish. Got the wish. Now unwholesome mind comes to visit. I wish for buddhahood for the welfare of all beings. Now an unwholesome guest has come, which could be called “my mind.” Or, it could just be called an “unwholesome mind.” Or called “me,” “unwholesome me.” Because of this wish, I want to practice with this by being generous towards it. Otherwise, my wish will get derailed. I don’t want my wish to get derailed! I want to take care of this wish. I want to bring this wish to fruition, so I have to be kind to whatever nasty creatures show up – inwardly or outwardly. So practice giving. And then we move on to…ethics. Now I am going to practice ethics with this. I am going to be careful of it. I am going to keep my eye on it, because there even could be some faultiness in my giving. So I am going to check out the precepts in relationship to this difficult guest, and I want to be patient with it, because this guest is kind of painful. Ill will is painful. So I am going to do these practices, and now things have changed, and I’ll get another moment. But if I could do all those practices with that, there could be entry into reality, on the spot, with this ill will. It’s possible. We’d have liberation with the ill will. Then these practices, which I have done now with the ill will, there won’t be any ill will anymore, but with the next thing that comes, I will be more skillful with it. Any questions? Are you okay? Q: I’m not feeling well. A: So you are witnessing not feeling fine, and you are being compassionate towards not feeling fine. How are you being compassionate towards not being fine? Q: I’m loving myself. A: You’re loving not feeling fine. Just as you would love a little boy who wasn’t feeling fine. Right? Q: What is the function of immaculate conception? A: What do you mean by immaculate conception? Q: The woman goes down to the river and gets pregnant and doesn’t know how? A: I guess you just answered it. The point of immaculate conception is to make buddhas. [Laughter] Q: That has interesting implications. A: Among the interesting implications, which one are you referring to? [Laughter] Q: It seems to leave out…a father. A: It seems to leave out a father? The father in this story was the Fourth Ancestor. He’s the father. Q: He goes to the river, and you don’t see him again? The man you don’t see again is the boy. The man who went down to the river, he winds up in the womb of the woman by the river. He’s not the father. He’s the boy. The father is the Fourth Ancestor. But he doesn’t have sex with the girl. My story tonight is immaculate conception. But the Sixth Ancestor also became a buddha, but he wasn’t by immaculate conception. He had a regular father and a regular mother. Q: If you can’t answer this question sufficiently, I am going to have to change traditions again. A: To what? [Laughter]