Settle Down Right Here: Direct Realization

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

AI Summary: 



So it's February now and I thought I might kind of review the last year or so of teaching. Many of you have been here for almost all of it or parts of it. to repeat the kind of a history of the teaching for the last year or so. It's partly so that we have a shared sense of where we've been, and where we are, and maybe where we're going. And also for some of you, what I say will be familiar, but my feeling is repeating it, it will sink in and you will have the view of the teaching as a resource in your body.


Every time you listen to a teaching in your conscious mind, it transforms your unconscious mind and your body transforms your unconscious cognitive processes and transforms the neurological basis for those cognitions. So we go over and over. And what I just said is another teaching to repeat. Also, I see that, welcome, June. Welcome, Jack. So there's about a hundred people here today from around the United States and Canada and Europe. And last year in January, we had an online


January intensive, where we focused on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. And following the Lotus Sutra, most of the year, the rest of 2021, we were focused in most of our meetings on great compassion. and also other kinds of compassion that are not so great. Great compassion is infinite and equal to all beings, but there's other kinds of compassion which are more limited and not equal to all beings. We looked at all those kinds of compassion for the rest of the year. And Then in January of this year, we had another January intensive and this one was in person.


People came and several of you in this assembly right now came to Green Gulch and we did a three week intensive meditation retreat. And so with this background, we go forward for the rest of 2022. and we'll see where we go. In the January intensive, there were two online, what do you call it, live streams. I spoke with the assembly that were here in person on two Sundays and these talks were live streamed and some of you came to those talks. At the beginning of the January intensive, I somewhat abruptly introduced a teaching which is titled, Direct Realization of the Buddha Way.


Another title for this teaching that I offered at the beginning of the intensive and throughout the intensive, and which I offer now too, is right here, settle down. Or immediately, hit the mark. or immediately receive a hit. The mark is the Buddha way. And I spoke about immediately hitting the mark of the Buddha way, immediately being hit by the mark of the Buddha way, by being touched by the Buddha way. So this is, again, the teaching about realizing the Buddha way, realizing great compassion, realizing the Buddha's great compassion, realizing Buddha's great wisdom directly, immediately, right here.


And I'm saying right here, right here, and you're hearing I guess the words right here, right here. Each of us is right here. And right here, we can, we directly realize the way and the direct realization of the way must be right here. Maybe there are indirect ways, but I was speaking about a direct way right here. And again, many of you listened to and discussed these teachings in January. Now I'm bringing it up for this whole assembly. In the chat we did, or you listened and maybe you spoke at a moment ago, I read, although our past evil karma has greatly accumulated, indeed being the cause and condition of obstacles in practicing the way,


For me, these obstacles are opportunities. They're not just obstacles, they're opportunities. And for me, suffering, affliction, pain is omnipresent. And I aspire to accept omnipresent affliction, omnipresent suffering. I aspire to accept it and I aspire to accept that it is omnipresent.


I aspire to accept each, and I aspire to accept that each is an opportunity to become Buddha. I mean, I aspire to that. So the direct realization of the Buddha way, right here, is through nothing other than what's going on right here.


The direct realization of the Buddha way is none other than accepting our current afflictions and the current afflictions of everyone we live with. immediately realizing great compassion without trying to change our body and mind into some other body and mind. Right now, with this body and mind, through this body and mind, by this body and mind, and for this body and mind, and for the bodies and minds of others without trying to change this body and mind into another body and mind.


We might think that in order to become awake and free and at peace, we need to change this body and mind into another one. And if we think that, that's a body and mind. And the direct path is to realize that with this body and mind without trying to change it into another one. And then to accept and work with this body and mind, of course, involves compassion. So this omnipresent suffering is omnipresent opportunities for great compassion. So great compassion helps us settle down right here,


And great compassion helps us directly realize the way right here. And realizing the way gives great compassion. So great compassion takes us to the direct realization, and direct realization expresses great compassion. And now I'd like to introduce, something which might be controversial or anyway provocative. I meet people who want to reduce the suffering in this world and of course I wish to practice compassion with the people who want to reduce suffering in this world.


I wish to meet the person who is wishing to and trying to reduce suffering in this world. I am not opposed. I support I aspire to support all beings who wish to reduce suffering in this world. But for me, the Buddha way is working with this body, this mind. It's working with your body and your mind. It's you working with your body and your mind and me working with you, working with your body and mind, and you working with me, working with my body and mind. For me, that's the Buddha way, is to work with this body and mind and directly realize freedom and peace in the midst of suffering.


Suffering may seem to be decreased sometimes, and other times it may seem to increase. Looking at the history of the last 2,500 years on this planet, I don't know if the amount of suffering has been reduced. I don't know. Maybe it has. But it seems like even if it has been reduced, it's still very great and vast, the amount of suffering. If Buddhism was about reducing suffering in the world, then you might question whether it's been successful. But for me, Buddhism is not. against reduced suffering. It's about becoming free and freeing beings from suffering. It's about freedom and peace in the world of suffering.


It's not about reducing the world of suffering. And in the world of suffering are lots of people, humans and non-humans, who are endeavoring to reduce suffering. And Buddhism embraces all beings who are trying to reduce suffering to help them become free of suffering and become free of our current suffering, not free later with some lesser suffering, free with this suffering and this suffering and this suffering. If there's anybody who's trying to increase suffering, and some people are trying to at least increase other people's suffering, maybe you've heard about these people, they actually want some other people's sufferings to increase. They even, in a certain moment, maybe they don't always want other people's suffering to increase, but at a given moment, they may want someone's suffering to increase.


Have you ever seen that happen? I was watching a championship basketball game one time, and one of the best, one of the star players in the championship game was injured. And the audience who were supporting the other team cheered when this person was injured. They were happy. that this person tore his Achilles tendon. So not everybody all the time wants to increase other people's suffering, but sometimes people wanna increase it, but a lot of people wanna decrease it. And that's their effort. And because they're trying to decrease suffering, they are opportunities for compassion.


The direct realization is to practice compassion with them right now, the way they are right now, and for them to do the same with themselves. So one person maybe gives water to a thirsty person to reduce the person's thirst. Another person gives water to the person to liberate the person from thirst. I'm the latter type of person. I wish to give water to people so they will be free of thirst. Even before they drink the water. Even while they're drinking the water and after they're drinking the water. Because sometimes you drink water and you don't reduce the thirst. Sometimes you drink the water and you increase the thirst. But I wish to give the water


I wish to practice generosity, not to reduce suffering, not to increase suffering, not to maintain suffering, but to liberate, to be free of omnipresent suffering. And if, yeah, if anybody differs from me, that person is welcomed by me. I aspire to welcome all those who disagree with me. But anyway, that's where I'm at. I'm at liberating beings in the world of suffering. I'm not into reducing the world of suffering. But I do live with a lot of people who think Buddhism is to reduce suffering. And I know a lot of people who want to reduce suffering. And I'm different. And I present myself to you to deal with. And I aspire to continue to be compassionate to my suffering and your suffering, and also be compassionate with your suffering with me.


I'm not trying to be difficult, but I realized that what I just said, it may be something to struggle with. And now, One other thing I mentioned during January intensive, which I'll mention again today, is that we have within our school, along with the teaching about the direct realization of the Buddha way, the direct realization is through nothing other than your present body and mind. We have another expression called grandmother mind or grandmother mindfulness. And that's the awareness which goes very well with the direct realization that the Buddha way cannot be other than our current daily life. And that's slightly different from saying our current daily life is the Buddha way.


It's more like remembering that our current daily life cannot be other than the Buddha way. And also to remember that the Buddha way, the way of freedom cannot be other than our daily life. Once again, it's not to say that the Buddha way is our pain. It's not to say that the Buddha way is our confusion, that the Buddha way is our selfishness. the Buddha way is our pettiness. But the Buddha way is our current affliction. That's not I wouldn't say it that way. I would say, the Buddha way cannot be other than our current body and mind. It is it cannot be that's not the Buddha way. It's not like we have our current body and mind and another thing called the Buddha way.


The Buddha way is right here practicing with our current body and mind. It's not other, and it's also not the same. In the Lotus Sutra study period, over and over we emphasize the teaching that we are all on the same path. All Buddhas are on the same path. And all Buddhas are in the same path with all living beings. All Buddhas are in the same path as us. We are in the same path as all Buddhas. We have the same path, the same teaching, the same realization. the same practice as all Buddhas.


And to realize this practice of all Buddhas, it is necessary that we don't try to be someplace other than where we are, or rather that we use where we are right now. in order to realize the same practice as Buddhas, the same awakening as the Buddhas, the same path, which is already the case. We are already on the same path. But if we look for something other than our daily life to realize it, it's pretty caught contraindicated It's a little bit of a distraction, which then becomes another opportunity. Okay, now, maybe that's enough of a summary of the last year or so.


And going forward, we will go forward from here. Maybe we'll continue to practice direct realization of the way. but I'm not sure, maybe we'll do some indirect realizations along the way. So if you'd like to offer something to this great assembly, you are cordially, gratefully, warmly supported to offer something. I see some hands, some yellow hands. Our first offering is from Jiren. Thank you. You say that our path is no different than the way of the Buddhas, and oftentimes you use the word bodhisattva.


So could you clarify? I'm confused a little about that. Oh, yeah. We're also not, we're also on the same path with. I'm sorry, I didn't make it clear. Buddhas are in the same path with everybody. Okay. Buddhas are practicing with every living being. Okay. And we also are practicing together with every living being. And we are practicing together with all bodhisattvas. And all bodhisattvas also have the same, all bodhisattvas have the same path, the same teaching, the same realization, and the same practice as us. So if we are bodhisattvas, we are practicing together with all beings. If we're Buddhas, we're practicing together with all beings. And if anybody's not a bodhisattva, well, then the Lotus Sutra says, I don't agree.


The Lotus Sutra says you're all Bodhisattvas. So Bodhisattvas are practicing with Buddhas? Right. Okay. And the Lotus Sutra says everybody's a Bodhisattva. Because everybody that's practicing with Buddha is a Bodhisattva. So if you're one of the Asuras or one of the, you know, snakes, you're a Bodhisattva? If you're a snake, you're a Bodhisattva. Although you may not think you're a bodhisattva because you don't speak English or Sanskrit or anything. Snakes may not think, oh, I'm a bodhisattva, but they are. They're on the path of becoming Buddha, all beings. And if you look at some of the paintings of Buddha's assemblies, where Buddhas are teaching, there's a wide variety of beings in that. It's a very diverse group. So all beings on the same path.


So right now, I don't know. We're on the same path as all Democrats. And we're on the same path as all Republicans. We're on the same path as the Russians, the Russian army that's sitting on the border of Ukraine. We're on the same path of all the people who live in the Ukraine, who do not want to be invaded. We're on the path of all beings. And we have a thought, maybe, that we're not on the same path as some beings, that we don't have the same practice. But nonetheless, the teaching I'm offering is that all Buddhas are practicing together with us when we think that we're not on the same path as some people. The Buddhas are with us, practicing with us.


And we're practicing with the Buddhas in this way of thinking that some people are not practicing with us. We are really bodhisattvas. but we may not understand that very well. So that's why we come together and discuss the teaching that we are bodhisattvas. And we can, you know, have a great conversation, okay? Our next offering is from Oscar. Thank you very much, Reb. Thank you, Oscar. Reb, I count myself among those who would like to reduce suffering in the world. And I do understand and support what you're saying this morning to a degree, to my level of understanding.


I understand that my job is to be here and now with this body and mind. But at the same time, I often find some conflict, internal conflict, that I'm not reconciling those two views. That I'm not at peace in my body and mind when I deal with with the world in the effort to reduce suffering. So my practice doesn't reach there yet. And I'm wondering how I might think differently or practice differently to understand further.


Right now you ask the question, how might I practice differently? I did, I did. And the direct realization of the way is not to try to change this question you just had into another body and mind. And if you have the thought, my practice doesn't reach something yet, I don't yet reach it. I don't yet reach peace in this world. I don't yet reach understanding. That is a body and mind. And the Buddha way is realized without changing that body and mind into another one. You don't have to change it into another one. You can realize that with the thought, I do not reach what I aspire to.


So part of our practice is actually to aspire to something with an awareness that we don't reach it. But the practice is not to try to be somebody other than who we are when we have a thought like that. And Buddhas have that same practice. Buddhas do not aspire to be somebody other than Buddha in order to be Buddha. So to accept the omnipresent suffering of in such a moment of not being able to reconcile what seem to be two divergent aspirations. Well, yeah, they might seem to be divergent, and then, without trying to change that apparent divergence, without trying to change that... A divergence is a body-mind experience.


It's a body-mind event. Yes, yes. There's no divergence without bodies and minds. Right, right. But with bodies and minds, there can be this divergence. So the direct way is without changing this body and mind which is engaged in some sense of divergence, realize the way immediately, right here with the sense of divergence. Realize that body and mind. Yes. Now, if you had a body and mind which had this sense of there's no divergence, then use that body and mind. But the sense of no divergence is equal opportunity with the sense of there is divergence. Both bodies and minds are opportunities. But again, they can be obstacles if we don't realize that they're opportunities.


If we try to use do something other than them, then it's like they're obstacles. It's like they're detours. They're not really. But if we forget that, then they become detours. I am a bodhisattva. That thought is a body-mind thought. I'm not a bodhisattva. That's a body-mind. My practice is not too good. That's a body-mind. My practice is good. That's a body-mind. the Buddha way cannot be other than those body minds as they occur. No matter what we're doing, the Buddha way cannot be other than what we're doing. It's right there. Buddha is right with us at that moment. Realize that moment.


Thank you very much, Fred. Your next offering is from Farnoosh. Thank you. Thank you. Your last teaching about suffering, And the question of a difference between desiring to reduce suffering and to liberate while in the midst of suffering is something that I think I'm relating to in my practice currently, which is that sometimes I suspect that I can't separate my effort to practice, my effort, meaning like


the marshaling, the effort being the marshaling of some teachings, you know, for example, to be there with the body mind that is arising. So sometimes I feel, or I suspect that I can't separate the effort from a quality of the suffering. itself. So that sometimes it seems that my suffering is the self consciousness, that what I'm doing is wrong. And, and that that is inseparable from this effort to want to be there for it. And what I suppose, kind of also feeling is that maybe What cannot be satisfied, like the thirst, what cannot be satisfied, like the desire to know if it's right or wrong.


The desire for that certainty, maybe it cannot be satisfied, but it can be understood and embraced. And that, that embracing is less for me, maybe an effort as a effortlessness or a sort of allowing. And I guess what I sometimes struggle with is the surprise of how effort, great effort and effortlessness are related and the sense that I'm always trying so hard And maybe that's all to the good and has been, you know, to kind of grip or grasp onto a sense of ground and teaching, which is always with me. But at the same time, there's this awareness now of like, Oh, I'm not, am I abandoning the ceaseless suffering or am I just sort of accepting it?


Because sometimes I feel that it's insurmountable. If I were to try to meet every no that rises with every perception or every no that rises with every yes, you know, I can sometimes slow it down and say, okay, why no to this cloud? Why no to this, whatever, you know, you haven't even contacted it yet. Why no. And I can sort of slow down and try to be compassionate and curious to that one. No, but then, then it seems that that would be. every moment I would have to be, I can't keep up. And so in the struggle to not be able to keep up some other way of like, maybe I'm not abandoning, maybe I cannot actually satisfy the no, because I'm trying to change or reduce the suffering I perceive as no. And maybe I'm, this is what I'm bringing forward is where I feel I am now. And if that, is in some way related to what you're saying about maybe I'm trying to reduce suffering.


And what I'm learning is that the great effort to reduce suffering is something I'm learning to embrace. And as I'm doing that, I'm becoming more my embrace and that that state is not necessarily something I am required to maintain, but that I'm becoming. Because sometimes, and this is the last thing I'll say, even now, for example, I feel I'm becoming with what I'm expressing. There's not the no, there's not the desire to reduce what I perceive I need to say in some way. And I think to myself when I'm laughing or I'm teaching or I'm really speaking, Where has that effort gone? Where has that great desire to reduce suffering by practicing a certain way? Where is it gone? And what is the relationship between this kind of becoming, that is like you said, a sort of freeing within the suffering that I'm describing?


What's the difference between that and the conscious practice? The conscious practice of I see this arising and I'm gonna respond to it with this practice. Thank you. you have just offered many body-mind moments to the Great Assembly. And the Buddha way in each of those moments was none other than your body and mind. And that teaching is given to help, to promote, to encourage intimacy with each one of these body-mind offerings that were offered to you and which were offered to us.


This teaching is to help us be intimate with each of those moments. Intimacy with all these examples of suffering which you offered is freedom in the midst of these examples of suffering, which you offered. And compassion is the intimacy and also compassion is something we can train at to become intimate with our moment by moment experience. Intimacy is the great compassion which liberates beings in the midst of their current body-mind, which as you demonstrated is constantly changing. And also you brought up the word effort.


Every moment, every body-mind moment has tremendous energy, tremendous effort. There's tremendous effort every moment of life. This teaching is to embrace and become intimate with that effort without adding or subtracting anything from it. Ride it like a great wave in the ocean. Our next offering is from Rosie. Thank you.


Thank you. I'm in this moment in delight, being here moment by moment with all the words and the faces. And what comes up for me Of course, with this practice of zazen and the yoga practice that you know Rabbi I've had for so long, they go like this for me. So the words body mind resonate with my this breath and these whatever these sensations are and when you say to start as you did today you know that you are living each moment by moment with pain with suffering this includes of course the most intimate and immediate


of our pains and sufferings. And for me, it's very, very physical. Just what I feel in the Soto Zen practice is so much what grounds us, what our work practice is, a part of serving and being with each other. And where I'm taking this, I'm not quite sure, because yes, each moment is a new one. and offers fresh eyes, fresh ears, fresh taste and touch.


And it's so astonishing to be alive, I feel, at this time in my life. I remember Blanche Just being alive is enough. Feeling that aliveness and then that awareness. That's the word I wanted. Okay. The awareness of, oh, this hurts. I remember once Wendy saying, I hurt. to you. This hurts. Okay, how can you not run away from that or indulge it and just have the hurt be the whole thing.


It's stuck. Um, you know, this is our practice, isn't it to be free from with the awareness. This is with the awareness being with it. like we're a little hurt puppy. And yes, whatever. And that's the compassion. So I love returning to this daily waking up. Oh, I wonder what today will bring. Thank you for your offering. Thank you, Ralph, for being with us. Our next offering is from Barbara Joan and Jeff.


Thank you, Ralph. Thank you. Thank you, Great Assembly. I have a question. You talked about freeing beings and liberating beings as opposed to reducing suffering, liberating beings from suffering. Not opposed. Not opposed to. Not opposed to reducing suffering, but you're work is to free beings from suffering. And I wanted to ask you if you could elaborate a little bit on the word, the words liberate and free. Are you and ask whether you are including understanding is liberate? What is being liberated from suffering? Well, liberation does involve understanding or realization.


When we understand what's going on, we will be free. If we understand suffering, at that moment we will be free. And we will not understand the suffering if we don't love it. If we're not intimate with it, we won't understand it. But if we are intimate with suffering, we'll understand it and we'll be free with it. We'll be free and the suffering will be free. We'll be mutually free. Thank you. That helps me. And I appreciate it. You're welcome. Our next offering is from Justin. Hi, Rob. Oh, please excuse me. I just want to say that I find the distinction between pain and suffering or other examples of Dharma realization, not being the Buddha way, but being nothing other than the Buddha way, very helpful.


That's, it seems like a very subtle, but very important distinction that I think can really help my practice. And I'm saying that partly to say thank you and partly to help myself remember it. And at the same time, I have the concern that I'm going to forget it and want to know what is, and ask for your advice on as I have sometimes a piece of advice that I find really helpful will really work for me and practice for a few days and it starts, that effect starts to wear off. And I wanna know how can I remember it? Do you wish to remember it? Very much. So wishing to remember it. is conducive to remembering it.


And being concerned that you're gonna forget it is an opportunity to remember it. Because being concerned that you're gonna forget it might make you forget it, because you're more concerned about forgetting it than remembering it. However, when you're concerned about forgetting it, remember it. The Buddha way is nothing other than you being concerned about forgetting that teaching. Be intimate with your concern about forgetting, and you remember it. Okay. Thank you. You're welcome. Our next offering is from Charlotta.


Hello. Hello. Hello, Great Assembly. And thank you for being with us, Reb. You're welcome. Thank you for being with us, Charlotte. I wanted to I raised my hand because I'm losing a dear friend of mine in cancer. And she's only 35 and she has two kids and the whole The situation is, yeah, of course, so difficult.


The Buddha way is none other than these tears. The Buddha way is none other than this body and mind, which is crying. The Buddhas are practicing together with you right now. And they're practicing together with your friend. This teaching can help you embrace the suffering intimately. This liberates, this is the freedom from suffering, this impermanence. I wish to give her that.


I wish she could feel that. Yeah. I wish to give it to her also. I wish to practice with her also. And helping her is none other than remembering and practicing this teaching. She's helped in the exact same way that we're practicing, she's practicing. That's hard to understand, but I said it. And this is for you and for her. And I heard you say once that death doesn't need to harm us.


I wonder if you would say something about that. Death doesn't need to harm us and death doesn't need to kill us. We can be fully alive when we're dying and we can be fully alive when we're dead. Wow. That was really helpful to hear. Pardon? That felt really helpful to hear. I just received some photos of her just before this talk and I got so shocked because I couldn't recognize her because of the medicines has changed her so much that I wouldn't recognize her if I met her.


This is your new friend. The new person to be intimate with. just as she is. And this is what she, this is how you, if you can be intimate with her, this helps her be intimate with herself. She was smiling and looked happy at those photos. I think she was, in that moment at least, she looked genuinely happy and I've been amazed at how she has been able to be so open and remain open and vulnerable in this situation she's in. It's deeply inspiring and touching how she can be this way.


This is the way she's helping you. Yes. It's like she's helping us around her also to embrace death. Thank you so much. Our next offering is from Carol Cole. Hello, Rob. Hello, Cole. I am well into my grandmother years at this point.


And my world is very small with COVID. I see my husband and we live with an infant now who we're trying to protect because she's not able of getting a vaccine. And in some ways, because of the suffering of the world, it looks like she won't be returned to her birth mother. So we are now considering whether to invite her into our family. And I would love to hear more about grandmother mind being enough because in many ways I have an internal negative idea of older women, which I am now being. And how do I embrace grandmother mind and let it flow through me. How do you embrace it?


One translation of grandmother mind is grandmother mindfulness. So, I get the feeling like it's not that difficult for you to remember This little person. It's not you don't have to like it's he are pretty positive the way it's easy for you to remember her a lot of the day. This comes naturally. Okay, so the grandmother mind of our school is to have that kind of ease in remembering that. The Buddha way is none other than your body and mind. This particular body and mind.


Grandmother mind remembers the Buddha way cannot be other than this one. And this helps you not only take care of this little person, but liberate this little person by this mindfulness. That the way she is in her life and the way you are in yours is the same. Both of your lives are none other than great compassion. Great compassion can be none other than her and you together. She's changing and you're changing. Buddha Way cannot be other than the way you're changing together. And so remembering that, we want to be able to remember that the way you remember her.


It's like effortless for you to remember her. And so it'd be nice to be effortlessly remembering that the Buddha Way cannot be other than what we're doing right now. That is direct realization when we remember. Whether you're giving medicine or not, the Buddha way is none other than this. If you're trying to reduce suffering, the Buddha way is not other than that. If you're not trying to reduce suffering, but just being with it, the Buddha way is nothing other than that. That's grandmother mindfulness. Grandmother remembering, not just for this being that you're caring for and yourself, but remembering the Buddha way at the same time. And eventually, maybe as effortlessly as you remember the little one, you remember the big one.


Yeah, I've been, one of the realizations is that her suffering and not resisting her suffering is such a doorway, as opposed to my wanting her suffering to stop just to allow it to flow. There's allowing her suffering and then there's allowing you wishing her, that's another suffering to allow. Thank you. You're welcome. The next offering is from Kim and Barry. Hi, Rob. Hello. Hello, Kim and Barry. Charlotte, I just want to say, Charlotte, my heart goes out to you and it comes back to me, away from California over to Europe. But my question, Rev, has to do with something that came up in our reading this week in the third turning of the wheel in chapter two.


And I think it relates to what you're talking about today. And that is the idea that's presented, and it was presented in the Lotus Sutra too, that Bodhisattva's not associate with people who don't thirst, or beings who don't thirst for the Dharma. I don't have it exactly right, I'm sure, but they're not intimate with beings who don't thirst for the Dharma. And I think you talk about that they don't spend time teaching those beings, perhaps. But I just wondered if you could talk a little bit more about it, because it gave us great, we were bewildered by that. And from what you're talking about, what you've been speaking about today, it seems to me that we can't be other than intimate with, with everything that that comes to us. And so if you would, could you talk about that a little bit, please?


Thank you. Well, an easy start out with an easy response. is that we don't give teachings to people who don't want them. Do we even know if we're giving them the teachings? No, but I mean like if we had a teaching and we knew that somebody didn't want to hear it, like for example, I don't know what, somebody might have, maybe they have food on their face. And we see it, but we might not mention it to them if we felt they didn't want to hear about it. Or if we saw someone being impatient with somebody else, or unkind, and we knew they don't want to hear any teaching about that, we might not offer it.


we might offer something else that they do want. For example, you might tell them about the shortcomings of your kindness. And they might say, oh, that's interesting. You have problems. You sometimes aren't kind. You say, no, I'm sorry. I'm sometimes not kind. You might sense that that teaching they would be able to receive. So some teachings are We have them available and they're true and they're beneficial, but it's not the right time. And bodhisattvas are really busy embracing all beings. But sometimes beings do not wanna be embraced with our presence. They don't really want us the way we really are.


They don't really want the teaching the way we are. So then we don't give them the teaching, which includes the way we are. And our job is to be... They don't really want our expression of generosity. But our job is to be generous with people. They don't really want our expression of ethical conduct, but our job is to practice ethical conduct with people. They don't really want our patience, but that's our job. So our job, our life, is something they don't want. So in that sense, we don't associate with them. And also by doing our practice in this way, we realize that we're intimate with them, but we're not hanging out with them because they don't want us.


They don't want us the way we are. They'd rather have us be someplace else. Or maybe they'd like us to be different from what we are, but we're not gonna do that. We're going to be who we truly are. And that means that we don't spend time with some people who do not want us. They don't want the teaching we have to offer. And our job is to offer teachings, teachings of compassion. They don't want that. And I should say, if they don't want it, we don't force it. That wouldn't be it. So I think associate means that you act in a way to express this intimacy. And some people do not want it. And those people, we don't give it.


That's the way I would respond to this thing about intimacy. So bodhisattvas vow to be intimate with all beings, and that means that they don't associate with some beings as part of that practice of being intimate. Part of being intimate is to stay away from people who don't want you, who don't want a bodhisattva. They want a king, or a businesswoman, or a mother, or a father, not you. But it also says, if they do want you to, you know, who you truly are, if they want the truth, if they want the teaching, then you should associate with them. If they want the teaching of intimacy, then give it. It says it at the end of each one of those sections. Don't associate or hang out with these people. But if they want the teaching and they ask for it, then give it.


So another way to put it is, if this type of people do not want the teaching, then don't associate with them. And that's in accord with your intimacy with them. Right now, they don't want who you are. They don't want the teacher of intimacy. Okay, so how's that sitting? Is it sinking in a little bit for you? Yes. I would say that it's, for me it feels like, well, I can be sensitive to the situation, you know, and I also remember that the idea of asking somebody, may I offer a suggestion or may I, you know, are you, may I make a comment or I don't know, those things that you do I'm not suggesting we revise the Lotus Sutra, but when it says, don't associate with these group of people, and then it says, but if they want the teaching, then do, maybe it should say, don't associate with these people who do not want the teaching.


And as you said, be sensitive to that people don't want who you really are. Yeah, and then that also reduces suffering all the way around. I can see that. Or not reduce, but we don't want to reduce suffering, but it... Not that we don't want to reduce suffering. It's that we want to liberate beings who are trying to reduce suffering. Right. We're not trying to get rid of the people who are trying to reduce suffering. We're trying to be intimate with them. And if we're trying to reduce suffering, for example, I've got a headache and I want to take an aspirin, I want to be intimate with the person who's taking, with the body and mind that's taking the aspirin to reduce the suffering of the headache. It's not that I don't take the aspirin, it's that my real job is to be intimate with the person who's taking the aspirin.


So I want to be intimate with all the people who are trying to reduce suffering. And if I'm one of them, I want to be intimate with myself. And also to allow for the person who doesn't want my good self, my best self, allow for that and to be compassionate with both. my wish to improve their situation and their wish for me to lay off. Be intimate with them not wanting you to be a bodhisattva in their presence. Thank you. Thank you. Our next offering is from Kat.


Hello. Thank you so much, Reb. And hello, this is Great Assembly. Can you hear me OK? Yes? OK. So this might be a little bit of a mess, but I think, one, I would just like to share an experience, and then maybe there's a question or a thought in there. But, you know, coming back from the January intensive, I'm in New York City now, and you know, I'm an ICU nurse, and I also work at a vaccinating clinic in Brooklyn. So I do pediatrics, and while I'm all about trying to reduce suffering, I'm actually increasing suffering quite a bit amongst the kitties by giving them shots. And I think the first time I gave a pediatric dose, I was like crying, which isn't too professional, but it's just, it's so hard to see kids suffering and to be with them during that time and just to see how some of the parents treat their kids while they're suffering.


You know that they're planting some seed but karma for them just, you know, it's not quite verbally abusive, but it's just very toxic in some ways, where, you know, there's a lot of, oh, you shouldn't be crying, you're a boy, you know, you're a tough boy, like, why are you crying? And it's very difficult to, like, I don't know what to do in those situations. So I can just try to console the kid and say, you know, it's okay to cry, it's scary, it's painful, like I almost, you know, pushed through when I got vaccinated. We were part of the first group of people to get vaccinated, and we didn't know how we'd respond to it, so it's just, I'm not sure what else I could do in those situations. Well, it's not exactly something else you could do, but you could remember


when you're with a crying baby and when you're crying too maybe, you could remember the teaching that the Buddha way is cannot be other than what you and the baby are doing. You could remember that. That's not something in addition. That's just remembering the teaching while you're suffering with this little person or this big person. You can remember that. And in that way, While you're caring for this person who is suffering, and while you're feeling suffering with them, you can realize the Buddha way. And that liberates both you and the baby from the suffering which you're currently feeling. And the Buddha way cannot be anything other than what's going on with you too. And in a situation like that, you're not trying to make the baby cry less.


You're not telling them to be a big girl and not cry. You are just remembering that great compassion cannot be other than what you're going through together. And that doesn't change the situation, it liberates it. And the situation will then change. The baby will stop crying and you'll stop crying And then again, you don't have to do anything in addition to that. Use the not crying baby and the not crying nurse. Not use, remember the teaching that only through this body and mind. I guess also I'm kind of concerned that I'm becoming somewhat desensitized to be free from suffering. and I'm not sure how to manage that. Are you asking if you're becoming desensitized?


No, I feel like I'm becoming desensitized. Oh, you do? Yes. Well, if you ever... If you feel like you're becoming desensitized, that's your body-mind experience. I think I'm getting, maybe I'm getting desensitized. The Buddha way cannot be other than you feeling like you're becoming desensitized. And you can become liberated from feeling or being desensitized. And when you're liberated, you are able to liberate others along with you with whatever level of sensitivity they have. But I'm not saying you're never going to be desensitized. I'm just saying that's another opportunity for compassion, desensitized. Compassion doesn't say you should be suffering more.


You shouldn't be insensitive. Like some people say, I heard some people say to some other people, you're too sensitive. But I don't hear so often, you're not sensitive enough. But we could have that too. We could have, you're too sensitive, you're not sensitive enough. I'm too sensitive, I'm not sensitive enough. Whatever the body-mind is, there is a direct, immediate, right here, realization of the way. And that's what really helps people. Through the ups and downs of pain, and happiness and sensitivity. Thank you. You're welcome. Thank you for your offering. Our next offering is from Yu Qi.


Good morning. Good morning. So I have been thinking, kind of starting in the conversation you had with Oscar and the theme running through this, can you say something like just, Buddha way is to just be who you are, who this person is that's manifesting in this moment, to just be that. Something like that. And it sounds really easy and natural. And yet, it's really difficult. And I'm wondering why something that sounds like it would be so natural is so hard. What's that about? Well, natural doesn't mean easy. If you climb a mountain, it's natural that it's hard, or it may be natural that it's hard.


So yeah, natural doesn't mean easy. I guess I'm wondering how we could be anything other than what we are and why we think that we are something other than that. And the way we are is that we can think, we can think, think thoughts like that. That's the way we are. We have the ability to think that we could be other than we are, which is of course nonsense. But we can think it. And we can also think things which aren't exactly nonsense, but where we're thinking it, but we don't know what we're talking, what we're thinking about. Like you can think of being a Buddha, but you don't know what a Buddha is. And a little girl can think of being a mother. but she doesn't really know what being a mother is, but she still can think of it and want to be it. And she can also know that she's not a mother, but she probably doesn't know that she doesn't know what a mother is.


When she becomes more mature, when she becomes a mother, she becomes more aware she doesn't know what a mother is, but she still can aspire to it. That's the way we are. We can aspire things that we don't understand, and we can aspire to things that we think we do understand. In other words, we can have childish aspirations and mature aspirations. That's the way we are. And we can think of being someone other than who we are. And people can think that you have to change this body and mind into some other body and mind in order to realize the Buddha way. I'm saying a different teaching. You do not have to change into being somebody else to realize the Buddha way. Matter of fact, giving up changing into somebody else, giving up to changing his body and mind into some other body and mind that realizes the Buddha way. And it's as hard as climbing a sheer cliff.


I, my connection went down and I couldn't hear the last part of what you said. I'll say it differently, being intimate with who we are, is already the case, we're already intimate with who we are. But to realize that we're intimate with who we are is as hard as climbing a sheer cliff. It's hard to realize that, of course, we're intimate with who we are. And it's hard to realize that we're intimate with all beings. But it's naturally so. It's obviously so, but not in appearance, but just our mind can understand that, of course, we're intimate with the whole universe. But to realize it is difficult because we have thoughts like, I'm not intimate with this person.


And then again, we have trouble being intimate with that thought. But that's the way we are. We're naturally that way. But to realize that we're naturally that way is really hard. It's the hardest thing, as a matter of fact. When you talk about it, it sounds like it should be as easy as falling off a log. Sorry. Fortunately, you ask me and I say, no, it's hard. When you do it, of course, when you're asked the way you are, it's effortless. But to find this effortless intimacy is hard. Our next offering is from Deborah. Hi, Rob.


Hi, Deborah. Rob, I heard you say if we don't love the suffering, we cannot be free. Could I? Could one replace love with intimacy? Yes. Or compassion. Okay. No, it's not like, not like, it's not a preference. No, I don't like cancer. But I love it. I mean, I don't like cancer. But I aspire to love it. I aspire to be intimate with it. With intimacy with the world saves the world. And intimacy is hard work. Thank you. Welcome. Thank you. Our next offering is from Stephen.


Wow, we've had all these wonderful offerings rabbit been so instructed by all of them. the the hell being is the you know, there are all sorts of hell beans and and the bodhisattva aspires to be with the hell being and And then some ways, so I really have two questions, but you can answer one or both, or respond to one or both. So you are with the hell being, there are really two ways, and they perhaps are non-dual. You're with the hell being, you know, you're with Hitler in the bunker as Ava Braun, maybe.


or you're with the hell being as the hell being himself or herself or themselves. So, and I suppose they're non-dual ultimately. So, but there is this interesting phenomenon of being with the hell being as the hell being, and yet you're you. So, and then the second question is, aspiration, you're with the hell being either as the hell being or with the hell being as yourself, or both, but there's some aspiration to not be a hell being, which would seem to be trying to get out of the body mind. Thanks. The aspiration to not be a hell-being is one of the conditions for being a hell-being.


So, in hell, there's a bunch of beings who are aspiring to not be in hell, which, you know, puts them back in hell. The bodhisattvas aspire to be intimate with the hell-beings while the hell-beings are aspiring to not be in hell. But the Bodhisattva is not aspiring for them not to be in hell. The Bodhisattva is aspiring to be with them and to liberate them in hell. Because that's where they are. Not to like get them out and then liberate them. Liberate them in hell. Teach them how to be free of hell. Teach them how to be free of wishing that they weren't where they are. And if the bodhisattva's in hell, the bodhisattva aspires... I mean, I guess, yeah, either in hell or they're a hell being.


If the bodhisattva finds himself to be a hell being, he aspires to be intimate with his own hellish torment. And he may sometimes feel like, I wasn't too intimate with it in that moment. Let me try again. The only other thing I'd say is that eventually I think the bodhisattva wants a break from hell. And I mean, an undiluted diet of nothing but hell is... Part of being a bodhisattva is to take breaks. Bodhisattvas take rest. That's part of how they have enthusiasm for their work. So, you know, like Doctors Without Borders is good if they take breaks from the long line of people coming to see them so they can go back to work.


So resting is part of our enthusiastic aspiration. But we take the break in order to do the work, not to get away from it. If I take the break to get away, it enervates me. If I take the break for inspiration, and rejuvenation to do the work, that's part of the work. Rest is part of the work. No rest is not the work. We need, Bodhisattvas do need to rest. Buddhas do rest. Our next offering is from Pam. Good morning, Rob.


Good morning, Pam. Earlier, you said to somebody, if we understand our suffering, we will be free of our suffering. And I thought that yes, but, or and, we can be free of our suffering without understanding our suffering. Because being free of our suffering is really about an orientation towards our suffering. It's not so much an end result as it is an orientation towards our suffering where we're not trying to get rid of the suffering, not holding on to the suffering. Or if we are trying to get rid of the suffering, we're intimate with trying to get rid of the suffering or we're intimate with holding on to it. that so there's two parts of that one that I in my experience I can be free from suffering just from being intimate with it even if I don't understand what it was from and you know maybe that's just because those are just little freedoms and maybe the big freedom does involve understanding go ahead it sounds like you think understanding means you understand where it's from well okay yeah there is understanding where it's from


You're saying there's another kind of understanding that is just the understanding of intimacy. Yeah. [...] And from the understanding of intimacy, you might understand where it's from. Or might not. But you don't have to. You might not. Like if you learn how to dance, you know, you're intimate with the dance and with your partner. But you might not understand where your partner or you or the dance came from. Yeah. But then, you know, later after your dance for a while, you might write a book on the history of dance. But that is, you know, that is understanding the dance is to dance. Yeah. Thank you. And what do you think about the other part of it of being free from suffering? Not so much as an end result, but just as an orientation towards being marked by just being willing to be whatever it is that is. Yeah, I, I have trouble with the word with the end.


So being free of suffering as an ongoing process. Yeah, you know, in drawing all beings into the process of being free of suffering. No, there's no, there's no end to it. Yeah. Yeah. All right. Thank you. Welcome. Our next offering is from Linda. Okay. Uh, I thought of a song that, uh, when you were talking to Yuki and talking about how hard it is like going up a sheer cliff. And then I thought of this song. And I was very pleased that I wanted to sing the chorus to this song by Woody Guthrie. And yeah, and I'm also nervous about doing it, but let me just do it, okay?


And it's hard, ain't it hard, ain't it hard to love one who never did love you? And it's hard and it's hard and it's hard, great God, to love one who never will be true. Okay. You see why that is a response to? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And it's our nature to love them. Yeah. Loving them is natural, but it's hard. And them is us. Yeah, right. Yeah. And that's intimacy and it's hard. It's hard to love us because It's hard to love us with we've never did love us. Exactly. And if it isn't OK, I yeah, but usually if somebody realizes intimacy with no effort, I'd be surprised.


But tell me about it. Well, when it happens, then it seems like then it's ever got free. Yeah. Right. And she did say intimacy is hard. Yeah. Thank you for letting me sing. Thank you for singing. You want to sing it again? Is that a good idea? I don't know. You want to sing it again? Well, I just hope everybody will join in. This is Woody Guthrie's Hard Ain't It Hard. It's hard, ain't it hard, ain't it hard to love one that never did love you? And it's hard, and it's hard, and it's hard, great God, to love one who never will be true. Thank you. Thank you, yeah. So thank you, Great Assembly, for coming to this Great Assembly, which I think is sometimes kind of hard.


This is not always easy, this Assembly. but you came and you supported it and it supported you. Thank you so much.