Silent Sitting & Social Action

Audio loading...

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

This talk will not appear in the main Search results:



Zen students often ask how our practice of silence and stillness relates to injustice and our environmental crisis. In this class we explore this question and study the intimate interplay of beneficial social action and silent sitting.

AI Summary: 



We had this theme for this series. One of the themes was silence, sitting, and social action. And we've been talking a lot about compassion. So one picture is that in silence, sitting, sitting in silence, we are practicing compassion. We are observing, observing in all directions, with eyes of compassion. And we're learning how to observe


in a deeper and deeper way. We're observing living beings that we care for deeply, that we really appreciate, and we want them to be protected from all harm. And we want them to have the best possible life, which would be a life where they're free of suffering. And even beyond being free of suffering, where they can engage in helping others, which is that they can engage in compassion. So we feel compassion for them, and we wish them to learn how to be compassionate, because that will be the best protection for them,


and will be the great joy for them. And some images of this process, again, are one image is sitting silently, and I may have mentioned many times that the legendary founder of the Zen tradition in China, we call Bodhidharma. And I just briefly mentioned that when I first started hearing about Bodhidharma and the Zen tradition, I thought Bodhidharma was a historical figure. Now I see his life as historical light. You know, as in Bud Light. In other words, legendary.


And I'm gradually getting used to appreciating legendary in certain areas more than historical. Historical, if you take historical seriously, you might feel like that's what happened and that's it. But legendary allows us to creatively participate in the legend. The legend of Bodhidharma, we can be creative, we can modify every day, we can tell the story differently. And the different stories are not more true than the others, but they may be better than true. Like I just thought of the Odyssey and the Iliad of this person they call Homer.


He wrote down in a nice way stories that had been going on long before him, but he wrote them down in a different way than they were before him. And then he told the story so well that the creative process kind of stopped. Before him, the stories were changing generation after generation, and then he changed them again so beautifully that everybody else just gave up and started to say what, you know, they just repeated what he said without much alteration. That happens sometimes. Great artists sometimes end the tradition a little bit. It's a living tradition. But fortunately in Zen we don't have anybody like that, so it keeps evolving. So I can tell you stories about Bodhidharma,


some of which are kind of like what I heard, but the way I tell it today has never been told before. So Bodhidharma had a meeting with the emperor of China, a legendary meeting with the historical emperor. But when you have a legendary meeting with a historical emperor, the emperor kind of gets, if you use the expression, infected by the legend. The emperor is in a story that maybe he never participated in in history, but we imagine that he did, and the meeting is he's having a meeting with Bodhidharma, and at one, yeah, yeah, and in this story the emperor, who was a major supporter of the Buddhist community


and also studied himself a lot and had historical friends that were less legendary in a way than Bodhidharma, and he hung out with, that emperor didn't kind of understand his meeting with Bodhidharma. If I can just bracket and say, well, no, I won't, I'll just go on a story. At the end of the story, Bodhidharma left, and the national teacher who lived in the imperial court said to the emperor after Bodhidharma left, do you know who that person was? Do you know who that Indian monk was? And the emperor said, no, who was he? He said, that was Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva. That was the Bodhisattva of great compassion that you just met.


And the emperor had heard about Avalokiteshvara before, but he'd never met him before. In fact, he met him, but he missed, he didn't know, he didn't understand who he was meeting. So then he said, well, let's go send some messengers and bring them back so I have another chance to meet the Bodhisattva of infinite compassion. And the national teacher said, even if he sent the whole country, he won't come back. And I would say, however, emperor, if you want to study with him, you can go and study with him, but he's not going to come back. You had your chance to meet him in your own house. If you want to meet him in the future, you've got to go to his house, which is much smaller than yours. It's a little cave, as a matter of fact. Anyway, the founder of the Zen tradition, according to that story, was a great Bodhisattva of compassion.


But there was never... Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of great compassion, never looked like that before, like Bodhidharma. A great Zen scholar, maybe the greatest Zen scholar of the 20th century, I had the good fortune to meet one time, and he gave me some of his artwork. And I think it was a sketch of Bodhidharma facing the wall, because that's what Bodhidharma did. This Bodhisattva sat facing a wall for nine years. And so he did a picture of Bodhidharma sitting facing a wall, and then he said something like, facing a wall, or doing wall gazing, a flower blooms in the back.


So he's facing the wall, and a flower blooms in his back. Or out of his back. And that flower, he doesn't say, but I understand the flower is the Zen school. And so we often say that this flower bloomed when he came, and it had five petals, which are the five schools of Zen, which, you know, became the... well, I'll just say predominant, rather than dominant, predominant form of Buddhism in China after a while. And definitely, almost all the Zen monasteries were Zen monasteries. Institutionally, Zen was really, again, excuse the expression, took over in China, through these five schools


from this one flower, which bloomed in the back of this monk, Bodhisattva of Great Compassion. So there we have silent sitting for nine years, and this flower comes up. This flower is the social action of that sitting. The social action of that sitting was many, many great monasteries with many, many monks and nuns, and many, many lay people supporting them and practicing with them. Millions and millions of bodhisattvas came out of that silent sitting. The social action of that bodhisattva sitting in silence was the Chinese Buddhist world after a while. That's a social activity, a social, cultural movement,


which has lasted up till now to this room. We are more or less celebrating and enacting Bodhidharma's compassion. His compassion is to some extent our lives, or our lives are to some extent his compassion. Or not even his compassion, the compassion which he taught, which wasn't his, it isn't ours. It's the compassion which is the truth of our life. Now, there's other images of Avalokiteśvara. In India and Tibet, Avalokiteśvara was usually in the form of a man, quite a handsome man often, often with a mustache,


and looking like a princely man, wearing princely clothes and a princely haircut with lots of jewels and beautiful clothing. Bodhidharma wasn't dressed like a prince, he was dressed like a monk, very simple, not so, you know, gorgeous. But when, as Buddhism was transmitted to China, Avalokiteśvara started to become depicted in a female form or a feminine form, and that form is now and has been for quite a while the dominant form, the female form. The goddess, even non-Buddhists say it's the goddess of mercy. So if you go in Chinatown, you see these goddesses of mercy, you know, everywhere.


In the windows, in the altars of restaurants, in people's, the goddess of mercy, Avalokiteśvara. They might not even know the name goddess of mercy. Well, maybe they're translated in English, but the Chinese translation, Avalokiteśvara, Avalok, Ava, means looking down upon. Lokita, the world. Ishvara, the liberated one who looks down upon the world. And you say liberated one, but you could also say the liberated compassion. This Avalokiteśvara sitting in silence and her compassion is liberated and spreads out over the whole world, Avalokiteśvara. And when the Chinese translated that, they translated it as observing the sounds, guanyin,


but also guanji, guan, guan, anyway, observing the world sounds. In Japanese, kanze-an, observing the world sounds. And again, now, it's mostly, the most common statue probably now is often in white porcelain and it's, looks like a somewhat tall, thin woman with flowing white robes and often she's holding a vase with a flower, a lotus flower in it, but sometimes she's holding the vase in one hand and the flower in another and sometimes she's holding the vase in one hand and pouring water out of it,


pouring water of compassion out and holding the flower. These are very common ones. But there's others. For example, and not very common, but I was in Paris one time and I went to Musée Guimet and they had a wonderful collection of Buddhist art and one statue I saw there was of Guanyin sitting like this in a cave like Bodhidharma. I'd never seen that before. And in the cave there was a shelf to her right and her left. It was not, it didn't look like Bodhidharma, it looked like a female form, very beautiful flowing robes and she had a shelf to her right and left and on the right shelf there was a vase and on the left shelf there was a flower. She put her equipment down,


her equipment of social action. The flowers she holds up in the world and the water she pours upon beings were set down and she was doing the silent sitting part. So mostly you see the picture of Avalokiteshvara dispensing compassion in a way that people can see like water being poured on people and flowers being offered. But that offering comes from the silent sitting. In this statue you can see the silent sitting and that in a sense the social actions seem to be quiet. And then another, not very common, but well, you know, there's millions, there's probably a million of these or it might actually, there may be 500 million or even a billion of these other ones but not as common as the former ones. Another common form of Avalokiteshvara is with


a thousand arms and sometimes a thousand arms are represented by, like Michelle, I had, I told you at Tasso, at Novo we have a statue that I got in China which has about how many arms, Michelle? You painted it. You painted it, yeah. Remember? You painted it gold. I think it has about 16 arms. So Avalokiteshvara sometimes has 16, sometimes has two, sometimes has four. When it has four, it often has two in meditation mudra, so it's representing the silent sitting and two with maybe the vase and the flower or a flower and a scripture. one, half the arms are being represented by sitting in stillness,


the other are by dispensing social justice, social conversation. And then there's a thousand arm one and the thousand arm is sometimes represented by like 16, 25, but sometimes I have a picture where there actually seems to be a thousand. And then many of them have implements like maybe a hundred implements symbolizing, I would say, the adapting this social offering to the circumstances. Okay? So the founder of Zen school is that silent sitting and dispersing innumerable blessings. Silent sitting, and in the silent sitting, listening to the world,


observing all beings with compassion in the silent sitting. And from this meditation on compassion and silence and stillness comes a thousand arms, a million arms. I heard this lady, you know, who lived in paradise and her house burned down and she went to Chico and she went to a parking lot by a grocery store and she said, there were hundreds of people there who came to help. She says, overwhelming compassion, you know, coming forth to help the people of paradise. And she was so inspired and encouraged even though she had lost a lot


to see that great compassion. That's Avalokiteshvara. Now, to get more, I don't know what the word is, to get more Zen about it, I brought this story up to you already but I'll do it again. We have a story of two of our ancestors, Zen ancestors. One's name is Cloudy Cliff and the other one's name is Enlightenment, Enlightenment or Enlightenment Path. Yunyen and Dawu, they're close friends and Yunyen, the younger of the two, asks the older, what does Avalokiteshvara do?


How does Avalokiteshvara use all those hands? By the way, a lot of the hands also have eyes in them. So a thousand hands and eyes. What does the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion do with all those hands and eyes? Or how does he use them? Or how does she use them? And the older monk says, it's like reaching back for a pillow in the middle of the night. That's how he uses them. Easier when you have a thousand arms. It's like reaching back for a thousand pillows in the middle of the night.


And then the younger monk says, oh, I understand. Just like maybe you do. And then the older monk says, how so? And the younger monk says, hands and eyes all over the body. And the older monk says, you said quite a bit there, but you only got 80%. And the younger monk says, well, how about you, elder monk, elder brother? And the elder says, hands and eyes throughout the body. So, yeah, that's maybe my offering to start tonight, is we're training so that these flowers of compassion,


these hands and eyes of compassion have pervaded our body and mind so that spontaneously these hands reach out into society, into the fire, back to the pillow, whatever. It just comes right out of there because it's been trained down into the body. It's no longer on the surface. It's completely trained into pervading the person. So everything they do just comes very naturally. Like they see food, and if they're hungry, they salivate. But I'm proposing that this kind of activity comes from one


who is ongoingly sitting still. They're not just observing sentient beings with eyes of compassion. And they're not just observing sentient beings with eyes of compassion. They're sitting still and observing them. All the better to see them. Because they're silent and still, they can see in the proper way. They can see without grasping what they see. If we observe and we grasp, we have what we talked about before, sentimental compassion. And it's sentimental to see a sentient being and grasp them as they appear. But by practicing sitting silent and still and meditating, we gradually can see people without dwelling in what we see.


And thereby, the hands come out just in the right way. Not, you know, not like, okay, I'm going to put my arm out here and I'm going to get that pillow. No. Just... Okay. I think that's enough for starters. Maybe. Wow. Yes, Marie. Pardon? Yeah. Yeah.


That one? That could be one, yeah. That could be one. But many of the statues have that along with the vase, water dispenser. And I was wondering if you could say about what that might mean or why it's in that particular form. I don't know. I think I should do some more research before I say. But, you know, there's this mudra, this mudra, this mudra, and this mudra. There's this mudra and this mudra, and if you put them together, like this, this is the mudra of, if you excuse the expression, avalokiteshvara's boss. The Buddha of infinite life


or infinite light, Amitabha or Amitayus, that Buddha has this mudra. When she's in meditation, she has this mudra. And when she's standing up, she sometimes goes like this. So, this might, it's possible that this is avalokiteshvara's mudra, I don't know. And you can also go like this. You can go like this, and like this. So this could be like for socially interacting, and this for meditation. But I don't know why this, again, avalokiteshvara's teacher, avalokiteshvara is the attendant of Amitayus. And Amitayus's mudra is like this,


like this, and like this. And avalokiteshvara, oftentimes, when it's depicted with jewelry on and so on, up in the crown, there's a statue. And the statue is of his teacher, Amitabha. It's up on his head, sitting in meditation like this. It's one of the ways you can identify some statues of avalokiteshvara, because the Buddha is sitting up in his crown. But I'm not sure about this. Yes? Pardon? Let me put my hearing aid on. What did you say? Oh, it means they're okay.


Yeah, or, you know, peace be with you. So he just did another mudra there. He went like this. Yeah, I mean, in a literal sense, your heart is like usually in the midst of contracting. Your blood's flowing. There's a major thing going on in your stomach and your intestines are going... We got a lot going on in here, okay? But in each moment, in each moment, you're in that... In each moment, your blood's where it is and not someplace else.


In each moment of the contraction of your heart, it's right there, partially or completely closed. In each moment, your thought's the thought you have and not another one. So in a very minute sense, moment by moment, in each moment of experience, there's stillness. However, we can't perceive that minute moment. But we can think of it and we can remember it. And remembering the stillness, which we can't perceive and which you can't get away from because you can't get away from where you are. You can't move from where you are. However, you change and then when you change, you're in another position. Your heart can't move from where it is but then it changes and then it's in a different place. So in this way, we're remembering the stillness.


And remembering the stillness... If I remember the stillness, then when I look at you, you look different than when I don't remember the stillness. I see you differently when I remember stillness. And I understand you differently when I remember silence. So silence and stillness are there, even though there's also, from another level of perception, movement and sound. So it's a meditative exercise or it's an exercise in deepening compassion to observe people, to listen to people, and remember stillness and silence. So they're talking and while they're talking, you remember silence, which is similar to, while they're talking, you're not talking. You're actually listening. And even though you're listening,


in your own mind, there may be some comments on what they're saying. So I'm talking and you're, in your mind, commenting on what I'm saying and depending on what you comment, you nod or, you know, you're responding to what your mind is doing with what you're hearing. And yet, if you remember stillness during this process, it deepens your perception. So it's not just sitting still, it's sitting still and practicing compassion. It's not just practicing compassion, it's practicing compassion in stillness. And again, Avalokiteshvara is sitting still, practicing compassion and from this stillness, all this blossoming happens. All these blessings come up and they come up in stillness, but they also can look like they're moving. And then, you know,


if somebody walked in here, they might say, oh, these people are sitting still. And the people might say, I know we look like that, but actually we're moving. So, you know, there's two sides of it. So we ritually enact stillness with our body, but in our mind we also remember complete stillness, which we can't physically or consciously perceive complete stillness. Yes? Did you say consciousness can arise? Yes, that's right. That's right. Yeah. Yeah. And one time I had been traveling in the East Coast doing fundraising for Zen Center, very busy, New York City. I come back to Green Gulch, I go into the meditation hall


and I offer incense and I think, how great it is to not do anything. So I was doing something, you know, but this something I was doing was nothing. I wasn't trying to get that incense stick in there and get that incense to burn. I was acting, but really I wasn't doing anything. And another time before that, I was moving, somebody gave me the incense and I watched it go into the incense burner and I saw, in that process, I saw stillness throughout the process. I saw that there was stillness. So this is a meditation instruction to wake up to stillness. But I couldn't see the stillness and yet I understood it. I could see the movement,


so I was, you could say, not shocked, but stunned. Stunned that I could see stillness. I could see the invisible stillness in the movement. And you can hear the inaudible silence in the sound. And, you know, it just might come to you gratuitously, as grace, but it's recommended that we remember it. It seems to make us more ready to discover stillness in movement and silence in sound. And then, discover that there's sound in silence. And then you can hear it differently than when you don't know that you're


listening to the sound in silence. So, a lot of people know that they're hearing noise in noise, but we want to complement that with hearing noise in silence, or hearing silence in the noise. It's a fuller picture of life. It includes that we're changing and that at every moment we're exactly what we are and nothing else. So, in each moment we're like an immovable mountain, but the mountain is unstable. So it changes, and then the next mountain is an immovable mountain, and it changes, and the next mountain. So we have fragility and instability and unreliability, and we can be consistently remembering that, and then we realize a kind of stability in the midst of change. So then, you know, our compassion becomes more unhindered


by not remembering our job, because we get excited and don't remember stillness when we're excited. I got so excited I almost forgot to be still. Or, I got so excited I forgot to be still, but I was still still, I just forgot to remember it. And so, all there was was being excited. Yes? Well, my question is... It's not timely? Wow. What time is it? It might be time to be still. It is time to be still. Is there stillness now? Are you remembering stillness? She said she can appreciate that there's


stillness in between things, or like there's, some people might say, there's silence between the words. That's one way to get some idea of it. But, in another sense, the stillness I'm talking about is inconceivable. So, it doesn't fit into, like, at the same time as things, or in between them. Yeah, it's not like it's still left. Yeah, yeah. So, I thought that's kind of a timely question. The Bodhidharma figure, or the picture that I've seen of Bodhidharma, that's kind of alarming to me. The pictures she's seen of Bodhidharma are kind of alarming, she said. Thank you for bringing that up. He's not so, he's not gorgeous.


No, he's not like, he doesn't seem like, without imagined compassion to me. He's, what do you call it, he's one of those beings that you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. Right? Whoa, scary! He's a scary guy. He's a guy. He's kind of burly. He looks crazy. Yeah. And yeah, so didn't they have explanations of why he looks so crazy? Huh? Well, one is, his eyes look crazy because, they say, because he cut his eyelids off. So he wouldn't fall asleep. Pardon? Once again? Did it work? Did it work? Yeah, it did. Not only did he not go to sleep, but billions of other people didn't.


He had a contagious wakefulness. That's the story, that he cut his eyelids off so he could stay awake, and then he put his eyelids on the ground, and the tea plant was born. Huh? Green tea. And, yeah, that's one story about him. I'm not sure, but it might be that he realized that in order for the emperor to understand him, the emperor had to take a long walk. It was just too easy for the emperor to say, come here, come here, great teacher, give me another chance. But, this is me talking, it doesn't say in most of the records,


if the emperor would walk from, basically, southern China to northern China, where Bodhidharma went, by the time he got there, he might be ready to hear and meet Bodhidharma. But I think he had to make a little bit more effort than he was ready to make. And again, his court teacher didn't say, he won't come back, but you could go see him. And then if he got up there, Bodhidharma probably would have done something to help him make even more effort so that he could surrender himself to his compassion. Or, I shouldn't say his compassion. Surrender himself to compassion. Give himself to compassion. Donate himself to compassion. Not Bodhidharma's compassion, not your compassion, compassion. It's here, around us, all the time.


We are in solidarity with it, but we have to train in order to surrender ourselves to it. So, Bodhidharma keeps surrendering himself to it. And then, you know, you can join his surrendering by surrendering yourself to this compassion. So, if the emperor would surrender himself, if he would surrender himself, he wouldn't need to see Bodhidharma. But he might have to take a long walk in order to get into the surrendering. Does that make sense? So, Bodhidharma does look pretty scary. And then, because he doesn't have eyelids, his eyes are just, you know, like Christina's. She was going... So, his eyes are very big. And he's, you know,


now in China, he's kind of like a deity. And in Japan, they have these Daruma dolls. Have you heard of them? The Daruma dolls are Bodhidharma. And if you go and, you know, they're like festival dolls. They're little, shaped like this, you know, like a sitting figure, often red robes with a beard and big eyes, and then children, or not just children, but part of the festival is you paint the eyes in. So, this whole culture of, you know, the eyes, the eyes of compassion, and they're big. Kind of like those Keen drawings, right? They're big eyes of compassion with the eyelids removed. And they're very intense. And kind of scary. If you could, you know,


if you could actually see the compassion, it might be kind of scary if you could actually see how big it is, how utterly enormous and all-pervading compassion really is. You know, maybe it would be hard to, like, accept it. So we have to gradually work ourselves up to accept it and give ourselves to it. But that's what the silent sitting is for, is to surrender to this great compassion and then let it flow out of you, let it flow out of you, into social action. And then come back and sit and meditate again and settle into it, give yourself to it, give yourself to it, and then if you give yourself to it, it will be given through you. Yes? Can you say a little more about we can't move from where we are? I find that to be my own problem.


Well, you know, where you... In the moment you're where you are, you can't move from there. Otherwise you wouldn't be there. Like right now, you're there, you can't be someplace else. But things change and then you're, like, on the other side of the room. But when you're on the other side of the room, you're over there, you're not where you are now. You're always where you are. Many years ago, I went to a... You know, I went on vacation up by Clear Lake and they had this free music festival and on the front of the... I think on the front of the stage where they were playing, they had this Zen phrase which... Something like... What was it? How did it go? It went like... Wherever you go, that's where you are. So, you know...


And then things change and you're someplace else. But you're always where you are in the moment. Well, doing something with it... Doing something with it will spontaneously arise when you accept it. Just like when you accept it, then your hand just reaches back for the pillow in the night. There's no... Did you say what you're supposed to do? There's no supposed to. There's not supposed to. There's no supposed to. They're just what you do. So you're wherever you are. You're wherever you are. And if you completely... Nothing to do about that. Yeah... Well, there really isn't anything to do about it. You can try to do something about it, but that's just another moment. And then you're stuck in trying to do something about it. That's what you're doing. Trying to do something about it is not giving yourself to it.


It's not surrendering yourself to where you are and who you are. But when you surrender yourself, in the next moment, actions will come from that surrender. And those actions are not what you're supposed to do. They're what you're doing. And then you can surrender yourself to I'm doing this. I'm talking to Tracy. I'm listening to Reb. But you're not moving? In the moment, I'm not moving. But I just saw this hand come up and touch my eye. But that was many moments. That was many different positions of my hand. And each... When my hand was halfway to my face, it was exactly halfway. It wasn't like a third of the way. It couldn't be a third. It was a half. And it wasn't three-fourths. It was halfway. And then when it touched my face, it was touching my face and it wasn't not touching my face. And then when it moved away,


it was where it was. You always are where you are. Everybody knows that. Right? Zen is pervaded to that extent. But do you surrender yourself to that simple fact? The answer is, well, I'm training at it. I want to. Why do I want to? Because I think then my action, rather than being to what I should be doing, it will be action to express compassion. Not mine. Not yours. But compassion. So I'm proposing that the deep compassion comes from this stillness and silence. It comes from the way you understand things when you're not trying to get anything from them. When you're with things and you try to get something and essentially distract yourself from just being with them. And when you don't distract yourself from being with things, action arises from that.


But it's a different action It's hard for you to attend to the action because you just skipped over attending to the last action. So now you don't attend to this one. So you keep missing the virtue of your life. Yeah. Gloria, did you have... I mean, it's just helping me understand two things that were really popular. One, I think, what we would call a sign. Jeff Goldblum would always, you would go wherever you go, there you are. And we were just like, wow! And I feel that in this moment. And the other thing is the diamonds. Because I love them when I lived in Japan. They were everywhere, but the way I first learned it was they got the little empty eyes. And you set a goal, you paint one eye.


When you paint the other, when you paint the goal, you get the other eye. Did you hear that? So they have these dolls, and what she learned was the way you use them is you buy these little dolls, and they can be this size. If they get really small, it's hard to paint the eyes. So they're often about this size, but they can be much bigger. So one way you use them is you buy them and the eyes are empty. They're just white. And then you have a goal or a wish, and then you paint the eye in. And I think there's also the teaching of paint them carefully. And then, when your wish comes true, you paint the other one in. Because then the dharma is in eternal bliss or something. You know, it's like this changes. As you do this carving for yourself, you allow this dharma to manifest.


Yeah. Yes. Going back to Tracy, from there, your comment. I find this incredibly difficult right now because of technology. I'm not trying to blame technology. You're not blaming it. You're just saying it's difficult. Yeah. I'm not blaming you. I'm just saying you're difficult. You're challenging. I have to evolve to a really high level to deal with you. Thank you. Any suggestions? Yeah, I have a lot of suggestions. I have a lot of suggestions. Most of what I say are suggestions. So, if I think it would be good for me


if I remembered stillness when I encounter technological events. Can I remember stillness and touch these screens? Yes, I can. Do I sometimes not remember? Yes, I do. But could I have and still perform the procedure? Yes, I could. Figure skaters can do triple axels and remember stillness. And they get trained to remember stillness when they do those movements because they cannot afford not to remember stillness when they do those movements. They cannot be someplace else


when they jump off the ice into this thing. They cannot be someplace else. Now, some people leave the ground and they can be somewhere else and then they crash. But to actually succeed at that you have to be very much where you are in each moment as you're spinning through. You have to be there. And if you look away, you crash. So, it is possible. But we don't require that. These devices, a lot of devices we're working with are called user-friendly. They're friendly to the user. They do not require the user to remember stillness.


We could have computers where if you lose your stillness the computer just goes off. You know, either goes off or yells at you. Like Virginia Woolf wrote a book called To the Lighthouse. If you're reading that and you are not remembering stillness, for most people it's almost impossible to understand. This guy, what's his name, this current novelist named Jonathan Franzen, he says, I think the important thing for novelists or novels is to help people concentrate. So somehow they write in a way


that you're attracted to but it requires you to pay attention. So how can you write in an attractive way and also require people, make people want to stay with you because they realize if they don't stay with you they lose you. And so a lot of people do require that but then no one reads them. So, you know, it's too bad because they're not helping people too much because nobody's doing the work, making the effort that would require for them to read their books. You know, what's his name? James Joyce or Jonathan Franzen's good friend. What's his name? David Foster Wallace. He kind of requires it. If you're willing to do it, you know,


but if you don't concentrate it's almost impossible to finish his book. So anyway, the stuff we use is not requiring you to remember silence and stillness but you could. The people who use some technology they need to remember silence and stillness in order to operate it. Those devices are not user-friendly. They're user-challenging, not challenging their stillness but, yeah, they're challenging their stillness but they're also saying not challenging their stillness like don't be attentive. So there's actually, I think, there's a combination with user-friendly and not needing to remember stillness and also being more susceptible to what's on the screen. So you'll buy something. And so you'll press certain things. So it would be very helpful


if we all remembered stillness when we use these devices. It would be very helpful. And we could show other people how to do it. But it's hard. But I think possible. So let's try to do that. Let's try to remember stillness the next time we encounter one of these devices. And if you turn the radio on, the same. Try to remember stillness when you turn the radio on. Now the radio is not as difficult. So when you notice you're not, or when you notice you're forgetting stillness, turn the radio off and go back to remember stillness, which is, when I say turn the radio on, I mean in the car. If you're listening to the radio and you notice you're forgetting stillness, turn the radio off and that will not hurt your driving at all.


I find that remembering stillness when I'm driving, I think is really good. And my driving, I feel, is better. However, you can drive, as you know, without paying any attention. You know, it's your unconscious cognitive processes that are driving. And you can talk to people in daydream and, you know, all kinds of stuff. You don't have to be there. You don't have to be quiet. But being quiet, I think, is really helpful when you're driving. And if you do things like turn the radio on, which aren't necessary, you can drive without having the radio on, right? If you turn anything on to entertain yourself, see if you can stay present and silent when you turn it on. And then if you can't, turn it off and enjoy the ride in silence and stillness. You can remember it while you're driving. And it's actually not that hard when you're driving. And the driving actually is kind of calling you,


please pay attention. And being still helps you pay attention. You notice much more than if you have the radio on. I think, what do you think? I think, I don't know. I imagine that when most people take driver's tests these days, they do not have a lot of music blaring. I think they're kind of concentrated on the test. But after they pass the test, they may get somewhat distracted while they're driving. So, yeah, let's try to do that. Let's make a vow, you and I, to try to remember stillness and silence when we're using technology. And then we can report back to each other how our practice is going, okay? Can you just throw it away? Hm? Can you just throw it away? But if you do, remember stillness when you throw it. And remember stillness when you watch it crash into the bowl


and sink, and sink down. Take pictures of it. Yeah, take pictures of it. With another technology. And send us pictures. And when you do send us the pictures, remember stillness when you send us the pictures. That's what we're going to work on, okay? I watched one person operate a computer, and it was like watching a pianist. And I don't know what was going on with him, but, again, people can play the piano in these beautiful ways and remember stillness. As a matter of fact, at the highest levels, I think they remember silence and stillness. So you can do that with a computer, but you have to train to be able to have that kind of presence when you're on a high level of performance. But they could mutually enhance each other. Yes?


Yeah, I think it's kind of the result of it. Because concentration can be applied to things other than remembering stillness. So you can remember stillness without actually thinking of it. You can actually be the result of remembering stillness, in other words, be concentrated. But then you can turn your concentration onto compassion. So that's what we're talking about. Remembering stillness, and then in stillness, look at suffering beings with compassion. But, again, the way you look at them when you're concentrated is deeper and clearer and more open than if you look at them when you're not concentrated. So remembering stillness helps us concentrate. It comes to fruit.


Continuously or frequently and steadily remembering stillness, you become calm because you let go of your thinking. Once you're calm, you can then turn this concentration onto your meditation on compassion. But this meditation on compassion is living in the middle of your body having realized the stillness. You don't have to remember it then because your body is holding it in its openness and stillness. In its presence, in the moment, it's realizing rather than thinking about. So we start, again, as I often say to you, start with remembering stillness, then receive it. Remember it and then receive it and then practice it. When you're practicing it, you're not at that moment necessarily remembering it and receiving it.


You're just being the stillness in the middle of everything. And then, from that place of being the stillness or practicing it, transmit it. And you transmit it just like reaching for a pillow in the middle of the night. You just naturally, the light of the concentration, which is the embodiment or the realization of the stillness, has a light. And that light just naturally goes out to people in a thousand arms. Thank you for your question. Yes? Why do you recruit stillness? Why what? Well, the deeper truth is in the movement. It's there too. But if you forget the stillness,


you don't see the truth of the movement. Pardon? Yeah, I think it's more basic in the sense, it's starting from we're here. So, you know, we're here first in a way. And then we move. We don't start moving. When you start, you start. You didn't start before you started. You didn't move into starting. You started. So, in a sense, stillness is, the position you're in is more basic than where you might go or where you've been. So, yeah, so we do emphasize Dharma position, your actual true position, rather than where you're going. So if you realize your Dharma position, then you change from your position into another position. So, and another thing that goes with this


is that when you realize your position, this is so wonderful, when you realize your position, you don't hold it. You're more open to give up your position when you realize it. But if you don't realize it, you kind of think you can hold on to it. When you really realize your position, you know you can't do it and hold on to it. But if you're moving, you think you can hold on to things. I mean, if you think you're moving and you're not in this position, then you think you can hold on to things. Yeah, so non-attachment goes with being where you are. Because where you are is where you give up where you are. Okay, it's getting close to the time to stop. Not to say people are frigid-ing or anything. Yes?


A tiny announcement from Charlie. So if anybody wants to do that, you can talk to me and I'll give you the phone number. The Alzheimer's research group. And she lives in Berkeley. I think she lives in this town, which isn't really a town, Lafayette. I tried to find her. I went to visit her one time, and I put in... Oh, Kensington, yeah. Is Kensington a town? Anyway, I put it in my GPS and I couldn't... I put in blah, blah, blah, Kensington, and didn't know what I was talking about. Anyway, she lives in Kensington, I think. So, thank you for making that announcement.


And I think I know some people who would like to do that. Yes? Pardon? Did this grow out of my back? In a way, yeah. So I practiced sitting still, and then these flowers came. I didn't make them come, but because I sit still, flowers come. Thank you. Thank you very much.