Silent Sitting & Social Action

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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.

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is bondage for a bodhisattva. And social action without silent sitting is also bondage for a bodhisattva. Silent sitting with social action is liberation for a bodhisattva. social action with silent sitting is also liberation for a bodhisattva. Another way to say it is to practice meditation with a dualistic or sentimental compassion is bondage for a bodhisattva.


To practice meditation with great compassion is liberation for a bodhisattva. So, we've talked about sentimental compassion in various ways, but one of the basic ways that compassion can be sentimental is by holding a dualistic idea of self and other, or the liberation of this practitioner and the liberation of others. That's like, I wish that others would be liberated, but I hold some dualistic idea, the practice with such an idea is bondage. And the other way to do the practice, to do meditation without that, without entertaining dualistic ideas, is liberation.


And I also want to put in a good word for sentimental compassion, which is sometimes sentimental compassion is appropriate. In other words, sometimes a dualistic compassion is being called for. However, at that moment the bodhisattva is willing to be in bondage. in order to do that kind of compassion, because sometimes that compassion is needed in order to help somebody become free. Yes? How do you know if the compassion you're experiencing is sentimental? How do you know? Well, if you think it is, you're probably right.


If you think other people's liberation is something other than your own, if you think that, and you want them to be liberated, you want people to be free of suffering, and you think that their freedom is different from your freedom, that's kind of like sentimental capacity. That's one version of it. So if I think like that, that doesn't mean you can't think like that, it just means if you would actually indulge in that, that would be bondage. And that wouldn't, in the long run, liberate people. But sometimes people need something before liberation. And particularly, it's nice to give somebody who has a non-dualistic attitude towards compassion, who, because of that, is willing to take on a dualistic kind of compassion, in order to show people that the people who are practicing great compassion are not attached to great compassion.


They're willing to do small-scale compassion, if it would help people. Yes? Do you have an example of that? One thing that comes to mind is being willing to talk to people with dualistic language. And actually talk in terms of me and you. And go along with that kind of idea. It might be really helpful to people, and get them ready. to go beyond that with you. Another example, I'm not saying I'm a great bodhisattva or anything, but when my daughter was young she sometimes would, I don't know what, be frustrated with me or something.


And I didn't really think her frustration was funny. You know, I wanted her to be free of frustration, but then in her frustration she would sometimes say things to try to, like, get to me, so to speak. But sometimes the things she would say were like, I hate you. And to me that was really funny that she would say that she hated me. I thought that was really funny. Obviously she doesn't hate me because she so much wants to say that to me, more than almost anybody else in the world right now. And I just thought, you know, she called me various names, you know, and I just, I would often laugh. And that was more frustrating to her. But, you know, So, finally, one time, she didn't exactly say she hated me, but she said something.


And I didn't laugh, and it really got to me, and that was really important for her. She stunned me, but I just showed the impact. I was very helpful to her, just to see. She was trying, not exactly to stun me, but she was trying to, like, see that she had an effect on me. In a, you know, in a kind of critical way, being critical of me. And I accepted that, and I stayed present with it, and it was really helpful to her. something in the short term to alleviate someone's suffering, like giving food to someone who's hungry, or helping someone in this country immigrate, either one-on-one or as part of a social, you know, joint social action to change things.


Do those fit into that category? Well, those actions could be done as expressions You are not holding any idea like their hunger being satisfied or their miseries being... No sense of that's different from my liberation. My liberation is your liberation. And I could do any of those examples with the understanding that you being free or helped in that way was the same as me. And you being encouraged in that situation is the same as my encouragement. But also, if it would help the situation for me to hold on to a dualistic understanding, along with the same action, then I would do that too. I would want to do that too.


So it might be helpful if someone not only helped you, and they try it on, I'm helping you rather than you're helping me. People might want you to think that way, that you're helping them. They don't want you to have an understanding that they're helping you. They're not ready for that. But of course, great compassion understands that it's not like Great compassion is we're helping each other. There's no duality. Your liberation is my liberation, but if it would help people move forward into a deeper understanding of their life, to give them some practical assistance, and also engage in the idea that I helped you, you could do that too.


wouldn't have to say it, but you could just think that way, and then they could say to you, thank you for helping me, and you could say, yeah, you're welcome. Rather than, you know, not be willing to do that, because you don't see it that way. Because I don't see it dualistically, I can see it dualistically. If you see it dualistically, You have to get over that to see it non-dualistically, but once you get over seeing it dualistically, if it's helpful to people, you can see it dualistically. But sometimes it's helpful to people to show them that you don't see it that way, so they can see it that way too. But sometimes it's really helpful for them to see, actually, you helped them. All these examples you do, people could understand that they did you a big favor letting you give them these gifts.


At a certain point, they're ready for that. But maybe not when they're young. A child might not be ready for that. Well, anyway, Zen and Zen practice, we do spend quite a bit of effort on sitting in silence and stillness and cultivating a calm, relaxed mind. And to do that without engaging in skillful means or techniques to liberate others, that would be a bondage for bodhisattvas. And some bodhisattvas do have that kind of bondage. They actually are practicing it without having it be conjoined, united with liberating technique.


And then they experience bondage. But again, that usually is not the way to go. But sometimes it might be. Yes? Well, how could you, let's see, if you engage in silent stillness, and you're a Bodhisattva engaging in that, how could it not be enjoined with benefiting others? How could it not be? Well, in fact, in fact, in fact, it cannot, it cannot not be. It has to be. So, you are, as a bodhisattva, you're vowing to walk the path of Buddhahood, so... Oh, by the way, there is a path where people do practice these practices in order to be free of the world.


And for some people who have vowed to become personally free of the world, for them it's not a bondage, for them it's a liberation. would be a bondage. So for some beings to do practices like silent sitting to become liberated from the world, for them it's not bondage. For bodhisattvas to do meditation practices to get free of the world would be bondage. For a bodhisattva it's hard, you know, maybe it's a moment where you forgot... What moment were you forgetting? And, but, for a bodhisattva to engage the world with liberated techniques, that's liberation for a bodhisattva.


ways to liberate beings, that's the bodhisattva's liberation. To try to get away from the world, it would be the bodhisattva's bondage. It's like a bodhisattva falling into a pit, if they turn away from their path. But it's not an eternal falling into a pit, it's only temporary. All falls are temporary. Yes, Elizabeth? How do you know if you're on the path? How do you know? Well, one way you would know would be to be completely enlightened, then you would know you're on the path. And before that, you're being told by the enlightened ones that whether you know it or not, you are.


So whether you know it or not, whether you know it or not, you are. Whether you think you are or not, too. You could say, well, I don't really know that I'm on the path, but I think I am. Or, if you think you are, you are. And if you think you're not, you are. Also, if you don't want to be, you are. And not wanting to be is calling for compassion. And if you practice compassion, you will realize that you are. You will realize it. If you think you're not on the path, or that you don't want to be on the path, and you don't practice compassion with that, then you probably think you're not on the path, and you still will be on the path.


You are on the path. This teaching is, you're on the same path as the Bodhisattvas, therefore you're a Bodhisattva. And also, the Bodhisattvas have the same path as the Buddhas. Therefore, bodhisattvas are buddhas, but they don't realize it the way buddhas do what they are. Buddhas understand that bodhisattvas are the same as them, and they teach bodhisattvas, you're the same as me. Just like sometimes mothers and fathers look at their children, they look in their eyes and either they say out loud or they think, you're the greatest thing, and you're just like me. Or vice versa. Buddhas look at us and they think you're just like me, but you don't know it yet. And even if you think you are, you still don't know it.


But you're right. If you think you're the same as Buddhas don't agree with you, but they think they're just like you, who don't agree with them. So we are on the same path as Buddhas. They see it, we don't. But we hear about it, like now, you're hearing about it. So, when you actually realize that you're on the path, then you're easily have always been on the same path as them, and they send us that message. What's their message to us? You're on the same path as us, and therefore you're on the same path as everybody, and everybody's on the same path as you. So in this way, we're all on the same path, in the same practice, and we're in the process of realizing that.


And you can believe it today and not believe it tomorrow, and then believe it the next day. Those are three moments on the path. You can think it's so without even believing it, and that's the moment of the path. You can think it's so and think it's true that you think it's so, and you're always on the path. And whatever you think, If you practice compassion towards what you're thinking, you will eventually realize that no matter what you're thinking, you always were on the path, and now you awaken to it. Yes? Yes, the idea of practicing compassion is always confusing to me, because practicing sounds like volitional, and When I feel compassion, it's just I'm not pushing a button.


You can do that kind, go right ahead. It's nice to have somebody like you in the room. Thank you for coming. Some other people actually wish, they have wishes, like they wish, Buddha's wish that people will be free of suffering. They don't necessarily think they pushed a button when they wished. So here you've got a Buddha, his wish comes up. And it's the wish that people not only will be free of suffering, but that people will open to Buddha's wisdom. They wish that. And so on. They have these wishes for living beings that arise in their awakening. have such wishes.


And then people hear about Zen, that we have no wishes or no desires. Well, in mature Zen practice, you're not stuck in your wishes and stuck in your desires. So the Buddhas also, they have these wishes, but they don't abide in their wishes. And not abiding in their wishes, their wishes like beings will be free of being stuck in their wishes. What's their wish? And then they don't abide in that wish either. And then they transmit that to us. Yes? Does that mean we have to let go of our attachment to great compassion? Does it mean we have to? Well, you could talk like that if you want to, if you have to.


I would say, on the bodhisattva path, it is required, at some point, to let go of great compassion. Do you see? Let go of great compassion. Let go of the bodhisattva path. Let go of Buddha. Great compassion leaps beyond great compassion. So at some point, that will be your function, is to leap beyond the best thing in your life. And if it's great compassion, it spontaneously leaps beyond itself. Okay? Are you ready? Yes, and that leaping beyond would be great compassion.


That's what great compassion does. So if great compassion came to you, which it could, and you hesitated or got excited, you might fall into it. And then that's not great compassion. You lost it. So we have this expression, if you're excited, you fall into a pit. Excited about what? Well, great compassion. Which is, great compassion is wisdom joined with skill and means. It's not just wisdom. It's wisdom fulfilled. Okay, and if that should pop up in your life, you might get excited about it, and then if you do, you fall into a pit. Now, one translation says, it becomes a pit, a pitfall, if you get excited.


I'd rather say, if you get excited, you fall into a pit. Because it isn't like, it. It's a pitfall. It's like the web relating to it. If you see how wonderful, like you brought up last week, you said, well, is this joy like getting, what's the word, elated? Yeah. If you see this wonderful, great compassion floating around someplace, and don't even think you own it, which is really where it's at, then you might say, not only is that wonderful, but I'm not even being possessive of it. Well, wow! And you might get so excited you fell into it. This is wonderful that I feel this compassion which is so vast and so non-dual. This is life at its most alive. And then, what's fine so far? But then if you get excited, you fall into a pit. Also, if you see it and you hesitate, you kind of fall into a pit.


So you come into the realization of how your life is other people's life. How your liberation is other people's liberation. come to realize that, and you feel great joy about it in realizing it. And you even feel joy as you approach realizing it. And then leaping beyond it is like not getting excited about it. Like, this is great, let's move on. Like I'm editing a new book on the six perfections, There was an example I put in one of the chapters which got deleted, but I'll tell you about it. This is an outtake. So the outtake is a scene from the end of a book called Babe.


Do you know the book called Babe? So this pig, performs a kind of a miracle of herding sheep better than the sheep dogs do. Like, he wins like a national championship at sheep herding. Which of course, you know, of course pigs are smart enough to do it, but usually they're not that interested. Anyway, this pig, for whatever reason, an excellent sheep herder. And after winning the championship, Babe, is the name of the pig, and her trainer are walking away from the awards ceremony. And I think maybe Babe was going to do a little bit more herding or something, I don't know what. But anyway, the trainer says, that'll do, pig. So like, well do, great compassion.


That's enough, let's go on. Let's not hang out here in this marvelous situation, the supreme situation of life. Let's not camp out here. Come on, let's go. But there's a danger there. And maybe somebody says, that'll do. That'll do. Let's go. Again, what pops in my mind is King Lear. After he wakes up, you know, he says, ripeness is all. Ripeness is all. Let's go. You know this scene? faithful daughter as he was blinded, and he wakes up from the dream, and then he's ready to go, but it's too late.


The consequences of the karma give rise to this tragedy, and part of the tragedy is he finally wakes up to what a good father he is, because a good father has a great daughter, right? That's what a good father is. And so he woke up, oh, it's not like I have a bad daughter, I have a great daughter! Wow! Now we can really live! Now that I realize what I've been involved in, and ignorant of, now I wake up to, I've been an excellent father, because look at my amazing, faithful, courageous daughter. Even when I was cruel to her and stupid towards her, she still just boomed. And now I see it. And so now this is it. But let's go. We're not going to camp out here. Let's go. And then she gets killed because of the consequences of his narcissistic camping out.


But when he woke up, he didn't camp out. He was ready to go. And the same with Hamlet at the end. He woke up too. But again, the consequences of karma. We didn't get to enjoy his middle age. But he woke up and he said, readiness is all. So he also woke up. We're working together, and we're all on the same path. Let's be ready for that. Which means be ready for everything that's happening, right? This idea, this idea, this feeling, this feeling, this person, that person... Be ready for each thing. And don't cap out in anything. Take care of everything, and then what'll do, pig?


each thing in your mind, be ready for great compassion. Which you understand, because you've been educated, that it must already be here. And so I'm not making it happen, I'm not making great compassion, it's more like I'm just ready for it, ready for it, ready for it. It's my job to be ready for it, because if I'm not ready for it, One possibility is, when it comes, I'll hesitate. When it comes, I'll hesitate. The other possibility is, when it comes, I'll get excited. If I'm ready for it, maybe I can like, okay, thank you, let's go. And I have another story which, again, I'm sorry, it might cast somebody in a favorable light. But anyway, a friend of mine, an old Dharma friend of mine, in a rainstorm in California, in a cavern,


in a canyon. I was in a monastic place, excavating, you know, for the path. And I got word that over the mountain, on the other side of the canyon, somebody had shown up and said, you know, my name is so-and-so, and I want to go into Tassajara. I want to go over the mountain into the canyon. And the person said, well, usually you can't do it. And so then he said, he mentioned my name. And the person called me and said, is it OK with you if he comes in? Something like that. And I said, yeah. So then he came in, in this rainstorm. And he comes in, and he comes and knocks on the door. If I hadn't been warned, I might have done something different, but my response was, oh, it's you.


This amazing visitation. And I responded like I should have if I didn't know anything. That's why I'm not like starved. But who knows, maybe I would have said, oh, it's you. It's kind of like, oh, it's you. Who's that? Oh, it's the one I've been waiting to meet for a long time. Oh, it's my best friend, showing up out of nowhere. That's really the way it is all day long. So, isn't that amazing?


It's you! And me! Wow, what a coincidence! So is that what's meant by not being intoxicated by things? That would be, yeah, that would be like not being intoxicated. Like really appreciating and not getting intoxicated. But sometimes you might get intoxicated by something. Or not somebody who's bi to something, but in relationship to something, if we become intoxicated, we might try to grab it. But if we're very happy to meet something and we're not intoxicated, we don't try to grab it. We're upright and respectful. We understand, this thing that's come to visit is... This is not better or worse than anything, and that's not better or worse than anything.


This is life. This is reality, and it's not better than anything else. That's reality. Reality is that this is not better than anything else, and nothing else. meet things that way and not get excited about it, then you can act accordingly to this wonderful moment, which nothing's better than and nothing's worse than. It's just, this is such, this is the way it is, and we're not getting excited about it. And so we don't make the mistake of trying to hold on to it. But even lesser things, we sometimes might not remember not to grab them. So, the Buddha taught five, I think, contemplations, which are, life is subject to, or at risk of, being lost.


Life is subject to Your mind is subject to, or at risk of being lost. Your reputation, and so on. Everything you hold dear is subject to, or threatened by, possibly at risk of being lost. He recommended that you be mindful of that. He says, if you're mindful, if you without being mindful of that, When life comes, we might get intoxicated by it. I think youth was another example. When youth comes, you might become intoxicated by it. When health comes, you might become... So it's not that youth and health and life are bad things, it's that not remembering that these things are impermanent, you can get intoxicated by them. Does that make sense? People see youth, and they don't remember how fragile it is, and then they can get quite intoxicated about it, and then they can kind of, like, grab it.


Do you understand? So there's a lot of grabbing at youth in this world, and it's been going on for a long time. And it's kind of a biological thing. Youth, which as we know now, is often very unwholesome and violent, and can really do harm to people, even though somebody did get something out of it. But also the price of it is maybe a huge trauma, right? Because somebody got intoxicated, and when you're intoxicated, you sometimes forget to be careful. Does that make sense? So, with something like youth, if you're not mindful that this wonderful, beautiful youth is impermanent, and you get intoxicated, then you behave inappropriately or unskillfully.


and life itself, or health. People can get very excited about health. But with the Buddha's teaching, when health comes, you can say sincerely, thank you for coming, health, I'm grateful for the visit, and not get excited, and not do something inappropriate about it. Not get too excited. One time I had a cyst on my hand, I was there for a long time, and I looked down one day, and I saw that it was gone. And I got quite excited about it. And then I looked, I think, at my other hand and found another cyst. And I really felt silly, how excited I got about this going. So now, when something like that happens, I got this little thing. Well, that's really nice, but be careful! It doesn't mean that this isn't to prevent the next thing, it's just how silly to get excited about this stuff, because more stuff, more cysts are coming.


And in the meantime, let's not get too excited, so when the next cyst comes, we can say, welcome. And I'm ready. This cyst went away, now I'm ready for the next one. Who or what will the next one be? I don't know where it's going to come from, but I want to practice being ready for the next whatever. That's the path we're trying to learn. And we are learning that. We are learning that. Yes, Agnes. Yes, Agnes. I have a question. Just because I feel that my path I started by accepting a lot when I was a kid.


Because I was always thinking, OK, this is life. Maybe there is something good there. So I was more like that. But I think that could be a sentimental way to be like that. Could be. But also sounds pretty good. Yeah. But then there is always a question of limits. I feel that sometimes I've not been respected because of that. Oh, I see. So I had to learn. I feel that my past was too long to have a dualistic way. So I think what some people have to do, for whatever reason they're quite accepting, still in their consciousness there may be some limits that appear in their consciousness.


So they might have to learn how to let people know about their limits. But it is possible that I feel a limit and I'm very I'm not respecting my limits. So I have a limit. I see you're not respecting it, maybe. And I accept that you're not respecting it. And I understand you really need to know something about me. I have something to tell you. And guess what it is? That's a skill. Now, some people do not accept the people who are, you know, you could say violating their limits. They don't accept them, they don't respect them, so then when they tell the other people about it, the other people have trouble, they don't understand it as well. Because they sometimes, because they, yeah, because they don't respect the other person who's not respecting them.


So if you can accept the other person not knowing about your limits, then that would maybe support you respecting them. They don't know. Again, like I've told you many stories about my grandchildren. My grandchildren don't know. So my granddaughter slaps me in the face all of a sudden. So I have to teach her about limits. It's easier or more natural and more effective for me to teach her if I already accept that she doesn't know and that she acted that way. And then so I can tell her from the place of accepting her, but I'm also telling her, there's this limit here if I want you to learn about swimming. So how can I tell her? Were you here last week? Anyway, she's the one. Did I tell you a story about her peeing in the swimming pool? So she peed in the swimming pool, and she knew she wasn't supposed to.


So then afterwards she told her mother, but as her mother reported, she was, we say, beside herself. She was like, just totally in ruins. So, when she slaps me in the face, you know, no reason, just for fun. She knows she can't hit the kids in her school that way. I think with this guy I can maybe hit him as hard as I want. Because, as her brother said, with granddaddy you can do no wrong. Which is true. Those kids can do no wrong. When she slapped me? Yeah, I said... I went... I said, that was really hard.


It was really hard. And I said, that was really hard. That was okay. And then I started to talk to her a little bit about... But actually, that was... For me, you know, I'm a big man, so... But, you know, I started talking about... But with the other kids, you know... And she goes, But even that gentle information was really hard for her. If I hadn't been respectful to her, that would have just been traumatic, and it would not have been a learning experience. And she does like to try out stuff on me, like jump on me, kick me in the face, and stuff like that. And I said, you can kick me in the chest, but not in the face. So I show her the limits, you know, and she's learning them, but I'm never like, I'm respecting her limits. And her limits are like, she cannot take very strong feedback because she's very sensitive. She's already like, when she feels like she does something off, she feels it very deeply.


So, because I accept her, her experiments on me. I really do. But I also feel like there's limits. And like, kicking me in the face, I feel like, hmm... So I tell her. And I also told you the story about her... I have some other grandchildren who are... Well, her brother is twelve years older than her. And he also would, like, pinch me and stuff to see, you know, does that hurt? No. Does that hurt? No. Does that hurt? Yes. Does that hurt? Yeah. Does that hurt? I think you should stop. But he wasn't doing wrong, he was learning, he was learning the limits of my body, which I'm happy to serve him in that way. And he has some cousins, and they're not really cousins, but anyway, other grandchildren, one time I was visiting them and they were playing with my face and they put their hands in my mouth when they were little, and their hands fit, even two children's hands would fit.


So they put their hands in my mouth, and I said, you can do that, but your hands are really dirty. They taste really bad. So if you want to put them in, you've got to go wash them. So they went and washed them, and then they came back and put their hands in my mouth again, and I said, no, you didn't wash them well enough. So they tried again, and then they came back, and their hands smelled clean and tasted okay. We are here to teach people how to be skillful with other people's limits. And loving them and appreciating them helps us, like, say, I've got a limit for you. Wash your hands. Take a bath. don't eat sugar at seven at night. We have these limits we offer them, but do we offer them from accepting?


Well, we still have to learn how to do that. And it's good not to go too long, because then, if we push ourselves too far, then when we offer the gift of the information of the limit, we may not do it respectfully. So it's good to do it quite soon. I have a gift for you, may I give it? So, the acceptance is good. It's a little like being a grandmother when you're a little girl. But grandmothers and grandfathers Although they're very accepting, they also need to tell the children the limits that are there. Because there are limits that grandparents do feel like. Your hands are too dirty. Please wash. That was really hard. You should know that that's too hard to hit other kids like this.


So this is a skill. But the advantage is you already have this background, which is kind of a grandmotherly background. So you can use that along with Not to control people, but to let them know that they're trying to find out how to love. And they need feedback on what's not appropriate for you. Thank you. You're welcome. Thank you.


Sometimes I tell the grandchildren these stories about them because they may have happened before they can remember. So I tell them so they can have them for the future. I put together a book of stories about my oldest grandson, the oldest grandchild. And how old is he now? He's a freshman at UCLA.


And he's doing very well. And just at Thanksgiving, where everybody was celebrating how well he's doing, I've been grateful for how well he's doing in college. I mentioned to him, I sent him this book. I said, would you check it out and see if you feel okay about me publishing it? So I sent it to him. I said, did you read the book? And he said, no. I said, well, you know, you don't have to read it, but it's okay if I publish it. So he may never read it, but anyway, he told me I could publish it. So how does this connect these stories of their childhood, for example, connect with non-attachment to the past?


Because I think as teachings, I can understand using those teachings the stories of the past that we carry and that we tell, and attachment to those stories. How do you differentiate and distinguish the story that, because we talked about the idea that we're attached to the story of who we are, for example. How does that differ from this, from telling the story I thought I heard several questions there, so... One that you might have asked is... Well, one question that you didn't exactly ask, but the question is, how can we not be attached to our stories of our life?


And then you say, well... I think you got the... the maybe explicit and implicit suggestion that it might be a good to not be attached to the stories of our life. I think maybe I have suggested that. So then you're saying, okay, so again, how can that be the case that we wouldn't be attached to the stories? So, if you want people to be free of attachment to their stories, why do you tell them more stories? That could be another question. Or you could also say, which you didn't exactly say, but, how could telling stories be for the sake of helping people be free of their stories? So actually, I would like to tell my grandson stories about him for the sake of him becoming free of stories about himself.


So I want him to have some good stories, And the basic way to not be attached to stories is... Paying full attention to the story. That's part of it. Noticing that there are stories. Noticing that there are stories, yeah. Tell lots of them. Tell lots of them, she said. You've got lots of stories? She said you couldn't tell them. Tell lots of them, yeah. Tell lots of them, yeah. Tell lots of them. That would be... So the word I was looking for is conversation. So if my grandson has lots of stories, I give him some more. And I give him more, so he's got stories. If I'm not around, he still has lots of stories, of course. So now I'm gonna give him stories, too.


But these stories are given to him for the sake of becoming free of the stories I give him and all the other stories in his life. It's a conversation. It's by conversation that we... I cannot become free of my stories by myself. But in conversation with you is how I become free of my stories, of us, and me, and so on. So yeah, I tell more stories, so that's why I tell my grandson more stories, to add on to the stories. And these stories have his grandfather in them. And if I live long enough, he'll come back and talk to me about these stories. And he'll also come and ask me about some other stories, which he will realize, by conversation, are his stories, and thereby become free of his stories.


And that conversation is great compassion. This is my story, and that's your story. Yes, it's your story, but there's no dwelling in it, your story, and not my story. All your stories are really my stories, and vice versa. But we, somehow, we need to talk, we need conversation to realize that. So is that the same as saying that the stories I mean, one's own stories are kind of universal. There's usually universal empathy or experience of similar things. But your stories are universal? Yeah, in a way, I guess. In the conversation, ultimately, you realize that. Every one of your stories is a universal story. I'm just thinking, too, when you're... When you're telling stories, they become like the human story.


They move out from you, when you tell them that family story. And as I often mention, Good stories hold families or communities together through difficulty. Yes? What are your thoughts on telling dreams? I think those are also excellent opportunities for conversation. Dreams are But they're also, they're just like waking consciousness. They're like consciousness with your eyes open.


There's a self in there. Like I had a dream just recently of some people who were like, I don't remember exactly what they were saying, but it wasn't good. They were talking about me. And I noticed that I was kind of like thinking, you're not being very nice to me. And I was kind of disagreeing with them, too, about whatever it was. I don't remember what it was, but I was just kind of like, that's not very nice, the way you're talking to me. I was having trouble accepting it in my dream. So I think, maybe in my daily life, I also have some problems like that. I mean, in my dreams, with my eyes open, I have problems like that. And in some ways, one of my problems And I need that. Well, not necessarily bad things, but things that make me wonder about myself.


So in that dream, I was kind of wondering about myself, but I was also not very, I don't know what, welcoming to this person who was talking to me. And when I woke up, I kind of remembered quite clearly, which I don't often, of this guy who was taller than me, He was talking to me, and that wasn't exactly disrespectful, but he was kind of harsh. And I thought, somehow this is easy to remember. This image of this harsh person had quite an impact on me. And I did kind of think, yeah, this doesn't happen to me so much. And I think I also wasn't that welcoming to his comments. Well, somewhat welcoming, because it happened in my mind, and I remember it, and I told you about it. So now you're ready for the answer.


What? Now you're ready. You can say, oh, it's you. disturbingly, um, I pranked Donald Trump. Congratulations. Well, he was hanging out, and the problem was, he was quite pissed. Oh my God. I mean... What a nightmare. No, seriously. I found it very disturbing. Yeah, I can imagine. So, he was just, you know, like, in a foreign country, and he was being a tourist. There was just nothing, um, I thought about him, and I was like, you know who you're with. And when I woke up, I was disturbed, because I think there's not a single part of me that wasn't disliking intensely. Wait a second, there was a part of you.


Well, yes. I was seriously surprised. But he was really simplistic. That very night, I was having dinner with some people I worked with, one of whom was a shaman from the Epidural Rainforest. And so I said, well, by the way, I just had this dream. And he said, oh yeah, that makes perfect sense. He says, in the spiritual domain, Donald Trump is perfectly fine. There's nothing wrong with him. In the domain of power, you have a problem with him. But he so wasn't surprised by it. Well, I was surprised. But I have to say that this is, I think, the highest attendance class that we've ever had, particularly at the end, and I kind of feel like it's a special moment.


The way you were in the dream is kind of the way Agnes was talking about. I'm quite accepting of it. And you bring that accepting, and you did, you brought that accepting of this person in a certain realm. But then now, she also needs to express limits, what you're doing. You're saying, okay, I can accept you in my life, you're another human being, on a spiritual level, we're like brother and sister. You're my brother. About the same age. Am I a brother with a hairdo? And I'm looking for ways to tell you, to offer you limits, to tell you things I need you to do. ordinary world, you're kind of like my opponent, or something like that.


But I want to come from this... You're my brother, and your sister has something to ask you to do, or encourage you to do, or help you to do, which I haven't seen you do yet, and I want you to learn it. Yeah, so it's the... The opportunity of dreams is maybe to tap into a spiritual perspective. Since this is the last class, I'm grateful to have learned a lot from it on the topic.


A whole bunch of things have stuck pretty well to start working on. But still, having come through seven weeks, I'm not clear on what the relationship is There's almost all the examples you can give in the real time, things you can do as an individual to help someone else along the path or even just temporarily alleviate their suffering so that they can have sentimental compassion. Where does group social action fit into that? I'm still not clear on that. Before I tell you this, I just want to ask you beforehand to get ready to forgive me for what I'm about to say.


Are you ready? Sure. She can forgive Donald Trump. This is an example of group activity. There's you and me, but also there's this whole group. So this is part of what is you're coming not just to talk to me, but to be with these people. This is a group activity. So accepting one person is a one-person version of a group. But a group can also be many people. So for example, it can be 48 or whatever. This is an example of a group. San Francisco Zen Center is another group. So I actually, my individual practice is to have ink work with groups. And so is yours.


So here you are. And you can also go to another group and do the same thing with another group. So this is a group activity. That's what I would say. And if I go to a supermarket, if I go to a A demonstration is another group activity. Anyway, interacting with groups, social action, is a necessary part of Zen practice, of bodhisattva practice. The way we act in the security line at the airport, The way we act in traffic jams, the way we act wherever we are. I'm in one of the groups here, and you're in other groups, and so am I. And sometimes the group is just two people.


A lot of times, for me, the group is two people. But it's for you, too, right? A lot of times it's just you and one other person. Well, that's social action. For you to be supportive of Barbara John is social action. children with social action. For you to be supportive of the children in your children's schools is social action. For you to talk to your children's teacher, or to influence the way the school works is social action. So, all these are opportunities for social action. We're studying how to extend what we can do in a dream or in a meditation session to every meeting with one, two, and innumerable beings.


That's the overall program. Thank you so much for making this a group and taking care of the group. Now, you coming encourages the other people to come. We're supporting each other to support each other.