Sitting in the Presence of Buddha

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A Dharma talk by Tenshin Roshi for a gathering of the No Abode community.


AI Summary: 

The talk focuses on the inherent presence within individuals, emphasizing that asking whether someone is "present" is meant to awaken them to their existing state of presence, rather than to make them present. This concept is iteratively explored through questioning presence repeatedly, illustrating that acknowledgment of presence isn't about changing state but recognizing an existing condition.

Key discussion elements include:
- The distinction between being present and recognizing one's presence.
- Exploring the concept of "stillness," described not as a forced state but as an inherent trait intertwined with being present.
- Discussion on the Bodhisattva precepts and their reception, highlighting the necessity of seeking to receive what is already freely offered.
- The term "weirdo" is redefined from its original Norse meaning relating to fate, suggesting that true weirdness is about embodying one’s true self or fate.

Overall, the talk serves as a reflective exploration on mindfulness, the recognition of internal states, and the acceptance of inherent traits such as presence and stillness.

AI Suggested Title: "Awakening Inherent Presence"


I wanted to begin by telling you that at certain points during the day there was a little tiny bit of resistance around here. And did you hear me? A little tiny bit of resistance in my awareness, and I feel free of it now. Thank you so much. And also someone said to me that when I use the example of asking somebody, are you present? And they say, no. And I ask again, are you present? And they say, no. And I ask again and they say, yes. That there might have been some sense of that when they said they weren't present, that they weren't present. In other words, when they thought they weren't,


that they weren't. And then when they thought they were, they were. But I don't mean to ask, are you present, so that you'll be present. Because you are already present. What I mean to ask, I ask you, are you present, so you realize that you are. And if you say you're not, you might be playing a joke on me. In other words, I ask you, are you present, and you know you are, but you want me to ask you again. So I do, maybe. It can't be for sure. It's possible I say, are you present, and you say no, and I just call it off. But maybe since I did ask and you say no, I might say, let's just check to see if they're being serious. And so they say no again. But I'm asking the second time, not so you'll be present, but so you'll wake up to that you are. And then when you say you are, I still might say, after you say yes, after I say,


are you present, and you say yes, I still might say, are you present, and you might say no. And again, I might continue to ask you, but I'm not asking you so that you will be present. I'm asking you so that you'll wake up to that that's actually where you're at. Is that Kriya there? Hi, Kriya. Okay, so did you get the distinction? I'm not asking people if they're present so that they'll be present. I'm asking them to look at it so they'll wake up to that they are. I'm not trying to make people who aren't present, present. That's not my job. Maybe somebody's doing that. They got a bunch of people who aren't present. They're trying to get them to be present. That's somebody else from me, although I'm present with that guy or girl who are trying to get people who they think


are not present to be present or get people who think they're not present to be present. You can get people who think they're not present to think they're present. You can do that. You could force them from thinking that they're not present to thinking they are present. There's techniques you can use. Okay, okay, okay, I'm present. I'm here, yeah. Would you please leave me alone now? I want people to realize that we are, but thanks for the question of what I was doing, but are you present? Are you present? Are you present? No, no, yes, but the yes is not like then they became present. That's when they said yes, and then I kept going, they said no, yes. A lot of ways we can do this, right? But the conversation is to wake up to the reality that we are present together, which it kind of entails not resisting where we are.


So then people do this thing called, I don't want to be here, and then it's kind of like they're not present, but that doesn't work. You can't get away from being present just by wishing that you weren't, or which is ... that's one way, but usually the way people do it is they wish they were someplace else or they were feeling something different, but that doesn't take you away. That makes you into that person who wishes they were someplace else, which a lot of you probably seen that person, right, who wishes they were someplace else or feeling something different. Yes, sure. Are you present? Yes, you're present when you're asleep. You know, you'll also be present when you're dead. When you're dead, you're present. Okay, that's you. The incredulous one. We're always present. Birth and death do not push us around.


I'm trying to get my hand up. You did a pretty good job of getting it up there, and as a result of you getting up there, my hand went up. I don't know how that happened. It's called, you know, there's something ... Yeah, okay. What's your hand? What do you want to say? Let's hear it. You talked a while about stillness, and I realized I've been listening to you as if I knew what you were talking about, so I could assume or guess or think that I know that you're talking about some kind of stillness, and I want to know what you are talking about when you say stillness. Well, thanks, and I praise you for noticing that you heard me talking about stillness and you discovered that you had some idea about what I was talking about, and then you thought, well, maybe I don't know what he's talking about. Exactly. Exactly, so that's good. Congratulations. Now that you've had that insight, I can tell you some more. Okay, great. So the stillness I'm talking about, what did I say? It's the way you are. Your stillness is like


your presence. You don't make yourself still, just like you don't make yourself present, but you can be somebody who's present who's trying to make herself present. You could do that. You could be someone who's still who's trying to make herself still. So a lot of meditators are trying to make themselves still. Hey, more power to you, as they say. I love you, people who are trying to make themselves still. I used to try to do that too, but not anymore. Oh, great. Yeah, great. It is great. So there's the physical stillness, and then there's the thing that you... There's the reality stillness. There's that. Which is neither physical nor mental, and that's why it's still, because birth and death don't move it around. We're always completely settled into where we are right now. That's the stillness, and so I often say... Some of you have not been... Almost none of you,


maybe Sonia, has been around long enough to remember when I used to say to people, be still. Do you remember that? Not so long ago, I guess. Be still. Know that I am God. Don't wimp out. And know that I am God? Don't wimp out. Anyway, I used to say, be still, but now I don't say that anymore. I say, I pray that you are still. I pray that this Great Assembly is still. That's my prayer. That's my wish. And in a sense, it's my belief that we are still. So I pray for us to be the way we really are. I pray for this Assembly to be reality. I pray for that. I don't tell you to be reality. I pray that you are, and realize it. And the next thing I might have said... I might have said... I don't think I did, though. Receive stillness. Now I say, I pray that you


receive stillness, because stillness is given to you along with being you. You are given being you. With no wiggling around that, including that you're wiggling. You're a person who's wiggling, completely that type of wiggling as you are. And I say, I pray that the Great Assembly practice this stillness, and that I pray that the Great Assembly transmit it. So another way to say is, I'm praying that the Great Assembly... and I also sometimes, I'll just say, silence that stillness. Which means, I pray that the Great Assembly receive reality. Practice it. And transmit it. And it's not a stillness which I do. It doesn't come or go. And yet, if people are not like


welcoming it, not kind of like asking for it, they may not realize it's being offered. So the Bodhisattva precepts, for example, are being offered, but if you don't ask them, it's not time for you to realize receiving them. So I need to ask in order to receive. It's funny. But it's not that they aren't already being offered. It's just that you're not asking to be admitted into them, and for them to be admitted into you. But when you ask, the process starts. Okay, how are you doing? I'm okay. I realized that I wanted to... I wrote that I wanted to ask you about this in my book, okay? And I realized that would be impossible to explain. What you just conveyed, I couldn't begin to write it down. Well, it's just been recorded. Oh no, I meant just...


You meant what? It's kind of hard to explain. Oh, explain. You explained it, but it's kind of hard to... So if you listen to this, and you do receive it, and you do practice it, you will be able to explain it. It will come from you completely accepting being present. It will come from you being fully accepting stillness. Then you will be able to explain it, and be a weirdo like me. Well, actually be a weirdo like you, actually. A lovely being who is... you can call yourself that, but I don't want to. Okay, then don't. I want to tell you, I have something, and I need to leave a little bit. You can go now. I don't want to leave now, but I want you to know that... If you do leave early, before we all leave, it's not because you don't love us. That's right.


That is right, and that's actually right for everybody. What you're doing is not because you don't love us. I understand. So if you slap me in the face, I know that's not because you don't love me. That's one of the nice things about being a weirdo. Let's see. Next is Sonia. You used to say, don't move. I did. I also used to say, don't move. I used to actually kind of yell it. It sounded like something you could do. Yeah, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. But I'm just kidding. I'm not sorry. Saying don't move set up the present situation, which is so great. So it wouldn't be so wonderful if I hadn't been saying, don't move, for 40 years. It would just get more nuanced. Like, don't move means don't be somebody you're not.


Yeah, and just something that I think you brought it up to my consciousness a long time ago, just thinking about Haley's weirdo, is that you said the source of it is, it's a Norse word, which means fate. The word weird means in Norse, fate. So weirdos are the people who are like, who they're supposed to be, who they really are. The weirdos are people who are settled into their destiny. I think that word means also some kind of spiritual. You can add spirit into weirdness if you want to. But anyway, in Latin, it's tri-fortuna, which means the three fates. And in Norse, they also have three fates, and they call them the three weird sisters. And they're in the beginning of Macbeth, the weird sisters, who are telling Macbeth's destiny.


And so, the funny thing about weird is people use it, kind of what they mean usually is strange, and it's kind of like this, it's kind of so strange that we're this way. It is kind of amazing that we're like this, and that's kind of weird. It's kind of weird that we're just like this, because we are. That's our destiny, is to be like this every single moment, and that's weird. And it's also kind of strange that we wound up to be just like, and that's kind of irony, right? Isn't it strange that I'm like this, rather than, I don't know, something else? But I'm not something else. I'm this. How surprising, how unexpected, weird. So, us people who are who we are are weirdos, but we're not, what do you call it? We're not, what's the other thing? We're not those people


who you can't kill, what are they called? We're not zombies. But sometimes people in the past, in the early days of Zen Center, people thought the Zen Center people were zombies. We're not zombies, we just look like zombies. Which is one of the ways we're weird, is that we look like zombies. But we're not zombies, we're weirdos. Yes, weirdo? I'm on a roll here. So, one day, Huiso was visiting Green Gulch, and this was years ago. Who was visiting Green Gulch? Huiso. Who's that? Suzuki Roshi's son. I thought you said Weezo. I did, I did. I said Weezo. Yeah, I didn't know, Weezo. So, he came in, and this is years ago, and you were obviously up at the front time, and he came in and he kind of was making fun of you. Do you remember that?


No. Because he was puffing out his lips, and he was fluffing out his ribosome, and then, so you don't remember, you don't know that was going on? No, but it's wonderful to hear about it. I can imagine him making fun of me. In a good way, it was all sweet-hearted. I hope so. It was like 10 years ago. Okay, I hear you. Thanks for that story. Oh my God, I didn't know you didn't know he was doing that. Uh, I didn't, but I think you're probably right in a certain way. In a, in a, you know, in a your way way. Hey. I want to share. You want to hear something? You want to hear something? Yes, what do you want to hear? Oh, I wanted to share something. Oh, share something, okay. I think the first time I ever spoke to you, I was caught up in whatever thing I was talking about,


and you didn't say, don't move. You just said, you're leaning like that to me. And I went, do you mean physically? And you said, sure. But it's, it was like every way leaning, leaning into leaning away from it meant everything. And I never forgot. And it's like, I caught myself a million times. Thank you so much for that story. Yeah. Well, in sign language, where it's like the, the W and you can either put it in front of your mouth and go like this, or if it's really weird, you can go. Okay. Okay.


What? It came to my thought, came to my consciousness. I arrest my case. My case is at rest. And now I feel a little guilty about sharing that story because I thought you knew he was doing that that day. Well, you are guilty of sharing that story. It's true. You did, you did share it. I didn't know what I thought was going to come of it. No, you didn't. And yeah, it isn't that surprising what came of it. For example, you learned how to say his name properly. Let's hear you say it properly. Come on. Ho-i-tsu. Ho-i-tsu. Ho-i-tsu. But you know, he loves you. I know. He loves you too. I know. But that's it. He doesn't love anybody else but you and me.


Well, thank you all for another surprising day, wonderful day, at good old Noah Boad.