Teachings and Meditations On Our True Nature

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Our true nature is that we fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the buddhas. But because of misconceptions and attachments we do not realize our buddha nature. Therefore, teachings are given to listen to, accept, and understand so that such misconceptions and attachments drop away and thus our true buddha nature may be realized. Each class will begin with quiet sitting and walking meditation followed by teachings and group discussions.

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Since the last series of classes here, some of our members have had some health challenges, and I'm happy that we're here still together. one of our regular members, Barry, really enjoys that I'm so happy to talk about the same thing over and over. And I'm, in a sense, it seems like this series of classes might be something a little different. So since the last series ended, I felt inspired to bring up some teachings which I've understood are very important, very influential in what's called the Zen tradition, and I've appreciated them in various ways, but I was hesitant to teach them


And then somehow now I feel, not exactly not hesitant, but I feel inspired to go ahead and bring them up anyway, even though they're somewhat at risk of being, well, being kind of new, unfamiliar, and maybe even strange or but also maybe really wonderful, and you might get intoxicated on how wonderful the teachings are, how marvelous some of the suggestions are. So it's sometimes a kind of risky adventure that I seem to be embarking on and sharing with you. Now what I'm referring to is, well, just some teachings which suggest that all living beings fully possess the wisdom and virtues of all the Buddhas.


So that phrase is English, of course, and it's a translation from Sanskrit and Chinese from a huge scripture called the Flower Adornment Scripture, Chapter 37, which is called the Manifestation of the Tathagata. And Tathagata is one of the epithets for a fully enlightened being. Tatata means suchness, the way things are in Sanskrit. In Pali, it's dadada. And tatagata could either mean tatha gata, which means gone to suchness, or it could be tatha agata, which means come from suchness.


The Chinese translated it on the side of coming from suchness, that the Buddha comes from suchness. But of course the Buddha goes to suchness and then comes from suchness, back and forth. The Buddha realizes the way things are and then from the realization of the way things are comes forth to all beings. Tathagata. So the chapter is called The Manifestation of the Tathagata. And in that chapter, the Buddha, the Tathagata says, now I see that all living beings fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the Buddhas." And then later in the chapter it's said again, and then he goes on to say, however,


because of attachments and misconceptions, they don't realize it. Therefore, I need to teach them about their nature of fully possessing the wisdom and virtues of the Buddha But it's helping people realize that they already fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the Buddha. That doesn't exclude teaching people about their attachments and misconceptions. So, to some extent, before this teaching came out, there was quite a bit of teaching by the Buddha about people's attachments and misconceptions, without mentioning that even though we have attachments and misconceptions, while we have attachments and misconceptions right now, if anybody here has attachments and misconceptions,


that person who has attachments and misconceptions fully possesses the wisdom and virtue of the Buddhas. But they don't realize it because of the attachments and misconceptions. It's a strange situation. I don't know if strange. It's an amazing and kind of conflicted and confusing situation. Then in another very influential scripture in the tradition of the great vehicle called the Nirvana Sutra, in the early teachings there's a Nirvana Sutra, a Parinirvana Sutra. Parinirvana means complete nirvana. There's an early version of it in Pali and Sanskrit. But then there's a later version, which is a Mahayana scripture, a great vehicle scripture, called the Parinirvana Sutra, the Maha, the great Maha Parinirvana Sutra.


And in that sutra, the Buddha says, all living beings, without exception, fully possess Buddha nature, And then there's a number of other sutras which make this point. And then there's another teaching which is related to this teaching about Buddha nature, which is the teaching called Tathagata Garbha. So again, the Tathagata and Garbha means womb, or it could be heart, or matrix. So this teaching of Tathagatagarbha is that there's a matrix, or there's a womb where the Tathagata lives and comes forth, and the womb


the heart of the Tathagata is living beings. And so the Tathagata Garbha is another way to say Buddha nature, and in Sanskrit, Buddha nature is Buddha dhatu, which means Buddha element. So the Buddha nature is sometimes seen as our potential or our disposition to be a Buddha. And one of the ways it's defined is suchness, ta-ta-ta, bound up or associated with pollution. So the Buddha is suchness, not associated with pollution.


And the womb of the Buddha, which is not associated with pollution, is The Buddha, which is suchness not associated with pollution, the womb of the Buddha, the heart of that Buddha, is suchness associated with pollution, which is living beings. Buddhas are born from living beings. who are, the way things are, bound up with defilement or pollution. And so again, there's a number of great vehicle scriptures which talk about this


situation of all beings having this Buddha nature, all beings being the womb of the Tathagata, the womb of the Buddha. But the Nirvana Sutra and the Avatamsaka Sutra talk about many other things, many other teachings too. Matter of fact, they spend a lot of time teaching people how to deal with their attachments and misconceptions. They give a lot of meditations where we will become engaged in these meditations and thereby let go of our attachments and misconceptions and realize this nature, which is the way we already are, but we don't realize it. About 40 years ago or so, I found a treatise, a commentary


on these Mahayana Sutras, on these various scriptures which deal with this Buddha nature. And I started reading it, but actually before I started reading it, I read the introduction, and the person who translated this from Chinese and Tibetan and Sanskrit. This person, the Japanese person who translated it, in the introduction to it he said, this is such a beautiful teaching, but actually it's a little bit, it seems like it's not really about Buddhism. It seems to contradict basic Buddhist teachings. And so I kind of like said, oh, maybe I should be careful of this. So yeah, so I have been careful of it and haven't told you about it, but now I'm still gonna be careful of it, but now I'm gonna tell you about this beautiful thing which maybe isn't about Buddhism, but therefore might be more about Buddhism than anything you've heard.


We'll see. It's gonna take a while to get into it, But this treatise is a big, it's a big piece of work. It has hundreds of verses and commentary. And it's specializing on this Buddha nature, Tathagatagarbha thing. So it's a commentary on many scriptures which are dealing with this. So in the background of this study, or maybe to some extent the foreground, I should say, in the background of what I'm going to be sharing with you is this big presentation about Buddha nature, Tathagatagarbha. And in the foreground will be part of it. It's probably not going to be practical,


for every one of you to spend many hours with me in small study groups going through this text. Maybe if I lived in Berkeley and did nothing but had study groups with you, we could do it. Am I up for it? Yeah, but I'm not gonna do it. But what I am going to do is I'm going to talk to you about this. It's a commentary on the scriptures. It's a scripture, but it's a commentary on scriptures. Whereas the scriptures are not necessarily commentaries on the scriptures. They're just straight out coming from the Buddha. And I think I can talk to you about this, and you can learn the structure of it, and then we can fill it in, as time allows, orally.


If you want to read the scripture, you're welcome to do it, and I will tell you the name of it. But my plan is to actually talk to you about it face to face, and check to see if you are hearing what I'm talking to you about. Because I want you to be able to carry the basic structure of this commentary with you. And the basic structure is quite simple. And you can learn it tonight. And again, part of the reason I'm saying this is that Zen is often characterized as being strongly influenced by these scriptures that I told you about and by this teaching of Buddha nature. Even though you don't necessarily hear in a lot of Zen stories people talking about Buddha nature, it's what they're talking about.


It's what they're implying a lot of the time. For example, one of the most famous Zen stories is called Zhao Zhou's Doggy. Zhao Zhou was an amazing Zen monk who lived in the Tang Dynasty, and he's famous for many things. One of the things he's famous for is living to be 119. And he was so great that he couldn't have any, nobody could be his successor. And he studied with many, many teachers. He went all over China, studied with like 80 teachers. And people all over China talked about him and his amazing interactions with many people, including with many masters.


And so, one of the most famous Zen stories is a monk asked Jajo, does a dog have Buddha nature? He didn't ask Jajo, does a person have Buddha nature? He asked him if a dog does, because the sutra says all sentient beings, not just humans, So do dogs? It doesn't say not just humans. So he says, does a dog have buddha nature? And the most famous answer from Zhao Zhou is, doesn't have. Mu, he said. In Chinese, Wu. It doesn't really mean no, usually. It means there isn't any, or you don't have. Actually, the question is, dog have or not have Buddha nature?


And Jogya says, not have. And then the monk says, but all sentient beings have the Buddha nature. This is a Zen story, right? All beings have buddha nature. Why doesn't the dog?" And Jar-Jar says... Does anybody know what he said? He said something. What did he say? I'll probably remember later. I could find out on the internet.


Then another time a monk came to Jao Zhou and said, does a dog have Buddha nature? Does a dog have or not have buddha nature? And Zhao Zhou says, has. Instead of wu, doesn't have, he said yo, does have. And then the monk says, well if it has buddha nature, why does it enter into that skin bag of a dog? and Jājā says, because it knowingly and willingly transgresses. Buddha nature knowingly and willingly goes into living beings because that's the part of the bodhisattva vow is to be born


in skin bags in order to become Buddha. So, Buddha nature knowingly and willingly goes into the defilement of birth, the limitation of a womb in order to enter the womb of the Tathagata. So the reason why the dog, or the reason why you, or I, do not have Buddha nature is because of karmic consciousness, which I've talked to you about a lot.


Okay? But that doesn't, Zhao Zhou isn't really saying that's why the dog doesn't have buddha nature. He's really saying that's why people don't think the dog has buddha nature. That's why people don't realize that they have buddha nature. They do have buddha nature. but because of karmic consciousness, which has attachments and misconceptions, we don't realize it. And the other one is that when you say it does have Buddha nature, why, in other words, why go into the skin bag is why go into karmic consciousness? Because it wants to go into karmic consciousness. Buddha nature is actually, the way things are, going into a polluted form. It wants to, but it has to transgress.


It has to transgress to go into that polluted form. Transgress from perfect suchness into suchness involved with, bound up with transgression. So that's an example of the Buddha nature teaching going into the Zen tradition. And then Zhao Zhou explaining, if it doesn't have Buddha nature, this is the reason why. And if it does have Buddha nature, this is the reason why. But in both cases, he isn't really saying have or not have. He's trying to realize Buddha nature, which is possible. the Buddha is the realization of Buddha nature. And then there's, as I say, there aren't gazillions of, well maybe there are gazillions, because that story is,


Those stories, especially the first one where Mu, that story has been discussed millions and millions of times. Although it only happened with that one teacher, innumerable other people have studied and talked about that story for about 1,200 years. Millions of Zen students have been discussing that story. So the Indian text, which was transmitted to China and Tibet and Korea and Japan and now to here and to English, the Indian text, which is the most thorough study of Buddha nature and Tathagatagarbha, is called, Ratna Gotra Vibhanga Mahayana Uttara Tantra Shastra and in Tibet they usually just say Mahayana Uttara Tantra Shastra but the full name is also Ratna Gotra Vibhanga


That's the text. And I'm going to share that text with you and talk to you about that text and the teaching in that text. And now I'm going to talk to you about the title of the text and see if you can learn the title of the text. And when I talk to you about this text and tell you the name of it and what it means in English, I'll be studying it with you. When I tell you this, it's going to change me while I'm telling you. So Mahayana means the great vehicle. It's the vehicle of those who are in the process of becoming Buddhas. So it's great in a sense of it's a process of becoming a great Buddha. It's a process of becoming a Tathagata. That's the Mahayana. But it's also a great vehicle in the sense that it's for everybody because everybody has this nature and everybody is in the process of realizing this nature.


So each of us has this suchness which is associated with karmic consciousness. Now, most of you know you have karmic consciousness. That's a consciousness, that's consciousness, that's a mind where you seem to be there and you have problems, either with yourself and or other people. and where you have some trouble believing that certain people have the Buddha nature. A lot of people are having trouble with that now. When you see people tearing children away from their parents, when you see people traumatizing children in order to make this a good country, to think that we have to be cruel to children in order to make this a good country.


When people do that, it's hard for us to understand, oh, this person is the Tathagatagarbha. That's because of karmic consciousness. It's hard for us to understand this teaching. And this teaching doesn't say, get rid of that karmic consciousness, it says, that karmic consciousness is bound up with the way things really are. And you can't become a Buddha or realize the way things really are if you would get rid of your karmic consciousness, which thinks some people shouldn't have karmic consciousness. I have to get rid of mine so that I can understand reality, or I'll keep mine because mine's okay and I'll get rid of their karmic consciousness. So, yeah. So the Mahayana is for all beings who have karmic consciousness.


So why doesn't the dog have buddha nature? Why doesn't Reb have buddha nature? Why doesn't Reb have buddha nature? Because he has karmic consciousness. But that's not correct, and Jaojo knows it. Me having Buddha nature means I have karmic consciousness and I am karmic consciousness associated with suchness. I am suchness and karmic consciousness. That is my Buddha nature. That's not why I don't have it. That's it. So Jajo didn't really mean that. That's why it's such a famous story. Because all the monks who are studying this have karmic consciousness. and they're trying to understand, well, what's their relationship with Buddha nature? What does that no mean? They have to work through this. This is kind of a conundrum, you might say. Okay, that's Mahayana.


It's the process, it's the movement of everybody towards enlightenment. and everybody who has this Buddha nature becoming Buddha. That's the Mahayana. The next part is, remember the next part? Did you get the next part? See, that's why I have to repeat. Did you get the next part? But when I say it, you'll remember, right? Mahayana uttara, what? Uttara tantra. So uttara, what does uttara mean? It means gone beyond. It means ultimate. It means, yeah, highest. Uttara, what? Tantra. What does tantra mean in this case? Tantra basically means continuity or continuum. And then, shastra.


It means commentary. So the text that I'm studying with you now by telling you the name of it as part of studying it is the Universal Vehicle to Buddhahood Highest Continuum Treatise. The Buddha is the ultimate highest continuum. It's a treatise for everybody who is becoming Buddha, basically on this continuum of everybody with Buddha. It's a continuum of our nature, our nature unrealized. It's in continuum with our nature realized. We have the nature.


And this is a treatise about the process of realizing it. And in Tibet they also know that that's not the full title, but they usually don't say it. The rest of the title is Ratna Gotra. Ratna means jewel. Gotra, jewel. Ratna, jewel. and gotra means, it could be translated as lineage or gene or DNA. They usually didn't translate it as DNA over the centuries, but now I think we can understand it maybe as DNA. in the form of the gene, of our gene, for what? For the jewel. What's the jewel? It's the three jewels, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.


So it's ratna-gotra-vibhanga, and vibhanga means analysis or examination. Of what? Of the lineage, of the DNA of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. So that's the full title of this text, which is going to teach where the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha comes from. Okay, so can you say the title now? Mah... Mah... Mahayana. Say it, please. You got a voice. Do an imitation of your daughter. Mahayana. Mahayana. Uttara. Uttara. Uttara. OK. Ready, let's go.


Everybody. Mahayana. Uttara. Tantra. Shastra. Ratna. Gotra. Vibhaga. OK? which is, it's translated in many ways, but anyway, the universal, the great vehicle, ultimate continuum treatise, the jewel, the jewel germ, the jewel lineage analysis. Okay? And so at the beginning of this treatise, it says, homage, I bow to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.


That's how it starts. And then it says, the entire treatise is embraced by seven Vajra points. Vajra means like a diamond, sometimes talked about as a diamond, sometimes as a thunderbolt. And it has the connotation of indestructible, adamantine, So one translation is seven adamantines, or seven adamants, adamantants, or seven Vajra points. And Vajras have points. They often come to a point. They have prongs and points, and they're diamond-like, and they refer to something that's indestructible.


The Buddha taught, you know, anything that comes together falls apart. All things that are composed decompose. But there are some things which are not put together, so they don't fall apart. Reality is not put together and it doesn't fall apart. So these seven Vajra points. And what are the seven Vajra points? The first three? are Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The jewels. So the first three Vajra points of this big treatise on our original Buddha nature, the first three points are Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. And there's some discussion of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Not very long. We can touch on it a little bit. but that's the first three.


Then the next four are Buddha nature, realization of Buddha nature, the qualities of realizing Buddha nature, and the activities of realized Buddha nature. So that's the structure of the whole huge teaching. And then it goes, it has about 23 verses on Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. And then it has about three verses which explain to you, tell you an overview of the next four.


And then it has hundreds of verses on the next four. But tonight I can just tell you about the relationship between the first three and the last four. The Buddha, and just briefly I can just say that there's three treasures. First is Buddha, and from Buddha comes Dharma, and from Dharma comes Sangha. And the Dharma, although it's wonderful, you've got to let go of it. You have to let go of it. It's for teaching purposes. It's not something you hold on to. And the Sangha also is impermanent. The highest continuity is our nature and Buddha.


Buddha has no beginning, middle, or end. Buddha is freedom from time and space. Dharma is teaching us about that, and Sangha supports that. Those are the three jewels. I'll say more later, but that's basically three jewels. And there's a little section which explains that the next four, what's the next four again? Number one is? Buddha nature. Buddha nature. Number two? Freedom of consciousness. Freedom of consciousness. Number three? Qualities. Qualities. Number four? Identity. Identity. Yeah, those four are where the three come from. The three jewels, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, come up out of Buddha nature being realized, and the qualities of that realization and the activities of realization, that's where the three treasures come from.


Very simple, logical beginning. That's the structure of the text. the triple treasure is described as rare and sublime. And this rare, sublime triple jewel, triple treasure, is born from Buddha nature, realized, and then the realization's activity. And the realization's activity is to go back and realized the Buddha nature. So it's a cycle there. Buddha nature is the cause of what? What's Buddha nature the cause of, do you think? What? Yes, but before the activity. Huh? Yeah, the Buddha nature is the cause of the realization. We are the cause of Buddha. And Buddha is the position


of our buddha nature being realized. And the activities of buddhas and qualities of buddhas are what realizes our buddha nature without tampering with it. So that's just a very short description that the treatise gives of how these different topics work. And so the first part of it is to talk about the Buddha nature. Before we get into realizing it, there's quite a bit of teaching about this Buddha nature. which is the cause, and then the other three are the conditions for the realization of it. So is that a little bit new? Yeah. It's a little new. It's a little new for me to discuss this with you.


Yeah, so we can have some, could somebody try to turn the lights up a little bit, although this is quite nice. It would be nice if I could see you. There we go, thank you. Okay, so that's the kind of introduction to this new teaching. How are you feeling about this? Huh? Intrigued. Yeah, there's this treatise which I've been postponing discussing for 40 years because I thought it wasn't the right time. I don't know if it's the right time now, I'll find out if nobody comes next week.


Because, for example, Buddhism is usually thought of as a teaching that teaches that everything is impermanent. that phenomena have the mark of impermanence, not-self, and suffering. That's a common... If you say that, people say, oh yeah, that's Buddhism, and of course I would agree. The nature of our personality, of our personal self, is that it's... the nature of our personality is not self. It's not an independent, it's not something independent of the psychophysical constituents that comprise our experience. That's what people would usually think of as Buddhism. This teaching is saying that this Buddha is the self.


and it's eternal and it's joyful. It's very positive and very beautiful, but it doesn't sound like Buddhism to some people. Now, the person who wrote the treatise back in India, his name was Asanga, he had no problem with writing this thing. The person who wrote this, he was kind of an immanuensis. Everybody know what immanuensis means? Well, man means hand. He hand wrote what he heard from somebody. For who did he hear it from? He heard it from the next Buddha. He was a great scholar. and a very sincere practitioner, but he just somehow was having problems with Buddhism.


He loved it, he was devoted to it, but he was very unsettled about it, and he felt like he needed help from the next Buddha, who was Maitreya, which means loving kindness. And he prayed, they say he prayed to Maitreya for 12 years to come and teach him. And finally, after 12 years, his prayers came to fruition and he got to meet the great Bodhisattva. And then they had a relationship. and the relationship was conducted, excuse me for saying so, in a heaven called Tushita. He went to that heaven where he met, and that heaven, I don't know, heavens aren't, they're not exactly not in India, but they're also not, they're not exactly in India. It's like being in India, but actually being in a heaven in India. And in that heaven, you just happen to be meeting the next Buddha, who's a Bodhisattva.


and you have some conversations with him, and then you write down what he said, and this treatise is what this Bodhisattva taught, what the great Bodhisattva taught the other great Bodhisattva, who could write, I guess, in Sanskrit, and then his brother wrote a commentary on it. So we have the original verses and we have commentaries written in the human realm, which do not sound like a lot of other things that we're familiar with about Buddhism. So again, Zen often doesn't sound like Buddhism, too. Some people hear about Zen and they say, well, it's kind of neat, but I don't know if it's Buddhism. That sounds kind of unusual. So again, when all beings have Buddha nature, why doesn't a dog or why doesn't a human?


Well, because of karmic consciousness. But again, that actually sounds like Buddhism, that because of karmic consciousness we don't realize Buddhahood, that's blocking us. that the actual situation where we don't have karma, where we don't have buddha nature, is the situation of buddha nature. Somebody might think that's not buddhism, but buddhism transcends buddhism. So this is buddhism really being buddhism by not being stuck in buddhism. Okay. Anything else you want to bring up tonight? Yes. Well, I think, you know, like if a dog, you know, it would be kind of like this, okay?


I have a dog, let's say. Or you could say I had a dog, and my dog's name was Lara. And I received Lara as a gift when she was a puppy. And then she grew up. And after a year or two, she started to... I don't know, I somehow came to understand that she was in heat. And she... I don't know how I knew it, but I think I might have known it because there were lots of dogs outside of my apartment. Male dogs, scratching and hooting. And she was really interested to go outside, to meet these guys. This is called being in...


Karmic Consciousness. And I was in Karmic Consciousness looking at her wanting to go out there with those guys. And they were in Karmic Consciousness wanting to get her to come out. But I didn't want her to go out because my Karmic Consciousness did not want to have to take care of a lot of puppies. Not to mention having a pregnant dog. So I didn't let her go out. Okay? But somehow she got out. And it wasn't particularly miraculous, somehow the door was left open. She got out, but I happened to be there when she got out, so I ran after her, and she was already got out of the house, down the steps, down the back steps, and there they were waiting for her. And I said to her,


come back. And she came back. But as she was coming back, I noticed she was bringing somebody with her, who had kind of, as we now say, hooked up with her. So she was dragging this guy up the stairs. This is Buddha activity. She showed me how stupid I am. She showed me how controlling I am and how ridiculous and ugly that is. That's Buddha activity. She was part of the process of realizing my Buddha nature. And that interaction that she had with that dog was the end of her heat.


She wasn't in heat anymore. She didn't want to go out anymore. She was pregnant. I didn't know it, but I noticed she didn't want to go out anymore. And then I started to notice that she starts to grow and look like she was pregnant. And then she also started, as time went on, she started to ooze, ooze red, red stuff from her rear end. And I wanted her to be in the kitchen, which had a linoleum floor, so the red stuff wouldn't get all over my I didn't have red sheets. And she liked to be on my bed. But during the time when she was oozing, I didn't want her on my bed. Now, someone might think, well, that guy doesn't have Buddha nature.


But the teaching is, the human male who was trying to get her not to bring her bloody body up onto his bed was suchness bound by pollution, trying to control a sweet little dog who just wanted to get blood all... She didn't want to get blood. She just wanted to be on my bed and bring her, and she just happened to be bleeding. But I somehow She was giving me an opportunity to realize my Buddha nature, but I kind of was resisting. I had some attachment to my bed not being, have the blood all over it. I had some attachment, some resistance to pollution. So pollution is, one form of pollution is basically to resist pollution.


Does that make sense? What? Could I finish the story? May I? Thanks. So anyway, she accepted that I wanted her to stay in the kitchen. She had a nice bed, which she could get blood all over. And if she got it on the linoleum, I could clean it up. And so she accepted my program, more or less. Although she accepted it, she still wanted to be in my bed. And then one day I came home, and she was up in my bed. Up in the pillow area. The pillows are kind of like a whitish color. But now they had become covered with red, red protoplasm.


And I said to her, get off that bed, go into the kitchen. And she did. And then I went over to clean up the situation and there were several puppies. This is the activity of a dog teaching, purifying my continuum, bringing me another step closer to Buddhahood by showing me how ridiculous it is, how ridiculous I was. If she had growled, I wouldn't have understood how ridiculous I was. But she obediently got off, left her puppies, and let me discover them. And then I said, okay. And she came back up on the bed with her puppies. Her gentleness towards me, being controlling of her, is what a Buddha probably would do.


be gentle with us when we're trying to control how life is going to help us wake up to our disrespect of the Buddha nature of all beings by trying to control them. So the Buddhas, the realized ones, sometimes have these what you call assistants working around the society who are helping us realize when we're not letting go of our attachments and conceptions. And this is another step towards where we're going. Now, Tracy wants to know, what would I do now? Well, if you set it up like that again, you know, like give me a dog named Lara, have her come into heat, have the dogs outside, what am I going to do?


Would I do the same thing again? Would I do something different? So, I guess we just have to watch and see what I do. When you bring me a dog in heat, see what I do. Or bring me a human in heat, and see what I do. How do I handle it? Because she has a karmic consciousness. She has like, I'm here, they're out there. I want to go hang out with him. He's the guy who feeds me, and he doesn't want me to, but I still want to go out."


So she actually wasn't like saying, okay, forget it. She was actually like, still wanted to go out. And she did go out. I'll give her credit for having a karmic consciousness like we do. Does a dog have karmic consciousness? I would say, yeah. When your karmic consciousness goes outside, do you ever go outside? Every time you go outside, your karmic consciousness goes outside. But suchness comes with you. You can't get out the door without suchness. Reality is right there with your karmic consciousness that wants to go outside. So here, I want to go outside, suchness comes right along. And then, if you're attached, if there's attachment here, then you don't realize that suchness is right there. Suchness is right with you, you don't realize it.


But as you notice you're attached and start to feel embarrassed about it, and really look at it, you start to realize, oh, this is attachment, and there's suchnesses right there. You start to realize the way you really are, is that you've got karmic consciousness, which is going along with the dog or not, which thinks you're here and not there. which thinks it's your dog, not somebody else's, that's karmic consciousness. But your Buddha nature is, you don't just have karmic consciousness, you also have suchness. Just like a Buddha, Buddha has suchness, they just don't have the karmic consciousness. But by working with your karmic consciousness, you wake up to the suchness, which is always there. And then you have suchness unpolluted and completely free.


Now, this Buddha, who is suchness free of pollution, is omnipresent with all the suchnesses that are polluted. So all sentient beings who have suchness bound up with pollution, the Buddhas who have suchness not bound up with pollution are omnipresent with all the sentient beings. And turn it around, the Buddhas who are suchness unpolluted have the omnipresence of beings who are suchness with pollution. And their qualities and activities are what help all sentient beings realize their Buddha nature. A non-ridiculous response would be?


to be deeply respectful of this dog who wants to go out when she's in heat, to be deeply respectful of her. And it's possible that in being deeply respectful of her, I might also be deeply respectful of me, who doesn't want her to go out. And I might get down on my knees and beg her to forgive me for being who I am. Forgive me for my polluted relationship with suchness. And she might look at me like, you know, if I wasn't in heat, I would think that's probably pretty interesting. But I think I was not respectful And I think when we're not respectful, you know, ridiculous means ridicule would be appropriate, right?


So I wasn't yet a Zen priest, but when a Zen priest is not respectful, in some sense, that would be ridiculous, right? When bodhisattvas, when people in the great vehicle are not respectful, it's kind of ridiculous. In other words, there would be good candidates for ridicule. Not really, you shouldn't ridicule them, you should respect them. But if anybody's into ridicule, we got some good candidates here to receive it, which would be someone who's vowing to respect all life and is not respecting a dog. Somebody who forgot or never even heard that dogs have Buddha nature. What if you had chosen to have her spayed? Yeah, I get it.


No, it doesn't take... No, no, [...] no. Spaying a dog doesn't take away the dog's buddha nature. Huh? I think it... I think if I took your scarf away, okay, that wouldn't take away your buddha nature. Could I have your scarf, please? So I didn't take your scarf, you gave it to me, right? But I didn't take your Buddha nature. I just asked you for your scarf and you gave it to me. But if I took that scarf without asking you, that might go along with me forgetting that you have this Buddha element and I should respect you and I shouldn't take anything from you that you don't give me. So can a dog donate her reproductive organs to science?


If they could, then maybe I would say, okay, let's go to the doctor. I'm not saying Part of what we can discuss here is the so-called Bodhisattva precepts, which one of them is not killing. Another one is not taking what's not given. So those precepts are where Buddha comes from. Buddha comes from not killing and not taking what's not given. So if I am wishing to realize Buddha nature, i.e., Buddha, is realized Buddha nature, if I want to do that, then I should not be involved in taking things from beings that don't give them to me. So maybe I wouldn't take anything from a dog if I really respected the dog's Buddha nature.


But if I do take something from you, I don't take away your Buddha nature, I more like ignore it. don't take it away. And I kind of forget mine too in the process, maybe. But particularly, maybe if I remember your Buddha nature, I wouldn't, you know. Like people, you know, there aren't that many stories about people stealing things from Buddhas. But occasionally, somebody might actually go up and try to steal something from Buddha. It's possible. But still Buddha, you don't take away Buddha's Buddhahood and you don't take away somebody's potential and somebody's true nature by forgetting their true nature. You just miss a chance to celebrate it. But I'm not saying it's impossible to go through the process of a dog being spayed and also respect the dog. I'm not saying that. I just right now myself cannot imagine me taking a dog in to be spayed.


I don't know how I would do that, you know, as an act of respect for the dog. But maybe I could if I knew that I don't know what's involved in spaying, but if the dog has cancer, maybe spaying would be similar to appropriate medical attention. So when we get into the details of how to realize Buddha nature, we get into the details of how to practice the bodhisattva precepts, which are Buddha nature precepts. How do you wake up to the precepts? Because the Buddhas are born from Buddha nature, but they're also born from the Buddha nature precepts. They're born from not killing, not stealing. Then you're naming the actors.


How do you take inspiration? Buddha nature is not killing. Okay? It's not stealing. But what does that mean? That's what we're trying to find out. What does it mean? What does not killing mean? What does not stealing mean? What does that mean?


We're having a conversation about what that means. And in my case, when I, yeah, when I told the dog to get off the bed, yeah, did the dog agree with me and get off the bed? Well, they sort of did. But did I say it respectfully? I did not. Could I have said it respectfully? Maybe I could have. When you say not knowing, do you mean that I am aware that I don't know? That's right.


But it wasn't that. If I did know the dog had puppies, I still might have told the dog to get off. It was the interaction, the dog getting off and not defending herself or her puppies. Her obedience woke me up to my disrespect. She helped me understand that I wasn't being respectful to her. And her respect of me showed me that I wasn't respectful to her. So it is possible to do various things in this world and really respect. And it's possible to do other things which we usually have no problem with. Like, I don't know what, you could say to me, Reb, would you pass the salt? And maybe there's no geopolitical, environmental impact about that. The salt's on the table already. Maybe we think, okay, well, it's okay for Barbara Joan to ask for the salt, and he can give it to her, and it's not gonna be a problem, right?


But what if I don't respect you when I give it to you? That's the problem. Now, what if it's, but what if it's not so simple as pass the salt? Maybe it's more complicated. But still, the thing is, do I respect you? Do I remember that what we're doing here is realizing our Buddha nature? What we're doing here is realizing who we really are and where we're really going. Are we distracted from that and being primarily concerned with keeping our pillowcases white? Well, yes, I am. And that's ridiculous that that's my agenda when I meet a dog. It's like, the main thing here is, keep my pillow cases clean, not, what are we doing together here, me and doggy? That's the point. That's what this treatise is about, is remembering that what we're doing here, we're in the process of making Buddhas. And in that mission of that process, can we say, would you please give me a kidney?


Would you please give me some blood? Would you please not get blood on my pillow? Can we say that? Can we spay a dog in the process without getting distracted? Let's see. Bring up examples where you're having trouble seeing how you could do it and be respectful. Can I kill gophers and be respectful? I have gophers, you know, I'm basically, well, in some sense my wife calls me the king gopher. When I go away, the gophers really go nuts, you know, and I come back and there's all these We don't make mountains out of mohills, do we? So, we don't make mountains out of gopher hills, do we? We just see it's a gopher hill, and it's about two feet wide, two feet in circumference, and about seven inches tall.


Okay? So there's a gopher thing. Now, is it okay with you if I kill those gophers? Is it okay with you? Is it okay with you? It's okay to want to. Is it okay if I kill the gophers? Is it okay if I spay gophers? Anyway, for 30 years I've been interacting with these gophers. Now what I do is I find the mound, and I rake it. And I pull out the rocks, and I put them in the creek. And then now you have a flat surface, which is dirt, and that's what I do.


I don't very often think about killing gophers, and I don't make plans to kill gophers, And people have given me rabbit urine, they've given me these beepers, you know. Nobody's given me poison. People did not, almost no one wants me to kill the gophers. In karmic consciousness there can be a thought, I would like to kill the gophers. And that karmic consciousness is associated with reality, with suchness. realize that. And it's not for, yeah, so I'm sorry. But tonight I did not put my hearing aids on and somehow I managed to hear you. This is a demonstration that I didn't use them. And yeah, so I would be interested to see if anybody wants to keep studying this text.


If nobody comes next week, I don't know what I'll do. Now, I know you won't be here next week, and it's not because it's something new, right? Is he not going to be here? Yeah, so, but I won't take it as a vote against this teaching. And so thank you for letting me open up a new dimension, a new dharma dimension, Or I can say, a new Dharma dementia. I suppose when somebody is losing their mind, I suppose that they can feel just really thrilled. inspired by this teaching, and I want to share it with you.


And so that's what's happening. Thank you very much.