Teachings for the Welfare of the World

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In this summer series, teachings will be offered for those who aspire to embrace and sustain the great earth and all living beings in order to realize peace and freedom in our troubled world.
Each evening will include quiet sitting and walking meditation followed by teachings and group conversation.

AI Summary: 



The last time I suggested to you, I think I did, two kinds of stillness. Constructed stillness and unconstructed stillness. Did I? And I think it's kind of amazing that I talk about things like that. Did you hear, have you heard about two kinds of stillness before I told you about it? So this is kind of new, this idea of constructed stillness and unconstructed stillness. Yeah, or existence and emptiness, because forms, just one example, there's feelings


and things like that. Kathy, could you move that way a little bit, please? Thank you. So, I don't know what I said last week, but this week I would say that there is a teaching that ultimate truth, which is sometimes called emptiness, and existence, they're the same, and also they interpenetrate each other, they include each other, and that relationship is a teaching that's offered to help us in the work of freeing beings so they can live


in peace and harmony, that kind of abstract teaching in a way. Or it's actually also, it's an abstract teaching about the relationship between something that's abstract, emptiness, emptiness actually is an abstract noun, and it has a relationship with all concrete nouns, it is the nature of all concrete things, but also all concrete things are actually also this abstract ultimate truth. And that relationship is a key ingredient, particularly in a particular school of Zen which we sometimes call Soto, or Tsao Chang, it's a key teaching that the principle of


all phenomena and phenomena, they interpenetrate each other and include each other. So, yeah, so constructed stillness and unconstructed stillness have a reciprocal interpenetrating relationship. And I think I maybe just said last week that when we get together and sit still, we come in here and sit still, that's a constructed stillness, and we sit quietly, it's a constructed silence. There was also when we were sitting there was a fan going and it was making some sounds, and we didn't eliminate those sounds, right, did you hear the fan?


We didn't try, I thought maybe turning the fan off, but I thought, nah, let it be. And letting the fan be is apropos of constructed stillness. So we constructed a stillness and a silence in this room. And that has a function, or that is a function. And then there's another stillness which we don't construct, which again is here with the constructed stillness. And the constructed stillness can offer us some, it offers us opportunities, and the unconstructed stillness offers us other opportunities.


The guidance of how to live in a way that is beneficial to all beings, that guidance comes and lives, it doesn't really come, it lives in unconstructed stillness. And constructed stillness may often, what's the word, or be appropriate, opens onto, allows the unconstructed stillness. If without constructed stillness we might not be open to the unconstructed.


The unconstructed is always with us, we can't get away from it, because you can't get away from something that's not constructed. You can only get away from constructed things. And so after the class, I don't know how long, a minute, ten minutes, two hours, but pretty soon after the class, a story came to my mind from my childhood. I didn't, and the stories are constructed, but the delivery of the story to me, I don't know who constructed the delivery. It seemed like it was a gift to me, the story, from my childhood. I don't know how old I was when I saw it, but I think not too young. And the story as I remember it was a story about some Russian aristocrats, anyway, kind


of wealthy people, who were kind of having a party, and in my memory that there was drinking at the party, and I don't remember that it was vodka, but it's a Russian story, so it probably was vodka, and it was mostly men at this party, which again is part of my image that these Russian men get together and drink a lot, and also they gamble. So that's the kind of story, that's the kind of party that I remember. They were drinking, and they were having a discussion, and somehow it came up in the discussion that the way I remember it was, one of the people bet another one of the people,


or proposed to all the people, that nobody could stay, could go into an enclosure, like a cell or an enclosed room, and stay there. I didn't remember how long it was, but it turns out the story was for 15 years. Now again, I didn't remember this, but things led me to research this, and I think what I found out was that the story I was watching in this TV show was a short story by Anton Chekhov, which is called The Bet. So in the story they were arguing about which is most humane, capital punishment or life


imprisonment, and the banker was the host of the party, I think, and there was also a young lawyer, and the young lawyer said, I think life imprisonment is more humane than capital punishment. So then the guy said, okay, let's see if you can do it then, if you think it's humane. I bet you can't stay in an enclosed space like a prison, not a regular prison, but a prison we construct, that you can't stay in it for 15 years, and I'll bet you, I think it was two million rubles. Do they have rubles? What do they have in Russia? Rubles. Rubles. Rubles. Ruble. [...]


Ruble. [...] And so that's kind of how I remembered it, and I found out that that was a bet, 15 years, and when I remembered, I couldn't remember, was it a year, or five years, or ten years, turns out it's 15 years in the original story. So this young man goes into confinement, and solitary confinement, not just a prison, but solitary confinement, and as I remembered, he went through a lot. A lot of stuff came up. So I kind of remember he got really disturbed and upset and depressed, and that even he was thinking of killing himself in the process, but gradually he settled down, and in the


rest, in Chekhov's story, he did a lot of reading. I remember that he was in a room that had a lot of books into it, but either it had books in it, or he asked for them and they were brought to him. He did a lot of reading. I don't remember if the room had the books and he started reading them, or if he requested the books and they were brought to him. He also, in addition to being depressed, he also tried drinking while he was in there, but he sort of got through the drinking, he got past the suicidal thoughts and the depression, and started to use the opportunity to read lots of books about many different topics. And the way I remember the story is he just, his whole affect just kind of calmed down


over the course of the story. He just got quieter and quieter. I don't think he was like a Zen student who was trying to quiet himself, but he did quiet down, and that's a constructed quiet. Well, he went into an enclosed space, and he had nothing to do but be in the room, and he flailed and rebelled against what was going on. He was not quiet and still when he went in there, but he gradually, the situation constructed this stillness, which wasn't there at the beginning, and then was there. And then, again, the way I remember the story, and that's the way it is, is that during these


years the banker who made this bet with this young lawyer, he went into financial, basically financial difficulties, and as the time approached for the conclusion of this bet, I think he actually went, in the story, he went to the young man and said, I'll give you a thousand dollars and you can leave, you don't have to stay to the end, and then he offered five thousand dollars, but the young man wanted to finish. Anyway, the day before the fifteen years were up, the banker realized that he was going to lose, and he would be bankrupt if he paid the guy, so he went to kill him, and he went


into the room and the young man was asleep, maybe at a desk, and there was a note there, and the note said that he was going to leave the day before the time was up, that he no longer was looking to financial and material things for his happiness, that divine liberation was what he thought was important, and when the man read the note, he did not kill him, and left the room, and then just before the time was up, the young man did leave the room, because now he was fifteen years older, and when he left the room, and gave up the money, and I thought, that appropriate response came to him from the young man, from the banker, he was guided to that by the unconstructed stillness, and it didn't come to him until,


apparently in the story, the way Chekhov told it, it didn't come to him until sort of at the end, he wrote that note, so he was in this situation of gradually settling down, and then he received this guidance at the end, because if he didn't do that, not only would he have gotten killed, but this man would have killed him, nobody killed anybody, nobody killed anybody, but the banker was thinking of killing him, because he couldn't pay the debt, and if the young man came out, he would say, pay the debt, and this thing was this, this debt was witnessed, he would be bankrupt to pay it, so, but I just felt


like this, in that example, the guidance came to him, but, and that guidance was there from the beginning, but he couldn't see it until he quieted down, so the constructed stillness is part of the deal, even though the constructed stillness doesn't bring the guidance, but they work together, and so part of our practice is to spend time doing the constructed stillness, to make ourselves available to the unconstructed stillness and the guidance which is living there all the time, and so part of our practice is to, is this teaching, is this practice


that the unconstructed stillness includes everything all the time, and in that stillness guidance is being offered to everything all the time, but if we don't settle down in our room, our body and mind, we usually do not see it, we do not realize it, and so we have to deal with it, we do not receive it, and in order to settle down we have to deal with what's going on in the room, with compassion, and if we don't deal with it with compassion, we have to deal with that with compassion, so in the beginning of the story he was not dealing with the situation with compassion, but gradually he started to be compassionate towards his situation, plus he stayed in the room, and I told this story to somebody this


morning and she said, wasn't that a twilight zone thing? And I said, no, that's not a twilight zone, maybe, so then I went online, I googled twilight zone, and I went through the episodes. No, not all of them, I don't know how many I went through, but I stopped before I finished all of them, because I ran into an episode that was called, Barbara Joan guessed the bet, but it wasn't the bet, it was, the episode was called Silence. I thought, hmm, maybe that's the one, so I went to it and read about it, and I thought, hmm, maybe that's


the one, I'll tell you the whole story later, okay, but I just want to tell you that the story is based on a short story written by Anton Chekhov called The Bet, so I saw The Bet, I didn't see this story, maybe I saw the Twilight Zone too, but I don't remember it, I saw the original short story, because it's a short story, right, it's not actually a play, he wrote plays too, it wasn't one of his plays, it was one of his stories made into like a play, and it was based, and then Rod Serling wrote a TV program based on The Bet called Silence, and that story does not have the same Zen message as the previous one. That story, The Bet was similar, a party and somebody betting that so-and-so couldn't


be quiet for a year, couldn't be silent for a year, that was the Twilight Zone one. But in that story, the person who was bet that he could be quiet for a year, actually did not, did not quiet down. And his cell was, the room he was in, was a recording, so if he made any sound or talked to anybody, because people brought him food and stuff, if he talked to anybody, it would be recorded. So that story occurred, you know, like in the 60s, with 60s technology. So what that man did was, he had his vocal cords severed


in order to win the bet. And he didn't win it. So, that story doesn't have the same message. He did not get this enlightened guidance. He did not actually, he cheated. He did not actually deal with being silent for a year. He found a way to get around the difficulties that that would involve. And it didn't work out well for him. A very sad story. He winds up without the money and can't talk. But the other one, we have a happy Buddha. He's a happy Buddha.


I didn't quite understand before when you said we've got the constructed stillness and the unconstructed stillness. The unconstructed stillness allows for guidance. Then you said something about compassion, and I guess what does compassion have to do with? The compassion is necessary to deal with the movements. You know, we have three kinds of karma, right? Physical movements, voice, and thoughts. So in order for them, in order for the mind with all that going on to calm down, we need to like be in the room with that stuff and not run away from it. And at first, we were just adding to all that by commenting on it and trying to get away from it or control it or whatever. But by practicing


compassion with what's going on, things calm down. And so a constructed stillness and silence comes to pass. But the unconstructed is there from beginningless time. But if we don't practice the constructed style, then if we don't stay in the room where the unconstructed stillness is delivered, the room is our body and mind. If we don't stay in the room with our body and mind, the guidance which is living in unconstructed stillness, we miss it because we're looking someplace else for our life, which means we're not being compassionate to our life. But by being compassionate, we develop this constructed stillness and silence. And by being compassionate to all the activity of our life, part of being compassionate is


not to force the silence and not to force the stillness. Like usually not say, shut up to the talk. Usually listen to it and be respectful of it and be generous and gracious to it and be careful and tender with it and be patient with it. Be patient with all the wiggling and twitching and squirming and writhing and tensing, et cetera, and all the yackety-yack-yack, all the, what do you call it, the insults we see coming from others and that we are


feeling towards ourselves. By being compassionate to that, that constructs a stillness which like comes and deepens and spreads. And by being compassionate to that, by being compassionate to that, and maybe sometimes backs up because we stop practicing compassion or like, you know, maybe as the tranquility, as the stillness, as the quiet starts to develop, maybe we try to get it to develop more. Maybe we try to make there more of it. Does that make sense? People sometimes do that. They start to calm down and then they try to be more calm. But trying to be more calm is not really being respectful of the current level of calm. So, you know, like if you have like, if there were a scale of calm, like if you had a scale


of one to a thousand, if your calm was at two, and then you did, and you practiced compassion towards your calm, your calm will go up towards a thousand. And when it gets to like 175, you might feel very happy, and then, but it gets there by practicing compassion, and you might feel very happy and say, let's have more. But that's not compassionate, to ask for more, to try to make it more. It goes up by letting it be. Letting the low level of tranquility be, the tranquility goes up or it gets deeper. Letting the distraction be, the non-distraction starts to grow. But trying to make less distraction or make more calm is not respectful of your current situation. So that makes less calm. Generally speaking,


if you try to make yourself more calm, you become less calm. Generally. Yes? Even if you're having unwholesome things of mind arise, would being compassionate, just no matter how unwholesome they appear, just letting them be? Is that the medicine? That's kind of a brief statement for compassion. Let it be. Like, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. Mother Mary's whispered words of wisdom, let it be. Yeah, let it be. And then we can articulate that, or let it be, into basically the five perfections of the Bodhisattva. Letting unwholesome states be doesn't mean ignoring them. It means attending


to them as though they were a precious living being. Wholesome states also, attending to them as though they're precious living beings. And states that aren't clearly wholesome or unwholesome, attending to them as though they were precious living beings. Because they are. All life is precious. Even unwholesome life is precious. And being kind to unwholesome life creates the, creates the, it is the compassion which lets the, lets the tranquility start to develop with the unwholesomeness, and the unwholesomeness in tranquility starts to be like not really a problem anymore. And not to mention that the tranquility with the unwholesomeness.


I haven't heard of any stories of the Buddha freaking out in the face of unwholesomeness. The Buddha is like calm and present and compassionate with unwholesomeness, no matter how much. And then this unconstructed stillness comes and liberates the unwholesomeness. Like in a story. He started out kind of unwholesome. He was trying to prove a point and win some money. And he went into some really unwholesome spaces, but he was kind to them more and more, and he calmed down, and then he got the great guidance. So take, still the Buddha recommends doing wholesome karma, but the Buddha doesn't say, do unwholesome karma and be cruel to, no, the Buddha doesn't say, practice wholesome karma and be cruel to unwholesome karma. He didn't say that. He said, practice wholesome karma and don't be cruel to anything. Nobody.


Like you know, in one life the Buddha was being tortured by a king, cut into pieces. He said, I did not give rise to ill will towards him. I practiced compassion, even though he was cutting me up in pieces. And so, because of that, I'm the Buddha. If you practice compassion towards unwholesomeness, you will become Buddha. Also, you don't skip over practicing compassion towards wholesomeness, because some people are really practicing wholesome action. Have you noticed? Some people are really wholesome in their conduct. But it isn't like, well, I'm not going to give them any compassion. No. They get the compassion too. Okay? Is


that all right? Any problems with giving compassion to people who are being skillful, who are still suffering? They're skillful, but they're still suffering. Why are they still suffering? Because they have not finished their course of compassion. They're doing wholesome things, but they have not yet developed sufficient compassion to receive the guidance of unconstructed stillness. But they will, because they're practicing compassion. Everybody that's practicing compassion will become Buddha. And when we start practicing compassion, usually we are selective. Most people start with selective compassion. I haven't heard of people who


start with universal, unconditioned compassion. That's something most people have to work up to. And we are. We're in that process. Even the Buddha did not have it. There was a time in Buddha's evolution where there were some things he looked at not compassionately, and he told us about that, and he said he was embarrassed. I wasn't compassionate on that occasion, and I'm embarrassed that I wasn't. Sorry. I don't recommend that to you. Yes, Bill? Okay, there's something about that story that's really disturbing to me, and I'm worried about the banker. For those who seem to be a cop, let them go over to the chair. There aren't a few constructs, and what I'm wondering is, what's going on with you? Well, I can tell


you a little bit more. Between now and the next class, I will try to read the story, and you can too. But I did hear a little bit more about the banker, and that was, when the banker went into the room to kill this guy, and saw the note, and read the note, he was moved to tears. He was deeply touched by this guy's compassion. And so, it wasn't just that he didn't kill him because he didn't have to, he also, this guy transmitted something to him. So he wasn't... It's an important part of the story. And there's other parts important parts too, but I just didn't have time to tell you the whole story. But I'll learn more about it, because I think Anton Chekhov is a pretty good storyteller. And this story that he told had a big influence on me when I was a child. And now, Unconstructive


Stillness gave it to me again, with a new understanding of what was being given to me. A new understanding of the story. A new Dharma jewel came as a gift from... I didn't make it come, it came to me. And also, the TV show came to me too, and gave me this beautiful story, which had a big impact on me, I would say. How old were you? I don't know, but how old does a kid have to be before they understand that story and would sit through it? Ten? Twelve? Probably not. Maybe eight. The older, it's a different story. Yeah. Anyway, I couldn't have been too much older because I stopped watching TV at a certain point. But I don't know when the show was, but I wasn't in college. It wasn't one of those stories. I don't remember.


In this practice, we say there's no real source... I'm checking my understanding. There's no real source of the guidance. It dependently co-arises in the unconstructed stone. Is that correct? Is there a source to the guidance? I think the source of the guidance is reality. But reality doesn't actually have a substantial core. So the way that all phenomena interpenetrate each other, and the way they... is a principle.


And the way that principle interpenetrates with all phenomena is a teaching. And the teaching is about the way things are. So in a sense, the source of this unconstructed guidance, or this guidance of the unconstructed, the source of it, is the way things actually work, which you could say is dependent co-arising. But it doesn't have a center that's a substantial thing. So reality is working itself out, but in the process of working itself out, it has made living beings who have consciousness, and the living being's consciousness is very narrow and deceptive and misleading and turbulent and giddy. And frightened and afflicted. So that's part of reality, is that such consciousnesses have


and are constantly arising. Consciousnesses which have in them appearances which don't actually exist, like independent beings and things like that are appearing. So that situation, the way that that works is actually in concert with all the other beings who have that situation, and that concert cannot be seen in this limited way, because it's not a limited concert. But that concert is actually what's going on, and that concert wants these limited consciousnesses to open to it, so that they don't get stuck in their limited views. But in order to open to this concert that's going on, the individual players need to allow compassion into their space. But there's not really like a source, it's the way everything's working together


is kind of the source. Okay, and so that time the beggar saw the note and he had this guidance, and it could have been he saw the note and was like, ah, let's kill him. So I'm just trying to understand, which may be his folly, how come, how come? Again, how the unconstructed stillness works is imperceptible. So you could make a story however that it imperceptibly worked to guide this person, it worked to guide this person to write the note, and this note was a transmission of the guidance. So when we're guided to practice beneficial actions, the beneficial actions, part of the benefit of them is that they're a transmission to other beings of how to receive the guidance which led to this beneficial action. So we're acting all the time, the question is how to bring wise guidance


into close proximity to our action. So we're acting all the time, the guidance is sitting there, how can we allow the guidance to come and embrace our action, to guide it in such a way as to show other beings how to allow that to come and guide their actions. So in that story, he was guided to write the note, and the man came and read it, so then the man was guided. But he still, he could have still shot him, you know, he could have been so insane that the guidance wouldn't work. The young lawyer who was not so young anymore, he was guided to write it, but that doesn't mean that when people read it, they're going to see what's being given to them. And this man who was going in there, he hadn't calmed down, he was very agitated, but still the power of that transmission of that note did sort


of snap him out of his murderous impulses. And Chekhov wrote this, he wrote a short story right? Did he write any novels? This is a short story. A long story would maybe tell the story of the banker's evolution beyond that. So I'm telling you the long story is that the banker, you know, continued to practice after that. What that young man gave him deeply penetrated his life and changed his life, and he went on to understand what the young man understood. That's the longer version of Chekhov's story. We need Tolstoy to do that stuff. Tolstoy does, he's an example of it. Tolstoy is an example of that evolution.


He went through a similar evolution, this aristocrat becoming a peasant. So, I haven't quite formed this question fully yet, but I'm just going to put it out there. I think I understand what you're saying about this guidance is that it's already present. And if we're interested in being on that training, then we need to practice in a way that allows that to come forth or something like that. Yeah, we need to allow it. So it looks like to me there are certain practices that to me look like it's more in accord with


that and things that look like it's less in accord. Like to me, Zazen looks very in accord with that. But like playing computer games on my phone doesn't look as in accord with letting that come forth. But it also sounds like either one, Zazen or playing computer games with practicing compassion with either of those is a dharma gate into allowing that guidance or that unconstructed stillness to come forth. Yeah, I basically would agree. I'd change it slightly in that in a way, compassion isn't exactly... I really don't want to say this. I didn't really say what I'm about to say. Compassion is a dharma gate the way everything is a dharma gate. Computer games are a dharma gate. Sitting with other people in silence and stillness is a dharma gate. Compassion


is a dharma gate. However, practicing computers does not necessarily show you by itself that playing with computers is a dharma gate. We need to apply compassion to the computer games and to the sitting in order to realize that the computer games and the sitting and the... We need to apply compassion to the compassion too. By applying compassion to everything, everything turns into a dharma gate. So computer activity is a dharma gate. Everything is a dharma gate. Nothing's not. But in order to discover that, we need to bring all this great wholesome compassion to the event and then the event takes its mask off and shows you


the same dharma as when Zazen, that we think is Zazen, takes its mask off and shows us what it really is. So really, everything we're doing all day long is Zazen, is Buddha activity. But if we're not compassionate to pretty much everything, then we keep the door somewhat closed. Again, the selective compassion is evolving towards unselective compassion. So it's like, it's not just that I only practice compassion towards Mary, but I practice compassion towards Mary every moment. Not just sometimes with Mary, but it's every moment with Mary, every moment with Margie, every moment with Maggie, every moment with Elena, every moment with Eric, every moment with everybody. That really opens the door and making exceptions


kind of closes it and closing it a little bit is kind of like counts. But it's not the end of the game. It's just like, oops, I closed it a little bit. I'm sorry. Let's try again. And there's unlimited moments of Dharma gates opening. And every time they open, and they open in stillness, which is the stillness, we don't really make them drop away. We just stop resisting, stop holding back our love and everything that teaches us. Well, sometimes this holding back, it seems like to me is really based on my own personal views that I'm holding on to. Like, Zazen feels very different than like playing a computer game. So now I have a story about how Zazen is more wholesome, and this other thing is


a distraction. It doesn't feel like it's, in a way, it doesn't feel worthy of... Compassion? I was going to say, like, respect. Like, you can go down the world to look at it. Yeah, right. Exactly. So Lindy just asked earlier about what about unwholesome things. So, if computer activity is unwholesome, it still is calling for compassion, and it's deserving of compassion. And even if you don't think it is, that thought that you don't think it is, is also deserving of compassion. And if you think what's going on when you're sitting is deserving of compassion, I would say, I think the Buddha agrees with you. Anything you think doesn't deserve compassion, the Buddha disagrees with you. But the Buddha still feels compassion with you in what she doesn't agree on. And you will open to that


compassion, and you will join that compassion. We are in this process. However, we do miss a beat now and then. And we do think, well, no, not that. I'm not going to honor that. I'm not going to respect that. I'm not going to be generous with that. I'm not going to be tender with that. Okay. Well, that's another thing to be compassionate to. All those, I'm not going to do that. All the moments of not being compassionate, all the moments of making exceptions, and the practice doesn't apply here. This is ridiculous. Don't be silly. Like that story in Being Upright about the canter. You know that story? There's a story in Being Upright about a canter. A canter is a singer in the synagogue, right? And he and his family were being harassed by a member of the KKK. And at first, they were like,


they did not practice compassion towards him. Their religion is to practice compassion, right? It was. That's their religion. Love your enemy. But they didn't do it, even though he was a professional religious person. But then he snapped out of it and said, maybe we should practice compassion to this cruelty, this unwholesome behavior of this guy. And they started to do it. And some of their friends, when they found out what they were doing, they said, come on, that's just too much. You're crazy. It can look ridiculous to be, you know, to be compassionate to some people. It's just ridiculous. But that's not the Buddhist story. The Buddhist story is, even if it's ridiculous, and ridiculous means susceptible to ridicule.


So doing certain Buddhist practices, you could easily be ridiculed. But to go ahead and continue to practice compassion, even if you're ridiculed, that's the way that we're learning. We're learning that way. But sometimes when we see how ridiculous it is, we shrink back and say, no, I'm not going to be that ridiculous. That's too much. But too much isn't wrong. It's just another thing to be compassionate to. Yes? Something comes to my mind that is so far out, but not really. Well, I'm talking about as far out too, you copycat. Could compassion have been the driving force in the Big Bang? Yep.


Yes. Well, she asked it though. I couldn't help myself. I'm not seeing right now, I'll contemplate this though, I'm not seeing right now some section of the universe or some point in history when compassion wasn't part of the deal. Because basically compassion is just the working of reality. So reality has been working from before there was a beginning. And it didn't stop working when there was a beginning. But reality doesn't really have a beginning. Well, when you say compassion is the working and the regular working, where does that end?


Well, the way you are supporting me all day long. Why is that compassion? Yeah, I would call the way you're supporting me in reality is compassion. You're being generous to me, you're letting me be. You're being careful of me and gentle with me. You're being patient with me. She's really patient with me. She has a hard time with me, but she's patient. Right? I didn't say it was everything. I didn't say patience is everything. Patience isn't cruelty. Patience isn't impatience. I'm not saying you're impatience with me, if you ever were.


I'm not saying that's the way you're compassionate to me. I'm saying your patience with me is part of your compassion with me. Your respect of me. You're letting me be. That's the way everything is, is what we just said. The way things aren't is that we're not supporting each other. And we're not respecting each other. And we're not being generous. And we're stealing from each other. That's the way things aren't. But that's the way they look in our consciousness. And because they look that way, if we attach to that, we suffer. And we do sometimes attach to it, and we do suffer.


So that's our situation. Part of our life is things that don't exist are appearing. And there's a teaching that can come to that space, which can guide us with that situation where all this stuff that's not happening that's appearing. There's a constant production of things that don't really exist. And there's guidance of how to deal with it. And the first thing is be compassionate to all of it. If you've got some unwholesomeness appearing, some cruelty appearing, some not-compassion appearing, well, it's kind of like, okay, that's enough. Okay, fine. We don't need any more cruelty. Thank you. Now we have something to work on now. Let's be compassionate with it. Now, if by any chance there was no cruelty, that's okay too. We can be compassionate with that. And somebody's saying, well, this is kind of boring. There's no cruelty.


Well, we can be compassionate to that. Or, am I missing something? I don't see any cruelty lately. That's okay. You can think like that sometimes. And then you can be compassionate to that too. That's not necessarily a wholesome thought. I don't think that's necessarily a wholesome thought, and I don't think it's unwholesome. What's the thought? I don't see any cruelty. I don't think that's necessarily wholesome or unwholesome. But I still think that being compassionate to that is in accord with reality. Being compassionate is in accord with reality. I forgot the part about believing how things need to be. And being compassionate to that, you settle down with it, and this constructive stillness comes, and then the guidance comes to not just remember that this is the way it appears,


and it's not really so. That's true. But now I'm looking at you, and I say, Margi looks like that, but that's not really what Margi is. Okay, I got that teaching, and if I really calm down with that, I get to see the way Margi really is, which is not just that she isn't what I think she is. You're more than... You're all more than just not what I think you are. You also are dharmagates, and reality is working on us to help us realize reality, and part of reality is, when we're not realizing reality, we're stressed. So we're motivated to realize it, because in fact we are being called to realize it, because it is our nature to realize it. Our basic nature is Buddha's wisdom,


and we have to work with human delusion in order to open to Buddha's wisdom, which is our basic nature. Our basic nature is not delusion. It's our temporary nature. It's our provisional nature. It's temporary. And if we practice compassion towards all the temporariness, we open to what doesn't have beginning or end, which is Buddha wisdom. Yes? Just to clarify, being compassionate towards, say, any state, even if it appears unwholesome, is not the same thing as encouraging that thing to continue doing its unwholesome thing. Say I notice selfish thoughts and actions in myself.


If I'm compassionate towards them, that's not the same thing as saying to myself, just go ahead and keep on being selfish. At least this is the way I think of it. Please tell me. It's like noticing this, whatever it is, there's some being inside of me that is doing that selfish thing, and I am compassionate toward that being. It's not the same thing as saying, go right ahead and be a computer addict. It doesn't actually work that way. It's not so much telling on what to do, it's more like you're taking care of this suffering being who is calling you for compassion in this really kind of upside-down way. Like it's saying, I hate you, stay away from me, I don't want your help. That's the way it's saying, help me. I hate you and I hate everybody else, and I'm going to eat some poop.


So that's the way it's asking for compassion. But you don't have to say, generally speaking, it's not good to say, eat more poop. Once in a while, with very advanced students, the teacher says, eat more poop. But that's, you know, usually when people are eating poop, they just actually want you to be kind to them so that they can stop doing that. And when they feel the kindness, they realize, I don't really need this. But I did hear a story about a certain Buddhist practitioner who was hanging out with his teacher, and his teacher said, what's that? And the student said, that's a cesspool. The teacher said, go into it. And the student went into the cesspool, and there was some stuff in the cesspool floating on the surface, which was sometimes called turds. And the teacher said, eat that turd.


And the student ate the turd. I did hear that story, yeah. It's a story I heard. And then somebody said to that student, who later became a teacher, well, how did you feel after you ate the turd? He said, I was very happy. But that's not beginner's practice. But you can, if I ask you to go into a cesspool, you can say no in a compassionate way. Now, again, I'm not trying to get you to go into the cesspool, okay?


But I am suggesting to you that if certain people were in the cesspool calling to you for help, you would go into the cesspool. I wouldn't have to tell you to go in. You would just dive in and get that person out of there. Right? And one of my first jobs at Tassajara was plumber. And I spent time in cesspools. Yes? As my job, as my monk job, cesspools. So that book with the story in it, it's called Dreams of a Zen Master? That's a new book called Dreams of a Zen Master? Dreams of a Zen Master, yeah. That story was in a book called Dreams of a Zen Master? It is in that book, yes. Well, for real, but it hasn't been published yet. It's a virtual book. And this is one of the stories in that virtual book, which is, you know, all you have that story right now, right?


And we also have a story of Nettie saying, I ain't going in no cesspool. But again, you can say no, I'm not going to follow your instruction, dear teacher, as an act of compassion. You can compassionately offer that. You can be guided to say no. So the book publisher had an alternate title, which was In Your Dreams. Yeah, that was an alternate title, In Your Dreams. And another alternate title was In Your Face. Dreams of a Zen Master. Where does the virtual reality stop? And where does it begin? I guess it can have virtual beginnings and endings. Yes?


There was a short film on television about caste system media. Yes. And it was about the untouchables. And that's exactly, they didn't eat, but their job was to clean out the sewers and cellars. And they would go in, go underwater, and that was their job. Whereas in Zen, it's the head of practice that does it. The head student, or whatever you want to call it, Zen Master cleans the toilets, right? Yeah. It's a really nice job. That's a very different situation. It's very different, yeah. It's very different. However, compassion applies to both situations. And both situations are calling for compassion. I propose that. I'm trying that out. I'm trying out whether


whether I believe that, you know. No, I'm not trying out whether I believe it. I do believe it. I'm trying it out. That's my belief. So I'm trying out compassion for any situation you tell me. I'm going to try compassion on that. Any situation you tell me, I'm going to try. And I'm betting that that's necessary for all of us. And I'm betting that all of us I'm betting that all of us are in the process of learning how to give compassion to every situation in order to bring welfare to the world. And, yeah. And if any of us ever do not want to bring welfare to the world I want to be compassionate to that. But I think most of you do want to bring welfare to the world. And I'm just saying I think this is necessary.


But it's not the whole story. The whole story is we basically start with compassion and then the compassion not only is appropriate to bring benefit but it also allows this guidance to come which guides us on how to respond from that compassion besides just thinking about what to do and not getting rid of thinking about what to do but letting the guidance come in and embrace our thinking and our talking and our gestures. It's just, you know, it's just so wonderful, this opportunity that we have and it's just so wonderful that we are availing ourselves of this opportunity. We're doing it. It's so great. Congratulations on being on the Buddha way. Did you want to say something before we conclude?


I just wanted to ask about, because I think about this a lot that people, like somebody in the world will say that the caste system in India needs fixing that. Those people shouldn't have to go in because of their caste. They should not have that. Yes, even the Buddha might have said that. And if the Buddha says this caste system should be fixed the Buddha should be treated with compassion. And if you treat the Buddha who says we should fix it with compassion that will bring benefit to the situation. So if anybody, if any, the situation is calling for compassion but the compassion not necessarily thinking this should be fixed. The compassion is more like jumping into it with them. But not like jumping into them like this is a good thing and I want more of it. It's just I'm going to be here with you in this situation. I'm going to let you be so you can learn how to let yourself be


and some untouchables do learn that and... No, no, no. There's something really dangerous about what you're saying. Okay. Some untouchables let themselves be. They accept their situation and become leaders of their community and bring benefit to their community. Some untouchables are... Yeah, they're wealthy people. This cannot be elaborated at this time. Okay. But I would just say bringing compassion to the most horrible situation is the way to bring benefit. It doesn't mean that... And the benefit is... It could be beneficial to fix something but sometimes things cannot be fixed. So it's not a matter of fixing them. It's a matter of bringing compassion to something


that's not going to get fixed. Like, for example, death is not going to get fixed. But people can die with compassion towards themselves while they're dying and they can receive other people's compassion and they can die in a way that is beneficial. So I watched Suzuki Roshi die and his dying process, which we weren't... At Zen Center we were not into fixing it. We didn't hear... I don't know if this was before chemotherapy but he had liver cancer and there was no discussion of chemotherapy. Anyway, he didn't have any chemotherapy. I don't know why he didn't but Zen Center and he and his wife we weren't thinking, well, we're going to fix this cancer. That was not on the board. It was like, he's dying and we're going to be with him


and he's going to let us be with him. And so his death was very beneficial to us to go through that dying process with him. It was much faster than we thought it was going to be but it wasn't really terrible because he showed us so well how to deal with his pain. He was in pain. He wasn't just sick. He was in pain and he was still Suzuki Roshi and he was teaching just as well as he taught when he could walk around and give talks and work with us and so on. He was still bringing benefit to us and showing us how to bring benefit to him even though the situation was not something we were going to fix. But some other situations we could say, oh, we're going to fix it but that doesn't mean we... And then the people we're trying to fix, we can practice compassion there too.


Well, the situation. So the Buddha didn't teach that suffering was real. The Buddha taught the truth of suffering. And the truth of suffering is it has causes and conditions but it has a conventional reality. It exists conventionally. Suffering does. Suffering does. But my thoughts about you, they exist as thoughts but the thought, there's no such thing the thought corresponds to. There's no reality to the thought of what I think of you. But suffering, with believing my thoughts about you, there's truth in that.


It doesn't really exist but it also doesn't really not exist. Suffering doesn't really exist. Suffering doesn't really not exist. But what I think suffering is, or what I think you are, if I believe what I think you are, then I suffer. And then if I turn my attitude that I have towards you on the suffering and think this is what suffering is and think that what I think suffering is is what suffering is, then I suffer. So what I think suffering is, is an illusion. If I believe it, it's a delusion. What I think you are is an illusion. If I believe it, it's a delusion. And I suffer. Delusions are afflictions. And they're afflictions because we believe these appearances as something more than appearances.


But the suffering that we feel when we deny reality, that has a reality. And again, we don't say that that suffering does not exist. We also don't say it does exist. It is in a way that's between those extremes and it's calling for compassion. And if we practice compassion towards the suffering, we wake up to the way suffering really is. And as you say, this discussion will go on. This is just a... This is just a discussion so far. The discussion will go on until everybody hears the true Dharma and everybody realizes great compassion.


The discussion will go on. Thank you very much.