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

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As I've told you before, I really enjoy being with you here. And I've been thinking of sharing something with you, which, you know, it's kind of a delicate thing. Kind of what? A delicate thing. Could you move that way about one inch? Thank you. Part of the reason it's delicate is that if I say what I'm planning on saying to you, it will probably touch you, touch your heart, and touch your body. So I want to, you know, I want to recognize that what I'm going to say will have some effect upon you. And I've been kind of sheltering you for a while and not sharing this with you because of the effect it might have on you. So what it is is that, well, that you have thanked me many times for coming over here to be with you,


and you recognize that it's an effort for me to come over here. So during this particular series of classes, my trips over here have been relatively smooth. But my trips back have been unusually difficult. Every single time, I'm running into road construction, narrowing roads, and big backups. So it takes me a really long time going through these kind of difficult spaces on the bridge. And also, I notice that on the other direction, it's the same story, from both directions of the bridge.


So that's been kind of a difficulty for me. And one of the nights, two weeks ago, I had a blowout on the bridge. Not just a flat tire, but a kind of blowout. And so I called the tow truck people, but they can't go on the bridge. So they have to, Caltrans has to come and basically force me off the bridge. I can't get... So they got me off the bridge, and then I called the tow truck people back again, but they never came. And they apologized the next day. Well, they apologized that night too, but they apologized for not coming. And so, it wasn't just a tire, it was the whole tire. It wasn't just tire, the wheel also got broken.


Because I don't know what happened, but the wheel actually, the metal wheel, got perforated somehow. So I didn't get home until really late, like three o'clock. So I'm just saying to share with you that I'm having some difficulty getting back from here. And I'm really glad to be with you again. And to contemplate a teaching which is intended to liberate us and make us more able to help people in this world of suffering. So, yeah, so there's many things going on. Like tonight, as you may know, there's lots of people running for president


and debating with each other about what's really most important in life. And I guess they all agree that it's really important to take care of everybody and that the people with lots of money should join in that effort, things like that. Which almost everybody agrees with. Even the wealthy people think probably we should help some. It's kind of a debate about how much. Anyway, we watch these things happen and then we wonder, well, what's my response to this world with all these sufferings and issues? So I've been saying to you that keeping that question alive is appropriate to benefiting beings.


Wondering what we can do to be helpful moment by moment. And also using the teaching to encourage us to meet the world in an upright and balanced way. With the teaching that if we are upright and balanced in meeting suffering and the causes of suffering, that that gives us the best chance to make the appropriate response, the beneficial response. But being upright and balanced is precarious. Today I was talking to some people and they mentioned, when I was talking about what it's like to be balanced, they said, that's a slippery slope. And I would say, it's not so much that that's a slippery slope,


but there's a slippery slope all around it. When you're balanced, all around you is slippery. You can easily slip when you're balanced. Once you slip, you're done slipping. You just go off in some direction. So a slippery slope means, it's often like a slippery slope to doing something inappropriate, something unhelpful, something even worse than unhelpful. And we kind of don't like that. We kind of don't like to have a slippery slope right over here, which, if we slipped on it, we're going to do something really unfortunate. We don't like that, right? It's not a happy thought, exactly. And then over here, it's the same thing. Now there's a slippery slope over here and over here. We can make mistakes.


When you're upright, you haven't really made a mistake. You're balanced. But when you commit to some line, you could slip into something unfortunate. And again, we kind of don't like that. We'd like to be someplace where there's no slippery slopes around. It's like all flat, and we can just walk carefully and never make any mistakes. Wouldn't that be nice? So what some people do, as I've mentioned before, is they just pretend like they're in a place where there's no slippery slopes. At least not for them. Where they know what's right. And they're not, what do you call it, open-minded about it. Because if they feel like they're open-minded about it, they might slip. If you're open-minded about what cruelty is, then you might slip into cruelty. If you're open-minded about what the precept of not killing means,


you might kill somebody. So a lot of people think, I have to rigidly hold on to the precept of not killing, otherwise I might kill somebody. But holding on to it, you have just slipped. Doesn't mean you're going to kill anybody, but you've slipped. Because now you're in a position where you know what's right. And you're no longer questioning, well, what does that precept mean? So this ongoing questioning is part of, you could say ethical behavior, but you could also say enlightened behavior. Enlightened responding to the world includes being questioned and questioning. So I may think this is killing, this is evil, this is wrong.


And if I recognize that what I'm aware of is what I think is wrong, and I do think it's wrong, or I do think that's harmful, and I do think it's harmful, but to notice that what I'm talking about is what I think, and being aware that it actually might not be anything more than what I think is wrong, then someone against might say, well, then you could slip into doing something wrong if you're not sure that it's not just that you think it's wrong, but you know it's wrong and you're right. So they would maybe recommend, well, you shouldn't just be aware that what you think is right is what you think is right, but it might not be right. You shouldn't consider that what you think is right might not be, that what's right may be beyond what you think and don't think. And wouldn't it be nice to realize that?


And I think that part of the practice is to say, it is possible to realize what's right beyond what you think is right. Like the famous Rumi poem, there is a field beyond ideas. I don't think he said beyond good and bad. I think he said beyond ideas of good and bad. You heard that poem? There is a field beyond ideas of good and bad. I'll meet you there. And the way you get to that field is by not grabbing or rejecting ideas of good and bad. If you grab them, you're stuck. You exile yourself from that field. If you don't pay attention to them, that's the same. So we also say, turning away and touching are both wrong,


for it's like a massive fire. What's like a massive fire? The reality of an enlightened ethical being. You're not supposed to touch it or turn away from it. And you do that with everything, including what you think is right and what you think is wrong. And I'm including if you don't know. But it isn't like knowing. So you can even say, I know that's right, but my knowing is not beyond my ideas. Or you could even say, my knowing is beyond my ideas, and then I have no ideas by which I can prove what I know. But then again, I'm open to being questioned. And again, that I'm proposing is more upright. And it's always... And when you're upright, it isn't like when you're upright, you don't have to worry about slipping. And when you're not upright,


in a way you don't have to worry about slipping because you just slipped. So once you become self-righteous, you don't have to worry about slipping anymore because you have slipped. You've successfully slipped, congratulations. You've slipped into self-righteousness. Which again, children do that quite naturally. At first they don't know anything about ethics, so their knowledge is almost zero, and their confidence is almost zero. And so John pointed out the Dunning-Kruger effect, right? You can Google it. It's the Dunning-Kruger effect. If you have zero knowledge, then you don't have any confidence. But when you have a little bit of knowledge, your confidence shoots way up.


And then a little bit more, it shoots up even more. But then a little bit more, it stops. And that top part is called the summit of stupidity. Before you knew anything, you're not as stupid as after you know a little bit. A little bit of knowledge is dangerous because a little bit of knowledge can shoot you up. And so children, when they first get the ideas about ethics, when they know a little bit, they suddenly are like, except maybe with their mother who's like God, for ordinary people like grandparents, they know much more about everything than they just know a little tiny bit. But they have tremendous confidence, which I often tell you, you know. My grandson asked me, what's your favorite animal? And I say, humans. And he says, humans are not animals.


And a couple of years later he says, what's your favorite animal? And I say, humans. And he says, humans are not animals. And a couple of years later I say it, and he says, he's learned that humans could be considered animals. But again, I'm not saying humans are animals. I just said when he asked me the question that humans are my favorite animal. But I really don't know if humans are animals. I don't even know what humans are. But still, if you ask me what my favorite animal is, I would still say humans. I could say dogs, but I don't know what dogs are either. And really, I do think humans are great. And dogs are too, actually. And the greatness of dogs is related to the greatness of humans, and vice versa. Anyway, the children, they have great confidence, and they're really deluded. And they learn a little bit more, and their confidence starts dropping back down. And it meets this pit called the,


I think the pit or the valley of despair. And then as knowledge increases, they gradually go into the slope of enlightenment. And then they enter the plateau of sustainability. It isn't until they get back up to complete, perfect confidence, in this particular presentation, they get up to a sustainable level of confidence, which is pretty high. But I would say it's sustainable in the sense that you can continue the conversation by which you developed your knowledge. And you develop your knowledge by telling people you knew exactly what was going on, complete confidence, and then they'd say something to you, and then at first it drops way down. But then as your conversation goes on, you start to get more knowledge, and your confidence comes up gradually, and it levels off to a high level of confidence in continuing the practice of learning from there.


Endless, lifelong learning. And you have confidence in that, and yeah, you have confidence in it, and you can sustain that confidence. The first kind of confidence you couldn't sustain. The second kind of confidence you can sustain even as you get feedback on your knowledge. So one of the key things here is the statement that practice and enlightenment are not two different things. You don't practice to get enlightenment. I mean, that's not enlightenment. Enlightenment is a way of practice. And the Buddhas have a practice which is their realization that they're not any different from sentient beings. Or take away Buddhas, but in a way Buddha


is understanding and practicing which is not different from our practice. And Buddha has lots of confidence, and also Buddha is open to being questioned. And Buddha has confidence without touching it or turning away from it. I always have felt that Suzuki Roshi had moral authority but not moral superiority. It wasn't like he knew more than us. Or less than us. But I feel like he was upright with what he knew. And because of that, it wasn't that what he knew was his authority. His authority was the way he dealt with what he knew. And what he didn't know. I mean, you can have a lot of authority


dealing with not knowing what's going on, and you can have a lot of authority dealing with thinking that you do know what's going on. In both cases, you can have authority of showing people how to deal with situations where somebody, me or you, thinks they know what's going on, or somebody, me or you, doesn't know what's going on. But it's not like when you don't know what's going on there's no opportunities, and when you do go on there is opportunities, or there isn't opportunities when you do know what's going on, or you think you do. And in the other cases there is. In both cases there's opportunity. Because whatever the case, whatever the case, the Buddha is not the slightest bit different from that case. There's no case that the Buddha's different from. And some cases are terrible, are horrible, but the Buddha's not someplace else from horrible cases. The Buddha is the way that case is becoming liberated.


It doesn't like, say, it doesn't like, I don't know what to call it, make horrible things not horrible. It just makes you realize that not horrible things are horrible, and horrible things are not horrible. It doesn't make them that way. It awakens you to that. And then we want to be liberated from horrible situations. We want to be liberated from terrible situations. But that includes wanting to be, the realization of that includes wanting to be liberated from good situations. It isn't like we want to let go of terrible situations and hold on to good situations. Holding on to good ones makes them terrible. So, to be upright with good situations, to be free of good situations,


to be upright with terrible situations, there will be freedom from terrible situations. Without denying them or rewriting history. Again, as I said before, we have some terrible history. Every day we make new terrible history. We got it, right? But there is also a possibility to transcend it. But the transcendence of it is by being thoroughly accountable for it and responsible for it. Being upright with it. And that way of being with it is liberation, and that way of being with it is Buddha. And Buddha is never separate from all these pretty good, better, excellent, and not so good and terrible. All these situations, which means all these living beings, all these terrible situations are situations of living beings. They are not abstract things necessarily, although they could be that too, because abstraction is a thing that living beings can do.


Yes? Question from audience Isn't there a way that this slippery slope is also the teaching? That the slippery slope is a positive thing because it teaches you that you're not dead. I would say it's positive in the sense that it's a warning. A slippery slope... Or an accident could be a warning to you. It could be an action? Accident, yeah. It could be active? Yeah, it could be active. In a way it is active. It's acting, it's performing the function of being slippery. And so there's a slippery slope and so that's something to be careful of, right? Rather than say, where can we go where there's no slippery slopes? Well, again,


if you wanted to get away from slippery slopes, well just step on one and you'll slide to the bottom of it and then you'll be like not on a slippery slope anymore. You will have just slid and now you're in some really... you're in the bad situation that you're afraid you'll slip into. Like I don't know what. Not caring that people are suffering. So I think people are suffering and if I recognize that my thought about them suffering is not their suffering but just my thought, I could slip. Yes. But if I think that they're suffering and I am not open to that and I'm not open to that being a thought but I think it's a reality, then I slip too. It's a different type of slipping into two different areas and it's hard to say which is worse. Like, again, someone is talking about the slippery slope of


well this, you know, this seems to be something bad. Like I think I did something wrong and if I think, and if I'm then aware that what I think, that the thought that I did something wrong is just a thought and whether I did something wrong or not is something to be maybe discerned but I do think I did something wrong and then the person said if you don't take care of that you might slip into not taking care of that thought I did something wrong. And that's true. It might happen. And the other way, yes, so that's one way that you, let's see, if you don't take your thoughts that you're doing something wrong seriously enough something really bad might happen and I would say yes, it might.


If you don't take it to the proper level of seriousness. But if you do the other way of I think, for example, they did something wrong and I don't think that was just a thought but think that's a reality then what you do to those people sometimes is equally bad as what you might do if you wrote off or if you wrote off their wrote off your ideas that they're doing something harmful. If you write off their ideas that they're doing something harmful we might have big harm. So I'm not talking about writing it off. Writing it off is a danger that we can slip into when we become a little bit open-minded about our thoughts that seem like that seem like wrong. I have the thought that seems wrong


about my own behavior and then if I am open about that and realize well that's my thought about it but who knows if it's actually wrong. That openness to who knows it's actually wrong rather than it is wrong. I think it's wrong and it is. Okay? And someone might feel like I'd rather make the mistake of it is wrong rather than make the mistake of I'm not sure it is and then slip into the problems that happen perhaps because you're open to not being sure that you're wrong. Maybe you'd continue to do it since I thought I was wrong but I'm not sure I did so maybe I'll keep doing it. That could happen. And wouldn't that be terrible? Well yes. But the other way you know the other way is I think that person did something wrong or those people did something wrong


and there's no openness about that being my thoughts. It's true that they did something wrong and look what happens when people think that about a person or a group. Nazi Germany is the big example in our recent history where people thought some people were doing something wrong and there was no openness about it no nuance it was just a growth they're doing something wrong and then all these things followed from that terrible adherence to that view which I think really it could be debated. But there was no debate. There was just cruelty following from being sure. Yes? Take that to the next step. Yes. I've seen the Nazis doing that. Yes. Yes.


Yes. That's what I would do. Yes. Yes. So I I think I think what I think was wrong was first of all that they they stopped questioning their own views of things and once they did that they became very cruel and and now I think that that what they did but also how they got into that fix I think that is not wrong that's just like what do you call it it's yeah it's not exactly wrong it's it's kind of like evil it's evil for what they did was evil but also the way they thought about what they were doing was evil too and I I that's my thought but I'm not but I'm going to fall into the same pit that they are unless I question my own thought


that they're wrong. Yeah. Well like I I My action is to talk about this. Well I'm not saying that's all I'm just telling you an example of my action is to think about this and also to to bring this up to encourage people to not do the same thing. My main that's in some sense one of my core activities is to encourage myself and others not to make the same mistake they made. In other words my what I'm what I'm doing is education based on seeing a seeing a tremendous number of mistakes of a similar variety now my I'm


I'm sort of like sort of in the same ballpark as the German government which which teaches kids not to not to do that again. Yes? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Well not that yeah that that well yeah I guess that's all because educating people about evil is the way to get them to be free of it.


Yeah, but it doesn't stop everybody from dying for the next 100,000 years. Say again? Probably wouldn't stop anybody from dying for the next from people like the Nazis for the next 10,000 years by the time everybody on enough people on earth are educated to not think that way. The the evil I'm suggesting this is a difficult part I'm suggesting that the evil will never be eliminated. I'm not thinking I haven't seen there be less evil since since that time. I'm not sure there's more but I'm sort of trying to continue to meet the evil in a way to liberate beings from the evil. And you know if I see an example of it then I would like to meet that example in such a way as to liberate that example. And my feeling is if someone's doing something that I think is evil if I talk to them


with respect and compassion I think I have a better chance of waking them up from that than if I talk to them, for example, from a position of how would I call it moral superiority which just makes them more angry at me and makes them more want to continue whatever it was that I was questioning. So if I question what I think is evil it's possible to do that in such a way that the evil situation, which doesn't exclude me can become free. That's what I'm trying to do in a particular example not to mention educate people we don't we don't see so much evil right in this class right now but we can educate ourselves and be more yeah, be more skillful by what we talk about here and so that when we see some evil we might be able to actually go up to it and say


you know what's the matter sweetheart? And the person might just be disarmed and the evil just drops away because what they were trying to get was compassion in this extremely horrible way and when they get the compassion they sometimes snap out of it and become disarmed the evil becomes disarmed that's the hope and there's examples of where that happens and the examples of, yeah and when it does happen when the disarming happens it usually happens, not always but it usually happens when there's some compassion like I just thought of one time I was at the San Francisco Zen Center and I was, you know, in the entryway and the door opened and one of our students came in followed by another person who I didn't know and the other person had a knife


and it looked like that person and that person was threatening this this student of Zen Center and that student somehow didn't exactly run away from him but sort of brought that person into Zen Center to get help to deal with this person and I saw them from a distance and I have some, you know like we all do, some intuitive processes which give me a feeling for what I can and cannot deal with and I just felt like the level of craziness I felt I just felt like I couldn't really go up to this guy and talk to him I just felt like I was not the right person for the job of disarming him so I just stepped into a room right next to where I was and called 911 and yeah, and it was amazing like it was less than a minute


and the door of Zen Center opened and two policemen came in and they were, they didn't like attack that guy they just presented him with actually some kindness he needed help and they were there to help him and when they came in you know I don't know exactly what happened like they said drop your weapon or something and they dropped it and they peacefully took him away it was just the right thing for him but I didn't get into I didn't get into like he's a bad person I got more into like I want it I feel responsible to take care of this situation this person I know is coming here to get my help and our help there were some other people around there but I was in a position where these kind of situations were usually my responsibility to take care of and I just felt like in this case I was not the person to go talk to him and so I called the police and that was a good decision


and they came and they took him away and that man had just thrown his baby in the ocean he was you know totally crazy just thrown his baby in the ocean and for some reason or other as he was running away pulled over and stopped right by Zen Center and then got out of his car and attacked somebody else but he was just a crazy person and some crazy people I feel like I can interact with and disarm the situation and some people who are not crazy I feel like I can interact with them and that we together can be disarmed and find peace together so there's all these varieties but in that case I did do something and it worked out well you look like you're in deep thought you look like you're in deep thought yeah but anyway


so in that case I did do that and I feel like I didn't get all huffy and puffy about it I recognized the limits of my own ability and according to what I could tell it looked like we needed help from these large people with weapons and they didn't use their weapons and they disarmed him and it worked out well in other cases for example somebody comes into the building and it's in a city center and goes up into people's rooms and steals stuff and then the person is apprehended and again I'm in a position of talking to people that come in to steal things from the Zen Center and yeah so I so he was escorted by a group of people into my little office and I started talking to him about it and he was not admitting that he stole the stuff


and so I said if you didn't steal the stuff I'm not arguing with you about it but why don't you just give me all your money and if people don't come forward saying that their rooms were stolen and money was stolen stuff like that I'll give it back to you we know we're not going to keep your money if nobody reports any money being lost so just give it to me and that didn't quite convince him and then I said to him I said to him if you don't give me the money you won't be welcome to come back here again and he wasn't even a student but basically I just said if you just take this money and go out I think you won't be welcome here again but he was actually he was welcomed into the building so he'd come in and rob people he could feel that and I don't know why I said that


usually you don't say to a criminal if you don't give us the money back you won't be welcome to come back here again but I did say that to him and that's what snapped him out of it and he gave me the money and he didn't come back to get it so I guess he had and then I did give the money back to the people who I think we got all the money and got it back but I was kind of like practicing with this guy he was like I was treating him kind of like a Zen student like you know well if you didn't steal it, fine it's not like I know you stole this if you didn't steal it, fine and if you didn't steal it there's no problem in giving it to me just for a little while it'll just take a little while to find out and you can come back tomorrow and I'll give it all to you and we're not going to keep it if nobody reports it but still he didn't quite buy that the next step was like treating him kind of like a member of our community like if you don't do this


it's going to be hard for you to like and that sort of it was like I think he felt like I was treating him like he was a human being rather than than a, I don't know what non-human burglar a burglar who's not a human rather than a burglar who is a human or a possible burglar because you know these people saw you in the room so that's the reason I'm asking you to give me the money but I'm just saying that what I'm saying is conversation with evil conversation with suspected alleged criminals but sometimes a conversation we have to have some police to help us but it's still the spirit of it is conversation and I think I sometimes talk to police officers and I say are you a are you a peace officer? and they often say yeah, that's what I'm trying to do that's our hope


is that we're peace officers and it's nice if they and peace officers I think are more successful when they respect the people they're dealing with because if you don't respect somebody especially if it's a person with a lot of testosterone in their blood if you don't respect them they get very upset on the other hand if you do respect them it sometimes stimulates other chemicals to come into the blood stream if you respect people your body starts releasing serotonin when you feel you're respected and that calms you down so if you're full of rage or whatever or not maybe you're not but if you're anxious and afraid and somebody comes to you and gives you respect even if you're in the midst of committing a crime or just committed a crime you can kind of calm down and listen to them


so this is like possibilities but the point is it's it's not it's like I don't know what's going on here but I want to have a conversation with you I don't know what's going on with you but I want to respect you so we can work this out and there's a possibility we can work this out but it's going to be much more likely if I respect you and then maybe you can respect me and you can see that maybe I'm not afraid of you because I feel friendly towards you even though I'm suspecting that you've done something really harmful or you're about to yes and it was Zen monks who were in a show and there were Japanese


Zen monks some were Soto and some were others were at the art work at the Zen show there was a teacher giving a presentation and what he said that one particular monk whose work was there was very historically relevant because when World War II was ending and Japan had been bombed it was not a bomb the emperor had the idea that was prevalent in Japan at the time that whatever you believe in about the country is right and you fight to the death and he consulted with the monk this calligrapher who convinced him that he should let go of that idea and surrender immediately and they had a conversation and that was from the story


that was the reason that the emperor surrendered and that happened yeah and I think you may have heard the story about on the eve of the Cuban Missile Crisis two two men met in a bar in Washington and one of them worked for the Russians and one of them worked for the Americans and they both knew their boss they both knew the presidents of the two countries and the men said to each other does your boss really want to go to war? and the other one said well no does yours? no but they have to if they can't find a way to not look weak if either one of them call it off they may be attacked for looking weak so they thought so they went back to their people and said how could you


call it off in such a way that you wouldn't look weak and they found out a way to do it and then the Russians stopped they withdrew the missiles and the American ships stopped because there was a way for both sides to not be, what do you call it lose their face but they had to have a conversation to find that I'm so curious about the correlation between this confidence and imagination because it seems like that people have imagination with the confidence that it can solve things or they have this competition so when you're talking about the biological cycle and how the child


spreads do you think that also correlates with sort of like the beginning imagination that you have of how it behaves well I wouldn't say it's uncorrelated but if I watch also that same people who were who didn't have much knowledge but had a lot of confidence these young people when it comes to being creative they often, when they're really really into it in a lovely way they aren't usually being self-righteous they often realize that they're being creative and like they're thinking of something like they're in the in the study, in the house but suddenly they're in the ocean you know, and they're swimming in the ocean but they don't really think that they're in the ocean but they're acting kind of like they were in the ocean and they're inviting other people to join their imaginary swimming in the ocean


in the house but again when they get stuck on their self-righteousness usually their imagination is temporarily either blocked or undermined and sometimes if somebody can be imaginative with their with the child's being stuck the child can like join that imagination and get unstuck so when we're when we're not stuck, our imagination serves us better and if we are stuck, somebody else's imagination can come and help us, they can find a way like I said, that example which I've told you before this big guy gets onto a trolley and he's threatening everybody on the on the trolley and my friend who's a martial artist is waiting for him to come back and he's going to like teach him a lesson but the trolley stops and a little tiny man gets on and says what's the matter sweetheart that's kind of like an imaginative thing to do


like he thought up the perfect thing to say to him like what's the matter with you or you shouldn't treat people in such a terrifying way he didn't say what's the matter his imagination and same with children they can sometimes especially if we help them they can sometimes come up with something which can snap adults out of their being stuck and vice versa adults can sometimes help the child snap out of their being stuck so imagination is a great resource and it comes to play when we're kind of uncommitted so we have a basic commitment to do something beneficial in this world but then in some situation before we're committed we have a lot of possibilities our imagination can go almost anywhere once we commit, well that's not the end of the world but intemporarily our imagination's been


narrowed it's a more or less infinite resource, imagination it can turn like Mr. Proust you know Mr. Proust he wrote a book called Remembrance of Time Lost so the book, this huge book is remembering all the time he wasted not doing his work and you know all the interesting ways he avoided doing his work, avoided his masterpiece but what's his masterpiece? his masterpiece is telling all the time he wasted and again people don't think of Proust but he's actually very funny because the whole book's a joke, it's about time wasted which by the end of the book you realize all that wasted time is exactly what the masterpiece is so his imagination saved all those years when he wasn't doing his work and he wasn't


he basically wasn't doing his work he was avoiding the very difficult thing of writing a masterpiece he didn't exactly have writer's block, he more had like writer's laziness and in the book there's various places where he was just ready to go to work and then something really interesting happened and that was it for him but he in the end, the last chapter is recovery of time lost so first is remembering all the time you wasted can turn into converting all the wasted time into a masterpiece so that's our history we have wasted lots of time but by honoring that and taking care of it it's not a waste of time we can be redeemed but not by skipping over the time we wasted but by bringing compassion to it and then letting the imagination


do the amazing things that it can do but as I said again, before transcendence of all the time we've wasted transcendence of all our history is proved real by being willing to account for all the history so Proust accounted for all that history and because he wasted time in so many creative ways he had so many creative things to relate and basically he's very funny but the jokes sort of takes a while usually about 2500 pages to get the joke but he's very entertaining in how he relates, how he wasted time and what a petty person he was really petty


but he tells us about it and he was petty in a very refined and detailed and intimate way but still petty and selfish but also he could tell us about other petty people but in a way that didn't make anybody not a human all the terrible people he had in his book were so mean to each other nobody was made into non-human and they were his masterpieces, they were his colors they were his notes yes I was just thinking about your other thing, thinking about imagination being dependent on curiosity that improved development one of the aspects of that really, I don't call it ability to despair you start accumulating knowledge one thing about the expert


the true expert realizes that they know little about what they are expressing actually what they don't know is greater and that curiosity is dependent on imagination to think about what they don't know yes, if I think I know something it's actually an imaginative feat to think of maybe I don't it's possible that actually I'm not completely right, wow what an imaginative thought some people have never thought that it's a great breakthrough when they do again, particularly young people have not actually thought that thought maybe I'm not actually right somebody has to teach them that though, usually yes and yes you too


age before beauty so I'm reminded of this story of maybe so we've been told this is great, this is terrible and it was probably more difficult to get away with that when people come and they don't leave their stuff to their thought, they're telling you this is terrible and then if you've got to say maybe so my experience is they feel insulted like do you need any more subtle guidance on how to stay upright in the face of people who are really stuck to their no I mean no, I have no way of them not being insulted


I think that that's always a danger if somebody tells you that you're a worthless monk, that you're a disgrace to Buddhism and you say no I'm not, they don't feel insulted, right they just think you disagree with them so maybe they don't feel insulted because you say no I'm not a bad monk in this case he was falsely accused he didn't say, well I didn't do that the Japanese expression aso desu ka you can say that when somebody tells you that it's going to be hot tomorrow so aso desu ka somebody can tell you Charlie Wilson is coming this afternoon aso desu ka but also I don't like what you did


aso desu ka it's more like registering that they said it but it has I think it has the nuance of maybe what you say is true so it's not so much I didn't do that it's more like well maybe I did maybe I'm a bad person and they might feel insulted if you tell me I'm a bad priest I think it would be good for me actually to think well maybe I am it's possible and you might feel insulted if I say well maybe I am there's nothing I can do to stop people from being insulted by whatever I do whatever I do people can feel insulted but that's just another conversation piece and to practice this way thinking that if you practice this way you're not going to get challenged no that's unrealistic yeah it's unrealistic


you are going to get challenged if you say no I didn't if you say yes I did if you say aso desu ka whatever you say people can feel insulted and challenge you in his case when he was falsely accused and he said aso desu ka or is that so the way it's translated in English is that so it's going to be hot tomorrow is that so Charlie came to town is that so you're a bad person is that so it adds a kind of thing like maybe it's so but maybe more on the side of accepting that maybe it is so rather than well it might be so but probably not it's a little bit more like oh is this what's happening people are saying this to me and then when they said the opposite you're a great priest he also said well maybe I am you know yeah it's possible I'm a great priest so but if somebody comes in and says I'm going to get you with this knife


yeah it seems like you were relating you didn't feel like it was appropriate to say maybe so like in the story they could have said oh this is your kid and he could have said excuse me I'm going to call the police so in this case when he came in I didn't really talk to him he was like about 40 feet away from me as I was approaching I just felt like it was not really something to have a conversation about and he wasn't actually saying making any statements to me he was just threatening this person with the knife so yeah and I didn't have to be absolutely sure that he was dangerous to call the police but he looked dangerous to me enough so I called the police and it seemed like a good thing to do but I wasn't like I didn't do anything to insult him I didn't he was too far away from me to talk but I was there


and while like I say in the 45 seconds I was watching he was still sort of I was ready to see if something else came up but nothing came up he just kept being threatening and if he actually lunged at somebody I think I might have gone and tried to stop him but he wasn't really I was there and I was also sensitive to if I came towards him too close he might scare him and so it was like excuse the expression, kind of a dance but I don't think he felt insulted by anybody in the space and when the police came he just kind of like surrendered and and yeah so anyway I thought it was really cool when the monk said when he was falsely accused and also said when he was praised


for what he did between that accusation and taking care of the baby all those years I thought that was really good in both cases to basically be non-violent in response to violence and insult and in the other case be non-violent towards praise and again a lot of people think well it's easy to be non-violent towards praise but again to be strict if you get praised and you actually apprehend it as so it's kind of disrespecting that praise like rather than just listen to it you say well that's true it's being a little bit disrespectful of it so it's also being disrespectful if people criticize me it's kind of being disrespectful just to sort of think that's true and not apprehend that it's more like if you criticize me I want to be open to your criticism and if people ask you to do something if people tell you something about yourself


like if you give a talk and somebody says that was a good talk I don't believe when they tell me it's a good talk that it's a good talk I just believe they told me that and then sometimes people say that was a good talk you know that's just like what I think and I think oh Tracy Tracy I think this is very close to the bone for some reason some of the things you're saying and I don't know I understand something that I have an ethical purpose to I spend a fair amount of time in national security just working with people who are the most horrible people people who we think are horrible they are the gang members


they are the people who murder there's nothing made up about it and and yet I think the program this alternative survival program there's a lot of meeting face to face just being face to face and I'm just from tonight I'm realizing how my ability to be there not in the space of judgment or how awful or just being there comes from here and I remember one time in a one to one with somebody he said you know it's like you know what you said about not going at people and coming to judgements yeah and I don't know but somebody what happened to him I'll never forget


yeah and he maybe feels like I'm looking at somebody who doesn't think I'm horrible that you said but actually you might think he's horrible but you might not believe it the truth is it's actually yeah but you could be thinking that they're horrible and just say that's just my thought what they are I do not know but I do think they're horrible or I do think what they did was horrible one of my famous stories is one time I was talking to somebody during a monastic retreat and I said to this person I do not believe what I'm thinking of you are I do not believe what I think you are I do not believe what you think you are I kept saying that because I was on the verge of believing what I thought she was and she like was sitting there watching me say that and it worked out really well I did not believe what I thought she was I did not slip into that


and she never knew what I was thought she was but she was happy that I didn't believe it because it was peaceful but I had to say that to myself and let her know that I was coaching myself that way because it would not be good it's not good to believe what we think people are but also not to deny what we think people are but to respect our view of people and then that then that view will not be harmful if we really are kind to it it won't harm us or them but not necessarily get rid of it but it might go away in your case it might go away is that what you mean by saying that you know being accountable for one's history or the situations in one's life I've been thinking about being the victim of an assault and how I


am accountable in your language I mean I was wondering if it meant just applying compassion for the situation or asking questions Yeah, that would be applying compassion to the story and the memory and the body sense is an accounting accounting is part of compassion it's not all of it there's also like being careful of the pain around this being tender with it that's also part of compassion being open to it being patient with the pain of it that's also part of it but another part of it is being careful of it and accounting and in the accounting process we become free of blaming So did you say accounting and not accountable? No, being accountable and accounting


do both account I want to be accountable to you I also want to account myself and I want to account you and I want you to account me The San Francisco Zen Center right now is being audited Speaking of accounts Yeah they're looking at our accounts to see if we did a good job like were we careful were we honest and so an audit means you're going to listen they're going to listen to you they're going to ask you questions and you're going to listen to them it's audit, it's listen and it's accounting and so now our accounting office is being audited they're not auditing our meditation classes but you can come and audit the meditation classes but the auditor particularly audits the accounting office This is part of


the Buddha way is to do accounting and to do accounting of wholesome things and unwholesome things it's the path of freedom without erasing history but relate to it with our imagination and again our imagination is most what do you call it omnipotent when you're balanced it can be applied in any direction Justin Hi, great to have you thank you for coming you know I hesitate to bring up the Nazi subject since you can get tense you know I was thinking of your explanation of the variety of actions that can be done


while questioning your own thought and I think that high people in your basement could lie to an officer about someone's whereabouts in the name of even questioning at the time doing something good organized always questioning your own thoughts Right and you will you won't stop acting just because you're questioning you're going to keep acting just the questioning will make your action more peaceful and more respectful and more harmonious and more liberating but if you don't question you're going to keep acting too but if you're questioning you won't necessarily stop your actions because questioning is an action you'll keep breathing you'll keep nodding you'll keep shaking your head you'll keep salivating you'll keep moving you're going to keep being active and it's just that the questioning


makes your activity on the path of becoming liberated liberated and liberating without the questioning without that openness our actions are not fully engaging in the process of Buddha of Buddha activity but it doesn't mean but also if you're not questioning you can also try to stop acting but that's an action you can also sit still if you're not questioning but that's an action you can also shut up but you can also speak and move with questioning or without and I'm encouraging us all to proceed in our active lives because we are active creatures to proceed you know, kind of groping wondering questioning what's the way


you know, may I may I have that glass of water rather than and I don't have to say it out loud I just think to myself, may I have that glass of water I don't know maybe I'll ask, may I have that glass of water and then maybe you say you say no, yeah and then maybe that's enough for that for the time being but I might also say could I have a glass of Coke and you might say you might say yes and I might say oh, well, I don't really want a Coke I want water and then you know it's it's proceed questioningly respectively, tenderly just like at the beginning I told you something tried to tell you tenderly because I thought it would affect you but I was kind of


I've been questioning myself whether I should share this with you and I don't know if it was beneficial but I tried to do it and respect for it gently and respect for it and respect for it