Training for the Selfless Heart 

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I dare you, would you turn the lights up a little bit? I dare you, would you turn the lights up a little bit? As I mentioned last week, the title of this series of meetings is Training for the Selfless Heart-Zen Meditation. I don't know if before you came to these sessions and saw this advertisement,


if you thought of Zen meditation as training or developing a selfless heart. Did you? Well, now that you've heard this, how does that sound to you? Sounds hard? Last week I proposed that the first aspect of training a selfless heart is the practice of giving. I could also say the first practice of training as a bodhisattva is giving.


A bodhisattva is somebody who is offering their life for the welfare of all beings and aspiring to become authentically awakened in order to perform the service of helping all beings. So, again, this could be said that bodhisattva training, the first bodhisattva training is the same as the first training of selfless heart because bodhisattvas are training a selfless heart. They're cultivating and practicing and learning a selfless heart, a selfless mind. So I haven't heard it said very many times by anybody but me


that Zen meditation is primarily giving. It's a practice of giving, first, primarily. Not just that, but sort of first and ongoingly. I think that's in accord with the lineage that was given to the San Francisco Zen Center and given by the founder to his students, although I never heard him say that, that our practice is giving, or that Zazen is giving. Without being rigid about it, I think it must be so.


I can't see how any bodhisattva practice cannot be giving. I can't see how for bodhisattvas any action could not be giving. I can't see how for a Buddha any action would not be giving. I just don't see it, it just seems impossible. Although I'm open to impossible things and I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that although I may be wrong, that's not wrong. And as John said, that might be hard. So I have run into a number of Mahayana texts,


I have run into a number of sutras and treatises offered to bodhisattvas, offered to people who wish to achieve Buddhahood for the welfare of all beings. And I've seen in many different ones, Indian and Chinese and Japanese and Korean, Tibetan, I've seen them say, bodhisattvas make every action, make all their actions for the sake of all living beings. Or, because these texts are often in poetry, they sometimes don't always say all, they just say for the sake of beings, or for the sake of other beings. So, bodhisattvas do various things


and all the things they do, they wish them to be meritorious, they wish them to be virtuous. And then, all the virtuous things they do, they wish to dedicate to the welfare of all beings. They wish to give. There's a slight difference between dedication and giving, because giving, to me, has to be two-directional and not stuck in any part. But dedication can be a giving, too. The first practice of bodhisattvas is usually called giving, but it could also be called dedication. That everything good that you have, or anything good about anything you do, you dedicate that to the enlightenment of all beings.


And as you know, many of you, if you go to a Zen center, at the end of a Dharma talk, at the end of a class, at the end of a ceremony, but not usually at the end of Zazen, we actually literally say, we dedicate the merit of this to the enlightenment of all beings. We say that. But I'm proposing that, although I'm proposing that you think that more frequently, I'm suggesting that you think that before everything you do. Or, whatever you do, you learn to be mindful. I extend my arm for the welfare of all beings. I lower my arm for the welfare of all beings. I drive my car to Berkeley for the welfare of all beings.


I go to Berkeley to sit as a gift to the people in the universe. I go all the way over here to give the gift of sitting. I go all the way over here to put on a sitting. You know, like put on a party, put on a concert. I come over here to put on a sitting. Do you come here to put on a sitting? Do you come here to receive a sitting? Do you come here to give a sitting? I come here to give a sitting, and when I give a sitting, I receive a sitting. I sit here, oh my god, there's a sitting going on. Splish, splash, I was taking a bath. Long about a Saturday night, and suddenly there was a sitting being put on. I put it on, you put it on.


I gave it, you gave it. I don't know how you think it would be most beautiful and cool and groovy and fun and, did I say cool? And awesome to remember, to remind yourself and remind others that everything you do in your life is a gift. And everything you do is giving, which means not only is everything you do a gift, but it's giving and receiving. Now some people are quite aware when they come to this class that they receive this sitting because their spouse is taking care of their kids. And they think, oh my, I get to have this gift


of sitting here quietly because my children and spouse are letting me come. Or even if you don't have any kids that live with you, somebody else supports you, and the bridge supports you, and the car supports you, and the Berkeley police support you. Everybody supports you to come here and sit. It's a gift. It's a gift. Do you remember the time in September when everything you did was a gift? Zen meditation is training in selflessness, or it is selflessness. It is the practice, realization of selflessness.


And part of selflessness is that you dedicate what you're doing to everybody. Now, this applies to sitting practice, but it also applies to little tiny things you might do, like opening a door for somebody. Open the door, and you may be doing that for that person, right? You're doing it for that person, but if you would do it for that person, not just do it for that person, but do it for countless beings, you may not care about this, but many scriptures and treatises point out that if you open the door for not only the person who's going to go through, but for countless beings, then the virtue of it is, don't take this literally or unliterally,


the virtue is immense. And on the Bodhisattva path, we're actually aspiring to be a Buddha for the welfare of all beings, or we're aspiring to unsurpassed authentic awakening, and we're aspiring for the great work of realizing a Buddha. And it turns out that it takes a lot of virtue to make a Buddha. So there's a little bit of virtue in letting the person go ahead of you. You might even say, Go ahead of me, it's no skin off my nose. It's not a big deal for me to let you go ahead of me, in this case. And there's a little merit in that, I would say. But that little thing,


if you do it for the welfare of all beings, becomes bigger. And since in the act of making Buddhas, we need more than just quite a few little virtues, little merits. We need to multiply the merits times a large number in order to get the big number. In order to make a Buddha, we have to enlarge the scale of our intention. And it's actually, when you do it, at the moment of doing it, it's quite easy. It may be hard to remember to do it, though, and you may have some resistance to it, for all I know. You may think, I don't know what, this is something not good, to be talking about making your actions for the welfare of all beings. Yes?


You have a question about the word virtue and a question about the word merit? Yes? I would encourage everybody to research those words. Virtue and merit. But the word virtue and the word merit are closely related to the word good. I vow to do all good. I vow to do all meritorious things. I vow to do all virtues. I vow to practice all virtues. It means I vow to practice all good. So one of our pure precepts is, I vow to practice all good. I vow to do all wholesome things. Wholesome means, good means, something, an action that brings benefit. Well, you know, merit also means


you get a merit badge for doing a good job. In China, the Chinese Confucian system was called a meritocracy, in that you would get rewarded for studying hard and learning your lessons well and performing well on tests. So skill for performance, you get merit for it. You get rewarded. So merit is also a reward for usually wholesome action or skillful action. I believe that's part of what merit is. It's related to benefit. Whatever benefit there is in what we're doing here, I offer it to the welfare of all beings. There's a place in the Lotus Sutra where it says,


those who practice all virtues, and the ancestor Dogen interprets practicing all virtues to mean going into the mud and water in order to help beings. So the primary virtue of bodhisattvas, I mean the central virtue, is to engage beings intimately. That's the basic virtue. But that involves giving and patience and effort and concentration and ethics. So the intimate engagement with beings is an ethical engagement. It's not an invasion. It's not taking something that's not given. It's offering beings things. It's giving to beings. It's asking things of beings. It's questioning beings.


It's dancing with beings. It's engaging and it's being patient with the difficulty of relationships and it's being calm with beings and it's being attentive with beings. All these basically boil down to engaging, going into the mud with beings in order to help them. That's the basic virtue. And that virtue goes with wisdom. So Zen meditation is also wisdom because if it's giving, giving when it's fully done, there's no giver-receiver-gift separation. And when there's no giver-receiver-gift separation, that's, I would say, is Zen meditation, but also I would say that's Buddha's meditation, that's bodhisattva meditation,


but that's also wisdom. When you give something and you simultaneously realize that when you give you receive, and that when you give you're a gift, and that the gift's going in both directions, when you realize that you can't find any of the elements in the process, that's wisdom. And it's virtue together. As I said the first night, to make Buddhas we need virtue and wisdom. Is wisdom a virtue? Actually, I wouldn't say it isn't, but in this case it's seen as different from virtue. It's seen as different. The things, the activities, wisdom in some sense is an activity, but in some sense you can practice the virtue of giving without wisdom.


It's possible. Not thoroughly, but you can do a little bit. You can practice ethics without wisdom. You can practice patience without wisdom. You can practice concentration without wisdom. And there also could be wisdom in some sense, but not yet wisdom brought together with lots of these virtue practices. So we want to join wisdom together with these virtue practices, so that the wisdom keeps growing and the virtue keeps growing. So the selfless heart isn't just selflessness, it's like a piece of flesh that's selfless. Theoretically, selflessness is cool, right? But when it comes down to your skin, and your flesh, when it comes down to your nose, and your eyes, and your ears, and your tongue,


then some people aren't quite ready for selflessness. But we're trying to bring actually the wisdom into the body. Because the Buddha is actually a body. It's not just some kind of floating understanding. But it's a body that's been transformed through practicing virtue. It's the fruit of virtue and wisdom together. Yes?


I'm wondering if there's a stage in between this development of wisdom where you're practicing virtue and where you come to acknowledge the limitations, like we were just talking about the physical body, the limitations of giving, and that there's some sense that the effort that's being made always reaches these limitations of giving. You're up against the self all the time, and there's some sense of accepting that limitation and still making the effort. What limitation are you referring to in the practice of giving? I would refer to what you were talking about, practicing virtue practices without having wisdom, and practicing them in line with getting merit, and coming up against... Not getting merit. Practicing in line with believing that they're meritorious.


You're not trying to get anything when you're practicing giving. But if you don't have wisdom, how can you even have that understanding? Don't you have it right now? Somewhat? Don't you know that in practicing giving you're not trying to get something? Otherwise that's not what we mean by giving. Don't you know that? I know that when I'm practicing giving I'm usually trying to get something, and that's not giving. Yes, so you know that. Yes, I know that. That's right. That's not giving. That's something else. That's called trying to get something. Trying to get something. And that's happening a lot. Yes, right. That's happening a lot for a lot of people. So now we're trying to develop this new thing called doing something without trying to get something. Like, you know, we say, that's a giveaway, you know. There are some things which you actually just give away, and you don't even think about getting something. You just say, yeah, here. You hardly even notice who you gave it to.


So, yeah, giving is, you're not trying to get something. But when you said limits, you're not trying to get something. There's various limits, but one limit is that oftentimes when you give things, you give things that are limited. Like you give one period of zazen, or one moment of sitting. You give a limited thing. Here's a little thing. However, then each of those little limited things, where you actually, and again, limited things are the things which you kind of might have trouble giving. Like a moment of time, where you actually say, okay, I'll give you my time. You got a second? When people say that to me, I sometimes say, what do you mean? Do you mean a second, or do you mean an hour? If people say five minutes, I say, wait a minute. But sometimes when they say,


you got a second, I say, okay, they're saying a second, but that's just to get my attention. Am I willing to give them more than that? And sometimes they say, you got a minute? I say, I will give you a minute, but exactly a minute. And I'm okay with a minute, actually. I'm fine with a minute, and that's it. You want it? You got it. Okay, go ahead. And I actually am willing to give them a minute, but I'm not willing to give them five, because I'm on the way to Carnegie Hall, or whatever. I'm on my way. I got a date. And actually, if they want to talk to me long enough to make me late, then I say later. But if it's actually a minute, okay, go ahead. And if I do that, you say, no, I didn't really mean a minute. Forget it. But I would be willing to give a minute, but I'm not going to give more than a minute. However, I might feel that giving a minute is,


well, I feel like I am willing to give it, and I'm not trying to get anything out of the minute, maybe. So that's giving. And I even don't feel like they're not giving me something when I give them the minute. And then I would also try to remember that that limited thing I offer to unlimited beings. Go beyond the limits? No, no. Don't go beyond the limits. Completely accept the limits. And that's how you go beyond it. Don't try to go beyond the limits. Don't try to make a minute into a minute and a half. Just a minute. And if you completely accept that limit, then that's what opens the door to realize gift giver, receiver, and limit cannot be found.


But if we're not completely kind to the limited thing, we close the door on wisdom. So when we're really kind to the limited thing, the perfect wisdom starts streaming through that thing, starts streaming in there. Yes, Enrica. So giving is... I think one has to be comfortable with oneself on giving. Cannot go against one's own... Don't go against your feeling about it. If you feel that you don't want to give, I would say practice giving with that.


There's a limited thing, you have a feeling, I don't want to give it. Well, practice giving with that. Make your feeling, I don't want to give it, into a gift. This is an action. When you don't want to give something, that's an action. You understand that that's an action? When you have this thought, I don't want to give it, that thought, I don't want to give it, is a mental action. Now make that thought, I don't want to give, into a gift. Think, I don't want to give you a gift. Dedicate that to the welfare of all beings. You could say, in other words, accept, but just say, it is acceptance also. Acceptance is not quite the same, but acceptance is included. It's more than acceptance, I would say. Or the way it has a structure, which I think more clearly illuminates


something about acceptance, which we don't usually notice about acceptance. When we say acceptance, we don't usually think there's gain and loss so much. But giving, we get into gain and loss. We don't usually get into acceptor, acceptee, and accepted. That's why giving is so helpful, because it's got these three parts, which we tend to separate. Whereas acceptance, we don't so much get into acceptee, accepted, and acceptor. It's there, but we don't have the linguistic structure to work with it. But if you want to unfold it that way, it's the same. I'm saying, if you're stingy, your stingy means that's your mind. You have a stingy mind, that's an action, which was given to you actually by your past action and by everybody around you. Sometimes people support you to be stingy by, for example, asking you for more than you're ready to give.


They say, can I have two days of your time? Can I have a mile? You go, what does that mean? Wait a minute. You don't come up with, no, I'm not ready to give a mile all by yourself. They have to ask you for it. Many things come together and you're given a gift of, I don't want to give a gift. That's what's given to you. And then you say, I don't want to give a gift. I don't want to give that gift. However, I do want to make my saying this to you and I do want to make my thinking this a gift. I want to make me a gift. And me right now is somebody who does not want to give what is being requested. That's me. That's what you got here, me. In this area you have me. I give me. And don't go against me, because if you go against yourself to be generous, that's not generous. So in a way it is,


even if I don't want to give and I give that I don't want to give, that means it's, I don't know, neutralizing that negative energy. Yeah. I mean, that's the way I look at it. It kind of neutralizes the negative energy. It neutralizes, and it's not necessarily negative, it's more like constrained. You're holding back. Somehow you just feel like, no, I can't really open up right now. And if you make that constraint for the welfare of all beings, you become free of the constraint. So the consequence of this practice is to make us unconstrained, to help us not hold back, but we don't skip over what's happening. We're generous with the way we are, and I would suggest that


when you're generous with yourself, do it for the welfare of all beings. Please be generous to yourself. Please accept yourself as a gift, and do that not just for yourself. I have one more question. So we don't skip over ourselves. Right. This is actually a great help for me. Because I do that all the time. If I don't like something, I just go to the next agenda and totally try to ignore the one before. But also, can taking away be a giving? Yes. I have experience of having to take away something. Taking away can be giving. Like for example, sometimes people come to your house and they clean your house, take away your garbage, take away your dust, take away your dirt, as a gift to you.


Take away something from someone. Like I just said, take away some dirt from someone. Take away some pus from a person's boil. Take away cancer from somebody's body. But really, you're giving a gift, and they're giving you their cancer, and you take it away. But really, it's a gift. And what really helps the person is if everybody's with the fact that there's giving going on. That's what really helps people. Yes. Is trying to go beyond the limit a way of grasping? It could be a way of grasping, and it's also missing a chance. Again, if you're trying to go beyond a limit, then I would say, be kind to that. But trying to go beyond the limit, in a sense,


is not really generous towards the limit. But if something happens, and you see that there's a limit, or that something there's no limit there. If you're kind to your limits, you will realize that the limits, without changing them at all, cannot be found. But if you're not kind to them, they keep limiting you. Yes. What's the relationship between being grateful and the capacity to be generous? What's the relationship between being grateful and... The capacity to be grateful, in the way that you're speaking. I think when you're generous, you become grateful. The more generous you are, the more you realize that you're a gift, and that everything that comes to you is a gift.


I was sort of thinking, and this is a creepy way to think about it, but I was thinking, the more I think it's a gift to me, the more I'm going to give it to others. That's right. It goes in both directions. The more you give, and give without trying to get something, the more joyful you will be, and the more joyful you are by giving, the more you realize that everything that comes to you is a gift. It doesn't mean that everything that comes to you is pleasant. It doesn't mean that everything that comes to you is easy. It just means it's a gift. It's a Dharma gift. It's a gift of truth. It's a gift to help you help people. Because if you can see it as a gift, and it's painful or whatever, and you see it as a gift, you help many beings. Even if you didn't receive it as a gift to help many beings,


it still helps many beings. If you can receive things instead of taking them, that helps many beings. But if you don't dedicate your receiving of something to the welfare of many beings, it's less helpful than it is if you enlarge it by the scope of your dedication of the practice of receiving everything as a gift. If someone sees you receive things as a gift, that helps them. Even people who don't see you, it helps them. But if you see how good it is, or not even if you see how good it is, you just say, if there wasn't anything good about me receiving this as a gift, I wish to now take that, whatever amount of good that was, and I wish to offer it to all beings. In other words, it's okay with me if it gets supremely,


immensely enlarged because I'm working for Buddha here. Yeah? I saw Michael J. Fox not too long ago. You saw what? Michael J. Fox. Yeah. He called Parkinson's disease the gift that keeps giving. Michael J. Fox calls Parkinson's the gift that keeps giving. Right. Yes? I have an example that I wanted to bring up. I was in a meeting today at work, and I was talking to somebody, and there's some history there, a person not doing some things that maybe it's hard to do. And I found myself... So you're meeting with someone who you have a story that they, in the past, didn't do some things which you needed them to do. And she was complaining.


And she was complaining. That's another story. You have a story that she was complaining. What happened to me is that I found myself shutting off. Shutting off. Sitting there, nodding and saying words that were supportive and hanging there, but inside there was nothing. Were you practicing patience? Were you uncomfortable? You had this story that she was complaining. Were you uncomfortable with that story? Yeah, a little bit. Were you somewhat suffocated by that story? Yeah. Were you somewhat enervated and tired by that story? I wanted to get away from the story. You wanted to get away. So maybe the story was some kind of uncomfortable. It was uncomfortable. So then you wanted to get away, but you couldn't get away. So you stayed there. And then what happened after that?


Then you came to class. And eventually I got away. Eventually you got away. Eventually I got away. But I found myself going through the motions of trying... Some part of me said, I should make a gesture here. And so I did. I said, Boy, that sounds really hard. Hang in there, or something like that. The reason I brought it up is I thought that was a very hollow... I did it in a very hollow way, and I was trying to think of how I could have done that. And it had those reactions. You're not saying you don't have the reactions. You're just saying, no. I'm not saying don't have reactions. No. Yeah. So what do you do with the reactions to make it fit? Somehow I'm seeing her complaining as a gift. Yeah. So somebody comes walking up to you and they go, Complain. Somebody goes, blah, blah. And you say, Oh, they're complaining.


I have a story of their complaining. Now I have another story alongside the story of them complaining. My other story is, This is a gift. And if I actually say, Yeah, I kind of feel like it is, then I can give them a gift, which is something like, I'm really uncomfortable. And I check to make sure I'm not saying that to get away from them. I'm not doing it to get something. I really say, Now I have a gift for you. I'm uncomfortable. Someone could say that you're complaining. And you look, Am I complaining or do I really mean it as a gift? There's also the practice of patience, which is in the same neighborhood as the practice of giving. So the patience helps you be present with, right in the present moment of,


This is uncomfortable. And now, I want to practice giving now. And I want this discomfort to be a gift. No, you don't have to say it. But you actually feel, I would like my discomfort to be a gift. And if you really get into that, then you can see that her complaining was a gift. It reminds me of a story which I've told before. I took a walk with a guy one time, a long walk at Green Gulch. And after the walk was over, we were by the Green Gulch office and he was, it was kind of like, Well, thanks for the walk. And he was saying, Yeah, it was great. And then he said some other things. And he was talking,


and I kind of had enough. But somehow I couldn't walk away from him. I couldn't say, I don't want to listen to you talk anymore. He's this nice guy. I actually don't want to listen to your words. This is not interesting to me. I'm done with you. I want to go do something else with my life other than listen to you talk. And you're a nice guy, so I don't want to tell you what I'm thinking, but that's what I'm thinking. I want to get away from you. And the more I sat there and listened to him, the more I felt like I was dying. Because I wasn't telling him that I wanted to get away, and I did want to get away. And I didn't want to hurt his feelings because he was a perfectly nice person, but he was just talking away. And the more I was shrinking away from him, the more he tried to be interesting and talk more


to entertain me more and make me more want to stay there with him. It was like a job for giving. But I couldn't think of anything to give him. I was getting weaker and weaker. And then this voice came up inside me, which said, I love you, Rebi. And I said, Great talking to you. See you later. I walked away. No problem. It wasn't a problem for him at all. I was right there. Great walk. See you later. I'm going to go do something else now. It just kind of brought me back to life. A gift came. And then I gave him a gift. And he was relieved, too, probably, to get away from me. I've got to get this guy interested in me again. So we both had other things to do with our life. But he couldn't get away from me


and I couldn't get away from him. We were both going down, down. But then this gift came. I couldn't see him as a gift, but I saw the other gift. Oh, yeah, I'm alive. See you later. It's good if you can right away, when you first start feeling like, whoops, whoops, I'm losing track of the giving, to catch it right then and then say, whenever I lose track of giving, whenever I'm out of touch with that, it doesn't take too long before I start feeling uncomfortable. And it's not the other person I'm talking about. I'm off. But I can tell them that I'm off. I'm saying, I don't know what's going on, but I'm starting to feel uncomfortable. And this you could say to somebody. And you know, it's strange to say this, but I think what I'm uncomfortable about


is I'm losing track with my generosity. I'm somehow having trouble seeing that we're in a generous relationship. I'm having trouble seeing that you're a gift. But you don't necessarily have to tell them, say it out loud. You can say it to yourself, I'm having trouble seeing how this person is a gift. But saying it out loud might be quite interesting. You're having trouble seeing how I'm a gift? That's very insulting. Don't you know that I'm a gift all the time? Don't you know that every moment of me is a gift? But when you actually say that to them,


you're ready for them to be, for the next gift they give you. So then they give you another gift. And you might say, I'm having trouble with this one too. I'm having trouble seeing that this is a gift. However, I do feel like I'm giving you a gift. Because that's where I'm at right now. This is me. I'm giving to you. Would you please give me yourself? And then maybe they will. I say, okay, now I get it. I see that you're a gift. Thank you. And then they'll be happy too. Finally that they, okay, I am a gift. Usually a lot of times when people are complaining, they don't think, oh, this is a gift I'm giving. And I'm not trying to get anything. But it's possible someone would complain to you, as a gift, without trying to get something. It's possible. It is possible. And not like super unlikely. It can be done actually quite easily.


You can tell someone about a complaint as a gift, if that's where you're at. Yeah, like people on telephone, they say, well, I got to go. I'll let you go. I'll let you go. So you're talking to her. You want to get away. You say, well, I'll let you go. Or, I don't want to take any more of your time. Rather than, oh, there was a New Yorker cartoon, right? This woman's on telephone. She said, the hyenas have escaped from their cages and are eating the children. Get the lie out there, you know. Rather than, I need to go. I don't want to take any more of your time. Just, I want to go. I want to stop talking to you. As a gift.


Not to be mean, but kind of like, what? Not to withhold. Not to withhold. No, it's more like, here's a gift. An amazing thing has just happened. I don't want to talk to you. Or, an amazing thing is happening. I would like to stop the conversation. It's amazing that I feel like this is a gift to us. To us, both of us. What do you think? And they might say, no, I want to talk to you more. You might say, okay, fine. What do you want to talk about? And they say, I don't know. And then they might say something to you that you really find very interesting. And say, wow, this works. Honesty and generosity and courage


are alive. But touch and take courage, and it is honesty, and it takes generosity, and it's scary when you're a little bit, what do you call it, off. When you've lost track, you're in a conversation, talking away, and you haven't been practicing giving, and you get in trouble. So how are you going to recover the giving now that you're kind of like sunk down, and stressed, and not much energy? To recover from there is sometimes difficult. But then sometimes, a little voice says, I love you, Laurie. And you go, what? Oh yeah, life. Hey, I got to, I don't have to go. I want to go. I want to go do something other than talk to you. And the person says, I have something to say to you that I think you'd like to hear. And they tell you,


and you say, you're right, I didn't want to hear it. And they say, now you can go. You're honest with them, and they finally tell you what they weren't telling you. Which is why you're so bored, because they weren't telling you the truth. They were like, I don't want to say this to her, so I'm going to say this other stuff. And then you don't want to say, you're not, you're lying to me or something. Because this is super boring. I mean, you're being really nice, but there's something unreal here. Do you feel sometimes that it's appropriate to give the gift of listening to somebody who's seemingly complaining? Definitely. Excuse me, but I'm saying,


even before giving the gift, I think it's good for me to see that the complaining is a gift to me. Like Parkinson's, complaining people, these are gifts to me. Now, if I can't get that, rather than try to talk myself into it, then I should give them a lot. And you didn't leave to get away? And you didn't leave the person to get away from the person? I mean, how do you know when you're leaving as a gift? Are you sure that it wasn't trying to change the situation? You don't know for sure. For example, if you're leaving not to get away, if you're leaving not to get something, then it's pretty easy for you to not leave. You start to leave and they say, stay, you say, okay. It isn't like you started to leave and then you didn't get to leave and that's kind of a frustration to you. You weren't leaving to get away,


you were leaving as a gift. And what they did with your gift was, they said, stay here! And you go, fine. My leaving was just a gift to you. And then they tackle you and you say, hi. Could it be that it's a gift to one person and it's trying to get away for another? Yes. Maybe for yourself it's a gift. If you give a gift to yourself, maybe for somebody else it wasn't a gift. Somebody could be trying to get away from you and they're really trying to get away. They don't think of it as a gift. And you see them as giving you the gift of them trying to get away, so you tackle them. And sometimes they don't get, they don't understand that the reason why you're tackling them is because you're so grateful that they gave you the gift of trying to run away. But sometimes they do get it. Especially if you actually tackle them gently. And you can also, if you want to,


ask beforehand, may I tackle you? How many of you heard the story of me chasing the girl into the cornfield? About nine? Huh? Were you a little boy? I was eight years old. Yeah, I think I heard it. Well, if you've heard it, you tell me the story. I kind of remember you like on top of her, maybe at a pub alert. Right, that's right. That was kind of the climax. That wasn't the climax, that was the penultimate aspect. So I was playing with some boys, some boys playing tag. I don't know why it wasn't co-ed, well, it was co-ed, but the boys were running around trying to tag each other and there was like a little gallery of girls watching. And every time I ran by


the gallery of girls, one of them stuck her tongue out at me. You know how they stick their tongue out and you go, isn't that how you do it? So she was sticking her tongue out, which means, I hate you, you're stupid, something like that. Huh, what? Or I like you. Yeah, I didn't know that part. So anyway, I got irritated with her and so I stopped chasing the boys and I started running after her. And she got up and ran away. And she ran, you know, a hundred yards or so and I caught up with her and I knocked her down to the ground in a cornfield and sat on her chest and I was about to punch her in the face and I looked in her eyes and I realized that she was trying to give me a gift, so I kissed her instead. And I wish I could see that face again, but it was very clear that that's exactly what she had in mind.


But she couldn't do it in front of the other girls and boys. She couldn't say, come over here and kiss me. It just was not the way to do it. What you do is you do it this other way, which worked quite well. And then we just did that for the rest of the summer. Actually, I was seven, not eight. I attest to Freud's... Not attest, I disagree with his latency theory of human sexuality. I think it's just social that little boys are not supposed to do that with little girls in that age time, but actually... This time your story just totally illuminated my relationship with my wife. Yes, Mike?


Thank you. I want to ask you about how I want to go. Yes. And I'm thinking about that and a story is arising in me that might be true that if one responded that way... I guess what I'm thinking, the words that I'm thinking are people are used to people being that real, being that honest. And that what will happen is that you will be, you'll get... Even if one were responding that way, I want to go as a gift. The other party will... You'll get fired, you'll get dumped, or you'll get divorced, or you'll get... Or maybe more likely than any of those, you'll be thought rude. People will think that's a rude thing to say. And then I was even going as far as thinking they might walk away and be really pissed off. Yes, that's true.


All the things you say are possible. And also if you don't, if you say I need to go, all the things you said also might happen. You might get fired if you say I need to go. The person might not feel you're rude if you say I need to go or I don't want to take any more of your time. They might not think you're rude. They do, however, probably, they do kind of think, if they're me, they think you're lying. They think you're lying, but of course, they love you anyway because they know you're lying just because you're scared of what would happen if you told the truth. So I know that people are afraid to tell the truth, so when they lie to me, I don't usually get angry at them, I just get sleepy. Usually get sleepy with people who are pretending to be somebody else. Now, who people are I don't necessarily find easy or likable, but I'm totally up for who people are, or almost totally up for who they are.


I'm not the least bit interested in nice versions of them that aren't them. I'm just not interested, even really nice versions. Some people can put on a really good show, and it's really just, I just somehow, I've just gotten really, I don't have much time left, and I don't want to spend my time doing that. But it is dangerous if you do that, but the more you do it, the more skillful you're going to get at it. Like you say, like I said, it's not that I need to go, it's that I want to go. So how do you say that to somebody? Now, do you want this information about yourself to be a gift to them? Do you want to give them a gift? And do you want to give them this gift without trying to get off the telephone by giving this gift? Because it's not that I, to tell you that I want to go,


if I'm giving you a gift, I'm not telling you I want to go in order to get off the phone. I'm telling you that so you know who I am, so you know what's going on with me. Once I start telling the truth, if I say, I want to go, I want to stop talking to you. If the person doesn't hang up on you right away, you say, and now I want to talk to you some more now that I told you that. Now I actually have some other things I'd like to say to you. Once the, once the blockage is opened, then vitality starts flowing and new possibilities are there of life. And even as you contemplate the gift, internally, before you speak it, if it's, you know, it should start coming alive when you think about it. Just think, the person's going, and you're going,


you're thinking, I have a gift for you. My gift is I want to go someplace else now and I don't want to stay on the phone with you anymore. And I feel really good about this gift. And now I'm thinking maybe I'm going to give it to you. And, yeah, I think now I can give it. And I'm feeling good. And actually, I don't even, actually, now I don't even want to get off the phone. I just want to sit here and meditate on giving to this person. And they say, are you listening to me? And you say, no, I'm actually, I'm not listening to you anymore. I'm just meditating on giving you gifts. And I'm just full of joy about our relationship. And they say, what gifts do you want to give me? I want to give you me. Who's full of joy talking, listening to you and not hearing what you're saying. And the person might say,


well, you're fired, or I hate you, or whatever. But you might say, you're going to fire me? Wow. That's fantastic. And they might say, I'm going to actually have you committed. And the people come to take you away and you see them as gifts. It could happen. But I think actually what also could happen, it's also possible what could happen, intimacy. Is helping each other. Because you feel, you don't feel that this person is an oppressor anymore. This person, you now see that they're a gift. What they're saying is not the important point. It's the fact that it's the gift that's the point. It's the gift that counts. It's the giving that counts.


Not what's being transmitted. Not the materiality, not the content, not the form. It's the giving. Once you tune into that, once you turn that into this, you are transformed and also this is the way to transform them. Once they feel your generosity and gratitude, that's the easiest thing for them to get. That you actually would say, I really feel grateful to you. And you actually would feel grateful to them. The problem was not the blah, blah, blah that they were doing. The problem was you didn't see it as a gift. When I don't see it as a gift, it's not your problem that I don't see it as a gift. If you're being phony and I see it as a gift, I can come back with, what are you driving at? What do you really want to say to me?


Or, I'm feeling uncomfortable because I feel like something's going on here I don't understand. Or, are you afraid of me? So the thing is to turn around and enter into bodhisattva practice. That this conversation you're having is not just for the welfare of that person and to make that person feel good. The point of this conversation is to practice giving with this person and it's not just for this person and you, it's for the welfare of all beings. This conversation is an opportunity to be fully alive we don't know how much longer we're going to live this is an opportunity to be alive. And giving usually is where you start by giving. And you don't say when you want to get away you don't say I need to go to cover up. Unless you really feel like I think the best gift


to give them is to lie and tell them that I need to go that could happen that that is really the gift you want to give without trying to use it to get away. It's a test to make sure you're not doing it to get something. Then it's not giving. And all this activity try to remember to do it not just for you and your partner even though you're totally doing it for your partner your companion you're doing it for them you're doing it for yourself but you're not just doing it for them you're not just giving the gift to them which is great but you're doing it for everybody. So bodhisattvas practice giving in this huge way which helps you


do it in a small way because then like Suzuki Roshi said towards the end of Zen Center Zen Center was growing and he said now we have so many members people have to make appointments to see me and even sometimes people would be waiting to see him. In the early days of Zen Center there were very few people in Zen Center in the early days but as Zen Center grew if Suzuki Roshi had lived to be 75 it would have been a different world but he left the world before Zen Center got really big and before he got really famous but anyway sometimes he would be seeing people and people would be waiting to see them and he would say to people not people waiting but he would say sometimes when you're waiting to see me the person I'm talking to I'm talking to them and I'm not rushing through the conversation with them I'm giving them what they need


and I'm doing that for you who are waiting rather than shortchange this person to get on to the next one give this person give this to this person completely and do this for the person who you're not talking to not just for the person you're being completely generous with but be completely generous with this person because you're doing it for everybody and then you can look in the face of the person who you didn't get to see and you can say I talked to him for you I gave him all he wanted all he needed and I did that for you for him too but I wouldn't have been able to give him everything if I wasn't already also intending it for you I would have felt that I couldn't I would have to hold back so making what we do for everybody helps us not hold back with anybody


no matter how small and ordinary the body is no matter how small the thing is if we do it for a big we can give it completely to the little and say stuff like I want to do something else now and really really mean that wholeheartedly as a gift and not try to get off the phone by saying it one more thing one more thing to say is I had this thought that came to my mind I was going to tell you that I had to go I was going to tell you that but I'm not going to tell you I have to go because I don't have to go and then the person might say but you want to go? and I say yeah so we'll see you later one time Suzuki Roshi said to me I don't want to tell you to not do that thing and I said but you want me to not do that thing?


and he said yes he wasn't lying to me he was telling me the truth he didn't want to tell me not to do this he told me this thing and he said I don't want to tell you not to do this or he told me about a monastic precept and he said I don't want to tell you to practice this and I said but you want me to right? and he said yes so I think that's just you might try that when you hear yourself in your mind saying I have just tell the person I have this thought in my mind that I was going to tell you I have to go but I'm not going to tell you that this is called apophatic communication it's very typical of Zen I'm not going to like also Suzuki Roshi said to me one time he said blah blah blah and I know you won't be proud of that or I know you won't be arrogant about that what is he trying to tell me? so


thank you very much and please join me in dedicating any merit of our meeting tonight to the enlightenment of all beings is that okay? hand over your merit