The Ultimate Transcends Difference and Unity
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Samdhinirmochana Mahayana Sutra Chapter 3, part 2
Samdhinirmochana Sutra (Part VIII),
Chapter Three, Morning
No Abode 7/23//09 AM
Trans: Karen Mueller
Reb: ..with you, the amazing teachings of the Samdhinirmochana Sutra. There’s a piece of wood hanging next to the altar here. And as you know we strike that piece of wood to call people,.. to invite people to sit together in silence and stillness. And traditionally in Zen temples we use this piece of wood, which is called a “han”.. And “han” means a piece of wood, usually a flat piece of wood. And also traditionally, on the piece of wood there is writing which says “Great Assembly. Carefully listen.” Or “Attention everyone. Birth and death is a great matter.” ‘Birth and death’ is the way the Chinese Buddhist settled on calling what the Indians called in Sanskrit ‘samsara’. Samsara, birth/death. Samsara doesn’t mean birth/death. It means going around. But it means going around in birth and death. Birth. Death. Birth. Death. So,.. and also in some Zen temples, maybe at the end of the day, they strike the time drum and then they hit the han, or sometimes they announce and they read the han to the assembly. “Birth and Death [samsara] is a great matter.” Samsara is a serious matter. Samsara is a great affair. “Time passes swiftly. Opportunity is lost. Awake! Awake! Don’t waste time!” Birth and death is a great matter. Don’t waste time. Birth and death is serious. Birth and death can be difficult. Birth and death is an inconceivably wonderful opportunity for a Bodhisattva. It’s where they live and where they vow to not waste time. If they’re feeling happy and healthy, they are reminded that birth and death is a big deal. Don’t waste time. If they’re sick, they are reminded. Birth and death is a great opportunity; don’t waste time. However they are, they are reminded of this. They remember this. Someone told me recently that she had received the diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s is a great affair. A great matter. The birth and death of it is a big issue. Still, ‘wake up; wake up! Don’t waste this opportunity’.
We had a friend who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and, I think, lived twenty years after that. And very shortly before he died, after twenty years of working with this, I was visiting him and he said, “What do you have there?” In a very quiet voice. “What do you have there?” And I said, “It’s the Genjo Koan. Would you like me to read it to you?”. He said, “Yes”. So I did. Birth fully abides in the Dharma position of birth and fully includes past and future. Death fully abides in the Dharma position of death and fully includes past and future. Birth doesn’t turn into death and death doesn’t turn into birth and yet, there is samsara. Let’s not waste this opportunity. Let’s face the music and dance. After reading the Genjo Koan to him.. And I had to stop at various points because I could tell he was either losing his concentration or falling asleep, so I read as long as I felt he was with me and then when I felt he drifted away, I stopped. And when he came back, I started again. In this way we completed reading the Genjo Koan. And when we finished, he said, “I love that so much. It’s so beautiful.” We can love the true Dharma in the midst of our suffering as we’re about to die. We can be present for it and we can be not wasting time. I don’t know how many more moments we are going to be able to be present and awake, but while we can be, let’s not waste this opportunity. This great Sutra starts out by telling us about something which is not samsara. The first several chapters are not about samsara. They are about the ultimate character of samsara. The first four chapters are about the ultimate character of all things. About the uncompounded ultimate character of all things. This teaching about the ultimate is appropriate for those who are mindful that samsara is a great matter. Now we hear about the ultimate which is the character of all compounded things of the world of birth and death. And we have been reading this Sutra for many years. And particularly we’ve been reading it here recently. The ultimate character of all phenomena, including the ultimate, is the object of purification. It’s the thing which, when you contemplate it, when you see it, it purifies the obstructions of our body and mind to understanding what birth and death are. Usually when people look at birth and death, they don’t see the ultimate and they just feel.. and so they don’t understand birth and death. And not understanding birth and death is birth and death… is cyclic unhappiness. All along, every moment of cyclic unhappiness has the character, which, if we would see it, our vision would be purified and we would find peace, complete peace, with samsara. So samsara is an opportunity… is the opportunity. ‘Birth and death’ is the opportunity to see the ultimate. Every moment that we don’t, we miss an opportunity to see the ultimate. But again, here we go, another moment of samsara, another opportunity to see the ultimate.. to see what would purify our life together. Living in the world of suffering and, at the same time, trying to remember all this suffering has a characteristic, has an ultimate characteristic, has a final characteristic. Where is it? Well, it is the ultimate characteristic of ‘here’. So it’s not exactly right here. It’s just that ‘right here’ has an ultimate characteristic. It’s not exactly right now. It’s just that ‘right now’ has the ultimate characteristic. So right here, right now our present superficial experience has this quality. So this place, this time, is where to find.. is where we realize it. It’s not ‘this place, this time’, it’s the true characteristic of this place and this time. It’s not this suffering. It’s not this delusion. It’s not.. It’s the true characteristic of all these things. And as we just studied this Sutra before, this ultimate.. therefore the ultimate is not entirely the same as samsara. It’s not entirely the same as ordinary compounded experience. But it’s not entirely different. If it were entirely the same, well, we have lots of consequences which we discussed last month. If it were the same entirely, then seeing superficial misery would purify your vision. But it’s not entirely the same. If it were entirely different, then it couldn’t be the characteristic of everything. So it’s not entirely the same or entirely different. In other words, as the Sutra says, the ultimate transcends sameness and difference with phenomena. Phenomena, however, compounded phenomena, samsaric phenomena, these phenomena do not transcend sameness and difference. The ultimate is not the same as our practice; is not the same as what we’re doing here entirely; and it’s not entirely different from what we’re doing here. It transcends being the same as what we’re doing, the same as what we’re feeling, the same as what we’re practicing. It transcends being the same and it transcends being different. But the practice we’re doing does not transcend difference. The practice we are doing is different from other practices and other practices are different from what we’re doing. Or our practice is the same as other practices. So, our practice is the same or different from other practices. Practices do not transcend sameness and difference. But these practices which don’t transcend are not entirely different from what does transcend and they are not entirely the same. When are they the same? The practices are the same when the practices are done so wholeheartedly that the practices are selfless. When the practices are selfless, then the practices are the same as the ultimate because the ultimate is selfless and it is selflessness. When the practices are done so completely that you can’t find them, the practices have the same character as the ultimate. Shoho: Roshi? What’s the difference between doing the practice so completely that you can’t find …(background coughs, can’t hear the rest of question) Reb: What’s the difference between doing a practice so completely you can’t find it and not knowing?.. Shoho: Or not understanding. Earlier you defined samsara as not knowing birth and death. Reb: Yeah. So if you have a practice in samsara and you perform this practice wholeheartedly, you can’t find the practice anymore. And when you can’t find the practice anymore.. When you realize that the practice cannot be found, your realize the ultimate. Then the practice and the ultimate are not different. If you, ..if you practice wholeheartedly you do understand the practice. You do understand. If you practice samsara wholeheartedly, you do understand samsara. You do understand samsara. You understand that it cannot be found. ‘I’m suffering. I’m suffering. And also part of my suffering is I’m worrying about future suffering and past suffering and I’m really wholeheartedly suffering and I’m awake and I’m not wasting time and I’m happy. Suffering didn’t go anyplace as far as I know, but I haven’t checked. I just verified that it couldn’t be found a moment ago.’ But it doesn’t have to go anywhere for you to see that it can’t be found.
In the wholeheartedness of suffering is the selflessness of suffering and the selflessness of suffering is the ultimate character of suffering. And when you suffer wholeheartedly, you’re practicing wholeheartedness. And that practice when you can’t find the suffering that you’re practicing, and you can’t find the practice of the suffering, the practice is selfless and the practice is the same as it’s ultimate characteristic. Then there’s no difference. You can’t find any difference. And also it’s not the same either. You can’t find the same(ness) Just a second. I’m going to read this Sutra now. “It is [also] not easy to designate the whiteness of a conch shell as being a character that is different from the conch shell or as being a character that is not different from [a conch shell]”. Could you follow that? Hmm? No? Could you follow that Brett? (Can’t hear B’s response.) “It is not easy to designate the whiteness of a conch shell as being [of] a character that is different from [the conch shell]”. It’s not impossible. You might be able to pull it off but it’s not actually that easy to actually say, well the whiteness is different from the conch shell.. from a white conch shell. It’s actually kind of hard to designate the whiteness that’s different from the conch shell. Or, it’s also “being a character that is not different from [a conch shell”. It’s kind of hard to say well the whiteness is the same as the conch shell. It’s not different. Both ways are kind of heard to do in the realm of this Sutra. “As it is with the whiteness of a conch [shell], so it is with the yellowness of gold. [Also it] is not easy to designate the melodiousness of sound of the vina (alternate spelling; veena) as being either a character that is not different from the sound of the vina or as being of a character that is different from it. Also it is not easy to designate a fragrant smell of the black agaru tree as being a character that is not different from the black agaru tree or as being a character that is different from it. Similarly, it is not easy to designate the heat of pepper as of being of a character.. excuse me, “from the pepper” It’s kind of awkward language but.. They went to some effort to put the word ‘character’ in there which makes it kind of difficult but. .. “It is not easy to designate the heat of [the] pepper of being of a character that is different from [the] pepper” You could also say it is not easy to designate the heat of the pepper as being not different from the pepper. But they have the word ‘character’ in there. It’s also not easy to designate the heat of the pepper as being different from the pepper. So either designating the heat of the pepper having the character of being the same or having the character of being different, doesn’t work. “As with the heat of pepper, so it is also with the astringency of the myrobalan arjuna. Myrobalan arjuna (Chuckles) is, you know, something which one could try to simplify into some other kind of expression and the Chinese did that. It’s a tree. No, no, it’s an important medicinal plant. So it’s simpler to say, “As it is with the heat of the pepper so it is also with the astringency of a medicinal plant”. “For instance it is not easy to designate the softness of cotton as either being of a character that is not different from the cotton or a character that is different from the cotton. For instance it is not easy to designate clarified butter as being either a character that is not different from butter or a character that is different from it.” And, more examples follow and then it says, “Suvisuddhamati [Bodhisattva], for instance it is not easy to designate the agitating character of desire and the character of affliction as being a character that is not different from desire or as being a character that is different from it. Know that just as it is with desire, so it is with hatred and obscuration.” Speaker: Could you read that again? Reb: “It is not easy to designate the agitating character of desire and the character of affliction as being a character that is not different from desire or a character that is different from it.” And then the same could be applied to hatred and obscuration. In other words, it’s hard to separate the hatred from the affliction that comes with it. And it’s hard to also separate the affliction that comes with obscuration from the obscuration. And it’s hard to make them the same. Somehow we don’t feel that the affliction of hatred is exactly the same as the hatred. It’s kind of hard for us to see that. But it’s also hard for us to separate hatred from the affliction. That’s what’s being said. Carolyn: Can you give an example? Reb: Example of hatred? Carolyn: Affliction of hatred? Reb: Well, you feel hatred and you feel somewhat uncomfortable about it. Carolyn: That’s the affliction. The uncomfortableness. Reb: Yeah. Or you could make the tremendous pain of hating someone and yet somehow you don’t feel… It’s almost like maybe a part of you maybe feels, well it’s almost like ‘I could hate this person without the affliction’. In other words, it’s almost like hatred is not.. It’s almost like hate is different from the affliction that comes with it. We sometimes feel that way. That there’s hatred and affliction with it and that they are different. Does that makes sense? No? Carolyn: In that situation you described, and then they how are they the same? Reb: Well also they are not the same. The first example is how they are not the same. You feel anger; you feel hatred and then you feel uncomfortable but you don’t feel like the hatred and the affliction or the pain of hatred, you don’t feel like they are the same. So then you might think they are different. But they’re not really different either. I mean that doesn’t really work either. Carolyn: Are you saying that they are just a dependent co-arising? Reb: They are dependent co-arisings, yes. But also they are two different phenomena. There’s hatred and there’s affliction. They.. and there’s desire and there’s affliction. And there’s obscuration and there’s affliction. But in each case, it’s hard to say that they are really the same but it’s hard to say that they are really different because hatred comes with affliction. Speaker A: Do they always come together? Reb: Do they always come together? I don’t know. If they.. Speaker A; (Can’t hear.)….conch shell and whiteness. Reb: I don’t think pepper always comes with hotness. And white shell. Speaker: (Can’t hear)…Pepper that’s hot. The example, the thing that was given Reb: Pardon? It doesn’t have to always come together for this to work. It’s just when the pepper is hot, when hatred does have affliction, when desire does have affliction, when agitation and so on of desire does have affliction, then it’s hard for us to say they are the same but it’s also hard for us to say they are different. Carolyn: Can you say something about skandhas? The five skandhas creating.. Reb: The five skandhas are creating the hatred and they are also creating the affliction Carolyn: The affliction is also, in a sense, a formation? Reb: The affliction is pain. It’s a feeling of pain. Yeah. So what are you having trouble understanding now? Carolyn: I’m just.. I don’t know.. I’m just trying to put it into a different framework that I’m familiar with. Reb: What frame? Carolyn: Skandha framework. Reb: You’re going to put in the skandha framework? Ok, so you can do that too. Ok you can use the skandhas as examples. What one do you want to use? Carolyn: Well, now I’m saying that the pain and the affliction, the affliction seems like a skandha of the pain..of the thing. Reb: The affliction seems like a skandha? Carolyn: Well, it does. It’s like a formation to me. Affliction. Maybe the pain is a formation as well. Reb: So you’re saying that to you the word ‘affliction is a formation? Carolyn: Yeah, if pain is what… a feeling? Reb: Yeah, pain is a feeling. Yeah. Carolyn: Affliction is a formation? Reb: No not necessarily. Well, the word ‘formation’,.. are you talking about the fourth skandha? Is that what you’re talking about? Carolyn: Uh-huh Reb: Because the fourth skandha ‘formation’, it really means something that’s put together. That applies to all the skandhas, but there’s a certain group of formations that go in the formation category. But feelings also is a formation. All the skandhas,.. all the dharmas are formation. But if you want to put something in the fourth skandha, that’s fine. So what.. But there is no dharma called ‘affliction’ in the fourth aggregate. In the fourth aggregate, there’s no dharma there called ‘affliction’. Did you know that?
Carolyn: I’m still a of the feeling that an affliction is a formation. Reb: But all these dharmas, all the aggregates are formations. But not all the aggregates go in the fourth category which is called ‘formations’. So one of the category got a name for all the formations that don’t go in the other skandhas. Cause all the skandhas are formations but they just choose, they choose one category for all the formations that didn’t go in the other formation categories. But they’re all formations. So hatred goes in the formation skandha, formation aggregate. And lust goes in the formation aggregate. But affliction is not in there. That’s not actually in that aggregate. If you look at the list of the things in the formation aggregate, there’s no pain in there. It goes in the third aggregate, is where the pain goes. The feeling of pain is aggregate number… (Reb corrects himself) two actually. The fourth skandha doesn’t have feelings in it, doesn’t have suffering in it, doesn’t have dukha in it. The second skanda has dukha in it of different varieties, three varieties of dukha. Carolyn: Ok. Reb: And when the thing in the fourth aggregate, hatred, comes up; the affliction that comes with that hatred, it’s hard to see it’s the same as the hatred. It’s hard to see that something in the fourth aggregate is the same as something in the second aggregate. But it’s also hard to see that they are different because they are together so intimately. So their relationship is like the relationship between the ultimate and all these other phenomena. So, yes? Speaker B: Is this what Dogen was referring to when he wrote about the merging of difference and unity. Reb: Is this about the merging of difference and unity? Yeah. It is. And it wasn’t Dogen that wrote about it. It was Shir-to (sp?) Shir-to. Shoho: Good-bye Reb: Have a safe journey. Shoho: May I take the zafu? Reb: May you take the zafu? Yes, you may. Johnny? Johnny: My life experiences; I wonder if it applies to this. When I was in clinical practice, it seemed I was being asked many times, “tell me how I can have my worry about the future, but not the fear”. “Tell me how I can resent that guy but not be angered”. And at some point I say, “well maybe the fear is the signal that your mind is in the future and the anger is a signal that your mind is in the past. And as long as you’re doing that, you’re going to have fear and anger”. And that seems to have kind of a counterfeit breakthrough. So I’m wondering if this is the kind of actual experience that may be referred to here, about the affliction and the actual intention of mind, let’s say. Reb: I must.. I think I must admit I didn’t follow what you said. Want to try again? Johnny: Ok? People would come and want therapy because they’re worried about the future was troubled by all the fear they were experiencing. Reb: Ok. You say they’re worried about the future, but that seems redundant. Their thoughts about the future were worrying them. Johnny: They actually seemed to have split worrying, which they liked,.. They just didn’t like the fear that accompanied that. Reb: Right. But worry is.. so that’s a good.. It’s hard to separate worry from fear. Partly because they are synonyms and people are not aware that worry is a synonym for fear. So when worry.. when we think about the future, we’re usually vulnerable to worry---fear. Take away the thoughts of the future and worry drops and so does fear. Johnny: So they’re different, in a sense, but they are inseparable. So it’s hard to distinguish fear from worry Reb: Yeah. It’s definitely hard to separate them because they’re synonyms. But the thing that’s not a synonym is thinking of the future is not synonymous with worry. It’s not. You can think of the future without worry and fear. However, when you’re afraid and worried, you are thinking of the future. So peppers are not always hot; but when they are hot, it’s hard to separate the pepper from the heat. Thinking of the future,.. Buddhas can think of the future; Bodhisattvas can think of the future without dabbling in fear. They can do it. But when they’re afraid.. When Bodhisattvas are afraid, they’re doing.. they are normal sentient beings. When they’re afraid, they are thinking of the future. When they’re worried, Bodhisattvas, generally speaking.. When they’re worried, they’re thinking of the future. And when they think of the future and they are worried, then it’s hard for Bodhisattvas to separate the worry from the thinking of the future. And it’s hard to separate the worry from the fear. When there’s fear. But it’s not always necessary,.. It’s not always the case that thinking of the future is frightening. The key factor there is when you whole-heartedly think of the future, you’re not afraid. And when you’re whole-heartedly afraid, you don’t think of the future because all your energy is going right now into being afraid. Now you don’t have any time for future fears. So whole-hearted being in the present, you can’t think of the future in a way that you’ll become frightened. But if you’re in the present whole-heartedly and you think of the future, there won’t be fear, there won’t be worried. Johnny: So fixation on some element of the future you’re looking at excludes others and that might be a cause of fear as opposed to... Reb: That’s a half-hearted way to think of the future. And that’s a way to find something, and when you got something, you’re not whole-hearted with it. So that comes back… If you were able to be wholehearted with the phenomena, then the ultimate would not really be that different from the phenomena because when you’re whole-hearted with phenomena, they’re selfless like the ultimate. If you’re half-hearted with phenomena, then you suffer. So then it’s hard to say that this phenomena is the same as the ultimate. Right? Because you’re not being wholehearted and the phenomena is not selfless. It’s self.. it’s a self that you’re grasping. And you’re grasping it cause you’re not wholehearted with it. So at that time, it’s hard to say that this phenomena is the same as the ultimate. Matter of fact, you might be tempted to say it’s different. But it can’t be different because the wholeheartedness of the phenomena is the ultimate. Speaker: Is it the ultimate? Reb: Yeah, the whole-heartedness of phenomena is their selflessness and that selflessness is the ultimate. So if you’re half-hearted with things, it’s hard to realize their selflessness so then it’s hard to say the thing is the same as the ultimate. So then you might say, “Well then I’ll say it’s different from the ultimate”. Ok, that’s a try. But you’re going to have trouble because the ultimate is the character of everything. So you can’t really make it completely different. Matter of fact if you could practice with this thing, in a certain way, you would realize that it’s not different. But you can’t really quite say it’s the same. It’s just the same under certain circumstances. But not totally the same because then under other circumstances, then it’s not the same. It requires the practice to be completely unified with the phenomena for the ultimate to not be different. But again it still can’t quite be the same, because it transcends sameness. Yes? Huoma: I’m just wondering if .. is it possible that fear or worry arises by it’s own self and.. Reb: Nothing arises by it’s own self. Huoma: Doesn’t it? Reb: No, that is not happening. Nothing arises by itself. Things do not arise by the least bit by own self. Not even one iota does anything arise by itself or due to itself. Everything arises depending on what it isn’t. Everything arises dependent on others and nothing arises due to self and a little bit.. no, due to others and just a little bit of self. And nothing arises from a lot of self and little bit of others. So, things don’t arise from self and they don’t even arise from others. And also they don’t arise from self and others. However things also do arise from others. They totally depend… actually they don’t arise from others; they depend on others. That’s the only kind of things we have. That’s not the ultimate. That’s an instruction about how to realize the ultimate. Yes? Elena: If you’re whole-heartedly afraid..Reb: Yes, if you’re whole-heartedly afraid?.. Elena: If you’re whole-heartedly afraid, what’s the difference between being awake as being taken by the fear. Reb: If you’re whole-heartedly afraid.. Elena: Yeah, what is the difference? Reb: Part of wholeheartedness means that you are awake to your wholeheartedness. And when you’re awake to your wholeheartedness, you’re not taken by anything. There’s not any ‘you’ to be taken anymore. You’re totally accounted for in the wholeheartedness and there’s no place you can be taken. If it’s fear, you can’t be taken by the fear because there’s no ‘you’ in addition to the fear. If there’s ‘you’ in addition to the fear, not quite wholehearted yet,.. which is another thing you can become afraid of. As you start to become, you know kind of wholehearted in your fear, you might think ‘What will happened to me.. I’m afraid already but what would happen to me if I was like totally afraid?’ Then you get afraid of that on top of your fear, you can get afraid of what it would be like if you like really went with the fear. Elena: You would go crazy maybe? Reb: Huh? Elena: You could say you.. Reb: Yeah, right. On top of fear I could also be crazy. Jane: You could be afraid of becoming crazy. Reb: You could be afraid of becoming crazy. And then if you thought ‘if I wholeheartedly become afraid of become crazy, then I might be even more likely to be crazy than if I was like kind of like.. hey, I don’t like being afraid of being crazy. That will help me not be crazy.’ A lot of people try that as you may have noticed. Like they’re afraid of being crazy and think ‘if I would resist the fear of being crazy, that’s more sane…or that might work. But to go with it 100%, well, uh..” Of course people who are afraid of being crazy are a little bit crazy. It’s mental illness to be afraid of being crazy. ‘I’m not.. I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy.’ This is what people do that are afraid of being crazy. ‘Don’t call me crazy!’ This is what people say when they’re afraid of being called crazy by self or others. Elena: What about being afraid of becoming crazy? I’m not crazy yet. Reb: There’s one being afraid of being crazy. And then there’s another being afraid of becoming crazy. And also being afraid of having been crazy. There’s also being afraid of other people being crazy. These are all possible fears. And if we are wholehearted about them.. In order to be wholehearted, you have to like really be there. And you have to be awake. And being that way with fear, you realize.. There’s no ability to grasp fear anymore or grasp self, separate from the fear. And now we are.. Now we are with the object of purification. Now we are with the ultimate which is not entirely the same or different from the practice we’re doing. Except at this moment it’s indistinguishable from the practice. But it’s not completely the same because if we flinch, then we got a different practice and it’s not the same as the ultimate. Yes: Karen: Well, first of all, you just confirmed this deep suspicion that I have that if I went fully down this path I would be irretrievable weird, you know. Reb: No. Just a second. I didn’t confirm that. I just gave you a chance to bring that up again. I don’t confirm that. You’re not irretrievably anything. Ok? Just because.. But when I say, ‘You’re not irretrievably anything’, I don’t mean you are retrievably something. Ok? So, I’m not saying that if you’re irretrievably weird that your retrievably not-weird. You’re beyond actually being retrievable or not. But you’re definitely not retrievable.., irretrievable. Now if you can retrieve something at a particular point, that’s fine, but you know, it’s gonna change. That illusion is going to change. ‘Irretrievably weird’ means no way to not be weird. ‘Weird’ by the way, the root of the word ‘weird’, (Norse: wyrd) means fate. It’s a Norse word. It means ‘fate’. So to say, ‘irretrievably fate, fated’. I would say the Buddhadharma is saying to you, ‘You are not irretrievably fated. You are not,.. in other words, it’s not fatalism. Buddhadharma is not fatalism. But it’s also not saying that you’re without causes. So Buddhism’s not strict determinism. It’s not irretrievable destiny. But it’s also not saying, ‘hey, no destiny’. There are causes and conditions. We are influenced by causes and conditions. We do come to take,.. we take forms (which are sometimes called destinies) but they’re not irretrievable. But if you practice this way.. I don’t say.. Although I don’t confirm that you would be irretrievably weird, if you practice this way you would be doing something which is quite rare. It is uncommon for people, human beings, to suffer wholeheartedly. It’s uncommon for someone to have illness wholeheartedly. It’s uncommon. But if you do, you’re not wasting this moment. You’re not wasting time when you’re whole-heartedly what you are, what we are. This is not wasting time. And this is the path of using the opportunity that’s being offered by this illness, by this suffering. Speaker C: I just have to check this out with you. So just from a practical example, I’m afraid to fly; do it anyway. So when it’s bumpy, I’m afraid and I’m suffering because I’m
waiting for, like, the big bump, right? But when there’s a really bad turbulence, I’m so afraid that I.. there’s really no suffering because I’m so..
Reb: Correct. That’s right. That’s it. That’s it. You know you’re half-heartedly with the little bumps and then the big bumps you say ‘ok I’m switching to whole-hearted; I’m going to be like totally with this big bump.’ And then there’s no fear and there’s no you. And there’s no bump. C: And there’s no thinking. Because there’s so.. Reb: Well there’s thinking but you’re totally thinking. You’re totally thinking. “That was a big one! Ohh, there was a big one, ooooh. That was a big one. Wow!’ This is like world-class bump here!” and you’re totally doing it. In other.. You’re so totally doing it that you’re not doing it anymore. You’re just.. your mind and body are totally with your mind and body and then there’s no fear. You totally give yourself to the moment and then there’s no fear. Next moment and things smooth out a little bit and you say, “well I can hold back a little bit, ha ha”. And then the fear comes back. So holding back, resisting what’s happening, half-heartedness. This is samsara. Yes? Speaker D: So things do not arise from self or from self and other. Do they arise? They don’t arise? Reb: Do they arise? They actually don’t arise. Yeah. But the way they exist is dependent on others, not on self. And also not really on both self and other. And I’m not saying .. well first of all let me say, of course I’m not tattling on Shakyamuni Buddha when I tell you that he had back problems. I’m not telling you that so you’ll think less of Shakyamuni Buddha. I’m telling you that to say, the Buddha took human form and in human form he had back problems. But he was still the Buddha having back problems. And his disciples didn’t,… I didn’t hear his disciples going around ‘how come our teacher has back problems? Maybe he’s not a really good teacher’. No. It didn’t seem to be a problem. They said, ‘yeah well, he never said that his body was not going to have back problems’. This doesn’t contradict his teaching. I just also wanted to mention that I heard.. not saying this to tattle on him but I heard that the Dalai Lama eats meat every other day I’ve recently heard. In other words, these noted teachers are living in samsara. Now, the thing is, are they wholehearted about it? Are they really compassionate about it? That’s what we want. And that’s rare. However the proposal is that this rare practice of being compassionate towards all beings, including one’s condition of having a body which has pain in it, or whatever, .. that needs nourishment, being compassionate with that wholeheartedly, being compassionate with it wholeheartedly, that’s the way to realize the ultimate. And also the instructions about what the ultimate is like are indications about whether you’re wholehearted or not. For example if you’re not willing to listen to these instructions about the ultimate, you’re not wholehearted with your karmic set-up right now of being in this room with somebody who is reading this Sutra to you. And also if you notice that you think the ultimate is different from.. really different from.. totally different from your suffering, then you’re not whole-hearted. And if you think it’s the same, you’re not wholehearted. So this is telling you about the ultimate, but it’s also telling you about your practice…about whether your practice is lined up with the ultimate. So it’s… that’s one benefit about this discussion about the character of the ultimate is that it’s a way to test whether your practice is in accord with it. In other words, whether your practice transcends being the same, completely the same or completely different. If it transcends that. So it’s not the same and it’s not different completely. But there’s an intimate relationship there. Elena: From moment to moment, how can you practice this?. Reb: Yeah, the practice is.. since the practice is a moment-to-moment thing, then it would be a moment-to-moment contemplation of the relationship between our practice, our conduct, our conduct and the ultimate which transcends,.. not transcends its relationship with our practice. It doesn’t transcend its relationship with our practice. It just transcends.. the kind of relationship it is, it just transcends any kinds of categories. And any kind of sameness or difference. Any kind of argumentation. All that kind of stuff. It transcends that in its intimacy with our practice. So where is the practice that’s like this? Yes, Huoma? Huoma: I wholeheartedly feel, as you express, this whole oneness. And that’s how… that’s what it is and I need help, abundance of help, when I lose this oneness. That is where I lack.. that is where I drop. When the separation comes,.. Reb: When the separation comes, you need help, abundance of help? Huoma: Separation comes because I lose this sight that you’re expressing. Reb: When separation comes then we need abundance of help. When there’s no separation, we need abundance of help. And when there’s no separation, we have received the abundance of help. That’s what wholeheartedness is. Receiving the abundance of help. Abundadanananance, abundance of help.. Receiving it wholeheartedly is wholeheartedness. And when we’re not receiving it wholeheartedly we need abundance of help to switch and open up. So our ability to open to this abundance of help is not something we do by ourself. We open to abundance of help through an abundance of help. So, now that we’re on that topic, are you people helping me or what? Are you abundantly helping me? Speakers: Yes. Reb: Hmm? Even those of you who are not saying ‘yes’, are you abundantly helping me? Speakers: A lot. Yes? Reb: Are you abundantly helping me? You? Speaker: You. (lots of laughter throughout this section) Reb: No you. No you! Are you? Are you abundantly helping me?
Chorus: Yes. Reb: Are you abundantly helping me? (Silence) Not you, her! Speaker: I have a question but it’s too late. Reb: I know. I know. Are you abundantly helping me? Speaker: Yes! By God, yes! You don’t know? Reb: I didn’t say I didn’t know. I just was sort of on this topic so I thought I might, you know,.. thought I might ask, you know, are you helping me. Because I do need quite.. because I need an abundance of help. So I just sort of wondered if you knew that whether you’re sort of with the program. And if you’re not, of course, that would be abundantly helpful. Anyway, thanks for your abundant help and shall we continue? Speakers: Yes. Reb: All right. Let’s do that then. One, two, three, Connie!
End of recording