What is a Zen Practitioner?

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.


A virtual Dharma talk by Tenshin Roshi for an online gathering of the No Abode community

AI Summary: 



All right, here we are again and again. This ritual is in resonance or is a example of the talk that I wish to offer today. So the name of this talk could be, what is a Zen practitioner? Or what is a Zen student? Or what is a Zen master? Or what is an enlightened person? So the last time I gave a talk here in this No Abode venue a month ago approximately, I talked about this issue, but it didn't get recorded.


So I'm gonna try to give the talk again because I would like this talk, I'd like this message to be recorded. So we'll see if it gets recorded. So again, the question is, what's a Zen practitioner? And I was, I often bring this up, but I was again, stimulated to bring this up. I was reading a text about the Bodhisattva precepts by one of our family ancestors. And the teacher said, These Bodhisattva precepts can only be received by a Zen practitioner. And when I heard that, I thought, well, that sounds really kind of narrow. That could be understood in a narrow way. Like a Zen practitioner is somebody who practices, you know, with the idea that they're a Zen practitioner.


Or it could be the idea that a Zen practitioner is one person So what I'm basically proposing today is that, yeah, a Zen practitioner is the being that receives the Bodhisattva precepts. A Zen practitioner is one that understands the Buddha Dharma, that realizes it. But I guess my main message is, a Zen practitioner is not an individual, independent person. So I'm proposing that a person does not understand, a person cannot know the Buddhadharma. A person is not a Zen practitioner.


A Zen practitioner is a conversation A Zen practitioner is a meeting between Buddha and Buddha. A Zen practitioner is a meeting, a conversation, a dance between Buddha and Buddha. This conversation knows the Buddhadharma. So simple and also kind of a little bit strange, because often we think that person over there by herself is a Zen practitioner. But that person by herself is not a Zen practitioner. That person fully being that person in conversation with another person who is fully that person,


that conversation, that meeting between them, that is a Zen practitioner. That is a Zen master. That is a Buddha. I was attracted to so-called Zen practice by stories about Zen monks. But in those stories about the Zen monks, those Zen monks were in conversation with other Zen monks. And those Zen monks were in conversation with many kinds of beings. They were in conversation with many kinds of lay people. Those were stories about lay people The stories about Zen activity were stories of lay people in conversation with Zen priests, or Zen priests in conversation with Zen priests, or lay people in conversation with lay people.


What attracted me were these conversations, were these face-to-face meetings, The face-to-face meetings that attracted me, those meetings are the Zen masters that attracted me. Those meetings are the Zen practitioners that attracted me. Those meetings of ordinary people, genuinely relating to each other, deep and deep, honest conversation. Those conversations attracted me to Buddhism. Actually, not to Buddhism, even I didn't even I knew the word Buddhism, but I wasn't attracted to Buddhism. I was attracted to those conversations that had so called Zen people in them. Now, I found out that that's Buddhism, that that is the Buddha way. Another stimulus for this talk is


some people at Zen Center were trying to find out the source of a quote that is circulating in the San Francisco Zen Center and beyond, and the quote is supposedly from Suzuki Roshi, and maybe he did say this, and the quote is, there are no enlightened persons or no enlightened people, there is only enlightened activity. And I don't know if he said this, he may have, but even if he didn't, I still agree with that. There are no enlightened people. But there is, there is enlightened activity. So in our meeting here today, in our seeing each other's faces and recognizing each other,


and respecting each other, that activity, in that activity, there is the Zen master, the Buddha. In that activity is the understanding of Buddhadharma. That's my proposal. Yeah, so when I think of it, I think this is kind of strange to suggest to people that there are no enlightened people, but I am suggesting that. I'm offering that to you to meditate on, to contemplate that there's no enlightened people, there's not an enlightened person, There's not even an independent Buddha. But there is the possibility of Buddha together with Buddha meeting intimately.


There is enlightened activity. And one could, for example, I could aspire to give my life to that enlightened activity. Not that I inspire that I'm gonna do that, but I will join that because I cannot do the conversation, but I can give myself to the conversation all day long, because I'm never ever any place but that conversation. And yet I have to say that this is the way the Buddha Dharma is understood. Or maybe I don't have to say it, but somebody has to say it. And so since somebody has to say it, I'm saying it. But you can say it now from now on. You can take over the baton and carry on the teaching.


A Buddha is Buddha activity. It's not an independent person. This assembly in conversation is buddha activity. I am not by myself buddha activity. I'm buddha activity in relationship to all you and the same I suggest goes for all of you. Now I aspire to this buddha activity. I aspire There is an aspiration in me to join and realize this Buddha activity. But I have not reached it.


But I give myself to it. And also, I don't really know what it is. But I think about it all the time. Or I aspire to think about it all the time. I aspire to be devoted to it. I'm devoted to something that I can't own and I can't get away from. And I don't really know what it is. So I'm deeply attracted to something that I don't know what it is. So that's my simple message. and I'm here to join the conversation with you about this conversation. Our first offering is from Charlotta.


Hello Great Assembly. Thank you for being here today. I wanted to talk about that I have a relationship in my life that currently is under very much turmoil and we have a lot of disagreements between us and it's a lot of pain and hurt between us and I find myself believing in the stories that my mind creates about this person and see myself.


Did you say you believe the stories that you have in your mind about this person? Yeah, I kind of catch myself like after a conversation with this person where I catch myself afterwards like oh okay I was really rigidly holding on to my view of the situation and not really listening to him and and watch all these strong feelings about me being right and him being wrong playing out in my mind. I really don't want to, I think I could easily I see that in this situation I could very easily hurt him a lot because of my anger.


And I think that this is also a confession that I think I have during these last couple of days. I think I have been... Yeah, I'm kind of like... unkind sometimes to him. And I don't want to be that. And in the same time, I want to respect my... How to say? I think my question is about standing up for oneself by putting boundaries to somebody.


I find that really difficult to do. Because I very easily find myself that I don't trust. Because everything that I perceive is just really my own story of what is going on, not the truth. him or his situation. And that confused me, I think, because I think about that and then I get very much in doubt of my own. When can I put my foot down to somebody


If I just feel like, when I'm confused about what is he doing. Something in my mind is really saying that he's doing me wrong. He's really doing something. He's done me wrong. And there's another part of me saying, well, it's my story of it. And he has another completely other story about the situation. And he feels hurt. And I feel, but I feel like, strong need to kind of put my foot down and respect myself, because I think that has been a really big problem for me in my life, to stand up for myself. Then I find this very confusing, that it's complex to, since it is our own story we are dealing with, but we can still feel that, okay, need to... I get the picture.


Yeah, thanks. I just wonder if you have any comments. It turns out I do. Lucky for me. First of all, I heard you make two confessions. The first one I heard was that you noticed, you caught that that you sometimes believe your stories about this person. So that was a confession too. I felt you were letting us know that you saw this in yourself, so you could confess it. That's good. That's a powerful vision. And then you didn't say it, but I think that you kind of implied that It was, you were kind of sorry that you believed your stories about this person. And then you said that you sometimes are not kind to the person, almost as though that unkindness followed from believing your stories about this person, which is, that's the way it is, really.


When we believe our stories about people, it cuts into our kindness. It doesn't necessarily destroy it, But it is not kind to believe our stories about people. That's not kind to ourselves. That's not kind to the stories. That's not kind to the person the story is about. But we do strongly, we have a strong tendency to believe our stories about ourselves and others. And sometimes we fall into that tendency. And when we do, that hinders the Buddha way. But by confessing that we believe our stories about people and feeling sorry about it, that confession and repentance melts the way the melts the root of transgressing into believing our stories about situations.


It doesn't stop us from having stories. It melts the root of transgressing into grasping them as true. And then you also said that you feel like you have to stand up for yourself, you could say, but you also said, I think, stand up for your stories. He also said, put your foot down. I agree, you should stand up for your stories. And you should put your foot down on your stories. You should put your stories down like putting your foot down. This is my story. Like today, I'm giving you my story. I'm standing up for my story right now. I respect my story, but I also, part of my story is I want to, I aspire to respect other people's stories and respecting my stories, standing upright in my stories, standing upright for my stories, in my stories, by my stories, standing up in my stories upright.


To do that, I really, let go of my stories. Or letting go of my stories, I really stand up for them. If I hold on to them, that's not a good way to take care of them. But respect them and express them in an upright way. And it's complex because things are changing all the time. New stories are coming in up, Other people are offering us their story. It's very dynamic, so it's difficult to learn how to stay alert for believing our stories about people and ourselves. Stay alert for that, and when noticing it, honor it by confessing, oh, I'm believing what I think about you. You may or may not say that to the person. You don't have to say it.


They will appreciate it if you do not believe your stories about them. Even if stories are good, really, they're not to be there's nothing about them that you can really that justifies grasping them. But in order to not attach to my stories about people, I can't skip over my stories. I can't disrespect them. I can't push them away. I need to find a way to be upright with them and gentle and flexible and harmonious and honest. This is my story. What is your story? This is my story. And I want to honor my story and I want to honor your story. And if the story says this is too much for me, Including that story, yeah.


And you honor your story of, I feel I need to ask you to give me space. I feel a boundary. That's my story. I feel a boundary. And I need you to, I need you, I respect you, and I request you to hear my boundary and respect it. And I offer you this gift to you. about my boundaries. I offer this as a gift to you as part of the conversation, which is understanding the Buddhadharma. Not moving or getting rid of the story, but deeply respecting it and honoring it and not grasping it. That's what it takes to have a genuine conversation. in a turbulent world of change.


It's so tricky. It's so tricky. This is a big deal. This is the great vehicle we're talking about. This is Buddha activity. We're trying to learn it. It's not easy. And I find myself trying to get friends around me to confirm my story about this person. Yeah, we're not here to confirm your story. We're here to listen to your story. Don't get people around you that tell you your story is true. Get people around you who listen to your story and help you not grasp it. Even if they agree with you, their agreement is not to help you both grasp the story. You know, yeah, tell me a story. We could be together and we can see something happen and you could tell me your story and I could say I have basically the same story.


We kind of have the same story. I pray neither one of us grasp it. Let's help each other not grasp the story which we share. That's the kind of friends we need, friends that help us look at what our story is, respect it, be gentle with it, be honest about it, be upright with it, and not grasp it. When we notice that we're trying to get people to prove that we're right, that's another thing to watch out for. But we think everybody in this assembly can resonate with what you've told us. Thank you so much. And best wishes on the great path of Buddha activity. Thank you, Ray. You're welcome. Our next offering is from Homa.


Good morning, Assembly. Can I include Rev in the assembly? Can I include myself in the assembly? I'm questioning the ability, or as even I'm saying it, I have this programming in my mind that this mind is limited. So here I am, and here's the I that comes in this limitation. So this I is limited, and this I is playing in the realm of limitation. And as I was actually hearing myself, feeling myself, and I said, oh my, yes.


I have the same story. Yes. And I want, and I have the story adding to this story is that I want to be, this I has a story that wants to be free from this because the reason for that is underneath it when I feel it, it is pain. It is hurt. What's pain? Pain is The belief. The belief. Is the belief of limitation. Believing limited things. Believing. Believing that limited things are more than the limited things. That's painful. It's painful. Anything that takes the form of belief. Belief. in that limited things are unlimited.


Are more than just these little things. Yeah, that is pain. Beliefs are also grasping these limited things as being something other than limited things. That is a definition of pain. And we're conditioned to do that. Yes, I see this conditioning of grasping. So grasping is a conditioning. And I like to bring that conditioning into question. Good. You know, I really want to bring it into the question. And then I was, as I was listening, I love the word practice. The practice of listening, the practice of even observing. And when you even say the word Buddhism practice, Zen practice, Zoroastrian practice, Islam practice, any word that dilutes the practice, I'm going like, oh, I feel heavy again.


Oh, there's another. addition to ordinary, being ordinary, ordinary Zen, ordinary Buddhism, ordinary. Why can't we just be ordinary? What's wrong with this ordinariness? Why this I needs to keep adding her ideas, her imagination, her story, actually her story this ordinary way of existence. Yes. I support your questioning. And I hope and I I pray that your questioning can be more enjoyable and relaxed. It's a good thing. Your questioning is good. Your questioning is good. But I see stress when you ask the question. But the questioning really is a wonderful thing that you're doing. So, I hope you can do it in a kind of relaxed way.


That will help you be more steady in questioning. Yes, yes. Don't make the question, don't make the question, it doesn't have to be, it can be a kind question, right? The question is more, the question is not really the point. The question may stay. But what I'm looking is this space, the space, the... The question may never go away. The question may stay, but the openness, that's the word. It's the openness that this question brings, that's where I need to relax.


That's where the relaxation needs to happen, in that openness, not the questioning, the openness. The questioning aids, supports the openness. The questioning promotes the openness. Yes, exactly. I'm always questioning. Yeah, I'm always in this question of openness. Good. Yeah. How, how open can this openness be? There's another one. Thank you. Next offering will be from Manfred. I say good evening because I'm in Germany, so I have to say good morning to most of you also.


You said there is enlightened activity, and I would say that means at the end there are no entities, if there is only activity. And in my experience, I think I can experience something like activity only, like it's just happening. For instance, being in stillness or being in states like flow, it's kind of self forgetting, like dancing or singing or hiking. These are states where I have this feeling of It's just happening, it's activity. But I couldn't say if this is enlightened activity, because you were speaking about enlightened activity. So what is it at the end, the difference between only activity and enlightened activity?


I think only activity will open, opens onto how only activity is in relationship to only activity. It's not an isolated only activity, but my only activity is the way I meet your only activity. The enlightened activity isn't my, because I could think I could get sort of focused on my only activity, but That's not enlightened activity. Enlightened activity is only activity, only activity, only activity together with your only activity or other only activity. There's not an enlightened activity by itself. It's always in relationship to other only activity. So when you're hiking in the mountains and there's just activity, you're doing your job of hiking.


Good. Thank you. But there's more to it than that, because your enlightened activity is actually in reality, intimately meeting everybody else's only activity. That's the Buddha activity. But the only activity you're referring to is your responsibility to to give yourself to that kind of only activity and then bring that only activity to us and to the mountains. And the mountains are also that you're hiking in, they're only activity. They're just doing the mountain thing. And you're doing the Manfred thing. And then that way you can have face-to-face transmission together with the mountains. That's the Buddha activity. I would see it like that. When I feel hiking, I feel it's not me doing the hiking, it's just every moment the world is born when I do this hiking or dancing.


We can dance alone, we can dance with other people and it's always interaction. So am I right? Is it correct when I understand you like that? If two activities only meet each other, then it becomes enlightened activities. Yeah. And in my sense of just enlightened activity here, that my sense of it, I need to give myself to that. But that's not the whole story. It's how that is in relationship to you and all beings, that together is what makes it completely the Buddhadharma. Thank you. Thank you. Our next offering is from Stephen.


OK, Rob, I think there's a question here. So 2 plus 2, my story on 2 plus 2 is that it equals 4. And I'm not really that interested in contemplating too many different stories about that. I mean, if Alfred Whitehead said it wasn't 4, know, get a PhD or figure out, I couldn't get a PhD to figure out why he wasn't, why he was saying it wasn't four. But if I was a junior high math teacher, I would want to respect my students' declaration that it was seven. But when Trump tells me, us, that he's won the election or that there isn't global warming, I'm inclined to respect certain pieces of that story, but I'm not interested in listening to long repetitions of the counter story.


And I don't think it's particularly Buddhist for me to ask me, for me to want to do that. I mean, I want, I mean, there is a Buddhist piece, which, you know, I think demands and requires that I engage with, you know, what I view as the testable right wing or left wing stories. But I mean, at some point, you have to, you know, be upright with the sense that there is some objective reality and the other storytellers got it wrong. I can hear some questions there. One thing that came up for me when you were speaking was that in your contemplation of the possibility of listening to people say things like Donald Trump says, you're listening to that.


You said, I'm willing to listen to two plus two is seven or et cetera. But you know, I'm not really up for listening to repetitions of it, and so on and so forth. So part of this listening to other stories, which goes with not holding onto our own, is that sometimes we have a story which is, I've had enough of this. I need a break. Part of having conversation, genuine conversation, is to offer our sense of limitation and our stress and our need for rest. That's part of making the conversation work. But in the long run, we do have to work it out with everybody on this path. But along the way, we should stand up for our sense


But right now, I'm limited. I cannot actually listen to this story anymore that you're telling me. But I aspire to someday come back and listen to some more. But right now, I want to take an hour break, a two-day break or whatever, and then resume the conversation later. But right now, this is just, I've had enough. That's where I'm at. until I can find actually an interest in coming back and discussing with you these statements you're making, to have a conversation with you. But right now, I feel like I won't be able to do service to the conversation. So I'm gonna go away for a while, but I'll come back. I'm not abandoning you, Donald. I will come back. But today I've had enough. for me, and please excuse me, and I'm not running away from the conversation, I'm just resting.


And stand up for your stories, yes, without grasping them. Please. Our next offering is from Yuki. Good morning. Good morning. The conversation you have with Manfred partly answered this question, but I want to go a little deeper. I understand that you said that Buddha, Buddha activity is interactive, it happens in conversation. And quite often the circumstances of my life is that there's nobody around to have a conversation with, it looks like. And so I'm wondering how that what you said applies in that situation.


And kind of the question underneath the question is about how does it help when we, you know, the world's in bad shape right now. So I think, so how does my sitting help that? Okay, I hear two questions. One is referring to the Montford saying sometimes, like sometimes they're just hiking in the mountains. That's all there is. It's just only activity. And you're saying, OK, well, what about when there's nobody else around? So if you're in the mountains or in the forest and there's only activity in the mountains and the forest, that's great. That's true. There's only activity right there. And then there's this thing of how this sense that you have of only activity is actually in conversation with the trees only activity, but you can't, you don't know the trees only activity, but you are actually the way you're only activity is in relationship to the trees in the mountains.


You're there. You're never alone. You're always in relationship to other things that are only activity, but that's not reached by your mind. So the sense that you're alone, that sense can be only activity. Your sense of I'm alone and there's nobody to converse with, that is your activity at that moment. And when that, I have nobody to talk to, there's nobody to have a conversation with, when that is only, that's everything that's happening for you, then you open to how Somebody else who says I do have somebody to talk to is in relationship to you. Or that opens up to how you're in relationship to the walls behind you and the chair you're sitting in. But you have to be completely the person who says I have nobody to talk to right now. That's an activity.


And you have to do that, you know, or give yourself to that as though it was that, you know, The meaning of life right now, this thought for me is not that it's true. It's just, it's my activity and I want to totally have this activity. That's your job. No resistance. No, or if there's resistance, complete, total cosmic resistance. I am totally resisting. That's your job at that moment. Because that's what's happening for you. You have that ability to do that completely. And when you do that, you are opening the door to everybody else doing that completely with you, no matter what your activity is. And then this notion that I... And also, then you moved on to say, you mentioned yet another activity.


You showed me another activity, which the activity was the world in bad shape. That's an activity. And to do that activity completely, you open the door to the Buddha way that doesn't push away the thought the world's in bad shape. It uses that thought that the world's in a very bad way. It uses that thought to practice the Buddha way and to bring peace, but not by getting rid of that thought and getting another one. For example, the world's in good shape. That's a perfectly good one, and if that's the one you've got, do that one completely. And then you said, what does the sitting have to do with this? The sitting is our traditional, exercise program in total activity. Like we just sit to develop the basic practice, which is total activity.


We're not trying to fix the world, we're just trying to totally sit. But then if we learn how to do that, we can apply it to the world's in bad shape, or I disagree with you, or whatever. And then the Buddha way extends itself into the total activity of your being together with other people and wakes the world up to this conversation, which is Buddha activity, which is the Zen master, which is the Zen practitioner, which does receive the Dharma and understand. But the hard part is you being completely the person who thinks the world's in bad shape. Another hard part is that I don't see the helpfulness. I don't actually see it. That's another difficult activity. I don't see it. My activity right now is I don't see it.


And again, the one who is completely expressing I don't see it, she's ready to meet somebody else like that. She's not a Zen master yet, But she's ready to meet somebody else who's not a Zen master yet. And these two people who are not yet Zen masters, who are not yet Zen practitioners, when they meet, that is the Zen practitioner. But you have to be whoever you are, which is sometimes really hard. It's a hard situation. But that's your job. And it's not my job, it's your job. My job is to do me and be ready to meet you doing your job. Are you saying I can take it on faith that that would be helpful? I'm not saying you could take it on faith. I'm saying, I'm saying this to you, and you can try it out.


Because I'm saying this Buddha way is the definition is helpful. It liberates beings from suffering. In other words, it liberates them from half-heartedness. The Buddha shows the way to be wholeheartedly who we are together with others. And that is peaceful and free without changing anything. And things will change on by themselves. Wars will start, wars will stop. We're in the midst of a war now. Our job is to find the Buddha way in the middle of this war, not waiting for it to end before we practice. If it ends, we continue our practice. If another one starts, we continue our practice, which is to be completely who we are together with others who are being completely who they are. And this is available to us. Now, whether you believe it or not, that's your choice.


Believe it means believe to try it. And try and see, check it out. Does it free? Does it bring freedom to you and your friends? I think it does. I've been trying it. It seems to be bringing peace. But I don't see an end to suffering. I just see peace and freedom in the middle of the suffering. It's been going on as far as since I've been around. I was born in World War II. Me too. Thank you so much. You're welcome. So much. Our next offering is from Greg. My question is about if you're very aware of these stories that you have in your head about whatever, but you're trying to have a conversation


with someone, and in this case, it would be a very special kind of relationship because I'm talking about my daughter. And that person is not sharing their story. Or at least the story that they seem to be sharing comes through actions and things that they're doing that then in my mind become like red danger, danger, danger signal. Like I have all these horrible stories in my mind that this, my daughter is maybe in trouble, but I can't, I, and it seems like the more that I get that in my mind, the more she doesn't want to share her story with me. And on the one hand, I understand that, but I'm kind of stuck. I don't really know how to Be fully there for her.


And in some ways really like, I don't know whether I should even be trying to protect her. Is that like trying to change things? I mean, of course I want to protect her. She's my daughter. You know, I don't want something bad to happen to her. So. You know, are her actions part of her story or is it, is it, is it that we're stuck because like my story is coming out and her story isn't. I get the picture. And I think what I'm talking about, a Zen practitioner, a Zen master, all a Zen practitioner is, they're nothing more or less than protecting beings. That's what a Zen practitioner is. It's all about protecting beings and liberating them. That's what it's about. But the way the Zen practitioner is the conversation between, for example, you and your daughter.


The Zen practitioner is the conversation. It's not you. You cannot protect your daughter. She cannot protect you. But your genuine conversation with her does protect her. Not, I won't even say will, it does. And when red lights come up or when warning alarms go off, if you wish to protect your daughter and help your daughter be free, then you have to completely embrace the warning, the red lights. If you don't embrace the red lights, the warnings about some harm coming to you. If you don't fully sit with that and be with that, you limit your ability in the practice of protecting her.


And it's difficult to fully embrace a warning sign, a red light about the possibility that someone who you love so much will get harmed. But if you do, or if I do, if I can not get knocked off my seat and be there with the warning light, then I'm ready. I'm offering her myself to meet. I'm not offering myself to control her so that she doesn't get hurt. I'm offering myself for her to meet. I don't know when she's going to meet me but I'm working on being the person I am so that I'm ready to meet her and if she ever wants to meet me here I am and I'm and I'm not conveying to her and I am conveying to her that I respect her while I'm worried about her and the way I respect her and I also I'm not trying to get rid of my worry or get her to be different so I won't worry I am completely with my worry


And I, I, I do worry that she will get hurt. And that's who I am. And I need to be that person completely. So I can, so she can talk to me and not, as we say, leak out from not being completely the worrying mother to leak out. And that scares her when you leak. She wants to leak that I'm not being totally yeah. Yeah, you're not being totally you're not being totally some of your worry or some of your wish. So totally wish her to be protected and totally were totally worried that she might not be whatever's on the whatever on the deck at the time. Now, I'm just wishing for her safety and her happiness. And I want to do that completely. And then there's no leaking. But if I wish her well and don't do it completely, then it leaks out and makes her feel like I'm trying to control her into being happy. She does not want you to be making her happy.


She wants you to show her how to be who she is. And when she does that, she's doing her job and then together you're doing the protecting her and you and all beings. But it is hard. It is hard when slightest little scratch on her is hard. But when the scratch happens, if it does, or when you're afraid of it happening, you can be totally afraid. And understanding that that's your job, is to be totally afraid when you're afraid. and totally wish her well when that's happening with nothing left over to manipulate. You're welcome.


Our next offering is from Angela. Hello, Rev. Hello, Angela. Hello, Great Assembly. I am totally afraid. And I am totally sitting here in fear. And it's taken me a while to be able to express that without trembling, which I am trembling a little presently. I think it's possible to be totally trembling. And when you're totally trembling, you're not moving. You're just completely with the tremble.


Thank you. You're welcome. I have a story to share with the assembly. And it's possible. It occurred to me during and after this story that this could be enlightened activity. And then, well, I'll tell the story first. I was returning from Houston and I had three flights, Houston to Dallas, and then Dallas to Phoenix, and then Phoenix to Monterey. On the first flight, Houston to Dallas, I sat next to a young woman who didn't speak English, and I don't speak Spanish, but she had a translation app on her phone. And so she asked me as soon as she plopped down in the seat, and I could feel her anxiety.


And she actually was FaceTiming with her mother in Spanish. And she texts to me, can you play with me? And then I looked at her and then she, can you help me? And I responded, yes. And- But when she said, can you play with me? Yeah. That was wonderful. Because that's how to help her, is to play with her. Correct. Yes, I see. I see that. Because she's not feeling very playful, it sounds like. No, no. But she really asked for the right thing. Yeah. And I actually noticed how I wasn't sure. You know, maybe I can help, maybe I can't. That's kind of playful. Yeah. Maybe I can, maybe I can't. Yeah, I want to, but I don't know if I can.


Right. People sometimes ask me, can you help me? I say, I don't know. I want to. Yes, you do. You do. Yeah. And and then we were texting back and forth. I was looking at her ticket and explaining. And then I had said I've not been to this airport either. I've not been to the Dallas Airport either. And so let's do this together. I said, we'll do this. We'll get home together. Yeah, good. That sounds like enlightened activity getting home together. Yeah, I aspire. To getting home together. In other words, I inspired to Buddha activity. And then I'll go on to the next, so this doesn't end up being too long. But we did find our way, and we had different terminals, but we took the train together and continued translation.


And then other people were also very helpful, which was wonderful to see that, yeah, there is a lot going on that's heavy. that I find to be heavy hearted in the world now, but there's also still very genuine, there's a lot of warmth and people are willing to help. And so that was wonderful to be a part of and to witness. The next flight was Dallas to Phoenix. And I was on the aisle and this boy appeared with this big box and a cowboy hat on his head. And he said, excuse me, ma'am. And he sat down in the middle seat. And we sat there for a minute or two. And I said, excuse me, I don't mean to be in your business, but I don't think the flight attendants are going to allow you to hold that box in your lap.


And he said, oh, well, there doesn't seem to be any place to put it in the overhead compartments. And I said, well, I think there's room further back. Would you like me to take the hat box? And he said, oh, no, ma'am, I'll do that. So he did, and he came back, and then he introduced himself. And he's an 18-year-old pro rodeo bull rider. And, and we had a wonderful conversation on the way to Phoenix. And, um, I brought up, um, living in the question and that I aspire to live in the question. And so he found that to be helpful and he thanked me for that. And so some enlightening activity, you know, and he shared his Instagram account with me and He was so pleasant and he was so respectful and he just was so full of gratitude, this boy.


It was, yeah, it was just a wonderful, yeah, wonderful experience. And then the third flight from Phoenix to Monterey, I sat next to a man who has retired as a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School. in electrical engineering. And I immediately thought, Angela, you're out of your league here. But yet, I watched myself be kind to my stories of inadequacy, and that I wouldn't have anything to contribute to such a person of high intellect. We had a wonderful conversation and I took care of my unskillfulness and yeah, it just, you know, it was so wonderful to be present and open and not hear about who he was and then just close down, you know, and pick up my book or, you know, whatever, but to be there in,


the discomfort in the dynamic situation. And not Ann, just it, I felt it was enlightened activity. I want the final part that I wanna share is when I got off the plane in Monterey, I found myself to be giddy, excited, about this travel home. And it wasn't until Charlotta and you were talking with the assembly. And I don't remember what she said, but I have been practicing some time. And to, I noticed that I just now this morning recognized that that excitement is a bit of grasping, you know, like I'm, I might be grasping to this enlightened activity.


And so I just wanted to share that. And I'm sorry for doing that. I'm sorry. And I wish to be aware when that excitement comes up and to not, to pay attention to it and to care for it so that I can be fully ready for whatever happens next. Thank you. Thank you. Wait a minute, please. So I thought those were wonderful stories. And I feel like there were stories, I felt in the stories that you'd fulfilled your responsibility quite well of being in your seat.


Being in your seat in the first flight, the second flight, and the third flight. And I think all three times, it was somewhat challenging for you to be in your seat. But you were in your seat. And that's part of Buddha activity. The you part of it is you being in your seat. So that was great that you did that. And then afterwards, when you were giddy about those three examples of you being in your seat, then you noticed a little bit that you were maybe grasping how it was when you were being in your seat. Thank you. That's yes. And what came to mind was that and in times like that when you're being in your seat. And maybe with somebody else who's being in his seat or her seat at those moments that the conversation between you that's the Buddha activity.


But the way I see it. Or the way she sees it. That's not the Buddha activity. The conversation between the way you see it and the way she sees it, that's the Buddha activity. But the way you saw it was wonderful. And the way you saw it, I think, came along with you being able to be in your seat. and helping them be in their seat. And when they were in their seat and you were in your seat, there the Buddha activities realized. The tricky part is to say that the Buddha activity is this, misses the point. Right. And in wonderful times like that, we might say, hey, this is Buddha activity.


But no, that misses it. This is my contribution to the meeting. And I'm so happy to make this contribution. And I'm totally giving myself to getting home together with this lady. That's where I'm at. And I'm so happy to do it wholeheartedly. Yes, that's great. And you've learned how to do that, Angela, because you've been practicing a long time. You know how to sit in your seat. even if the seat's trembling, that's great. But that's not Buddha activity, because you can point at that and say, this is Buddha activity. No, that misses it. It is actually her sitting in her seat, you sitting in your seat, and getting home together without pointing at anything. But if you point at something, in these wonderful stories, I could imagine getting giddy if I pointed to these stories and then said, and not only were they wonderful, but they were Buddha activity.


So they're wonderful, I'm thankful, and I don't know what Buddha activity is, but that's what I'm here for. So thank you so much. Okay, thank you. Our next offering is from Kate and Paul page. Good morning. Good morning. It's Kate this morning. Kate. So, Looking at another facet from what Angela was talking about, when I aspire in an activity to be skillful, but my judgment of myself is that I'm not, how does that fit into, or when multiple


members engaging in an activity are unskillful. How does that fit into good activity? Well, did you say you aspire to be skillful and this thought arises in you sometimes of thinking maybe you're not? Yeah. So, I would say if you aspire to be skillful, you still may have thoughts arising in your mind like, I'm not skillful. Or let's just keep it simple. I aspire to be skillful, and now I have a thought in my mind that I'm not skillful. So if you aspire to be skillful, then when thoughts that you're not skillful arise, then it would be appropriate for you to be completely with that thought, I'm not skillful. and completely means you respect it, you listen to it, you're upright with it, you don't try to get rid of it, you really let it be and you're completely there with it, that would be the skillful thing to do at that moment.


In the next moment, you might confess, oh, again, I feel sorry that I was unskillful. be completely sorry that you're unskillful. So, right now, I'm having, I'm having feelings of, I'm not practiced at asking questions in this public situation and I don't feel confident and I don't feel skillful and and I and I'm making a judgment. Yeah. I hear that. And if you wish to be skillful, then what you just did, it seems appropriate that you've noticed these thoughts in your mind. And those thoughts, if you take good care of them, that's skillful. And if by any chance a thought arose in your mind, like, wow, I'm pretty skillful at asking questions in public situations. If that thought ever arose, then that would be the thought


which you would really allow and respect and be there for. That way of being with your thoughts is skillful and opens to you being able to meet others who are doing the same work. of being whatever they are. Like, I guess, you might have the thought, I'm not so skillful at asking questions in public. And you might meet one of these other people who think I'm really skillful at asking questions in public. So if you both respect your thoughts, which are opposite, then neither one of you will attach to them. And then you can meet. But if you don't respect and care for your thoughts, like for example, I'm not skillful, then you're not ready to be skillful. Or I could say you're not being skillful. If you don't respect your thoughts, that's not skillful.


But respecting your thoughts and honoring them and being upright with them, that is skillful. whatever the dial of your thoughts is turned to, whatever the judgment, that's an opportunity for practice. And so, is any activity potentially... Well, any activity is potentially enlightened Buddha activity, but is any activity always? I don't think so. because the activity has to be fully honored. Any activity that's not honored, closes the door on Buddha activity. Any activity that is honored and respected and practiced with uprightly, opens the door to Buddha activity. And that's a skillful way to be with whatever thoughts are.


But the thoughts themselves, there's no thoughts themselves. Whatever arises, if we don't take care of it, that's unskillful. And if we do take care of it, it is skillful. So a mean thought isn't Buddha activity, but a mean thought cared for wholeheartedly and compassionately, that's the one side of the Buddha activity. So if I have a mean thought about something, If I completely exert that thought, which means I'm gentle with it, respectful of it, upright with it, honest about it, then I'm ready to meet somebody else who's got some other thought, maybe another person who has a mean thought. And we two people who have mean thoughts, who are skillful with our mean thoughts, we can meet together and have a conversation which protects beings. It's the same for somebody, two people had,


not, you know, loving thoughts, if they didn't take care of them, those loving thoughts, that would not be skillful. Even though it's a nice thought, I wish you well. If I don't take care of that, that's not skillful. Whatever my thoughts, I wish you well, I wish you ill, whatever my thoughts, they all are calling for me to be totally there for them. And then that's the first step in getting ready to meet other people. who are doing the same work. Thank you. Thank you. Our next offering is from Jim. Hearing Charlotte's confession inspires me to approach my own to inquire into my own.


Some years ago, I was living in a Zen monastery. I was told it was the first co-ed Zen monastery. I don't know if it is or was. But nevertheless, men and women were practicing there together, two of which fell in love with one another and asked the abbot to perform a wedding ceremony. The abbot during this ceremony said, we're bringing together the North and the South, the groom being from the Northern New England seaboard and the bride being from the Carolinas or someplace. And the bride blurted out, yeah, and it's going to be a real civil war. And then the abbot said, well, may your civil war Be a civil war.


And I think my confession is leaning in the direction of not believing that engagement is the way home. I've had a real preference, I guess, for heaven or divine space. And that's been slowly changing. But my confession is I really like that happy place. I hear you. So there's a whole lot that I could say more about that, but I'm I feel a real desire to continue exploring that issue with you.


Me too. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Our next offering is from Marjorie. Good morning. Good morning. Senior memory affects the accuracy of what happened when, but my memory is that last time I spoke, you had been talking about weeping. although there had also been something about swimming. And I very strongly picked the swimming. I said, that one works for me. And quickly got off. And afterwards, I felt it had been rude, perhaps even perceived by some, although I felt probably not you as disrespectful.


And I have very high respect for you. and also for people who feel I may have said something disrespectful. Good. Today, I am very much moved by what I understand as your identifying one being meeting another. So I'm inside this being, so it's for me always meeting, the activity of meeting others, and I'm reminded of enlightenment being intimacy of all beings. But I also feel as though it really works for me to, I feel as though I have, okay, so I come from


a military as well as a doctor's family. Marching orders is a joke. Feeling as though, oh, if I just pay attention, I can just keep practicing paying attention to what's going on with the beings around me or in front of me or that I perceive to be. I'm reminded of something I think you said also in the last time that we were together, the assembly, and that I have heard you say at least at one other time. And so I feel that regardless of, I don't know how you think about it, but you presented a question of how do we think about this? And the story is going as a guest, having become transmitted Zen teacher and Roshi, to see a Roshi in Japan you had seen before, who had been so clearly functional before, but this time, in your account, you wanted us, I think, to, so how do you think about this Zen assembly?


Beloved Roshi, Honored Roshi, is drooling, clearly having been dressed by his attendants, being told kindly, oh look Roshi, Reb Roshi, or however they were identified, has come to visit. And so I realize that's, for me anyway, feels like, and since a good part of my life has been caregiving for beloved elders or others who were in enough extremity so that their responses might be different from how they had been before. It's kind of like a strong signal. Oh, I should pay attention to this being clearly practicing, managing to sit up or not lying down. of what it is right now between me and this person, or this being, or I have a photo from my cousin, beloved cousin who died a few years ago, where this sage is down on the ground, basically meeting a turtle who's looking at him, and they're meeting with their different consciousnesses.


So, and then I hear everybody else's, everybody who's spoken before me, and it all feels as though everybody's participating in this space in between you and them, you and them in the Assembly, and I feel so happy. So thank you so much. And if I could just comment on that story about meeting this very old Zen teacher. So you said before he was functioning and he was, he was functioning, he could walk, he could talk, he could do beautiful calligraphy, he could laugh. He, you know, he was, he was a ball. However, when I met him the last time, he was still functioning.


Yes. The way he was functioning was he couldn't walk. Yes. He couldn't talk. His eyes were watering. His mouth was drooling and he was functioning and he was completely that way. But that's not the way most people think of a Zen Master. And that's right. That's not a Zen Master. But the way he was before is also not a Zen Master. The Zen master was that when he, when the drooling old man met me in that meeting, there was the deep question, what is Zen? That's great function. It came out of there. So he was functioning before, but in a way when he was in this new form, it was almost more encouraging. and more deeply, more deeply. So that's another story of leaping and meeting.


And respectfully swimming. And respectfully swimming, yeah. Nice story and I'm sticking to it. Okay. Our next offering is from Maggie. Hello, Rev. Nice to see you. Before I raise my question, I let Leslie to greet the assembly. Greetings, Rev. Greetings, everyone there. My name is Leslie, and I've practiced with many of you years ago in Green Gulch, and I just wanted to express a a deep gratitude and how I've been deeply moved by so many of you in my life. So I just wanted to say that. Thank you for the gift, Leslie. Leslie is our great tensor in the session.


Hello, Thomas. That's not Thomas. He's doing sitting in the zendo. My name is Dirk. He is Dirk from Germany. Nice to meet you. Nice to be with you here in hyperspace as we are so far away. It's a pleasure to listen and to see you all over there. Yeah. And one of the groups here is called the Cloud Zendo. This is kind of like the Cloud Zendo. Hello, also great assembly. And my question is related to the book, The Third Turning of the Wheel. There was one point, you mentioned it several times, which I'm not sure whether I understand it.


So that is the mind that is contemplated by any mind. I don't have particular context at this moment, but this is a recommendation for practice from the book to look at the mind that is contemplated by any mind. My question is, there are two minds in this sentence, not even a sentence, but what is the first mind? And what is the any mind? I have some understanding but I would like to hear your explanation about these two minds that you mentioned. I would say a simple answer and this is not an answer like to believe in. It's another thing. You've been contemplating the sutra.


The sutra says contemplate the mind which is contemplated by any mind. Is that right? Yeah. So the instruction is to contemplate the mind that all minds are contemplating. Right? Yeah. So what I would suggest for now for your consideration is the instruction is to contemplate and the mind that hears that instruction and then tries to contemplate is one of the minds, is a particular mind, this one right now. Now, if we shifted to another instruction for another state of consciousness, that would be a different mind. And what it is saying is for these different minds that we have, our minds are changing all the time. Our conscious mind is constantly changing.


So the message to our constantly changing conscious mind is, to think about or contemplate the mind which all these minds are contemplating. So in that book it's saying we talk about mind, consciousness and intellect. Consciousness is the mind that's being spoken to by that instruction. So the conscious mind is being told, mind which is contemplated by all means. And I would say that in mind, consciousness, and intellect, it's being told, use the consciousness to contemplate the mind. And what is the mind in that book? It is the storehouse consciousness. So the instruction could be translated as, use the consciousness to contemplate the unconscious. Because


The conscious minds are always contemplating the unconscious. They're all contemplating that. They're looking at the unconscious and then they're seeing appearances or representations of the unconscious. But no matter what our conscious mind we have, we're always looking, whatever conscious mind we have, we're always looking at the unconscious. We can't see it. or the appearance of unconscious? Yeah, we're looking at the appearances of the unconscious. But the instruction is, remember, whatever appearance you're contemplating, this is something that's given to you by the unconscious. So that's a way to understand that. And the other one, the intellect, is partly the way we understand, the way we receive this instruction in our consciousness and apply it. And your question kind of comes from that. intellect.


So that simple interpretation would be the mind that's contemplated by all consciousnesses, that's the mind. And in mind, consciousness and intellect. Try that out. Thank you. You're welcome. Now, Okay, we're gonna I need to stop at noon, and I have time for one more question. I think. Okay, our next offering or is from Tracy. I am so glad that that last session was not recorded, and that this one is doing it again. mind-blowing for me, this session. Both what you've said and what the other members of the Sangha have said.


I don't know if it's you or me or the times, but I'm good overwhelmed by the richness of this meeting. In particular, I appreciated your reminding us something that I try to remember a thousand times a day about not believing my stories about people. I do it, I have to do it all the time. But what I didn't hear you say initially was a reminder to not believe our stories about things and these times, for example. And so a little bit later in the conversation, I do think you spoke to that some and that's helpful. A place where I still have a question or I'm deeply engaging is when you say, Yes, stand up for my story without grasping it. I have absolutely no way to understand what that means. I actually think I get it, but I can't understand that.


What you just said, you said, I have no way to understand that. Is that what you just said? Yeah, I get it, but I can't understand it. Okay, so I get it. That's the story. So let's respect that one. and then I can't understand it, let's respect that one. And in both cases, if you just said, I get it, we could use that one and that would be enough. So, I don't wanna believe the story, I get it. But I wanna respect the story, I get it. I wanna be upright with the story, I get it. I do not wanna grasp that story, I get it. But I do want to respect and honor that story and be upright with it. Okay, then move on to the next one. What was the next one? I have what? That I get it and I don't understand it.


So, I don't understand it is the next story. And I don't want to believe that one either. But also, I don't want to push it away. I want to honor. I have no way to understand it. Honor that that's the practice so you can be free of I get it. Yeah, I'm free. We're free together. I'm ready to meet somebody now. I get it and now I don't understand it do the same with that and be free of I don't understand it and being free of those two stories will help you remember not to believe stories. Other stories. But those two are very basic, right? Now, it may seem counterintuitive to ask this right now, but I realized I'm starving for your story about these times. Since since you've just told me I shouldn't believe it anyway, whatever you say, but I realized coming into this meeting today and my own relationship with my own thoughts and stories about the world and what's happening in the world.


I realized God, I really want to know, Reb, what's your story about these times? My story is, like everybody else's, constantly changing. And I aspire to realize the story that I want to include all the stories. I want to include Putin's story, Trump's story, Biden's story, Boris Johnson's story, murderer's story, I want to include everybody's story. That's my aspiration. My story is just one of them. And mine's changing all the time. But my basic story is I want to include all the stories and liberate all the stories. That's my basic story. And may my aspiration and your aspiration


Equally penetrate every being in place with the true merit of Buddha's way. Beings are numberless. We vow to save them. Afflictions are inexhaustible. We vow to cut through and liberate them. Dharma gates are boundless. We vow to enter them. The Buddha way is unsurpassable. We vow to become it. Thank you so much, everybody, for coming to the Clouds Endo. Thank you.