The Womb of the Tathagata #3: Our Buddha Nature Precepts

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Origins of the Bodhisattva precepts; development and commentaries; the reasons for Buddhas appearing in this world.

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The last time we were here, I brought up some, in some senses, some new teaching opportunities. They're actually new to us here, and in some other ways they're really ancient teachings. I've heard for a while, and some of you may have heard, that the so-called Zen tradition is deeply influenced, deeply informed by the teachings of certain


great vehicle, Mahayana vehicle, teachings, scriptures. For example, one of the ones that's very influential, which everybody is not surprised to hear, is the Heart Sutra, and the Heart Sutra of Perfect Wisdom. The Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Scripture, which is recited in Zen training temples, almost every day. In China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and in various countries in the West now, the Heart Sutra. And then another very influential scripture in the Zen tradition is called the Flower Adornment Scripture, the Avatamsaka Sutra. Another very influential scripture is the Nirvana scripture, the Mahaparinirvana scripture of the Mahayana tradition.


And another scripture, which is not so often mentioned, which is in the background of the Zen tradition is called the Brahmanet Sutra. In Pali and Sanskrit it's called Brahmajala Sutra or Brahmajala Sutta. There's a Pali version of it. a Sanskrit version of it that are concerned with various kinds of concentration practices, but there's a Mahayana version of it which is really very different, the Brahman-Net Sutra. It's about the Mahayana teachings and particularly about the Bodhisattva precepts.


And most people who study Zen in the West have not heard about this scripture and have not studied it. But I feel like it's good for us to know about the background of the tradition, even though we never heard of certain aspects of the background. in Japanese monasteries, and I don't know to what extent in Korean and Chinese monasteries, Zen monasteries, they have a ceremony which they do twice a month, where they recite the Bodhisattva precepts. where they listen to the teachings about Bodhisattva precepts, and where they confess all their ancient twisted karma.


So we do that ceremony in the San Francisco Zen Center, and it's done at some other Zen centers around the country. We do it like once a month on the full moon. And I heard at some point that in Asia, at that ceremony, they recite this scripture, this Brahman-net scripture. But we have not been doing it so far at the San Francisco Zen Center. Still, even though we haven't been doing it, in the background of the tradition which we have received from Asia is this scripture, which is the main teaching, most influential teaching on Bodhisattva precepts.


And last month I brought it up and also I told people how they could find the scripture online. Did some of you find it? Yeah. And if anybody else wants to find it, you can find it too. It's online. You just look it up under Brahman, that sutra, and you'll find a PDF and you can read it. So I'm bringing it up again. I just had this image of like, I took a couple classes on Tanka painting years ago. And the class started out by the teacher of the class gave us a template of a Buddha. And it's kind of a little bit like paint by numbers.


in these different ways you can draw the figure by following these lines. And yeah, you could draw quite a nice Buddha with this template that they gave us. So you draw in the lines, triangles and circles, and then and then you draw in a next level of detail, next level of detail, and you gradually can build in this whole, this pretty nice-looking tanka painting. It's not by freehand, it's like filling in the parts and the colors. But you start by just making the overall structure. So I'm starting by making the overall structure of this teaching. of this kind of big picture of the background, the philosophical background of the Bodhisattva precepts.


So in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, in the Mahayana tradition, one of the most famous statements in the sutra is all living beings without exception are the Buddha nature or usually translated as possessed Buddha nature. And then in the Flower of Dharma scripture, there's a chapter on the manifestation of Buddha, manifestation of the Tathagata, the Thus Come One. And in that chapter, it says over and over something like, now I see, the Buddha is saying, now I see all living beings fully possessed


the wisdom and virtues of the Buddhas." That statement's made repeatedly, and then after some of the times it's said, it says, however, because of misconceptions and attachments, they don't realize it. And then again, sometimes it says after that, therefore, I'm here to teach them about this way that they're fully possessed the wisdom and virtues of the Buddha and of course also to help them let go of their misconceptions and attachments so that they can realize it. The point of view is fundamentally already you fully possess the most wonderful nature.


But also superficially we may have some problems realizing that. So in this Brahmananda Sutra The first part of the sutra is a presentation of forty stages, forty bodhisattva stages, which are the ten departures for the destination, the ten wholesome states of mind, the ten adamantine or vajra-like states of mind, and the ten grounds of bodhisattvas.


So these are 40 stages of bodhisattva stages as the background of the bodhisattva precepts. And the second half of the sutra is about the precepts. There's a preface to the listing of the precepts. And the precepts have 10 major precepts and 48 minor precepts. And in the preface, which is actually a multi-dimensional preface, One of the statements that I brought up last time and I'll bring up again is that these bodhisattva precepts are for all living beings.


That's what these precepts are for. They're for all living beings whose original nature is pure. These precepts are for everybody, every living being that has a body, that has conscious and unconscious cognitive processes and intellect. That's who these precepts are for. And all these beings, their original nature is pure. Before the precepts are specifically introduced, there are various sections, and one of the sections is called exhortation.


Actually, in the scripture, in the original, it doesn't have the heading exhortation. This exhortation is not written in the scripture, but commentators have added the word exhortation. And the exhortation goes something like this, The radiant adamantine precepts are the source of all Buddhas. The radiant adamantine And literally it says, original source of all Buddhas. And then it also says, it's also the original source of all Bodhisattvas.


It's the Buddha nature seed. These precepts are the Buddha nature seed. All those who have intellect, consciousness, body, and mind are all encompassed by these Buddha nature precepts. It is precisely because of these ever-present causes, in the form of the Bodhisattva precepts, that there is, without fail, always, abiding in the body of the Dharma. In this way, the ten major Bodhisattva precepts appear in the world.


And these Dharma precepts of the three times are reverently received and upheld by all sentient beings. Okay, I'll do this now. So, there's this book called Being Upright, which is called Being Upright.


That's the title, and there's a subtitle which says something like, Zen Meditation and Bodhisattva Precepts. It says and Bodhisattva precepts, but the message of the book is Zen meditation is Bodhisattva precepts. And Zen meditation is shorthand for Zen. No, it's a long version of Zen. Zen is sometimes called Zen, and sometimes it's called Zen meditation. And sometimes it's called Zen practice. Zen, according to that book, being upright, Zen is the Bodhisattva precepts. What are the Bodhisattva precepts again, do you remember? They are the original source of all Buddhas. Have you ever heard that before?


Yes. I just said it to you a minute ago, but you didn't hear it, so I'll say it again. The Bodhisattva precepts are the original source of all Buddhas. Have you heard that before? The Buddha says in this scripture, I'm going to recite this scripture. And so the Buddha says over and over, the Bodhisattva precepts are the source of the original source of all Buddhas. The Buddha says, these precepts are the source of me and my friends, my cohort, my Buddha cohort. The source of us Buddhas is these Bodhisattva precepts. And the source of the Bodhisattvas is the Bodhisattva precepts. These Bodhisattva precepts are the Buddha seed. So that book says Zen and Bodhisattva Precepts, Zen Meditation.


But really it's Zen Meditation is the Bodhisattva Precepts, which means Zen Meditation is the original source of all Buddhas. The original source of all Buddhas is Zen Meditation. That's what that book says. Some other people write other books which says something else, but this book is saying the Bodhisattva precepts are Zen meditation and vice versa. And that book doesn't say as much as this sutra says, and partly the reason it doesn't say is I didn't see this sutra at the time of making that book. If there was a new edition, Maybe there should be another book called Being Upright 2, which points out that the original source of all Buddhism bodhisattvas is the bodhisattva precepts, and that's what Zen meditation is.


Back when I wrote the book, I told a story about how the book came to be. And one story is that I heard about the Bodhisattva precepts, like when I was ordained, I heard about them. I recited them. I recited the 16 Bodhisattva precepts of this particular school of Bodhisattva precepts. So someone might say, and maybe I'll just say it, just to say it, that all the schools of Mahayana Buddhism, the source of them is the Bodhisattva precepts. And so the Soto Zen school, the source of it is the Bodhisattva precepts. And as part of the practice of Zen, we recite the precepts, which are the source of the school. And I recited them, I didn't really notice that much. I don't even remember if it was in English or not.


I think maybe it was in Japanese. Anyway, over the years I heard about the Bodhisattva Precepts and I noticed that we didn't discuss them very much at Zen Center. Looking back now, I see that Suzuki Roshi talked about the Bodhisattva Precepts the last summer of his life. And I attended those lectures and maybe because I attended them I heard the word Bodhisattva Precept a little bit. But basically he didn't talk about them that much except that last summer. And some of you can research the archives and see if that's so. But I didn't hear about, I don't see much teaching from Suzuki Roshi about the Bodhisattva precepts, which are what? What are they? What? Yeah, they're the original source of all Buddhas. He didn't talk about them that much until the last summer of his life.


And some of us hardly even noticed that he was talking about it when he was talking about it. But now we kind of look back, oh yeah. Anyway, I heard about these precepts, but I didn't hear any Zen teachings about these precepts. I couldn't think of any. And so I asked Katagiri Roshi one time, what about that? Are there some scriptures about this, some teachings about this? And he told me about a book, which was called in Japanese, Zen Kaisho, which means essence of Zen precepts, which is essence of Zen Bodhisattva precepts. And he told me at that time, but if you read the book, it won't necessarily sound like precepts. And in a way, it didn't. But in a way it did. So I asked Kaz Tanahashi to help me, or me help him, translate it from Japanese and Chinese into English.


And we did, we translated it. And... And then after we translated it, he said, you should give a modern commentary on this about 800-year-old text. So I did. And then after I gave the commentary, somebody said to me, we'd like to publish a book by you. And I said, oh. Well, I said, I just gave some talks on the Bodhisattva precepts, and maybe that would be good, because people have not heard about these Bodhisattva precepts, so maybe it'd be good to put that out there into the Zen world, that there's these Bodhisattva precepts, which people don't seem to notice are there. And so we made this book.


So the structure of this book that I saw at the time was, that there's these 16 Bodhisattva precepts that were put together, it seems, by the great founder of Soto Zen in Japan, Ehei Dogen, the master Dharma teacher, Ehei Dogen, that he put together these 16 Bodhisattva precepts as the precepts to be transmitted in this school, which we are still transmitting, 16 Bodhisattva precepts. There's a piece of paper over there, which there's some copies of those 16 precepts if you'd like to see what they are. But I told you before what they are, right? They're the three refuge precepts. There's the three pure precepts. And there's the 10 major Bodhisattva precepts.


And the ten major Bodhisattva precepts are the ten major Bodhisattva precepts of this scripture. But in this scripture there's 48 minor ones which follow it. But somehow Dogen Zenji and his friends put together, they took the ten from this scripture and suffixed, you know, prefixed the ten with the three refuges and made the three refuges the first three precepts, and then the next three precepts they made the three basic threefold bodhisattva precepts, which are to embrace and sustain the forms and ceremonies, to embrace and sustain all wholesome activities, and to embrace and sustain all beings, those three pure precepts of bodhisattvas. And then these 10 major Bodhisattva precepts make 16. So, I pointed out that in this book, the foundation of these talks on the Bodhisattva precepts is the Bodhisattva precepts.


The book, Being Upright, is about the Bodhisattva precepts, which are the original source of all Buddhas, the books being uprights about the original source of all Buddhas. The book is about Zen practice which is the original source of all Buddhas. Then the next thing that the book is based on is commentary on those Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts written by the person who put them together, Ehe Dogen. And this commentary on the Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts is called, in Japanese, Kyoju Kaimon, which means Essay on the Teaching and Conferring of the Precepts.


brackets on the Bodhisattva precepts. So this was written by Dogen Zenji. And this text is in the Zenkai Show. So the thing I've written is constructed, its origin, its source, is the 16 Bodhisattva precepts. Its origin, its source, is the origin and source of all Buddhas. And then it's also based on Dogen Zenji's commentary on these precepts. But then after Dogen Zenji wrote this Kyoju Kaimon, some of his disciples made commentaries on the Kyoju Kaimon. Some of his disciples actually lived with him. and talked to him about this Kyoju Kaiman, which he wrote.


They then wrote a commentary on this Kyoju Kaiman. And those disciples are named Senne and Kyogo. And the commentary they wrote on the Kyoju Kaiman-Bodhisattva Precepts is called Zen Kaisho, Essence of Zen Precepts. And then that inspired me to give those talks Now, what I'm telling you is something that I did not know when I was doing that work, which is that this Kyoju Kaimon is based on the Bodhisattva Precepts, but it's also based on this sutra. So in a way, between the 16 Bodhisattva Precepts and Dogen Zenji's Kyoju Kaimon is this sutra. which I now see, that really it's the original source of all Buddhas, the Bodhisattva precepts, the Sutra, Kyojikaimon, Zenkaisho,


You may not remember what I just said, but it's been recorded, I guess. And I can go over it again and again until we all understand what I'm saying. Here's a diagram of it. But in the diagram, I wrote another layer. At the center, I wrote Buddha Mind equals Bodhisattva Precepts. That's at the center of the whole thing. And I also wrote, Buddha Mind is the Zen tradition. The Zen tradition is about face-to-face transmission of the Buddha Mind. but it's also, of course, about face-to-face transmission of the Bodhisattva precepts.


That's at the center. This face-to-face conversation among all beings, among all of us, this conversation we're all having, is the mind of all Buddhas. The conversation which we're having is fundamentally and originally the Bodhisattva precepts. And then around the next layer, around this Buddha mind, are these Mahayana sutras. And I just told you about this one, right? This is one of the Mahayana sutras, which is based on what? The Buddha mind. The Buddha mind, in a way, is not a scripture. All these wonderful scriptures are not the Buddha mind, but from the Buddha mind, these sutras come out.


Somebody appears in the world and starts talking. And we call it Shakyamuni Buddha. started talking. He appeared in the world and talked. And then what he said was a scripture. But the scripture was actually based on something silent and inconceivable. The scriptures are based on Buddha mind. But Buddha mind can talk. And the talk of the Buddha mind is the scriptures. And there's the early scriptures that came, the ones that are written down in Pali and Sanskrit, which taught people how to practice. Those are scriptures which came from the Buddha mind. They're scriptures that came from the Bodhisattva precept, even though some of them didn't mention the Bodhisattva precepts. But I'm not synthesizing so much the ones that didn't mention the Bodhisattva precepts.


I'm emphasizing the ones that did. And the ones that did are the Brahmanet Sutra, the Mahayana Brahmanet Sutra. It does mention the Bodhisattva precepts. It's heavily into mentioning the Bodhisattva precepts. Over and over, Bodhisattva precepts are Buddha nature precepts. and all living beings fully possess Buddha nature. So these precepts are for all living beings. So it's also based on or expressed through the Nirvana Sutra and the Avatamsaka Sutra. So those two sutras together with this sutra are around the Buddha mind. And then around that Among those Mahayana sutras we have the essay on teaching and conferring the Bodhisattva precepts by Dogen, and around that we have the essence of Zen precepts written by his students, and around that we have our life, which is us studying all of that now.


We can forget about and Suzuki Roshi, and the Nirvana Sutra, and the Avatamsaka Sutra, and Zenkaisho, and Kyoju Kaimo, and Brahman. We can forget about that, and we can just directly contemplate the original source of all Buddhas, the sixteen Bodhisattva precepts. We can just look at it directly, but I just thought I might mention that there's these other circles of resonance surrounding these precepts, which are available to us to help us to promote our meditation on the Buddha mind, which is the Bodhisattva precepts, or to meditate on the Bodhisattva precepts, which is the Buddha mind. So I mentioned to you that the Buddha said, you know, that the radiant, indestructible Vajra precepts are the source of all Buddhas, the origin of all bodhisattvas, and the seed of Buddha nature.


All sentient beings, without exception, possess Buddha nature. And then he says, that it is precisely because of these ever-present causes. What are the causes? The precepts. The Bodhisattva precepts, which, what is it? The origin of all Buddhas. Because of the original source of all Buddhas, the Bodhisattva precepts, because of that, there is, without exception, abiding in the Dharma body. In this way, the ten, here's another word for you to learn, the ten pratimokshas, which means the ten things conducive to liberation, the ten pratimokshas appear, guess where?


Guess where? Huh? What? Well, those aren't the bodhisattva precepts. The ten prakī-mokṣas are the first ten bodhisattva precepts. So these first ten bodhisattva precepts appear, guess where? What? Where? This is the brahmananda sutra. This is the brahmananda sutra, and the brahmananda sutra says, because of these causes, what are causes? Because of the original source of all Buddhas, These Bodhisattva precepts, which the first ten are called the Ten Pratimokshas, they appear, guess where? New York Times, everyday life. They appear in this world. They appear on Fox News. They appear in the White House. These Bodhisattva precepts appear in this world. How come?


Because they're the original source of all Buddhas, they appear in this world. In particular, the first ten, which are the first ten of this sutra, followed by 48 more, but they're the ten major ones of R16. They appear in the world because of this source, according to this scripture. Because that's the way we are, and because that's the way they are, they are we are. They are the way we are. And so they appear in the world where we are. How convenient. I might ask. I might say. I might suggest. And so I did. They appear in this world, and these dharma regulations are received and upheld with reverence and respect by all living beings in the three times.


Some of you have already done that. You have received and upheld these sixteen Bodhisattva precepts with reverence and respect, haven't you? All at once? All at once? One, two, three. Yes. And so at the end of Dogen Zenji's essay on teaching and conferring the precepts, it says, these are the sixteen bodhisattva precepts, these are the sixteen precepts of Buddha. We are instructed to receive with respect and reverence whenever they are taught. So here we can see Dogen Zenji taking a little snippet out of the sutra and putting it at the end of his essay. You're allowed to do that. You can pull out little parts of the sutra and put them into your essays.


They kind of ran into a problem, and then they would make a rule about it and say, OK, well, that's a precept now. And then they come into another practical situation and say, hmm, yeah, we've got to have a precept about that. And I remember this, and that there's various lists. There's 10, or there's 58, or there's 300 and something. But when you say that these precepts are the original source of all Buddhas, I understand that they didn't exist Buddha. And so now you're talking about them appearing in the world. I guess there's, I could, could you clarify here? Sure. I can clarify. Like the, what we're calling, like the conventional, like this is a precept, you know, What?


Are we talking about two sides of the thing here, or what? You can say two sides if you want to. So, the Buddha appeared in the world. And then, Charlie pointed out, he heard that he didn't give these precepts right away. Now, what was the source of the Buddha? The Bodhisattva precepts, according to this teaching, the Buddha, the source of the Buddha appearing in this world is the Bodhisattva precepts. And I just said to you that because Buddhas come from these precepts, the Buddha says here, because we Buddhas come from these precepts, because they're our original source, and also they're the original source of our bodhisattvas, because of that, and because all sentient beings are fully included in these precepts, the ten precepts appear in the world.


The Ten Precepts are not the source of all Buddhas. Well, they are, but it's not just the Ten Precepts that are the source of all Buddhas. But because of the Bodhisattva Precepts, which are the source of all Buddhas, the Bodhisattva Precepts in the form of the Ten Precepts appear in the world. So the Bodhisattva precepts are the original mind of Buddha. They're not confined to any language, any form. The Buddha mind is not limited to any form. Or any number. Or any number. Or any number. Or any word. And the source of this Buddha, which is not limited by any number or any word, the source of this, is called the Bodhisattva precepts. The Buddhas come from the precepts.


And then when you have a Buddha, then the Buddha tells you about the precepts. They tell you about where they came from. That's part of why I want to do this. I want to tell you where you came from. I want to tell you what your origin is as Bodhisattvas. Your origin is these Bodhisattva precepts. And because that's your origin, There's paper over there which has the 16 Bodhisattva precepts on it. And then the Buddha goes on to say, after telling you that when these precepts are being offered, we receive them with reverence and respect in past, present, and future. And then he says, I, who? I, the Buddha, will will now, once again, recite the chapter on the ten inexhaustible precepts treasure.


No, excuse me, not the ten. I will now recite the, yeah, ten inexhaustible precepts nature. Better translation, more flowing transmission maybe. The ten exhaustible precepts treasure, that's what it does say. And he says, for this great assembly, I'm going to now recite a scripture for you, a chapter from a scripture about the precepts. And he says, these are precepts for all sentient beings whose original nature is pure. The Buddha is now going to recite something on the precepts for us. And then he says, after he recites this, which I'm not going to read right now, he says, I will henceforth recite the Dharma precepts, which I just told you about, every half month.


And he says, you should recite them too. So Is there interplay between these ten precepts, which are the precept of not killing, of not stealing? Is there interaction between these ten things which are conducive to liberation and the Bodhisattva precepts? Yeah, these are Bodhisattva precepts. but they're things conducive to liberation, Bodhisattva precepts. There's also Bodhisattva precepts which are not visible or audible, where the Buddhas come from, but the Buddha also comes from the ten precepts. And if you want to pretend like you don't understand me, go ahead.


So, you want to work this one a little bit? The Buddhas come from the Bodhisattva precepts, and because they do, there appears in the world the Bodhisattva precepts. And in particular, there appear in the world the ten Pratimokshas. They appear in the world because of the Buddhas coming from the Bodhisattva precepts. which are the precepts of our true nature. So Buddhas come from the precepts of our true nature, and then they give us the precepts of our true nature. And then they tell us that they're gonna give them to us, but their giving to us, their gift to us, is a re-citation. They're citing these precepts, that they come from. And then they tell us to recite them.


And then they tell us, he tells us in the scripture, that after you receive them with reverence and respect, you should be like the Buddha and you should recite them. The Buddha recites them and gives them. We receive them and then we are encouraged by the Buddha to recite them. And we can recite them on the same schedule as Buddha, which has been done for a while. The recitation is done often every half month. But you could also recite every day, every hour. The Buddha said, I'm going to do it twice a month, and you should do it. But he didn't say twice a month. It's like self-receiving and employing Samadhi. It is self-receiving and employing Samadhi is the Bodhisattva precepts.


And the Bodhisattva precepts are that you receive the Bodhisattva. Part of the Bodhisattva precepts is that you're receiving them. Another part of the Bodhisattva precepts is that you're reciting them. You're giving them. So in the ceremony, the traditional ceremony, the preceptor recites the precepts. And the monks sit cross-legged with their hands in palms joined, and they listen to the precepts they receive, but they're also giving them. Because they are, their source is these precepts which now they're receiving and reciting. And one of the scary statements in here, a little scary, it's not all unscary, the Buddha says, if you receive the Bodhisattva precepts, which some of you have done, and you don't recite them, then you are not a Bodhisattva.


Now, if you haven't received them yet, and you don't recite them, no problem. But if you've gone to the trouble of receiving them, if you've actually been recognized that you've received them, they've been given to you, and then you receive them with reverence and respect, now that you've received them with reverence and respect, then be like the Buddha and recite them. And if you don't, you're not a bodhisattva. And you might say, well, that's kind of inconsistent, Buddha. Because you just said these precepts are for all living beings whose Original nature is pure. Why are you talking to us like that? We can discuss that. Okay, how are you doing? You okay now? Linda isn't.


Linda! Linda! Yes, Linda. It's okay if you want to pretend you didn't, or don't want to answer. If I want to pretend what? What can I pretend? Anything. Okay. I'll pretend like I'm saying, Linda, what are you going to pretend? I'm going to pretend to try to ask a question. Okay. Well, it seems like, as I'm listening to you, I'm feeling this is like a koan, because... Oh yeah, koan! What is a koan? What is koan? Koan, what is koan? Koan, what? A public case. It's a public case of what? Reality. It's a public case of reality. That's what a koan is. So, what's reality? Reality is that the original source of us, is these precepts. These precepts are the koan. Which is why Charlie's having a problem, because these precepts are a koan.


Yes? Yeah. So, I guess this is obvious, but... So, if the precepts are the source of all being, It doesn't say they're the source of all beings. It does not say that. Okay? Just to make things clear, it's not saying that. It's saying it's the source of all Buddhas and the source of all Bodhisattvas. That's what it's saying. It's different. That is. But given that a precept seems to be a construction, And the source of Buddha seems to be non-constructive. Yes. So that's really interesting. It is interesting. There seems to be unconstructed precepts and constructed precepts, doesn't it? But no, because how can there be a precept in the unconstructed other than maybe a law?


Yeah, how could it be? Yeah, maybe a law. Could a law be unconstructed? Laws kind of govern the unconstructed. They govern the unconstructed? Or does the unconstructed govern the laws? It's like a law. Yeah, we have this unconstructed, unconstructed stillness in which the Buddhas are living. So we have an unconstructed source, we have unconstructed origin of the constructed. And somewhere in between the unconstructed source and the constructed is the Buddhas, which are originally unconstructed, like us.


We're fundamentally unconstructed, and because And in the way that we're fundamentally unconstructed, Bodhisattva precepts, these constructed Bodhisattva precepts appear in the world where people are dealing with constructions. And one of the constructions we're dealing with is a teaching which tells us that originally, fundamentally, we are unconstructedness in stillness. We are immediate realizations originally, and that's the Bodhisattva precepts, which now give rise to these ten major Bodhisattva precepts. Not killing. So not killing is a Bodhisattva precept that arises from the Buddhas, that arise from the Bodhisattva precepts. And the Buddhas live in and come forth from


And then they talk. And coming from that place, the way they talk is precept of not killing, precept of not stealing. These are expressions of unconstructed realization. And we've received them. we maybe receive them with constructed hands and constructed mind, and with constructed reverence and respect, because we're receiving the constructions of the one who has demonstrated the unconstructed source of our actual enlightened life. I would like to ask you for some guidance about how to work with this. So what happens for me is I see a list of ten in the Pranayama Sutra, and I see a bunch of lists of ten in the first part, and then ten in the second part.


And I kind of have a tendency to relate to them as a checklist, and to go kind of, well, I need to pay more attention to this one. This one maybe not so much today. you know, I really need to pay attention to. And I think that maybe that works okay with the precepts, but I'm not so sure it works very well with the 10, the list of 10 qualities kind of thing. Anyway, using them as a checklist. Anyway, I don't know about using them as a checklist, but I could see a list and that I recite. For me, it's more like a recitation list. And you can say, every time you recite one of those things, you can just check that off. Recitation's done. But it's more about recitation than... It's really about reciting it.


What goes on in my mind is when I recite them, one will maybe light up and it will say, you should pay attention to me. That's fine. Well, actually, one might light up, but it's possible they all light up. Maybe every time you recite it, you hear, When you recite it, you also might be listening to it. And the material that occurs in the first part of the sutra is all these teachings about the Mahayana. It's all these teachings about the Buddha mind. But they're not so much given in terms of the later precepts, or phrased somewhat differently, mostly like, not, [...] not. And the first part is a somewhat different teaching, but it's part of the context of the source of all Buddhas, the source of all Bodhisattvas, and they're the context of our original nature, which is pure, the first part.


So, how should I work with that? Is that an intellectual journey to work with? Maybe not, maybe, I don't know, maybe it's possible to recite the first part and or the second part of the scripture, maybe it's possible to recite scriptures without using intellect, but my intellect says, I don't think so. If you had memorized this text, it wouldn't be because you consciously had memorized it, it would be because you unconsciously You've heard about this scripture, but you can't say back to me, some of you can't say back to me what I said to you just now. But if you say it over and over, your unconscious cognitive process becomes transformed, and you would be able to recite the scripture back to me consciously.


But the recitation's coming up out of your unconscious, which has been trained. But when it comes into your consciousness, your intellect is operating. and noticing, oh, I said that sentence correctly or incorrectly. But the way the sentence came up into your mind, you can't consciously pull stuff up like that. So is the first part also a training? The first part is a training too. It's all about training. What? Training our original nature, which is pure. This whole Mahayana teaching here, this type of Mahayana, is teaching us that our original nature is pure, and that everybody is like that. It's training us in that, so we can realize it. It's training us in, we fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the Buddha, but we don't realize it. One of the ways you realize it scriptures.


But in this scripture, the Buddha doesn't say that he's reciting all the teachings he gave earlier, those 40 stages. He doesn't say he recites the 40 stages every half month. It's like the precepts are in a way, if you use the expression, a distillation of which almost everybody could remember on a regular basis, you could remember, precept of not killing. When you remember that, you're remembering these 40 stages with their full commentary. That's in the background of precept of not killing life. So the Buddha says, I recite these little nuggets


every half month. And by the way, I just went through 40 stages of bodhisattva practice, and I could go through more than 40, because they're just coming out of me, because I'm the source of all these practices, because I come from all these practices, and I can tell you about them. But in particular, I'm saying, this scripture is saying, it doesn't say, recite the whole sutra every half month. It doesn't say don't either. Because if you recited the whole scripture, you would recite these 10 along with it. He's saying, just these 10. I'm going to recite these 10 every half month. The Buddha's going to spend her time doing that? Amazing. Just like that story I told you over and over. I'm riding on the airplane with Suzuki Roshi to Portland, Oregon. He doesn't know he has cancer.


I don't know he has cancer. Here we go. And what does he teach me? How to count people in Japanese. How many? Ten. He teaches me how to say one person, two person, three person, up to ten. He teaches me the ten. precepts for counting people in Japanese. And I think, I'm kind of thinking, why is he spending his time, here's a Zen master, why is he spending his time teaching these people these 10 precepts for counting people in Japanese? Well, now I know, right? Because he appeared in the world from these precepts. And the Buddha appears, and he also taught that the Buddhas appear from the precepts. It's not like the Buddhas are first and the precepts are second. The precepts are first, the Buddha is second, the precepts are first, the Buddha is second, the precepts are first. But you could all say, precepts are first, Buddha is second, precepts are third, Buddha is fourth.


It's a cycle between the origins of the Buddha and these precepts. which is the whole, all these teachings are the origin of Buddha, but also the Buddha's origin of these teachings. So, this doesn't exclude the infinite variety of ways we can study. It's just saying, the Buddha's gonna spend her time reciting these scriptures? The Buddha's going to go preceptive, not, yeah, this says here, the Buddha's going to actually be in the world reciting these. No. For us. So the Buddha's reciting them, but also the Buddha's reciting them for us. So you should recite them for us. Yes. In terms of practicing with them, the thing that makes sense to me is that we're reciting them so we remember to try to live by them, not to like check them off, like do this, don't do that, but that when you actually try to practice with them, it leads you back, it leads you to realization.


Like say, any one of them goes back to, we'll say I'm practicing with non-intoxicating, not using intoxicating substances. So, in order to do that, then I have to notice when I want to, you know, have a drink, right? And then I notice, like, what is, you know, am I avoiding some particular feeling or trying to get to some particular feeling? And then being with that, and then why... So, it can... I think, can I give you a slightly different thing? You just... perspective? You said, in order to do that, I have to notice when I... want to avoid something or grasp after something. Yeah, you have to notice that in order to do that. But what if you're not doing that? What if you're not noticing? What if you're not trying to avoid or grasp? What if you're not? Right, well, if you're not, then you sit with what is.


Which is what? That you're not. Which is that you're not doing those things, right? Right. Right. That's what it meant. That in order to realize these precepts, you have to sit with what is. Right. Right. With any one of them, it takes you back to that, which takes you back to the true nature of self and other, which takes you back to... I'm just pointing out that you do not have to be interested in practicing intoxicants. You do not have to be into that. And you do not have to notice that you're into it if you're not into it. You do not have to be into taking intoxicants in order to practice the precept of not intoxicating. Yeah, I mean, there's...


There's all kinds of intoxications. I mean, the idea is... I know, I'm just saying, you do not have to be involved in intoxication in order to practice the precept of not intoxicating. I don't know, but effortless, because we're saying, not intoxicating, or this actually says, not selling intoxicants. We're actually reciting that. So you can practice that precept of not selling intoxicants, even if you're not into selling intoxicants. You don't have to be into selling intoxicants in order to practice that precept. Now, if you are into selling intoxicants, then it would be appropriate to this practice to notice that you are. That would be good. And noticing that you are is compatible with reciting this precept.


Isn't that the point of reciting the precepts so that you live by them? Or you notice when you're not living by them? I think the point of these precepts is to realize reality. The point of this precept is to realize Buddhahood. Now, Buddhahood completely includes noticing what you're doing. But you don't have to do, I don't know what, unwholesome things in order to be Buddha. No, I would think not. But if you are doing unwholesome things, you do have to notice it. Reciting the precept helps you notice when you're not behaving well.


But you don't have to not behave well in order to practice the precept. So it's okay not to be involved in unwholesome behavior. It's not required to be involved in unwholesome behavior in order to practice these precepts. But what is required, according to this, is to remember them and recite them. But don't you think that you remember and recite them so that you live by them? No, it's kind of like, in a way, no. It's more like to wake up to that that's what your life is, rather than to live in accord with something as though it was this and you're over here. So you're not trying to live in accord with them, you're trying to wake up to that you already are. Because the origin of bodhisattvas is these precepts.


This is why this teaching is not, you know, you should not try this at home. You should just, you know, always do it together with the Sangha and the Buddha. This is a difficult statement, okay, which comes from Zen Kai's show. These precepts are not about avoiding unwholesomeness. They're about realizing Buddha nature. Now, if you're involved in unwholesomeness, is it good to notice that you are? Yes. Would it be good to confess and repent it? Yes. What's the point of confessing and repenting? Some might say, well, to avoid evil. And I said, no, these precepts are not about avoiding evil, it's about waking up to that your original nature is pure. It's somewhat quite a different perspective. But then, if you awaken to that your original nature is pure, it will totally facilitate you noticing when you do things that are not pure.


But it's not so that you won't do those things anymore. it's so that you'll wake up to what you really are, which will help you notice what you're not, will help you notice when you're not in accord with what you are. But it's not about avoiding evil. No, I wasn't thinking about avoiding it, it's just that... Well, you said live according to them. Well, when you use them as guidelines, I think you're saying don't use them that way, but not guidelines like, oh, I shouldn't do this, or I should do this, but that when you, you know, a disciple of the Buddha does not misuse sexuality. So when you are practicing in that way, then that is how your Buddha nature is realized, not by avoiding something or doing something else, but by the attempt It still comes back to, I guess, the attempt to live in accordance with it, because that's how you realize Buddha nature, not because you want to avoid doing certain things or do other things, but because the struggle, the attempt to live in that way, that's how you realize Buddha nature.


The struggle is how you are realizing Buddha nature, yes. Yes. But the Buddha nature, realizing Buddha nature, you will realize something you don't realize when you're struggling, which is that you're already pure. So when you're struggling, you still think that Buddha's a little bit different from something that's going on here. But that struggle you're going through is how you're waking up. It is. But if you think you're guiding yourself this way or that way, that's something you have not yet awoken to, that that's originally pure, that guiding yourself this way or that way. You're waking up to what you already are. You're waking up to what you already fundamentally, originally are. And that way that you are is the source of all Buddhas, who are giving you these teachings, these precepts, but they're actually not so much saying, using them as guidelines, but using them as teachings about the way you are.


But that might involve you thinking, well, I'm not that way. I'm not in accord with that teaching. And so I've got a struggle here. Well, this is how you're struggling. This is how you're coming to understand is a struggle. But the struggle isn't necessary, except when you're struggling. This is a subtle point. Yes. Maybe, I don't know who's first. Go ahead. You can behave this way, do these things, and then you'll awaken. I don't know if it can be caused.


I think awakening can be caused by behavior. Right. And the Buddhists sometimes offer methods to help people wake up to that there's no method. Thanks for the method. Now I realize that there's no method. And the Buddha says that he's going to recite these things which sound like a method. Sounds like he's telling you something to not do or something to do. That's what he's saying that he's going to recite.


Not killing. The teaching of not killing. The teaching of not stealing. Which these are some of the main things that people are trying to use as a method to have peace in this world. So yeah, let's use these. Let's recite these. But remember where they're coming from. about the precepts and say and wrote or have written, and that was that if you keep your original mind, the precepts keep themselves, which is something that I come back to a lot and speaks to that. question around struggle. And for me, I find that just very comforting to remember if I'm getting stuck around a particular precept and the way I'm practicing with it, to just remember that if I keep my original mind, and I don't even have to understand what it means to keep my original mind, that the precepts will keep themselves, and it's not about managing myself in a certain way so that a certain outcome happens.


Yeah, it's not about managing yourself and it's about you reciting the precepts. For example, every half month. But that doesn't have to be managing yourself. That can be just you reciting the precepts. Which you're not trying to manage yourself into practicing, but you're reciting them for some reason. And maybe it has something to do with the Buddha told you to. and you're not managing yourself into doing what Buddha told you to do. And the Buddha's not managing you into doing what the Buddha told you to do. And yet you're doing what the Buddha told you to do. It's kind of like, amazing, here I am practicing what the Buddha said. Precept of not killing. I'm not understanding what this sutra adds to your book.


How does this add? Like you said, you could write a whole book about the precepts. Now you could write from a different angle about the precepts, but I guess it's not clear to me what it adds. Well, I think one thing it adds is that this precept helps me see where Dogen's edge is coming from. And he did not tell us in this Kyojo Kaiman, he did not tell us, I'm inspired by the Ramana Sutra to write this. He didn't tell us that. And I didn't know that the people who wrote the Zen Kai Sho, which is a commentary on this, I didn't know that the people who put that together also wrote commentaries on this sutra. Now I do. But how does that make a difference? Well, just like, you know, how does it make a difference that you know what college your mother went to? And now you realize, oh, because she went to that school, she says that.


She writes that poem all the time, which she learned in that class she took at the college. And I didn't even know she went to that college. And I didn't even know that her teacher was John Berryman. Do you know that guy? Did you go to the University of Minnesota by any chance? I did. Yeah. So she went to the University of Minnesota. So did I. And there was a professor there named John Berryman. who was like living there when I was going to school. And I'm thinking maybe I'm a little older than you, so maybe you didn't have classes with him. Well, I didn't, but I knew his wife. Yeah, I knew his wife too, younger wife. And so here he is, this professor, and so it's like now you know that I was influenced by John Berryman. And John Berryman taught a class on Don Quixote. This is called face-to-face transmission.


It's something like this. In a certain part of La Mancha, there lived a gentleman, rather over 40, who, and then Berman goes, he screamed, Sir Mancha, this is telling us how old he is! So it's like learning that about me, that he taught me, when you're reading Cervantes, that when he got to that part, rather over 40, he totally, that meant a lot to him, that he wasn't being told how old this guy was. Was he 41? Was he 65? Was he 83? Was he like demented? We don't know. He's telling us, I'm not gonna tell you how old he is. I'm not even telling you where he lived. And John Berryman had a nervous system that reacted to that.


And that resonance went to me. It made me feel like, you know, when I read that, I didn't even notice it. you can notice more deeply. So this is like helping us realize where Dogen Zenji is coming from, which he didn't tell us. And he came from a lot of places, but this Kyojyuk Haimon, which is very important in Soto Zen precept practice, and which is this core text of the Zenkai show, which is the core text of being upright, I didn't know, and I wasn't told by Dogen, that this is very important in this, that this Brahmanet Sutra is very important in this sutra, and there's a lot of basically quotes in here, from here he doesn't cite, which is fine with me. But now I found out. And then, as I said, I also found out


through my studies, which I'm enjoying very much. So one of the differences that this scripture makes is it makes me, in some ways, appreciate being upright even more. It helps me appreciate my own book more, that I realize that I have this sutra now, and see how this sutra is playing into that book, how it's richer than I thought, and how the people who wrote Zen Kaisho, this is one of their realize that. So it makes a big difference to me. Again, like finding out, oh, did my mother go to Minnesota? I didn't know that. Now I see why she has that funny accent. It's like enriching this dharma fabric. That's one difference it makes. And it could also actually you could say correct some misunderstandings I had, like not thinking that this was not coming from some scripture, but he made it up on his own.


And also it helped me see that he was how creative he was with these precepts, that he didn't use exactly what was in here. And this is the precept, this is the sutra that he grew up with before he started Zen. He grew up with this one, but then he made a change. So the foundations of Soto Zen are very much concerned with how these precepts were a modification of the precepts, how Dogen's precepts are a modification of these precepts. To understand Dogen is to understand what he did and did not use. So that's how it could add to the book. But rather than change the book, which is a nice book, I can write another book called Advanced Being Upright. the latest news on being upright, or the enriched version of being upright, or whatever you want to call it anyway. My study which led me to write that book, from speaking about that book, has now been greatly enriched by this sutra, which again enriches my interest in the background sutras of this sutra.


So I'm in the middle of a great enrichment, which makes a big difference in me. If I can make an outrageous statement. It makes me be willing to live, to be as old as I can be, to share this amazing teaching with you. And it's not just for me, it's that I want to tell you about the richness of your Dharma ancestors that is richer than we knew. It's more wonderful than we knew. And it's even more wonderful than that. And we're going to like, you know, like I've told somebody recently, I feel like I'm sitting on a Dharma volcano. this teaching and the background teachings of this teaching, I just feel very invigorated by. And I'm just trying not to spill lava on you. But this is not going to be the last time we're going to do this, because this thing is created.


Lava comes up and makes mountains. A mountain is being made by this This sutra is wondrous, but it has these even bigger, more well-known ones in the background of it. It's like those have made this particular Bodhisattva precept thing, but it's coming from this huge Mahayana background. And the sutra's saying, this huge Mahayana background, this inconceivable, unconstructed background of the Bodhisattva Buddha way, it comes down to these precepts, not killing life. It comes down to these little nuggets, which Buddha says, I can talk about other things, but I'm reciting these things. And you should too. He didn't forbid you to recite all the Mahayana sutras every half a month. Of course that would be fine. He's saying, you don't have time.


So this is the teaching for all sentient beings. It's not just for monks who actually could, twice a month, recite the sutra. And the recitation would take them from one half to the next half. Because they'd be non-stop, if they're reciting these sutras. This is for lay people too. You can recite these ten things once a month. Once every half a month. You can do the practice. I'm going to do it. You can do the same practice as me. It's actually quite practical. And also you can not. Can you pass me those cards there? Yes. Does that kind of make sense?


It makes sense, yeah. So, you said something about, you said, when we're not violating a precept, they point to our nature? Maybe the precepts, if I remember, point to our true nature, because we're not obscuring, we're not obscuring. You could definitely say these precepts are pointing to your true nature. That's what it says here, that these precepts are buddha-nature precepts, and buddha-nature precepts do kind of point to buddha-nature. Yes? I think that seeing that you're violating a precept, for most people, is is what's called sorrowful, at least. It's painful and sorrowful to see the violation of these precepts.


Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. That's called repentance. Repentance is part of the practice. I didn't read it, but a few pages back it's talking about repentance, about noticing when these precepts, when not killing life doesn't seem to be appearing. What seems to be appearing is killing life. And when killing life appears, yes, it is painful when that appears. That's a painful appearance. Yes. And then if I do it, if I do the killing or I do the lying, then I have the opportunity to say, I did it and I feel sorrow. That's part of this practice. That goes with this recitation practices. So either I notice it and I recite, or I recite and I notice.


And then I say, I'm sorry if I see that I didn't practice it. That's part of the recitation. And I also have a teaching that goes with these, which says, these are Buddha nature precepts. These precepts are not to remind me that I'm impure. But if I feel like I'm being impure, these precepts are to help me be kind to that I feel I'm being impure, and to confess it, and to say I feel bad about that. I think it's okay to do it simultaneously, but you can also alternate and just feel bad about being unkind.


Just feel flat out bad about it, that's fine. That was unkind and I'm really sorry. But we can understand that compassion is an omnipresent partner that the bodhisattvas and buddhas are omnipresent partners to all of our unskillful behavior. No matter how unskillful we are, the buddhas are never the slightest bit separate from us. It's okay to remember that, but we wouldn't want to remember that and have that be, what do you call it, a spiritual bypass and not feel that I feel bad. I was just not very kind to you and I'm sorry. I wasn't careful in the way I spoke to you. I really am sorry. I wasn't careful the way I handed you that spoon.


I didn't do it with reverence and respect. I'm sorry. And also, I'm not telling this to you, but I also feel the Buddhas are present with me as I confess that I wasn't careful. When you confess that you're not being careful, the Buddhas are totally there supporting you to say, that wasn't careful, and I'm sorry. That's Buddha activity. And then when you are careful, you can also remember, I'm practicing, I'm saying, the precept, be careful. In fact, I'm reciting that precept. I'm doing my job, and part of my job is to recite the precept. Be careful. Not kill. Not steal. That's being careful. I'm reciting.


And then if I think, oh, I didn't practice it, and I say it, and I feel sorry, reciting it and not thinking about whether I do it or don't. I'm just reciting, not killing life, period. I can also remember the Buddhas are with me. The Buddha encouraged me to recite that precept. He said, hey Rev, you should recite the precept of not killing. I'm now doing what the Buddha told me to do. He said it right here, on page 42. He said I should recite it. I just recited it. I just did what the Buddha instructed me to do. I am now living Buddha's teaching. And the Buddha is with me while I do it. So Buddhas are with me when I'm performing Buddha's teaching. When I'm following Buddha's instruction, the Buddhas are with me. With me?


Yes. When I'm not following Buddha's instruction, like it's been a month and I haven't recited the precepts, and I notice it, and I say, I'm sorry, now I'm practicing Buddha's instruction, which is to confess when I don't remember these precepts. And not only am I following Buddha's instruction, but the Buddha's with me just as much when I'm following her instruction as when I'm not. She doesn't back away from me when I'm forgetful and distracted. And she gives me a method to recite the precepts, to realize that there's no method, because the Buddha is always with me, and I'm always with Buddha. Never not. But the Buddhas didn't say, I'm always with you, never not. He didn't say, I'm always with you and never not.


And then he said, and I'm always with you and never not. And I'm going to recite these precepts every half month. I'm the one who's with you all the time no matter what. And you're with me no matter what. We're together in this enlightenment. This is the kind of enlightenment it is. And by the way, I'm going to recite these 10 precepts every half month. You should too. So he's with us all the time and then he gives us something to... And then he uses something to help us understand that. Which is reciting these precepts. And then everything that comes up with them. Which is a lot. And then... Yes? Did I hear you say you personally are going to do this I don't know if you did, but if you'll excuse me for saying so. Excuse me for saying so, okay?


I will henceforth recite the Dharma precepts of the Buddha every half month. I did say that. Excuse me for saying it, but I will. And we wanted to do it at the same time. Could you tell us when? Yeah, I'll do it on the full moon and the new moon. What part of the day? That I have not said. So we can just say it's open-ended. Any time of the day you do that, I'll be with you. And any time I do it during the day, you'll be with me. But I will do it on those two days. And I might do it more often, but that's, you know, I'm not going to tell you about that yet. Like today is not new moon, is it? No, it's not a full moon.


New moon, I think, is on Wednesday. And I will recite these precepts in Brooklyn next Wednesday. I'll be in Brooklyn. I'll recite these precepts on the new moon. This is our tradition. which is that we, the source of our practice is these precepts, and the Buddha told us to recite them. He didn't say we do it same schedule as him, but he told us what schedule he's going to be on, we could join him in that, and I don't think Buddhists would mind if we did it more often than twice a month. And I know many of you do, quite frequently, recite not killing life. When a spider is crawling over your face, you recite, not killing life. Gently removing the spider from your cheek.


But sometimes when the spider bites, maybe you're not so gentle. So then maybe you're sorry. No matter what, guess where the Buddhas are? No matter what, guess where the Bodhisattvas are? And the Bodhisattvas come from these precepts, and therefore the Bodhisattvas are these precepts. And much more. a little device, a little method for us to focus on, to wake up to our true nature. And there's so much more to discuss. And again, at the end of this essay on receiving the precepts, after giving the 16 precepts, Dogen says, these are the 16 precepts of Buddha,


In general, we are now instructed to receive them with respect and reverence. So, there's an opportunity to do that. I think this is the longest Dharma talk that we've ever had in Novo. Congratulations. You were here. And amazingly, I just sat here, and you sat here, and we were so comfortable, weren't we? Just amazing. The Dharma's amazing. Yeah, so I'm just so happy to be studying this material, and I'm trying to, like, not get too excited about it. He actually said, let's see what he says.


He doesn't say the number. like quotes our school, you can recite these 16. That would be, I think, just beautiful. I take refuge in Buddha, and so on. And then, 10 major prohibitory precepts, not killing, not stealing. So, I would suggest you do these 16, if you want to do it. I just wanted to say that... Yes, right.


I just thought of that another scripture that's very important in Zen is called the Platform Sutra, which I mentioned last time. And the Platform Sutra could be restated as the Bodhisattva Precept Platform Sutra, because the platform was a Bodhisattva Precept Platform. And in that sutra, it says, bear with me, well it says, it quotes this sutra, so part of this sutra's benefit to me is that it helps me see the origins of The Platform Sutra actually says, blah blah blah, the Bodhisattva Precept Sutra, it doesn't say the whole name, in the Bodhisattva Precept Sutra it says, these precepts are for all sentient beings, actually it doesn't say that, it leaves out the first part, these precepts are


that all sentient beings' original nature is pure. And then it also says, after reciting these four vows which we just chanted, where it says, sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them, then the sixth ancestor the literary construction Sixth Ancestor says, but don't think that you're the one that does the saving. We chanted, sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them, and the Ancestor says, don't think that you save them. original nature, your original nature.


I, my original nature, will save all sentient beings. So what I need to do is realize my original nature, because that's what's going to save all sentient beings. I want them to be saved, and I'm going to join this salvation process by realizing my original nature.