The Work of Going Beyond Buddha
“Going Beyond Buddha” (partial) Sept 2013 No Abode
(My thought…Katagiri Roshi famously said, “You have to say something.”) 50 Min The Buddha had to talk and did talk quite a bit. Reb: Yes, Karen. At high noon. Q. This seems dangerous. Speech seems dangerous and powerful I would not say that there is any danger, but if danger does exist, speech is right at the center of the danger. Speech is the essence of danger. The way to become free in all dangerous situations (if there are any such things) is with speech. It isn’t just this speech that is dangerous. Harsh speech is dangerous. Lying is dangerous. There’s lots of kinds of speech that are dangerous. This kind of speech does not violate the precepts, however, the way people hear it, it can be misunderstood and that can cause harm. Danger is the possibility of harm. That’s why I say that I wonder if even telling you this speech is somewhat dangerous. That is why I ask you to listen to it like the sound of the rain. That may protect you from grasping it. If you grasp this teaching it would not be good. This teaching is something you might try to grasp and that would not be good. Here’s a story. When I was a kid about twelve years old, a friend told me about this game called hopping freight trains. The first train we hopped, we hopped when it was sitting still. The train was sitting there. We got up on the train and then the train took off. We got a ride on the train. Twelve-year-old kids riding the train, very exciting. We had seen a few movies. That was in the winter, the first time. It’s nice actually in Minnesota it’s nice to hop trains in the winter because when you jump off, you jump into the snow rather than jumping on gravel. So this is winter train-hopping. So then another day we went train-hopping but this time for some reason or other the train was moving already. And I think it was moving pretty..maybe 30 miles an hour. And 12-year old boys and it’s winter too. So when your hands grab a metal rung of a ladder, the cold makes it easy to get a good grip because there’s a little bit of ice there. You can get a good grip on the cold, at first. So I grabbed the ladder on the side of the boxcar. I grabbed it and it was going fast so it flipped me in the air and threw me down right next to the tracks. But I did not roll. There was an incline going down away from the tracks and I did not roll onto the tracks as you may be able to guess. But I did notice how close I came to getting run over by those wheels and I thought that was not a good idea. I am not going to do that any more. Then I saw a movie, which is where I got the idea in the first place that this would be a cool thing to do. This movie was starring William Holden, called Picnic and he was wearing a leather jacket just like I wore. And he ran along side of the train. I said, “Oh, that’s what you do!” You run along side of the train. Then you can grasp and it’s not so dangerous. So run along side of the Buddha and it’s not so dangerous. Don’t just try to grab it flat-footed. (Laughing) Linda: I am thinking about the first translation. You seem to be welcoming all three of them together. In the first one, he said, “When I speak you don’t hear me. When I get quiet, you will hear.” What do you make of that.? Reb: That’s right. The first translation says, “When speaking, you are not listening”…and he finishes by saying, “When I am not speaking, then I listen.” There’s another one, “When I talk, you don’t hear it.” And it ends by saying, “Wait till I don't talk. Then you’ll hear it.” That one. Q. I thought I understood but it doesn’t fit with what you are saying. A. What fits with what I am saying is the transcending of thought that you understood it. That fits with it. Are you ready for that? Q. Getting ready. A. Good Tracy: Did you saying speech is not only dangerous but also kind of the only important thing? A. I don’t think I did say that. I said speaking is dangerous, but in order to become free of danger, we need to speak. Speech is the essence of karma. But we must use speech in order to become free of karma. Q. I would like to hear more about that. It seems to me that it has to be right speech, not just any old speech. A. You’re asking does it have to be right speech in order to liberate beings? It sure does. Q. I appreciate that because I’ve been spending years trying to speak less. A. I wonder what it would have been like if you hadn’t been making that effort. (Laughter) Q. I’m serious. It’s very shocking to me. A. You’re still serious after all this time? Q. I surprised by you saying speech is so important. A. Ok, well, that’s one of the good things about being you is that you keep being surprised. That’s one of your blessings is that you keep being surprised and I keep hearing about it. That’s great! Surprise is NOT the essence of karma. Surprise is essential to liberation. So your surprise is really good, especially if you are not too serious when you’re surprised. Surprise is good. So back to what I said. I said speech is important because speech is how we get into trouble and speech will be necessary to get out of trouble. Q. I feel that there’s this whole big thing I am missing hear because I thought what is important is patience and ethics and all that stuff and I didn’t hear speech in any of that stuff. Now all of a sudden, today, speech is so important. A. Speech is..if you look at the practices of ethics, part of ethics practice is to speak in certain ways. Like, to speak the truth is part of ethics. But also, when people are speaking, when you are speaking or when other people are speaking, it isn’t just that we are doing right speech but also we are being generous with the speech and patient with the speech and diligent with the speech and calm with the speech. So speech, when you talk about the six basic training methods (paramitas) speech isn’t actually standing out there as one of the six but it is included in all six. Speech is also karma. So even people who are not practicing the six bodhisattva training methods are still doing speech by which they construct their world of suffering. Speech is essential to create the world of birth and death. So it is really important in that way. It’s also important in order to convey the teachings, in order to receive the teachings because when the teachings come to us we convert the teachings to word-images. People who have not heard the teachings, who have not received the teachings in terms of speech, they are still speaking and are still in trouble. They are still saying, “You’re wrong and I’m right. I hate you. You don’t respect me. I want to kill you.” People do not have to practice these bodhisattva precepts in order to talk like that. So they are in trouble and speech is at the center of the trouble. But speech is the teaching which will liberate them from the trouble which is created by speech. That’s how it comes to them. Q. I think I must have romanticized “being” because even with you, even though you are saying a lot of stuff, I think that it seems that I get as much out of you being as the words. So I think I romanticize that the words are not that important, not even for those people. That you could be with them and you wouldn’t have to speak the teachings and just by being around you they would get it. A. Yes, but if I don’t talk, they won’t realize the being. That’s what I am saying. You can just have the Buddha sitting with people. The Buddha doesn’t just sit in silence with them. The Buddha does sit in silence with them, yes. Primarily, fundamentally the Buddha is sitting in silence. The Buddha has realized silence. Silence is the mind of no abode. Silence is transcending Buddha. The Buddha has bodily realized silence and stillness and he would like to say a little bit. So he does. What does he want to say a little bit? Because, she wants to liberate beings who are sitting with the Buddha who are not silent. They are talking. In their head they are going “yakety yakety yak”. And they ae saying, “This is hell. Those people, I hate, These people are my friends. Those people are not. These people are disrespecting me. Those people are respecting me. Etc” They are yaketedy-yakking and they are suffering because of their speech karma and body karma and mental karma. You have mental karma behind speech karma but speech karma is the coup de grace. It finishes off the karmic trap. It is the essence of it because by its nature it is delusionary. Buddha meets people like that in silence and Buddha wants to say a little so Buddha speaks. Buddha speaks because people who are talking to themselves do not become free of their talk by just being with a silent Buddha. So they say, “Would you please talk, silent one.” And the Buddha says, “Ok. I will have simple conversation”. Simple means to the point of getting people to become free of their verbal karma. Of course, it is the Buddha’s being, yes, then the Buddha makes a sound and people make words out of that. The Buddha is not actually talking. The Buddha is silent and still. The Buddha gives dharma teachings which are not talking but people then translate that teaching into word images because that is where they are trapped. We are trapped in word-ville. The Buddha’s teaching comes into the realm of words and in that realm it confronts the verbal constructions and liberates us from it. Being surprised is good! Your question was tremendously helpful. Thank you.