Yoga Room Class - April 13th, 2021

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Welcome, everybody. I wanted to thank you all for this series of meetings. I really
appreciate your coming to this event and being so devoted to it and supporting it by your
presence, by the gift of your presence. And there was, as I mentioned last week,
some request or request for consideration of perhaps having these meetings a little early.
And Nettie has graciously provided us with a survey of some earlier times when we might meet.
And so I think you'll be receiving that survey to express your feelings about
whether you'd like to keep it at the same time or have it
half an hour earlier or an hour earlier,
things like that. And also there's a place for you to make other suggestions.
Tonight I'd like to start by giving a kind of review or summary
of these seven weeks of meditation on meditation.
And what might be called Zen meditation. And of course, what I say is just my expression.
Expression. And my expression, as you may have noticed,
you know, varies from time to time, occasion to occasion.
And also, as a kind of review, I wanted to again say that the understanding or the expression of
what Zen meditation is, I've also expressed that I feel
that a strong influence or a strong source for our meditation practice
is the teachings of the Lotus Sutra,
which I've been studying with you and other groups for the first
January, February, March of this year rather intensively.
And so I was thinking one could say that
Zen meditation flows out of the ocean of the Lotus Sutra, the dharma of the one vehicle.
But we could also say that the Lotus Sutra flows out of the ocean of Zen meditation.
There's a reciprocity, I say, between Zen meditation and the Lotus Sutra.
A mutual inclusion.
I've also shared with you, I think, that I am very concerned in our present world
of how to deal with the great polarization among humans and also between some humans and animals
and plants. I'm concerned about how to respond to situations where the great assembly of beings
is also a great diversity of beings.
Different shapes, colors, ages, locations, and different philosophies, and different worldviews,
and different opinions, and different commitments.
We have such variety among the millions and billions of beings.
And there can be strife and fear among the ocean of living beings
when they see others who are so different, who have such different views and different values.
So, again, as a review, I say that I don't see, I'm not expecting, and I'm not working
to make everybody the same. I'm not trying to make everybody have this view or that view.
So, I'm trying to find a way to respond to all beings and all different views in a way
that you could say works for and realizes peace and harmony among beings
who really don't agree with each other. Among beings who sometimes look at others
and think the others are terrible, monstrous, evil beings.
This is a situation which is quite common on this planet, that humans think other humans are evil,
monstrous. I don't see an end to that.
And seeing people that way and believing it is a tremendous affliction.
But I'm not trying to get rid of that affliction. I'm trying to find a way to respond to it in such
a way that we become free of it, and at peace with it, and we find harmony.
And the process of realizing harmony is what I call sometimes Zen meditation.
And the process of realizing harmony among the tremendous diversity of beings,
the process of realization is our practice. And this is also the process of realizing
a thorough understanding of the true nature of all things.
Understanding the true nature of all things is resonant with, is in harmony with,
harmony. It's in harmony with peace. If we don't understand the nature of things,
it's hard for us to be at peace with things. Because we're not at peace. When we see the
nature, the true nature, we will be at peace with things. And we can show others how to see
the true nature and be at peace and work for peace among great controversy, great hostility,
great confusion.
I also brought up from the Lotus Sutra
the teaching, the phrase, only a Buddha together with Buddha. Do you remember?
And I propose that that is the description of Zen meditation.
In the Lotus Sutra it says, only a Buddha together with Buddha
understands thoroughly the nature of all things. It doesn't say this, but let me say,
please, that only a Buddha together with Buddha
realizes peace and harmony.
And again, I could say it, Zen meditation realizes harmony.
And Zen meditation is only a Buddha together with Buddha.
Many of us, including me, when I first heard about Zen meditation,
I had a very different understanding than I have today.
And I heard about Zen meditation
together with hearing about people who were great peacemakers, who were great harmonizers,
who, it isn't as much that they harmonized, but they found together with other people harmony.
They came into situations of great controversy and strife, great hostility.
They entered the situation and they responded to it in such a way that the beings involved in the
controversy together realized peace and harmony and mutual respect and appreciation and gratitude
without changing their views at all.
They just stopped holding on to their views tightly and open to others.
And then they didn't hold on to others' views tightly either.
When I hold on to my views, I'm prone to hold on to what I think your views are
and maybe to project on you that you're holding on to your views.
So, when I first heard about Zen meditation, I thought, oh, this is a training program by which
one can respond in a harmony-generating way or a harmony-actualizing way.
But when I thought of it, I thought, I'm going to do Zen meditation.
And for a long time, I was thinking, I'm doing Zen meditation.
But I don't so much think that way anymore.
I appreciate Zen meditation. I'm devoted to Zen meditation.
But what I'm devoted to is not something that I do by myself.
So, I've, again, as a review, I say again, Zen meditation is a personal practice
and it's interpersonal practice.
But it's not really two different things called personal practice and interpersonal practice.
It is a practice which embraces both personal and impersonal.
So, I do have a personal practice. Like when I sit with you,
that's my sitting is my personal sitting.
And your sitting is your personal sitting.
But also, we are sitting together.
And Zen meditation isn't just that we're sitting together.
It's that we are practicing our personal way together.
The real practice is the conversation between your practice and all of our practices.
It's a way that embraces and sustains the practice of one person
and the practice of all beings.
And it also embraces, it is the sameness of my practice and all of your practices.
And that practice, I propose, is the practice which actualizes peace.
And when we sit, we have a personal sitting we do, but our sitting can also be
a testament, a witnessing to the practice of all other beings.
And a testament and a statement of faith in a practice
that embraces my practice and all beings practice.
The reality is that my practice includes yours and yours includes mine.
The reality is we are all doing this together and we are on all in the path of realizing that.
And my personal practice is to like, hold that up, is to sit and have my sitting be a testament,
a assertion, my personal assertion to a practice that includes my personal practice
and all of yours. That's what I'm upholding. That's what I'm doing.
I'm devoted to personally. I'm devoted personally to not just impersonal and interpersonal.
I'm devoted to the non-duality of your practice and the practice of all beings.
I'm devoted to the non-duality of your awakening and the awakening of all beings.
That is the zazen I'm talking about.
That is my bet on how to live in a way that actualizes peace.
And I'm so happy to
hold that up,
to hold up a reality
which doesn't belong to me, doesn't belong to you, but is actually the reality of who we are.
So,
and another nice thing about the Lotus Sutra is that it kind of demonstrates,
it gives a few examples of how people with different views can educate each other.
And so in the Lotus Sutra, although there's lots of different types of beings in the assembly,
but when I say lots, that's an understatement. There's a tremendous variety of the beings
in the assembly of the Lotus Sutra. Just like here in our life, we have tremendous variety
and diversity. But the Lotus Sutra takes two different
views as a starting point for learning how to resolve and make peace among all views.
And the two views are the early Buddhist view and the later Buddhist view.
These views, and it can be seen as opposing each other,
as even being hostile to each other.
And the views are, again, the view of personal practice, of personal liberation,
of personal moral perfection, and another view of universal practice, of universal liberation
and universal moral integrity. Not excluding personal moral perfection,
not excluding it, as a matter of fact, including it.
And also being included in it. So the early Buddhist teaching,
the early Buddhist practitioners in the Lotus Sutra, and the later ones,
they are in conversation. And that conversation is to show us how they worked it out.
And then the idea, for me, is by practicing the practices by which they mutually
respect and include each other, sometimes in what appears to be surprising and argumentative ways,
we can learn to do that with the people that are close to us.
So in the Lotus Sutra, the people who are in dialogue are in the same family.
They're in the Buddhist family. They're students of the Buddhists,
but they have different views. So in our families, even though, even when,
even if we really love each other and respect each other, we still have different views.
Sometimes very different interests.
I know you probably know many examples of the very different interests in one family
or in one community. But starting with the people closest to you,
you can notice there's great difference. And
so there can be peace there. And when we learn how to do it there, we can do it with
a wider family and a community, and then with a city, and then with the state,
and then with the country, and then with the universe.
You know, ever-widening circles, ever-widening rings, ever-widening mudras.
But not skipping over what's right in front of you, not skipping over the people you're
practicing with face-to-face, not skipping over your children, and parents, and spouse, and
partners. Working with them, doing the practice with them, including that they don't want to do
it, or even they don't approve of you doing it. Making peace with your closest friends.
And part of Zen meditation is to learn how to respect
the people who are close to us, who disagree with us.
It's not about getting them to do our practice and agree with us.
It's also not about them not doing our practice.
It's about realizing we're included in whatever their practice is, and they are included in ours.
And that, again, it's extended to realize that the whole universe is included in our practice,
and we, our practice, is included in the whole universe. But again, not skipping over
the concrete examples that are coming up in our mind and body moment by moment.
And my teachings that I'm offering, or these teachings which are mine, which I'm offering,
are sometimes quite abstract. But these abstractions are to help us be completely concrete.
Concrete.
I propose an abstract, here's an abstraction, I propose that we cannot
be completely, realize how concrete we are, without abstract principles to teach us how
to accept that and settle into our concreteness. And when we fully realize our concreteness,
we realize the abstract principles which guided us to that realization.
So again, abstract and concrete interfuse each other.
Principle and phenomena are interfused. And that's one of the, that is the central teaching
of what's called Soto Zen in China, Korea, and Japan. And now, I would say in the West,
at least again, that's the Soto Zen that I'm devoted to, is it a practice of a teaching,
which is that principle and phenomena are interpenetrated, interpenetrating,
interfusing, reciprocal. So, the process
of realizing peace is a process of reciprocity. I remember 40 years ago or so, somebody said,
you know what the main teaching of Confucius, of Confucius is? The main teaching is reciprocity.
And I don't know if I told you this story, but a while ago, Suzuki Roshi's son, Hoitsu Suzuki,
gave a talk at Zen Center. And he said that when he was in college, at a Buddhist college,
he didn't study, he just practiced martial arts, and didn't do his study of Buddhist teachings.
And so he didn't, and so he didn't understand what the teachings were, that what they were
teaching at the college. And he asked his father, Suzuki Roshi, what is, what is, what is Buddhism
again teaching? And Suzuki Roshi said, harmony, harmony, reciprocity. I cannot make harmony by
myself. You cannot do it by yourself. We do it not just together, but reciprocally.
And that reciprocity is Zen meditation.
My practice is your practice.
Your practice is my practice. And my practice is personal. And your practice is personal.
And our practices embrace and sustain each other. Thank you for embracing and sustaining my practice.
So I now invite the Great Assembly, the Diverse Assembly,
to make your seventh session offering.
Hello. Hello. Thank you for bearing witness to my confusion. I guess my question is, you know,
in the Lotus Sutra, at one point, there's like this poison house. And this guy has to get all
his children out of it. And he's not making harmony there. He's recognizing that this is not
conducive to health or something. And so he has to extricate his children and find some means to do
it. And I guess my question with Buddhism a little bit right now has to do with the relationship
between Buddha and Mara. You know, I always was confused with, in Jewel Mirror Samadhi,
it talks about the stone woman gets up dancing, but then it... Go ahead.
So you just brought up that example. Yeah. Could we deal with that example?
Please. Yeah. So there is this story which is brought up of a father, could be a mother,
whose children are in his house. And the house is in really bad shape and bursts into flames.
And he goes to the children and tells them that the house is in flames and
suggests that they go leave the house, but they don't listen to him.
And you said, I forgot what you said, but anyway, he didn't get them to get out of the house.
He harmonized with them, I would say. He took their point of view.
They're having fun with their toys and they don't want to give up their toys that they're attached
to. So they don't want to leave the house. He tells them about it, but he actually,
he learned that that's not the way to help them. The way to help them is to take their point of
view. And their point of view is toys are us. Toys are the best. Forget saving anybody's life,
including mine. Just let me play with my toys, old man. So he thinks, oh, they like toys. I can
give them some toys. So he tells them about these toys. He actually harmonized with them.
And in that, in understanding their mind, he said, I got toys and they're right outside.
And then he didn't get them to go out. His understanding of them showed him what to offer
them, so that they would get themselves out. Now, it also says, he could have, he was a big,
strong person. He was a powerful person. He could have picked them up and carried them out,
but he didn't do that. He didn't get them out of the house. He recognized their mind.
And in that, this is the fourth of the four methods we're talking about.
He did identity practice with them. He got in the same boat with them.
He saw what they needed. So then they saw what they, then they could see what they needed.
They needed better toys. They needed toys that weren't in the house. And he told them that there
were toys and there were, and they went out and they were saved. So I would say that's my
interpretation of the story. He didn't get them out. He looked in their mind and found out what
they're really interested in and told them that if they want those things, they should leave because
he knew that if they stayed in the house, they were not going to get any more toys.
They're just going to be incinerated. So that's my view of the story. And you could bring it,
you could say he was Mara in the sense that he, he did this creative thing,
which enticed them or attracted them to leave the house.
But he didn't harmonize with them being in a, in the house. He recognized that leaving the house
was, I don't agree. I think he did harmonize with them being in the house and he went in and
he went into the house to be with them. And at first he, at first he didn't harmonize with them.
At the beginning, he went to be with them. At the beginning, he did not harmonize with them.
He told them what to do. And in that way, he wasn't harmonizing with them.
And when he did not harmonize with them, they didn't, they didn't listen to him.
The house is on fire. We get away, leave us alone. You're distracting us from our screens.
At the beginning, he did, at the beginning, he didn't understand. He tried, he thought he could
directly point them. So the part of the story is that sometimes the way you help people is by
misinforming them or misdirecting them. He, at the first, he, he directly informed them. It didn't
work. And that way he wasn't intimate with them. He wasn't harmonizing and it did not work. They
stayed in the house, but then he harmonized with them. And then, and then out of that harmony,
they ran out of the house. I hear that. Well, good.
Thank you for hearing that.
Yeah.
So did I harmonize with you? You, you, I harmonized with your intelligent answer.
Did you harmonize with me? I harmonized with, I guess it would be you or your active.
Yeah, you did. Okay. Did I, but did I harmonize with you?
You did, but the second question has to do with Mara and the relationship between the Buddha and
Mara. And there too, it's a, it's a relationship where the Buddha is trying to be in harmony with
Mara and yeah. And, and Mara is offering a Buddha, a big challenge to his harmonizing practice.
And did you hear the story about Mara came to Buddha and said, did you hear a story about
he came to Buddha and he kind of complained about his job? Did you hear that story?
Not really tell it. Okay. Shall I tell it?
Yeah. Would you ask me to tell it? I would. Rev, would you, would, would you mind telling
the story about Mara? Yeah. So Mara, you know, Mara, so Mara comes to Buddha and says,
everybody loves you. Everybody respects you. Everybody says, thank you to you.
You know, you got a good job. Everybody hates me. People say bad things about me.
Everybody wants to get rid of me. I quit. I don't want to do this job anymore.
And Buddha said, yeah, I know you got a tough job, but you can't quit. I need you.
I can't do my job if you don't do yours. And I'm sorry that people don't appreciate you.
But later when I teach the great vehicle, they'll start appreciating you. The Bodhisattvas,
they will appreciate you. There'll be a Bodhisattva named Jiren and she will really
appreciate you. She will know how important it is to have you around so we can practice
harmonizing with you. And so Mara says, okay, okay. I'll keep, I'll keep working here until
Jiren comes. So that's because Jiren recognizes she's Mara. That's because Jiren says thank you
to Mara. Yeah. Not, not so much that you are Mara, but that you include Mara. And I include Mara.
Buddha includes Mara. And you can't harmonize with something if you push it away.
The more you push Mara away, the strong, the more horrible Mara becomes. When you're intimate
with Mara, Mara is harmonized. Mara says, thank you so much for not excluding me. Now when you
exclude me, I kind of like it in a way because when you exclude me, I get really big and powerful.
When you include me, I turn into this sweet little puppy.
And I become very loving and cuddly.
But are you Mara when you're loving and cuddly? Or are you,
have you transformed into a vulnerable Mara? Like?
I, I didn't get transformed into Mara. I realized I included Mara. And I treated Mara
like I would treat a sweet puppy. And Mara really wants that. And that makes Mara harmless.
If you make Mara into a monster and push it away, Mara becomes dangerous
and harmful. The word Mara means, has a root of marana, which means deadly.
If you push Mara away, it's deadly. So this, this practice of, of celebrating mutual inclusion
is the vital, it's the vital practice. It's the living path. It's the living realm
that includes Mara. All the Maras, infinite demons.
If we embrace them and sustain them, we realize they embrace and sustain Buddha.
If we push them away, they just scream louder. They do not want disrespect. They want respect.
And the greatest respect is we, we include each other. My life is included in yours.
My practice includes yours and yours includes mine.
So that, so you're including evil. You just include evil.
I, I do include evil. And also I'm included in evil. And that is, that is only a Buddha
together with Buddha. And that is actualization of harmony, is to include evil.
And to be included in it. And in that mutual inclusion, there's no attachment to evil.
There's no pushing it away. There's no holding onto it.
There's just freedom with it. There's just peace with it. So again, I don't see the end of evil.
What I see is the possibility of harmony in a world, in an evil world. The Lotus Sutra is for
an evil world so that there can be peace with evil. And trying to get rid of evil is more evil.
Trying to get rid of evil is pushing away the reality of mutual inclusion.
Thank you very much for your heartfelt questions.
Thank you.
You're welcome.
Well, that leads right to the question I was going to ask. But first,
thank you, Rev, for all the seven weeks. It's been a treat, as always.
Thank you.
So my question is this. And it's one thing to say, and I can see that we're in evil,
we're included in evil, and evil is included in us, to work toward harmony with all beings.
But there are evil actions in the world, which inflict pain and death and various kinds of
oppression on people, whether it's racist physical attacks, whether it's people who are
acting in such a way that they are destroying, possibly to destroy the entire environment,
which supports all forms of life on earth, or many forms of life on earth. And so how do you
reconcile, just harmonizing with and seeing our unity with evil, etc, etc. And doing something in
the here and now, and not waiting, you know, 1000 years till there's greater harmony in the world
to prevent these evil acts that harm living beings directly in the material world now?
So I guess, as best as I can articulate it, that's my question.
Well, you said prevent evil. Yeah. But what about when there is an evil act already?
It's not prevented. So when you see an evil act, then what to do?
Well, both of those. I think they're coupled together.
I think they're coupled too. But usually, we're not concerned about what to do with evil
acts when there's no evil acts.
Well, go on. But I'm not sure I agree with that part, what you just said.
The way of dealing with an evil act that makes peace is also the way that, what do you call it,
leads to more responses to further evil in a way that makes further peace.
Because even if I respond to a current evil right now, in a way that makes peace with that evil,
that doesn't mean there's not going to be another evil later.
So again, I'm not, I'm actually not into preventing evil.
That's, you know, I'm not one of the people, I'm not taking on the job
to prevent evil. I am practicing meeting evil in such a way as to make peace
and to protect beings when there is evil. I don't see, I don't, I don't think I can,
I don't think I can stop evil, but I can meet it in a way that it's a wonderful,
the situation becomes harmony and peace.
I can do that. I have sometimes done it, and I'm very happy when that happens.
So the Buddhist examples are when there is evil,
somebody responds to it in a way that there's peace and respect and ease and harmony.
But they don't necessarily get rid of the evil.
Or maybe the evil is done and it's over, and they respond to the situation.
Or maybe the evil is still going on and they respond to it.
And before the evil ends, there's peace.
But sometimes maybe there can't be peace, and there can only be prevention.
You know, stopping it in its tracks in the middle of an action,
or preventing, deterring another action without there being peace.
I mean, because...
Oh, I know, I know. Yeah, you can, you can, there can be someone,
someone can be hitting someone cruelly, and somebody could stop that.
Right.
And not in a peaceful way, but they stop it.
I've seen that many times.
So now we stop that evil, but another one comes right after it.
And there's no peace.
So we stop that evil, but there's no peace.
And so people are afraid that there's going to be another evil.
And then, because they're afraid, when the next evil comes, it's harder for them to,
again, what they want to do is try to stop it or control it.
And again, they might be successful, but there's still no peace.
So then they're afraid again.
So then they're, again, vulnerable to getting angry and violent because they're afraid.
But if they made peace with that, with that violence, or that cruelty, that injustice,
they would be less prone to violence and to unkindness themselves.
They would be teaching that whether there's peace or not,
we can be, excuse me, whether there's evil or harm or not, there can be peace.
But many times there is harm, and the harm stopped.
You know, like the Nazis were stopped, right?
And then, and then what happened next?
There wasn't the end of evil.
Well, but there is an end of the continued killing by the Nazis and saved lives.
There was.
And so would it be better to have allowed it to go forward in the hope of long-term harmony,
which is kind of what I hear you saying.
I'm probably misunderstanding you.
I should stop, I shouldn't stop somebody from beating their child.
No, I'm not saying you shouldn't stop them.
I say, I'm not saying you shouldn't stop them.
And I'm also not telling you what you should do.
I'm just saying that when someone's beating their child,
you might be able to interact with them in such a way that they might stop beating their child.
And they also might say thank you to you.
Well, yes.
Well, that's the goal, to do both.
That's the goal, is that they would not just stop beating their child,
but they would say thank you.
I didn't really want to be doing that anyway.
Thank you.
But sometimes people stop somebody from beating their child.
And then when they go away, the person kills their child.
Because they take revenge on the child for the person stopping them.
Because they didn't make peace.
They just squashed the cruel person.
And squashing people is cruel people.
Oftentimes, when I was in college,
and one of the experiments I watched was called,
How to Make Rats into Nazis.
And there's a way of training them.
So you make them into these monsters.
And you basically, they wake them into monsters by frustrating them and crushing them.
Not killing them, but frustrating and punishment.
Then they go crazy.
And they become, and they just attack all,
they just go crazy and kill all the other rats.
They don't normally do that.
But with human guidance, they can learn to do that.
All you got to do is treat them like no rat would ever treat them.
Frustrate them in a way that only humans could think of frustrating.
And then you turn in this monster, what they call Nazi rats.
But rats do sometimes fight.
And it's possible that you could interact with their fighting
in such a way that they would discover peace.
Because they're also sometimes peaceful with each other, but not always.
And we're sometimes peaceful.
So I would like to find a way to interact with,
not necessarily intervene or interrupt,
but interact in a way with somebody who looks like they're doing something that's harmful
and something they don't really want to do.
In a way that doesn't put them down,
but makes them want to be, you know, really appreciate a peaceful situation.
Like sometimes on the street, when I would see big teenagers beating up little kids,
I would go up to them and say,
you know, you guys have better things to do than that.
This is really, you know, not worthy of you.
Why don't you beat up me?
And they say, no, thanks.
No, thanks.
We don't want to beat up you.
But then they would stop beating up the little kid because, you know,
it wasn't really that much fun to beat up a little kid.
It's more fun to fight with somebody your own size.
And especially in a way that you finally wind up realizing,
you know, you love each other.
That's the best.
That's what I would like to realize,
is to meet evil in such a way that the evil and I,
or I and the evil realize that we're mutually including each other.
So again, the difficult Zen practice is
the horse arrives before the donkey leaves.
Good peace arrives before disharmony goes away.
And that's, you know, that's hard to understand.
And, but there are examples of where people are doing something harmful
and somebody comes and meets them gently and they give it up.
The, isn't it the person stops them?
It's just the person maybe guides them to let go.
So then the evil is kind of disarmed.
And that's a beautiful thing to disarm evil.
But in a way that it isn't just disarming for the moment,
and then you walk away and they pick up their arms again and use them.
But to disarm them in a way they feel like a big relief.
Thank you.
Thank you.
I didn't really want to be doing that.
You helped me see that.
Thank you.
Rather than, you idiot, stop doing that cruel thing.
Oh, yeah?
Well, when you're gone, I'm going to really do it.
Thank you. That's thought-provoking.
I suspect we've had this, essentially this dialogue before.
I suspect we'll be having it further in the future.
That would be wonderful, wouldn't it?
It would.
It would be wonderful if we could continue to be good friends, right?
Correct.
And have different views, right?
Yep.
Yeah.
Conversation.
Conversation.
I'm not trying to get you to change your views.
And I don't feel like you're trying to get me to change mine.
You're just questioning me and offering alternatives.
This is the path to peace.
Thank you.
Tillman, last time you were here, I couldn't hear you.
Yeah, I hope you can hear me now.
I can. I can.
That's great.
Well, first, greetings from Isabel, who set her limit to rather sleep at this early time here.
She wanted to say she appreciates you.
Yeah, and then I have one question about, well, a little bit about what you said about being abstract.
And I think there were some people last time that said you appeared to answer quite abstractly
sometimes to their concrete questions.
Or general.
Or general, yeah.
General.
General and specific.
Universal and particular.
Yeah.
So one of the abstract teachings is that the abstract and the concrete interfuse.
And that's an abstract teaching.
But there can be concrete examples of that.
Where you could give a concrete example of the way somebody takes care of some concrete thing.
Like, I just reached over and picked this up, right?
So part of Zen practice is, we take care of concrete things like this.
But we take care of them as though we're taking care of the whole universe.
We take care of the garbage.
We try to take care of the garbage.
Or other things that we think of usually throwing away.
We try to take care of them with the same care that we would take care of a Buddha statue.
Or a Buddha.
It isn't so much that we treat Buddhas like we treat garbage usually.
But we treat garbage like we would treat Buddha.
And in that way, we concretely demonstrate the interfusion of universal and particular.
But sometimes we we talk about it to set the stage for the practice.
So is this this way of treating the particular sort of in a universal way?
No, not in a universal way.
Treat the particular in a particular way.
Now, see my hand?
See, I'm moving my hand in particular ways.
I'm not moving my fingers in universal ways.
My hand is moving in particular, particular.
These are articulated digits, right?
They're articulate.
And now they're reaching over and they're picking this up.
And they're picking it up in a particular way.
But I want to pick this up in a particular way to show you
that I believe that this stick includes the whole universe.
And I want to talk to you in a way to show that I believe that you include the whole universe.
And if I don't respect you, one of the ways not to respect somebody is to think that what you
that the way you see them is the way they are, rather than the way you see them is just one way to see them.
And there's infinite ways to see them.
But still, the way you see them should be given your utmost respect.
And when we treat concrete things with utmost respect and kindness, the doors to the universal open.
And then we realize freedom from concreteness by the way we take care of the concrete.
I'd like to check.
Can I check one understanding of myself?
Because originally, I thought there was a limit involved somehow that by asking it or by a sort of
answering with a sort of abstract or general way, that you're giving us a limit in a way in saying
you give a limit to limiting ourselves, maybe. I don't know if that makes sense.
Well, our speech is limited.
Speech is limited.
And if you fully express, if you go to the limits of your speech, your speech is limited.
But if you fully accept the limits of your speech, at the limit of your speech, you realize
the unlimitedness meets you there.
And at that interface, you realize freedom from limits.
And, you know, birth and death is a kind of limited situation. We're born, we die.
Health is a limited situation. We're healthy, then we're not healthy. Pain is a limited situation.
We have limits all day long, and we have trouble fully expressing our limits.
So, this teaching, which is not, which is a teaching about all limits,
is a teaching which I hope encourages us to fully give us, give ourselves to each limited thing.
And for example, to our death, to our aging, to our sickness.
Because otherwise, we tend to try to, like, fix our sickness, or avoid death, or whatever.
And then we keep shrinking back from the limits of our life.
And then we become trapped. And if we don't fully express and embrace our limits, we are trapped by our limits.
But if we fully exercise our limits, we're free of our limits.
And so, again, Zen practice is trying to help us fully be limited. And again, not to be afraid of being little.
Usually, we're afraid of being little, and so we try to, like, shrink back from that littleness,
or try to pretend we're bigger than that, or go someplace where we feel big,
because we're afraid of being little.
We're afraid of being limited.
Because limited things are impermanent.
But if we fully
meet and embrace our limits, we will be free of them. We'll be free of birth, and death, and sickness, and health.
Yeah, thank you very much for that answer. It helped me a lot. It helped me, too. Thank you.
Hi, Reb. Yeah, thank you so much for these last weeks of teaching.
I've been thinking a lot about practicing
some of the things that I think I'm hearing you talk about. And I feel like there's some quality
about respect that feels, like, I keep coming back to that as being some
universal quality or quality that, I don't know, it's really drawing me in. And I was just curious
about why is it respect that's such a quality that's so transformative in this meeting others?
Well, for me, I think you maybe remember me saying that I first address respect etymologically.
Have you heard me say that before? I don't know. So, the etymology of respect is respectus,
look or view again. So, I look at you now, and like I think I said a few weeks ago,
somebody said to me, I hope you know that I really appreciate you. And I said, I really do.
It's quite clear to me that you appreciate me. And I think the person might have also said,
and that I respect you. And I said, well, actually, that's not so clear to me that you respect me.
In other words, it's not so clear to me that when you see me,
you look again at me. After you see me, you don't stop there. You look again. So, now I see you,
and maybe I see this very nice human person here. That's fine. That's nothing wrong. That's okay.
But to stop there isn't really, that's not respect. Respect is, that's how she looks.
I wonder what she really is. Let's look again. Could she by any chance be the whole universe?
Is that a possibility? Could she be like, not what I see her to be?
Another way to think about respect is like, you see something, and then you die to that view.
And after you die or give up that view, you open your eyes again and look again. That's respect.
Or you might think there's a pizza out there, and you might think, oh,
and somebody might say, hey, this piece is for you.
And you might think, oh, okay, and reach for the pizza.
But that's not really respect, but more respectful would be, oh, this pizza's for me? Yeah.
Oh, I wonder what that means. Is it for me to look at? So, I might say, I don't know
exactly what you mean by this pizza's for me. May I have a piece? And the person says,
no, you can't have any. It's for you to take over to our neighbor,
rather than you said it's for me, and so now it's my pizza. That's not so respectful. Respectful is
more like, look again. What's going on? And also respect is like, or I should say disrespect is,
I don't have time to look at you again. I'm too busy to look at you and then look at you again.
Looking at you once is enough. I'm a busy man. I don't have time to look at you and then wonder
who you are after that. But respect is like being willing to spend quite a bit of time
when I meet you. Not just one second, but maybe two or three, because I respect you.
Because I'm trying to figure out, not figure out even, I'm trying to get to know you.
And maybe getting to know you is not to try to figure you out,
but just keep wondering and questioning. Who are you? Hello? Who are you?
Respect is like, kind of like limitless curiosity.
It's kind of disrespectful to settle, you know, and say, okay, now I know who May Shu is.
Now I know who Athena is. Now I know who Leslie is. Now I know. That's kind of disrespectful.
It's more like, I think you're this way, but I don't know who you really are.
I mean, I think your name's Green, but you might've changed it.
I think your name's Green, but I don't know who you are. You're actually a mystery.
And I don't even know what a mystery is. That's more like what I mean by respect.
And I feel like that is not universal, but rather that's universally applicable.
It's to apply it to everything, that universal application, but it's not a universal thing.
It's a particular gem of compassion. It's a particular, wonderful, endless practice.
Okay.
Is there anything else you want to say besides okay?
Thank you.
Thank you.
Hello, Rob.
Hello, May Shu.
Thank you so much. Thank you for this whole series. I'm so glad you wrote it.
And especially something quite significant happening about this anti-Asian violence
and crime. I'm in the middle of it. And then I think the practice always reminds me
stillness and silence. And I think, okay, I have the whole assembly and the rabbit supporting me.
So I make sure that I don't touch and then I don't walk away. But there's a massive,
massive fire. Okay. And then I think I'm still cooking my raw potatoes. I'm not sure I fully
cooked yet, but I am trying. So also appreciate everyone. I learned so much from this series.
There's keep something it's because I tend to be very conceptual and then, but still,
that's just me. I just have to accept it. There's three letters I'm always in my mind is a zero,
one, and two. I feel like it is Buddha. Zero does not mean zero. Zero means infinity. Okay.
So only Buddha with Buddha. I was figuring out is that our meditation where we're basically
I'm from two to one, you know, or Buddha itself. Is it, is it like infinity plus one?
You know, that's a kind of, kind of question overthink of my mind. I, and then this anti-Asian
thing is really interesting because I, you know, what is it? Is this, is this so weird? That this
is the first time I realized I'm Asian. I was like, oh my God. And actually not very long time
ago, I realized I'm a woman. I don't know what kind of a coolant I'm drinking. Maybe I worry so
much about alien. You know, I don't know about this one. I'm like, what? You know, such a,
and the China American, they're crushing it's who Asperger's crushing. And then now I'm a woman,
I'm an Asian. And then what, what the kind of reality I'm living? You know, I, I was like,
I might, I might not refuse to embrace my relative or I'm just, I'm just do this a
spiritual bypass. You know, I, I don't know which one to be fully realized. I'm Asian. I'm a woman
itself. Is this, is this also sliding into the world of the economy? And then now I can go back
to be a Buddha, which is one, you know, or infinity. It's all like, Ooh, this is something
I just keep wondering. And then another also very important question is about Lotus Sutra,
because I'm a Chinese. I, I actually, after my, my study with you about Lotus Sutra, I realized
that, oh my gosh, Lotus Sutra already suck into Chinese people's blood for at least thousand
years everywhere. I'm like, oh my God. But I also Lotus, I also see Lotus Sutra is,
it's politics, it's marketing, you know, it's a lot of like a reframing,
but I know that, you know, when the Buddha persuade the kids to get up, get out of that house,
which is on fire, some people perceive that was manipulation, right? Some people perceive that was
scheming, you know, some perceive that was a lie, you know, but some people perceive that was love.
So I just, sometimes we can't see it, you know, there's just depends on our own lens. And then
I'm also curious about what's the intention come from. I know Buddhism come from, I do feel it.
Right. But in other situation, I can't feel it. Right. And then maybe it's something me is blocking.
So I was wondering, you know,
whether intention has to, in order to create this harmony, whether this intention
has to come from infinity, which is empty, you know, instead of from, of course, I mean,
many, many cases we see this intention come from ego and we hurt people.
I wouldn't say that intention comes from infinity. I would say intention is infinity in a limited form.
Is infinity. Yeah, you are infinity in this limited form. And this limited form, I'm
curious about to respect this limited form, this Asian form, this woman form to respect
because this woman is infinity in the form of a woman, but not infinity like nothing,
infinity like everything. You're everything like you and I'm everything like me.
And to understand that is peace and harmony, but to understand that we have to respect,
we have to respect and be curious about this limited person. And also part of respecting
is perhaps wondering if we're doing some trick to avoid taking care of this person. And, you know,
giving attention to this particular person. So we are going to keep being a particular person
for the rest of our lives. Every moment we're going to be a particular limited person.
And I think that person is calling out to be listened to, to be seen with respect and curiosity
and kindness and gentleness. That's what's being asked of us to do towards ourselves and others.
That practice is peace.
So the previously, I didn't realize I'm Asian itself is that means that I didn't love myself
enough or I didn't recognize this form. That's a question you just asked, right? My question is
previously, I didn't realize I'm Asian, you know. Well, you said, first of all, you didn't realize
you're Asian. So that's something to study. Next, your question about it. That's something to study.
Every particular thing is calling to be studied, to be listened to.
Nothing should not be respected. And that universal respect and curiosity
and questioning and wondering is necessary in order to realize peace.
And that's a huge, a huge challenge to be that thorough, thoroughly respectful,
thoroughly curious, thoroughly gentle, thoroughly attentive, thoroughly patient,
thoroughly present, thoroughly quiet and still. All that is being asked of us in relationship to
everything about ourselves and others.
And we can't do that by ourselves. So I can work at that. That's my personal effort. And I'm doing
it. I want to do it. And I may forget, but then I remember. And I also remember that
that's not the whole story, that your practice is included in my effort.
And when I practice curiosity about you or me, you're included in that.
My generosity and patience with my life includes your generosity and patience with yours,
which I think is really wonderful. So it's not just that I'm doing
these wonderful practices. You're included in them. And when I do them, you're included in,
you're doing them too, because I'm doing them. And I'm doing it because you're doing them. Thank you.
Hello, Reb.
Hello, Tyler.
I found myself thinking about something that you said last week, which is that
every person we meet is a future Buddha. And I was thinking that that was metaphorical,
in the sense that everyone isn't going to become a veritable Buddha in the world.
And I'm wondering if it's essentially the same thing as saying that everyone is included in
each other in the sense that everyone includes the Buddha and the Buddha includes everyone.
Or if there's another way of understanding the concept of everyone we encounter as a future
Buddha. I would say that the way you include everybody and everybody's, the way you include
everybody and the way you're included in everybody, that's not a future Buddha. That's Buddha, period.
That is Buddha. But that's not you. And that's not me. The way you include the whole universe
isn't you. The way the whole universe includes you isn't you. But that way is Buddha. Now you,
you're the whole universe like this. You actually are also going to be a future Buddha,
a different Buddha than you are now.
Now, you're a future Buddha. In the future, you will be a present Buddha. There's a time when you'll
be a present Buddha. And for the Buddha, for the Buddha of the future, who's a present Buddha,
you're the past Buddha of that Buddha. And also, right now, the way you are including the whole
universe, and the way you're including the whole universe, that is Buddha. But you're still this
future Buddha. And that's the particular that you've been talking about that's enmeshed with
the universal. Yeah. And you're a particular that's enmeshed with the universal right now.
And the way that reciprocity is working, that is Buddha. But the full realization of that has not
yet taken place. Which I think you could probably say, yeah, I think this could be deepened this
realization. For example, I sometimes forget about this reciprocity. I sometimes forget to be
respectful. And fortunately, when I forget, I usually think that's not what I want to do.
That's good. And that person who thinks is good, that he remembers occasionally what he really
wants to do, that person is a future Buddha. But even somebody who doesn't even think it would be
good to be patient and respectful, that person is a future Buddha, too. And even if I tell
them that they are, and they'd reject it, they're still a future Buddha. But I myself do not reject
that idea. I find it really useful to apply to people who do reject that idea. And I apply it to
people who accept the idea. I want to apply it to everybody, because it helps me be respectful.
I want to be respectful, and that teaching supports my respecting everybody.
And I think everybody can deepen their practice. I mean,
the practice, their realization can deepen and deepen and deepen, more or less without end.
And in the same kind of understanding of a Buddha, that then applies to what you've been
discussing in terms of Zen meditation being only a Buddha with a Buddha. Is this particular
instance of the universal encountering the universal, is a Buddha together with a Buddha?
In reality, the reality of it? Yes, that's what it is. That's what it is. And that and that way
of being is the reality of all things. And it's good to, it's good that this teaching
has been made into the world. And it would be good if you took care of it.
Right.
I aspire to that. Absolutely.
Thank you. Thank you.
Maybe one more.
Leslie, you're muted.
Okay, I'm a little nervous in a way. I had a couple questions. I'm wondering if I could share
a, because I wasn't understanding so much. But when you were explaining
how to, how you would intercede with somebody who's hitting their children
in a different way. It's okay to stop them, but it's a different way. I just wanted, suddenly I
got it. Because when my son is now 23, but when he was about three, and he was always just running
and crazy. And he was running through the airport. And I've never hit my children, but I grabbed him
and I'm screaming at him and saying, stop doing that. Stop. And really violent kind of. And
somebody touched my shoulder and said, may I help you? And I just burst out crying. And it stopped
me. And I was just like, thank you. That's all I needed. Because somebody else could have done what
I've been wanting to do when I see a screaming parent. Say, how dare you talk to your child
that way? That's horrible. And that stayed with me forever. It's a wonderful example.
So thank you. It's back. So maybe they did, maybe you didn't stop when they touched you.
But it was more than just that you stopped. It's that they gave you peace.
Both. That's what you really wanted. But it also stayed with me past that.
It's how I treated my son. Exactly. It's a teaching. So that's another point of it.
Not only does it make peace at the moment, but it's a teaching of how to make peace in the future.
Yeah. And it stayed with me. Yeah. So all these stories of peacemakers
get transmitted over the centuries. Yeah. But they don't stop the violence.
They just transmit ways of dealing with it. So somebody is being violent. Instead of like
stopping them, you might say, may I help you? And if you see some parent being cruel to their child,
you might be able to go up to them and say, may I help you? And they might stop.
They might stop. But the thing is, you're really trying to help them. You're not trying to stop
them. Maybe they won't stop. But even if they don't stop, you still say, may I help you?
You still transmit this compassion to them, which they might not pick up on right away.
You did. But sometimes it takes a few minutes or a few years, but it gets transmitted. That's
what we're trying to do. We're trying to transmit compassion rather than control the universe
into having no violence. That's not going to happen. Volcanoes are still going to happen.
Children are still going to scream and hit their siblings and their parents.
But when that happens, we can meet it with respect. We can meet it with, can I help you?
And you can transmit that now, right? Yeah.
Thank you, Leslie. It's a wonderful example to end on. Thank you, everybody, for this
great series. And I hope we can do this again someday when we grow up.
I hope our future beings can continue. Wonderful kindness we're bestowing on each other. Thank you
being so kind to me. Thank you for questioning me. Thank you for doubting me. Thank you for
respecting me. And I hope I have respected you. I hope you feel my respect and my appreciation
and my questioning of you.
Thank you, Reb. Thank you, Reb. Thank you.