Yoga Room Class - October 12th, 2021

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Last summer we had a series of meetings, and many of you came to those meetings and last summer there seemed to be great suffering in our world. And now we start another series, and there still seems to be a new, fresh world of suffering. We don't know about tomorrow, but today there's pain and suffering and fear and discomfort and anxiety and greed, hate and delusion. So, yeah, and last summer we studied compassion, we studied different types of compassion, as presented in an ancient Indian text.


And this fall, I want to continue to study compassion, and I want to emphasize, put more emphasis on the study. And I want to call, as a kind of playful thing, I want to call our study scientific study. So the agenda I want to offer for you is the agenda of scientifically exploring, examining, experimenting with, observing,


questioning, wondering about suffering and the nature of suffering, and also wondering and observing and exploring compassion. Wondering about what compassion is. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, at a Noah Bode talk, that Socrates said, a life, an unexamined life is not worth living. And again, that's a rather strong statement. But he might have also said, a life of unexamined suffering is not worth living, or a life of unexamined compassion is not worth living.


I'm not saying that. What I say more positively is that by examining compassion, we may discover what it really is, and also what suffering is, and also who we really are. I propose that without practicing compassion, in the form of observing ourselves, and exploring ourselves, wondering about what we are, experimenting with what we are, we will not realize who we are. And this will postpone the realization of great compassion and great awakening. So the word agenda, the root of the word agenda, the root of it is to agree.


In Latin, agere, to agree, is the root of the word. Now the definition is an item for discussion in a meeting. So can we agree on our meetings discussing and examining compassion, which means involves examining and questioning suffering? Can we agree on that? And can we agree to use the spirit of exploration and questioning as a way to understand compassion? Can we agree on that? Perhaps we can. Since you came to this meeting, maybe you've already agreed on that.


So what do you say? Should we agree on that agenda? Make that our agenda? I shouldn't do this, but I want to say that I don't think the root of agenda means to agree. Oh, I just looked it up in a dictionary, and it just said that the Latin root was meant to agree. But you can look up in a different dictionary and tell us what you find. My source says it means to do, which is what I thought it meant, and therefore agenda. That's a later meaning. The earlier root is to agree. The later Latin is something to do. I should know better than to not agree with you. So anyway, the earlier root is agire, the later meaning, the later Latin root is something to do. So I'm proposing that we agree on what we're going to be doing. Is that okay? Can we start with that at least?


Well, I have to say, I think agree actually comes from gre, which comes from gratis, which is pleasing. Okay, great. We can bring that into it too. Maybe it'll be pleasing that we agree on what we're studying together. Fundamentally pleasing that we're studying together. Yuki? In your description, you use the word science, and I wondered if you're suggesting a particular way of looking at compassion. No. And so now I'll give you some definitions of science. So there's more than one science. So a simple definition of science is study, an activity of studying through experimentation and observation. That's the simplest one I offer.


Another one is intellectual and practical activity of studying the nature and behavior of phenomena in an organized and systematic way through experimentation and observation. So some definitions of science embrace the systematic organized approach, but many scientists did, like the Buddha. The Buddha observed and investigated and experimented. But the Buddha did not present a system, a systematically organized way of science. However, the Buddha's disciples made three collections of teachings.


And they called these three collections, the three baskets, Tripitaka. The first basket is the Buddha's discourses, the Buddha sharing the discoveries that Buddha made by compassionate research and compassionate observing and compassionate experimentation. Through this means the Buddha discovered this thing we call Dharma. I'm proposing that we too, through compassionate investigation and observation of phenomena, we can discover the Dharma and we can discover the true nature of compassion, which is the Dharma. But in the Tripitaka, we have first the Buddha sharing the revelations that came from the agenda of compassion through the practice of deep, open-minded, thorough, dispassionate, trial and error, experiment, observation, and observation.


Inquiry and questioning. That led to this discovery, which the Buddha shared. And when the Buddha shared the discovery, the Buddha sometimes also told the story of the research, which led to the discovery. And I wish to share with you some of the Buddha's sharing of the process that he went through to discover the Dharma. And I want to say now, and I'll try to remind you, I invite you to look into the teachings of the early teachings, which we have translated from Pali into English. Look in the early teachings, look in the Mahayana teachings, look in the Zen teachings, and see if you can find examples of where ancient practitioners, the Buddha and the Buddha's disciples, where they, in their compassionate wish to benefit all beings and realize awakening,


find examples of how they experimented and observed and discovered. So the Buddha's discourses share the revelations, share the discoveries, but some of them also share the process of inquiry that the Buddha went through, the process of experiment that the Buddha went through, and also the process of the Buddha giving others experiments to try and watching how they did the experiment and got the same revelation. That's the first aspect of Buddha's teaching called the sutras or the discourses. The next aspect, the next basket of Buddha's teachings is called the Abhidharma in Sanskrit or Abhidharma in Pali. And that collection is actually a systematic organized presentation of Buddha's scientific methods and scientific discoveries.


And then the third basket is called the Vinaya Pitaka, the basket of ethical discipline. And we need to practice ethical precepts in order to make it possible for us to effectively and successfully study, observe, experiment with phenomena in order to discover who we are. So there's unlimited numbers of experiments that we can do and unlimited ways of wondering and exploring. Because we're exploring, you know, admitting that we don't really know what the Buddha Dharma is, we don't really know what the truth is, but we can discover it by humbly exploring.


So today, you know, each of us had a day up till now. And today, I don't want to hear from you right now, but I give you the question to look back at the day and see if you practice compassion with your own discomforts and your own suffering. And did you practice observing your own suffering and your own discomforts? Did you do any experiments with your own suffering and your own anxiety and your own suffering? And did you observe other people's suffering and did you do so with compassion? And did you do any experiments with other people's suffering? Did you make any inquiries with this observation of their suffering?


Did you try any experiments with other people's suffering? This is for you to look back for today. And I also suggest that we do it tomorrow. Now, I myself have, you know, I have the gift that this morning I unexpectedly woke up and got out of bed and I got this huge slap in the body of pain. I have been feeling pretty good coming along in my recovery from the surgery. And I got this huge pain in my knee this morning. Unexpectedly, I've been getting out of bed and it hasn't been painful. And this morning was very painful. And yeah, I observed it. And then I have been trying to be compassionate towards and it's been easy to remember that I have the pain.


I've been trying to be kind to it. But I'm also did lots of experiments with it. And I have all kinds of exercises and ice packs. And I have hands. And I've been experimenting with dealing with the pain in my knee all day long. Not nonstop, but because I've also met some people today. And I had a chance to practice with them and do experiments with them. So, again, I'm offering an assignment for me and for you is to pay attention to observe your personal suffering of your body and your conscious mind and observe the suffering of others. And observe your practice of compassion with that.


Now, observing is already compassion, but recognize that observing as an act of compassion. And then start investigating and experimenting. And for me, also, I guess I trust experimenting without trying to get something. So, when the pain first came this morning, I didn't even hardly knew where it was coming from. It was so big. And then I finally found out where it was located. The part of my leg where it was located. And then I could touch those places and find that some places, when I touched them, were much more painful than other places. And I didn't touch them roughly. I touched them just a little to find out where it hurt the most. And then I experimented massaging the places where the inside of my left knee hurt most.


And I just did that a lot today. And I put ice packs on it. And also I walked. So, I walked. I did some exercises. I massaged. I used ice packs. I did all that experimenting with this pain inside of my left knee. And again, I also did some experiments with some people I met today. Some in person and some on Zoom. But I recommend that each of you do that starting now and tomorrow and for the rest of the week. And maybe even try to remember which days you practiced it. Did you remember every day to do it? I will try to do it every day. Again, I have this advantage of this knee which is calling loudly to me. Tomorrow it may be quiet and it may be harder for me to remember it. And also I'm asking you to look in what you've read of Buddhism in ancient texts, in the Zen texts,


and also in your own history of times when you observed your suffering, questioned it, experimented with it. Of course, sometimes you maybe also tried to get rid of it. And I know that happens sometimes. But I'm not talking about getting rid of pain. I'm talking about observing it, experimenting with it, exploring it. Getting rid of it, I'm not prohibiting getting rid of pain. I'm just talking about a different practice, a scientific investigation of pain as part of compassionate embrace and also a scientific engagement in studying compassionate self. Also, I don't know if I want to bring it up right now, but I want to tell you,


some of you were not in the last class, most of you were, but I want to apply the scientific observation and experimentation to the three types of compassion which we discussed in our previous series of meetings. So I don't want to bring it up right now. I want to sort of get practical now. And then maybe next time I want to relate scientific investigation to those three kinds of compassion we discussed. Is that okay to wait? I can't see if it's okay. I see some thumbs up, yeah. So I've just tried to give you some work to do. Did you get some work to do? The agenda is what to do, right?


Can we agree on what to do? Make it our agenda? I also want to mention that the inquiry doesn't set the agenda. We set the agenda. Our compassion sets the agenda. And then we use the inquiry to probe and understand what our agenda is. So let's see. Yeah, we... Actually, I think we have quite a bit of time left, so I'm going to do what I said I wasn't going to do. And that is relate the three types of compassion to science. So the first type of compassion, which many of you remember, we called sentimental compassion.


The second is compassion in accord with Dharma. And the third was called great compassion. So I would like to start off by saying that the first type of compassion is a type of compassion where we do not really observe it. And we do not really experiment with it. We do not really question it. It's like practicing compassion with no examination of it. It's unexamined compassion. That's the first type of compassion. It's still compassion, but being unexamined, its true nature will not be revealed. Unexamined means we think this is compassion and we don't question what we think. We think this is compassion and we don't experiment to test what we think.


We don't question it. That's the first type of compassion where we're practicing compassion, we're practicing kindness, we're practicing generosity, but not examining it. Taking it as being what we think it is, without being called into question. And here is a place where, you know, nowadays some scientists want to do scientific research and they do not want to share their discoveries with other people. But I would say that the kind of scientific study that I'm hoping we will do is community scientific study. Where we'll help each other and call each other ideas of compassion into question. Call each other's idea into the nature of suffering into question. But in the first type of compassion, we do not question what is suffering, we do not question what is compassion. And that kind of compassion is called sentimental, and it leads to burnout, and it leads to giving up that type of compassion.


The second type of compassion is where we start scientifically studying what we're compassionate towards, and what we think compassion is. We start to realize that we are basically ignorant about what suffering is, and what our practice of compassion is. We realize that we're practicing illusory compassion towards illusory suffering and illusory beings. But by questioning and experimenting with these illusions, we discover the third type of compassion, which is great compassion. Wherein we no longer adhere to anything, including any idea of what suffering is, any idea of what beings are, any idea of what compassion is. In other words, we realize unsurpassed, complete, perfect enlightenment.


So again, the first type of compassion is compassion without scientific inquiry. Without the humility of recognizing that we are ignorant, and that we need to explore and observe and investigate in order to penetrate our ignorance. Not getting rid of our ignorance, but compassionately studying it. That's the second type of compassion. And the third type of compassion is where we actually understand the nature of the other two types, and the nature of suffering, and the nature of life and death. So now I think I could ask, again, one more thing I want to mention is just tonight's example of the Buddha doing inquiry, doing experiments.


So this is the fourth scripture, the fourth sutta in the collection of sutras called the Middle Length Sutras. So the first basket of teaching, which is the sutra basket. One of the scriptures there, one of the collections within that big basket is sub-baskets, and one of them is called the Middle Length Sayings. There's also Long Sayings, and Associated Sayings, and so on. But in the Middle Length Sayings, which are the Middle Length ones, number four is called Fear and Dread. And in that scripture, a Brahman layman comes to the Buddha and says to the Buddha, Are you the teacher of this great assembly?


And the Buddha says, Mm-hmm, I am. And are you like the role model and the exemplar of how to practice for these people? He said, Yes. And then the teacher said, But why do you go out and why did you used to go out into the dangerous wild forests to practice? Because aren't those forest places where it's very dangerous and frightening and very difficult to have peace of mind and practice meditation? And the Buddha said, Well, before I understood what was going on, it was disturbing to me, too, to go out into the wild, dangerous forests. But after I understood, it was no longer a problem to me. Matter of fact, I found those dangerous wild forests very lovely places to meditate and practice.


And he said, I was out in the forest one time and I thought to myself, Why do you always get so upset out here in the forest? When you hear the sound of dangerous animal or something, why do you get anxious all the time out here in the forest? Maybe you should investigate the situation. Maybe you should do a little experiment here. So he observed himself. He noticed that he was frightened and dreading being out there in the forest. But then after he observed, he said, Maybe I'll do an experiment. And the experiment I'll do will be when the fear and dread comes, whatever posture I'm in, I will remain in that posture until I'm able to come to peace with the fear and the dread.


And he picked four postures. He could have picked a hundred, but he picked four main postures. So again, he's out there in the forest. Before he had understood what was going on, before he met this lay person, this lay Brahmin whose name is Janasoni, before he met him, he was out in the forest and the forests were frightening to him. And he observed that and he said, Let's do an experiment. Whenever the fear and dread come, do not move from whatever posture you're in until you find peace with the fear. So if he was walking, he would just keep walking until he found peace with the fear and dread. If he was sitting, he would just continue sitting until the peace with the dread and the fear was realized.


If he was reclining in the forest and the fear and the dread came, he would continue to recline. And if he was standing, he would just continue standing. And he said, When I did this, when I did these experiments in these different postures with the fear and the dread, I did find peace and ease in the forest. I was able to settle down in the dangerous, frightening forest. And I found Nirvana there. So this is an example of the Buddha observing himself, noticing that he was anxious, and then deciding to investigate it by an experiment. I wonder what would happen if I just stay where I am.


And I'm going to watch to see, can I calm down with it? So he observed and then he decided to do an experiment. And he watched the experiment and this is a successful scientific experiment that he did. At the end of the scripture, after he tells this story about his awakening, through this experimentation, he said, Someone might think that because I still go out in the forest. So again, he went out in the forest and did this experiment to become free of greed, hate and delusion. That's what the experiment was for. To become free of the anxiety and dread that comes from greed, hate and delusion. He found peace with these fears and dreads and also the greed, hate and delusion dropped away.


So at the end of the scripture, he says, Someone might think, if I still go out in the forest, maybe I'm not free of greed, hate and delusion. But he said, That would not be so. I am free of greed, hate and delusion. I no longer go out in the forest to become free of greed, hate and delusion. I'm already free. I discovered freedom from fear and dread, greed, hate and delusion in the forest, in the midst of this suffering by doing this experiment with it. The reason I continue to go in the forest is because I enjoy it. For me, it's a lovely place to meditate. And the second reason I go out there is to encourage and guide future generations. And the second reason is now being realized right now in this group.


The Buddha's experiment is now guiding us to try similar experiments with our greed, hate, delusion, fear and dread. Can you see how the Buddha was observing, questioning? He observed and then he questioned himself and then he experimented. Then he observed and experimented, observed and experimented over and over until he realized nirvana in this particular scripture. And I'll bring more later. And I invite you to look for them and see if you can find some too. Where you find the Buddha observing human suffering, observing the suffering of sentient beings, and asking himself questions, and asking others questions, and doing experiments to find out the truth. So these are some assignments I've given you. Any questions about the assignments or comments?


Do we call on ourselves or are you calling on us? Well, let me just say first, were these assignments, first of all, were my suggestions clear? Maybe we could start by asking questions about the assignment that I've given to us so we can go to work, so we can work on this agenda. So first of all, let me ask you, what is what I'm suggesting, these multiple study projects that I've offered, are they clear? Do you want to ask questions about the work? Again, the practical work of observing and investigating? Charlie? Hello. Hello. Thank you for bringing up this topic of science and Zen. This is a hot button topic for me.


I rebelled against my physics studies in college because I thought they weren't asking the right questions, and that's what drove me to Zen. Because I feel like Zen asks questions in the right way. And actually, there was a book called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It was very rebellious against science and academia, analytic thought, because it leaves out so much of human experience and other ways of knowing. So one of the foundations of scientific thought and the scientific method is the hypothesis. And that's a prerequisite for an experiment, in my understanding, is you need to formulate a hypothesis in order to be actually testing something, actually experimenting with something.


If you just mix a bunch of things together and say, let's see what will happen, that's not technically called an experiment. That's just playing around. And one of the challenges, the core challenge to me, if I went into graduate study, this was going to be my dissertation, is the origin of hypothesis. How do you come up with the question of what are we trying to test? For the Buddha to think to himself, well, what if I just maintain four postures and see what happens? That was brilliant. That was the stroke of enlightenment to me, even before the experiment was run. So my question for you about the work we're supposed to do is, I guess, what's the hypothesis? Could I hold your question, what's the hypothesis, for a second?


Yes. Okay, so I said that science was the intellectual and practical activity of studying phenomena through observation and experimentation. But science is also, I didn't say it, but science is also a body of knowledge, which comes through this observation and experimentation. And usually when we go to high school physics classes or even college physics classes, we are not doing science, usually. We're learning the results of scientific discoveries. We don't discover force equals mass times acceleration. We don't discover that. And also, we don't usually question it and ask somebody to prove it in the class.


So a lot of what we call physics class is actually learning Newton's and other people's discoveries, which came to them through experimentation. So, if you want to say that, if we're going to be observing and experimenting, if you want to open up the experiment and say that experimenting could involve a hypothesis, yeah, an hypothesis, and then doing something to test the hypothesis. So, in the case of the Buddhist story, he observed himself that he did become frightened in the forest. And he said, why do I just keep doing this? What would happen if I experimented in this way?


Now, the hypothesis might have been, would I become free? Would I become at peace with this? And what he didn't exactly say, my hypothesis is that if I do not change my posture that I'm in, when the fear comes, my hypothesis is I will find peace with it. But he almost said it. I will just remain in this until, so he's testing to see if this practice of being still, finding the stillness in the middle of the suffering, if that will pacify and calm the suffering or find a calm place with the suffering. So there was a kind of hypothesis in there. Yeah. And I have other examples, which I'll give in future classes, of where the Buddhist says, try this. And if you try this, when you actually realize this, then this will happen.


So try this experiment. And I'm predicting that if you do this, then you'll find this. So in this case, there was kind of a hypothesis, even though he didn't state it. It was embedded in, I'm going to do this until maybe, maybe I'll calm down with this. There's a possibility of peace in the middle of suffering. Let's try this experiment and see if we can find peace in the middle of suffering in this way. So I think there was a hypothesis there in a way. Yeah. And happily, for himself, he verified it. And the person who's questioning him, the Brahman, Jānasūni, he hasn't seen that yet. He thinks it's crazy that the Buddha is still doing that. And at the end, Buddha says, I'm doing that for you, that you could try this too now. You could test it too.


And that's another part of modern science, is welcoming people to do the experiment and verify it. And I think that spirit also I find really compatible with the Buddha's teaching. I did this experiment. I got this result. Why don't you try it? And if you don't, let's look at how you did the experiment. Maybe you did it, maybe you should try it a different way, it'll work for you. And that often happens too in science. They try to verify the thing and then they don't verify it. That doesn't prove it's wrong. And then they try to do it another, if they're interested in it, they try it another way. And sometimes the second time they prove it, and sometimes second time they don't. But you can't really disprove the hypothesis. You can only, you can disprove it. You could say, if this happens, then I would throw out this hypothesis. And I think the spirit of Buddhism is, if this doesn't work, we should throw it out and make another hypothesis.


And sometimes scientists, people who are professional scientists, are not questioning themselves anymore. They're not like, you know, again, in a high school science class, where force equals mass times acceleration. The teacher doesn't say, okay, now let's try to find out how did Newton come up with this? Or that the strength of the light is inversely proportional to the distance. How did he come up with that? Let's go back and go through his study of what he observed. And then the mathematics he did to come up with this principle, that the strength of the light is inversely proportional to the distance it is away. And again, that would be a great science class, but most schools maybe won't let people do that,


because it requires an interested student body, that they actually would find that interesting rather than just memorizing the equations. Okay, yeah, I would always be asking, I was the one who was always asking those questions. Yeah, sometimes they didn't say thank you sometimes. When the Buddha says, I'm going to try these four postures, I say, that sounds like a fun experiment. But wait a minute, where'd you come up with that idea? You know, where's that coming from? And I think maybe Newton would get the same answer that you always get. When somebody asks you how, which is well, generously, patiently, ethically, compassionately. I mean, I think like being still and opening. Mysteriously, hypotheses arise. That's the best I've been able to come up with. Yeah, he was practicing his best out there in the forest.


And then he thought, oh, why do I keep doing this? Maybe I could do something different. And why do you think of that? Well, because I have these four postures. And those are the postures I'm in when I'm afraid. So I thought I'll check these out. If I was doing something different, it would have been a different experiment. If I was feeling other kinds of suffering, then I would question those and make peace with those. Thank you for that contribution. Any other questions about the practical side of studying compassion? Yes. Tracy. Thank you. You're welcome. I do first want to say, Reb, that I can't start this series with you without just letting you know how enormously grateful I am.


And I think we all are that you are teaching us and that you have been teaching us. Particularly now, I guess, particularly in these times, but maybe not particularly, maybe just in general. And I don't know, I'm just almost overwhelmed with gratitude at your continued teaching of us. So I wanted to say that at the get-go to you. Thank you for inspiring me to teach. You're welcome. Now, this isn't the first or second or even third time this has happened where you bring us a topic and it's like you just designed it for me. You reached into my life. And this whole examining of the science of examining compassion. I just have an example of this retroactive for two days ago.


It's just right here in my face, big time. 23 years ago to the day, I was leading a trip to Tibet with 10 women. For some reason, this group just became, we were from all over the United States, but we bonded. And for the last 23 years, we have stayed in touch, every single one of the 10 of us. And every two years, we get together and have an in-person reunion in the East Coast or the West Coast or my house or somewhere. It's just, nobody can understand it, but it's magical. Deep love and compassion for one another. We were supposed to meet last weekend in my house here in Orinda. And in planning it, it turned out two of the women were not vaccinated. And when that came up in the prep call, half the group or more said, whoa, wait a minute. No, no, [...] no. I don't want to be with you. No, no, no. Game over. We're not doing it.


And I mean, these are people like we gave each other our contacts so that when we die, we'll reach out to our brothers and sisters. You know, it was that deep. So it was like, brakes on. And then three said, no, no, well, I'm coming anyway. But basically, the group said, if you're not vaccinated, we don't want you to come. And that was just so unheard of for the group to act that way with itself. Anyway, so three came to my house for this weekend. We had an amazing, wonderful time. Yes, they're vaccinated. I'm vaccinated. And we decided to meet with the rest of the group by Zoom on Sunday, which we did. And one of the non-vaccinated people was on the call. And we started by like, hi, how was your weekend? How was your weekend? And she said, my weekend was so great. I just spent it with 700 people live in an I don't remember the name of some convention of all unvaccinated people, all unmasked, all together, talking about how right they are.


And she was she was glowing. She was so happy. And I'm with the two Berkeley radicals here in my own house. And while she's sharing like this, they're like, you know, that's fine as long as you don't mind killing everybody. Great for your freedom of anyway, it was like, wait, wait, what's happening? And I was kind of giving them the silent elbow. Wait, wait, wait, just let her talk. But now here's here's the examination. So I saw they have no compassion for the two people who are deeply personally against vaccinations. But then I noticed I was starting to lose compassion for these two people whose politics I basically even agree with. But wait, that doesn't work either. And so now I don't really. I'm confused, but I'm examining. I'll say that, but I don't.


And so then the anti-vaxxer sent me a long hour and a half video today of one her of one of her favorite anti-vax doctors. And I don't listen to any of that stuff. But I did as a as an experiment in openness. I decided to try to listen to the world from her from the point of view of this person I love. And so I did listen to this thing. OK, I don't have any conclusions, but I wanted to say I feel like I'm doing the homework. Yeah. So observing, you're doing the observing. And you're also doing some experimenting. And I think, again, the hypothesis is that if we learn to listen to all sentient beings, we will be Avalokiteshvara.


Avalokiteshvara doesn't agree with all sentient beings. Like if some say 2 plus 2 is 4 and some people say 2 plus 2 is 10, Avalokiteshvara doesn't agree with maybe either one of them. Who knows? But Avalokiteshvara listens to all of them. And would give her life for all of them. And would talk to and question all of them. Even the people who say 2 plus 2 is 4 might say, where'd you get that? Might question that. Even people who say force is mass times acceleration, you say, where'd you get that? And they say, well, I got it in high school physics. Where did they get it? So I think your hypothesis is the Buddhadharma. And you're trying to see how does it apply to these amazing situations where people have such different views.


How can we get people of different views to join the program of practice? How can we get people who are anti-vaccine people to start observing and practicing compassion and questioning themselves? And allowing themselves to be questioned. How can we get people who love to be with a lot of people who agree with them, how can we get those people to spend some time being with people that they don't agree with? Well, maybe if we listen to people we don't agree with, that will help them. And some of the people we don't agree with want to be only with people they agree with. Somebody needs to help them. So if you're willing to be with loved people you don't agree with, you can help some of these people who you agree with and don't agree with,


who only want to be with people they agree with. Well, you know, so I thought I was being this nice little Buddha by listening to the anti-vaxxer friend with an open heart. But then I noticed I started to vilify the people who couldn't do that and who weren't doing that. So I was just repeating the lack of compassion. I just changed the focus to people who without compassion. So then I stopped having compassion for them. That's part of the thing I feel like I'm... One time, many years ago, one time there was a Super Bowl game, one of those Super Bowl Sundays. And the two teams were both teams which I could consider my home team. It was my home team from Minnesota, where I grew up with. Actually, they didn't even have a professional football team when I was a kid. But anyway, it's from my hometown. And the other team was from Oakland, which is kind of my hometown. So Oakland and Minnesota were playing. So I observed the situation and I observed, I could root for either side.


I observed that and I thought, hey, I could do an experiment here. So, and my hypothesis was, I bet that depending on what side I take, my view of the world will change. That was my hypothesis. And so I started out by viewing, by taking the side of the people who I was in the room with. I was in a room with a bunch of people from the Bay Area. So I started out by taking their point of view. And I thought they were fine rooting for their home team, the Raiders. So then after a little while, I switched and started to join, root for the Vikings. I didn't say anything, but I started to root for the Vikings. And I noticed that I thought that these Raider, that the Oakland fans, I started to see, they started to seem quite obnoxious.


But I was experimenting with what would happen if I took these different views. And sure enough, and then I switched back the other way and it flipped back the other way. So my hypothesis is, when you start rooting for one side over the other, something happens to you. And I did that experiment. Usually, it's pretty hard to actually switch from one side to the other. But if you're able to, you can observe this amazing thing. And that would be an experiment to verify the hypothesis that how the world we see depends on our projections and our investments. That's the hypothesis. And the other hypothesis aspect of that is, if we become free of that, we will be free of everything. But in the meantime, we may slip and slide and just go from one side to the other.


Which is part of the observation. It's more data to experiment with. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Wonderful example. Sarah. Hello. Hi. So I've been thinking about my own observations that I'm making about myself. And so I'm observing that it's really difficult for me to sort of be in the moment as it is happening. Like whether it's an unpleasant moment or a very lovely moment, I watch myself jump to somewhere else, forward or backward or anywhere, but being now.


And I watch myself do that. And I do it all day long. And that's my observation. And I don't see it changing at all. I just see that that's what I do. Okay. So this is a good example of something you can study. Like, again, when I got up in the morning and this big pain came, I was not able to actually be there. I just went, I just screamed. So in a way, I was with the scream pretty much because being with the scream was not so hard. But I couldn't like just be with that without making that sound. It wasn't really, it was more like a groan than a scream.


It was more like, oh! And, but I wasn't like, it took me a while to like be more and more with the pain and actually then settle down into where it was and locate it so I could address it and experiment with it. So you might, if you can't, you might try to find some examples like an example I often try myself also is going into cold water. So a lot of people who like when they go into the bay or into the ocean, they just run in screaming. They feel the cold, but they don't feel it moment by moment. It's just a big flurry of activity. I try to go in and see if I can feel the water as it comes up my body little by little by little. Just feel every, because it's kind of an incremental thing to go in deeper into the water.


And if the water is not really rough, like in the bay, when I swim in the bay, I can feel it coming up my skin. And it is difficult to stay right there with every like half inch as it rises on my body. But the more I do it, the more I can be there. So you might try to find something that you notice you're kind of jumping away from. And pick it and go there and work with it and try to experience it little by little. So like an arena where I can tolerate the present moment. Yeah. And generally speaking, the practice of patience is to learn how to experience the discomfort in the smallest moment of time.


And if you can do that with, you know, a level two pain and be there with that, then you can do it with level two and a half, maybe. But still, it wouldn't be like go from a moment of level two to a minute of level three. Just a tiny, a tiny little taste of two and a half and then a tiny taste. So pick some things that are difficult. I don't know what the sound of somebody's voice. Find something that you can actually be with for a little bit of time and see if you can like really be there for that and locate the discomfort and be there in that place and that time. Just for just for the moment. Okay, that's helpful. Thank you. Yeah. And you may and you may. And you also said you do that all day long, but I think what you meant by do it all day long, I'm guessing, is you jump all day long. You don't observe all day long.


True. You miss a few jumps. Yeah. But it would be good to start observing the jumping. Observing the jumping will help you find yourself just before the jump. Which is the place right after maybe you took too big a bite of pain. And if it's too big, you jump. Like I said this morning, it was too big. I couldn't focus on it. It just came in this huge package. I couldn't really be there for it. But now I can. Now I've found it and I'm working with it. And, you know, I'm finding my way with this pain and getting to the small location or smaller locations and feeling it in bite size doses of pain is helping me find my way with it.


I got a little better today at working with this particular pain. And I started out not, I wasn't too good. Thank you, Sarah. Hello. Hello. I'm sorry you had so much pain with this. I wish it was easier. And it's interesting to hear how you work with it. Yeah, if it was easier, you wouldn't be able to hear about it. So, I have a question and going, you know, on, maybe a little bit with what Charlie said about working with a hypothesis, and I guess my observation is that quite often, you know, the observer has to be neutral, and there's, there's an observer bias that gets into this process sometimes so how to work with that.


So that it's just simple curiosity and not trying to prove a particular result. Well, if, if you weren't, if you were observing, and you know, if you were observing, then you would also have an opportunity to perhaps observe if there's some bias in your observation. And if so, you let like again in my example of watching these two teams. I was playing with, with biases, and I was observing what happened with the biases, you can do that with yourself in some, whatever the arena is, is, you can start playing with the bias, noticing it, and, you know, relaxing with it and playing with it. And that will, that in itself would be a wonderful observation and experiment, which then could lead you to go back to the earlier observation with more flexibility.


And again, the flexibility goes with exploring, wondering, questioning. Yeah. I think that the difficulty that comes up and, you know, is wanting to wanting to be right or wanting to be a winner in this. Oh yeah, you know, well that's again that's wanting to be right is one of the main. Yeah, things to observe. It's really good if we're, if throughout our day, if we notice that wanting to be right. Wanting to be right is a great thing to observe. And then once we say, Oh, I wanted to be right. Now, let's do an experiment with it. And what kind of experiment do we want to do with this wish to be right, which I observed in myself.


And we could also maybe notice the wish to be right in others, that, you know, we might like one time I was playing some game with my grandson, and he was cheating and I said, Why are you cheating and he says, because I want to win. So I observed in him that he kind of had a bias. And I, but I didn't get angry at him. I just asked him, Well, how come? But if I noticed that I was trying to win. I might ask myself, or if I'm playing with a child, and they're cheating. I might ask myself, you know, why don't I want to go along with it. What's the problem just letting them cheat. And I might come up with some reasons. Like, well, I think maybe not so good for me to go along with your cheating, maybe rather than just go along with it, I could talk to them about about what's going on.


Not because I'm trying to win. But because I'm trying to wonder why they, why are they cheating. I'm inquiring. But I could do the same with myself. Why are you trying to win this game, which is more important to win the game, or to, you know, or to love your, your playmates. Would you rather win the game or love your playmates. And some people say well, both please. Yeah, I think that's the truth of our lives quite often. All right. Do you want to be right or do you want to be friends. Which is most important. Observe that and question that. Explore that. These are the opportunities for exploration in daily life. Thank you. Thank you.


Linda. Reb, greetings. Greetings. So, I would like to ask you about a possible experiment that I can do, or observation, inspired by the example you gave of the Buddha going into the wild, into wilderness. And maybe he did have some dread that he otherwise he wouldn't have had anything to observe. And so at first, maybe he had some dread, and he did what you described. So I was thinking what could I observe, and this is what I thought of, I have a compulsive action that I do, you know. No matter what's going on, I will do this, you know, and then I'll look at my email, and then I'll look at something else, even when I'm engaged in a really important conversation.


And behind that is some anxiety that I'm covering up like I'm afraid to not do it. We won't, you know, like, there aren't any wild animals here but maybe there's some wild animals in my mind. So I was thinking, okay, the Buddha decided not to move when he felt the dread coming up, like I'll feel dread coming up if I don't do that. But then, is he some kind of Superman that he could just decide to not react to that, to not give in to that? Because if I try not to do it, I'm just going to be using willpower for five minutes or something like that. It's like holding my breath, you know. How to observe when you're, do you see what I'm saying? I'm not sure I see what I'm saying. I do, you're getting into it, that's good. Yeah, so you got some advice for me?


So we're talking about the phone. And so it sounds like you can observe, it sounds like you have been observing yourself. And that's fundamental is to observe. Next, what you have observed is some anxiety about if you do not do something to that device. If you just let it sit there, you're afraid of what will happen if you just let it sit there. Well, yeah, I just, you know, I have a habit in my body, there's some dread that builds up, and then I want to do that to something. But the funny thing about the device is that if you're using the device, and the dread comes up, I think the Buddha would say, I will continue to use the device until I make peace with the dread. I won't stop using it until I make peace with the dread. Well, let's say I'm not using it. Let's say I'm having an important conversation, and the dread comes up, and I want to just interrupt the conversation.


This is something like Sarah's question. Yeah, you want to, you're having a conversation, you say it's an important conversation. I'm doing zazen, you know, I pick up my phone. So now, then you have another conversation, which is a conversation, in a sense, between you and your dread. You're having this conversation, and you don't want to have it anymore. And you don't force yourself to keep doing the conversation. You don't have to force yourself. Just don't do anything else from what you're doing. Because maybe you realize, if I do something else, that will disperse that confrontation. Maybe. So there's some gift that would allow me to pause and not, and observe, rather than compulsively act it out.


Well, I think you are doing the observing. But what you don't seem to be doing is saying, okay, I'm going to experiment with this, rather than I'm going to leave. You are observing, and then you stop observing and do something. So now we have the agenda is, the thing to do is to continue to observe. That's the thing to do. That's the agenda. Then, and not do anything else. You've got a job here, which is not stopping yourself from doing something else. It's just observing what you're doing. If you do something else, that's your business. But doing something else is not the name of the game. The name of the game is just continue to observe in the situation you're in. With these calls of, you should move, you should stand up, you should lie down.


The Buddha heard those calls too. But the Buddha said, I'm not going to heed those, and I'm not going to try to sit, I'm not going to try to stand. It just said, if I am standing, what I'm going to do is I'm not going to do anything but what I'm doing. And I'm going to continue observing. And he observed and he saw that he found peace with this anxiety. And that is the agenda, that is the conversation. It's a peacemaking conversation. You're not trying to get rid of the anxiety. He didn't try to get rid of it. He stayed with it and peace came. Wish me luck. I wish you good fortune on this great adventure. So this is a great scientific adventure. The theory is, if we can observe and do the experiment of staying with the painful thing, being with it, that we have a chance to find peace with it.


Including that if we can't, we observe that too. You know, I can't go, I can't stand this moment by moment increase of the cold water. I got to go in faster. Okay. And try it again. Next time try it a little slower. It's the same water going in fast and slow. It's just that if you're going slowly, you feel it inch by inch of your body, rather than just one big splash, and it's over. Some people jump in the water and they're not very present. They cannot tell you what happened there, just a big splash. But if you go into the same water, moment by moment, you'd say, yeah, it actually felt different at my stomach than at my chest and at my neck. It does feel different at the ankles and the calf and the thigh and the stomach. And it feels different at the different parts of the skin. And you could be there for it. And it's hard.


And of course, the colder the water, the harder it is. So start maybe, if you can't do it with 60 degree water, start with 70 degree water. Even 70 degree water is quite different from 98.6. So I wish you well. I fare thee well on this great adventure. So please, everyone, have a wonderful week, experimenting with compassion, observing, experimenting, investigating, questioning, compassion, and suffering. Moment by moment, all week, please. May this intention equally extend to every being in place. And may we, together with all beings, realize great compassion. Beings are numberless. We vow to save them. Afflictions are inexhaustible. We vow to walk through them, moment by moment.


Dharma gates are boundless. We vow to enter them. Buddha way is unsurpassable. We vow to become it. Thank you very much. Good night. Thank you, Ram. Thank you, Ram.