Zen Meditation as Bodhisattva Vow

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During this course, we will study the bodhisattva vow, to see how the compassionate intentions of enlightening beings generate, work, and play with the mind of enlightenment to promote peace and harmony among all beings. We will explore ways to reinterpret and reinvigorate these timeless vows to meet the problems of our contemporary society in a beneficial way.

AI Summary: 



coming back to the beginning to remind you that kind of the description of the series of meetings was something like Zen meditation as Bodhisattva vow. And some people go to Zen centers and they want to practice Zen meditation and the instruction they get is like how to sit upright, and then sometimes they're instructed about following their breathing. And so they do sit upright and take care of their posture and follow their breathing, or they don't follow their breathing, but they think if they could sit upright and follow their breathing that they would be doing Zen meditation. And So that's a common understanding of Zen meditation is that it's, for example, to sit upright or stand upright or walk upright, be aware of your posture, be mindful of your posture, and maybe also be mindful of your breathing.


And I hesitate to say that's not Zen meditation. But what I'm proposing to you is that actually Zen meditation is a practice that grew up out of the universal vehicle of the Buddhist tradition. That it's a practice of those who wish to attain enlightenment for the welfare of all beings. It's a practice born of that seed, that vow to realize unsurpassed awakening for the welfare of all beings. That's the seed of enlightenment. And so there is a tradition to teach meditation in such, that is to teach a meditation which is founded


on that seed and which cares for that seed and develops that seed into the enlightenment of all beings, into an enlightenment of all beings for all beings, or enlightenment for all beings of all beings. That's another, that's what I think is Zen meditation as taught by the, so-called ancestors of the tradition. They may have also taught people to follow their breathing. They may have also taught people to pay attention to where they were walking. They may have taught people to not waste any water. They may have taught people not to waste a leaf of grass. They may have taught people not to throw a piece of paper on the ground. They may have taught people many other things, but I propose to you that whatever they were teaching, they were actually trying to show people how to develop this enlightenment thought.


So by bringing people's attention to caring for water, they were hoping, or are hoping, that beings will discover in the process of caring for the water, the wish to care for all beings in the best possible way, which entails supreme awakening in order to do so, that they will discover this thought, and then they will continue to care for water, or whatever, with that same spirit. And they will not be trying to get anything from water or from a leaf or from a piece of paper. I mean, they may be wishing to do that, but that's not the meditation. The meditation is to care for things without trying to get anything. To care for things without trying to get anything.


to care for things for the benefit of all beings. And the benefit of all beings is not getting something. It's not you getting something. It's not other people getting something. Benefit is not getting something. Benefiting beings is to free beings from trying to get something. Zen meditation is that wish, actually. It's that wish to benefit all beings and to attain enlightenment for the welfare of all beings. It's that wish, and then it's also the ongoing care of that wish until that wish turns into what is wished for, until the wish becomes supreme enlightenment. for all beings.


That's what the Zen, which is taught by the Zen ancestors, is. That's what Zen meditation is. And that meditation is pretty much the same thing as the realization of that wish. It's the realization and the practice are the same. So, as I said also at the beginning, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, Bhagavan, why do you say that Bodhisattvas progress on the path to the enlightenment of all beings by means of great vows? Why do you say that Bodhisattvas produce great vows. Why do you say that bodhisattvas carry out great vows?" And then I told you what the Buddha said. But I want to just say again that I've looked as far as asking about that.


The Buddha says that what bodhisattvas are about is they're about progressing to the realization of Buddha. Not themselves, by themselves, progressing to Buddha. Not them trying to get Buddhahood for themselves, but they're progressing towards the realization of Buddha, which is not excluding anybody. They're progressing towards the realization of a Buddha which includes everyone. They're carrying out the wish to benefit all beings. They're producing the thought to benefit all beings. That's the way they proceed. Zen practice is that way of proceeding. Zen meditation is the way of, is carried out by way of these great vows. It is produced by way of the vows.


It produces a great vow. It cares for a great vow. It realizes a great vow. Okay? I've told you some of you this story before, but anyway, I'm going to tell you again that I was attracted to Zen because of hearing of stories about so-called Zen people, Zen practitioners, Zen monks. And when I heard some of these stories, there were stories about the way these people behaved, about the way they related, mostly to other humans, but sometimes towards things, inanimate things like rocks or something, or water. But mostly, the ones that really got me most, I think, were the way some people related, some humans related to other humans.


And when I heard these stories, I said, I want to be like that. I want to be like that person. It didn't say in those stories that they were, when they described it, the way this person related to other persons. It didn't say, and this person was very calm, and this person was very happy, and this person was very free. It didn't say that. Now, you could say they probably were calm, happy, and free. But that isn't what struck me. Just the way they were was the way I wanted to be. I didn't want to be that way to get happiness from me. Of course, I knew that if I was that way I would be happy, but that wasn't what I was thinking of. I wanted to be like that. I wanted to be like a bodhisattva. As a matter of fact, one of the stories that


Turn Me Towards Zen was a story written by Torei Zenji. This is Torei Zenji. His teacher was named Hakuin Zenji. So one of the stories that Turn Me Towards Zen was the story of Hakuin Zenji, where he was falsely accused of being the father of a young girl in his village. And he was severely insulted and criticized for something he didn't do. Of course, he was involved in the world where it happened, but it was not his unique contribution. And he was blamed and harassed for this. It didn't say he was happy that people were doing this to him. I didn't think he was happy that people were attacking him falsely. I kind of thought he probably was experiencing some pain around this. Pain for the girl who was lying, pain for the parents who were attacking, and some pain for him experiencing this harsh treatment.


But the way he responded was he said, is that so, to this kind of treatment? And I didn't think that that was a pleasant situation, I just thought it was really a great way to respond. I kind of like, if I'm attacked, and accused of something that I didn't do all by my lonesome and hated and reviled. If I'm attacked, I want to be able to say, oh, okay, that's what's happening, huh? Then the truth came out and she told her parents that he wasn't the father. Then they came back and praised him heavily. And he took care of them. Did I tell you what it was? A baby? Yeah. He took care of the baby for two years also. And they came back and said, thank you very much. You're a great blah blah. And they did that to him. And he says, oh, is that so? And then again, I thought, yes, that's the way I want to be. When they're loading on the praise, you just go, oh, OK.


So I want to be that way. But I didn't, and I knew, of course, that if I was that way, I would receive happiness and fearlessness, et cetera. But I wasn't thinking about that. I just wanted to be that way in this life. That was my, the vowel rose in me in response to hearing that. I want to be such a person. I hadn't really heard many stories about the Buddha at that time, Shakyamuni Buddha. So the first people to turn me on to the Bodhisattvas were the Zen stories, the Zen monks. Now that story, although I didn't really tell it, very well, it's a story that a lot of people can relate to, like I could.


Now I'd like to talk about something that's not so easy to relate to. And this isn't a story about a Zen monk, this is a story about a celestial bodhisattva, one of Avalokiteshvara's pals. This bodhisattva is called Samantabhadra. So Avalokiteshvara means the one who listens to the cries of all beings. Samantabhadra means universal goodness. This is one of the great Bodhisattvas. And in the biggest, I think the biggest Mahayana scripture is called the Flower of Dharman scriptures, and he's kind of the central Bodhisattva of that huge scripture. And, And one of the main questioners in the sutra is named Sudhana, actually a boy, a kind of young boy who's traveling around, his name's Sudhana, and he questions many great Bodhisattvas.


So he's questioning Samantabhadra, and he says to Samantabhadra, oh great sage, pray explain to us what course we should follow from paying homage to the Buddhas to turning over our own merits to all sentient beings. So he's referring there to 10 vows. And these 10 vows are called the 10 vows of Samantabhadra. A traditional Zen altar, by the way, in Asia, is to have Shakyamuni Buddha, and on one side, Manjushri Bodhisattva, the Bodhisattva of wisdom, and on the other side, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is the Bodhisattva of practice. Avalokiteshvara is the Bodhisattva of compassion.


So Samantabhadra is being asked this question about these ten vows, which are called the ten vows of Samantabhadra. because of this particular scripture that I'm bringing up. But these ten vows are not just of Samantabhadra. They could be your ten vows. Or not. And these, in some ways, these ten vows, even one of these vows, may be more difficult to relate to than the story of Haku and Zenji. being falsely accused and saying, is that so? Being justly praised and saying, is that so? Maybe these stories, this story may be more difficult to relate to, but I'd like to, I'd like to share this with you. I think it might be good for the world if you listen to this and meditate on it. And by the way, meditating on this is Zen meditation.


People don't usually think that Zen meditators would ever even hear what I'm about to tell you. Not to mention memorize it. Not to mention write it out. By the way, this book is one of four books in which a friend of mine wrote out the Lotus Sutra. In the Lotus Sutra it says, it recommends... What does it recommend in the Lotus Sutra? You already know some things the Lotus Sutra recommends. What does it recommend? Be upright. Be upright. What else? Be honest. Be honest. What else? Be soft to pliable water. Right. What else? Harmonious. And what else? Flexible. Flexible, yes. And what else? Compassion. Right. The Lotus Sutra. Write the Lotus Sutra. It says that, but I didn't tell you that.


But that's what it says. It also says, it doesn't really say that actually, it kind of implies, it kind of recommends it, because it says, if you practice that way, and you missed one more point besides those four points you brought up, those four things, what? Harmonious. Harmonious, but there's a situation which is being recommended. What is the situation? Practice all virtues. And how do you practice all virtues? In the way we just mentioned. And what does practice all virtues mean? That's the way you practice them. Practicing all virtues means you sit in the middle of the suffering of all beings. That's the place you practice. So you sit in the middle of all suffering, You open yourself to all the varieties of suffering. And then in that situation which you have entered, this is the practice place which you've now entered, then it tells you how to do it.


And then it also tells you, although you wouldn't necessarily need this, that if you practice this way, you will meet the Buddha face to face right now. Remember that part in the Loa Sutra, chapter 16? The Lotus Sutra also says, tells how to practice, copy the Lotus Sutra, recite the Lotus Sutra. And Dogen says, the Zen master Dogen says, in this lifetime, it would be good if you copied the Lotus Sutra at least once. So I said that to somebody and she copied it and she gave it to me. And here it is, right here. This is one of the chapters. And if you did it on every other page, so on the blank pages, I can write other things in, which I did. And what did I write? I wrote Samantabhadra's 10 vows, from the Avatamsaka Sutra. The 10 vows are, number one is, does anybody know?


First vow of this Celestial Bodhisattva, which could be yours, is to pay homage to all Buddhas. Or give homage to all Buddhas. Number two is to praise all Buddhas. Number three is to, make offerings to all Buddhas. Number four is to confess and repent all your shortcomings, particularly spiritual shortcomings. Number five is to rejoice and celebrate the virtues of others.


Number six is to beseech the Buddhas to stay with us and not go off on any field trips. To stay in the world. Don't go to Nirvana, which they can do very easily. Don't go there yet. Stay with us. Number seven is to beg the Buddhas to teach. Number eight is to do all the practices that there are to be done. Who's seven? Seven beg the Buddhas to teach. First get them to stay, and then once you get them here, beg them to teach. And eight is to practice all the practices, all the practices that help beings, a lot of them.


Number nine, serve all living beings. And number 10, Dedicate the merit of all these other vows. Take that merit and dedicate it to all living beings. Give it away, all the merit of that. Those are the ten vows of Samantabhadra, in brief. Now, if you can stand it, can you stand it if I go into a little detail? Okay, so, you okay David? Okay, go ahead. We'll carry on. So, Sudhana says, he's asking Samantabhadra, somehow he knows about these ten,


He's asking, please, how do we explain what course we should follow in paying homage and so on, up to dedicating the merit of all this to all sentient beings? And Samantabhadra says, the Bodhisattva replied to Suttana and said, noble-minded person, in regard to paying homage to all Buddhas, one should Think. This great Bodhisattva is instructing this wonderful disciple to think. And again, people think Zen meditation, you don't think. Wipe your mind clear and clean. That's fine, but you should think of wiping your mind clear and clean. Zen meditation is thinking in a certain way.


It's thinking in such a way that you go beyond your thinking. You think in a way that takes you beyond your thinking. Thinking is our problem. Problems in life come from thinking. So the meditation is to think in a way that will go beyond our thinking and we'll realize that our thinking is not thinking. that we realize our problems are not problems, or we realize our problem is not a problem. But first of all, we have to get involved with our problem in order to realize, in order to go beyond our problem and realize that our problem isn't a problem, we have to be involved in our problem. What's our problem again? Roderick? Yeah, so the great Bodhisattva says one should think, or yeah, one should think. He's training him in thinking because thinking is the problem.


And the way, I'll just tell you beforehand, he's not going to tell you to keep thinking the way you've been thinking. The Bodhisattva is not going to say, one should think like one has been thinking. He's not going to say that. He could, but didn't. There's another scripture where some bodhisattva tells people, keep thinking the way you are thinking. This is called the Mean Bodhisattva Sutra. A person comes and says, how should we practice in order to realize Buddhahood? Keep thinking the way you have been thinking. That'll work out really nicely for you. This is the Cruel Bodhisattva Scripture. Now, it teaches you a new way to think. We're going to teach you the way of thinking, the Bodhisattva vow way of thinking. And you use your thinking to think of a vow, of a supreme, extensive, great vow. So it's going to be kind of a weird kind of thinking coming up here now.


But he says, you want to know, this is how you should think. And then quotes, now this is what you think. With deep faith and understanding, and by the power of Samantabhadra's vows, I will see the Buddha as though face to face." Think that. You don't have to believe, but think that you believe. Think by deep faith. and by the power of this great Bodhisattva's vow, and by understanding, I will see the Buddha as though face-to-face, as though face-to-face. In the old days when Shakyamuni Buddha was in the world, people used to meet the Buddha face-to-face, and meeting the Buddha face-to-face is a key


set up in the tradition. Those people who understood the Dharma when the Buddha was around, they did it meeting Buddha face-to-face. So meeting Buddha face-to-face is kind of a prototypical or archetypal unavoidable situation in the tradition. You don't get to understand the Dharma sort of on your own. You've got to do it with the Buddha face-to-face. The Shakyamuni Buddha is not around anymore. But Samantabhadra is telling us to think. Think what? By deep faith and understanding, and by the power of this great Bodhisattva's vows, I will see the Buddha as though face to face. And now it gets even more unusual. In the past, in the present, and in the future,


So I'm going to meet the Buddha now. And also I'm going to meet the Buddha in the past and the future. And also, by the way, in ten directions, throughout the realm of Dharma and the realm of space. Throughout the infinite universe equal to the total sum of dust moats in Buddha fields. That's where I'm going to meet the Buddha. But you can cut it down if you want to. At the beginning, just cut it down to, I'm going to see the Buddha face to face. Just period. Stop there and leave the other parts off if you want to for a while. And then, when you're ready, then start thinking about doing it past, present, and future, and then throughout the entire universe that you're going to do this. And this is what you're being instructed to think this.


With all the virtue of my body, speech, and mind, I shall pay sincere homage to all of them without cessation. Okay, I'm thinking, okay, I'm thinking. I'm gonna meet the Buddha as though face to face. and I'm going to meet all these Buddhas throughout the universe as though face-to-face, and I'm going to pay sincere homage to all of them, and I'm going to do that without end. Then come back again to know where and how am I going to meet these people? I'm going to meet them in every particle of dust throughout the entire universe. which would include every particle of dust in Berkeley. Particles of dust can also be understood as every thought.


If you see a particle of dust, you're having a thought of the particle of dust. If you see a big chunk of dirt, you're having a thought of a chunk of dirt. If you see a mountain, that's a particle of dust. You know it at that moment. That's a moment of thought. In every moment of thought, with everything you meet, each and every thing you meet, each and everything you experience, every thought of experience, in each one of those, throughout the entire universe, you're going to meet the Buddha. And, okay, that's the basic setup. Now, what are you going to do? What did Samantabhadra say that you could do at that time? What? Pay homage, pay sincere homage to every one of the Buddhas. Now it turns out that in every one of the particles of dust there's a Buddha, but actually there's infinite Buddhas in every particle of dust. And then what he's recommending thinking is to think, I shall pay sincere homage to them without end.


In each and every Buddha land, I shall transform countless bodies. And with each body, I shall give my veneration to incalculable Buddhas through infinite domains equal to the total number of dust motes in those domains. My homage will be ended when the realm of space is ended. But since the realm of space is boundless, so will my homage to Buddha be boundless. Likewise, if the spheres of beings are ended, the karmas of living beings are ended, the sorrows of living beings are ended, the passions of living beings are ended, then my homage will be ended. But as all these things are endless, will be my homage to all Buddhas, moment after moment, without interrupting bodily, vocal, and mental actions, without becoming weary."


This is what Samantabhadra instructed Sudhana about the first vow, how to practice the first vow. So this is like the first vow of Zen meditation also. There's nothing about getting anything here. It's just about, basically, whatever experience you're having, and also, in addition to whatever experience you're having, be aware that whatever experience you could have, and in all your experiences, in every single one of them, There are infinite Buddhas there and you're going to meet all of them face to face and give them your sincere homage. And homage also means, as I mentioned before, it's basically your sincere homage to the Buddhas is, I want to be like you.


I want to be a person like you. I want to be a skillful, wise, compassionate, patient, generous, honest, blah, blah, person. And again, in every action, in every posture, in every vocal action, in every thought, every one of those, I'm going to think this. Should I stop now or should I do one more vow?


What do you say? One more? Okay. The second one, remember what the second one was? Some of you took notes. What? Praise Buddha. Praise all the Buddhas and their virtues. So again, noble-minded person, or you could say noble-thinking person. How does one praise all Buddhas and their virtues? So, to do so, one should what? One should what? What? One should think. One should think.


I'm going to teach you. I'm going to teach you how to think. Think, think, think, think. The problem is thinking. Now we're going to do training in thinking, to become free of thinking, because that's the problem. You could say also, you should karma, or you should act. Our problem is our action. So now he's teaching a new way to act. Fundamental action is thinking. It's due to our thinking that we suffer. It's due to our karma. That's the problem. Now we're going to be trained in a new kind of karma called vowing. One should think. One should intend. Quotes. In each and every dust particle, I'm going to shorten this the first time through. In each and every dust particle there dwell Buddhas equal in number to the smallest dust motes in all worlds.


In this world, how many dust motes are there? The small ones, how many are there? Quite a few, right? Dust what? Dust motes, dust particles. M-o-t-e-s, motes? Yeah, motes, particles. So in this room, there's quite a few dust motes, right? So in this whole world that we have, there's quite a few dust motes, right? So in every one of the dust motes, in every one of the dust motes in this world, there's Buddhas equal to the number of dust motes in the world. So in this room, there's quite a few dasmots. In each one of those dasmots, there's Buddhas equal in number, not to the number of dasmots in this room, but to the number of dasmots not even in this world, but dasmots equal to the number of dasmots in worlds equal to the number of dasmots.


That's how many Buddhas there are in each dasmot. You're being encouraged to think. in every dust moat, that there's this extremely large number of Buddhas in there. So that would lead you to be very respectful of dust moats. Now, if there was one Buddha in every dust moat, you might think that's enough for me. I'll be good to dust moats from now on. But that isn't what it says here. It says that in every dust moat, there are many, many, many Buddhas in each dust moat. They're dwelling there. This is a great bodhisattva who thinks it would be good for your health. If you want to know how bodhisattvas practice, what do they do? They think like this. They think like this, for example, while they're doing other things. For example, while they're serving all beings. That's number nine, right?


One of their vows is they're serving all beings. So while they're serving every single being, including all the little beings that are the size of dust moats, they're serving them. While they're serving them, they're thinking that in this being that I'm serving, this tiny little being or this big being who has many dust moats, in every one of these dust moats is a large number of Buddhas. We're starting with praising the Buddha. Praising the Buddha, this one, praising the Buddha is like Well, Buddhas, I heard that they're really great and wonderful and they have wisdom and compassion and all kinds of other virtues. But now I'm being told to think about them being in every single particle. A lot of them in every single particle. And Surrounding each one of all those Buddhas and every dust particle are an extremely large number of bodhisattvas.


They're always surrounded by bodhisattvas. They're also always surrounded by all sentient beings, but that's not mentioned here. This is tuning in to praising Buddha. Where do you look? At every single particle. How many are there? Many, many, surrounded by many bodhisattvas. Then, now that I'm looking at whatever particle it is, I shall apply my profound thought and insight to fathom as if they were facing me, as if the Buddhas were before me, face to face. And I will sing praises to these Buddhas now.


I will sing praises to the Buddhas, now that I'm meeting them in this way. I'm thinking I will do this. This is Zen meditation. But since it's such an unusual way to think about the world, as every dust moat having innumerable Buddhas, not too many people are ready for this kind of Zen meditation. So it may take us a while to get ready for it, because this is a very, well, this is an amazing way to relate to every experience. We had the previous one. every experience, we're going to feel like, we're going to think about meeting the Buddha in every tiny experience, and meeting many Buddhas in every tiny experience, and then praising the Buddhas on every tiny experience. And we're going to do this with a great eloquent tongue, more eloquent than those possessed by the maidens of heaven,


each tongue emitting boundless oceans of voices, each voice emitting boundless oceans of speeches, all proclaiming the ocean-like merits of all the Buddhas. Such praise shall continue without cessation throughout the realm of Dharma in infinite universes. My praise will be ended when the realm of space is ended, when the realm sphere of beings are ended, when the karmas, sorrows, and passions of all beings are ended. But since the realm of space, even to the realm of the sorrows of all beings, are endless, there will be no end to my praise." This is the second vow, which we practice by thinking in this way.


Now, I've also given a class here more than once, but not too long ago, on what we call Genjo Koan. Some of you were here, meditation on Genjo Koan. It's a fascicle by the Zen teacher Dogen, but tonight I would say that the word Genjo Koan could be translated as the universe realized, or the realized universe. The topic of meditation in Soto Zen is Genjo Koan. The topic of meditation in Soto Zen is the realized universe, or the universe realized. That's the topic of Zen meditation in the Soto school. Realized where? Where is the universe realized? Lydia?


Right here. When, Lydia? Right now. This experience realizes the universe. The universe is realized through this experience. That's what we meditate on. This experience is the entire universe manifesting as this experience. This experience is the manifestation of the whole works, of the entire universe and of the working of the entire universe. That's the meditation. It's the same as this experience. In this experience are innumerable Buddhas. And how do we relate to the universe? being realized in this experience? Well, one way is, first of all, we pay homage to the Buddhas which are dwelling in this experience.


We praise the Buddhas which are dwelling in this experience, and so on. This is the way we meditate. It isn't just kind of like It is intellectual, because we're thinking, but it isn't just, okay, this is the universe realized now. This is the universe realized now. It isn't just that. It's also, I want to be like the ones who have realized the universe right now. I want to be like the ones who have realized it, the Buddhas, who are existing in every particle of dust for all beings throughout the universe. I want to be like them. I want to be such a person. So when they attack me, I can say, OK, is this happening? And when they praise me, the same. And I want to praise the universe.


being realized through this. It isn't exactly that I'm praising the people or my experience. I'm praising the Buddhas which are dwelling in every aspect of every person. The Buddhas who are practicing together with every person, who are living in every person, I'm praising them. but they're inseparable from the person. So, of course, we have to be very kind, like Torrey Zenji says, I look at the form of the universe, all is the manifestation of the mysterious truth of the Tathagata. In any event, in any moment, in any place, None can be other than the marvelous revelation of glorious light." The Zen master talking.


This is his meditation. And his meditation is his vow. His vow is his meditation. He's meditating on everything is the manifestation of the glorious light of the truth. taking care of senseless events, taking care of each and every being with kindness, no matter what they do to us, praise or blame, we take care of everything. In this way, nirvana is right before us, and we give it away. This is Zen meditation. this Zen teacher's Bodhisattva vow. One could learn how to think this way if one read this, and read this, and recited this, and wrote this, and recited this, and wrote this.


Pretty soon you would notice that you are thinking this way, and this would be Zen meditation. This would be the bodhisattva way of carrying on. This is the way of progressing towards Buddhahood. Or this is a way, because these vows can be put many different ways. So that was a lot, wasn't it? I mean, that seemed like a lot. But I'm glad you listened to this, and do you have any feedback? And Rana, thank you for the flowers. Rana brought these flowers for you guys. And you know how many Buddhas are in there, so watch out. Yes, Rana? This teaching reminds me of a Rumi poem. Reminds you of a Rumi poem?


Yeah. the sun is a spark that happened in the sky. So that immense universe in his heart is like, you know, it's like, phew. So this vow, it was like. Right. Yeah. It's like that. The galaxy within. Meditate on the galaxy within. In your own heart, there's a galaxy. The sun's just a little tiny spot in this heart you have. There's gazillions of Buddhas in your heart, and in everybody else's heart. Any other response you care to offer?


Yes, tell me your name again. Hadass. Hadass? Yes. Was this story one of the teaching stories that inspired you? No, this story came after I'd been studying Zen for quite a while. First of all, I don't know how I would have heard this, but if somebody was telling the story verbally, which, you know, people were not walking around Minneapolis back in the 60s talking like this. I didn't run into anybody that was. But if somebody was talking like this, I don't know if I would have paid attention to them for very long. That's why the Zen story was better, because it was shorter. and more accessible. Then, because of that Zen story, I wanted to be like the person in the Zen story. And then I found out that the person in the Zen story wasn't like that just by luck.


He had been trained. How had he been trained? He was trained in Zen meditation. That's how he became a person like he was. So then I thought, maybe if I trained in Zen meditation, I would become like him. And so then I started to practice Zen meditation. And then after years and years, I ran into this sutra, which is not very popular because it's so extensive. It's so much what it should be that almost no one wants to see it or listen to it. But here we are. We're ready to hear it tonight. And I don't know if this would have turned any of you on to practice, but now that you're turned on, here it is. to extend your vow. You all have a vow. This is to make your vow extend. This is to make your vow expand. This is to make your vow unlimited. Because Zen meditation is not meditation, I should say not, it is meditation on the universe within your heart.


It is meditation on how the universe is manifested as every particle of experience in each moment. I can understand that you would have a face like that, or some other kind of face. This is strange stuff. We don't hear this kind of thing every moment, but you could start hearing it every moment. You could actually walk around thinking like this. Maybe not tonight, but maybe tonight. You could be thinking like this after class. Or not. Yes? Jennifer?


I was listening to you talk about the sutra tonight. I was trying to find some way to put it into my own words. Yeah, put it into your own words, right. And what I was hearing for my story about the sutra is that if I contemplate on the Buddhas and I contemplate that they're And if I pay homage to all the Buddhas and I just keep this contemplation going, I imagine that what would probably happen is there would be obstacles that would come in the way of this practice. And as I continue contemplating and looking at those in different viewpoints, that perhaps I would actually be able to see that the Buddhas that I'm paying homage to are actually me.


That I would actually be able to see myself, or see my true nature, or my Buddha nature. That's possible, but until you said that, I was agreeing with you. But when you said the Buddhas are you, I thought, uh-uh. The Buddhas aren't you. I don't think so. I think that there's innumerable Buddhas in every pore of your nose. The Buddhas aren't me or you. The Buddhas, the infinite Buddhas, are around you and me and around every little particle of you and me. Buddhas aren't that kind of thing. Buddhas are the way we're all related. They're the realization of how we're all related. They aren't any one of us. But they dwell in each of us. And each of us deserves respect. And part of the reason why each of us deserves respect is because infinite Buddhas exist in us.


And tiny little beings that live in us also deserve more or less infinite respect and devotion. Not because they are Buddhas, but because infinite Buddhas live in them. and live around them. There is no Buddha separate from you, no you separate from Buddha, but we don't want to identify with Buddha and we do not want to disidentify with Buddha. Most people disidentify with Buddha. That's not good, because you have no life aside from Buddhas. They're totally penetrating you, totally surrounding you, and they're totally surrounded by you and bodhisattvas. And that's the way we are with each other, too. And the way we are with each other is Buddhas. We're not even just Buddha the way we are with each other, we're Buddhas the way we are with each other.


But we're not Buddha, and we're not not-Buddha. We're inseparable, totally intimate with Buddha, and also with each other. And Jennifer also said she imagined that if she started to do these practices, she would experience some obstruction or hindrance or something. I think it said obstacles. Obstacles, yeah. Well, the one, two, three, four, I think the fourth one, the fourth vow, is about confessing your obstacles. And after you confess your obstacles, then you'll be ready to appreciate other people who do and do not have obstacles. But sometimes if we don't appreciate our own obstacles, we aren't very appreciative of other people who are obstructed. So yeah, part of the fourth practice is which maybe we'll get into later, is the practice of confession and repentance of our shortcomings.


That is a practice which great bodhisattvas are devoted to. It's not like they don't have any shortcomings to confess. They do. They've got everything. So do you. So you've got shortcomings. So part of zazen, part of zen meditation, is to confess shortcomings, confess and repent shortcomings. That's part of zen meditation. That's part of appreciating how the universe is manifested right now in this experience. And by the way, if anything is left out, let me know. Good night. Any other... Fran?


Kind of a comment, yeah? Well, I'm trying to integrate what we talked about last week with tonight, because last week had a strong effect on me about how every person's interaction with you being a gift. Yes. During the week, I had some experiences where I was working at that with people and it led me to kind of a new way of being and appreciating that more. And as you were talking tonight, it felt like what I had experienced was maybe to use the term veil, like the veil of samsara, and we were following through that too. And then the appreciation of in a new way, and I'm wondering, or I'm thinking that's connected with what you're talking about tonight, that in that place is where the Buddhists are.


Yeah, right. But it feels like a long, complicated process that I'm trying to simplify it for myself. It's kind of like appreciating the gift of the other person, which makes you appreciate how they're creating you in the moment, and then you become more of that person in the moment, and then it opens up, and then you see the Buddhas. That's right. It feels like a lot to hold on to. Well, you don't have to go through that whole process. You can just practice giving. So you can regard all beings as gifts to you, every person as a gift to you. regard every experience you have, every thought you have, as a gift to you. But also you can make every thought that you have and every person you meet, you can make everything into a gift by giving the experience to itself, by really totally supporting everything that happens to be what it is.


You don't have to know. You can just look at something or look at somebody and really just stop there. It's very simple. And don't try to get anything from them. But give them your complete attention. Let them be what they are and realize that that is a gift. Do that as a gift. Like right now I'm talking to you and I can let you be the person who's saying what you're saying and looking like you look. You're not actually the person who looks like you look to me, but I still want to make you into a gift. I want to make my relationship with you into giving. That's it. If I want to, that's enough. And if I feel joy at having this generous relationship with you, I'm getting into it.


If I don't feel joy, I'm not really quite wholeheartedly into it. But when I get wholeheartedly into how you are a gift to me, how I'm a gift to you, how our relationship as it is, is a gift to both of us, how I am actually not just letting you be there, which I am, but I'm making that relationship into a gift to you. And I'm making our relationship a gift to both of us. And that, to me, that's one of the ways of training in this vow of living for the welfare of beings. So giving is the first practice you do. Once you're devoted to the welfare of beings, the first practice is giving. And if you don't see how people are gifts, you can keep trying to see how they're gifts, but usually the best way to see that somebody is a gift is to make them a gift. Make them a gift in order to see how they're a gift?


If you don't see it, make them a gift. If you don't see it, just make it that way. And if you don't see it, if you can't do that, then see how letting them be what they are is a gift. Understand that that is the basic thing of giving, is to not just let people be what they are, but realize that is a gift. You are supporting them, but practice that. You are generous with everybody. I am generous with everybody, but if I don't practice being generous with everybody, I don't understand that I'm generous with everybody. Everybody's generous with me, But if I don't realize how I'm generous with them, I might miss that they're generous with me. Now, some people can see that people are generous towards themselves, but they don't feel generous towards the person. That can happen too. But it's more common the other way. Or I shouldn't say more common. It's quite common the other way, that you feel generous towards someone, but you don't think they're generous towards you. If you get more into how you're generous with them,


you'll see that they're generous with you. And actually, you are already into being generous towards people, but unless you practice it, you do not realize it. We are already generous, but if we don't practice it, we don't realize it. We are already the home of many Buddhas, the recipient of Buddha's compassion, but if we don't practice it, we don't realize it. We're already living this vow, but if we don't practice it, we don't realize it. And the more you practice it, generally speaking, the more you realize it, including that the more you practice it, the more you notice that you have obstacles. But there's a practice for that, which you can't do unless you notice the obstacles. And bodhisattvas notice obstacles because they practice noticing obstacles. and then they realize obstacles, and then they realize the practice, and so on.


So, if it gets too complicated, just giving is the simplest, in a way. because it's just basically giving everything a big field and paying attention to it and letting it do its thing. And then, again, with the next moment and the next moment, it's not trying to get anything, it's actually just letting things be as a gift, letting people be as a gift, letting pain be as a gift, letting pleasure be as a gift. until you feel joy, then you know you're into it. And when you get into it that way, then you start to see, oh, I didn't see that so-and-so was a gift before, but now I do. I thought they were causing me some trouble. I thought they were insulting me. But if I let their insult be and really make it a gift, then I realize their insult is a gift.


They always were generous with me, even in their stinginess. Okay, so it's 9.15. Thank you very much. 9.15 is a gift.