Zen Meditation on Karma and Awakening - April 5th, 2022

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when I looked at the list of the participants in this assembly, as I was reading a number of times, the word wow came up in me. So, wow. Welcome. So we're offering the opportunity here for Zen meditation on karma and on karmic causation. Meditating on karma and the causation of karma and what karma causes.


The core of the awakening of this person we call Buddha Shakyamuni in India, the core of the awakening was dependent co-arising. The way cause and effect works. The way everything that exists, it exists dependently. It comes to be through a process which Buddha called dependent co-arising. So everything comes to be by dependent co-arising, and everything is a dependent co-arising.


And karma also is a dependent co-arising. It comes to be through incredibly complex, more or less inconceivable causation, and it then in turn is part of the dependent co-arising of other things, of other states of being, and it is even part of the causation of what we call the physical world, which in Buddhism is sense data, the visible world, the tangible world, the audible world, the smellable world, the tasteable world, all the physical experiences we have also are the result of karma.


in the great Abhidharma treatise called the Abhidharmakosha. Chapter three is called The World. And therein they described all the different kind of experiential states that living beings can be in. And that's part of, that's called the, what is that called? That's called the sattva. sattva world, the world of being, of living beings. So it describes all the different kinds of living beings. And then it describes the, what's called the container world. So we all, all of us living beings share a container world, which is we share a world of sights and sounds and smells. We change, we share a world of electromagnetic radiation, and gravitation, and gases, and liquids, and mechanical waves, and so on, and tangible things.


We share that world. And then the next chapter, which describes all the different worlds, the beginning of the chapter says, and where do these worlds come from? And the answer is, it comes from karma. Karma creates all the worlds that there are. And it doesn't just say karma, it says the karma of all living beings from beginningless time. We all together from beginningless time have been creating worlds through karma. And my being, in which karma is appearing and disappearing, my being is also created by all of you.


And each of you is created by all of us, and not just all humans, all other animals and plants from beginningless time. This is part of the story of dependent co-arising And karma is right at the center of the process. Last year, 2021, we started out with a series of teachings on the Lotus Sutra. And then after that, mostly in the Yoga Room series, and also at the Noah Bode series, and also in the talks that were given by me and you at the Zen Center, they were on compassion. So last year, mostly focusing on great compassion, on Buddha's compassion, on Bodhisattva compassion.


And at the beginning of this year, in the January intensive, I presented teachings which have to do with wisdom. Teachings which have to do with wisdom and teachings which are offered to be contemplated in order to realize wisdom. And so now, the teachings that will be offered here are teachings on the cause and effect of karma, karmic causation, what it is and how it works, and how to be free of it. But I want to encourage us to remember that in this study of these teachings and in applying these teachings to our experience,


to continue to practice compassion. Compassion will help us study our experience and will help us listen to the teachings and help us apply them in the most effective way. Please bring forth any questions you have about practicing compassion, as we study karma. Also in the January Intensive, I introduced a traditional presentation of types of wisdom. One presentation of wisdom has three types. First type of wisdom comes through listening. but also it could be through seeing, smelling, tasting or touching something other than ourself.


So it comes through listening to teachings that are given to us. The teachings on karma have been given to us. So the first kind of wisdom is wisdom that can arise as we listen to these teachings. The next type of wisdom is wisdom that comes through contemplating the teachings, or you could say investigating them, or questioning them, or conversing about them. That's another kind of wisdom. In a sense, a deeper kind. It follows from the first kind. The first kind, I'll come back to that.


And then the third kind of wisdom is wisdom which also contemplates, but it basically just is being present and silent and still with the previous two wisdoms. So as we hear teachings about karma, a wisdom can come to us. Then we can converse about these teachings and new wisdom can arise in relation to these teachings. And then with these two kinds of wisdom, we can just be quiet and still. and another wisdom will come. The first type of wisdom takes the teaching literally. The second type of wisdom takes the teaching non-literally.


The third type of teaching takes, the third type of wisdom takes the teaching literally and non-literally. because it contemplates both types of wisdom. So first of all, I'd like to talk about what is karma according to the Buddha. And as many of you may know, when the Buddha was born in India, India already had the word karma in the culture.


It was a word that was used in a variety of ways at the time Buddha was born. And as Buddha grew up and left home and studied suffering, the dependent co-arising of suffering, eventually the Buddha woke up to a vision of how suffering dependent co-arises. and how karma is integral to the dependent co-arising of suffering and how understanding the dependent co-arising of suffering and then through the dependent co-arising of karma, the Buddha realized the dependent co-arising of freedom and peace. The Buddha discovered


the dependent co-arising of karma. What the Buddha discovered had not been seen before, as far as we know, in this world. The word karma was present, but the Buddha's understanding of it through dependent co-arising was not yet known. And the Buddha did not receive the teaching of dependent co-arising. The Buddha did not hear it. the Buddha discovered it. We are in a somewhat different situation. The discoverer, after discovering the Pinnacle Arising, told us about it, gave us theories about what karma is and how it works. the Buddha was able to discover it without a theory.


So sometimes they say, Buddha has no theories, but Buddha gives us theories so that we can discover what Buddha discovered. But we cannot discover the reality of karma beyond appearances. without theories, without teachings of what karma is. I was, yes, I'm saying that there are some things right in front of us that we, they're right in front of us, but we can't see them unless somebody gives us a theory, a teaching. And I just can't, a long time ago, I heard the example of when, When the Spanish ships came to the coast of what is now called Mexico, and I believe they came to an area that was around Veracruz, the indigenous peoples could not see the ships.


The ships were right in front of them, but they couldn't see them. They had no teaching. They had no theory by which they could see a ship on the horizon, even though the ship was right there. And then another recent example I heard is that when Darwin was doing his field work, he was in a valley and the valley was a glacial valley, a valley that had been cut out by glaciers. and he could not see that the valley was shaped by glaciers. Then later, during his lifetime, another scientist came up with the theory of glaciation, a theory about how glaciers carve out the land.


And when they do, they carve it in a particular way. The land will look different than the land does from tectonic movement and volcanoes. And once Darwin and other people learned about the theory of glaciation, they could see that this valley that he was in doing his research was a perfect example of a glacier created valley, but he couldn't see it without that theory. we can see something about karma without the theory of karma. But with the theory of karma, we can see more than we've been able to see before. That's my proposal to you. So the next thing I wish to bring up is, and this may take more than one session,


but it's the basic definition of karma. So the word karma means action. Karma means action. And its definition is intention. or motivation or volition or thinking. That's the definition of karma. It's a type of action, which is thinking. And you, members of the Assembly may be able to actually look or rather be aware of what is going on in consciousness and be able to see, like I asked you a moment ago, what motivation was there that supported you to attend this meeting.


I proposed to you that in the consciousness, where you find yourself and the world, in that consciousness, there is a motivation. Every moment, there's a motivation. Every moment, there's an intention, a volition. These are synonyms. And the Sanskrit word that Buddha used for the intention of our consciousness, moment by moment. The Sanskrit word is chetana, c-e-t-a-n-a. So, Gaye, did you get a document? Did you send it to people yet? It said after the first meeting.


Okay, thank you. So, Dave will send you all a document which goes over these basic definitions. But tonight I'm telling you. So, I'm suggesting that you consider the meditation to try this theory out. Can you find in your mind each moment or some moment, can you see what the motivation, what the intention of the moment is? There was a motivation in, the consciousness where I appear, where the I that appears is me, and in that consciousness there is a pattern, there is a direction, there is an overall shape each moment, and before this


meeting and during this meeting there is an intention in this consciousness to offer teachings about karma, to offer teachings about how to study it. And this motivation also includes a wish that Receiving these teachings and studying these teachings and using them to look at your own conscious experience will lead to freedom from suffering for you and for all beings. Another teaching which is not exactly, it's not so much about karma per se, it's a teaching, a general teaching of dependent co-arising is that because of dependent co-arising, because all beings come together to create me, I include all beings.


And because all beings come together with the support of all living beings, I am included in all living beings. This is a corollary, if not a rephrasing of Buddha's main teaching and main awakening of dependent co-arising. The way you work on studying your own consciousness and discovering your own karma in your own consciousness is exactly the way other people would study their consciousness. And the way you do that and become free through this process is the way other people are becoming free through this process. So this study of my karma in my consciousness is not just from my own personal freedom. Everybody's included in it.


And everybody needs me to do this work so that they can do the work. And I need everybody to do the work so I can do the work. So looking in consciousness, I told you I found a motivation, and that motivation that I found, that is the karma of my mind that I found. And I'm finding it again and again. I'm finding the karma of my consciousness. And I also, in this consciousness, it's not exactly the, motivation, but it's a wish. It's a wish that I can see what's going on in the consciousness.


and in such a way as to become free from the delusions that exist in the overall motivation. So in an ordinary consciousness wherein karma lives, an ordinary consciousness are sometimes called karmic consciousness. What most people are aware of as consciousness is also called karmic consciousness because that's where the karma lives and that's the origin of the other types of karma. So the basic karma is motivation, intention, volition. And then that kind of mental karma is the basis for verbal karma. I'm speaking and my speaking comes from the same motivation of wishing to offer these teachings and wishing to offer them in a way that's beneficial.


And also, I'm making hand gestures and I'm sitting here in front of you and offering you my face and all my facial gestures. These are also karmic acts and they are based on the same motivation that I have in my mind. And in this mind, which is conventionally called mind, in this mind, in this consciousness, there is a sense of self, and there is a sense of other, and there is a sense of feelings, and there is a sense of colors and sounds and smells. All these things are appearing, a world is appearing, in this karmic consciousness. And there is a motivation and an intention in this consciousness in regard to the world.


And right now I look, what is the motivation? The motivation is that studying this consciousness will benefit all beings in all worlds. That studying this consciousness will benefit this consciousness And by benefiting this consciousness, all beings are included in that. Also in this consciousness, there is various delusions. For example, there is the delusion that the self in the consciousness, I own the things that are in the consciousness, the things that are appearing in it. For example, if I feel comfortable, there's a delusion that that comfort belongs to me.


Or if I'm uncomfortable, There's the delusion that's my discomfort and that discomfort belongs to me. There's also the illusion that the awareness itself, that the awareness of what's going on is actually being viewed from the self, but it's not. That's another delusion. So the self's there, and there's this idea, and the idea is not the self, and the idea is not the consciousness, but it's an idea in consciousness with self, and this idea is that the view of what's going on, the view which can observe, which is observing what's going on in the consciousness, the view which can observe motivation, that that view is the self's view,


but it's not the self view. It's the self there with the view of the karma. But there's a delusion there too. And there can be awareness of the delusion that the self is looking at what's going on. Like I'm watching my motivation rather than I'm here and there is an awareness of motivation. And I think that's true. there's an awareness of motivation, I'm here, and there's a delusion that I'm the one who's aware of the motivation. So we got the sense of self, the appearance of motivation, the karma, and then we have a delusion. And the delusion is part of the motivation. Because the motivation includes everything that's going on. And in this particular motivation is, This motivation in this consciousness is wishing to be free from believing in these delusions.


There's a wish. And again, I could say I wish, but no, I don't have to say that. In this consciousness where I am, I'm here with the awareness that there's a wish to be free of believing the delusions that are in this consciousness. Like I did it. I did it rather than I'm here and everything together made it happen. There is a wish that studying these delusions and becoming aware that that's what they are and becoming free of them would happen, would be so, would be realized. Another version, another delusion that's in the consciousness is the delusion that the self is operating the activity of consciousness.


So, there's a delusion. It's my pain, my pleasure, my anger, my confusion, my dog, my toe, my body. There's that one. Then there's, this is my view of what's going on. And then there's an I'm operating the activities of consciousness. I'm in charge of the karma. That's a delusion. And all these delusions, if we believe them, become afflictions. If we don't believe them, they become opportunities to enter into freedom with our ordinary consciousness, without getting rid of anything. So this again is a study and there's a wish and actually there also is a kind of like a theory. There's a theory that this kind of study of consciousness is liberating.


That this kind of studying of consciousness is a wholesome, the study of consciousness, the study of motivation is part of the motivation. So some people have, everybody has motivation, but not everybody, everybody's consciousness has motivation, but not everybody's consciousness has study of the motivation going on. So in this consciousness, there is motivation, and there is a wish that there be study of the motivation, and there is a theory in this consciousness that such study is beneficial and actually liberating. Well, it's, yeah, we've already been going for an hour, so I think maybe I should stop.


and have questions and answers for a while. And you will receive a handout summarizing some of the things I just brought up. I see three yellow hands. Four yellow hands. Are you there, Gay? I don't see you. I'm here.


I've spotlighted Justin. Okay, Justin. Hi, Rob. Hi. I have two questions. One is to ask if you would explain a little bit more, perhaps, on how the concepts of codependent arising and karma relate. I get a little lost around codependent arising and its overlap or its use in the discussion for karma. Well, one presentation of dependent co-arising in relationship to consciousness is that consciousness arises, awareness arises, but it arises with


When the consciousness, where there's a self, which we call karmic consciousness, the karmic consciousness arises, and as it arises, in the present, it has various aspects. So it is an awareness, but it also has feelings, mental feelings. It has perceptions. It has conceptions. it has various emotions, and it also has forms appearing in it. So that's an example of how there cannot be consciousness without these other mental functions. And there cannot be those mental functions, like there can't be feelings without consciousness, because feelings aren't floating in midair, they live in consciousness. And perceptions are not floating in midair, They live in consciousness. And emotions are living in consciousness.


And delusions about, misconceptions about the self are in consciousness. So all these things exist on independence on the others. In addition to that, the arising of a particular, all that's going on. And none of the things in the present consciousness could exist without the other things. So that's how they're all dependent on each other. And the arising of that consciousness and all the things in it, that is supported by the body and by the effects of past karma and the past karma of self and all beings. So our present consciousness, we don't make our consciousness right now. I'm not making this consciousness. But I'm living in it. And I'm living in it together with a lot of other things. So I'm dependent on what coexists with me.


And this consciousness has arisen from my body and my unconscious, but my body and my unconscious are due to the karma of other beings. So it's a vast interconnected, dependable arising of this consciousness. And then in this consciousness, everything that's in it is dependent on other things in it. And I hope to go over this again and again throughout this series. This is not just about karma, it's about discovering how karmic cause and effect work and how they don't work. People have various misconceptions. Does that give you a start? Yeah, I mean, so dependent co-arising itself is not karma, but it's basically karma operates... Dependent co-arising is not karma, but karma is a dependent co-arising.


Karma exists... The particular way things co-dependently arise would be karma, yeah. Karma has an influence on, karma contributes to the process of the dependent co-arising, but karma is also a dependent co-arising. But karma isn't all that contributes to the process of dependent co-arising. But it's part of it. It is a dependent co-arising. And once something's arisen, it then is a condition for other dependent co-arisings, which depend on it. So it arises in dependence on things other than itself, and now that it's arisen, depending on things other than itself, it's a condition for other things to arise. So karma arises from karmas other than itself. This particular karma I have now is arising due to karmas other than this one, and also other than my past,


karmas. Much more than that is contributing to the formation of this consciousness. And now this consciousness is a condition for future consciousnesses. This consciousness is a condition for your future consciousnesses. Okay? Can I ask my second question? Since the time's short, I think we should go on. Thank you. Yuki. Hello. Hello. I have about a million questions on this topic, but I wanted to start with this one. I think you said something like one of the delusions that happens in consciousness is that there's a self and there's karma and we think that the self owns the karma.


Okay, so from that standpoint, what does it mean when in the general... You don't necessarily have to think it, but there is this idea and there can be a belief in it. Right. But there could be the idea without believing it, but we tend to believe it. Well, I wanted to ask you, in the general confession, we say, I avow my ancient twisted karma. So then what does avow mean? To me, it kind of means I own it or... Well, own has two meanings, right? One meaning of own is I admit it. The other is I possess it. Okay. So avow... Yeah, avow or confess. rather than I own it. And also I can own, I can own that I think I own what's going on in my mind. Okay. In other words, I can avow that I believe that actually that's my feelings.


But again, as I often mention, we often think that's my feelings, but we don't think that we belong to our feelings. But actually, if I own the feeling, the feeling owns me. But we don't think the feeling owns me. We don't think the feeling owns us. But if there's any ownership, it's mutual, because we depend on each other. The self wouldn't be what it is if it didn't have this feeling and this perception. So the delusion is the self owns the stuff, but the stuff doesn't own the self. But that doesn't make sense. So that's why the first way doesn't make sense either. The self doesn't own anything in the consciousness. It coexists with everything. And also, nothing else in the consciousness owns anything in consciousness. Like my feelings don't own my emotions. And my perceptions don't own myself. And my perceptions don't own my feelings. We coexist. We're in the same kind of like intimate family.


We rise together and we depend on each other. And in this family, there's these delusions, which is that some of the things in the family own other things in the family. We can also be, when the feeling is so intense, we can feel like the feeling just owned us. It just took us away. Yeah, right. It can be like that. If we're going to have that I own the feeling, we should also have the feeling owns us. I often use that example. I told my granddaughter several years ago, I just happened to mention to her, I don't know how it came up, that I was her father's, well, I was her mother's father. She didn't like it. And she said, no, you're not. She's my mother. She's not your daughter. She's my mother. That's period. That's it. She has no other identity besides being my mother. And she's, you know, with the help of her mother, she got over that delusion.


But it's in there, you know? So when we say, I avow my karma, that's a way of saying, I acknowledge it, I... Yeah, I acknowledge it. And also, you can also avow delusions. But delusions aren't really karma. Karma is the overall picture, which includes various delusions. So we can avow our karma, We can also say, I avow that I thought I was in control of what's going on in my consciousness, and I believed it. Thank you. And it's good that you have a million questions, so we have to have a million classes. Brent.


Good evening, Rev. Good evening, Brent. Can you talk a little bit about the idea of agency or free will? When I listen to this, I think about, you know, I have this delusion that there's a me that's there in consciousness directing things and that I also have this idea that it's me that's deciding things or making decisions or determining my intention. But if the way I am is the result of the way everything else is, is there any agency or free will in there? Or can you talk a little bit about that? Karma is the agency of the moment. That is the agency. But in this picture of the agency, which is what's going on in our consciousness, that is action.


That's the definition of action. And that's the basis for postures and vocalizations. Yeah. the consciousness which leads to the localizations and the postures, that consciousness is not in control of how those go. But it's the basis of them. So like in this consciousness now, there is the idea of doing a demonstration of raising my hand. So now I'm intending to raise my hand. But I did not, that past consciousness did not control the raising of this hand. But in that past consciousness there was agency. Could you repeat that when you said past consciousness? So I told you in this consciousness I had just as a thought arose, let's do a little experiment now.


I have the thought I'm going to raise my hand. And then the next consciousness, my hand didn't raise. Here's another one, my hand didn't raise. So now maybe this one it will raise. And it didn't, but in this one it did. However, that past consciousness didn't make this happen, but it was a condition for this to happen. And this is related, this action, this karma is related to that past one. And also, I didn't actually check to see if I thought that it would be beneficial to do this example. I could have done that too. But looking back, maybe it was beneficial. Let's just check. Do you think it was helpful, Brent? I think so. But I'm not sure. I'm not sure that's another delusion that I had.


Yeah, right. I'm not sure either. But there is the wish in this consciousness to give examples that would be beneficial. And that wish doesn't mean that it will be beneficial. It's just there is a wish that it would be beneficial. And that's the orientation of the consciousness So that's the karma of the consciousness. It's oriented in the direction of benefit, but that doesn't mean it is beneficial. But there is a teaching that when the karma is beneficial, then the karma is wholesome. But we don't know if it's wholesome until we see the results, and the results are not in yet. They keep coming in, the results. So we keep orienting, perhaps, because we've heard that wholesome actions bring benefit, we keep trying to find wholesome patterns of consciousness.


And the wholesome patterns of consciousness are the agency of our being at that time. And unwholesome patterns of consciousness are the agency of our being. An additional agency is not found. But this is the agency that makes, according to the Buddha, this is the agency that contributes so importantly to our life and to the world. This agency contributes to the making of my life and your life, but this agency is not the only thing that's contributing to this life. Past agencies that, where I was present, also are contributing to this life, and your life, your agency is contributing to this life.


My agency is contributing to your life. If it wasn't, why would, not much point in having conversations, but our conversations are coming from our agency, both first of all in our consciousness and then vocalized. These conversations, they have agency, they have effects. We have effects on each other in this way. And we have the opportunity to look in our consciousness and check frequently, is there a wish that this agency would be beneficial? This is an ongoing thing that we can do to keep checking. I apologize. I didn't, I think this session's supposed to end at 8.15, right? Is that right? No, 8.45. Yay. Oh, 8.45. 8.45, yay. Oh, good. Sarah. Thank you, Brett.


Hi. You might be muted, Sarah. How about now? Am I unmuted now? Is that better? I wouldn't say it's better, but you're unmuted. Thank you very much. When you asked us to consider what our motivation was, I realized how confused I feel about that question often. And I was thinking about an experience I had when I was on the, I was working on the Navajo reservation as a nurse, and it was my first day there. And I drove over to this grocery store And I saw a man lying on the ground and I couldn't tell if he was breathing or not.


So I thought, well, I'm here to be of benefit. I'm here as a trained medical person. I should respond to this. And I went in and I wanted to, I went into the store and I asked them to call an ambulance and, um, When I came out of the store, there was an ambulance and two big guys were trying to pick this guy up. And he was sort of staggering. He was high on a whole bunch of stuff and he ended up falling and tripping and then landing in barbed wire. And later on, I was thinking about this and I thought, you know, it actually would have been better if I just left him alone. And maybe there was some arrogance in my, you know, there was some hubris there as a new person out here, you know, thinking I was doing good, wishing to do good, but the result was I actually created more harm for him than if I just left him alone.


So I sometimes I feel that way that there's a, and kind of attractive motivation, but there are also some darker, selfish motivations in a lot of... Yeah, that's part of what I'm saying here is that if when you saw him on the ground, you checked your motivation, and maybe you find in your motivation, I'm a caregiver, I'm a professional caregiver, and I wish to be a benefit. But that's different from just going right to work without checking on yourself. If I look into my mind and see, oh, I think I want to be beneficial, I'm already kind of checking on myself. So then I'm more, then it's maybe more likely that I would say I want to be helpful.


But tamale was really good. But what would be helpful? Would it be helpful for me to call another one of mine? Yeah, it was very excellent. Very rich, flavorful, good. Somebody's not muted. Somebody's not muted. Very rich flavor, whoever. Somebody's talking about their dinner. Yeah, so back to this incident, if you check on yourself, you might discover something which would help you not be caught by the pattern. By noticing your motivation would help not necessarily taking your motivation at face value. Like, I want to give teachings that are beneficial, but maybe they're not.


I want to help this man by calling 9-1-1, but maybe not. You still might have called 9-1-1, but you already would have been in self-questioning, self-examination. Because we, again, naturally, we're arrogant in the sense that we think the self owns what's going on in the consciousness. That's natural arrogance. Or I shouldn't say we think that, but there is this idea that the self, which lives in this big family, owns the rest of the family. But we do have that natural pride and arrogance. That's called self-arrogance, and it comes with the sense of self, that the self thinks it owns what's going on, it's in control of what's going on. If we're aware of that, then we're more careful on how we express our intention to benefit.


And looking to see my motivation, but having trouble finding it, That's really good to know that I'm not clear about it. That's still good work to look and say, I'm not sure what my motivation here is. Well, it seems like there's layers. And there are definitely layers. There's layers. And there's what got called concentric circles to there's layers. And then there's all these other things, which are which are in concert to create and to discover the layers and the concentric circles around our consciousness is awakening. Awakening isn't just my present understanding of my motivation. It's by studying my present motivation, and again and again, I start to see how it relates to everything else. That's already there, how it's related to everything else, but I can't see it yet. So I study this and try to see the layers and the concentric circles through this teaching to wake up to the reality of karma.


I feel like I should move on now. Thank you, Sarah. June. Hello, Rip. Hello, June. When you talk about wish and intention, I get confused. Let me just clarify that, okay? I could have a wish to benefit you, but I could have other things going on in my mind that lead me not to it. So the intention is the overall picture. Or another possibility is, I could have a wish to benefit you, and I could also have a wish for people to think I'm more intelligent than you are.


That wouldn't be hard to show, but anyway. You could do that. I wish to help June, and I hope everybody notices how helpful I am. So those are two wishes in the same consciousness. And neither one of those wishes maybe are the overall pattern. The overall pattern would maybe be, in this case, kind of an averaging between the two. And there could be other wishes. So if I wished to benefit you, but also I wish people to notice that I was benefiting you, That would be a different situation than I just wish to benefit you. And that the overall situation would be not so good as just wishing to benefit you. The overall, I would call the overall situation the motivation. And there's various wishes internal to the motivation. Okay. Another example would be, I'd like to help you, but this room's too warm and I wanna get out of here.


or somebody else, I want to help this person who's drowning, but I'm afraid of what will happen to me if I go in the water. So then the combination maybe is that I don't go in the water, even though I wish to help them, I didn't, and I feel terrible. And it was really bad that I didn't, but I didn't want to, it's just that I more wanted not to endanger myself. And somebody else might, we could say, wishing to benefit that person and wishing to benefit myself might work out to be a beneficial situation. So that's where we need to learn how to look and see how these different elements that are in our consciousness are working together. This is the study. This is the study of karma. And then from that, what I'm understanding is, is the intention to study all of that, including the various wishes.


Yeah, and everybody has intention, but not everybody has the intention to study their intention. Yes, yes, yes. So by being in a Buddhist environment, hearing the Buddha's teaching, the Buddha is saying, hey, intention is very important. Intention is so important, please study it. Because if you don't study it, is that things are not going to go well. And if you do study it, this will lead to awakening. So then we now have a consciousness which has heard those teachings, and now that wish to study the intention is also an intention. It's not an intention, it's a wish in our intention. So we have an intention and a wish to study the intention. And that's, I would say, looking to be more like a wholesome state of karma. The state of a mind that has the wish to study itself is basically, you know, the Buddha's mind.


The Buddha mind wants to study the karma consciousness. That's very helpful. Now, how does expectation, you know, like we're not to, We're to have no expectations. But what if I have an expectation that it benefits? My attention benefits me and others. So you could have the wish, You can have the wish that it would be beneficial, but expecting that you get the benefit is antithetical to benefit. So recently I brought the example of Buddha telling the story of in the Buddha's past, he served many Buddhas, and he served them very wholeheartedly, but he had an expectation of gain.


And because of that, things didn't go so well. And he did it over and over and over and over. So we can, just to serve beings with no expectation of gain, not even the gain of them being benefited, is a more enlightened way to serve. However, if we notice, and in the Buddha's case, the Buddha noticed In all these examples, over and over, the Buddha noticed, I was doing this good thing, but I was expecting gain. I was doing this good thing, but I was expecting gain. He saw that over and over. So if we try to benefit people and we expect the gain of the benefit, we can notice that that's antithetical to benefit. And even though we notice it, we still may try to benefit with expecting that we're going to get something from trying to benefit. So yes, we should benefit all beings. We should benefit Buddhas. We should be servants to all beings.


Yes, but not trying to get anything. However, even the Buddha did that over and over and over. So we're probably going to do it over and over. But the Buddha noticed it and noticed it and noticed it. And if we keep noticing it and avowing it, avowing it, avowing it, we'll melt away the root of doing good to get something. And we'll just do good. But even the Buddha had to do this so many times. But the Buddha noticed, oh, I was trying to get something. Oh, I was trying to get something. OK. Thank you, Aaron. Is it true that we can understand karma and the work, like how it works, but we cannot understand the individual outcomes of events because we're in it and it's too complicated.


So I feel like I spent a lot of time saying, oh, this happened to me because of, I did X and that maybe delusion. Well, that way of understanding may not ever be the way to... That way of understanding may never reach the way things actually work. But the Buddha says that the Buddha did awaken to how things actually work. But the path to understanding how they actually work is by studying the way we think they're working. Karma is the way we think things are working, or the way we want them to work. That's what karma is. That's not the way they work. But by studying the way we think they work, or the way we want them to work, or the way we think we want them to work, or the way that we intend them to work, to studying that, we start, as we said earlier, we start to see the layers and the concentric circles. And we start to open to that. And when you see all the concentric circles, you don't any longer think you did anything by yourself.


you open to and awaken to how the whole universe is working to create each thing. That's dependent co-arising. And we awaken to that dependent co-arising by studying karma, among other things. But karma's, if we skip over karma, we're not gonna get very far in understanding dependent co-arising. And when we understand dependent co-arising, we do understand how things arise, how they come to be. But that way that they come to be is none of our conceptual ideas of the way they come to be. But we should study our conceptual ideas that will lead us to awakening to how they come to be beyond our conceptions. That's the theory. Hello, Reb.


Hello, Tyler and Athena. I had two questions, and they're interrelated. And I think the first feeds into the second. I remember you saying in a previous talk that the self arose from sensory input interacting with consciousness. And I'm wondering if that was okay. Consciousness arises from sensory data interacting with sense organs. Okay. So when our body, our sense body, is interacting with sense data, when they're actually interacting, consciousness arises. That interaction is a mind. And when that mind has a self in it, then there's karma in it.


So there's sense consciousnesses. And maybe some of the sense consciousnesses are so immediate that they don't yet have a self in them. Our conscious self doesn't know about those immediate sense datas where there's not a self. We know the consciousnesses where there's that arise from the sense data, interacting with the sense body, that consciousness then becomes a condition for the arising of our karmic consciousness. So the consciousness which arises from actual body interacting with actual physical data, that consciousness is the antecedent condition for the arising of karmic consciousness. And the karmic consciousness has a self, and so the self is somehow interrelated or dependent upon that karma, being present in the karmic consciousness.


Yes, right. But the self is dependent on everything else going on there. It's dependent, but it doesn't arise to the things it coexists with. But it does arise in the sense that the way it is, is influenced by them. But it also arises from past karmic consciousnesses. And it also arises from the sense data and the body interacting. All that contributes to the rising of the karmic consciousness, wherein there's a self. I'm curious about the benefit of the self-studying our motivations. If the self isn't in control of anything, then... Don't have the self do it. Okay, so the studying is happening at the level of consciousness. It's not the self deciding to do it. Yeah, because some people Some people have a consciousness and in that consciousness they have a self and they would like that self to decide to study Buddhism.


But then Buddhism is not studied and they think it's a self's fault. So the self is more of just kind of an observer to everything without... No, it's not an observer. It's more like a family member in a space where there's an awareness of what's going on with the family. But it's not the awareness of what's going on with the family. That's consciousness. It's one of the family members. And consciousness is aware, oh, there's a self here. And also consciousness is aware, oh, there's an idea that the self owns some of the stuff here. Or there's an idea that the self makes decisions. There are decisions, but the self doesn't make them. The self coexists with decisions. So you got a self, decisions, They coexist and yet the delusion self makes decisions. That's a delusion. And there can be observation of this along with the teaching that that's a delusion and there can be an awakening to oh, yeah, that's the self didn't do it.


The whole situation made the decision. So the self is kind of a phenomenon, but not necessarily doing anything or owning anything. It's just It's not doing anything by itself. However, you could say it's doing some things in the sense that it affects everything else that's present, but also everything else that's present affects it. So a self in a depressed mind gets affected by the depression, but also the depression gets affected by the self. And the self in a happy mind gets affected by the happiness, but also the happiness gets affected by the self. So the self and the happiness or the depression, they're interrelated, they affect each other, but the self isn't doing the depression, and the depression isn't doing the self, but they do coexist, and it's an unhappy situation. But the self isn't deciding to be depressed, and the self isn't deciding to be happy, although people would like


People, there could be anger in the consciousness that the self isn't deciding to be happy. So is there a function to the self or is it just happens to be there? There's a big function to the self, yeah. I think the self has the function of facilitating biological reproduction. The self, how does the self do that? The self doesn't do it. Right. Having a self, having a self makes it more likely to be able to reproduce. It's like a big, powerful tool that helps you bat other people. If anybody in the neighborhood doesn't have a self, you can use your sense of self deludedly.


It's a delusion. But a lot of the delusions in our mind have survival value and have evolutionary advantage over not having these delusions. So we have evolved to have delusions because they make us reproduce and survive. So it's a survival mechanism of sorts then? Having a sense of self provides a motivation then for the consciousness? No, it doesn't provide it. It's in the place where there is. The motivation could be survival, reproduction, but also the motivation could be to become free of suffering. Most of us have had maybe something to do with the impulse to reproduce. and to survive. Now we're adding to the list to become free of suffering and to free others from suffering.


Those are not in everybody's conscious mind. We're trying to get them in there. The others are floating around in our body, influencing the nature of our conscious minds. But the self isn't making these, the self isn't doing this stuff. The self is a servant of survival and reproduction. It's a servant and a tool, it's an instrument. And the delusions which surround it are instruments. They're instruments of this other agenda, and they cause a lot of trouble. Now we're trying to ameliorate the disease that surrounds the self, and which leads to all kinds of cruelty. And, you know, which we see in the world. Okay. Thank you. Welcome. Rosie. Hello, Rob.


Hello. You're muted. You're muted. Okay, now you can hear me? Great. Back in the conversation somewhere, I raised my hand over the word wish as someone else did. And now I have to, I am allowing that this, all the energy that has stirred up this conversation amongst us, you know, just the feeling of being present is so strong that I can barely remember what my question was.


It has something to do with wish and intention, and you probably have answered it by now. But it feels to me like wish is, like they're a little bit different, even in this moment. I recognize intention. I feel for intention as it's a very strong, motivating, very conscious. Can I say something? Please. Sometimes the intention is not clear and is not strong. So you have three kinds of karma, wholesome, unwholesome, and neutral.


A lot of our karmic consciousnesses are neutral. Those are consciousnesses where the intention is not clear. It's not clearly wholesome or unwholesome. Oh, it's more unconscious? No, you can be aware. You can notice that you have various wishes in your mind, and they're not lined up. And so the overall pattern the overall pattern, the overall intention is not clear. And it might be because there's conflicting wishes or conflicting emotions. So if the intention is not always clear, it's not strong always, it's the overall pattern, it's the general shape of the consciousness. And sometimes the general shape is clearly going in this direction, and sometimes the general shape is going in another direction. But I would use wish, you know, as not such a general term.


I would say that the intention can include contradictory wishes. The karma of the moment can include a number of contradictory wishes, and each wish is not in itself self-contradictory. Like the example I used, I could be trying to help you and at the same time wishing to help you and wishing that people would think I'm really a good teacher. Those would be two different wishes, which kind of like, you know, that's more like my overall picture. I want to help you and I want to get appreciated. That's more overall. There are two different wishes. Some of them is, Maybe not, I don't know, but it's kind of not so clear if that's a good state of consciousness. And we could add some more wishes in there too, which should make it maybe even more murky. So some states, some intentions are quite murky, and they're composed of many wishes. Some other states, wholesome states, they're very wholesome, and they don't have very many wishes, they just have one, they're very simple.


Like for example, I want to benefit somebody, that's it. It's very clear. I want to hurt somebody, that's it. It's very clear. But there can be multiple wishes making the overall intention. It's called either indeterminate or neutral. And we can discover those three if we look in our mind. And sometimes there's not even conflicting wishes. Sometimes there's not even a wish. Like sometimes if you just look at a blue sky, there may be no wish. You know, you're just looking into the blue sky. You're not trying to help people. You're not wanting to hurt people. You're not wanting to be famous. It's just blue sky. And that's kind of like not clearly wholesome or unwholesome. It's not a bad state, but it's not clearly a good state. It's not necessarily beneficial. So there can be sort of indeterminate karmic situations, overall patterns, when there's not almost any wishes, and then there can be indeterminate ones when there's lots of wishes.


And usually the wholesome ones and the unwholesome ones, the wishes are more either simplified or lined up, like all positive, all negative, or one positive and one negative. We can go, we'll go into this more later, okay? Thank you. Thank you, everybody. I hope that, I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish that this is a beneficial event. And now I'm gonna say it again. May our wish equally penetrate every being in place with the true merit of Buddha's way. We wish that all of the, No. Beings are numberless. We wish to save them. Afflictions are inexhaustible. We wish to cut through them. Dharma gates are boundless. We wish to enter them.


Put away is unsurpassable. We wish to become it. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.