Zen Meditation on Karma and Awakening - May 24th, 2022

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This Great Assembly has been devoted and diligent in contemplating and studying our karmic consciousness, looking into our consciousness and seeing what kind of activity is occurring there. And we have also been receiving in this consciousness teachings about karma, teachings about the activity of our deluded karmic consciousness, and also teachings about cause and effect.


And So the basic premise is that it's very unfortunate and leads to great unhappiness if sentient beings do not take good care and give close and kind attention to their karmic consciousness. Unattended karmic consciousness generally becomes unwholesome and harmful. But by closely attending with compassion and with the aid of the teachings to this karmic consciousness, we can discover the Dharma and become free of karmic consciousness without getting rid of it. I've heard some teachers say, stop the constant thinking that's going on in karmic consciousness.


And giving them the benefit of the doubt, I think what they mean is stop being inattentive to the thinking that's going on in karmic consciousness. Because I've been proposing to you that every moment of karmic consciousness has a pattern, and that pattern is thinking. So I'm not saying stop the pattern of your consciousness I'm saying, let's look at our consciousness, let's look and study the pattern, study the thinking. By studying the thinking with compassion and diligence, patience, generosity, enthusiasm, carefulness, And finally, with wisdom, we realize Buddha's way.


We study the delusion of karmic consciousness. We study the confusion of karmic consciousness. And in understanding the confusion of karmic consciousness, Buddha is realized. the deep understanding of the deluded karmic consciousness. So I gave you this piece of calligraphy. And the four characters, the four vertical characters are deep faith in cause and effect. And on the side here, it says, Zenki, which is my name. But it occurred to me that kind of by coincidence, my name describes the way karmic cause and effect works.


How does karmic cause and effect work? It works in a way called the whole works. Karmic cause and effect embraces everything, and it is everything embracing each thing. Karmic cause and effect is each thing embracing all things, and all things embracing each thing. Our karmic consciousness supports and includes all other beings and all other karmic consciousnesses. All other karmic consciousness include and support our karmic consciousness. This way of mutual assistance and support between this karmic consciousness and all minds and all things and this karmic consciousness is called the whole works.


That's how the karmic cause and effect works. And that could be a reason why it's so important for us to be on the job of attending to this workshop of karmic consciousness, because taking good care of it realizes Buddha, and everybody's included in that. So this study is not just to free this karmic consciousness, it's to free this karmic consciousness, which includes all karmic consciousnesses, and this karmic consciousness, which is included in all karmic consciousnesses. So this is the story of the Bodhisattva studying her own karmic consciousness to liberate all beings, including herself. And I previously told you that there's a fascicle, an essay written by the great ancestor Dogen called Zenki.


called the whole works. It's also translated as total dynamic activity, total dynamic exertion. It's also translated as concerted effort or concerted activity, concerted in the sense of when we make a concerted effort, we often like really gather ourselves and wholeheartedly do it. But another meaning of concerted activity is activity in concert. It's activity in concert with all beings. So Dogen wrote an essay about this concerted activity of all beings, with all beings, with all beings. Do you remember me bringing it up before? Okay, so tonight I'd like to bring up again what I brought up before, which is a part of that essay.


And the theme that I'm bringing up is the theme which is life is just like riding in a boat. Life is just like riding in a boat. Let me stop there for a moment. I will be rhapsodizing on this theme. First of all, life is like riding in a boat. Life is not the boat. Life is not a boat. Life is like riding in a boat. And in the boat, when we're riding in the boat, The sails are raised, the oars are rowed, the rudder is worked in the boat. And although this effort is made in the boat, the boat gives us a ride.


And without the boat, we cannot ride. No one can ride. Us in the boat, in karmic consciousness, makes the boat what the boat is. And this riding in the boat creates a world. This riding in the boat is the sky and the water and the shore. And the sky, and the water, and the boat, and the boat, and the boat, riding in the boat is a world. All this becomes the world of riding in a boat. In this way, we make life and life makes us.


So again, to change life, I should say, to change the boat to karmic consciousness. Okay? Life is like riding in karmic consciousness. Again, life is not the boat, and also life is not karmic consciousness. Life is riding in the karmic consciousness. life is being active in the karmic consciousness. And just like riding in a boat, we cannot ride in karmic consciousness without karmic consciousness. We make karmic consciousness what it is, and it makes us what we are. And the whole world is our karmic consciousness in activity.


The boat is limited, the karmic consciousness is limited, but the karmic consciousness is also the whole sky, the ocean, and the shore. And another fascicle dug and says, fish swim in the water and birds fly in the sky. And no matter how far the fish swim, they don't run out of water. And no matter how far the birds fly, they don't run out of sky. So I would say we swim in karmic consciousness.


We ride, we ride karmic consciousness. And no matter how far we ride, we don't run out of karmic consciousness. But by observing our riding in karmic consciousness, just like if the fish would observe swimming in the water. By observing it, we realize that our riding in karmic consciousness is the whole sky and the whole ocean of all beings and all things. Also, Dogen says, if the fish leaves the water, it will die at once. If the bird leaves the sky, it will die at once. So now tonight I say, if we leave karmic consciousness, we die at once.


It's not about leaving karmic consciousness, it's about swimming in it and studying our strokes, becoming really good swimmers. learning how our body interacts with the waters of consciousness. This study will lead us to understand the confusion that we're swimming in, the confusion that we're riding in. I feel complete in that rhapsody on the theme of riding in a boat.


And yeah, so I am open to discussing karmic consciousness and discussing karmic cause and effect. And anything else in the sky or the water or on the shore that you want to bring up? Yeah, I'm unmuted, right? Can you hear me? Can you hear me? You can. I have lots of questions, but I'm going to start with one about the boat. The analogy works for me for a while, and I'm with you, and I get it, and then suddenly I short-circuit, and I was thinking that, you know,


we need to study and we need words and we need teachers to lead us, but eventually it seems like we have to let go of the words and experience it. And right now that's feeling like a confusing leap. And I was just wondering if you could comment on how one how one lets go of the words. I think the way of letting go of the words is by becoming intimate with them. Like for example, if I became intimate with the word Gail, I would let go of the word Gail.


Not I would let go, but in intimacy with the word Gail, Gail would not be attached to anymore. the word Gale and also the face of Gale, intimacy with the face of Gale. There would be no clinging to Gale. So you're using words to ask about how to let go of words. And then in words, I'm responding to you to say, become intimate with these words and what you're interested in will be realized. It seems like one of those ironies or contradictions that we experience so often. Or you could say it's also a setup for a punchline.


And when the punchline comes, you laugh at what you think the words were before. Like the setup, one setup is we're trapped in the realm of words, that's a setup. And there's a way of working with that setup so we become free of the setup and we realize that the setup of being trapped into or attached to words, it's a setup. In a joke, the setup is given before you realize that the setup is funny. And the punchline helps you be intimate with the setup. Yeah. Okay. Thank you. The punchline hits the line of the words.


I think I get it. I was thinking that- Are you a writer? I am. Are you a poet? Yes. I think it was William Carlos Williams talking about writing poetry and concentrating on the words. And if it wasn't him, it was somebody else. But in concentrating on the words, sometimes the poet sort of like breaks through the page falls through the page and the word into the light. Or the light breaks through the word in the concentrated attention to the word. It's beautiful. Thank you. You're welcome. I see there are a lot of hands, but I would like to ask one other question if I could. In the first class, you said that you wanted to receive questions on compassion while we studied karmic consciousness.


And I've been thinking about that and wondering if it's if I was wondering why you wanted that and wondering if it's because compassion is so essential to the ability to stay with the study of karmic consciousness, because there are so many challenging things in karmic consciousness. But I noticed just now when you were talking that you listed the six paramitas when you were talking about what we employ to study karmic consciousness. Does compassion have a particularly important place in that? Those six are training methods in compassion. Particularly the first five, they are breaking compassion into five parts, interpenetrating parts. And another reason why I said this was because we're coming into this study this spring, after a year of studying compassion,


So I wanted to bring those who had been studying compassion, I wanted to encourage them to bring what they learned about compassion into this study. So when you study karmic consciousness, when the patterns of your own mind appear, can you be generous towards them? Can you be gracious with them? Can you say thank you to them? Even if they're twisted and painful, and painful. Can you be careful with them? Can you be gentle with them and tender with them and conscientious with them? That's the second paramita. Can you be patient with how difficult what's going on in particular, in your case, how difficult the words that are in karmic consciousness are to deal with? Can you be patient with that difficulty, with the hardship of words? and the insult of words.


And then can you be diligent about all this study? And diligence means can you refresh your energy and you're remembering how important it is to study this mind. And then practice concentration. So you study the mind in a state of tranquility. So you can see the way things, the way the karmic consciousness looks in tranquility is different than the way it looks when we're not in a state of tranquil body and mind. So those are all compassion practices in some detail. And they're also ways to become intimate with the words in our karmic consciousness and the feelings and the ideas and the perceptions and everything in karmic consciousness is calling for the same, you know, you could say six-pronged compassion.


Thank you. Thank you. and great assembly. Can you hear me? In last class, you mentioned our practice is more in aura than heart. Was I heard you correctly? I may have said that, but I didn't mean that. What I meant was there's a lot of emphasis in Japanese Zen on the hara, the area below the navel, you know, where we put our meditation mudra in that place.


So there is a kind of emphasis in Japanese Zen on that area of the body. And in Chinese Zen, maybe not as much emphasis. And my theory about where there might not be so much emphasis in Chinese Zen is because in Daoism, that area is also kind of especially emphasized in meditation. So there is some tendency in the Zen school in Japan to bring that kind of Daoist emphasis into the meditation. But in this class, I'm saying that actually, we have other centers of intelligence in the body. For example, in the heart area, there's great intelligence. There's a mind in the heart area. There's a mind in the abdominal area.


There's a mind in the head. When we have karmic consciousness, it transforms the part of our body which is in the head. It transforms the part of our body which is around the heart. It transforms the part of the body which is around the abdomen. In karmic consciousness, when we think about our posture, when we think about sitting up straight, and when we do sit up straight, that karma of sitting up straight influences the intelligence of our spine. So it has an effect. The karmic consciousness affects the unconscious cognitive process. And the unconscious cognitive process is in this part of the body, in the heart part of the body, in the spine, In the abdomen, it's also in the elbow.


There's a lot of intelligence in the elbow. One time, several years ago, I got a cyst on my elbow. And I went to the emergency room and they lanced it and all this stuff came out. And then there was this hole there. And it did not heal. and it did not get infected. And it went on for a long time and didn't heal. The mind in my elbow knew that it wasn't time to close up the wound. And it kept the intelligence here. I wasn't thinking keep the wound open. Up in the head, the part of my mind sort of up here was thinking, my karmic consciousness, which also is related up to here, this part was thinking, why doesn't that part close up that wound? And that part didn't talk back, but it was obviously saying, it's not time.


And if I put a band-aid over it, it did not like that. It wanted to be open to the air, and it went on for a long time, and then it was done, and it closed up. and it didn't even scab, it just closed up. And I thought, I just, I was so, my karmic consciousness was so impressed by this part of my body, which is also greatly smart, that it knows better than my karmic consciousness knows about when to close that wound. So our embodied mind is all over our body. It's in all parts of our body. And there's some spaces that are particularly important around the head, around the heart, around the throat for speaking. There's a lot of intelligence here around the speaking area, in the hands, in the abdomen.


There's tremendous intelligence in the hands and the feet. So I'm saying now, although in Zen, in Japanese Zen particularly, there's a lot of emphasis in the great intelligence that is located at the center of gravity of our body, the hara. But I'm now saying, let's also honor the intelligence in the heart, around the throat, in this part of the body, in the hands, in the feet, You know, when we do walking meditation, one of the instructions for walking meditation is breathe while you're walking and breathe from the bottom of your feet. Use the intelligence of your feet to breathe down into your feet while you're doing walking meditation.


So now I'm saying, let's use our karmic consciousness to honor the whole body because it affects the whole body. And in that way, by honoring the whole body with our karmic consciousness, we invite the whole body to help us, to teach us, to guide us, which of course it's happy to do, but it also wants us to honor it. So I did say there was an emphasis, but I don't think that emphasis which excludes the other parts, I don't think that's the bodhisattva meditation. I think it's just an emphasis that you find in Japanese Zen. But I think Japanese Zen should not get stuck in that emphasis and doesn't need to. Any comments?


Thank you. Good morning, good night, good afternoon to everyone. So what happens at the moment of death in this karmic consciousness? And can from my place here and now prepare this death process, welcome it, and be enough conscious, aware to meet this process, and to leave this body, leave this intelligence in the body, in a


in a smooth and gentle way, even though death will come suddenly. Even if it comes suddenly, yes. Yeah. So I, what I'm, what's it called? What I'm betting on, what I'm committed to, is to use my conscious effort, for example, to sit upright, to use my spine in a way that's awake and respectful of the spine, so the spine can do its job as best possible by being upright. Of course, it can do it lying down, But again, to give a lot of respect to the spine, to give a lot of respect to everything in my karmic consciousness, including the idea of the spine in my karmic consciousness, transforms my body so that my body will more and more be able to welcome and be open to what's going on moment by moment.


And then if death comes, the body and the mind will be ready to meet it and be with it, just as it has been with death. If the mind can be with the whole works of life, it can be with the whole works of death. Death is also the whole works. My life includes your life. Your life includes my life. The more I meditate on that, the more my body and mind get used to that. In that way, we realize that our life is this total dynamic working. And then we will realize that death is the same. The whole sky and the whole ocean and the whole earth come together to give us life.


And we also give the whole earth life. And the whole earth will give us death. And our death will give the whole earth death. Yes. I'm thinking about this body becoming older, being sick. And I felt very comfortable. I felt okay with that. I accepted that. Last weekend, I spent the whole weekend with a group of Tibetan with a Lama, and the subject was on death. And we did a lot of meditation and visualization. And in some particular visualization, I really, really came in contact with the fear.


And I never met it before, because I felt, OK, I reflected a lot about death, as you know, because of the cancer I have, but this meditation I did with the monks revealed a whole unexplored world inside Samir with a kind of deep fear to live this life, not in particular personal, but the life in general, looking at the sky, the sun, the forest, the beauty of just this moment. And I really felt so deep in me, oh, what terrible thing to do. to live this beautiful world even if it's very difficult and ugly many times.


So now I'm trying to explore this part in this mind, in this body. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you to give me the possibility to share this. And thank you to the greater assembly. And I really appreciate those talks and those interactions. Thank you so much, everyone. Thank you. Hello, Great Assembly. You have said so much, so much in this class. Thank you so much. Observing this karmic consciousness, lately I've noticed when I'm listening to the radio or come across an article in the newspaper,


about all of the terrible things that are happening now, the war, the climate change. And so these are people that are experts. A lot of these people are experts giving us this report, these reports, and these things, are terrible things and they are happening, but let's see, how do I say this? This karmic consciousness sees it as, is sort of fixating it as this is bad and it shouldn't be, and so then I get upset. And so me being upset, if I understood what you have been talking about in this class, I mean, just a few minutes ago, what happens, how I meet my karmic consciousness, that means I'm meeting the news of the situation of the world


My karmic consciousness meets that, and it's making a picture of it. Now, that is a fiction. A lot of that is a fiction. And so then, if I'm getting upset about that, this is spreading out across everywhere, as you were saying, because my practice... At that point, I kind of disagree with you. Before you get upset, when you just hear about something, when you hear about it, like you hear something good about something wonderful, or you hear something horrible, when your mind is working with that in your karmic consciousness, whatever's going on there affects the whole world. And if you hear something good,


that affects the whole world. If you hear something terrible, if you get upset, that affects the whole world. And that's always going on, that kind of thing. Now, if you practice with this bad news, or if you practice with getting upset about the bad news, practicing with being upset with the bad news affects the whole world. But even before, and practicing with just hearing the bad news before you get upset, or hearing the bad news and not being upset, practicing with that also affects the whole world. And in both cases, in a good way. Because in both cases, the practice will free you from a karmic consciousness which is not upset, and it will also free you from a karmic consciousness that is upset. And everybody will be included in that freedom.


What about when you suspect it's a fiction anyway? Everything in karmic consciousness is fiction. But my reaction is not a fiction, and your reaction is not a fiction. Your reaction is not a fiction, but the way your reaction appears in karmic consciousness is a fictional version of your reaction. The way you're reacting is much too vast and complex to appear in karmic consciousness. Like if I salivate, I can notice in karmic consciousness that I'm salivating, but what goes into salivation is much more complex than anything I can see in karmic consciousness. So everything in karmic consciousness is a fictional version of whatever it's about. So I have a fictional version of you in my karmic consciousness.


By studying the fictional version of you, by being curious about the fictional version of you that's appearing in my consciousness, I will understand you through studying the fiction of you. You're not a fiction. but the way you appear in my karmic consciousness is a fictional rendition of you, a fictional rendering of you, a painting of you, a construction of you. That's what I'm seeing. And what I am saying is so wonderful is if I could become intimate with the fiction of you, I would become free of the fiction of you and actually be able to meet you. who is beyond any little fictionalized version of you. And all the while, everything in karmic consciousness is having consequences.


So, whether we study or not, what's going on there has consequences. But if we study, if we practice, the consequences become more and more beneficial. But no matter whether we study or not, Karmic consciousness has effects. Let's say for example, I mean, hearing this dangerous news, you know, these dystopic views about what's happening in the world and what's going to happen to us, that doesn't really help, does it? The news doesn't help. The news is just something to... The news isn't really the help, the news is an opportunity to help. Opportunity to help by watching my reaction, but you watching your reaction.


Also by being curious about the news. So I hear bad news, being curious about it is beneficial. hear good news, don't just be curious about bad news, be curious about everything that appears. That curiosity, that study, that questioning, that kindness and carefulness with whatever is appearing, that brings benefit. Listening to these terrible stories, listening to them and observing them with compassion brings blessing. But the bad stories aren't helpful, they're things to listen to. There are opportunities to do something helpful called listening. So there are opportunities to see the need for kindness, to see the need for compassion. Opportunities to see the need, yeah, right. Like somebody says help, and that help helps you realize, oh, somebody wants help.


So it helps you. So then you try to help them, which is good, because that's what it's asking for. So the call is, in a sense, helping you help it. It's giving you some clue to what you should be practicing compassion with. So in that sense, it's helpful. Wouldn't you say, though, that virtue, virtuous, action, virtuous activity has more power or more strength or more reality because it's really, isn't it really a reflection of what's really reality and not the cruelty and the violence You said at the beginning, wouldn't you say?


You said that. And I actually wouldn't say that because I don't know. I don't know if virtue is more powerful than non-virtue. But non-virtue does seem quite powerful. Well, then... But I'm just saying, virtue is what I'm doing. I try to make my contribution virtuous because... other people are making non virtuous contributions or I have made non virtuous convert contributions in the past. And now I'm trying to do the virtuous ones. But I think maybe the non virtuous also should be respected as powerful. And but I'm not saying I know which is more powerful. I'm just saying I'm trying to make the virtuous contributions. And I think I have made non virtuous ones before. all my ancient twisted karma. I think I made non-virtuous contributions and now I want to, from now on, try more and more consistently to make virtuous ones.


Even if virtue is weaker than non-virtue, I still want to make these weak. I sometimes feel really weak making my little virtuous contribution in the face of huge non-virtuous things going on. I make my little tiny thing, you know, these bombers coming in and we're going, Oh, please be kind. You know, sometimes I feel like our virtue is just a tiny little thing. And there's a huge force of evil is surrounding us. I don't care if it's huge. I don't care if it's little, I still want to make my little contributions. And if I can make a big contribution, fine. But sometimes I feel like my contributions are really tiny. But I still want to make tiny ones. Tiny ones are better than zero ones. And I want you, if we all get our tiny ones together, that would really be good. That's what I think. But I don't know how that's going to meet up with the huge forces of the, you know, the non-virtue forces.


I don't know. I don't know. The Buddha did not stop non-virtue in the world. Since Buddha lived, there's been lots of non-virtue. He didn't eliminate it. But he made little contributions moment by moment. So please join me in making little virtuous contributions. Greetings, Rob. Greetings Great Assembly. First, I really want to thank you so much for the care and generosity with which you've showered us in taking this time with us over these eight weeks and all. I know it's beneficial to me and then that makes me hopeful that it's beneficial to others through me and some of this faith in the truth of cause and effect I think is


very active in me, thanks to the way you've been teaching us, so I wanted to thank you for that. Then the thing that I've been thinking about often since the early weeks on, we were talking about the intentionality that appears as a part of karmic consciousness, or the I think it was even that karmic consciousness has an intentionality. And then our own little intentionalities interact with that, just like our own little consciousness with a greater karmic consciousness and all. Something that struck me early on when you were speaking about your intentions, and you even mentioned, and I'm not 100% sure that this wasn't at a Noah Bode talked, but it was on the subject of intentionality. So I think it might have been in this class. But you mentioned how many of your senior students have the intention to lessen suffering and that your intention is not like that.


Your intention is to free, to liberate people with suffering, within suffering or with suffering. That really stuck with me. And I've been thinking about that a lot in between. It's meaningful, I see the distinction. And also, it makes me wonder, wanna hear a little bit more about it and also wonder, even though there's a distinction, is there some kind of inverse proportion or to the extent that you're looking to minimize or lessen suffering, does that detract from wanting to liberate or does wanting to liberate in any way move away from that desire to lessen suffering. So I'd really love to hear you say just a little bit more about that distinction, the relation between them and what seems to be, I don't want to say more virtuous, but more beneficial.


How to be most beneficial. Peter, at the beginning, you said you thank me for I think generosity and care. Yes. And I want to take this opportunity to say the same thing to the Great Assembly. I want to say thank you to all of you for your generosity and care during these sessions. Thank you so much. I hope you all feel my gratitude to you for your care and generosity in your presence in these meetings. And again, back now to Peter's particular question. So, I'm not, of course, I sometimes might do something to reduce someone's suffering.


But if I do do something to reduce someone's suffering, I want to do it in such a way, not just to reduce it, but to help them be with their suffering so they can be free of it. So some suffering really cannot be reduced. But even though it can't be reduced, it can be engaged with more intimately. And if the suffering can be engaged in more intimately, even if it's not reduced, there is liberation from that suffering as it is. If someone can reduce somebody's suffering, I'm fine with that. But I don't want to distract from being intimate with the suffering by trying to reduce it. And I think some people do get distracted from being intimate with the suffering when they try to reduce it.


And therefore, if they try to, if they lose intimacy, I should say, if they lose the practice of intimacy with the suffering for the sake of reduction, they miss what I think is more important. Because some sufferings we're not going to reduce. we're not going to reduce certain sufferings, but we can be intimate with them. And also sometimes people, again, I'll say again, my concern is that in the process of trying to reduce suffering, we lose track of intimacy with it. So some, like some very sincere healthcare workers in their effort to reduce people's suffering, or even stop someone from dying. They do things to people who are in danger of dying, which are not helping become intimate with the situation.


And so the situation just gets traumatized. And because all they care about is like, getting rid of the illness and making the person live longer rather than helping the person be intimate with their situation. But it is also possible to reduce suffering and also use the reduction process as an opportunity of becoming intimate with it. So I feel like a lot of people are into reducing suffering I'm just saying, I'm trying to make a case, not against becoming, reducing it, a case for becoming intimate with it, a case for being close to it and not trying to fix it. Primarily be close to it and respectful of it and gentle with it and careful with it and patient with it and generous with it.


And for the sake of being free, Does that make it more sense to you? Yes, it's very clear. Very helpful. Thank you. You're welcome. Hello, Rob. Hello, greatest family. Hello. Good to see you. Good morning. Good morning. Yes. Good evening. How is it? How are the birds this morning? I have the windows closed, so they're a bit more silent than normal, but they're there, I'm sure. Thank you very much for the teachings and all those lessons during the last weeks. It's really nourishing and I'm grateful for it. and especially for the conversation.


So also thank you to the great assembly. It's very supporting for me, not in the sense of getting a lot of answers, but to me, it's always helpful to get closer to questions. And there are so many questions arising during the conversation. So thank you. Today, I really like the word rhapsody you were using for how you describe things. And I had a feeling, I think it was last time when Karen Yuki was asking about wisdom mind, you did also a rhapsodizing thing. This giving different aspects of one thing, even if they seem that they are contradictions, always help to give a clearer view of things that are difficult to understand. So not only in the sense of giving different aspects, but also in giving a feeling for how they are linked together.


So in a way, I sometimes feel when we are all rhapsodizing about things, it's like dependent co-arising on this language level, this is very helpful. Though I have one problem with a pair of words you were using quite often, also during this teaching, it's dharma and truth. You were using those two next to each other and truth is a very huge, powerful word and Sometimes it's difficult to understand. It's always difficult to understand. And I want to ask if you could help with this pair of words, what truth means and what it means in relation to the dharma. This word dharma is originally a Sanskrit word, right?


Sanskrit. In Pali, it's dhamma. in Sanskrit, dharma. And there are, I think, nine meanings to the word dharma. But the two main, the two main, or maybe three main meanings, which I'll bring up tonight, for the word dharma. One word for dharma means teaching, but in particularly a teaching, not so much teaching, And it can be used for teaching piano or teaching English. So in that sense, it also can mean method. Dharma can mean method. So it can be a teaching. But when we say Buddha dharma, we mean a teaching about the ultimate, the truth. It's not piano dharma or cooking dharma or English dharma. It's a dharma about the truth.


So it's both can mean a teaching about the truth and the truth itself. So those dharma can mean again, the truth or truth. And it can also mean a teaching about the truth. But another meaning of dharma is, means a phenomenal event, a phenomenal thing. Like a color is the dharma. Pain is a dharma. Pleasure is a dharma. Fear is a dharma. Confusion is a dharma. Generosity, I'll take it back. Belief is a dharma. Disbelief is a dharma. Doubt is a dharma. All these things are dharmas. And in Chinese, when they translated the word, and in Sanskrit, I don't know, I don't think Sanskrit has capital ways to capitalize dharma.


I don't know if it has like lowercase and uppercase dharma, but English does. And in Chinese, they use the same Chinese character to translate the element dharma as they do the truth dharma. So in that way, the Chinese translation of dharma is like the Sanskrit. They use the same word for two different things. One is a phenomenal event, and the other is the truth, and in particular, the truth about phenomenal events. So we could say that the truth, the dharma as truth, teaches us about the truth of events. So the big D dharma teaches us about the little d dharmas in such a way that we understand the little d's. The truth shows us the truth of pain, the truth of happiness, the truth of life, the truth of death, the truth of fear, the truth of suffering.


It's the teaching that teaches us, or it's the truth of the thing that liberates us. And it's nice that in the Sanskrit and Chinese, It's the same word, so it's not dualistic in the sense of capital D, capital T, and lowercase phenomenal. Yeah, language is a curious, helpful thing. Yeah, so basically by studying the dharmas of karmic consciousness, which are fictions or illusions, The dharmas are illusions, they're phantoms, they're fictions. By studying them, we discover the truth dharma. The true dharma is not separate from the phenomenal appearances of our karmic mind.


Thank you. Thank you. Hello. Yes, so I have a. I want to clarify my understanding about intentions. So I heard... Please do. So I heard you say that the karma or karma can be said as also the overall intention. You could say overall intention, but also intention is the overall situation in consciousness.


Yes, okay, yeah, yeah, yeah, that's just the overall... Yeah, for example, there could be an impulse in the consciousness, but there could be a bunch of other impulses. So the overall picture of the consciousness is the intention of the consciousness. Yeah, so that's what I... And for that, that was for me a little bit overwhelming somehow, to watch that or to become aware of that overall pattern. Because you're asked, like, what is, you know, what's your intention? So, what's your overall pattern? And that was feeling kind of difficult to... It is kind of difficult, yeah. So, for example, in consciousness we have many thoughts. And, like, you could have a simple thought like, it's Tuesday.


And I guess where you are, it's Wednesday. Okay? You can have a thought like that in consciousness. But that's not karma. That's one element in my karma consciousness. Or, we're in this assembly together. Many of us have that thought in our consciousness. But the surround of that thought is different for each one of us. And I could have a thought like, I want to help people, that thought could be my mind. But the thought I want to help people is not necessarily the overall pattern of my mind. So some people could have the thought I want to help people in their mind, but they could also have the thought I want to help people, but in general, but not this particular person in front of me. So the thought I want to help people in general in one person's consciousness is they want to help people in general, but not the people that are with them right now.


And another person has a thought, I want to help people in general, and I want to help the people right in front of me right now. So the same thought in two different situations has quite a different karma. In the first example, this thought of doing something virtuous for all beings has conflicting So the overall pattern is not necessarily in alignment with this virtuous intention. So the intention of the consciousness is not so virtuous, because that virtuous thought doesn't have a supportive context. So the overall pattern is not clearly in the direction of, I want to act virtuously. In another person, the same thought has a different surround, So then that karma has a clear intention which is lined up with that virtue. And sometimes it's hard to see whether our good intentions have support in the consciousness.


Yeah, thank you very much. I think that's where I was going with my thinking to get it a little bit clearer and more manageable, I guess, for me, particularly to see whether what's going on and it is sort of helpful or not so helpful. I was thinking is when it is, and I think that's reading the Sanyinier Makana Sutra and your comments on that. gave me some thoughts about it, was that whenever there's more this imputational process of essences going on, on what is going on, that we believe that there's a self in it, that that's not so helpful, kind of general container for it. That's the definition of suffering. of affliction when we adhere to our imputation about the situation.


But that situation where we're holding on to our imputations, that's an opportunity for compassion. So if we look in our karmic consciousness, and for example, we have a thought, this would be good, and then we notice that we're attributing substance to that thought and holding onto it, we can notice, oh, this is stressful. Okay, now I notice that, now I can be kind to that. And being kind to that will eventually lead to not holding onto these imputations. Yeah. Would you say that in general, well, of looking out for that difference between, or am I holding on to something, or am I holding on to a substance, or is it not so much there, that that is a sort of a good orientation to have when studying my karmic consciousness?


Yeah, and in particular, that orientation is the wisdom type of orientation in the consciousness. So you have some So first of all, we have some clinging to an idea, and we have some sense of the stress and the clinging to the idea. So we also practice being kind to that. And by being kind to it and patient with the stress of holding on, now we can like, say, look and see, hmm, yeah, I really am holding on there. And it doesn't seem to be causing stress. Ah, yeah. And then maybe if I ask some more questions about this and look more deeply, maybe I would be able to see that that's silly to be holding on to this imputation as really what things are. So that is part of the wisdom process in studying karmic consciousness. To be aware of the clinging and to be kind to it and then investigate the clinging.


investigating if the karmic consciousness is stuck, or is it turning and pivoting with the whole sky and the whole world? Is it pivoting? And if it's stuck, be kind to the stuckness and investigate the stuckness. Thank you very much for the conversation. You're welcome. Thank you. Hello, Rev. Hello, Great Assembly. Hello, Sarah. Last week, within the exchange between you and Gayatri, she was asking, or at least the way I interpret what she was asking, was how we, as in all beings, arrive at conventions within karmic consciousness.


Say like things like, boxes or mountains or the deepest ocean or protons. There's some conventions and there's some fictional part. So I'm just curious about the conventional part and how we arrive at those. It's almost like I can accept all the fictions that I make up and other people make up, but there's some certain part that we seem to agree on, like what foxes are like. Does that make sense? Yeah, I think language is a key factor here. conventions are often connected to words, which are sometimes called conventional designations.


I make designations on things that are conventional. So a child maybe makes a designation about a thing and calls it a dog, and then people say, no, no, no, it's not a dog, it's a fox. And the child learns that the convention The conventional designation for that thing is fox, not dog. But then some other person might say, no, it is a dog. And so there's quite a bit of going back and forth with that. And before, in ancient past, people didn't say fox, they said something else, for whatever those animals are. and that whatever word it was, whatever designation it was, it evolved so that now in this historical epic, we have the word fox, but the word fox wasn't there a long time ago.


They had some other word and maybe they had trouble coming to it, getting a language convention together and agreeing on what to call the thing. I think it's an ongoing negotiation in karmic consciousness with input from other karmic consciousnesses to make up conventions about how we designate things. So you're saying it's an ongoing, negotiated, codependent arising thing that's happening all the time, all over the place. Right. So, for example, now we're in a process of negotiating with gender pronouns. there's some shift from he and she to they, and from his and hers to theirs. There's some changes going on in the designation.


So we might stop using he and she in some situations. Maybe not when the person says that they would like to be addressed as he or she, we might still use it there. but we're adopting maybe another convention of when we're speaking in general for some unknown person about, for example, the behavior of a bodhisattva, we might not say he, we might say they or them instead of he or she. But if it's a bodhisattva who's told us they'd like to be referred to as she, we might say she would like to have lunch. this bodhisattva would like to have lunch and she'd like to sit there because she told us that. And that's a convention too about who do you say they and who do you say she. It's all convention. And these are all fictions. They're all fictions. He, she, they, them.


But that doesn't mean we shouldn't honor them. We should be great novelists. We should be great literary artists. and we should learn how to be intimate with these words. And by being intimate with these fictional, conventional designations, we discover the truth of them. And in discovering the truth of these fictions, that is Buddha, that's Buddha. And also in discovering the truth of these conventional designations, were liberated from holding to them as being, you know, substantial things which we can cling to. I have an example of early on you talked about people not seeing things unless they have a concept for what they are. And I'm a biologist and I study algae and they're really small. And people


we'll find a new one that nobody's ever seen before. And then all of a sudden, people see it everywhere. And so, yeah, what happened before? Yeah. Right, right. And when my daughter was, was, was learning language, when she was learning a word, which she didn't even know before, suddenly she saw that word everywhere. So she was learning like Chinese from her mother, and the Chinese word for airplane is feiji, which means flying machine. So, you know, two weeks before she hadn't, she didn't know the word, and she didn't know, and she hadn't heard it. Now she's heard it and also knows what it refers to, and now that she knows what it's referred to, she sees it everywhere. And one time we were in her room and she was looking up in the sky and she said, Fei Ji.


And I looked in the sky and all I could see was a big blue sky. And I said, where? And she said, Fei Ji. And I looked and there was this microscopic airplane, you know, like 60,000 feet up. And she saw that airplane. And when she was learning dog, you know, everywhere we go, there was dogs everywhere. In every house, she saw a dog. In every car, she saw a dog. This is what it's like to learn conventional designations. And before that, she wasn't troubled by that stuff. And after she learns the word, then try to get her off that word. Good luck. Thank you. Thank you. So it's 844.


Does anyone have something brief they'd like to say? Well, then I just want to say again, I'm so grateful to how kind and generous and caring You all have been to each other, to our subject, to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. They appreciate your great kindness and generosity and care. And I pray that we continue to be kind and generous and respectful and courageous and working towards being intimate with all beings and things. so that the Buddha way will be realized. Thank you so much. May our intention equally extend to every being and place with the true merit of Buddha's way.


Beings are numberless. We vow to save them. Afflictions are inexhaustible. We vow to liberate them. Dharma gates are boundless. We vow to realize them. Buddha way is unsurpassable. We vow to become it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. I love you Grace.