2002-08-08: Being With What Is
4:28PM Jun 27, 2020
Good evening everyone. So it is hot. And there's a saying in Zen, Zen Buddhism, that goes when hot, just be hot and cold, just be cold. There's another saying still koan in Zen. Koan is a good word koan is very famous in zen, often people in the West, they can means an unanswerable question or a spiritual question which the Zen master poses and the student addresses that question grapples with it reflects on it is turned inside out by this question, until finally, there's some kind of awakening experience. But the word Come on simply means a case, like a legal case. And it's a case it's a ticular event the precedent that was set in the ancient times was between the Chinese early Zen master and, and a student. Can you hear me? Okay? No, probably because you're so close to the fan. So there's a trade off. You're welcome to move well, you know, try Speak louder. And there's a story in the case of, of a Zen master who's sick and he's sick in bed and and I don't remember the story that well, but I think a Zen master was his master who was very famous for saying something like every day is a good day. And he was sick. And so student came to see him and asked him how he was and he Answer was moonface, Buddha, son face Buddha. So now, that's the story. That's the case. And then you have to kind of figure out what the world that's supposed to mean. You sick someone asked how he was and he responded, son faced Buddha moonface Buddha. And the usual interpretation of the story is that
the moon is something that lasts very briefly. And the sun is something that lasts for a very long time. The moon waxes and wanes on that in the sun just it's kind of constant. At least in ancient China, the idea was that the moon is something is very almost ephemeral and the sun is something which lasts for a long time. And what he was saying by saying moon face to the sun face Buddha, was that each one whether is a Buddha, each one is complete in itself. And now that he was sick, he was being a sick Buddha. He was being someone who he felt he felt his completeness as wholeness as someone who was sick. And if someone you know if he's gonna if he was going to die, and his life was short, then he was living. He was a short lived Buddha. But he was still a Buddha, someone whose life was complete, if he lived for God well and this for a long time, then he was a sun faced Buddha, someone who was a complete Buddha in living for a long time. And so the Zen masters are pointing to this possibility of feeling somehow complete whole sense of well being. Sometimes Zen masters talk about a feeling the perfection of the present moment, which is a challenging idea for some of us, but some feeling of some kind of attitude of being complete in the moment as it is. So when they say sun face when they say, when it's hot, just be hot. They weren't saying suffer. They're saying enter the world of heat, he with a heat, he presents word in such a way that you're not resisting it. You're not judging it, you're not pushing it away, you're not tensing around it. You're not lost in your story making Honey, you're better off being in Hawaii, in the beach, you can fully present for that experience. And you discover in that presence, a capacity to feel somehow complete in that moment, to feel somehow that does need to be in other moments somewhere else, for you to get feel whole feel complete feel at home in this life that we have. So at least in zen, one of the things are pointing to constantly is how can you be at home right now, how can you be home in where you find yourself at this very moment? Some people will hear this and think, Oh, well, that's a great ideal. And now I think what I need to do is spend For the next 30 years in Zen monastery, to purify my mind, so I can be home in the present moment. And the Zen master then would just kick you out of the monastery, if you came with that attitude. The idea is supposed to find something, it's available to you. Regardless of how much spiritual practice you've done some kind of way of being here in this moment, in a way that somehow feels at home in this moment here. So when it's really hot, what does it take to feel at home in this moment? Some people might answer, oh, I have to figure out how I can like the heat. I can figure out all the advantages of the heat. I can figure out all the ways I'm saving so much money because I'm not paying to go to the sauna. And, and then you'll feel at home because you have a reason for it. But having a reason for feeling at home is not what the Zen masters are pointing towards. How can you be home in this moment as it is without it? reason to be at home. And that's the CO on that's the quest as a student is how to find that. And in this quest in that search to find that what the person has to encounter is all the ways in which they don't feel at home in the present moment. And this is one of the very important principles of Buddhist spirituality. That Buddha spirituality has a number of ideals, that the Buddhist practice is leading towards number, number, number of ideals that people like to live up to or live their life by. Certainly freedom, being at peace, being at home, being compassionate, being loving. There's a whole bunch of ideas that people have with the Buddhists have, but certainly sometimes it's valuable to go there directly and kind of align ourselves with those ideals but a healthier way or a safer way of attaining an ideal is not going after it directly, by doing it indirectly by noticing paying attention to all the things that get in the way of you fulfilling that ideal. So the ideal of being compassionate rather than being compassionate and forcing yourself to kind of be a certain way,
artificially in a sense, you would pay attention to what are the barriers to compassion when you're in the presence of someone who's suffering? Is there horror is there fear? Is there you pull back? Do you have anxiety? Do you get filled with problem solving and problem solving gets in the way of really feeling compassion, problem solving isn't the same thing as compassion. Problem Solving can be a way of trying to deal with our own anxiety in the situation. What gets in the way of the compassion. If the goal if the ideal is to be at peace, sometimes we can find it pretty directly but What gets in the way of being peaceful? Are you ambitious? Are you afraid? Are you consumed with concerns about your self image? How you represent yourself how other people see you? Are you caught up in the world of social relationships, looking for the right relationships, trying to figure out how to have a good relationship or fix a relationship or all kinds of social social world and caught be caught up in that to be fixated on it gets in the way of feeling at peace in this moment right here. So one of the principles of Buddhism is you don't go directly necessarily for the ideal. You have a sense of what the ideal is, and then you pay attention to what gets in the way. And then you resolve that you work with that you deal with that you become very honest about it, so that it no longer stands in the way so not so no longer has this filter has this barrier has any power to influence your life as it is That makes sense. So it'd be at home in the heat. Not to rationalize why it's a good idea to Sydney heat. What does it take for you? Those of you who don't feel particularly at home, in the heat, some of you might love it. So one of the things we're trying to do in meditating, I believe are one of the potentials of meditation is to begin exploring the territory of our minds, our body, our hearts, to see how we can, how we can be at home. In this body, how we can be home in this breath, how can be home in this mind, and not kind of mind which feels off which feels agitated or feels preoccupied or feel stressed? That when we when when stress is arising in our body Mind your hearts, it's usually an indication that you're not feeling at home where you are. So we begin to explore and discover how we can be deeply at home in the present moment here as we meditate. And then there's a more difficult task of translating that or extending that into our daily life. How can we have a sense of being at home in the activities that we do? One of the great things that happened. One of the great kind of trainings I received in my monastic life was my teachers insisting that the work that I did had to be considered a meditation. So I had to learn how to be at home with the work that I did, how to be engaged with it fully. And not feel like I was trying to get the work over as quickly as I could so I can get on to more important things because then you're not at home with activity. But how To be engaged in it in a full way I felt at home in it. When I was in a Zen monastery in Japan, I went to visit one of the cooks once in the kitchen to talk about something probably just chatted about something. And the cook was chopping vegetables. And I asked my question, and he put down his knife. He turned to me and responded very, very directly completely. He was there for me and responded. Once he responded, he picked up his knife and I'm back to his vegetables. And I asked another question. He put down his knife turned to me and was there fully for me and addressed me. And then the fifth he picked up his knife and started chopping vegetables again. And and I'm kind of slow so I asked him a third question. And he put down his knife turns his mind, he said Something very, very polite, very nice. But the gist of it was
I'm here, I'm here in the kitchen today to chop these vegetables. And my practice is to engage myself fully in this one activity that I'm doing. And when I'm talking with you, I can engage in you with you. But I have to go back and forth, I'm not going to I'm not going to be shopping while I'm talking to you. So because that's not my practice and practices fully be here for is a training to be fully present for this one activity to be at home here with this thing. And we can go back and forth and continue this way back and forth. But then dinner's not gonna be ready. And so then I got the message and, and I got a teaching also an example of how the Zen monk was engaging in being at home in this one activity of chopping vegetables, and how what it was like to be that absorbed in essentially doing just one thing at a time. So we try to learn to do this in meditation how to be at home in the present moment. In learning to do that we have to learn, we have to learn about all the ways we don't feel at home, all the ways in which the mind carries us away. All the ways in which we react to the present moment or other moments of play cells, the ways in which we contract, or try to escape, or all the different ways in which we feel don't feel at home and what's going on. We get to see that and the reason why it's so important to see that is that if you some people think well, spirituality is all about having peace and love and light and calm and all kinds of wonderful things. And you might be lucky some days and have that. It's really great. But if you have a too easily, you're not gonna learn anything about yourself. And the idea is embedded in Buddhist spiritual life. You want to learn about yourself want to learn what your reactions are, what your coming tendencies are, you don't want to escape or find refuge or find a vacation in feeling good. You want to learn actually how you work, your mind, your reactions, your responses, your thoughts, your feelings, in particular your reactions, your how you respond to how things occur around you or within you. What's your relationship that arises when something happens? in learning about how you work, then gives you a tremendous power to in the future to notice that coming to see the arising of a reaction of response and not give into it, not to lose yourself in that to have a gap between the stimulus and the response. There's a beautiful teaching that one Buddhist monk teacher who says the Mind is like a committee or the mind is like a board, a board meeting. And all these different board directors members who you know are on the board. And they all have a very opinionated and they have different opinions and they have all kinds of different ideas. And some people have some of them have crazy ideas, and some have conservative ideas and all these ideas that will help to respond. And you can't really know what the different board members in your mind are going to say at any given moment how they're gonna respond, you're gonna think what they're going to feel. But you're the chair of the board and you have veto power. So it isn't, so you're not necessarily responsible for all the ideas and thoughts and things that surface within you. It's really helpful not to feel responsible for it all. It's that committee member. But you are responsible, but when you pick that up and act on it, and that's why it says you have the veto power, you can say well that's an you know, that's an interesting idea, but not Now, that's not a useful idea is not helpful. I'm not going to pick that up, I'm not going to go along with that. So be able to have to know yourself so well, that you see your reaction, see your responses. See that when someone comes up to you and, you know, maybe at work and says, you know, your work is not up to snuff. You know, you know, not really good enough these days used to be good, but not good enough. Now, how do you respond to that kind of situation? That's a very powerful situation for some people. How do you respond? What's your reactions? What are the thoughts the feelings that go on? If you familiar with probably what happens is happens very fast. The whole kaleidoscope of different feelings and reactions and thoughts and you know, memories and images and plan futures and what this all means and all this stuff happens very quickly.
If you've learned to pay attention to yourself, if you develop some ability to be calm and present and engaged with the present moment, you can begin tracking little bit some of those reactions and responses and then be wiser about how you respond to it. And it's very useful. The more deeply you can feel at home in the present moment, the more likely you are to notice the reactions, how we react to what's happening. If we're already in a reactive mode, it will constantly reacting and lost in our reactions. Then one more reactions, we're not going to notice necessarily, we're not going to notice it's the shift that changed change in the feeling tone of the body, changing the feeling tone of the heart or the mind. But if you can begin finding yourself at home, you can notice the shift that happens and track it and be involved and engaged in it. Learn how to be the chair of the committee. Oh, that'd be a gap before you respond in the hope that in that gap, you can learn how to respond more wisely. So rather than the habitual responses, taking precedent, it's a considered response to take something in count the whole situation more wiser way. So rather than going along with one committee member says, the whole committee has a chance to sit with it for a moment. And then a wiser response can come for
this notion of a gap between stimulus and response. Does that make sense to you? So now, does this seem reasonable? Do you have any reservations about appreciating or less Being in that gap, finding that gap.
No, it's interesting. Because experience during the fitting that essentially I felt really engaged and comfortable with we can be
uncharacteristically self, you know, self healing the way some of us so dynamic and just all through my body, so I know how to I do, like, and then I would just like flip and like it would be smothering and I can't claustrophobic and almost, you know, so she's interesting that these sevens kind of reacted in this is very interesting to watch it or just kind of try to, you know, back away from that and watch it and probably subside and not go back to the closet. So it just happened several times.
Beautiful. So one of the things you said was that, you know, she sat comfortably with the heat and notice the waves of heat coming up, and then whatever he wants the world to be this kind of flood of being oppressed by it somehow, and, and maybe bordering on panic. But then what she did was she just hung out with it, and it subside. And that experience of learning how to hang out with a reaction that we have, until it passes away, is very helpful in a wise life, because sometimes it can seem that the reactions to what's happening can be very compelling in the moment, a desire can be very compelling. I need to have that now that desire wells up, the aversion rolls up, I'll have to get away from that. Now to stop that now to change this now. desires, aversions, fears, all these things can arise. If you had the experience of not learning how to hang out with it, and not give into it, and see that it dissipates relatively quickly if you don't feel it now into it can be very empowering, very encouraging. So in the future, you Not seduced by it so quickly. It loses some of its authority
to other comments or questions. Yes, I found that to be
particularly true anger. Somebody, often my husband does something that really annoys me. I used to just automatically respond. And I learned it by just pause. You're right, it's just that little bit of space that gives you the chance to choose if that's really where I want to go, or if that's the time I want. Good.
Is that the same thing is kind of 10
I see relate to that. And then just you know, you know what I'm talking about that something is teach your kids you know, so that all calmly and that
to me means just stop before you do something. But it somehow seems connected, especially in sample.
Just find that out.
Yeah, that makes sense to connect it to. I think that it's very wise to count to 10. If you're really angry, and then generally, I don't think it's very useful to respond to the world through anger. So anything we can do to take the authority the anger has away from it. I think we can help us get out of the grips of the anger. So we can respond from a different place, I think is really helpful. And if it takes counting to 10, that's great. Sometimes that's not even good enough. So the you might notice the reaction that the anger arises. And it might be that the only thing that you Chair can do to control the meeting, because everybody's angry is to call for a recess. Timeout and go for a walk, go for a walk for 10 minutes or something come back. So the, the gap between stimulus and response when when you're practicing when you're very mindful, you know, it doesn't have any more than that. It can be, you know, if you wish to be a second, it doesn't have to be this, you know, very intentional long gap. It's almost as if it's almost as if the mindfulness provide when the mindfulness is very, very strong. says if mindfulness provides a permanent gap, it's always there. I don't know how to describe it to you. But it's kind of a dramatic example of this. Perhaps As some of you may have experienced is if you've been in a In maybe an accident in a car, maybe near accident, something really dramatic, you're on the freeway and you're going 70 miles an hour or 90 miles an hour, whatever you tend to do. And, and then, you know, some car just kind of just misses you by a hair. And, you know, you realize that you were just at the edge of utter catastrophe, you know, and you barely missed it, you know, this, you know, maybe death or something. And and once kind of like the initial kind of moment has passed, and you realize you're safe, that can arise a kind of great stillness. Everything you were thinking about before has been wiped away. It's like, wiping off the harddrive, right? It's been cleared out, erased. This, you know, and there's a few minutes there where maybe before we before, all the old concerns and the things that don't seem so important at the moment. You know, if you might have minutes before they come back, you have a sense of some more important things in life than what you're going to cook for dinner or what you know, your partner said, you know, or what you're going to do for your vacations or you know, much more important things in that moment where you realize you're still alive. And there can be a feeling of great stillness or silence around everything's still the same. You still driving and maybe you still thinking a little bit and still have a body and activity, but there's a wider context of stillness and silence. That seems very tangible almost. Is that isn't making sense to you if you had that experience sometimes. That's like having a permanent gap. Did you ever meet Emily Dickinson after great pain the formal feeling after great pain of formal feeling, a formal feeling comes what is a formal feeling, man?
Yeah, she's great. I love her. I haven't heard that Ember that's when a formal feeling so other thoughts you might have, if you'd like to ask but anything at all
Yes, I like the idea of sort of standing decided. So, watching
learning distance and becoming as much as you can have objectives or goals in the heat of emotional review, dizziness and so on the wall is interesting, I am doing like the ability to step aside and looking at yourself
in some fashion whether
it is in, in Buddhist spirituality, video or developing that capacity to observe is very important. And many people report they feel like it says being observed becomes stronger and stronger. And the interesting shifted at some point in the, in the present practice goes along, we realize that the idea that there's an observer is added on top of the ability to observe. And then they they let go of the notion of someone who's observing, and just let the observation exist free of an observer.
That moment that you despise, which seems really short, someone says your work is terrible. And boom, there are challenges. What can you do?
It seems also, as I've experienced, that, that moment is actually bastard moment of freedom. If you can be awake in it, or Yeah, and I think that is the spaciousness that she'll deal with the chair somebody talks about it's, it's this huge, vast field.
Not having to do with how long it isn't?
it's a space.
So Marina said that in, in a, you know, that moment where the year maybe your boss tells you your works not good enough. And there's just all these reactions, that there can also be a sense of kind of vast space or time in that moment. And I think that when the sense of, of observation of mindfulness is quite strong, the mindfulness comes with a sense of kenwyn is quite strong, with a kind of sense of vast peace or spaciousness, and all your reactions might still arise, but you see them in a different context. And so you're much more ease about them, you're just less likely to grab a hold of them. The analogy I like to use is that that more accurate, accurate, accurate enough. The analogy I like to use this for this is if if you know there's five people standing in a The elevator, you feel really claustrophobic. And then, you know, it's like I can't do much and very reactive to the people and you know, you know, but if those same five people are standing inside of, you know, some huge, huge Cathedral or huge, you know, sports arena or something, and they're all spread out, you know, far away from each other, this spaciousness of this great Cathedral, Vaughn vaulted Cathedral. You know, you don't you know, concerned about your physical space and these people being too close to you, and there's all this space around those people. So you can make yourself comfortable by getting rid of more people. Or you can make yourself comfortable and making a big space to hold them all. In part of what can happen in meditation is when making a great space in the mind, that can hold everything there. And so things aren't the same kind of problem for us, as they would be if we we Mine is claustrophobic. And if we're writing really tight and close on top of our fixations, our attachments, our cleanings, our fears, our anxieties, then it's as if the mind has become very, very tight and small. And the domain of awareness is very, very small. As we learn to develop the mindfulness, the mindfulness, then we'll get stronger, and with our strength tends to come a sense of more and more space for these things to arise. So that's why I said that the gap between stimulus and response is not necessarily just a gap in time, you're sequentially, there's going to be also be a sense of, like, there's this great space that holds it all. That's simultaneous with arising of things. And because you have all the space, you know, so you're in this big, big Cathedral, and someone you know, 50 feet away, you know, stretches out like this. And there's so much space that you know, you're not going to react to that. That's okay. Whereas if you're in the elevator and you're constricted and something goes like that, you know, you feel like Gee, that's rude. So when the when the mind is all this space around it, the mind can have a lot of a lot of things can bubble up in the mind. And it's more okay to have it you can more spacious about it less likely caught by, interpreted make meaning of it. I know some people are can be horrified by the content of their own mind. I can't believe that I had that thought. I can't believe I had that kind of feeling. And, and then oh, no, I can't let anybody know that I had that kind of thought. I can't admit it. I can even admit it, admit it to myself perhaps. And, and it gets very tight with that kind of anxiety around our thoughts. What mindfulness hopefully teaches us is that we don't have to be in this tight, reactive relationship with the thoughts that arise. And even if they're horrendous thoughts, there can be a spaciousness that, you know, holds them that sees them and you really Realize that you're safe because because you don't identify with them. You don't say this, this defines who I am. I'm this kind of person, when you define yourself by your thoughts and your feelings and reactions in your body and whatever, any kind of identification and you hold on to is a way of making the space in your mind tighter. When you let go of trying to define yourself in some fixed way holding on to definition not defining not defining yourself by anything, then you start making more space. Making Sense. Yes, no, I like I like to hear no sometimes, you know, because sometimes a little reassuring sometimes over here, no, because then we can, you know, try to clarify it. Yes, the idea of being small,
is maybe gun shy and uncomfortable with the idea is the total amount of presents that are So there's a tendency for me to end up not coming home every night.
You clean it up and you just print it out. And so it's like a correction.
So it's not a matter of making more more physical space in the room, but more space in your mind.
Sometimes you have questions, you've got all the space, you know, stepping back, you're still not sure what's going on. Put the put the knee jerk reactions on home and online. Look at still confused.
So Don says that even sometimes you have all this lots of space and mindfulness to kind of really see what's going on, you know, getting caught up by your reactions and reactivity. And and even given that you he said you he Still don't know what to do don't understand the situation. That's right. Can you have enough space in your Can you be feeling feel at home enough? That it's okay not to know? Yes.
A minute to not identify yourself with
your clients in absence like that.
How is it that
we should hold on?
in absence of identifying
well in meditation, you don't hold them at all. You leave them alone. You don't have to have any idea about how you're supposed to relate to them. Any policy any strategy, any, you know, context for them just, you know, just made them leave me alone. Just be mindful of them, be aware that they're there. But you don't have to do anything about them.
You don't have to assume that they're yours. You know, as soon as someone else's, you don't assume they're good or they're bad, you don't have to, you know, say them, you know, just don't do anything, don't hold them any way at all. Outside of meditation, you know, our thoughts on what part of what helps orient us or how we live our life and how to make sense of things and meaning of stuff and and you know, how to plan a day and all kinds of things. And then how to hold your thoughts. I have a wide range of ways in which I relate to my thoughts all the time, which are Other than what you're friendly, I relate to my most of my thoughts in a friendly way, regardless of what they are. But sometimes, I think of my thoughts as being very useful and good friends, and I'll go for a walk and think about things take up certain themes or some things I need to think about. Think about it that way. Sometimes I find my thoughts very fascinating because they seem to arise, sometimes quite spontaneously, and they seem to seem sometimes an indication of deeper things going on inside of me kind of like dreams can be, you know, go on. I didn't know why am I thinking that right now? What's, what's going on? Or deeper way? Why am I having this kind of fantasy right now? Why am I Why am I constantly Why am I constantly thinking about how, you know, being in the beach? You know why? You know, although, I think it's because I really don't want to be here. And so sometimes the, you know, tracking my thoughts helps me understand in a deeper way, what's going on. But while you're asking the question,
I guess because I find that for me
is easier if I have a sense of where it's coming from.
And so that's the way
I'm more likely to step in. That's what helps me to kind of step aside the baby observer of mine of what comes out. Yeah.
And, and then ask the question, okay, so
does that mean
it's a great, it's a great, you know, way of studying it. What you might try doing is, you know, in addition to that, is to look at something else, and that is why are you holding on the first Place. So none unnecessarily why holding on to that particular thought? But rather, why do you have a tendency to want to hold on to thoughts? Okay, if you can understand that, that would be a great key. So for example, if a person is holding on to their thoughts, because they feel insecure, and the thoughts are what, you know, gives them a sense of identity, a sense of security since or something, then turning the attention back and looking at the insecurity and resolving it, then in the future is no need to hold on to those thoughts for that reason anymore. So you know why you're holding on, it's been a interesting exercise to look at.
It seems like a possibility of an observer as he talks about the observer, and then But the process of observation that's going on
in my experience is not my thoughts but more with feelings.
Was that I? I found that by trying to be detached from them, I was really pushing them away.
but I was really good at it for many years. So it was only when really extreme sort of grief and fear of death kinds of feelings that I just kind of one day experienced as a wave going, Oh, come on. I'm having a briefing. And that's what I'm doing. And just, I don't know if that wasn't deserving. It was more of just be. That's what I'm doing now. And it wasn't, I shouldn't be or I won't be later or if I had done this, it's just breathing. But wait, but The image that I experienced it as it was a way of like when you go out into the ocean and big waves come you have to just go down and while the waves gonna go pass,
that's nothing I can do about it.
Anything else anyone would like to ask? Yes, complete enough.
okay. Thank you.