This is day two of this October November 2023. seven day sesshin. We're going to continue reading from the book Subtle Sound. Zen Teachings of Maurine Stewart edited by Roko Sherry Chayat Roko Sherry, Chayat.
Picking up picking up from yesterday, she, she says, Every day we chant the four of the four great vows. In chanting them we are reminded again and again of what our work is, it is an impossible task. How can we sincerely vow to do what we cannot do? So, question that bothers a lot of people certainly rolled through my mind in the past, how can we sincerely vow to do what we cannot do? Save all beings. These vows are Buddhist Vows. And in Buddhism, there is the understanding that the eye of I vow, this intentional eye is an illusion. So, the first realization with these Vows is that I cannot undertake anything. And with this, the first step in our path is actualized. AI is the obstacle and we get rid of it. So, now we put our palms together with a different attitude, not AI vowing but giving myself up to the carrying out of the vow. If this attitude of giving ourselves wholeheartedly and completely, is truly practiced in whatever we are doing the touchiness of I, the stiffness of the ego is softened. Just as we experienced since A cian, there is no thought of AI doing anything. And in this softening, our suffering is decreased.
The burden of self it's maddening. Seeing everything from the thought of a separate self. So many things are difficult. Like what she says the touchiness of high stiffness of the ego.
And we may have experiences especially right after a scene where all of a sudden there's just nothing in the way. Remember when my son was a young teenager probably the worst part of anyone's life. Coming home and something was sad, I don't know what. And it just flowed. There was no problem. I can't even remember what I said in response. But I wasn't offended. And it made a difference. It was it was remarkable. It's hard to stay with that are easily easily thrown back into our habitual stiffness and touching us. This is a long path. But we notice if we can't keep at it, through the years, it is a little softer. Something that isn't in the way quite as much that continues and grows.
Life becomes easier. She says in this softening, our suffering is decreased. The softening is also the preparation for the working through of our passions, which we all have our emotional reactions great or small, or athlete caused cold in Buddhism, the fires fire of sadness This fire of loneliness, fire of anger be to add the fire of resentment, fire of despair, fire of impatience
fire of disgust she says with the attitude of giving ourselves, we can also give ourselves to the fires, rather than avoiding or refusing them, or being carried away by them. Usually, we refuse to come into contact with those fires, or we give in and are carried away by them swept away. We are not willing to suffer their irrational force. And so it remains wild and in need of humanizing. Neither refusing nor letting it rip. This is compassion for ourselves, giving ourselves into the fires again and again and again. They will consume me, which is a real purification that will consume the ego. With that absence of that ego, the fuel is gone, and the fires revert to what they have ever been our own true Buddha nature. We can just remember that moment where we're being swept up, to stay home to see what's going on.
What's going on in the body? It's always there for us. As we become more accustomed to staying home, to knowing what's going on, in our minds and in our bodies, it becomes a refuge. When we're threatened when we're challenged when we're doing something we're a little afraid about. We can go there trust it how do we learn to go there? By practice by doing it? First maybe we can only do it when it's easy. But gradually our capabilities expand.
She says the central core of Buddhist practice is anata. No I not are Anita say Sanskrit term. It's one of the three characteristics of existence. Or of course, suffering is one, impermanence. Another, and finally, no self is nothing and no one that has a separate self.
She says with this illusion of I gone, everything can be seen as it really is different, but not separate. There is no clinging, no alienation. Just a warm connection with what is. Buddha's teaching began with suffering and the way out of suffering. And he taught us through his own life, his birth, his awakening and his death, the way out of loneliness, separation and the fear of death. If there is no i, if the shell of AI is cracked, the liberation of the heart naturally shines forth and acts in peace and joy for all beings. This path, so clearly shown to us, is a way out of the illusion of AI. A way out of loneliness, separation and fear of death. Only I can fear. Without i There is no fear. says In The Heart Sutra, no hindrance in the mind. Therefore no fear. When that ego shell is cracked, the wonderful warmth of the human heart is released, is liberated it shines flows and acts through Buddha's compassion warms and inspires us on the way to Buddhist with Islam, lights are dark places and helps us out of our suffering. It helps us feel peace and joy for all beings. At the end of the bodhisattva, this vow we chant, may we extend this mind over the whole universe, so that we and all beings together may attain maturity in Buddha's wisdom. What is our Zen practice if not this? I like that sentence, evidently, some Zen centers that's chanted after the Four Vows may we extend this mind over the whole universe, so that we and all beings together may attain maturity in Buddha's wisdom.
Everything is only hard when there's an eye. This illusion that's so deeply embedded. We're trying to protect
scanning the horizon for threats. Bristling up at insults. Turning on ourselves, when this AI has failed.
The lighter we carry that, the easier everything is, you see that so clearly in sesshin.
You have nothing to protect, your burden is light and our natural joy the joy we felt as children can come out.
Moving on to another chapter, another talk entitled ordinary mind. Somebody said to me, it says in the precepts that I should not become intoxicated. I am intoxicated by Zen. Marine says indeed, this is a wonderful addiction. Drench yourself in it. Drink as much as you like. More, more more. With this kind of intoxication, we've become more in touch with everything, literally and figuratively. Our senses become very keen, we smell, taste and touch with a new kind of awareness. And the intuitive mind becomes more sensitive as well. We find that there is less confusion in our lives, that we are more wide awake. By committing ourselves completely to our Zen Zen. By accepting everything as it comes. We become freer, more open, more alert, more vividly alive, sparkling.
Anthony de Mello talks about this addiction
visited him for a moment. For anybody who doesn't know he's a Jesuit priest died a while back. I'm not sure maybe 1020 years.
Read this a number of times. For me, I found this really, really helpful.
He says if you desire to change what is into what you think should be you no longer understand. A dog trainer attempts to understand a dog so that he can train the dog to perform certain tricks. A scientist observes the behavior of ants with no further end in view than to study ants to learn as much as possible about them. He as no other aim is not attempting to train them or get anything out of them is interested in enhance. He wants to learn as much as possible about them. That's his attitude. The day you attain a posture like that, you will experience a miracle, you will change effortlessly correctly, change will happen, you will not have to bring it about life of awareness settles on your darkness. As this life settles on your darkness, whatever is evil, disappear, whatever is good will be fostered. You'll have to experience that for yourself. But this calls for a disciplined mind. And when I say discipline, I'm not talking about effort. I'm talking about something else. Have you ever studied an athlete, his or her whole life is sports. But what a disciplined life he or she leads and look at a river as it moves toward the sea. It creates its own banks that contain it. When there's something within you that moves in the right direction, it creates its own discipline. The moment you get bitten by the bug of awareness, oh, it's so delightful. It's the most delightful thing in the world, the most important, the most delightful, there is nothing so important in the world is awakening, nothing. And of course, it is also a discipline in its own way.
Gradually, we get this taste seems like we have to find out again and again. But when we're not trying to change our circumstances, when we're just trying to be completely with them. When we're completely still sitting and Zen, not fidgeting, cogitating. Not scanning the horizon, not waiting for the bell. Stable to be right there in the moment. It's wonderful.
But, of course, we have to do it. And that's why we're here. And in the process of doing it, we're going to fail. We're going to spin our wheels, we're going to hit bad patches, gonna get bored, gonna get tired, we're going to have pain. There's no other way than through it. But somewhere we know, this is where we need to go. So we're willing
we understand it's always there. Just need to let go.
She says each of us contributes in our own way. Working at whatever is given to us to do with mindfulness and gratitude to this practice. We just do it with our whole being. This place is glittering ly clean as a result. And this makes our practice go more clearly sesshin go more smoothly. This is our Zen really going into daily life. Clearly offering ourselves for the sake of all sentient beings, and grateful to all sentient beings for what they are doing. She says in drenching ourselves in this Zen bath. We are giving up our fixed positions, giving up our past our thoughts of the future. We're just here, eating the food of the moment. Bite after bite. We know there are no quick solutions to our personal koans no sidetracks no quick exits. We cannot blame our problems or our relationships on somebody else. We have to take full responsibility sitting here with ourselves. Nobody can do this for us.
Begin we begin by accepting things as they are. How can you argue with that? What good is it? To look for who's to blame? Whether you blame someone else or you blame yourself, what's the point
she says, we seek security, we seek peace of mind. But we cannot grasp anything. Everything is continually changing. When we see this, we are no longer bound by the need for security. We are suspended here in a place in which the only thing to do is to get in touch with the teachings and ourselves. The only place in which to begin is within ourselves. Nobody can do this for us. Nobody can carry our packages. Nobody can carry our burdens. We have to work with the richness of our own experience in everyday life. We only know whether things are cool or warm when we experienced them ourselves. Somebody else can't say to us there that's cold. We must taste it, feel it. We cannot take the reports of other people's experience as our own. If you put your hand on your heart, it does not beat because you think about making it beat? No Do you need a medical definition of what a heart is? The power beyond definition is making it beat. The basis of our Zen practice is the reality of our life, which goes beyond all definitions, beyond any words, that reality cannot be buckled up by a definition, get put it in a little pigeonhole and say there, I have it neatly tucked away.
We are responsible for ourselves as followers of the Dharma. The path and the inspiration are up to each of us. As far as our way is concerned, human beings are extremely important. But we must not interfere with one another must have wisdom as well as compassion and our actions. What is this compassion? Somebody told me he had heard stories about how lacking in compassion, then practice in Japan was that it was so cold and austere. This does not seem to me to be what Zen is about. compassion and wisdom. Karuna and prajna are practice. One without the other is no good. Compassion without wisdom is mushy. Wisdom without compassion is cold.
This business about the austerity and the coldness of zenpack practice in Japan sure is true in some cases. It's also a different culture. Think Roshi has always said that in in Japan, sometimes the master would actually whack the student on his skull with his kutsu. And this was treasured as a mark of how much the master cared about the student. To me, it's a little foreign. Please don't hit me on the head. Maybe you would do me some good I don't know.
One of the real tasks of anyone who's working on Zen in this country is developing Zen practice that fits the people. Roshi Kapleau used to talk about that quite a bit. takes hundreds of years for Zen to adapt to a new culture. How it will evolve, we don't know.
Can't think it out? Just have to do our best we have to be present to notice and respond.
She says how do we show compassion, with passion with fire with energy with life? A very simple way to show compassion is to leave the bathroom clean, so that the next person who comes finds a wonderful place, we don't leave a little sign there saying I did this for you. It's just done. And there's that clean place. Another way to show compassion is to do our work completely on our own, for the sake of the persons who come after us. We are independent and dependent on one another. And each one of us must be as clear as possible about our condition, then we may be dependent upon. Our practice is one of intuitive awareness. It's not a matter of calling up some rule and saying, it is the fifth fifth precept I must follow here. What does the occasion ask from us? In the spontaneity and creativity of Zen, we can see what really exists, opinions merely clog things up, we lose the essence when we judge we see what is in front of us, we experience this ordinary mind this radiant spontaneous ordinary mind on the way
I get a little concerned when people
feel that through their spontaneity and creativity, they will be assured of naturally following the precepts sometimes it's good to have some some guide rails
a lot of the precepts and other in other centers have been rewritten. So there's a lot more leeway.
There's a reason for the precepts.
Reason for the prohibition against taking advantage of other people sexually, of drinking to access
once you start making excuses and saying well, actually, by hitting on this person or that person, I'm helping them even though they suffer, they'll grow. Of course, that's bullshit.
When I was when I was drinking, I'm one of those people who shouldn't drink. As I discovered, when I was drinking, I used to be very fond of saying from Carl Jung said an honest drink would no man deny
but a friend of mine pointed out, you know, John, I'm not sure that's an honest drink. When our when our reason for drinking is to repress the stuff that's painful, and we don't want to face to slide through life anesthetized. It's not an honest drink. When I announced to my mother that I had stopped, that was it for me. She was a little alarmed. And she said, Well, surely you can have a glass of Christmas cheer? Nope. It's just easier, easier for me. Doesn't mean we have to be rigid. Doesn't mean we have to look at other people and say they should do what I do. I find still that sometimes people are more fun when they're slightly lubricated. So I can benefit without the hangover.
Again, she says opinions merely clog things up. We lose the essence when we judge. When we see what is in front of us. We experienced this ordinary mind. This radiant, spontaneous ordinary mind on the way. When sitting in Zen, if we let go of our bodies, remove our minds. What do we have a clear pure condition free from delusions. In this condition, we're like a flash of lightning free to come free to go free to feel pain free to grow old, free to die We're free to express our Zen in our own way to express our Buddha nature and everything we do think speak and act. Sounds idyllic doesn't it. Our Zen practice requires intense men is a Japanese term thought of this instant, says intends Nan or present mind. But to this now when we add the bodhisattva vow, that we and all beings together may attain true wisdom. With this vow, our dualistic discriminating mind disappears. We no longer think I am doing this work, I am doing this practice, or this is my practice. All of this melts, and we come to feel that subject and object in breath and out breath or one, we inhale the whole universe, exhale to the whole universe, there is no gate between us and it.
Gonna move on to the next talk is entitled giving it away. It's easy to say just become simple, plain ordinary. Don't think about the past or the future. Just live in the present moment. How difficult. Practicing together we learn more and more moment to moment that we cannot apply what worked in the past to this time. This is completely different. Everything must be done in a fresh present tense way. The old rules don't apply. We must pay attention to what the present moment asks of us. The future that we expected is here, and may be entirely different from what we envisioned. So what is the use of all that worrying about how to deal with it? Way nung that's of course the Sixth Patriarch of Zen in China. way nothing tells us we will never grasp anything by thinking about it after it has happened. If our minds are clear, we will see our original nature at this moment. If our minds are not fuzzy, not painted over by some fixed ideas, not held in thrall by old ways old traditions, or original nature can be seen immediately. We know and also says that if we hold on to an evil thought we will destroy the cause of a million years of virtue. What does he mean by an evil thought? Once I just thought that causes us a lot of pain is resentment. It may make us feel quite superior to say to someone I forgive you. things quiet down perhaps, but the pain and resentment may be pushed down into our unconscious minds and a rigidity comes to the surface. We may say I'll never do that again. But how do we know what we will or will not do again?
true forgiveness brings a great change in our hearts. We are always talking about open heartedness. Not easy to talk about but and difficult to do. is easy to talk about but difficult to do. What is it to truly open our hearts and forgiveness is to see all the blows of fate we have experienced all the rejections of the past, present, and future. All our weaknesses, weaknesses as part of a darkness that has helped to bring us to more light
it's an advanced understanding to see that the thing of the pain we suffer changes us for the better.
There's a prayer somewhere may have the appropriate difficulties. So they may open and grow
Welcome difficulty, hard to do, but it is it is galvanizing changes everything
she says we are engaged in a practice of looking in the mirror, seeing ourselves clearly seeing what is real, and what is an illusion? How can I extend my Zen practice to all my friends, someone asked me, we can not do anything but allow the fruits of the practice to come through us in our spontaneous response to whatever is left of us, wherever we go. Just unselfconsciously and spontaneously responding to circumstances, with an open heart and mind, this is our practice, it is the only thing that we can do. We cannot plan to extend our Zen practice to this person, or to that country. Who knows what will be asked of us here there are anywhere. We don't just decide that we're going to bring Zen practice into our lives. Our practice is the foundation of our lives. We cannot unearth the root and say this is what I'm going to live by. Zen is the root is what we are experiencing day by day through our bodies, as much as through our minds. We can memorize all the sutras and Shastras we can read innumerable books, we can search for some key phrase we think will enlighten us. We may try to grasp all these words, but eventually we will forget them. What we will never forget is what our bodies have learned. Our bodies remember what they experienced. They heard in certain places to teach us something. If we let the breath, go through the entire body, it naturally sits up straight. We don't have to fix it. We just have to pay attention. Our bodies teach us through pain through weariness about what we are resisting. Why are we so rebellious that we get this little knot here or there? Why do we fall asleep? Why do we become bored during Zen? It's usually because we are really afraid to find out who we are
to sit together in the Zendo is paradise. During this machine when your knees are hurting you may not think so. But what a wonderful opportunity it is to be here together in this clean, clear stillness. With everyone participating with delicious food offered to us three times a day. All you need to do is let everything drop off to experience deeply what we have here together and then take it home with you. All I can do is encourage you sit with you hit you when you ask for the kiss Saku insists that everything is meticulously taken care of and the house maintain a strong atmosphere. The rest is up to you. So please, let go of all those contradictory concepts, wash them all away. And remember that this is as an mind is not some trance like state in which you zoom off into the stratosphere. You don't lose consciousness, you remain absolutely present. Just give up your discriminating mind and become absolutely clear and wide awake. This is what Bodhi means enlightened, awakened, wide awake. As Anthony de Mello says there's nothing more wonderful don't keep score just keep coming back to that awareness
be grateful for the opportunity to do the work and know that what you're doing is helping others power of machine comes from everyone's efforts and all of us go through difficulty have to deal with discouragement. find ourselves grasping at results. Just keep waking up. All the work is done in this moment. It's no point in regretting the past can't do any thing with it
still very early in 16 For most people, these first few days are the toughest but already things are beginning to settle
don't worry about performance. Just join in here to learn here to make mistakes here to open up. Time is up. We'll stop here and recite the Four Vows.