The Middle Way: Dharma Talk by John Pulleyn
1:27PM May 16, 2021
Give me the clock Good morning, everyone.
Today is May 16. And this Dharma talk is going to be about the middle way. And we'll just plunge right in. So actually, that's one of the names for Buddhism is the middle way. And this is traditionally considered to be the first teaching of the Buddha. After his great enlightenment when he encountered the five ascetics. I think most of us know the story. Never know really, how much just basic Buddhist traditional history and teaching people know it's possible to practice Zen and really not know much, maybe even not need to know too much. But it is it can be extremely helpful to understand some of the teachings of the Buddha and of the, the many great masters that followed him. So in this first teaching to the five ascetics just to review, the Buddha had spent something like six years, practicing the severe asceticism. And then finally, at the point of death, he realized that he was at a dead end. Literally, he wouldn't be dead if he continued. And he found what he called the middle path between severe restriction, asceticism and indulgence, sexual indulgence.
This is actually from the sutra, the turning of the wheel of the Dharma, Dharma chakra part of putana. I'm trying my angle that where the Buddha laid this out in this first teaching, traditionally, he said monks, these two extremes, of course indulgence and, and it says, it says that asceticism ought not to be practiced by one who has gone forth from the household life, that is by a monk. There is an addiction to indulgence of sense pleasures, which is low course, the way of ordinary people unworthy and unprofitable. And there is an addiction to self mortification, which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable. Avoid both these extremes, avoiding both these extremes, the perfect one has realized the middle path. It gives vision gives knowledge and leads to calm to insight to enlightenment and to Nirvana. And what is that middle path realized by the target? It is the Noble Eightfold Path and nothing else. Namely, right understanding right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
Roshi, usually and in introductory workshops, runs through very quickly runs through the Eightfold Path, and usually says that really, right concentration or deonna, which is the Sanskrit word, which is the equivalent to Zen or Chan in Chinese, basically can take us the whole way that can all be summed up in right concentration. But all these things reinforce each other. You could say that it could all be summed up in right view. There, they're often divided into three categories. Sheila, Samadhi, and prajna are morality, mental discipline, and wisdom.
They all reinforce each other
Basically, they lead to call to insight. And finally to enlightenment and awakening. This this definition of the middle path is typically understood is the least. So this is the way I always understood it as kind of, you know, a splitting the difference, right if you've got an ascetic on one end, and you've got a libertine on the other, and somewhere in the middle is where you want to land. But there's a deeper way of understanding it, which is you're stepping out of that dichotomy, or you're you're moving off of that plane. And coming at it from a from a we could say higher than we got higher and lower, but a different understanding. And this
this teaching of a middle way, later in Buddhism gets expanded into all the various spectrums dichotomies. For instance, there's a lot in the sutras later sutras about neither existence nor annihilation. This refers to a lot of the philosophical views that were around in India at the time. And the Buddha preached the middle way. That if we held on to existence, we didn't see the truth. And if we believe that there's really nothing that also didn't cover it didn't get it. In the Lanka Vitara sutra, which was reportedly Bodie Dimas favorite sutra. And so it has a lot to do with the origins of Zen, you have this line, things are not what they seem, nor are they otherwise. There's not some separate reality. This world of things that we live in, is the world of the absolute. There's not a there's not something standing outside that we need to get to. When you when you move through history, and you get to Chiang Buddhism, the further beginnings of Buddhism in China. The the list of opposites opposing sides of reality, is really flowers. And I want to read a little something from a book called the Golden Age of Zen, by John c. h. Wu. has a lot to do with it actually is about nothing else than the development of Zen in China, in the early Mu these early years. And this is from a chapter about winning, we know the sixth patriarch of Zen.
And here's what John woo says, we can easily discern the elements of Confucian ethics in the system have we done on the other hand, he is so dialectically minded that one cannot help noting the profound affinity between him and lotsa course lotsa is the great figure in in Taoism. And as Roshi is often pointed out, Zen is really a came arose out of a meeting between Buddhism as it came from India, the Mahayana and between Taoism and Confucianism, the two main streams that existed already in China. Since the second chapter of the DAO de Jing gives us a classic statement of darwinistic dialectics. When all the world recognizes beauty as beautiful, there emerges ugliness. When all the world recognizes good as good, there emerges evil. Likewise, the hidden in the manifest give birth to each other, difficult and easy complement each other. long and short said measure to each other. I am low have reference to each other. tones and voice harmonize with each other, back in front, follow each other. All these pairs of opposites belong to the realm of relativity and the sage according to Lao to does not dwell on them, but rises above them. Then he goes on. Similarly, waiting on his last instructions to His disciples enumerated no less than 36 pairs of opposites, such as light and darkness, yin and yang form in the formless, and on and on and on, the greater the small perversion and rectitude, place and voting place that means indexation or defilement and vodi of courses enlightenment, kindness and cruelty, permanent and impermanent,
on and on and
on. And then why nung says, If you know the proper way of using these pairs of opposites, you will be able to go freely in and out through the scriptural dharmas. That is sort of the sutras. steering clear of the two extremes by letting the self nature stir and function spontaneously, in conversation with others, externally be detached from phenomena in the midst of phenomenon. That is from things in the midst of things, and internally be detached from the void in the midst of the void. Don't get stuck on form or emptiness. If you're entirely attached to the phenomenal, you would fall into perverted views. On the other hand, if you are entirely attached to the void, you would only sink deeper into your ignorance. Then this is interesting. If someone asks you about the meaning of existence, answer him in terms of non existence. If he asked about the worldly speak of the saintly if he asked to the saintly speak of the worldly. In this way, the interdependence and mutual involvement of the two extremes will bring light to the significance of the mean. Or we could say the middle way. Suppose someone asks you what is darkness? Answer him thus, light is the primary cause of darkness. And darkness is the secondary cause of light. It is the disappearance of light that causes darkness, light and darkness exhibit each other, and their interdependence points inevitably to the significance of the mean.
Never have just one. Never just one side. And yet, in our efforts, we're continually falling into the good and the bad. There's another Dallas St. shikantaza. Who said, good and bad, is the disease of the mind.
Want to read a little passage from Anthony de Mello, forgive me, please. don't seem to be able to give a talk without trying him out. Since a little section says, neither is renunciation, the solution? He says this, anytime you're practicing renunciation, you're diluted about that. You're diluted? What are you announcing? Anytime you are announced something you are forever tied to the thing you renounce. There's a guru in India who says every time a prostitute comes to me, she's talking about nothing but God. She says I'm sick of this life that I'm living, I want God. But every time a priest comes to me, he's talking about nothing but sex. Very well, when you were announced something, you're stuck to it forever. When you fight something, you're tied to it forever. As long as you're fighting it, you're giving it power. You gave it as much power, you give it as much power as you're using to fight it. So you must receive your demons. Because when you fight them, you empower them. has nobody ever told you this. When you were announced something you're tied to it. The only way to get out of this is to see through it. Don't renounce it, see through it, understand his true value, and he won't need to renounce it. It will just drop from your hands. But of course, if you don't see that, if you're hypnotized into thinking that you won't be happy without this, that or the other thing, you're stuck we need to do for you is not what so called spirituality attempts to do mainly, namely to get you to make sacrifices to renounce things. That's useless, you're still asleep. What we need to do is to help you understand understand, if you understood, it simply dropped the desire for it. This is another way of saying if you woke up, you'd simply drop the desire I think this is really what the middle way is about. Just stepping out of that battle, so much of Zen is learning to let go of that tension we feel between where we are and where we want to be. Because if you want to be where you aren't, you're diluted. I've got a couple of passages that I've longer passages that I want to read from today, and hopefully I'll get through them that really illuminate this point. And the first is a piece from John cha. And the title of it is the middle way within.
Looking at the footnotes, this was a talk given in the north eastern dialect is of Thai Thailand, to an assembly of monks and laypeople in 1970, John Chow was a master in the Thai forest tradition. I think he died in the 1970s. I've dipped into him before I think, actually in my last Dharma talk. So I won't say much more about about him, let him speak for himself. So this is the middle way with him, says the teaching of Buddhism is about giving up evil and practicing good. Then when evil is given up, and goodness established, we must let go of both good and evil. We've already heard enough about wholesome and unwholesome conditions to understand something about them. So I would like to talk about the middle way, that is the path to transcend both of those things. All the Dharma talks and teachings of the Buddha have wanting to show the way out of suffering to those who have not yet escaped the teachings or for the purpose of giving us the right understanding. If we don't understand rightly, we can't arrive at peace. When all the Buddha's became enlightened and gave their first teachings, they did declare these two extremes, indulgence and pleasure and indulgence in pain. These two ways are the ways of infatuation. They are the ways between which those who indulge and sense pleasures much must fluctuate, never arriving at peace. They are the paths which spin around in samsara, that is in our normal life, birth and death, pain and suffering. The enlightened one, observe that all beings are stuck in these two extremes, never seeing the middle way of dharma. So he pointed them out in order to show the penalty involved in both. Because we are still stuck, because we are still wanting, we live repeatedly under their sway. The Buddha declared that these two ways are the ways of intoxication. They're not the ways of a meditator, not the ways to peace. These ways are indulgence and pleasure, and indulgence and pain. Or to put it simply the way of slackness, in the way of tension.
Of course, the way of slackness in the way of tension is really a basic koan we work with every time we do Zen really need to begin by relaxing the body can't really go too deep, when we're carrying tension. And yet, it's so easy when we aim for relaxation, to then fall into slackness, have the body slump, and that won't do either. Really, when we get beyond both of these, that our Zen can really blossom and be fruitful. He says, If you investigate within moment by moment, that is, if you're doing sighs in if you're observing and that's not thinking, if you investigate within moment by moment, you will see that the tense way is anger, the way of sorrow,
way, there is only difficulty in distress, indulgence and pleasure. If you try if you've transcended this, it means you've transcended happiness. These ways both happiness and unhappiness. are not peaceful states, the Buddha taught to let go of both of them. This is right practice. This is the
You'll say more in a moment about what he means by happiness. If anyone is confused, why wouldn't we want to be happy? These words the middle way do not refer to our body in speech, they refer to the mind. When a mental impression which we don't like arises, it affects the mind and there is confusion. When the mind is confused when it's shaken up. This is not the right way. But a mental impression arises which we like, the mind goes to indulgence and pleasure. That's not
the way either.
We people don't want suffering, we want happiness. But in fact, happiness is just a refined form of suffering. They say happiness and suffering are on the same continuum. Said suffering is the course form, you can compare them to a snake, the head of the snake is on happiness, the tail of the snake is happiness. The head of the snake is really dangerous, it has the poisonous fangs. If you touch it, the snake will bite straight away. But never mind the head. Even if you go and hold on to the tail, it will turn around and bite you just the same because both the head and the tail belong to the one snake. In the same way both happiness and unhappiness or pleasure and sadness arise from the same parent wanting the Buddhist term is tada thirsting. So when you're happy, the mind isn't peaceful. It really isn't. For instance, when we get the things we like such as wealth, prestige, praise or happiness, we become pleased as a result. But the mind still harbors some uneasiness because we're afraid of losing it. That very fear isn't a peaceful state. Later on, we may actually lose that thing. And then we really suffer. This is obvious and clear to anyone who watches themselves.
And it's a basic truth of Buddhism. Nothing is permanent. Things keep shifting, want things to be a certain way, inevitably are going to be disturbed.
We're not going to be able to become completely still not going to be able to let the mind settle. To let the mind clear, and then to be able to see. He goes on and says if you aren't aware, even if you're happy suffering is imminent. It's just the same as grabbing the snake's tail. You don't let it go, it will bite. So whether it's the snake's tail or its head, that is wholesome or unwholesome conditions, they're all just characteristics of the wheel of existence of endless change,
of course, is one of the three characteristics of existence impermanence. He says the Buddha establish morality, concentration and wisdom as the path to peace, the way to enlightenment. But in truth, these things are not the essence of Buddhism, they're merely the path the Buddha called them maga, ma GGA. Not to be confused with ma da maga which means path. The essence of Buddhism is peace. And that piece arises from truly knowing the nature of things. If we investigate closely we can see that peace is neither happiness nor on happiness. Neither of these is the truth. The human mind, the mind which the Buddha exhorted us to know and investigate is something we can only know by its activity. The true original mind has nothing to measure it by. There's nothing you can know it by. In its natural state. It is unshaken and unmoving.
When happiness arises, all that happiness, all that happens is that this mind is getting lost in a mental impression. There is movement, when the mind moves like this clinging and attachment to those things come into being. The Buddha has already laid down the path of practice in its entirety, but we have not yet practiced or if we have We've practiced only in speech. Our minds and our speech are not yet in harmony, we just indulge an empty talk. The basis of Buddhism is not something that can be talked about our guest and the real basis of Buddhism is full knowledge of the truth of reality. If one knows this truth, that no teaching is necessary, if one doesn't know that, even if he listens to the teaching, he doesn't really hear. That's why the Buddha said the enlightened one only points the way he can't do the practice for you. Because the truth is something you cannot put into words, or give away. The beginning of every workshop, Roshi says what a dilemma it is for someone to present the Dharma in a workshop or in any other way, because words can encompass the truth. Basic slogan of Zen, teaching beyond words and letters, directly pointing something we have to know for ourselves, and we can't know it in the conventional way. Who knows does not speak, you speaks does not know. I'll continue speaking here. All the teachings are really similes and comparisons means to help the mind see the truth. If we haven't seen the truth, we must suffer. For example, we commonly say the Sankara has, when referring to the body Sankara This is a poly or Sanskrit word because it's a Pali word here. That means formations. Anything which has been put together all conditioned things. In Thai Buddhism, I read, it's often used to refer to the human body, which of course, is put together It is a condition thing. So as anybody can say it, but in fact, we have problems simply because we don't know the truth of these Sankara has and thus cling to them. Because we don't know the truth of the body, we suffer. Here's an example. Suppose one morning you're walking to work and a man yells abuse and insults you from across the street. As soon as you hear this abuse, your mind changes from its usual state, you don't feel so good. You feel angry and hurt. Then man walks around abusing you night and day. Whenever you hear the abuse, you get angry. And even when you return home, you're still angry because you feel vindictive. You want to get even a few days later, another man comes to your house and calls out, hey, that man who abused you the other day, he's mad. He's crazy, has been for years. He abuses everybody like that. Nobody takes any notice of anything. He says. As soon as you hear this, you're suddenly relieved that anger and hurt that you've pent up within you all these days, melts away completely. Why? Because you know the truth of the matter. Now, before you didn't know, you thought that man was normal. So you were angry at him. Understanding like that caused you to suffer. As soon as you find out the truth, everything changes. Oh, he's mad. That explains everything. When you understand this, you feel fine. Because you know for yourself having known then you can let go. If you don't know the truth, you claim right there. When you thought that the man who abused you was normal, you could have killed him. Or when you find out the truth that he's mad, you feel much better. This is knowledge of the truth. Someone who sees the Dharma has a similar experience. When attachment aversion and delusion disappear, they disappear in the same way. As long as we don't know these things. We think, what can I do? I have so much greed and aversion. This is not clear knowledge is just the same as when we thought the madman was saying when we finally see that he was mad all along. We're relieved of worry. No one could show you this. Only when the mind sees for itself can uproot and relinquish attachments. In that grasp the snake.
spend so much time criticizing ourselves shouldn't be this way. We're deluded about our delusion. is just normal cause and effect. Because we grasp things because we have aversion to things we don't like the mind is diluted,
the only way out is to see. And the only way to see is to become still.
It's not a question of going on a campaign of improvement, there's a place for that, you see a habit that's causing harm you or other people need to work with it. But the answer is always going to be from seeing from a change, a change that happens without our direction, that arises out of our size n can be on the mat, or it can be in our
arises out of our relinquishing the struggle between good and bad between this and that. Say it arises out of our finding the middle way.
It's the same with this body that we call sunk costs. Although the Buddha has already explained that it's not substantial or a real being as such, we still don't agree, we stubbornly cling to it. If the body could talk, it would be telling us all day long, you're not my owner, you know, actually, it's telling us all the time, but it's Dharma language, so we're unable to understand it. For instance, the sense organs lie ears, nose, tongue and body are continually changing, but I've never seen them ask permission from us even once. Like when we have a headache or a stomach ache, the body never asks permission first, it just goes right ahead, following its natural course. This shows that the body doesn't allow anyone to be its owner, it doesn't have an owner. The Buddha described it as an object, void of substance. Just as every object is void of substance, we don't understand the Dharma so we don't understand the sun cars, we take them to be ourselves. We don't understand these formations, is tendencies, ways of reacting, we take them to be ourselves as belonging to us or belonging to others, this kind of gives rise to clinging, on clinging arises becoming follows once becoming arises and there is birth once there is birth, and old age, sickness and death. Here is getting into the chain of causation 12 Madonna's which gets pretty dry and complicated, but he has a way of simplifying it. I guess the word for it in Pali anyway is potica. sama. pada says we say ignorance gives rise to volitional activities, they give rise to consciousness, and so on. All these things are simply events in mind. When we come in contact with something we don't like. If we don't have mindfulness, ignorance is there, suffering arises straight away. But the mind passes through these changes so rapidly that we can't keep up with them. It's the same as when you fall from a tree. Before you know it Fudd you hit the ground. Actually, you've passed many branches and twigs on the way, but you couldn't count them. You couldn't remember them as you passed, you just fell and then thud. The chain of causation is the same as this. If we divide it up, as in the Scriptures, we say ignorance gives rise to volitional activities and on and on and on, and then I don't have time to go through all 12 until we get to death and all forms of sorrow. But in truth, when you come in contact with something you don't like there's immediate suffering. That feeling of suffering is actually the result of the whole chain of the party, kuzhambu pata. This is why the Buddha exhorted his disciples to investigate and to know fully their own minds. Say I have one thing here. You can't know your own mind fully. If you're caught up in good and bad. If every time a mind state arises, you're having a negative reaction to it. Your only intention is to escape from it to make it go away. There needs to be an openness. What this is what trying to get out here. To investigate fully, somewhere Anthony de Mello says is like having the mind of a scientist not studying something in order to create an effect. He's just interested in it, he's just trying to see. And we can take that same approach with our own life. Our life is an experiment, and we're in charge of it. Just to have that attitude of curiosity, can change everything. Instead of the good, bad, good, bad.
Truth is that we can't force these things to follow our desires. He says here, they follow the way of nature. Here's a simple comparison. Suppose you go and sit in the middle of a freeway with the cars and trucks charging down at you can't get angry if the car is shouting, don't drive over here. It's a freeway, you can't tell them that. So what can you do? You get off the road, the road is the place where cars run. If you don't want the cars there, you suffer. It's the same with the Sankara. It's with these mental formations, we say they disturb us. Like when we sit in meditation and hear a sound, we think, Oh, that sounds bothering me. If we understand that the sound bothers us, then when our feeling is that the sound bothers us, then we suffer accordingly. If we investigate a little deeper, we will see that it's we who go out and disturb the sound. The sound is simply sound. You understand like this, then there's nothing more to it, we leave it be, you see that the sound is one thing we are another one who understands that the sound comes to disturb him is one who doesn't see himself, he really doesn't. Once you see yourself, then you're at ease. The sound is just sound. So why should you go and grab it,
that it was actually you who went out and disturb the sound. This is real knowledge of the truth. You see both sides, so you have peace. If you see only one side there is suffering. Once you see both sides, then you follow the middle way. You move off the continuum, we could say this identify the struggle between one side and the
This is the right practice of the mind. This is what we call straightening out our understanding. And I'm gonna leave on John cha there. They want to get to one other piece which is by jack kornfield. The American who studied with our John char,
pretty well known writer and teacher.
name begins with a quote from the majima nicaya those are the middle length discourses of the Buddha and of other teachers. Part of the tripitaka the three baskets of the writings, all everything was written down about
says hence the purpose of holy life does not consist in acquiring merit, honor or fame Norn gaining morality concentration or the eye of knowledge. That unshakable deliverance, the sure hearts release, that indeed is the object of the holy life. That is its essence. That is its goal. To say those other things, morality, concentration, the eye of knowledge, wisdom, Samadhi. morality, to shoot. Those are the path. Goal is the sure hearts release. And then jack kornfield takes it up. Buddha's teaching is neither a path of denial nor the affirmation. It shows us the paradox of the universe within and beyond the opposites. It teaches us to be in the world, but not of the world. This realization is called the middle way. John cha talked about the middle way every day. In the monastery, we contemplated the middle way at twilight. 100 100 monks could be found seated in the open air Meditation pavilion surrounded by the towering trees and dense green forest, reciting these original verses. There is a middle way between the extremes of indulgence and self denial, free from sorrow and suffering. This is the way to peace and liberation in this very life. And then jack kornfield goes on. If we see happiness purely through indulgence, we are not free. And if we fight against ourselves in the world, we are not free is the middle path that brings freedom. This is a universal truth discovered by all those who awaken. Then he quotes the Buddha. It is as if while traveling through a great forest. Once you'd come upon an ancient path, an ancient road traversed by people of former days. Even so have I monks seen an ancient path, an ancient road, traversed by the rightly enlightened ones, of former former times,
goes on. The middle way describes the middle ground between attachment and aversion between being and non being, between form and emptiness between free will and determinism. The more we delve into the middle way, the more deeply we come to rest between the play of opposites. Sometimes, John Chad described it like a koan, where there is neither going forward no going backward, or standing still, to discover the middle way he went on, try to be mindful and let things take their natural course, then your mind will become still in any surroundings, like a clear forest pool. All kinds of wonderful rare animals will come to drink at the pool, and you will clearly see the nature of all things, you will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, you will be still this is the happiness of the Buddha.
This is the happiness which is not opposed to suffering.
And then jack kornfield takes it up. Learning to rest in the middle way requires a trust in life itself. It is like learning to swim. When I remember first taking swimming lessons. When I was seven years old, I was a skinny shivering boy flailing around, trying to stay afloat in a cold pool. But one morning, there came a magical moment lying on my back when I was held by the teacher and then released, I realized that the water would hold me that I could float, I began to trust. Trusting in the middle way there is an ease and grace, a cellular knowing that we too can float in the ever changing ocean of life, which has always held us
this knowing, just having this even come up fleetingly and sitting can affect a profound change. Once we know there is this dimension, that we can come to our practice with faith. Curiosity, instead of coming to it with an agenda of grasping and aversion. He says Buddhist teaching invites us to discover this He's everywhere, in meditation, in the marketplace, wherever we are, in the middle way we come to rest in the reality of the present are all the opposites exist. TS Eliot as the poet cause this the still point of the turning world, either from nor towards neither arrest nor movement, neither flesh nor fleshless the ship of the Sage shantideva pause the middle way complete non referential ease complete non referential ease.
Reminds me of what Joshi Zen master Joshi said when asked where where do you put your mind where there is no design things in themselves, not things compared to other things. Not things explained in words. The perfect wisdom text describes it as realization of suchness, beyond the attainment of good or bad, ever present with all things, both as a path and the goal. And then he says, What are these mysterious words mean? There are attempts to describe the joyful experience of moving out of time, out of gaining out of duality, they describe the ability to live in the reality of the present. As one teacher put it, the middle path does not go from here to there, it goes from there to here. We could also say, lets go of there is no there. Let's go here, either there, or here. Just this middle path describes the presence of eternity, and the reality of the present. Life is clear, vivid, awake, empty, and yet filled with possibility. When we discover the middle path, we neither remove ourselves from the world nor get lost in it, we can be with all our experience in its complexity, with our own exact thoughts and feelings and drama. As it is, we learn to embrace tension, paradox and change. Instead of seeking resolution, waiting for the chord at the end of a song, we let ourselves open and relax in the middle. In the middle, we discover that the world is workable. John semedo says another teacher, or recent teacher in the fourth tradition, to actually American I believe, teaches us to open to the way of the way things are, and he quotes him. Of course, we can always imagine more perfect conditions, how it should be, ideally, how everyone else should behave. But it's not our task to create an ideal. It's our task to see how it is and to learn from the world as it is. For the awakening of the heart. Conditions are always good enough. Roshi Kapleau used to say everything is grist for the mill.
Even when things suck.
Then he tells a little story, says ginger was a 51 year old social worker who had worked for years in a clinic in California Central Valley, a committed meditator, she took a month off to come to our spring retreat. First, it was hard for her to quiet her mind. her beloved younger brother had re entered the psych ward where he had first been hospitalized for a schizophrenic break. She told me she was awash with emotion, overwhelmed by fear, confusion, shakiness, anger and grief. I counseled her to let it all be to just sit and walk on the earth and let things settle on their in their own time. But as she sat, the feelings and stories got stronger. I recited to her a John Charles teaching of sitting like a clear forest pool. I encouraged her to acknowledge one by one, all the inner wild animals that come and drink at the pool. She began to name them. fear of loss of control, fear of death, fear of living fully grief, and clean to a previous relationship, longing for a partner, that wanting to be independent fear for her brother, anxiety about money, anger at the healthcare system, she had to do battle every day. She had to battle every day at her job, gratitude for her co workers. I invited her to sit in the middle of it all the paradox the messiness the hopes and fears. Take your seat like a queen on the throne, I said, and allow the play of life the play of life, the joys and sorrows, the fears and confusions, the birth and death around you. Don't think you have to fix it. Did your practice sitting in walking allowing it all ought to be. As the intense feelings continued to come and go, she relaxed, and gradually she became more still in present. Her meditation felt more spacious. The stronger states and feeling that arose seemed like impersonal waves of energy. She began to dis identify with it, or body became lighter and joy arose. Two days later, things got worse. She came down with the flu, she felt extremely weak and unsafe, and she became depressed. Because ginger also had hepatitis C, she worried that her body would never be strong enough to meditate well, or live with ease. I reminded her about sitting in the middle of it all. And she came the next day, still unhappy again. She said, I've returned to the center. I'm not going to let my past karma and these obstacles robbed me of my presence. Wonderful. She laughed, and went on. Like the Buddha, I realized, Oh, this is just Mara, I just say I see you, Mara. Mara is the evil one in Buddhist tradition, who traditionally came to the Buddha on his seat of realization, to distractive and discouraged him. Like the Buddha, I realized, Oh, this is just Mara. And I just say, I see you, Mara. Mara can be my grief, or my hopes, or my body pain or my fear. All of it is just life. And the middle way is so deep, it's in all of them. And none of them. It's always here. I've seen ginger now over several years since she left the retreat, or our outer circumstances have not really improved, or work or brother or health are still all still difficulties she continues to face. But her heart is more at ease. She sits quietly almost every day in the messiness of her life. Ginger tells me her meditation has helped her helped her find the middle path, and the inner freedom she hoped for.
This is all taken from the book, The wise heart, jack kornfield book.
This is available to all of us, as many times as we forget, it's always there. Just to drop our obsession with trying to change things reawaken our curiosity, innate stillness.
More we do it, the more our trust grows, the easier it is to do in the future.
I read somewhere in preparing for this talk. Somebody like John parliamo, Paul starched said jizz, there are two ways to go to the gas chamber, free and not free. No matter what it is.
Find it. Or we can become one with it. becoming one with it doesn't mean we don't suffer, doesn't mean it doesn't suck. But it means we drop our ideas that things should somehow be different than they are. Or the wisdom of Buddhism is that everything is the result of conditions and causes.
Like somebody playing bridge, I used to play duplicate bridge back in my college days, which was a fairly long time ago. It doesn't matter whether you have a good hand or a bad hand. It's just how well you play that hand
to be able to drop our distress that we're not doing better, and we're not wiser. Just see what's in front of us. See what there is to do. really the key to practice And then just to keep at it so much depends on having that faith and never giving up. Learning how to work finding out for ourselves. world is full of teachings are full of pointers and ways it may be helpful, but in the end we find out for ourselves and then we know then we trust. Our right our time is up. We'll stop now and recite the four vows without number
two to liberate