6:51PM Nov 28, 2021
I want to start today with three little vignettes that were important for me in my life. And the first one was when I was a relatively new Zen student, I was living at a Zen Center, San Francisco Zen Center. And that was back in the 1970s. And there were not very many Zen masters in the United States at that time. But they decided to have a meeting among themselves a gathering to talk about whatever they had in common or issues of head or something. And, and so they gathered for like two or three days and had these private meetings with among themselves. But then one evening, they offered to be available as a panel, to maybe take questions from the students who live there, and students who were taking care of them and hosting them and all that. So that was nice. And so I was in the audience, and they were all kind of laid out, they were all kind of sitting behind this long tables, the seven or nine of them. And it was kind of, for me, so young and impressionable, so pretty formidable group of teachers sitting there, but I was watching them. And at some point someone came along to give them tea or water each of them and maybe came with a tray or something and came up from behind them like a good server, I guess and kind of reached over and put the cup their head in front of them so they have something to drink. And and they all kind of were kind of just accepted it that there's no there's no teachers had no, they're just received it and was there they didn't react or respond to receiving it at all, except for one. And one of them. When the server came to offer it turned completely around to the server acknowledges server was there at that the person who brought it. And the contrast between the ones who kind of just like, you know, we're almost like oblivious the person offering and the one who took the time to really like that person was the most important person at that moment. And so it person, the teacher was going to turn and really be there and see and recognize and, and attack the person. I was so impressed by that. Oh, that's quite quite something. What are the other people doing? I thought that inspired me. So that was one vignette. The other vignette was the same xencenter Some years later, there was a visiting monk from Japan, who we were sitting assess Sheena, seven day retreat, and he was sitting next to me in the hall. And the way that that work, then is that every afternoon during the retreat in the meditation hall, we would sitting like I'm sitting up here on the stage, there'll be the kind of sitting in facing the middle of the room, everyone's around the edges of the room. And, and people would come in and offer us tea and a cookie. But the first day of the retreat, first afternoon, they also came with a tray of cups. And we kept our each of us kept our own cup next to our seats for the week. At the end of the retreat, we were all supposed to, they came in to gather their cups we've been using, so they gave us tea, they gave us a cookie. And when that was finished, they came to collect all the use cups have been used for a week. So that visiting Japanese monkey was sitting next to me, you know, it's all choreographed and said he's supposed to exactly when you're supposed to Bow and Chant and stand up and sit down. It's all kind of like, you know, choreographed on schedule. So if someone says something a little bit out of the usual it stands out. So we were he was sitting next to me. And his cup was on the, on the platform in front of him. And before the server came, he bowed to the cup. And that is, wow. That's respecting appreciating having gratitude for the cup. I don't know what he was expressing. But I think I thought it was kind of partly gratitude. But the fact that you would express this to a cup, that was inspiring as well, not just people you'd respect not just people you would think or express something, but to a cup. That was a second vignette. The third was when I was in graduate school, I was studying religious studies, Buddhist studies at religious studies department. But I took a class from the history department, I think, I think the class was some like the history of Japanese Buddhism, maybe. It had to do with Japanese history. And, and so somehow, we were learning all these facts about the history And
there was some little fact that was told. And we were preparing for the finals or something. And so I, I said to the professor so this specific thing is not so important, right. But we have to know this. And, and he looked at me and he said, Gil, everything is important. I know, wow, that was quite something. Oh, everything is important. So there is this idea that you know, at least when you're studying history, us, everything has its value, and but I kind of had kind of echoed in my mind, all kinds of situation that everything is important. Everything is respect worthy. So I think what they have in common these three stories is the idea of respect. And, and respect is a very important attitude. behavior that, that in many societies, many religious many people, I have never heard a dharma talk about respect. I've been listening to dharma stocks for almost 50 years, I've never heard one about respect. I've never seen anybody actually writing about respect, there must be some way but I haven't that not that well written, read, you know, so. And, but if you go back to look at the teachings of the Buddha, that the concept of respect is, is all over. It's kind of like sprinkled in all over. However, it's not on any list. So if you get like the Teach lists, not there, it's not described as having any role for the Path of Awakening, because that's a very specific, a kind of listing of practices and mental experiences that happen on that path, but respect is not listed there. So the things that you know, that people often use for dharma talks, they are talking about important things, things that are important, you know, in the suit those things to stand out the things you do eat introduction to Buddha's and book, and there it is, you know, this is what it's all about, or something. And respect doesn't rise to the surface high enough to be talked about an introduction to Buddhism texts, you know, or intro to Buddhism, dharma talks, and all kinds of places that I've heard, maybe some of you heard differently. And however, it's sprinkled in all over. And the impression I have is that respect was just a assumed important quality, maybe of society at the time of the Buddha, but just assumed as a very important quality people have, that you didn't have to teach it specially, you just mentioned it. And in fact, it gets mentioned in all kinds of places. One places that is mentioned together with gratitude and contentment. And I think also something there's something that I've been transcending, wishes deference. So respect, deference, contentment, and gratitude, or great treasures, or great blessings, to the Mangala SUTA. And in the discourse on loving kindness, there's an emphasis on respect. And, and one wonderful teachings about it. Where it's connected to the idea of respect is connected directly with love, PA, the love or charity or appreciation or deep, deep regard for the things and, and then it's also connected with CO social cohesion, non dispute, Concord, and unity. So those wonderful things are all connected somehow in association with respect. And the Buddha teaches six things are actually four, four things that are conducive to this love, respect, cohesion, non dispute Concord and unity. And these are loving kindness or friendliness, kindness, that if we live a life of kindness, and that conduces to love and respect, if I generosity, if we live a life that's generous, that also is conducive to love and respect and so forth.
And if we live an ethical life, that also is conducive to love and respect. And finally, developing the insight that that leads to awakening liberating insight. Having that insight having that Maybe experience of liberation, that also are being on the path of that also is conducive to love and respect. And so I think when you meet someone who's very mature in the dharma practice, it tends to kind of bring up a certain level of respect, that appreciation of that person. There's a fascinating story of the Buddha said, after his, soon after he was enlightened. He said, he said to himself, that someone will live an unpleasant life or an uncomfortable life, if they don't have real respect, and deference, and a certain kind of reliance on others. And so it's an interesting idea. So he says, so he's so then he looked around, and he said, Well, actually, there's no one who is more realized than I am. So it doesn't make sense for me to have respect and deference or to rely on them to have certain kinds of dependence on them. Because you know, they're complete, invited my awakening. So what should I have respect for then it was not a not a person. And he said, I'll have respect for the dharma, by which I was awakened, I will have essentially said, respect, homage or to honoring, and reliance. So the idea of respect, honoring and reliance on not a person, but some, some that are there, the dharma, the teachings, the truth, the processes of weakening that exists with each of us. So here also the idea of respect appears. So respect is a fascinating social attitude. It's complicated, because it means so many different things. In English misuse the word respect, and sometimes it has, you know, it's more has more to do with fear than it is, you know, that, then it's not really respect. But it might say, you don't have respect for something, but just saying, We, I fear it. But the but as, as an attitude, of appreciation of others, an attitude of valuing another person, seeing their worth or their importance, every everything's important, including each person. And so to have an appreciation for the value of others, it when there's respect, it's a very interesting mental kind of process to do respect. To have respect, as submitted, you know, involves that I like that involves seeing again, taking a deeper look at what's going on. There's a Latin respect like spectator, or spectacle or something to look. And then the RE means again, to look again. So something is respect worthy, we want to take a deeper look at it. But a deeper look is also deeper listening, like this thing is, whatever this who this person is, is worthy of me paying attention to. It's not only about me, myself and mine, it's not only about what I want, or what I'm afraid of, or how it supports my self centeredness or something, there's a kind of a dropping of self centeredness dropping of my likes my preferences, in order to hear or listen or take in the other person in a good way. There is a kind of kind of a healthy, I think, deference to others, when you have respect. There's a putting yourself aside slightly, in order to take in to lead the person to register the person to make space for the person to, to either kind of deference, or even just to listen to someone, what they have to say is the kind of difference. We put aside. me myself and mine a little bit. So respect involves the kind of attitude where other people are important enough, that we do kind of put ourselves some part of ourselves aside.
And it has to do, the focus becomes on the person, the object that we have respect for. But it's not a giving up of oneself. Because at the same time, when we have respect for someone else, we're the agent of the respect where they were the one who's empowering the respect were the one who's living their respect. And so there it is, it comes from a place of certain kind of confidence, certain kind, hopefully, couldn't have the ability to offer something here. So our selves are the subject of the respect is, as the person who has respect, part of who we are, is put aside our preferences and our likes, or our self centeredness, so we can take in and barely registered the other person. But part of us comes forward, the ability to do that, and the ability to appreciate some buddy else to super to value them. And this is a mental movement. This is not just a casual thing, discuss stumbling along and, you know, bumped into someone. And it takes really certain kind of stopping and taking in and registering it having a kind of mental process that values, appreciates, and values, the person ever with. That, you wouldn't get that message that that's important when people are dharma teachers, for example, teach about some of the higher reaches of dharma practice, where they talk about not-self, you know, that, you know, you're supposed to everything self disappears completely, or sometimes they talk about a no set, there's no separate self, and some idea of merging or disappearing or the self and the other person, respect isn't, is not doesn't involve that respect involves a very clear distinction between you as the subject, and the person is the object for that respect. And the advantage of that, is that something, there's a synthesis of that or the chemistry of that, there's something beautiful that can happen in there can be love, there can be respect, there can be appreciation, there can be a dropping of certain kind of self centeredness, the dropping of self preoccupation, and the strengthening of a kind of confidence, I would like to propose that healthy respect, involves a healthy confidence to offer respect and have no confidence, the respect might be more of a of a belittling of oneself make more sense of self small in relationship to the other person, almost like subservient sometimes. But I think that the, the, this, the more confident we are in ourselves, the more value there is in our respect. The more we belittle ourselves, the less power or less energy of warmth there is in the respect itself. So does respect have a role in Buddhist practice? And apparently, it does, it's kind of, you know, at least it for the Buddha. It may be it's, it's so fundamental, he doesn't have to say it's part of Buddhist practice, it just assumed as a foundation. And, and I find that having respect for my teachers has been, it was very important for me. There was a time where I felt like, I'm not really going to study with a teacher anymore. But, but I still had tremendous respect and deference to them. If some of my teachers told me, I gave, I gave my teachers this authority over me. I said, if they ever come to me and say, girl, you have to stop teaching. I would say, okay, that, you know, there's a few people who would, if they told me that, I would, I wouldn't question it was okay. Because I had that respect and that that reliance, that dependence on their on a man that felt important for me to have, so that I wasn't just being barreling ahead with my own, you know, self centered orientation around all this. There was someone who was my I was accountable to or that someone that I was willing to listen to and hear from him. But more, even more significant for me is the respect I have for the dharma for the practice, that it also is not the dharma, that practice and also a karma.
I've learned through my life experiences that these are powerful forces in the human heart, even mind and that are not related to data, how to say this, that are kind of non personal, but how I personally live effects that So it's connected to the personal, but it's somehow bigger than or to larger process to. And so for me trusting the dharma, or trusting meditation, or respecting it, is the respect this, this, this process, or this force, or this, this, these natural processes that, in order to that are valuable and important than profound that I get out of the way for, if I respect my meditation respect by dharma, it's here also, I put aside my preferences and my likes and dislikes, what I want, in order to allow some make room for something deeper to happen, through allow for myself to listen and hear and sort of see something that's happening here, that is different than then me, myself and mine. And I've learned I've seen this over and over again, this transformation, you know, there's movement, this change that happens to in meditation, where sometimes it's only a meditation, I realize I've been spending the last hours, somehow caught up in my thoughts or caught up in some personal concern. And then to watch and see it melt away or drop away or, or to be able to meditation seep through it to the others kind of on the other side of it, there's more going on here, than what I was allowing myself to tap into, and I was going around my life, to caring for things. So to have this respect, for that process, respect for meditation, respect for dharma. So when we show up to meditate, there is a kind of both putting ourselves aside and kind of bringing ourselves forward at the same time, putting yourself set aside, because it's not about me, myself, and mine only, it's not about my gig, and I keep saying, my likes and dislikes, my preferences, what I want. So that's putting that aside. But it's also about coming forward more fully, because I'm here to listen, I'm here to really wake up and see, to let allow life to show itself allow myself to receive allow myself to be impacted by the dharma, the dharma is operating here. And let me let me show up and be available for it. And so this wonderful combination in the stands between these letting go of self and bringing self into the picture that I think is expressed very well with word respect. This the way I'm talking about us today. And perhaps there's a wonderful place for respect in our dharma practice. And maybe dharma practice would has a different kind of confidence in it. Add a kind of freedom in it, when respect is brought along and bear on. So maybe you have have thought about this a lot. And but maybe, those of you who haven't, maybe it will, as well worth some kind of deeper reflection, about your relationship to respect and, and in what way for you, those respect involve valuing what you respect? What kind of valuing what does it mean to see something as worthy? And what if everything is important? What if every teacup is to be respected? What if everyone ever to everything everyone who who run into is someone who words respect won't be like to live that way? Respecting everyone. And who would benefit the most from that? You are those people being respected. Be nice if it was equal, for both.
So respect it doesn't diminish yourself. It certainly doesn't dismiss it diminish us better respect that brings for some of the best qualities of who we are. That is conducive to love. cohesion, non dispute, Concord and unity. Very nice. Thank you. So those are my thoughts for today. So do you have any things you'd like to say about respect thoughts about it? And maybe when you were if you can bring it. And then if you can please say your name and? And then
Hi, my name is Barry. I was thinking about mutual respect that that is maybe the substrate of connection. Mutual
mutual respect, yes.
And that feeling respected by another makes it easier to respect them and vice versa. I was thinking about your story about talking to your teachers in a respectful manner, and respecting their opinions. And I was imagining that they were respecting you too, as a teacher, as a student.
Yes, thank Thank you. Yes.
Good morning. My name is Gil. And I'm sitting here with to two thoughts that are struggling to come out as one question and I can't quite get there. And the first thought is, perhaps the there's no teaching actual teaching of respect in the sutras, is it could it possibly be a matter of translation? I know we struggle with so many words, maybe there's some little nugget in there that didn't quite make it to English translation. That combined with the fact that the word respect in our western culture has so much baggage with it. When I was raised, the phrase, it always was used with the word show, you are to show respect. And showing respect is very different than what we've spoken of today. So somehow, I'm, I'm kind of rolling through those two things together, which may mean that we just don't have a common language about it yet.
Yeah, I think that's very nice. But you're saying that the word respect is so complicated, because all the different meanings of it. And there's like a whole slew of meanings. And so some of them are not so, so healthy and showing respect, if it's only a show. That's why I was calling it an attitude at the beginning, rather than a show. And but whether it's an issue of translation, I don't know it's a hard very hard to know how to properly to translate these words. But that's why, but there's a slew. There's a bunch of words, which are closely related that sometimes appear on lists. And then English, they get translated as respect, reverence, veneration, and homage. So that's the family that we're talking about exactly what the you know exactly what it means and the different ones. And also, there's the word that sometimes translators difference is, is sometimes could also mean something like
being a gentle, so things like that. And the, what's interesting about that, how often they translate is differences. If you read modern psychologies, or philosophy about respect, deference is often considered closely related. kind of goes along with it. And so when I first saw that I had what deference that doesn't seem like a good thing. But, but I think maybe maybe it is a good thing in a certain way or, or it can be a good thing. And so the all these things, part of the task is to discover how to do these things. Not as a duty or an obligation, but how to do them in a way that's healthy, that's supportive and beneficial. And that's the task of each person. And that's what I think how mindfulness can help give us the inner information we need in order to understand when we're doing things in a healthy way, and when not and not in a healthy way. So what there's one more thing where respect appears and the suit does. And it's another thing so I said that respect is kind of maybe it's just assumed, maybe because it's a cultural value of time with the Buddha so he doesn't really teach it especially. But in other Another thing that's also found has the same thing very Foundation. shuttle, and he doesn't teach about it particularly. And so it tends to be overlooked very often in the suitors or gets Miss translated. And that's taught about it now a number of times on new compa, which I translated as care. And, and sometimes it gets translated to compassion, but compassion, we require someone to suffer technically, into the dictionary definition. So there has to be suffering for there to be compassion or some reference to suffering. And wanting to alleviate that suffering. But care can be involved, it can can involve a caring for people who are in suffering. And the caregiving emotion that Buddha uses repeatedly is this word anukampa. Karuna, the common Buddhist word for compassion. The Buddha never use it as a caregiving emotion in his in his teachings, it's always this anukampa. And so what but then the question is what motivates uncomfort what motivates care, there's very little said about this. But when there is a couple of places where there's disgust, it's motivated by respect. By respect, reverence, veneration and homage in one place, no other place, just respect. And so these two fundamental things, respect and care, are cooked together. And then we care for people not because we have compassion for them or love for them, we care for them, because we have respect. And maybe respect is kind of a more universal or more foundational or broader or more, you know, it's like, love and compassion is wonderful and profound. But it does require a more active engagement, maybe respect is more basic. And we can respect people that we don't love, we can respect people we don't have compassion for. And anyway, so that they are care of each other comes from respect is one of the seems to be one of the teachings of the Buddha. So I don't know if that was addressing your, your two, two thoughts. But that was my helpful,
thank you so much.
Hi, this is Shawnee. I think you we're just getting starting to get to my question. But I'm also struggling a little bit with the different, what I perceive as the different definitions of respect, I can understand kind of care as an attitude and towards maybe everything and not worrying so much about what the object is. But for respect, it seems with some of the words you're saying, like deference, or you know, veneration or these words, it seems like there's a positive connotation towards the object. So if there's, you know, difficult person or a violent person are things I really don't agree with. How would you approach respect in those situations,
some people say you, what you do is you separate out their behavior, from the, from the person, and so that the you, someone who's difficult, and even, maybe even dangerous, is possible to respect their humanity, but not the behavior and the behavior has to be addressed in a particular way. But you never lose sight of the respect for that person. So the person feels all along, you just call the police on them. But, but boy, that person did it in such a respectful way. told me they were called to play I mean, I, you know, I, you know, this is not really good. And I wish you well, but you know, I would like to support you, but this can't continue. So, I'll call the police. But I'll stay here when the police come and make sure they treat you well. Something I know. So, so. I don't know, just making up a scenario. But I like to believe that we can find a way to have respect for the humanity of people. That's not dependent on their behavior.
Thank you. Hi, everyone, my name is Jan. What came to my mind was also since we bury and I've been leaving the sangha group after the talks.
How much I respect the sangha and have learned from the sangha no matter how long people have been practicing, it seems like there's always something to value and learn about what someone has experienced. seeing through the practice. And also I was thinking about something related to this from a talk that tennis era gave recently and the climate crisis, about how consumerism really comes from a feeling of disconnection and not feeling like we belong to each other, and how important it is to value and respect our connection to others. In addition, you know, to the dharma and, and the teachings of the Buddha,
nice, in this connection to others is related to the way in which self respect and respecting others are connected to each other. And, you know, there's respecting the humanity of others this is, you know, that's one way of talking about it. But another way of talking about it is if you have self respect, you wouldn't want to have any disrespect for anyone else. Because the act of disrespect is a way of diminishing oneself. So, of course, you'll have respect because if you have self respect, because that's what you're left with is respect for others. Because the to not appreciate others is to is somehow I, I see it as a, as a not as a neutrality, but as a kind of a movement of disrespect.
So what else anything else?
I'm Tanya, and as I was just kind of imagining, you know, how the Buddha often defines things by their opposite. So I was thinking, I didn't find the word disrespect very visually, imaginably helpful for me, but I was thinking about the word respect, or we look and that to respect or we look, right, and the opposite of that is to not look to not see to not regard to not take in, and how that's, that's very painful. And that's sort of like the climate climate crisis, not looking not seeing not respecting. So
what comes to mind is that is that if you're calm and present for things, of course, you'll take another look. And so not looking is a kind of this regard. Not looking as a kind of turning away. And then maybe respect involves mean means we never turn away for never turn our back on someone or the planets. Okay, so I hope this was nice for you. And I've never given a talk on this topic. But lately I've been it's been on my mind my heart quite a bit and I kind of find it kind of meaningful to spend time reflecting on this topic, and so maybe you will do. So, thank you all very much.