Forbearance: the Third Paramita
3:01PM Jun 22, 2022
Today is June 19, and it's Father's Day and also Juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery in Texas. And I'll be reading today from The Practice of Perfection by Robert Aitken, Roshi. And the focus of the talk is on one of the Paramitas, the Perfections, that presumably the fully enlightened ones exhibit in their daily lives all the time. And this one that we'll be working on is the third Paramita, Forbearance. And one could say, why, at this time, would forbearance be something that we would want to find in our lives? Well, we're in a very critical time. We're emerging from COVID racism, war, financial insecurity, gun violence, so many disturbances. And that increases the anxiety and frustration that everyone has, and we've seen it in the disorder, even in our own lives, how short fused we can be the society in general with rude language, cruelty. And it's good to look at another of the virtues, you could say, of the Buddhist teaching, which we don't actually discuss much in Zen because the heart of our practice is, is Zen and it's not necessary even to be a Buddhist to to practice then. But there are four virtues again, the Brahma, the Horus, and one of them is equanimity. And of course, equanimity is something that we really, most of us, I hope, have found is the, the real jewel of our practice is allows us this settling into the silence of the basic fundamental mind. But the Brahma Vihara, of equanimity has, as its near enemy, meaning very close to it is indifference, turning, turning away from things that we don't want to see, seeing suffering, but saying, well, that's other that's not me. And then the far enemy, which is very interesting, is anxiety, restlessness, intense self concern. And many of us really do struggle with anxiety. And it's good to know that it's the far enemy, of equanimity, of that place of rest.
So I'd like to read a little bit about the biography of eight koan, Roshi, he was a contemporary of pk of Roshi Kapleau, who was my first teacher and women's first teacher. So although he may seem like an ancient dude, he's actually at least within this century, he died in 2010, at the age of 93. James, Ishmael Ford is another Zen teacher, and he tells the story of his life. And I think it's worth reading, because of the trajectory that he took. Most of us have trajectories and if we're lucky, we have in that trajectory, a great deal of suffering. A great deal of disappointment and anguish, broken hearts. I once went to a there was a group at Chapin Mill and they on their last night, they have a kind of a happy hour thing but they bring someone in and this guy, he was doing some kind of heartwarming project with us. And he said, Will someone stand up who's never had a broken heart? or broken someone's heart? No one stood up. And that's the unity that we have is broken heartedness, really. And we can get very much involved in our own distress and anguish, but it's a universal expression of life. Because we live in because we die. So it's helpful. And in this forbearance, we'll get to that in a moment. The symbol the ideograph, for it in Chinese is a sword over a heart
so we are all brokenhearted. But in that out of that, breaking, opens up this ability to love, which is actually our fundamental, don't talk about it in Zen so much, but love is, is the ground. It's what keeps us coming back. Robert Aiken was without doubt one of the most truly venerable elders of the Western Zen way. He was born in Philadelphia in 1917. And when he was five years old, his father accepted an appointment as an ethnologist. At the bishop British know the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Except for a year and a half in California during high school, he was raised entirely in Hawaii. Before the outbreak of World War Two, he spent two and a half years at the University of Hawaii. Then taking a break, he took a fateful job in Guam. In 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was captured by the invading Japanese army, and spent the entire war in various civilian internment camps in Japan. Fortunately, at some point, a guard loaned him a copy of Rh blades, Zen in English literature and the Oriental classics. Fascinated by this book, Robert reread it so many times the guard became afraid that he'd break it spine and so reclaimed it. But through a fateful coincident, he and blight himself were transferred to the same camp. And Robert took advantage of this opportunity to start the intellectual aspect of what was to become a formidable Zen training. After the war, he returned to Hawaii and completed his undergraduate degree in English literature, and then moved to California, where he met new Yogen Sensei, Aki, the itinerant Zen teacher who was leading his quote, floating Zendo in various rented venues up and down the California coast. Since Zaki gave Robert the Dharma name Choten, which means deep pool and introduced him to koan study, he returned to Hawaii, where in 1950, he earned a master's degree in Japanese Studies. And the year before he helped put out the East West philosophers conference at which he met and began what would be a lifelong friendship with DT Suzuki. And in 1950, he made his first visit to Japan since his time as a prisoner of war, and began studying with Rinzai master. So in Nakagawa Roshi, after traveling for time between Hawaii and California, during which time he married and divorced, Robert landed a job teaching Jiddu Krishnamurti is Happy Valley School in Ojai. And there he met and Hopkins, they married and traveled together to Japan for their honeymoon. And while there He sat with so in Roshi, and met Yasutani Roshi, and in 1958, when so and Roshi came to California, Robert served as the teacher's Jishu, or attendant.
He had his first intimation of what Zen is about during this machine in 1961. But his teacher so and Roshi was reluctant to confirm it as more than a little light. His deeper understanding was eventually confirmed by Sol and Roshi in 1971, long after he had been successfully engaging in koan study, and demonstrating his abilities as a teacher in his own right. This is very important that people's first insight is only this is a path of progress a process says, and it's important to realize that people in senior positions or even teachers are are developing are hopefully continuing to investigate and become more complete humans. Over time, it can work with a number of teachers, but its principal guides were Yasutani Roshi, and then Kowloon Yama de Roshi, and in 1974, Yama de Roshi confirmed Dharma transmission on a toucan. hesitant to accept the responsibility and unsure of himself in many ways, he traveled to California where he spent some time reviewing koans and deepening his insight with maezumi Roshi. In 1959, he and N established the CoCo and Zendo this was the nucleus of what would become the diamond Sangha network with centers on several Hawaiian Islands, California, Arizona, Texas, Washington State, Germany, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, he worked with a senior student in Dharma Heir John Tarrant, and that is one of the biggest communities now in Down Under. He also and this is important became one of Western Zen's form of social justice activists. He was a founder with another of his sieging, senior students, Nelson Foster, of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. So this is an interesting point that at this moment in time when we're dealing with racism and so many things, there is a call for us to show up a call to action that we can embrace within our art Zen practice.
He He died on August the fifth 2010. And the diamond Sangha to this day continues led by Nelson Foster, who's Roshi now and yeah, that's that's the story of Robert eight koan. And it is a story that includes a lot of suffering a lot of learning. He did say, in one of his books that he was very different about putting yourself forward. And his he did some therapy, which is always recommended for anybody presuming to teach. And his teacher, his therapist made him go to a restaurant and complain about his soup. And he absolutely had such a hard time. I think it was told to say there was a fly in your soup of something, and he really, it he suffered agonies trying to do this. So this just gives you a sense of the man. Anyway, back to the book. Because Shanti translated as forbearance and endurance is the third paramita This is not merely control of impatience, but the virtue that appears in the absence of hatred, repugnance and malice. And you could say virtue is this virtue virtue is maybe grace, integrity, uprightness. So that's part of it. Like the other parameters, it's an attitude that arises from bodhichitta. So it might be helpful to just say, what, what is bodhichitta we hear the word but as I said, in Zen, we don't delve much into the, you know, Buddhist teachings on a regular basis. So bodhichitta is the desire to awaken to the mind of wisdom and compassion, for the benefit of all beings. The critical thing being the benefit of all beings. But Dalai Lama, referred to it as the precious awakening mind which cherishes other sentient beings more than oneself. It's the pillar of the bodhisattva practice, and it's priceless. Pema children and other favorite of people on the Zen path scuze me
perhaps this, the simplest answer is that it lifts us out of self centeredness and self concern gives us a chance to leave dysfunctional habits behind. Moreover, everything we encounter becomes an opportunity to develop the outrageous courage of the Buddha Bodhi heart. Because Shanti has three aspects, gentle forbearance, endurance of hardship, and acceptance of truth. Gentle forbearance is the spirit of forgiveness, where injury is forgiven. And the occasion is used as an opportunity to reveal the essential harmony of all beings. There are no exceptional circumstances that would justify other kinds of responses. Now that's a very high order. And we're talking about Bodhisattvas. Here. The bodhisattva remembers the Buddha's words, one of the strengths of a religious teacher is in his patience, might say waiting, waiting for waiting for the answer, waiting for the response, not jumping in the first time that we have an opportunity goes on. In Chinese the ideograph ik Ashanti is formed with a sword over the heart. This emphasizes the paramita as endurance of hardship. So it's important then we see this word forbearance and no one is saying that this means that you should put up with abuse and do nothing about it. I want. We want to make that really clear. But it has this sword in it the patience to endure the ability to handle things to to go through distress and pain, and so forth. He goes on, we live even in our most joyous moments, with the sword of Damocles hanging above us by a single hair. The picture of our companion is on our altar as we hold on memorial service, who must have been having a memorial service when he gave this talk last year, last month, and we had no idea that our friend would disappear into a photograph. You and I too, will disappear into photographs soon enough. The full acceptance of this fact of life is because Shanti and I think of former Sangha member Sonam tarji, who died from ALS just maybe a month and a half ago. heard yesterday, the husband of a former member here who'd been one of our longest members, he died and his ashes will be scattered at Chapin Mill, joining those of Irene his, his wife who died maybe five years ago. So it's an important reminder that this uncertainty, it strikes us even at a very basic level. Not only Life is short, it's also hard. And he says here is the response the poet Basho had to hardship. He has taken shelter during a storm in the rude dwelling of a frontier guard while he's on pilgrimage. This is his haiku. Fleas, lice, the horse pissing near my pillow
and that really takes us to things as they are. When we fight reality. We lose every time but it's really hard for us to accept what what is in front of us the hardships the we want it to go away. And it's it's this sleeping with the fleas, the lice the horse passing near my pillow. I'm sure we could all if we had a class action. I mean, if this was if we were in college or something then we would all have to make up a haiku that resonates for us to fleas and lice and the horse pissing in the pillar. This of course leads us to suffering. And I go back to eight can hear you accepting things the way they are. This is the fulfillment of Ashanti and the fulfillment of Buddha's basic teaching dukkha dukkha. All is dukkha. And he went on to teach the way of liberation from dukkha. Usually dukkha is translated as suffering, but it's an ambiguous word that can also mean permission. Suffer the little children to come unto me, Jesus said, that don't come, let it happen. Suffering is what Basha experience, but they were not looking for liberation from it at all. The priest Eason Dorsey said to have AIDS is to be alive. The whole world is sick, the whole world suffers and it's beings are constantly dying. dukkha on the other hand, is resistance to suffering. It is the anguish we feel when we don't want to suffer. The Buddha taught the eightfold path as the liberation from this anguish of futile self protection. And in this release, we find the ultimate wisdom you could say we try to escape what really can't be escaped. So rather, we want to open to what's here what's happening and the truth of the situation. And it did foyer, it involves the acceptance of unavoidable pain.
And when I was talking with my colleagues, right, emailing with my daughter about this forbearance, she reminded me that it's an important aspect to have this storm, self forbearance to you know, it's not just directed to bearing what's out there. It's what's inside us, what do we do, if we don't practice porque, for forbearance for ourselves? What happens? Self denigration, anxiety, all kinds of pain. So this aspect of generosity and forbearance needs to be extended, definitely to ourselves as well.
And patience is necessary because it takes it takes time for the truest and most helpful response to come forward to appear. It it's all the best responses are rooted in awareness, and love. And awareness really is. It's our true nature. It's the fundamental mind. Staying in it is not so easy.
And Bodhidharma had a good thing to say about this about awareness. Buddha is Sanskrit for what you call aware, miraculously aware, responding, perceiving, arching your brows, blinking your eyes, moving your hands and feet, it's all your miraculously aware nature. It's with us all the time. And if we can respond out of it, it is love as well. And we connect to it through our Zen to our practice.
We could say listening is another vital aspect, which allows us the possibility of correcting our misunderstandings about things. How often do we assume something was said Oh, definitely he meant that or she meant that. And we go into the narrative that is often a very repetitive story for us. But by listening patients, we allow the possibility of correcting or having those corrections come into play. Roshi Kapleau always used to say don't make assumptions One of our Sangha members who, who is on this end of living and dying, I was telling me last week a very wonderful courageous expression of what they've been going through in that. She said, about some ongoing struggles with family and so forth. I'm realizing that it's not going to change. And it wasn't said in any way of just, oh, you know, it's not going to change how terrible it was like, was an insight into the reality. She didn't have to take responsibility for what the other person was doing or saying or acting. She could just see it the way it was.
So what happens if we don't practice forbearance? We react to we have regrets who doesn't have regrets destruction ultimately, it leads to war. And I think about parenting you know, it's such a difficult task and such a wonderful task but it's so hard to not react to allow things to be because we feel responsible I have to change this this is my deal. No, sometimes we just have to see things the way they are and let them be martial arts so has something to teach us in this regard. The first movement in a martial art is somebody comes at you, you block you don't punch you don't hit block. And then you might use the energy of that person as a way of deflecting this energy we do it with our kids too, you know, we know how to how to deflect but with compassion with with not not gritted teeth and an anger out so we can use this this wonderful ability to let things be I really would like that people might have a chance to talk about forbearance. So I think I'm going to not go on too much longer
definitely, I mean, this is a plug for practice, of course, you know, it's, it's, it's what we can. It's the thing that will help us to have the space. And I think I'll just close it. In the words of the Beatles song. You know, popular music has so much to teach us all the anguish and thing that comes out in that why do we Why do we love to listen to it? You know, it's an it's different strokes for different folks. But music speaks to the heart it so hear the words I I'll spare you the song. When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. speaking words of wisdom, let it be, let it be, let it be. And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me. speaking words of wisdom, let it be, let it be. Let it be, let it be whisper words of wisdom. Let it be and when the broken hearted people living in the world agree there will be an answer. Let it be. For though they may be parties. There is still have a chance that they will see there will be an answer. Let it be. And when the night is cloudy there is there is still a light that shines on me that it be so
happy to take any comments, talks reflections on forbearance.
Yeah, I do just want to mention that that people online they do have an opportunity to ask question or make a comment. Just write it into the chat box and send it to everyone and I'll pick it up and I'll read it on their behalf. There's anything but there's no
arrow is very moving and wonderful to hear. Hear what you said, thinking in this is the practice. And how, how can we just increase our practice, when you call it the bodhichitta? Just moving, ever, ever opening to the present. Without without?
Thank you, James. It's Juneteenth. And our hearts go out to all the suffering really. And I will make a plug here there is the Uprooting Racism group is showing its live streaming this week, a documentary called white, right? It's done. It's a documentary made by a Muslim woman. She's a brown person as she would identify herself. And she meets with all of these extreme right wing leaders of movements like the National Socialist Movement, the skinheads, the Neo Nazis, and she meets with these leaders, and she's in dialogue with them. And as she's talking to them, and asking very muted questions, you watch the expressions on their faces as they try to rationalize. She says, Well, I'm a Muslim. So you would kick me out right in your vision of white of a white society? And he says, Well, I like you, I'm, I consider you a friend. So I wouldn't want to do that. And she said, but really, if, if it's your ideology, would you kick me out? And he says, Yes, I would. But I don't want to spoil the movie. But at the end, he changes. And as he's struggling to answer her, she asks him a question. And he's, you see his face, kind of contorted? And he says, there are too many questions. I'm beginning to wonder. I'm wandering, and he couldn't answer. And so and this is the same thing happens with the next person who's who hates Jews, and has he's busy they're making flyers that he can throw into the synagogue you know, and and then he says, and I've thought about doing it with the Muslims to getting some pig heads and throwing them around the mosque. But he said the funny thing is that when his girlfriend was sick in the hospital, the only person who came to see her was Muslim he said, so I don't think I'll be putting the pig heads there anymore. But this is you know, the forbearance dialogue is all in this it's really worth watching and especially for white people because we so look at the you know, we were react to the or we respond to what's happening in the black or brown communities, but it's our own burden. The scary thing about this movie though, is when you get to the elites on the far right, they're the ones who are in their in the equanimity of indifference. You know, they've put it aside other you know, me Buddhism is amazing teaching You know, it's all one. Just on Unreal. Thank you, James.
Before Scott begins, Arrow Do you want Scott asked his question, if you could repeat it?
Oh, I will. Okay. Yes, Scott
was to be a difficult question regarding forbearance is how to? How to distinguish between you, you mentioned actual abuse? How does it distinguish between a situation where someone else or even oneself is truly being abused, where you should really push back as much as you can? Versus a situation where it's best just simply to accept what's there and deal with it? And I often found over the years, a very difficult question to separate those two things.
Yes. So Scott is asking the question of when somebody's really being abusive, and how what is the you know, the response is, well, how does forbearance come in into that? Yeah, it's a very good question. And yeah, how do you distinguish which, but there can be forbearance even in appropriate response to that, you know, it's not that you therefore sit there and say, oh, yeah, you know, do whatever. But you have the space to, to know, what is the the answer comes to you, because you aren't just reacting? And of course, you know, therapy. Anyone else want to jump in on that women? On that answer,
just wondering why Earl has become such an expert at forbearance?
We're going to answer yes,
please, do I actually find that question really fascinating. And maybe it? Can
you speak up a little just because of the people online?
The forbearance could be afforded to yourself? Yes. What you've endured and understanding that that needs to change. And it's going to be harder that
The forbearance is for yourself, and not for the other person necessarily. So that you can work through. Yeah, that's what you've been. Yes. Putting up with? I don't know how to. Yeah,
I think that's absolutely critical. That's it. And that was what my daughter it goes, she's a contemporary of yours. She said to, you know, don't forget that it's forbearance for yourself is the, you know, the healing part. But it's hard to do. Right. So how do you do it?
Yeah, you just have to make a hard look at yourself, you know, and what you've put up with, because you feel you don't deserve something better. Yeah. Yeah. Coming to terms with that, and then being assertive, whether you need to disentangle with someone abusive, or, you know, you need help asking for that help to do that. You know, hopefully having community and support in order to extract you if it's dangerous. Yeah.
Does forbearance help you in this then?
I think so. Yeah.
Anyone else want to respond to that? Yeah. Sorry. Deseret first and then then
when Scott So when do you push back? Or not? My first reaction was, rather, it's a question of, from where you push back do you push back on the place of hate and anger or pushing back out of a place of love, because standing up for yourself doesn't necessarily mean that you do it because you're angry or hate but because you love yourself as much as the other and the other who does the abuse is probably in as much pain as you are at that very moment. So when you push back and stand your ground, and it comes from a place of deep love, maybe a different thing.
Thank you, thank you
I wouldn't agree but just dovetailing a little bit. You can protect yourself and be assertive, but also loving by just reflecting back to the person how their behavior makes you feel. And, you know, like I had to do this a lot with mental patients, you know, because a lot of times they don't intend to be abusive, they're just they're just intrusive a there in desperate situations, you know, when they use language that may be very offensive, or they may appear threatening even. And just pointing that out to them will help them stand back. And I found that that's true with with other situations as well. pointed out right now you're making me feel very uncomfortable because of what you said or how you're behaving or whatever. And, and sometimes we're just not aware of it. Obviously, that's less the case and very intimate relationships where people know each other well,
yeah, thank you.
That sounds like a kind of kind of judo. Oh, that's how it works, because it's just turning around something not pushing against, but using it, that force turned it around. And
I would like to say at this point that in preparing for this, this talk, Wayman has been the back the background check. And also the offered much of the Insight too, so I just want to recognize that, oh, there we go. Mitchell
pero, can you speak for a moment on the relationship between cars Shanti and compassion, self compassion and other?
I think it goes back for me to this equanimity thing were looking at the near enemy of indifference, the far enemy of anxiety and restlessness and self concern, and then the other Brahma Vihara, which is, you know, compassion. The Far enemy of compassion is what cruelty, the near enemy is pity. So, in being compassionate towards ourselves, we have to be very aware of the near enemy of PD of feeling of allowing the self criticism and the self feeling sorry for ourselves. That sounds so cruel when I say it like that, but it's not meant that way. It's just to be very aware of how the self gets tangled up in all of this. And and, of course, when you're talking about the self, the far enemy of it is cruelty. And so you can be cruel to yourself as well. Maybe you can answer the question I have, somebody else can answer the question more deeply than than that. Any takers?
Do it. I sat here on this mat, the evening before I was to go to jail, for protesting. All of my anger, boiled. On all of the pain that I felt like I was about to face oil
and gas, in the midst of that from somewhere some grace, who has a deep compassion for myself, for my own suffering, from my wish to be beyond suffering, from my wish to obliterate it, for other people. And in experiencing that deep, deep compassion for myself
I found compassion for others.
And it seemed to me axiomatic for myself that I couldn't have compassion for anyone. For me I think that's incredibly important doing. We have to love ourselves before we can love others, you know, but it's tough. This is a society that doesn't nurture self love. Really. We're always we're a society of winners. At first, you know, gold medals? It's not silver medals or bronze medals. No, no, no, the gold medal is it you know? So it's, it's a very important thing. I think our younger generation, are there any here? Yes. You were born after 1980 or considered Young? Take off for two years. But I think this young generation, those of you who have children who are in their teens and their 20s, they feel this. And it's, they have the openness to, at this point, experience it look at the response to school shootings, how the anguish of our children, so yeah, as practitioners, we, we need to support this. Okay. Desert you had something no done. Are there any others? Yes, go ahead. Jerry. This is Jerry dark
here. Me, it's kind of an experiential thing, that I had to face, all my suffering, before I started to recognize it and others. And it wasn't easy, because really, kind of piggyback on playing there was that the anger I had, and the gosh, there's just a whole bunch of feelings that I never recognized in myself. And when I kind of came through it, and trust me, it was not easy. When I came through it, I really started to open up more. And I did that. For me, compassion is a kind of selflessness to get the this is an ego that I have. So after I get through that, I really recognize you know, the, what the suffering really means. It's not just me, it's everybody. Everybody in this room. Everybody outside this room, we're all in this is where the practice has really helped me to. I'm still opening up. It's crazy. But
hopefully you will tell your
younger other thing is a willingness to be vulnerable. And I heard a thing this morning that just really struck me that we are taught to be vulnerable is to be It's shame, the vulnerability and shame, but it's not discovering a willingness to be vulnerable, is really the key. Because along that same line, I learned that I don't earn or learn anything if I'm not not vulnerable, I got to be vulnerable to learn. And to experience really, that's really what it comes from experience. Thank you. There's a somehow that brings up the forbearance thing for me as well.
Well, you know, this is only one of the 10 paramitas. So, you if you took every paramita you would plumb the depths of this, you know, turtles all the way down. are hippos all the way down, whatever. You know, it's so, so important. Yeah, well, I think, am I getting a message that it's a woman so sorry, shall we make Wayman the last one, the last word,
it would be what Jerry is talking about is the willingness, willingness to feel pain without striking back.
Thank you It might be worth repeating.
The final word was it was from Wayman after Jerry had talked about the need for vulnerability. And it wasn't until he was willing to experience all of his suffering that it opened it up for him to be able to have that. Love and compassion for others as well. So layman's final word was
the willingness to feel pain without striking
the willingness to feel pain without striking back. And we'll stop here now and recite the four rafts.