So hello everyone. And I'm going to try to talk about the topic of right relationships. And and how I'm using this term is in the same way that the word right is used for in the eightfold path. So right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right? Way of Life, right effort, right? Mindfulness and right concentration. And the, and in fact, one way of looking at the Eightfold Path, all eight of those factors are defining or bringing forth right relationship. That's what the Eightfold Path is about. And, and the word right, is some people have problematic with it in English, because it seems like maybe it's righteous, or if it's, you know, some kind of moralistic right, that you have to be a certain way, the word some in the ancient language, and some Yuck, in in Sanskrit is the first definition in the dictionary, the Pāli English dictionary is zero. And in Sanskrit, it's first, but it includes definition of being full or complete. So the intention, the view, the relationships that are complete or full, is part of the meaning and so what would it like for relationship to be complete, to be whole, is part of this question. And being part of the eightfold path, it also the word Psalm also, as they apparently they had etymology of it, that goes back maybe before my way before the Buddhist time has also the meaning of, to incline towards, to move towards like, be directed towards a particular direction. And so the, the complete, in that kind of completely involved in a particular direction. And the direction is towards liberation towards freedom. And this freedom that Buddhism talks about, is very relational in a certain way. And a certain way is, is trance, relational, maybe, or, you know, free of relatedness. And this wonderful kind of richness of the combination of both is part of this fascinating way in which the dharma practice deepens. So the way that the eightfold path can be seen as being relational, is that the first right view has to do with seeing suffering, and seeing what the how suffering comes to be, sometimes just seeing the cause sometimes seeing the dynamics of how it appears. And, and suffering is always relational to suffering that we're looking looking about it. It has to do with the way that we relate to things in the world and to others. And sometimes it when suffering is we've caused harm has been caused to us is because someone's in relation to us or the world is in relationship to us in such a way that there's harm caused. But in the strict sense in Buddhism, and they use the word suffering, they, there's a very personal contribution that goes into that, that, that, that we want to take into account. And one of the contributions is that there's clinging, there's attachment to that. And so it can be attached to anything is to be in relationship to that thing, to be attached to anything, you're not free of it, you're kind of entangled our continent. And if you can become free of it, that gives the opportunity for us to be related to it to have a relationship, it's very different. And so there's knowing there might be no intentional relationship to it in terms of wanting something or intending something. When when a person is free, then their goodwill, their love, their compassion can flow, and that contributes to whatever they relate to whatever it might be. And then when you're free, you're not being defined by the relationship. When you're not free, we tend to be defined or shaped or limited by the relationship because of the attachments or what we want or we don't want to what we're resisting and all these things. So right view has to do with understanding that right intention, the second factor, the Eightfold Path, is clearly relational.
It's the right view is one way of understanding it is that is to relate to things with compassion. To relate to things with kindness, and to relate to things with, with very dangerous words in English concept with renunciation. So it's nice to be challenged by these big words. But, but the simple way of saying it is to relate to things without projecting our clinging on it, or attachment on it. And the renunciation that Buddha always focuses on is not renunciation of things. But we're in relationship to our clinging attachment to things. So it's a different relationship, with or without clinging. Right Speech is completely relational, right? Usually we speak to ourselves and relating to ourselves, perhaps, but But we, you know, when we speak out loud, it's usually to other people. And so we're in relationship with them. And what comes through the speech, how are we relating what's been created there, it's being done there. And right, speeches, speech was just kind, timely, truthful, beneficial. So really, you have to looking at the relationship and what's kind, what's beneficial for what's happening here. Right Action is usually understood to be able to avoid three actions, which you will understand are very relational. One is killing someone, the other is stealing from someone. And the third is engaging in sexual misconduct with someone. So that's very relational, right. And so as we as we develop the eightfold path, that those areas of our relatedness to others begins to shift and, and perhaps rather than having those three awful things happen, it's the opposite that begins happening. There's a reverence for life, there's a tremendous generosity and not taking, but giving. And there's a deep respect for people and their sexual well being and all that that entails. And then there's right livelihood, or like white living, which tends to be for most people is very related to something if not to other people. If you're a subsistence farmer, living by yourself, you're still relating to the world, and to the land there. Some of the most beautiful relatedness to the world, sometimes is for people who are farming and some kind of harmony with the natural world. I write a wonderful New York Times article this last week about it, maybe it's titled some like a truce in the war. And it was the war, that's farmers, I think it might have been in Colorado, or in someplace, Arizona, that they had with beavers, ranchers with beavers. And they, in order to because they felt that these beavers are causing too much problems, they would blow up the beaver dams. And then this man inherited his father's farm. And he thought there's another way. And he started to allow the beavers to build their lead dams. And then he kind of worked with him a little bit, sometimes he needed to help drain the water. And he put pipes in but didn't destroy the dams. And what happened was that his farm, his ranch became much more resilient, in times of drought and at times of flooding, that the dams turns out, protected the land tremendously and protected the moisture and the land tremendously. And so now there's a whole movement to, to for ranchers to work with the beavers rather than getting rid of them. So this idea of, you know, being in really how we live our life in relationship to the world, what kind of relationship are we living there, and then right effort that could be seen as relate a relationship. Right? Effort is mostly very personal. Though it has it has it has a relational effect. But it has a lot to do with your relationship to yourself. And so to really understand in yourself, what motivates what engages you, with activity in the world and yourself. And so to have a mind might mental activity that avoids what is unhealthy mental actions and mental activities, and do those things which are healthy. And so it means tracking yourself being mindful of what's going on. Right Mindfulness is, is, you know, maybe a little bit harder to find exactly the rich way but it's the foundation for allows us to be in relationship to the world in a good way. And right concentration is a phenomenally beautiful way to be related to oneself. It's probably one of them, kind of one of the most beautiful ways to relate to yourself to to set up this kind of inner life to be really settled and deeply concentrated, relaxed and allowing the natural kind of
flow of energy within us to kind of flow in a harmonious way. It's beautiful thing. So nasal passages totality of the opposite old eightfold path, maybe we can call right relation relationship. And what is the relationship, and some of you know that there's sometimes there's a category that's, they say, there's three things, there's you. There's you, there's others. And so we, that exists between them. Me, you and we, but we is little bit of a maybe abstract idea. And so I'd like to say that there's me, you and the relationship between us. And sometimes, we need to take care of that relationship, more than we need to take care of you or the person more than we take care of oneself. I saw this very clearly, as I started to have children, I have two sons than when they were young. It became clear at some point then way I had known before that, because I think because my, my wife, maybe myself, especially I've done I've done a lot of letting go letting go and said you have compassion and caring. And so it was like, just let's take care of this kid. You know, at all costs, whatever, you know, whatever is needed. And, and my mother would tell me, you're careful, you don't spoil him. And that didn't mean anything for me. I just ignored her. And later I understood if you don't use use that maybe a different word. I she actually was good advice. But, but what happened after you realize after a while, that it didn't really make sense as, as a child when the child was, you know, a month old. Of course, you sacrifice everything for the kid that can't do anything for it for himself. But as they get older and older, you have to pull back and let them kind of more autonomy and, but also became clear as my son got, and sons got older, there was a week there was a family unit. And unless we took care of the family unit, we were going to create a skewed relationship with the family. And my son wasn't going to learn how to live in harmony with the family unit. It wasn't all about his welfare and what he wanted, right? That's a recipe for disaster. But he had to also learn that other people that need in the family had need. And so I think just in time, we got some sense of that. And, and so that we became very important to family unit. And so that's true, you know, for, for men, there's two people involved or a family involved. It's true when there's a sangha involved, the community involved a town or city and nation a world that there's also the we have the everyone everyone in and how does that what what's the relationship of that? And what's happening there? And what are we contributing to that relationship. And to focus a little bit on the relationship is, is unusual for some people, there are some people for whom what they focus on is me myself in mind, everything is seen through the filter of how this affects me what I want, what I don't want, how this is impacting me, and how I'm being hurt by this, I'm a victim for this. Now, I'm afraid of everything or something, it's all about me. And there's powerful conditioning forces in our society, that really inculcate this kind of view. It's not something we create by ourselves, this whole focus on me, me, me that can exist, is something that's been some people have been trained by our society. I mean, like I said, In my family, I could see if we weren't careful at some point, that's what we're creating in our son. And our society with so many different forces is reinforcing self preoccupation, self concern, either through yourself or all kinds of things. And, and so that's some people's defaulted. And it's so strongly in our culture, that people don't even know they're doing it. And they're so strong in our culture, that it's like second nature for people to be self concerned. And it's about me and don't even know they don't even recognize their thinking that way. It just obvious and, and, and it's obvious, you're supposed to share yourself, you know, in some way that me it's about me and it's in a way
and, and then some people are the opposite. It's all about the others. Like if it can be for young parents like me are kind of naive, not knowing, and just kind of give everything and it's all about that person, that person. And, and, and some people have religious and family kind of worldviews that really reinforces about others, but others about others, taking care of them. But what about that third thing that we're in the relationship with? And what happens to that relationship? How do we study it? How do we see it. And it's not something we see physically. And this is canal, we're kind of entering into, you know, a little bit the invisible world. And not not not like a mystical invisible world or something, the other, but to something that you don't obviously see, you have to be attuned to, you have to pay attention, you have to pick up the cues, you have to understand yourself better, in order to really understand what's happening here in the relationship to this. But that also makes it kind of fun. And it's a very different way of navigating in the world, novices surfing along the relatedness. Rather than engaging this world by asserting oneself, or, or denying oneself. And the example that I have for you that, you know, no, it's not going to work for many of you, because many of you probably haven't gone surfing, I think it's possible, I haven't been really tried surfing more than once. So I don't know what I'm talking about maybe. So but maybe you'll forgive me and allow me to just use as an example, and hopefully I can. When you're on wet, if you're on a surfboard, and you're able to catch that wave. Though, it's you don't catch it, and you're on this on the wave, and that's me, Okay, I've done it. Now I can just freeze, and just kind of ride the wave out and not do anything anymore. But that wave is dynamic. And you're dynamic, and everything is dynamic. And so you have to be totally and kind of in harmony, in relationship to all the different factors in play. And, and, and shifting, adjusting accordingly, the whole time. And probably one of the reasons it's so fun to be on a surfboard is that self concern drops away your self preoccupation self consciousness structure, because you have to be so fully engaged to be right in the present moment, to track all the different things going on. And it's not just the wave. But it's all everything that's involved, including you. And, you know, and so forth. If there's two different people riding exactly the same wave, and one person is really petite, and one person is humongous, the size, whatever, they probably are going to ride the wave very differently. And they might follow the wave just as far the same distance. So both of them are managing to do the wave perfectly. But it's going to look very different for these two people. And so the perfect way to ride that wave is going to be different for those two people. It has to do with the relatedness between what the factors that the individual brings, and the factors of the board, you know, they have different size boards and depends with board, you have probably the same person riding the same wave on different boards, switching boards every time. The perfect white riding the wave is different, because it all depends on the board too. So the person who's writing the doing the perfect ride is in constant conversation relatedness with that, contributing that relationship, so to stay on the board, but also recognizing what the wave is contributing what the what the board is contributing the whole thing. And so it's a dynamic thing. And it's the combination of all the relatedness all those things coming together that allows us to do the perfect rupt perfect ride. So for you living your life, what's the perfect life? What's the perfect way to do things? What's the perfect way to be in a conversation with someone? What's the perfect way of caring for someone or what's the perfect way of doing anything? If you carry an external standard of what that is, I'm supposed to be like someone else. That's the way they do it.
It's not going to be it the perfect way to be or in the language of some MMA, right? The complete way to be the whole way of being in relationship to this situation has to do with your contributions as and who you are and all kinds of things about you as much as it has to do with the situation. So if you're a if you're offering I train people to do spiritual caregiving as chaplains and I sit tell that these people being trained sometimes that if you're a maybe I usually say unrepentant extrovert, but maybe that's not a good way of saying it. And then I follow that by unrepented introverts, but But what I mean by that is, you're completely at home with being who you are. You're not, you're not, you're not to apologize, you don't have to, you know, it's not a crime, you know. So anyway, so. So someone who is a very strong extrovert shows up to where someone who they're offering spiritual care to like in hospital the right spiritual care relationship is found in that in that relationship between them. And so the person doing the spiritual care has to be attuned to not the other not only the other person, but to themselves to know where that right way of being is. And I knew one spiritual caregivers chaplain who showed up to very difficult situation and, and couldn't read the I really communicate this person who was conscious, but but it was, you know, had her face to the wall wouldn't communicate to anyone was pretty upset. And so the spiritual caregiver started singing Amazing Grace. If I sang Amazing Grace, I just would sing to my kids, sometimes when they were little, and they tell me to stop. So I, you know, that wouldn't be my way. But that was that person's way. And and if someone is in is unrepented, introvert, what their their perfect spiritual caregiving conversation says, is going to be very different. Maybe for them who they are, and what's right, that is, maybe they should sit down quietly and hold someone's hand. And that's the Avenue with which the perfect spiritual caregiving thing happens. So it's in the relationship between all the factors, not in some abstract idea that we have perfection. So this is very respectful of yourself, you get to be yourself. Imagine just to be yourself, but you have to be you know yourself well enough to know what you're contributing, and to know the situation well enough to know that you're contributing the right thing. And you're creating the right relationship in that interaction between them. And if what you're contributing is clinging, grasping attachment, it probably not going to be a good outcome. If what you're committing, bringing into it is cruelty and unkindness. meanness, it's probably not a good relationship is not one that you you're going to thrive in, or it's healthy for you and others. If it's wrong speech, if you see a lot of complaining and a lot of bit, you know, you're doing kind of verbal, verbal stabbing of people verbal knives about, you know, just kind of get back and get them and that's not you, that's it, that you're establishing a certain relationship there. But if your words are kind, supportive, not mean, not cynical, or complaining about something or blaming, very different relationship gets formed. And the sad thing is, sometimes people want to have an unhealthy relationship. Now sometimes because they think they think they get some benefit from it or something. So to be careful with this relatedness, the right relationship, what do we how do we what do we contribute to it. And one of the principles you signed feel fine, sometimes in Buddhism, is the idea that to assert the self is delusion. But to allow all things to inform you, is awakening. So to take you, you know, the self your self acidity is,
the key word is assertion, pushing yourself asserting yourself aggressively, putting yourself up into the world, with clinging attachment, and that can be done forcefully. But it could also oddly enough in Buddhism, Buddhist terms, we assert ourselves in the world when we are really shy. That's just as much even though it looks like we're pulling back and not doing something, there's still a strong sense of self that we're contributing to the situation. And, and so what we're learning in Buddhist practice, is how to soften and relax, all attachment, all clinging, so that we have an opportunity to come forward in different way. And one of those attachments is this excessive preoccupation with self. That has been the case since the time of the Buddha otherwise he wouldn't have been teaching this not-self For non selfishness that he taught, but in probably every generation things it's gotten the worse Now, so maybe that's, you know, but, you know, seems to me, it's pretty bad. And there's still an issue. So to really understand the me myself in mind and how much we're self preoccupied and measuring things by the impact it has on us, of course, we want to respect ourselves, that's we're part of the, we're definitely part of the riding the wave, right? But are you contributing a healthy relationship to yourself. And maybe we should not even use the language healthy relationship to yourself, because as soon as you say the word was self, it's a magnet for all these cultural, familial religious ideas of what it means to be a self that we're way down under. So another way of saying it may be a healthy relationship to all that lives within us. And freed from this idea of being the self that we have to prove or defend or do anything with. To be awakened is to be informed by all things. And so to be informed by what's within us, it's all to be respected. Every thought there'd be impulse, every feeling, every emotion, in this practice is respected. And we're in a healthy relationship to it, we don't condemn it, we don't, and we don't hold on to it. And oddly enough, we don't celebrate it. Maybe you don't get you, if you will, nothing gets kind of overly evaluated, overly valued. Everything is respected, which allows for this, the birth of this healthy relatedness, this freedom in which things can flow. And the idea that things can flow within us. Without it being appropriated by self, made into self measured by self, is a fascinating and delightful and empowering, empowering kind of situation to be in. And so to begin exploring this world of self, the selfing, we do the attachment to it, not any blame not. Now you're a bad Buddhist, you don't make them a bad Buddha's by anything that you do and how you are. If it may be never a bad Buddhist, but we're Buddhism is found. And where the help is found, is in the relationship we have with all things, including your relationship to yourself. And some of the relationships that people have with themselves. What's going on here is very difficult. There's a lot of criticism, sometimes despising on oneself. There's a lot of difficulty here. And so and it's painful, very deep. And so trying to come to a new relationship, find a new relationship where there's compassion and care and kindness. It's a slow process. But it's helpful to know that this is what we're doing. We're trying to come to a new relatedness. Where we're freeing ourselves from the fixed ideas of who we are fixed ideas of this is what perfect is or this is what imperfect is there's no actually there's no imperfect or perfect or if there is perfection, riding the wave. Perfect riding the wave. You know how long that lasts. It lasts probably less than a second. So congratulations. But you don't have any time to congratulate yourself, because you're on to the next half seconds when you have to kind of make the adjustments for the next perfection. And so with this kind of idea, you know how long you're imperfect.
A few of us are occasionally imperfect, right? The few little bit, you know, but you know how long it really lasts. It's like the wave. It's like, it might be true for half a second. Unless we're caught in the idea of it. We're projecting at it. We're living the idea. I'm imperfect. But the idea is just an idea. The idea of the wave is just the idea. But the wave is always changing. You're always changing. Everything is fluid. And one of the things we're coming to in this practice of mindfulness is appreciating deeper and deeper the fluidity of the moment to moment. We're always on a wave. We're always finding our way. And if you're not finding your way, you're probably fall off the wave in some ways. If you get involved in too much retrospective thinking about what I did, you probably fall off the wave. So to ride the wave of the present moment, and what is the right relationship? What is the weight, what's the relationship that arises when it's informed by everything within and without out. And as we become freer, what we discover is that we don't have to be so self concerned about how we respond, the sense of the right response, it's just it becomes more and more on feels almost natural, obvious, of course, you're going to be kind, of course or say differently. Maybe you automatically be kind. But you'll automatically not be unkind. You won't be mean, you're automatically be some someone to say it's very clear. In Buddhism, they say that once you reach a certain maturity in his practice, you become someone who will never kill, intentionally, never steal, never engage in sexual misconduct that harms people. So there's all these ways in which you don't do all the stuff that's as harmful, because that takes work and effort. And with the absence of that, what is left. And what I love is this tradition, that was Buddha's tradition that we're in, it doesn't specify what's left. It's very reluctant to say that what's left is your basic human goodness, what's left is wonderful. What's left is love and delight and all that. Because I think because as soon as you say that, you fall off the wave. As soon as you'd say that, you're kind of locked onto something and you this is how it has to be. But rather, there's a deep trust in with this maturity, of just allowing something to flow through us now, that you know, is not going to be unhealthy, not going to be harmful. So that's taken out of the picture. And then what the response is, from the inside mind not look like the ideal might not look what you think it's supposed to be. But maybe it's the right thing, in the combination, the relatedness of you, and everything else. Who knows what that's supposed to be, you don't even know what it's going to be sometimes, to come with preconceived ideas, limits, what might arise. So to assert the self, is delusion, to allow all things to inform you, or allow are all things to inform. Allows for health to unfold, to help the wave. So I'd encourage you, if this talk, I had some meaning for you. That I'm not as Annette assuming that what I was saying about the relationship between you and the world, you and others, is an obvious category to understand. Maybe because it's always shifting. And not saying it's easy, like you've now you can just die. But there is this relatedness there is something that happens in relationship. And it takes a while to begin to become sensitive to it and attune to it and appreciate it.
And with some people, it's easier. And some people it's not so easy. There might be good friends that you can say there's a new thing I wanted to understand better. Maybe you can help me there's not you and there's me and there's some what's happens between us. Let's explore that. And having some friend to help you might be make it kind of come alive more and interesting and and make it help you with this new kind of world. And, and maybe you'll understand some point very personally, to assert the self is delusion. Until out of everything to inform you is awakening. Thank you