This is this is the fourth day of this October November 2023, seven day sesshin. And we're going to spend one more day with Maurine Stewart reading from the book Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stewart, edited by Roko Sherry Chayat.
And I want to pick up where we left off yesterday from a talk entitled, breathing in, breathing out
I'll read that last paragraph from yesterday. All our teachers, Dogons ng RINs eyes Ng, all these wonderful teachers of ours are all saying the same thing to us. Turn the light on, and return to the source where we have always been how do we do this? We maintain our thunderous silence, letting go of all words and thoughts, all grasping all rejection, not holding on to any experience, whether wonderful or awful. We let it go. We are here to wake up to what we have been from the very beginning
letting go of all words and thoughts.
Last evening, kanji talked about a Tibetan practice in which we can recognize our predilection or addiction to our own voice, whether it's speaking out loud, or talking in our head. Speaking for myself, it's so addictive. So hard to notice in time, letting go return to silence so worthwhile to do changes everything. And we cut our attachment even if only a little bit it's almost everything we do is gradual, the product of repetition, faithful faithful practice.
She says Do not compare. This day is like no other day. This machine is like no other sesshin just become very plain ordinary simple. You have nothing to do nothing to do. You get out of the way. Shouldn't Rue Suzuki Roshi said when you say I breve that AI is extra. Same thing. It has nothing to do with you. You get out of the way. When you think you have a practice and you have to do this and so what you have is a big impediment. Right away the mind is set in opposition. Right away you have duality. Some of you come into the ducts on room and say I want to do better. I want to become more quiet. I want to become more clear. I want to succeed at this. She says better get rid of that right away. Give it up. Please have no thought of improving your condition. No thought about whether it is good or bad. Yesterday was terrible this morning was pretty clear. This afternoon is going to be great. No thoughts like these at all please.
Just interest in the mind and seeing what's there not accomplishing something. Not teaching the dog tricks. Like the scientists studying ants, just wants to know all about them. obsessed with them. To get to know our own mind is the most wonderful thing. And our desire to make progress. Let's put some quotes around that our desire to make progress, gums up the works. It's something else. Once we've cut it down to just just looking into the mind without any particular goal, without any criteria were freed. It's a wonderful there's a burden that's removed, and we feel it. Being normal people will pick that burden back up again and again. But notice it. Notice when you're just doing the practice, everything is fine. Everything flows you have to surrender to what is to how things are. We all have bad patches. Difficult times.
Don't be a whiny child. Don't want this now.
Everything is there for us to see. Roshi Kapleau said it's all grist for the mill. We realize that any condition we can work with, that's the path. Path is how things are. Pema children calls it the lion's roar.
Giving up our insistence that things be the way we think they should be. giving ourselves to the way things are.
She says, When you come to see me in the interview room, we do speak together about what your condition is, what is happening, of course, and we work together to try to help you clarify things a little more. Usually with some attention to your breathing, your posture, some attitude that can perhaps be turned around. But please, while you are sitting, do not give one thought to this notion of improving yours as in just sit. One teacher said, enjoy your practice.
She says if we don't make these distinctions, if we do not get involved in holding on to these ups and downs, but just let them exist, like our in breaths and out breaths, then we may have a taste of something.
We come to say sheen, and we want to clean up our lives. And some of us have ideas about becoming enlightened in a few short days. But in seeking to become one with Buddha, there is separation. We are enlightened from the very beginning. believe this, we are all enlightened from the very beginning. Have faith in this and your practice will go all by itself. Have faith in this buddha mind.
To the greed to the degree that we have that faith, so much easier to look
what is this buddha mind? It's with me every minute every hour of the day and night. Why don't I know it? Why don't I know it more intimately?
She says there are many stories about how Zen masters have dealt with this matter. One student came and said to his teacher, I want to become a Buddha. The teacher said there is no Buddha, breaking this attachment to striving for something for an end. And another student went to his teacher and said I want to practice to attain the way the teacher replied There is no way to be attained by practice. Still, another teacher told us still another student told his teacher I want to attain liberation, the teacher said, who is holding you back
the student who was very full of flowery thoughts, which I hear quite often in my interview room said, I have heard it said that Shakyamuni Buddha, the Buddha left home, practiced for many years and attained enlightenment. His teacher replied, hi, what a pity. If I'd seen that Old Buddha would have given them a good beating, and thrown them to the dogs. These statements are not hurting Buddha or Buddhism. They're not irreverent, not disrespectful. They're made to remove the attachment in the students mind. A mind free of discrimination is free to practice, then there is no separation between you and Buddha. no separation between you and liberation.
This practice of ours is to be in tune with the natural way, so that our true nature can show itself just to practice according to the teaching given us by Buddha, and not to think about whether we are successful or not. That is our way can maybe make a comparison between physical training, doing strength training or some sort of physical skill? Just do the exercise. No need to think about whether it's good or bad. If you're doing 20 Push ups, it's what you do. The strength you gain comes naturally not through your intention. You may have the intention to do the push ups Well, good. But you don't muck them up with thinking okay, that's two push ups how much stronger am I?
So someone came to me, she says and said in disbelief. This is spiritual practice, sitting on a cushion and counting from one to 10. Everything is spiritual practice. When you leave the Zendo you go back to all kinds of life situations. You're not taking anything with you. You're going back with nothing, not a thing. You're going back, however, to respond to whatever your life situation is vividly. This is what our practice is about. Some people are doing koan study. It's not what you say to be in your response. It's how you respond. How do you respond to your life, don't take anything with you. Then there's just this cleared up mind that responds to whatever is asked of you. Those of you who are doing this strange spiritual practice of counting your breaths, are discovering that it's exceedingly wonderful, is incomparably the best way to take us into the ocean of Samadhi. One pointed concentration, just counting. It's difficult to do to count from one to 10 again and again. To reach a unified, single minded state. This method has been used for generation after generation after generation. When you begin counting, there are many thoughts that's come in and thoughts go out. And eventually the county takes over and you're deeply engaged in vast what, what and then just naturally counting stops, and you're just watching the breath, breathing, the in breath, breathing the out breath. That even that falls off and you're just purely being thought of practicing Zen is gone. The thought of successful practice is gone. Scattered mind is gone. There's just simply one mindedness and then no mindedness.
Not seeking or striving, or getting, just counting, just breathing, just being just this
whatever else we do, and we may very well do all kinds of things besides counting our breaths as our practice goes on. The best way to begin each sitting is just this way. A dynamically still process. A simple, unaffected trust is what occurs. So it's something you can do, especially if you find yourself sitting down in a state of distraction through organic CO on if it's not clear in the mind, you can count the breath for a little bit. I was told that Yasutani Roshi used to do this
she says, last night I was dreaming. It was a very vivid dream. I woke myself up saying yes, yes, yes. Oh yes, yes, yes. She says say yes to it, either approving or rejecting whatever it is. Through the intensive practice of sesshin we can face things more calmly, with our hearts full of strength and energy. We have a new sureness in our lives we feel lifted out of the ego self that says I am me, my me my all the time and feel freer to live in wholeness. Not some split child is childish self. If you can't, if you can't say yes, at least notice that you're saying no. Understand that. And later on, you may be able to say yes to whatever it is almost some Zen practice up, say the practice of saying yes, whatever is here, whatever is in front of us, everything as it arises.
Marine says this is what we mean by compassion. Being really present with everything giving ourselves up completely is compassion. doing our work as we were asked to do it, cleanly, quietly, inconspicuously, is compassion. The two great underpinnings of Buddhism are Karuna and prajna. compassion and wisdom. prajna without Karuna is cold. We must be careful that inner Zen practice in our searching for wisdom, we do not overlook the other side. And compassion without wisdom, may result in sentimentality. Something that is too soft, too mushy, something that needs more backbone. Traditionally, on the altar in Zen temples are two figures on either side of the main image or Buddha or Bodie of Buddha or Bodhidharma. One is Samantabhadra. The other is Manjushri. Samantabhadra, the bodhisattva of compassion is riding on an elephant. By juicery. The bodhisattva wisdom is on a lion. Keeping this balance of wisdom and compassion in every is everyone's koan. When is it appropriate to offer when to hold back?
With our ordinary minds, we carry out the subtle action of inaction, returning to whatever our life's work is, getting up in the morning, putting on our clothes, washing our face, going to work, coming back from work, walking down stairs, all of these wonderful acts of inaction, are all of these are wonderful acts of inaction, when we do them freely. flowingly, not self consciously. When we become self conscious and are separated from the action we are engaged in, we become stiff and unnatural. Our minds get twisted up. When we were just walking, just sitting just going to work just washing. It's one treasure one act bodhisattva condone, of course, the bodhisattva of compassion. As well as smarter Bhadra the bodhisattva condone grows arms and hands in abundance, to be able to respond wherever there is a need. This bodhisattva spirit in each of us, bows down in humble gratitude as we become freer, more awake and aware of what it means to be a true friend. Nobody is forcing us to do something, we spontaneously do what needs to be done. This one treasure is found within ourselves, is untaught wisdom is found in all the subtle actions of our lives.
Of course it starts when we say yes
when we let go of self protection protecting ourselves
how can we help other people if we're not if we're afraid to open?
Zen is a practice of courage, willingness to surrender
we have all those qualities. Gradually gradually they emerge, people change, we will too
that's the end of that section and I'm going to go on to a talk that's entitled, our one and only commandment. And she says before the time of Wenham, who lived in China during the Tang Dynasty, it had been thought that the experience of enlightenment could only be attained after when it practiced and attained some depth in Dianna meditation or absorption. Of course, I think most people know that the word Dianna was translated into Chinese as Chon, and then into Japanese as Zen.
Zen really is absorption
little quote from Yamuna, Roshi, Yamuna, koan, Roshi, who was the successor to Yasutani, and really a co author of the three pillars of Zen and he used to say the practice of Zen is forgetting the self in the act of uniting with something. There it is very simply.
Merging our practice there's a lot of different things ways that we can find to merge with the breath with the koan. The question
just bringing awareness to whatever is presents itself.
So again, she says it was thought that the experience of enlightenment could only be attained after one had practiced and attain some depth and Deanna. Perhaps some of us still think that way. None, however, maintained that prajna transcendental wisdom is inseparable from Dianna, neither can be understood without the other. There are three forms of discipline in our practice. The first is Sheila, moral precepts against stealing, gossiping, coveting, etc. The second is Jana, or Zen, and the third is prajna. We know them said wait on the said, for true understanding, we must know that deonna is not different for prajna, from prajna. And that prajna is not something attained. After practicing Zen. When we when we are practicing in this very moment of practicing prajna is unfolding itself in every single aspect of our lives, sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, cooking the food, everything we do. This was the very original teaching of way Nan, and it marked the beginning If truth and Buddhism, everything is teaching us, everything is showing us this wonderful Dharma light. All we have to do is open our eyes, open our hearts
while we are doing thinking and feeling, Zen is there prajna is there, this intuitive mind infuses everything we do. But this is not something about which we can have discursive knowledge. We cannot attain realization of this and that way, this intuitive knowledge comes from our body and our mind. We don't sit here and think about what enlightenment is. To think I must get enlightened is the greatest impediment. To have some degree of enlightenment is wonderful to think about it as terrible. No knowing is what we do, as in the famous phrase of Bodhidharma. When the emperor of China as to is this who stands before me, Bodhidharma replied, No knowing. You know, our translation when we say, I don't know, the Roshi says the three most famous words in Zen.
Also say not knowing there is no way we can take this intuitive mind and quantify it. We can't say here it is, I'm going to give you one month's worth, or two months worth. Now we've progressed to six months worth and your course has finished. That's not yet, we may see it in an instant, or it may take several lifetimes. This is a practice of endurance and patience, forgetting all about gaining anything, we're simply trying to see clearly. There's a quote, attributed to Jesus, not in the Bible, but from some other source some other scroll, Jesus said, recognize what is in your sight, that which is hidden from you will become plain
we are simply trying to see clearly. What does this scene clearly mean? It doesn't mean that you look at something and analyze it noting all its composite parts. No. When you see clearly when you look at a flower and really see it, the flower sees you. It's not that the flower has eyes, of course, is that the flower is no longer just a flower and you are no longer just you flower and you have dissolved in some into something way beyond what we can even say, but we can experience this
the French philosopher Paul Valery died in 1945 said to see is to forget the name of the things that one sees.
So wonderful just to look at a tree, forget everything about it. Just see it. Let it step forward vividly. Everything is like that everything has that quality. Waiting to shine.
This kind of seeing she says this kind of understanding is as isn't it as it isn't us. As it isn't us. This wonderful intuitive wills, wisdom infuses everything we do if we just open ourselves up to it, and forget about all our selfish petty concerns, forgetting about what we want, what we must get. Whether this is doing something for us. Forget it. We're here for the sake of all sentient beings. And we are one with all sentient beings when we come to see this as isness tongue twister. My Meister Eckhart, the 13th century Christian mystic, who really understood this said, the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which Gods These May
we see all things through the conceptualizing of color and form. And yet we do not see them in their true essence. Because we separate ourselves from what we see, when we think of something as good or bad, it is our own habit of thought. Because we have so much attachment to this discriminating mind, that we do not experience Mu. It even shows in our bodies, we have something blocked somewhere, something that refuses to let go, or so attached even to pain. This is my pain. Who is paid? When you hear the Hon struck? Do you feel the pain of the wood? Can you let go of your own pain, give up this imagined individual self and just dissolve into Mo?
Each of us is sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, we are endlessly thinking of things. What about paying attention to what it is that makes us feel and think this way? We train our minds by looking into them. We just look in not allowing ourselves to be carried away by our perceptions. We just look into what is going on and ask where does this come from? Or training ourselves in the practice and study of Buddhism so that our thoughts and emotions do not disturb our true nature mind so that we can sit imperturbably, no matter what?
True Buddhism embraces the whole universe without a single label. You must have your own experience in the study and practice of Buddhism. Not think thoughts that have been given to you buy anybody else, including myself? Forget everything I've said, depend on yourself. Your own experience of your inner self is what this is all about.
It turn in. Through clarifying our minds we can abandon our delusion and enlighten ourselves. Realizing we are part of the whole universe, not separate, our minds become as clear as crystal and all the Dharma has revealed. Let us see clearly. Let us put all the past aside and go deeply into this moment after moment. How do we do it just by our own natural breathing. When we inhale, we don't take a great gulp of air, but just a little just enough. By breathing like this, more air is retained in the lungs and quite naturally, the breathing slows down. The transition from inhalation to exhalation becomes smoother. Sitting becomes joyful is an immeasurable pleasure just to breathe and Zen it's a really significant transition in breath practice. To me move from control to enjoyment in and out of the gate swinging
so much gets released so much tension in the body as we do this.
She says just to breathe, just to see clearly. This is the real meaning of the precepts. To keep the precepts does not mean following a set of rules. It is giving ourselves to a way of life, a path of compassionate action that expresses itself in everything we do. Roshi is fond of saying that the precepts are simply a description of the action of an enlightened being of a Buddha.
She says Our practice of Zen purifies and warms the mind, so that the precepts are not really necessary. However, we have to have certain rules of behavior. Of course, we get up in the morning we wash, we dress mindfully, we straighten our cushions, we pay attention to our posture and our breath. Zen practice itself is a precept, one of them. And at the same time, all of them deonna Is prajna. Everything is contained in what we are doing. This is our Zen, and this is our everyday life every minute. So the power of this practice we are engaged in helps us to keep the precepts without self consciously trying to follow a set of rules. If we try to do it, if we think about it, if we read the list of precepts every morning and say, Now I must do this, and I mustn't do that. It doesn't work I still would recommend one take a look at the precepts. You may notice an area where you need improvement. But I take her point, which are our enlightened behavior comes spontaneously, not rigidly. She says, if it comes from the hara, from the intuitive wisdom mind, then it can be done. We can control ourselves very well. When we are without any idea of controlling at all. There is nothing to do there is nothing to control, nothing to follow. Without trying to do something we simply practice in the same way as when we are hungry, we eat. When we are tired, we rest. The precepts are not some rigid formulation outside ourselves. There are a few Buddhist sects in which very strict precepts are observed. Some Buddhist monks could not come here, because I am a woman. They could not come near a woman, let alone shake hands with her. I respect them and they should not violate their commandments. They find some deep meaning in them, that's fine. But in our practice, our one and only commandment is the intuitive response to our lives. And if we pay absolute attention to this is really difficult to violate.
Things work out. Things shift and change. We're committed
It's mysterious how things can work for us. We really step in with both feet. We don't have one foot out the door in the back hall ready to leave?
The quote I think some of you have heard before.
So a man named William Hutchison Murray. He says, until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills counsel, countless ideas and splendid plans. That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves to all sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events, issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have drempt would have come his way. I have a deep respect. Learned a deep respect for one of Gurkhas couplets. Whatever you can do, or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Think of the commitment that Roshi Kapleau made when he went to Japan
everything opened up from that store strong, strong commitment
All right time is up we'll stop and recite the Four Vows