6:15PM Aug 14, 2022
So I want to begin this morning with a fable. That I think is as a good fable is a is a great story to kind of kind of interpret in all kinds of ways, interesting ways that start with a fable. So there were these two people who are going to be sentenced to the dungeon. And they were sent down to the dungeon and put in the room and before the door was closed, the guard executioner said, you have 24 hours to figure out how to get out of this dungeon. If you don't, if you figure it out, you can go free. But if you don't figure out, it's death for both of you. So with that, he handed a little rusty nail to one of them, and slammed the door shut. And they were like, Wow, 24 hours to figure out how to get out of here. So they looked at the door. And there was an amazing array of locks on this door. Some of them were combination locks. Some of them were like big padlocks, maybe that was nail was for to get in that padlock and try to figure it out. Some of them were elaborate kind of puzzle like bars that close the door. And so then stakes were high death. And so one of them immediately got to work. The other one just sat down against the wall, quietly just looking at the door. And the one who was working on the door worked away sweated away hard and at some point turned over and said to the one sitting around why aren't you doing something? This is like you're not that you're not going to do anything? Is it death going to be the death of us. And the guy on the walls that first did the wall said maybe but maybe you're trying to do something it would be the death of us kind of a strong statement. So that person on the door kind of through with got completely absorbed and trying to figure out the locks. And as the 24 hour started to come to the end was got more and more frantic and was speeding between the locks trying to figure out what the way out was. sweat was pouring down. And the person leading sit against the wall just sitting there peacefully, quietly. And then about five minutes before the 24 hour it was over. The person the wall, just got up, walked to the door and pushed it it had never been locked. The one who was searching and trying to fix that, you know was was thrown off by all the locks that never bothered to try see if the door was actually locked. So what dungeons are you living in? And what locks are you trying to undo? To get out? That may be don't need to be solved. Maybe what's needed is a sit down and do nothing for a while just sit there. And so the one who was sitting against the wall, that person's wonderful, spiritual principle was the principle. Just don't do it. Don't do it. So why is that significant principle just don't do it. Some people in America United States have heard the principal just do it. It's think of it little bit like carpet Diem, there's Latin thing that sees the day, you know, like, just post to go out and do and claim and assert yourself and you know, don't have anything stand in the way and so this idea just don't do it this phenomenon. But it turns out in our practice of meditation and caring for our minds and our hearts in that domain, just don't do it is actually a very significant teaching very significant practice to do. So what are some of the don'ts? Benjamin so we can live in
one of them, some of them have to do with our, how we see ourselves, how we define ourselves, and how we tried to get out of that dungeon. So just a very kind of abstract kind of vague kind of way, someone might think that they're a bad person. And that's the dungeon that they have to get out of. And so then they tried to be a good person. And being a good person is kind of a lot of work. There was a time in my life where I wanted everyone to like me. And I had a job that was almost impossible for everyone to like me, because I was kind of like the one had to tell people, you can't do it that way. And so I got to see this strong desire to be liked. And all day, I tried amazing amount of social gymnastics to try to make it work. And it was just got really stressful. It was a monastic job. And it was like in the kitchen, that was the kitchen manager and kitchens or pressure cooker places, if you have any, any of you ever worked in a kitchen, a commercial kitchen or something. And the legends of that kitchen monastery kitchen was that in the 1960s, there was Ed Brown, who was the wrote the famous Tassajara cookbook, some of you know, he was working in the kitchen, then and some point he threw a knife at someone. You're laughing, but they can only laugh because it didn't hit anyone. And it's a pressure cooker place, right. So there I was trying to make everyone like me. And so, so sometimes we you know, or to have the idea that you're a wrong person. And then you have to be the right person. And then we try hard. And sometimes it's trying hard to do the opposite. It's just a lot of work. And sometimes it doesn't work. Someone who may be is very insecure, will overcompensate in such a way that people pull away. Like if you're really needy, and try to get everyone to like you, for example, then actually, maybe pure people will like you because you're trying so hard, and it just makes people uncomfortable. And so when I was we were raising our first son, I, he was telling me he could start understanding words, sometimes he would be doing something really fun and nice. And I would say, oh, good boy. And my wife explained to me one point, you know, you shouldn't say that that way. Because that's reinforcing an identity that he's supposed to be a good boy. And then he has to do things to live up to that, that his father's idea of a good boy. And that's just their recipe for challenges as he grows up. So what I would say instead was, wow, you're having so much fun doing that. And you know, that that probably is a problem too. Because, you know, you can't really be a parent without causing problems.
But hopefully, it was much less of a problem, just Oh, that's fun. Could have been enthusiastically. And so, when we sit and meditate, and we see that our mind is doing funny things, a few of us have funny minds. And so doing funny things, and then think, Oh, I'm not I'm kind of mean them kind of mean and they're angry or harsh. I need to be kind. And then we kind of bring out the start cranking up the kind gears, and like I gotta get that going, you know, kind of gears, you know, you're trying and pumping them out, pumping them out and until we're exhausted from the, you know, doing those gears. And then we're even more irritated and harsh mettā Everything. So instead of so it's true that we might be harsh or mean in our minds. But to swing the pendulum to the other side and think because of that I suppose to be a kind person. If we're a bad person who's supposed to be a good person, if I'm a wrong person supposed to be the right kind of person that sometimes is going that just staying in the same game being caught in the same complex instead Edie, what we can do in this practice, again, the domain of our practice our mind and our hearts there is just simply stop doing the unhealthy thing. But don't try to do the healthy thing. It's enough just to stop. You don't have to compensate or swing to the other side as if that's how you're going to be a good person. And why this works in the mind and heart with meditation is that when you don't do something, there's some settling that happens. We're no longer asserting effort to do something and accomplish something, we're no longer preoccupied in something. And something begins to open, settle, relax. And then we have access to some other way of being some other sort of like, if they feel like you're, you're just really a mean person all the time. But you're not supposed to be kind. Just stop being mean, that's radical. Maybe that's enough. Some people just think it's not so nice to be with you. You're not trying to do anything, I just like I can relax and just be myself. And I know these people who are trying so hard to be kind. Remember, the first time I tried to be kind to someone when I was 18. I think she must have gotten sick of me, as the member of talks, standing there in college talking to her and like being so saccharine and sweet. And just like over the top, and later I worked with I was that was a weird. I didn't know never, it never occurred to me how to be kind or friendly or nice or something. And so it looks like I never talked to her again. Or she never talked to me again. And so but just to do nothing, maybe it makes space. There's a very famous quote from Henry now and kind of Christian theologian United States, that talks about creating a friendly, empty space for the stranger. So someone who you don't know a stranger or someone you don't know, but to receive them in a friendly empty space, as opposed to crowded Well, you know, trying to do things and being something, it allows people to be who they are, and just let something evolve and develop. And this idea that there's something deeper in us, a deep replace of wisdom of motivation is integral to this dharma practice, a deeper than the kind of surface preoccupation surface reactivity, the surface pendulum that swings from one end to the other, because, you know, if we think we're supposed to be, you know, we're means we think we're supposed to be kind, but it's a lot of work to be kind. So we get exhausted, and that exhaustion, we're back into the mean. And, and so then we try again, and it just kind of becomes a lot of work. And a lot of credit gets stuck in the in the polarity in the duality of it all, if that's what we think is supposed to be there. But if we can just stop,
then something deeper can happen. And the example I'd like to offer you is maybe some of you had this experience, I've had it certainly, of being engaged and trying to figure out some problem. And thinking about a lot trying to figure it out. And probably that part was needed. But then going away going on a bike trip or going, going on a hike, taking a shower doing something completely different, where the mind is no longer thinking about it. And then suddenly wells up inside the solution, the answer? Where did that come from? It came from no longer being engaged in it. So we stop. And maybe the earlier thinking had to create the momentum inside. But still there was something some deeper place that's processing our life. That's not that conscious place in the mind where reactivity can occur. So in dharma practice, we're trusting this deeper place of what wells up and what comes. And, and another way of saying it, we're trusting a peaceful place, the more we don't do, the more peaceful it is. Now, this can be challenging, of course. But one of the other thing that Buddhist psychology teaches, which I think is fascinating for this salt, the enterprise is that certain states of emotional states that we have states of mind If it's very easy to assume, are fixed, this is how it is, this is how the universe is. And in Buddhism, we see them all, as processes of the mind activities of the mind. So to give you one example, boredom, people will say, this is such a boring situation, this party is boring, or this, you know, this person is boring, it's horrible thing to say, right. And, and so it's, you know, blaming situation for being boring. There is no situation whatsoever in this universe, that is boring. Boring is an evaluation of the human mind, your mind or maybe not your mind, but people's minds. And in the devaluation of the mind, or reaction mind, activity of the mind process of the mind. As soon as you realize it's an activity of the mind and action of the mind. It's possible to calm it down, it's possible to settle it. These activities in the mind are not inherent, they're not required. We don't have to be involved in this reactivity. As I have one teacher who says that boredom is a sign of being separated from your experience. So you're holding yourself apart. So that's work to hold yourself apart. And then some kind of valuation judgment. So when people who meditate can learn and can notice over and over again repeatedly as they meditate, how thing the states of mind and activities, judgments, that were seemed to be inherent, melt away in meditation. And I've certainly sat in meditation and thought, this is boring, this meditation boys is ever boring, when's it going to end, they should ring the bell. And then I said, boy, my girl, you know, maybe you should try just maybe counting your breath and getting more concentrated. And so I do. And then as I get more concentrated, that level of activity in the mind that's evaluating boredom quiets. And lo and behold, without that activity, it's actually quite, quite contented and happy to be here. There's nothing bored of me right now, because I'm not evaluating as boring. So that makes sense. So it turns out, there's a lot of things like that. And I don't want to go through too many examples of it. But
sir, certain forms of sadness, even depression, might be part of this evaluative active mine. Sometimes, because things are confusing, distressing, there's been great loss, all kinds of things can happen. And I don't want to just diminish the sadness of loss, for example, but we have to appreciate what the mind is doing. And sometimes, there's a way of drop of quieting the mind stilling the mind, just don't do it. That's very respectful of our inner life, because we're not overlaying so much stuff on top of it. And we allow the heart to just show itself in some deeper way. And if there is sadness, that sadness had that needs to be processed, the sadness can be very healthy and healing things to feel if we get out of its way, and when the mind is busy and thinking and reacting to all of it, judging it or clinging to it, then it doesn't allow for this deeper thing to happen. So, so, so one of the little quote, quotes that I hope you'll carry with you and use it at the right time. A little saying is just don't do it. Simply stopping as opposed to having a pendulum swing to the other side. Rather than compensating in like on that to do it, but just stop trust yourself trust it's okay to just simply not to do it, you don't have to prove yourself you don't have to be a good boy. Or whatever. That you know, all you have to do is stop and then make space and let something show itself and get to know yourself and and with time learning to trust a certain way of not doing not always reacting fixing. Running away. budging, okay, okay, here I am. This is an uncomfortable situation. Just don't do anything with it. Just be with it. and see what happens. And with time, what we learn is to trust the peaceful place and what arises from that peaceful place. And this is a very challenging thing, sometimes to trust, there's a lot of messages or from from our society, that we're supposed to be a certain way, we're obligated to be a certain way. And if you're not probably angry, properly, distressed profitably, properly, something, then you're a bad person, you're wrong, you're somehow aloof or indifferent, or, or somehow, you know, part of the problem. Maybe you are, but, but, but if you can trust this piece will place maybe there's a very different way to respond in a healthy way, inappropriate way. That doesn't involve anger and distress, fear, you know, all these kinds of things that I propose that oftentimes, people expect from each other. That's the vehicle with which we kind of prove that we're right, if we're angry at something, then we understand there's a problem, and it's kind of a, then I'm, you know, then at least I'm not, you know, you know, the more I can be angry, the more I know that I'm just kind of a medic claim that I'm I know what's right that, you know, and I'm on the right side, because that surely is the problem. And I don't know, if it's that that division that anger, anger makes, I don't know if that's healthy. So, adventure into dangerous territory, maybe in, in making some more examples of this. The So, there is a teaching in Buddhism that there are three kinds of conceit. And generally, we think of conceit as being something not to do not to be conceited. And the kind of, in fact, in Buddhism also seems, could see to seen as a form of suffering, people have to concede their suffering. You know, without, you know, in addition to whatever suffering, they cause others, but there's three kinds, and the first kind is want to hear. And in, at least in the English speaking world, we often most clearly associated with conceit. And that is, I'm better than others, some form of that.
But in Buddhism, there's two other forms of conceit. The other the second one is, I'm worse than others. And some people what that's conceit. The it's conceit, because it's over preoccupation with our own status, in relationship to other people, so I'm worse than others. And so we're still caught, and then in the grip of the self definition, and being someone not being someone. And then the third one, which is particularly evocative or concerning for people in the United States, given some of the value and some of the important values that are touted in the United States, the third former conceit is that you're equal to others. In land, we're supposed to be, you know, equal, that's like, what's wrong with that we're supposed to be equal. And, and so the reason that the problem with the equality conceit is when it's still a conceit, it's still a comparison, holding on to an idea of something. So then the question is, well, what, what's left? And what the alternative to those three is not to do the comparisons. Not to place yourself in comparison to anybody else, just to be yourself in some way. Without that, playing the comparison game. And so when conceit falls away, we are who we are. But we're not piling on top of it, judgments and comparative thinking. There's so much suffering in our society, tremendous amount, from all the different ways that we live in comparison to each other. So it's a radical thing to stop doing that. And at the same time, we have to be very careful with this kind of teaching. Because this teaching is only meant for, again, the domain of your heart and your mind, don't play the comparison game for yourself the conceit game. Because we do live in a society where there is inequality. And not to see that, not to recognize that is to not to recognize the tremendous suffering in our society. We do live in a society where there are people who hold themselves superior to others, and keep other people sick, you know, push to keep them down. There are people who feel that they are inferior to others, they've learned that and they're struggling with that. So we live in a society where those things exist. So when we say in Buddhism, you know, don't play the conceit game and no, superior, inferior equal. That's why I say this really has to do with what's going on inside of you. We should use our wisdom to recognize what's happening in society. But when we see the inequality in our society, which is immense. Are we supposed to get angry? Are we supposed to be distressed? Are we supposed to be afraid? There are people who expect us to be if you're not probably angry or upset or guilty or something, then maybe you're part of the problem. Maybe you are depends. It's complicated, right? But but the but in the dark in the dharma, trusting that peaceful place inside. Stopping, just stop something, stop that judgment, stop the anger. But pay attention to the world. Don't shut down. Don't avoid the world what's going on. But what happens if you trust the peaceful place inside?
Maybe that peaceful place inside is not aloof is not removed. Maybe it there's a very different source of motivation, a source of stepping up and trying to improve our society and make things better. That comes from a very different place. Maybe it comes from compassion, maybe it comes from generosity, maybe it comes from a deep sense of shared humanity and caring for each other. Maybe it comes from inspiration, maybe it comes from joy. So he said, one of the ways to improve the world is to whatever you do to do what brings you a sense of joy and delight, so that can be inspiring, to save the world while you're miserable? Does that save the world? That doesn't really convey. So in Buddhism, there's a lot of emphasis on how we do things. And there's important things to be done for our society in the world. But how do we want to do it and where's the source of the motivation from and, and I'd like to propose that it's can be from this peaceful place inside that we discover when we've learned just don't do it. Just don't do it. And what I'm referring to here is just don't do a lot of that preoccupations, reactivity of the mind. The day the pendulum games, we're caught in. Settle down, be here, Trust yourself, trust this peaceful place. And if it comes out of the heart, just do it. Then do it. Maybe. And maybe it's easier to do when one of the things that's been settled over time is fear. One of the things have settled is inhibition. But inhibition without coming from a deep place inside can be disastrous. You know, you say whatever I want to say. But you know, so just just don't do it. As a vehicle as a means as a practice to discover this peaceful place inside. That's not participating in the games the mind has or the pendulums or the activities of the mind. Where maybe it's radical enough. It's powerful enough To learn to stop doing the things that are unhealthy for you, you don't have to then compensate for that, and do you know become a saint. It's enough just not to do that the, you know, the harmful things, the difficult things that ways your mind is kind of, you know, caught in these things. And I think that's a radical message. It's enough just to stop some of the things you're doing. And I think it's very respectful of ourselves. Because we're learning how not to have too many cooks in the kitchen, you know, in our own kitchen of our own hearts and minds, and letting getting out of the way, and allowing something to rise and surface. Learning perhaps, that it's okay. Just to be alive, just to be alive, and breathing is plenty. We don't have to prove ourselves, we don't have to compensate for ourselves, or we don't have to prove ourselves in any kind of way. But it is wonderful, to learn to trust that peaceful art and learn trust, how we come how we respond to the world from that place. That's a radical thing. There's lots of people in our society who are responding from other places. But I think it's good for our society for people to start learning how to actively respond to the world that we need. So the world needs a family needs, friends, colleagues, anything from this place, still a quiet peaceful place inside. That may be the fast way to discover is just don't do it. That little practice is easier said than done. But maybe
I've given you some perspective that you can try to use today or use and explore and, and see maybe if some of you are in your dungeon, you'll stop trying to pick the lock and try something else. So thank you. And we have a couple of minutes, if any of you would like to make any comments on this or reflections or questions? Yes, every.
Girl, my question goes to, like, if, if somebody has a habit? Of course, it's not. I'm not talking about myself here. But if somebody had a habit of being very judgmental, to to stop to learn how to just not do that is a process? I'm sure, yeah, it's a process. And so could you say a few words about how to how to navigate that process. And I suspect part of it is awareness, bringing awareness to when I find myself judging. And also to maybe meditate more to to get more into this peaceful place. But anyway, that's my question.
Yeah, so I think that, certainly meditation can be a great help, if the Meditation allows the mind to quiet down enough. So the judgments are not there. Every time you can do that, and drop into a deeper place. It's kind of like you're massaging the mind. And you might have to do it repeatedly. But slowly, something begins to give and your mind learns to Lesson Oh, there's another way of doing this, and it feels good. And having that contrast of a place that feels like a better alternative is a way of wreath reconditioning the mind. So I wouldn't, you know, so that's, that's, if you have that ability and meditation, if you don't, then follow some of the instructions we give on mindfulness of emotions. So you would look at the, you want to get your bring mindfulness to the judge mentalism and study it in a more careful way, what's actually going on in the present moment, not where it came from in your life. But what's how, how was I really going on here and now? And the so the, and so what is the emotion that's behind it? And if you can discover what the emotion is, can you sit quietly and just breathe with the emotion and feel it maybe that emotion needs your attention more Under judgments, the judgments might just be the messenger don't kill the messenger. And the message is not what it's saying. The message is that you're hurting in some way, you're afraid you're lonely, you're something, you know, feeling inadequate, or there's a conceit, maybe, maybe you feel I'm not saying it's you, but some people judge a lot because they feel inadequate in themselves. And judging others is a way of feeling adequate. If they're bad, then I know I'm okay. But it's kind of the conceit game. And it's kind of funny way. So you know, stop and take a deeper look.
So, Gil, thank you for the talk. I'd like to make two points. One is that boredom is considered the lack of focus. Because if you're focused, you're not bored. The second point is, you stressed several times in some of your talks, that it's dharma teachers, just say, who just let go do it. Don't do it. But it's, it's also not proper for dharma teachers to say such a thing, because there's a lot of these innate fears and things that have such a great grip, that it's very difficult to let go. Then in one of your talks on jhānas, you said, the Buddha was a very wise teacher, which is why he substituted anxiety with pleasure. So when you trade, it's easier for people to change the focus on something else than to just let go. So that is one way for personally, for me, a lot of stress and anxiety, the way I was able to let go was by tuning into these sensations in the body. And then you go on to find something deeper.
Wonderful, thank you. So then move over here. Last one. Thank you.
Hi, Gil, thank you so much for the talk. I really appreciated it. I just wanted to say I guess one thing that I thought I think it was I don't know if it was from a book I read or from one of your other talks that talked about how there was 113 different emotions. And I was thinking about how sometimes it's easier to kind of embrace whatever you're feeling when you can recognize that emotion, but 113 is alive. So I don't know if you've heard, I just started reading this book. And I thought it was really helpful. And they did. Or she did make some references to Buddhism, it was called the atlas of the heart, and like 87 different types of emotions. And so it was really interesting, because it kind of showed how some things could be similar, but how they're different. And anyways, I just wanted to bring that up, I don't know if that would be something that would be helpful, or anything that you'd ever want to look into. But I really liked it so far and just wanted to get an update.
Yeah, I think developing emotional literacy is really helpful. And knowing the range of emotions and distinctions between anger and irritation and ire and rage and annoyance and be able to separate and really see the distinctions and becoming, you know, more and more familiar with it all. Some people have never really developed much emotional literacy, and it's just like a vague sense of, you know, I'm feeling lousy or something. So I think it's a great thing to do. Yeah. Thank you. Okay, so we should stop so we can have our tea and, and it's time for us to stop. And so you're welcome to come up afterwards. Now if you want to meet outside for tea, so you're all welcome to stay. And so the idea is we the reason to get your tea, indoors, hot tea, is that there's a hot water dispenser on the counter there and there's tea in the drawer there I guess or I don't know how it's set up. And then those of you who want to stay well meet outside and chat and say hello, and I hope all of you stay Thank you