An Appropriate Response

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so today's talk is entitled an appropriate response
and it
stems from a case case fourteen in the blue cliff record which is a a collection of fire of chinese of
exchanges with chinese zen masters and this is an exchange with the famous zen master come on the tang dynasty
a monk asked zen master oman
what is the teaching of the buddhist whole lifetime
oh man replied an appropriate response
no master human was a it was a crafty devil he was a master of what recalled live words ah which were
expressions words responses that could help his students to wake up
and his own most potent teachers in the a record of the tang dynasty he lived a from a sixty two roughly two nine forty nine
ah it is to i'm not going to talk about it much but this struck my ah
this struck my fancy one day when he was in his eighties
ah man composed farewell letter to the king
and he gathered his monks in his temple never a lot of them he had a lot of monks and he read them hey ah
concluding statement
ah he said coming and going is continuous i must be on my way
and with that he sat down in the lotus posture have he died
ah and his
preserved corpse was venerated for a thousand years literally ah and
finally disappeared ah during the cultural revolution in a in the early sixties but it had been around until then
there are a number of different ways of translating that final line of ah of this case ah i'm translating it pretty commonly as an appropriate response ha
but there's an unpublished lecture from night in sixty three by shouldn't use suzuki roshi who is our with the founder of ours and family
and he transmitted he a translated this response a little differently
he said the teaching conference each
the teaching conference each
ah
and that's interesting because when you are i'll give you more of his teaching but when you look at the word appropriate
ah you can have a
we're using it here as an adjective
which tends to mean ah colloquially a means ah
something that especially compatible or fitting
ah but as a verb to appropriate
means to own or to make one's own ah to take exclusive possession of which which harkens back more accurately to the
the latin roots of the the two parts of that word ah ad and and propria
so
i liked suzuki roshi his translation the teaching confront each because it ah implies
our ownership
that we have of our response so what suzuki roshi road was that the teaching given by shotgun mooney buddha during his lifetime was accommodated to each disciples particular temperament
and to each occasions particular circumstances
for each case there should be a special remedy
according to the circumstances there should even be teaching other than the teachings which were told by the buddha
so to each for each case it should be a special remedy ah that resonates with my understanding of the buddhist teachings as medicine
ah as each teaching was not a doctrine or a law or but rather a prescription for bringing us back into balance in the course of our lives our internal life and our social
life
and then he says according to the circumstances there should even be teaching other than the teachings which were told by buddha
in light of this how is it possible to interpret and passed down an essential teaching kids which can be applied to every possible occasion and individual government
maybe there can be
but he come back to this radical expression of suzuki roshi is there should even be teaching other than the teachings which were told by buddha
but it did not have
in this
in this way of expressing it he did not have a lock on all of the truth said exist in the world
that each truce each truth dependent upon a response that was appropriate to the situation
so in a sense i see this as the heart of our practice
to own one thoughts to own one's words and actions
and of course to aim them towards liberation of all beatings
this is the bodhisattva vows that we will chant at the end of this and every dharma talk ah but
having said that
what is continuously raise this question
what is an appropriate response
so from one perspective that a one way i've been thinking about this is that an appropriate response is the completion
have a set of practices that ha
quite a number of us know as the three tenets
this is a modern teaching
ah developed by ah the late zen teacher bernie glassman but he derived it very clearly from the ancient teachings
hen this morning's lecture will not go into them in great detail i've done that i've done at other times and
i'm i'm sure i will do that again ah but these three tenets are this not knowing
bearing witness
and my own version of the last tenant is an appropriate response ah in some other versions it's a it's loving action ah or compassionate action and so forth but i see these teachings as teaching set are still
evolving and so ha
i
take the opportunity to interpret them
according to my our understanding
so not knowing
bearing witness
can an appropriate response we begin by looking at a situation with the completely open mind
and without with having removed the preconceptions that we might have from ah our own habits and beliefs and bearing witness means just see what's happening
seeing who's suffering saying whose liberated seeing the he nuts and bolts with situation and then from those two
ah an appropriate response hopefully arises
so in the last few months
the actions of the government police forces
can some citizens
have sensitized us once again
to what of course is a pervasive
reality of white supremacy in this country
a reality that reaches back to our earliest days as a nation
as a nation that depend upon the forceful enslavement of african peoples
on the violent removal of indigenous people here on this continent from their ancient lands
promises even laws and constitutional amendments
our broken daily
from the moment they were made
treaties and territory's that from the start fenced-in native peoples have never been honored
their lands had been encircled narrowed and environmentally displayport despoiled
and returning cadet word appropriate
i fear we live
in a time when the land the rights the privileges and the wealth
of all
or of the many have been appropriated by the few
and i don't think this is what young men meant when he spoke of an appropriate response
by the way
we now have a youtube channel
ah berkeley zen video three words berkeley zen video and we've posted videos of all the saturday talks that have been recorded since we created this virtual zendo
two months ago shortly after the killing of george floyd
i gave a talk entitled everything is burning
and even though he hadn't announced this youtube channel two people somehow ah the first comment sent somebody found it and now i'm telling you where it is so you can find it the first comment on the youtube of this talk
was posted yesterday
and it said
this isn't buddhism this is political activism please stick to the dharma
i don't dismiss his comment out of hand
and to the potter whom i don't know ah ma's they were anonymous ah i do promise to think about this
at the same time
that message is something that i have heard for thirty years
actually from the first day i started working at buddhist peace fellowship in nineteen ninety one
from my perspective
what has been characterized as political activism and therefore ah
a marked by
ah
delusion and dualistic view
my understanding that it is that it's the fulfillment of the bodhisattvas foul
in the spirit of liberation
we try to see each being as equal
in human value
seeing clearly
these deeply imprinted views and prejudices that i have
i think all of us have
ah seeing clearly that way matters
oh matters greatly to be free from
these habits and views that
are so deeply implanted and me that i'm capable of acting out harm even before i see what's happening
yeah i'm sure that some of you were watching this morning
listening
may also have concern that i am veering away from buddhist teaching
and given the fact
that ah i know i fall forged far i fall far short of buddhahood
you may be right
some of you may walk away
those of you stay
are invited to metaphorically hold my feet to the fire
and those of you who come
because you appreciate
the very fact that these questions are opened here
ah welcome

but i will say that in this time of pandemic
fear environmental threat
and odd
the site of democracy such as it is in jeopardy
i plan to continue to raise these questions
and to address them to the best of my understanding the spirit of buddha dharma
and to on that i am very
aware
that the buddha dharma has already saved my life several times
can i have faith
that its wisdom conserve
anyone who embraces it that way
so i don't think that the perspective some laying out our modern distortions of buddhism
their roots of law equality non-discrimination and peace or seen in the earliest buddhist teachings
and i can send you if you like a list
ah in the pali suit as you can find it
in the vast set of ceuta in the a gonna ceuta you can those are those are teaching said have talk about the fundamental worth of each being irrespective of class caste color birth gender
very clear very clearly spelt out twenty five hundred years ago
in the chakravarty ceuta the the wheel turning emperor ah the responsibilities of
a ruler the responsibilities of citizenship are spelled out very clearly
this is further
articulated in the rock edicts
the pillars and rock faces that were carved all over india
by the emperor ashoka
and you can find you can also find it in
the writings of ours an ancestor hey dogan ah prickly you can
look at job
sections of the bodhisattvas for embracing dharmas and see how we talked about the responsibilities of people
and a ruler people and a governor kaine or president
so life blooms and it fades
an appropriate response meets each stage of life with wisdom and compassion
those who were truly awake
and trained
and by that i don't mean just breasts
they can bring that response of wisdom and compassion
even to their last days
on july seventeenth
ha we lost congressman john lewis
in yesterday's new york times
i read his up a posthumous essay
that he wrote in his last week's
at the heart of this essay he writes
like so many young people today
i was searching for a way out
or some might say away in
and then i heard the voice of martin luther king jr on an old radio
he was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence
he said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice
he said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by
he said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up
speak up
and speak out
when you see something that is not right
you must say something
you must do something
democracy is not a state
i would say the same thing is true to my understanding about ah enlightenment something that we talk a lot about in buddhism democracy is not estate enlightenment is not estate
they are both acts
and he writes in each generation much do its part to help build what we call the beloved community
a nation and world society at peace with itself the sanga zen community the buddhist community is a beloved community beloved community is not a location that is devoid of conflict
it just has ah the tools
peacefully to resolve that conflict without doing harm to each other
sir john lewis's words for me bring to mind something that not harm wrote in a book quite a while ago look as called pieces every step
he did not on road
when i was in vietnam this is in the ah
the nineteen fifties in the early nineteen sixties when i was in vietnam so many of our villages were being bombed
along with my monastic brothers and sisters i had to decide what to do
should we continue to practice in our monasteries or should we leave the meditation halls in order to help the people who are suffering under the bombs
after careful reflection we decided to do both
to go out and help people
and to do it in mindfulness
we called it engaged buddhism
he adds mindfulness must be engaged
once there is seeing
there must be acting
otherwise what is the use of skiing
we must be aware of the real problems of the world then with mindfulness we will know what to do and what not to do to be of help
that
those words and john lewis's words seem to me to fit hand and glove
ha
it's not so surprising because to some extent ah john lewis and did not on
had martin luther king
as a teacher
so what is an appropriate response
in his final essay john lewis continues and provides this answer
ordinary people with ordinary vision
can redeem the soul of america by getting in what i call good trouble
necessary trouble
voting and participating in the democratic process or key
the vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society
you must use it because it is not guaranteed you can lose it
we've been hearing
all the various ways we could lose it over the last few days postponing the election
ah try and get basically shutting down the postal system or making it a function in a way so that it can deliver votes in a timely fashion
so vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have been a democratic society you must use it because it is not guaranteed you can lose it
so
for a moment i will climb up on my soapbox so to speak
this morning we are ninety three days away from the two thousand and twenty election
perhaps the most election the most important election in our and our children's lifetime
my soap box is the vote itself
this is an appropriate response
that's what john lewis was pointing to
this vote that is not guaranteed but is our right
isn't appropriate response
from this dharma see that i'm sitting in today
i feel the responsibility to address all beings
can include all beings recognize all beans
irrespective of
political views and beliefs
so i will not talk about
home to vote for
here
but if you want to talk to me
you can give me a call or send me an email when i have stepped down from the seat
and i will be glad to share what i think
ha and a glad to share how some of us are very actively engaging with the electoral system has a selection approaches
and of course i
invite you to argue with me
i am not afraid of that kind of discourse i think that trading views and sharing experience is is how i learn to tell all of us learn
but to close i returned to get not ons words
mindfulness must be engaged
once there is seating
there must be acting
otherwise what is the use of seen
when we're sitting in zazen we are seeing ourselves
we don't leave that in the central if we left it in the zendo has just the cultivation of a state of mind ah it would really be pointless
so
mindfulness is an appropriate response
sit down
look inside
and then we can turn our eyes outward
seeing is an appropriate response
what is it that i see
is it am i actually is it
really what i think i'm seen or should it look harder and deeper
an acting on what we see and think
acting for the benefit of all beings is an appropriate response
and for me this acting is also it's contingent on the beloved community
i am not
convinced that
even what i see as an appropriate response
is completely correct
so i depend upon friends' i depend upon teachers i depend upon you
for the process of actually clarifying and refining
what it is that's best for me to do
so to me i think this is how we bring our practice into the world
and houses and pervades the universe
so thank you very much and with that on to open up q questions and comments and we'll see how that goes i think blake will facilitate is at right there is
thank you goes on i invite you to raise your virtual hand you the sanga a to raise your virtual hand if you have a question i will call on you
the you
click participants at the bottom of your screen and then a list of participants will arise on your rights out of your screen at the bottom of that list you will hopefully see a blue hair that he pressed that and and and that will say raised my blue hand on
or you can type a question and all the questions and comments are coming only to me
that's where that i think you hit paco on so type of question now read the question on men and you can put the word question in found the question so i know although those are what's coming in and i urge you to on
the brief concise clear
with your question and if if you need to maybe a follow up question but really just one question i know preamble
get to the question
also i'd love to hear from people who are
perhaps or a little shy or don't usually speak in this in this context please feel free
yes i second that emotion
of our first like to invite heiko to unmute yourself lower your blue hand and ask a question
thank you thank you rosanne for a yeah really timely and
wonderful talk
the appropriate response
is always the big question but i've recognize if i'm seeing so-called my own delusion or if i'm seeing what i am seeing if i'm giving the same response again and again i know i'm likely in line for a disillusionment so
my question or made i want to tweak to frame the discussion maybe just a little bit that time
each person's appropriate response will be according to how they see and even the clearest of all of us would come up with a different response than everybody else this is a least my thinking and so that appropriate response is for those skilled in it to i we'll die
and in their tweaking of minds and other appropriate response still may remain gardening wholeheartedly i'd like to see how you respond to that are what you think about that extent of variation banking well i think there's a couple of thank you for that question and
let's ah
i think that's on the mark and i have to it goes in two directions for me one is that
an appropriate response first of all is going to relate to what we are trained to do
so for example
if somebody collapses on the street in front of you
if you know cpr that's an appropriate response
if you don't know cpr
he can help you you you may be stuck you know if you've got an appropriate response would be okay i gotta find somebody who knows cpr ah but if you know if you just fall down and start mucking about you're likely to do
corum not save a life so you do what you're trained to do this is in the context of say the civil rights movement ah critically an early civil rights movement when people when john lewis john lewis trained with this guy jim lawson
was a methodist minister ah before he did freedom rides and they were trained extensively in nonviolence not in an academic way but in a very practical role playing fashion ah and in that role play they played both roles they
played the victim and the oppressor and as any of you who have done role plays know it's very interesting because once you take that other roll the one that you think it's definitely not you you discover
i've got to see me you know i've got the oppressor in me i know how to act as out and you learn stuff so the training as one point the other thing i would say about an appropriate responses
there's another half of it which is in which i've been speaking of which is that
my response
which stems from my understanding
and intention
mayor may not have the effect
that i wish it to have
now if you were a tense stage bodhisattva
you know like hello kitty with your thousand hands in her spiritual swiss army knife in each hand then on what you're doing is likely to have a beneficial impact
but if you're a modeling human being like i am you know you can you can do even what you're trained and you can find that it has a negative outcome and then you have to you go around again you have to reconsider him to think so you know
gardening might be the right response ah ah i'm not going say what appropriate response is because it is really
it's incumbent it up on it's incumbent on the person and on the situation
thank you
osan yeah i'm reading through the questions and hodja our state to and paraphrase to that are served juxtapositions to each other of course the first one is the idea that the personal is political
an idea that a perhaps arose in many people's minds as you are speaking in the second one is on that there's a risk of when one goes in to what the political realm or that it's not that a creates a not inviting
am
sanga mill year
because it presupposes that there's a political ideology on top of the buddhist ideology how do you sort of put those two together
well you know it's it's easy to play with words ah and the play that i would do you know we all those of us if a certain age ah we all learned that the personal
is the political had a certain point in time
ah but one could one should also recognize that the political is the personal
that political policies political actions directly affect the personal lives our personal lives and the personal lives of others
and if you're just if you're just invoking one side of that ah expression you're really missing something important ah and so
you know i might i don't wish to make people feel guilty in any way
but i also might think that
as i said they're people who go to be uncomfortable with this talk and uncomfortable with other things that were said by by me and others and ah i do want hear about that on
at the same time
we need to recognize
who is not in the room
and you know at least
both speculate and enquire of them it's not like they should be in the room you know but ah is there something that they are seeing in the structure of our community that is it exclusionary
ah so it's not just
who feels comfortable in the room that's in the room but like who might benefit and might wish to be in the room but doesn't feel comfortable to enter does that does that make some sense
wonderful i'd like to invite gt men to lower her hand and speak
nta house on how much can you hear me okay yeah yeah ah
one of the conversations that relates to this i think is on the a relationship or intent and impact and i'm wondering i in terms of being responsible
myself to to be as aware and and by how my action or my contemplated action by impacts
some one
what i find coming out is that the intent is to relieve suffering and specifically to engage will turn towards home which can feel really overwhelming
and sometimes difficult to distinguish is this my pain is your name is this post pain
and then
with the intend to relieve suffering a choice must be made a particular long i'm facing such a situation right now with a loved one in fastest and the question of and the request to me to show up in person and a high risk situation
is coated with a lot of family london's law and exploring whether and how and what can be done and interact with fast on the time se so that's that that brings up a lot of pain and so i'm wondering what helps to
discern an appropriate response when there is a timeframe for an action to be taken me
you know i mean one thing that comes to mind in that situation ah and it's
you know it's a it's caravan of a formless question in a sense is is whose pain
ah you know the person sitting in the hospital
in and
ah may wish contact in touch etc which is totally understandable ah but you know i can only speak i want to speak for me not for anyone else and just say that sometimes my pain
appears to be
the global p
and so this bearing witness step of the three candidates is cause for very cortices this is one of the factors of enlightenment ah investigating the dormice
and so what i'm investigating the dharmas i'm trying to investigate what it is it i am experiencing and to make sure that i can get that it's not that the pain of tried to relieve his
somehow not my own if you understand it's like i'm not trying to get myself out of an uncomfortable situation ah i wanna make sure that that i'm actually trying to meet the suffering of others and that you know sometimes it's a very diff
cult thing for me to see
does that that's kind of the standard i would apply i guess and that's a first place i'd look which doesn't really totally answered the question but you know i don't know what i would do if i was called to hospital in that situation again
what are we trained to do which means how are we trained to look at ourselves in the context of being non separate from everyone else
i think i'll leave it there and took cake
helps particularly else particularly because it's a home hospice yes yes actually even happy here that is foster facade yeah
like on we're coming to a close a perhaps a susan a mood or invite you to unmute yourself of and sarah
yeah thank you thank you alan lenders and want a kind of prefer back to it goes question about some people might have different responses and and i've been
but what is it possible to per person to say well i didn't ask to be born in this world and i doubt i don't study what's going on in the world and i don't read the newspaper but i tried to be a good person and i take care of my garden and i take care of my family or whatever and i
for me voting would not be an appropriate response because i wouldn't i wouldn't cast a ballot for the right people because i'm not doing all the research that you need to do to go and that's not what i am best at doing so i'd prefer not to to vote because i may unwittingly be causing harm and i'm at just that's
my realm of action that my whole wife is based on the premise that that's sort of not okay but why isn't that okay or back went about that
when i'm looking at it why why does everybody
why is everybody obliged to go vote i don't think everybody is obliged to go vote
you know i certainly i can understand that i can understand that position and arm
it just really depends on whether you
kaveh wish to participate in the process in a process of of change in this country you know if you don't you don't and then you know your to me your relinquishing some of your power and that that may be
the that may be appropriate for your life i don't i don't wanna get into the fine points of that ah and again it depends on your training
you know that person is doing what they're trained to do i can't say their training is right or wrong ah it's it's certainly not what my training is but but we quite honest with you in know from most of my lifetime i have really felt
that my participation in the electoral process didn't mean a thing
and ah i've come to think differently about it ah and that was a process of that's to a process of training so you know and i think it to me i think it's bodhisattva training it's recognizing how we
we are
we are interdependent and how we co-create the world that we live in and you know if you trust other people to make those decisions then then fine then what you see is what you get
well i i write a follow up question of britches fell apart if i mean if you're going knocking on doors to get out the boat or writing letters to get out the vote and somebody comes to the drivers why i don't believe in parting i'm not into that
you don't tell that score i mean it's when we try to get up the boat were saying to people on it's important to it is important to exercise your right to him white you
there's some level at which i don't really
do you like it's okay and yet
i i'm not sure that that's fair well i think this is weird i want to go back to what
ah
what suzuki roshi
said if i could find a coupon you know that ah
that sometimes
there should be teaching
other than the teachings which were told by the buddha so when i go to the door i've done this you've done it to your adoring and somebody says i don't vote
and as a as a person of training
you then observe easier and opening there are they asking me a question
are they asked easier underneath that is your question why should i vote
you know or is it just like
that's it i'm done i want to close the door and this is where we have to discern what is an appropriate response because sometimes that is a bid for a conversation
and sometimes not and so i think it's incumbent upon us to read that to read that energy and make a decision about which way to go sometimes to walk away and sometimes to see if there's a deeper discussion to be had
oh thank you i'd like to hear it like there was a hand ah time time is growing close yeah there was a hand from jeffrey but i don't see it anymore well and then there's one the real quickly hose on an llb will be very
short ice one of the call us outward excellent lecture and especially the to central practice questions i carry around what do i see it what will i do next that you so much like you
well there was one more heather can we do that and and close
sincerely they can i can not take this opportunity
ah thank you for zone for a wonderful talk
i may
deeply political person everything i do in my life is political and on top of that i practice buddhism so maybe i come from a slightly unique lens in this group but it strikes me that in the so
study of buddhism
we are looking to dissolve the boundary that makes us feel separate and part of doing that is
a supreme awareness of every table
and the ripple effects of our actions so this idea that there's a personal and political is has always been confusing to me because i woke up this morning and i had a cup of coffee and our farmers who grew that coffee and particular situations not all of them maybe
perfect i had a banana that got shipped all over the world and use fossil fuels you know on and on and on so even if i'm not voting or campaigning or organizing i'm still breathing the air and eating the food and all of that is political so i'm just reflecting that this idea
that there's a personal and political is
i like i don't get it cause they're actually there is no separation there and to me that's the study of buddhism is set live in that full awareness of no separation
the question i don't know because i don't under i don't understand why we separate the two
i'm
i think there are a lot of structural reasons and i think they're a lot of political reasons why we separate the two and you know we can go into the history of religion and you know ah the history or almost all religions has been
a struggle
between
spiritual and worldly authority and it's probably been that struggle is probably been responsible for more death than any other ah cause that i can think of so you know i think we need to be very care
full about that ha
at the same time as i'm
trying to articulate a compassionate
human
and life preserving set of values as common to the dharma and to the politics that we wish to further
so good luck to all of us a simple
thank you thank you
right thank you very much goes on and thank you off for the questions
let me post the ah
vows you know you can can i am i allowed to post to everyone or you have cool am i think it's only i'm not sure check it out i can i just couldn't put my email gear wonderful
oh in shack yeah okay and i'll pull up the on vous closing vows i believe ed when you close the chatto whole and also just numbered just finished his

okay if anyone wants to continue asked me things please please email me i'm unhappy to have these just these are other discussions thank you