Birth and Death, Part 1

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much for listening
ah good morning
can you hear me okay
yes sound is fine yet your image is slightly fuzzy i wonder if you could scoot and a bit
i think what i need to do is the following ah
once it
close your eyes

it's not a lot better is it
me see what camera will using year

ah
that appears better to me okay yeah sharper now okay i think it producing like my computer rather than my webcam
well thank you for bearing with all the technicalities here is ah
ha
we're learning has we're we're still learning so thank each everybody who's making the go
ah
let's just take a few breaths

so this morning we have a gun how revised know how to city
ah the sushi were doing a real hotter were doing in this strange year of twenty twenty
will hurt you
have a translates to mean the eighth day of the twelve months
ah and you may notice that this is december nike so we've we've missed by eleven days ah
usually dated twelve mountains in the revised a japanese calendar is when we observe when the northern ah buddhist tradition observes buddha's enlightenment and so this or
listed he
usually would be a seventy six you idiot would begins ah traditionally on the first and kameni on the on the eighth ah last week i say i spoke to her son alex
who's in japan and they did a they did a very traditional rod to ah very traditional rawhide to ah they will not they didn't lie down for seven days they weren't allowed to take your futons out they had to kind of lead against the wall
and then the last night you stay up all night ah and job
it's a young person's game i think ah at least as far as i'm concerned but it's it's wonderful and he was glowing from it
so ah we've moved it this year and sometimes this is the appropriate response ah to not be stuck on a particular calendar gate or form but kill to fit it to the activity of people's actual
our lives and how our lives are
ah in a very different with them these days
so we do celebrate buddha's enlightenment hell it's important to remember that we're celebrating his every time we sit down
every time we sit in zazen ah we take up the posture and mind
that buddha demonstrated to us twenty five hundred years ago so ah we're not missing anything
ah and we have the opportunity
for the next three days to to practice ha
together can really dig in and i'm i'm
quite enjoying it so far ah and it it's great it's really great to be here with with all of you
but
what i'd like to do for these days is too
to pick up on teachings that sojourn roshi began two weeks ago at is thursday evening gathering
he spoke about birth and death
can i know that he intended to continue on this subject
and if he is able to keep will
ah
and i know that you are aware we're all aware that this is ah
this is a moment by moment
question that sergeant is meeting
it's not a theoretical issue
and that's whether we know what or not that's true for all of us

there's a call on in the blue cliff record that i hold very closely
i'm sure that you know it a monk s master gunmen what is the teaching of a whole lifetime
and young men said
an appropriate response
let's spoken this before
zach case fourteen and a blue plus record and it's also interesting to look at gate fifteen which is kind of they goes through a hand in glove but we're not going to get into that today
ah
the translation that surgeon is partial do ah which was also a translation that suzuki roshi used ah was an early translation of the to to attracted by d m shaw
and his translation of an appropriate response
is the teaching conference each
the i think that's the teaching conference each moment
and a teaching confronts each be ah
yeah it's the more i
hold that and turn it over in mind the more ah wonderful and useful it is
so
this is the kitchen of birth and death
as it is confronting so to roshi right now
and really as it's confronting each of us
in
it's own various frameworks of time and we'll we'll talk about that
ah we have the time of a single moment
ah a thought
an activity
each of with which has its birth
it's period of life
and it's death
and we have the framework of
time that covers a whole lifetime
birth as we emerge from the womb
death as the breath and heartbeat
depart from us
and
what happens in between
which from some perspectives seems like a long time
from other perspectives it's the blink of an eye
so we can also see the rhythms of birth and death in the year itself
it seems like
ah
the death of two thousand and twenty is near thank god
a year drifts that continues to challenge as in every way
and the birth of two thousand and twenty one approaches
ah with whatever it brings
it's joys and sorrows

so i want read you just two sections from is fast for show g ah hell then turned to the translate churches accommodated that certain gave half
chaudhry mean person desk ah it's a very short vesicle it's ah
it's only like covers two pages and you can find is that you can find a good translation of it in
cause tanahashi his book ah moon ready to drop
some review section three
it's a mistake to suppose that burse turns into death
birth is a phase that is an entire period of itself with its own past and future
for this reason in buddha dharma birth is understood understood as birth
death is the phrase is a phase that is an entire period of itself
with its own past and future for this reason death is understood as notice
in birds there is nothing but birth
and in death there is nothing but guess
accordingly when burst comes face and actualized birth and when death comes face and actualized death
do not avoid could desire them
now i wanna meet you
ah
in the last section section five
i really love this section ah

there's a simple way to become a buddha
when you refrain from wholesome from unwholesome actions and are not attach the birth and death and are compassionate towards all sentient beings respectful to seniors kind to juniors not excluding or desiring anything
with no designing thoughts or worries you will be called a buddha do not seek anything else

in another facet of duggan's
ha
he gives the instructions
just throw yourself into the house of buddha
and that's the same thing i think
so
for these for these talks that i'm giving i'm turning to a number of cops at sojourn go she gave in north carolina in chapel hill at his disciple joe show pad feeling center for a long time so can visit their annually
they advertise with that sanga a very close
and they they are transcribed and edited some wonderful letters of is the ones i'm working from were given into the in nineteen ninety seven and two thousand and eight and they do offer commentary on a show g a person gags and zingy
total dynamic
ah the text that surgeon is working from which is not so readily accessible was ah translated by dr abiy muscle and norman waddell ah and it was some of the first dogan that we
had available in english new really good translations really scholarly and clear ah he said the
the translations and modern you drop a very good can you believe fully find
so i'm gonna begin with one of the two thousand and eight lectures and offer some comments perhaps as we go along and a leaf leaf ample time for discussion and we'll just see how far it makes sense to go today

usually when we think this is from surgery usually when we think of life and death we think of life as the manifestation of our activity in our consciousness and guess as the cessation of activity and our consciousness
but dogan equated the to
it's like two sides of a coin
birth is one side
in death is the other
i don't like to use life and death as opposites because if we use life and death this way it's like life is something static and death is something static
but usually birth and death are dynamic activities there's nothing static about them
itself
for like that though birth and death are the two sides of the coin and life is the substance of the coin itself
he says of course person death or ideas like the alternation of light and dark
suzuki roshi talked about this
we think something is really dark and something is really light
but everything takes its color or it's light and darkness in a comparative way
what we think of has light is only like compared to something that is dark
when we think of something that is dark it is dark when compared to something that is like
these are ideas that we have that depend on our comparative way of looking at things
so i used the term life to mean the totality of birth and death
and i used to sit a non dualistic way
what i would but i think is that so he's commenting in this facile zinke's total dynamic working
ah
you could say that
life is total dynamic working
in that it includes burse it includes death it includes every dharma moment every dorm a position
and every one of those moments is a complete is the complete unfolding the complete manifestation of life and that's what we're doing moment by moment of zazen and even if it's sleepy zaza know impatient thousand or a you know
cruising as and a joyful zazen all of that is moment by moment
our whole life
and there's a next moment
the each of those moments has its birth and it's death

surgeon says this of course is how most buddhists think about our experience of continuation
in buddhism we have terms like reincarnation and rebirth and their various theories about birth and death and reincarnation
ah depending on what country a particular buddhist tradition is from
i think that tibetan buddhism has a tendency to believe in reincarnation
caravan of buddhism thinks more in terms of reverse
zen teachers like to seek that birth and death are happening on each moment and that life is continuous
to seek some kind of compare clarity is important because there are many ways to think about it
dobyns understanding
he is that in burst there is death and and get there is purse each containing the other
i think that
the reality of them containing each other is
that's the fact for that's the unfolding of life

in the first sentence of ziggy
dogan wrote in the combination of its quest
the great the great way of buddha's his emancipation and realization
simply put the purpose of buddhist practice is finding emancipation and realization
for dogan emancipation means that life emancipates life and that death emancipates death
lee explains in this case he means that it's possible to find our freedom or are emancipation
within life it's also to find emancipation within death
to find emancipation within life is to live fully on each moment at one with our activity
and it is possible in the same way to find our freedom within death
suzuki roshi like to say that birth and death are the same thing
i would say
maybe that's beyond me
ah i might not be ready for that teaching yet but i hope i will help out wherever it
since the interesting section the next section says they are two ways of thinking about emancipation or freedom lived there synonymous emancipation like the emancipation proclamation since slow to to
proclaim
the fact of freedom
so these two ways of thinking about it
freedom within
and freedom from
ah delicious this is actually ah
it's actually resonant with the way that freedom is discussed in various other modes of of western philosophy
ah the freedom within an n circulates kind of unpacks us a bit freedom within his freedom to
the freedom to do something ah the freedom to act in a certain way the freedom to ah freedom to express yourself
ah
the freedom to ah
to find a meaningful life
and the second aspect ha is freedom from
they have freedom to which is positive and freedom from which is a mean i hit to use were negative but it's it's like the removing of hindrances
ha
surgeon says we usually think that freedom means to do whatever we want
i have the freedom to pursue happiness
but happiness is not a thing you can pursue
it's a byproduct
the result of our actions
suzuki roshi mostly talked of freedom from
ah and buddhism mostly talks for freedom from
so we talk about
ah
some buddhist tumblr indian traditions talk about the self
and buddhism talks bad a lotta no self that the ah
syllable ah is the negation
ah it's so most of what is talked about it and you'll see this again and again yeah in ah in early buddhism that once talked about as liberties is the freedom from the things that really hinder
us and block us and impede our our lives
ah and when we're when those are relinquished to when they drop away when we are free from them then we are free to act
so ah
surgeon says suzuki roshi mostly talked about freedom from
for him true freedom only comes about within limitations
we can easily become a victim of are diluted understanding of the meaning of freedom without limitations
i remember before i started to practice or
spread it's kind of a wild guy
who
had a small amount of
zen training when he was over season in korea with the peace corps
and
we would get into arguments my site was completely uninformed ah that he would say you know well everything's in
whatever i do is in
and so i can do anything by one
ah plenty of wasn't talking about immorality you just was saying it still everything is everything
ah
and that bothered to be
note said that can't be right that can be rate ah and
i think when
when i began to
i took a practice
i really i began to understand this principle of finding freedom within limitation
so we find freedom within certainly with the form of have the posture on in the form of zazen is a limitation
and there may be a part of us that
want to rebel against this limitation
and i guess from watching sojourn
can from watching my elders
ah and i i really noticed that
billy immediately when i came here ah
that it wasn't that people were controlled or ha repressed
it's that
they were measured in their activity and then thousand itself was a measured activity that the the life of zazen might
teigen layton speaks of the posture of zazen as buddha mudra
so we put our body into this ah
particular pasture
hell it is pretty limited and bad sometimes it's really hard
ah but we put ourselves into the pasture that we see
buddha having taken up can we make that our life
and when we are when we are in that posture
having learned to take up that pasture we are reborn
that's our birth
that is we have at least in that moment thrown ourselves into the house of buddha
and we're doing what ah
we're doing what tar
what he says at the end of show for ah
the for in jars and refraining from unwholesome actions
we're not thinking about birth and death
whichever comes we accept it
and what i noticed in the the elders around me
and i am still personally working on
ah is
can be compassionate towards all sentient beings
can be respectful to seniors
kind to juniors
not excluding are desiring anything
i think that is that last phrase

really seems to me too
pin point
the teach suzuki roshi annotations a sodium roshi
not excluding were desire in anything
it's not that you don't have desires is just your life has not made of them
one time
ah think it like true
someone asked sodium roshi what's the most important thing for a teacher
to know
and he said
never want anything for yourself from your student
and
from close observation
i know that he lives that that he lives that

he may want are awakening
you may want us to practice
but it's never for his
benefit for aggrandizement
because
he's already thrown himself completely into the house of buddha

and the question from each of us is
ah
as we have as we as all of us have traditionally followed
shakyamuni buddha can we follow the example of social roshi
in this
in this round of birth life and death
so i think i'm gonna stop here and we can continue there's a lot more really good stuff in this talk and in the other dogs and will will i sure don't wanna cut out the jewels but ah hello kitty it's good not to
just be
but
overly seated by the food of dharma so ah we have time for questions and answers or thoughts and i'll kick are you gonna call people ah yes
yeah i believe everyone is aware of how to raise your blue hands are there are quite a few people in whom so raising your physical hand was not going to be as effective so i go to the participants window razor blue hand and have a question and i'll feel those and if you want to type your question type into her host or the great
very co-host and hecho will learn read those questions

you're gonna call him the right
i will go so and there's a thinking period going on i believe okay that's fine i'm not in a rush there's no bus i have to catch

i'm that may be a problem or heckled you see hands raised
i do i don't see hands rates so to take those please britney we have the for is a question from ben would you are neat yourself then
for technical and thank you goes on
yeah i can hear you fine okay
i'm
what stood at me from the
from the dogan said one of the dogan sections you read is some
about birth being a period and of itself with its own past and present i'm paraphrasing and death also am
it it made me think of a line that stuck with me from one of surgeon she's talks from out it was this year her couple years ago where he talked about when you feel sorrow just
feel the sorrow completely and it will no longer be sorrow because it said
there's nothing outside of it there's no
opposite and i wonder if maybe you can speak to it seems like there is that same flavor in
that passage from dogan where it's because
if you fully actualized birth so that there's nothing outside of birth then you can maybe say there is no birth and if you fully actualized death so there's nothing out side of death
then you can say there is no death
materia and to to stumbling out of myself but you think you know i understand what your i understand the question i think the analogy that i would that i would job
that comes to mind is
so say you've had a potentially serious medical diagnosis
and you're going to you're going to have some some caste system treatment or whatever on my experience is that
the anticipation
of those tests or treatment is excruciating
and partly that's because i'm conceptualizing them
there it's it's i am standing outside of that activity and i am worrying about it
alexandria
i'm
hang on a second

ah whereas the actual experience of the treatment or the for the cast ah or even the diagnosis is something else does that make any sense
that's that's to me that's an example of
standing outside of it looking at it as a as in a dualistic way or fully entering sake when you're entering it when you're when you're in it you're in it when you're in sorrow you're you're in sorrow and there's nothing else when you're when you're in the process of the idea of dying
is alarming and frightening to most of us
ah the fact of it
may not be so
and you know i hesitate to talk about this
but i had a medical emergency
ah wow
thirty years ago now
and
i was on the cusp of living and dying in that moment in in the midst of this procedure
and ah that's what i was told afterwards by the by the doctors and nurses ah unfortunately i came to find
but in the midst of that
i had some awareness that this was what was happening
and in the midst of that
i have some memory whether it's true whether it's active member are not of asking myself well how is this well this is okay
ah
if this is what happens okay but i prefer not
and that all was fine afterwards and scared the shit enemy
you know ah because i was outside of it looking at but inside of it hits something else so it's really this is important point not just for dire circumstances but for every
every moment every challenging moment of our lives

thank you been we ever question now from daniel o'hara daniel is a neat yourself and and your question

ah
i you talked about hmm different types of that i think or or something like that different understandings of what
that
what when or what an out of the of birth and death
and i
is there any birth and death that isn't like is earn an understanding or i
earn a knowledge or something of
any kind of birth and death other than the immediate one the media or experiences of a time right now
that is
i'm not quite sure i understand the question
like what i said well what i said was you can think of it in multiple frames of time you can think of it as moment by moment and what what surgeon talked that was yes and you have these different theories of our of
rebirth and reincarnation
ah and you can think of it in the context of a lifetime or multiple lifetimes to cancel what you how you think of it

hmm
but in terms of
verifiable by like immediate experience
like i'm
is it seems like
i
lifetime
i used the frame the perspective of lifetime seems more i
theoretical to me that
well it seems theoretical to me as well but you know it's not theoretical to people who believe otherwise you know when sojourn roshi was asked about all you know can have multiple lifetimes and know his responses i don't remember
he
like a thud it's like well maybe but rate but i can't remember them right now you know
maybe if he was a booty would remember them so i i can't say i can do is take care of the lifetime that's unfolding right now that's what that's what critically important to me and i have some faith that if one takes care of one's immediate life and what's right in front of them
then
other things will take care of themselves
which is not to say that
oh is that it's not to say that that bad things don't happen to good people but i can just take care of this moment in this life than a half
so thank you
we have a equation from jeanette jeanette with you know i meet yourself please
hence the equation
jamais je name right right as in john journey thank you
yeah
yes thank you have done something and thank you for continuing with i could see working go on ah
i'm i'm stuck on you're saying that suzuki russian used to say life and death are the same thing and my mind is just worrying trying to deconstruct that and figure it out and i'm wondering how you understand that
i don't know i'd have to see more i'd have to get a you know i like to understand the context of ah of a teaching or what people write because my understanding of ah my understanding of all buddhist teachings is that they are medicine
they are medicine as a friend us into balance
they're not food you don't necessarily make a meal of it ah just as you would make a meal of your medicine so without knowing the context what's so what's the situation was speaking to a eyes and the hesitant to to
speculate about that ah that might be a good question
when we get to know if when we get to speak decision surgeon again that's really good question for him
cause maybe he was there exactly where those
yeah exactly what was the great thanks
yeah thank you
we have no question from jake jake a new yourself or and shoe question
okay so i'm gonna ago first jets oh leslie your i am right
i'm i wonder if you could say more about on what darwin said about just throw yourself into the house of buddha especially if adjusting the throw
well much am

traditionally me both there there's a way of looking at japanese buddhism
that ah formulated as it's two aspects of it theoretically ah and i know that surgeon didn't buy this and neither do i ah there's zen is a self-powered yourself power and other power
ah then is theoretically a self power school so in other words in order to wake up to the in order to live in emancipated life you have to throw yourself you know you have to throw yourself and also you have to do something yours
self ah and
no one way i look at that is ah we had to sign up for safety and show up for ah for the periods and keep the schedule you know back
back in the days and we used to come to the zendo we had to get herself to the zendo you know people had to you guys had to slept in ah from pleasant hill united ah
yeah that was you could call that self power
the other the other school the other side of japanese buddhist emphasis other power and so the zen school is a self-powered school ended the shin or giotto shin ah
which is right down the block actually is or is normally and other power school needs everything that we have is given to us by the buddhists
so ah

i will say that a lot of them i have met a lot of
really
completely seeming awake people in the jodo shinshu school and i admired them a lot because they have faith and because what they don't even call what they do practice because they don't want to take responsibility for herself
that that is empowered but it just they receive the gifts and they pass them on and say so i can say
yes i had to get myself here in the early eighties and you know find liberally find the gate and the address and walk in and then do that repeatedly how would have i get there
that was not self that is a great mystery
how did such an end up he was looking how did he end up had suzuki roshi store this is beyond the activity of the self it's this is the mystery of total dynamic working so you know again this in this context of medicine
ah i need dogan was was giving some encouragement to his monastic students telling them what should you watch your spirit of practice be but how they got to the monastery
is
the enactment of total dynamic working so that's where it into the said helpful very much so thank you yeah thank you
you a couple more may be
to go ahead of ah briefly hose in i asked this question of surgeon and when he was talking about ah
birth and death in life
ask the question of breath
well
i'm going with someone dying trying to find her breath
scarred as we all have by seeing george floyd
oh calling him that he could not breathe right what ones refuge one one cannot find once last breath is it just to let go of that
yeah yeah yeah i mean there's nothing else to do
and that moment will come for all of us
yeah ha and
the sometimes
it's really easy
and sometimes it's really hard
and that seems to depend on things that are beyond our understanding
you know ha
and ah all i can think of doing is just to take care of my breath now
and you know we have to look at the world ah to
do what we can so that everyone can breathe freely and easily you know that means in actually taking care of the air take care the environment ha and taking care of our bodies and helping people take
you have their own bodies so we take care of ourselves but also we have this broader responsibility i think
thank you
the take one more question from yoni and then we'll do maybe a written question the only please i'm mute yourself
who's on
are you ready
oh i'm fine my brothers in medical school right now every once in awhile i'll get a suggestion for a book or article and something i was reading recently was on the immune system and how every day in our bodies
these hundreds and hundreds of thousands of cells are born and die and all of those cells support our our lives and i found that very inspiring
the connection to where you are just saying and i wonder if it makes sense to thinkers
practice as choosing an choosing the bodies for which the body that we wish to be a cell in make sense if i'm a cell what what body and my sustaining a whole earth
the whole earth is your true body
sorry

every cell every part of our body
is cooperating
it's cooperating it's life is cooperating in it's death when it is it falls way to make room for other cells this is true of the whole earth
that's that's the true body that were part of
and so we have to take care of art so-called individual body
and our family body or sanga body
in the way that we take care of the whole world

i do see linda's hand before we take the written question
go ahead
boy i already gave up so i i let my wish to ask a question experienced death of
anyway on better disagree there hasn't been reborn hell yeah matter of fact
what a surprise
well
a when you talk about birth and death as two sides of the coin and song eye on some level believe and sort of understand that
you reached back to an experienced thirty years ago to talk about experience really experiencing that
mom so my question is both how are you really experiencing that right now and can you help me really experience it right now because
understanding and believing it on some level is not helping me experience it

when you need just ask this question
immediately the answer came to mind
and the impact of that
brings me to tears
i don't know what more to say

did you dion were born in that moment yes
okay
ah there are two questions and the chat i don't know if you want to go for both of them it's in the last two yes i forgot i also ah this one is from chris evans and he simply rights limitation means self discipline
yeah
or just means discipline forget about the self
you are not limiting yourself
he just
sitting down within whatever constraints there are
who is it is still the question who is limiting
dove i think that's as far as own come with that's an interesting question i was just i was just one with a pandemic i have been questioning what self discipline is and i had written down exactly what chris road but i wrote a spirit of repetition is discipline after reading the since
suki roshi chapter on repetition
ah he's got true yeah i just found out a nice connection there
but the spirit you know just to say to use a musical analogy
the way
of a musician or an artist is
the spirit of repetition until freedom reveals itself
and creativity reveal the to you have to have faith in you know if it's just if you're been forced to repeat yourself you know if you're a it's then it's not alive ah it's it's difficult
difficult practice yeah think you at the i thank you
oh yeah practice practice of the musical instrument as it relates to of practice
the final question is from marimo seen
if birth and death are both life why do we like birth and fear death
it may be hard wired
it may be you know an organic
ah animal neural response i don't understand it fully ah but it's
i think we're hard wired to
for if he will self preservation
sometimes that is expanded to because we see ourselves as part of something larger and we act in what's called
it's called altruism but it's really just seeing that there's a larger body
you know whether it's my community my tribe whatever venetian ah but ah i think that organically were
we probably aren't wired to to preserve self the preserve life
barry may have a follow up internal

mary i do great
i yeah i'm sorry i'm i'm having to wear be with my my new dog so oh new dog that's great they are well it is but it's made it
bye bye follow up is
ah so now i'm a got distracted by my dog my fall of up this
what what
i don't want to say this city
how oh i'm under i wanna say why and but i know that it's okay i can look at it there are people in the teachers in the world who won't answer why questions yeah why are we why can't i believe
that
death is okay yes there is hard wired genus yes there's attachment to the familiar to the the self that i know
but
i don't know either systems like hear something deeper about it that that it's hard to accept ah
oh i maybe that is hard to accept know me
yeah i mean that's part of what i think it's the hard wiring but i think that that everything
in our life in our experience
the message that death is bad is so powerful and it shapes our minds so this is this gets back to you this gets back to you know how do our minds operate you know it's this is it's a heavy duty it from
the the heaviest duty imputation that that one has
tom so it's not surprising
ah no
neither is what we're supposed to be working on my i mean that's what it says on we all you might at yeah right and the great manner right
but you know i think about ah
what is the
the death of ivan ilyich
how did you think that yeah
you know he's wrestling with this question
until the moment of is dying
and then in a moment of is dying
at least he has the a at least you know his author gives him an enlightenment and libary gift experience yeah
but he's he's he's in hell the whole time yes
and
danny's liberated but one understands why he is having such a hard time
wasn't up in yes and
you know all i would say areas you may not
you know will we will constantly practicing ah
you know minds i'm terrified
when i think of get as something outside but as i was saying the experience the lad from the inside was quite different
ah
and i felt pretty free in that moment
well that we just look you know gonna make yeah we made you can tell us afterwards okay
a okay
i'll let you now been had you let me out on this needs or you can listen to me guess okay
thank you all
see