Courage, Part 2

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to continue my series, actually. I didn't realize it was going to be a series when I started out with my talk on faith. And then faith led me to courage. And so I am still delving deeply into that train of thinking and studying. And I'm going to share with you another, Hopefully, maybe, or it could be one of 10 talks, but this one is the third in that sequence. So what I talked about last time was the importance of how we meet life's challenges and particularly life right now, the challenges of life right now by cultivating and embodying courage And I define courage not as a fixed, some kind of fixed, unchanging characteristic that we're able to acquire and hold onto, but instead as a verb, an act of skillfully engaging life's challenges.


I also asserted that the true meaning of courage is not the absence of fear or getting rid of fear, but rather, developing kind of a courage muscle, the ability to respond, to think, to speak, and act in ways that allow us to actually meet, penetrate, and thereby overcome fear. We're never going to eliminate fear, and fear is also an important thing to note. It's a great teacher. So we don't want to remove fear, but we want to be able to meet it. in an active way by stepping towards and into it. So in order to tap into this courage, we have to practice and increase our bravery one courageous act at a time. An aspect of courage that I didn't mention last time, which I thought I would add, suggested by an email from one of our Sangha members, was the notion of encouragement and discouragement, and how the causes and conditions in our lives can support our encouraging efforts or not.


We all make a bodhisattva vow to save all beings and to act for the benefit of all beings. And that implies that part of our encouraging is to support others in wholesome actions and discourage beings engaging in unwholesome actions. And that we rely on our teachers, the teaching, and the sangha to play the same role for us, to encourage us, or perhaps to discourage us. And as I talked about last week, what I ran into when I started to look at how courage manifests in Zen practice, I found that courage was intimately related to the three essential practices of Zen, or what Yasutani Roshi and his student, Phillips Kaplow, called the three pillars of Zen. Great doubt, great faith, great doubt, and great determination. These three are like the three tripods, three legs of a tripod.


There's a question about whether we can accomplish the Dharma if any one of these legs is missing. If all three are present, we'd be much more likely to miss to miss the truth, to miss the understanding, to miss the experience of awakening. So, to reprise just briefly, faith, the first condition, great faith, means believing without any doubt that you, we, are intrinsically awake, that all beings are intrinsically awake. It's a belief that seeing into Our own nature means discovering something that you've already been using from morning to night without even realizing it.


Because seeing into your own nature is you discovering yourself. And you cannot fail to experience your true self, your true awakened being, which lives waiting to be seen in all of us. Great faith also means believing that every person is in the process of eventually achieving supreme enlightenment and trusting that if we ask for help from the three treasures, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, we will definitely get it. Means trusting in our teachers, in our Sangha, in the teachings, and practicing. and looking at ourselves. Sometimes great faith is thought of as a tree putting roots down. It's a thorough engaging and staying in place and not moving as a tree rooted firmly in the ground.


And we might think on Halloween that one of the things, I talked last time about a story about Mara tempting Bhupalavanna. If we're rooted in the ground, Mara or the Maras, the Maras of our temptations, of our distractions, can distract us from what it's all about, what we're all about. The Buddha said, those who have faith in the Chittagata, who have faith in the Dharma and have faith in the Sangha, have faith in the foremost. And he said, for those with faith in the foremost, the result will be in the foremost. The result will be right here, right now in front of us. But the great root of faith also


naturally always is followed by a connection with the opposite, right, or the challenge. So it activates what some people call the great ball of doubt. If great faith appears, the great ball of doubt will arise without fail. Great doubt then presents us with the real challenge of our practice. Can we awaken with the great wall of doubt? I was thinking about, when I was thinking about this, when I came across this phrase, the great ball of doubt, I actually thought of horror movies. You're sitting there in the Zendo, And in through the door comes this great black cloud.


Down is like in the cities when the great black demon comes in a horror movie, and it engulfs you. And you run from it, you try to run from it. But mostly it gets everyone until the end, at the end of the movie, when someone confronts it. So the source of doubt is really important. What is it? What are we afraid of? A lot of times the trap in practice is that we want to have some kind of intellectual understanding or some conceptual understanding that we can share, that we can say. And when we don't have that, it frightens us. this wanting to know, this wanting to be able to somehow hold something, get something that we can hold to protect us.


So we have to, in order to really work with doubt, we have to get used to not having that kind of understanding, not relying on that, undoing all of the training that we've had in other aspects of our life, accepting that there would be some conceptual awareness or intellectual understanding. We have to understand that we don't understand. We have to let go. We have to be able to hold that tension of not knowing. of not being able to see or wanting to get ahead of ourselves, of having some grasping idea of seeing through something. If I just do it over and over again, if I just sit more and more, that tension, that not knowing might be different.


Or maybe we can, when we sit and practice and it gets afraid when that black ball of doubt comes, we distract ourselves, we allow our minds to move, our attention to falter. So as we work towards allowing this letting go to happen, And if we practice this being with not knowing, what happens is our field of practice gets larger. We have to open to a larger field where knowing and not knowing float around, where our desires disappear, at least temporarily. our barrier to dealing with doubt is really wanting to know.


If we don't know, we can be with that doubt until something releases in our consciousness and we can experience relief. So this is a great obstacle for us, but also our greatest gift our greatest challenge, this great doubt. So then when the root of faith and the great ball of doubt are present and we can be together with those, of the third pillar, then will arise the great determination. What is that? Great determination is a strong resolve that wells up from the bottom of our gut and spurs us on. We already believe that we ourselves are intrinsically awake.


We have that faith. We only need to discover it within us. We ask ourselves, why can't we realize it? It must be possible. So we continue to practice. We continue to practice. There's a phrase, but mountains of silver and walls of iron rise up before us and we can't break through. Still, we must continue to goad ourselves. There's no reason I can't do what others have done. There's no reason why I can't be with the ancestors in their determination. They've all gone before us. Our teachers have gone before us. They've all sat, and sat, and waited, and been patient. If I practice sitting, the sitting of Dogon, the Zazen we sit, if I practice that, truly practice that, truly let everything be,


and have faith in our ability, ultimately, to wake up. Then, our great determination will support us. And we need that intention, that detention and that commitment, that setting of an intention. Faith has helped us arouse Bodhicitta, Doubt has helped us see through the barriers. And now it's time to set our intention and to stay with our intention and to live with that great determination. Basui Zenji in the 14th century, he was a Rensai teacher, said, what obstructs realization nothing but our own half-hearted desire for truth.


Think of this and exert yourself to the utmost. The 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra says, and when the living have become faithful, honest and upright and gentle, and wholeheartedly want to see the Buddha, even at the cost of their own lives, So to meet the true Buddha within us, our ancestors tell us we have to be ready to give up our lives. What does that look like? Sometimes people get discouraged. They participate in intensive retreats. They sit every day. They feel like they're completely dropping body and mind, but they find themselves afraid anyway. They find they get distracted.


All of that is normal. That's part of the journey. That's part of the determination is to be with all of that. Not to judge it, not to run away from it, but to say, I'm following this practice. I'm following the practice of Dogen. I'm following the practice of Suzuki Roshi and Soji Roshi. And just continue and continue and continue regardless of self. In some of the We all remember the story of the Buddha and his own journey. It says in one of the old Pali suttas, when the future Buddha placed his back against the trunk of the Bodhi tree, he right there made this mighty decision.


Just let the blood and flesh of this body dry up and let the skin and sinews fall from the bones. I will not leave this seat before having attained that absolutely supreme enlightenment. So determined did he did he invincibly seat himself there from which not even a hundred earthquakes could move him. So I There are lots of stories of our ancestors and how their great determination manifested. Sojin likes to call some of them, calls it Buddhist pathology, but I find it really interesting. So I was looking through


Dogen's two fascicles on continuous practice because to me those embody this sense of great determination. How does this sense of great determination manifest through continuous practice? So one of the things that I love when I read Dogen is the stories of our ancestors. So I'm gonna read you one, but first, I'll give you the flavor of it. We all know about Bodhidharma. We hear about him all the time, about how he came and met Emperor Wu. And Emperor Wu wanted to know what he was doing. Who are you and what are you doing? What are you bringing here? And he, left Emperor Wu would not answer and went up to Shaolin and sat looking at walls for nine years.


One of the stories that we don't always talk about, so this is part of a Halloween type, is Bodhidharma cutting off his eyelids. Cutting off his eyelids so he could see and not go to sleep. He would never go to sleep. So this is the kind of great determination manifested from our first ancestor in China. And then Dogen has a very graphic story that I want to read, just because for me it was actually, reading it was kind of, it's wonderful and somewhat, and so poetic and so graphic, but also on some level, it's like a Halloween story. So the great, so Wike, or Taiso Eka, the second ancestor of China, was admired even by gods and demons. He was a teacher of high virtue, a broad-minded person, respected equally by monks and lay people.


He lived long in the city of Luoyang and read widely. Such a person is rarely encountered. His understanding was high and his virtue weighty. One day, a spirit appeared in his dream and said to Wiki, this is not a place to stay if you want to harvest the fruit. The great road is not far away. You should go south. The next day, he had a piercing headache and asked his teacher, Zen Master Bao Jing of Baosheng near Luoyang to help relieve it. Then a voice from the sky was heard. This is not a usual headache. your bones are being replaced. Wiki told Bao Jing about his dream. Taking a look at his head, which had the appearance of five peaks sticking out, Bao Jing said, you have an auspicious appearance, which shows that you are destined to have realization. The spirit's message for you to go south must mean Bodhidharma, the great practitioner of Shaolin Temple, is your teacher.


The spirit who spoke to Wiki was the guardian deity for his endless practice of the way. Following Baojing's instruction, Wike went to see Bodhidharma at Shaoshi Peak. It was severely cold winter night, said to be the ninth of the 12th month. On such a winter night in the deep mountains, it would be impossible for a person to stand outdoors, even without rain or snow. It was a horrendous season when bamboo cracks A great snow covered the entire mountain. Weki searched in the snow for a trail. Who knows the extent of his hardship? Finally, Weki reached Bodhidharma's dwelling, but he was not allowed to enter. Bodhidharma did not turn around. Throughout the night, Weki did not sleep or sit or rest. He stood firmly until dawn. The night snow seemed to have no mercy.


piling up and burying him up to his waist. Every drop of his tears froze. Seeing his frozen tears, he shed even more tears. Looking at his own body, he thought to himself, a seeker in the past crushed his bones, extracted his marrow, and squeezed his blood to feed the starving people. Another laid down on his hair, laid down his hair in the muddy road to let the Buddha pass. Another threw his body off a cliff to feed a tiger. They were like that. Then who am I? Thus his aspiration became stronger. Those who study nowadays should not forget Weeke's words. They were like that. Then who am I? If we forget, we will drown for numberless Kalpas. Thus Weeke addressed himself in this way, straightening his aspiration, strengthening his aspiration for the Dharma. He did not mind being covered by snow.


When we imagine the hair-raising ordeal of the night, we're struck with terror. At dawn, Bodhidharma took notice and asked, what do you seek? Why have you stood in the snow for so long? Shedding more tears, Vicky said, all I wish is that you compassionately open the gate of sweet dew in order to awaken many beings. Bodhidharma said, the unsurpassed conceivable way of the Buddhists must be practiced hard and constantly for vast Kalpas. You must bear what is unbearable. But if you wish with small virtual wisdom and casual arrogant mind for the true vehicle, you will toil in vain. Then Wiki was encouraged. Unnoticed by Bodhidharma, he took a sharp knife, cut off his arm, and offered it to him. Bodhidharma knew that Wiki was a Dharma vessel, and he said, when Buddhas first seek the way, they give up bodily form for the sake of Dharma.


Now that I see your determination, you're invited to pursue the way here. Thus, Wiki entered Bodhidharma's inner chamber, attending to him with great diligence for eight years. He was indeed an example and a great guide for Davis to follow. Such great diligence had not been heard of either in India or China. When it comes to smiling, you should study Mahakshapa. And when it comes to attaining the marrow, you should study Wige. Well, that's pretty, pretty amazing. Do we all have to do that? Or is that a story? Is that, what does that mean? What is that? There are a lot of stories. There are a lot of stories. Many, I have, for example, Long John did not see anyone throughout his entire life.


Zhao Zhu, did not speak one phrase throughout his entire life. Yandan picked acorns for his meals. Fachang made a robe with lotus leaves. Ascetic Zhiyi only wore paper. Senior monk Xuantai only wore cotton. Xishang Qingsu built a hall of dead trees and lived there with the assembly. What you need to do is make your entire mind perish. So these are some Zen Halloween stories. People who were willing to face great doubt and great pain and great suffering to attain the way. Is that really?


Is that really what we should do? The Buddha said to a disciple, if you want to practice strong determination, courageous determination, there were four things you needed to do. to be diligent about discernment or right view, to guard truthfulness, to be devoted to renunciation and to train in equanimity. So some of these stories really deal a lot with renunciation. What is it? What does it take? So I was really interested in this whole idea of renunciation and how important is that.


So there's another story in continuous practice. Matsu, Zen Master Daiji of Kaiyuan Monastery, studied with Nanhui, and was his attendant for over 10 years. Once he was about to visit his hometown and got halfway there, but turned around and went back to the monastery. When he returned, he offered incense and bowed to Nanyue who wrote a verse for him. Let me advise you not to go home. At home, the way is not practiced. Old women in the neighborhood would call you by your childhood name. Respectfully receiving these Dharma words, Matsu made a vow not to go to the direction of Han region in this or any other lifetime, not taking one step closer to his old home.


Matsu stayed in Zhangji and traveled all over the region other than speaking. of the mind itself is Buddha. He did not give any words of guidance. In another place, he says, if you have a home, leave your home. If you have beloved ones, leave them. If you have fame, abandon it. If you have gain, escape from it. If you have feels, get rid of them. If you have relatives, separate from them. If you don't have a name, And name and game stay away. So what is the meaning of all this renunciation? How does one not go home? Dogen says, returning to East, West, South, or North is no more than the falling and the rising of the self. Indeed, the way is not practiced by going home.


Practice continuously examining whether the way is practiced or not, either by going home or not going home. Why is the way not practiced by going home? The way is hindered by not practicing. It's hindered by the self. It's hindered by attachment and delusion. Because the speaker is right here. I want the speaker to point to you. It is not that Buddha ancestors lacked family obligations and attachments, but they abandoned them. It's too loud for me. It's not that Buddha ancestors were not bound by relationships, but they let them go. Even if you're bound by relationships, you cannot keep them. If you do not throw away family obligations and attachments, the family obligations and attachments will throw you.


If you want to cherish family obligations and attachments, even cherish them, to cherish them means to be free from them. So here are these these admonitions throughout Buddhist history and these models of practice throughout Buddhist history that talk about rather extreme efforts, rather extreme demands, scary, really Halloween scary practices. People who don't eat, people who lie on their side for 50 years, won't get up, people who won't talk, people who, is that really what we're talking about? Is that a way, is that really a way to save beings?


I think really, it's a way to get our attention. It's a way to say, wake up, wake up. Okay, I've shocked you now. I've shocked you now and I have your attention. Now that I have your attention, I want to tell you how important it is. But then Dogen softens it and says, OK, I've told you to renounce your family. I've told you to renounce fame and game. I've told you to renounce everything. But then, oh, well, maybe you can have it after all. You just have it after all with the big mind of non-attachment. But that doesn't mean that we don't make sacrifices to practice. It doesn't mean that we're not asked to make sacrifices to practice. So the koan is how to balance the demands of practice, the demands of staying true to our path, to seeking our path to awakening.


and include everything. And that takes strength and courage. So to have determination, to have that kind of determination, that is a great gift. To have a non-attached determination. How do we have non-attached determination? How are we willing to sit out in the cold to sit with our legs crossed until we can't feel them anymore, to leave our families, to do whatever we do to try and practice and to try to put ourselves at risk of waking up. How do we do that? So there's another old story. This isn't a Halloween story. Disclaimer.


We've had the blood and guts already. There's another old Chinese story about how do you deal with cowardice? So suppose I'm too afraid still to practice. How do I actually learn to practice courage? So one cowardly person came to the master of martial arts and asked, and asked the master to teach him bravery and courage. The master looked at him and said, I will teach you only with one condition. One month you will have in the big city and tell every person that you meet on your way that you are a coward. You will have to say it loudly, openly, and looking straight into the person's eyes. The person got really sad. The coward got really sad because his task seemed very scary to him. For a couple of days, he was just very sad and thoughtful, but to live with this cowardice was so unbearable that he traveled to the city to accomplish this mission.


At first, when meeting passers, he quailed, lost his speech and couldn't say anything. But he needed to finish the master's task, so he began to overcome himself. When he came to his first passer to tell about his cowardice, it seemed to him that he would die from fear. but his voice sounded louder and more confident with each passing day. Suddenly came a moment when the man caught himself thinking that he's not scared anymore, that the matter further continued through his master's task. The more convinced that he was, that fear was abandoning him. That way a month had passed. The person came back to the master, bowed to him and said, thank you, teacher. I finished your test. Now I am not afraid anymore. But how did you know that this strange task will help me? The thing is, the master said, cowardice is only a habit.


By doing the things that scare us, we can destroy the stereotypes and come to a conclusion that you came to. And now you know that bravery is also a habit. And if you want to make bravery and courage a part of yourself, You need to move forward into fear, and then go away, and courage will take its place. So this is a way that we're taught. Just sit down. I think I mentioned in one of my last talk that when I was first sitting in sitting lungs to shins, I would be terrified. because I would feel self-falling away. I would feel myself as if dropping. And I went to a teacher, and the teacher basically said, yes. That's how it is.


Now go back and do it some more. And so for five days, I went back and did it some more. And the fear still came, and the sensation still came. But I had a habit now of saying I'm a coward or saying I'm afraid. And having that experience of being able to confront and be with and say I'm a coward, to say I'm afraid, it's just saying how it is in that moment. And nothing more, nothing less, and that moment passes. So we need to practice our courage, especially now And that takes facing our fears about whatever it is, greeting it as a coward, and talking to it as a coward, and suddenly that cowardice may fade with time and practice.


So I wanted to close with something I found. by Vanessa Guise Goddard. She converted a poem by Rilke into an invocation for great determination. May I, in the midst of chaos, in the jumble and noise of my mind, or the jumble and noise of the world, remember sky and mountain slopes. May I, in the midst of hammering confusion, which clamors for my voice, my opinion, my actions. Remember space and silence and the ground under my feet. May my courage be steadfast, like a rock that does not crumble. May this great work of waking up seem possible to me, and not just possible, but claimable as my right, my very nature, which means that even in my darkest hour, in my grimmest moment, I am still sky and slope and light.


May I never forget this. And if I do, may my noble friends on the path remind me. May my steadfast vow remind me. So, I'd like to hear, I really am interested in hearing from people about their own experience with courage or lack thereof. And where courage, where they're finding that they need courage in their lives where that work of couraging and that work of great determination play now, what kind of role they play. Ross? Thank you for your talk, Geri. I know you as someone who has great faith And thank you for bringing up the doubt and determination pillars of our practice.


And I'm wondering, how do you incorporate the doubt that arises with your faith in order to maintain your determination? I heard the really great stories from our ancestors, but I'm really curious how you work with it. I think I let it stay. I mean, when I have doubts, I have doubts about my own practice. I have doubts about something I've heard or some situation I've been in. I think patience and waiting, actually. Not trying to fix it, but just acknowledging this unsettled feeling. Feeling it, feeling unsettled. Oh, I'm unsettled. What's going on here?


Questioning it and being curious. And actually saying, I really have doubts. I say that when I have doubts. I have doubts sometimes about practice. I think I'm doing something or I think other people are doing something. We're trying, but something happens that really threatens my faith. Somebody does something, somebody says something cruel. I think that's when the faith of the fact that we're all awakened beings and we're all trying comes in, right? But there's something about equanimity. One of the things he talks about, that Buddha talks about, is equanimity is part of great determination. So I think that equanimity or patience, that cultivation of that, which has not always been a strong point, but something that I cultivate, that's how I meet it with.


I see. So you're faith tight. There's a doubt that's pointed at, and then that raises a question in you, and then you work with that, and you kind of move forward. with patience, holding that as part of the equation of your levah. And then you come out the other side. Yeah. It's like not holding on to faith. Oh, I just have to be faithful, you know, but actually letting the doubt happen. Excellent. Thanks so much. Oh, let me see. Phillip. Phillip, you want to mute yourself? Can you hear me? Yep. Okay. Thank you very much. That was a great, great talk. I want to know if someone, you or the director, can put the name of the poem and the author of the poem. Oh, the invocation?


Yes. Yeah. Yes. I will try to figure that out. Thank you again. It was a great talk. but I'll certainly get it to you. And if anybody wants it, they can, they can call me. They can contact me. Thank you. Okay. Um, Kabir. Hi, Jerry. Hi. Thank you for a beautiful talk as always. Um, um, what about fear of failure, uh, especially to our desires attachment? Failure. Ah, Well, that's where doubt is. That's where doubt is, isn't it? That's part of great doubt. We doubt ourselves. We doubt our practice. We doubt our teachers. But the idea is to penetrate that fear of failure.


It's a fear. And usually failure means loss, is associated with loss. What is it you think you're gonna get? We really can't get anything, you know? It's like, even if we get it, it's temporary. And it's changing. So we think we want something where we can be like, that's another thing we didn't talk about today, the hungry ghosts, you know, who never get enough, the hungry ghost realm and the stories about hungry ghosts who never get enough. I can't get enough love. I can't get enough approval for my work. I can't get the recognition that I want. All of these things are kind of hungry ghost functions and we fall into the hungry ghost realm of never getting enough. So again, it's really analyzing and getting into penetrating that


that feeling, what is it? It's usually not the actual thing, but where is that fear? Where in yourself is that fear? Where do you feel it in your body? Where do you feel it? What is the trigger if you just be with that word? Write about failure. Write about it. Write a poem about failure and see what comes up. Thank you. Um, it was even that when the guy was walking around and telling people that he's a coward, I had the sort of wish that when I'm, it's kind of, you can't do that nowadays. I can't just walk around and tell people, you know, I'm a failure. I'm a failure, but maybe, maybe I can sit on it, you know, and just, or just when I'm walking around, just kind of say to myself, and it also, like you said, you know, it's just a habit. Yeah, falling into that, you know, but, uh, I'll definitely write some stuff on that.


And then you said on the, thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Uh, Joel. Hey, Jerry. Thanks for a wonderful talk. Um, as you were finishing, I was realizing that in the last several months I've said very often, I'm terrified. And what I meant is terrified for my country, terrified of civil war. And that really struck me. You know, if you can help, With that, one thing that struck me, it's about the future. It's not at this, well, at this moment, I am feeling terror about something that might happen in the future.


Well, sometimes it's existential terror. Again, it's getting into that terror and understanding what that terror is about. And having that, trying to hold that terror, in a larger field. One of the things I didn't mention that I think I meant to, but I think is important is the way we get through doubt or the way we get through some of these obstacles, it causes, you know, we talk about the field of practice, opening our field of practice, opening our field of awareness. In the invocation, she's talking, you know, we often use these pictures of nature to, to tell us about how do we get grounded, have a bigger picture, see the mountains, feel the mountains, feel the air, see something beyond your mind. And your mind gets, when you get scared where there's fear and where there's doubt, you get boxed into your mind, you get caught in your head and you start trying to solve it in an intellectual way.


And it's not solvable that way. And certainly the feeling isn't, There's lots to do, I think. There will be, regardless of what happens with the election, lots to do. There are a lot of skillful actions that need to happen, but you can't really do that when you're scared. The being afraid of being a coward actually keeps you locked in that small mind of your own personal fear. You're aware of your fear. comes from whatever triggers it. So cultivating a larger field in your mind, which means letting go, but it also means distracting yourself, not distracting yourself, but being aware of more than the news and the latest news cycle, taking yourself away from that. Maybe weren't you talking about looking at dog


dog videos. Those dog videos are very good. I mean, there are things that we do. I mean, you sit a lot, so I can't tell you to sit more. But I think there are healthy things. There are unhealthy things and healthy things that we can do. And we know, and our practice tells us, when we start clinging to our small selves and our egos and our, you know, little of our fears, our personal fears. We know, we know that. So we, like any other doubt, be patient with it, don't make it go away, but give it a bigger field. Your fear is justified, but just give it a broader field. Yeah, I mean, part of the, I mean, one thing Sojin Roshi says so much is it's always been like this. Yes, that's right. I was going to say that too, because he's told me many times.


That's the wider field. That's the wider field. People are always dying. People are always killing themselves. People are always starving. There are pestilences. It's always happening. And also, birth is happening. Joy is happening. Love is happening. Generosity is happening. Of all the horror. That is happening. Your grandchildren. Yes, exactly. Thank you very much. Kurt. Thank you, Jerry, for the wonderful talk. I found it like really kind of Provocative because it got me to sort of think about some things and the question I have is sort of related to the issue of effort and You know the great effort is being one of the pillars and I think sometimes in myself what I've It seems to be my experience and that


The purpose of the effort in really exerting myself as much as I can is to realize the limitation of it. And that finally I just give up, right? And then it's at that moment of giving up that, you know, the justice is there, you know, that I see, oh, it's here, right? And so, So that the effort in a sense, if I didn't exert it so much, I'd always think like, well, I could do a little bit more, and that's why I'm not. But once I really exhausted it, then when I let go, then here it is, and maybe I didn't need to do that at all. all the time, you know, to begin with, but I guess I did because I couldn't have let go if I didn't try so much. And that there's almost a courage in not trying for me.


A courage in just being with what is. And so, but who knows, I'm wondering what you think of that, or if I'm just lazy. Because I've explained the same things to other people that kind of said keep trying. Yeah, I didn't include, I was going to include some, I didn't want to get too all over the place with more references, but Suzuki Roshi in Then My Beginner Mind has a nice chapter you might want to go to on great effort. But he really talks about, you know, great effort is not clinging to something. It's not something you beat yourself up on. You know, it's not, even though the stories about the ancestors are, you know, you don't have to die, right? You have to die. But if we don't, if we are not attached to, just if we don't get too attached to what it is we think we're making an effort towards, but the effort is just the effort at each moment.


The problem is when we have, when we have some sort of picture, some thing we want to get, some thing that's making us go to get it, right? Rather than, you know, as Dogen says, you sit down. If you sit down, you're already, in Samadhi, you're already enlightened. You know, there isn't anything to get. So we're making the effort to put ourselves in that place, but not having an effort completes us in terms of our ability to see the big picture. Once the field of vision, once the field of practice narrows, then you know you're lost. There should be something joyful about the effort. You know, some ease with the effort. So Suzuki Roshi definitely talks about that.


Yeah, thank you very much. Thank you for bringing up the joyful part. I've been wondering about that a little bit. I teach a little mindfulness to teachers and stuff, and I was thinking of suggesting enjoying your breath. Absolutely. Because when I first started, the teacher I worked with used to say that, oh, enjoy. And I thought, yeah, maybe. But I wasn't sure. You should be, in a sense, we should be enjoying our practice. We should sit down, and it should be a joyful expression, and yet great doubt comes. So we go back and forth, and we bring ourselves back to our big mind and our breath, and then some ease. When there's ease, there can be joy. And open up the space for joy. Sandeep.


Hi, sorry, I'm unmuting myself. I wanted just to thank you for your talk. It really resonated deeply with how Bodhidharma, or was it the student of Bodhidharma that felt like his bones were being crushed from the inside out? Yeah, I definitely feel like my body right now is in that state. I'm still recovering from COVID. And it's been a hard time. And I really appreciate your words. They really resonated. Well, don't let your bones get too broken. Be careful. I feel like I'm turning into stardust. That's okay. Thank you. Sometimes in some of the poems, they talk about sitting so long that your bones, you disintegrate. It's a scary feeling and I emphasize or resonate with the fear aspect as well. So if you feel like you're disintegrating, that's just another fear.


I feel it deep in my bones and muscles. I appreciate your words. I felt like I was going crazy. I'm like, am I the only one who's feeling this way? You and Bodhi Dharma. And I'm Indian too. Okay, great. Thank you, Jerry. Ed Herzog. Thanks, Jerry. Wonderful talk. I have a question. What does it take to face cruelty and act to stop cruelty and to not hate the person who's being cruel? Well, yeah, that's a long question. You know, I think


I think if we have faith in the human, I mean, just let me start off with the essentials and practices. If you have faith in that person, that everybody can be awakened, that there's awakening possible, that there's Buddha nature in everybody, then you don't demonize, you don't come at things with demonizing and othering in that way. allows you to be skillful? If it's an in-person thing, are you talking about an in-person thing or a far away thing? Well, kind of both, but I'm... Both, actually. Both. I have a number of times said something Somebody said it, it wasn't me though.


It came out of my mouth. I've had the experience of seeing, for example, a woman be totally disrespectful to a salesperson in a store. Just horrible. And I just, you know, and she had the woman do all these things and bring out these things and then she said, you're not doing me Anything, anything that I, that I want you to do, you're just incompetent. And then she started walking out and I, and I just said, you must be a really sad person. And she looked back and she stopped and she looked at me and she said, I'm not sad. I think, I think you're a really sad person. And then she turned around and walked away. I've had those experiences. I think you can say things. You know, I have my story that I tell sometimes about the homeless people who are gonna kill each other, you know, and walking and saying, stop that.


You know, there are times when you can say something, it may not work, but you can honor your own, you can maybe be encouraging if it's not an act of mean act. You know, you don't want to give back hate with hate, right? But you can say, you know, that, you know, you can say whatever is appropriate with that situation. And I think it's important actually for people to do that. I think we've had a number of things in the Zendo, for example, where maybe some of us might have spoken up, you know, where something was said by someone, either a speaker or a participant, that maybe wasn't wholesome, maybe hurtful, possibly hurtful to others, there's something to be done. But calmly and generously, hoping that maybe what you say might turn them.


Does that help? Thank you. Gary. Yes. I just had a couple of comments that I thought your talk was great, and it was nice how you weaved these various ways of looking at Dharma. Whenever this kind of stuff is spoke about, I always think of these two expressions that I read somewhere a long time ago, and one was, if I don't do it, who will? And other people aren't me. Now, that one sounds a little bit anti-interconnectedness, but maybe not. But I'll just put that aside for a second.


The last three months, I've been put in corners and having to face really hard things that are painful. I fought it for a long time, really, really fought back and did everything the doctors told me to do. And then finally I just said, you know, F it. I'm, you know, I'm going to just let it fall the way the chips fall. And that was a relief. But, you know, I don't think one was so much better than the other. Although I did get relief from the, uh, Just let the universe have its say. Are you finished yet? Do you want to say more? Yeah. One other thing too is prior to pain issues, I was on a narcotic and it was for pain, but I wasn't experiencing a lot of pain.


But at night, I would have these kind of like hallucinations that would really captivate me in bed. And the only thing I could do was turn directly to my breath and just keep going back to my breath. And then I just fall asleep. So anyway. I don't know if those are worth bringing up, but a lot of them were actually touched on by Kurt. Yeah. I mean, I think you were in one of these situations of no exit for a while. Yeah. Which is a really, really kind of an unusual situation. Not unusual, we face it. But I mean, you're caught in this situation. which is, you know, we can call that a gift, right? Suzuki Roshi says all our problems are a gift.


Who wants cancer, but you know. You can't give it back though. No, it's not something you can fix, which actually is, I mean, you can, it's something you can be with, you can create a healing, environment by various methods from a doctor or otherwise. But really there is, it's like there's a whole, I mean, it's almost overwhelming the number of kind of issues that come up for a person. You can't eat, you can't walk, the pain is intolerable. And it feels like, whoa, this is way too much. And you, but it isn't way too much. Yeah, the next day you might have like a burst of energy and you balance your checkbook, you write all your, you pay all your bills and you say, wow, where did that come from?


Right, right, and yes. And so it is actually, it's really a teacher in that when it's, when you're having the discomfort, pay attention to the discomfort and act with the discomfort and do what you need to do for that particular issue. Just totally that issue without thinking about anything else, okay? This is what has my attention. This is where I have to, this is my practice. And then your practice, impermanence happens and something else comes up. And then that's what you're paying attention to without holding on to, you know, and it's why how you can find yourself an incredible amount of pain. And then someone calls you on the phone and you get engaged in the conversation and you didn't, you didn't seem to have any pain that whole conversation. So, so we have, our minds are incredible.


And the more we hold onto a particular thing and and get attached to it and hang on to it. Yeah, kind of what Kurt was talking about. Yeah, then the more it takes over, the more it narrows our field, it takes over, it wins. And that's not our practice. It's not to let it win, it's to be able to just recognize it as impermanent, recognize it as something that we have some, we do or do not have any control of. Whatever it is if we have no control you let go of the control idea because that adds more pain That is more tension and that results in more actual pain So You're very brave encouraging Work in an incredible way and we're all watching you and we're all learning from you. Okay?