Cultivating the Mind and Practice of the Six Paramitas: Practicing Generosity From the Inside Out

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Good morning and welcome to the first official day of Aspects of Practice. And interesting to me about this is that a kind of a funny thing happened on the way to my arriving and so I'm kind of feeling like I had these notes but I had an opportunity, I've had an opportunity kind of all morning to practice with the paramitas in various ways. So when I walked in this morning, I didn't walk in, I tried to get here early enough to get changed in time and so forth, but there were police cars all around and there were lights blinking and I had this, watched myself have a series of responses. Fear, oh my God, somebody, you know, do I see an ambulance or did someone get sick?


Second, Nancy was killed just how many years ago and it's a few weeks after that anniversary. Someone was hurt. There was a break in. The drug people around the corner had a shootout. I don't know. My mind went through all of this. And it was interesting to watch my grounding go. You know, what? I had to just stop in the middle of the street and breathe for a while. And say, whoa. I have a lot of fear. Whoa, I haven't gotten over the trauma of Nancy's death. Look at that. I have some work to do. You know, and then I felt, then there was a lot of blame. I should be, you know, why should this be affecting me this way? My goodness, I've gotten over this.


You know, I like to help other people get over things. What, what's going on here? I'm, I'm coming up here to lead the Sashin. Who am I? Terrified outside in my car. And thinking it's just, it was a surprise. It took me by surprise because I thought I've seen other cars, but this is my, this is my practice place. So it felt danger, danger to the practice place, fear, wanting to, feeling powerless, all of these things. And so that's kind of how we practice, isn't it? It's like while it's happening, hopefully in real time, these thoughts are coming, these responses, these feelings, these kind of emotional reactions, which can unsettle, be terribly unsettling. And then I walked in and through the gate and I found, you know, I stopped being, I finished breathing deeply, was able, you know, to find a parking space and come in and there was Ryushin smiling and Lori and I thought, oh, okay,


Okay, I'm home. This is, this is the Sangha. This is, this is the everything, you know, everything is, people are holding this. So I can be honest about how I feel, I'm feeling. I can feel insecure or frightened. It's okay. It's all part of the practice. So it's all coming in together. And I'm sure various people, other people who came in and saw that had similar kinds of reactions. Not the same, of course, because I have my own conditioning. But similar kind, their own series of feelings and perceptions and mental formations that came out of that experience. So it took me a while. And I don't usually use the teaching stick. Mel gave me this teaching stick, but I kind of forget it.


So there's another thing to notice. Why don't I feel like I can't hold the teaching stick? What's going on here? Why would I forget it? Why am I not using it? Why does it feel awkward? What's that about? Maybe I need to take care of that. Maybe I need to attend to that. Maybe I need to look at what's going on behind that. So I was really busy practicing for the first period of Zazen. Then I got kind of, you know, then we were eating and I thought, I really want to be processing this stuff. So I had a moment of, my mind went from the mindfulness that's required to do orioke and boom, just immediately a chopstick fell. So then I had something else to work on, which was how stupid I felt because I'm sitting in front of everyone and a chopstick fell.


So, you know, it's like, oh, I can't handle trauma. I'm afraid of the teaching stick and I drop things. Well, you know, and I've been practicing for 25 years. So, somebody asked me, you know, why are we studying the Paramitas? Don't we all know those? Haven't we all mastered those already? Somebody said that to me this morning. I said, are you kidding? So then I was getting myself all together and I thought, well, I'm just going to sit quietly. I'm going to breathe. I'm going to be quiet by myself for a couple of periods. And as I was leaving to go down the stairs, Hozon said, good luck. And I said, why do I need good luck? What, he doesn't think I can do it?


Then I said to 10, do you think I need good luck? And he said, what did you say? And I said, I thought I was here to make an offering. You know, I thought I was here to let go of self and not care about how good my talk was, but actually just to talk about the Paramitas in a way that would be beneficial. And I hope it's beneficial. But now I have to worry about whether it's good. So I walked in. I kind of, oh, I kind of forgot my teaching. I said, I forgot to tell Tim to get my teaching stick. So he had to go and get the teaching stick again. So I had to confront that again. And then I walked in and I looked at the flowers and I was really upset because they're dying.


And I thought, why are these dying flowers here? Oh, whoops. I have a judging mind that doesn't like impermanence and death isn't really on my plate today. And I really do not want flowers that remind me of impermanence. So it never stops, does it? It's like starts when you get up in the morning and if you're paying attention, you're dealing with it all day long. That's what we're doing, you know, isn't it? And it's very humbling. I mean, I know, I tell, I always tell people part of practice is being humble and really forgetting yourself, right? Let go of it, let go of it, you know, let go of yourself. But that's not so easy. Um, and it creeps up because we're so conditioned. And, um, And we're born with a set of primal responses, self-care responses, right?


We're born with that. So that's one thing. And then our parents are constantly telling their kids, take care of yourself. That's dangerous. That's not dangerous. Take care of yourself. All this self-centeredness that we get. And so that doesn't go away. I mean, it can be practiced with, but we're going to face it all the time. And really, the purpose of the Paramitas is to give us a set of skills or a set of focuses for our practice that call our attention to what's going on behind the face. you know, what's going on behind these things that are our responses, our actions that are surprising to us, our judgments, what's behind that? How do we, and it gives us these ways of looking at, basically looking at how we behave in the world, how we actually operate in the world.


It's fine to have these lofty ideals of emptiness and oneness and interdependence. It's fine to have those, but where the rubber meets the road, that's in our daily life. That's when practice really counts. And we have to constantly be reminding ourselves of it. So that's what I learned on the way. So I do have some notes. Just to catch everybody up who's not, who hasn't been here for 25 years, in terms of where these paramitas come from. These ideas, these ideal behaviors come from the earliest Mahayana Buddhist teachings. And there are some in the earlier teachings as well, not so much as a construct of one, two, three, four, you know, but they all exist from the earliest Buddhist teaching.


But we talk about them in Zen as part of the Mahayana tradition. And they appear in a lot of the sutras that we have studied or will study, the Mahayana sutras, if you look for them. In the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, which the Heart Sutra is taken from, it appears, these things appear very clearly in the Lotus Sutra, in the Vimalakirti Sutra, in the Diamond Sutra, in all of these old, all of these. ancient Mahayana sutras. So this is not something that somebody made up. I have a pet peeve about people forgetting about the fundamental teachings and being caught by the latest book by some current contemporary. It's very wonderful that we have all these books by contemporaries, but these are the basic teachings. And so familiarizing ourself with them


is really important. This is really the bottom line of practice. So there is a quote from the Buddha, from the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, where somebody asked the Buddha directly, how many bases for training are there for those seeking enlightenment? And the Buddha responds, there are six. Generosity, or dana. Morality or ethics, shila. Tolerance or patience, kshanti. Energy or effort or zeal, virya. Meditation or concentration, jhana. And wisdom, pranayama. So these six qualities are presented in these sutras as the ideal qualities of a bodhisattva.


That's how a bodhisattva practices. That's what it takes. Practicing these is what it takes to act as a bodhisattva in the world. So we have to take them seriously. They're not just some one, two, three, four, five, one, two, three, five of these. These are really fundamental. They're fundamental to our practice in our day-to-day life. So the word paramita has two elements. One is param, which means the other side, and ita, which means gone. So it's gone to the other side. their practices, and another interpretation is adding the word parama, which is excellence or kind of supreme excellence or perfection. So these are called the six perfections of wisdom.


They're not really perfections, of course. They're ideals. They're not a place we get to. They're a place where we are attempting to be all the time. And so a lot of times we talk about the Parmitas. Hosanna yesterday added pranayama to the Parmitas wisdom. Well, no, to describe the six, yeah, to describe, and Suzuki Roshi uses pranayama, for example, pranayama paramita, dana paramita. The message is we have to continue, there's dana, there's kind of a wisdom practice, but there's also wisdom involved in all of these. They all involve the core of right view or right understanding.


So often, I like this, I like metaphors, some people don't, but hopefully. Anyway, there's often a metaphor used for practicing the paramitas, or for practicing anyway as being in a raft, being a raft crossing from the shore of suffering to the shore of nirvana. And in some of the old teachings, they actually think about the paramitas as you use each one as a raft to cross. But we don't really get there, right? We, this imagining of crossing some difficult stream, the metaphor of water all the time, of water being impermanent, of water being unpredictable, of water flowing at different rates, of water forming ripples and water falling waves, that this business of taking a raft


and using something like danaparamita as a raft, that we're using these practices to help us negotiate the vicissitudes of life, basically. Just as we would use a raft, a concrete raft to negotiate water, we use a raft of a practice. So the practice serves as a way for us to negotiate this tumultuous thing that we call life. So I actually, early in my practice, actually took this very much to heart, this raft, in my meditation. I actually kind of worked with various ways of putting things on a raft. and letting go of them, that actually putting things on a raft is a way of letting go because the water takes over.


You're not really in control in the raft. You know, it's not like, as we know, Mary did a great talk on rafting as a practice. It's not like we row the raft and we're going to get there. It's really just being in the, letting yourself be in this sea of life. And you have something to sustain you. Your wisdom, your basic understanding, your practice can sustain you through this. So that's a metaphorical raft. I remember a friend of mine, After I was divorced, I was up with a friend of mine in Vermont and we used to love the river there. And she was very into angels and things. Her practice was not Buddhist.


So when I got there, she knew that I was having some difficulties. You know, that was a hard thing, even though I wanted to be divorced. It was a hard thing. And so I got to her house and she had candles lit. And she gave me this wonderful painting she had done, which I have in my office actually of kind of these angels, these beautiful angels. And so we went to the water and we made a raft and I got a picture of myself and my husband and I cut it apart and I put him on the raft and I lit a candle and we watched the raft and the raft just went down. And it was this ritual we created basically to let go, to let go of pain, the pain to somewhat to actually create a ceremony where we consciously are saying, okay, letting go is what's about.


So using that kind of raft as an image that that raft, not to kind of smash the picture or tear it up. It was kind of like, I'm honoring this and I'm letting it go. And that whole experience was actually interesting because, of course, nothing really changed, although something did. But it allowed me to just practice with it in a different way afterwards. There was something about going through a practice that acknowledged not only the difficulty of the situation or the negativity of the situation, but included honoring it, including honoring the experience and being with the experience. And that's the kind of mind that we need to practice the paramitas, that kind of mind that goes outside of the mundane to look for, to be with other ways to practice, to use our creativity in how we practice, to use, to allow our right brain to get involved.


It's not a left brain set of rules. It's allowing yourself to be with whatever it is and then use the tools, the practices that were developed or recommended by the Buddha. Use those. Those are to be, they are paths to take. They're ways for us to imagine that maybe things could be different. That we could imagine a way we could be different. The way we could imagine that the world could be different. So I wanted to say something about what practicing the Paramitas is about that, and some of the things I exposed myself to for the last while about this was really interesting to me.


The idea that practicing these paramitas is a way to build character. That character is defined as something that's not innate. but some way to improve ourselves as beings in the world, to realize our bodhisattva ideal through our behavior and our thinking. So it's actually, it's shaped and characters really faced by choices, by choices that we make. And then we see the results of those choices. We work with what happens when we make these choices. Was this a skillful choice? Am I behaving in a way repeatedly that's having kind of negative outcomes on people?


People don't like me or some negative thing happens when I do this. Maybe my thing about being really straightforward and always being really honest, maybe that doesn't work all the time. Maybe I should try tact or sensitivity, perhaps, before I name-call or before I judge. Maybe I'm not quite as, you know, a nice person as I might have thought. Maybe, you know, maybe there's some improvement here, right? I'm perfect in every way, as Suzuki Roshi said, but you could use some improvement. So this, it's really, this, this character building is really a lifetime commitment. It's not something you do. It's not something that's over. Because you, we have our conditioning. We have our habits and we have our, whatever, our, our, our spontaneous or innate kind of reactivity.


And sometimes it's just a normal way that people react. You know, if you look at babies in a nursery, I think I might have talked about this once a long time ago, but when you look at babies in the nursery, they're different. There were some studies done when I was in a pediatric residency, and they, you know, they had the red ball, and they showed one baby the red ball, and the baby said nothing. The baby just lay there. You know, they had another kid and they put the red ball in front of that kid and the kid was like, right? And then they had another baby who kind of opened their eyes and looked at it. So we're born. I mean, it's really scary, but we're really born with it. And I can see it in my grandson. He's an observer. He focuses. I mean, he's five months old and he just focuses with this great intensity on things.


He's watching, but he's not waving his arms around or he's not crying or screaming. This is kind of how he's going to be. And so we have to deal with that as who we are and be honest and open about who we are and our responses. And that's how it is. And we work with it. And so we work with my having to, you know, sit and breathe in the car, right? And when there's a police action or something, we work with the fact that I tend to shove some things under to keep on functioning at a high level. And that doesn't always work. The fear of Nancy's thing, the fear of being at that, it was almost at that same spot where the car was parked. I, you know, I, I didn't do my work. So it's a, it's a, it's an a wake up thing. I, I still have that. That's, that's, that's a way I learned how to, how to, how to survive, let's say in the world.


So, um, So all of these, all of these practices are helping us in different ways and different ones of us actually have the need for different practices. So it was interesting when we were meeting to decide the group of people that were going to teach this class originally. And we all picked which Paramita we felt we needed. And it was very interesting. I mean, some people took them early so that they really, you know, Alan said, patience. I want patience. And I said, I want, you know, I want generosity. And Mary said, effort. You know, we picked our paramita. And that said something, right? And it's not that we don't have to practice the other ones, but there's something about that. that maybe we even know we don't have to be told which one we have to work on.


We actually know. We actually are open to paying attention to, and even those spontaneous responses, you know, maybe are even more telling than a thoughtful. So I picked Donna Paramita. And Suzuki Roshi, as I said, added Prajna to it, which was interesting to me. And I think that's about, before you, there has to be some basic entry into practice before we can be ready to take character building classes. There has to be that initial commitment and that initial opening, that initial aspiration.


So I'll talk a little bit about that more in a minute. The practice of Dana is considered in many places as the entry point for the Paramitas. In other words, in some of the early Mahayana texts, They characterize practicing Dhana as the Bodhisattva, and I'll just read from the Prajnaparamita Sutra, just a brief thing. So the Bodhisattva ideal is characterized in the Prajnaparamita Sutra by profound universal compassion. Compassion so far-reaching that their daily activities demonstrate as much concern for the well-being of others as for themselves. In order to pursue the Buddhist ideal of compassion, at this exalted level, practitioners train themselves in the perfection of generosity.


So generosity is considered part of the training that opens us to to compassion, to be a compassionate bodhisattva. Generosity has to be there. So this generosity, this opening, this original opening to practice into the paramita starts with some Thought of enlightenment, right? Dogen talked about the thought of enlightenment or the spirit of activity. impulse that we have that brings us here to sit all day, that brings us here day after day, year after year to practice.


We have an aspiration. We have bodhicitta. We cultivate. When we have the thought of enlightenment, we have the thought of awakening. We have the thought of practice. That thought is really the motivator, right? That brings us in. And then as we can sit and practice, we can use that enthusiasm as a way for us to really see some hard things, to really start to look, to really be able to be stable enough to be able to open ourselves completely and not be afraid. So I wanted to share something that was another synchronicity that happened to me as I was not preparing for this, but should have been. I went to the Branching Streams Conference in Milwaukee.


Actually, it was in a convent outside of Milwaukee, but Branching Streams is a group of all the Zen centers that are related to San Francisco Zen Center. Some of them are Suzuki Roshi lineage, some of them are Katagiri, but they're people coming from all over. So after this conference, which was really wonderful and felt like we were all talking about the spirit of generosity in terms of social justice issues, so I was really feeling like I was with a group of people who had kind of were practicing generosity just by being there and then by really focusing themselves on what was going on and how can we, as Zen practitioners, be in the world when there's so much injustice? How can we live in that? How are we with it? And then what are some ways that we can address it? That's a whole other thing, but that was the purpose.


But I decided to stay and practice a little bit with the Milwaukee Zen Center. So one of the mornings I went was study day. And so the Reirin Gumbel, who is the abbess there, picked a reading from the Majjhima-rikaya, which is one of the early Pali suttas. just said, well, we're going to do this today. And so I thought, this is really interesting. Fine, I'll go. This sounds great. So I'll stay. I said, I'll stay for that. So this is the reading. Develop a state of mind like the earth, Rahula. For on the earth, people throw clean and unclean things, dung and urine, spittle, pus, and bloods. And the earth is not troubled or repelled or disgusted.


And as you grow like the earth, no contacts with pleasant or unpleasant will lay hands, will lay holes of your mind or stick to it. Similarly, you should develop a state of mind like water. For people, water throw all manner of clean and unclean things into water, and it is not troubled or disgusted. and similarly with fire, which burns all things, clean and unclean, and with air, which blows upon them all and with space that is nowhere established. Develop the state of mind of friendliness, Rahula, for as you do, ill will will grow less, and of compassion, for this vexation will grow less. and of joy, for thus aversion will grow less, and of equanimity, for thus repugnance will grow less. You want that again? Develop a state like the earth, Rahula.


For the earth, people throw clean and unclean things, dung and urine, spittle, pus, and bloods. And the earth is not troubled or repelled or disgusted. As you grow like the earth, no contacts with pleasant or unpleasant will lay holes of your mind or stick to it. Similarly, you should develop a state of mind like water, for people throw all manner of clean and unclean things into the water, and it is not troubled or disgusted. And similarly with fire, which burns all things, clean and unclean. and with air which blows upon them all, and with space which is nowhere established. Develop the state of mind of friendliness, Rahula, for as you do, ill will will grow less. And of compassion, for this vexation will grow less, and of joy, for thus aversion will grow less, and of equanimity, for thus repugnance will grow less. So that really speaks to me of, you know, kind of radical practice of generosity.


Generosity is not a thing we do. It includes the things we do that we think of as generous. But what we're really asked to do in the practice of generosity is develop that kind of radical acceptance. to actually be okay with the worst that we could imagine. That we can practice to actually be okay with that. And this kind of sent my mind all over because, you know, I was trained as a physician and From the very beginning, you know, I think of it, I think reading the Pali Sutta is interesting because the first thing you do in medical school, used to do in medical school, is dissect a dead body. So we learned through that. Impermanence for sure. And also trying to have respect, you know, how to honor, how to honor that, how to not have that be something we're taking advantage of a poor person who doesn't have anybody who claims the body kind of thing, which was some of the case in those days.


So, that's one way. And really throughout my medical school and residency years, it was as if I was being trained just for this, just for that reading. So I remember volunteering. I mean, this is what came to me as I heard this. I remember volunteering. I was part of the Students for a Democratic Society and then Medical Committee for Human Rights. We volunteered to do stuff. And somehow one time we were asked to go to the Women's Health House of Detention in Greenwich Village. And it is a hell hole, I have to say. And there were women there who had been in detention for a while before they were getting processed to be admitted. And they wanted people to do physical exams for the admission. I thought I was volunteering to care for people to see if they had any condition and needed any medical attention.


That was my intention when I went. Um, what I got was lines of women, some of whom were quite unclean because they had been arrested and detained for a long periods of time. They were prost- they were sex workers. Uh, they were drug users. They were dirty. They were shaking with withdrawal. And, um. We were supposed to just do physical exams on them. And one of the things we were asked to do is do vaginal exams because they might be sneaking drugs into the jail. And this was, you know, this was part of the women's movement was just started then. So you can, might imagine how I might feel by being put in that position. But it was, it was, it was really, it was a, it was a whole experience of, okay, here I am. What do I do in this situation? The only thing I could do is just do what I said I would do, which is do things carefully, be kind, be gentle, ask people how they were, try to give information to the prison staff of what medical conditions.


But I had to get over for myself. You know, I was used to what? I was used to, you know, medical school and clinics and stuff, you know, but seeing people from the streets being arrested and having the way they are, the way they have to live, you know, the way they have to live and actually treating them in the same way that I would treat anyone else basically, that I had to honor them. So that was one experience. Another couple of experiences I had was going out with public health nurses in South Philly, visiting houses of women with children to see if the babies were okay. And in that eye-opening those eye-opening experiences again was people living in the most desperate conditions.


Some with plumbing issues, some with electricity issues, there's not enough water, how do you take care of a baby? You know, we have these things about what you're supposed to do and the right thing you do and all of that and how do you do that in those circumstances? How do you be So, so again, it was like, okay, this is the urine and the blood and the pus. What am I going to do with this? This is the situation. And of course the public health nurses, I always loved public health nurses. They're wonderful because they do this every day. Every day they go out there and they bring, in those days, they bring formula, they bring diapers. They, they tried to get people associated, but you're having to actually, this is generosity. This is generosity, completely accepting. and not judging, like, how did they get here? You know, why didn't they go to school? Why don't they have a job? You know, why don't they live in a better place for their child?


I mean, these are things that one could think, right? Especially if you're raised in a middle-class environment. What is this? Who would ever live in a place like this with their baby? That's the kind of radical, that's the kind of mind of generosity. How can I accept that? How can I really accept that? I don't know whether I want to give you any more of that, so I'll think of it. Oh, another one I was just going to mention was interesting. Going to Wounded Knee during the occupation. The thing was run by the Indians, Native Americans, they call themselves Indians. There was a tremendous amount of misogyny. They did not, they, women were expected to cook and clean and take care of things. I was a woman doctor. going in to see the kids, going to go, going to make sure the kids were okay.


I brought, we brought immunizations, we brought medications and so forth. And I, so I was going to do that. But in order to be able to do that, I had to accept what the reality of that situation was, which is I could not start spouting women's lib stuff. Right. I had to just. The generous thing was just to go and what benefit would it have been to that to anybody for me to say, you're not going to make me clean the toilets. It just wasn't going to work. And so that was a really eye opener for me because I had been a banner waving person. So I think that's the kind of way we have to work with ourselves, almost putting ourselves in situations, being willing to be in situations. if they don't come by naturally. But if we're going to work for good, we have to cultivate that kind of compassion and generosity. Those people who need help are not, are just, they need help.


There are other beings all around us. that need help. And even us beings, we suffer and we have all of our, you know, if we, if we, if we all, you know, told our worst things about ourselves, it might, would probably be pretty bad. We're all capable of horrible thoughts. We're all capable of doing things that are selfish. We're all capable of doing the worst possible thing, right? So we have, but we love each other and we accept each other and we, hope that what we do or how we are in the world is going to be beneficial. That's all we can do. We can't get it, but we can hope. So generosity is really an opening, an opening to anything that comes and handling that with compassion and skill.


So that's what I'm going to say about that. But I did because I told you I like old things and I hope I can read this. So we have a lot of books that we're recommending. I don't know if we have a bibliography out there. I know that Greg Anson bought all the books on the on the recommended bibliography for the library, which no one can take out, but they can stay there and read. And then we're going to also have a book, the Norman Fisher book, The World Could Be Otherwise, at the book table, hopefully soon. But the first time I was introduced to the Paramitas was through Shanti Deva's Guide to a Bodhisattva Way of Life. This is not for everyone, but I am a kind of a face type. So all you face types would really enjoy this. I also like ceremony. So what Chanti Deva does is he talks about kind of the way to get to generosity.


Not only the way you get to generosity, but the way that you get to practicing all of the paramitas. And the first three chapters, he's kind of what gets us ready. He wants to get us ready. The mind, we are opening the mind, opening to the mind, cultivating bodhicitta. He calls it recognizing the benefits of the spirit of awakening. So I'll just read a couple things, just to give you a taste, and anybody who wants to read it, of course. But from the time that one adopts the spirit with an irreversible attitude for the sake of liberating limitless beings, from that moment on, an uninterrupted stream of merit equal to the sky constantly arises, even when one is asleep or distracted. The Tathagata himself cogently asserted this. The world honors the virtuous one who makes a gift for a few people, even if it is merely a momentary and contemptuous donation of plain food and support for a half day.


What then of one who forever bestows to countless beings the fulfillment of all yearnings, which is inexhaustible until the end of limitless space? And the next thing he recommends is confession, kind of a confession and repentance. which is ceremonial, right? It's like, I'm gonna now, I'm gonna become a Bodhisattva, but before I can commit myself to Bodhisattva practice, just like when we did the Jukai ceremony, before I commit myself to following the precepts, before I commit myself to practicing, first I have to confess and repent. So he talks about that. Devoid of merit and destitute, I have nothing else to offer. Therefore, may the protectors whose concerns are for the welfare of others accept this by their own power for my sake. I completely offer my entire self to the genus and their children, oh supreme beings, accept me. With prostrations as numerous as the atoms within all Buddha fields, I bow to the Buddhas present in all three directions, to the Dharma and to the Sublime Assembly.


I go for refuge to the Buddha as far as the quintessence of enlightenment. I go for refuge in the Dharma and the community of Bodhisattvas." So he basically confesses that he's not perfect and he has a lot of work to do and he asks for help and he makes a commitment. to practice. So that's the other thing that we do, we can do if we want. At the end he says, terrified of suffering all this I confess, standing with folded hands in the presence of protectors and bowing repeatedly. May the guides be aware of my transgressions together with my inequity. Oh protectors, may I not commit this evil again. So we first have to recognize if we're going to practice generosity, that we may not be the most generous. Own it, you know, own our little petty selfishness, our judgment. And then he says, in attending to the spirit of awakening, thus, upon firmly adopted the spirit of awakening, a child of the genus should always vigilantly strive not to neglect his training.


And he goes on to give us a lot of verses about what we should do to attend to our training. And after we have attended to our training, paid attention to it, he says, those who wish to protect their practice should zealously guard the mind. The practice cannot be protected without guarding the unsteady mind. Think one more. If the perfection of generosity makes the world free of poverty, how is it possible that if the protectors of the past acquired it, When the world is still impoverished today, the perfection of generosity is interpreted simply as a state of mind due to the intention of giving away everything together with the fruits of that to all people. So that's kind of a devotional approach. And that's when I kind of, I just have always found that very moving for me.


But hopefully some of you might like to read it. Are there anything anybody wants to ask? Any response? Kika. Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh huh. Well, you know, one thing I didn't talk about, but you know, we're going to have a class on generosity.


But one thing I didn't really talk about is generosity starts at home. It starts with yourself. So we can get kind of a little fixated on every little thing, right? So there's, that's what you're talking about. We can get fixated on every, irritated remark we might make, every little act of selfishness, we can get focused on that, that gets a little egocentric, right? But also we don't want to ignore it. So the question is how we hold it. We have little peculiarities, and if they're not harming, if they're really not harming, then we can look at them and say, well, you know, I'm going to pay attention to that, but not make a big, make a, not, not, not go and confess and repent and have to go through a whole thing. On the other hand, if we, if we notice that we're doing something that's, that is not generous, that is really harmful and we, you know, that's what we need to pay attention to.


So some little careless thing, you know, We can pay attention to it. Maybe we'll get around to it. But there's so many, it's hard to really keep track. So yeah, so don't beat yourself up, but attending to it when it's harmful. When there's been... Yeah. Yeah. I think I always talk about when I used to supervise a lot of people and I would have some kind of interaction with them and I knew that I was feeling really reactive.


So it wasn't really a good time to have a discussion. And I would do Kenyan around the building, you know. I would do it until I felt calm. And then sometimes I would say to them, you know, we're going to have to talk about this, but I can't do it right now. We can sit another time. So one of the things in generosity is skillful means in everything, but certainly in generosity. Is it skillful to deal with something in a certain way? Is it skillful for me to put myself in a situation or stay in a situation where I know reactivity is going to be coming up. Is there a way that I can skillfully avoid it or deal with it? And I find that for me, sometimes if something's very heated, I really do have to take my space before I can. And when I don't do that, I get in bad trouble. Yeah, Ross. I'd like to remind all of us that we're always offering something, even if it's something that we don't think is worthy of being offered.


We should be a certain way. A couple of weeks ago I gave a thoughts and instructions, someone told me to do a Zen center, and people were bowing, it was so effective. Yeah. Well, and that's really what generosity is, right? We're offering it without benefit to ourselves. We just say, I hope. No, I hope that what I'm doing is helpful. But we have a society in which, you know, evaluation, you know, who has the best YouTube video or something, you know, who has the coolest response to something.


That's how we, so we want to, the temptation for us is to get caught, I think, get caught in that, get caught in being the best or the coolest or the whatever, you know, or comparisons, which is not being generous to ourselves at all. You know, we're okay. Yeah, so thank you. By the way, I was going to tell you I was cheating when you did that, when you were doing that Zazen instruction, and I just thought it was one of the best Zazen instructions I really heard. That's a great offering.