The Dharma Of Listening and Speaking

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The discussion delves into the profound topics of mindful speaking and listening, invoking Zen teachings and various religious perspectives to underscore the ethical dimensions of communication. The lecturer elaborates on the valuable lessons from Dainin Katagiri Roshi’s books "Returning to Silence" and "You Have to Say Something," emphasizing the transition from silent receptivity to active engagement through speech. Key points include:

- Analysis of "Returning to Silence" highlights the significance of silent openness and acceptance in Zen practices, suggesting an approach to absorbing the world’s sounds and cries without prejudice.

- Exploration of "You Have to Say Something" discusses the necessity of speaking and acting from a place of Zen practice, completing the cycle of silence and articulation.

Further, the conversation integrates thoughts from Thich Nhat Hanh on mindful speech and listening, as well as references from traditional Jewish and Buddhist teachings on ethical speech. The complexities of speaking truthfully and the permanent nature of spoken words are explored, alongside strategies for fostering compassionate and beneficial speech in communal settings like the Berkley Zen Center’s Listserv guidelines.

Central references include:
- Dainin Katagiri Roshi’s books: "Returning to Silence" and "You Have to Say Something."
- Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on mindful speech.
- Shunryu Suzuki Roshi’s insights from a 1967 lecture on relinquishing personal biases while listening.
- "Guard Your Tongue" by Zelig Pliskin, offering a commentary on ethical speech in a Jewish context.

The conversation culminates with practical guidelines for engaging in right speech, such as assessing the truth, usefulness, and timeliness of one’s words and maintaining awareness of their potential impact on others. This discourse advocates for a disciplined, compassionate approach to communication reflective of deep Zen principles.

AI Suggested Title: "Zen Ethics of Speech: Silence to Expression"


Good morning, everyone Good morning Um, you can mute yourselves for now if you will So this morning My subject is the dharma of listening and speaking Some of you, those of you who are on the Berkley Zen Center Listserv Received our Guidelines For participation in the Listserv, which I'll talk about later and these were Guidelines that had been framed and Discussed widely over the last couple months and they reflect


A way to Have a dharmic approach to speaking and to articulate that for For our Community, but I wanted to step back and look at the context I've spoken before a number of times about the teachings that I see embedded in the Title of Daini and Kategiri Roshi's first two books Just by reading the titles you can Find something to reflect on but you should read the books, the books are really good First his first book was called Returning to Silence And his second book was called You Have to Say Something


So Returning to Silence Is Stepping into the mind of receptivity The open mind, the mind of zazen Uh-huh, and you could say it's Well, yeah, I would say it's hearing Listening is a component of that but listening is kind of the the active component of hearing which is just If you take a moment Right now where you are What are the sounds in your environment Refrigerator humming Sound of my labored breathing


Car going by All of these are The functioning of our open mind and in fact all of our senses Are in this receptive mode and our bodhisattva Bodhisattva Essence is also in this receptive mode if you think of the bodhisattva of Compassion Avalokiteshvara or Khenan, Kuan Yin She's often referred to as One who sees the cries of the world So it's a kind of actually synesthesia To see the cries of the world It's just the cries of the world arise in her open mind and


She sees them So that is Returning to silence and that's the fundamental training that we have in Zazen But we also know that Zazen and Zazen mind is not something that is Confined to Well, you could used to be able to say confined to the walls of the zendo, but We haven't been within those walls for 19 months now so Is Zazen confined to our zoom screen? I don't know you know but The full unfolding of Zazen Is also in our life And in our life We're bound to have activities


so That activity is Why it's incumbent upon us to say something We have to say something we have to do something We have to do our Zazen with our bodies It's an activity. So this is this is also the active side of our practice and it Is what completes this continuous circle of the way The way that They begin at any one point on the circle and Continues around and then continues again we're always moving between Returning to silence and Having to say something So in a sense, I


think that what I'm talking about today is an extension of What Ron was speaking of or at least a thread of what Ron was speaking of last week as? It is in his really fine lecture on ordinary mind He Was talking about talking about how we listen and how we accept things and how we fold all of these All of our perceptions all of our receptions all of our thoughts into Our ordinary mind or a mind that includes everything I found a Quotation from Shunryu Suzuki Roshi that I want to read to you. Uh-huh. This is from a lecture that he gave in


February of 1967 and I'm beginning here beginning here with the functioning of listening Because I think this is where we start we have to be able to listen Before we can say anything We have to be able to listen So Suzuki Roshi says when you listen to someone You should give up all your preconceived ideas and your subjective opinions This is really hard actually just to to clear the decks and Remove yourself and just See just hear and listen to what's been said All of your preconceived remove give up all your preconceived ideas and your subjective opinions You should just listen to him or her You should just observe what this person's way is We put very little emphasis on right and wrong good and bad I


Think what he's suggesting is We have to ratchet back Our habit of evaluation of right and wrong good and bad In this I think it's in the context of this listening He said we put very little emphasis on right and wrong good and bad in that moment it's not like There's no right and wrong there's no good or bad we should throw this out We should think that everything is the same said in the moment of listening to someone Try to set aside your evaluative mind Just hear Or see The cries of the world just See that person as he or she is Not filtered through your own judgments


We just see things as they are with this person and accept them This is how we communicate with each other Usually when you listen to some statement you hear it as a kind of echo of yourself You are actually listening to your own opinion And you know, this is I can certainly own that myself just I hear something I Evaluated And I apply a whole lot of my own standards and my own opinions And I also the practice is to try to set that aside To recognize recognize the arising of that Because of my


Self-centered ideas and I try to set it aside So you're actually listening to your own opinion if it agrees with your opinion you may accept it But if it does not you reject it or you may not even really hear it You may not even really hear it That's really ooh That's kind of piercing to me We think we're listening we're not The tip not on speaks of this In his Gloss on the On the precepts he calls the precepts mindfulness trainings Because they're actually practices that develop our awareness of ourselves and


our ability to Work with ourselves to Get ourselves out of the way. So here he moves and is combining listening and speaking So in his fourth mindfulness training, which is called deep listening and loving speech Tip not on says aware of the suffering Caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others Because aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech my unmindful speech and My ability my inability to listen to others I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and to relieve others of their suffering I


would Extend that to say if I can do that, it's a great relief to me Takes the weight of my own opinions off my shoulders Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering I vow to learn to speak truthfully with words that inspire self-confidence Joy and hope So I would add to that that Words are like Arrows That once you have released an arrow Aimed it and released it. You cannot call it back Once you have said something It moves towards its target


And sometimes the better we are with words The more likely it is to hit its target and to wound And you can't call it back And Once you have Arrived at your target It's possible that in time there can be healing I Think that it's also likely that it will be scar tissue Or there be a scar The wound will be there and that wound cannot be completely undone So This is what I think Thich Nhat Hanh is Means when he says that knowing that words can create happiness or suffering. I vow to learn to speak truthfully


with words that inspire self-confidence joy and hope I Am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain Not to criticize or condemn things of what I am not sure I Will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord Or that can cause the family or the community to break I Will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts however small So in a sense these last These last pronouncements are a reframing of


The principles Of right speech that We have in our precepts and also we have As the As the third step of the eightfold path right speech So you may be familiar in our precepts the ones we Chant in our ceremonies and we chant in a holy supper ceremony The fourth precept is I vow to refrain from false speech Huh and Dogen's commentary in that these commentaries are lovely The Dharma wheel turns from the beginning There is neither surplus nor lack The sweet dew saturates all and harvests the truth So


To vow to refrain from false speech is to allow is to allow The truth to Terminate and grow the sixth precept is I vow not to slander Dogen's commentary there is in the Buddha Dharma Go together appreciate realize and actualize together Do not permit haphazard talk Do not corrupt the way So this haphazard talk this slander is corrupting the way in in Dogen's Commentary Ha Slander is I'm going to come back to it because it's spoken of in in a number of different traditions and


The seventh of our grave precepts is I vow not to praise self at the expense of others All Buddhas and ancestors Realize the same limitless sky When they realize their true body there is nothing inside or outside Or a bit of earth on the ground So this is The assertion of the wisdom of equality That Praising Ourself at the expense of others Self aggrandizing Etc is A denial of Fundamental equality of all beings


That equality is an essential It's it's an equality of essence It's not a quality of ability. It's not a quality a quality necessarily of Of intelligence or of skill or of athletic prowess or of a Lot of other things that we usually use to weigh our worth It's just saying that We Are essentially all Buddhists we are all the same of the same stuff and thereby worthy of deep respect and of Worthy of making the effort not to elevate ourselves You So just to restate these principles again


We vow to abstain from false speech not to tell lies or deceive We vow not to slander others Or speak in a way that is divisive calls causes disharmony or enmity We vowed to abstain from rude or impolite or abusive language And the most difficult of all We vow not to indulge in idle talk or gossip That's really hard Because it happens it it just kind of Leaks out without us really knowing I once heard a lecture of the Possum teacher Joseph Goldstein


Who was talking about speaking and he said he tried this really really difficult practice for a year and the practice was Never to say anything About a person who was not physically present in the room You know what in other words if that person wasn't right there His practice was not to say anything about them just Think about how hard that is And think about how often We are speaking about people who aren't present There's another set of instructions from the Buddha


Which is found in the Abhaya Sutta which is in them. It's in the middle length The Majjhima Nikaya, the middle length Sutras And It breaks things down In in another way that I think is useful it's basically boils down to The Basis of of our speaking should be An evaluation of whether something is true Useful Timely And spoken of with a kind or With a kind mind or a mind that intends benefit


And I'm not going to go through this whole thing, but it's it's In the way that Pali sutras sometimes are it's it's very methodical So he says in the case of words that Tathagata knows to be unfactual untrue Unbeneficial unendearing and disagreeable to others. He does not say them In the case of words that Tathagata knows to be factual true but Unbeneficial unendearing and disagreeable to others. He does not say them In the case of words that Tathagata knows to be unfactual untrue unbeneficial But endearing endearing and agreeable to others He does not say them so you get that you get the flavor of this And it's it's really interesting because a few years ago I


came on a little book I Can't remember how I came on it But I think the find it it's the title of this book is guard your tongue and It's by it's it's Published by an obscure Jewish religious publisher and the author Is contemporary his name is rabbi Zellig Plissken And what this book is is a commentary on a commentary Which is this is a very Jewish thing Commentary to comment on it's actually a very Buddhist thing, too You could ask what's the nature of the world? Well, it's commentaries all the way down, you know So, uh


He's commenting on The work a work called the prophets. I am Which translates as the desire of life and this was a 19th century book by rabbi rabbi mayor Tagan it's it's a Masterful compendium on The Ins and outs of what's called lush on Ara which is wrong and slanderous speech And the title desire of life Draws from the lines from lines of psalm 34 Says who is the man who desires life who loves days to see goodness Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceitfully


shun evil and do good Seek peace and pursue it As usual these are just beautiful words of the Psalms I Was looking at the introduction To guard your tongue today I Thought I'd read you a little story. This is a story about Rabbi Kagan Huh a businessman from Warsaw once handed the rabbi a List of the books that he wanted to buy After taking a quick glance at the list The rabbi asked him. I noticed you offered you ordered every one of my books


except for the profits claim the laws of lush on Ara wrong speech Why did you leave out such an important book? Man said I would really like to buy that book also was a reply, but I'm afraid to You see I come in contact with many people every day And in my position, it's impossible For me not to speak and hear lush on Ara Rabbi said I'm fully aware of that problem. I've even spoken to my friend Rabbi Israel Salonter about it. He said this It's worthwhile for somebody to read your book on lush on Ara Even if the only result will be a sigh when he completes it


So we are going to It's like all of the precepts Sometimes people are reluctant to to do a precept ceremony or to have a lay ordination because they have to take these bodhisattva precepts and They're concerned. I can't keep them I can't keep the precepts on right speech. I can't keep the You know, what's it mean if I have If I have a glass of wine does that mean I'm breaking the precept on non-intoxicating self or others And the fact is Our response The response to our shortcomings Are better expressed


By a sigh or by a laugh laughing at ourselves then judging ourselves and Berating ourselves for not being able to keep something. In fact, you cannot keep anything You The precepts including these precepts on speech are there to give us something to return to And this is actually the spirit to me of These listserv guidelines that um We circulated And They're going to be on the website if they're not on the website now


uh And they're offered as the first sentence says in the spirit of community harmony inclusivity and the expression of right speech So I'm not going to go through all this, uh, You know point by point but they're about the first point is To avoid speech that's intentionally hurtful In other words You know that you are aiming you are You are bow and arrow Because you want to inflict the wound We're going to we vow That's not the spirit with which we are Saying things on listserv should also say that the listserv is is basically


intended for the sharing of information And for needs and services And personal announcements or announcements of practice events, uh It's not really designed for Extensive Dharma dialogue, but sometimes that happens And when that does happen That's that's okay Uh But these listservs are these guidelines are here to Encourage us to remind us of the spirit of our discourse, so uh To speak with the intention to connect To support safety To recognize that there's There can be a difference Between our intention


and our impact The intention and the impact of our words Intention is not intention is really important But we should also recognize That we don't always know How things are going to land this is where what let me just circle back a moment and go to those four Stipulations of the buddha for speaking the stipulation to to speak when you When something is when your words are true useful timely And a beneficial intention This sounds great It sounds really oh, it's very simple language. It's very clear Until you really think about it When you really think about it Uh one can quite legitimately question


What is true It's, you know true In my perception may not be exactly true in lori's perception But what is useful? well From whose perspective all of this is a question all of these things the The question of perspective and perception are critical and they Lead us to question true useful timely you know I may think something is timely uh But uh Carol paul might not think it's timely You know or maybe timely for me but it ain't for her, you know, uh


and A beneficial intention. That's the one that you can really check yourself. That's probably the closest you can get Is to know what your intention is is my intention to connect or divide this is a fundamental dharma issue The essence of dharma is about connecting not dividing um But this where we come this is where we come to the fact that there may be a distinction between my intention And the impact so we consider that The guidelines go on to uh Offer a that we commit to avoiding harsh language Uh And i'm not going to spell out all of that, but it might be uh


and suggests that we The practice of right view Is to ask clarifying questions Rather than Relying on our assumptions this circles around back to suzuki roshi's quotation, you know Asking clarifying questions Is a way of finding out What the other person is thinking? rather than relying on My assumptions or my habitual understanding The purpose of Any kind of dharma discourse Things that may come up And be discussed on the list serve things that come up in in


Things that may come up in the q a for this talk Uh in our open discussions in our forums In all of our meetings all of our many meetings uh is How do we deepen our practice How do we create a context in which we can? Really continue this circle of returning to silence And saying something One of the things that i've found really enjoyable Over the years is and I do this like I did it today This talk Emerges From a period of southern And so it's really helpful to inhabit


Zazen mind Before one opens one's mouth And I just find when I do that What comes out is more measured Uh I can't say necessarily it's more useful But it comes from It has the opportunity to come from the same place that one's voice does when one is chanting Comes from your hara comes from your belly comes from the seat of your being And So we want to have the ability To speak from there also we want to listen so that the things that we hear Also go all the way through our body


So I think I just I think I want to close by just uh Rereading these verses that inspired Chafetz Chaim Just the verse from These few lines from psalm 34 Who is the person Who desires life Who loves Each day to see goodness Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceitfully Shun evil and do good Seek peace and pursue it or you could say Hear peace And embody it so Thank you and uh


We have time for question and answer and i'll turn it over to Heiko to Be the master of ceremonies Good morning, everyone. Thank you for attending to our lecture Please feel free to ask questions. I will call on you in order We'll go with christian evans first Go ahead chris Uh, thank you Heiko-san uh, I want to extend my gratitude to our Listserv Sangha and some of its influencers that over the past months and years there's less less that's That's being shared That is contentious or uh partisan Uh granted that you know 97 of Berkeley people vote a certain way So it gets really comfortable, uh to share something That you think is not political or contentious


but in fact it is Uh, if you intend to think that it wasn't political Or constantly reinforcing a one-sided view But if the recipients have legitimate reason to think so and they're not alone But what I want to focus on is that we have made Um tremendous progress And quieting the muddy waters so that we can see more of the notices that are among us So I want to thank you Thank you for that christian, I really I appreciate that and uh I I appreciate Your willingness to express yourself Uh, even in places where uh I might not I might have a different view and at the same time I want to


um I want to listen within the spirit that Suzuki roshi was outlining And in that context, I think there's Room for everybody. So, thank you Thank you Thank you, chris, uh to osha, please go ahead Thank you, um How's that I really appreciated your talk and I love the quote from the rabbi and um speaking about hurrah Um, I don't observe. Um Yom kippur anymore, but I really appreciate the timing Yeah I I want to talk about embody embodying the bodhisattva vows I realized when you spoke that I missed the chant the bodhisattva chant


I used to walk through the woods In the adirondacks Chanting it or trying to remember it And it meant a lot to me. Um Also, I was trying to let the bears know and the hunters that I was there uh, but I I just wonder if you have ideas about Incorporating our bodhisattva vows. It means a lot I'm, not well, wait a second. First of all There's something you said What'd you say at the beginning of your of your comment before you talked about the bodhisattva vows Uh, well one thing I said was I appreciate the the conversation about Right, um, thank you. So


The thing that I like about this guard your tongue book just to say is it's It is just lists every one of these things that we think are so small and uh You know inconsequential And it it has a very Very Vernacular Commentary which are just stories, you know, so and so said such and such and um You begin to see how pervasive It it's like what the what the buddha was saying you know if you If you know something to be untrue And untimely but endearing You know and welcome Etc. It's it parses this completely. So it's really interesting The book is called guard your tongue. And I think I don't know if it's I don't know if the text is available online, but the book is available


It may not be cheap. Um I'm, not sure If we do we chant the bodhisattva vows we're going to chant them at the end of this lecture Are you talking about the bodhisattva vows or bodhisattva ceremony? I think the ceremony. Okay but the vows too, I mean that's That's where I It struck me your comment about the importance of embodiment It's like that's where it just became part of my being. Yeah so many years ago Well, what I would say is we'll come back to it as soon as we're back, you know, we will reinstitute the bodhisattva ceremony It hasn't gone anywhere bodhisattvas are all waiting and they're very patient with us Thank you, susan, I will ask matt and then we have a question in the chat matt, please go ahead Thank you so much, this is this is such a helpful talk


Uh, and I I just had two thoughts from the islamic tradition Can you hear me? Okay. Yeah. Yeah, great. Um, this is a this is a uh Issue that's discussed a lot in the islamic tradition and there are two stories that I thought of one is Some followers of the prophet muhammad were told by him. Don't don't backbite And they said well suppose what we say about the person is true He said if it's true, it's backbiting and if it's false, it's calumny right so making that distinction and the and the Hazrat ali said once I wish I had a neck as long as a giraffe So I would have that much time to think about what I was going to say before I said it That's great man Thank you. I found this so helpful today. Thank you. Thank you. It's good to see you. Um, the um The hafiz haim is very much like


those stories You know, it's it's it's totally in the same spring. It's it's parsing Those distinctions if you say one thing it's this problem But if you say if you say something else, it's this problem. It's it's very it's wonderfully detailed You might you would enjoy it. I know Thank you, mad, we'll take this one question from the chat Blake asks, how do we apologize when we have not used beneficial speech? How do you apologize for anything, uh, you have to You have to risk Shall I say Lowering yourself But really it's not lowering yourself. You have to risk leveling yourself Placing yourself at the same level uh and That's scary to us


Uh I would say I mean one of the things Again, and i've talked about this quite a bit Do zazen Before you apologize settle your mind and Bring up The thought how do I want to be received? Instead of just kind of plunging in You know, how do I want how do I want to receive how what is my intention here my intention is to connect uh, if my attention is to connect then um Not just to redress a grievance And we have better chance of an out of a fruitful outcome But there's a risk involved so


Take it in and get support, you know, talk to your friends talk to your teachers Mm-hmm Thank you, thank you blake for that question i'm going to call on taryn we don't hear from taryn so often please go ahead taryn Hi, hi. Um, see you. Hi. It's good to see you The question I had was when you described, um, kind of the metaphor of speech as an arrow where once you've released it You can't take it back The reaction I have to that is to think. Oh, I need to make sure I think really carefully about what I said For that reason But I also notice in a lot of my life and conduct that I am more prone towards not saying something Because I keep thinking and thinking and thinking and that not saying something is also a form of speech and there's moments where i'm like I Probably should have said something but I didn't because I thought about it until it was no longer timely So I was wondering what you would say about that tension Well, what I would say about is that both of them have the same root which is


Well, they both can be reached they both can be corrected by the same practice at root which is um To recognize Our our conditioning our habitual mind Which which also includes uh The various circumstances and uh Conditions of our of our life, you know where Which might involve One aspect might involve gender race You know different different at different things that socially Can serve to silence but fundamentally then you have to think do I want to be Pushed around by do I want to be controlled by


My habits my conditioning or do I want to live by vow So to identify the vow Is our practice once you've identified the vow Then you have a much clearer way of distinguishing Whether to speak or not Rather than habitual Either habitual doubts which would lead to silencing or habitual urgencies Does that make sense it does thank you so To boil it down um I think in dogan he says Our normal eye Well, let me not quote dogan because I can't even quote it, uh, I don't I can't quite get it basically we will do


What we are trained to do And if we're training ourself in our habits and our fears and the oppression we may experience That's one thing if we're training ourselves in the bodhisattva way That's living by vow Thank you, taryn, uh heather, please go ahead with your question Good morning hosan Um So this, uh this idea of right speech is um a lifelong journey for me and probably many of us and I feel like There's an arc That i'm riding along learning my relationship to it And at this stage in life some of my strongest right speech muscles


come from having used Wrong speech muscles and learn from it right and um My question is about You know i'm raising A middle school age kid. I supervise people who are younger than me I'm around people who are at a different stage in their life who May want to say things that wouldn't fall in the right speech category and i'm uh, if if that even is a category I'm wondering how you've thought about um In a way mentoring people along the path when words can be so important in Manifesting oneself at a particular stage of development I guess first I would empathize with them Because I was once like that and I am not


uh I don't think i've eradicated all traces of that um and to learn from them and so I think another Expression that I use is Uh something that we talk about a lot in the in the chaplaincy training i'm involved in coming alongside So it's not so much here's what i've learned It's like walking alongside someone having a conversation And trusting their buddha nature to open up the relational aspect that allow allows for deep communication Does that make sense We have a lot to learn I mean we've got we've got A young person living back in the house again and uh


Yeah, not surprisingly he's got a lot of opinions But there's really a lot to learn from you yes, yes, I appreciate that a whole lot yes, thank you Thank you heather someone at preston's house has a question please uh go right ahead Hosan what does um Idle speech mean to you and why is it discouraged? Um idle speech, I think what what they're talking about is basically well It's talking about speech that is about me It's self It's self-reinforcing speech


Is speaking so that one can hear and verify oneself? There's another kind of speech that I learned about uh That that seems like idle speech, but it's not uh when when we were in japan in with uh being a practice period At rinso in suzuki roshi's temple. This was led by paul disco Who some of you may know as a long time zen practitioner? And paul had spent a long time in japan and was A fluent japanese speaker and also just Really immersed in japanese culture uh And one point we were at the temple the temple is about I don't know like a half mile Up the hill from a little crossroads


uh town which has like a So it was a literally crossroad and a little convenience store with uh a market And what paul said is when you go down to the market Just watch the old ladies In the road or outside the market just watch them basically Saying how are you good morning nice weather today And just watch them and as they're doing this they're bowing to each other And that's not idle talk that is talk to create that's talk Expressing relationship. So I just want to make sure that you know, uh You don't throw the baby out with the best water. Does that make sense? Thank you president hosan we have three more questions at 11 17, would you like to take a few he's an end


Okay, so we're going to end for today. Thank you all for your questions. No. No, take the questions and end Oh, okay didn't hear you. Thank you. Okay. Well then we have joel. Please go ahead joel Hi Listen, thank you so much for this talk. It's been it's a great talk and helpful very much Oh one thing that really struck me is when you were quoting from suzuki roshi of when you listen uh to Totally let go of your opinions and all of that and uh Very hard to do Uh, and I was really against the practice It does take practice I realized that often When I hear speech I hear I hear speech as an attack. I experience it as an attack often very early In what someone is saying? and


It's very hard for me and What you were saying in suzuki roshi is realizing that's just my opinion My opinion is this is an attack and That puts it in a very different perspective And at the same time To actually do that Uh, it just seems takes tremendous strength and um and uh because it's it's maybe okay what they say Is in my opinion an attack and that is simply my opinion but It could also be that They're wrong because it's their opinion Um, so to leave both possibilities open um and available It seems necessary in a sense to Really say okay. That's just their opinion. I can hear it. Maybe they're wrong. Maybe they're right


um, so it takes a tremendous strength Like I think of suzuki roshi's thing about the tree that can just stand up without a um support Uh, so just that really struck me. So anything you can say about that um To find uh that kind of strength where That actually would be possible Yeah, I mean this the thing is we are not standing We we need to stand on our own two feet, but we're not standing alone um and We stand up Because all the buddhas and bodhisattvas Are helping us stand Otherwise you couldn't do that, huh? and The idea in listening is Listen now


You know, let's open yourself now Which is not to say never have an opinion about something But get your opinion out of the way now so you can really Observe and hear Yeah Anyway, it's a start. It is very difficult practice. Yeah. Thank you very much Thank you, joe we'll go ahead with dean please go ahead Thank you alan allen I um appreciated that Your talk to me felt like it was less about What people should and should not do And more about what our practice calls us to do so I I appreciate um that that approach and um there were a couple other things that it brought up for me is that Um, you know, we're we're a lot of different cultures Even in the united states, there's different cultures and we deal and engage with things differently and different things


um mean different things to us and um It you know that that you talked about our practice is not to be committed to the opinion, but our practice is about Working with someone or working with people our fellow fellow sangha members to try to um maybe Think about how our speech actually lands on someone. I know that there was talk about free speech and What I sort of started realizing is there's for me. There's free speech and there's costly speech and I have to make a choice sometimes between which of those I'm going to move forward with and um, it's been a Not necessarily an easy easy shift or an easy way to think about things um But that that's how it's helped me


a lot, but the other thing I wanted to bring up is my godson who's 17 has been in a Fair amount of trouble lately because of his speech and one of the things that That we have talked about is Who wants to be that guy or You know that person And that's one of the ways because I don't think what is that? I'm, not sure what you're saying who wants to be that guy that person who says something That is costly speech because i'll be damned i'm gonna have my free speech. I'm gonna say what I want And one of the things that came up while talking to him was well You can say it because you believe it's true, but you need to be prepared for the impact It's going to have and it's it's talking about practice with him and the vows Didn't really go so far because that's not what he does but When I said to him, do you really want to be that guy? the one who says something and people are like


Wow don't want to go near that and that had an impact on him and um, I use that now in my own mind is is when i'm You know other than trying to not speak so quickly, but to think about what i'm saying and um To use that as well so it's been a big a big very big helpful thing for me in getting past the You know, it's true. So i'm okay with saying it concept. So, thank you Thank you. Well, that's one of the things that uh That is clarifying it and also, you know the buddhist text about uh So-called truth is not enough but I really like your distinction between uh free speech and costly speech and Maybe this is too abstract, but this is a tension in our society and it's a creative tension. It's a good tension


that There's a tension between freedom Which is in seen as individual freedom and uh Our injustice our collective, you know, whatever our Attempted the agreed upon social values are this is this has been attention. This is what it was argued about in the uh, In the federalist papers from the beginning. It's a it's a and it's it's not something We even want to get rid of but we have constantly to observe So, thank you Thank you dean we have our last question ross, please go ahead After our good morning, so who's on I um, I really appreciated joseph goldstein's uh Tack of not speaking about someone not present in the room


I know for myself that I can get in sort of trouble Uh, either praising or blaming others in that in that venue And at the same time, I believe that he probably Took moments to quote his teacher who may not have been in the room And it reminded me of a bumper sticker that we had here some time ago What would mel do or sojin roshi? Uh, I think he was named after I I have copies of that by the way Uh-huh, which are available if anyone wants them So I got a little stack of them so my my question is um, uh For you as our abbot What comes up in that, uh from that bumper sticker, what would what would mel do what would my uh transmitting? preceptor Do in this case, how do you how do you work with that? He's not here and he is here. Yeah I actually think about it all the time and um


Um I'm very interested in Bringing to mind what I think he might do Uh as a uh as a point of departure Not that I would miss not that I feel obligated to you to that physician to that to that action, but to really think about it and recognize that Uh The essential things that I think many of us learn from him were the accumulated wisdom of so many years of practice and to respect that and also feel That I carry some responsibility to that so I I think about it, you know and uh This is you know, one of the things laurie and I have been doing


I Is we've been reading aloud uh from the manuscript that uh, ron and kika and sojourn assembled of his lectures and That really keeps his voice fresh And I feel that I want to study that Along with or as sojourn used to study and lecture from his teacher I think this is going to be a this is a uh Just a deep spring for all of us Because all that wisdom is there right and I don't Uh Just as I didn't expect him to be perfect uh, I don't expect myself to be perfect, but


I feel obligated to go back to the same Sources Or to try to understand what the sources were that he Came from That's perfect, so I think yeah, thank you and I think this is where we we have to end for today