Dogen's Vow

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Again, this morning, by reading, if we could together read Vieje Kosu Kosugamon. If you don't have a copy, you can look on with someone. Actually, first, let's just go around with names. Veronica. Kiko. Leslie, Ken, Carol, Marjorie, Susan, Kate, Lauren, Helen, Troy, Kata, Jerry, Ozan, welcome. So we vow with all beings from this life on throughout countless lives to hear the true Dharma that upon hearing it, no doubt will arise in us, nor will we lack in faith, that upon meeting it, we shall renounce worldly affairs and maintain the Buddha-dharma, and that in doing so, both the great earth and all living beings together will attain the Buddha-way.


Although our past evil karma has greatly accumulated, May all Buddhas and ancestors who have attained the Buddha way be compassionate to us and free us from karmic effects, allowing us to practice the way without hindrance. May they share with us their compassion, which fills the boundless universe with the virtue of their enlightenment and teachings. ancestors, we are one Buddha and one ancestor. Awakened in Bodhi mind, we are one Bodhi mind. Because they extend their compassion to us freely and without limit, we are able to attain Buddhahood and are a foe of the attainment.


Therefore, Dachan Rastra, looking at us, said, those who in past lives were not enlightened, who will now be enlightened. In this life, save the body, which is the fruit of many lives. Before Buddhas were enlightened, they were the same as we. Enlightened people of today are not exactly as those of old. Quietly explore the farthest reaches of these causes and conditions, as this practice is the exact transmission of a verified Buddha. Confessing and repenting in this way, one never fails to receive profound help from all Buddhas and ancestors. By revealing and disclosing our lack of faith and practice before the Buddha, we melt away the root of transgressions by the power of our confession and repentance.


This is the pure and simple color of true practice, of the true mind. Thank you So, um Just before we press on a bit, are there any questions hanging on from yesterday, from either the morning or the afternoon? Yeah. Thank you so much. I was thinking about yesterday in class, there seemed to be two camps, not a black line between two camps, but there was a feeling of


that a vow could be defined as some kind of lofty or spiritual, deep, kind of wondrous thing. And I think Leslie inspired some thinking after Sashin for me yesterday, when she kind of brought it back to earth a little bit, and she started equating it with practice. And I really do think that vow is associated with what you do, and doing is associated closely with practice. So for me, vow doesn't really have this lofty, spiritual, deep thing. It's just simply what you do, and what you said you would do. And it just seems to be very basic practice. That's kind of where I'm coming from. Does someone have a perspective or a response to that? I think it's really individual. It can be that, it can be spiritual for a person. I think it's, you could include, I think it's either or, you know, just how you, how it is for you, if you're kind of more spiritual kind of person in the world, you might want to have it be a spiritual, have a spiritual feeling.


I think that the important thing about the vow is it's just got to continuously be renewed. It's like practice, you've got to renew it. Sometimes, you know, every day, sometimes Throughout the day, it's like bringing ourselves back to that vow, the precepts, the practice. Yes, I was spending a lot of yesterday thinking about it, kind of struggling with the whole idea associated with this practice of faith. And this morning, first and last paragraphs are in absolute contradiction. The first reminds me of my childhood, where the vow went something like, you know, I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Nature of Heaven and Earth, etc., etc., etc. And the last is, you know, revealing and disclosing our lack of faith and lack of practice.


So I can never get past vow just as the determination to know that it's constant failure. All you can do is pick yourself up and come back. Well, there's an expression... It's not about faith. Yeah, there's a description of Zen as one continuous mistake. Yes. But, you know, I was thinking This piece is filled with these big words, vow, faith, renunciation, repentance, confession, all of which for us have, you know, each word has got a lot of baggage. And I'm not sure it's the same baggage that people would have had in that time and place. But this is what we have to reckon with that baggage.


And it's not like it comes from nowhere for us. You were talking about the religious sayings of your childhood, right? So it's like we have to we have to see through, there are all these veils of meaning that exist for me in this, and how do I see through them to understand, to try to get a glimpse of what Dogen was saying? Yeah, Jerry? Well, to me, a vow means counting on something outside of yourself or beyond yourself. It's like recognizing that you can't on your own. So you vow with all beings to. So you're getting some inspiration or help, or you're joining with the ancestors, or you're joining with whatever you see as something greater than yourself.


It's a kind of a humble way of recognizing your fallibility, actually, knowing that alone you can't do it. But you need some vow to help you. And that vow is revering Buddha's ancestors. We are one with Buddha's ancestors. We are one with the ancestors. So to me, vow means something more. And it's associated with ceremony. Vow occurs in a ceremony, as opposed to an intention, which I can get up in the morning and set an intention. a vow we can usually say one year round. But isn't there also like the little vow, you know, when we say a vow to save all beings, and there are so many, I can't save them. And following what Carol was saying about the repetition, you have to continually believe in that, even though it's an impossible belief, and have this, and that's faith, right?


So faith feeds living by the vow because if you want to believe that minute by minute well as strongly as possible but it's just it's like we do anything we let go of our small self and try to see our big self in our good intentions I think this is pretty close to what both of you are saying in a way that I guess my sense of vow is that It's my... I can recognize my best self, my big self, and that's where the vow comes from. And that's a place that is connected to sangha, that is connected to emptiness in whatever way. It may not be very developed or not, but it's something I can return to when all the neuroses start clamoring.


There's a resonance to it that I can trust. And it's a faith. I guess for me, it's a faith. The words might change. It's not the explicit vow. Or the explicit vow is the manifestation of it at that time in the way I'm going to remind myself. But it doesn't work. I said my phone with banjos like you. I know. I just wondered when I heard it. I thought today carries something. And I don't. It's not mine. It's the same sound. That's not my idea. I'm sorry, Katie. Go ahead. You know, it says that. A trust that I know on a bodily level, not something I kind of arbitrarily or some kind of effort that I'm putting forth because I believe I should.


It's a trust of something that I know. And the vow is the manifestation of that, to bring myself back to that when things get very difficult. Let me throw something in here that you may have noticed and you may not have noticed. Speaking of envelopes of meaning, we study Dogon all the time and there's a certain territory that we feel Dogon to be coming from even though some of his views shifted, but his view of practice never shifted. His view of Zazen doesn't seem to have shifted. And you may notice there's no mention of Zazen in this at all. I think that that's probably true.


There's a parallel. One of the key texts that they use in Soto Shu, which is a kind of Again, I think 18th century assembled text called Shushogi. I think we studied that at one point here, and that's what anybody in Japan knows about Dogon is Shushogi. And Shushogi, it's got these bits and pieces, it's quite eloquent and beautiful, and it never mentions Zazen or practice. I mean, it's sort of like this. So, you know, we bring that, we have to bring that piece, we do bring that piece to this. And I think that touches on, you know, in the first, it touches on


you might read this, we vow with all beings from this life on through countless lives to practice the true dharma, not to hear the true dharma, but to practice or to practice, as Dogen's expression, practice realization, we vow with all throughout countless lives to practice no doubt will arise in us, nor will we lack in faith." Actually, I like that. That, all of a sudden, snaps everything into focus. So, I was also thinking, this section, this text has a couple of different pieces. And so it has the first piece is the vow.


And the second piece is kind of a description of what happens when you make this vow. So when you make this vow, you'll be freed from doubt, you'll be freed from lack of faith, implication being We have doubts and lack of faith. It's really interesting reading. This is our teacher who is exemplary. We may never reach his mind. I have to find this. It's funny. Oh, here it is.


Sajan is talking about, part of this quite beautifully says, I have total faith in practice. Whatever I needed would just come through practice. Instead of feeling resentful, I felt gratitude for being in this position. Without being in this position, I don't know how that would have been. But I really learned how to rely on practice as a staple of sustenance, the source of sustenance. I can't tell you how that has worked. He said, I feel nothing but gratitude for what ordinarily we would think of as adversity, which is actually opportunity. This is also Suzuki Roshi's teaching. The other side of adversity is opportunity. If you have the right attitude, you can't go wrong. this, we know that this is Sojin's way of looking at things, I don't know how he got to be that way, but anyway, I think this is also what Dogon is talking about, he says, we vow with all beings from this life on through countless lives to hear the true Dharma, that upon hearing it no doubt will arise, and there's a parenthetical expression


He says, I never had any doubt. It's like, right. You know, nor will we lack of faith. Well, talking about doubt in the practice. That's right. Talking about self-doubt. No, no. So we'll experience self-doubt and still have no doubt in the practice. I think you're essentially right. Yeah. I mean, I think that's a really important point. Because otherwise we'll lose faith if we think no doubt will arise in us. I have the doubt every day, but it's not in the practice, it's in my ability. I think that's a really wonderful distinction. But it's also, I think it includes self-doubt. I think the method, so let me just say, what I see in the structure is first of all the vow, second, what the vow leads to, or what practice as your vow leads to, which is the removal of hindrance and evil karma, and evil karma is actually the word


that is used, and I'll go into it, and those include skeptical doubt, which is the technical term in the hindrances, a kind of corrosive doubt, and so that's the goal of this vow of practice is removing of these hindrances, of these stumbling blocks that you read yesterday, that you put in the way, and then the method which we'll come to is the method for removing them in the context of this piece is repentance and confession. And, you know, what I want to explore at least this morning and probably going into the afternoon, is what is repentance, because it's something larger than what we think of with our Christian background.


Ken? Just a point of information. Yesterday, I think when Laurie was mentioning something about the first paragraph, you said, well, this a translation difference. It looks to me like there are several vows here. OK, can you say what they are? The vows are, we vow to hear the true Dharma, stop. We vow that, upon hearing it, no doubt will arise. We vow that, upon meeting it, we will renounce and stop. and we vow that in so doing that I doubt we'll... I'm not sure which is right there, but there's kind of an ambiguity the way, like, in other words, I can say I vow that when I meet a problem I will not be deterred.


Right. Instead of saying, I vow to do this And that means that when I meet a problem, I won't be deterred. Right. I that's really that's an interesting point for the that that turns in this thing in certain ways on the punctuation, which of course didn't exist. There was no punctuation. I would like to because I can read it either way. I can read that the first proposition is the vow and that those subsequent clauses are, you know, therefore, having made this vow, therefore, or you can read it as a sequence of vows. I don't think it matters a whole lot, but it's, you know, once you start reading these things really closely, and of course we're dealing with translations and, you know, I can't even find the source of this.


Not that I could read it, but... Do you know who translated this? I don't know who translated this. Reb is the only one I know who might know. Or somebody like Carl Bielfeld at Stanford or something. Anyway, I don't think we need to get too hung up on that. But I do see this kind of structure, there's a vow, whichever, you know, you can count the first paragraph as the vow, and then it's what the vow, having made this vow, what we see about ourselves, and what we can understand about are fundamental natures being the same as the Buddhas of old, and then in the last, it's the last paragraph that gets to the method, primarily anyway, it's sort of, there's little bits of it, but, "...quietly explore the farthest reaches of these causes and


is the exact transmission of a verified Buddha. The verified Buddha, he's referring to Master Lungya, which is often what Dogen does. In his fascicles there are sort of strings of quotations and he uses them as kind of verification and establishing of the truth of a proposition. Confessing and repenting in this way one never fails to receive profound help from all Buddhas and ancestors. By revealing and disclosing our lack of faith and practice before the Buddha, we melt away the root of transgressions by the power of our confession and repentance. This is the pure and simple color of true practice, of the true mind of faith, of the true body of faith. I'm wondering, I got hung up on confessing and repenting in this way.


What do you think in this way means? I think it's quietly exploring the farthest reaches of the causes and conditions, which I guess the causes and conditions are back to the second paragraph, our evil karma, our obstacles. Right. Right. I think that makes sense. Someone else thought about that? I don't know. I've just been thinking about this lack of faith. And I keep thinking it's faith that this is it somehow. It's like that's what I lack. From time to time. You know, sometimes I don't like it and sometimes I do like it. Wait, what do you mean? What's happening right now is it. The relative or the absolute happening now? Yeah. Which one? They're always both happening, and this is the manifestation of ... You lack faith in that?


Her message to me always is, you're suffering because you want things to be different from how they are. Yeah, but I mean, that's what I lack when I do have a problem. This can't be it is kind of the bottom line. This, what's happening right now, this cannot be. Is it future thinking or something like that or something beyond thinking? This can't be the ultimate truth. This can't be the thing to turn. This can't be the thing that has told me for me to turn. If I just wake up, this can't be the thing that I could wake up on. Apparently it's the only thing that's sticking out like that. Sounds like the only thing that is waking you. It is. No, I mean, when I can believe that, I do think that is my faith. My faith is, this moment has everything I need to wake up. But some of the time I don't think that.


That's my lack of faith. That's no doubt. I mean, isn't that the same thing? It's the small one and then it's the big one. I mean, your faith is underneath what you just said. Or you wouldn't keep practicing. Yeah, right. Right. It's under there somewhere. It's down, way down there. The Vow gets renewed. Through mindfulness, right? The Vow gets renewed through mindfulness? Well, I want to wait because I want to unpack something else, but I think that this kind of gets to that question of the faith is like, it's like this stillness that Sojin was talking about in this piece. It's like the ocean without waves or the air just in the dark of the middle of the night, just that when you let the perturbations kind of ripple out and settle


you can see clear to the bottom, but otherwise you're just seeing the perturbations on the surface. And I think that's... I don't know how much Dogen was getting at, but certainly Sochin was getting at in his piece. Category says keep your feet on the ocean floor. Right. And so, as long as they're there. But what I was thinking about all the times, you know, when you make a vow, to practice and Sojin encourages us, has always encouraged me to say, you know, make a vow about when you're coming, this is just really simple every day, like what days you're coming to the zendo, when you're coming to sit. Once you make the vow, you don't, you know, you wake up and you say, I've got an ache, I've got a pain, it doesn't feel so good today, but the vow is what carries you to just keep walking the walk. despite the fact that you have doubts and you don't really want to go.


And besides, your zazen hasn't been so good lately. It's been a monkey. So why am I doing this anyway? But you just keep doing it. Yeah, and a vow is really important. precisely the moment when you have to decide whether you're going to get out of bed or not. That's the moment that it kicks in. I wouldn't get up otherwise, I think. No, you wouldn't. But we have a reason to get up even and that's what I was what I was saying I was referring to yesterday and you know again looking around seeing there are all these people who've been doing this for years and years and we don't exactly we can't exactly say why but it's it's it's now and it and you may have a different experience with me you know what it never and I've heard soju say it never gets any easier


I do it, you know, and in some way I feel good about myself for doing it, not because I've been a good person or a good boy, but actually what I notice, even though we're not supposed to have a gaining idea, it feels like just if I've done that, then my life, my day has started knitting itself together into a whole. and you know that's I know if I didn't do that it would be like in pieces lying around my room and that would probably not feel so good but anyway that's a digression yeah I wonder I mean I feel like it's not a digression in terms of repentance As you were talking, I was thinking about how when I intend to do something with my work and then I don't do it, I have a feeling of not maintaining my own integrity with myself.


I can't conjugate correctly. wearing down my own integrity, and meet my vow. Or if I'm extremely sick, then it's time to say goodbye or something. But if I can, if I can meet my vow, then I'm maintaining that integrity. But when I don't, it's a moment to then meet those Miyazaki feelings that come up, and meet them with integrity. Well, let's turn to repentance, if that's okay. And first, I just want to say, you know, it's a really interesting word, which means something like, its roots mean, like, think again.


And what that means, I think we can play out, you know. you know, it means to some degree, I think, okay, take another pass at this idea that you have, and can you see it from another angle or another direction? Or the thing you did, yeah, right. Whatever is the object of your thought, the implication of repentance is that you've already had a thought. You already have some mental construction about something you've perceived or something you've done, and to take another pass at it. And I think that's the context of our of our whole life.


So, in Living by Thou, second chapter, you have this, right? It's called Awakening to Incompleteness, and it's the verse of repentance which is familiar to us in a slightly different form in our Bodhisattva ceremony, in our ordination ceremonies, in our wedding ceremonies, in our funeral ceremonies. It's one of those building blocks of all of our rituals that we use, and we use it, you know, as an introduction to all these ceremonies as a way to kind of, you could say it's a kind of verse of purification, but it's, you know, I'd rather say instead of purification, which is going to be uncomfortable in other ways, it's just like, okay, let's take a breath and start fresh.


and we do this by saying, ├ČAll the karma ever created by me of old through greed, anger and self-delusion, which has no beginning, born of my body, speech and thought, I now make full repentance of it. So our version is, all my ancient tangled karma from beginningless greed, hate and delusion, born through body, speech and mind, I now fully avow. And just to say that, so we used to say, before we said tangled, we said twisted. All my ancient twisted karma. And really, if you go to, there's other centers where they say, all the evil, all my evil karma since of old, is a, I think that's the way we were saying it at Upaya, but literally, the word is shakuku, which is evil karma.


we don't like evil, we don't like bad, it's like dualistic, and so we softened it to twisted, and then people who are twisted has a funny connotation, and so we softened it a little more to tangled, which in a strict sense is accurate, because what we're it starts to move away, I think, from the weight of this, and from how our unskillful thoughts, words, and actions are hindrances to us. So, what Shohoku says here is very interesting. Traditionally, in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, there are two kinds of repentance. One is formal and concrete repentance called ji-sanghe.


Sanghe is repentance, in which we repent concrete offenses by means of rituals conducted with the help of a particular Buddha, teacher, or Sangha member. Another kind of repentance is called ri-sanghe. Ji and Ri are important concepts in Chinese Buddhism. We find this, I think Suzuki Roshi talks about this extensively in Branching Streams, Fall in the Dark, because those figure in, well, as relative and absolute, they figure in the Sandokai. So, Ji refers to the relative, conventional, phenomenal, and formal level, supreme, total and formless level. A verse different from the one quoted above is used for Risangat, which I wish he had quoted.


I don't think it's there in that chapter. So, then what he says And this gets to this point of practice. Sitting in zazen and letting go of thoughts is formless, ri-sanghe. This kind of repentance has been emphasized in the Soto tradition. In Dogen's writing, as far as I know, only the verse of ji-sanghe is recorded. I think both forms are important. Formal repentance is for our misdeeds, that break the Bodhisattva precepts we receive when we become Buddhist students. Formless repentance is to awaken to the total interpenetrating reality beyond separation of subject and object, self and others. This is zazen. I'm not so convinced


of the distinction that Shokhakusan is making here in relation to both the Bodhisattva precepts and our practice. It's clear to me, I understand what he's saying about formlessness of the formless repentance of Zazen but I guess I've always had the feeling that there's a formless dimension to our recitation of the our ceremonial recitation of the of the precepts that it's not well he talks about this a little, and Sojin talks about it in this paper, you know, our bodhisattva ceremony is, the words in Japanese are ryaku fusatsu, which means the short or condensed repentance ceremony.


So, So what we do in that ceremony is we say, all my ancient tangled karma. It's like a very ineffective apology in a certain way. It's like when somebody says, well, whatever I did, I apologize for it. If you've ever been apologized to that way, you know it doesn't work very well. But here, I think the intention is a kind of vast and cosmic one. And I think it is. I mean, I don't know, I know how I try to think when we're doing the ceremony. And it's really interesting. That's a place, when we're doing Ruyaku Fusats, I have to remind myself to really pay attention to the words because my mind wants to, I see it wanting to veer away.


I don't know if anybody else has that experience. Like the precepts I can sort of keep a focus on, but something about, there's a mental fuzziness that can really set in during the repentance. Does anyone else? I'm saying when I do it. But are you saying that when you're doing it, you don't think of specific things? No, I'm not thinking of specific things. All your transgressions. No, what I'm, I think what I'm, what I'm saying is, uh, I have a shortcoming. I, there's something so large about it that it makes my mind fuzz out and I can't, and what literally happens to me is I can't pay attention to the words.


It's very hard for me to explain. Does anyone have some experience? I mean, I space out all the time at different times in all different ceremonies, so I don't know if that's what you're talking about. I mean, your mind comes in and out. Your mind comes in and out. I guess I often thought, I kind of get what you're saying. I don't know. I have to pay attention. But I've often thought You know, that ceremony is so moving, but it's also kind of depersonalized. It's great to be able to say out loud in a community, I did this this week. And I feel really terrible about it, and I want to repent that. I want to confess it, and I want to repent that. Like in Catholicism. Well, I didn't grow up Catholic, but that came to my mind. When I was growing up, I thought there was something very brave about people going and saying, you know, I did this. Well that was what Ken was saying. So the original ceremony in Buddhism, and actually I think it predates Buddhism, in Pali it's called the Upasata ceremony.


It was done at the time of the new moon and the full moon. And what the ritual is still is that the ordained people, monks in their circle, nuns in their circle, sit in a circle, which is a ritualized space, and the ritual is to recite the whole Vinaya, which is like, you know, more than 200 precepts. They do this twice a month. They recite all the precepts, but I mean, I'm not sure how nowadays it works. I know to some degree it does. If you have broken a precept, you're not allowed to sit in a circle until you have actually confessed and repented that precept, and the precepts are classified according to


the seriousness of the breach and the specificity of the confession. If you've done certain things, you have to just confess to another monk, and if you've done certain more serious things, you have to see a higher monk, or a group. So there's a kind of prescription for for the confession and repentance. It's like communion in Catholicism though, right? Is it? I don't know. You can't have communion if you haven't got a confession. Right. Is that right? Yes. Although now you can confess quietly. Quietly? What do you mean quietly? You don't have to actually go to a priest. Now you're allowed to just sit there. There's an absolution in the Mass too. Yeah, in the Mass. So I think Jews only have, it's like, we atone once a year. It's coming up soon, though. That's the general atonement.


But that's for your existential guilt. Speak for yourself. Yes, Leslie. I was just going to mention that, and I think maybe you've been there when this has happened at Clearwater, Zando, when Mary has her full moon ceremony once a month, they do that, you know, and it's a small enough group that you can, you know, if there's five or to eight people, and sitting in a circle and just saying, or passing, you know, they don't have to. So you can say something that you did and you felt badly about it. Yeah, you felt badly about it, or something, sometimes it gets into like what I'm trying, what I'm working on, or felt not uncertain about, And then the ceremony happens right after that. There are times when I was going regularly, because we were being the Doan Kokio for a while there, and sometimes it was really uncomfortable.


And I didn't even want to go in and be part of it. And other times I felt okay about doing it. Whether I had something to say or not is so different then. I didn't grow up in that other religion. Did or didn't? Did not. So where you had to confess things all the time. You know, a different way of doing that and doing it publicly, even though this was a small, very supportive group. It was interesting. Well, yeah, I mean, there are sanghas that do that. They've instituted that. It's not in the Soto kind of repertoire, but when we were having, when Norman Fisher was abbot of San Francisco Zen Center, he had, we would have like every six months a priest meeting of all the priests in the Zen Center system, which he very kindly included BZC priests, and we would do, what we did, what the meeting was, was we would do


And then we would form into small groups of three or four, and we would do that, what you're saying. And it was pretty moving. Yeah, there are places that do that. The other thing, the other practice that we had when I was at Zuyoji in Japan for a short practice period, what was really interesting was every morning, every morning we would have chosan, CHO, you know, we would have tea. We'd have tea together and it's like we'd sit with the abbot or the tanto And all the monks would sit around and we would each have a cup of hot matcha green tea. individually in a wonderful little treat that always looked like it was going to be chocolate and was invariably red bean paste.


It was so disappointing. The old bean switch. Not if you're Japanese. But in that ceremony, one of the rituals of the ceremony was anybody who had done something, who had broken a rule, or who had acted inappropriately in the community, just confessed in front of everybody. They would say, I'm sorry for doing such and such. And they didn't go into any detail, and they would do three bows. Yeah. I think it's fascinating. The whole discussion is fascinating. To me, there's an element of this ceremony usually makes me want to cry. I find it so moving. And to me, it's cleansing. And what I hear in it is, I suppose you could take it as a lifting of responsibility, but a recognition that all of us are brought here by many things, much beyond our power.


And so I see it, for me, the bodhisattva is the beginning of compassion for myself and for everyone else. Repentance often has a flavor of shame. Right, that's part of that envelope. This is not about shame, it is about the birth of compassion. Right, and it's about, you know, you said it has this cleansing effect, you know, that's the, if you will, that's the aspect of purification. which sets the stage for us being able to start over, start fresh. And that is, let me just say, that is to me the distinction of the Buddhist nature of karma. As distinct from other Indian-derived


notions of karma, that the previous notion, and it still exists in a lot of places, including in some approaches to Buddhism, is karma as fate, karma as destiny or something. And what that meant in the Buddhist time, before he actually reinvented So the word karma meant something like, okay, you're born into a position, that's it. And it actually says this in the law of Manu, these texts. It's like, if you were born into a position, your responsibility is to maintain that position meekly for your whole life. uh and that's your karma and the only way you can purify your karma is by is by living out that living out that position to the end and the living out of it the the duty is dharma is duty uh and that's you know dharma is also


so that's a law of a kind of social and spiritual determinism and the Buddha just he turned that on its head in the sense that karma is just cause and the opportunity that we have because of our you know our the way we understand the law this shit happened, what do I do now? Do I want to be mired in it? Do I want to be stuck in it for my whole life? Do I want to accept the burden of my own actions? Or can I use them to be reborn in that moment? and come forth anew. And this repentance verse is part of the ritual of starting over.


Ken? I hope this isn't too much of a digression, but about karma. that happens where a woman makes some relatively benign, but a bad thing, like maybe an angry reaction to something, somebody, some situation. And this sets in train a whole series of bad like a karmic kind of thing. But Rexroth was writing about somebody's book about Genji, and he said they overlooked something. They're talking about this woman's bad karma doing this. And they didn't notice that the character who did that ends up being, not too long after that, an almost saintly person.


I mean, she did something, but You know, it was not like she was in a different thing. But what she did had this thing. And in the book, it's in this sort of superstitious form. It's like this thing is like a ghost or it's like an actual being that takes form, you know, like out of the anger or whatever the thing was. And it's just going on there. even though the person who actually said it in is not really any more implicated in it. So it's kind of, that goes back to the idea that the original karma is action, and then Buddha maybe tied this more in with intention or something, and then you de-intention, you know, I say I'm sorry, or something. But I think we have to remember those two different aspects.


that we can, for example, repent, like, oh, what got into me, you know, like, I'll try not to do that again, I apologize, and so on. But nevertheless, the action may already be out there. It's a big pinball machine. You know, it's out there. You know, I admit it. If you think it becomes karma, as Sojan said, even if it's just on your mind for a moment and you're no longer part of that thought anymore, it creates karma. Yeah, I don't want to get too caught up. I mean, actually, that would be a whole other class, because what you're you're pointing to a conundrum that is argued pretty intensely about whether karma is something that pertains to the individual or, in a sense, if it's an action that has been loosed in a system, you know, that's a social system that it's loosed in, and so is there such a thing as a


They're scholars on both sides who argue back and forth. I tend to agree with you. But, you know, we would look at it. Let's not get into that now. I want to take one or two more and then I want to stop and we'll pick up on this. And also, there's a lot I want to get to some further elucidation that touches on the question of good and bad and beyond good and bad in the context of our actions and repentance this afternoon. Okay, I see one, two, three, that's it. I've been thinking about something for a while and actually a very lovely experience of repentance that I had recently and I was really glad you brought up the word shame because I realized that was a part of it.


I did something mildly not right. There I am, excuse myself. And it impacted someone, and it was really great. This was within the Sangha. And he said something to me, and he was like, well, what was going on with that? And it was interesting, because usually I like to think I take responsibility for my actions, and I do the right thing, et cetera. But my first reaction was like, oh, you know, I didn't think any of it. I had convinced myself that it's not a big deal. And I just didn't want to feel shame about it. And I didn't want to take responsibility for it. But when he said something to me, I had to eventually be honest and be like, well, I felt awkward about it. And so I told myself it was no big deal and didn't say anything to you. And he was fine with that. And then I was able to apologize. He didn't really need the apology per se, but it definitely made me feel better.


And it was interesting because in this context of relationship within Sangha, he was not looking to make me feel bad about it at all. And I think that was the thing that just has not occurred to me. is that if I've done something wrong, then I'm less than, and I feel ashamed. And repentance is a very different feel. And I feel like it's kind of a loss of faith in myself. Shame is. And repentance is like coming back from that, versus repentance in this case was just, sorry. I did wrong. Let's move on. And I guess, I mean, yeah, it's just a different experience than I usually think of repentance.


Right. Well, I think it's, this is, uh, Oh, this gives you the opportunity to start anew. Uh, and you know, Sometimes it's hard because if we do something really wrong, really hurtful, we can't take it back. But if we're stuck on it, then it's like we're not alive. We've killed something in us for that time. And it's very hard. It's very hard to let go. of our mistakes. It's hard to let go of things, of injustices that have been done or undeserved hurts that have been done to any of us because we don't control that reality.


But it's even harder. to let go of the things that we actually have done. But if we don't find a way to let go of them in our minds or in our thoughts or in our words or in our body, then we are caught in that circle of being. and that's what repentance allows us to do, to be free from, that's the whole thrust of this thing, to be free of karmic obstructions, so that you can just completely embody and transmit the practice. I was wondering if, Judeo-Christian understanding of repentance, there's often the response to that, some kind of absolution or forgiveness.


And in the second paragraph, where it reads, male Buddhas and ancestors who have attained the Buddha way be compassionate to us and free us from karmic effects, there's that, you know, transitive, free, so something's actually happening. And I'm wondering if those equate. So presumably they're not doing it through some mystical means. The compassion they're showing to us was to transmit the teaching to us. It goes both ways. I mean, really, to be honest, there's a lot of, there's a very strong devotional aspect in Buddhism. We're not so comfortable with it, we don't emphasize it, but, you know, if you go to China, you go to Japan, you go to any of these Buddhist countries, people are praying to Buddhas and various bodhisattvas for redemption or, you know, for effect.


So, but the position I think, you know, it's hard to know how Dogen took that. Our gloss on it is that all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are already alive inside and outside of us, and so if we just attune to them, if we just tune that radio in, we can hear their advice because it already exists within us. So in that sense the translation of Sheila which is what the Pali word for ethical or moral precepts translates as something like natural normalness. You could say instead of original sin, we're born in the original enlightenment, but let's not get too theological.


In fact, let's end here.