Faith In Practice

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What he's talking about is that when you feel this reality of non-duality and interconnectedness, you get a sense of joy. And Dogen proposes that when you have this experience, doubt will melt away just by having the experience. So what is this faith in? There's nothing to have faith in, really. There's faith in the fact that the world is as it is, that there's nothing you can do about it, that there is impermanence, that there is suffering, that all these things are changing all the time and arising in each moment and we can have a wonderful, be feeling like we have a wonderful life one moment and a terrible life the next moment. And I always say, you know, if you're feeling bad, you can be really, really glad because you know it's going to pass. And if you're feeling good, you can be really unhappy because you're going to know it's going to pass.


But it's having an acceptance of that. That's just the way our human life is. So the idea is that if we vow and we set an intention, when we encounter what life is, we don't get surprised, but we know from our practice and from our repeated practice that if we stick to it, if we are sustained by our practice, we'll just live on in whatever it is, with whatever it is that comes up. It's nothing magical. So I, When I was getting ready to be ordained, I had a few doubts. And my calling that I took for myself when I was in the process of getting ready to be ordained was taking a step up 100 foot pole. So in that, I had a dialogue with Sojan, which I then actually some of you got when I sent you an invitation because it was on there.


So this is what I wrote at that time about my doubt. How do I proceed from the top of the hundred-foot pole? Awash in fear, excitement, anticipation. holding on but with ever-loosening grip, trusting that in letting go, I shed layers of karmic conditioning, like layers of clothing, shed when the heat and light of the sun disperses the fog. A procession of ancestors beckoned me to follow, to take the next step, the awesome step into not knowing. And Sojin's response to that was, what step? You're just living from moment to moment. There's no big step. There's no 100-foot pole. You're just taking the next step because we never know what's going to come after that. So if we get too concerned and caught up in the doubt of whether I should do it or what I should do, we lose it.


If we just take the next step, if we just go to the next practice, go to the next period of Zazen and sit, That's all we do. That's our faith in action. So then he says that upon meeting it, we shall renounce worldly affairs and maintain the Buddha Dharma. So that sounds pretty drastic, renouncing worldly affairs. He was talking to monks in the fascicle and preaching to monks. And in those days, people were very isolated. Monks lived in monasteries. They were big distances between one place and another. That's not so in our world. Even monks, so to speak, or priests are out in the world. So then how do we interpret renunciation in our own context? So Sojin is always saying this, just let go of yourself. Just forget about yourself. Renunciation is not really, I mean, that's even then maybe over here.


What do I do all the time? It's really about not getting caught by things. not renouncing the worldly affairs. We have to be active in the worldly affairs. I mean, there are things for us to do both in terms of our families, our work, friends, the world, the systems in the world that are not doing so well right now, our communities. There are things to do. It doesn't mean renouncing that. It means renouncing some attachment to that and some attachment to you to your, Dogen talks a lot in here about fame and gain, about you're doing something for some reason or attached to some outcome, but you're meeting things as they are in the world, and without a lot of melodrama and a lot of stories, and just going from moment to moment, activity to activity, with a faith that if you follow the Buddha's way, you will be able to do that with some equanimity.


So then he says, although our past evil karma has greatly accumulated, indeed being the cause and condition of obstacles in practicing the way. So this section is about obviously about the inevitability of karma, um, about, We, whether we knew it or not through our lives, we've been generating karma, we've been doing things, and things have happened. Some of the karma was good karma, some of the karma wasn't so good karma. And we carry that all with us. It's in our alaya, you know, all the seeds that we lay down in our alaya are there through our action, many through our actions. So we all have sacks of karma. It's like a sack of old stuff that we can carry around. So he's just acknowledging the reality that there are hindrances to our practice.


The reality is that it all sounds well and good to make this intention, to set this intention to practice, and yet our past evil karma has greatly accumulated. In fact, our karma from moment to moment, sometimes unconscious, which is why we recite in our bodhisattva ceremony, all my ancient tangled karma from beginningless greed, hate, and delusion. We accept this, not necessarily particularly, but we accept that that's the reality of our human existence. So we accept it. And we accept that. So, Dogen has a really, he has really, I love the way he says some things, but he says, ever since ancient times, the skeptical Indra, lord of the heavens, has come to test the intentions of the practitioners, as has Mara, the tempter, come to disturb and obstruct the practitioners' training. All the instances occurred when someone has not let go of the hopes of fame and gain.


When great compassion is deep within you and your wish to spirituality, to aid sentient beings everywhere is well seasoned, there are no obstructions. Then your training and practice will flower. At such periods, you should scrutinize yourself for signs of attraction to fame and gain. Do not close your eyes and doze off. So again, he's saying, he has these lofty things that we should do, these lofty things that we should aspire to, but we all know Mara, and when we least expect it, We're tempted. We go off in a delusion. We get attached to something. We have some fixed idea about something. We want something. We hate something. We hate whatever, you know, whatever the latest thing to hate is. I will not mention any of the things that might hit. But he's saying that when we get caught in these,


When we get caught in these, we've lost it. We have succumbed to Indra, Lord of the heavens, and Mara, the temptress. So he's saying, be aware. Our practice then is acknowledging this karma and staying focused, staying aware, watching when these things come up. And then he switches gears after this. to talking about how we can have help from our ancestors, all Buddhas and ancestors. So the first part is about our realizing or hearing the Dharma. And the second is about the help we get. After we realize that we can hear, we know we're going to fall back over and over again and have to relearn this over and over again. So we need help. So he says, may all Buddhas and ancestors who have attained the way be compassionate with us, free us from karmic effects, allowing us to practice the way without hindrance.


So. Dogen says, simply, you should walk the path that former saints have trod. Seek out a teacher. You may have to scale a mountain with a ladder or cross vast seas in a rowboat. He's just saying that this isn't easy, what he's asking us to do. what our ancestors did in realizing the way their practice was hard practice. Our practice is hard practice. Just living in the world today is hard practice, just getting through it. So he's not, he's saying, you know, you might have to scale mountains. It's not going to be easy. Don't expect, don't expect anything from this practice. So then he says, may they share with us their compassion with fills the boundless universe with the virtue of their enlightenment and teachings. Buddhas, this is the inspiring part. Buddhas and ancestors of old were the same as we.


We in the future shall be Buddhas and ancestors. Revering Buddhas and ancestors, we are one Buddha and one ancestor. Awakening 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 let go of that attainment. So in Buddha's teaching, we know what he says is you are engaged in Buddha's activity when you practice. Every time you sit down, every time you take the form, every time you breathe together, you breathe together with all beings, you experience, any time you let go, You are enlightened. This is an enlightened activity. It's not far away. It's right here. And our Buddhas and ancestors did the same activity. They did nothing different. We join them. We join them. We trod the path of the ancestors. We are trotting the path of the ancestors with them by maintaining the forms and the practices, by reciting the sutras, by doing the practices that they did.


The other part of this is awakening Bodhi mind. We are one Bodhi mind. And Dogen also says, when you see a Buddha, you see your Buddha and self and others. So once you realize your Buddhahood, once you see, once you hear, you're hearing with all beings and you're recognizing the Buddhahood of all beings. Therefore, the Chan master Lungya said, those who in past lives were not enlightened 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 old, of today, are exactly as those of old. So this is just reasserting the interconnectedness and interdependence of everything that came before us and everything that comes after us. We are connected to our ancestors, we're connected to the future, the present is all here with us.


The other thing he talks about is save the body. And so, because of this, Human existence is considered in Buddhism kind of a gift. Humans can attain the way. And part of our practice is a body-mind practice. We have to have these perceptions. We're not just a brain, right, or a mind. We have to smell, we have to taste, we have to touch. That's how we get information. That's how we learn reality. That's how we realize reality. So our body needs to be taken care of. Preserve the body. Don't go off into your head, is what this means. Don't go off into your head and study and go on an intellectual pursuit. Stay in the body. It's a body-mind practice. You won't get it if you don't stay in your body and practice in your body. And I think some of our practices like bowing together. We're bowing together with all beings.


There is something about that that keeps our body in. When we review our posture and we feel our posture, we're doing that. We're staying in our body. The practice is in our body. So now the finale. I think it's the finale. It is the finale. Quietly explore 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 transgression 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. So a lot of us


might have a reaction to all of this repenting and confessing business. It sounds a little Christian, maybe Judeo-Christian, so it might seem harsh. It might kind of feel like, oh, there's a lot of guilt involved, but that really isn't what's meant What Dogen says is, when being mindful and decorous in body, own up to what you have done and openly admit it to the Buddha. The power from owning up to up destroys the roots of what is defiling you. This is the whole body of true training and practice. It is the heart that truly trusts. What we are encouraged to do here is be aware and pay attention to our own thoughts, words, and deeds and the karmic effects of these. We can periodically take stock and then with a full recognition of our human condition and the way we feel and live and how we're all in the same boat and we're totally interdependent.


We ask for the compassion of our ancestors, and we return to get compassion. And then we can pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and start all over again. So there you have it. So, Peter. Are all beings bowing with us? Yeah. So this is, the implications of this are really inconceivable. Because they have been told to bow, it means that suddenly all beings are bowing, making their own bow with us at the same time, same place. And the birds are vowing and the plants are vowing.


Everyone is living Buddha nature, yeah. Not necessarily. I mean, when I talk about insentient beings, I don't, I was, they're not necessarily, it's like, there is a yearning in people, too, I think, you know, there probably is. I can imagine flowers yearning and roots and sprouts yearning and birds yearning. I can think that they have. They're all practicing with us. This is about trust. Trust in practicing the Dharma and living the reality of, the ultimate reality of interconnectedness and impermanence together. Dancing together, it's all of us dancing sentient beings and insentient beings doing the dance of life. Yeah.


Yeah, sure. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Well, if faith is something that's alive, I think that's why we call it a verb.


It's alive. It's not something over here that we believe. We live it. We have to live it and experience it. That's what our practice is about. It's not some idea, belief system that we have. We verify it every time we with our action. As we act, as we take each step, we faith because you don't know what's gonna happen. In reality, in Buddhist thinking, we don't know what's gonna happen for the next step. Every step is an act of faith. So I'm faithing when I'm taking a walk. I'm faithing when I jump in the ocean. I have no idea what's coming next. And if I actually thought about that, if we actually thought about the fact that we actually have no idea what's coming next, we would probably not do anything.


We'd be too afraid. We'd lock ourselves up in a hermitage, you know, like the old hermits did and just stay in there in the dark. we'd be safe, but we are out in the world and every step we take is a new one. And it's the faith in our practice that allows us to be able to take that step. At least for me. Judy and then Peter. It's jumping off the 100-foot pole. It's taking the next step. Each step is a step of faith and courage. It's just walking along the way and knowing that anything can happen, that there's nothing.


And we have to be able to be okay with whatever comes. Not okay in the sense that we agree with it, but we're not expecting something different. So evil things happen, good things happen, neutral things happen, stuff happens. And our faith is a faith that will meet that. And that takes courage, a belief deeply held Yeah, jumping off the pole. I mean, we are, but we're doing that all the time. I remember when I, you know, when I was talking to, I mean, I was working with that during my ordination process. It was like, well, there's nothing. All you know is that you're gonna take that step. No guarantees. That's it.


You're taking each step. And we're not aware. We're not thinking about it all the time. We would be hidden away somewhere, but that's the way it is. So we're courageous beings taking each step. Yeah, it's anything, right? Yeah, we're facing. Did I? Oh, yes, Peter. Yeah, I remember that.


Yes, it's the same feeling. They're all practicing in their way. That's why we say we're practicing with all beings, even though We don't know what those beings are doing right now. They're eating spaghetti. You know, they're playing basketball. And they're all practicing together with us. Okay, one more and then... Denise? So it becomes the most important precept.


And so when I look at that, I said we're coming out of prison, and we're coming out of the experience that we're in. We're already served. There are five sentences. The thing that became very obvious, the transformation, was the civilian counter-truth. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Confessing and repenting.


Constantly. You have to do it constantly because it's a... Thank you. Okay. Is there one more? If you want to do one more, we're just at time. What? Okay, fine.