Forms In The Zendo and In Our Lives

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well good morning everyone
ha we have people on three continents here today
in berkeley
it seems that were hot
having a heat wave ha
the days the day is heating up ah
and i know that places all over the world or
encountering this
ah incredible heights of temperature the head
certainly are convincing
evidence that global warming of a human
have human influences are is a significant factor and ah i think another time we will talk about that in greater detail
hendra and we just switch to
gallery view so i can see all of you pour as many of us passport
we are in the summer here in berkeley
and we're moving towards
what we're calling a soft opening of berkeley's and center ah at the beginning of august
and that is going to entail a number of different
changes it the way we schedule things in the way we do things but mostly on my mind right now is
the question of our formal practice
and the training for that
ah and how that weaves together with is
the rest of our lives which is also a question of training
what i've been doing particularly
before the cracks period i was delving into some of sodium roche's teachings and is just as i've said before it's an incredible wealth of material ah there's something close to twenty five hundred lectures
that he is given and pretty shortly you'll be able to access many of these her as audio files on ha
online and we'll also recruit you because we need your help in hidden doing some of the searchable data for those letters of again we'll talk about that later
there are two lectures that i found a
by searching that are relevant to that question that i wanted to explore and also raised with you ah chris one is from a
lecture that he gave in chapel hill north carolina in nineteen ninety five
it begins
at the end of a recent session a student said you know if we didn't have all that formality in the zendo there wouldn't be anything to this at all
it's like the emperor's clothes
search right from one point of view that statement looks like a very accurate statement
although we talk about the form of xin there is no special form
since then is nothing more than the practice of our life it follows that whatever forms her life takes
can be the forms of practice
even though that is so it doesn't mean that we're always aware of them
so our predecessors developed certain recognizable forms like zazen bowing chanting holding our hands this way or balls this way
and when we enter these forms we can recognize practice we can see it because it has a cheap
when i came to practice
i saw myself as a very ah
informal person
and a religious to
ha i wasn't really interested i didn't think in religion
and ha i didn't think i was interested in forms at least i wasn't i wasn't interested in ah i didn't think i was interested in ritual perhaps
and i was surprised to find
very quickly that
i loved the forms that we had an essential
ah this was a surprise to me
ah and i'll also say ha and this is of his leg out a bunch of really big questions that have that when i'd like to address ah that i saw
the r zen practice i saw it as zen buddhism
i understood it to be the practice of buddha dharma
buy some definition you might call a religion
as opposed to something called xin without the buddhism ah has a a has kind of a a practice or a path or something that was not religious but was was sort of was existential a few like
ah i always understood it is buddha dharma i don't know why
and a related to the forms that way
and then as i looked
at my life
i saw that i had been very tray very well trained in forms that i didn't see as forms
ha most that trading with the problem the reason that i saw myself as not religious and as opposed to ritual was because i had
ah religious training forced on me as a young person
and it was not particularly meaningful
ha i also was not skillfully delivered
haha but my training has such had had beaten into continues to be ah by training is a musician
my training as a musician was about training in a tradition or in traditions and other words learning a learning up a really deep
traditional artistic expression
and like xanax the the that expression was not
something that i was born to
it was something that resonated with me on such a deep level ah
you know as zanders sin
my roots by family roots are in eastern europe and in judaism ah but then fully resonated with me my ah
my musical roots or my cultural roots were in you not listen to a show tunes and rock and roll and ah when i heard these various southern music's and i play old-time music cajun music ha bluegrass
that was it you know that was like
that was that was but i wanted to do and have been doing blues also all of it is blues based actually
ah so i could not say necessarily this was my tradition but i trained in those forms
and spent time first
listening to everything that i could and then as he got little older playing with musicians from those regions and learning it first hand just as we do with xin so really body to body transmission and then playing out the forums
in terms of being in a in groups and bands that played this music together and learning how we had to interact in order to express ourselves so by the time it came to to then ha i had
i hatter an unconscious model
and i took to it very quickly maybe i took to it
ha too much
after while surgeon said to me
you should let things fall apart
because i was quite attached to these forms
and then when it came time for me to have lay ordination
because i think in nineteen eighty six
one of the to dharma names that he gave me
ah the first name is hose on which means dharma mountain in the second name ah which was something which is your dominate in which is more like and an essence that you need to bring forth
for yourself and that name was khushi de cool his emptiness or formlessness and cheeky is form
so as i said are often i can not use khushi key in general community because ah
it seems to me that referring to myself as mr formless form is it still edge
ah but the surgeon gave me that name
to point me in a direction
and i think that he is
a perfect
manifestation of
that principle a formless form ah he
had a kind of naturalness
about the way he moved in the zendo the way he moved in the world ah that was
one hundred and one hand very particular
and he was very particular he was he was the best teacher of the forms said
anyone can imagine and i feel like i benefited from that for so many years ah and all of us who grew up with him had some taste of that ah he was very precise about how you wore your robes how you
rang the bell how you did go show all of those things how you comport yourself in the zendo and how you comport yourself in the world ah and he he could be really particular and point to just that thing
can i think that quite a number of us have
have absorbed that
that is that's really important to me
so let me go back to
another piece that he wrote
ah because his experience was was cliff
similar to mine ah this is an essay that he wrote in nineteen eighty seven okay so we're talking about thirty four years ago
but wait yesterday would have been soldiers ninety second birthday
til we can take a moment just
send him a press

so this is an article that he wrote for par the minnesota in meditation centers magazine wooden borrow nineteen eighty seven
he says when i first came to the zendo the practice forms were foreign to me but the same time i respected them and wish to do them properly
it wasn't long before i realized that the teaching was right there within the forms
more properly the forms took on meaning according to my willingness to enter into them wholeheartedly
reading this last night and ha reading over my notes disappointing
ah it put a new a fresh energy it think polished up
ah the powers that we did shrink surface for that
the strength that i put into my chanting
it was really ah
a wonderful tonic
so then he says i realized that there's another side
daily life in the world which is not formal in the zendo sense
but nevertheless has its own forms
which are very strict that's true of forms about life are very strict even though we may not veto them is great
ah we can we'll explore i think one time to talk that how strict they are and how they are you experiencing suzuki roshi taught us that we should be able to freely entered the forms of either side with the same spirit
we often hear that there is no special form of zen
but in order to recognize something has to have a form
you can hear it see it touch it tasted smell it and think about it
but those forms are only formed are only the forms of zen when we entered them with the proper spirit and bring them to life
what is the proper spirit
the proper spirit is
wholehearted practice
in one of his fascicles ah dogan asked the rhetorical question
how'd you become a buddha
and he entrusted just throw yourself completely into the house and buddha
this is whole practice

i know for people who come here
as we has its this is gonna be more the case as we look ah
a to face to face practice people think the forms are ah elaborate and formal
but actually have our forms are pretty simple
ikoyi keiko i think you're unusual yeah
the forms that that suzuki roshi ah
transmitted to his disciples
we're doing the bare bones of soto zen practice but i think when you'll find which is wonderful is that the forms that we have here
or when you go to another temple in the tradition in particular you will recognize
everything you will feel at home there ah even though you may see that there's a way that we have simplified certain things ah but we have something essential and again i think this is part of surgeons incredible gift was
looking at
a formal approach
that derives from our monastic tradition
and applying it to this place which is fundamentally
ole practice center
and asking us to really do
a challenging formal practice
side by side with are challenging
and that those two sides can really
ha amplify and polish each other like stones tumbling in a you know in in a rock polisher
so this is a wonderful thing to consider
when the pandemic struck
and we had to move on line
soldiers approach was to simplify further
so that we could make
be because i think what he recognized was that
the pandemic was a very strict for
we have all these new forms or we had all his influence when we still have is a social distancing
social not going out not doing things with groups of people are wearing masks ah
using hand sanitizers washing marines lot all of this was his formal practice right
we had to train ourselves to do these things
and at least my understanding was that
at least in my sense of this was form
this was our new formal practice
also we had to struggle with as individuals and as an organization like how do we do this
how a we how do we maintain community here
via zoom
and just like every other form that one encounters
it's wonderful we have to say the practice of worms is to do the form whole heartedly
but the reason we have to say that he is that sometimes we have the wish or the habit
ah to resist or to do things half heartedly
you know ah
a lot of people probably many of you think as a great division about whether people like or zoom practice or not
what i really appreciate is that people have done it quite wholeheartedly
and shown up for these
for this last year and a half
and now we're about to make another shift and that one is gonna be even harder
because even though
we say that you know as distinction minx as a great way is not difficult if only you can avoid picking and choosing
well if we have a face to face practice can we have a hybrid tract is and we offer both
i'm sorry people are can have to choose what they do
ah and that is not i would not say that it's ideal
but i would say
that the practice law highs there in that question
without saying
which one is preferable to the other
the real questions how you make the choice and how you live it out wholeheartedly
that's that's the question
so we simplified
many of the
forms that we have in the zendo and now we're going to pass to
start them up again
at least people bring the zendo and also i want to think about or how can that be shared with people until you know you know that that reality is shifting is there are other forms the more for
normal forms that are appropriate for
ah for all of us in the zoom context as well and there something that ah
hey welcome input on
but what i would like to do
it is
figure out how to institute
a training what training and zendo forms train for our a service leaders dawns tokyo's two kiddos ha and make sure that there's a lot of to are a lot of new people who joined us since the pandemic that they can ah
that these forms will be taught to them in a way that they can use them ah and that enhances their practice as they come to this ando
so we can support that formal side
so i'm hoping that
beginning in august's high and i think some of the other senior students will ah will do some teaching these forms so that their shared widely
and ha
i think that's an important thing to do i think and i've been i have heard from some people ah you know they're they're people who are concerned about whether the practice that we did for years the practice that we that we have from sojourn dose
she and suzuki roshi and our tradition ha
will it continue as it did with the cut with the beauty of the forms and i'd like to
reassure you that that is my very strong attention
i'm really looking forward to two working on this and doing doing this kind of training and to offering it widely and figuring out how to offer it what portion of it to offered
via zoom as well
so that's on my mind and ah
hi you may have some thoughts about that
but in this last section i'd like to the a lot of time for discussion what i want to circle back to
his sojourns other point

that is essentially
what are the forms of practice what are the zen forms of practice in your daily life
how does zazen
flow through your daily activities
how do
you use particulars
buddhist teachings
how do you see your life in that formal sense
one of the things i think about about soto's in
and you know this can be really
this can be really worked on in a monastic setting
ah is that
sotos in
you could see it as
the rich realization of your entire life
and i don't mean that in a dry way or a dead way but in a living way to me ritual is alive playing music this ritual
ah putting on my mask
is ritual
you know as i'm walking down the street you know pulled down my mask and it's a noticing that somebody is a period and i put up my mask that's a ritual
ritual beans
a kind of at repeated activity
and what i find that ritual as it's something that
i really have to put it where mind and body come together
it's a physical action
and when you really train in a ritual then it becomes second nature to you you just you just do it not necessarily without with thinking about it but
in the development of their practice there has to be thought and consideration
because i'm thinking about some my dowling audi's
bowing is a ritual
dime is you know you could say there's one act bowing
you know ten years ago
i enjoyed my bowing
derek mean i could
kenneth lower myself carefully
raise my hands and get up
without using my hands
bike is kind of
reorienting my body in
swinging myself a little backwards i could just stand up said oh that's very good i could do a good bow you know now
i need two hands to get up and i had to be really careful going down because i have a beard me and if i do something stupid if i if i'm not really thinking attending to the
the way my weight shifts both going down and getting up then harm
got a further hurt my knee and so that's bowing today it's not the same as bowing yesterday
so a ritual is a fluid thing
we develop our ways of interacting them
in the same thing is true
it's easy to see in light of the changes we've had to do for the pandemic
but what of the other rituals severe like what is the rituals of your life in relation to your family what are the rituals of life in relation to your work
ha water those rituals in relation to how you communicate with people
how you hold your body
these are very important formal practices
i i think again that ah
sojourn was a wonderful teacher
in that realm
one of the things that he says
ah in this piece in new tab
the from minnesota magazine

i really enjoyed imitating suzuki roshi
i always tried to do things the way he did them
in much the same way that i followed the forms in the zendo
this is true for many of his disciples and i see it and and disciples of other teachers as well
studying with him was like an apprenticeship
suzuki roshi himself said once that imitating the teachers a very common practice
said sometimes you can't tell the students from the teacher
the object ago of course is that after the student fully absorb the teacher the student fully becomes him or herself and develops in his or her only
i can see
in my mind's eye
the way my teachers
i can see sojourns bow very clearly
i can see category roshi
i can see ah he showed off hiroshi who was my teacher is alex is teacher each each one of them i can feel the way they move their body within my body
and i think that there are other people in our lives that we also model ourselves on in the way people may have expressed themselves what they did
and that was also part of my journey
as a musician
having learned having listened
to the breadth of the traditions that i studied
and having learned from
the traditional musicians the older generation that i have access to
there came a point it was a natural evolution
by which
i had to find my own way
my own sound on the instrument
my own ornamentation in singing
this is what happens you follow closely and closely
and then hopefully
each of us discovers our own true way that's the the wonderful thing about ritual and form is that and superior she talked about that that that it gives you a structure
for your deepest personal expression
even though that may appear very subtle even though everybody may appear to be doing the same thing
each of us is expressing ourselves even equally uniquely
and that's why that's that's what gives us
ha gives us something to work with for our whole lives
so i can not gonna stop there
can i'm really i'm you may have questions about anything that they said i'm particularly interested in knowing ah
as i said
what are the forms and practices of your daily life
ah how do you see your zen practice manifesting
and i'd like to have what you can encourage ah people who are ah
it hasn't it to talk sometimes to come forward with like to hear what you have to say and people who have who are often speaking to this hold back a bit ah
berta i think a turn it over the heiko i think it's going to call on people are looking at your digital hands and your your actual and right
thank you goes on for your wonderful talk yes i everyone please prepare your questions and i will call on you in turn if you would like you can enter your question in the chat and i will present it the hogan for you please bring your questions thank you

i see laurie holden one secondary let me bring you up
come what kept what i kept thinking about as you are talking is something that we're sort i never quite thought of it this way but we're i feel like what we're embarking on as a saga is sort of like the rituals of how we talk to each other
and we have these guidelines which are kind of like can make it make it more formal you know to to let ourselves except ummah some level of formality
and how we talked to each other particularly in sort of public settings but
yeah i think that's one of the things that we've been learning the course of ah this last year and a half of course we've always been learning this but i'm
somehow i'm not sure why
this medium seems to heighten i think maybe because to some degree it's it's less embodied ah it seems to heighten our need for attention to nigeria
but i think it's good i think it's been really helpful this one the positive aspects of what we've what we've encountered during during this time

thank you judith he said go ahead with your question
okay they can thank you hassan
i was wondering or this is question of zone men and person
wondering how you approach so to speak memory the body i like funny the poignant say that this is the time of
surgeons birthday and it's the first year
ah in recent years that were not have
k through you know it up for something celebration or tea and cookies utah
and so i'm experiencing that in my body
yet we are in some slight hill reverse raleigh
i'm there then
and i'm here now and i can feel his hand down surgeon in all of us
very intimately
so how how often that fee
somehow connected to the ritual practice practice of ritual
at the moment i'm hearing two things in what you're saying
one he is
this vast question have
how does each of us
in body the loss losses that we experience in our lives and that's not to me that started zoom question is subsets that's desk kind of an overarching question you know ah and i think that one of the ways what i would respond
two that is
i've done is i've remembered his birthday
ah and
then i spent several days looking through
materials and talks by him
ah in order to give this talk which brings me to life right premium to life and then the last thing that can read you about how
her teachers live in us whether alive or dead
he's also that's that's the embodied
activity of

goggins fourth ah
his force teaching or of far
identity action it's like these people live in us so that's that's what i would say to the airport the other part of the question on

we need some re-education
in our forms
surprise when we come back they're stuffed it mostly it's in our bodies for those of us have added but there's a lot of people here who haven't had that experience and i would like to have that ah so that we can all be doing this together and sharing that wonderful ah the wonderful practice ah
have q i have to remember stuff so it is kind of retraining
so so re realigning once body with his activities and that won't take for a long for those of the habit because it's there but he knew it gets can kill bill
i thank you for your question questions
thank you judy mary has a question mary please go ahead
thank you have is on
i've been thinking opened over the last year i have
a struggle about doing zazen at home on my space's and dedicated to zaza like dedicated and meaning single use so that nerds the face that i you do other things him and there's this business has been distracted and some recent years some different
from being
in the zendo which is and the single use this is what i'm here to do kind of feeling that is just you know in viewed in everything we do their including the things we were ah
i'm on the other side of that
during the mountain seat ceremony i borrow someone's lay robes because of that because it seemed like the ceremony called for that and i was very impressed with how much that enhanced the feeling of retooled how it
settled me and ah
and become a part in part because when you're wearing that much clock you'll have to pay attention to help him move so there's some practical parliament but i think it was more than that
the make mike sullivan searching for a question question between is to do things like under this both ah how do we enhance our practice particularly the experience of zazen when we
when we were the same thing or when may do the same thing at when we have a the same do it in the same place in in the same way that that on the one hand and how to how to create that when one is on one's own and it feels like
a different task to me to try to bring that
dedication in all senses of the word of them of dedication but single use and also intent i think that's my machine that's skin well i'm
the simple responses aren't by yourself away room
and and then put it on good as lawson is morning with your year of or home with solves the problem
jimena does not a lot more decided that it's you have how do you create the space is the thing that
ah where oliver space with the this is this is one of the things that we learn in chaplaincy training is that ha the idea is that you embody
the sacred space
and so do what in a rude and you do that by being in that context you you present
a non anxious presence that is very spacious two people is the irrespective of what clothes you wear but arm
if the close create a space
you know i'd almost always have have have robes and hi okay so on preseason ah and ah you can do with corresponding thing
thank you merely have a question from jerry please go ahead jury
beauty the morning host on thank you for your talk aviv i wonder if what you meant was
something that i started to find myself doing and i realized it was a transmission from sojourn having watched him in his office just do ordinary things like how he made tea how he held his cup how he put them know the to
he and the pot exactly so and i found myself
during the pandemic
ritual icing
ah my morning activity is such a way that there was much less filling of anything
very concentrated you know turn the burglar alarm off turn the coffee on go to the refrigerator and get the dogs with whatever you know this this kind of ritual that would take maybe you know fifteen minutes for the whole thing and it felt it
felt like i was i
i was practicing
is that what you mean by bringing it into your life yes but what i would but i would my experience ah is that
there was a whole lot more spaciousness in the early months of the pandemic
at we had more time
and that was one of things is the surgeon was was pointing to you know he said well
you can see this is the kind of retreat
and for a while it was more like that then i got busy
you know how it got busier as this is the it out each
the law of entropy you know ah
so but at the beginning gets that and that's the kind of thing that it's really good for us to be doing
throughout our lives to create that spaciousness not to rush ah not to do everything not to do things naturally preciously this is another lesson from music you know it's like it'll clean you do you sometimes you really have to dig in and play hard ah
can but ah to do it with precision and a whole heart of this
the thank you
what a lovely discussion or pauline a question please go ahead
writing has an i think and i am
you are in talking about year and practice of treating yourself in the forms you mentioned a second nature which is a concept that i've been thinking about a lot lately and i think tear
i answered the question you threw out about how you know of farms and our daily lives for me the idea of second nature has been something i've been thinking about a lot lately in my own life because if the idea that you can educate train yourself in in new ways of being which in time become no less natural than than what was their but
for and i really liked the way that breaks down the distinction between ham what's inborn and what's acquired and data it remains me also of what i did love about the forums when we were on practicing together in the sender that i'm finding new ways to to behave in a way that
where's was new to me but then could become natural as i didn't get to do it for very long before am before the pandemic started so i will clearly needs some of that re-education bet am but thank you for reminding me about one aspect of of what i loved about practice in the sender
thank you thank you pauline welded second nature is of funny expression action other you think about it ah are there two natures
yeah i mean that's a that's a that's really is in question or two teenagers or isn't one ah yeah i think the way i often think about it is perhaps there's when nature but there is in sort of infinite number of ways to remind ourselves at it
i think the thing is that one nature is not the nature is not fixed
great that is in our nature is always
maybe there's something that we inherit genetically ah but whatever we do
from day one is a matter of training
ah it occurred to me here's a form that i have ah in daily life ah clear what it is not relevant to the the the question did you not relevant to your to your question or comment but perhaps indirect
lee you know
for a long time i did prison work
and when i would go into the prison ah be always have to have an encounter with somebody hadn't desk
who has the authority to let you win or not let you in
and that person
you know irrespective of how they're how they're feeling there's a train to ah
to call you sir
nate can call you sir in a kind way the bitcoin user can an arrogant way whatever it is but after half a while
i just felt
this is a really respectful way
to engage with people
and so i started
doing now in my life you know saying sir or ma'am
ah to everybody you know to the checkout person to the to the waiter and you know thanking them but using that kind of little formal a think it comes from people who have it basically comes from sir military
training but it's really risky it's essentially respectful and that's a part of my practice now ha and i enjoy it because it it away to its press ah a recognition and respect to beings we encounter

thank you we have a couple of comments or questions in the chatbox vs from nina's record thank you hose on she says for that never too frequent and ever needed reminder that our whole life is our practice your very last point about formal training provide
riding the structure upon which one's own individual unique qualities find expression reminds me of that very teaching provided by eric hawkins as he taught dance
jane don't worry about needing to express your individuality he used to say he will come through the form without you are trying you can't help but express it
when does
under vol agony nina
and while we're here philip gerard says the beauty of ritual is that it brings us into mindfulness almost automatically anything that reminds us to be mindful in our daily life is a good thing
yes i really i agree on
and that's a way you can look it looked at from the other angle that's a way that you're bringing ah you're breaking your buddhist practice during everyday life ah mindfulness and there's
it doesn't have to be
there's a less formal modality of mindfulness that that some of the caravan teachers speak up which is not necessarily the four foundations of mindfulness but it's just
this general awareness of where you are and what you're doing it's it's a broader kind of mindfulness and are you know i think that it's also
another another practice that i have a which integrator which brings practice into my daily life is just ah
remembering this expression that search is that certain gave me to sit where are your feet
so just to remember
can any given moment to to start you just need to stop for a second and just say where are your feet and as soon as i didn't have even to mean natural tendencies like or uncrossed my legs i put my feet on the ground you readjust you realign your body
and then you meet the next moment
i think that's a really good place to stop so thank you very much and are
enjoy the summer weather and i don't stay out too long in the