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So good morning, everyone. It's great to be with you this lovely late fall morning. Some high clouds moving in, rain forecast for tonight, tomorrow. And a special welcome to any of you if this happens to be your first time at Berkeley Zen Center. I remember my first time. So lately I've been thinking a lot about home. I've been thinking about the millions of refugees around the world who have been driven from their homes and their homeland due to war, political strife, ethnic cleansing, I've also been thinking about recently the millions of people who have been driven from their homes, made homeless through natural calamities, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, firestorms, including our own recent North Bay fires just last month.


I've been thinking about our home planet, which is currently under so much stress, largely due to humans, myself included. I've been thinking about the dreamers who are currently under great fear of being forced to move to a country they've never lived in. This is their home. I've been thinking about the homeless in our streets and in our parks, including the folks who live in the makeshift shelters on the median strips on Adeline, the one on Russell and Adeline, which I walk past each Monday morning when I come here to sit.


I've been thinking how so many of the homeless are being forced to leave their homes, these tent shelters, and how difficult that is for them. I've been thinking about the Sierra Nevada as my home, Mount Diablo where I hike so often as my home. I've been thinking about Pleasant Hill where I live with Leslie and our two cats. I've been thinking how home can be a place of refuge for many of us, including this place, this temple, Old Plum Mountain. I've been thinking how Zazen is home, how this cushion is home, how this one is home, how everywhere we go is home.


I check the etymology for home. And the Old English says it's from H-A-M, ham, for dwelling place. And out of curiosity, I checked the etymology for house. The Old English is H-U-S, hus, meaning same thing, dwelling place. Today, these words are usually not used, well, they're often used interchangeably. But as the saying goes, a house is not a home. As that suggests, there are different connotations. House typically refers to a shelter, a building. Home includes that, certainly, but also memories and feelings and emotions associated with that place. I did a Google search for home.


And I found literally hundreds and hundreds of instances in which home appeared in titles of films, titles of books, titles of poems, plays, essays. There are many aphorisms with home as a theme. There are also, of course, famous lines in books and in movies and plays and songs that contain the word home. Who can ever forget Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, clutching her Toto to her bosom, and at the prompting of Glinda the Good, Dorothy closed her eyes, tapped the heels of her ruby slippers together three times, and said, Maybe that's one we'd all like to forget, but not me.


Well, as Mary said, I am a retired, a happily retired school teacher. And one of my favorite references to home and children's literature is found in a book that my sixth graders and I would often study together. Kenneth Graham's The Wind in the Willows. Now, most people are familiar with the story and certainly the Disney version. Most people are quite familiar with Toad and his motor car. Perhaps not so much familiar with the characters of Mole, Rat, Badger, Otter. I'd like to read a selection from the chapter in The Wind in the Willows titled Dulce Domum, or Sweet Home. The context for what I'm going to read is that Mole has abandoned his own sweet home, underground home, which he built, and during a fit of spring house cleaning,


He burst from his home and made his way toward the river, the Wild River, and met his friend to be Ratty and took up residence with Rat. And the part I'm going to read is where Mole and Rat are returning from seeing Badger in the Wildwood. It's getting dark. There's snow on the ground, it's late winter, and rat and mole are making their way back to their home, Ratty's home. So if you'll indulge me. They plotted along steadily and silently, each of them thinking their own thoughts. The moles ran a good deal on supper. as it was pitch dark, and it was all a strange country to him, as far as he knew.


And he was following obediently in the wake of the rat, leaving the guidance entirely to him. As for the rat, he was walking a little way ahead, as his habit was, his shoulders slumped, his eyes fixed on the straight gray road in front of him. So he did not notice poor Mole, poor Mole, when suddenly the summons reached him and took him like an electric shock. We others, who have long lost the more subtle of the physical senses, have not even proper terms to express an animal's intercommunications with his surroundings. living or otherwise, and have only the word smell, for instance, to include the whole range of delicate thrills which murmur in the nose of the animal night and day.


summoning, warning, inciting, repelling. It was one of these mysterious fairy calls from out the void that suddenly reached Mole in the darkness, making him tingle through and through with its very familiar appeal, even while as yet he could not clearly remember what it was. He stopped dead in his tracks. his nose searching hither and thither in its efforts to recapture the fine filament, the telegraphic current that had so strongly moved him. A moment, and he had caught it again. And with it this time came recollection in fullest flood. That was what they meant, those caressing appeals, those soft touches wafted through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging all one way.


Why, it must be close by him at that moment, his old home that he had hurriedly forsaken and never sought again that day when he first found the river. And now it was sending out its scouts and its messengers to capture him and bring him in. The home had been happy with him and was missing him and wanted him back and was telling him so through his nose, sorrowfully, reproachfully, but with no bitterness or anger, only with plaintive reminder that it was there and wanted him. I characterize this in a way as Mole's way-seeking nose.


Well, Mole's experience reminded me, and has reminded me, when I once felt my own home, calling me to return. I was 22, living in San Francisco, very lonely, disconnected with pretty much everything, dreadfully unhappy, pondering the meaning of life as 22-year-olds will do. And what was I going to do with mine? To this day, I can recall in graduate school, sitting in an anthropology class, when I began to daydream in the strongest of daydreaming terms. I was on a Greyhound bus, somewhere around Warwick, if you know where that is, on Highway 101, heading north.


heading north toward my boyhood home of Gasky, which is a village of a few hundred people nestled on the banks at the confluence of the North Fork and the Smith Fork of the Smith River, not far south from the Oregon border. I had lived in Gasky on a ranger station when I was little. My father worked for the U.S. Forest Service on the Six Rivers National Forest. We lived in a small cabin, maybe four or five rooms, and it was literally just a stone's throw from the Smith River. This was a very happy time for me before my mother went into a great depression. It was a time when I would spend summers climbing trees, it's great fun, especially pine trees, and falling out of trees sometimes. It was a time of me building rafts with my friends and floating down the Gentle Smith River in July and August.


It was a time of me riding my bike carefree on the back roads with no cars. In the winter, there were big storms, torrential rain, rain that I'd never experienced before. This last season, Gatsky had 156 inches of rain, some 40 inches in one month. It comes down in buckets. This was the time I first experienced snow, building snow people, snowmen. I attended a one-room schoolhouse that was divided by pulling a curtain across the room so that the 1st through 4th graders could be separated from the 5th through 8th graders. It was called Mountain School. My favorite recess activity was Capture the Flag, which all grades played together, 1st grade through 8th grade. I made my first real friend there, a fellow named Roger Neeson.


So a few weeks after my anthro class vision, I found myself getting off the Greyhound at Gasky with no idea with what was going to happen, no idea whether I could find a place to stay, but I had my own way-seeking mind And I had great trust in what I was doing, confidence. While walking, meandering the back roads of Gadsky, looking for possible places I could crash or maybe rent, I was surprised when a boy came up and over this one-lane road I was on, smiled and waved at me. And I sort of half-heartedly, Now, just coming from San Francisco, of course, that just doesn't happen with strangers. Anyway, I took this to be a propitious sign.


Well, I did end up renting a one-room cabin with a few other cabins nearby in the woods on a bank above the Middle Fork of the Smith River, not a quarter mile from where I'd grown up on the ranger station. I recently came across a book of poems titled, The Place That Inhabits Us. This title well describes my relationship to Gadsky. I did various things while living there when I was 22. I studied the trees, learned their names. I discovered trails to walk. I learned the names of the stars and constellations with the dark skies. I smoked, hmm, I had crossed this out, but I'll say it, I did smoke some pot with a high school buddy who would come up and see me. I picked up a lot of litter.


This was my self-appointed job at the time. I also read a lot of books. One paperback stands out. Zen mind, beginner's mind. I really liked it. I began sitting Zazen. It was during my sojourn to Gatsky too that I decided to become a teacher. So the following summer, I remember just before I moved back to San Francisco to try to get into school for getting a credential, that's another story. there was this big forest fire that erupted, this was in July, and actually threatened to burn down a good section of Gatsby, including possibly my little cabin. But fortunately it was contained at the village's edge. As many of you know, after we chant the Heart Sutra together during service, there's often an echo.


little end piece, in which the Kokyo, the chant leader, makes a dedication and then encourages us to continue our practice, even in adversity, and to avert the destruction of fire, water, wind, and earth. Last month, the North Bay, the wine country, did not avert the destruction of fire. I found myself during that time going online frequently to check the status of the fires. Like many of you, I suppose, I had friends and former colleagues who lived up in Sonoma and Napa and Mendocino counties. I tried to find out if they were okay, including our dear Dharma brother, Walter Kieser. who's in Geyserville, and his home was not far from the pocket fire. He was okay, and he is okay, and his house survived.


Over 100,000 people were forced to flee their homes in that complex of fires. And they had to wait many days before they could return to their neighborhoods to see if they had a home to return to. Some of the worst hit areas were in Santa Rosa, which I know well, including the Coffee Park neighborhood, which was ravaged by the Tubbs fire. In the end, more than 6,000 people returned home. in the North Bay to find that they had no place. There were only charred ruins, skeletal brick fireplaces, remnants of seared appliances, ash-covered bits of pottery, burnt-out hulks of cars. Nick Nolte wrote at the time about the fire victims in his native son column, the San Francisco Chronicle. He wrote, the most difficult thing is not being able to go home. That's where you always go when things are not going well.


You go home to sit in a chair, to go to your kitchen, to be in your own bedroom. To have no home is to be like a fish out of water. Now, I've never been homeless. But I did feel like a fish out of water during my early 20s. It was sort of a homelessness of the mind. I really recall at the time, liking Bob Dylan's lyrics, how does it feel to be without a home? Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone. Uchiyama Roshi recalls that his own teacher, Koto Sawaki Roshi, said this about homelessness. This is from the book, The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo. People call me Homeless Kodo, but I don't think they particularly intend to disparage me. They say homeless probably because I never had a temple or owned a house. Anyway, all human beings without exception are in reality homeless.


It's a mistake to think we have a solid home. This certainly rings true. Nothing is permanent. Life is transient. As an aside, my former cabin in the woods has long since been torn down and replaced now by a string of new homes, making it now impossible to access the river where I once lived in Gaskey. The saying, you can't go home again, comes to mind, and that's true. After all, Places are turned down. Family members die. Neighbors move away. Friends are gone. But this is only one way to look at home. In Zen, we sometimes hear, you are always home, wherever you are. It's just that you don't realize it. So how can we be home wherever we are? In her book, Seeds for a Boundless Life, Zen Teachings from the Heart, Zenkei Blanche Hartman writes, Find your home wherever you are.


This means to realize that wherever you are is home. Not to be seeking for some special place, to be making some cozy nest. Pleasant Hill. But to find yourself at home wherever you are, in whatever circumstances you may be, right here, in this very body, in this very place, is home. She continues, can you meet your life as it is and say, just this is enough? Or are you always looking for something more? That's where suffering comes in. This isn't enough. I need something more. Then it always feels as if something were lacking. How can we meet our life as it is wholeheartedly? Just like this. This is what our practice is. That is finding our home in the midst of homelessness right here.


Blanche is referencing the Second Noble Truth when she says, this isn't enough. I need something more. This yearning for something different, for something more, perhaps at times even for something less, is our, what I call, existential homelessness. As I mentioned earlier, at Gaskey, I began sitting Zazen. I found it was a good practice for me. course, I'm not alone in the view that it's a good practice. In her book, Blanche writes, those of us who have chosen Zen practice have discovered that sitting Zazen is a good thing. This is how you can find your home right where you are, this just sitting, just being this one as it is, finding yourself at home and at peace with this one. She's asking us, how can we meet our life as it is, wholeheartedly, just like this, right here, right now?


When sitting Zazen, we have an opportunity to meet our life right here, right now. We have an opportunity to resume what Suzuki Roshi calls big mind. In Not Always So, Suzuki Roshi says, When we practice zazen, it is not that big mind is actually controlling small mind, but simply that when small mind becomes calm, big mind starts its true activity. Most of the time in our everyday life, we are involved in the activity of small mind. That is why we should practice zazen and be completely involved in resuming big mind. So when I sit, It's not that I am doing Zazen. Zazen is doing Zazen. Suzuki Roshi has more to say about Big Mind. To exist in big mind is an act of faith, which is different from the usual faith of believing in a particular idea or being.


It is to believe that something is supporting us and supporting all our activities, including thinking mind and emotional feelings. All these things are supported by something big that has no form or color. It is impossible to know what it is, but something exists there, something that is neither material nor spiritual. Something like that always exists in space, and we exist in space. That is the feeling of pure being. The sentence that grabbed me, it's impossible to know what it is, but something exists there. That's a good koan. Suzuki Roshi also talks about direct experience, which I think relates very much to home. Direct experience will come when you are completely one with your activity, when you have no idea of self.


This could be when you are sitting, but it could also be whenever your way-seeking mind is strong enough to forget your selfish desires, when your practice is good enough, whatever you see, whatever you do, That is the direct experience of reality. I'd say directly experiencing reality means that there's no separation, no gap between myself and what's out there, between the doer and the doing. Consider riding a bike. There's a bike, a rider, a road, but the direct experience is just riding. riding, not separating oneself from the bike and the road. I'd say, that's home. I recall the boy in Gaskey riding his bike, seeing me and smiling and waving.


I'd say he was home. Sojin Roshi wrote on the back of my raka suit, a quote from Dogen. which I like because it reminds me that I am always home. The true person is not anyone in particular, but like the deep blue color of the limitless sky, it is everyone, everywhere in the world. Thank you for giving me that. In conclusion, I'd say that study is important, and having a teacher is good. Our practice, though, is to find out the what is this for ourselves. The various what's are koans for us. As Suzuki Roshi says, to accept some idea of truth without experiencing it is like a painting of a cake on paper, which you cannot eat.


To find out for ourselves, our Zen ancestors and teachers have encouraged us to sit Zazen, which has been good advice for me. and I am grateful for it. I really doubt if I would have discovered this practice on my own. Thank you. Sojin Roshi, do you have any comments? I think we have some time for questions. Where's there's there done. Do you have five o'clock, and you have a clock. Okay, so if you have a question you'd like to make Ross. Thank you for your question.


Well, my middle age loneliness manifested when I was in my early 40s, living in Pleasant Hill and happily married. And I was in grad school getting a doctorate. And I enjoyed it immensely going to school at USF. But at our lunch break on the weekends, I remember going up to the top floor and looking toward Marin where I could see the Golden Gate in the hills. And Leslie was sitting at Green Gulch doing classes over there. And that got me to thinking, you know, I'm really unhappy now. Something's missing in my life. I don't know what it is. I don't know what it is. There was a dissatisfaction and The fact that she was over there, I thought, I wanna go back to trying sitting. And so, when I was done with my doctorate in 95, I did.


Went to first Spirit Rock, and then Green Gulch. And I remember walking into Zendo, it was one of those days with Ed Brown and Patricia Sullivan, and immediately feeling, this is where I want to be, and plop myself on the cushion. And then we were facing the walls, Ed Brown walked around, I didn't know he was going to do this, putting his hands on my shoulders and adjusting my posture. And that reawakened my, what, way-seeking mind and prompted me to find this place, which was closer. And the rest is history. Right now, I don't know. I don't consider myself to be a middle-aged man anymore. Almost 70. I feel very at home. At ease. Yeah.


Thank you. Hozan. Haha. It's mysterious.


I don't know that I have an off-the-hand answer to that, but I know what you mean. I have that same experience when I go to the mountains. It's just the same thing. And so rather than try to figure it out, I just zap it up, enjoy it. It's different for each of us. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Can. Yes. That's great.


Let's see. Penelope, but I want to see your other heart. Luminous heart. Thank you. Yeah, breath, breath is home.


This one, wherever we are, yeah. I see the striker is being held, so what's that mean? Five, means stop. Does this mean stop? Oh, you have a question. Jed. Okay. What I wanted to say, I grew up with all these intellectual people and I was so young and I wasn't able to read a chapter book until I found the winded books. Thank you.