Including the Self

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Good morning. Good morning. It's my pleasure to introduce our speaker today, Lori Sinaki. Lori is a longtime Zen student. Began her practice, I'm guessing, about 30 years ago. Included time at Tassajara, and she also was, in the early days, working at Green's Restaurant, and eventually found her way here to BCC. and has lived here for a long time with her husband, Hozon. And they raised their two children, Sylvie and Alice, who are now young adults living back east. Lori was Shuso about 10 years ago and is one of the practice leaders guiding us in our aspects of practice period right now. So we're looking forward to hearing what she has to say today. Good morning. Good morning. So, some portion of us are doing a small, short practice period called Aspects of Practice that we do in the fall.


And this fall, where our study topic is, and the senior students have been talking, discussing, an essay of Dogen's called Bendowa, Wholehearted Way. And I've missed some of the talks because I did leave to go back east, so I'm not always feeling like I'm completely in the conversation, but here I am. And I've enjoyed the classes we've had. And one of the central themes of this, well, the central theme of Bendowa is Zazen, as it often is with Dogen Zenji's writings. And he has this phrase in there that doesn't appear in later works, I don't believe, but it's a bit of a puzzling phrase called Jiju Yuzami. It's kind of like the cornerstone of this text.


And it means something like self-fulfilling samadhi or self-receiving samadhi. And it's, to me, a very puzzling term, so similar to what we're trying not to do in some way, you know, self-fulfilling. at an early meeting of the senior students that were talking this text, I think Alan or somebody quoted, we're using this book called Wholehearted Way by, I guess it's the text of Uchiyama Roshi translated by Shouhaku Okamura. Anyway, in this, Uchiyama, so like it's kind of third hand, but he's quoting his teacher as saying, describing what this means, Jiji Uzumai, the self making the self into the self. When I was making my notes for this talk, I had this image of drawing a little picture of eye rolling next to it. I wrote that phrase out and then I wanted to draw this little picture of eye rolling next to that phrase because it really, it doesn't do anything for me.


I'm sorry. And I'm looking around the room and the other senior students are like nodding and I'm like, what? It doesn't make sense. It doesn't mean anything. So, anyway, where I've come, arrived at with this whole thing, is that he's pointing us to the terrain that is both the delusion and the enlightenment. He's pointing us to the self, which is where our confusion is, therefore where our release is going to come. And I think that in other, like in the Genjo Koan, which we studied last spring in the practice period, he talks about the same thing. He says things like, to carry the self forward and realize the 10,000 things is delusion. That the 10,000 things come forth and realize the self is enlightenment.


And I feel like that's the same, you know, thinking that that's kind of what he means by Jiju Yuzumi. I'm finding a sort of more elegant, graceful way, perhaps, to say it. Anyway, and I am not going to talk in any kind of scholarly explication of Dogen this morning. I want to tell a couple stories about times in my life when I might have been experiencing DGUSMI. Who knows? Maybe. It's possible. Before I get to those stories, I wanted to talk about the ego in a particular way. I want to talk about the ego as the part of us that appears when we get scared. We can get scared by many different things, us humans. It's kind of a very familiar and normal state, I think, for humans to be in, to get scared.


We can be scared by physical threats or illness, make us feel physically threatened. And we have a lot of ways, the more mysterious or sort of maybe abstract or conceptual almost ways to get scared, you know, when we don't feel seen or we don't feel that the other has us in mind in some way, you know, like just some feeling. I feel sometimes and I think I've heard other people express and a lot of people feel it, just some feeling like we're not being factored in, you know what I mean? Just we're not being factored in somehow and it's scary, it's very scary and we also have And you know, it's actually possible that we are being factored in, which is part of what makes it complicated, because when we are in this state of ... when this fearful being has appeared in our psyches,


we actually don't have the other in mind. I mean, we don't see the others in their suchness, in their complexity, in who they really are. We see them in terms of this issue, whatever the issue is, whether they're kind of for us or against us. So, we're going around and we're sometimes having each other in mind and sometimes not, and sometimes factoring others in and sometimes not. So, it's not so off base to feel like you might not be being factored in. And you have to factor yourself in, too. And, you know, we all have different places we go when we're scared. Some of us withdraw, some of us lash out, some people try to connect, some people try to push away. And so you can't always tell the other person's not doing the same thing you're doing. So you can't always tell. in which you often can't tell what the other person is doing, although we kind of can have an instinct for when the other person is scared, and often that will scare us.


And it's kind of a little virus that can pass around. It's very human, it's very normal. And so I'm proposing this morning, just for this morning today, that what we need to do is to take this being, this being that's appeared through fear and anxiety, take this being by the hand, gently and firmly, and bring them into the circle of experience beside us, side by side. Not in front so that we can't see anything else, and not behind pushing us and driving us to in these behaviors, but just respectfully and appreciatively, gently and firmly by the hand. And I know we always talk about letting go, but this morning flipping it and talking about holding on and not letting that being be alone.


And I'm further proposing that this is what Zazen is. That Zazen is to take your ego gently and firmly by the hand and bring it into the light, into the circle of experience. And you know, so we're all sitting in here and maybe if you're sitting and facing the wall, you may feel like you don't know what you're doing or you may be wondering if you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. But if someone comes into the room and looks around, and most of us have had that experience on one occasion or another, it's very clear what's happening, right? People are sitting together in stillness and silence. And that's what's happening. There's no question. And egos, you know, people and Christians with egos might be chattering away in a variety of ways, but that's not what's happening. What's happening is We're sitting together in stillness and silence.


And as Raul said, I think, in his class, there's no success and failure. That's why. Because we're doing it. We're doing what we came here to do. We're doing what we said we were going to do and we're doing what we intended to do. And that feeling of that is the feeling I'm talking about with that you've got your ego gently and firmly by the hand. If it appears, and if it doesn't appear, that's fine too. So I'm just going to tell a couple stories, and I'm feeling a little nervous and you know, about telling these stories. Sometimes when I am presented with the possibility of giving a talk, there's this, give me, give me, kind of feeling, which is scary.


You know, I don't know. So this was kind of the feeling I had here. So I'm going to try to give this talk that told me, give me, give me. But I'm not sure I can. I'm not totally sure I can pull it off. So the first story is something that happened about a year ago, a little over a year ago, when my sister and I had to pack up our family home, and pack it up to get ready to sell it. And I went up there for a week, and also I had two cousins that came to help us, and they were from two different sides of the family, so they didn't know each other. But they were both very wonderful, about evangelical Christians who were very right-wing politically. So that was in the room. What was in the room was what we couldn't talk about in a way.


And so before they arrived, my sister and I were, and we were all, I mean, my sister and I were both pretty anxious, an overwhelmed feeling. This is like an overwhelming thing to do. And we weren't sure we could do it and whether we were able to do it and how to do it and what kind of help we would need. And we were pretty much totally, you know, overwhelmed. But we just sort of started to, you know, brainstorm, what do we need to do? We got together. I arrived and we sat down, okay, what do we need to do? And we sort of figured out that we would need movers. We were like really raw about this, you know. we need movers and should we get the pod that you put there and fill yourself or should we get the people who come help us and so we were kind of and I was my sister and I have these have a kind of we have things divided where I'm the one who does stuff and she is the one who feels stuff you know and so I'm often the one who will be the one who's doing something


And so I got on the computer and started surfing around trying to figure out about these pods and who does them and how do you do it and how much are they and what do the movers help you with and just a million different things. And so we kind of, by that process, we narrowed it down to what we wanted to do and then, you know, click some link and then we got this Yelp page with, you know, and I just, Yelp overwhelms me. I don't know about you, but. And that was the point where for me, something turned inside and I said, I can't deal with this. I can't, I have no, I can't pick from this. And I turned to my sister and I said, why don't you, why don't you pick? And she was perfectly willing, but you know, I kind of get stuck sometimes in like where I go when I get scared is to kind of, I've got to do something, you know, So that was a moment for me of turning it over and in a way bringing my ego in because I felt overwhelmed and I said, I can't do this.


This is freaking me out. And there was room for that. And she, it turns out, she enjoys that. She can look at that whole list and with a more feeling kind of way, intuitive way, pick somebody. And she did and we got these incredibly great movers. And we got to know them, you know, because it's very personal actually you get to know people They're in your home and stuff So that for me that kind of set the tone and then when my cousins came I felt like we just kept I mean at any point any one of us could get totally overwhelmed and Or could have a type of dirt or whatever that we didn't want to deal with a type of stuff that we didn't want to sort Because this was a house, I mean I don't want to go into the details, but this was a house from attic to basement full of stuff. And all different, and different families. It wasn't just my mom and, you know, it was the families before having their stuff there too. So, and then we would sort of find each other and get help in some way that was very, it was some kind of amazing dance.


I think I felt that it was because nothing was left out. We could just bring anything in that we were worrying about or upset about or couldn't deal with or were frightened about or scared about. Just kind of kept bringing it in and nobody had to do it alone or something. Anyway, part of what the problem is is I can't really explain what I mean except there was a sense that there was room for everything and there was a dance and a flow happening. And that sense of having everything in the room somehow is I think part of what we're getting at with this Jiju Yuzami. Just this morning Maybe. So that's one story.


And then the other story is more recently, a few weeks ago, was this. So I have been wishing for many, many years for a partner in the project or the activity of family practice here and family activities. And I may have been warding it off to, I don't know, but it seemed to me that I was alone with it and I wished and wished for someone to come along to share that with. And so suddenly this year, forces came together and there were suddenly a bunch of people that were interested in it. It's kind of started I think maybe last spring or something when Marie Marie has been talking about Marie has these two little kids and she's been talking about trying to do some kind of family sitting and She got another non-parent Catherine Catherine Lucas interested and Catherine kind of picked up the ball and carried it and sort of pushed us and encouraged us and coaxed us to


to do things like get a date on the calendar and get it in the newsletter and sort of make it into something that could happen. And she was extremely supportive and wonderful in the way that she did that. And Marie had all these great ideas. And it felt really wonderful to me that there were other people who wanted to do something. So we kind of proceeded with that as this one track. And then I think over the summer, Jen, got interested in doing some teaching of kids and Buddhism, and she went up to the city of 10,000 Buddhas and got some experience doing that. And she has an older son, and as we know, for those of you who come in the morning, he's often come here and eaten breakfast with us and been participating. He's 10, I think, and he's participating in our practice. And so she kind of had this juice for getting involved too. then and that just seems so great, you know, that was wonderful and then Another song member tomorrow had studied this curriculum, which is called the toolbox Which is kind of like Buddhism with a small B. It's it's Listening tool and breathing tool and safe space tool It's it's someone's idea for creating a curriculum for kids where there I think it's basically introducing Buddhism, but maybe it's something more


Maybe the person is not a Buddhist and has something more generic in mind. But it kind of seems like when you hear it, it kind of seems it's got a Buddhist flavor. So anyway, she came to me and said, I'd like to do kids' endo, do this full boxing kids' endo. And so I was like, OK, great. But I was trying to feel a little anxious because now suddenly there was like a lot of people. And then there was one more Sangha member who was studying mindfulness in the schools, or mindfulness with kids, and she was also interested in it. So I was trying to get nervous about how this was all going to, how all these different people were going to get along and be able to work. But so far, we still just had these two tracks, like the family session and the They were kind of two separate groups of people on two separate tracks. So we did one of these Kids Zendo with Jin and Tamar. I hope it's okay that I'm saying everybody's name when they're maybe not in the room.


We manifested this great thing, which was the, I think it was the listening tool, but I'm not really sure. Maybe it was the breathing tool. I can't now remember. And it went great, and it was really, really fun. And it sort of felt like something came together, you know. And then afterward, that group started brainstorming what we could do with the family sashim, which was awesomely great. However, I was getting more anxious because there's this other group of people that were playing family sashim. And this was like taking off, and we had this really creative flight of ideas about what we could do with the kids during the family session. So I was like, okay! So then we ended up coming together in a meeting with what in my mind were kind of the two groups. And I feel like what we did felt to me, and other people who were there can say whether or not, it felt like the same thing, like everything was included.


you know, the parent of the older kid was worried. So we came together and we planned all this whole schedule, and there was a lot of creative juice flowing. But there were also times when any one of us could get anxious about whether our own needs or our kids' needs were going to get met. And I feel like what we did was we just kept bringing that into the room. everybody, when someone said their piece, everybody included that in the circle. And so, and I actually didn't say my, I wasn't feeling that, I wasn't suffering that much with anxiety, except for making sure that everybody, I mean, my main thing was like, all these people are going to get their needs met, right, you know, or they're going to be happy or something. But then when it seemed to be flowing in that way, It was great. I had a little, like some of the feelings I was having were, I felt sad that this didn't happen when my kids were little and I didn't have it for myself.


I felt a little ashamed, like why didn't I invent the toolbox? Why couldn't I? Why didn't I do something creative with the kids program when I did, when I was kind of taking care of it? But all that was, like I say, was just kind of to the side, like I was aware of it and I was, appreciating it and respecting it and keeping it in the room, and keeping everybody else in the room too. And I think there was a sense of our practice coming in because, I think, because of the respectful and appreciative way that we were able to bring it in, bring everything in. Those are my two stories and I just want to just say so I'm proposing that we take our ego gently and firmly by the hand and I think part of our practice is in a way all that may be happening is that you can learn, you learn to be more gentle and more firm in a way I think, maybe, speculating, but you bring it into the circle


And it's the circle of everybody else with their ego by the hand. Because we're all forgiven at the same moment. Like it says in the Lord's Prayer, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. It happens at the same moment. Not you go first, you know, and then I'll go or something. It's stepping across, stepping together into the circle together at the same time, if we can. So we ain't got a barrel of money. Maybe we're bragging about money, but we'll travel along singing a song. side by side. Well, we don't know what's coming tomorrow.


Maybe it's trouble and sorrow, but we'll travel alone, sharing a zone, side by side. Thank you, Barry. All kinds of weather. Just as long as we're there together. Doesn't matter, doesn't matter at all. When we've all had quarrels and parted. We'll be the same as we started. Just travel along, sing a song. side by side. Anybody have any stories or comments of their own? Yes. Well, I got away from you there, didn't I? Not really, not really.


I just didn't know that you were... Again, you were beginning with that quotation from The self making the self into the self. And I heard this gloss on it from what you were saying. And I have a question, but what I was hearing was the self holding hands with the self so that- To me, the self is everything. So that all beings can be themselves. It's pretty good. But the question is, you said. But that's still not. You said zazen. You said that your description, you said that's what zazen is. But I'm not sure what you meant by that.


Well, in that, I sympathize with Dogen, because it's really hard to put anything into words. But I think that when we're sitting here, in a sense, see I think when the self is not here, it's kind of running things or blocking vision. So when we're sitting here, we said we were going to come here and sit in stillness and silence and we are, it's not running anything. We're doing what we said we were going to do. We're doing our intention, right? it's not in charge. I mean, I guess you could say that your ego got you here because it wanted, but very soon, you can't sit for very long before you realize, before your ego realizes that it's not going to get anything out of it. It's really not, it's really not. And so if you stay, isn't it because that feeling comes of the sort of fresh water or something that's another thing besides what you came here for, what you came to save yourself in some way.


So, that's what I mean. More questions, Ed? Yeah, I really like your description of having your self, whatever that is, next to you, taking it by the hand. At the beginning you talked about our fears that come up, and I also like the image of taking our fears by the hand, which is really our little boy or little girl, and taking it by the hand. I don't think it's so different. I think that is kind of what the ego is in a way. It's kind of like our little girl, or our little boy, or our little gender questioner, or whatever. It's that being, even though it doesn't seem like it, especially some people, the way they're expressing it, you don't feel that they're scared.


But I think that's it is. Yeah, that's what it feels. Yes, Mary. So the Vakama Iroquoisy says this Jiju Yusamadi is the self-making I think this is the first time I have a kind of pithy feeling about what that means. It's been very daunting to me. I'd love to talk about two things. Two images came together in my mind simultaneously as you were talking. One of them was the scene in E.T. where the little sister CZT and they both swear at the same time. Yes, right! Which is that viral nature of fear. And that's a metaphor from Pema Chodron who's talking about nonviolence training and the way in which the image of the beloved community is that we all must be healed at the same time.


And putting those two things together. sometimes if you have yours by the hand, even if they don't, it can look like they do. It's mysterious. Yes? Well, when I hear the self making the self into the self, my interpretation would be the small self making the self into the Buddha nature self, the bigger self. That's what it means to me. Right, that's great. I mean, I think that's why the other senior students, like these words just had some connotation that they didn't have for me when I first heard that phrase. I'm sort of literal-minded sometimes myself. The bigger self in this practice, and that involves including, like you said, I love that part you said about including all of the ego and all of our fears, and all of the small self has to be included.


You can't just jump through that. And there's no line really, it's not like that's one, you know, there's just, there's no particular line where that ends and, you know, true self, so-called, begins, really. Right. It's more of a blessing, an opening. Yeah. Including. Ken, and then Marty? Well, you used the word fulfill, I think, in an earlier version of this. Self-fulfill. but in the sense of making real. So I think in that sense, if the self was realizing the self, it would be like what Miriam was saying. It's like this little self realizing that it's the big self. But then, I mean, just to play devil's advocate here for a minute, what if it means the big self making the small self into the real self?


You're putting your meaning onto the words, and they could be put on a different way. I'm just kind of literal-minded sometimes. And then Marty, and then Linda. Yeah, thank you for your talk. I liked the juxtaposition of the stories. And this is maybe my association. One of the things I really enjoyed about the family session was that it felt to me like an extended family holiday. Not meaning a holiday where you're with your extended family. Because the kids were all playing together and running around in August. I was playing with the older kids, and the older kids were playing with August, and it was like it had that feeling of sort of everybody being there.


And so I really enjoyed that aspect of the inclusiveness of it. And so I was thinking about your story when you were with your family, your extended family, and it's this feeling there, kind of bringing together these kind of disparate people who are all related and brought together by something. I know, and I think a lot of it might have to do with the shared intention that brings you together. Because we were all kind of focused on the kids having a good experience in a way. And I think that helped the flow of energy. Go ahead, yeah. So bringing kids into the zendo is, I would just like to share a quick experience of that. So what does it do to bring, it's almost like bringing your ego into the zendo a bit.


We had a, not many of you experienced this, but we had a kid zazen thing about two months ago, where all the kids came into the zendo and sat zazen for five minutes or something. But I feel August is very energetic, not really up for Zazen, maybe. And so we sat in here. So August, my son, is five. But there's some other kids who are maybe 10. So the age range was about that. So I sat there, and I said, well, August, sit down next to me. And what he did was, He sat for about one second. He would get up, run around the vendor, and then sit down in the seat again. And then, and I would say, try and sit down. He said, OK. And then he'd get up and run around the vendor and sit in the seat again. And when it struck me, I thought, oh, this is just like Zaza. And it wasn't just like him, it actually was him.


Right on, right on. Thank you. Great story. So Linda, and then if there's time. Yeah, that was so fantastic. It's just about the self and the self and the self. I like your kind of outcry that is, I don't get this. It doesn't make sense to me. better than I like that kind of easy explanation that we always do, there's a big mind and there's a small mind. Because by golly, there's no big mind, there's no small mind. I mean, this is one of the songs I sing, but I like the way you just weren't going there. Well, I felt that that was an example of me including my own I mean, because I felt kind of sheepish in the senior student meeting when everybody was nodding. It wasn't that comfortable. It's not that comfortable when everybody else is nodding and understanding it, and I'm not.


I don't think it is for anybody. There's a song, Kabir's song, these kind of songs from India, which says, like he talked about a scale, and scale means like two dishes and a balance thing, you hold it up, and it says, you know, you want to measure the thing? okay you're the thing that you put into the tray and you're the tray and you're the beam in the middle and you're the that's the thing you you can't measure it you can't say well this is the big mind and this is the small mind so ah yeah and i'm gonna go with susan and then um You said that when you had your ego, you know, side by side and you had a good relationship there, hand in hand, that you were welcome to the new ideas for how to, you know, approach how to do the kids stuff. But what if you hadn't? Like, what if your ego had got ahead of you? What would your behavior look like, you say?


I mean, not to be nosy, but how does it go? Yeah, I don't know in that situation how much difference it would have made. It's hard to know. It's very, it's mysterious and it's a lot of factors going in, you know. Like, I think that, like, just like Marty's example, we can tolerate a lot. If we're sitting in the Zen Dojo and one little boy is running around, that's still Zazen, you know. At what point, how many people would have to be running around screaming if it was no longer Zazen, you know what I mean? So it's causes and conditions coming together, so I don't know. I mean, I think that's a good question. I think if one of the people had stormed out and said, this session isn't going to work for me and my family, that would have been kind of the tipping point, maybe. For me, anyway. That would have scared me enough to, you know, I would be clenching at that point. Yeah? Dovetailing off what Linda said about the outcry, I'm like, I don't understand this, the outcry.


I heard a second outcry in your talk, too. And thank you for your talk. Because when you were facing Yelp, Yeah, I think the outcry is important. That's when you bring it in, you know. And how similar is that moment to this self-realizing self? The two outcries seem to be very, very similar. Well, the outcry can't be alone, you know. That's why you can't leave that out there hanging out on a limb. so to speak. And then like Yelp is like all beings, like checking in with you. Great. Yelp for me, for me that Yelp was like, what it was, was making a choice that I knew would be very consequential and not having any idea how to make that choice, you know. So that was what scared me about that moment, you know. Like proposing that those two things are exactly the same, those two outcrops as a proposal. Megan?


I heard quite a bit in your first story about the fears and the facing of choosing who was going to help you. What were your feelings about all this stuff? Was letting go, did you have any? Yeah, that was a lot of what was hard for me. Letting go and also I kind of ran away from that house in a way. So having to face something I'd run away from Anger anger my mother for not Taking care, you know not dealing with stuff for something, you know anger at other people in the past for not dealing with their stuff and and Just a variety it's you know a variety it was very emotional very I It was a lot. And now we're getting the signal. Perfect timing.