Me Too, The Dharma of Friendship

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i was just touching and to how that feels you know how that lands in the body to hear this meeting as being recorded my goodness what does that even mean
you know so many of these phrases that we've gotten adapted to around technology just remind me of in general
how we take in these phrases like a soft opening or reopening
and yet
this is something that we have been preparing for and talking about you know after berkeley sendo
and conditions continue to change you know among them is that the the delta very of covert
is continuing to search
and this brings with it all kinds of new considerations timing for the reopening my shift
i regard this whenever we open in that way
whatever's going on around all this
all these issues that are all interwoven i don't know about you but it can be quite confusing and quite disorienting
now it's a funny thing but it also brings up for me this really basic question that probably like you returns from time to time and at the same time in new ways which is basically
what is this practice i mean i never imagined that we would be practicing this way
and when we come together in person those of us who can who are able who live within a distance to do so and
all the different factors
how will the way we're practicing right now
what really is the essential practice that were practicing together wherever we are
i mean conditions are always changing and we're always adapting but there are certain times and places
where i noticed that more poignantly more viscerally and with more of an urgency to really come back to what is this practice is practicing together
well first
i want to acknowledge with you and honor the alone ie people's on who's unseated land berkeley san center sits
an honor to all the ancestors
whose generosity and struggles and perseverance
have brought us together in practice
miraculously mysteriously in ways that we might be aware of in many ways that we are not and yet to honor all of them all of that
all of who we are

and as i'm no gazing around the room just to be aware
that is the way we're practicing here right now we're also reading in different time zones i mean how cool is that and strange
and our practice tells us all time zones or this time being now it's time being now
and maybe we're discovering that
by meeting this particular way for the moment
so practice zen practice soto's and dogan zan suzuki san
you know just a funny thing because both dogan and suzuki roshi basically said
zen buddhism
what's that
dogan talked about waking up to the true reality of all beings
and that all
that's a that's a clue it's a cue to us
the buddha
the attributed to the buddha to have said when he awakened underneath the bodhi tree wonderful i and all beings have awakened together
and when dogan reference this he placed emphasis on awakening simultaneously
suzuki roshi
in his ineffable way coin this new word independency
interdependence and independence simultaneously
the were practicing together and where the whole universe expressing itself
kinda like this interpenetrated
okay so i'm not telling you something you don't already know you haven't already touched into
or you wouldn't be here
so what else is going on what's going on within all that

what's going on what's coming up for me as essential that we're
bringing forward frightened center right now together his dharma friendship sometimes it's called spiritual friendship or even good friendship
and there's context for this
going way back
and i
you know i've always loved a good fairy tale
we're just in general how his story is told you know like once upon a time
thus i heard
so if we go back to the story of when the buddha is with his
attended cousin amanda
in their friendship you could say
something happened
maybe you remember that story

what is the holy life
right now

so hold on
because i wanna tell you a more recent story relatively speaking

when i first came to the bay area twas about eight years ago i had moved from new york city where i've been practicing for a while and you know the forums was somewhat different variations on the theme but still particularly around the time for our ceremonies or service
a little different
and i was confused when it was time for service you know the bells started to rain and i wasn't quite sure
where to turner when to put down my priests bowing matt the za ago
so i did were probably many of us have done which is look around
sometimes we look around and our looking at is actually one were in person or is the fee where is the matt what's the shuffling you know sometimes that's enough but wasn't quite enough for me in that moment so i
i happen to be fortunate enough to have a neighbor who was wearing a free throws
so i asked
quietly but there wasn't a lot of time because everything is you know it's in flux so
she happened to be wearing brown robes and she
she said to me
without hesitation and in a very large lighthearted tone she said and i'll never forget this
trust your body and your practice

i laughed
and i listened to her
i touched in cause i n disconnected and all of that confusion from actually what was going on
in the body in the room i had forgotten that basic thing that
comes through in in soto zen of
notice was happening
notice that relationship that dance of relationship
and so first i noticed what this priest was doing and i attend to that and then of course i realized everybody in the room what was happening
and i not only was okay
i felt not just relief but this instant sense of belonging and not just in the room
but in the wholeness of life
maybe you've had such a moment
body the body practice because we don't want to forget that two point
and this is all also been really helpful
this quality of
being together while we've been practicing online interestingly in this unfamiliar context right like like even this morning and a new can configuration
oh trying to figure out where to put my camera and and set up you know the lighting and all you know when to have the camera off because i'm moving things around or no or maybe some of us sometimes it's hard to sit we actually need to lie down whatever it might be
and to always be aware as the conditions shift particularly practicing a in our homes or you know wherever we might be swimming in from and to really navigate
amidst that kind of a complexity and being together to keep this practice simple and immediate an intimate right
no to remember there were in the room even this own room
you know sometimes it reminds me in the vimalakirti sutra of where the room keeps expanding
in a way that that happens in our zoom space
so what connects the dots here
you know what i've come to realize
is that what makes the difference really is dorm of friendship the quality of sanga
okay now to the once upon a time
so once upon a time right and nanda the buddhist tender
he says to the buddha you know is
they're connecting
the to have good friends is half the holy life
corrects him and he says do not say ananda good friendship
is half of the holy life having good friends is the whole of the holy life and you know there's something beautiful or as i was reading that again preparing for this talk of the the unexpected nuances
is of of bringing out something in translation
so as the ear hears it the whole of the holy life
those those two meanings are coming together just through how we we hear that you take it on holiness holiness

and i'm also realizing it's it's
probably no surprise to you that when you come back to a teaching or story like that over time
you pick up different things different things are are alive for you and one of the things that that i noticed on and reflecting on this spiritual star mothers good friendship
is that there are many ways of approaching it in on one way we could say it's deep friendship
in a sense of kinship with all beings
all life
and i don't have to tell you although in this seat i will have a from it
that this aspect of kinship with our life it's greatly needed right now i mean it always has been but in this particular historic moment in particular ways as we face so many difficulties in the world right now
no a foremost in my heart maybe because or this week a believer was this week funny out of the days go by and you can lose track i believe it was yeah this past wednesday a hose on officiated are among
the memorial service and so tender the losses in our community just this week
the loss of loved ones too many from this pandemic
and and other
conditions that connect to that directly
and all the pain and grief and anxiety
the impact violence and hatred
which call us to action
to acknowledge
to me into work to heal
racial injustice socio-economic injustice all kinds of injustices
and also let's never forget
the impact of climate change
when we talk about when we
touch him to the kinship with all life
all of this for me in terms of
spiritual friendship if you will good friendship
they did awakens are bodhisattva vow
this vow in friendship
is also our attitude in practice

so jin roshi she
in his encouragement when we would enter practice period he would say our attitude should be one of wanting to do everything
everything in the list of activities
and then and only then to look at the conditions of our life
and decide what we actually can commit to
so right there at the outset the attitude is with a focus on our practice affects everyone
that practice together
so in showing up and following through with our commitments
we create a container of practice
or is hassan puts it mutual accountability she's really important and it's easy at least for me to forget about the nuances of that when it gets tough
and sometimes this requires correction instruction now i remember in our physical xander one time a merry most seem corrected me after we exited the zendo
she says to me ah you know your gosh show is drooping a little
you're right hand is is down a bit
bring it up
would you know it such a small thing
but it's still with me and one of the things it revealed to me is this very unrecognized in me until that moment and practicing with it over time
that that was some kind of
oh i can't know
with some kind of sure surety or would it brought up for me was the subtle way i was embodying inadequacy
and just bringing that up
i could feel also surgeons correction you know or encouragement to just lift the sternum those things coming together it just so freeing would not have happened without that quality of friendship
and i i think it is important for us to to keep remembering these things happen body the body
not so we're grieving that are saying we lost that and oh when will we be able to be together in person a to remember that we can touch into that right now i mean right now if you want to just try it out and put your own hands and gosh show right and look around the room
and just notice that pointer around
how is it side to side in your gosh show and as you gaze around the room everyone in gosh show can you feel that
the power of that
the intimacy of that
and when we bow
that's real that's alive

two years ago almost to the day
twenty nineteen july two thousand and nineteen right around sojourns birthday
he gave a beautiful talk
cod beat them squares and and then
a number of us were there for that talk
and you can listen to it sometime if you want to or during that lecture he said that the zen that he encountered through suzuki roshi emphasized discipline he said practicing within the restriction
is how you find your freedom
it's about maintaining a standard while remaining flexible
during the q and a i asked him how he would define discipline and the context of practice cause there are many
meanings for discipline in different contexts and this is how he responded
he said discipline has many aspects and sometimes it doesn't look like discipline sometimes we think of discipline is a kind of rigidity but true discipline means flexibility in our practice discipline means to be totally flexible to be care
tight rigid to reflex be elastic be flexible i think flexibility of strength
we think of strength as rigidity but actually strength as flexibility because it allows us to flow with life
zaza looks stiff looks like rigid but actually to find the flexibility
to be totally flexible within the upright position of zazen is how you find your ease in life that is what i would call discipline
and i would say the debbie's also reveals wonderment the deep appreciation for life that
flow with life
and how beautiful maybe some of you got the email from nathan justice league right
i would have been you know the season of sojourns ninety second birthday
one of our sangha members nathan nathan a day
he said that he had harvested all the ripe plums from the the tree on the temple grounds outside the abbott's office and as many of us are aware our temple called sugar coochie in old plum mountain and nathan made jam
love with attention
filled and sealed all these little jars
and he called it old plum mountain jam
we sent three photos the individual plums in a ball just picked and then the plums opened all intermingling in the juice
and then the jars of jam that i'll say old plum mountain jam
i can just see sojourn smiling
this is friendship
and there's so many ways we've been expressing this taken care of the garden and the residents taken care of the sandow and whatever else is needed on the buildings and grounds on people making bagged lunches are calling one another
to check in i mean just so many ways his friendship
so this is the season when we would have her mountains and rivers says sheen for anyone who's ever gone on that out at point raise enough for me the the the the image the the feel of of sitting on that windy beach with the pelicans swim
keeping low you know just above the though the ocean waves and how cold it is and just everybody sitting in a line still together
holding us in place is his friendship

when i was twelve
my dad was a theoretical physicist he sat me down at my grandmother's table in the bronx
and with a sharp and number two pencil anybody remember that and a yellow pad of lined paper one of those new actual paper he derived for me the special theory of relativity
he also wrote poetry and he painted he had a whole artistic sensibility and i think that that really came through in how even like almost a kind of calligraphy quality to the way he wrote these equations and also the way he spoke very passionately and there was a flexibility
city and a beauty and a discipline
and a twelve years old i was in awe i mean remarkably i somehow got that language of the math as a doorway as a dharma gate to some kind of world beyond
what i knew
and yet i could really feel it that it was it was real
he came through that encounter and it was a moment that really stands out for me of where i was with my dad
and our relationship shifted into something that was broader deeper beyond father and daughter or generations or gender or any of these kinds of things was just now
i would call it in a way a moment of spiritual friendship so it's also really powerful this spiritual friendship because it can reorient does to all kinds of relationships in our life and how we need those
suzuki roshi
also i think offers offices a lens on this in terms of another aspect which is if he called it constancy when he was looking for or speaking to
his way of talking about a
up up up up or meta called shanti which often is translated as patience but when he when he wrote about that which i think is important to take in as an aspect of of spiritual friendship is he said inconstancy there's no particular effort involved there's only the unchanging
ability to accept things as they are
for people who have no idea of emptiness disability may appear to be patients with patients can actually be non acceptance people who know even if only intuitively the state of emptiness always have the possibility of accepting things as they
are they can appreciate everything and everything they do even though it may be very difficult there will always be able to dissolve their problems by constancy
and hassan
i think has brought the sin
as as a as a way to
center inclusiveness in practice but hassan to talk to us more than once telling us the story from the lotus sutra of the never disparaging bodhisattva right and and as i say that somebody might even remember you know the great song
that he wrote about that
and so no matter what people throw at him verbally or physically right he he always comes back in all like that song refrain ah i will never disparage you are put you down in any way it's clear to me i complained the c o b
be a buddhism day and the reason i'm i'm seeing the song part is because we take these things in and a lot away and there's something about the light art and nose and the melody and the another rhythm and and all of that which which to me it is is so helpful
and and it's a declaration of friendship because
never disparaging bodhisattvas capacity to practice constancy in the midst of what he faces
we face
is really a vow as those on his said not to abandon any one radical inclusiveness
i remember one time in docu son i think it was or maybe a q and a but hassan pointed out to me the hair also this bodhi side up when they're throwing the rocks you know so all dangerous he actually maintains a safe distance
then he turns and sings as little refrain
and we also poignantly continue to be practicing at a safe distance so this has no meaning new context
but also the continuity of vow
a friendship

and we're practicing in the context of being in community
and i think that context also
includes with it a commitment to broaden our context to what we cannot see or recognize as ourselves particularly when someone's
experience reality doesn't quite jive with ours you know so this includes conflict
new understanding if you will have the impact of trauma in our midst traumas everywhere there's even a term now of trauma informed practice to integrate contemporary understandings of trauma and its impact individually and collect
lovely maybe some of you got a chance to see this great film that premiered online and sexually gonna be shown again for free online called the wisdom of trauma
and it was a documentary and it also when it premiered included a week of talks from all kinds of people approaching this through all kinds of aspects
one thing about trauma as is spoken in the film as it says traumas not what happens to a person is what happens within them constricting their own ability to feel to be present to respond flexibly to situations
and we might ask how does how does spiritual friendship dharma friendship come into play when it comes to this
while very briefly a rational monogame who's a trauma specialist therapist and an activist he developed a practice called somatic abolition ah and maybe you've heard of a book hero called my grandmother's hands racialized trauma and
pathway to mending our hearts and minds and he writes trauma d contextualized in a person listen to this looks like personality trauma d contextualized and a family looks like family traits trauma in a people
looks like culture
and i and invite you right now to just notice where that lands in your body as you heard me say those things
because that to as context
and how might it be if when we're encountering
a person
people in our lives structures in our society and song alive
to practice spiritual friendship in this way that we contextualize is and broadens the context
mary most seen brought in my context
just to notice
sojourn roshi suzuki roshi
hose on sensei
all of us
the pelicans
the mountains and rivers
tick not on says that the future buddha maitreya is the sanga coming through the practice of friendship
dogan tells us in the full concert sankey the instructions of zazen
the thompson is the dharma gate of ease and joy

of course as we all recognize sitting with what comes up
moment by moment over a lifetime it's no picnic of the time and yet
when we really touching to when we contextualize
what's happening
and realize we're in this together
really make contact
there is an ease and joy and it's not a hey
it's more like oh
and that oh includes everything
and we say that's dharma joy

it's intimacy
that's wonder
and it takes discipline it takes flexibility and uprightness and commitment showing up for and with each other and it's worth it
because what's revealed is how we belong to each other
to the mountains and rivers and stars
to each other to this flow of life which includes first and death
includes each of us and our capacity to really cared deeply
dharma friends
i wanna tell you one last story that just happened in the last couple days a my partner tim and i discovered that we had a visitor a mouse in the house
and we're really committed we wanted to try to catch the mouse but not kill the mouse and not term a gotten this it's called a live trap you know you put a piece of cheese or something in there and there's a door and supposedly
when they come in the the door comes down and
he catch the mouse but really
wait enough was gonna work but we decided to practice may be a little bit of that constancy ride a little bit of faith and it took a few days but and we had actually forgotten about it
and then one morning there i noticed our dog in the kitchen by the stove
and he was just gone like this
really focused attention
and without a word you know it's amazing how much can be communicated
silence i could hear the rustling
mouse and it was so amazing and it was this moment of just
coyote our dog and i and i quickly said
where the three of us really the four of us all together and of course the treadmill the mouse you could say was traumatize you know i'm aroused by
what's going on but then the mouse stop to and we were all like know maybe the mouse was like what are they gonna do you know but there was also this moment of awe and and tim said well we need to do this is gonna be a ritual has to be ritual so we did we got you know we went to the park and we looked around
we're like okay well word as the mouse want be a we decided on a windy we're going to take it by a bush you know and we end it was like a ritual open that door and we bowed you know to the mouse and it was so beautiful and to realize that we really could cherish all life and it stays with me
me now because i don't think we would have been able to do that without all these aspects of of practicing friendship
so having said that hum
we have we have a little bit of time to maybe have a conversation around this know to continue exploring this and i'm wondering on
know what's alive for you around this you know whos darvish friendship
for you
and i want to encourage particularly anyone who
hasn't spoken in a while or sometimes
not sure
whether to speak so on just her
offer a moment in a few
it's one of touch to that
and let's see
well we
can explore together right now

thank you judy everyone please a moment consider and reflect and the present your present moment for duty to reflect with your banker
okay we have a question from kurt great feel free to unmute and and go ahead and speak
ah yes ah hello julie thank you are for the wonderful talk and in it was it was beautiful to see you in your smile and and i felt like a sense of pengar connectedness to deal with ah i guess ah instantiates that sort of da
from of friendship who yeah you were talking about
but there's also been many times in my wife when i fell
didn't feel that right when i felt outside or separate and that whole issue it's interesting and i'm doing something in my work now where i'm too
i'm craving some materials around fourteen students with mental health are supporting mental wellness and one of the key things is belong in know where the key things that that you are or the i suggested teachers with wanna work i try to
create a classroom were all students feel they belong but just during your talk i realized in not only that but there are many times i didn't feel i belong and i think that's not such an unusual experience and so why understand the important stuff
a friendship is being in a way you are seeing the whole of the holy why
what are what are your thoughts store where messages to those who don't feel that friendship or who see that friendship among others is almost a separation right the i'm thinking of where i was a kid liking up your my friend
and you're not my friend you can play with blue cat right and so how can we embrace the special mess up this friendship and i think you'd use throw a on it in how important it is but then also not in some way on i don't know did that
the there's also must exclusive quality to it in in but you mentioned the idea of new friends with all be tried in so i just wanna throw that out in terms of of your thoughts i mean what about someone was not feeling their can we still pray
cactus the dharma hadaway we aspire to that ah what's the invitation to it at those i nine a clear what the question is but those are things to came up for me around it
sure a could somewhat i'm i'm nearing the really speak to his the than in a way there's inherently a pain in both belonging and everything includes it's opposite not belonging you know they come up together
so ah if if i have a deep sense of belonging and it's not broadly inclusive than it's gonna my belonging is defined
sometimes even suddenly by excluding those who do not belong and and likewise if i have a sense that i don't belong
i'm coming from some kind of
that i'm not included so you could say that our practice of friendship in that moment the simple practice is notice where that lands in your body
so you make the connection first in how it lands in you and from that your contextualizing that word belonging not belonging in a way where you have agency to respond
to who you're actually with and what actually is going on for them another way to say this is
really listen
and also reflect back to somebody what you hear
is there pain
no hassan once said to me
don't respond to the question you don't always respond to the question that people ask us you respond to the question within the question or beneath the question
so touching into that shared
that there can be a pain there
and to be willing to really not know what is that pain for another person
but to attend to it by feeling it in yourself so if i were to ask you you know you said a lot
where does that land for you right now and your body whereas the tension
oh no yeah ah like the story or i suppose right now maybe have been in my shoulders but who knows that could just be my shoulders little tight so right now ah
certainly ah yes i mean in terms of feeling that the water with a lot yeah i definitely felt that in by life and there's a pain or associated with that how if were to be in that amen
to say that how would have been a moment to share that experience with this person with your students to talk about your own experience ah yes ride sharing a now
as i i would love it there's there's certainly a vulnerability to ah a sense of opening yourself ah for sure i guess you were there
you know your question reminds me of something that happened to me years ago and the zendo an elder
in the sunday i'll do dharma sister i was once lamenting to her ah you know no matter where i go i just feel like i don't belong
an often and she had this uncanny way of joining that just lifted you no matter what was going on so in a way i fully expected her to say as she often would not just with me but anyone who was lamenting she'd say me too
like you could save us with your students me to write but actually what was really amazing what she didn't say that she said that's so funny because wherever i go i always feel like i belong
i just laughed you know it was completely unexpected right totally opposite and yet completely joined so i i think that that's a great model of of practicing with this to just really a tune and have a what sojourn roshi was was really
speaking of that kind of discipline that gotta a flexibility and uprightness you know trust your body and your practice so thank you for your question
think we might have time for one more

a judicial do you have time to discuss how it feels to
not belong
and feel that you don't have access to the tools even though you just not buying tooth
how does that manifest through it where we would redoing
you sound like you have some experience with that heiko son
indeed has do i
what helped you
the recording of it
helped me to recognize that i continue to feel not joined the
a willingness to look at that separation state of mind ah if it comes from faith in practice the headway or progress in becoming connected has not arrived yet so i'm looking at it i'm aware of
it i recognize it as practice and yet i also have be built and sensibility of okay whatever it is i don't feel
the and recognize yet no headway
what headway can i look for
and yet we we don't we we can't arrive there just through our
ideas about what's happening even when we're really sure that that's really what's going on so what what what you're doing right now i think to me is is so healing around this issue because you're willing to be vulnerable and and share this and so
never know oh somebody's having a me too moment
you might get an email later or might bump into each other and our comings and goings or whatever it might be
we're just meeting ourselves so i think our both these questions are really speaking to his is the shared vulnerability
and also something that's really important as shared ritual space whether it's for grieving or were on like a council practice is a in a way it's a form but it has a ritual component to it passing the talking peace
a will be indifferent things we have these ways of being vulnerable ah in a way that's of of benefit because once need space to heal and they need dressing and bandaging they need care
and we offer this to each other so just the old keep showing up
just keep showing up
ricky duty and had in fact the or a drink from might be an order to ocher is asked if you would lead us in that song once more before we i go to the route
you mean
i will never disparage you i believe so yes good song to me right then well
let's do it
shall we i mean
i would say now judy but we'll try to sing along about good okay their items in heads not see this is how we decide together
and one and two
i will never despair to paid to down in any way
i think hose unlike need to come in i think i'm missing a line here
a these i maybe you could lead us
i would never disparage you who wore keep you at arms legs
are you only see you waitresses i only see your screen i would never despise you or put you down in any way because it's clear to me i can plainly see you'll be a buddha sunday that's the chorus hinder us a of singles on its week
and i did not write by the way
craig and retaining pin custom wrote it
thank you very much
thank you very much a some for the correction say