Not Knowing

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cheering in his material and out there
i want especially welcome those people who are new to easy see and i hope that you and all your loved ones are staying well
i'm glad to be here with all of you answer this time together after but spent a couple of to than four weeks
am i want to start by sharing an experience that i went through that ah to get me into the the topic for today
i was walking down the street a short street in berkeley one day it was the day time i was in the middle of the block and there was no one around all at once i felt someone approaching quickly from behind i turn my head
when i saw a man i crossed the street i saw it rather casually during the middle of the block on just as i got to the other side of the block of the other side of the street
the man spoke to me he had a calm voice and he said i wasn't going to attack you because i'm black
as i looked across the street at the man we will now right across from each other on opposite sides of the street
i looked at him and i continued to walk and i said to him
thank you very much for speaking to me and for saying that to me i was thinking that i crossed the street because you're a man
and i think i would have crossed the street no matter what race you are because you're a man
as a woman i've always had to be
ah aware of my surroundings seeing how there's so much violence in the world against women
and then i paused and i said but i don't know i just don't know
how do i know
how can i be sure and so i really appreciate that he spoke to me because well it gives me something to consider
that experience happened some time ago but it's come back to the actually several times during the past year as we faced so much division in our country and i decided to start exploring start thinking about start studying not
knowing don't know mind more closely because i remembered that in that experience what i was moved by was some whack of opposition that ah came forward in both of us
that it wasn't a dismissal of other than that experienced by each of us
and so today what i want to talk about is not knowing or we can call it don't know mind
what is not knowing well i wanted to start with the question what time is it at times it's obvious what time it is if we have a watch or clock nearby or we might not know when we asked somebody on that person gives us information so there's no
going and there's not knowing but the kind of not knowing that we that we talk about and that will tap into on the practice and train ourselves in zen is not that kind of knowing it's a kind of knowing that goes far beyond in
some way
it has nothing to do with information in the way that we liked his sense for information or explain things to know
so let's go back to that question what time is it when i'm out in the mountainous with my family backpacking
we usually don't have a watch still on we can have a pretty good idea of the time if were present and were a way to all kinds of things like the sky the sun the moon the stars
the planet the position of those things the air quality the color in the air
the white or dark
the kind of sound the birds are making
the crickets the howling of an owl
when the insects appear on lakes or rivers
the fish turning over or jumping and heating on those insects
there's a kind of feel to it
that's more of what not knowing may include a quality that takes in the surroundings
and it doesn't reference this me myself mine
and it can lead to curiosity or surprise or observation
it's the kind of seeing in this way and it's always there i think when we stop referencing the small south so much
this practice of not knowing we don't know mind it's a way we can step back from what we think we now
i think we can say that is not knowing happens before knowing
before knowing
category roshi quotes dogan quote you should cease from practice based on intellectual understanding pursuing words and following after speech and learned the backward step that turns your life in
self body and mind of themselves will drop away in your original face will manifest
so perhaps there's a clue here on when this preoccupation with body and mind is not so all important we may be more able to tap into this kind of not knowing when we locate that original mind
category goes on himself and says quote so keep turning the stream of mind away from your dualistic thoughts and inward to the energy of your life learn the technique of sauce and and then practice it again and again until technique is not technique follow it and
still there's no subject that nose or object known
so it sounds here like there's is talking about this this energy of our life in that energy is where we find the duo of this not knowing
this kind of not knowing isn't a state where we're confused or doubtful
were agitated for indecisive for hesitating not knowing when we're in it even for a moment is a commonplace
even in the middle of
what a model of chaos remembered that were all practicing with that right now as we are in the middle of a pandemic
suzuki roshi says quote not knowing does not mean you don't know it's more about not being limited by what we know or what we think we now
suzuki got roshi reminds us not always so sometimes yes sometimes no not knowing he says in zen mind beginner's mind with beginner's mind there are many possibilities in the expert mind
there are few
so didn't roshi often reminded us to cultivate the beginner's mind the mind of don't know the mind of many possibilities because we don't know in any kind of definitive or singular way
surgeon roshi continues to encourage us to cultivate a practice that goes beyond reasoning
sojourners she says this quote when we start to sit we instinctively know why it's beyond our reasoning but somewhere we know
so here he sang that this knowing that we talk about in san it's natural
and it's somewhere in us but where
he goes on
when we started to reason about it we don't know anymore
we try to match our reasoning with our knowing and it brings up this question especially when we get into a difficult spot
so we can notice
how often the mind wants to get involved and kind of like override a situation with with reasoning or position it comes from the small south
i read an article about not knowing by guild france out who leans the dharma center in redwood city and he asks code what is it like to be aware that we don't know the answers to some of life's big questions i've been inspired
fired by those who answer that they don't know and seem very comfortable with not knowing perhaps these questions are irrelevant to their spiritual life buddhism is not about answering these questions but about resolving the fear that motivates the questions
rather than providing security through religious knowing buddhist practice calls on us to become free from attachment to security free from the need to know
so at any point in our life in the life of any person we can come into contact with that yearning to express our innermost selves to touch that place of not know
in or what we think of as the south of buddha we don't know why
but we just decide to sit down
about a year and a half ago many of you know that our daughter's childhood friend just died about ten months before that right after her twenty third birthday she was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer
she dropped out of her last year of college and came home and early on she called me up and asked me if i will teach her how to meditate
she was experiencing a great anxiety and fear
and i wonder now actually perhaps she had some sense of this universal inner awakening i had never ever talked with her about zazen or exam and it was very moving to me that this
came up that she had this kind of deep knowing that came forward to her at this very very difficult time
i told her i'd be happy to do that and i could come to her house and she said now i want to come to pc say and i want to scope start to go there with you
so i invited she and her mom to come one afternoon and i gave them tour and we ended up in the zendo i gave them sauce and instruction and we sat together she didn't want against chair she sat down and she received that instead
suction with complete openness
ah despite a fair amount of discomfort you must have been in her body as result of the cancer she took right to it she took to the form with great beauty and grace and flexibility i was amazed
based and moved and i thought what happened where did that come from
what happens to any of us when we take up this form when we learn to follow breath and posture when we stop seeking after something
we may think we know why we come to practice but actually it's probably more a function of not knowing that brings us to practice i remember sojourn roshi saying that really we come to practice to express ourselves to act
express the buddha or south
the mind of not knowing that beginner's mind
you don't know why really we want to move towards a deepening to move closer to the energy of life that's right at the center of whom we all are
we wanna be stable we want to be calm right inside and the terror
how do we do that
don't know mind is always right there to help us and the point of our practice the point of zen training is to cultivate that not knowing mind
gil france style suggests that we carry that little phrase don't know around with us and repeat it often like a kind of our mantra
as a way to respond to what we think or what we believe i think that's a good idea don't know don't know so whatever comes up i can't do it don't know i can do it don't know i'm not that way don't know i'm not that
kind of person don't know we can all fill in the blanks with or whatever our personal
phrases are they come up don't know he says we can practice by using that little phrase often and he says that that phrase is very very powerful
the first began zen practice i met one day for practice discussion with mainly scott who was priest here
and i said to her something like you know i'm not really a group person so i'm not really sure this practice is right for me i might not be irrigated that part the good part
and she paused and she said you're resting place may always be solitary but you can learn to find comfort in any situation into which you find yourself
and i didn't really know what she meant i couldn't get out it through my mind i tried i tried a lot i could never really get at it conceptually
i knew what she said was important somehow
but i didn't have the experience to understand it
so over a long period of time i came to understand through direct experience what she was pointing to
not knowing then is somehow connected to direct experience instead of what we know about ourselves and others and the way that limits us and the situations that we find ourselves in
and then we often hear that well known phrase not knowing is more intimate
and ah what does that really mean to us as san students so let's take a look i'm going to read the colon from which that comes it's very short it's case twenty in the book of serenity it's just a short dialogue between master dj
john on the highly educated far yarn
who i think at some point became a disciple of de jong hyun is out on a pilgrimage with some other monks as story goes they'd were sidetracked into a big snow storm and so they were forced to stay at the de jong monastery
so gee john asked via on where are you going and via on said around on a pilgrimage de jong said what's the purpose of pilgrimage hyun said i don't know de jong said not knowing it
his most intimate at these words fi on was said to have instantly experienced enlightenment
so de jong is asking about some big life questions asking the fine on about the meaning of life and our pilgrimage on this path when he asks what's the purpose of pilgrimage
and when fire on answers that he doesn't know well de john quickly turns that i don't know right around i don't know is just the right thing he says it's not that i don't know that fine on was thinking what he saw
saudi meant in fact a jiang says this not knowing this going beyond its most intimate it's closest hands stopped looking around not knowing his enlightenment enlightened activity it's awakening
the way is right here
and fire is ready to experience this teaching he knew eyes it's like we all do that what he needs is right here and always has been
the john points us to the kind of knowing knowing that norman fischer cause the real not knowing and here's what norman says quote when we know something and rest and that knowing we limit our vision
one
we will only see what our knowing will allow us to see in this way our experience can be our enemy true our experience has shown us something about ourselves in about life but this moment this situation that faces us right now this patient is
person this family this illness this task is pain or beauty we've never seen it before what is it
how do we respond i don't know i bow before the beauty and uniqueness of what i'm facing not knowing i'm ready to be surprised ready to listen and understand ready to respond as needed ready to let others we
spawned ready to do nothing at all if that's what's called for

norman says that experience knowledge and wisdom are good
but when we examine things closely we can see that they remove us from what's right there in front of us
he says when i know
i bring myself forward imposing myself and my experience on this moment when i don't know i let experience come forward and reveal itself
i can enter into a new moment which is always a new relationship always fresh
i can be moved by what happens fully engaged and open to what the situation was show me

i had a bad fall in the mountains one summer at the end of a long trip we were coming down along rocky side of a mountain side and it was steep we were own facing outward in kind of stepping down on these little shelves it wasn't really dangerous but somehow i caught a foot and
i couldn't stop the fall i fell about like fifty or seventy five feet down this long wall i went back so that i wouldn't tumbled forward and
there was just a sudden phrase that flew through the mind just let go i heard i didn't know where it came from and i didn't really know what it meant i still don't know what it means after all letting go it changes depending on the situation
there's no one letting those situation
solution
lately i've been thinking about this and wondering if in fact it's the instruction the most important that is our training the instruction and following instruction takes us away from this me and i'll of her worries
but the time i got to the bottom where i landed on my but i was laughing it was a kind of like bump bump bump down the side it wasn't so bad i mean i was fortunate i didn't get her in that part was luck
i was in the experience but there was something else what was it what happened letting go whatever that means may somehow be related to not knowing
two don't know how well letting go is just being just letting go of this need the incessant focus on me and including something else that's there at that moment something were related to or relating to
part of something in that particular moment nothing else no result new outcome
perhaps we might say that
knowing not knowing and wedding though are related to what ron described recently in his lecture as bear attention
from which some kind of response some kind of an appropriate response can emerge don't figure it out allow the bear attention itself to bring forth expression
that's the way i'm thinking about it right now follow it stay with it
we're there in in it as expression happens out of head
out of conceptualizing
i think we all have moments like that

not knowing can be tapped
in practice in almost anything we do
it looks like it
comes up in relationship to r
repetition as well as this idea of bear attention
last week i was out walking with our daughter and she asked me what i was going to talk about today
and so we started talking about
this kind of not knowing
i asked her
if he could relate to it
she's a dancer so i said either some is there some way that you experienced is kind of not knowing that i'm thinking about in dance and she said oh yes and i said well could you say something about it and she told me that ah
muscle memory is a wise in dancers that in preparing for performance one knows the piece down deep in the bones
and she said you know what comes next because you've done it a million times you been living it you're always prepared for the next step for what comes next
she said you have to think on your toes when something goes wrong but it's not conceptual thinking
you have to be ready to respond and adjust in that moment
to adapt quickly
and you can do that because you've done it so many times
you can get right back into it
the body kicks in the instinct knows how to handle what comes next
so it sounds to me like there's a lot of trust their and repetition and attention
just in what it sounds like there's interest in neil knowing
a kind of letting go into
the kind of trusted the dancers connected to the moment instead of to an idea of the moment
and that made me think about zazen i thought well this sounds like zen training to me this sounds like zen practice to me this sounds like years and years and years of zazen
it's great deep down in the bones

we have the opportunity to practice with not knowing now as we face the loss of our beloved teacher seventeen oh she where is he
don't know
we don't know
faith's from all over the world have ideas belief systems that explain where we go
what happens to us
right before my father died at ninety five someone told me with great certainty don't worry because you are definitely gonna see him again for sure you'll be together i know it don't worry at all you'll see him again
our way of practice our faith is a bit different or at least it is for me i'd rather say i don't know
it seems to open up more
ah possibility
likeness
some of you know that i liked to talk about making compost and i like to use that as an as a model when i build and turn and sift and use compost it's not at all clear where the original layers
of ingredients have gone
i'm in the early stages when you first turn the pile you can still see some of the the food scraps you can see the egg shells the strong the yard clippings a bit soil but very soon insects and the worms appear
here
it's very scientific i know but it's still mysterious
very mysterious what happens you end up some months later with this wonderful rich compost full of nutrients that feed the earth ah the garden and the plants in the end you can't see any of what you put in there
nothing you have before is recognizable with your eyes now still you know that everything you put in there is there in a different form it seems simple but it's always like magic to me such a mystery it's all there is all different
this is a comfort to me i've been turning compost in my yard since surgeons death it's a kind of way from me that grieve and to celebrate his life where is he
the compost feeds the garden
it nourishes the soil
it builds in nutrients into the soil which in turn feeds the plants
and look at the forest the trees that fall down they decay and over time they feed the new growth
those magnificent trees disappear but they live on
and how they feel the forest
the plants and the animals and lived there are lives are not so different we all know that and we know that surgeon motion will go on feeding us still it's hard for us
and it's very important to mourn and grieve
surgeon roshi told us that suzuki roshi told them the reason you're here is because you've always been here
i remember the first time i heard that it was chilling to me thrilling actually it comforted me
it reminded me of hearing the scientists on npr one's talking about the big bang theory and he said that what most people don't understand is that we were not outside of that occurrence what does that mean
the reason we're here is but comes we have always been here
we don't know what that means
it's a great mystery
it's a mystery because we can't wrap our minds around it
we can try and we just never quite get at it i don't know is just right
not knowing his most intimate
in i don't know we have the chance to just experience that big mystery to be a part of that mystery to recognize that we are included in that big beautiful mystery
and in the presence of that mystery realize that we need very little to be content
so when we're in that awareness we have the possibility to taste
that intimacy and to be at more ease and to be happier in our day to day life
we can experience that there really is nowhere to go
and so much to be awake to
to be aware of white right what's right here moment by moment
how can we cultivate that not knowing that real not knowing
i think the answer lies in zazen
and in what suzuki roshi calls the essence of zan not always so
so those are my thoughts today about not knowing don't know mind and i see we have plenty of time for a discussion or comments i'm interested in how do you think about not knowing am
oh turn this over to blake right
i'm an alternate over to the samba
please raise your digital hand
and we will call on you perhaps
not an order but we'll call you and if you have a question please type it into the chat preceded by me a question mark or the word questions so i can distinguish it first had like to call on ron nestor please on meet yourself and ask a
question
thanks the i'm susan relevant to your talk is my favorite
ah saying from an old zen teacher haku and and isn't it is a date back in early seventeen hundreds japanese great zen teacher somebody asked him what happens after we die
he said i don't know
and the question or said well you're a zen master on she's supposed to know that and he said well i'm a zen master but i'm not a dead zone
so i love it is for us take him again thank you some other you know topic is just rinse with literature i may have been reading for months now and i can do on for switched you're lucky i'm not doing that
thank you
i invite phillip sheppard a scheming gerard
i feel on
okay
hi can you hear me
how i want to thank you very much for your lecture hum it's so hard to rep for me to wrap myself around it be not only okay but more than okay it's some him to be able to embrace not knowing and thank you for loosening up my my mind and
having the discussion i appreciated thank you very much so you're welcome i think you know the baseline is welcome to the crowd and third route lovers yes thank you
i invite kicker to unmute herself and ask a question thank you are blake thank you susan i feel really fortunate to hear you talk today it was on very inspiring
i am
i especially like you know how how settled you are and that list ups of mountain scenes that you brought us early in your talk
each one kind of but little haiku poem as so beautiful
i had a question that came up
you said you said at one point how is not knowing connected with letting go and something that came to mind was a presence of mind and i wonder
what you think about the that connection
what do you mean by presence of my presence out with mind yeah you know it's a phrase that i heard surgeon use
you know be present being present and he would generally say that that also means to empty your mind you know being present
two things as they are so i wonder about letting go not knowing and presence of mind so you don't think good place to live after him
yeah be present that may be present is let go because be frozen then i'm not focused on me
right yeah yeah you take the yeah that's right i know what comes to mind to have this little practice i've done for years now at school
i used to attribute the students' success or failure to myself i'm sorry to say you know successful is because of me as they were failure it was because of me and i decided one day okay i'm taking those words out of my i'm not saying me myself or mind when i'm talk about students or the classroom or so
cool and i don't largely
so it might sound not so intimate to save our students or the classroom but it helped enormously to get away from this incessant preoccupation with me and somehow maybe that's connected to what you're saying the present at him let go of this year
yeah it does sound connected empty empty of desire
to gain something you know for yourself it's true it's the self-centeredness i mean i think the trick is in letting go we have to does it in itself that we cannot be attached to an outcome oh if i let go of this this will happen forget that you can do that
right here thank you thank you
jeff taylor and we invite you to and be yourself and ask a question please
jeff hi susan thanks so much for a great talk
newstead so much that i identify whether he reminded me of so much that i've forgotten in the moment when you first started talking about the idea of being attached to to me myself and army i looked up quickly and i realized my recent history is all about that
and to be reminded of not knowing is such a gift i can't even tell you especially right right here right now
in the way that you speak to it is also meaningful to me you inhabit your words and you inhabit your speech in a way that that is it's a transmission in in and of itself and in and so thank you for that and haven't been to more things and i'll stop when you said
when i'm knowing when i know which is one of my favorite pastimes i'm imposing myself on on the moment and so much as missed because i'm busy knowing and not see you and that not knowing is about living experience show and teach and and that's a place i'd i'd much rather and
habit and that's that's meaningful to me when one of my favorite poems by real com
has the phrase in it
that says our subject and object bound this is a question for beginners wrapped and sees of ignorance mean there there are a host of cohen's and in what you said in my secret fantasy that is going to be secret anymore after today is that if i were going to write at cannon read a
alwan and and contributed it would be titled something like how the hell would i know i could get sorted my experience of the thank you so much while going on right that's good
thank you
i think it was just written there's a question in hf nathan thank you susan your talk was great and feels very relevant to me right now it reminds me of something i read i think in one of the suzuki roshi books about the importance of having faith
in your original self which i didn't understand but it slowly dawned on me that it's that it was a permission to believe in something beyond my own limitations which was very encouraging perhaps you could speak about that thanks again
well but i think you said it gluten-free nathan earning the image that comes to mind is that that i try to use i think it takes years to realize that if we can put this small self and put this person susan the does exist in something bigger think of it as a container
you know that buddhist way
is a big container and so we can put this the south inside something that's much bigger and it gives its spacious in games room for us to to practice this way
that's my best effort at this moment perhaps others can see more thank you
sally
or add a please and meet yourself and ask a question i add
hi susan
that was the wonderful talk here and
the couple things that come up for me personally is that i'm
as a family member hum
with loved ones who hear voices or have
other
it's extraordinary experiences what i needed to cultivate
is not knowing
and what that allows me to do is to
about what they're saying or what their experiences experiencing
and that is made all the difference in the world as allow me to have a relationship
based on that based on not knowing and a closeness and an understanding and an openness to actually just listen
and on that is made all the difference i never thought it was a buddhist practice but now i realize it is
and the other thing i want to say is that
alice the second saturday program where since or surgeon as died and for many of us who aren't residents of busy saturday ease with the time that we got to hang out with him
more than any other time and so as you talked about him i am
these a days when i miss him and i feel his presence
on these days especially strongly so it was wonderful to thank you for saying that you know i'm
one thing that is really struck me
i like to go back to the dictionary and look up what's the difference between grieving and mourning and you know the differences that morning is public and we have not had this opportunity i mean this doesn't make it it made this is fine but we haven't had this opportunity to publicly mine
together and i'm you know so each of us is doing are grieving
ha
on our own arm down
at some point we will be able to be back together again and both celebrate and ah mourn in the ways that were able to do when we're together one bahati to or body right
thank you
moon please them meet yourself and ask a question morning so morning susan and thank you so much and thank you to for your remarks really helpful
i'm and and this vertebrae precious talk and i wanted to speak about and ask you about a couple of that story as he taught which seemed related i was very moved by the story of your daughter's friend wanting to learn meditation and i can
have wondered i reply to hear it here not did it work retire or with wensum happy ending any bad just wanted to know was it was the meditation really helpful to her in that time before she died or how did you see how did you understand her experience
of it and her ability to open to it in that surprising way and and then the other story that is can connected a story told the bat falling down the mountain and the moment of feeling just let go as you're falling and am and actually i've
i had that experience once when i fell down and just fell down the front steps of my house and i landed on the sidewalk and i i had this moment of surprising moment episode sort of letting go and feeling completely happy i was looking up the sky and everything was i was still alive and but and was definitely
moment of not knowing but i i wondered if if you're letting go as you are falling down the mountain mountain but what that really was and do you think it was related to the experience of your daughter's friend
meditating before she died as there's some how do we do that as there's some kind of letting go that happens at times like that
right now your muted
sorry
it seems like a perfect place to say i don't know
on
either i just come back to i don't know this is a cop out but i just come back to you know this is our training like remember how often so general she told us when you're doing zazen give yourselves zazen and instructions that would do that like over and over and over again you know when you're falling asleep
take whatever so who knows what happened out there on the mountain that day those words just came up
or when you fell down the street not down the stubs the words just came up rarely i just think that's our practice that's the instruction the instructions is there and then we follow it
i don't know i really dove now
i'm
do you think it's also when i'm in in that moment of falling everything's upside down gravities suddenly act the world is upside down a commanding not sold out of your reality and you really don't know what's going on and maybe in those moments where everything gets
you get jostled out of it you'd get jostled into the moment of what's happening but i can imagine another scenario and we just don't know where where if i had tried to stop the phone i might have gotten hurt because i might have gotten in the way there's that other instruction just get out in the way would
comes to mind you know my father and last couple years of his life he really needed to start using a cane and wouldn't use it and he would he not always falls and he kept saying me oh don't worry i've got falling down pat and i said well what do you mean by that he said i just let go and it also very down yeah maybe we do
do
in terms of jia you know she didn't have the time to cultivate their
that
process of learning meditation and man
you know cultivating it over a lifetime and yet on
how do i know how it helped her i don't know but arm she didn't sit quite a bit with me and then at her own house and on
you know she she over many months ah
became became are accustomed to the situation she was in embraced it and
died very gracefully
so how do we know i i'd like to think that it was something that helped her and i i think in the times that i sat with her she she found it helpful
that's about all i can say will thank you for your help with these things
we're coming to a close arm so that share this space by being brief a question in the church is a the this book title have you have to say something category roshi how does speaking out compare or work with not know
knowing
that's a good question isn't it
well i think speaking out is important but speaking out from that place oh stability or that place of clarity or that place of calm mind
is important
i'm
we can always take a breath before we speak out can't we i mean i forget don't you
but the times when i don't forget
i probably better

who's on since it did you have a question or if your hand disappeared don't run away
hum
it's it's gonna be too long and so i want to eat i did have a question but our a week an outlet to space dollars thank you very much judith smith pleased to meet yourself and ask a question hi judy hi susan
and one of the things that came up for me in your talk was am not knowing for me is very tied to not trying to control everything and now is something that i talked to search and a lot about on her docusign
i'm don walks at the marina early on
because as you know someone who's disabled there's a lot that's out of my control and on so a duchess brings into products mind for me that somehow not know in letting go and being able to arm
briefing are all very related for me
was a good reminder
yeah good point i totally agree