Public Dokusan 6

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I'm glad that we can do this. I'm very happy that, you know, I appreciate our Zooming. The one thing that I'm concerned about, among other things, that I've been thinking about is the newer people don't have the opportunity to practice live with us, with us older folks. who carry the tradition. And so I feel frustrated because I want to demonstrate to people about breathing and about posture and all those, you know, basic constituents of our practice. So I just wanted to express that. Also, you know, if somebody really wanted to have face-to-face


12 feet distance, I could talk to them about those things. So given that, I'm ready to deal with the questions. Okay. So why don't we start with Susan Marvin? Okay. If you can unmute yourself, Susan. Can you hear me? Of course. Okay. Too loud. Too loud? I'm going to turn you down a little bit. Okay. How's that? That's good. Sojin Roshi, you used to give a lot of correction. Now you give a lot of encouragement. Actually, I never found your corrections anything but encouragement, but what's the difference?


No difference. It's all encouragement. Yes. Yes. It's all encouragement. But people complain about correction. Oh, I don't know about correction. We don't call it correction anymore. We call it adjustment. Uh-huh. Yeah. So what happened? Is that a matter of the times, or you're tired of giving corrections, or you see something differently than before as a result of so many years of practice? It's a little softer to say adjustment, because correction means you're doing something wrong, which you may be, but we don't want to call it wrong. We don't want to say, oh, you're doing something wrong. But when we say adjustment, it means something's out of line, not something's wrong.


So then say something about the difference between adjustment then and encouragement, because you give a lot of encouragement now. Yes, I do. Is that a result of something that's shifted or a result of so many years of practice? No. See differently? No. It's because people are on their own. Pretty much everyone is on our own in a sense. And it's nice to have a voice of encouragement to support your practice. So what I've always done is everything I've done is to support our practice. But in this particular time, I think people, you know, I see people practicing. We're all in our own huddle, so to speak. And so I want to make people feel that what they're doing, it's just fine.


Or remind them of something, of how we are practicing, and that we're all supporting each other. I think that's what's really important here. It's sangha, and we are supporting each other. And that's my role at the moment, is to support everybody. So, and it's very encouraging to let people know that they're on the right track, or the wrong track. But I don't usually say you're on the wrong track. I usually say, you're on the right track. Just keep doing what you're doing, unless they really need something. And there are a lot of, there are a number of people who, I don't know what their level of having intimate, being intimate with the practice. So we've done it for years and years.


But the newer people haven't. A lot of newer people haven't. And so, you know, we absorb the practice through our pores, through association with each other in zazen and in work and in teaching and in so forth. So that's the way we've always done this. So we kind of take that, we may take that for granted. So that's not possible right now. So to be able to really encourage people by acknowledging what they're doing, that's kind of the role I have right now. That sounds good. And how do you encourage yourself at this time? I don't have to encourage myself. My whole life is encouraging myself.


So it's just natural to me. When I see somebody needing something, I just respond without thinking about it. Tonight, right before we started, someone called a friend who was discouraged by the news. So we talked a little about the news, but then I told her it's really important to laugh. Yes. So we did, we talked seriously, but then we laughed. And at the end she said, I feel better, but I don't know why. Yes. Of course. So, and I'm hearing you say is like, we need each other and we need to talk to each other and support each other. Yes. And encourage each other. Yeah. So thank you for that. Yes. Christian Evans. Hello, can you hear me? I can see you, but I can't hear you. Can you hear me now? Yes. Thank you, Sojourn Roshi.


If I understand correctly, Sojourn Roshi, you and Shonyu Suzuki Zenji, both you and Shonyu Suzuki Zenji co-founded Berkeley Zen Center. Well, yes. So then you're both co-founders, yet Suzuki Roshi, or Gen-Z, is also your teacher. Yes. I've had the privilege to hear some of the recordings by audio that by our sangha was provided to us on little flash drive and also on CDs. And I've also had a chance to read some of his teachings. But what we have access to is very small. But from the small sample, I discerned that Shonyu Suzuki Zenji didn't include much, if at all, political or social commentary in the Zendo or in the Teisho.


I've never been into a community room with him, so I'm assuming that he also exercised that forbearance. In our time, we have expanded community room. We have the Yahoo email, as well as Tea Time, and of course, the tay shows that go out into the world as podcasts. Are we on the right track by our habits in introducing political and social concerns? Can that have a risk of distracting or diverting us away from universal dharma? That's a good question. Kind of a long question, but it's a good question. Suzuki Roshi had been through the Second World War. He'd been in Manchuria. He wasn't the last out of Manchuria. He barely caught it. He saw the devastation of Japan and a good part of the world.


And he had seen how the fluctuations of peace and war. War follows peace, peace follows war. It's like one foot following the other. It's continuously like that. So his understanding was our practice should be beyond, our understanding should be beyond war and peace. But at the same time, he knew that we had to do certain things. So he never discouraged us from doing anything. He didn't encourage us, and he didn't discourage us. He was interested in the Dharma, period. So as an example, when we had the human being in Golden Gate Park, which was a huge event. It was a huge event.


All the hippies in the world were there. And he gave a talk. And his talk was wonderful. I can't remember what he said. But it was a heartfelt talk about, you know, encouraging the hippies. He loved hippies. He loved his unwashed raggedy hippies because they were counterculture. So instead of talking about politics, he never talked about politics, but you could feel where he was on the scale of politics. But his job was to encourage people to practice. they could decide what they wanted to do. So his whole thrust was to give people the foundation for their life, and then they could decide what they wanted to do, given that foundation.


He never told people what to do. He just said, this is our practice. This is the foundation of your life. Do it. We'll help you. We'll provide the space for you to sit zazen and for you to learn the dharma and for you to, you know, and then you have to decide what you're going to do. I'm not going to tell you what you should do. So he realized that the dharma would tell people what to do if they really had faith in the dharma. You wouldn't know what to do. But now, are we on the right path with you and your successor, Avid? Do we need some adjustment? Yeah, we're on the right path. You could join us. And you could join the world.


We practice with the whole universe. I hear the talk. Yes. Yes. I could talk some more, but that's pretty good for now. Are you going to come to the half-day sitting tomorrow? No, I need to work. You do? Well, I get to work. Yeah, you're good to work. So I think my talk will be recorded. Jerry? Oliva? Okay. So when I, Sojin, when I thought about what I wanted to ask you about, The thing that came to my mind was my eye of practice.


So I kind of went back to Genjo Koen and whether my eye of practice was adequate to the current situation and the things that are happening. So I went back and I just gonna read that quote from Genjo Koen. Within the dusty world and beyond, There are innumerable aspects and characteristics. We only see or grasp as far as the power of our eye of study and practice can see. When we listen to the reality of myriad things, we must know that there are inexhaustible characteristics, even in a drop of water. So, in this place now of the enormity of change, multiplicity of challenges, violence, disease, locusts, every place we look, some major challenge.


And there are myriad aspects of these. So how do I trust my I of practice, expand my I of practice, in order to respond in the face of all these sources of suffering for myself and other people? Well, I'll answer your question with a question first. The question is, how will you fix the whole world? That's a good question. I can only deal with what's in front of me. Yes, so that's your answer. You can only deal with what's in front of you. I can only deal with what's in front of me. Yes, and that covers the whole world.


There's so much, and how do I trust when I choose to act, when I choose to respond? How do I trust my I have practice? What else is there to trust? Where do I feel it? Where do I feel that trust? Well, you feel it in your breath. When you can breathe calmly, that's trust. When you get shaken up and your breath is troubled, then you're troubled. So it's so simple to come back to your breath and always breathe deeply. Always breathe deeply and find the calmness of your mind. So we trust in the calmness of our mind.


That's Buddha. So knowing intimately your breath. Yes. Knowing what it's telling you. Yes. You know, breath is the deepest thing in your upper body. That's down at the bottom, right? Then we go up a little bit, and we have the abdomen, and then we have the stomach, and then we have the heart. And then we have the head, right? So the head will tell us many, many things. And unless the head is balanced and has trust in the hara, or in the breath, it doesn't know what to do. It just is dependent on ideas. So when we depend on the breath as the major factor, it has nothing to do with thinking.


It has to do with just existence and with balance and with equanimity. That's the basis of all decisions. So the trusting of our practice, our breathing practice, what it feels like in the gut and the heart? You know, the gut is basic reality. The heart is compassion. And the mind is thinking. When all three of those are in harmony, We know what to do. If we don't, then look and see which one of those three is out of balance.


Because we're depending on the head all the time. That's why you're hesitating. That's why we said Zazen. to bring those three aspects into balance. And then when you stand up, your head is clear, hopefully. So it's called just taking care of your corner of the room. If you take care of the corner of your room thoroughly, you'll know what the next step is. Thank you. You're welcome. Ruyushen, add your thoughts.


Good evening, Sojin. Good evening. Can you see me? I do. You look really, really wonderful, actually. Thanks. Looks good. It's so good to be here with you. I feel so fortunate that we're all here practicing together and practicing with you. Thank you. So this is a question that has been in my mind for many a dog walk that we've taken, and it's kind of a personal question, but I wanted to have it in a more formal way with you. Okay. And this has resonance with Jerry's. So I was ordained 15 years ago. and over the years I've done many things and taught classes and led groups and over the years I several times went out and thought about being a teacher and interviewed to be a teacher in different places and somehow that just never seemed to happen.


Sometimes I wasn't ready and sometimes it just didn't happen. And so I've wondered if that's because of a lack of competence, or a lack of imagination, or a lack of trust in the Dharma, or maybe it's because of just not understanding myself well enough and what my abilities and my karmic position is. What do you see? Impatience. Really? Yes. You may not think so. But it's impatience in that you want something to happen. So when you go someplace and you want to be a teacher, people say, well, who are you? And you have to tell people who you are. That's a problem. I see that.


And you know, you don't know, I haven't said this, in the last, couple of years, I have come to settle in a place of just whatever I'm doing and however I'm doing it, to offer it from a point of view of practice, to show up completely to it and bring my years of training and understanding to that is enough. That's too much. Oh, because I think it's something? Yes. Just the practice, just sits us and the people. Without wanting anything, without being somebody, that's how you become recognized. Soon as you want something, nobody will recognize you. Maybe my karma is just to always be a doctor. Maybe that's my strength. It is to be a doctor, but Buddha was a doctor. Yes, you're the best doctor that I know.


So this is what I've been talking to you about, right? Don't want something, let people ask you for something. They will if you let go. You actually can teach very well. Sometimes I've wondered if my personality is just not the right combination of elements. Too shy, too sharp, too withholding? Well, I don't think you're too shy. Susan, call him on it. Yeah, go ahead. Just don't try hard. Thank you. You have a lot of talent. You have a lot of ability. Don't push it.


Should I get out of medicine? You can't get out of medicine. You know why? Why? Because you're a doctor. I thought you were going to say because it's so expensive. So I put out my arm. No, you should stay with medicine, but you can have the same attitude with medicine. with everything in their life. People want to recognize you. They do. And in their classes, given many classes, many talks, they are beautiful. But wait to be asked. Some people don't wait. They just kind of put themselves forward. Yes. And then they wonder why they don't get anywhere. But sometimes they do, they get forward by being a little pushy. Well, they get forward, you know, to some extent.


But there's, you know, there's so many, there are a number of people who want something, and the more they want, the more they refuse to. Yeah, I hear that. Yes. Maybe they get a little gaining or something like that, you know, by trickery or something. Or because we need somebody to do something. This has always been a problem in maintaining positions. Somebody can do something really well, and so we put them in that position, but it's not a good idea. No, then they don't want to let it go. Yes. or whatever, yeah. So we should be just content with just being who we are. We're just what we have. Let me say this, when you're just content with who you are, with what you are, and not asking for anything, that's the fastest way to advance.


And not to have doubt about who we are. Don't have any doubt. Then you don't have doubts about who you are. Say that, I'm sorry? That's when you don't have that. At that time, you don't have doubts about who you are because everything you need is at hand. So there's nothing else that I don't see that you would give my attention to? No. You know, you're perfectly capable. But don't use it. Thank you. It's an art. It's an art to have that balance, for me to have the confidence, but not to make something of it. The art of living. Yep. Thank you.


Mike McVeigh. Hello. Hi. Ines, so a question for you, Sojin. I've thought about the three refuges of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. That last one, what is it? Yeah, it's you. Me? It's you, yes. Sangha doesn't necessarily mean a lot of people. It means it can be a lot of people or give me one person. Yeah, well, I know that they're not always so. Shinya Suzuki talked about people dragging furniture across the floor upstairs in a way that was like starting wars. There's a lot of furniture. I'm in a one story house, but I still have a lot of furniture being dragged across the floor above my head all the time.


Yeah. So back when we had Page Street, when we got Page Street, usually the Zendo was on the top floor. But we had to put it on the bottom floor, and with the dining room on the top floor. So people would drag the furniture, drag the chairs, and you could hear it. But that's only one aspect. The other aspect is, what are you doing to the chair? How are you treating the chair? Are you treating the chair just as an object, whereas the chair is a living being in the form of a chair? It's an insentient being, but we think about things as all beings are sentient beings. There's a lot of chairs being dragged around all the time. So you treat the chair like you treat your head, or the way, you know, it's a living being.


And would you drag your kid around like you'd drag the chair around? Normally not, no. Suzuki Roshi's attitude was take care of everything, realize But everything has its own existence, even though it's passing through. So treat the chair as a chair. Understand what chairness is. Don't sit on the table. The table has its own use, and it's not your butt. It's not for your butt. It's for eating also. So that's his attitude, is take care of everything like your own dad. I've been very sad about all the chair dragging.


It's really sad. And I'm starting to kind of maybe tune it out, shut it down. We do. It's Mr. Rogers. I didn't think much of Mr. Rogers. He wasn't there when I was a kid, but when my kid was there, we watched Mr. Rogers. But I realized there's something, you know, take off his coat, put it on a coat hanger, put it in the closet. And I didn't understand it. I mean, I'd understood it, but I thought, oh, that's kind of, you know, sissiness. But then later, you know, I realized we should take care of things like that. We should take care of everything like that. Mr. Rogers was the first person on TV that I thought must be inside the television.


So that was kind of special. That was very special, yeah. Who is that man looking at me? So anyway, we may have gotten off track, but is that the track we were on? Well, it was about the nature of Sangha, which seems very, for me, seems confused and difficult and not clear and not simple. It's just, you know, it become very clear. if you treat everybody like Buddha, and treat all insentient beings as Buddha, then it becomes very clear. I have tools I don't treat very well. You don't what? I have tools for my business I don't treat very well. Yes, that's another aspect. I remember when we were at Tessahara, we always washed all the tools after work was done.


I don't know if we still do that, but I remember that's the way we took care of our tools. They all should be washed. It's a lot of work. It is. Taking care of things like tools is a lot of work. Yes, but that's our practice. Words are tools. Tool. Both. Work and tools. Words, no, words are tools. Yes, no, words are definitely tools. And sometimes they are very destructive. Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed. Sometimes they need to demolish things, just like a demolition hammer, but they might go too far. Well, knowing just how far to go is practice. Yes. There's no such thing as non-practice if you're a practitioner. Yes. Everything that falls into your hands, your whole environment, is all part of you. And the way you activate yourself is how your environment exists.


We influence everything, all of us around us. And people take cues from us. Yes. Yeah, we're learning something from everything, and everything is learning something from us. So we're students and we're teachers. Others are learning from us. From you, yes. From me. Yes, you influence your surroundings. And I think that you influence your surroundings more than you think. I keep thinking I don't. I know, but you do. I think I don't influence my surroundings. I think that I'm basically a stranger. Why are you imposing? You're not imposing. Just the way you are. Just the way you are influences. Because you said you're there talking to me, right? It was virtual.


But I don't see you as virtual. I see you there talking to me. And so you're influencing me. And I'm influencing you. You're telling me how to relate to you. And I'm telling you how to relate to me without trying. Yes. We're all teaching each other how to relate to each other. You may be scared of this guy, so you relate to him in a certain way. You may not be, and you relate to him in a different way. Yes. I've had a crazy band of carpenters work for me over the years. Yes, so you know. Each one's different. Each one's different. I have a cat that has been killing birds and other critters, and we've tried our best to stop that. Yeah. It's hard. It's hard. But you know. We got a special collar on him.


Oh. A big colorful collar, and it seems to help a little bit. An electric collar? No, a colorful collar, a joker's collar. So that's enough said. Yeah. Okay. But that's, I guess that is influence. Yes, it is. The right color on our cat. You're influencing your surroundings all the time. Yes. Good to talk to you. Thank you. Excuse me, Ben Carlson. Hi, Sojin. Hi. So, My question is about the six realms of existence. The six worlds. The six worlds. Yeah. And in particular, the human world. Yes.


So I've heard it said that maybe it was the Buddha who said that human life is rare, as rare as dirt under the fingernail. And so we should take the opportunity of this human life to practice fully. Yes. And I think I've also read or heard it taught that of the six worlds, the human world is the world where encountering and practicing the Buddha Dharma is most possible. Yes. And I can understand how maybe being a hungry ghost or being in the hell realm makes it difficult to practice. And I think I understand how being in a heavenly realm might make it difficult to practice because maybe there's too much comfort. So can you say something about why the human world is the place that's most auspicious for practice?


Yes, because Well, animals practice unconsciously. They don't think about Buddha or practice or anything. They just are totally present on each moment. They're already there. Whereas humans have to work really hard to get there. So, It's not like humans are better. It's just that we are a higher species in the sense that we have a different kind of destiny than the animals. There are many animals that are close to us, like dogs and cats, but they don't... They don't know anything about nirvana. So all the animals are there to help us do this.


And we're slaughtering them like crazy. We cultivate them. But the wild animals really are there to teach us if we can learn from them. The American Indians knew all this. The eagle and all the animals had a place in that. in the hierarchy of their animal world. And they're all teaching us something. So instead of killing them and eating them, I do every once in a while, I eat a little chicken or fish, but basically, but that's part of it as well. And, that each one has characteristics, certain characteristics that can teach us how to live in this world. So we have to pay attention to that. So human beings are working, not all human beings, I guess we all are, but some people just don't know it.


What is our destiny? What is the destiny of human beings? What is the highest, development of a human being. So we say in our practice, it's the Buddha. To allow our Buddha nature to flower and to let our, to drop all the gross and let the gold stand out. But it's not like eliminating something. It's like turning the dross into the gold. That's what happens in the ground. Gold is not different from dirt. Gold and diamonds, you know, are formed under great pressure in the earth. So that's, you know, the Diamond Sutra.


We say the Diamond Sutra. It's our diamond nature. This hardness, this firmness, this strength and development and brilliance is our destiny. But we don't, we stop at, we don't, Most people stop before they get anywhere because they're satisfied with what, you know. But I think a good student does not stop anywhere and continues to practice continuously to let their the best part of their nature flourish and flower.


So then the hindrances of the other worlds, like the fighting demons, the hell realm, the animal realm, that's not the, we are part of all those worlds, right? So we are part animal, definitely. We're the human animal. For the time being, three heads and six arms. Right. And the hungry ghost, and the heavenly realm. These all fall short of what a human being is. But human being contains all of those worlds. I'm picturing the mandala that has the six worlds. Absolutely. And I think in those, there's always a Buddha in each one. Yes. There's the Bodhisattva. Or Bodhisattva in each one. Bodhisattva in each one. So within the world of hungry ghosts, there's a Bodhisattva.


But the Bodhisattva is you. Don't be a hungry ghost. Yeah, a ghost, you know, doesn't have a place to land. So they're always wandering around, you know, no place to land. And so when we have Hungry Ghost Ceremony, we bring together, we call all those wandering spirits, hungry ghosts, together, and we feed that So when we come back to, as you said earlier, to our hara and our heart and our mind in balance, as in zazen, is that us returning to the human world where we can manifest Buddha? Yes. Thank you, Sochen. I don't think Troy's here, is he?


Troy, are you here? Teresa Lesko. Sojin Roshi. Hi, Teresa. Hi. Long time no see. I know. You're looking well. Thank you. So are you. A little elf-like, but. So what's on your mind? Well, I was thinking about our dog walks. Oh, yeah. And my new dog, I don't know if you met Roger. No. Roger. I know. Been a long time. I know. Well, he and I, he's a rescue guy and kind of from someone in the neighborhood. And we hadn't walked by his old home in a long time. And we were walking and his whole, he had trauma.


He's got a lot of trauma and he loves living here now and he's settled down. He's gotten rid a lot through our connection and love. But his whole body, when we walked by the house, his whole body just went to the front of the house. Like it wasn't even instinct. It felt like this is just what I do. This is like a month ago. And then a couple of weeks ago, I was behind the Zendo walking around and those gorgeous stones. I was having a conversation with the stones headed to Mr. Ross's house. And the Dokusan showed up and even I'm pretty sure it was an overcast night, but the Dokusan showed up really bright to me. And my body did that same thing. Like, and it wasn't, it was like not, I wasn't remembering something. It was just like, I felt like the same dog body. And then I remembered that I feel that way about you when we don't have to, like, I don't have to, I don't see you for a long time.


And I kind of, I miss you, but I don't miss you because when I see you, there's no expectation. There's no, but we're just there. But how do we do that on this? How do we meet? Like, how do you meet me? How do I meet you? How do I be Sangha when, I still identify as a Zen student, but I rarely go to the Zen Center. Yeah, when you sit Zazen, you meet me. I secretly just asked these questions, like signed up to meet you again. So I'll just sit back and stare. Good evening, Sojin.


Can you hear me? So, on Saturday, when you were talking about the three marks of existence, at some point you just sort of, almost as an aside, you said, whoops, sorry, you said that imagination was important, but the three marks of existence weren't imagined, they were, you know, what was so or what was true. Yes. But, which that completely made sense to me, but I was wondering, when you said that, sort of what place the imagination has in our practice? Well, everything we think is imagination. Everything we think is imagination. So that's why if we want to go beyond imagination, don't think.


So, you know, I also talked about nirvana, right? That was the third one. So nirvana is to go beyond thinking. Nirvana includes thinking, But when we drop everything, it's easier for Nirvana to stand out. It's like we take off the dress. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't think. We should have correct thinking. Not destructive thinking or not, you know, not delusional thinking. But when we touch nirvana, it's possible for us to have correct thinking.


Because nirvana is simply our basic nature, which in its pure form always thinks correctly. But is that correct thinking still imagination or imaginary? Well, that's a good question. I don't know. Maybe. So there's two kinds of nirvana. One is nirvana without remain-er, means gone. That's like dying. Then there's nirvana with remain-er. So it's, You can't live without imagination. You can't really operate without imagination. But imagination means so many different things. Right, that's true. So imagination is making images.


Image-ination, right? So we're creating images. And when we create images, it's harder to touch directly. That's why when we say zazen, it's nirvana. if we do it correctly. You're not creating something. It's pure creation. It's not nut creation, it's pure creation. So it's beyond imagination, but that doesn't, when we are operating in the world, we need imagination. So when we sit zazen for one period, we let go of imagination. We don't depend on it. When we sit for a week on a machine, we let go of imagination for a week, even though imagination pops up. We just let the images come and go. But when we need to think, imagination is there.


So imagination is very important, of course. And it's a human, We wouldn't eliminate imagination because then we would be removing part of our natural endowment. Okay, that's good. Thank you. Okay, we have some extra time if somebody wants to raise their electronic hand. I'll call on you. Thank you, Gary. Hi, surgeon. I'm waiting for your picture to come up. Okay. Oh, there you go. I see it now. Every time I see you, I'm encouraged.


I want to thank you for you just being you for, I guess, since all this time, because of your practice. And I think that's changed my trajectory in life. I was listening to Suzuki Roshi's talk. Maybe this was the last recorded talk he gave in 71. He talked about, I think he was encouraging students to go beyond human problems. And I wonder if, I feel you know that, but I wonder if you can talk about it.


I'm not sure that I would have to look myself to see what you're saying, because human problems are our practice. So our problems are our practice. So what go beyond, I don't know what that means exactly. Maybe was he talking about for me, for example, not to just stay with dealing with my own problems, but being able to practice and go beyond my own problems. Yes, I think I know what you mean. It's like, go through our problem.


Go all the way through our problem. When we become our problem, then there's no problem. It's only when we see our problem as a problem to be solved. You know, it's very tricky. It's like whatever you say, the opposite is also the truth. So I would like to see, you know, if you are quoting, I would like to see the whole quote exactly. Yeah. I'll send it to you. Does your email still work? Oh, well, it's working now. Okay. I'll send it to you. I'll ask one more question regarding Zazen. So I was practicing with keeping my attention on the bodies. For example, the body touching the cushion, my leg touching the cushion.


And I've tried to practice that also off the cushion. Like, for example, if I'm walking, just notice my feet. standing. But I wonder, you talked about this on one of Buddha's enlightenment celebration days, that his enlightenment was love, you know, universal love. Yes. So I wonder when I sit Zazen, or even off the cushion, that feeling of love needs to be a part of my being, something like that. Well, you know, think about that off the cushion. When you're on the cushion, don't think. That's great love.


Because you're not separating yourself from anything. You're one with everything, as they say about hot dogs. You're one with everything. You're not separating yourself from anything. That's true love, is not separating yourself. But you can think about various types of love, which is important, but there's, you know, kindness and there's compassion and joy and equanimity. Those are four types of love which have nothing to do with wanting or with possession.


They're just totally free. It frees you and frees everyone. So when we think about love, it's like freeing yourself and freeing others. And there's no wanting, no possessiveness. It's just freely given. So it's dana. And dana is the first of the six paramitas. So dana means generosity of spirit. That's love. Then there's love of your family, and you know, other, and all that. And then there's depraved love, which always gets you in trouble. So, It's good to rise yourself to the level of compassion, loving kindness, joy, and creativity.


And when you sit down, it's all there. Okay. Thank you. I think Ross was next. Ross? Sure, thank you. Hello, Sojourn Roshi. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have a teacher-student relationship with you. We can sit on our own with others. We can study Dharma, but the teacher-student thing is very unique. And having Dōkasan privately and Shōsan publicly is a great encouragement for me. That said, in our time of COVID, What, how can you encourage us in Zazen with regard to upright posture and without being able to lay your compassionate hands on us and lifting up our sternum and keeping it upright?


Well, I could remind you over Zoom. I do the best I can to remind everybody over Zoom. Yes. Okay. So it's kind of like the old days when you would say, sit up straight. People are listening and they will make some effort. Right. So the first thing you have to do is put yourself in the position. Otherwise I can't tell you. The chair doesn't work. Okay. I apologize, next time I will be on a cushion. This is where I sit most of my Zazens when I'm on Zoom. I take the opportunity, since I'm sitting down, to sit in the position. Yes, I hear that.


I hear that. One of your responses to Sue Marvin was, I encourage myself or there is encouragement in my practice. So you remind yourself to sit up straight and lift your sternum, lower back and all of that. Of course, there's no one there checking you. You are checking you. You are checking you. What I end up saying is every time you sit, is to give yourself zazen instruction. That's true, yes. And that is what I mean. Every single time. Not sometimes, but every single time you put your butt on the cushion, you give yourself zazen instruction as if you were talking to somebody else. That's how you learn to give zazen instruction.


If you can't do it for yourself, How could you do it for other people? You can't. So you're teaching yourself all the time. Teaching yourself and reminding yourself all the time, every time you sit. How to do this, because you forget, you know. And we let ourselves relax, and we dream. And then our mood goes down. Yes. Or up. Stuff like that. So you have to really keep after yourself. Yes. That's, you gotta, you know, every single time. And then if you don't do that, you say, oh, I forgot to do that. The next time you do it. Yeah. Good advice. You can cut a notch in your rifle. Okay. Well, thank you so much. That's great encouragement from my virtual teacher.


Yes. I'm glad to have you as my student. Yes. Thank you. You're welcome. Carol has her hand up. Carol Paul. OK. Hello, Sojin. Can you hear me, Sojin? Oh, yeah. Loud and clear. Oh, good. Good to see you. So do I don't know if you remember my beautiful forest next door to my house all those bamboo anyway What's that? You're gonna build a house there well, uh, it was always zoned for two houses and the day finally came and They've been busy clearing out all of the trees. I did say goodbye to them and in that process you know, all the animals and lots of rats. Lots of rats have come over to live with me. And, you know, they keep me up at night, I will say.


They've been around all year, but, you know, they seem more and more. And so my handyman gardener came and told him, I said, I'm still hearing him. And boy, he took action. He just, you know, put up some, you know, sealed up the holes because they've been chewing my insulation. They chew, I can hear them chewing on the pipes, you know. And, um, so I didn't stop him. I just, I did talk to the rats. I said, get out now. And I don't know, maybe a few did, but, um, and then you talked about the, the animals tonight, they're teaching us. And I do feel a little shame, but you know, I don't know. I just didn't know what else to do. Yes, we don't like killing them, right?


But we have to do that. You know, we say, don't kill, right? But everything is killing everything else. The rats kill, we kill the rats. that the rats eat whatever, every animal is eating something. And some eat grass. The defenseless ones eat grass. The aggressive ones eat other animals. And that's nature. So the animals live in nature, and they don't worry about that. That's natural for them. And because Animals control other animals. They control the population of other animals. So that's natural, and we should appreciate that. We should appreciate. So do you have a cat? No, that would be a good thing.


But the thing that amazes me. Yeah, maybe I can borrow Mike's cat. Sure. Mike, my babe, bring your cat over. But, you know, there's so much wilderness around here, and I'm thinking, why don't you go there? Isn't it the most natural thing for them to be outdoors? Well, it is, but it's natural for them to be indoors as well. You know, ships, in the olden days, ships had all kinds of rats. Oh, yeah, I suppose. Carrying them to other countries and all this. You can have a rat in your bed. But there has to be something to eat to control the rats. Just as like there's something to control the bugs. There's something to control the termites, right? Because they're destructive. But also, it's their nature to control other animals. And the rats need to be controlled because they carry plague.


And they carry other diseases. So your house, although you're very sympathetic, your house is not the house of rats. I mean, maybe now, but it's not the house for rats. So that's why we have cats. Cats catch rats. You don't need the rodents because they do carry disease for us. And they also, you know, they all, at some point, they all need to die. Just like we do. Just like everything does. You know, our cat is always catching bugs, and so is our dog. He goes crazy, you know, catching bugs. Jumping up and down, you know, it's great sport for them. But nevertheless, that's the animal world.


And so, it's complicated. Complicated. It's complicated. It's complex. So you can't say yes and no. It's like sometimes yes and sometimes no. And you have to know which is yes and you have to know which is no. Okay. Gatse gatse. Gatse gatse. I wish them well. I'll tell you what we did in Tassajara back in the 60s. we would put some meat into a gallon jug and with a little trap. And when the flies, which were just all over the place, when the flies came in, they got caught in the gallon jug. And when the gallon jug was full of flies, we took them out to the flats and dug a hole and burned them.


That was our compassionate action. And we chanted the Hatshepsut. First we chanted the Hatshepsut while they were burning. So, but they were dead. We didn't burn them when they were alive. But that was, you know, we did not want the flies, which also bring some kind of problems, right? Besides the buzzing around and stuff like that. Well, I remember we were mobbed with flies. Yeah, a little bit less. But you know, when we were in Tassajara, there were rats. We'd walk into the kitchen at night, and there they were scurrying around the stove. And they ate up Al's, you know, wires in his car. Yeah, I know. The cars were parked there outside the gate. I remember that. Yeah, and mice always, there was a pandemic.


They made nests in the engines, in the engine compartment of the car. The wires. And they couldn't start the car. It cost Al about $300 or something, or maybe more. Oh, a lot more than that, I think. You had to leave casa, huh? To get it. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So, Other animals take care of other animals. Animals take care of other animals by reducing their presence to a reasonable number. That's why it's so hard. You take away the wolves and you take away the predators. And then the other animals grow too many. So of course we have way too many rats and stuff like that. Yeah. So the problem being an animal, we also take care of the rats in our own way.


Yeah. Okay. Okay. No, I don't, I'll sleep better tonight. Thank you. So we're close to ending time, but there's two more people. Do you still, that's fine. Go ahead, Joe. Joe Fang. As Sajan Roshi. Where are you? I'm okay, how are you? No, where are you? I am in the bedroom. Okay, I got you, I got you. Okay, cool. As Sajan Roshi, today I got a call from a very good friend who's been having a lot of trouble. of bipolar one. He was manic and really psychotic. And now he's been very depressed and he checked himself into, I don't know, some kind of halfway house, not a hospital.


Um, and he's been very, um, well, he's been calling a lot, which is fine. And I try to help him, which is fine. And my basic thing is to, of course, be kind and above all to try to remember that it's most important to listen to him rather than to feel I know, I mean, when I feel I can say something. And that's hard because I talk too much. But anyway, so I just thought I'd mention that and get your feedback for ideas that might arise for you of how I can help them. Well, one way to help, I don't know, I'm not a diagnostic, but one way to help is to just listen.


Exactly. That's, you know, in many cases, to just be present and do nothing. And do nothing. Just breathe. And do nothing. Or what seems appropriate. Don't try to do too much. Yes. to just know that, for him to know that somebody is there who has a presence. You could even do a little zazen. Yeah, while I'm talking to him. I would do zazen while I'm talking to him on the phone, or I breathe in any case. Yeah, with, you know, it's all on the phone. It's a problem of talking.


I'm not trying to solve everything with your talking. It doesn't work. Well, sometimes it works. I don't say it will never work, but it's all imagination. Yeah. All the words. All the words. And it's representation rather than directness. Words are representative. So- The sound is gone. Oh, you can't hear me? Can you hear me now? Okay. So it comes up with what we were talking about last time, the just be there with the breath and find a center and listen from the center. How far is he away from you? Well, he's, uh, you know, this COVID he's in LA and I could physically go down.


He's in LA and there's COVID and he's in, I don't want to be, well, he doesn't have COVID, but there's COVID in the world. So I don't know if this was what else. You don't want to travel. I'd be glad to go and see him, but yeah, I don't feel it's appropriate. What about Zoom? He's uptight about Zoom, but we can try it. He actually... What's his name? Nick. He's the one... Nick Norton. He's the one who tries to make me famous. He was my agent. No wonder he's schizophrenic. Absolutely, man. I don't blame the guy. Trying to make me famous is a hard job. Here's what I would do. I would say, Nick, I want to use Zoom.


Let's do it. You be the boss. Interesting. You be the boss. What would you like to do? You're not going to get anywhere with that. You say, Nick, I would like to do Zoom with you. Let's do that and be positive. Rather than say, what do you think about doing Zoom? Forget what he thinks. I would like to do Zoom. It's what you think. You have to take control. Control? Well, yes. You have to control the situation because you're the one that's not in his position. He's in his position and doesn't know what to do. But you know what to do because you're auditioned. So claim your position and act out of your position.


Okay, two things with that. Well, there's lots of stuff, but I mean, he's under the care of the doctors and psychologists at this place. He, um, has, he reached out to Brad Warner, who he has a thing. Yeah. And he wrote, I thought Brad did really well. He wrote like an eight page email, like a cry for help at like, he was totally insane. And Brad waited a few anyway. So he has this guy, a senior student there that he has dokes on with or practice discussion. And I explained to Nick that I'm a TA at most, almost not really. And the guy he talks to is an assistant professor and Brad is the full professor because that's the context he understands. So, so it's- You don't have to do anything. I can just, I'm off the hook.


Yeah, you have to hug. Except that he calls me and wants help. Well, tell him that if you want help, this is what you have to do. Don't deny me. This is as far as I go with you about this. I don't, that last... You're asking, you're asking, and I'm telling you. Yeah, right. This is true. That's it. That's my opinion. You do whatever you want, but that's my opinion, and I'm not gonna change it. Thank you for not changing it. Well, I will ask him. Okay. Okay, thank you so much. One more, we have Linda Hess. Okay, good evening. Hi Linda. Hi. When you were talking with Ben, you were talking about the six realms and he mentioned that in the non-human realms, there's a Bodhisattva in each one.


And you said you're the Bodhisattva. And in the hungry ghost realm, which is my favorite non-human realm to exist in. I mostly feel that I am a hungry ghost. I am a hungry ghost. Join the club. Yeah. But you said you are the bodhisattva. So is it going to be like in the koan where the guy gets, where they're talking to each other and the guy gets up and he says, You know, good morning, master. He says, good morning. He says, don't be fooled today. And he said, no, master, I won't. Is that it? That's the hungry ghost. That's it. Yes. Yes. No matter what the hungry ghost thinks, it's just hopeless and impossible. We find a way to have that dialogue. Yes, there is a way. This is Buddhism.


There's always a way. OK. I want to ask you a question. Do you speak Farsi? Do you read it? No. I speak Hindi. Oh, Hindi. OK. I thought you were going to ask me an interesting question. It was a selfish question. OK. But I appreciate your question. And I really like to see you smiling like that. You look so relaxed. reflecting your smile. Thank you. Okay.