Spiritual Formation

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so
what i was and am planning to share with you this morning are some thoughts about continuous practice ah what i might also referred to as spiritual formation
but i think we have to begin this morning ha acknowledge jv the rising tide of violence and hate crimes against asian americans and pacific islanders in the u s
of course the the shootings in atlanta or on my mind
were six of the eight murdered spa workers were asian american women
how
on february twenty fifth
he up
los angeles higashi on country how jura shinshu temple
was vandalized it's temple that's right round right round the
corner from zen sushi and is part of the dog
really an intimate part of the buddhist community in japan town and it was angeles
a vandal came over over the wall of a locked gate and damaged their beautiful lanterns in them are in the country to the temple and also smashed of a window
and we heard about this from her
the priest at the temple was also the bishop of or
north america of jura shinshu his name is nori aoki ito and i am quite well from he was one of the people that was in the the delegation that met with the pope francis can roam a number of years ago so ah i was
it was really shaken by back
ah i wrote game and center donation and it was a those a large outpouring from ah
predictably california zen groups are many of whom i have had interactions with a with ito sensei over the years
i've also heard from
ah
asian american members of our own of community the btc community and the wider community
ha
who understandably
fear for their well being
ah in the streets on the streets and in public
and this is a disease a time of fear
oh
the origin which is just mind boggling to me is the kind of
base listen in
really shameful have
accusations that somehow the virus the cobra virus was begun was
began in china
ah
but what we look as weak as we see look through american history ha we find that
asian americans and other immigrant populations have
habitually been targeted in times of national crisis
and are
so the
one of the center's i am i will try to put something hundred a chat or send it out ah to the community list ah the one of the center's stop asian american and asian american pacific islander ah kate the center launched in response to
to this is racist or repression they received more than thirty eight hundred reports
of attacks and abuse against asian americans in forty seven states trying ah drink two thousand and twenty and twenty one
ah and another report finds that hate crimes targeting hate crimes against asian americans hot have surged
by a hundred fifty per cent in ah
in two thousand and twenty
there's a history of this as well ah
was history of asian american but anti asian violence in this country and actually much of it has been under the cover of us law
you have the chinese exclusion act of eighteen eighty two
ah you have the mass incarceration of
japanese american citizens during world war two
you know
in buddhist terms this is a a system isation of delusion
it systemized for systematized in appalachian in the form of or in my simply call ah
white supremacy
it's also been system a system ties in our levels of different points in our history
so
do not have a solution to this
but i hope we can commit ourselves personally
and organizationally to
stand with our
asian american and pacific on highlander sisters and brothers
we can offer them spiritual and material support
can i will i'll try to make that available the contacts available to you ha
i've have
i made a donation or to were
the akashi on ghannouchi temple when that happened and yesterday i found a link ah to
a fund for ah the families of the victims in the atlanta shootings since i i sent a donation there ah
and i think we could just continue the discussion within our communities and with our friends ah about what does solidarity look like what to support look like
so this wednesday morning coming
ah after sauce in
instead of the regular well-being service
we'll have a a a memorial and well-being ceremony ah in represent centers online sendo
to remember those who have died and to stand with those who live at risk and fear so it really invite you to to join us for that ah della beata sad
kit
today can be a ten ah on wednesday
so
let's stop and take a couple of breaths

in the remaining time today i hope you'll excuse me for shifting the focus
ha
actually maybe it's not exactly shifting the focus maybe we've widened the focus of the next part of are taught by prefacing it with
this acknowledgement of what's going on to our country
and power
vout bring our practice to that
so i've been but i wanted to do was reflect on particular teachings that
i i and we have received from ah from surgeon roshi
and this is the was gonna be the second in this series of reflections ha
the subject i want to touch on today is
what would make called continuous practice
ah let's tweet that's what tobin calls it in ah his physical of shop again so pog
he also used the term
pog don't con
which means continuous practice in the circle of the way
so i want a quote dogan on the great road a buddha ancestors
there is always unsurpassable practice continuous and sustained
it forms the circle of the way
and is never cut off
between aspiration practice enlightenment to nirvana
fear is not a moment's gap
continuous practice
is the circle of the way
another way that i think of this is a funny
i mentioned is this continuous practices
what we might think of as spiritual formation
the the constant motion of our practice that
spirals
both upwards
can an ascending in ascending circles and also downward in the depths of our understanding
they came across a pub
wonderful talk by sojourn roshi ah that was given in chapel hill in the nineties ah
john might have been there
do you know know ah i don't know
i was there when i was there and here and i was here so this is a lecture on continuous practice now i'm going to read exception of it and maybe comment as we go along
so this is surgeons week we have these two questions first why do we do this
when we start to sit and instinctively know why it's beyond our reasoning but somewhere we know
that's true when i came to doesn't when i came to represent center and it really settled in ah
the question that i asked myself ah
it was a wide question
ah had that wide question is was
why am i here on the planet
and
i think i've told us before it was a question i brought to my psychotherapist and a she said oh that's not a psychotherapeutic question
that's that's a spiritual question and i said oh okay
and
that was when i started looking around and very quickly return to berkeley's answer but it was a wide question why do we and why don't we do this when at once i did walk in here i felt instantly at home
and
i couldn't answer that question why but i knew it was where i was supposed to be and that actually know here we are ah almost forty years later and i still feel that way
ah have very very fortunate
so it's be circumstances beyond our reasoning but somewhere we know
knowing knows
said but when we start 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 would get into a difficult spot so harm
yeah that happened to me also ah
things happened here while it was here and i i felt like
on some
in some inarticulate way i knew
that this was the right place to be in the right thing to do
but there was also always a part of my mind that was that was asking
but what makes you think this way
you know why do you think you know
you know how are you know that this makes sense that this is a way to live
hand
i listened to that but not much
not not much cause i
i trusted
that deeper kind of knowing
ah
yeah i'm partly because i had no place else to go so
ah
so do says it's like taking a boat ride
we know he enjoy going out in the boat
but then a big storm comes up pretty song soon the boats leaning over in the sales are starting to rip the waves are coming over the gunnels we see why did we have tooth is he
a word with why do we got this boat is but it does it it doesn't help
the real question is how do i deal with this
so this is it the heart of his perspective on continuous practice his surgeon says and we've all heard this many times he says how
is the practice question
why is valid but it's secondary to have
take your life for example
why were you born
it doesn't matter here you are
the real question is how do i live this life how do i deal with this situation and
i think that

there was a shift in my fundamental question very quickly
ah i could not cancer
the question why am i on the planet
but that question shifted to how am i on the planet
how shall i live
how shall i live
brings up
all of the
all of the buddhist practices
another way of framing the the six parameters the six perfections is exactly how shall i live according to what practices and according to what principles ah how shall i live
surgeon says you can deal with why
until you get tired of that and turned to help prop of many of us do that you know it's why why why why why why why why why and sometimes referred lucky we get to jettison that on the early side sometimes it may not happen till were fifty or sixty or seventy
but if you keep and practice it allows for that door to open so you can shift your question from why to hell
how do i do this that is the call on of your life
occasionally someone will ask me this is surgeon
how can i be a good didn't send student invariably i say that's a great question
keep that question in all your activity
how can i be a good sense to
he says how do i do what in front of me
how do i practice moment to moment
we're not seeking something far off
we're seeking to know
how do i stand in this place
right now
a one of the practices a surgeon gave me that i talk about frequently ah
because i tend to
a very easily move into my head
ha his practice for me and i've i've given as practice to million people to to say
where are my feet
and what i find as soon as i asked that question where are my feet
it immediately gets down to
the nitty gritty how are my feet he also if if my if i'm sitting back my legs are crossed on the essence of where are my feet immediately i put both feet on the ground
and my mind naturally goes to the point of contact
with my feet if i'm city if i'm standing ah i feel that point of contact i also might feel the
my body weight is distributed on my feet as i'm standing underground ah and so ah the question where are my feet ha
again is translated into how are my feet
how do i stand in this place right now he says he says how do i sit in this spot right now totally
this is not just about sitting zazen
it's about walking eating moving
in the larger sense
it's about how do i harmonize body mind with the universe
since that's our practice
when we sit we harmonize body to mind with universe without discriminating
without picking and choosing
in other words
including everything
when i pause just now ah between words i heard i hear the chirping of a bird outside the window and i hear the barking of a dog that's included in this moment
so how do we harmonize the intellect
with the heart
he asks is that where the center of our been

so as i said i've been thinking about this in the context of spiritual formation
the spiritual formation is a term that's borrowed from ah christian training to seminary where where priests are ah go through a process of transformation ah i would say it
our approach then in this country everybody goes through this process it's not just for it's not just for priests this process is spiritual formation is the process of
ah
the continuous practice of opening ourselves
two
inverse of opening ourselves to each thing that is that it's actually present and
usually
ha spiritual formation
ha
he's about the process of seeking meaning
but again i think in our approach the question of meaning is not a why or a what but it's a half
so rather than saying what is the meaning of my life
ha
i would say
ha
i would he i can hear so saying how is the meaning of my life
he plays around with that part of speech
how as a down
and how as an adverb
that modifies the for is how is it
how is it
it is how
and that
is a way to explore meaning
another question you might ask is
how am i connected to the world
how am i connected to
ah
say
the vandalized temple in los angeles how am i connected to the spar workers in atlanta
how am i connected to
ah the ah
incarcerated in turned ah japanese americans in world war two
how am i am related to george floyd
how may related to
my sisters and brothers on the screen right here
this
continue all examination an exploration is
the circle of the way
it's the continuous practice that
we have to find for ourselves
and it's also important you know that that we find in the
we find in the buddhist teachings we see it you know as we look through these systems information formation the eightfold path the parameters the bodhisattva precepts
and so forth
endless systems who charges
devices for getting us to look at
how are we right this moment
and also how do we wish to be
what is our
how are we aspiring to be in connection
with ourselves and with others
so i feel better i was very fortunate when i came here
ha
i arrived at represent center in me
ha at some point to think in nineteen eighty four and sojourn was away in japan he was ah he was receiving dharma transmission from way to suzuki tanned car
when i walked in no one was directly leading things
but there were
long-term practitioners around
ah merely scott
ron nestor friend tribe and others and i really look to them ah for as models of how to live and how to move ha and interesting when i look back on it now it's half alive
time ago and i was already in my mid to late thirties
but in my recollection it's it's as if i were a child
you know ah didn't know anything
i certainly didn't know i really didn't know
couldn't have an idea about how i wanted to live
so i watched them ah and i threw myself into the horizon which was hard
ah the sitting was painful
and are distracted
and boring sometimes
but
doesn't feel that way the more absolutes pretty settled now usually so now my ease of given out so there's a whole other realm of p
but i persisted
ha
it was something about the people that i saw around me even in those first weeks at see
and i
wanted to be like them
and then after a month or so certain returned from japan
and he had his new brown prescribes on
canned
ha
is quiet and confident manner
brought my vision of what was born on it represents enter into focus
ah
and
you know i'm grateful that i have always found him to be a man who was devoid of self promotion
ha
free from the snares of narcissism
since had every period of zazen in those days it really little to distract him and pulled him into other other directions ah and i could see that it was a this was a presence that was the pivot
around which the community had formed and turned
and so
i'd learned about jokes on
ah meeting with the teacher and a private interview and i had no idea what it was but it was it was very clearly communicated that this was an essential element of zen training although nobody explained to me what happened in the room
so nevertheless i signed up
and my time arrived
ha
like everybody else i found my way
ah at first they talked about physical pain and i talked about psychological pain ah with a lot of it was about pain
ah you know but i'm and he listened ha
he's assisted his answers were rarely direct
ah they rarely explained anything
and what surgeon as we know what he often get busy he would turn your language around on you
and
make your question to him a question back to you
ah
and so that was how we developed a relationship
and as i i've said elsewhere
it was it was an exploration this is part of mice this is a critical part of my spiritual formation to my spiritual formation was really watching the sanga entering the saga of being part of it and learning from everyone who is here in such a steady and reliable
way and part of it was from her working regularly with sajjan even though
i really had no idea what we were doing
you know ha as i've said elsewhere
i think my natural tendency was to keep trying to put him into a slot that i understood like oh father figure
or
ah psychologist or friend said none of that
what he was with zen teacher
which was essentially a kind of mirror
and ah
that was not something that and and out there was not something that any of us had experience within our lives
is a new kind of relationship
can our intimacy was based on
developing that relationship
and that continued
for the rest of his life and the rest of our life together that does a sorry i'm telling you about this today because ah
sometimes they think that he
the vividness of having a teacher may have faded a bit in in our community
and
ha
i think that there are people here
who are good and reliable teachers
can't i would you know i just encourage people to take advantage of that and i also recognize that ah so many of us
we're a teacher was so jim
that will not go away
and it needed it shouldn't go away you know i mean all of us have heard him over somebody's years talk about his teacher
and very clearly suzuki roshi was alive in his mind
and
that he was constantly working with that
and what i find you know now he's ah
it's a little over two months gone
ha i'm constantly mining
the teachings that i received from him
and
they have a kind of
we felt refined and pure quality
now ah and i looked at them so he's he's alive for me
as i'm tree is for other people
and i want to emphasize that
in no way
two i assume that by virtue of my position as abbott's an l
i inherit his students
that's not the case
i invite you
into relationship
and i know that the other teach other teachers here ah would also welcome you into relationship but that relationship does not displace
the pivotal
teacher role that surgeon had for many of us
so
to come back to continuous practice
continuous practice and buddha dharma son
buddha is teacher
dharma is teachings
and saga is the field in which all of this plays out
this is the territory of our lives this is the territory of our spiritual formation
this is how
ah each fuss should be continuing our practice
as i said raising the aspirations and upwards and really digging down into ourselves
to see
howard is it how is it that i am living how is it that i'm standing how is it i am city
we have spring session today and so we have an opportunity to to deep even more deeply into their practice so those you for incision i invite you to continue that way
and those who are not say she live that way
please
the i'm a stop here and or leave time for some questions and comments and i think that the mary best will will call you are either from your digitally raised handle your your optically raised hand or your
chap so thank you
yes so his devenir the instructions so i'll just call on alex who already has his hand raised thank you
videos on how you said that palm a teacher is as and theater is essentially like a kind of mirror how could you say more about that yeah well it
it's a mirror
no in in an ideal sensitive mirror but but actually have a surgeon does a kind of critical mirror
it's a mirror that talks back
he kept on
so i'm
i'm going to think one of the mirroring aspects of that is
that i found in docusign
when speaking to him
i found myself i found that i could hear myself
more accurately
i could hear a tone of voice
maybe complaining about whatever so that was just reflected without him having to do anything but it's also true that the relationship that i had with him
was one of trust
in which i gave him permission
to see what he saw that's what i mean by sort of critical mere you know if there were things that i would doing that he felt were
not in alignment and that actually my next stop
ah
he had permission from me on the basis of our relationship and on the basis of his position but on the basis of the relationship that we developed he had permission to
to tell me about it
and i would say that
ha
i felt it was a reciprocity
in that permission as well
that
then i could
say those kinds of things to him if there were things that that i might feel that we're out of alignment it didn't happen very often ah but it was there
ah you know and it's it's is produced many times you had sometimes this teacher the teacher and student students sometimes a student is the teacher and a teacher a student so forth into one you know but mostly ah he was my teacher
and that never stopped even when
i had dharma transmission which nominally
ah is a kind of independence but ah
still i was living here
the news he was the head teacher had berkeley's and center and so ah
i should just keep learning
i do
our next question is from peter and yard he asked hassan you imply that you first came to be easy see as a result of the discussion with the psycho therapist but why did you choose busy see specifically to show up in the first
place well
so first of all i had gone to be the see
i'd come to be to see in the summer of nineteen sixty eight
ah group of us came out from from new york ha and wanted practice in and we're living in berkeley so this is an i became to dwight way we practice they're all summer and practiced on also at the psychology in san francisco and so there was some
connection even though it the temple that moved and i was
the books that i was reading where i think i read immediately on his after this conversation two three books that were very influential on me one was in my beginner's mind which had not been published at the time that it wasn't published until nineteen seventy
or seventy one ah you know until of this was after i had come out here that summer the other book was are
wonderful book baby yarn vander veteran called the empty mirror ah about his experiences or is difficult experiences are in japan ha has a rinzai student and the other was or
the snow leopard by peter matheson ah who himself began become a zen teacher but so i was i was inclined i'd always been inclined towards in but the first place i contacted was enigma institute
and i thought maybe i would have dip my toes in the waters they but ah
for several reasons i decided not to so i just came here car
and i i i think i call this story and tell the story a lot i called up represent and requisite you know it wasn't where i had left it and have somebody answered the phone and i you know i said why i had jobs and instruction nineteen sixty eight and i'm thinking of taking up to to can what should i do
op and his person said find a blank wall sit down and stare it
ah which is think i hope nobody is giving people that instruction phone however it was exactly the braille instruction for me i just said oh somebody has a sense of humor okay
that's it

okay right now there aren't any more hands raised or questioners there's one more person who wants to jump in
okay
does it require today
oh soo ocher
thank you are hassan
ah
i guess what i wanna say is that i found that i've tried to mirror certain i tried to mirror
the senior teachers arm and i was also found myself when he made some suggestions that i didn't agree with i didn't do them a lot
and i did i tried some awesome
he had asked he had suggested i am
we a road because then my feet would be warmer and i never did that you know where the practice rooms so on
i i felt safer watching and i came to this place because it didn't feel like home and it was and it felt safe
and sometimes when people gave me instructions i could hear it and sometimes i couldn't but i loved that i i realize that with your talk that i trusted
his watching him learning from him and i learned a lot from what he said to bad
that practice of being present when you put your palms together
it just it was transformative
and so thank you for your talk
you are
i always felt like that was
the heart of the way to learn was to watch what our teachers did and how they moved and there's a another piece which i didn't get you about with where surgeon says the same thing about how we ah
unconsciously ah embody our teachers ways
ah we take them you know the people that i can i can see people's i can see people's bouse you know my teachers of the past i can see how i can remember how they bowed ah i can recall so
for example of showed a hirata in japan whose alex is teacher or we we sit facing out in that tradition so you know you'll be carrying the stick and i can see him ah
sort of just going around the room almost like a cat ready to pounce can do we see these physical these physical manifestations of rate teachers and that is an important way to learn so thank for that
see daniel

oh
i think you mentioned harmonizing
ah
heart with intellect
oh
owner if you can expand on her
yeah i mean this was in would someday the children said i'm
the word chin the characters shit in
japanese and chinese ah is pronounced differently in treviso ethic ah represents cart slash mind that the location of
ah your mind is not just here it's actually
it's actually physically embody through your whole body but for shorthand you say and say heart harm you could also say era belly you could say belly mind that's very good to that might be the best place to put her mind in your belly
hum

one of the dangers of zen is a kind of anti intellectualism
you know and i think in our tradition
ah both from from sojourn his supervision from dogan we don't discount
the workings of our mind the workings of her mind are part of the workings of our whole being and so it's not like oh those her those are unreal
they're they're as real as anything else
ha
ultimately they're empty
but the workings of our mind are
you know even intermission
it's miraculous activity
and so to bring that within the circle of the way
ah
not just think of our heart or or body but to recognize and mind is part of
the that for anxiety
take or lastly
on is i a pump thank you on for your talk
my question has to do with a relationship to other and you spoke about relating to
those who are shot in atlanta and george floyd
my question has to do relating with the shooter
relating to the police officers who essentially murdered george floyd and for me when i try to relate that briefly is
you know the universal census
there is death destruction all that in the world there is killing years murder but in a personal sense i can only relate to it knowing that i have myself been very angry at times and diluted and i've done things that i regret and what i see in the shooter and the murder george voided
it's just that extended many times over but it's something that
ah
horrible but it is hard to get beyond much of that an emotional connection with what with the actual murderers and chairs your words
the to you can only go
as far as you can go
have you know you've already you have the basis in what you just said you have the basis for you have the the spark of a connection there
ah that may be sufficient
you might be in a very if you were actually
in a room with any of these people or in a circumstance where you are interacting and you knew who they were what they did ah you would be called upon perhaps to dig deeper into your resources
hum
i think that
kind of a vow that i've made for myself is
to make an effort
to talk to anyone
and to recognize also
that may not come to much
that may i may you know make the effort because that's my vow ah we may not connect ah but i think in the in the echo for the
the ceremony that will do on wednesday ah
it acknowledges the deep delusion
ah
and the deep disconnection that leads to these kinds of crimes ah that that that really distort the personalities of the people who act the crimes ah and
so i mean to go back to something that dr king said you know you
but very very difficult teaching ha
to love the person and to a bore their actions
that's really hard
thank you i might just fab briefly the for me what has helped a little bit
is the the murder of nancy macleod
her own dharma sister and i've forgiven the young man to killed her
and that's sort of my personal connection to something very deep connected to me nancy was a friend
and so you know he was deluded and drugs in oil palm i think you were to right
thank you let me ask you for the question back to ah
the question i free i framed the beginning the how question yes how can you say something about how you forgiven him or what how is the process that led to that
yes
i accepted
in my gut
that
the young man
is no different from me
and but causes and conditions placed him in that situation and am
i just have a lot of compassion for him that developed and i think it's work and gassy for self i know it is but she would to have come to that point and on
and also i think meeting the relatives
gold circle single mother and sisters very very important of humanizes them a humanized he gets rough well no of really close friend of mine maybe this is well and really close friend of mine who took up zen is
fifties
ha
one point he said to be
you know i never realized that there were other people out there
you know we live in this self contained self centered bubble a lot of people do all of us have a have propensities in that direction ah but there was such a whose extending thing to to hear from this friend
ah
ah
yes to enter somebody who chatted to me yes i'm
it was really quite amazing and that transform this person
so i think this is where we will end for today