Things Fall Apart

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monkey dared well
morning everyone
it's been a
challenging week here in lake wobegon ah
and the title of my talk today is things fall apart
which is a line from perhaps one of the most quoted homes in ah english literature have
the on by
william butler yeats it was it's called the second coming and i'll say more about that ah later threatening
nineteen nineteen in the aftermath of be
a world war one and also in the midst of
the pandemic
the flu pandemic ah how far that follow the war
and so
i thought to be seen you a song
let's see how do with this
turn off of her son is here
just happened
nigeria for his son this year but
i've seen in other places this is the song by
bob dylan
it's called everything is broken which is quite appropriate to the idea that things fall apart
broken lines and broken strings he broke and threads group and sprays broken arrows
heads people sleeping in brooklyn beds no use job in the news joke it
everything is broken
everything is broken broken bottles broken plates rook switches in brooklyn case
this is broken hearts the streets are filled with broken hearts broken birds never met to be spoken
everything is broken seems like every time you stop and turn round something else just hits the ground the broken cutters broken and saas rookie buckles and broken laws
rocky mountains rookie voices and broken phones take a deep breath you feel like you're joking
everything is broken and
every canyon the lost some place things fall to pieces in my face
group in hands and broken clowes group treaties and broken vows broken pipes burping tools people pendant drop in rules hound dog howling from broken
everything is broken in hound dog howling from from broken
everything is broken
everything is broken
it's all cracked up
everything is broken

well hopefully that said some hello
and the thing that i like about that song is that ah
and offers like this great in the middle of the wreckage
which is really a kitchen for us all
can we
can we find that lightness can we stand up in the middle of all that's falling apart
and say
or equivalent of singing
can we sit there in zazen thousands think you can take of zazen is singing
so there is so many
the personal challenges and ninety societal challenges this week
we're all dealing with
the circumstance of
kind of
expecting things were going to return to a so called normalcy
we were we were ready for that i'm ready for it after year and a half i'm sure all of you are and it looked like that's where it's headed palm
i spoke to a friend who's a chaplain had to tempt is to general hospital and ha
they had no coffee cases
in hospital as of three weeks ago
and now we have the unfolding of the delta varied it's another thirty five people in that hospital
including some who been vaccinated
and the up
bc sees soft openings so to speak which was it was supposed to have begun last week
and now we don't know what we do know it's not opening and we're going to have to take it wouldn't have to look month by month
to see what the circumstances are
and say the practice period that we were planning to have been carry artem is she so ah in the fall beginning in october two
mid november
we're not going to do that now ah although we will have an aspects of practice meal helium more about that in the in the next week
everywhere you go
people are asking people are requiring us to to be masked indoors in stores restaurants
so what we thought was coming together after this great falling apart his falling apart begin

they were personal challenges the sweet said
i won't go into detail but they were really hard and they came up
how they came up very quickly
ah and
i think often many of us are facing multiple circumstances
multiple difficulties set ha any one of which would be enough to deal with and the multiplicity them of them falls on our shoulders shit to report
and then we have our losses
losses of buffalo and losses of society losses in society and our own whatever personal
challenges we experience quickly as we as we age
and so
that's the falling apart side ha
not everything
along with falling apart you also have the things come together some i'm very happy to say that if you look around on a screen
you will see ah
you'll see her son
gimple alex
ha he's he's here ah he arrived yesterday from from japan and then we're very happy to
to have him home is quarantining ah
in the abbott's office for for a week or so ah
and are so easier that's
something that comes together things fall apart and come together

this poem that i was hoarding as a title for the for the top second coming as they said it was written by yeats ah
at the end of world war one
in the midst of the flu pandemic
it's also been borrowed as the title is a title for a wonderful novel by tomorrow shabby
ah about colonialism ah in africa he's african writer and in that case what was falling apart was ah
the colonial empires
ha and it's also
title of one of payment children's excellent books when things fall apart
so the former want to read you at least
ah a part of this poem
turning and turning
in the walk in the widening gyre
the falcon cannot hear the falconer
things fall apart the center cannot hold
mere anarchy is loosed upon the world
the blood dimmed tide is loosed
in everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned
the best lack all conviction
while the worst are full of passionate intensity
i would say i would take i would take issue with the line at the the best lack all conviction
but i can understand that in the aftermath of ah the slaughter millions of young men senselessly in the war a whole generation pretty much wiped out you could see
that it would be tremendously demoralizing
but i do feel that
the best have their conviction
but it's also true that the worst are full of passionate intensity
so going back to the first two lines ha
turning in turning in the widening gyre
which would be proud said gyre or gyre said window
ah the judge diarmuid spiral
i think what he's speaking of is
what seems to be
the spiraling the rising spiral of suffering
the falcon cannot hear the falconer
the falcon is not able to hear the directive true voice to
give them guidance

so this is a description of our modern society perhaps a hand of what appears to be
this the widening spire of suffering which is like entropy increasing moment by moment
ah but this is actually not the buddhist view
the buddhist view
more of a circle dennis fire than a spiral
the circle includes everything it includes suffering
it includes liberation
and can we find our spot
right had the pivot point
of that circle
recognizing that we are part of that circle but we also stand
in a place where we can see all of the
dimensions of it
we can see suffering and we can see liberation
an hour
challenge is to
is to sit in the middle of it thousand
so the next line says things fall apart
the center cannot hold
so those are to me another way of expressing to of the three marks of existence
that things fall apart
is the mark of impermanence
this goes we we've talked about this study this is three marks impermanence
non self
and suffering or impermanence non-self and nirvana
it's all contingent upon our attitude towards
the whether it's nevada or dupa
he is contingent on our attitude towards impermanence and non-self
the things fall apart is impermanence and the buddhist last words
in the parent of on a suitor
he addressed ah the monks and lay people who were surrounding him as he was dying she says
i exhort you
all compounded things
are subject to vanish
practice with earnestness
if you recognize that
that they will that things fall apart
then placed herself at the middle of at practice with earnestness
and to the second part of this line the center cannot hold
is it seems like
in the palm
he ages is bemoaning his is just for his observing
things are falling apart there's a dissolution of society
and that there's there's no moral center
there's nothing holding it together
but that's also
the second mark of existence
for us the things have no self
if you peel away
layer by layer fibrous layer by fibrous labour layer of bamboo
when you get to the center
it's space it's empty there is no center
the center is created by the circle of
fibrous would he grows that creates the stock
but there's nothing fear
the center cannot hold
because there is no center that we can get to
and this is what also we realize and experience in zazen
we may look for herself
and we may peel away layer after layer
of our habits or experiences or thoughts feelings
and still we can't find
the center we can't confirm it
can it the same time
and that's a kind of relief actually ha the center can hold because there is not a center to hold
and can we sit there
can we sit in that
that vast possibility

don't you know our practice we always have choices
if you're sitting you're sitting in zazen we side with gonna
we have the intention to
follow our breath and maintain our posture that's a choice
and when thoughts come up
we are faced with a choice to follow them or not found them were to return to work
to that empty said
in all we have
our causes and conditions
his elements coming coming together
and fallen apart
come together and falling apart and so
our lives and reality itself or just like they'd stop bamboo
so now empty at the core
and yet incredibly strong and flexible

you could say in the face of this
in the face of things fall apart
the one side is a kind of
hopelessness but not the hopelessness of despair
this of
hum wonder
the hopelessness of curiosity of openness
what's going to happen next
and to watch that

the condition of our zazen
is to accept
the brokenness
and accept the things fall apart and accept that and come together

in her book ah when things fall apart
quotation from
ha the subtitle his heart advice heart advice for difficult times and pema chodron rights to be fully alive fully human and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest
to live fully is to be always in no man's land
to experience each moment as new and fresh
to live is to be willing to die over and over again
the stein i would say this is
there's the the dying of little deaths and at the same time there's the
we are moving towards
our end in this cycle of life
and the way we meet that i like to think
he is how we've been trained
to meet
each moment
and the way we trained to each month meet each room with the way
what we've been fortunate to to get his
some direct training and beating ourselves
day by day in the center
or now day by day in
this peculiar reality of facing the screen emphysema facing ourselves and facing our friends

think about to
number of
anecdotes that i've mentioned multiple be because they hello
they're so meaningful to me the really important in my life
the first is a line
from tokens get your call on
which says when dharma fills your body and mind who realized that something is missing
you keep looking for the homeless
of anything that we encounter and the wholeness the reliable rock-like
truth that we can hide behind
and if the if the reality is as the buddha todd
impermanence and non-self then something is missing
yet you know you could finish that firsts
ah i finished at vs
when dharma fills your body and mind you realize that some pictures in it and that's actually fine
i'm glad it's missing
if it was complete he would be all over
and we value things because
they're missing that is this brings me too
second story which is an anecdote about the great
terra vara forest tradition
monk or john shaw
who some of our
some of our wonderful the positive teachers had an opportunity to to practice with
cindy story says one day some people came to the master
came to atlanta
and said how can be happy in a world of such impermanence where you cannot protect your loved ones from harm illness and guess
rajon shy held up a glass
he said someone gave me this glass and i really liked this glass
it holds my water admirably
hen it glistens in the sunlight
i touch it and it rings
one day the wind may blow it off the shelf or my elbow may not get from the table
i know this glass is already broken
so enjoy it incredibly
now it so happens
that this week
among other more telling disasters
that's exactly what happened to my favorite cup
i had this cop that
i think that that kika put out a lot of stuff when she was leaving he know stuff to give away and i founded on the street her and i really like this cup it was a glass was a class chinese glass teacup that had a screw-on lid
ah and
i like it a lot because you could carry around and not spill water writer was elegance
can i put it on the banister as i was wearing go upstairs and i turned around to to do something else and when i turned around again to go up the stairs
i inadvertently knocked it off the banister it fell the for a shattered in a million pieces
it was it
there was there were shards of glass everywhere
it was interesting if my response was oh it's broken
that was bound to happen
in then i just
got down very carefully
picked up and slapped up the pieces the shards of glass and
it was gone
i may try to replace it
with something like that
i think
somehow our practice allows us to encompass these losses
this is not a terrible loss of not like the loss of a parent or a loved one
but again we practice on
these little moments

can i take the last story again is one that i've told frequently
because i think that
in the inc insecurity of my life and my growing up
consciously and unconsciously
i tried to hold things together
and i'd tried to get other people hold things together
and that was the mind that i brought to have
when i get brought to zen practice when i came in the eighties
i hadn't figured out
yet that despite my best efforts
since you're not going to cooperate and just stay together no matter what i did some things would for a time and something's wouldn't and particularly some people would and some people wouldn't it wouldn't do what i wanted or expected him to do
i know why you're like that but ah
so am i
eight sojourn watched me for a long time
and like that story he often like to tell the story of site
a frog sitting on iraq
i'm moving
just watching
henman a fly comes by to go to scope
and swallow the fly and that resumed city ah i think surgeon was sitting
like that frog
pay attention to me but not trying to control me
and then one day he pounced
ha kind of swallowed me whole
and he told me
i should let things fall apart

i think he told me to let things fall apart because they're gonna fall apart anyway
can we never know
everything's going along very nicely and then some weirdo virus shows up and our whole world is is
thrown into confusion and danger
i've been trying to practice
when trying to practice letting things fall apart
and the same time recognizing that only one side
that makes it difficult
you know if you're just going to stick to the principle of letting things fall apart then you just shrug your shoulders
ha you live with the philosophy of whatever
but that's not sufficient either
has it says in in the job or summary ah
turning away and touching or both
there are things and there are moments when we have do
we make our effort to
call things together a maker effort we say something we do something
and there are times when we recognize that we just we have to let this he then take its course
but the challenge again the point of zazen
is too
be upright
in the midst of either side of that activity
upright in letting go
you know except in that
i carelessly knocked my favorite cup of the banister
and it was gone
you know what is broken it's thousands of pieces it was not gonna be glued together
and also
upright in the presence of
meeting people
meeting oneself and one's distress not just saying whatever in walking away
but being able to engage
can be present
in not caught in once anxiety
this is the
this is the balance beam that we have to do our
ah present gymnastics on
so i think i'm going to stop there
ha and give you an opportunity to
comment or ask questions palm
oh to send one i want to safe have and i'll put this in the chat i think there's still some spaces and having a tea tomorrow ha at seven o'clock which just an open discussion with people and if you would like to join that
ha you can email me or you can email hannah one of us will send you the leap hannah's email is h m e a r a at gmail dot com to know that that's one the other
the accessories i welcome you here comments your questions i really appreciate questions ah and also really appreciate our hearing from people that we haven't heard from a while but delayed of the floor is open and i'm gonna let her marry
beth ha ha you okay
okay so if you have a question please raise your digital hand in the participants bark for you can send me a message or a question in the chat box and to start i'll ask andrea to unmute and to on
ask a question
good morning has an array of c
i'm really filled with a lot of emotion from your topic and the song and oliver the wonderful analogies you put together from things fall apart
but the the bamboo you know how you felt about the bamboo empty and centre and i guess my question is how how can as and practice help us be as flexible as bamboo and recognize that and the in the center of at all
is nothing is always changing with impermanence why can't we start by building it on our posture and our bread or pasture should always be a bamboo with a great model ah
in our posture is rooted
rooted in the soil rooted on the ground and it's reaching up to the sky
the important thing is that
our posture be flexible
ha and so
while we encourage people not to move in a large way will always moving and finally adjusting ourselves just as a tree or bamboo wood would adjust in the face of the wind so we flow but with but like a tree also we read
return to the center so this is a model the model it's modeled in our posture
and then it's modeled in a we use the posture as a it's analogous to warm to the activity of our muffin
and so so that's what i would say just be
a stall stock of the
just really flexible and are you have the sun it's helping you grow on you have the earth that as nutrients and that's what i would say
thank you

mark a thorn would you like to unmute yourself and ask a question
but i have an association with a poem you read ah and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned
but i felt well that's what we do at berkeley sunset or we conduct ceremonies of innocence and the third round everywhere
i felt very pleased to share this community of people who want a folk ceremony of innocence
thank you so much more a minute i think it's a very bleak pop
ah but it was you know it was a very bleak moment in history
i keep the circular nature rather than the widening gyre he is that how we are
we could see ourselves in the same kind of moment our society ah and i think the the buddhist
teaching is that and in south africa me it's always it's like this so the question is a yeah i think i think it's great i think we do ceremonies of innocence or exactly one way of of speaking about what we do is beautiful
there's a question in the chat box from peter and year how do we help others deal with it when things fall apart

the expression that we use often in the chaplaincy trading that
did i hope with at papaya is coming along side
one of our teachers kopen chino roshi
ah spoke of
you know very parallel where he spoke of the activity of bodhisattva has just walking alongside someone
so it's really the practice of accompaniment
and that means that might mean going to to very dark places
but to maintain
your ability to be
present and operate
so this to me is this is
what we've come getting in the traveled training ha
we make a rough distinction between
empathy and compassion
have you may not be strictly accurate depends on your understanding of the meaning of those words but ah
we have come to think of empathy as merging so they're always has to be an aspect of empathy and compassion as
as the bodhisattva does he know with her ah thousand hands and eyes and her ah
you know hurt spiritual swiss army knife ah t to find compassion means finding the right tool with which to meet somebody but the first thing is just
maybe just stay close and do nothing but really be close to the be with them

there's also a comment from susan marvin in the chat box she says thank you hose on for the image of bamboo from a gardening perspective bamboo spreads easily so one stock multiplies maybe like sanga practice once it starts spreading in a garden it's
almost impossible to contain
right you can check the so it might be too much of a good thing
you know what would it be like if the whole world where then students to scattered and maybe that's a scary thought i don't know
dan jackson you have a question would you like to unmute yourself and ask your question
yes thank you rosanne for the top
the side of practicing non attachment when things fall apart when you're not the glass often breaks
i think i understand that i'm not always able to do it but the flip side when things are coming together what does the process is not attachment as those moments
so yesterday and we went through this big drama
with ah
gimp pose flights
ah the whole thing there was a lot of a lot of confusion that the the ticket the ticketing company screwed things up and we weren't sure that he was going to get on this flight can we were really tracking it moment by moment for about forty eight hours
and he had his anxiety we had our anxiety would get it on each side we kept right we'd kept settling ah ourselves and it worked out an arm
many came out to the customs gate sfo
in there was any he was little different and when we have seen him even if edges thought
okay i want to eat wanna be with this smokes
whatever was happening
is not a present moment
i just the present here with my sons who has arrived
and doing that
just was it felt like complete one lc
and you know i i didn't think about it until you his guest
and now would we now i'm reflecting an elite feels deeply emotional to me
but in the happening is very ordinary but ordinary is not
something we ducted ordinary is
the highest paid

thank you

we do have a few minutes left there's any other comments or questions out there is one
joe would you like to unmute yourself and ask your question
yeah on
yes thank you hassan house the wonderful talk
i was thinking the the palm goes on and i think it ends what rough piece slouching towards bethlehem to be born
and ah
gives me it's very hard for me to deal with a very scared of what what rough beast is being born in the middle of all this and i can you know come up with all to do these things which are all true about on
the future being kind of the most non-existent of all the three times but on
can i wonder if you have some words about other on work with
with that what rough piece just now being born

my interest is not in
my interest is in accepting
this poem is a moment of perception in observation
but it is not the truce
it's um it's a view
and i think it's put together as a view which knife
he's not saying that uses bit you know is too fine a poet to say this is the truth
i think you saying this is the moment as i am perceiving it
and given us to reckon with ah
it's also a wakeup call
he seemed please pay attention
and we could well
that the rough beast it's hour come round at last slouches towards bethlehem to be born

and the questions as name is how do we need our world
and so
in a sense i see it as
advocating hope
an effort
not as
an expression of despair
it's seen in a sense it's saying
we might have good reason to despair
but because there is the possibility of poetry
because your is a possibility of music because there is a possibility of expression because there is a possibility of zazen
there is some other but potentiality here
even if the terms of very
thank frank
hacker would you like to ask a question
thank you jose and sensei and for your discussion of the center i was reminded of my own childhood growing up in illinois there was a city called centerville centerville actually move i it was meant to be the center
author of the us population so depending on where humans in usa moving or standing or living the center changed i would like to hear what you might say comparing that to the bamboo where the center is always in the middle and this bamboo dependent on the placement of humans
but not quite sure i understand
but your last sentence
comparing the center of the bamboo which is always in the center of the peel back guy
would the center that you can't send the city called centreville move from missouri to illinois and it was proceeding eastward because of the positions of every being i american being in this case
how is that rich or not i find a rich but i like the here
well i think that geography is ah
it's also always changing ah whereas
the metaphor the analogue of bamboo is not about ah where the the center of our society has been where where my center is can wear your centuries
and from that perspective as we know
the perspective of our awareness
we're always the center of the whole world each of us
it's different then you know that the place that i go to in india nepal
ah is turns out it's the geographic center of india
buy some measure and there's actually there's a whole there's like five or six transcontinental highways that cross in up for and at the center is ah
mile zero
so so that's very interesting but i'm not sure how meaningful in his it's it's it's somewhat arbitrary tend to you know the deluded people who thought that centreville was gonna be the center of the united states well speaks for itself
but you are the center of your work
and i am the center of my world and when we each of us explore that ah
we're going to
fail to be able to identify
where's the center of our sins
and that's fine
because it's our location the center is always moves with you
but each of our locations his dependent upon the causes and conditions that humbled in this around
thinking that maybe one more i see one okay brian would you like to unmute yourself and ask your question
senior again
it's more of a comment and ocean that it seems like a one perspective there is no center whether at centerville or the bamboo for with ourselves it's all kind of arbitrary
then i'm not really a question but like it seems like that was one or spoke about button yes will thank you i heard an incredible program where were driving to the airport yesterday a on the radio ah forget what show it was on it was a you know ah but it was about the disk
recovery of
and ah i guess the original discovery was by an indian mathematician from gupta ah cool
so who was actually
translated by interpolating from the sanskrit
ah virginia
ha which is emptiness in
in that language in which we we often talk about junior shunyata and
what what he discovered was it was an emptiness in terms of voidness it was the emptiness it had the full potential of everything
and i think when we talk about the know center
we're also we're really talking about potential
that there's no center that there's no fixed center that is no fixed self means that we have the we have the potentiality to to change
and that's that's a wonderful gift i think
i saw the central business provides a potential for us to embrace everything and everyone and great that's right
right job thank you
i think i will er let's stop for today hand we really enjoying
this one day sitting and sir
just come back next week and we week after that and ha for more exciting adventures in sin