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So I am happy to introduce our speaker for this morning, although many of you know her. Karen Dakotas began practice in the Vipassana School with Ruth Denison in the early 1980s. I'm quoting, she fled to Green Gulch Farm in 1986 when teaching in East LA proved too challenging. A friend said, you'll like it there. You can meditate and grow vegetables, which she did for many years. After a year at Tassajara Carol, Karen settled at Berkeley Zen Center, received Jukai from Zouketsu Norman Fisher with the Darman name. Okay, I'm gonna try this. Kishun Kanshi, Red Spring, Determined to See.


Karen practiced with Sojin Roshi as her teacher and at BCC for many years. She moved to Montana in 2002 and lived in an alternative cult for a really long time, keeping up her Zen practice with the Bozeman Zen group. Sojin offered her lay entrustment in 2003, then Tokudo in 2016. Her new name is Seishin Gyokugo, Deep Spring Radiant Jewel. Karen completed Shiho Dharma Transmission with Sojin Roshi at Tassahara and BCC in 2019. For now, Karen works at a nonprofit, leads the Bozeman Zen group, is raising a teenage son, walks her dog a lot, and holds a good wish to return to BCC.


Welcome, Karen. Do we chant the opening chant now? Please. and unsurpassed, penetrating and perfect dharma, is rarely met with even in a hundred thousand million kalpas. Having it to see and listen to, to remember and accept, I vow to taste the truth of the Tathagata's words. Good morning. I know you're all saying good morning back. Well, how lovely to see you all. I'm pining at the moment. I know so many of you. And those that I don't know, I'm sure I would love. So thank you for being here all together with me. I'm a little tender right now because yesterday during Kika's ordination, which many of you were at,


I came down with chills, a cough, a headache. Yeah, exactly. So I'm nervous and I don't feel well. So that's my caveat. So to that end, I figured out, I've been on Zoom since the middle of March, pretty much every day. And I finally figured out how you can hide the self view so you don't have to look at yourself, but you guys can see me, right? Right, good. This way, I don't have to be distracted, you know, by my hair and all that. I can just look at your lovely faces. So thank you for having me here. Thank you for coming. I think it's a big deal to come together on Zoom on a Sunday and just sit together. It makes such a difference. I'm in Bozeman, Montana, and we had our first snow yesterday and today. but I'm not complaining because we had a real fall. We had colors and crisp air and just usually we don't.


Usually winter comes stomping in and then it stomps out and tries to let us have a fall. And it's always, anyway, it's been beautiful. So we have what they would call in the spring a sugar snow. It's very light dust and it will probably go away, but it's still a little bit early. You know, it's only October. Anyway, so we're coming together this morning, and I like that phrase, coming together. It brings up this idea of integration, being integris. And when we sit together, we also come together within ourself, ourselves. And we're coming together as a group of women, beings who identify themselves as women, And it's lovely to be together. And we come together with all our various selves, all of our struggles and desires and whatever's going on.


I like to think of us coming together as a tribe. And I like to think of myself as a tribe, which helps me include everything that's going on. And I think of a tribe, I think of tribe as being a verb, like we're tribing right now. This is a tribe for the next few hours. And we keep finding tribes to be with and to hold us and that we can hold. In this time that's been so difficult, It always seems like all you guys are seeing people and I'm the only one home alone with my dog and my son, or going into a fairly empty office. But I know it's not true, especially those of you in the Bay Area. It's weary. It's a weary time. When I was asked to lead this retreat,


before the pandemic even started. It was so long ago that when the pandemic started and it seemed to be going on, I just figured, well, that's not happening because I won't be going there. And then I got a note to send my blurb from what my topic of the retreat was, and I didn't have very much time. So I just sort of, grab something. I grabbed something that I love, but I grabbed it and then I sort of stuck with it. What it brought up for me, and also in talking with some of the women there, was about language and the power of language, the limitations of language. I know they can be problematic. Language can be problematic. Labels and all that can be Not so helpful. Sometimes they only point to an experience, but sometimes there's a word or a phrase or a person who says something that can turn us completely and allow ourselves to be turned.


So checking in right now, how are we allowing ourselves to be turned? As I sit here and look at all your faces and think of what I'm going to say and I have these notes and will I follow them, trying to contact myself in all its parts, all the parts, even if I don't name them, can I feel them in my body? Can I take a breath and remind myself everyone is included here? I just read an article on the subtleties of language. It was an article on the term BIPOC, which is I think how you say it, but they were criticizing it. And, you know, I'm one of those white women who, white straight women who just want to say, tell me what to say so I don't offend anyone, you know, I want to be helpful. But I realized as I'm going through this, these pandemics that we're in,


that just telling me what to say is an expression of my privilege. And what the article was asking was, find out for yourself the subtleties of different groups of Blacks. They're not monolithic, indigenous people, people of color, you know. The article had a lot of reminders that groups that we in the white world want to name as something sort of flatten and disregard this rich nuance that groups of people have or individuals have as who they think they are. But how do I be anti-racist, compassionate, PC, whole and genuine now. Like, it's good to keep asking this, especially those of us who don't, who feel like we don't have to.


And I bring that up only because how much language matters. We have heard a lot of rhetoric and a lot of foul language and a lot of harmful language. But as Mary pointed out yesterday in the talk of Kadagiri's title of his book, I always like, I like to do this. I know Alan does it, too. Category's two books are Returning to Silence and You Have to Say Something. So we return to silence, but we really do have to say something. But it's not just to use words. It's to really bring ourselves forth. And I think it's really sometimes hard to do, to really find what we want to say and have it matter, have it be helpful, have it be expressive of who we are. Another theme that's very tied to language is that of identity.


And I'm not going to get into a big graduate seminar on feminism, racism, and identity. That's not what this is about. This is me casting about, finding my way into the koan I thought I wanted to talk about. So we identify in different ways. And a lot of times our Zen practice is telling us to drop our identities. That sticking to our identities is a cause of suffering because we think things should be a certain way and that we should be a certain way and we should be regarded a certain way. But I think we should respect our identities or respect each other's identity. Like we're human and we live in this realm. and we're trying to know ourselves. And language can sometimes help. Grouping or saying or naming can help. It can help calm the anxiety that comes with just waking up in the day and wondering, how am I going to get through this day with peace?


I have a new thing I say to myself when I wake up in the morning now, when that free-floating anxiety comes up, And it's not a put down. I mean it in like old lady way. Cause I'm old now. I can say that. Oh, don't worry. You're not that important. Oh, don't worry. Things are going to still turn. Things are going to still happen. It's okay. Take your time. You know, and I realized that the way I regard myself and my activity in the world, as if it's the most important thing. And, you know, of course, in one way it is right, because this is all I have. to make a, to help. But in another way, it's like, take it a little more lightly, for me anyway. Someone told me the benefit of naming or labeling, and this is where I got interested in language recently, is she said, you can say the world is a mess, or you can say I am suffering,


I am hurting, but we don't have enough information to know what to do. So we start labeling and naming and deconstructing things so that we can find our way in. So I just want us to feel like we don't have to throw everything out to be one with everything. The things we think we need to throw out are the very things that we want to keep, as Rumi would say, you know, be a guest house. Let them all live here. And if I want to call myself an old lady, I get to, you know, and I have been, and I feel like it. But until we name some things, how do we know what an appropriate response is? In education right now, I work in education, which means I can't work this week because I can't go work with staff or children this week because I'm We don't know what I am, but I'm not good to be around right now.


So it's good I get to be with you this way. Fingers crossed that it's bronchitis or the flu. In education, they have this new thing, name it and then you can tame it. And I'm like, yeah, between naming it and taming it, there's a whole lot of stuff that has to go on. So when you tell little kids this, I feel like you have to give or when you tell Zen students this, you have to give them a few steps, a few tools, a few, some company. We have to kind of like walk alongside each other. Don't yank me forward and don't push me from behind, just walk beside me. And it's slow, it's slow going. Many of you know that. So one of the things that kind of was like this light bulb went off was this thing of language and labeling. You know, when we talk about duality and we live in the realm of duality, I realized if something is this way, it brings up its opposite, right?


That's what we're taught in Zen, that to say something is hot brings up cold, to say something is kind is to bring up cruel. But somehow, I realized that all those dualities are actually a continuum. And that's one of the ways we can start to enter the delusion of duality and not take it so hard. Things are of a certain measure. You don't have to pin it. You can just sort of experience it and have some faith that there are gradations of it, nuances, like with the BIPOC. People aren't just black, people aren't just white, people are whole, even when they're broken. In our brokenness, we are whole. So I'm seeing things as more fluid, or I'm naming them as more fluid.


And I'm one of those people who You know, when fluidity of race first came out, I was like, okay, I can, you know, and then when fluidity of gender came out, I was like, okay, hold on. Somebody needs to help me with this. And I had to really get talked to and schooled and it helped. Like I said, this is not the graduate seminar on that. What it is, is me realizing the fluidity of life, no matter what the identity we're dealing with, no matter what the duality, So that's kind of good news in a way, because then instead of feeling like you have to pin things, you can take a breath and enter sort of the mystery of what they are. We don't really know what things are. I don't really know what this health is or lack of health. I don't know what this anxiety is. All right. I can't remember what I said to read.


Oh, okay. This folk tale of Senjo and her spirit or her soul are separated or which is the true chin in Chinese. I'm going to read Robert Aiken's version because it's a wonderful translation. It's a lovely story and everybody likes to hear a story. It's one of the great things about language is it brings us into a realm. So there's a lot that goes with this story. This story was one of the ways they discovered the Mumang Khan, the gateless gate, the collection of koans in the late 19th century. But I won't go into all that because that is, the more scholastic side, but let's meet Qian, or Sen Zhou, I'll call her Qian.


And it's case 35 of the Mumang Khan, Wuzhu's, which is the true Qian? So the case is very simple. Wuzhu asked the monk, the woman Qian and her spirit separated, which is the true Qian? So woman's comment, If you realize the true one, then you'll know that emerging from one husk and entering another is like a traveler putting up at an inn. If this is still not clear, don't rush about recklessly. When you suddenly separate into earth, water, fire, and air, you'll be like a crab dropped into boiling water, struggling with your seven hands and eight legs. Don't say I never told you. He's so fierce. It's like, that's it. I told you, you're going to die. So wake up. So there's some commentary on the history of this story, but I want to read the story itself because Qian, who is she?


What's her spirit? How can her spirit be separated from her? I can see 25 of you on the screen. And I think there's a few more, but wave your hand. If you know this koan, I know most of you do. So think of it as like, oh, we're going to tell this Bible story again. We love to hear Noah and the Ark, or we love to hear Qian and her soul are separated. So we're not going to master the koan, we're going to enjoy it. The story of the girl Qian, which is told in the Luishuoli Huangqi, cited by Qingtang Lu, and commented upon in the Wumankan, which is a book of the Zen text. The story, okay, there lived in Hanyang a man called Qian Qian, whose child daughter Qian was of peerless beauty. He also had a nephew called Wang Chao, a very handsome boy.


The children played together and were fond of each other. Once Qian jestingly said to his nephew, someday I will marry you to my little daughter. Both children remembered these words and they believed themselves thus betrothed. When Qian grew up, a man of rank asked for her hand in marriage, and her father decided to comply with the demand. Qian was greatly troubled by this decision. As for Chao, he was so much angered and grieved that he resolved to leave home and go to another province. The next day, he got a boat ready for his journey, and after sunset, without bidding farewell to anyone, he proceeded up the river. But in the middle of the night, He was startled by a voice calling to him, wait, it is I. And he saw a girl running along the bank toward the boat. It was Chien. Chau was unspeakably delighted. She sprang into the boat and the lovers found their way safely to the province of Che. In the province of Che, they lived happily for six years and they had two children, but Chien could not forget her parents and often longed to see them again.


At last, she said to her husband, because in former times I could not bear to break the promise made to you, I ran away with you and forsook my parents. Although knowing that I owed them all possible duty and affection, would it not now be well to try to obtain their forgiveness? Do not grieve yourself about that, said Chow. We shall go to see them. He ordered a boat to be prepared. And a few days later, he returned with his wife to Hanyang. According to custom in such cases, the husband first went to the house of Qian, leaving Qian alone in the boat. Qian welcomed his nephew with every sign of joy and said, how much I've been longing to see you. I was often afraid that something had happened to you. Qiao answered respectfully, I am distressed by the undeserved kindness of your words. It is to beg forgiveness that I have come. But Qian did not seem to understand. He asked, to what matter do you refer?


I feared, said Chao, that you were angry with me for having run away with Qian, and I took her with me to the province of Che. What Qian was that? Asked Qian. Your daughter Qian, answered Chao, beginning to suspect his father-in-law of some malevolent design. What are you talking about? Cried Qian, with every appearance of astonishment. My daughter Qian has been sick in bed all these years. ever since the time you went away. Your daughter Qian returned Chao becoming angry, has not been sick. She has been my wife for six years and we have two children and we have both returned to this place only to seek your pardon. Therefore, please do not mock us. For a moment, the two looked at each other in silence. Then Qian arose and motioning to his nephew to follow, led the way to an inner room where a sick girl was lying. And Chow, to his utter amazement, saw the face of Qian, beautiful but strangely thin and pale.


She cannot speak, explained the old man, but she can understand. And Qian said to her laughingly, Chow tells me that you ran away with him and that you gave him two children. The sick girl looked at Chow and smiled but remained silent. Now come with me to the river, said the bewildered visitor to his father-in-law, for I can assure you, in spite of what I have seen in this house, that your daughter Qian is at this moment in my boat. They went to the river, and there indeed was the young wife waiting. And seeing her father, she bowed down before him and besought his pardoning. Qian said to her, if you really be my daughter, I have nothing but love for you. Yet though you seem to be my daughter, there is something which I cannot understand. Come with us to the house. So the three proceeded toward the house. As they neared it, they saw that the sick girl who had not before left her bed for years, was coming to meet them, smiling as if delighted. And the two Chians approached each other.


But then nobody could ever tell how they suddenly melted into each other and became one body, one person, one Chian, even more beautiful than before and showing no signs of sickness or sorrow. Chian said to Chow, ever since the day of your going, my daughter was dumb. and most of the time like a person who had taken too much wine. Now that I know her spirit was absent. Chan herself said, really, I never knew that I was at home. I saw Chow going away in silent anger and the same night I dreamed that I ran after his boat. But now I cannot tell which was really I, the I that went away in the boat or the I that stayed home. So I'm really glad that Chien gets the last word in that story. Sort of makes up for all the men pushing her around.


Linda Ruth Cutts has a reflection in The Hidden Lamp, which I'm sure many of you have read, saying how easy it is for especially women to resonate with this story. but really everyone can. Everyone has that divided self. Women in particular, we have had so little agency in our culture and there's pressures and expectations and all of that seems to be more important than becoming a whole person or finding out who you really are. You know, we experienced great love and loss, disappointment, And someone recently said to me that we, you know, the one translation of dukkha is stress, but we're built to handle stress. We're built to start to metabolize stress. It's when it's repeated in an unhealthy way or that we're traumatized, it can become trauma.


So trauma, we're not so built to digest without help and without a full process. So we tend, when we're stressed and we're split and we don't know how to integrate all the parts of ourselves and we don't know how to do it in the face of where we live and who we live with and what our jobs are and all of that, we start to relieve it unskillfully and divide ourselves. So Chan's choice was not wholehearted is what Linda Ruth seems to think. She wants to come home. She didn't want to leave her dad, but she didn't want to leave her love, which is the true me. I was going to tell you a little bit. I wrote some notes about my own self. I thought, oh, here, full disclosure.


How did I get here being the kind of person I thought I was? like my personal trajectory of what kind of a person I seem to be to my parents, my family, people, and what they called me. You know, they called me outgoing and they called me funny and they called me smart, but then they also called me moody and hysterical and we don't know what's wrong with you. Um, talk about being divided, I didn't know. I knew that being certain ways would get me love and attention, and being other ways would not. But those other ways, as you know, are just as much a part of our experience, of our need. So I was one of these people who had a, very careful to choose words here, a certain kind of temperament that was not easy to be around


when I didn't understand something or when I got hurt or rejected. When I was 16, I took my driver's ed test and I failed on my 16th birthday. You would have thought, you would have thought limbs were lost. I mean, it was so bad. I cried so hard for so long. This is the type of person I was. Um, you know, and, I've worked on this for a long time in Zen, in therapy, all kinds of ways to see what is it that I'm, what's missing in the whole story? Like what part of I put down in the basement and she's yelling and screaming to get out? What part gets to show themselves? What part of me gets to show herself? And what happens when they mix? Like I had a meeting with one of my colleagues the other day and it did not go well. I could not, regulate myself. I was a kid and I sometimes am an adult who emotionally dysregulates.


I guess that's the term these days. I kind of freak out. I get upset and I can't always just breathe it. I sometimes have to let it out. So sometimes it's called clinically situation adjustment disorder. When big things change, It's hard to adjust to the new situation. And you know, I used to hate the word disorder. It sounds like syndrome. It sounds like this is your diagnosis. This is what's wrong with you. But in fact, disorder is exactly right. We're all disordered. We're all not in order. Things don't always line up and we're feeling completely at peace. And why does suffering and longing and feeling split, feel more like me than being okay. I think that's a habit women have gotten into because we haven't been celebrated for our whole selves.


So we get to be together here to celebrate our whole self. When things happen, we're meant to grieve and move on, but we're meant to grieve fully. really fully, and we don't. We take our grief, and because we can't fully grieve it, and it can't find its place in us, we don't give it a place, then we make it an identity. I have made a certain part of myself, this thing, this concrete thing that has no fluidity. I'm not much of a social media person. Um, but I, I finally posted three little pictures on Instagram just to see if I could do it. And I looked at somebody else's Instagram and they had one of those little, you know, they didn't write it, but they copied it and posted it. Try to see the loss as part of life rather than my life as something I lost.


See Instagram giving us the teaching we need. I'm checking time. Okay, we're still in good time, right? Yes. Soon we get to talk to each other, which is always really fun. There's that moment right before a breakout group where you go, I don't want to talk to anybody. Just leave me alone and tell me everything. But then you get in the group. And you have so much to say, and people have such great things to say. So I wanna tell you one quick story. I'm gonna tell it quick instead of, now I have to find it, dang. Yes, here it is. The other night, I think my friend Amy, who's on our retreat today, who's also from Bozeman, Wendy, thank you for your support,


I mean, Amy, I told the story of Patachara. And there's something about Patachara's story that resonates with Chen's story. Patachara, old Indian woman living at the time of Buddha, was called the cloak walker. And she endured great loss very briefly. She also married someone she wasn't supposed to. God. Just let us marry who we want and make a big mistake like some of us have done. And then learn from it, you know. She married a servant. She fell in love with him. And they ran away and they had this very hard but peaceful life. And she was in love with him. And so she got pregnant. They had the first baby. And she got pregnant, was getting ready to have her second baby. And she said, I want to go home. I want to be with my mom when I deliver. And, you know, at first he was like, no, no, no, the husband. And then he said, okay, we'll make the journey.


They made the journey. They came to a river and a big storm came up and they needed shelter. So the husband went to find shelter to find big leaves to cover them with. While he was gone, Patachara went into labor and she had a one, like a one-year-old and she's in labor and it's a big storm and her husband doesn't come back and doesn't come back. She finally gives birth. She feeds the one-year-old fruit and she nurses the new baby. She gets everyone ready. She goes to look for her husband. He's been bit by a snake and he's dead. And she is shocked. And so she wants, she doesn't know what to do. She thinks about it for a while and she goes, well, I'm going to go across the river and go to my family. And when she's at the river, it's much too high to carry two children together at once. So she thinks about, well, what's the best thing to do? So she leaves the one-year-old on the bank and carries the newborn above her head, goes across the river, sets the baby down safely, and starts to come back to get her one-year-old.


And she turns around and she sees a hawk who comes and snatches the newborn. And she is crazed, as you can imagine. She's yelling and screaming at the hawk to let her baby go, which is, you know, probably what we all would do. And the one-year-old thought she was calling the baby in to come to her. So he comes into the river and he gets swept away. So in the course of a short time, she loses her husband and both her babies. She gets herself home. She asked to find her parents and brother. They have been killed in the storm. So she goes mad. She goes around tearing at her clothes, yelling and screaming. Even the untouchables wouldn't talk to her. Like she was below any cast. She was just completely rejected. And then it says this lovely phrase, her mind began to give way like the hillsides in the rain, slipping, sliding, coming apart.


There is nothing left in all the world. I mean, can you imagine? So it's like a really, really extreme story. So one day she was in a river or a pond or something and she just, it reminded her of being in that river and she started hitting it and yelling at it and blaming it and freaking out about it. And the Buddha and his attendants were walking by and the attendants were like, Oh Buddha, she's crazy. Leave her alone. And he, I think walks into the river and he says, sister, Recover your presence of mind. And all of a sudden she wakes up and she remembers her grief. She remembers her loss. She had made it into this thing that was driving her, but she didn't even know what it was anymore. It was just this habit of grieving that it never had been held. And who could hold that by themselves, right? Who could hold that by themselves? She said, help me, please save me from this pain.


And she realizes what it is that needs holding and digesting. And Buddha says, this is really great. Women are so strong. He says, I can't help you with this. Nothing can save us from loss and grief. Family doesn't last, kin doesn't last. Not in this world or in the next. You are clutching at something that you can't keep that you never could have kept. And then something resonated in her, released in her. She was seen, she was heard for her loss. She saw she was not alone. And she became a disciple of the Buddha. She became a great teacher. She became the teacher of 500 women who all ordained, each of which had lost a child. I find this story very, very moving.


And maybe I think, maybe I'm trying to organize this time so I have it right, because I'm an hour off. So we have until, We still have like a good half hour. So good. So first, before I go on with anything, maybe you have something to say or a question to ask before we talk with each other. And I think Karen will look for your blue hand and please unmute yourself and Let us know how it is for you. I'll just explain it for those who are unfamiliar with Zoom. The best way to ask a question is to go down to the participants box at the bottom of the screen and click. When you click on it, there'll be a button where you can raise your hand. You click raise hand and I will call on people.


When I call on you, unmute yourself and ask a question. Another way is you can put a question in the chat box, and I will be checking the chat box and ask the question for you. I will also try to look at the gallery, but that doesn't always work so well if you wanna physically raise your hand. So, The first person with her hand up, Wako Shannon Hickey. Please unmute yourself and ask a question. Hi, Karen. It's so great to see you. Hi, Shannon. So great. I'm beaming love and appreciation in your direction. Thank you. Thanks for coming. My pleasure. Yeah, that's really speaking to me. My question is really simple. Would you please tell us the source and reread the poem about Padachara and the husk?


First Free Women, okay? Yeah. The First Free Women, poems of the early Buddhist nuns. And there's a second poem I'm going to read, but that poem is really great, isn't it? That with her 30 nuns? It is. Farmers take grain from the earth and branches from the tree. They crack open one with the other and take what's left to feed their families. You are all like unripe grain. Take time to grow, then leave the ground behind and let your husks be stripped away. I promise less is more. So Bhattacharya told us. So we sat on the ground like unripe grain. We gave ourselves to the path and the path broke us apart. What we feared most is now seen for what it is, true peace, freedom. All that was broke apart was the darkness we had for so long been calling our whole world. Thank you.


I just love that. The practice broke us apart. Yeah. And we realized how much we're hanging on to our suffering, but we need help. We need each other to digest the things that happen to us. We're not just sitting in silence and letting go. At least I'm not. So remember a woman's comment, woman. If you realize the true one, then you'll know that emerging from one husk and entertaining another is like a traveler putting up at an inn. This is like, not like transmigration or reincarnation, this is like, Moment by moment. Now I'm enthusiastic. You wouldn't know I might have COVID, you know? When this is over, I'm gonna feel like crap, you know? And that's gonna be another Karen, right? So if we can really find that fluidity, then maybe we can help each other with the darkness that we think is our life and include all of it.


Yes, thank you, Shannon. Marsha Lieberman, would you like to unmute yourself and ask a question? Yeah. Good morning. Good morning, Karen San. Hi, Marsha San. Thanks for coming. Oh, I was so excited. So, oh, I love these stories and your storytelling. And I have a question about the river. So, the river comes up in a lot of stories. And I'm wondering, in this story, when she's hitting the river, that really struck me as a phrase, hitting the river, as opposed to how we usually think about crossing or swimming or dropping something in. And I'm wondering if you have any thoughts What is the river in this story, and why is it such a strong character? Good question.


The first thing that came to mind, and I don't remember the author. I want to say it was Kenneth Roshi, but it might not be. Remember that book from a long time ago, Don't Push the River? Remember that title? Don't Push the River. So the river has its own nature. It has its own way. And, um, it is a flowing thing. So sometimes I'm not much of a, you know, know how to analyze things very well, but right now what's occurring to me is the river is our life. It's life. And when we go with it, um, when we go with it, And that doesn't mean we don't find the times we have to grab onto a branch or go to the bank or find a way to get our agency, get our choices. But mostly we fight the river. We push the river. Or what was that other title? Selling water by the river. We do more than we need to, and like Pratichara said, less is more.


I'm telling you, less is more. That's why I say to myself when I wake up, you're not so important. Just go get a cup of tea and, you know. So I'm thinking of it as life right now. But maybe other people have an image, or maybe something's coming to you, Marsha. Well, I'm just thinking, so if the river is life, it seems in this story that it's, What is it giving then? I see what it's taking away and what's removed from her everyday life and what she's separated from. But what is it giving if it's life? I don't know. I think maybe the image that's coming to my mind right now is she ended up having to cross that river anyway to go home. I think it's also giving her a very bitter taste of impermanence because she left and did what she wasn't supposed to do, married the servant, and then she wanted to go home, you know?


I don't know. They're good images. It's a good question. Thank you so much. Sandeep, would you like to unmute yourself, please, and ask a question? Hi. Thank you, Karen, for your talk. I think in the beginning you mentioned something about language and the power of language. And for me, what came up was an excerpt from the Dhammapada that I, I don't, I can't, I couldn't find the exact excerpts, but I'll give you the gist of it. So it was All that we are is the result of what we have thought. It is founded on our thoughts. It is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage. So I just wanted to bring that up because I got it from a priest from the Zen Center in LA.


And I think you said you were also in LA. So I found a lot of synchronicities. And I really appreciate you bringing or you speaking today. Oh, thank you. You know, I've been looking for that quote in the Dhammapada where the thought turns into speech, speech turns into action. That's the one, that's it. Yeah. Maybe it's not the Dhammapada because I haven't been able to find it, but. I have it at my work. I'll take a picture and email it to you. Okay, great. Thank you. What I love about that is what we have to unpack to say, what do we do with our thoughts? So a lot of meditation practice is let go of your thoughts, let go of your thoughts. And I'm much more interested in becoming intimate with the stories we tell ourselves. What am I telling myself about me, about life, about my son? What are the ways I am putting things in concrete through language and through thought? Instead of just letting them go, I'm... Some of you have probably heard of that RAIN practice that they do in the mindfulness schools in the Terrebrock.


world and R is to recognize what's coming up. A is to accept or acknowledge what's coming up. I is inquiry or investigation. We're not meant to just, you know, sit there and like have nothing be dealt with. That's what we're here for. We're here to hold and let whatever needs to live, live. And the N has gotten changed to nurture. which is just great, and nurture is great, but I also like non-identification. You're not so important. Just, you know, you're not who you think you are. Thank you. Yeah. I think we have time for one more question to allow time for the breakout groups. Okay. So, Mary Beth, would you like to unmute yourself, please? Hi, Karen. Hi, Mary Beth. When I read the story again last night, I thought, I don't identify with anything in this.


And then, while I'm sitting, all this stuff starts to come up, and I'm like, oh, my goodness. And I'm a Catholic, as well as Buddhist, and I practice hard in both traditions. But like with my family back in Kansas City, my mom and my dad in particular, I don't tell them anything about my Buddhist practice because I feel like they can't accept it and it would make them think I'm going to hell or something and they don't need that and I don't need that. But it reminds me also when I was younger and I had to deal with being lesbian and I wasn't telling them about that either and how I hid that part of myself from my family for a long time. And so anyway, I can just really feel like, which is my true identity?


Where am I? And do I hold, can I hold both of them at the same time? Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. And I think it's, It's wonderful that you shared that. Um, I don't know if my family has really recognized that I ordained as a priest. Like they just, you know, they don't even know they're Catholic too. Are they? Yeah. But, um, one thing I would say is that split that you're feeling like with this, with the koan, it's very much about this split, but, For a lot of us, it's not just into two. It's not just I want this and I want that. It's very multifaceted, you know, and it's fluid and it changes. So did you ever come out to your parents? Oh, yes, and that was a horrible time. I was also remembering, well, but they came out when my partner died, and that was not something I expected for them to come, because they live in Kansas City.


But they came out. to walk with me. So, you know, that was like a huge step. But at the same time, there were all my Buddhist friends who were there too. And I didn't talk to my parents about them as being Buddhist friends. So it brought up the same thing in a different way. I think we can cut ourselves some slack sometimes, you know, we don't have to be completely transparent to every situation, you know, we have to also take care of our own self and what boundaries we're ready to open and which ones we need to hold. It's okay to have some integrity within ourselves, you know, and if it's, and especially if it's when your partner died, probably not the best time to also now come out as the Buddhist, you know, you want to take care of yourself. That was quite a lot. So now I think you have, you and Sejo, You and Qian are quite close.


She can help us. For the breakout rooms, I don't know if everyone's going to stay because I know a few people are visiting from the election session, and thank you for doing the election session. But I like the number three to talk. Three people. Does that seem good to people? I have a couple of questions, but I know that you'll just start talking anyway. So you don't have to answer these questions, but they're a little start. Like, like what Mary Beth just shared. What is it in your life that is, is keeping a split or a non-integrous situation going on? What is it like for you? And you can be as open or as, um, whatever the shrouded as you want to be. You can be more general if you don't want to. And then, I'm wondering if you can speak to each other. So it's two parts and we'll give you, I think we're at 12. Yeah.


We'll give you like 15 minutes. The second part, or it can be when you talk, what are the practices that help you hold that? Like Mary Beth could speak about what, how does she practice? What's, what is the mechanism we actually use with our breath and our posture and our patience and our endurance? for difficulty, how do we actually hold this?