Zen Practice, Psychotherapy, and Feminism

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Many of you here, it's wonderful, and manly, too. Thank you all, you know. Fran will have to forgive me. Fran is very dynamic in this. And for her, I was going to have a well-typed-up paper so that I could give her a copy and have it all neat and well-organized. And I've had a typical woman's life this last year. rape trials and foreclosures on property and handling my husband's probate and things like that. I never got around to doing my papers, so I had to go with the notes that I did the very afternoon she called me. She called and said, Sonia, will you come over and talk to the Berkeley Venue? And I said, sure, Fran. And I thought, what will I talk to them about? Well, let's see what my intuition says and jotted down some notes. something more polished, but I think with these notes and your help, and knowing that among us all teaching is a mutuality, we can learn something together tonight, perhaps.


I certainly do want to hear from you. So I'll do a few things at the beginning. I'll cover some things that I wanted to talk to the birthday sender about, and anyone from any other sender who might be here. And then we'll have questions and answers. You can get a lot out of me if you ask questions, I've discovered. When someone says, do you have anything to say, I can't think of a thing. But silence seems perfectly OK, and obviously we're all fine just as we are. It's hard to break silence, but when questions come, I do sometimes find answers for them. So when I put down the phone after talking to Fran, I decided what I should talk about to the Berkley Zender were the two thirsts. Buddhism's two thirsts. You'll see why, perhaps, as we go along. But that's what first popped into my head. And I know Steve Bodian and other people, and there are some subjects that have been running around among all of us older practicers for some time.


At any rate, we do have this teaching of the two thirsts. The first thirst is for existence, and we women know a lot about that. Existence, or birth, and becoming, becoming a whatever, becoming a mother, becoming a nurse. And the other thirst is for non-existence. Buddhism has a lot to say about the second thirst. In the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, we have a number of psychologists and psychiatrists who were originally interested in practices, not just Zen practice, but Theravadan practice, and Tibetan practice, and many kinds of practice, and who were, in the beginning, psychologists alone, But now they've been practicing for 10 years or so.


So their insights are getting pretty acute and some questions are coming up and are being clarified as to the relationship between psychology and practice. I'm going to talk to you for a moment about some of those things because I think Mel might be interested. And you might be interested, and then I will go from that general base into how women fit into these questions of the two thirsts, our particular peculiarities in regard to these existence and non-existence. Western psychology deals with the importance of becoming somebody. And there's also the importance of becoming nobody. Buddhist psychology has a lot to say about the importance of becoming nobody. One goal, the goal of becoming somebody, and this particularly relates to women, the idea of having an identity, a self.


Western psychology talks a lot about becoming someone, how to have an integrated self. And then we come along and we hear Buddhism and it says no self, selflessness. And we think, gee, should we become a self or should we be selfless or what should we do? A little confusing for us, isn't it, sometimes? Who here has been to any encounter group, any kind of any one-to-one therapy, group therapy, or anything like that. How many people here have... You see, you can see how confusing it can become. I know, that was me too. And women's sense of self, or as we call it in psychology, self-esteem, a sense of identity, is a peculiar problem unto itself. and has, you know, is a little more difficult probably to deal with in this culture than men's sense of self.


Now, what do we mean by this thirst for existence or becoming? What do we mean by that? Well, in Western psychology, this means our struggle with our developmental tasks, the developmental tasks of finding out who we are in society, what our capabilities are, what our responsibilities are, how we relate to other illusory selves, speaking as a Buddhist now, what are our relationships with other people, and what should we do with our lives. Now I can remember in the old days, I'm sure this never happened to Mel, but to dummies like me, I was just in kind of inclined to think, oh, How wonderful. I'll just skip over to Buddhist metaphysics and I won't have to worry about these developmental tasks.


I won't have to do these things. I can just go and sit on my Zazen cushion and my life will be taken care of. A little hiding out on the cushion there. I don't know if any of you recognize that particular kind of hiding out, but it's all I have to do is Zazen. everything will be taken care of, all I have to do is Zazen. Now, if we do that, we're in danger of using Buddhism to rationalize our inability to form stable relationships, to rationalize our inability to develop our talents such as they are and put them to good use. If you, how many of you know an enlightened being outside of your own mill? Even enlightened beings clearly have to retain important ego functions. They have to, like the capacity to organize their experience.


A little reality testing is good. Sometimes we have to go outside of our Sangha to do a little reality testing if we can't get to the teacher who will help us do some of that. Now these problems are especially acute in late adolescence and early adulthood. What are we going to do? So this is a time when teachers have to watch out for you and when you have to watch out for yourself. And then how about midlife crisis guys? Anybody midlife here beside me? Are we going to solve our developmental tasks of late adolescence and early adulthood? And are we going to solve our developmental problems of midlife? Do we have a responsibility to do that? And how does that fit in with our practice? Now, one of the things we should know is that Buddhism and our practices as they come to us from the East presuppose a more or less normal course of development.


And they presuppose an intact, so to speak, ego. Buddhist psychology doesn't say a lot about... Buddhists never developed a developmental psychology, a child into adult psychology. They developed a very strong and very efficient and right on characterological psychology, you might say. If you look into Buddhist psychology, which you don't have to do, but you should look into it, you would see character types. Beautifully described perfectly delineated, but there's not much. There's no child psychology No developmental psychology in Buddhist psychology as it is as it stands Now For us it's not a question this is what I'm here to tell you and you can think about this and see if you have any arguments with me, but for us it's not a question of self or no self


For us it's a question of self and no self. Now in Buddhist practice we can see the obvious dangers there for teachers and students if this assumption of normal selfhood is not understood. What are the kind of dangers? What kind of mistakes in practice can we make if this is not understood? Well, we can have subjective feelings of emptiness, for instance, may be mistaken for shunyata or emptiness. The experience of not feeling integrated may be mistaken for selflessness. The tenacious tendency to become absorbed in the content of meditation or to analyze mental content endlessly Instead of simply observing it is a problem that teachers often have with students.


Dogen used to say, think of non-thinking. And if we're doing therapy and if we're doing practice, we have to know when to do which. And in our 40 minute period of Zazen, we don't do therapy. That much is true. But it doesn't mean that we don't have to do therapy. It's just that that's not the place for it. And our teacher is not our therapist. Now once developmentally we have a self, once we've managed to form some stable relationships, we're what in our Western society, in our time and place, and that's what we have to deal with, our time and place. 20th century Berkeley people. Once we have a self, then we have to go on to the insight into the ultimate illusoriness of that self. Metaphysically, the language is difficult for us because what it really means is there's an apparent continuity over time, which we will in time see is not true.


There isn't any ongoing self. It's an apparently illusory, we have to drag up our memories to, in order to be, we have to take our memory on our back in order to carry this personhood with us. We see through our Buddhist practice the nature of our moment to moment reality construction, how we construct our reality moment to moment. And we see the impermanence of all events. My husband died December 31st. Well he's not dying now. There's no way I can grasp that past event. It was an event and it's gone. Now that's the basic some of the basic things about psychology, psychology and practice that we have discovered rubbing these two things together, which is something that's obviously going to happen in our very psychological culture.


But how does all this relate to our lives as women, if you men will excuse me? Women's sense of self and women's identity is a kind of special problem within this other problem I'm talking about. Because women have lived outside history. Our main work, the work of nurturance of dependent beings, dependent beings are babies and old folks, people who are dependent and need someone to care for them, who aren't out there doing it in the world. And that's a large part of life when you think about it, dependency. Until you get your child independent, mine are just now 20 and 22. Actually, it used to be dependent at 16 and 18. Now it seems to take forever. It seems in there. 26? I don't know what it is. But it's a long time.


And we women do what you call personal services. Traditionally, we have done that, personal services. Picking up the socks, keeping the house clean, a home where the men can come home and relax. where the competitive kind of thing. Our main work of nurturance of dependent beings, personal service, transmitting culture to the young, building social networks. Who got this group together tonight? They're good social network builders. And that kind of underlying social network that's there in any zendo, which is put together by the women essentially. Friendships formed and so forth and so on. Now this work, which is the work of over 50% of the human beings, has not been recorded. And things that aren't recorded culturally don't exist, so to speak. So part of becoming conscious is becoming conscious of the existence of what 50% of mankind has been doing up to now.


Now we're crossing over. A paradigm shift is taking place. We have been a kind of timeless abstraction. Woman. Without a history. Look through the Zen records and see how many women you see. One or two. You know, three. Nameless, usually. The tea house woman. Now, do you think those men didn't have lovers? Didn't have mothers? Didn't have sisters? We see the tea house woman. They're just like us. It's just that they don't appear in our records and in our history. Even the histories that are being written now. I looked through, what's the name of the latest books? The Swans book. How the swans came to life. I mean, it's just another old history, folks. I went up to the author and mentioned this to him. He didn't care much. But it's true.


But a paradigm shift is taking place. Man is not the measure of all that is significant anymore. And that used to be true. Women are becoming culturally human too, which means we're beginning to rediscover, discover and make conscious women's history and women's existence. Actual names. Actual differing women who become people because we're different. Otherwise it's just woman. I'm going to show you when this subject became, this is a Berkeley group, and I will read this to a Berkeley group. I would probably not read it anywhere else in the country because I don't know the rest of the country that well. But like most of the people in the 60s, I was experimenting with psychedelics. I don't know how many of you folks ever did that. But I was, I could do it legally because I knew a lot of psychologists and was working with a lot of psychologists and it was legal at one time.


And I was doing my psychedelic sessions, high dose psychedelic sessions and I'm going to read you one of my, one of my session experiences. I don't usually do this because otherwise you never know when people might think they, you know, want an experience like yours. And of course, no one ever gets an experience that's a copy of anyone else. And just mentioning the word psychedelics might make someone interested in it who had not already been exposed to drugs. And I would hate to be responsible for that. But it's only fair to tell you what kind of experience this was. And it was a psychedelic experience. And I wrote it down in 1969 and 1970. And Susan Murcutt of the Kahawai Zendo used this, asked me to write it up for her and used it a lot. And she said it had a response among women. And so I thought I'd read it to you and see if it has a response among you. And I call it Sonia's Granite Egg. And in this vision, I found myself on a rooftop patio of a Hilton hotel.


a participant in an opening session of a high-level conference on the subject of planning for the next spiritual age. I'm embarrassed to say. No, I was sitting in a large circle of spiritual leaders and teachers happily noticing the thorough ecumenical and cross-cultural representation present. and the variety of spiritual dress as I looked around, I was really pretty excited. Monks robes from all religions and all areas of the world, priestly regalia, shamanistic garb, you know, it was, I was in the center of it. And the chairman tapped his microphone and he said, now that we are all here, and he raised his gavel to begin. And as I looked from his gavel around me to the rest of his room, I noticed and now everything got in slow motion, that I was the only woman present.


I was the token woman at the planning session, so to speak. And time stopped. And then a multi-level dynamic swirl of images of women came to me for about the next three hours. women with dustpans, women with babies, women chars, women typists, women going out and raising money for just every possible kind of activity from homily to to queenly I could nothing else but that came through my my vision after which my body finally grounded and then I transformed into an enormous primordial granite egg which in protest lifted powerfully off the roof like off a launching pad and orbited into space refusing to give birth.


I don't think I'd heard of the woman's movement at that time. Actually, I wrote Susan Murcott, there's a lot of psychodynamic level insights which won't interest you, they're personal and which come with this. But I sat with that until, let's see, I'm 51. And when I was 47, that would have been 47 feet, 51, I'm no mathematician as you can see, four years ago, in which I woke up one morning, my birthday, it was my birthday, and my family was still asleep and I woke up in the morning and was going out to do Zazen. And I thought, oh, before I start my Zazen, I'll have my cup of coffee. That's the trouble with sitting Zazen at home, you can really get into all kinds of little numbers you do around here that don't happen in the Zendo. And as I was sitting there with my cup of coffee, this poem came to me, which the Kahawai Journal later published.


And you'll see how this, how my resolve came. That was 1969 to 19... four years ago, whatever it was, four years ago. 78. 78. So there's just about 10 years of practice intervening in there. When I took this, this poem to Koban, the patriarchs, not taken in by historical situations, grew breasts, gave birth, and stayed home to celebrate 47 years of undivided life. I want to skip now for a moment. This makes me cry. And you will have to bear with me because I've not done this before.


I want to take you back to village life, in the middle of our prairies in Minnesota, where I was born. And when starting to do transmission chanting, I couldn't go on. because the following people were missing from the lineage. And I would like to mention them now to all of you. Doris Amundsen, Mary Delzer, Grace Simpson, Iva and Minnie Shields, Thelma Pirkle, Bessie Smith, Grandma Bringle, Minnie Babcock, Grace Simpson, Grandma Hoffman, Martha Frederick, and Constance Finney, my mother.


Now I could chant these. Dora Sammonson, Mary Delzer, Grace Simpson, Iva and Minnie Shields, Thelma Pirkle, Bessie Smith, Grandma Bringgold, Minnie Babcock, Grace Simpson, Granny Hoffman, Martha Frederick, Constance Penny, Is that any better, folks? Now, on the village level, where I was born up, I can assure you that women had considerable power. In actual fact, village life is one of the places where women did have considerable input. They spoke their minds to their husbands, to the mayor, to the minister, all of whom some of the old women probably taught in the local school when they were in fifth and sixth grade.


The mayor grows up, your fifth and sixth grade student grows up and he becomes the mayor. Women have always been closer to the center of power in the village because they were close to men since they lived with them then. And they were close to the source of information. You can't express an opinion if you don't know what's going on. Which relates to the Granite Egg Conference. You can see why I wanted to be at the conference, knowing what was going on. For the conference deciding the next spiritual age. The controlling aspect for women's life in the village was respectability. There's a big difference between respectability and morality, by the way. Respectability is a controlling factor. If you broke the rule of respectability, you lost your voice. Respectability then was a function of essentially power and control in keeping the society the way it was.


The village is a very conservative place. It has lots of virtues, but that's one of the reasons you leave it. The rule of respectability and women's later entry into the educational milieu, like myself and my sisters and my mother who was a daring woman for going back to school after her children were raised in a day when it was unheard of and not popular. But when you went as women into the educational milieu, you discovered that women were portrayed in our literature and in our culture as either mysterious or simple, altruistic or selfish, bold or timid, cruel or loving, Saint Teresa or Diamond Lil, a dumb broad or too clever, sensual or sexless, and it was confusing to come out of that warm, active world of no difference which my village women, whose names I chanted, had given me to walk into the world of education and find all these negative images of women with nothing to counteract them.


But most important was the fact that women were not human. They were this timeless abstraction who didn't have a history. They were not selves. Which brings us back to the question of becoming, and existence, and self, and our Buddhist practice, our other thirst, non-becoming, non-attachment, and selflessness in its true sense. What to do about it then? How to best practice not getting confused between our various tasks? And how to work on the problem as most women must do? Fran and I were at a Buddhist conference, I'm sure she's talked to you about it, in Boulder, where a lot of women put aside their concerns about women in the culture and women in education, put them aside for 10 years or so to practice, to diligently practice.


And I was one of those women. And now a bunch of women after having practiced for 10 or 12 years are coming back out and discovering they still have some unfinished work to do. And are facing that, not ignoring that aspect anymore. And I think that practicing women have a great deal to give to non-practicing women. to make this matter workable between us, between men and women, make our new way. It's going to be hard. I haven't really tried to explain to anybody and I will try to watch my notes and you will have to help me from this part on. From my experience and from your experience with sitting, the ability to sit Without the company of one's projections, that is, without the company of your content, of the content of your mind, of the usual stories you run through, is aloneness.


To be without our constant companion, our projections, our storylines, our dramas, to let those relax, and to sit for a while without thinking about ourselves so much, something that happens after we sit a while, is aloneness. That's the same thing, really. Transform that and you have all oneness. That is, if your personal drama is reduced somewhat, there's room, isn't there, to look around and have a wider view. If your personal drama is so overwhelming, you have a very narrow view. The only thing you can see is your own personal drama. Now, to escape our own personal drama, or once we become interested in non-being, non-existence, selflessness, we enter into practice, or a lot of us do.


One big mistake I think we can make, and I don't know whether this is true or not, but this is my sense, and all of you will have to check this out, It takes all of us to find out, but it seems to me that women are especially, perhaps men do too, and maybe I just talk to more women because women talk to me. We can make the mistaken practice of getting stuck in absorption states or trance states. These absorption states are not connected to anything else, but they are comfortable. It's a place to hide. And what I tell women who come to me with this kind of thing happening to them in practice, there's a difference between being tranced and in an absorption state and waking up from that. When they come to me with this kind of thing, I feel that most of the time it's a misplaced bid for dignity and honor.


It's a misplaced bid on the part of us women for some dignity after all. for some honor after all. So we either have our ruminations, our imaginings and our images of ourselves which we're running through or we have an absorption state in which we kind of dull out into a kind of trance. And I think we have to be sure to remember to cut through both. cut through our ruminations, our imaginings, our images of ourselves as females. Are females wonderful, are they not wonderful? Are we better than men, are we? The kind of things that you can find discussed in a lot of women's groups, new women's groups. For those of us who sit, we discover this gap.


that Chögyam Trungpa always talks about, this gap, this space which is free from rumination, if you want. And that's a difficult thing to talk about and a difficult thing to portray. We can accept our ideas about women and our ideas about being a woman, our ideas about what men are and our ideas of maleness, we can accept those things in our practice and bow to them and acknowledge them and let them go on, but we will eventually come to these gaps. Now, when in our practice these gaps become as important, as noticeable, as conscious, as the ruminations, then we begin to sense that this world we have created together, all of us, is maybe not so solid. It does have gaps. See, I think it's very important for us to know as women that we don't have to denigrate men at all.


Just let this gap arise in our ideation. It's in that gap, by the way, that we know and feel our basic simplicity, how simple it all is really, our basic goodness, goodness from which we're not excluded. Or it would not be the all in all. It wouldn't be real goodness, would it? The irony is that we can't see the particular fallacy of our men-woman world that we create moment by moment until we see the fallacy of all our conceptualizations. whatever they are.


We have to see through all social fallacies and all social truths, too. See the moment by moment creation and destruction of our world. But when we know this gap, when this sense of gap comes, and we know the social world is not solid, is not real. Well, they'll say male body is real. I've got a female body, you've got a male body. These are hard ones to get over. We have to practice a long time, don't we? A long time. But when you get this sense that our social and created world is not so solid, non-substantiality, you call it in Buddhist metaphysical talk, Then we have no need to ignore the whole thing any longer. No need to block out the whole thing. No need to be stupid. No need to ignore the fact that there is misogyny in the world.


And we see instead that what we basically are is complete. What we basically are is complete. whether we're men or whether we're women, what we're basically are is complete. And when we really have a sense and a feeling for that, when we know that through long hard practice, then we don't have it, we have no desire left to be different. We don't need more. Since as we are, as I am as a woman, I have enough. There's no need to be jealous of men either. At the same time, we are not so absorbed in ourself or tranced that we do not see or hear other people's pain, our sister's pain.


the difficulty you have when you try to get a job and you're paid less than someone else is, when you have all the child care. Still, to stop this world of pain that men-women relationships are in now, we must not feed the fire, must not take part in the process of believing that certain people have it, And we, as women, do not. That's feeding the fire. We must not give in to our habitual patterns of relating that way. We can just sit and be dignified, be worthwhile to ourselves. Be ourselves, finally. Complete. This being ourselves, this simplicity, does not belong to anybody.


It just is. It's a fact. And then we can get up. We have to get up. We sit down and get up. That's really all we do. Breathe in and out, sit down and get up. But then we can get up and go about our work of changing cultural views of women within and without our zendos, and we can do that with friendliness, knowing that goodness, mortality, and simplicity, basic simplicity, are something we all share. And we can leave woman, rather than individual women, but this nebulous, amorphous, non-historical thing that's never-changing called woman.


Woman in her unchanging essence, poets used to say a lot. That's an abstraction. We can leave that, or it's best left to second-rate poets, and let's just be ourselves. I hope you've got questions galore, either about psychotherapy or women's practice or what else? Yes, I was wondering how you would define therapy within a Buddhist context and at what point you feel it becomes an aid to practice and at what point it might not be an aid to practice, at what point it might be a detriment, an obstacle. I don't know whether I can do a definitive thing on this, because I think we're just finding out a lot of these things, but I'll tell you what my experience is, which is really the only thing you can think about.


It seems to me when we develop our Jijuyu Samadhi, our King Samadhi, when we develop our Samadhi, our deep relaxation of our body and our mind, and find our stability, on our cushion. That that Samadhi, if you want, which that broad view, that broad Samadhi within which everything takes place. When we get up, we get up and we go wash the dishes. We go teach school. We go to our job and we go to therapy. I think it helps it all. Everything we do, actually, the truth is that everything we do, we do within our basic Samadhi.


That's actually the truth. We may not know it. We may think there's a difference. Now I'm having my Samadhi, now I'm doing therapy. It's not true. Basic to everything is this basic Samadhi. There is a technical experience, Mel might be able to tell you about this, but at one time, I remember some years ago, five or six years ago, I was sitting on my cushion at home, I think, for the first time. I can't remember why I wasn't in the Zendo there, because I was such a dutiful child, such a good girl. Oh, my God. I went every morning, every evening. I had 11 years of Methodist Sunday School, too. Continuous, without break. I'm ashamed to say. But anyway, that's the kind of person I was. But I had to sit at home for a while. And it happened to me while I was sitting at home. I rushed to Coburn with this experience. I was sitting there, and even though I was sitting, clearly sitting, everybody could see me sitting. My children could see me sitting as they walked through to make their peanut butter sandwiches or whatever. I was at the same time... As a matter of fact, he said something to you, I think, Steve.


I was at the same time getting up, stretching, yawning, dancing, so forth and so on. In other words, the basic division between stillness and activity had been broken through. After that, you do really know this thing that I am telling you, which you must know for yourself, that all activity takes place within this basic Samadhi. Our basic position is with. So I can't see that it could ever hurt your therapy. As a matter of fact, the fact that you've learned to be balanced with what comes up will be helpful to you. It will make your therapy, if you're doing therapy, probably more efficient, quicker, should. Now there are times when it's just so absorbing that maybe you shouldn't bother other in the Zendu, you know, other people in the Zendu if you're really getting into therapy and doing it, and sometimes you have something that comes up.


I think you can trust your Zazen to tell you this is the time to go, this is the time to stop. Therapy isn't any mysterious, wonderful thing that needs to be opposed to sitting at all, that I can see. Now there may be, as I discussed earlier, in this business of being and becoming, there may be a time, a developmental time, if you haven't done some developmental task that need to be taken care of, it seems to me Zazen will just spin you right off your seat and you'll find yourself down there applying for a job or going to school or something else. And it's come out of that basic Samadhi, just what you need to do next. And what you need to do next may be therapy. Seek somebody else's help. In the old days we just would have gone and talked to a friend about what should I do next? My children are leaving, should I go back to school or should I? I think that on the other side now, the other way around, I think that if you need therapy badly, if that's the business that needs to be taken care of first, you probably won't be able to sit with them though.


At least not very long. I've never known anybody yet, but I haven't known all that many people. None of us have. We've only been sitting here in this psychological culture, so to speak, for not too many years yet. But I've never known anybody yet who really was close to psychotic or whatever, who could stay on the cushion. So I don't think it's a thing that we need to go around daily worrying about. I think it kind of will take care of itself. But it'd be a good question to ask a real psychotherapist. I'm not a psychotherapist. I'm an editor of a journal. Therapists may have different notions, but my own notion could be good, too. Anything else? I do not know what trans-personal psychology is, which is faith, I think. It's hard to say what it is. What it is is a collection of the psychologists who were interested in... Most of them, a lot of them had been either humanistic psychologists or they had been, if you know what that is, or they had been experimenting psychedelicists.


They were people with psychological educations and psychological schooling who became interested in sitting in meditation practice. Not always the same meditation practice. And who... took it upon themselves to investigate that, realizing that it was an experiential investigation, that they couldn't study it through book learning, but they would have to practice. So, there's no, however, no requirement as to what kind of practice they can take, and some of the practices in the early days were kind of far out, you know, weird practices. And how about how long of a history does it have? Now in its probably 14th year, 14th year or something like that. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche is one of the, on the Board of Editors for instance. Tarthang Tulku was for a while on the Board of Editors.


I can't remember now whether he still is or whether he is not. So it's, and there are probably four or five Now Buddhist teachers who were before just psychologists, but who now are teaching like like melodies Teaching students both in Buddhist centers and at universities Annotations being taught at universities now, too Since you talked Yeah area right now, and suddenly Kala Rinpoche wasn't a man. Kala Rinpoche was a woman. The face had not changed at all, but I realized that, oddly, I had been looking at Kala Rinpoche as a man, and the scales dropped from my eyes, and he was a woman.


She was a woman. And I've had some other experiences where the scales kind of dropped from my eyes, and I looked at the very same faces that had been either male or female to me, and seen that what was male was male-female, and what was female was male-female, or what was male was female, and what was female was male. But I'm perplexed at the solidity of the, and they seem like very real, as real as the experience of, this is a man, this is a woman, which is more ordinary experience. I'm really puzzled by the solidity of one kind of illusion, which is, here's a man, and here's a woman. And when you were talking about gaps, I started


At first I didn't know what you were talking about. And then I connected with that. There was a gap, a huge... The solidity of my world was very... I'm very, very grateful it fell apart. And it did. And connecting this with some kind of a problem or a question, it seems in Zendo life that on the one hand... Zen Zazen life, or the life that we share in Zazen, that on the one hand you're sitting next to a person and they're not male or female. They're just the real being which they are. But it doesn't take very far before we get into male and female. How can we hold on to, maintain that gap or that fluidity where we don't start fixing ourselves?


When we're on the cushion it's very simple. That's the simplicity I'm talking about. We're just there. Basically good, basically complete and basically simple. But when we get up off our cushion of course we do, we do have to If you have the breast, you have to nurse the baby. You have to do both things. But if you really know how simple just being we are and know that thoroughly through sitting on the cushion and having that feeling that you just described, It's going to make a difference. You're never going to be able to believe the distinction, even though you must go through the roles, the temporary forms and things you must assume, like different masks and different things that you put on. You're never going to believe in them the same way, because you've remembered the experience of being simple on the cushion. Now, if you'd had no other experience but being out there in a various form, you would really


you wouldn't be able to see through it. That's what sitting on the cushion does for us. But it is hard to remember, as you say, it's hard to remember. Remember, or remembering, when we sit back on the cushion, we're everything. And that everything that we are is very simple. So I don't think you can avoid getting up from the cushion and becoming You're a male you, or you're a womanly you, nor should you. That's part of that developmental task that we have to do, especially if we live in the 20th century in this culture. We can't not do it. People would look at us askance. We'd be a burden for others if we didn't assume these masks and do that quite well. But we won't believe in it. That's the difference. You were talking at the beginning about women not having historical selves and that I've never worried too much about that but I think the aspect of it that I've experienced is that in my life I don't think that women have had personal selves to a large extent.


My mother and many women of her generation lived through the people that she took care of and accepted for a few things she did where It was really clear that she was herself. And growing up, I think, when you talked, it really made it clear to me that I didn't have a self for a long time. I had no idea what that was. And it was just an empty space. And I went into therapy because I had a lot of problems. But I think that that's what I had no sense of. So, this was after I'd been sitting for some time. And it made sitting much more difficult to suddenly go in search of who I was. It was easier before, you know, when I didn't have a self or didn't know what that was. It's just that it made everyday life impossible. So, you know, here's this problem. It seems to me that maybe, to me, a women's kind of problem where... But you went into therapy?


Remember what I told you before. You have to be somebody first. Then you can be nobody. Two tasks. To be somebody and then not to be somebody. But the first task is to be somebody. You probably were trying to shortcut it a little bit there. You didn't know, you didn't have a good strong sense of self and who you were. And you were probably, you were sitting on your cushion. You were doing Zazen at that time. I don't think I even knew what the... I had no sense of... You had no names for the problem, no language for the problem. That's what we try to give each other, is a little language for the problem. Yeah. Yeah. Good for you. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't have to. Isn't that the truth? Yeah. Yeah. Someone here? I was feeling the same as Connie.


You know, I feel like when they ask, it seems like you do have to develop a real good sense of yourself in order to give it up. So doesn't it become a chronological thing, that you develop an ego strength, you develop self, then you're able to give it up? How can you do both things concurrently? Well, that's because that's the way our life is, unfortunately. When we talk about life and when you write papers, it all goes in a very neat linear thing. That's the way it should be. First, you develop yourself. You're a little kid, then you get your adulthood, and then you go off and you become a famous Zen master. Perfect in every way. But in truth, it doesn't work out like that, does it? You know, we do do things all at the same time. That's just the way it is. And after you're capable of it. It's only in the talking, since we have to talk linearly, that it happens linear. And it would be good if you could, you know. In the East, like for instance in Theravadan countries, they generally, the reason, the way they, someone can't come in to practice and start practicing.


Until they know the difference between what they call, Steve might know the technical words for this, wholesome and unwholesome. Like basic moral judgment, for instance. Because they assume if you have basic moral judgment, you have a reasonably integrated ego. That's usually, however, in those countries. In those countries, however, also, they do not develop their social system as such, that they do not develop into this complex, it's not as complex as we. We develop into individuals. And sometimes they're in, not so much now, when the world is more alike, but in olden days especially, the farthest development that was required of people in society was what you would call rule-role mind. That is, you became a certain cog in the social field. And that's why, for instance, an Indian master in the old days could give his student a picture of himself and say, become just like me. Do just what I do.


Same like a potter will say to his son, do what I do, because you know that the son's going to be a potter. Well, we're not that way. We can't just develop enough to fill a niche in society. We have to develop beyond that into what what we Westerners have developed as human beings, something called full individuality. And I think most of us won't be satisfied until we go that far. So we have to have a full Western sense of identity and can't shortcut that and become either Asians or past people. We have to become 20th century people like we are. So we do need to do that task. And beyond seven or eight years old, For most of us, I think that our zazen will help in all of that. But some sorting out needs to take place. You need not to do your therapy while you're sitting on the cushion. Especially not to confuse your teacher with all your therapy, if you can help it, Steve. Okay, I think it's important, though, is to realize that this surrendering of self, giving up of self, is not


It's not like that happens after we develop a self and then we develop a self and then we give it up. The two are happening simultaneously. Moment by moment, actually. Moment by moment, actually, we give up our old self. We never give up that individuality. No. That's who we are. Well, there was a wonderful phrase I heard, Stephen, once about, since this task never is finished. What did someone say? Development is essentially constant grieving. Constant grieving is our lot because we're constantly giving up our own self. We're usually aware of it though, our awareness being what it is, we're usually aware of it only in discrete time lumps. The more subtle our awareness gets, we're aware of it happening all the time, but normally in society we talk about it in terms of ages, you know, grade school, high school, college, Parenthood, etc.


In actual fact, it's a moment-by-moment business. And it's not something we have to worry about. I think that's important, too. It's not like... That's right. If we sit, the more we sit, it just happens by itself. It happens by itself. There's no problem about trying to somehow diminish that individuality at all in some way. That, in a way, happens just naturally. Yeah. Yeah. And it seems to me, I don't know if any teacher would wash my mouth out with soap or not, but it seems to me that the stability you get through sitting really helps everything else you do, that kind of stable seat, if you can get that kind of stable seat. As you begin to become aware of the momentary creating of our world and collapsing of our world, you need some stability, a good stable seat. So it's not anything to worry about.


Something to work on, but nothing to worry about. And then when they begin to institutionalize and professionalize, there's no room for us any longer, because we usually have to bow out to take care of babies, to raise children, and cannot put the kind of intensity of time, the undivided time, that men have been able to do. So, actually, institutionalization and professionalization is not good for you women, and fight it always, whether the men like it or not. It'll do you in. It's like we were talking about something about the, um, when Zen becomes institutional and the priesthood becomes It's always done, done, women and lay people have been, in the beginning everybody is needed. You need everybody you can get. But then after that it shakes out and becomes something else.


I must say something else too about our inherited practice forms. Our inherited practice forms are patriarchal masculine practice forms. They are an opportunity. There is a great deal in these forums, masters, disciples, various grades and levels and so forth and so on, which is appealing, effective and necessary for an all-male group. I want you all to know that as psychologists, we know that little boys from the age of three start forming into dominance, submission, hierarchical play arrangements. Women don't. Now, if you have an organization which is not hierarchically arranged, men are going to be uncomfortable. I don't care in the psychological testing we've done whether they are lower or higher, a man will feel a great sense of relief in knowing where he is, what his slot is. Whereas women will be disturbed by that same thing.


What we're going to do about these forms, I don't know. I think we're doing something with them probably just quite naturally without being that conscious of it already. I'll tell you a little story. There were a group of women who, in a women's group, who were making a film. And they were going to make an all-woman crew and an all-woman film. And so they formed their group and they were going along very well and were halfway through the film. Some of you may know this story. when they had a certain kind of expertise that they didn't have among them. No woman had it. And so they had to ask a man to join their group. And he did. He joined their group and they started to proceed to carry on. And things just didn't go well. He was unhappy. Things didn't go well. They stopped and had a little meeting and said, what was wrong? What could they do? And finally, what they realized The women had been going in, as you and I will go in, for instance, we'll walk into the kitchen, Liz, you know, and you look around and you see, you know, someone says, well, I'll do the dishes, I'll wipe, and you just, you know, do the work.


This man could not work without a title. He didn't know who the hell he was. So the women met separately and they said, let's give him a title. And they gave him a title and it would just work beautifully. I wonder, the tests, the psychological tests that were done that gave this result, that was in our society, and I wonder if this isn't just a, you know, a regional... A thing of our society? Yeah. Go to some other societies. Go to Japan, if you want to see a hierarchical society. And the tomb, the erect phallus, is one of the first forms existent in Japan. I mean, I don't know about all other ones, but I can assure you about the Japanese one. But I mean, that it's a learned thing, that it isn't... At three, it might be.


Psychologists don't know, but they do know that it shows up at three. Whether there's anything that... To them, that means as innate as they know, but all testing is... But that's what shows up in the arrangement of playgroups and large groups of children. Anybody else? You said, you know, fight institutionalization and professionalization because it will do you in. Well, everything is already institutionalized and professionalized. Not for us, not for our Zen world. I mean, what I mean to say is you haven't seen anything yet. Oh, I wasn't thinking of Zen, I was thinking of everything. No, I'm thinking of that which we can do something about. Can we do anything about the others? No, but I can give you lots of tricks on how to work with the others if you want.


How to work with men in a board meeting, for instance. How to, when you've got a hierarchical male structure, I've worked with them all my life. So, psychology is a very hierarchical masculine organization, in which you, in actual fact, have masters and disciples. That's what Jung has, and Freud, the same kind of thing. There are lots of little tricks, and lots of women writing things about them. Go to the Bank of California, or you're an architect someplace, most amazing. First, you have to learn to number things, for instance. When you want to make it a point at a board meeting with a whole bunch of males, you, whatever, what homework or anything else you've done, you number it. You say, number one, number two, number three, and you'll be heard. That's one thing. I could think I could write a book on how to work with men, hierarchical men. It's really easy once you love them. Why don't you love them?


Can you say some more about the development of self and no-self concurrently? I think it's just really a big problem for me. No, it's not. Development of no-self is when you come and sit down on your cushion and do your 40 minutes of zazen. Development of your self A necessary task too, perhaps, for you is when you get up from your cushion and go out to your job or over to your therapist or whatever. Just don't oppose the two. No problem. Don't carry your job and your therapy. Leave those things outside the center door with your shoes. You know, I understand that part. It's the feeling that if you're very... fairly involved in Zen practice that your life is more structured than if you're not very involved in Zen practice.


So in that structure... Well, don't get too practice-ridden either. That might make Mel very happy, but it may not be good for you. Mel. You get five minutes. Equal time. No, but I really think a lot like what Nick said. I just keep remembering when I was studying Hinduism, there were like stages. No stages in our practice. No, but stages is like, you know, you're a homeowner, you're a family person, And then as you get older, into your later years, that's when you get more and more involved in a spiritual practice, like very involved. So it's kind of as you're going through these family stages, you're not as involved. So I just wonder what we're trying to do when we take people young and try to put their lives very much in practice.


Practice is not in any location. If you think the practice is over at the dendo and not where you are at home, that's a mistake in your practice. Practice isn't a matter of practicing hard or longer. I've got ten years of four times a day and he's only got five years and one time a day. Dogen fortunately clarified that for us. That problem is in your mind, in actual fact. However, you do need to sit on your cushion and you do need your teacher. But when you're creating yourself an extra problem for yourself, if you have children and things at home, you create an extra problem for yourself. If you have to rush over to the Zendo and go back and you're... Maybe it's just easier to sit down at home, you know, and go and see Mel once a month.


You do feel like, one does have a tendency to feel like one's missing out a little bit. Especially when you get a, I did a wonderful Sashin, I must tell you about last, last Rohatsu Sashin. We were having a Sashin up at a mountain place, and we have a very old lady in our Zen Dopeg, who wanted to sit Sashin, and she didn't want to go up to the mountain place. It was, first of all, we didn't have any heat. It was cold. She's a little, a little rheumatism, and she was, couldn't really quite face that, but wanted very much to do Sashin, and it happened to suit with me. And so I said, we'll sit down in our little zendo where Sashin isn't going on. We have two zendos over in Los Altos right now. So we got the key. She got the key for that little zendo. And we did Rohatsu Sashin in our little zendo, just five women. Me, and I'd been off practicing with Steve and everything out at the farm. Honcho practice with growing beards and this is really tough guys. Look how many hours we're, you know, that kind of practice.


And I've already done that. But Peg hadn't done that. And we had this little Italian woman, little square Italian woman who wears a girdle. stockings, shoes, and a handbag. I mean, she didn't know any better. I mean, she hadn't seen anybody, you know, with big honcho, you know, beards out to here and all that kind of stuff. And so she just came here in the morning. I said, well, look. Peg said, well, I'm getting kind of blind. And she said, I hate to go home after dark. I'd like to go home at night. And I can be still at home, she'd say. She's living alone, a widow. And she said, I'd like it to be, so I said, well, we'll close Sashina at dark time then. And we'll come in the morning. Yes, I'd like to come in the morning after breakfast. So Peg and Carmilla came, this little Italian lady and Carmilla came and she tromped into the center. She took off her shoes, but she brought in her handbag, you know, and sat down. That woman sat seven periods, seven 40 minute periods of Zazen during the day. She didn't know it was hard, nobody had told her.


So she just put her handbag down by her chair and sat there, you know, in her girdle, and did it for seven days. It was most amazing, I'll tell you another thing, you'll laugh because you know, you know, Les, our dear Les and our Zendo, Chief Priestess at Zendo, he, in this time, he had been working at IBM, he worked at IBM, so he came into the Zendo after we had been sitting there for, let's see, from Tuesday It was from Tuesday, I think, till Friday night when he first came into the Zendo. And you know how when you've been sitting for five days, you get, you know, a mouse goes across the floor, you know. And Les momentarily forgot that in an early, early rush of everything. He was, here we were, five women, these old, three old women and me and one other woman my age. And Les came into the Zendo, and he walked around the Zendo, you know, going around, and I could just, He went over and he'd raise a curtain a little bit. He'd go over to the altar and he would change something, just like that.


Change a little cushion. I came home that night and I said to my daughter, I was describing what Lesson did. Oh, she said, Mother, he was putting a scent on everything. It's perfectly fine to put your scent on something, but it is really fun to watch these differences we have between us. So it is possible to sit with girdles and purses and stockings and everything and sit seven periods and never know it's heroic. We don't have as many heroic things. A lot of our stories, our Zen stories and things, are exhortation to young students, to keep them interested, keep them going. Encouragement, so to speak, and a lot of those encouragements are in heroic language because that, you know, that appealed to... They just forgot we were practicing.


Those old tea ladies were great. Those old tea ladies were really, really wonderful. They used to set up their tea houses and teach the students on their way up to the famous masters. Ah, they were pretty smart. They didn't get stuck there having to do a whole 20-year-long teaching bit, you know, to these theology students wandering around and sitting in these huge institutions. They just kind of nick in there and do their zing and then get out again. Which is a very efficient way, I think, of teaching pretty much. So there are lots of ways of being. And let's be them all. Anything else from anybody? I hope as you have insights about women in practice and what will be helpful to us, that you will keep us all informed. Really keep us all informed.


I hear that, see, we have two or three or four transmitted women teaching now. in this country, and I suspect the forms they're going to find congenial. When I went to Stanford, there was a meeting of women in religion at Stanford University, and women came from many of the different religions, and most of them who had been for the first time ordained Episcopalians, wearing collars just to show us what it was like, and all this kind of thing. They said that uniformly they had come across a certain difficulty. They had first been very glad and had really been glad they'd made it for the first time, but most of them found that the forms were not congenial to their way of teaching. For instance, the Episcopalian minister would say this business of a pulpit preaching down, which is again a hierarchical form, just wasn't congenial for her way of teaching, and it was awkward because all the churches were built that way. and that she inevitably found that she had to move down and go into another room, gather people around, and it was really a nuisance because buildings weren't suitable for her way of teaching.


So there'll be lots of changes, and we will make them, but we, as women, must acknowledge, too, the needs of our fellow male practicers that will sometimes be different than ours. But I don't think all men are one way, and all women are one way. Definitely not. And so you're going to find men who follow a more feminine mode, and you're going to find women who follow a more masculine mode in a lot of aspects of their lives. And it's important not to dichotomize us so, because then we won't recognize the other person. But if you ignore the dichotomization that already exists in our own practice, it is a form of ignorance. It's ignoring. I agree. Statistically, we have a problem, but I think on an individual level, it's very different. On an individual level, it's very different. And it can be alienating if people say, you're a man, therefore you're going to be like this. Or you're a woman. Though we have to deal with our enculturation, and pretty much No, we will have to deal with those things.


To say prematurely that we're free of our enculturation is... No, no, no. I'm not, since anybody's not. But I think that we also have to meet the moment, you know. Actually, both things are so valuable. It'd be nice to have a tasty lot of both. For all of us. I have lived a very conventional Woman's life. Yeah, dear? Well, it seems that way to me. Yeah. 29 years of marriage, till death did us part. The raising of two children, the staying home with them, rather than pursuing a career, as many women of my age would do. Oh, I wasn't that conventional. See? I'm more conventional than you. You want to talk about conventional? Oh, I see. This is Moriette right here. Even though I did other things as well, I did those conventional things, and did them in a conventional way. and was married to a man who was a European male. Very conventional fellow. Didn't kill me either.


It's survivable, transcendable, and wonderful just as it is. But it's not sufficient unto the new day, I don't think.