Given on Monday, August 3, 2009
About this talk
Visiting aunt in Virginia; being at Tassajara in 1996; men and women practicing together; story of a sculptor friend having a lung transplant.
Transcript:We're not I. Sit here. To give a lecture at our sorrow. It often feels quite formidable in a way because I sense the. Great devotion and spirit of practice and people whose whole hearted effort and interest and understanding so sometimes I don't know that I can say anything that would be of any use to such amazing people. Such as yourselves. But nonetheless I will. Probably end up saying some things and then they may or may not be of use to you and. You know not long remembered or maybe something was stay with you I told my baking workshop this morning about when I was ten and. My brother and I went to visit my aunt my Aunt Alice in Falls Church Virginia. Just before the plane landed in Kansas City and I I threw up I had been asking what are these little bags for. In the seat pocket in front of me in those days they were very common to have. Bangs now you don't usually see them planes are so much smoother no than one nine hundred fifty five and. And then. We sat for a long time in Kansas City because the plane needed repairs or something it was very hot about one hundred fifteen. But when we got to my answers there was fresh homemade bread and it smelled divine and it tasted incredibly good. And I never had bread like this in my life you know sometimes we had these experiences something touches our heart. And my answer bread with butter at my house we had margarine it was supposed to be. Good for you. It's a whole different I'm sure. About what's good for you what's not. And she made sometimes it was we had bread homemade bread with butter and homemade jam my brother later said I remembered that he remembered the Smithfield ham. But I was eating that bread and we'd come home from sightseeing in Washington D.C. and. There was the whole house to be full of the smell of homemade bread. And I started asking myself won't why don't we ate like this why don't we all eat like this why are we living the way we do why are we eating puffy white bread Wonder Bread Kilpatrick's rang indoors in those days and nine hundred fifty five. You know there was six feet high. You know in the supermarkets things have changed since then to be at the front of. So I wondered and I thought what went wrong where we doing and finally I decided one day. I will learn to make bread and I would teach others. I was ten and. You know sometimes if you think back you can remember something from eight or nine or ten what are you what did you come here to do often it occurs to us when we were eight or nine or ten. I just had dinner with Robert Anderson on Thursday and he ended up telling his a lot about his grandson must you must say you. May see you may see him and how he. Was interested in the farm apprentices He's nine years old and so he wanted to work in the fields and then he noticed they're going to descend so he said I want to move to quote hollow and ribs said well you can sleep in my room so then red head set him up in the room we have been this is a persistent and then. Went home he said probably if I'd stayed there mayster would have been to is the place here and. But he said I went home and so well later Mr came and said I miss my mommy. But then he went to the center and the first period is those and he just went to sleep his seat. And the next period he set up some Christians so that he could be like a chaise lounge. Instead he said there is legs out. And then he said Red said after well. Nine years old anyway we often have there are moments in our life something turn chooses and we know what to do what we want to do what we're here to do so it's important you know and part of what we're doing in sitting is learning how to watch for those moments and to know them when they come it's not something you figure out you know it's something you receive or hear or know. Intuitively and Suzuki Roshi used to say we sit without talking and we sit with a moving so and we don't read so much this is fairly specially during sit Cian. And then you can listen and open your intuition and you start to know what you're here to do what healing. You're here to do. Healing yourself and healing the world so I am I came home from that trip I asked my mama she could teach me to bake bread she said No use makes me nervous. And so I kind of forgot about making bread but I got to tell us Ira here in one nine hundred sixty six the summer there before Zen center but it does are in December of sixty six and I became I was the dishwasher and and then they were making bread and I said Teach me and they said yes we'll go and wonderful wonderful bread and search sure enough I learned to make bread and I've been teaching others to make bread and you know I'm still teaching it is to me bread can each of us somehow is you know finding the thread following the thread of our life following you know what are we here to do and you know some people can go through their lives and not so much think about that it seems you know the momentum of things carry them alone and so most just like American culture is designed to have you know to do that at all. You know buy the products watch the television and you know don't don't think about why you're here what are you here to do what or who are you you know what is it in your life that you're passionate about it interests you but it draws you to that touches you. So one of the summers that I was here it does Sarah. As a young man you know kind of here as she was here I think it was the summer after one thousand nine hundred four I think it was. And I said to categorize she in her head and they say it again she had been giving lectures need been saying practice as the ancients practiced and I was wondering like what that would be like what how what did the ancients practice how did they do this what were they up to. So I went to say go to garage and I said excuse me kind of years here but did the ancients practice at a temple with women as well as men and women wearing like if you go to the pool the women are wearing bikinis and just around town they just go off and wearing shorts and tank tops and they have tend to have a fair amount of skin showing is that what the ancients were how the engines were doing this he said no. It's that So when you say practice is the engines practice how am I to do that and he said Well. Even if you can't practice as the ancients practiced well you should keep their practice in mind. So I thought that's nice. But. So so a. Little while later I went to see him a said you know kind of curiosity. You know I have a girlfriend in seven states go I'm here it does all right you know I have a girlfriend Sarah says go but sometimes there's women here they look so good and I start to feel some desire for I may say so. And. What should I do and go to her if she said well that's just greed if you already have a girlfriend and Sam says go that's just greed. I said they kind of feels kind of actually it doesn't feel like create it feels like fairly wholesome. It feels like natural. Normal. And. Careers and said. No it's just greed I said but isn't each moment of our life a moment when the body sad for others like it is for the bodies of compassion enters the truth of the moment. And he said if that's the case you should get in there right away. What is the truth of this. So then I said but you know I just I don't understand it seems like this is kind of a normal thing when Theo's desire when his attraction. And. It seems like you know one could one could. Act with on this with with integrity. And wholesomeness can trigger if she said Ed. You can do whatever he want just take responsibility or. Take Responsibility is a big why and so. I thought about this a lot and. I tend to be a fairly reflective person you know Zen is pretty natural for me what's more natural than sitting. Right would you do anything. And you know we need to have actually in our lives a balance between action and reflection. If you're acting ed to act act you need jumping into things and you doing this and that after a while you know like you burn out and you just do too many things and you can't you know keep it up and you and if your voice reflecting on things effectively you never get off the diving board you never dive into your life so we need some balance of acting and reflecting. But so what I've come to. Over the years I realize that there's actually a term for that as. Some people here is that I'm you know arrows arrows sometimes can arrows is our passion and her vitality and her energy and so on so we're trying to get rich she used to call the flower of your life force blooming and he would say that the flower of your life force bloom but him and that seems like such a relief compared to be careful what you do. Get it right make any mistakes good good road follow the rules. So let the flow of your life first bloom those feels like Oh of course why wouldn't I let my energy my joy my By tale of the rise but and then sometimes though that that's coming up and it goes the right room he says is sometimes you miss the garden you want to stray fig from a random tree and so then your energy is our energy starts going to this one particular place and then what about all the rest of the time and all the rest of the moments. So there's such a thing actually as and I think this is what we sometimes study and send you know volatile arrows it's arrows that is moving and alive and active and you have passion and vitality and energy for. Your work for sitting for walking for standing for visiting with friends you have energy and passion of a technology and it's free it goes into the moment and into the activity and it's not sort of fixated and waiting for something to pounce on. And. You know this can happen sometimes in relationships. You know it happens with certain relationships but also sometimes in relationships it's it's well it should be I wanted to be a certain way I want it fixed and then when it's not the certain way we want it's like Oh right how do we have some freedom so kind of here is used to say. Well actually that summer then. I talked to a couple students and some one but some one person had been to seek a garishly and they say go see I am so tired I can't I get up early in the morning and then we sit and we work and it is so hot and I can't believe how tired I am and categorize she had told the person it's the flower of your life force blooming don't you think. You know I thought it was just being tired and. Christie said no it's the flower of your life force blooming. And then another student tell me they're going to say going to get rich and they said Carragher is you know I'm just angry I'm furious all the time I get so annoyed and so upset and over the littlest things and I can't believe it and I'm so ashamed of myself and my friends are upset with me and people. You know tell me that I need to quiet down and you know be more patient and I just don't know when to doing Tredegar if she had told the person it's the flower of the life force looming Oh I thought it was just being my anger and I needed to do something about it. So this you know our energy of our life actually blooms. And you know in various manifestations in forms Penner course you know the big problem is we start thinking I need to do something about that. I need to fix it do I need to have it be a certain way and if I could get it to be a certain way I would be that would indicate that I'm a really great person you know if I could get it to be a certain way and then people might recognize me. For my success in getting it to be a certain way. And so then we get you know fixated about making things a certain way rather than. Energy blooms in one fashion and it blooms in another fish and sometimes fatigue is blooming Sometimes anger is blooming sometimes juries but I mean sometimes energy and vitality are I mean this is a kind of you know steady it's a craft how are we going to be with the flower that's blooming and none of these flowers last. But this is famous saying of Christian Dogan in your attachment flowers for in your version we flourish. You know a baker as she used to say just because you feel some. Connection in desire towards someone at a party doesn't mean you need to go home with them and if you go home within that it doesn't mean you need to live with them and you live with them it doesn't mean you need to get married. You know it's about do you settle down ears story about how things need to come out for your story to come out and what indicates what you know I don't know I need to stop talking pretty soon. But this is just to say in brief you know a skill but he said there's not settle down in the story and what it all means and unschooled body surfaces it means this means that I'm great I'm not so great I'm good and bad depending on how things are coming out this is the unskilled but it's. So we're aiming to be skilled We know the story and we can take it in different places in different directions and we may come up with a new story. So I want to tell you a different story. I wanted less time I think it was here in May I mentioned actually the week I was here in May. I got a phone call on Monday no my friend Carl Dern. Who's a sculptor and lives a couple blocks me in Fairfax head. And I'd had gotten a message from his wife Marie as saying that Carla died and Tuesday morning I called him and talked to Marie and I wanted to share this with you. Because. It's something about the power of this practice and about you know following the thread of your life finding your way in your life what are you here to do what healing are you here to heal and Carl was seventy three he had been a metal sculptor so over the years he'd been healing in healing microscopic particles in metal so fine they his lungs were basically metal. Living tissue very little living tissue left a lot of metal in his loans and they weren't working very well and he was. You know going everywhere with a little oxygen tank I want to tell you the end first I think I called up Marie. In re said yes Carl died on Monday night. And they knew that he was going fast Carl said I can't do this any longer he had decided to see if you could have a lung transplant and he'd actually been accepted for a lung transplant he was first on the list in Northern California and his family was very excited and a day later he said I'm not going to last much longer. I left because it is their life the new oh I could get a lung transplant and go on living because I wanted to go on living because he had wanted to he had asked me about receiving Jew cry the Buddhist precepts and he wanted to share Buddhist practice with other people in recovery he had been in recovery for thirty five or thirty seven years since his late thirty's about thirty six so he had been in recovery for half of his live and he wanted to share Buddhist practice with people in recovery so he wanted to he had this wish to live to offer and share purpose for the people so I think it was Saturday he said you know I can't I won't last much longer they turned on Friday he could he was first on the list and really began chanting to him be in major group kind of Q. Re Channa dead this morning and she Janet did to him. You know four hours rushy was chanting the inmate you could kind of go and see. Which is very quietly. Everything became very still requited was a breath became quiet and then the whole family she called all of their children and they came on Monday to the hospital and they sat with him all day and she chanted. It so you could see. Very still very peaceful. Quiet and then in the evening. Gestured So it was in no he wrote a little note he couldn't talk anymore and he knew his. Shaky writing it said this is OK with me and. Each of his four kids were holding his hand but each of them had a hand or foot and everybody was very quiet very still. And he. I felt very detached that. You know. Somebody could sit with me Carl and Marie sat with me just one day a week and. We would chant the herd Sutra in the end made you could go on and go and I'd stayed with them and became something that helped them through this challenging time which is when we were ready to leave and then his whole family let him go off and times people are saying don't go I love you don't leave. I don't know what I'll do without you and come back so it's very touching when. People can support someone who's. Going to let them go. So let's Sunday. We could go. We did cross memorial service it was at their beach house in Stinson and Carl Rees house and there were more than two hundred people. Because Carl had friends in the art world. Carl and Marie have extended family about thirty people. Their Own raised brothers and sisters and their kids and their kids and do their own grandkids and then people in the art world people in the world of recovery. And I had told Caro in the hospital. Because he had asked about U.K. and receiving the precepts and you know we serve. Iraq to the British throne with the straps. And. Curly head for his rock so he had asked his friends in recovery to give him pieces of cloth from old shirts and they left these in his mailbox and Park Street in Fairfax and he had taken the fabric that people were given him and dated all kind of blue and not quite a blue denim color but fairly somewhat light lighter than most of our blue deep blue colors very soon because the fabric was old and it was old as it was and used so Kurz rugs to literally was. You know these are intended to be you know the field of marriage and you know the Buddhist field and. And the community sense of community so because Karl had wanted to share. Religious practice with there's a recovery and I told him in the hospital whether it he whether you live or not I said to him whether you're going to be there for it or not we're going to do that ceremony for you. So this is something you know. Traditionally for us admire service we sometimes get people to come or against him as a priest or give them Dermod transmission so we do that sometimes as part of the memorial service so we had two parts to the memorial service. And where family and friends and I spoke and shared poems and readings and then the chip guy. And I gave Caro but his name. Say can we you know don't know but it sure is for fine work and wondrous awakening are worked very hard he worked you know not only on his metal sculpture but you know he and he woke up about the age of thirty seven and got sober and he studied how to live his life and what to do you know had to be to benefit himself to benefit others with his life. It's so touching when any of us do this so many of us you know all of us in their room here you know are doing our way of doing this how do I benefit others what is my path in this life. Encourage study what he needed to hear so his work fine really find least ridiculous detail work to wake up. And he wanted then to share this with others to help others cross through you know come through this life can be such a struggle after the ceremony by the way you know. We were sitting with Marie at a table in one of the better one of the rooms a little bit to the back of the house and there were all these photographs and I had no idea but Marie who's now about seventy three is well you know she now has gray hair and in these pictures she has great red hair and she's so delicate and there's Caro with his big head of hair and Caro that all the years I knew him had a shaved head. And they're so beautiful together and they were together for something like fifty eight years. Married but Marie said I met him when I was twelve he was the only boy tall enough to dance with me and Salt Lake City at the school so we danced and I thought he was tipped up. And we were looking at those photos and she said. Margo was there with me and she said she said to my I don't know she said wasn't lust great. But if. So I wish you well you know with your life finding your way and knowing when you when there's something you know what what it is that the god of right is that it gets your attention and draws you and what you trust or can you trust it's probably new drawing you know you know asking you know probably in fourth your passion your joy your energy your pride to have a very important study thank you blessings. Being to ensure.