Given on Wednesday, August 25, 2010
About this talk
Being a child in an orphanage; learning to meditate; sitting with negative tendencies; five fears outlined by Buddha;
Good evening. Thank you for coming. You know there's a lot of the things you could be doing this evening here. I think there's a dance down that. Pine three and. Wine in dining down and on the poolside terrace. Cocktails great cocktails and probably later you know some skinny dipping in the moonlight you may still have time for that. But here you are in here I am. To talk. I don't know whether to warn you in. You know what I'm going to be talking about tonight but you know you'll find out soon so. I won't worry about it so. I understand that this is the toughest hers and not in center so I've been told I'm sort of you know a little bit curious but we don't have time tonight to talk about where you think you are. You know when I first got here on Sunday. Because it was Sunday I felt like I was back at the orphanage. The Buddhist practice places often make me you know I get to feel in this way around Buddhist practice places where all the bunch of orphans. You know homeless and. Home leavers and you know we've been taken in here. At the temple. And it was a very particular time though at the orphanage shortly after my third birthday my mom died and then a few days later it was that they were finishing my mom wasn't there my dad wasn't there my brother wasn't there. And they say that I sat in a little rocker for the first week and didn't play with anyone. So that was one of my first says Shane's you know I was getting ready to be you know as an teacher. I didn't know it at the time but the feeling of being three years old and completely lost so I got here I felt very small who are these well. Are they going to take care of me are they going to be nice to me do I know any of them what do they think of me how will they treat me it was rather a concern. And the first morning as a clown workshop I went back to my room and cried for a while because it was so terrifying. And now it sort of feels like home you know friends. I mean I think you're friends. But some of you may be here on vacation you know. Some of you may be here to practice and but you may also be experiencing things from earlier in your life you know where am I Is this today where is this some other time and it's not easy to tell sometimes because as things happened today the past gets reconstituted and it feels that we think it's today but we're actually in another time. Of Our Lives and then we're trying to work things out today. That you know ancient history so this is all very curious. Anyway. I began practice. You know the real Zen thing not when I was three and I did my satiating. And. I had done this to Shane you know before that when I was first born I was premature so I spent several weeks with my mom so I did that was my really first the shooting straight out of the womb into the minute. And you just lie there and staring at the ceiling you know and then I exchange the ceiling you know for the Wall. Sit and face the wall. So I've been working at this for a long time but the formal sense in one thousand nine hundred sixty five I started sitting and I think like a lot of people you know I thought well sit down sit still wake up you know get in line and then I'll be able to tell other people what to do big as you know if you're in light and you get to tell others what's wrong with them and they don't get to tell you because after all I'm in light and. You know I tell you don't tell me. I don't know if it still works like this but it seemed to be like this in the sixty's. And but anyway you sit down sit still and create a quiet sanctuary piece to place in your mind and then do your best to weed out the negative tendencies. Is a curious she said you know where you're going to toss them the sweets that you've pulled up that somewhere else. Curious problem but anyway often you don't worry about it just keep pulling the weeds and they keep coming back but anyway and then there's you know the possibility of Sit down sit still and quiet your mind but usually if you're anything like me you know you get so heavy handed Now you how you go about quiting shut up quiet down but you stop that why do you have to keep mouthing off like this what is wrong with you I don't care if you're unhappy just shut up about it you know you tell yourself these things and you know that is then it's not very quiet. In your mind. And then you're so heavy handed but there's not much levity for actually for liftoff you know that when you finally quieted your mind you would expect that there would be some kind of lift off or you know expansive something so after a while it occurred to me like it will you sit down you sit still and then meditation as you. It's beyond your control it's beyond your doing imitations going to do you do me do you really do you and you are no longer in charge and you thought you'd learn you know and managed by meditating tips and better management skills for. This pest of a mind that you have how are you going to handle it you know. Let's see if we get it to behave kind of spiritually like so. I was never very good at this I'm afraid so somewhere along the way you know I changed strategies. I know there are Zen saints that talk about this you know I I like that one when they wave of the ten thousand things washes over you are what should you do you've never I mean it still comes you know even when you're sitting there's ten thousand things all the issues of the world in your life and sensations and sots and feelings and what we do in these entities are said don't try to master them or don't try to manage them you know I think I'll just be a a manager here and I can. Manage the situation so that it's the way it should be and look good so I began to you know occurred to me well I need a new strategy and maybe instead of trying to get rid of the negative tendencies and the problems and the noise and stuff in my mind maybe I could learn to sit with them play with them work with them you know and of course this is sometimes quite a struggle. Because a lot of things don't seem like you could work with them. I remember one time you know I was sitting in my right knee was hurting really badly and it occurred to me you know. This is an example I mean maybe you come up with better management techniques but most of us as new managers were no so good at it but you know my right knee was hurting me so at that. If you continue to hurt me like that I am going to hurt you back and my right knee went on hurting so I pushed on it with. OK You got it I would make you hurt if you hurt me and then it just went right on hurting so I pushed and again I told you I'd hurt you if you hurt me so I pushed on it some more. And I kept on hearing so then I thought that this is crazy. So. I you know I think it's some point we begin to sense that there's a different way to do this to work with things that we just say if there's some way to bring out the best in yourself and things in the world and people people around you and how to how we can do this and as I said it's often a struggle so. I think I mentioned maybe earlier this year when I was here you know the wonderful poem by this and Mr Hauck when he said the demon outside pushes at the door the demon inside holds it fast struggling with all their might head sweat pouring from head to toe they battle on all through the night until at last in the morning light laughter fills the air they were friends from the start so what about the characters that you have. You know you say the most obvious ones are the one who is going to do it right do it well do it good and then there's one who just doesn't seem to understand that that's what's expected and in fact seems to have a great time you know misbehaving slipping around ducking in around the corners and getting into various kinds of mischief sometimes if you're too good you know you resent it you're made to you. Some of you are so good you might want to study how to be mischievous Suzuki Roshi suggested that at times to people. He also said you know some of you are trying to be goods in students what it should be yourself or get to know you better that way. But this brings as you say to the oh so this business with your nays and my nays are pushing. I thought this is a good example to bring us to the intersection of sand and clowning case seems like a good example of clowning and something the clown would do you know you push me up push it back we were doing that this afternoon you know we had four people sitting on a mat raised episodes of the turns and one on the end started pushing and then the others pretty soon they're pushing them back and they're saying who can push you off the end it's very funny. But when you're sitting meditation it's not very funny. And this is but on the other hand it's very funny so this is a question you know are we send students are we clowns you know and. You know in Buddhism it said that there are five basic fears. You know the fear of losing your life. In your body losing your mind loss of livelihood and the fifth having to get up in front of the assembly and say something. And it's a little worrisome that you know when you get up in front of people and say something they might think that you are a clown they might somehow have spotted. Well. So I did want to share with you you know one of my favorite quotes from Steve in the running. I don't know if you're familiar with Stephen but in Haiti I worked with dying people for years and that worships on death and dying and I went to a number of them he did a lot of apostle new and and went to India and various things and. Very funny person. Very smart his son knows of a now you know teaches punk san or whatever it's called Punk punk I don't know anyway it's P U N X or something anyway Stephen used to say. If we all shared our deepest darkest secrets we would laugh uproariously uproariously at our lack of originality. So I think I'm going to suggest tonight to their deepest darkest secrets is that we might actually be a clown and not very funny is it. Pretty scary. But if we all shared the fact that we were clowns it would be pretty funny. But if you think about it you know your life is going by and by your mind can you handle things are you do you have it together. Is it nice and peaceful place does it argue is it South is that it wants your mind it to visit same like it's really spiritual and serene and or does it have some stress and you know issues problems difficulties and what about your body any aches and pains or is it like a pristine beautiful body crowns don't have pristine beautiful bodies they don't seem to have these spiritual minds or if they do you know the spiritual mind runs into some problems and you know livelihood if they find out you're not going to have a job and get up in front of the assembly now and try to hide it some people are really good at this you know they don't seem very clannish. Getting up in front of the assembly you know they have a good. Story but I'm willing to let you know that I'm kind of a Clown and you know. And I'm following I've been following this prince who for a long time in my life actually that is sort of trying to hide it I will show it to me because to clown is when your brain out what's inside you know what is what you keep yourself in meditation you don't dare you know want to share with anybody how completely idiotic you are on the inside while you're Mediterranean all this stuff that goes on you know I'm on a spiritual person but. I'm doing this spiritual thing you know and I'm getting better and better at it you know. And so mostly people don't want to share you know what's really going on it seems embarrassing and same shameful Maybe I'm a clown and maybe everybody will find out that I'm a clown. But you know the alternative here is if you're going to be a clown right not be good at it. And. You know lighten up a little bit and see some humor in things. So when I come to. You know I do remember my teachers. Says if you are seeing cutting yours she before I tell you about that I do want to share with you upon that there's something like about beginning becoming good at being a clown because becoming good it being a clown has to do with relating very carefully to things and knowing any of the things and how things relate and people relate and what is the dynamic of a situation whether it's outside or inside but one way to study this is to study it not just inside your south but with other people rather than trying to just do it all inside. And clowns are very British has been telling us this week clowns are very serious about this study so in some ways clowns being very serious about this study you know they are rather like sin people they might be the real Zen people the clowns they send people might be the clowns the clowns might be this and people we can't be sure maybe you can because you know your spiritual practice is so strong and not very funny. But I was reminded when I was thinking about this earlier you know I was reminded of the poem by David. Bugs in a boat you know that he said hunch on beg great and crazy wonder filled poet of a thousand years ago once said we're all like bugs in a bowl I say that's right. Around no day walking out climbing up the sides falling back down not getting anywhere going round and round sit in the bottom of the bowl head in your hands feel sorry for yourself or look around walk around say Hi How you doing say nice bowl. So you know if you're at the orphanage after Y. O. Start saying hello to people. How you doing on nice place and. OK. So says acres think of your issue one of the famous Saints for years around Zen Center was they used to say settle that settle this on the self cutting here issues first they would say we settled this. On the self. If you know which is the head betrays to manage and run the operation really well and this of the same stew and one hand you know is misbehaving and has a mind of its own in acts out and does things and gets on the loose and comes up a step but on the other hand this is reality we said oh the self which is in the head on the sofa which is reality so what is reality. The way things are you settle this on the way things are if things are a clown show well then that's clown if things are you know a spiritual. Practice OK Ray could aim to do that and you know sometimes people say it's all done in durance toast one test after no the other you see if you can overcome it. So we have these views about you know what we're up to and what we're about it's very curious I want to tell you two stories. About with Suzuki Roshi. One of them takes a little time to tell you about some of you know that. For many years when I was a student here I couldn't sit still. In my body with me. And the more I try to stop it like if you're in charge STOP IT JUST STOP IT other students would say to me you just do that to get attention don't you and then sometimes they had to sit outside the zendo. I was shaking the whole time on the whole platform it was the old Zendo so I had to sit outside and this went on for month after month then Year after year and nobody knew what to do it one point says If you she said to me if I'd known you were going to do it this long I never would let you get started. And it did help a little bit you know one of the things that happens I think was Baker and she said to me you know Ed Well we're standing here talking outside this and you're not shaking so when you are headed for the center what happens Have you ever notice what happens when you start walking towards imitation. Now we're going to do some spiritual practice. You have so let's see if we can organize our consciousness to do the spiritual practice thing. I think we need to get a little serious around here because this is meditation is serious it's a serious thing to do to meditate and we want to see if we can do it really well and spiritually instead of just poorly and kind of you know distractedly So let's see if we can get it together now and so I noticed how on the way to them it. Started. Getting you know together you know how we're going to run the show when we get into the minute. And then I get an invitation. Let me out of here you know there's somebody in here like let me know let me out of here no I got to get out of here no. I don't want to sit still but like that that's a step. But you know it's hard to hear this when you're you know not listening and you just running the show just in charge and it doesn't occur to you for the longest time for me it took months and years you know but maybe the person running the show was the problem not the. Body mind the person running the show was the problem not the body mind being controlled being ordered about it so what do you do so one day I decided why don't I just see what happens if I don't try to stop the shaking. You know is that OK I decided I would try to say so I started sitting and. I started doing big spirals and then. After as if yours I came up and said Do kin here. Is they're walking meditation and. I thought well wait a minute I'm a Zen student I'm not you know I'm not here to do Canyon when everybody else is sitting when you do it doesn't you do is as and when everybody's drains I was in a daze I was and you know get up and walk I said what. He said Do came here and. So I got up and did Kenyon. And everybody else is sitting there. So then they were out I went to say and I said security did I do something wrong you know I've spent years trying to stop this shaking and today for the first time for the first time today I was trying to see what would happen if I just let the movement I didn't try to stop it what would happen I was trying to find it and then this is I tried to do that you told me to get up and walk so was that the wrong thing to do and he said Oh thank you for telling me it's very important that you find out please continue finding out what happens when you don't try to stop it so I don't know it didn't take long I didn't you know that afterward that energy you know moves inside it finds its you know the circuitry the chant was inside so this is one kind of example. Set of this on this of something's happening see what you can find out about it rather than just trying to stop it a lot of the time the more you try to stop it the more there's resistance and you have one demon pushing at the door the other daemon holds it fast they struggle mightily through the night sweat pouring from head to toe. The other kind of experience you might have settling is so fun so I one time I was working in the kitchen and I was. As you know in kitchens you can get very stressed especially if you're trying to actually have the food ready to a certain time. I once spent three weeks of karma children in those days when the food was ready they'd hit the bell so they just stare distressed with everybody in the temple when it's lunch going to be ready when it's ready the getting stressed so the paper in the kitchen just relaxed. Everybody else got to be uptight about when they're going to eat. So we have the practices of having this tryst in the kitchen anyway I was concerned about getting this done and that tenant it's getting towards the end of the meal turned to prep time very anxious and. I was in the middle of something and thinking about you know three different things and what need to get done next and. And then I heard his voice saying bad and I. Might have been another it and it sounded like such a wonderful person who had wise I turned and says if you're She was standing in the door of the kitchen and everything I'd been experiencing just was gone and. You know loosely speaking a radiance spacious vast. Worry in the world this is our in a presence our troop being. There maybe two daemons struggling with each other but there's also someone who's alive and well and can observe. These two and notice and encourage them to be friends and someone who can show up and see what happens and I think part of what. Roy says there scares us that we might be clowns it is you know that painful things keep happening in our lives we keep having uncomfortable feelings uncomfortable emotions painful sensations. And it seems to bother us you know. If I was a more and maybe there's something inherently defective about me this is code you know ashamed maybe there's something defective about me and that's why I still have painful experiences if I wasn't defective then I wouldn't have these painful experiences so again you know the painful experiences that you are able to share with others been you can enjoy often you know some laughter and the ones you hiding keep your south or off and go on being in pain for a long time. So it's good to have you know friend. People to either clown with or sit with or you know sometimes it's the same people you get to do both with. You know Grammy says this about. Our stories and stories the water body the body itself is a scream to shield and partially reveal the light displays in inside your presence settle this on the south the same teacher to Sharon said realizing the mystery is nothing but breaking through to grasp an ordinary person if you aim to be something other than ordinary someone special someone who doesn't have these problems and he doesn't have this pain was difficult in their life if you aim to be that way you were a struggle you would be in pain when you made it through with it work with it sit with it and you act it express it connected. When you have something to share with others and your life grows and out of that you know comes your creativity and your joy your world being because you're not hiding anymore and when you're able to express. You know your difficulty or problems we're also able to you know voice your creativity your poetry it's very hard to just have one without the other voice they couldn't cry is the voice that can sing This is not complicated. So I wasn't going to use this but now that I'm about done with my lecture you know I'm remembering the poem that my mother found in The New Yorker magazine week before she died. And wrote it in a letter to my aunt and then. I got it about I don't know fifteen or twenty years ago from my aunt by way of my brother. Gets the pound called the little duck and the part it's rather nice in the part that's rather fitting for you know people practice and Zen is the last part now we're ready to look at something pretty special it's a writing on the waves a hundred feet beyond the surface and he cuddles in the swells he can rest while the Atlantic heaves because he rests in the Atlantic probably he doesn't know how large the ocean is in the ether do you but what does he do I ask you he sits down in it he rests in the immediate as though it were infinity which it is that's religion and a little duck has it. He doesn't know I like the little dug he doesn't know much but he has religion. Soon. With everything you know breathe a day and see if you can find a way to sit in the midst of it play with it work with it bring it into your life and find some way to be with things rather than always trying to get rid of this and clean up that. I think a very useful you know you can read meditation life undoing read do you go beneath the surface propped back up again and the wave of the ten thousand things washes over you and you back up not always going to be able to surf the waves Sorry doesn't work like that even great servers. Thank you have a pleasant evening those things.