January 28th, 2006, Serial No. 01212

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I vow today to the Tathagata's words. Good morning. Let's see. What holds it? All you need to do is have it up and then bend this towards you. Now it's not staying. Let's try this. This thing is not staying too well today.


Is that screws? Okay Some technical difficulties Okay, good morning. Some way this must be part of the topic is how we work with when things don't quite, things go wrong. And I've sort of changed the topic I was going to talk about a little bit and I


was thinking about talking about the jeweled Miro Samadhi poem, which is we recite on Saturday mornings during service. Every Saturday morning during service, we have a long service, and we recite that poem. And in a dharma group that I'm part of, we're going to begin studying that poem. So I've been reading a little bit and thought I would talk about that. And then this morning, you know, the morning started for us at six in the morning. And so we've been sitting for a while. So I started feeling a little bit anxious about the talk. And so that made me think of


you know, the line in the poem that says, when erroneous imaginations cease, the acquiescent mind realizes itself. And it's an interesting poem in that there's many different ways of interpreting it. So the jewel mirrors like a diamond. You can turn it around many different ways. and speak about it in many different ways. And these are part of the five aspects that Tozin talks about. So I was kind of looking at this anxiety in the mirror and turning it around. And what came to mind was this, when erroneous imagination ceased, the acquiescent mind realized itself. And usually we think, well, just don't have imaginations or don't have anxiety.


That's sort of one view. But actually, when you read the commentary, it's quite to the contrary. The reference is to the to the sutras and to the Prajnaparamita sutras and the reference of erroneous imaginations actually refers to the perverted views, perverted views And the perverted views, contrary to what you would think a perversion is, actually refers to having this idea of a permanent, calm, peaceful, anxiety-free self. That's what's actually perverse for the Prajnaparamita Sutra. So stillness and anxiety come up together.


So the question is how we practice with both the light side and the dark side. Although I say dark side, the poem talks about in the Sandokai light and darkness and what they mean by darkness is different than what we usually think darkness is, often if not quite to the contrary. But this practice of, practice of imperfection, Perfection and imperfection, that's part of the perfection of wisdom of the Bodhisattva, is how to practice both with perfection and with imperfection. And sitting for ten kalpas with this practice of the perfection of wisdom, which is practicing with perfection and with imperfection. like a tiger that leaves behind its prey, or a wounded tiger, or a horse with the shanks gone gray, an old horse.


Sometimes people interpret that as an old horse is like somebody who's weak. as if there was this ideal of perfection, of strength, and never making a mistake. But actually the poem is pointing to this aspect of practice and of the dual mirror mind that also practices with imperfection and with vulnerability. and how to be vulnerable, like coming in front of you and saying, you know, I'm anxious, for example, you know, or have some anxiety or recognizing that one has some problem or some limitations or makes mistakes. Sometimes this is part of what the poem is teaching us.


and that things always don't look like they seem. So it's the relationship between the apparent and the real. It looks like really strong practice, but actually there's a problem. Or it looks like, you know, a lot of problems and actually is very still. So which one is it? So I thought that, well, having Mel here makes me a little bit anxious to perhaps, you know, having a teacher, is he a kind friend or a critic, or a critical friend? And, you know, there's a kind of standard of perfection that we are in the midst of practicing with, and yet we're always falling a little bit short of it.


But the upholding the mirror and falling a little bit short of it are both actually in the circle of practice. It's not that one is inside the circle and the other one is outside the circle. They're both inside the circle of practice. So I think Dogen called this the 80 or 90% practice. as the Bodhisattva way is 80 to 90 percent practice. It's not a hundred percent. You know, we have this expression, oh, this is a million bucks, you know, it's like a hundred percent. But it's actually never a hundred percent. But how we work with that, with our problems, with our imperfections, is kind of critical to the practice.


And so, you know, before they talked, I went to Mel and he said, well, you know, just, I was thinking of talking about the Jewel Mirza Bani poem and So I have all my notes, you know, kind of in scholarly fashion, you know, and, you know, just put them all aside and just talk about your life. Um, so that's part of my problem, you know, one of my problems, not the only one. I wish that was the only one. Um, uh, and, uh, So that's what I'm trying to do with you here. And this is part of, you know, being Buddha and not being Buddha.


So true Buddha is no Buddha. Is that Buddha or is not Buddha? Oh, I thought that was Buddha. Instead, it's just the regular person. with all their relative side and problems and shortcomings. So there's always those two sides. Buddha is always no Buddha. And yet precisely because of being no Buddha, Buddha is Buddha. But how do we work with not being Buddha? And one is we have to recognize our problems, our shortcomings, what our symptoms are. That's what actually where the teaching is. And how do we work with those with other people?


You know, do we say something? Do we not say anything? And when we say something, what are we saying? Are we really saying what we mean to say, or is it coming out some kind of awry way, and then you get it back from the others, like, was I saying that really? So, you know, there's a way, in order to practice, usually we come to practice with our head on fire. There are lots of problems, you know, suffering. And so we're looking for this oasis of practice where we may find some ease. And practice does have that aspect. But that's just one of the aspects of the diamond, of the mirror. Actually, they say a diamond has 52 sides.


Sometimes only 50 are polished and two are not. Sometimes only one is polished and 49 or, you know, 51 are not polished. So we come to practice with lots of problems and then we need to establish ourselves in practice. And that's one of the aspects. Then once we've established ourselves in the practice, and the practice is kind of the focus, there's still a lot of stuff going on in our lives. Problems at work, problems at the marriage, problems with children, traffic, traffic accidents, traffic tickets. you know, getting in conflict with the neighbors. So there are all these fires that are there, and then we have to find a way to practice with them and deal with them.


So we have the formal practice of zazen, but then we also have to go through whatever we have to go through in the different areas of our life. And then even though we have this intention to practice and to live the life of a bodhisattva, there's things that come up in our life that don't appear to be that way so much, where other aspects of our personality become manifest. And that's the aspect of trial by fire. And then we get to a place where our life can be kind of orderly. Find a way of, you know, find a way of relating with your partner in relative harmony with certain glitches here and there.


Find a way to balance your relationship with your children knowing when to be firm, knowing when to be kind, when to, you know, take things away, when give things, so on. And then, you know, things at work are kind of stable, you know, and that's a whole how you practice at work is a whole other Cohen, you know, in terms of how you work with the situations that present to you, how much do you accept them, and how much do you try to change them. how much you work with the situation that presents to you, and either you change yourself to accommodate to the situation, or you try to do something to change the situation in a way that fits better with who you are as a person, or you change jobs.


And then sometimes we change jobs, and then the next job, the same problem happens. So then you're getting a message that there's some other resolution that has to take place. So, you know, if you're too passive and you're just going along, that's good in some way. That's the acquiescent mind. You know, you can accept everything as it is, you know, your supervisor or your boss or the policies of the company or of the agency, which you may or may not like, and you find a way to practice with that. But that, in a way, is too passive. If you try to express your point of view or trying to change things, then that creates a certain kind of fire and conflict that then forces you to deal not only with what you think is wrong with the situation, but what the situation thinks is wrong with you.


And there's always that mirror. So we have to kind of venture to say something and, you know, take different positions of various sorts and speak. Because sort of being quiet and saying nothing, sometimes it's the right thing to do and it keeps the peace. But then there's also something that's not being manifested. So we speak and we say things and discriminate and take sides and give opinions and so on and so forth. And that creates a certain kind of disturbance in which then we have to face ourselves and as well with how people may experience us and perceive us. and then be willing to, you know, take it back. You said something that was, you weren't quite sure what you were saying, or that showed some aspect of you that you weren't so aware of, and somebody points that out to you.


So then you have to take it back and apologize. Um, you know, there's always, there's always things going amok, right? This is Murphy's law. Whatever, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. It's like, you know, I am some, I am having some construction going on in the house and it's never the way it's supposed to be. You know, the delivery is never on time. The workers never come on time. When it's supposed to be finished, it's never finished. And somehow something is getting done at the same time. And if you don't say anything, then the whole thing may take forever, right?


But then if you get really hot and start trying to get everything happen exactly so, you know, then you end up being very angry. and getting into conflicts with people. So how much to push somebody to do something and then how much to just let them do whatever they're going to do the way they're going to do it. That's always a balance to be found. Sometimes you push for a long time and then at some point you kind of back off and just accept that things are going to go the way they're going to go and just let them be that way. Or you call, you know, the telephone company and you can't get through. Or they disconnect you. Or you've talked to three or four different people and the three different people tell you different things about what you need to do. Or you call somewhere and they don't speak English.


Or they can't understand you. That seems to be constantly arising. So how do we become big enough to accept everybody's good sides and everybody's imperfections at the same time, as well as our own? So, you know, true speech doesn't mean you're always right.


It means you speak what's in your heart, even though what's in your heart may be a mixed thing. Maybe both, you know, wisdom and delusion at the same time. And it's kind of an act of kindness to help somebody also come on, speak, say it, you know. You don't have to be right, it doesn't have to be true, but it's true for you at this moment. So that's sort of the relative truth. But it needs to be expressed. Because if we're too concerned with right speech, always saying things just right, then that's also a kind of suppression. And that's what the poem calls a tattered colt. Tattered colt, a cowering rat. the appearance of practice, but inside there's a lot of suppressed stuff going on. So that's the terror called the cowering rat, which is different than the tiger leaving its prey behind or a horse with a white hind leg, which is knowing where your problems are, recognizing them.


and yet still participating in the world and sometimes creating some problems for yourself and for others, but then being willing to take that back or apologize or insist or whatever it may be. So those two are a little bit different, you know, the wounded tiger and the tattered colt. So it's not so much a question of being wrong or right or strong or weak. Just being true to yourself, that's the most important thing.


So I think that's all I'm going to say. And I welcome your comments and questions. Yes? You said to be true to yourself. Well, that's what I was saying. If you noticed that you're getting too frustrated when things are not going the way you would like them to go. I mean, you have a certain intention for things to go in a certain kind of way. And that's kind of the tension. It's like the reference in the poem is to an instrument. and the cord being just not loose and not too tight. If it's too loose, it doesn't produce the beautiful sound. If it's too tight, it breaks.


So you have a certain intention for things to be done in a certain way, and you may have an idea of what the other person needs to be doing, but they may or may not see that, and they may or may not agree with you or be able to do it. So then you have to accept that that the way the situation actually evolves rather than the way you would like it to be. And you're constantly tuning yourself into the situation and you're maintaining your intention. So here's the poem Balances Both Sides. You know, that's the kind of very strict sight But then it says, to be wrong is auspicious. So this is the problem, you know, we fall on one side or we fall on the other side.


You think it's about, you know, always being just right, and then Tozin is saying, and there are different ways of interpreting this, you know, but he's saying merging is auspicious. do not violate it. And merging is also, the Chinese character for merging is wrong. So if you're wholehearted, then actually making mistakes is auspicious, if you're wholehearted. And that's the other side of getting it just right, or a small deviation is as big as the distance between heaven and earth. Does that answer your question? Yes? Maybe this sounds a little bit naive, but or now to clarify, but did the Buddha make mistakes after his enlightenment? I


It depends, you know, that's the two interpretations, again, of the teaching. You know, the interpretation that presents him as a perfect being, never makes a mistake, and the other side that includes both sides. So I think probably the latter is more realistic rather than this idealized figure. certainly in the case of Jesus, we see more of the mistake side, where he's constantly being told by the Pharisees that he's making mistakes according to the law, and he's kind of responding back. Like, if you know what you're doing, then even though it looks like you're not observing the Sabbath, you're actually keeping the Sabbath. That's kind of teaching of non-duality.


But one thing I thought when you asked me that question was how the Buddha died, that he accepted pork, or at least one of the legends. So that was kind of a mistake on purpose. He knew he was going to die from it. And he didn't eat meat, but he accepted infected pork. Yes? What is a mistake? Sometimes I feel I've done the wrong thing, but a plan has not happened, but I don't realize the effects will be better than what I had planned. Yeah, so... So a mistake is just the way things look from a certain point of view.


But from a different point of view, it's actually not a mistake. So if you say to somebody, you mean to say you love them and you make a mistake and you say you hate them. Actually, the reality of it is that the relationship has this larger complexity than you thought. And it gives you an opportunity to deepen the relationship. But I'm not sure what a mistake is. Do you know? Yes. You said you were anxious before the talk. For you, what was the mistake that you were afraid of making?


I think to give a very scholarly or intellectual talk. And actually Mel had asked me to give a talk without mentioning anything about Buddhism, which I sort of barely managed to do. Yes, Ross? Dogen has said that Bodhisattva practice is like 90% success, in my case, 100%. When the agnesic mind realizes itself, is that 100%? At that moment, yes. Yes? You mentioned at the end of your talk, being true to ourself.


These points are like a very simple core, but what does that mean to be true to yourself? What I find is that the universe shifts so much whether I'm feeling healthy or not, or Well, if you're feeling both calmness and anxiety, to acknowledge both and not just pretend that you're calm when you're also calm, but you're also anxious.


Or if you're anxious, realize that you're also calm. Yeah, that's part of the mirror is to, you know, they say some of these magical mirrors that where there's no subjectivity so that, you know, both your outside and your inside and your guts are also shown at the same time. So there isn't this just kind of appearance, this persona that you project as being some kind of image of perfection that you want to project and yet you know and other people know that there's other stuff going on inside and happening and somehow you're not integrating that or incorporating that into your life. So you're not being true to yourself in that way. And in these five minutes that I've had to think about that, I was thinking that that story of the Buddha getting enlightened on the night of the full moon,


That isn't a useful fantasy for us. So, you know, Jack Kornfield wrote this book, a good book, called After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. So he doesn't tell his idea whether the Buddha made any mistakes after that night of the full moon, but he strongly hints that lots of people who've had and feel anxiety or make really even more dreadful mistakes than that. So this is just my comment. Thank you. Well, I think that's part of the five ranks. I'm not sure if the third or the fourth rank includes that if you're wholehearted to make mistakes, it's part of the path or it's an aspect of Buddha.


Just like The other side of that is that our everyday life is the way. Paul. About Buddha making a mistake, I don't see why anybody would think that an enlightened person doesn't make mistakes. What the Buddha said about himself was that he was awake. That's all. So that he might seem to me that someone who's awake He was just paying attention to reality. He might have an intention, something else might happen, and he would just realize that it didn't work out the way he planned. And you could say, that's a mistake. Well, it's the different aspects of practice.


I mean, you've never heard, I mean, sometimes there's a way in which people can relate to practice and to the perfection of wisdom as a practice of perfection. And sort of the two poems, you know, keeping the mirror, always wiping the mirror, not letting any dust settle on it, is the side of not making mistakes. But that's just one side. So the other side is... Yeah, I'm in agreement with you. But I guess you're saying you don't see where in Buddhism there's a teaching of perfection. No, a teaching of not making a mistake. I see that often people clearly. But I know there is that other meaning of perfection is not making a mistake.


I'm not sure that's the meaning of perfection in practice, you know, practicing perfectly. To me, not ever making a mistake. Okay. Did you? Nope. He said it. Okay. I was just reflecting, you know, we have all these forms in the zendo and I've been trying to learn them and so, you know, I'm trying to do them and making lots of mistakes and then watching other people and realizing that almost everybody does, not so much that it's a mistake, but what's unexpected. You know, you're supposed to, oh, I don't know, hit the pukio at a certain moment and you forget or you don't know you're supposed to hit it and then, you know, it's unexpected. It doesn't seem like they're there for us to learn how to do, for them to be perfectly. They're more there so that, you know, something unexpected can happen.


I don't know, maybe that, I don't know what my point is, I guess. But, you know, I see, I mean, I don't want to name any names, but I see your people doing unexpected things. Right, so you wouldn't expect them to, you would expect senior people to always do the bell rider. No, it's just the thing works in a certain way and you know if the doshi goes over and sits down instead of doing a jundo, that's kind of unexpected. Yes. But just when I look, I watch everybody, maybe not Ross, I don't think it's Ross. Ross doesn't make mistakes. It's more that there's this thing and then this unexpected thing happens and then you know you wake up a little, oh, here I am, you know, and then it goes back to being smooth and everything's going along and then somebody drops their chopsticks and then, you know, it's a...


So, you know, the service is always a little bit off. Sometimes it's just right, but often it's always a little bit off. There's always something with the mokugyo or with the bells or the doshi. And so, you know, we have to have an intention about what's the way we do things. But then we also have to accept that it's always a little bit off. And if we get too upset about that and want everybody to do it just right, then that's a problem. That's a mistake. That's a mistake. Raul, one continuous mistake. Yes. As the calendar said this morning, Dovah says one big mistake. Raul, I guess I was thinking about the principle of impermanence in Buddhism. Like, I always think about that, you know, like sort of as a, I don't know, maybe a big operating dynamic.


And then I was thinking, like as you were talking, I was thinking about some situations in my own life, like one having to do with an aging parent who's probably at work, and how both those situations are very dynamic. Like, you know, you might one day, I might have one point of view, but things are so fluid, and there's so many people involved, even in both situations, that things are constantly turning. There is no right or wrong. You just have to show up. And it feels like I have to do what I can in both those situations at that time. And like you said, sometimes in the work situation, that has to do with safety.


And right now I feel that my practice there is I have to wait until the next situation arises and see how do we respond now that we've had some conversations and had some discussions about how we'll proceed. But it does feel like a constant turning. The jeweled net of Indra, I think of all those faces. Yeah, we feel something but can't always express it. Is it time? Yeah. Thank you. Beings are numberless.