January 31st, 2005, Serial No. 00567

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He spends 49 days exploring his awakening and figuring out what to do. And as I said last time, his first attempt to teach was somewhat flawed. And then he arrives in the vicinity of his five former compatriots who were all seeking light together. So what I think I want to do this week is talk about the First Sermon, which is basically where he lays out the Four Noble Truths in the full pattern. And then I decided next week, going forward from there, or just going deeper in there, to look at the notions of karma and rebirth, which are always good for a discussion.


So he preaches this, just to give you a little setting. I can't remember. He meets his friends at the deer park. I don't know if it's called. Benares. And they sit down. And he says, bhikkhus do not address the perfect one by name as friend. The perfect one is accomplished in full light. And then he's a sexual instructor. And he gives this sermon. On this sermon. Now while this discourse is being delivered, the spotless immaculate vision of the Dharma arose in the Venerable Khandana.


Thus, all that is subject to arising is subject to cessation. So Khandana was one of the five. And Khandana wakes up. The Buddha says, Khandana knows. Khandana knows. And that is how the Venerable one acquired the name Anatta Khandana. Khandana knows. And then Pranana says, Lord, I wish to go forth under the Blessed One and to receive the full admission, full admission to the order of monks, which at that point did not exist. And Buddha says, come, Bhikkhu. The Dharma is well-proclaimed. Live the holy life in the complete ending of suffering. And that was his full admission. This was, that was the ordination ceremony in Buddha's time. While he was still, while it was sort of a face-to-face encounter with him, all he needed to say for, by way of ordination ceremony was just, come be true.


And after he empowered other people to to ordain, then you had a ritual. Then the Blessed One taught and instructed the rest of the bhikkhus to talk on the Dharma. And as He did so, there arose in the Venerable Bapa and the Venerable Bhadia the spotless, immaculate vision of the Dharma. All that is subject to arising is subject to cessation. They too asked for and received the full Then, living on the food they brought him, the busman taught and instructed the rest of the bhikkhus with talk on the Dhamma. All six lived on the food brought back by three of them. Then there arose in the Venerable Mahanama and the Venerable Asaji the spotless immaculate religion of the Dhamma, and they too asked for and received the full admission." So following this first turning of the wheel, very shortly, he's got five disciples, five monks.


who immediately, at that point, the power of his realization was completely, you know, it was very strong. And all they had to do was hear him. And they became completely weakened. But still, he's not teaching, he's teaching nuts and bolts. And the first sermon is is really kind of the nuts and bolts of looking at the nature of our lives. So, as I said, these are not metaphysical questions. It's a matter of investigating your own actual experience. And then looking at these four noble truths, seeing how we can work with them and how they actually can help us and help people around us. That's the point of this.


It's not an abstract question. It's a matter of having tools. So I just would invite you to interrupt, ask questions, et cetera. So this was about roughly 500 years before the First Depression. It's what was called axial age, because it was the time of, in this period of time you had the Buddha, you had Socrates, you had Lao Tzu, you had a whole range of seemingly unconnected, deep


insights into human nature, into nature of reality, all happened at this one time, around this one time. And at sort of that age, you could extend it to the time of Christ. But it was really the dawn of some deep investigation into the nature of what it meant to be human. So, yeah? Is there any indication that there Well, I think that like, as he was, their powers of concentration were very developed. I think we talked about this.


So this, this shamatha stream, this concentration was, you know, really developed, they were very high level yogis. But so they were kind of right. But when you when you read in this in the in the suttas and you read all the you read the stories so many times all he had to do was he would encounter somebody and that included like thieves and murderers and they would just wake up so this is part of his understanding that buddha nature is actually in each of us is buddha nature has buddha nature so But still, they had done a lot of cultivation. So I think it was very easy for them.


So what he teaches in this first sermon is the Four Noble Truths. So it's the truth of dukkha, or suffering, which is the First Noble Truth, which represents, you can think of it as what, what the problem is. The second noble truth is the truth of the origin of suffering, which you can think of as how. How does this work? How does this happen? Then the third noble truth is the truth of the cessation of dukkha, which is kind of like the negation of dukkha. And that's, again, a what. And then the fourth noble truth is what's called the faithful path. And that is, again, a how. What do you do to bring about cessation? It's like there are two pairs. So life is suffering, you know, and so how or why is it suffering?


Because of these mechanisms, because of our clinging, et cetera. That's what brings it about. And that there is a way to be free from that. and how you do it is by living, following the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path, we'll go into it more, but the Eightfold Path is right understanding, or right view, right thought or intention, right speech, right action, right tenure, right livelihood, then right effort, right awareness, right mindfulness, and then right concentration. And those are all working together. But we'll come back to that. So the sutta that's this first turning of the wheel is called the Dhammacakka, the Dhamma Wheel Sutta. And it says, this, O Bhikkhus, is the noble truth of dukkha.


Birth is dukkha. Aging is dukkha. Sickness is dukkha. Death is dukkha. Sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are dukkha. Association with the unloved or unpleasant condition is dukkha. Separation from the beloved or pleasant condition is dukkha. Not to get what one wants is dukkha. In grief, the five aggregates of attachment are dukkha. So we'll go through this a little. Dukkha really means, it's kind of untranslatable. We tend to use it, use the word suffering. But suffering is a really not such a, not strictly accurate. Suffering is one part of it. The suffering or unsatisfactoriness, or just that something in itself is ill,


sorrow, anxiety. I just prefer to use dukkha because it's a really, it's just a rich, complex word. But what he doesn't say in this is there's no personalization of it. And this is a critical question, thinking about Dukkha, is not to think of it as one's own. Not, in other words, say, I am suffering or I have Dukkha. Rather, there is Dukkha. It exists, it tends to be generally located around here, but it doesn't belong to me. And this is what we explore in meditation.


Exploring, say, our legs are hurting. So you can say, my legs are hurting. So the emphasis then is on this self-centered notion. But if you just think of it as painful legs that don't, strictly speaking, belong to you, then you can look at that pain in a different way and not be caught by it. And this is the way we keep looking at each situation, and with introspection, see that it's impermanent or constantly in flux, it has no fixed self. And that's the discovery, that's what Kandana realizes. So Kandana, when he wakes up, he says,


What he realizes as he's waking up was all that is subject to arising is subject to cessation. And in that way, that's his expression of not personalizing Dukkha. So he talks about all the different forms of Dukkha. often is represented as three kinds of dukkha in the commentary tradition. The first kind is ordinary dukkha, which is the dukkha of pain or illness, physical suffering. The second kind is the dukkha of


change or impermanence, that that causes us suffering, that things go away. So either we can get caught either way, something that we're experiencing that's pleasant goes away, or something that's unpleasant stays around. And we don't realize that we are holding on to it instead of just letting it go in the natural rhythm of life. So that's the dukkha of change or impermanence. I always say, I think that the reason that I've been doing this practice all this time is because I actually like the idea of change. And I think most people don't. And we want to sort of, I like to nail it down. Couldn't it just stay still? But it's like, I think I used this metaphor in a talk a couple months ago.


It's like going rafting. I've only done it a couple times. The first time, it was just an amazing experience. I got in the boat. We all got in the boat in the raft. And I thought I wanted to do something, to get myself settled or get ready. But before I do it, they cast off. And you want to say, well, wait a minute. I'm not settled. But you're just going down the river. And you're not going to go back. And so right in that moment, there was that resistance to the fact that things are flowing and that we're in the flow. And once I did let that go, I had an incredibly good time.


So that's the second of the dukkha of change or improvements. And the third form of dukkha is the dukkha of conditionality, that all things are co-constructed. And we'll come back to that. So the conditionality, on the human level, is expressed in this idea of skandhas, that what we are sometimes described as these five heaps of skandhas. our existence is conditional.


So the last line of this Pali text, the First Truth, the one that I read as, in brief, the five aggregates of attachment from our dukkha, is upadana-kanda-dukkha. Clinging to the five skandhas is dukkha. So clinging is the description of a condition or an action itself. And the skandhas, or aggregates as we call them, are just kind of a, they're a somewhat theoretical description of what the Buddha saw as the constituent elements of who we are. So they're the building blocks of what we tend to see as self or as me and mine.


Buddha said when all constituent parts are there, the designation cart is used. In other words, you have the wheel and the axle and the bed and the reins and the harness. When all those When all of those constituent parts are present, we call that a car. Just so, where the five skandhas exist, we speak of living beings. So these skandhas are, it's interesting, they are form, feelings, perceptions, formations, and consciousness. I guess I'll be doing a heart sutra note. No form, no feelings, no perceptions, no formations, no consciousness. So form is just the material aspect. And the others are mental aspects. Feeling is just, it's kind of like the sensory impact when something comes in before you think about it or identify it.


And perception is when you when you begin to see the shape of it, and you see the feelings are just... Perception is when you begin to identify those things as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Formation is when you begin to give that thing, when you give that thing a name. And consciousness is your awareness of this whole process. So these elements in themselves are impermanent, changeable, and conditional, that they arise and they fall away depending upon other conditions. But the key word that the Buddha uses in this teaching is upadana, this clinging.


or grasping, which also includes pushing away. And this notion, this painful notion that we have of me and mine, is just, it's created by the habit we have of clinging, of wanting to see ourselves as real, as substantial, as fixed in some way. having some substance around. Nell once pointed out that we don't own our own bodies. We just take care of them. And in Christianity, there's a kind of parallel concept that everything is in mortgage to God, a very similar kind of notion. So if I think that I own my own body, or that anything is truly my own, this is how I get into trouble.


And we do this out of our habit, mostly out of our fear. So another way to I'm just thinking how these three forms of dukkha, the ordinary dukkha, the dukkha of change, and the dukkha of conditionality, all interact with each other. But they also can be turned when we get to this cessation. These things are not necessarily negative. None of them are, if you start thinking about it. Certainly impermanence and conditionality, there's nothing inherently negative or fearful.


They can also be turned in such a way that they represent our joy. But this is all depending on how we work with it. Now you've got the first bill, which was new, right? Any questions? I'm moving kind of fast because I want to get through all this. Questions or thoughts? The condition I only want is just basically that everything is dependent on the government. Everything else. Right. And what that means, dependent upon, for example, if you If you look at an automobile, we have this rough name for something, an automobile, or a person, or a table. So for the automobile, which part is the automobile? It's not the tires.


It's not the motor. These are just constituent parts. Which part is the table? Is it the top? Is it the legs? Is it the wood that it's made of? these names that we have for things are kind of short names. And if you take, you know, if you take one aspect away, you know, it doesn't represent that thinking. You know, if you had a whole collection, if you had all of the parts of the automobile without the body, you know, you wouldn't think of this car. And if you had the body without the tires and the motor and transmission, you also wouldn't think of it as a car. You would think it's a car like shapes. Does that make some sense? Yeah, that makes sense, except that where does it become nuclear? In our minds. We'll get to that.


When you can't start working. Yeah. When you have to call AAA. So the second noble truth is the noble truth of the origin of dukkha. And the Dhammacakasutra says, this, O Bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of dukkha. It is craving which produces rebirth, bound up with pleasure and greed. It finds delight in this and that. In other words, craving for sense pleasures, craving for existence or becoming, craving for non-existence or self-annihilation. So, what I really like, there's a teacher named Ken MacLeod, who is very well trained in defense.


He's a Buddhist teacher in LA. And he reframed this truth of the origin of dukkha as The origin of dukkha is emotional reactivity, which I think, for me, that really resonates well. It's not that we have the emotion. This is sort of getting to your question. It's not that you have the emotion. It's that you react to it in a certain way, that you either have an emotion or a concept or a perception that you either try to embrace it, because you want to hold on to it, or you try to push it away. And that's what he's talking about as a reactivity. Does that make sense?


And I think that works very well with our psychologically-oriented lifestyle. So, again, it's craving which produces rebirth, bound up with pleasure and greed. It finds delight in this and that. In other words, craving for sense pleasures, craving for existence, or becoming craving for non-existence or self-annihilation. So, each of us can watch this craving. right now. You know, where is it right now? You came to this class tonight, and part of you wanted to do that, and part of you probably, for some of you, probably wishes you were someplace else right now. And, you know, maybe you're uncomfortable, or maybe you're, you know, your mind is distracted, and it's


My wife, Lori, sort of her watchword, which I've adopted, another way of framing it is, we suffer because we want things to be different from how they are. Whenever we want things to be different from how they are, that's precisely when we're suffering. she can say this and often I'll want to argue with her, but they should be different, or this person should act this way, but in fact, irrespective of how that person is acting, if I think that I want them to be some other way than they are, if I personalize that, then the suffering is here. And when the suffering is here, then I lose sight of the other person.


This happened to me in a personal conflict last year. It took me about five, six months to work it out. And when I worked it out, it became a sort of flash. Something had happened between two people that I care about. Where one was, excuse me for being abstract, one was very hurt by the actions of the other. And I found myself furious at the person who had reputedly done this hurt. And when I went to engage with that person, it made a mess of our relationship. And the insight that I had some months later was that in my anger, I had actually lost sight of my friend's suffering,


of that person's subframe and constellated... I took whatever negativity I took it on myself and lost sight of the second person and just made it a conflict between me and the first person. Is that too abstract? Do you know what I'm talking about? And I felt terrible. And I also, when I realized it, I felt free. You know, because it had been eating at me. for months. Why? What is it? But once I got that, I realized exactly what I had done, and then I could make peace, then I could actually apologize all around, and help to create a more harmonious situation. But we fall into these things all the time, because we see things So the essence of this Noble Truth is, you could also, so you could say emotional reactivity, you could say the problem is wanting things to be other than they are, and also at the center of this is the notion of that our suffering is caused by our self-centeredness.


Yeah. Is it human nature to do both? To be self-centered, but also to be free? Or is it part of human nature to be one and try to do the other? Well, this is an interesting question. It came up last weekend. I'm part of this Zen Catholic dialogue group that is going to meet annually for four years. We're in our third year. On the one hand, there's this notion in Catholicism of original sin. So you might say, well, that's human nature, as they are seeing it. But with these theologians that were involved, who were priests, what they were saying, well, it's really important to recognize original blessing. I don't think they talk about it much in the church.


But these guys were talking about it, these guys and women, that the blessing is you were given, we were given this human life. And I think that that really resonates with me in terms of Buddhism, that the Buddhist discovery was that we were all awake. And that's the gift that's been given to us. And I think that's our essential nature, but by habit. It's a very human thing to be self-centered. It's a very human thing to be scared or angry or to crave pleasures. We're going to get more into this in the fourth class when we start talking about Mahayana notions. I think we have to be very careful about what we say is human nature, because then we're constructing something that's abstract.


We have a potential to go either way. We certainly have the gifts. We have the gift to be able to wake up. And we have a lot of problems that we make for ourselves. Because we're deluded, we make them in ignorance. So, I mean, I think this is something that we just have to keep an eye on. And in the traditional explanation of the Second Noble Truth, when we go into karma, the notion of karma indeterminate recognition, that's the way Thich Nhat Hanh is a wonderful way. There's an excellent book by him called The Heart of Buddha's Teaching. And he says, until we begin to practice the second noble truth, we tend to blame others for our unhappiness.


That's very much like Laurie was saying, wanting things to be other than they are. When we say things, we usually mean other people or other people that we feel are somehow responsible for or controlling our life. But this way says it, until we begin to practice Second Noble Truth, we tend to blame others for our unhappiness. So, I'm ready to move on to the Third Noble Truth, but any other questions? I do, actually. Whenever I think about this, I think about this. I guess it's made by white people. Yes. It's just a core thing. Right. It seems God granted this humanity to except the things I cannot change. Change the things I can, the wisdom to know the difference.


And it seems to me that whenever you really try to do that, the only thing you can have change is yourself. Almost always. And often it's a flip of your attitude rather than the external circumstances. what they offer. At least for me, I can accept the external circumstances as they are. And when I do that, then sometimes it seems to me that I have to do that. I think you're right. I think that's an essential point. I think also from the Buddhist perspective, particularly as we go into Mahayana, this distinction between internal and external gets very fuzzy.


This is really the essence of a whole class of koans you can study that, where you actually realize that there's no inside of yourself. No self, or all self. Right. Yeah. It's like our, you know, the Zazen instruction that we sometimes give is, well, concentrate on everything. Because there's nothing outside of you. And this is where Sojin, one of the things he tends to say is, don't treat anything like an object. So treat everything subjectively. In other words, as if you and whatever person, thing, are connected.


Because in fact, structurally, we are. you know, like you and I right now, we're exchanging air. And we have to realize that historically, we're exchanging air molecules with everyone that ever breathed on this planet. That's, you know, that's a physical reality. And so that's, I mean, that's part of the cosmic view of predictive of early Mahayana Buddhism, which is a real shift from the kind of psychological acuity and detail. I care about. Any other thoughts? Well, maybe, should we, let's take a five-minute break. We'll take a five-minute break before we plunge into these last two. Neurota is what is,


The word's used for cessation, and it means the end or extinction. And it's the hardest one to kind of get your mind around because it's often framed in a negative way. And we can't think our way into it. It's also about renunciation. Cessation means renunciation. And that's what the Buddha says in the Dhammacakasutra. This, O Bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the cessation of dukkha. Then he says, it's the complete cessation of dukkha. That's all. Giving up, renouncing, relinquishing, detaching from craving. There's really no words that quite convey kind of this lack of thirst, or clinging, or hunger.


There's a metaphor that Achan Amaro, from Vayagiri, used in one of his talks that I liked a lot, a metaphor for cessation. Cessation is like the moment that the refrigerator motor clicks off, or that the lawnmower outside stops. You know, it's like that, ah. So it's not, that you were even holding on to it. But there's a sound that is a kind of very subtle irritant, which is this dukkha. And it stops, and we really feel that dropping away. That's a really nice, useful image. Now, Jim asked a question. You want to re-ask your question?


I just didn't quite understand what it was about conditionality that made the dukkha. That's the thing, that impermanence and conditionality are not necessarily dukkha. By habit of delusion or ignorance, we tend to make it that way. What Thich Nhat Hanh says about practicing the third double truth, practicing the third double truth, one comes to the realization that suffering and happiness are not two. When you reach this stage, your joy is no longer fragile. It is true joy. In other words, that, and this is very much a monkey on it, that most of what we think of as unpleasant, particularly nature of impermanence and conditionality, is because we want it to be some other way, because we don't accept it.


There's nothing inherently negative about impermanence. But I think the thing that we feel negative about impermanence is, oh, I'm going to go away. for someone I love is going to go away. And we want to hold on. That's why this cessation is fundamentally just the act of letting go. And if we are willing to let go, then impermanence is just fine. And conditionality is just the way things are. Can you give an example of where conditionality causes problems with people? Does anyone else want to answer that?


Does it have to do with trying to predict outcomes and being attached to the outcome of something? I think that's part of it. goes the wrong way, or whatever the wrong way is, and on the upsides. Right? Yeah. Just like, I was reading this silly book, and I read it a couple years ago, and I was like, wow, there's this really powerful page where it talks about a great ex-girlfriend who's mad, and it was like, you're seeing a great ex-girlfriend who's mad. First of all, I never knew that back then. I just never knew people who were mad, so. And even if you got there, it was dumb. It's not just this idea, but like, even if you get what you want, it's so important. And even if you reach each other, even if you have the most, even if you find the most people in your team, the thing that's supposed to have yourself in it is what's also going to pass. And if you're attached to things not being a part of it, it will be something new.


I think with conditionality, we see this as we get older. And our different abilities drop away. And as we get really older, sometimes you have really, really serious losses of physical abilities or mental abilities. And that's a matter of conditionality. And usually, that's a source of suffering, right? But from the outside, somebody who this is happening to, we may grieve for them, but we think of them as whole, anyway. We love them as we always have. You know, our grief, doesn't hinder our love.


It's like a cloud moving in front of the moon. But from the inside, I'm sure all of us experienced it. I've had several serious medical episodes. in those episodes i get scared and i get scared you know i try to if i try when i try to i just try to breathe with that and investigate but i see that i'm scared of losing whatever i think of as myself how would it be it was an amazing radio program that I heard a woman did a program on her father who had stroke?


I don't remember. I just thought you were referring to something. So her father was an intensely aggressive, really smart, hard-charging guy. And in his 50s, he had a stroke. And he was reduced to two words in response, which was yes and good. He had aphasia of some kind so that he couldn't form words. And his whole personality changed. And in that case, it changed for the better. By some miracle, he was able to turn what we would look at as a kind of terrible loss into a gift. And I think it was because he was surrounded by love, in a way. but also because the conditions came together in his case in a beneficial and helpful way.


But we're afraid of that. So that's why it's our suffering. Mostly it's our suffering because we're afraid of it. And so it's not that conditionality itself is suffering or that impermanence itself is suffering. You could say impermanence is nirvana. That things are constantly changing It means we don't get stuck in any way. Anyhow, there is a path that leads to the cessation of good. And that's actually what we're doing here. That's the path of practice. And this obitus is a noble truth and path leading to cessation of dukkha. It is simply the noble eightfold path, namely right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right awareness, and right concentration.


Now, for practice in Zen tradition, we don't talk about this very much. I went through Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind several times and found absolutely no reference to the Noble Truths of the Eightfold Path. Why is that? Well, there's only one story I know that mentions them, one Zen story, and it mentions them in the form of a negation. Master Sagan, came to the Sixth Ancestor, Winang, and he was very troubled by this idea of step-by-step practice. Now, they were seeing the same folk path of step-by-step. You do this, you do this, and so on.


And he asked his teacher, what should I do so as not to land in some class or stage? says, what have you done so far? And Sagan says, I've not even practiced the Four Noble Truths. And Rinen says, well, what stage will you fall into? And Sagan says, if I have not even practiced the Four Noble Truths, what stage could I fall into? And Rinen is very impressed with this understanding. In the Zen school, particularly in our approach to practice, there's this notion of practice realization. In other words, that sitting down is actually the expression of our already enlightened nature. We still have to realize it, but it's manifesting the Four Noble Truths right there.


And so there's an attitude that it goes without saying. And yet, here we are saying it, it's really useful to say it, and that's kind of the... Particularly, San Francisco and Berkeley said, we study this stuff. We wouldn't necessarily do meditations that were based on it, but we have the framework of Buddha's teachings so that it can inform our lives. Yeah. Yeah. Well, variously. So in the Theravada tradition and Tibetan tradition, they really talk about this stuff in great detail.


It's a kind of step-by-step path to liberation. Now, the step-by-step is not necessarily that you practice right understanding, right thought. You do them in that order. Those aren't necessarily the steps. All of these elements of the Eightfold Path interpenetrate each other. But that we are developing ourselves step by step. So you might actually, you might do a mindfulness meditation. There's various approaches, if you talk about it. So actually, these eight steps, or these eight elements, eightfold path, break down into three major groupings. The first is The first group is Prajna, or wisdom.


And so, right thought, or right view, I like to use right view rather than right thought, because this is what, we're always working on this. We're working to have as wide a view as possible. So, I really like, I like the word view, and you know, we see, like that story that I was telling you about how I screwed up in this relationship, I screwed up because my view was down, because I had a self-centered view. So the right view, once I could develop a kind of all-centered view, then that's practicing right view. Is that different than how you perceive it? It's included. It's included. because so you know how you perceive things um you know you can perceive them as separate as in relation there's you know an infinite number of ways to perceive so how do we have a very wide view the filter of the lens that you have and there always is maybe there wasn't for the buddha actually i think there was you know uh


You know, I think that, I think he had a filter of patriarchy. You know, now that's certainly the people who made up this, who actually wrote down the stories did, whether he did or not, one doesn't know. But there always are these filters. So it's like, removing filter after filter after filter to develop the right view. So right view and then right intention are the wisdom aspects. They are also what you might call vipassana, insight, wisdom insider. very closely related. We go back to Eskimo. I'm just puzzled by the idea of a cessation of suffering.


Because it seems to me that we don't talk about a lot about the cessation of suffering. It feels like something's always with this, and it's, um, it's hard to be able to turn loudspeaker on without someone who will enjoy having to vote. And I'm puzzled, I'm just puzzled by the, by the words, you know, and cessation I don't think that's. I think I'm always going to have some measure. Maybe it's my attitude that will change around me, or how I sit with it, how I witness it, how I experience it.


But it seems to me that it's always going to be that. I'm sort of puzzled by the idea that somehow, at some point, I'm an end while I'm in a body. Well, I'm trying to be careful here because I'm trying to give you an unfortunate time limit and some picture of early Buddhism and to distinguish that from from Mahayana Buddhism. So there's something here that is developmental in Buddhism itself. But the early Buddhist teachings are very particular. They are rooted in this notion of extinction.


They're rooted in a notion of coolness. of cooling everything. So all these metaphors are extinguishing, blowing out, cooling. These are all kind of medicinal. And this is what often the Mahayana critique. That's where the notion of Hinayana comes from, of lesser vehicle, because it's there's an aspect of it that is life-denying. There's a whole lot of very strong teachings of the basically the disgusting nature of the body. And that's just a way of seeing things.


I think of ... we don't know what's at the bottom of this. There are a lot of meditations where you go out in the charnel grounds and you watch decomposing bodies. And they are described in really graphic and disgusting ways. That's not necessarily how you have to perceive it. Yvonne Rand, who's a teacher in New South York, she set up this garden in her house. She's moving. People bring her their dead animals, and she puts them out in this garden to decompose. That's pretty intense. to her way of seeing, it's not disgusting.


It's just nature returning to nature. So, you're bringing up this point that's, you know, it's kind of a troubling point of distinction in these Buddhists. I'm just trying, in this, for now, I'm trying to lean on, generally, on the more traditional view, not because that's what I believe, but because I want you to have some sense of what that is. Does that make sense? And I could be harassing this statement for sure, but I'm just really curious about why it seems like this thing full of other truths


creating clear, like, the goal is to liberate all beings from suffering, to liberate the son from suffering, and to liberate the daughter from suffering. Well, actually, the goal of the Theravada Buddhism is not to liberate all beings. That's the fundamental Mahayana teaching. That's the Mahayana teaching? Yeah. You know, again and again, in these teachings, what the Buddha is saying, you know, you can wake up. And the example that we have of these, the Arhats, and this is also the critique that emerges very sharply within the first couple hundred years, the Arhats were a very different model than the Bodhisattva model. They were about those beings ending the cycle of birth and death, whereas the Bodhisattva model is actually staying in this cycle of birth and death until all beings can be liberated.


So there's a difference. I'm not sure, when it comes right down to how things are practiced, that it's very different. It becomes kind of a matter of for lack of a better word, theology, which is what the Buddha didn't want to get involved in. But as soon as he was gone, of course, everybody left him. This is my understanding. Actually, it's been sort of still my understanding. When I was giving birth, Some of the time, it's a very intense experience. I've noticed. Had the, was able to say, this is an experience that I usually call, that one usually calls pain.


Right. But I wasn't suffering. Right. That's right. There's a really important distinction to be made there. And sometimes when I was grieving, I felt, this is grief, but it's right. This is what I need to feel right now. No, and there can even be some sweetness in those experiences. it can be a flavor of those experiences in the grief, in the pain. But that's, you know, when you're giving birth, you have to do it. You know, it's like not much a matter, it's not a matter of choice, and you can't give it to anyone else. And this has been my experiences.


a lot of painful situations like that, that at a certain point, if you can stay present, if you're not being drugged, then you just have a very strong experience. And it's a very intimate experience. And it gives birth to something else. It gives birth to a child, but it also gives birth to another kind of awareness. And then what's interesting, I mean I should check with you, so you have a memory of that experience, but usually we forget the pain also. I only know that. I was experiencing something. Pain, I don't think, I don't, I can't remember. You don't carry a memory of that in your, you can't conjure that pain up.


Not in the, no. Right. No, although I can. Although an emotional thing can be. Right. Conjured up. My aunt, my aunt died last, about two weeks ago. My mother's brother's wife and you know, one of the last three people from that generation for me. When I talked to my uncle, who was my father's, my brother's older brother, my mother's long gone. When I talked to him, I was just, I was driving. But I was just overwhelmed with kind of grief and sadness, but also it wasn't entirely unpleasant. It was just real connection. There's something I'm talking in that brings up, you know, the grieving that I have for my mother that I can't really tap into, not at will, but just two words from him on the phone.


And it was like, that's right there. But I didn't try to push it away. If you push it away, then you suffer. And so my view was such that I could see, oh, this is part of this whole pattern of life, and it's good. But let me finish this outline here. So the first two noble truths fall under the heading of, so you have prajna, and then sila, and samadhi. You have wisdom, precepts, and concentration.


Those are the three elements of Buddhist practice that are interpenetrating. They're all necessary. And they go together. They don't go together in any one particular order. But this is a very traditional way of breaking down any thought path. So right view and right intention are the wisdom aspects. Then you have right speech, right action, and right livelihood. And those are the precept aspects of it. This idea of morality is essential. Because we're not dealing with a system that is immoral. We're dealing with a system that has some, for lack of a better word, values. And actually, that's what we'll... Along with karma, we're going to talk about precepts next week. And then the third are the actual tools of meditation.


So it's right effort, and right mindfulness, and right concentration. So the effort is just, you know, it's like the effort to sit down, sit through a period of zazen, etc. Mindfulness is just like our awareness of what we're perceiving, what we're doing, how we're handling this piece of paper. And then concentration is kind of a focus. These are three aspects. And these are all arising in no particular order. But they're necessary, the whole package is necessary for practice. So the whole thing really is the path. It's not that any one of them, it's not like you have this step and this step and this step.


Altogether, they constitute this path. Does that make some sense? I have a question. When communicating this first sermon, was there anything where the background was perceived? People have questions. Or were they tracking when they were blown away? No. I mean, I think that's Will. they proceed from a bunch of different levels. When the wheel of Dharma had been set rolling by the Blessed One, the earth deities cried out, ìAt Benares, in the Deer Park, it is the Tantra, the perfect one, accomplished and fully enlightened, has set rolling the matchless wheel of the Dharma, which cannot be stopped by monk or Brahman or deity or Mara or divinity or anyone in the world.î And so, at that minute,


At that moment, at that instant, the news traveled right up to the Brahma world, and this 10,000-fold world element shook and quaked and trembled, while a great measureless light surpassing the splendor of the gods appeared in the world." So, you know, these five guys were there sitting there listening, you know, and obviously they were moved because they woke up really quickly. the celestial beings flipped out. It was like, oh, great, he's done this. So that's the kind of reception there was, I guess. No one asked any questions. No, nobody asked any questions. It was something No, they didn't really need to ask any questions.


But he asked them. Okay. They asked, you know, they asked him a question.


They asked him, in a certain way, they're kind of dense. You know, they asked him the same question three times. They said, ìFriend Gautama, even with the hardship, privation, and mortification that you practice, you achieve no distinction higher than the human state worthy of the Noble One's noble knowledge and vision. Since you are now self-indulgent and have given up the struggle and reverted to luxury, I'm not sure what they, maybe like eating, they call luxury. How will you achieve any such distinction? Then the Blessed One told them, the perfect one is not self-indulgent, he has not given up the struggle, and he has not reverted to luxury. Listen, because the deathless has been attained, I shall instruct you. I shall teach you the Dharma by practicing as you were instructed. You will, by realizing it, listen, you will, by realizing it yourself, here and now, through direct knowledge, enter upon and abide in the supreme goal of the holy life, for the sake of which clansmen go forth from the house life into homelessness?" They asked him this three times. Three times is a formula in Buddhism.


You have to ask the things three times. No, they didn't have any further questions here, but the whole of the rest of the Dharma of the sutras is questions. You know, people come and ask very complicated questions or very simple questions, some of them philosophical, some of them just very nuts and bolts, why do you do such and such a thing? And his teaching was always in response to questions. with this being a kind of exception. And there, it was in response to the Brahma god, Samipati, requesting him to teach, to set this wheel in motion. Why does that lead to the infinity?


Why does it lead to the infinity? The 8-fold path is just the normal response then Eightfold Path is just a simple, normal way to live, once you have gained insight. It's not anything, it's not very elaborate. I mean, the later commentators have, you know, they blow it up into, you know, this very complex thing, you know, of all these, all these elements of the path being unpacked in this kind of cosmic way, but really, as he taught it, it's very simple. It's just a simple way to live. But it's a natural way to live. It's interesting.


It's both, it's just like Zazen, it's both the expression of the cessation of dukkha, and it's also how you do it. You know, so, each of these practices, each of these points, the Eightfold Path, are also points of practice. That, you know, you think of the moral aspects of, like, right speech. Right speech is very difficult. So what these teachings are also instruction as to how to do that. And there are, you know, very detailed instructions about various aspects of right view, of right mindfulness, say, or right concentration.


And so, this is just, this is just the way you live in life. It's a set of practices It's also a set of practices that enables you to confront and see your claiming and loosen, let go. So like, I mean, this is true of almost all of Buddhist teachings is there's this slippery place where they are both an expression and a methodology, you know, where they're kind of self-fulfilling.


Yeah, they're cause and effect. And you actually can't distinguish between the two. Which is, you know, that's a helpful way to look at it. There are whole sutras, like the Lotus Sutra, which is a key Mahayana sutra. We'll stop there. You know, the Buddha keeps talking about the power of the lotus teaching. and it doesn't exist in that book. There is no specific teaching, except it's the whole book. The teaching is him talking about the teaching, and yet he never concretely manifested in a mantra or a particular teaching or a particular meditation. It's really spooky. You might say that the essence of this is just this question, how?


How do I live? How do I work? How do I speak? How do I act? How do I meditate? How do I see things? How do I apply myself? And when you're constantly asking yourself that question in a kind way, in a selfless way rather than judging in an un-self-centered way, then you're leading a life of life. I think that's a good place to stop. So next week, I think I'm going to move on if that's okay. And we'll talk about the precepts and karma. that will, karma in reverse, that will be interesting. Thank you.