July 16th, 2005, Serial No. 01336

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Hi. How you doing? And today is Kids Zendo. Yeah, Kids Zendo. This is great. I like Kids Zendo. Hi, kids. Kids of all ages. My name's Lee.


What's your name? Mira. And what's your name? What? Leo. Oh, hi. Lee Hong. I'm Alex. Hi, Alex. Well, hi, and you? Alice. Alice. Hi. I'm Lee again. Now, I brought this. You know, I went to China with Mel, and this is... I bought this in China. It was a lot of fun going to China. Anybody been to China? It's a really big place. So anyway, just talking to us for a few minutes, everybody really.


I wanted to ask you a question. Do you know who that is sitting up there? Anybody know? Who? No? Anybody? Nobody? Who? You? Well, how could you be in two places at the same time? Who is it? I'll tell you. Up there, see him? Now, what is he doing up there? Why is he up there? And what is he doing? Yeah, so I wanted to talk about that a little bit. Well, you know, he lived a long time ago. And across the ocean, up in the mountains, a beautiful place, a lot of sunshine and a lot of trees and animals and stuff, and he even had a palace, and he had everything he wanted, but he noticed that everybody wasn't always happy all the time, and he wondered, and he wasn't even happy all the time, not that you have to be happy all the time, but he wondered, how come?


So he left the palace, and he traveled around, he asked people, how come, what makes you happy? Did you ever wonder about that? What makes you happy? Does something make you happy? Something make you sad? So he wanted, he'd ask people, why not? Sounds like a good idea to me. And he came along and he saw this elephant. And he said he liked elephants. They got a lot of them in India. And he said, are you happy and do you want to be happy? And the elephant said, yes, I want to be happy. And I have this long snout, and I can go like that and play with my friends, you know. And then he came across this little bear. And I said, well, do you want to be happy?


And the bear says, yes, I want to be happy. And then he, well, he ran into this little girl. Do you want to be happy? And she said, yes, I want to be happy. I want to be happy. Sometimes I'm sad, and sometimes I'm mad, but I want to be happy, and sometimes I'm happy. And then there was a pond. He went over to the pond. And guess what was in the pond? A fish was in the pond, but also a frog. The frog. And the frog said, I want to be happy. And he said, I like to swim around. Have you seen a frog? Ever seen a frog? What do frogs do?


Yeah. They hop. I want to hop. They eat crickets. They eat crickets, great. Boy, there are a lot of crickets. I bet they have a good time eating crickets. They jump. They what? They jump. They jump. Suzuki Roshi... And onto lily pads. Onto lily pads? Well, Suzuki Roshi, you know, our teacher loved frogs. It was his favorite thing, was frogs. And who's that? Buddha. You see what Buddha's holding right there? Can you see it? It's a little round sort of thing. Yeah, he's holding that. He's sitting there holding that. I'm gonna put that right here. Now, there's the fish. Wants to be happy.


So Buddha was asking everybody about, and spent all the years doing it. And he tried everything out, and then he said, oh my goodness, I'm getting too excited. It's too hard. I'm going to have to quiet down. I'm going to have to sit down and take a time out. Do you know what this means? Time out. Yeah. Big time out is like this. Time out. And he says, I'm taking a big time out. And then he puts his hands down here. And sometimes he has this little ball. He's taking a time out. And you know, when I was a kid, sometimes I'd get kind of rambunctious and start fighting or arguing. getting too excited, and my mother said, well, maybe you need to take a time out, you know?


And so you'll figure out how to be happy. So you just quiet down and go take a time out. And in fact, I have two friends who have four legs each and a tail, and they are really happy. They like it when they see me. There's one now. They're happy when they see me, and it's nice when they yap, and then sometimes they'll lick you in the face. Do you like that? I don't know. Not everybody likes that. But you know, sometimes they get too rambunctious and they start playing in the house and knock things off tables. And sometimes they'll start fighting with each other, wrestling. And we'll say, uh-oh, timeout. Have to take a timeout. So we say, why don't you go over there, sit down in your cushion, and relax. and think about how to be happy and what makes you happy. Take a time out like Buddha. Buddha's up there taking time out.


Now, you know, even when people get grown up and become adults, so to speak, like your mommy and daddy, but not exactly. They'd sometimes say, you know, I think I need to take a time out. And sometimes they'll come in here and they'll sit on these cushions and they'll take a time out. Or, you know, other people, sometimes they'll get too excited and they'll start to argue, you know, adults even. And they might even take things that they're not supposed to or they don't share. or they might, you know, make a lot of trouble. And then other adults get together and they go to that person and says, you know, I think you need to take a time out. And they have this place that they go. Big time out village, they call it. And then you go to this village, if you're an adult like that, and you take a big time out there.


And it was okay because they have a bed in there and they have a kitchen and a bathroom and everything you need and you stay there and think about how to be happy. They have this big timeout village. And I went and visited some of these guys in the big timeout village and they heard about Buddha taking a timeout thinking about How to be happy. And they were thinking about, well, how should I, how are you? And you know what happened with Buddha? He sat there, look at him. He's thinking, how to be happy. And he thought, all of a sudden one day, I know how to be happy. I know what the secret is to how to be happy. And he, It's not really a secret because he told everybody, but at first it was a secret.


And these guys in the big timeout village heard about that and they said, well, what was that secret that Buddha told about timeout? And I said, well, let's talk about it. And I told them. what it was. And then they made a gift for me. And Alan got one. And this is the gift they made. It's a box. They have a little shop, you know, with the wood. And what do you think's in here? Well, there's a little elephant in here, of course. There's a really neat rock. There's some beads. Yeah? Does anybody have beads? You guys have beads? Oh, you have some beads? You have beads? Well, of course, you know what's really in here is Buddha's in here, sitting, taking a time out, right in the box.


And they made this little thing here. You can put the Buddha in here, right in there. Yeah, they made this. Isn't that neat? Little Buddha in a box. And also, they said, well, what about the ball that Buddha's holding there, you know? Can we get one of those? Because that's the ball, that reminds you, that helps remind you about being happy. And you know what the secret was? Here it is. The secret of being happy is to be nice to other people, to help other people. To, like, maybe if you see a sad person, what would you do if you saw a sad person? What would be helpful? What?


Try to make them feel happy. Uh-huh, try to make them feel happy. If you saw a little person who maybe didn't have anything, and they were said, what do you think you might, yeah? What? You could share what you have. Yeah, what were you going to say? Were you going to say something? Give them something. Giving them something. Isn't that neat? You know, when you give somebody something, it makes them happy. Are you happy when you make somebody else happy? Huh? That's the secret. You make somebody else happy, and you get to be happy. And you can do that in all sorts of ways. It takes a little thinking. Sometimes you don't want to rush into it, but sometimes you have to take the time out and think about how to do that. Remember about time out, kids.


By the way, that little ball there, that happy Buddha ball, so I've got one for each one of you, and you can have one of these. And you can take this. So come on up and take one. And if you take a time out, you just bring that with you and hold it in your hand, just like this guy here. You're welcome. I think I'll keep one. I want one myself. Yeah. Okay, put it in your pocket. If you, someday if you can't find it, let me know and I'll give you another one. But be careful to take care of it. Okay? Okay, kids.


Bye. It's a lot of fun. I used to be an elementary school teacher. And there's always a lot of stuff which I like. I borrowed this from Mel, my teacher. I hope he doesn't mind.


I wouldn't want to be unhappy. I am a little unhappy. I wouldn't have brought it up, right? I'm a little like, I don't know, should I? Now at Green Gulch, we've been studying being happy and sad. taking time out. Especially from the Theravadan Buddhist point of view, which is the Theravadan, I think it means doctrine of the elders. They take their spiritual sustenance from the Pali Canon, which is a wonderfully large group of the Buddhist teachings, and it's thought to be the oldest sort of record as good as you could get of the Buddhist teachings, and it was written about 100 BC.


Buddha taught 500 BC, and in between there was like verbal transmission from monk to monk, and then they said, oh, we better write it down. Things are getting a little, people started disagreeing about what the Buddha taught, so they wrote it down. And then about 500 years later, a wonderful monk came along and read it all and summarized all the meditation exercises in a book called The Path of Purification, which is this book, which I remember years ago, I kind of looked at it and said, yeah, I can't read this book. But now I've been reading it, it's great. It's a wonderful book. So, The Buddha took that time-out, and it's described actually in the Pali Canon. He tried out all sorts of practices before he did that time-out.


In fact, he probably practiced time-out a little bit too, but this is the big time-out over here. Now, let me just tell you a little bit about this. This is from the Pali Canon. So he tried all these different practices. I mean, they were harsh, ascetic practices. He was very good at them, like not breathing, like not eating, and other really harsh practices. And he just, he got weaker and weaker, but he just kept going. And he would say, though tireless energy arose in me, this is, let's see, oh, clenching my teeth, and being willing that my mind would penetrate the question of the truth of suffering and the end of suffering. Though tireless energy arose in me and unremitting mindfulness established, yet my body was overwrought and uncalm because I was so exhausted by the painful effort.


But such painful feelings as arose in me gained no power over my mind. And then I thought, well, maybe I should try this other meditation. And he kept on trying them and he was getting really down in the dumps about this not working and he was getting weaker and weaker. And then he remembered something. He remembered when he was a young person in his father's garden alone. And he went into this meditative state. He said, I had entered the abode of the first meditation. And I thought, and now this is in the present, he's sitting under the Bodhi tree years later, remembering this. He said, might that be the way to enlightenment, this meditation? And then followed up that memory, there came all of a sudden a recognition. It was the way to enlightenment, just absolutely sure of it.


I thought, it is not possible to attain the pleasure of that meditation with a body so excessively emaciated. So he said, suppose I eat something, solid food, some boiled rice. So we did. And then he continues, and then he's sitting under the tree. And on the night of his enlightenment, he says, I entered upon the abode in the first meditation. And then he went from that to the second, to the third, and to the fourth abodes. These are the jhanas. These are meditative absorption states. And he went into these, and then he inclined his mind, let's see, When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, and rid of imperfection, when I had become malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed my mind, I inclined my mind to various questions.


So this is like, I don't know, maybe your teacher says, why don't you sit with it, you know, if you got a problem, and you're going back and forth about it. go into the zendo and sit with it, ask the question, but then calm down and get centered and see what happens. So he did this, and various knowledges occurred to him, and I'll just tell you one of them. So he directed his mind towards the knowledge of what he calls exhaustion of taints or attachments, let's call it. He said, I had direct knowledge, as it actually is, that this is suffering. This is the origin of suffering. This is the cessation of suffering. And this is the way to lead to the cessation of suffering.


Ignorance is banished, true knowledge arose. Darkness was banished and light arose, as happens to one who is diligent, ardent, and self-controlled. He always ends this way. But I allow no such pleasurable feelings as arose in me to gain power over my mind. Be careful. It's very joyful, but don't let it gain power over your mind. Those are the four noble truths you might have heard about. The fact of suffering, dissatisfaction. The cause of suffering, which is craving or possessiveness or being grabby about stuff, getting attached, not letting go of things, not wanting things to change. Not allowing things, trying not to allow things to change. So you can be secure. The problem there is that, and they call it ignorance, the problem is that when you grab at things, they resist.


Did you ever notice? Especially people. People can be just like rolling along and, you know, happy and light. and then you grab at them and all of a sudden they're there. They really weren't exactly there in the same way before you started grabbing at them. Or objects. Since everything's changing, everything's impermanent, you just try to stop it from changing, you got a problem. It's almost as if the object comes into existence and starts resisting you. It's really the universe kind of like reacting to your grabbiness. And wisdom and ignorance is like not seeing how that works. Now, the third noble truth is that there's an end to that. You can stop that.


That's the good news, right? A special edition of the paper. You can stop it. And best of all, I think, is the fourth noble truth, which is that there's a path, there's a way of stopping it. It's called the Eightfold Noble Path, and it's the way of stopping. And wisdom is like one of the really big ones there. You can divide the Eightfold Noble Path into like three groups. Virtue, I think, isn't that speech? Right speech, right action. Bright livelihood. And then there's what mental culture, or whatever, right effort, mental effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration, and let's capitalize concentration. They call those samadhi in Sanskrit, that little group of three.


And the other one is wisdom, which is right intention and right view, understanding what's going on, and having the right intention, which is to be liberated and liberate all beings. Now, they also have to support each other, right? I mean, you can't have one without the other. You can't have much of one without the other. I can look at you and I think, oh, you're on the altar. We're talking about virtue, concentration, call it concentration, the mental part of it, and wisdom. How do you develop this situation? Now the dynamic might be there's causes of suffering, right? We figured that out, which is grasping, trying to hold on to stuff. not stopping the organic unfolding of the universe. You're going to cut into the universe and stop something.


And the universe kind of goes, it really marshals its forces at that point, doesn't it? So grasping at impermanent objects, what could be more foolhardy? and being ignorant about how that all works. Now, wisdom destroys the causes of suffering. If you truly penetrate and truly see these so-called three marks, the impermanence, the lack of substantiality of things, the fact of suffering when you try to stop them from changing, that's wisdom. But I can say that, but we need to sort of experience it Now, for wisdom to arise, the mind must be concentrated. It needs to have a certain amount of calm.


It needs to be kind of unified and centered, somewhat present, if you'll excuse the expression. To be concentrated, however, the mind has to be free of hindrances to some degree. And to be free of hindrances, virtue is needed. So, if you look in this book here, it's divided into three parts, virtue, concentration, wisdom. Now, you wonder, well, why is virtue important? I mean, usually you say, well, virtue's right or good, but what's good about it? From a Theravadan point of view, or from a Zen point of view. Well, from this little model where you want to be concentrated so you can have wisdom, let me mention there are two systems of meditation in the Theravadan worldview. One is the path of serenity, which is like shamatha, they call it.


This is a path of calming down, of concentrating, unifying the mind, being centered. And this is the basis of wisdom. It's kind of, you know, work on your calming down and your concentration. And this was going on long before Buddha came along. The Upanishads, the Brahman Upanishads, this is what the virtue was for this purpose, was calming down. And the jhanas, remember Buddha went through these four meditations, it was all for the purpose, a highly technical way of calming, really calming down. Now, I remember Buddha said, well, my concentrated mind was purified, bright, unblemished, and rid of imperfection, becoming malleable, wieldy, steady. Now, malleable reminds me of Dogen when he came back from China. They asked him, well, what did you learn? And one of the things he said was malleable mind.


I thought, malleable mind? Well, here it is in the Pali Canon. Now, the other path, so the first path is the path of serenity, or shamatha, is the path of insight, or wisdom, or understanding, vipassana, it's called. And it aims at a direct, understanding and appreciation of the nature of all phenomena that you grab at for your security. And what is the nature? You have to know this because you can't leave today unless you know what the nature of all those things you're grabbing at is that is involved with suffering. One is they're impermanent, everything you're grabbing at. The other is, they have no substantial, unchanging existence, obviously. That includes your personality, or your wife's personality.


And you know, but if you, well, okay. So, I'm sorry to bring my wife up here. And that suffering is the result of all of that, and that the antidote for it The antidote for these three marks is wisdom and an insight into these things you're grabbing onto as elusive. Three marks. Impermanence, non-substantiality of things, and suffering. Okay, now why is virtue important? Well, if you read in here, the first thing they say, this really shows you a little bit of difference between the Theravadins and the Mayanic group. The first thing they say is, because virtue safeguards against remorse, isn't that true?


If you want to have a calm mind so that you can penetrate things and be liberated, you better practice virtue or you're going to be torn by remorse. Imagine going into the Zendo and having done all these things that you don't approve of yourself. Your mind is really agitated. So safeguard against remorse, being dogged by remorse. The other thing is virtue brings joy and happiness. And wisdom depends on clearing the mind of dispersive influences of non-virtuous acts, right? You want to do that, now these are like, let's say, the precepts, right? Like killing, stealing, so on. These cause a lot of disturbances in the environment, don't they?


If you, you know, you involve yourself in those kinds of gross, non-virtuous activities, you are surrounded by problems. It's hard to keep a clear mind and steady and really penetrate the nature of reality if you're involved in those things. So you want to calm down the environment, that's the purpose of virtue, so that you can become concentrated. so that you can penetrate the true nature of things. Now, the Mahayana approach is more like, your mind goes to, oh, precepts are there because you want to help people out. It has to do with compassion and saving all beings. This is kind of the Mahayana approach. Of course, the Theravadins, are very good at doing that also. I mean, that's where they go with it, ultimately. But they go through this other door, this other calming the mind door, which is kind of an interesting door.


Now, so virtue, you better practice virtue. And then you sever the impediments. You got any impediments? to virtue or any impediments to calming down in your life that you don't really need to have? There's a whole list of them in here. Especially if you're a monk living in 400 A.D., there's 10 impediments actually. And then after you've kind of dealt with, or I think it's a continual process dealing with impediments to your shamatha, to your calming, your centeredness, then you go find what they call a good friend. A good friend is your teacher, and your teacher will meet with you and talk with you about your practice and size you up.


What kind of person are you? They have different types. One is like greed, hate, and delusion. There are people who are really into being angry nasty or they have problems in that area. And there are other people who are too lustful, it becomes a problem, and sensual, eat too much, I don't know. And they kind of psych those out or confuse people. And then they'll give you a practice that helps you calm that down. And they have these 40 different subjects. Loving kindness meditation, real good. In fact, a Zen priest of mine, I remember telling me when There was lots of problems at Green Gulch years ago, and there's like a bad blood, you know, and he started practicing loving kindness meditation, which is, you know, it seemed to work for him. And there are various, there's compassion meditations, there's, you know, the four of vows, there's a meditation where you sort of appreciate the happiness of other people,


So there are different meditations that are antidotes for different little problems that we might have. Now, discursive, anybody that's very speculative thinks a lot, discursive thinking. Breathing meditation, maybe this is Zen people, you know. Breathing meditation is good for that. If you're particularly conceited, meditation on impermanence is what you'll be doing. Now, so there are different ones for different temperaments. You find your own. In fact, people do that, don't they? They end up in different flavors of Buddhism or other religions, and within even a particular Buddha, they'll do various things that are appropriate to their mental circumstance. So we've been studying taking time out and concentration practice as it exists in this book.


Now the jhanas, remember the jhanas? He went through these four. These are absorption states. And I'll read you a definition of them. The jhanas are states of deep mental unification which result from the centering of the mind upon a single object with such power of attention that a total immersion in the object takes place. So these are actually natural mental events that happen. Many people have had the experience of like getting really absorbed in something, you know, and what they're doing or something, and then somebody taps you on the shoulder, you gotta go, oh, you know, all of a sudden you begin to hear what's going on, and you come back to the more general reality. So we do these jhanas, but we're not developed in them. And you can actually develop a way of entering them willfully.


You can decide, I'm going to do that to calm my mind down. And then hopefully, if you're grabbing at it though, if it's for ego reasons, you won't go into it. It's one of the odd things about jhanas. They don't work. You won't get absorbed if you're doing it for some weird reason. So, the Buddha entered these. So, the pre-Buddhists developed this system, and Buddha was the pre-Buddhist. He was a pre-Buddhist and he was really good at it. He used it. Nowadays, even the Theravadan monks, the Vipassana people, they don't emphasize jhanic absorption meditations. One of the things, I won't go into this in any great detail because we don't have time, but when you're in these states, you're not thinking.


So in terms of what your intention is for entering the states, you do that before you enter the state. You get it together about what are you doing or why are you doing it. You get into the state and then your intention has momentum that carries along with the absorption. So that was the Buddha inclining his mind. He actually inclined it before he went into the states. So there are different depths of of serenity practice. And as I said, the jhanic ones are not practiced very often, but now they're getting actually a little bit more play. What happened was I was down in Tassajara as a practice leader, and I had a couple of students come to me who were doing jhanic meditation. And they asked me, is that okay? Can I do that in the zen temple? They said, this is really great. You know, when I'm in the kitchen, I may be irritated by somebody, I'll just kind of get concentrated.


Everybody should be doing it, they thought, to avoid facing life. But the Buddha said, no, that's not right intention. So you don't get too absorbed then. So the Vipassana people really aren't doing much of it. But they do what's called momentary or neighborhood concentration. Isn't this kind of interesting? Have you ever heard of this stuff before? Momentary concentration, and I'll read the definition, and you may recognize this, is a dynamic concentration which flows from object to object but retains enough intensity and collectiveness sufficient to purify the mind of hindrances. It develops naturally with insight practice, goes directly to contemplation of all phenomena that you're grasping at, right?


The aggregates they call. Observing them moment by moment results in momentary concentration or clarity. And so it's like sitting zazen a little bit, right? Just things come up. The next thing comes up, but the concentration, you've got enough intensity there to just stay with it, be awake. Maybe it's called being awake. The Vipassana maybe puts in a little intention to penetrate the impermanence, insubstantiality, and suffering in the things that come up. And then there isn't that little extra concept there. We sort of drop that concept out, just stick with it. But this momentary concentration, they call it dry vipassana practice. That's what they call it, the Theravadans. That means not going into jhanic absorption, just go direct.


And you can have a level of concentration that's good. and do this. So I'm sorry if this is more than you need to know. In fact, you don't need to know anything, right? Except who you are. And you just changed, so don't even hold on to that. So we're studying this jhanic meditation at Green Gulch, and I've been thinking about it a lot. make you think about it. So, in the end, let me bring a little Zen note here. Linda Ruth Katz, abbess of Green Gulch, was leading a seven-day Sashin, and she gave this lecture that had to do with the eight awakenings of great beings.


See, this is Mahayana, right? Eight awakenings of great beings. The first awakening is awakening to having few desires. And this is Buddha's last teaching, they say, and Dogon's. The second is knowing how much is enough. The third is enjoy tranquility and serenity, which is maybe concentration. The fourth is awakening for diligent efforts. Fifth, don't neglect mindfulness. Pay attention. Sixth, awakening of practicing meditation. Please do. Cultivate wisdom is the seventh. And what is wisdom? We all know now, don't we? Seeing the three marks. The eighth is not engaging in hollow discussions.


So Linda talks about the third awakening, which is enjoying serenity and tranquility. And the Buddha said if you want to have the joy of serenity, non-doing, and by the way, a proximal cause of concentration, which is a factor, a mental factor, is joy. So when you become concentrated, joy arises. He says you should be away from crowds, stay alone in a quiet place. So Linda Ruth says, So wait a second, she says, I see it as finding tranquility and serenity each day of our life. In all the activities throughout the day, we find our place of practice. This may be coming to your cushion each day, or to your yoga mat, the practice of bowing at meals in every action, this is during Sashin, walking, talking, lying down, standing and sitting.


all our practices of enjoying serenity and tranquility away from the crowds and noise. You don't have to go far, she says. Can we find our tranquility and serenity right here? Dogen calls serenity tranquil and unintentional peace. And at this time in our lives, in this world of war, each one of us needs to make ourselves a place of peace. with our Dharma brothers and sisters, with our families, with those who disagree with us, with those who we feel are hurting others. Can we find a place of tranquility and peace and work from there? This is a, to end with, this is a, Something we say at St. Quentin, at the end of our meditation.


So, we extend clear and magnanimous mind throughout space and time for the benefit of all sentient beings. We dedicate the merit of our meeting here today and discussion about the teachings of the Buddha to our great teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, and to our founder, Zen Master Ehei Dogen, and Zen Master Keizan Joken. And we further dedicate this meeting to all teachers of truth throughout the worlds. To heads of state, may they lead us in wisdom. To all those who are suffering, and to those who have died in great travail, and to those who have died unborn. Let us now hold these in our hearts and minds.


May we and everyone together realize the way of perfect understanding and compassion.