Maylie Scott Bears the Unbearable Sesshin: Close Aspects of Practice

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thank you good morning
my it's a beautiful crisp very clear autumn morning here in berkeley and i'm happy to be here with you
we are
having our one day sitting that is the and of are aspects of practice period
ah we've had a wonderful month ah delving into stories ah from the hidden lamp that
stories from twenty five centuries of
awakened women ah
and ah i'm going to speak from that today
ah but just to really appreciate the
the energy that these awakened women awakened in us over the last month it was really it was quite palpable ah in our classes and and talks and just the energy in which we
put ourselves forward into the practice self a very inspiring
i'm sorry it's
over today whatever that means over you know it's like ah
to mark this is over is like the the story of
catching a fish and then painting a mark on the side of your boat so you can remember where it was that you caught the fish
ah we can we can keep going i like to read a story that has its origins here at berkeley's and center it's in the in the book it's called
lilly scott meets loneliness and title
i can talk about down a bit but they repeated the story
this is an actual occurrence that happened ah and ah
was shared with the authors i think of the the editors of the pin lamp ah so very simple story
crying in despair and earnest student asked her teeth teacher say show me the scott
i've worked so hard to transform this crippling loneliness i can neither shake it nor live with it can you help with can you help me
holding the student at a steady gaze and offering her confident smile merely ended the conversation with
please don't ever think anything is out of place
i read it again crying in despair and earnest student ask your teacher social billy scott
i've worked so hard to transform this crippling loneliness i can neither shake it nor live with it can you help me
holding the student at a steady gaze and offering are confident smile maybe ended the conversation with please don't ever think anything is out of place
in the book the yeah
commentary is by diane blue show hamilton who was a good friend she's a teacher at the two arrows zen center in salt lake city utah
ah she's in in the white plum lineage
and a her commentary
delves into the question of
which was of course the questions at the that the yeah
student product
i'd like to re-frame that a little and i think that one of the things about working with a as in corn or
teaching is that
the teaching is for you
the teaching is for me
it's not
confined to
the particular words or circumstances of the story
that's relevant it's not irrelevant it's quite relevant the circumstances but how one reads of case
the fundamental question is what resonates with each of our with your circumstance with my circumstance
it's i'll talk about that
but i'd like to in a classic case show ah
then then lecture ah
the teacher offers a kind of context about the
protagonist of the case or protagonists ah and i'd like to say a little about bailey
is quite a few people in the zendo i would say maybe
third to half of of us knew maley
and maybe quite a few of you didn't ah but she was a
he really grew up in zen practice here at berkeley's answer
was really a fixture ah she was here virtually every day often twice a day ah lived nearby a on on ashby ah
she worked as a ah as a psychologist and social worker
she raised three children
ah and
like many of us i think she came to zen practice with essential question of
what am i doing here in the world
when i came ah
she was was the people that was already well established as a practitioner here as or off i look around the room and kevin and always noticing the people who were ah who are actually wells istat
lived and does your people that i looked up to those people that i do look up to and maybe was somebody that i looked up to she she was ah
she carried herself as an elder
ah ah and ah she had hey
a kind of uprightness and clarity to her to her nature that was that was quite striking

i found something that i had written ah in two thousand and eleven which was ten years after her death
ah i wrote a kind of a blog piece remembering her and in there is a to mainly was like a tree
feet firmly on the ground graying head and smile reaching towards the sky
at berkeley zen center at buddhists peace fellowship and in other circles of life
i relied on melee for unsentimental clarity and heart
as a dharma sister she was always willing to listen fully to challenge assumptions even her own and two point again again to the streets of zazen
she was an exemplar for women practitioners who are coming into their own the strange york
and in life and death
she showed us a way to bear the unbearable
so over time ah in practice
we worked together for a closely ah
we were we shared deceit that i sit in now ah we shared that seat we were but we weren't both sitting in the same time we treated it back and forth we repost we were called toronto's i hear
taking a physician as as a new position and then ah
we had dharma transmission together at tassajara
and right after really
as the transmission was complete bailey just had this illumination
bristol she she added this illumination she was ah
just so joyous and a transmission which is something that
had earlier point i think she was quite skeptical about ah but it freed her and what she decided to do was to move to arcadia calif
where she had been teaching for maybe eight or ten years on a very part-time basis and she she decided she move up there and not and really establish a a zen center on
don't have our model and our our tradition
and she did that chief she and the community found some land she bought a house she built the zendo ah she very quickly became a beloved teacher there ah
and then she got sick and died
she was only there for about two and a half years i think ah yeah that's right because we were transmitted in ninety eight and she died in may of two thousand and one
ah and surgeon roshi and mary most seen and i were wizard with her and the community that that week before she died when she died
palm and
it was too soon
it was a painful loss and i think it was a loss to ah to the food is the wider buddhist community loss of a of a really creative enter pioneering woman practitioner
ha and ha i still miss her
but along with that seat what we shared also was ah
a passion for social justice and social change so in those years ah i was the executive director of with his peace fellowship and she was shoes on the board for quite a while but i've also just watched her in whatever
community setting
she found herself are there things we have some of you have fuck cooked for the berkeley men's shelter
well she started that
ah a number of us have worked out or had the women's prison the federal corrections is in dublin and that was also something that she started
ah she very regularly
ah went out to the year
to protest and sit on the tip on the tracks or by the drag the conquered naval weapons station and i think she was doing that in the early eighties even before i came here and ah
she did that with great regularity and sir planted a
a buddhist flag for this kind of ah
it's kind of social action civil disobedience she was arrested many times ah and are
always came back for more
so this is
some sense of of who may the was and we we recognize we remember her ah
several times a week with chances this method a metre prayer you're familiar with that ah
that was her
her gloss on the i love met the ceuta
and at the end sorry these lines because i think there
they give you the other another side from what the story is in this book
self-test if the message of the of the case is please don't ever think anything is out of place
then how do we understand these lights
by the same person these words from the same person may i continually cultivate the ground as piece for myself and others and persist mindful and dedicated to this work independent of results
may i know that my peace and the world's peace are not separate that are peace in the world is a result of our work for justice
they all beings be well happy and peaceful
i will say that the the j word
justice is it is very rarely spoken in the
in buddha dharma
but it's part of our dharma as far as i'm concerned ah it it means the image that we have coming out of the western tradition of justice is ah
a robed greek figure woman but woman are blindfolded holding a scale
and so it's an attempt to blindfolded part is ah
someone is not prejudiced by one's preconceptions
or by what we might call unconscious bias
to treat everyone equally
and the scale
to meet met the
the intention of justice is to bring things into balance
so i want to return to this to this story

the context given here is loneliness
and the difficult response that merely offers is
please don't ever think anything that's out of place
i don't feel for me i have to say
when i read this first the loneliness just that is struck me like an ice pick
it's interesting the fundamental
the fundamental nature of my life right now is not particularly lonely
i feel like i spent whole decades
ah wandering in that wilderness
i'll never forget it
i'll never not be able to access that
i feel my heart open
two people who are experiencing that
and that's ah
that's the the brute beautiful commentary by michelle
ah goes to that into her own experience of of that and of letting that loneliness in
instead of trying to drive it away
but what resonates to me in these words is something wider
that includes loneliness
but it includes the entire territory of suffering
perfectly his sufferings that
and that seem not to have

it's a it's like you walk and for some reason the images coming up to me right now is like
you know that this
box canyons in the
in the desert areas of the of the west where this a one way in and there's no way out
and i think of this i'm talking about the unbearable like that like to enter this canyon and there's no way out
and for some reason the door back for the entryway the passage is blocked
and i think that that
to me that's what resonates with me about what the was seen ah
please don't ever think anything is out of place
that's a big problem for us
what does it mean you know week
mail bombs were sent to
democratic politicians in supporters
when a guy in kentucky
tries to break into an african american baptist church and failing that it goes to the to the nearby propers market across the street and kills two black people for no reason
when we have these killings in
synagogue in pittsburgh
and yesterday there was a
the hull shooting in a yoga studio in tallahassee
where two people were killed and four wounded this
perpetrator had a history of
violent assaults on women
ah i realized that there was to my vows that would i
where i wish i had done was to write down all the victims names
so that
just so that we could call them forth ha
please don't think don't ever think anything is out of place
but it is
i think what maisie with speaking of
there's another is an admonition that
we here we are literally we used to hear it that's so much here but in other places i've been ah if you're sitting zazen
and the paid in your legs is really fierce
and you shift your legs
somebody would say top move
and really that's a ah
that's an attitude we can have towards their life and i've often
had to
ask people who were facing these difficult situations
encourage him don't move
for me
there's an operative word
and there's a moment when these things are said
the operative word
he is now
so i hear what made with seen as
it's interesting please don't ever ever think anything is out of place now
when i say don't move i say don't move now
so that you can really feel what's going on in your body
and in your mind and in your life
and there will be a time to move
if you can sit with you
painful legs
the bell will ring
you're not been condemned for eternity
to being tied up in that position
ah although we can feel like eternity
one minute can feel like eternity
to say
nothing is out of place now
he's really to allow you the space not to know what's going on
and to
just observe
i think i'm a to looks up i think it is that the control one of the control chapter of send my beginner's fine for he
since if you if he talks about everything
always changing against an unchanging background is that the right
seen river but he describes reality is that way

i feel that maybe was speaking to
the student
about that moment because right at that moment of ah terrible emotionality and fear
ah and
that sense of crippling loneliness
of course ah
what we want is rethinking to be different from how we perceive them to be
it come back to the question of now

i'm sitting with my teacher i'm sitting with my friend
in one of us is having great difficulty whether it's loneliness or illness or fear or frustration
one to jump out of our skin at the
present political and social climate in this country
when i go to that
that i'm turning away from the person who is in front of me
and between us
in that moment
nothing has had a place
hi for me when i entered the story
that's what i feel merely was saying
she was offering
nothing is out of place right now in this moment
here we are
and that that's a teaching that you can use to meet each moment
each moment is complete
that completeness is the background and suzuki roshi is speaking of the unchanging bathroom but
the conditions of our life the conditions of our society things change should we have two cents about them
and within that we're meeting each moment with nothing at a place even though it's really uncomfortable

you know there's a
there's an interesting
the ambiguity of this particular story is
here is our two people in an intimate relationship
in that moment
and one is weeping with loneliness

if we're caught
in the vigor of our emotions
we can forget what's actually right in front of us we can devalue it
ah and
it may be the very thing that we need

so i'm thinking about this
let's the last week i went for a monday to thursday ah
some of us have organized what we call an election sushi
ah hell there's a group
in hanford
of california in the central from agricultural area the central valley and group in carson city in ah
a number of people from from berkeley have been doing this a number cricket into the politics of it but ah this was there i missed you ah penelope was there can't see is anyone else
but there's a lot a bunch of our friends are there you need in both places

i had to keep it part of me really wanted to be there and ah wanted to be with friends who were doing this work with network is mostly the core of it is going around house the house and ah
getting encouraging people to vote
ah encouraging to vote for a particular candidate but it's really essentially want them to vote
ha this is hard for me
to ah
just knock on doors cold
it's not my strong suit
but sometimes you have wonderful experiences and sometimes you actually a really difficult painful experiences and ah
we had a dharma talk so basically the context of this also is we set it up like the session we sit every morning we have all yogi breakfast or aoki dinner ah we sit in the evening we have worked to take care of the place that we're living in where i was was beautiful
oil walnut form ah just
we at a town it was really a lovely atmosphere hello
nice hold rambling house
this going from house to house is not my strong suit
you know what i felt was that i was at a place
this is not turf that i was familiar with
ah there's the voices of my head say i don't wanna be here
and have we just have to stop before each house
and collect myself
and tell myself just as industry there's nothing missing right now
and i bring myself to the door ring the bell
something will happen he often doesn't happens cause always on but ah if there's somebody home something somebody something will happen and i have some
ability to
shape what that something is how i mean it

it reminds me after all
reasons that are beyond my understanding a weekend from mainly dies i almost died
i have had an infection which became a septic and systemic and i was in they entered him
in the
emergency room and in the icu for several days in hospital for two weeks have a lot of pain
and ah
it was really
and i told laurie i said i don't think i can do this
and she said you don't have any choice
an as is so what do i do
and she's that you really have to just go breath by breath
and i said i hadn't an owner how far i have to go before i lose a sense of humor but what what i said was okay
friends fibrous but i'm gonna grown on the outbreaks
which i did actually very satisfying
but breath by breath and the moments freaked by they just hardly moved at all

but it was a way she was turning me towards practice
in this story
maybe says flintoff everything casing is out of place she's turning student towards practice
i guess encourage you to do
keep that in mind all of us are facing difficult situations of one kind or another
a hand we can help each other rely on practice
before open up i just want to say ah i think it's located we're going to have ah for noon ceremony or nunes service
long service we're going to do a we're going to get a key the service to the victims of the
hey prime said have taken place this week and does anyone who would like to stay or be here for the surfaces is welcome to do that i won't
it's just going to be
a few words in the heart sutra and the
the days and running here for those who are lost it's not going to be an elaborate memorial but you're welcome to stay for that if you like
so we have a few minutes you have have any thoughts or any questions yeah paco
someone working the garden one day and i make working and the weekend roughing up the flowers and roughing it around and someone came in
asked everyone to be more gentle the plants
and other blue sky i get this answer which was i trust the elephant charging the jungle now you can of enjoys the the jungle and breaks everything as it goes and
serve a purpose for pathways and
you know allowing the transformation and life of the jungle with
i see these terrible things happening
and you suggest merely turns us to practice what would you say
how you
how is it that out of place or how is are now response to it
what were we were we go with that
i really i don't know where we go i think
what merely saying is see what's happening right now what's happening what are you experiencing this is what elon was web was talking about in teachings of gioco ah joker back
you can go and you can you can examine its for what's going on in your body
in reaction to these activities and then
remain open so i talked about
i mentioned the these peacemaker tenants not knowing
ah which is
not knowing what the situation is really and then bearing witness seen what the
ah what takes place and out of that
it can come quickly it can come slowly ah there's
an appropriate response
her eyes it so
in light of the
things they've been happening in this country last weekend middle
don't say ah it's actually a synthesis with a family of channeling surgeon ah it's always been happening
you know there's nothing pure about american history or any history but there seems like there's a kind of intensification now that ah and it's because of that then i felt okay i have to go
two hanford
it's part of the motivation that kiss me walking the streets and going door to door because okay here's something i can do i am also aware that in net
the maybe something i can do but i you know i have a sense of where of how it might be a benefit but it's no guarantee the benefit will also come with the deficit
but still in balance what appears to be beneficial to sentient beings this is this is also this is what
me the road in in the metro prayer on

may i continue continually cultivate the ground of peace for myself and others so that's also part of the valve
anyway no instruction books
yeah ronnie



yeah i think it's true and in some ways it was also
it was never exactly articulated by her as well ah you know i sought one of the thing said
that i've done was wrong with with her friend angie voice a we will kind of
helped steer or caterers and group for about fifteen years after she died ah and
there is something about
quality of personhood whatever i don't know what mysterious to me you know it's like
nobody it's so wild and woolly up there in arcadia you know it's people
ah people are really reluctant to follow rules or forums or be you know feel like they're regimented in any way and she came and just without a lot of direction
ah things kind of constituted themselves around her hair and are a big impression on people's lives and she made a big impression of people's lives here

talked about that
yeah well hum
heroin there's so much i could say about her and about how she worked not data but it's it's another conversation this give
thank you didn't know
that's all that
met medicare
and what i hear
said is nice
there is nothing
and ourselves
that last line a better player
the last night that
continually holiday
the tennis results the results don't
neither do we have to keep working action as appropriate
we have that and yeah
whether his agitation
yeah i think
independent of result is a
does not mean
independent of your intention
so what we're taught again and again
what is wholesome
not what is unwholesome now that has a
that sounds really good
except when you start thinking and you're not quite sure what wholesome you know but what you don't know whether your intention is your intention to oh i would say do it connects you
with other people not what divides you from other people
that's to me the meaning of wholesome and unwholesome and on
we can know what our intention is
but it's good for actually learning we need to also ah
look not to the results but to the impact
you know and that's that's part of our
the entering of not knowing you know but what you do know what you have some senses were my intention is to connect not to divide is to love not hate and so forth say
i felt really frustrated by her signs i don't think
i feel frustrated by this is common understanding that
she was returning student for some practice i think
you know hearing something like that and it really takes me out of the woman that i started feel like i have to progress whatever i'm feeling are experiencing
with a hunting things so i understand desk and i understand this and i understand that i'm still having this
yes i i announced i really feel like
i don't know if somehow condescending were somehow not i don't know if somebody so that he obviously and and know this person's lot of people your dad and i i i just it makes me feel very

you know what it it's almost like are saying that
because i know
and this is like a question of what asked like that those are my messy because i don't
i can tell i
first of all
i really i hear that
to the best of my understanding this story was reported by the student has as a as a has received turning words
on that that person's
ah story
what occurs to me is ah what's missing
if i can say this is
that this happened in the context of an intimate and long term relationship of trust and mutual accountability between merely in the student now ah and so you're not experiencing that
ah but you but you might
it was in that relational context that that's possible but i want to sit the cells which is ah
meili could be aloof
he could be stern
in and ah
there was a tough and not warm side to her
ah you know we have to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of our teachers as humans and i think you are intuitively
there's something that you're picking up
that has some meaning
but that's not the meaning that the person the question is what do we do with it and you know i'm suggesting one course you're actually suggesting something else which i think is good this is what we tell we talked about on before i left a hanford
on thursday
the discussion opened up about how difficult the canvassing was for quite a number of people there and how they felt anxiety and our resistance now of course there's also to steer some people who really thrive on it
you know but ah
we can't pretend that the other side is not there i think that's what i'm hearing so make one more year fifth
ratio he said his part of the the text of the case then stood out to be both times you read it
and i don't know if i'm terry correctly
doesn't necessarily pieces
he said no
since she may have dressed
right we we know it it implies that ah

and it's interesting cause what was reported a recounted was this and not the other so that that's very interesting but but the other part of the conversation one can imagine
was building a whole relational structure
and a an imperfect structure in that moment
and then the zen teacher gives the zinger
i think i believe it there