November 2nd, 2002, Serial No. 00170, Side B

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Both sides #ends-short


I vow to taste the truth of the Tathagata's words. Good morning. In the never-ending experiment of Zen in America, today we're having a kids' lecture. First a kids' lecture and then a lecture for the rest of you kids. So we are really lucky to have you children here with us today. This kid's lecture is Li Hong's idea. And I was inspired by Li Hong to try it out. So the rest of you are all captive in this experiment.


Best of luck to all of us. So I'm going to read a story and then we'll see if you have some things to say about the story and then the kids will leave and then the rest of us will have another story and then we'll have tea and Tea and cookies. That's the program, roughly. This is a special wrapping for this book. So this story has a name. And the name of the story is Mean Soup. Mean Soup. It's a story about a little boy named Horace.


His name is Horace. Can you say Horace? Horace. Yeah, that's his name. He's a little boy with, he's got a very interesting outfit on. You see, there he is. It's a nice picture of him, isn't it? yellow background and this nice frame around it, that's Horace. And what it says here is, it had been a bad day for Horace. So this story starts out with Horace having a bad day and here's what happened. Here he is in school. He forgot the answer to question three. He forgot the answer. Look at him. He's got his hands on his face. How do you think he feels? Maybe a little embarrassed because he thought he knew the answers to the questions, but he didn't know the answer to question three.


Poor guy. This girl behind him with little ponytails coming out the side of her, she's got her hand up and her eyes closed like this. She knows the answer, but Horace doesn't. And on top of that, in school, Zelda gave him a love note. Zelda looks a little older than Horace. And another thing that happened is that Lulu, the show and tell cow, you know how you have show and tell in school? They have a show and tell cow in this school. She stepped on his foot. Is Horace having a bad day or what?


As if that wasn't enough, his mother sent Miss Pearl to pick him up at school. There's Miss Pearl. I don't know, there's something about Miss Pearl that Horace doesn't like. Maybe it's the bird that stands on her hair. She's maybe a funny kind of lady. Anyway, Horace is disappointed that Miss Pearl picked him up at school. Huh? She sees the sheep. She sees the sheep. Right. It does look like sheep. She swerved and screeched and nearly killed three poodles on the way home. It says Miss P on the license plate. You see that? And there's Horace looking out the back of the window. Boy, he is having a bad day. Horace felt so mean, so mad, he stepped on a flower.


Look at that, he's walking, that's the path to his house, the sidewalk, and there are flowers growing on the side. He put down his lunchbox and stepped off the side of the path and just, squished a flower. He is so mad. Do any of you ever get mad? No. Somehow he hung. I doubt that. His mother said. His mother said hello. And Horace. hissed. That guy is mad. Come on in, David and Dad. His mother, see his mom? She has kind of yellowish hair.


She's got her hands on his shoulders. She looks kind of happy and sweet, doesn't she? But look at him, his mouth is kind of Pressed together, he's not too happy. His mother said, how was your day? And Horace growled. He growled. Boy, is he mad. He is mad. His mother says, let's make soup. Not an interesting idea. Let's make soup, she says. She looks kind of happy about it. She's got two spoons in her hands there. Can you see those? And here she's got a soup pot on her head and she's dancing. She's got one leg way up. She's got dancing shoes and so on.


Horace is lying flat on the floor. Sort of looking up with one eye. What in the world is mom doing? She's kind of an actor, an actress. She likes to play around, have a good time. His mother filled a pot with water and set it on the stove. Big black pot. See the water running in there? She's got a little bit of a smile there. She's not laughing, but she's... When the water got hot, she threw in some salt. Look at how she did that. She throws the salt over her shoulder and kicks up her feet like that. Oh, so there's maybe a picture of a dog or something. Oh, what do you see here in the corner? Can you see that?


Horace is lying flat on his face on the rug. His face is just buried in his arms. She throws the salt in. Then, taking a breath, the mother screamed into the pot. Let's do that just for fun. You ready? She screamed into the pot. Thank you for bringing water. And look what happened here. Can you see him in the corner? Yeah, what's he doing? He's kind of looking, he's peeking, right? Looking around, he's a little interested. Your turn, she said. So Horace got on a stool, standing on a stool there, and he screamed in the pot also. His mother screamed louder.


Horace growled and bared his teeth. He is mad. Look at that. Can you see his eyebrows? They're sort of pointed. Teeth. I know how to do the rectangle, too. You do? Yeah. The water started to boil. His mother stuck out her tongue right into the pot. Horace's little eyes, which you can hardly see, are looking at his mother sticking out her tongue. So Horace stuck his tongue out 20 times. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. He banged on the pot with a spoon.


Bang, yeah. He breathed his best dragon breath. Look at that huge flame coming out of there. Yeah, huge flame. Then he smiled. Little teeny smiles, got a sand on his face. His mother smiled too. What's the name of this recipe, he said. She said, ween soup. And they stood together, stirring away a bad day.


That's the end of the story. Do you think that Horace was really mad in this story? Do you ever get angry like that? Ever? Just a really tiny bit? How about you, Mira? No. No? Sometimes. What? Sometimes. Sometimes. Good. Did Horace's mom help him out? How'd she help him? She screamed. She screamed and did... And she... It's hard to explain. It's hard to explain, but she screamed into the pot. She made soup and she screamed right along with Horace, didn't she? Yeah, she helped him out. Do you think your mom or your dad would help?


But the cow stepped on his toe. The cow did step on his toe. Yep. Do you think that was an accident? I think so too. She didn't do it on purpose, but I bet it hurt anyway. It hurt anyway and he got mad. He got very mad. And his mother saw that when he came home. And she helped him out in a very nice way. so your mom or dad could help you out. Huh? He stepped on a flower. He stepped on a flower. That's right. Would you like to go play now? I think it's time now. The story's at the end. It's been wonderful to have you here. Let's have a hand for the kids. I think it was a good idea, Lihon.


Thank you for sharing that story. Yeah, it's a good story. Okay, see you later. That's it Well, I have a story for you, too It's actually a similar story. I'll read it to you first, it's pretty short.


This story is called Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dharma. It's the Buddha's first talk which he gives to the five ascetics with whom he'd been practicing just before he woke up. So he woke up and he came and gave this talk to these five ascetics. You've probably heard this story before. Thus have I heard, Once the one who enjoys the spoils of victory was staying at Isipitana near Benares. He spoke to the group of five ascetics as follows. Monks, there are two extremes which one who has left the household life should not resort to.


Two extremes to be avoided. What are they? One is devotion to sense desire and sense pleasure. It is demeaning. It is the way of ordinary folk. It is unworthy and unprofitable. The other way is devotion to self-mortification. It is painful and ignoble. It is not conducive to the real purpose of life. Giving up these extremes, the one who has been there has woken up to the middle way which provides insight and understanding and causes peace, wisdom, enlightenment, and nirvana. And then he tells us something about this middle way.


He tells us about four noble truths. And the first one goes like this. It's called the Noble Truth of Dukkha. This is a Pali and Sanskrit word, which means something like affliction or adversity. The noble truth of dukkha is this, birth, old age, sickness, death, grief, lamentation, pain, depression, and agitation are dukkha. Dukkha is being associated with what you do not like, being separated from what you do like, and not being able to get what you want. Second is the noble truth of Samudaya.


Response to adversity. It is this. It is thirst for self-recreation, which is associated with greed. It lights upon whatever pleasures are to be found here and there. It is thirst for sense pleasure, for being. and non-being. The third is the noble truth of nirodha, or containment. This is the complete capturing of thirst. It is to let go of, to be liberated from, and to refuse to dwell in the object of that thirst. The fourth truth is the noble truth of marga, or the right path, or track.


It is this. It is the noble eight limb way, namely right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right samadhi, or concentration. Then he speaks in a little more about each of the noble truths from the point of view of himself as he discovered them. He talks about his own process. He says, this is the noble truth of adversity. This was the insight, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, and clarity which arose in me about things I had not been taught. Adversity should be understood to be a noble truth.


This was the insight, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, and clarity which arose in me about things I had not been taught. full understanding of adversity as a noble truth has dawned. This was the insight, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, and clarity which arose in me about things I had not been taught." He makes a similar statement about his process with respect to the other three truths. Then he says, as long as I had not got a completely clear insight and understanding in all these three ways about each of these four noble truths, I could not be sure that there was anyone in the world, divine or human, who had woken up to the highest and most complete enlightenment. However, when my insight and understanding had become completely clear in all these 12 turnings of the wheel,


Then I knew for sure that there was someone in the world who had woken up to the highest and most complete enlightenment. Then I knew that the liberation of my mind was unassailable. This is the last step. There is no further step." When the victorious one, the Buddha, said these things, the five monks were filled with joy. In one of them, Kondana, the pure Dharma eye was completely opened. He woke up right then and there. He saw that whatever can arise can be contained. Then there was a joyful cry and the earth shook several different ways and wonderful things happened. And finally, the Blessed One said, Venerable Kondana has understood.


And from that day on, he was given the name He Who Understood. So this is a familiar old story. It's maybe the basic story of Buddhism subject to interpretation. This is one interpretation that you've heard today in this recitation.


This is the first talk he gave after he woke up, after he had practiced for some years with the ascetics. He'd been practicing ascetic style, mortification, not eating, not drinking, and so on. Tough life. He was a bag of bones lying in a ditch, And he was rescued by a milkmaid who gave him a little something to eat. She did an unusual thing giving some curds or rice or something to this bum lying on the side of the road instead of offering them to the forest gods as she'd been instructed by her mom. Anyway, this was helpful to the Buddha And he began to realize that this ascetic practice that he'd been pursuing for some years didn't work, wasn't going to work.


Just as the practice earlier in his life, living in a palace, with tremendous luxury and hidden away from suffering, that hadn't worked either. Because then when he discovered that there was suffering in the world, he realized there were no answers, no way to handle that reality, given the earlier life he had led of indulgence. So the Buddha has bracketed his practice, self-indulgence on the one side and severe asceticism on the other, and he rejects both extremes. He says this is not the way. There's a middle way, which is not exactly just a sort of compromise. not just a way to settle an argument quickly between the two extremes, it's really a third way.


And he describes what it is in the Four Noble Truths in Outline. The first noble truth is the noble truth of adversity or affliction. Things happen. Things happen to people. Things happen to all living creatures, and some of them are quite painful. To accept, to thoroughly accept and understand that truth about human life, that it is subject to painful events, afflictions, is ennobling. One need not be ashamed of encountering sickness, old age, death, and so on.


All the misfortunes that our lives are subject to. One should not be ashamed. On the contrary, to fully accept that that is the way things are, that's what it is to be human, is to encounter adversity is itself ennobling. It's dignified. Now actually, that would be enough. If we could practice that, the other three truths wouldn't need to be spelled out. But the Buddha, I think, realized that the first one's a little tough to take neat. So he elaborated the first noble truth into the second, third, and fourth. The second noble truth is that in response to affliction, to adversity, there are responses.


If you're alive, you respond. To fully accept, to understand, to appreciate in your bones that we respond to adversity, that there is a response in us, is ennobling. If you could completely penetrate that, understand that it is not something to be ashamed of, you would understand the Buddha's awakening. So, adversity, response to adversity. These are ennobling truths. If penetrated, if thoroughly understood in one's bones and flesh and heart, these are ennobling truths.


The third noble truth is that adversity and response to adversity can be contained. The responses that arise in us can be contained. This is the pivot. This is the pivot of spiritual practice. To be able to completely hold, to contain what arises in us as a consequence of affliction. If one can contain, this is ennobling. This is the noble life. in contrast, say, to escaping from what arises in us, trying to scramble away from adversity, the things that just naturally occur to human beings, and the very natural responses that arise in us.


To try to scramble away from those, or to crush them, to deny them, is ignoble. It's not dignified. In the second Noble Truth, what he describes is the arising of thirst. He says that what arises, one description of what arises in us is a thirst. It's a thirst for recreation, to change our circumstances to something else that we prefer, or to


become oblivious to our circumstances or to distract ourselves with sense pleasure. He says, a thirst in us arises to follow one of these paths, essentially to escape from what is presented in the First Noble Truth, namely the afflictions that we face. In the Third Noble Truth, He says, we do not have to pursue these distractions or these indulgences or these struggles to make things better. We do not have to pursue those objects of our thirst. Rather, we can contain the thirst, the impulse, that arises in response to affliction. That's containment.


So, the second noble truth is tanha, or thirst. Thirst is quite natural. Right? I mean, when you're thirsty, you don't feel bad about being thirsty. If you're lucky, you get a drink of water. you can relieve the thirst. But there's nothing ignoble about being thirsty. It's just being thirsty. The third noble truth is the key word is nirodha. Nirodha means Ni means down or to get under, to get down. And roda means something like earthen bank.


So it's to create a protection to get down in some protection. That's the third noble truth, this containment idea. The Buddha is employing a notion that everyone in his time would have appreciated and been familiar with, namely the controlling of a fire. So, The second noble truth, first, or more generally passion, feeling, emotional response, is fire. Fire, of course, is a wonderful thing. It's very helpful. We can cook food with it, produce energy, release energy, and it can also destroy us. So, the third noble truth is about building an embankment around the fire to protect it from wind.


The wind is the reaching out toward objects, which arises with the second noble truth, toward distractions. A woman comes home from work, she's had a hard day, She's angry. She reaches for the bottle of gin on the sideboard. She wants to escape the anger, the frustration, whatever it is, the emotion that her difficult day has brought to her. she reaches for a bottle of gin. I mean, it's interesting, you know, the bottle of gin has almost nothing to do with her actual situation. It's an object she moves toward. True, if she drank enough of it, she would become oblivious, perhaps temporarily, to her circumstances, but it's not a long-run solution, as we can appreciate.


Neither is indulgence in sense pleasure, nor indulgence in rage and blame of other people, and so on. We can see that these objects toward which we're impelled in feeling, feeling is always about something, right? So if I have a dull, uninteresting life, or I feel that it's dull and uninteresting, I might inappropriately fall in love. In fact, I remember doing that once. Well, actually I remember doing it more than once, but I remember once. I told a good friend of mine about that, about falling in love with someone, and she said, the heart's opening is a wonderful thing.


I mean, this is reflective of the Buddha's insight here. The heart's opening. is a wonderful thing. The feeling of love is crucial. It's great. It's energy. We don't want to stamp that out. What would life be like if we stamped out feelings? But the object is inappropriate. In this particular case, it was. Even though from inside, subjectively, of course, I've put all these feelings, all these feelings are rushing out toward this lovely woman who in many respects is an appropriate object of these feelings, but for me, inappropriate. Right? So it's not her. What's really wonderful here and can be contained and used beneficially is the feeling itself.


The heart's opening. This past week has been a very emotional time at Berkley Zen Center. Our dear friend, Dali Getozi, died a week ago last night. And many of you know her and know of her death. But our whole community really was involved in this important passing and her family came here, her brother and his wife and her mother. Dolly is 68 now and her mother is 94. They came from Alabama and stayed nearby and really spent this week with us. And together, all of us, members of the community, you know, we created a container in which all these feelings could be held.


The mother in her grief, a 94-year-old mother losing her child. We could hold that grief. We could wash Dolly's body. We could attend to her will, her resources. We could take care of one another. The community created a container for all this feeling. It was not wasted and frittered away with distraction or Oblivion. So Horace's mom helps him contain his anger.


He's this afflicted little boy. Lulu steps on his foot and so on. He has a hard day. You know, in the story, there's a container. There's this big pot. She puts it on her head and dances and then she fills it with water. It's a nice image, you know. But, you know, whatever she does, she helps Horace create a container. She puts her body and her empathy into helping make a container and Horace eventually looks up at her from the floor and he sees something he likes and he comes toward it and he can he can feel all his feelings. He doesn't have to fritter them away through shame. He doesn't have to kill himself in that way that we often try to do to eliminate unwelcome feelings.


The fourth noble truth just to finish them is the is the noble eightfold Track and it it's the life that arises from containment Right thinking and right meditation and right livelihood and and so on. Right effort, right everything follows from, comes out of this containment in the third Noble Truth. So it's a nice progression. First Noble Truth leads to the second, leads to the third, leads to the fourth. Do you have any comments or questions?


When I think about the unity of your two lessons, I remember this bumper sticker that I always like. It's something to the effect, it's never too late to have a happy childhood. suit was what for me was what mother did that actually she aligned herself with Horace and practiced what we call identity action yeah you know she you know she she got all the Yeah, right, the Buddha is addressing the same issue from how we relate to our own experience.


It's the same thing. The third noble truth is to align oneself with one's experience, not to head off in an extreme direction. Or oppositional. Or oppositional, right. Yes? Children quotes Trungpa as saying in the book, When Things Fall Apart, lean, don't walk away, don't run away, lean into the sharp points. Yeah. And that's, I'm wondering, from his end point, is that too extreme to deliberately try to make friends with your enemies, if you want to really embrace them, or is that alignment? I don't know. This is all metaphor, right? Leaning into... Sometimes, actually, what we feel we need to do is to take a step back.


Because we're so identified with our feeling, we think well that's me that's all there is and of course that's not true perhaps at that moment one is rage but then there's another moment and that there's a context for that for that rage there's a whole body here whole body and mind, sensations and feelings. And it's not just this body and mind, but there are other bodies and minds and communities and communities holding communities. So there's enormous context here. So sometimes we just have to step back But definitely we don't turn away. You know, in Zen we say turning away and touching, fiddling with, manipulating, are both wrong. Yeah.


David, before stepping forward and turning the wheel of the teaching,