The Self in Times of Turmoil

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.

Auto-Generated Transcript

i would like to you for i have some bad news for
revision which is recorded
i do
a thing where you shouldn't andrea thatch who is ah
a priest of this temple she said gamma disciple of searching is she saw and had most of the
one for positions that we have really sensitive
he's also a physician am
bellingham washington
hands down here everyday elegant to
practice to ah to help with things that you keep pocket and so ah well let to get this work
thank you jose
so good morning everyone
i'm i'm really heartened to see so many old friends here so many familiar faces some of whom i haven't seen in the zendo for some time and a lot of faces i don't know and that's also really encouraging to me
i realize in this time ah we look to a solid ground under our feet we look for something to help us find a way in a stability in this time i have had a number of conversations with people about what they were gonna do for the marches which i
think are now cancelled
but still the conversation as the air and i don't think that anyone in this country can be unaffected by the tenor of conversation and activity that's going on and so our practice ah is even more alive in the
the presence of how we're living our life because it's all around us in a different kind of way
this talk is meant to be a part of that flow and without planning it i find that i'm in a conversation from different perspectives with my dear dharma sisters karen sondheim and laurie senaki as their talks ah one of which i've heard in which i one of
which i haven't yet are related to the same topics i see that the same things are on our mind which is how we work with and transform our mind
the title of this talk is something like resiliency and pliant see ah
two of the eight
factors that are paired for enlightenment enlightened activity
as always my life have is my material and seems like when i'm looking for a talk something happened since the cavs piece something to chew on
and ah
things always begin with the story don't they
if you really look at how your mind works doesn't everything begin with the story it seems
so here's my current story as an example
i recently for reasons
i recently came into ownership of a house
and you know having a house means that you really responsible for it and you take care of it a slightly different kind of way even when you're responsible renter so i'm taking good care of my house and i particularly love the i have a yard and garden and i'm working hard to make the lawn and garden become kind of a
sanctuary or refuge that really matters to me of a landscaper who is gonna come next month we've been working on plans for it
so one morning i'm in my kitchen i can see out to the backyard where i parked my car and i see
the car pull up alongside or parallel to wear my car in the car
my car is parked and it seems awfully close and i think that's funny that's awfully close
and i watch for a while
and i see it's close because he's on my lawn
well that i don't like that very much i've you know it hurts the grass it's a little bit of an incline and can wear rots and it can increase the erosion i'm in the watershed i care very much about taking care of the watershed this isn't so good for that either
so i wait i'm sure he's just gonna run into the neighbor's house and pick her up i know he's the boyfriend nice guy we say hi in the morning times i'm sure it's nothing who had parked on anyone's lawn right
he doesn't come back fact there's a party happening next door the i assume there's a big gathering people
i start to feel annoyed why would anyone park on your lawn why would anyone where dense in your own hype cycle out and took a take a look around as he really on the lawn how could that really have happened and i see that other people are parked couple on a
and now my mind is really going i've got a whole story line going about no on pipeline parents would never have right a raised me to do that
have you ever sat along retreat and you know in the middle of that retreat at some point the same story is going over and over again
i have thirty days
my early years i used to sit thirty days silent retreats you sure get intimate with what your mind is made up on those retreats and i had one where i had the same actually probably had a pump three of them
where different versions of the same story played over and over again it was excruciating and yet they were they were there i couldn't loosen them if you've ever satish associate you have the same experience every time you sit down your knee hurts and before too long your sure that you've torn
a ligament or that your knees never gonna straighten out again or you might not be able to walk right after the session is over right or the dolan has fallen asleep and he falls asleep and every single period and how could that happen
over time we learned that those are creations really that we have some choice or we have some part in what appears in our mind and i wanna just talk a little bit about my experience and an opening that up some
ah we start by paying attention
the basic teaching the saudi pettiness who tries on mindfulness and we start by paying attention to our breath when we give us an instruction even zaza instruction which is really not so much a practice of paying attention to specific things we encourage people to notice the
breath as a kind of anchor i find it really comfortable and very relying on what reliable it's like listening for the ocean of the shore right if you're ever by the ocean is always there there's something about that that you you
you know how to orient
it's no
wonder that the more you practice us and the more you recognize that says that as a body practice it's really about being completely present in your body you become aware of sensations justice sensations you become aware of the nuances of your palm
future you become aware of the places where there's a burning or tingling or heat or som something there the slouch the angle
oh and you come back into being in your body
being in your horror in your breath
and you may notice
that some kind of a descriptor that some kind of district script or equality tingling he cool or sharp
if we're not fully present in paying attention there's perhaps some perception of this pain
discomfort years
it becomes some sort of a thing
and then our minds says oh
this is not something so good this is something that's pleasant i like this this is something that's unpleasant who
my neighbor is breathing heavily it's a loud sound breathing heavily he shouldn't do that you see the way that suddenly creates itself so quickly sometimes we think it just arises as a is he shouldn't be doing that
but actually first it's recognizing that it's someone next to you making an unpleasant loud sound that you don't like right so there's a whole chain of events that go on that begin with sensation the begin was some
kind of an awareness in the body
and we find as we observance sit with this that there are certain ways that we orient we tend to orient to these sense to these states that come up we either i tend to be people who have more tendency to a a a verses
or irritated people who tend to like certain things and focus on those this machine you sat where you are lustful about the gal who is sitting across the way that kind of thing they may be times when you're sleepy the whole time where times you're just caught up in all
kinds of wonderful fantasies so the mind has certain ways that it tends to orient but it all tends to arise out of being present in the body i find
i find that ah long before i'm aware of boy this hurts or i'm really annoyed by my neighbor parking on the lawn there's some reaction that i have this pre cognitive pre recognition that i can
begin to pay attention to and even before i really recognise that i was ruminating about my lawn there was something that was here in my body that i was paying attention to and saying this is unpleasant wait a minute this is unpleasant what's happening here
over time we develop some some facility many people in this room have some facility of sitting with these pleasant and unpleasant states and being able to reside and abide with them and really not be knocked around it's actually
a very very
helpful place to be it's kind of an encouraging place to be able to have these little son storms come up and and not react to them very much or to be able to be stable enough that they pass by that's really good
sometimes we stay there sometimes we think that's enough that that's actually the purpose of what we're doing in our practice i think that's one of the really important places to pay attention
there's something in practice called spiritual bypass spiritual bypassing i think means at least in part that you get comfortable sitting on the cushion with whatever comes up but the deeper understanding of of water right
rises and why it rises and really turning towards it an opening to it is more difficult and it's possible to sit on the cushion for many years and not necessarily come deeply into that place
i practice really asks of us to come deeply into that place when dog and century says and ganges call on study the self he's he's really talking about bump not gonna talk about ginger con but it's a kind of
seeing yourself so clearly down to the bottom that you don't get in the way of whatever is happening around you
in order to do that you really have to have some kind of understanding of how you're continually in the way i'm continually in the way i'm continually creating a self moment after moment after moment we all do and the nuances of the ways in which we do that are subtle i fi
find the longer run in practice the more subtle he become to me and ah
ah it's don't be discouraged by that it's actually ah very interesting it's very interesting and it's very ah
connecting with everyone else i think laurie talks something about how we make community and how we help each other and i think it's very connecting to understand how deeply on inherently dilute delusional it is to have a human body and a human mind and you get quite
curious about it because there's freedom in there there's freedom in there and there's also love and connection with other people because we share that with each other
i don't see any one nodding to this but i'm
i find are also the study of the yogurt shara has been very helpful here and i won't try to recapitulate very much at all karen sondheim give a wonderful talk on this about a month ago and but i just want to touch lightly for those
of you who weren't there that if this is basic buddhist psychology a buddhist one buddhist idea about how the mind works and in this idea there are different levels of consciousness may be the two most important ones are what you might think of as the total reposted
story of all of experience
and all of experience has all these latent potentiality is late meaning they're not activated until they interact with you with
with you with the self however the self is manifesting
and those include
hum what we know what we're inculturated to what's been in our family and our culture in the history i'd say in the environmental mill you it's ah oh but totally unknowable we can't know everything that's in it but the all
ways operative within us this great big store a potentiality
it has no moral valence in particular it's in interacting with ourself our consciousness you might think of it as our ego called manas are kind of common way that we think of mind and this ah igor self is always
appropriating it's always taking the i'd the ah potentiality ease and looking to make something of itself by them for example i'm a greek woman physicians and student so those are those
if you will seeds experiences they appear to be permanent and continuous but actually they're always being influenced by the culture what it means to be a woman but it means to be greek by by relationship to the
them by the relationship of other people who are interacting with them all of that has some different impact on how ah how i manifest but yet i have this kind of said idea about it
and the yogurt sure there are four main ways in which we fool ourselves in which the self creates itself and not to make too much of these but i i actually found these really helpful for myself because i'm
it's hard to see the ways in which you kind of fool yourself it's hard to see the ways in which you create yourself because you live in in af to have a body you have to be a person you have to walk in the world
the most fundamental is called self delusion self delusion is the idea that you can exist separately from everything else that you manifest in your life functions independently don't we say that i'm an independent person we don't of course we don't function and
dependently our life is actually always a functional activity of interaction with other people things the environment the world and that's how self manifests than any moment but we're always ca
ot yukata in some ways it's inherent to be caught there
but it's a delusion to see yourself just as that because it creates all kinds of other ideas of who you are in relationship to things that makes objects out of everything else but actually nothing as outside separate from yourself you're always in relationship and activity
self view is the basic delusion that your fixed permanent person that who you were when you were five is exactly who you are now and who you'll be when you're ninety this idea that we don't change and you know how limiting their is it is to think that way about
true self on i'm the kind of person who i'm the kind of person who doesn't allow people to drive on our lawn imagine how limiting that is
it's ridiculous but we do it in all kinds of subtle ways and even more than that we do it to everyone else oh he's the kind of person who's always late oh he's the kind of person who's always irritable
so and so is always like this you catch yourself saying that about any one sure we all do and it's all a falsehood we may have tendencies those seeds depending upon how often they get if you will stimulated stimulated by the
the idea or other people's ideas about what what you are they tend to arise more readily
when we believe them we reinforce them about each other and we help create that reality and ourself and and others
self conceit i think this is a really powerful one for all of us to self considers the idea that we're always comparing were always seeing how we stack up to other people and how they stack up to us you may not think that but observe it for a while
you know of am i good enough oh that one's a little better than me
oh he likes her more than he does me we put instead of accepting everything is having
different worse perhaps something of gold is worth more than dirt maybe depends on what you're doing with it but everything has its own value everything has its own qualities inherent to itself but we don't tend to operate that way we tend to operate and suddenly a
hierarchical way it's better to have a nice lawn than it is to park close to where you need to go and help out your neighbors by allowing it there's a conceit in there
two ever noticed that
and the last one is self love self love is the idea that i'm the center of the universe and we all do that too oh you know
why won't that white won't the teller hurry up i have some place i need to go
and that the world is operating in order to serve me in some way
it's subtle you know these are dramatic examples but when i really drill down and see myself i see that these different qualities or operative and i find them really helpful because i can fool myself into thinking that what i'm doing actually is justified in some way because i'm not seeing the
fallacy behind it
so just to observe and you know just like when you start practice trying to pay attention to sensation and how you relate to it is really hard it takes a long time to have some kind of awareness of what's happening without jerking your knee up every time you you think that you're never gonna stand up again
over time it becomes more readily available oh ha i think i'm the center of the universe on that one ha space what else is out there
so you'll also notice that the self continually gathers information to verify itself you make a case for what you think is true you make a case for who you want to be or who you think the other person isn't it actually changes your perception
one of things it actually changes how you receive sensory information
i don't know if anyone's noticed that one of my first experiences of that was on one of these really long retreats and i was a very silent yeah i was in my room for hours every day and at some point we will go down and take our meals as very still in very concentrated
come into the dining hall and every one is clanging their silverware like there's a ruckus going on were queuing up there picking up their place or spooning out stuff and you know you don't do sensory stimulation on one of these retreats someone's wearing this bright orange sweatshirt and i'm i'm a very irritable
mind was even more so before twenty years of zen training for that's like in my mind going what's going on here that day i have been studying pleasant unpleasant and neutral just those typical kinds of reactions to things and i said to myself
not pleasant unpleasant only neutral and all the subjects like someone turned the volume almost nothing it got really quiet and i looked again and that sweatshirt was actually a washed out pale pink i kid you not
i think we have those qualities to when we hear things when we respond things were just not aware of them
i was a washed out pale pink color not a bright orange or maybe it was an old read that had been washed over and over and over again
she amaro she says that real self reflection can only happen in the context of our everyday activity
we think that it happens on the cushion the quick season is important because it prepares us it gives us practice in the mind that helps put the mind in neutral so we can observe the movie going by so we can understand that that's what's happening in
our experience of that but actually where we live our life where we realize gang joke on isn't the everyday moment of meeting the ten thousand things those ten thousand things are not the tenant not just the ten thousand things outside of us though the ten thousand things
that are going on inside of us all of the time can we meet them can we allow them can we recognize them can they just be what they are and pass away without grabbing onto them and making something out of them and believe them
suzuki roshi says our way is to put the dough
in the oven and watch it carefully he's talking about making bread as enlightenment can we just bake ourselves over and over again that's what we do and we sit says and carefully observing observing doesn't mean taking notes on your mind state observing mean
as being in the body being fully present showing up completely and allowing whatever to arise to arise recognizing it on some level having some awareness tension in the body tightness in the body oh wow all the sudden a story has appeared
can we find that kind of luminosity and turn toward it
what did i do when this was going on and i recognize oh my god this is really unpleasant rumination what have i gotten myself into
i put the brakes on i said oh my goodness there's a self that's being created here what is that self and actually it was really helpful it gave me the space to let it go for a while
the common saying in our practice that you can only see as far as your i have practice can reach right i can only understand as much of myself as what i can recognize that's why i have to keep turning towards and like a scientist i actually i
was i thinking about this i think we're all scientists here scientists
they're always good scientists especially physicists may be and maybe
biologist they're always just paying attention to things they don't have they may have a hypothesis they may have some ideas i'm a greek woman what's that all about but it's always
it's always a provisional understanding it's always open to what else is seen what else comes into the field what other information comes forward oh
so and so's that kind of person what is that kind of person what what else involved in being that kind of person i don't know let me keep observing hear over and over again putting the dough in the oven
at first i think we learn just to tolerate the discomforts in our body in our mind we find that basic stability
but ah
then something shifts and you actually have some clarity something different just happens
so what i did as i got ready to go for a hike they have great trails almost outside my door so i thought that was a good anecdote to my mind state knife i had created some space around it
then i walked in and i don't remember if i if i would look at the headlines really quickly or a i turned on some podcast but i heard that the bleeder of the senate was about to put the healthcare bill back up in the middle of the night to
be voted on for a repeal and replace later and i got incensed i got incense and i thought to myself that's evil actually i thought to myself he's an evil man
and i want
i'm a whole lot more churned up than i had any idea about i had i that's that's a line when i go there i i realize that something is really out of place i'm not seeing clearly
i'm not seeing clearly
i have some self admonitions maybe you have self admonitions to i think they're really useful i say i turned towards that to which i have the strongest reaction
meaning i have the strongest idea of what it means especially if i think it's right or wrong and i asked what else is there
because i know i've formulated some pretty fixed ideas about what it means
and i'm not saying that there's not if you will
right action
i'm not saying that actions are not ah here reprehensible but i'm saying the self that i create that's responding is out of balance it can't see clearly and a can't see what to do it can't see how to meet the circumstances when it's acting from that place
what am i so afraid of what have i so angry desirous or judgmental about really and who is it you know what are the elements that are behind that and then i can see more clearly about what's happening and what needs to be done otherwise i'm we're caught up in this image
notional state that's all tangled up
i turned toward that which i disagree with the most and look at myself within that who's creating herself around that what kind of person do i think i am and can i get under that and see what's really happening here
if i think i've done something good if i think i've been successful something i remind me self to keep in mind that says let's see who actually really knows it might have felt good and the moment like it actually worked
but i don't know
that's very helpful for me
i don't believe anything i think of is true especially if i really believe it's true it's provisional it's how it seems now i'm open to more data i'll continue to investigate those are really key qualities at least i found there so and
my line mind
like probably everyone in this room and maybe everyone in this country
i am
have been reflecting on
ah how
the national tenure has become so overtly violent hateful unmasking some of our deepest darkest
i was listening to
ah interview with a man named christian a noli said anyone know the name he was he's the co-founder of an organization called life after hate which was up until very recently the only organization they just lost their funding but the
they were the they are the only have been the only organization that's meant to help
to respond to people who have been part of a are part of one of the nine hundred plus organizations that promulgate hate in this country
and he was to know his story he was originally a skinhead
he he was early on a skinhead he was a recruited when he was a young boy he'd grown up in italian neighborhood in chicago and i headed decent stable family background him on certainly was not raised overtly with any hey
eight but he found this kind of gang if you will have this kind of mentality of coming together around a particular identity of hate and he took it on full force he started a band that was meant to be a recruiting tool he was very successful he rose to the leadership
what changed him
at some point somehow and i don't know the details of this may be someone here will fill in he of
he had reason to interact with some people who are progressive to have been dialogue or to have some exchanges with them and he said that he was met with profound empathy
the people received him as a person nodded it's an object of their
hate not as an object at all but as another person
and he said that he could not hold the same mind to them
he had to be a scientist he had to open himself up and say what else is here i can't believe everything that i've heard about these people
and so he began to look and that's when he changed i thought that's very good he was willing to open his mind
how did that happen i don't know maybe his the wholesome seeds his mother planted was part of it maybe he had to
away seeking mind a vow within him that turned that wanted to be whole that wanted to be complete in some way maybe that was touch because he saw something larger than these small identity that he had created for himself something had been touched in that
everyone has the potential to change that doesn't mean this works with everyone it's all a matter of timing and circumstances but it was very moving to me to be reminded that i can never create and other out of those things i disagree with that i have to turn towards them
and the first place i do it is myself
so about a week ago
is sound asleep in my little house and about midnight i was roughly awakened by him by both my car alarm carve my old car was getting ready to sell was parked in a place that was visible across the street from my neighbors different name
years and ah i hear the confluence of a car alarm and metal
on metal
this was not a good wake up call at midnight records
and i quick open my blinds and i look out and i see it's one of my neighbors that lives across the street and this kind of rundown house that someone moved into not long ago and put down this big gravel driveway and a lots of cars that are parked out there which was not pleasant to look
yeah you know but i've we've had friendly gestures from time to time but no conversations and i watch him drive up and i watch him get out and he goes right into the house and i think ha you're not gonna go look to see what happened and yet there had to be a real
nation ship that arcas
and ah
maybe he's gonna write a note and come back and leave it on my windshield
so get myself up get my flashlight and go out my pajamas and to see like what's happened to my car i'm trying to sell
i can't see much i go back to bed i actually fall asleep i didn't make much story out of it i get up in the next morning and i go look out it's not much
and i noticed that he's come out again and he is coming up to the the
the instrument of damaging but he's coming up to his car and kind of uncharacteristic has lime i can be kind of a a shy afraid person especially when i have a lot of emotion i just walked up to him and said hi and we actually had just a normal converse
station oh hi just thought i'd introduce myself i you know and he said we had a great conversation i've learned a lot about him he practices that the good wara that i go to occasionally in the sikh temple that's about twenty miles from where i live really hard working a big family from india and who
is quite lovely he offered to help me out with something that you just brought up useful
contractor and told him something about myself and we started a relationship
and that was really fine
it felt really good
so i think resiliency is
being comfortable with myself all of myself all of my reactions to study myself to have some sense
of who this person really is so that i know myself
and play and see is
to be able to receive all of the ten thousand things with curiosity
an openness
so that's what i have to say i haven't seen much reaction on anyone's face as i think most of you are still away but i'm really curious how this reached you and i'm really curious about your own how you're working with your own
sets of emotions feelings and ideas particularly in this time i don't think we can be to ah aware of how impacted we all are and how it effects everything
everything even what we think about our neighbors
ah lyndon i'm lesley do you have the striker up already
oh i'm so i'm sorry well maybe we'll take you one question wondered okay linda your first up

simple question is well
or mom
not mentioned
shown us once i moved me
not yet
stories about setting forth
in two
well of those are really good questions and i expect i expected them in each of these cases you know with the with the lawn i left really simple notes asking people to please not park on the lawn again there was no charge to it it was a very slim
apple thing and they honored it and i continue to be have friendly conversation so they live right very very close to me
i was
and with the other person the scratch the contact was minor enough it really didn't make anything significant it wasn't worth it what mattered to me was that i remove the wall i had within myself there and so that was that action mitch mcconnell is a you know
but not tell wait a minute i don't want to be alienating to anyone who may have a different point of view here but i will save that's my point of view and i am i ah
don't have a completely effective responses that doesn't mean i don't get mad i do get mad and i do make my phone calls i do actually organize with people but i don't think he's an evil person i don't get caught up in that mindset and so i don't pollute other things by it that's my point
one other person yeah john when you say you didn't know yourself in the process or how do you respond yourself is that not a story
just with compassion
just with recognition oh oh that
yeah that
there's no you know sometimes there's judgment about it but then i recognize i i do have a tendency to judge myself people have told me that so i've begun to believe it
but it's more ah continue on continue on
okay well i o so i just am so glad to see you and him up here thank you some free talking there was a lot going on
thank you so thank you everyone for listening and i'm take good care of yourselves