Dharma Talk

When Nothing Works

June 10, 2020

Hosho Peter Coyote


Responding to overflow questions from last week, as well as current questions

There is one thing I want to say before we get started.

A lot of people think that the point of zazen is to try to shut down your mind and shut down your thoughts. Thatís not true. When they say, ďstopping your mindĒ, they donít mean stopping the activity of mind.

But, if you extend your mind to cover your entire body, which means your posture, your mudra, paying attention to your breath, feeling your toes, feeling your heels, feeling the curve in your back Ė then there is no division between mind and body. Mind is covering all of it. Itís all mind.

The problem is not that your mind is busy, but that you pay overmuch attention to it. One of the things that zazen helps you with is sequestering a certain amount of your awareness by dedicating it to your posture, your breath, and your mudra. That awareness canít be seized by your mind. It canít take you away from yourself the way fantasies do.

The way when you are out on the street, you find yourself talking aloud. You know, ďIf she ever says that to me againÖ.!Ē Blah, blah, blah. Thatís being hooked by your thoughts. The reason that the busy mind is a problem is because youíre getting jerked hither and yon.

When your posture is solid, when your breathing slows down, when you are still. When you donít fidget, when you donít scratch, itch, whatever Ė you are denying impulse to the mind. And the mind will eventually slow down on its own. You canít slow it down. If you try to slow it down, itís going to get stronger, like working a muscle in the gym. So just sit. As thoughts and as feelings come up, just acknowledge them. Feel them. Donít pay any special attention to them. Theyíll go away. You canít hold onto a good mood, so you canít hold onto a bad mood. You canít hold onto a good thought; you canít hold onto a bad thought.

Remember, tuck your chin just a little bit to make the back of your neck long. Sit up straight. Donít lean against the back of the chair. Iím going to show you the mudra again. This is the mudra Ė dominant hand under the ďoffĒ hand. Iím left-handed so my left hand is under my right hand. Okay?

Thatís about it. Just pay attention to your breathing. Put a little downward pressure on your diaphragm. Weíre off and running, folks. 15 seconds to scratch everything, adjust, get everything in good shape. And weíre off. [gassho 3 bells] [3 bells gassho]

Good morning.

Some of you may know the Jackson Browne song, ďMy Stunning Mystery Companion[mts1] Ē? I have such a one who is going to be perusing Facebook comments today and sending me the best messages, or the ones that interested them.

I have some questions from last week that were interesting that I thought I would read and discuss a little bit. Hereís one. So, I wrote a book, that I thought was going to be an ďorphanedĒ book, and itís called Unmasking Your True Self, and the subtitle is ďThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Meet the BuddhaĒ.

If you get the picture that it might have been a hard sell, youíre right. Itís been an orphan for two years, but itís just been bought by a publisher. One of the subjects it touches is addressed in this question.

Q1: Last week you spoke about American zen, and how the gift wrapping of different cultures may be different, but the gift, the dharma, is always the same. My former Japanese teacher called this ďholding the lotus to the rockĒ and said that it could take up to 400 years for the transmission of zen from east to west to be complete. On the other hand, I have American friends who are zen teachers who have eliminated anything Japanese from their practice and their zendo. Robes, chanting, etc. I suspect thereís a middle way. Whatís your take on this?

A: Well, Iím the middle way.

Buddhism as we know it, as it is expressed to us, as it came from India, we call it Vipassana. And travelled to China, itís called (our lineage, zen lineage) is called Chan. Dogen came [to China], he brought it back to Japan and created Zen, which is basically strong on sitting, strong on fundamental insight, short on ideas and long, complicated explanations.

In every country Ö in China, Buddhism merged with Daoism and Confucianism. In Japan, it merged with Shintoism, the native ďnatureĒ religion. In Tibet, it merged with Bon shamanism and you get all that wiggy masks and demons, and the elaborations of Tibetan Buddhism. And itís different in Thailand, itís different in Indonesia.

But, the gift: The Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, Compassion, Kindness, mutual dependence, or interdependence, thatís all the same.

What has interested me as my practice has developed, and I was trained in a really strict Japanese monastic Zen tradition. Suzuki-roshi came to America and he taught what he knew. He recreated Japanese monastic tradition. Itís very powerful and itís very good. Especially because there is so much about it that doesnít make sense at all to Americans. It feels like it is impinging on our freedom. ďHey, man. I came here to get enlightened! And, you know, I gotta clean the toilet. I gotta keep my mouth shut.Ē

But, after a number of years, I began to suspect, and obviously Iím not alone in this, as the questioners says, that there was a certain amount of ďslavish imitationĒ of Japanese culture. Sometimes I felt that it diluted the true gift of the Buddha.

With Japanese culture you got a lot of hierarchy. You got a lot of authoritarianism. The guru is the boss. Everyone under him or her listens. Does what they are told. Hop to.

And I thought that played to some of the elements of American culture that were most problematic. For instance, in Japan, if you go to a training monastery, you live maybe two years. Three years, training in this monastery. Then you go out to a temple and you are a priest. Itís a hardscrabble life. You are taking care of parishioners. You are performing ceremonies and services. Blessing babies and burying people.

But, in America, there are no temples to graduate to. One of the problems that I perceived at SF Zen Center, which is where I got my training, was that priests would graduate, and they would get transmitted. They would get their brown robes, but they would have no place to go. So, they would stay at Zen Center. Theyíd get a job.

At a certain point it began to remind me of acting students who loved acting school, and they just decided to hang around school and the teacher. I thought, ďWell, you are not an actor until you get a job.Ē And youíre not a priest until you are taking care of people.

In my book, thereís a quote in the frontispiece by Koun Yamada-roshi. He says, ďWe expect that you will discover an American voice to Zen, but first it has to be discovered by someone whose eyebrows have tangled with the Buddhaís eyebrows.Ē

ÖWho sees the teaching as it is intended to be taught. Thatís one of the things that I like about zen practice, is this notion of transmission. You work with a teacher until he or she decides that youíre fully ďbakedĒ. That you are ready to go.

Nothing prohibits failure. Nothing prohibits mistakes. But, in a way, itís an antidote to people just hanging up their own shingle. ďShaman.Ē ďHealer.Ē ďTeacher.Ē Itís wiggy. Itís high status. I mean, everybody listens to you. For a while, anyway.

I began to wonder what it would be like for Americans to speak to Americans, who were not going to shave their heads, they were probably not going to wear robes. They were probably not going to go through a monastic training.

But it seemed to me that there was no reason for them not to be introduced to Buddhaís gifts.

Now, Iím a little funny about it because I love the forms. I think the forms are an integral part of the teaching. You hear me harp upon ďpostureĒ all the time. And mudra, and I chant often. I do these Japanese chants. One or two in English. I do them in Japanese Ė it doesnít bother me at all. I know roughly what I am saying. But as a Jew, if I sing the Kaddish in Hebrew, I donít exactly know what Iím saying, but I know the feeling, and I know Iím honoring the dead.

If you think about it, a ceremony is a feeling or an idea made real, made physical. When I do these ceremonies, I do them as I learned them.

There are a lot of people who felt that Catholicism took wrong turn when it translated the Mass from Latin to English, because it is easy to get ďhung upĒ in the English. The Japanese chants I do are not exactly Japanese. They are Japanese transliterations of Sanskrit and Pali, and they might not have known everything they were saying.

Thereís something about being in line with this tradition, and a drum and a rattle, and ďKanjizai Bosatsu. Gyo jin hannya haramita ji Ö.Ē It makes me feel like Iím in a long continuum. I like hippari [jackets]. I like my rakusu (little robe). Every once in a while, if Iím doing a wedding or a funeral, Iíll wear an okesa (big robe). But usually Iíll just wear a polyester black robe that I can put over a suit and tie, and then my rakusu. Itís light, itís easy to travel, it doesnít wrinkle.

I think that the ďmiddleĒ is a moving decimal point. I think that people are trying to find this American expression. People over at Spirit Rock Ė all they do is they train teachers, and they are not really interested in anything ceremonial whatsoever. And thatís one way of practice, but I actually like ceremonies, and I find that they change people.

Just think about a wedding. Itís just a ceremony that is witnessed by people. Vows are taken in front of witnesses. Because itís actually a merger of two different lineages and families, and two different communities, that ceremony marks a point.

I didnít become a priest the day I was ordained. About 6 months in, I began to feel, ďOh, yeah, I have different responsibilities here. I have to dig deeper.Ē The same thing with transmission.

I think that like anything that involves human beings and long periods of time, religion traditions are very conservative. It takes a long time to change the direction of the Queen Mary [ship]. I would say that itís worthwhile to be patient. Itís worthwhile not to be too radical. I mean, I practiced for 40 years before I began making little changes. They are not radical but Iím trying to find an authentic American expression.

Q2: Iím relatively new to meditation. I find it easier at this point to do it with eyes closed. Is that not advised?

A: This person asked that question twice. Letís answer that before I answer your second point.

In zen, we sit with our eyes open. Weíre not trying to escape the world. When you sit with your eyes closed, it tends to put undue emphasis on whatís going on inside your head.  You want to be careful that youíre not tricking yourself. That you are not going into your zazen with some fixed idea of a special state of mind that you are looking for. We are not looking for a special state of mind.

When I shut my eyes, I hear little snatches of movie scenes. I hear weird conversations, ďAll her life she lived in a bottle six inches high.Ē They just come and they go. You can control how awake you are in zazen by how open your eyes are.

Usually we look down at about 45 degrees and we let our eyes go out of focus. But we can see to the peripheries of our eyes. [Holds out hands at sides of the head.] Are both my hands on the screen? This is really bizarre. I canít find my other hand. There it is.

We want to see to the periphery of our vision without really looking at anything. If you are not really looking at anything, you see everything. I would advise you to keep your eyes open, but just down, not looking at anything in particular.  This is why we face the wall when we start, so thereís nothing there to really to engage you. Try it. See what you think about it.

Q3: Is it a bad idea to meditate with the eyes closed. It also helps me get into the present.

A: Think about that sentence a minute. It also helps me get myself into the present. Are there two of you in there?

There are not. One of you is an idea, and thatís extra. You donít need it.

Q4: Iím just learning how. I still canít shut my mind off. How can I start? How does one truly meditate, shut off the brain thinking all the time during this pandemic? How can we really shut off our brains to get renewed?

A: Letís say that it is a complete misunderstanding that your job is to shut your mind off.

I said this at the very beginning, but I know a lot of you who want to ďgo to heaven but donít want to dieĒ come in after the meditation is over. So, you might not have heard this.

Death will shut your mind off.

When we are talking about stopping the mind, weíre not talking about stopping all mental activity. The brain is a gland that generate images, thoughts, sensations, feelings. You are not going to stop it.

So, the fact that you are thinking about your brain as some separate part of your body is evidence of the problem you are having.

This is where ďformĒ comes to your aid and will rescue you. If your attention, your awareness is on your posture, the back of your neck being long, your eyes at 45 degrees, a little downward pressure on your diaphragm, your mudra when we see it. You have covered your entire body with your mind.

It is no longer a dualism. Itís one thing. That one thing can have multiple multitasking.

So, your awareness will go from ďHowís my moods?Ē to ďHowís my posture?Ē ďHow are my eyes?Ē ďHow are my toes? Are they asleep?Ē

You just let thoughts come in and you let them go. You are not trying to stop your mind. Thatís a big mistake.

Most people are really surprised by how busy their minds actually are. You donít notice it when youíre on your cell phone all the time. When you are typing emails, when you are working at a hard job, you just donít notice it. You feel like, ďWell, Iím doing these things one after another,Ē

Well, actually you are not doing it. Your mind has its own center of gravity, its own awareness. Your body has its own awareness.

In Buddhist philosophy, what we call a human being is actually a cluster of all these awarenesses. They call them ďskandhasĒ: form, feeling, impulse, sensation, consciousness. All held together by our life force. When our life force is over. When weíve done our last exhale, those things go back to source.

We are just like little waves sinking into the ocean.

Letís just stop trying to shut off our minds. Letís try to think about it as becoming intimate with your mind. Becoming intimate with the mind, body, things. Not one. Not two. Both and.

Q5: Somebody asked me, ďAm I a Biden man?Ē

A: Am I voting for Biden? Iíll vote for any reasonable adult. Biden seems to be the candidate. I will vote for Biden. Iím not going to argue about who the people choose.

Q6: Do you have sessions every Wednesday?

A: Yes.

Q7: Someone says, ďIs Zen Mind, Beginnerís Mind a good place to learn?Ē

A: Zen Mind, Beginnerís Mind and Suzuki-roshiís other book Not Always So are just incomparably brilliant, easy, accessible understanding of the mind of a zen master. If you want more of a how-to book, I would say that Robert Aitkenís book Taking the Path of Zen or Thich Nhat Hanhís book What the Buddha Taught are a good balance.

But I still read Suzuki-roshi all the time. Anytime Iím going to do a dharma talk, I browse through that book, and Iíll find something, that after 47 years, just stops me in my tracks. I thought I understood it, you know, when I was 35, and then I see it again and it never gets old. He is an astounding person.

But, you know, there are many great teachers. We are blessed with an abundance of good teachers in the United States. I urge people to ďread aroundĒ. Itís not going to hurt you.

Thereís a book called Carefree Dignity by a Tibetan name Tsoknyi Rinpoche. Thereís Reb Andersonís book Sitting Upright. I have a list on my website under Buddhism www.petercoyote.com/buddhism of a number of books that I would like to recommend. Thereís Living by Vow by Shohaku Okamura. Itís fun to read around in Buddhism.

Thereís not exactly an orthodoxy. Itís a practice, and personal revelation plays a big part in it, but revelation thatís been shaped by practice and thought and teaching. Theyíre not just wild cards.

Q8: Say something about healing family relationships.

A: Gee, why not ask me a hard question?

Suzuki-roshi once was looking down at his students who were sitting on thin bamboo mats. (Youíve [likely] seen them. You can roll them up. Theyíre made of some kind of woven grass.) He saw one student trying to spread a wrinkle out by was pushing the wrinkle toward the guy sitting on the other side [of the mat]. He said, ďThatís what war is. War is pushing your wrinkle towards someone else and then heís pushing his wrinkle back at you.Ē

Painful family relationships. Everything comes from something that happened before. Trees come from acorns, flowers come from seeds, birds come from eggs. Eggs come from birds.

The way humans feel and think comes from their experiences and maybe lifetimes of experience.

Thereís a wonderful school called the Hoffman Process. www.hoffmaninstitute.org. When you go to it, (itís about a weekís long [retreat]), and you fill out these 80-page forms about all your relationships with your parents and caregivers and things like that. Positives and negatives. And, for about the first three days, they give you ball bats and they monitor you and you just beat the crap out of these big stuffed cushions. I mean, until your muscles are exhausted. Till you cannot do it anymore. You are expressing this anger, this hatred, this disappointment thatís been locked in your muscles.

Then the next three days, you take the part of your parents or caregivers or foster people. You look at them and you understand what their experiences were. How they got made that way. What their traumas were.

Then the final couple days, you integrate the two of them.

Family relationships. Well, you have to begin with ďWhat can you control?Ē

The only thing that you can actively work on is understanding and accepting your own anger, disappointment, sorrow, grief, what have you. Thatís what is available to you. When you can talk about family realationships without undue emotion that will spin other people off, well, of course, you can communicate it.

But sometimes you donít get a receptive audience. Sometimes you have to take the love that you would like to give to someone else and itís unacceptable. They canít accept it. So, you have to give it to someone else.

The beginning of healing, it begins with understanding your contribution. I had a rough dad. Very violent. Very dangerous. A really interesting man. Not a real good father. Very driven. Very consumed. He would do things and I would get angry. I would get disappointed or embittered and then I would do something in response as a six or seven or ten-year-old. When I got older, I realized that if Iíd been wise, I could have started owning my own feelings and looking at them.  Trying to understand whether my fatherís actions to me were really personal. Or was he corresponding with ghosts from his own life.

My fatherís father killed his horse with a hammer in front of him. Thatís the house that he grew up in. My father walked the halls of our house with a pistol for the first year after I was born, because we lived in the town where Lindberghís baby was kidnapped and killed.

So, he lived in a world of great violence and great threat and great fear. And his love for me led him to believe that the best thing he could do for me was to toughen me up and teach me to see the world the way he saw it. I was not him. I was a different kind of person.

That created a lot of problems between us. I had a therapist once tell me, he said, ďYou know, you donít have to forgive your parents when they do things that are unconscionable or really bad. You donít have to forgive them. But it is up to you whether or not you choose to be angry.

Each of you who are responding to this or listening to me talk, you have your own dynamic in mind. Some of you maybe were very young. Some of you were older, so I canít address them all. But Iíll tell you something that was sort of the ďicing on the cakeĒ in my coming to terms with my dad and the problems engendered there. Iím not suggesting that it was easy. It took me 12 years of heroin and two books, and then this [incident] that Iím going to describe now.

The psychiatrist told write a letter and put everything down in it. My father was dead by this time. So, I did. I wrote a 15-page letter. I read it to him, and he said, ďYeah, that sounds like everything. Okay. Hereís your homework: Take that letter, put it in a drawer and every month, take it out and read it. When you can read it, and no emotion gets aroused, then you can burn it.Ē

I did that. It took me 18 months. By the end of it, I had sort of exhausted that narrative. Iím sure some of you would like to solve problems while your parents are living, or maybe you are living together, or maybe youíre living with a husband or a wife or thereís communication blocks.

Again, the very first thing you can understand is that you know what you want. You know what you think you need, but how are you expressing it?

How important are those wants, and how important are those needs. I know that when we fight with someone, we tend to be absolute, and tend to hold all the goodness and we tend to put all the badness out on them. Itís like weíre not owning the part of our nature that we put on our mate.

A pretty useful exercise is to take every judgment that we make about the person that we are at odds with and say, ďHow do I do this? Under what circumstances? Under what conditions do I do this?Ē

When you start to see the ways in which you are alike, it changes things just a little bit. It makes it easier to talk without judgment. Because the first thing people respond to is judgment. If I feel a judgment coming at me, I automatically armor myself.

Well, not so much anymore because I know Iím an empty pipe, so I can let it blow through. Without that knowledge, yeah, we armor ourselves and we stop listening. We start waiting for our turn and waiting for the speaking to stop.

I donít know another way to do this other than by working on yourself. If you work on yourself, and you can chill the climate, you might be able to convince somebody to go to counseling to get a referee to help you both. You might find the other personís listening.

You might ask yourself, ďAm I imposing statutes of limitations? How long am I going to stay angry about this?Ē

I canít give you specific because itís a general question. But I can tell you that youíre a part of it. Youíre contributing even if you feel like you are a victim. You are contributing. You have an idea of yourself. You have an idea of your power. You have an idea of your weakness. You have an idea of how you are being abused.

Itís useful to remember that thereís nobody home. That the thing you call you is a moving target. Itís awareness. I find that to be really helpful. That there is nothing solid that is being permanently scarred.

When I can drop my habits and look at my predilections with irony and a little humor, I have a lot bigger field to run around in.

Letís see if we got any messages. Letís see. Whatís this?

Q9: Somebodyís asking what order Iím with.

A: I donít know. My training is as a zen priest. Zen is a sect of Mahayana Buddhism.

Q10: It would be nice to just be, and not have an order to just be.

A: Itís not exactly a question. But my question would be, ďWell, whoís ordering you? Whoís ordering and whoís listening? Can you show me both?Ē If you can, just be. You canít help it.

Q11: Sometimes it seems like the goal of zen or a teacher, and also to become enlightened. Can one simply develop a meditation practice and attend meetings like this one in the same manner as a person who attends Christian church on Sunday for community?

A: I think so. Iíve said before that enlightenment is kind of overdone. A student asked Suzuki-roshi about enlightenment and he said, ďYou may not like it.Ē

His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, ďMy religion is simple. Itís kindness.Ē

Obviously, some intuition brings you to come to these meetings. Some feeling, some intuition about the universe. Thatís how I came to Buddhism because I found that it described the universe better than anything else that I had ever heard. And, I found that the people who were drawn to it tended to be kind and less aggressive and less narcissistic.

Iíd say that any way you want to practice is okay.

The thing about enlightenment is that it is not separate from the way you practice. Enlightenment is not a fence that you Ö (oops, I touched my computer.) Enlightenment is not a fence that you jump over, and you are on the other side of it.

Enlightenment is seeing the world as it is, and you canít stay there. You canít stay in that state, but when you come back from it, you see constant reminders everywhere.

Suzuki-roshi talked about seeing a sliver of the moon behind the clouds. When you see the sliver of the moon, you sense the fullness of the moon, even though you canít see it. When you have had an experience of the self falling away, everything you see is like the sliver of the moon. It reminds you of the unseen wholeness of it.

I donít think itís a good idea to have that as a goal, although thatís what brought me to zen practice. I wanted to be enlightened. I wanted to know the answer to everything. I wanted to be the boss of everything. [Snores, bobs head] It gets old.

Just come. Just sit. Be with people you like. Donít worry about being enlightened. Worry about being kind. Worry about taking care of every part of the world that you touch.

Letís see anything else. Okay, here are some more questions. Somebody is agreeing with me. I like those but I wonít read them.

Q12: Several talks back you said suffering is wanting everything to be different. Please talk about doing political work in this context.

A: In one of the first lectures I was about dukkha, and saying dukkha is like all the mental activity of thinking. We want to hold onto pleasant situations. We want to get rid of unpleasant situations.

We donít like the way we feel now: we want to change it.

So, how is that consistent with political change?

A lot of people apply practice to political change, in the same way they apply it to their own suffering. If you recognize that nothingís going away. Political change is never going to get rid of ignorance. Itís never going to get rid of envy. Itís never going competition. Itís never going to get rid of any of those qualities that you possess, just like the people you are opposing.

When we see something thatís wrong, as Buddhists, we just mark it. We usually do it by sitting. Say, meditating outside a nuclear processing center. We donít shout. We donít make enemies of the people who are inside doing that work for motives that we donít understand. We are just expressing the Buddhaís edicts. Kindness. Compassion. Dependent origination.

In this moment, for instance, when Black Lives Matter is gaining the currency that it should have had for centuries Ė when we show up in a demonstration, we donít have to make enemies. Weíre just showing up and expressing what we want. We donít have to expect that human beings are going to change.

But we can change the political climate where they wonít feel comfortable, letís say, about expressing racist views. You canít force someone to love a person of another kind or culture.

And it is also useful to remember that we have our own prejudices. We hate people who hate black people. We hate Donald Trump for being a racist or a misogynist. We hate Harvey Weinstein for raping and assaulting women. Iím not saying itís all the same, but I am saying we have to recognize the impulse. Those people who are expressing certain impulses, they are humans. Just like we are.

When we can drop the judgment and listen to them, without judgment, they might listen to us. And we might have the beginning of a relationship.

If we think that that relationship might take 400 years, to bear fruit, weíll be less impatient.

I think you always have to express your values and what you stand for, but the anger is extra. The shouting is extra.

If you remember the civil rights Ö you are probably too young, but [in] the civil rights movements of the 1950ís and 1960ís, black people dressed like they were going to church. The only time they raised their voices was to sing. It made the line between themselves and the people beating them and spitting and setting dogs and firehoses on them, indivisibly clear. You had to take a side. That side moved the needle a little bit.

They created the Civil Rights Act, created an end to segregation. But nothing stands still.

For many years, the southern states were under federal supervision. They were not allowed to change any voting criteria or procedures without permission from the federal government. A few years ago, the federal government removed that, and they immediately began suppressing the vote.

Combatting ignorance with wisdom is ongoing. One of the reasons we sit is to get the strength, the courage, and the endurance to just keep going and modeling the behavior so that others will see it. Model our behavior and that way it keeps going across generations.

Okay, Iíll take, I think, one more question, because it is getting late.

Oh, yeah. I donít know whether this is a criticism of me or not, but Iím going to read it because itís interesting.

Q14: In zen, there must be enlightenment. There must be a general mental upheaval which destroys the old accumulations of intellection and lays down the foundation for a new life. There must be the awakening of a new sense which review the old things from a hitherto undreamed-of angle of observation. But nothing awakens religious consciousness like suffering.

A: I donít know who told you all that. How do you know?

ďIn zen, there must be enlightenment?Ē Everyoneís enlightened. They just donít know it. Zen didnít invent enlightenment. Buddha didnít invent enlightenment. Enlightenment is the natural state of human beings when we clear away greed, hatred, delusion, bad practices, indulgences. Enlightenment is not other than human beings. Itís not other than this culture.

ďThere must be a general mental upheaval which destroys the old accumulations of intellectionÖĒ Are you suggesting that if you have an awakening, you forget everything that youíve ever learned? That all your life experience up to point is just forgotten and useless? I donít know anyone thatís like that.

I mean, there is a constant refreshment by being always in the present moment.

But there is a tone to this question. Thereís a tone of didacticism and like, you know, this is coming down Ė Moses is handing this down to the rest of us.

So, my first question would be, ďHave you had this experience?Ē and if you havenít had this experience, why are you so didactic about it? Maybe this is the way you imagine enlightenment, but I can guarantee something. That if you have an awakening, it will be unlike anything that you could ever have possibly imagined.

And you might not like it. 

All right. One more.

Q15: Buddha attained enlightenment. Does that mean nirvana that nirvana is a permanent state, and therefore differs from satori, which hits suddenly, only to eventually subside into memory?

A: Fundamental rule of the universe, according to Buddha, is ďEverything changesĒ.

You canít hold onto enlightenment. 

Satori, enlightenment, nirvana. [Shrugs] Do your best.

A zen master who is not paying attention is no different that anyone else who is not paying attention.

Do your best.

If you happen to have an awakening, experience it fully. Donít try to hold onto it.

Iíll see some of you next week, I hope. Thank you very much. [Gassho]

May all beings be filled with lovingkindness.

May all beings be free from suffering.

May all beings be happy and at peace. [3 times]