Being with Change
[00:00:08.170] Welcome everyone and thank you so much for joining the Garrison Institute’s live interactive webinar.
[00:00:14.440] Today I’m delighted to
[00:00:16.940] invite our guest Roshi Enkyo O’Hara.
[00:00:20.940] Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara is a Soto Zen priests,
[00:00:24.640] an abbot of Village Zendo in New York City. As a Zen teacher,
[00:00:29.570] she’s well known for her ability to connect Zen practice to contemporary life.
[00:00:34.620] She’s the author of the recent book on Zen practice “Most intimate”.
[00:00:39.940] She and her partner Barbara Jo Shin O’Hara
[00:00:43.140] founded the village Zendo over 30 years ago.
[00:00:47.070] Before we begin today’s session, I’ll go over a few logistical items about our gathering.
[00:00:52.500] We’re on a Zoom webinar so participants audio and video are off.
[00:00:58.600] You’ll only see Roshi O’Hara and for the time being myself.
[00:01:03.300] For anyone unable to attend live we are recording these sessions.
[00:01:08.140] You’ll have a chance to view the recordings as well as a schedule of upcoming programs at garrisoninstitute.org.
[00:01:16.470] We offer these sessions free of charge as a goodwill gesture
[00:01:20.170] to support our community during such times of heightened uncertainty.
[00:01:24.740] We would welcome donations of any amount
[00:01:27.160] to help continue offer these sessions, thank you.
[00:01:30.870] Finally, we’ll have time for Q&A during this gathering,
[00:01:34.730] you can post your questions in the Q&A panel
[00:01:38.940] which is accessible at the bottom of your screen by hovering your arrow over the Q&A button.
[00:01:45.370] We’re on for an hour today
[00:01:46.900] and will respond to as many questions as we can.
[00:01:50.540] Please forgive us if we’re unable to get to your question.
[00:01:54.400] Thank you again, Roshi O’Hara for being with us today
[00:01:57.540] and I’ll turn it over to you.
[00:02:01.940] Thank you.
[00:02:04.340] Thank you
[00:02:08.100] I’ve been asked to start my video
[00:02:11.250] I love this technology that we’re
[00:02:15.170] involved with.
[00:02:17.450] So welcome to everybody,
[00:02:19.960] good to have you here
[00:02:22.450] on the Garrison site,
[00:02:24.970] which is the way so many of us practice nowadays on
[00:02:28.640] various technical sites.
[00:02:34.260] Just for us to take time today to settle our minds,
[00:02:40.200] to find some understanding during this daunting time,
[00:02:47.640] to engage and re-engage our appreciation of life just as it is,
[00:02:55.500] even right now.
[00:02:58.870] An appreciation which is always available to us
[00:03:01.940] if we can touch into it.
[00:03:06.770] Garrison has served as a solid friend and supporter
[00:03:10.770] for so many of us through the years, my group and so many
[00:03:15.640] different Buddhists and philosophical groups.
[00:03:19.500] I appreciate this programming that they’re doing and all the work that they do to open our hearts and add light to our minds.
[00:03:31.060] Because this is a time,
[00:03:34.170] the fact that we’re doing this today
[00:03:36.940] this is a time of such extraordinary change
[00:03:40.190] for all of us
[00:03:42.370] in our daily lives.
[00:03:45.740] Frightening, uncertainty of the pandemic
[00:03:51.270] and the reality of racism coming up in everyone’s face. Many of us who work
[00:03:57.600] in the criminal justice system and in health care system,
[00:04:00.760] have been aware of this for some time but, my gosh,
[00:04:04.800] the massive changes in understanding that are happening right now,
[00:04:10.500] the recognition of racism in everyone’s daily lives,
[00:04:14.200] whether they are denying it or not.
[00:04:18.570] Everything can feel confusing, a little frightening for us, all of the change
[00:04:24.700] and we’re challenged to find our center.
[00:04:27.330] I’m challenged to find my center.
[00:04:29.230] Every day when I read the news,
[00:04:32.700] I hear what people are saying, thinking,
[00:04:37.320] and challenged
[00:04:40.020] to find my center,
[00:04:42.300] to understand
[00:04:44.000] my life and how it fits in with the lives of all beings
[00:04:50.730] and to figure out how I can help,
[00:04:55.130] perhaps you too are concerned about how you can help, how you can serve,
[00:05:02.640] how any of us can remain strong
[00:05:07.170] and able to help others.
[00:05:11.970] So, I’m going to try to offer some words of encouragement,
[00:05:18.170] kind of emanating from my own practices of Zen Buddhism,
[00:05:22.230] but I first want to start with a few minutes to kind of allow us all to settle ourselves.
[00:05:30.550] Settle into our intentions for this hour.
[00:05:32.770] How can we decide in the midst of confusing schedules we all have?
[00:05:37.340] How can we decided to meet together today
[00:05:41.250] to do this.
[00:05:43.540] A few moments of meditation?
[00:05:46.900] Just stopping
[00:05:49.400] of that quiet
[00:05:52.170] allows us to come back to our nature of who we are
[00:05:57.370] in this moment, not yesterday or last year,
[00:06:03.810] No matter how obscured it may feel but it changes around us.
[00:06:13.840] I’ll give you a few instructions based on my own Zen tradition but of course I invite you to sit
[00:06:19.170] in meditation and whatever way it’s comfortable for you
[00:06:23.790] but I generally think it’s beneficial
[00:06:26.370] and if it is possible it can be gently aligned
[00:06:31.400] kind of straight but not stiff
[00:06:35.210] at ease and that just allows us to breathe more easily because the breath,
[00:06:40.000] the smoothness and ease of the breath is so, so much a part of finding ease in mind.
[00:06:48.180] And in our tradition we place our tongue
[00:06:51.200] up against the roof of our mouth,
[00:06:53.970] back of your front teeth
[00:06:55.810] and that in a way connects the energy flow from the back to the front.
[00:07:02.260] I use that technique whenever I am challenged,
[00:07:09.230] to stop and connect.
[00:07:12.070] And your eyes either
[00:07:14.070] half closed as we do in this introduction with the relaxed gaze over closed that’s what you generally do.
[00:07:25.050] In our Zen tradition we think it’s a good idea to read, I’ll never forget that we are right here
[00:07:31.080] so that’s why there’s a little bit of light that comes in.
[00:07:36.530] So now settling yourself,
[00:07:39.870] can you take a breath in
[00:07:45.200] and allow your whole body
[00:07:49.320] to take in that breath.
[00:07:54.640] All of your face,
[00:07:57.230] and your jaw,
[00:07:59.540] and your neck,
[00:08:02.750] all the way to your toes
[00:08:06.130] taking in a quiet breath of air.
[00:08:10.930] Now allow your lower belly to just expand when it takes in air
[00:08:16.220] and contract and it lets it back out.
[00:08:23.450] Just breathing in
[00:08:26.570] and breathing out,
[00:08:29.490] just breathing in and breathing out
[00:08:36.270] you are available
[00:08:40.200] and at ease
[00:08:46.930] we can be still,
[00:08:53.200] enjoy the breath,
[00:09:01.460] enjoy the mind
[00:09:04.430] that enjoys the breath
[00:09:12.600] and just stay with that flow.
[00:12:15.340] When distracting thought arises
[00:12:19.540] just come back
[00:12:22.100] to the quiet
[00:12:24.470] and ease of your breath.
[00:14:25.400] Staying with the breath,
[00:14:28.700] there’s a subtle wisdom
[00:14:32.150] just staying with the breath.
[00:17:00.500] What a gift
[00:17:01.970] it is that we give each other
[00:17:04.900] would just sit together
[00:17:08.010] whether or not we’re in the same room
[00:17:10.950] or in the same
[00:17:13.160] meditation space
[00:17:15.870] what a gift we give to one another.
[00:17:30.840] As we end the meditation period,
[00:17:35.070] I find it really helpful to just stop for a moment
[00:17:39.350] and thank myself.
[00:17:43.460] Try it, just thank yourself
[00:17:48.100] for taking the time
[00:17:53.400] and remember and appreciate that the time is always available
[00:17:59.050] to each one of us.
[00:18:01.100] We just remember
[00:18:03.200] to do it.
[00:18:09.170] So, as we move from a kind of meditative space
[00:18:15.740] to considering
[00:18:19.450] our mind,
[00:18:23.730] we call meditation in Zen seated mind
[00:18:30.070] and it’s really a ritual practice,
[00:18:35.040] a way to stop
[00:18:37.570] our everyday thought, our back running this way and that
[00:18:43.900] to sink into a different reality.
[00:18:48.640] One that recognizes our inter-connectedness,
[00:18:54.000] that remembers our humanity
[00:19:00.340] that we are an element in the vast stream
[00:19:04.950] of all that has ever been or will ever be.
[00:19:11.340] That all of the ones around us today,
[00:19:16.750] part of that stream that is constantly flowing
[00:19:21.800] like the Hudson that flows along Garrison’s banks.
[00:19:29.030] In that quiet reminder, that remembrance
[00:19:34.030] of the vastness of which we are a part
[00:19:39.300] can ground us
[00:19:43.430] and bring us to a clearer resolve
[00:19:46.870] about how to lead our lives.
[00:19:53.040] meditation practice whether it’s five minutes or ten minutes or two hours
[00:20:01.100] helps us to become less hindered by our ego,
[00:20:05.220] by our fears
[00:20:07.410] and more willing to see the more skillful and less harmful ways
[00:20:14.950] for us to proceed
[00:20:17.300] in expressing our care for others
[00:20:23.830] and boy do we need that now.
[00:20:29.850] These uncertain times,
[00:20:33.300] all of our daily lives have been so disrupted
[00:20:37.050] and it can be hard for us to manage.
[00:20:41.460] The whole societal structure is being questioned
[00:20:45.930] which is not a bad thing.
[00:20:53.440] disregard for the Earth
[00:20:57.200] in the plunging economy
[00:20:59.100] demand that we all face the new realities.
[00:21:07.340] These changes are not hypotheticals they’re what’s going on right now
[00:21:15.500] and yeah, they can seem as if in a distance.
[00:21:21.630] Perhaps they’re eclipsed by our inability to actually be present to witness the changes that are going on
[00:21:31.200] in our everyday world,
[00:21:36.170] because we’re caught up in our own minds.
[00:21:41.400] We may just barely notice what’s happening in our neighborhood,
[00:21:46.540] a loss of affordable housing.
[00:21:52.740] Maybe where we’re pleased to see the changes in conversations about race and gender
[00:22:02.440] or perhaps, we notice sadly the tone
[00:22:07.100] as present in the media world.
[00:22:10.800] The loss of civility,
[00:22:15.900] the great changes in how we communicate.
[00:22:22.640] So these things can be distracting and distract us from
[00:22:28.040] the grand global changes
[00:22:30.800] that are going on all over this earth
[00:22:25.300] and its people.
[00:22:40.350] But the thing is
[00:22:43.270] we may fail to see
[00:22:46.970] that the one who is seeing
[00:22:49.500] is also changing.
[00:22:53.070] The eyes that look out at the world
[00:22:56.170] and the ears that hear its sounds
[00:22:59.400] are also changing,
[00:23:01.700] being changed
[00:23:03.640] and continuously changing.
[00:23:10.230] You know
[00:23:11.450] we want to look back
[00:23:13.800] on the ancient teachings from that perspective.
[00:23:17.240] You could say that a core of the Buddhist teaching
[00:23:21.230] was the teaching of “anicca”
[00:23:26.300] ”a” meaning without, “anicca” meaning permanence or constancy.
[00:23:32.870] Anicca reminds us that everything is constantly in flux,
[00:23:38.230] nothing is fixed or unchanging.
[00:23:42.640] Our lives, our bodies, our worlds are in process always
[00:23:48.540] and right now
[00:23:49.900] during this webinar
[00:23:54.000] our very self is shifting.
[00:23:58.230] In this moment
[00:24:00.010] cells are dying,
[00:24:01.500] cells are being born,
[00:24:03.750] subtle changes
[00:24:06.000] even now at this moment.
[00:24:12.900] So, you might ask me why is that an important insight
[00:24:19.300] because it’s about
[00:24:20.800] our relationship to change,
[00:24:23.470] how we respond to change,
[00:24:26.700] that determines the tenor of our lives,
[00:24:31.800] our ability to relate to others with compassion and wisdom.
[00:24:41.040] Do we respond
[00:24:43.530] typically with a sense of suffering or wanting things to stay the same, oh no you’re not like you were yesterday,
[00:24:52.100] or maybe you want things to be different
[00:24:54.600] than they seem to be going?
[00:25:00.070] Whichever way,
[00:25:02.840] they wind up with the second noble truth of Buddhism,
[00:25:08.870] truth of dukkha.
[00:25:13.070] We talked about dukkha and there’s a range of yuckiness associated with the dukkha.
[00:25:19.230] It can be just a slight sense of un-satisfactoriness
[00:25:26.700] or something that’s just not right
[00:25:31.470] or major distress,
[00:25:44.700] We might experience dukkha when we see how our bodies are changing as we get old
[00:25:49.750] or how our neighborhood is changing
[00:25:53.730] from what used to be quaint and now some garish plastic parody of itself
[00:26:01.700] or how the body politic
[00:26:04.840] has become a site of hatred and contempt.
[00:26:11.070] How the Earth itself is in distress
[00:26:19.600] and now we have the pandemic Covid-19.
[00:26:25.450] What more can be said about dukkha?
[00:26:28.830] That’s suffering.
[00:26:33.900] These signs of change are sites of suffering.
[00:26:40.820] Facing the truth of constant change
[00:26:49.470] can be tricky for us.
[00:26:53.870] We can fixate on ourselves as being a witness.
[00:26:57.030] Oh, I’m the same but all of that is changing around me.
[00:27:00.700] I have a fixed permanent self,
[00:27:05.040] but of course not.
[00:27:13.150] Even our own being is not a thing,
[00:27:17.170] but it’s empty of enduring qualities.
[00:27:23.200] Of course, that’s the third note
[00:27:26.450] of the three marks the truth of selflessness, there is no fixed self,
[00:27:32.760] there’s just this, this and this,
[00:27:36.850] responding to that and that and that.
[00:27:42.450] Truth of suffering,
[00:27:44.030] the truth of impermanence,
[00:27:46.100] truth of no fix self.
[00:27:48.800] We can really allow ourselves to
[00:27:52.000] see this in our own day-to-day life
[00:27:56.500] can help us to navigate these waters of change.
[00:28:05.460] Who we are right now is different,
[00:28:07.370] a little different from who we were when we got out of bed this morning.
[00:28:13.740] Suddenly we change
[00:28:17.300] our thoughts, experiences,
[00:28:20.600] the air we breathe, the food we eat.
[00:28:24.700] Moment to moment changes us.
[00:28:29.930] So, there’s a wonderful Zen teaching from 13th century Japan,
[00:28:35.740] that I find so helpful for me
[00:28:40.340] in finding out how to negotiate what feels like a really bizarre time
[00:28:47.170] in our 2020 world.
[00:28:50.460] It’s a very poetic writing by Zen master Dogen
[00:28:56.380] and here are these lines
[00:29:00.100] “When riding a boat
[00:29:02.230] if one watches the shore one may assume the shore is moving,
[00:29:07.450] but watching the boat directly
[00:29:10.570] one knows that it is the boat that moves.”
[00:29:17.830] Dogen is asking us, what is your point of reference?
[00:29:22.900] What is watching the boat directly?
[00:29:29.830] If it’s the boat
[00:29:32.270] or the self
[00:29:34.380] that is looking
[00:29:36.900] in the self sees the shore the way we look at history,
[00:29:41.100] ”look there that’s moving”.
[00:29:43.730] Maybe the way we see politics,
[00:29:46.940] the way we see racism in this country
[00:29:51.160] or the pandemic in the southern states.
[00:29:56.240] We may see life unfolding over there,
[00:30:01.340] that’s what’s happening,
[00:30:03.640] that shore,
[00:30:04.940] that world is moving.
[00:30:08.630] But when we realize that “oh it’s the boat”
[00:30:11.600] we ourselves
[00:30:13.600] are also actually moving.
[00:30:18.800] Then we realize that we are unfolding within the activity of the world,
[00:30:26.010] the activity
[00:30:29.070] of not two,
[00:30:34.350] not two.
[00:30:41.200] I think of this because of my own background
[00:30:45.900] when I look at the changes in media
[00:30:49.040] and communications,
[00:30:53.200] all these new and different ways to express and communicate,
[00:30:58.150] we no longer depend on only one or two sources of information
[00:31:05.230] and we’re able to hear from ordinary people all over the world.
[00:31:11.450] Different social groups
[00:31:15.000] with their immediate and unfiltered views,
[00:31:21.010] videos of policing,
[00:31:23.840] political rallies
[00:31:27.740] and so much that was hidden or unseen from us before.
[00:31:33.700] I think of the Hong Kong protesters,
[00:31:37.460] the Black Lives Matters movement,
[00:31:40.500] so empowered by these changes in communications
[00:31:46.000] and also
[00:31:48.470] for your eyes and the fascists right
[00:31:57.000] this is a good change, this is a bad change, all that’s changing.
[00:32:01.830] What about me?
[00:32:07.800] It’s very easy for me to critique these changes without noting my own difference.
[00:32:14.840] I have changed,
[00:32:17.050] I don’t communicate the way I did,
[00:32:21.400] ten or even five years ago
[00:32:28.140] that so-called security of news gatekeepers is gone.
[00:32:34.400] Our old chosen keepers of the trusted sex
[00:32:39.240] has been lost
[00:32:42.450] and were forced to gather material from various sources and try to sort through
[00:32:47.600] and find some kind of truth that we can work from,
[00:32:53.640] some sense of the world around us.
[00:32:59.000] So, this changed me,
[00:33:02.370] looks at this changed medium
[00:33:07.400] and also looks at
[00:33:10.700] the heartbreaking aspects of our lives.
[00:33:17.250] Looking at
[00:33:20.200] what it is to be human today
[00:33:24.730] in 2020
[00:33:27.760] in the US,
[00:33:30.100] the pandemic
[00:33:32.000] and the fascism
[00:33:33.630] and the racism.
[00:33:39.400] So, I go back to Dogen again:
[00:33:42.350] if one examines the ten thousand Dharmas with a deluded body and mind
[00:33:47.070] one will suppose that one’s mind and nature are permanent.
[00:33:51.870] But if one practices intimately and returns to the true self,
[00:33:56.770] it will be clear that the ten thousand Dharmas
[00:34:00.700] are without self.
[00:34:07.770] There’s great freedom there
[00:34:11.170] when practices intimately
[00:34:13.500] which is what we were doing when we were sitting as
[00:34:17.470] it is what we do when we interrogate our knee-jerk reactions
[00:34:23.490] and we return to the true selves.
[00:34:29.100] The changing self,
[00:34:30.370] the awareness of the changing selves,
[00:34:33.940] this moment mind, this moment not that moment,
[00:34:39.230] it will be clear that everything is without a permanent self.
[00:34:48.840] Dogen is reminding us that if we’re deluded in our thinking,
[00:34:53.530] we think that the way things are right now are the way that they are
[00:34:59.540] in a permanent manner
[00:35:01.130] but they’re just
[00:35:02.700] moment by moment by moment
[00:35:08.970] and we think that our own views
[00:35:11.940] and the world itself will not change
[00:35:14.900] but this is the way it is now.
[00:35:21.700] We are not
[00:35:23.300] the same as we were last year
[00:35:25.600] our reactions and responses to the politics
[00:35:29.160] cannot be the same as they were last year.
[00:35:34.000] So Dogen tells us
[00:35:35.970] but if one practices intimately and returns to the true self,
[00:35:41.030] it will be clear
[00:35:43.400] that the ten thousand Dharmas are without self.
[00:35:50.200] Let’s parse that
[00:35:53.270] if one practices intimately and returns to the true self,
[00:35:59.100] what would that be like for you
[00:36:05.700] to remind yourself,
[00:36:08.170] let me remind myself
[00:36:09.970] that I am part of this broken world,
[00:36:14.700] I am a part of this broken world,
[00:36:21.200] to stop and to breathe,
[00:36:28.460] sweetly attend to this moment
[00:36:35.950] and then to roll up our sleeves and say well, what can I do right now? How can I serve today?
[00:36:48.570] There’s an image
[00:36:49.830] from one of the early Buddhist Mahayana teachings
[00:36:55.130] in perfection of wisdom of eight thousand lines, it’s my favorite ever image.
[00:37:01.570] The scene is a Riverside, kind of like Garrison
[00:37:09.540] and we see a bodhisattva, who is very apparent, piloting a ferry boat full of people from one side to the other
[00:37:17.220] and of course that is a classic Buddhist metaphor for waking up,
[00:37:23.230] moving from the shore of suffering and grasping to the shore of serving others and being one with.
[00:37:34.100] So, I’m going to read it first,
[00:37:37.890] since the pronoun is never clear I like to read it
[00:37:41.270] as “she” because I identify as she her.
[00:37:45.240] She courses in Dharma as empty, signless and wishless
[00:37:49.950] but she does not experience the Blessed rest nor does she course in a sign
[00:37:56.000] as a skillful ferry woman goes from this shore to the other
[00:38:00.100] but she also does not stand at either end
[00:38:03.380] nor does she stand in the great flood.
[00:38:10.600] I’m going to repeat it again,
[00:38:13.100] I’ll use “they”.
[00:38:16.070] They course in Dharma’s as empty, signless and wishless
[00:38:19.970] but they do not experience the Blessed rest
[00:38:23.070] nor do they course in a sign
[00:38:26.270] as a skillful ferry person from this shore to the other shore
[00:38:30.300] but also does not stand either in
[00:38:33.750] nor do they stand in the great flood.
[00:38:40.200] It evokes
[00:38:42.300] the life of a bodhisattva
[00:38:48.500] no matter what our spiritual view,
[00:38:51.900] we still undertake to carry people across a sea of suffering.
[00:38:58.900] Right down the street from here is where the Catholic Worker was started and
[00:39:03.940] when I’ve been on street retreats I often go to take a meal, they offer free meal to people living on the street
[00:39:11.570] and the best food in town is the Catholic Worker.
[00:39:17.230] Just only bodhisattvas
[00:39:20.300] ferrying people across, giving a meal, simple simple service.
[00:39:27.500] Life of a bodhisattva
[00:39:30.760] is the way we carry people across
[00:39:34.030] the sea of suffering.
[00:39:38.900] It is reflex for me, the simple rounded practice of meditation
[00:39:47.490] that allows us to recognize that we are alive
[00:39:52.950] and therefore responsible.
[00:39:57.000] We are alive and we are connected
[00:40:01.100] and responsible.
[00:40:04.540] Also, when I read this little verse about
[00:40:08.990] carrying people across the river of suffering,
[00:40:13.500] I also feel like inspired by the idea of life,
[00:40:19.000] of caring and service
[00:40:23.430] even when we’re in midst of meeting the incredible changes that are happening in life around us.
[00:40:31.400] They coarsened Dharma’s empty signless and wishless,
[00:40:36.260] the flowing stream of life,
[00:40:40.750] that flowing stream can teach us how
[00:40:44.170] to meet life
[00:40:46.900] moment by moment
[00:40:51.170] and how
[00:40:52.240] to live a life of value.
[00:40:57.600] Now, this bodhisattva,
[00:41:01.200] who is you
[00:41:02.870] and is me
[00:41:06.150] experiences of what’s rising right now,
[00:41:09.900] what is up for us,
[00:41:13.330] not a fixed thing,
[00:41:18.400] it is empty
[00:41:20.300] of any fixed quality.
[00:41:23.630] It is changing,
[00:41:27.900] and how could we not know that with the daily reports
[00:41:33.050] forged from scientists and from epidemiologists,
[00:41:39.300] remarks from the various politicians in this country and across around the world,
[00:41:45.000] all of the changing views and understandings of the pandemic
[00:41:52.530] convinced you
[00:41:55.700] of the incredible changes that have occurred
[00:41:59.670] ever since.
[00:42:03.460] Somehow, that in my view the pandemic
[00:42:07.700] brought so many people to a stop
[00:42:10.840] and allowed them to see what
[00:42:13.630] they had not been seen
[00:42:17.250] the past fifty years in the fight against racism.
[00:42:23.350] ears were opened,
[00:42:24.700] eyes were opened.
[00:42:31.770] Change is happening.
[00:42:34.350] Are we witnessing it or are we a part of it?
[00:42:35.640] Are we arguing it?
[00:42:37.600] Are we serving it?
[00:42:39.060] That is the question
[00:42:41.430] because it’s not like we’re just standing on the shore,
[00:42:45.640] we’re all part
[00:42:47.530] of this change.
[00:42:48.700] It’s a magnificent change, it’s a frightening change.
[00:42:53.300] How can we serve?
[00:42:55.130] That’s what Dogen asks us, that’s what the bodhisattva have asked us.
[00:43:07.540] So, the denial of racism, the denial of the autocracy, that’s going on in this country,
[00:43:14.100] the ongoing denial of climate change,
[00:43:17.980] that’s what we’re faced with in this world.
[00:43:25.200] The sutra says:
[00:43:26.200] “the bodhisattva recognizes that each momentary event,
[00:43:30.400] each momentary person,
[00:43:32.630] feeling or thought
[00:43:34.400] has no permanent name”.
[00:43:38.300] They just sign once
[00:43:40.570] because it cannot be fixed by a single word or phrase,
[00:43:45.530] it is wish lists
[00:43:49.840] because we see that desire for it not to be here
[00:43:53.600] does not help.
[00:43:57.500] Work must be done.
[00:44:00.800] We have to row that boat
[00:44:03.100] across the sea of suffering
[00:44:06.440] like a pilot of a ferry
[00:44:09.570] navigating the ferryboat
[00:44:11.500] from shore to shore
[00:44:14.220] not stopping on either shore
[00:44:17.810] moving with the flowing waters time
[00:44:24.300] constantly being present
[00:44:27.060] to life as it is
[00:44:31.800] constantly being present as time flows on,
[00:44:38.600] even when we feel vulnerable
[00:44:42.800] we can also feel courage
[00:44:48.970] because we’re on top of the moment
[00:44:53.300] we’re not lost in our idea of what we’ve lost or idea of what the moment should be
[00:44:59.800] but we’re on top of the moment that is.
[00:45:06.430] So you could say that all of us here today
[00:45:11.030] are in this ferry boat together
[00:45:16.060] making our way across the sea of life
[00:45:20.230] with its suffering
[00:45:22.400] with its temptations
[00:45:25.000] and its struggles.
[00:45:29.200] You could say that this today is the Garrison boat
[00:45:34.200] and each of us is a pilot
[00:45:39.170] or you could say that the boat is you, yourself,
[00:45:44.730] and also
[00:45:47.150] you are piloting it
[00:45:50.760] making your way
[00:45:52.600] across the sea of change,
[00:45:56.140] it’s an activity.
[00:46:01.450] How do we do this?
[00:46:04.070] How can we know others
[00:46:06.400] and help each other?
[00:46:09.630] How can we row that boat together?
[00:46:15.950] I think it’s by steadying ourselves,
[00:46:19.300] taking a breath then,
[00:46:22.200] calming and stopping
[00:46:24.600] and asking
[00:46:26.320] ”How can I help?
[00:46:29.150] How can I serve?
[00:46:33.800] Yes, everything is changing
[00:46:36.870] around us.
[00:46:38.750] Yes, we ourselves are changing!
[00:46:42.100] It’s a grand opportunity
[00:46:54.570] to serve others
[00:46:46.900] whether it’s at home
[00:46:49.000] or our neighbors down the hall or down the street,
[00:46:52.940] our communities,
[00:46:56.800] our state
[00:46:58.000] our world.
[00:47:00.600] There are so many opportunities
[00:47:03.900] for us to use this change
[00:47:09.460] by being present.
[00:47:17.000] So, let me close with a verse
[00:47:19.600] and then I’ll take some questions.
[00:47:21.950] Here’s a verse:
[00:47:22.870] “people are sick,
[00:47:25.300] how can I help?
[00:47:27.250] People are caught in hatred,
[00:47:29.900] how can I help?
[00:47:32.000] People are abused,
[00:47:35.200] how can I help?
[00:47:37.900] Reaching out a hand,
[00:47:39.430] I am with you
[00:47:42.000] and we can row together.
[00:47:53.230] Thank you so much,
[00:47:57.170] thank you so much Roshi O’Hara,
[00:47:58.870] so we have a question from Evan.
[00:48:01.170] How can
[00:48:02.770] a practitioner deal with rage as we aim toward developing equanimity?
[00:48:09.770] So rage is a very powerful energy
[00:48:14.500] if we could just harness that energy in to
[00:48:19.000] shift it away from
[00:48:21.000] me, against x, whatever the focus of our rage is at the moment
[00:48:27.200] and grasp that energy
[00:48:29.600] and use it to row that boat across.
[00:48:32.490] So, how do we do that?
[00:48:34.950] Take a moment,
[00:48:36.170] I recommend tongue up against the roof of the mouth because it’s a signal,
[00:48:40.430] it’s a physical signal to your body
[00:48:43.700] to stop,
[00:48:47.300] to take a breath
[00:48:51.370] and allow the rage to turn in to a powerful strength.
[00:48:57.490] As opposed to something against
[00:49:00.400] the other
[00:49:01.900] whether that’s an abstract
[00:49:03.600] or a person,
[00:49:07.280] turn it into
[00:49:10.000] a giving, in a serving.
[00:49:12.500] You know, I admit that I’ve always had little issues with rage myself
[00:49:20.100] and particularly I take long walks in Manhattan and when I see people not wearing masks,
[00:49:25.700] I think I should be carrying cards to instruct them how to behave.
[00:49:31.900] I can become kind of agitated about
[00:49:35.400] the non-mask wearers,
[00:49:37.300] so for me that has become my point of teaching, my friction point
[00:49:43.640] for my whole
[00:49:46.030] life in the pandemic, my whole life of entering into what did hit my judgment?
[00:49:52.800] It comes from their rage
[00:49:54.370] and how can I turn that into
[00:49:57.570] a way to serve others?
[00:49:59.640] So, that’s what I encourage you to do is
[00:50:01.930] try to use that energy
[00:50:04.600] a different kind of way,
[00:50:06.300] take that strong rage energy
[00:50:09.100] and turn it, so that it serves.
[00:50:15.270] Thank you!
[00:50:17.120] Robert Kidding asks
[00:50:19.230] “Does the true self change?”
[00:50:23.400] Yeah, I think so.
[00:50:27.700] You know it’s really hard when you (inaudible)
[00:50:30.840] show me your true self that’s
[00:50:33.240] a kind of the same thing.
[00:50:36.050] What we’re talking about is that, that which is in us,
[00:50:39.500] which is a part of everything else but since everything else is changing,
[00:50:43.570] so is our true self.
[00:50:46.770] Our response
[00:50:47.970] to when you’re asked about your true self,
[00:50:51.300] can always be different,
[00:50:53.420] can always respond to the situation as it is
[00:50:57.750] because when we’re involved in an abstraction such as true self,
[00:51:05.100] which is a
[00:51:06.840] wonderful awareness of our interconnection, it is also
[00:51:11.040] an abstraction and we have to bring it into reality,
[00:51:14.340] into this moment.
[00:51:16.600] So, I hope that’s helpful.
[00:51:19.950] Thank you,
[00:51:22.070] Another question, how do you view death in terms of changes?
[00:51:27.400] Well it’s a big change.
[00:51:31.460] I’m sorry,
[00:51:33.570] yeah I mean if you’ve ever been with someone who’s dying
[00:51:42.490] leaving of the life energy in the body
[00:51:46.600] you see it leaving and leaving and then the body is completely still.
[00:51:54.500] The body begins to
[00:51:57.160] lose itself,
[00:51:59.000] its moisture
[00:52:02.350] begins to shrink
[00:52:04.680] and depending on how the body is taken care or whether it’s
[00:52:09.220] cremated or
[00:52:13.100] any variety of funeral arrangements.
[00:52:16.640] The body continues to change until it’s gone.
[00:52:21.030] It’s completely gone
[00:52:22.900] as we see in when we do archaeological digs
[00:52:28.180] and we find a bone maybe a part of a bone
[00:52:33.970] somehow been preserved.
[00:52:38.940] never ends.
[00:52:44.870] Thank you Roshi.
[00:52:48.150] Could you expand more about the last reading that you did?
[00:52:57.800] It’s a wonderful…
[00:53:00.570] from “The Perfection of Wisdom and eight thousand
[00:53:03.570] Lines” is that the one you’re talking about where she courses and Dharma is empty, signless and wishless?
[00:53:11.000] Ok, so that would be crossing the sea of suffering
[00:53:15.730] and in that we have the empty.
[00:53:21.310] What we’re talking about is, it doesn’t have any fix,
[00:53:24.900] since everything is changing,
[00:53:27.240] there’s no fix self, there’s no simple fix, anything.
[00:53:31.340] Even the
[00:53:35.370] are slightly different after each movement of the oars,
[00:53:39.780] as we’re crossing, everything is changing, in signless
[00:53:44.130] you cannot just say one thing is a certain kind of way because it’s always, always changing.
[00:53:50.500] So, she courses in these Dharmas,
[00:53:53.500] and courses across the river or they cross or he crosses
[00:53:59.680] the river of suffering
[00:54:04.900] that is what…
[00:54:06.770] that is an example that you facing change every single day
[00:54:11.130] in this life that we live. If you
[00:54:13.820] subscribe particularly to the Buddhist notion of dukkha, that there’s a quality of suffering for everything that exists
[00:54:21.700] and so
[00:54:23.000] we are in this boat together
[00:54:25.540] carrying people across.
[00:54:29.900] And the next line says “but they do not experience the blessed rest”. It’s not like they’re going to get to the some special place where everything’s going to be great
[00:54:42.000] on (termini specifici/nomi propri), no!
[00:54:47.900] She does not experience,
[00:54:49.540] they do not experience the “blessed rest”
[00:54:51.800] nor do they course in a sign
[00:54:54.070] nor do they get stuck in some idea,
[00:54:56.730] ”oh, I’m doing service, I’m doing good!
[00:55:00.600] Well that’s just another
[00:55:03.000] That’s not what is really happening,
[00:55:05.800] as you’re sitting in the boat with the water splashing in your face.
[00:55:11.800] As a skillful ferry person goes from this shore to the other shore
[00:55:16.150] but also does not stand at either end
[00:55:19.700] nor do they stand in the great flood.
[00:55:22.900] So, the skillfulness is that do not say
[00:55:28.500] “this is my and I’m in their enlightened state once I get to this side
[00:55:34.750] go to this side and then you go back to the other side”.
[00:55:37.760] So, we were moving back and forth between our recognition that we are part of everything
[00:55:44.900] that as everything, you know recognizing they we’re part of everything isn’t enough.
[00:55:48.820] One has to be completely oneself
[00:55:52.000] to do the work,
[00:55:53.720] do the work that’s required whether that’s preparing food
[00:55:57.870] for a group of medical care people or preparing food for the homeless
[00:56:54.000] or whether that’s demonstrating
[00:56:06.070] every single day in and back and forth
[00:56:09.640] and making your voices heard.
[00:56:11.840] Those are individual acts
[00:56:13.440] and yet they are part of the wholeness
[00:56:17.050] and there is no end to them.
[00:56:20.900] And there’s the last line
[00:56:22.240] “but also, they do not stand at either end
[00:56:25.240] nor do they stand in the great flood”.
[00:56:27.840] They don’t, there’s no end to this,
[00:56:31.340] you don’t just say ok now we got it, we got everything we want, we’re done.
[00:56:36.100] So, when we’re done is when the previous question about death,
[00:56:41.570] then we’re pretty done.
[00:56:45.000] Thank you Roshi.
[00:56:46.600] We have time for one more and it’s related to suffering from Heidi.
[00:56:51.600] How do I sit with the pain and sadness I feel when I see the news stories
[00:56:56.450] of children, people being killed for seemingly senseless reasons,
[00:57:01.590] guns, violence,
[00:57:03.300] loss of loved ones to Covid.
[00:57:05.190] I do not know any of these individuals
[00:57:07.500] and yet witnessing this.
[00:57:09.300] Every day in the news is terribly painful
[00:57:12.530] but I do not want to separate myself from these feelings or awareness
[00:57:16.150] but do not know how to deal with them rightly?
[00:57:28.930] This is such a question, such a beautiful question
[00:57:34.370] because if we’re reading
[00:57:38.430] texts or the newspaper,
[00:57:41.100] I’m so sorry this is going to stop in a minute,
[00:57:57.700] because I want to come back to the question which is very real,
[00:58:01.430] how do we hear about the suffering around
[00:58:05.000] the world that is going on all the time
[00:58:08.600] it’s going on all the time in so many places, but now it’s
[00:58:13.700] right in front of us.
[00:58:15.960] How can we be with that?
[00:58:17.600] I think the best way is to find some kind of action,
[00:58:21.950] some small action whether or not that’s
[00:58:26.430] reaching out
[00:58:27.800] to an organization and offering
[00:58:30.300] or whatever you can give.
[00:58:32.840] Some people can give money,
[00:58:34.500] some people can give energy, I will help, I will…
[00:58:38.100] I will talk to other people and tell them about this problem,
[00:58:42.460] and try and help, I will join your organization.
[00:58:45.500] Some kind of action
[00:58:48.000] some kind of like getting in that boat and starting to move,
[00:58:50.900] even if are you maybe kind of overwhelmed, you may have family to take care, of a business
[00:58:56.600] to take care
[00:58:58.730] of or you’re maybe not with a lot of energy but just one thing,
[00:59:02.970] Some kind of action
[00:59:06.270] that moves you away from the kind of passive
[00:59:10.000] viewing of the suffering around you,
[00:59:12.500] but you become part of it, and it is heart breaking,
[00:59:15.840] the closer we get to it, the more heart breaking that it is
[00:59:20.600] but it is the truth,
[00:59:22.930] has always been the truth.
[00:59:29.400] I hope that’s helpful
[00:59:30.930] and I apologize for that noise.
[00:59:34.100] Thank you.
[00:59:36.830] Of course, it’s not your fault, thank you.
[00:59:39.200] Thank you so much
[00:59:42.270] Thank you
[00:59:44.570] And that’s our time
[00:59:44.940] All right.
[00:59:46.120] So, so beautiful
[00:59:47.840] and thank you for your guidance.
[00:59:53.800] All right.
[00:59:55.300] I’m going to leave now is that good?
[00:59:57.800] Yes, thank you, close off
[01:00:01.730] close off now.
[01:00:03.100] Thank you again Roshi O’Hara for being with us today
[01:00:06.7500] and thank you everyone who joined the call.
[01:00:09.150] Our next session is Tuesday July 14th,
[01:00:13.400] with doctor Krista Turksma,
[01:00:16.230] great doctor Mark Greenberg and doctor Tish Jennings.
[01:00:20.530] Please keep checking www.garrisonInstitute.org
[01:00:23.700] for updated listings of future sessions and to view the recordings of this
[01:00:28.100] gathering and others.
[01:00:29.400] Again, we provide these sessions free of charge.
[01:00:33.200] If you like to support this effort
[01:00:34.800] please consider making a donation at www.garrisonInstitute.org,
[01:00:38.730] thank you to all those who have already.
[01:00:41.730] May everyone be happy,
[01:00:43.200] healthy and safe.