Unknown Date, Serial 00221, Side B

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No, not that one. It's not the one that's made with soup. It's not a HanShan made with soup. This is a HanShan DeQing. Which one is Han? SiLi. That one is Han... There are two. There are two HanShans. The Tang Dynasty Han Shang is cold-mouthed. He's the mad monk, Han Shang Shi De. In the Japanese, it's Kanzan Jitoku, right? This is the Han Shang De Qing. De Qing, he's the, it's, I don't know how to, it's Gan, Gan Bu Gan. And then there's this other one, Gan, [...] Gan. Imagine where the Chinese language is. Right in the ear, how important inflection is. There, that's it, that's a good one. Thank you, thank you for teaching us Chinese. Thank you. If that's not interfaith dialogue, what is it?


I don't know. Teaching the Chinese. Okay, all right. Imagine Pennsylvania. I don't know if that's interfaith dialogue, it's certainly interlinguistic dialogue. I don't know. I want to respond to Marty's presentation by bringing up two examples from the 16th century and the 19th century. Example from each to show what was going on in Christianity with your 16th century friend who was, what was his name? 16th century, City Mom. Okay, and the 19th century guy was? Empty Club. Okay, so I want to talk about some ideas of how can you attain enlightenment within the container context of an institutional religious system? Is that a help or a hindrance? Or is it an obstacle? Okay, so in the 16th century, there was a Camaldolese hermit by the name of Blessed Paul Giustiniani.


He was born in Venice in 1476, died in 1528. He received a classical education. It wasn't so much scripture that was the source of his conversion to a deeper path in Christianity, but rather the writings of Cicero and Seneca. Later, however, as he entered Camaldolese, he nourished his soul primarily on the Bible, silence, and a life of simplicity. He entered Camaldolese at age 34 in 1510, and in 1520, he felt the call to reform the Camaldolese themselves, and that led to another branch of Camaldolese called the Hermits of Monte Corona. So here in the United States, the hermits here are descendants of St. Romuald who go back to the early 11th century, right? And there's another community of Camaldolese of Monte Corona out in Ohio,


and I actually have more commerce with them since they're not far from my monastery, okay? There are hermits of the strict observance. I figured that one out. But anyway. But this ground is higher. It certainly is, and cloudier. But anyway. No, I didn't mean that. It's all right. So anyway, Paul Giustiniani, insofar as he was able to obtain a glimpse of whatever enlightenment is, he did it within the confines or barriers or restrictions of the Catholic Church in the 16th century, which wasn't in very good shape at the time when you consider that the Protestant Reformation was bubbling up only in 1517. Martin Luther, his 95 thesis of the 16th century was rather turbulent. So for him to find some peace and tranquility


and enlightenment in the midst of that mess is quite a compliment. So listen to some of his writings where he tries to, sometimes in enlightenment, we keep trying to get up to heaven, and heaven keeps pushing us back down in order to bring us back to earth, okay? So listen to some of his prayers. He's Trinitarian, so he addresses his source of enlightenment as the risen Christ. Lord Jesus, you who are the light without which nothing can be illuminated, you who alone see the darkness of my life, I dare not ask you for the light that may show me your light. It is enough that you show me my darkness. I am blind, I cannot see it, and I mistake it for the light. I am so deeply in error that I don't even perceive it. I mistake falsehood for truth. I no longer... Bring me back to myself. I have strayed not only from you, but from myself.


I have become a stranger to my own being. Bring me back to myself in order that I may then go towards you. Show me my darkness that I may then look at the light. He says, I do not say with Moses, show yourself to me. I say, show myself to me. He says, Nothing is nearer or more familiar to me than my own mind, and yet so dense is the cloud that hides me from myself that I cannot see my sins. Daily, constantly, I fall into sin and error. I offend God and my neighbor, but at that very moment, I am so blind that I forget what I am doing. He says, He keeps repeating to God, Show me to myself. He continues in his explorations where this second man,


I think from the 19th century, was saying that he did all these ascetical practices and he thought he was something else, and then a teacher comes along and says you've really been wasting your time. Paul Justiniani had a similar experience where he relates. He said, Our hidden self-love and narcissism brings forth all manner of illusions, ecstasies, visions, revelations, prophecies, abstinences impossible to human strength, the experience of Christ's sufferings such as the wound on the side or the stigmata. Knowledge acquired without study, speaking in strange languages, the desire to be damned for the love of Christ, sublime confessions, fasting from all food except the blessed Eucharist, vigils beyond human strength, knowledge of other secret thoughts, miracles and cures. All these marvels are, and in some instances nothing,


but the work of Him who said and would like to induce us to say, I shall be like God and I shall do what He does. I think that these saints inspired by Lucifer are much more numerous or rather much better known and more admired by the world than the true saints who do nothing in order to be known by the world but who prefer to remain hidden. Of course, we must not condemn all visions and marvels and miracles. Some are authentic, but the touchstone that contests them is always profound humility. So I see a very strong parallel with that 19th century fella. Six minutes? Okay, praise God. Okay. I went to Steubenville, the college where I'm a fallen away charismatic. Okay. Hallelujah. Okay. So he ends his writings with this beautiful prayer. Lord Jesus, I know what I have tried to say.


What you have enabled me to see and feel to some degree is truly ineffable and unfathomable. But grant, Lord, that what I cannot understand intellectually nor express in writing that I may taste and enjoy by experience. Grant that I may be united to you in a way that the mind cannot grasp nor the pen express. That I may be so totally absorbed in you that I may love you and rejoice in you. I do not ask that your joy may enter my being, but rather that I, like the faithful servant, may enter into that joy. That I may wholly lose myself to be annihilated to myself and taste your love in a manner beyond all telling of understanding. This annihilation that he speaks of is what I consider the death to the ego. And I think within the confines of a troubled church in the 16th century,


using all the doctrines and Trinitarian formulas at his command, he was able to catch a glimpse of this enlightenment. I would like to jump to the 19th century, since this conference is about Christian and Asian. I extend Christianity to include those who are not in the Catholic tradition. And I want to be so bold as to use the example of William Blake from the 19th century, who was something of a poet and everything, but a critic also of Christianity as he saw it. He is famous for his illustrations of the Book of Job. In Bible studies, we have various forms of examining scripture, and one of my favorites is called which is the history of the effect of the text. That is, after the Bible author is finished with the text, poets, artists, musicians, preachers, filmmakers, they can do with the text whatever they want.


And that becomes a text in and of itself. So anyway, William Blake looked to the Book of Job as a way of explaining some of his own experiences. We all know the story of Job at the beginning. Job is a super Jew following the laws of the Lord and all that. And the test is that Job, can he continue to follow God without all that support that he should expect from being faithful to God? And all that is taken away from him. The Book of Job is really an antidote in our current culture to solipsism. What am I going to do when I find that the world does not revolve around me, or that I'm not going to get any merits and that sort of thing? Can I still be ethical? Can I still do what is right, even though nothing is following into the path the way I think it should? Very good moral question. But anyway, at the beginning of the Book of Job,


with Blake's illustrations, he has Job's family, they're all sitting there, down in front of him. There are some sheep there, and their eyes are closed, and they're very, very placid. And then there are instruments, if you look closely, there are drums and guitars and so on, up in the tree, like hanging out there. And as you go through the trauma of the Book of Job, where everything is taken away from him, the very final illustration is like an inclusio. It's the same picture that he started with, but the difference. The sheep now have their eyes open, and the instruments aren't up there, they're now playing the instruments. So Job has gone through some type of an experience where everything that was near and dear to him was taken away from him. The key text is at the conclusion of the Book of Job, in chapter 42, verse 5, where he says to the Lord, I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear,


that is, people told me who and what you are, my institution told me who and what you are, but now my eye, my eye sees you. Not his three-dimensional eyes, but his inner eye is opened, it's awakened. So for William Blake, that was his experience. One thing I did not mention, that illustration number one, back behind the tree there on the horizon, is the illustration of a cathedral, of religion as institution, somewhat ossified religion. And for William Blake, he said, that's just not doing it. So it took a personal experience, much like that of Job, for William Blake to have his doors of perception cleansed, so that he could see reality as it really is. Praise the Lord. Thanks. Thank you. We end on the phrase,


the doors of perception. Which is a whole different direction too. We have, according to my watch, eight minutes to go for discussion, and be brief to the point, and if you want to follow up something that's being discussed, our signal is two hands, not one. But, Brother David, you're first. Just a brief question. Like you said, you spoke about pan-human and human-coma reversal. Apparently, these are concepts that you identify with. I do too, but my question is, how can you justify them? How can you verify them, with some questions, whether this reality exists? Very good question. These are used with caution by some contemporary philosophers, especially philosophers in the East-West studies.


And this one I borrowed from a Western-trained philosopher who really is a Confucianist. He used the expression, versal meaning truth, truth to humankind rather than condition. Okay, so I know your question is, then, how does one verify it? And the verification, at least in, now that's what I was stressing before, in the East Asian, South Asian tradition, being one of orthopraxic, in other words, the verification comes through the practice and the knowing for yourself, as they say in Buddhism. When one knows for oneself, in Chan they say, when you taste the flavor, you know if it's sweet or not. But this has a caveat behind it, because it doesn't just mean any open experience. This is an informed experience, a cultivated experience with a methodology that's based on discipline, concentration, and then insight. That's a direct knowing, and I think that's what Blake is also talking about, too. So again, it's a little bit outside of our scientific paradigm,


because it unites subject and object, but it doesn't unite them casually, but it unites them with an ancient form, actually, of knowing. Yes? I'm very grateful for the answer, completely agree, but I think it is not outside of our scientific paradigm, but right on, because it follows the scientific approach. Under specific conditions, you have an experience, and you have to compare it with your peers who have the same experience under the same conditions. So we should not be too quick to say, oh, it's not scientific. It's very scientific. We can be as scientific as the scientists. If I might respond, and I am of your persuasion, except for one key difference, and that is that the scientific methodology inquiry does not presuppose an ethical purity, and I think that's critical to this knowledge. And this is one of the problems we have with science. Without that, there's a riot,


and we're facing that now, both in the environment and in nuclear, and so forth. And I think it's going to be even more so as we get into genetic engineering, and so forth. The question is, without that ethical imperative to guide that inquiry, then the profit motive or the ego takes over, and the results are quite different. So I think you're right, actually, about the methodology, but I think the presuppositions are critical. Yeah. This morning we were talking about desires. What about right intention, or perhaps right desire, and not trying to attain anything? You know, I tell people when they meditate, find what you really want. What do you really want? And I give them a little exercise to find it. Then I say, don't bring that to meditation. Don't think about it. But it has to be part of your life.


Now, what about that right intention, and don't look to attain anything? This... What you're getting at is very important, but part of the problem, and this is one of the areas I'm really interested in in my... I am not good at languages, and I've been forcing myself into Chinese, because I realized in order to really translate the terms, one has to know what they were in their context as they were perceived there, not simply translate them into things that resonate with us. I've heard people say, oh, Buddhism is as American as apple pie. It's not. Buddhism has some very countervailing influences that will challenge our basic dimensions of existence socially with each other, psychologically with ourselves, and naturally with the larger world. But if we just assimilate it in and say, oh yeah, it's just as American, we lose that impact and have it rub us the wrong way. So desire is a bad translation here, because what we're talking about,


right intention, sometimes it's called bodhicitta. The bodhi resolve, the resolve is brought up, beautifully brought up this morning, of our intrinsic nature is to seek for knowing, to seek for the divine, to seek for the sacred. This compels us as much as the fear of death or impermanence. In fact, in Buddhism, impermanence or this fear of suffering is a cold water that just wakes us up to the deeper resolve is to know, gnosis. Knowledge. And this is what drives the Hindu and Vedantic traditions. So to say desire, that's why the Dalai Lama said afflicted emotions, negative emotions. He didn't say no feeling. And passionlessness means the equanimity that comes from first of all being able to understand your emotions, then to be able to choose selectively which ones are kusala, leading to wholesomeness, goodness, light, and benefit for others, and ekusala, those that lead away. So the language thing is critical because we just jumped up. Buddhism says everything is suffering. End desire. Cut off love. You know, this is really a problem,


not only a language but then a practice too. And so the combination, I think, is where we need to go next if we're going to have a proper East-West exchange. And this is hard for me because language doesn't come easy. Thay Gen, Thay Gen, if you want to go on this point. Quick response to Tom with the intention of what is the most important thing and that direction is important. But I think what what I was talking about is going back to Huineng, the mind that does not abide anywhere. If you think you have whatever it is your intention is, that's a problem. If you think you're going to get it, it's a direction. It's not a thing to get. Right. So likewise, a quick response to Father Tom's question. Their desires are talked about, this is a bigger conversation, but their rough external desires, wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep, these are common, ordinary desires that keep society going. Once you begin to meditate and you cast off the crude search


for wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep, there can still be a desire to obtain samadhi, a desire to attain liberation, a desire to attain sublime states. And so nothing to obtain means to observe the subtle desires as well and not make those a goal. Many people just carry their competitive, acquisitive mind right into meditation. But can't you desire something without being competitive? Of course, bodhicitta, for instance, the resolve to save all living beings. There's seeking, there's a desire. It's a selfless desire. The metaphor that's given in Buddhism is you take the seed, the chitta, the alignment as a seed and you throw it into fertile ground and you water it, you make sure the sun can get at it and you pull the weeds out around it. But you don't try to pull it up to help it grow or you pull its roots out. You let it, in conditions, take care of itself. And the harvest comes, the harvest comes, you're almost unaware. It arrives without you wishing for it to happen. So this becomes in the bodhisattva path


is to make this resolve like, say, the Dalai Lama and then says, that's what he was saying to the people at the assembly, he said, don't worry about results, don't worry about results. Make sure your motivation and intent is pure. Make a resolve to stay with it with perseverance and let, of course, take where it may. I think that's the idea. Because without an intent, without a resolve, where are you? You're no place. These are called in Sanskrit, in Buddhism, called bhavas. That image of the farmer pulling the shoots is in monsa too. It's a foolish farmer of song. Yeah, but, Brother David, on this point, can you? This is a question about what is the discipline in view of this morning. Wouldn't it be better to speak of craving in the sense of bad desire and not abuse the word desire? Right, right. And this becomes, when we sit down to translate, we have about this many people, takes a week to get one sentence out.


But it's wonderful, it's a wonderful word. But actually, the Sanskrit is trishna. Thirst. It's thirst. Craving. You're right. It's inordinate. Beyond need, it becomes greed then. What we take beyond basic need becomes greed. Now we're back to modesty, simplicity, and humility. So we can see parallels, but the problem is sometimes we think we have a nice term, like the original taking dal and translating it as heaven, or god, or dana as god. And it looks really nice and it resonates. Oh yeah, I can relate to that. Or that Christ is a bodhisattva. And these then become more difficult. But you're absolutely right, that that word is too blanket and too wide. But how did the Sanskrit word for thirst and craving go into Chinese? What was the Chinese? It's not thirst. It's different. It's yu. It's a Confucian term, actually. Okay, and so that's your earlier point about westernization of Buddhism.


The Chinese went through it. They went from Sanskritic thinking into Chinese thinking. And they faced the same horrors. And that's Buddhism too, though, right? Yes, and no. In the same way that Buddhism was transformed by Confucianism and Daoism into something that is syncretic, okay, and that most people in China say, are you Buddhist? Yes. Are you Daoist? Yes. Are you Confucian? Yes. They're all three. Science and Christianity and our liberal philosophies are going to then transform and filter Buddhism into something in a language and I'm not going to be able to control it. I mean, all of us think we can. We can't stop. It's going to happen. All we can do is hope at moments like this to bring up clarity and say, you know, that really doesn't capture the meaning. But it's still going to happen. Initially, nirvana was translated as extinction, you know,


and so people are saying, why are billions of people seeking to be extinct like little birds or dinosaurs? Why would this, and it never occurred to anybody that this is not a very good translation of nirvana and this happens with much of that language. So, yes, you've been very patient. This will be the last question. As I understand it, I was going to say something which I will, but on this point I agree that even wanting enlightenment could be a problem and I personally take it as the ego versus as maybe like the inner flame where you just sort of going along with your inner nature whereas the rigidity of the ego that I am going to be enlightened is where the problem comes in. Anyway, you posed a question, Maury, about bringing Buddhism into another, I believe, like another tradition like Christianity and would the person


look for help from the outside as I understood the question. Maybe I'm misunderstanding but I was wondering if you're referring to would we be dependent on God for helping us? And I don't see the problem. Let me be really devil's advocate to answer your question and I said this to a class I was teaching of Chinese students and they started translating and the students got up and left and couldn't figure why because it got translated he became possessed of a demon, of the devil. So they thought they took it, that's the translation from it. I said devil's advocate they thought he became possessed of a demon and got up and left. At least we're not. So a devil's advocate. In the Buddhist sense there is what we call Ta Li and Zi Li, self power and other power. For example, the Pure Land teachings you recite the Buddha's name. Now that seems almost the same as in Christianity but the difference is if you look at the commentaries especially of the masters who comment on this


they ultimately when self power reaches singleness it is the same as other power. The Buddha mind and Buddha mind are non-dual, one and the same. Now that to me is psychologically and I think perhaps ontologically different than posing a creator divine who is outside of or above or transcendent of the creation. So that at least in my Catholic tradition I could become a child of God. I could become part of his realm but I could not become God. Now, excuse me. Now this is a question I brought to you. I'm saying I'm ignorant, I'm stereotypical but how far can the mystical and the contemplative tradition of Christianity push this envelope of subject, object, or creator creation split before we start getting outside of


what is comfortable by that container and then secondly well let me just leave it at that. People have been quoting Eckhart all along here. Eckhart is one of our fallbacks. But there are others. We're at the models I think of understanding. That's one of the reasons I really came to this. I really want to hear from all of you. We're really going over and Joseph, David wants to add a quick point. In the prologue of the book of St. Benedict we have the word, wake up, open your eyes to the deificum lumen. That is the light that makes you divine. Okay, now I have to say on the other side, and although I have a great deal of difficulty with this particular individual I do respect his clarity in representing


a certain school of Buddhism and that's Colonel Ratzinger. I know he's a bit of a self-caricature and I also realize his persona non grata in some circles. Nonetheless, he does clarify at least the Catholic upbringing I had which was be careful of meditation and be careful of identifying the divine or God with his creation. And he matches that very clearly. Now I recognize that theologically which is why I had trouble and why I think a lot of Catholics I know and I just talked to a Trappist of 45 years who cried to me. He said, I'm going through these meditative states that begins in practice, I'm feeling the divine the light arise within me. And he says, and then I bring it out to the next level and I get slammed down. This is deviant, it's auto-erotic and so on and so forth. He says, I'm getting old, I'm getting too late to stop doing this, but when will the doors open to me? So he's in this tension and that's sort of what I hope to bring up here that why I ask this question is if you have that container and you enter meditation


does it then create this tension which is really unhealthy spiritually, psychologically and every other way. There are several containers in this audience. Father Joseph is still debating the final part. I had a question but I think I renounced it. I just wanted to let you know that tomorrow my topic will deal with Zhuangzi and Meister Eikai. I'm glad you will be here. I'm waiting for your comment on that. I think we should start a Meister Eikai church in Berkeley. We've gone almost 10 minutes over which means I think we've got to start at 4 o'clock. We take our break now. Thank you very much. ...this afternoon and we have a session here beginning with Martin Verhoeven who will speak to us on this topic


and followed by a response by Bart and then some discussion. Martin Verhoeven is currently Associate Research Professor of History and Religion with the Institute of World Religions in Berkeley and he's also on the Faculty of the Pacific School of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University and was a Ford Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he received his PhD focusing on the East- West encounter, especially the westernization or the Americanization of Buddhism. Seems to me as one of our sub-themes for this conference. He was a Buddhist monk for 18 years which deeply influenced his understanding and respect for Eastern religions, I would think


so, and led to his current advocacy for scholar practitioners as essential to a proper understanding of South and East Asian spiritual traditions. Martin this afternoon is speaking to us on Glistening Frost and Cooking Sand, Unalterable Aspects of Purity in Chan Buddhist Meditation. Martin. Thank you. Applause [...] Good afternoon everyone. First, I should say that this is the most difficult time to talk. I remember my monastic experience because it's when everybody falls asleep after lunch. The meditation hall after lunch was nodding bodies. So, if that comes to you and you want to yield to it


as a thought and desire this morning, that's fine because it's one of those desires to yield to produces no bad karma. Laughter As my teacher once said, it's better to fall asleep in the temple or in the church than to be too busy in the world awake. Applause So, I also wanted to say that I'm pitch hitting today for someone else who is scheduled to speak and might have kept you more awake than I, but please bear with me. I also want to apologize a bit because I haven't attended one of these assemblies for quite a long time and I don't think I'm really up to speed on all that's happened, either in the Buddhist tradition, but more especially in the Christian and Catholic tradition and I'm sure there's been a lot of progress and areas explored that I am behind in and I hope that you will bring me up to speed if I oversimplify or stereotype in some of my presentation. At the same time, I must say


that I'm really honored and humbled to be present in this group which I consider to be one of the most vital and burgeoning phenomena in the West right now which is what I call scholar practitioners or academic cultivators of which all of you, I take it, are members. And to me, this is extremely important and I think it's long overdue of too long, at least my area of Buddhist studies has been dominated by academics, Orientalists, who treated the subject at arm's length as an objective, sociological, anthropological field of study and didn't really, as we say in Chinese, they didn't know the flavor of that. And I think it's particularly true not only of Eastern religions but also to a larger part, this has hindered the development and understanding of the Western Christian tradition also of what we're academicizing. You know, all of our teachers, our original teachers were not scholars.


The founders all transmitted their teachings to the heart-mind directly. And so I think these were meant to be embodied by us and not merely embalmed in books and libraries. The worst, of course, would be to be a walking embodiment rather than an embodiment. I'm reminded of a conference I once attended where the scholar puffed on his pipe and said to the monk, Buddhist monk next to him, I detect the flavor of Chan or Zen in this particular passage. And the other monk just looked at him and said, Eat! Because everybody laughed except the scholar who didn't get the meaning of this. So there's a wonderful poem that comes to mind that I'll read to you. This comes from one of my favorite poets called Hanshan. He's Cold Mountain. And the Hanshan I'm talking about today is a different Hanshan that's Silly Mountain. This Hanshan says, Talking about


food won't make you full, and babbling about clothes won't keep out the cold. A bowl of rice is what fills the belly, and it takes a suit of clothing to make you warm. And yet, without stopping to consider this, you complain that the Buddha is hard to find. Turn your mind within. There he is. Why look for him outside? So this to me is the challenge that I feel I'm facing as a teacher now, and I say that with reservation, and all of us is to somehow re-embody theory and practice. Because I can tell from the discussions we've had, truly a theory without some kind of practice is sterile. It's crippled. And yet the practice, as I'm trying to point out today, without some theory and guidance can be blind, and even dangerous. So it's that blend that seems to me we're challenged to bring together. Also, just a third beginning point, I think historically this is a very important event. Just this last


week, some of us in this room had attended a Buddhist Teachers Conference that was held at Spirit Rock, and Dalai Lama graciously participated. And again, this energy of scholar-practitioners came out, and some things are happening in the West now that we don't see the results yet, but it's going to be incredible in terms of the revitalization of all religious traditions. This has certainly been true where Buddhism has gone. Its impact in India, and particularly China, which I'm more familiar with, has been salutary and really positive in revitalizing the traditions of those countries. And I think the same thing is going to happen between the exchange of Christianity, Catholicism, and Eastern religions here, both ways. Both ways. Not a one-way street. And so I think we're on the sort of cutting edge of that, although we probably don't see it, and maybe that's just as well, and ruin it with too much thought. So, let me go quickly and try to run through this, and I really subbed at the last minute,


and I threw this together, and I'll try to be, I'll be hopping all over the place here, so please bear with me. And what I'm trying to do is to make this more suggestive and exploratory with all of you, in the hopes that since I am not really up to speed on the maybe Christian parallels or convergences with what I'm going to be talking about with the Chandu tradition, that some of you will have some ideas as we're going along and bring those up towards the end. Thomas and I have talked about that a little, and he seems to have found some really good sources. And really what I'm interested in is, are there sort of psychological or spiritually-rooted, rather than theologically or doctrinally-based parallels or convergences in this model I'm going to present about the essentials for meditation practice that cut across traditions, and that point to something that's maybe pan-human or what some scholars call homoversals, rather than culturally conditioned. And so this East-West thing starts to break down at this point, and what we're talking about, especially with monastics, is a


motif of the mind, if you will, the terrain of the mind ground, of which all of us in one way are walking, and probably have a lot more to share and in common if we get past some of the linguistic and sectarian differences, and that's what I'm hoping to bring out today. And then I'm also wondering, what are the inducements and caveats, if any, of boring a particular meditation tradition from another system, slipping it out of its context, picking it up in isolation rather than in the context it comes in? Does this carry any dangers with it or any possibilities or limitations? I know in Francis Cook's abstract, which I'm fortunate he's not resentful, he mentioned that Buddhist meditation can be done without creeds, without dogma, without doctrines and so forth, and although that's an oversimplification, to some extent that is true, but I think it's grossly misunderstood in the West as the at least in my training, I went in with the idea that I was just going to sit


and that wasn't the case. I spent three years bowing before I sat. Why do I have to bow? Which is exactly why I needed to bow. And so this purification process of examining as spaciousness as Bede talked about, allowing the spaciousness to look at the ego and what's rising there is essential as part of the training. And there's a textual training as well that goes with the meditative tradition that is not too well understood. But I'm wondering if Francis is right that it is possible to meditate without these. I'm raising the question, is it possible to meditate with them? In other words, people who come to the Buddhist meditation tradition bring with them certain presuppositions or a heritage or a world view, a Weltanschauung if you will, of certain theological ideas that are no longer theological but they're in their frame of mind about origins and ends, about a creator, about faith, about sin, about redemption.


And unconsciously maybe transfer these over on top of the meditative practice. Now the text I'm going to read specifically warns about seeking anything in the meditation practice. So if unconsciously there is this structure that comes over from another tradition that is externally oriented towards salvation as opposed to just the inner transformation, does this carry any dangers possibly? And are there Christian parallels to this, warnings about what the state of mind should be as one enters meditation? So, with that let me move on. I'm going to do a little historical thing. That's my problem. But I think it adds a little context to understand where this meditation practice comes from. You're all well aware that Buddhism emerged from an Indian religious matrix, that Buddha was Indian. He was coming out of what we now call a Hindu background, but it wasn't called that at the time. And to


really cut to the chase here as Tom suggested I do, I think one of the most important things about that tradition besides its shift away from ritualized acts of worship more to a focus on the divine within, was also a corresponding emphasis that the external acts of devotion or ritual were less important to realization than the inward transformation. This became one of the key things that defined much of the wandering and ascetic South Asian tradition that becomes the basis out of which the Buddha emerges and then goes to the other countries. And the prime concern then became this knowledge or insight into an abiding truth, dharma. And the release or liberation moksha, if you will, nirvana in the Buddhist sense, from this transmigration that one goes through, and I'm using one again here in parentheses, whether one calls it the atma or the alaya consciousness or just the five skandhas, however we


want to talk, is keeping going. Keeping going is what samsara means. In this cycle of samsara, endless chain of birth, death, rebirth. So liberation was achieved through right practice. I want to emphasize this right practice because these traditions are orthopraxic rather than orthodoxic. Yoga, meditation, some kind of ascetic but not bitterly ascetic discipline, guided by proper study, and this is important too, both with a good teacher as well as a textual basis. A friend in the good life, one who stimulates goodness, was essential. And I believe the Sanskrit for this is kala... kalana... kalyam namitriyana? Am I... kalyanamitra, which really means a good and wholesome virtuous advisor or friend. I wanted to stress this especially with the text


I'm reading because the Asian texts tend to be very terse. And one of the problems with learning about Buddhism through reading is you read this very terse text and you can't really understand it. And it's always meant to be passed along in a living tradition as well, with your own practice guided by a good teacher and then the text as a reference. And this is very important for unpacking it because a lot of the terms and misunderstanding, like cutting off desire, for example, is not only a translation problem, it's a methodological problem. I'm going to give you a case in point from my own experience. When I was a novice monk, desires, of course, as you all know in the monastic community, they're not there until you enter the monastery and all of a sudden it gets really large, right? All of a sudden there's this elephant where before there was a mouse. And, of course, Buddhism has a good explanation for this. I was on a pilgrimage and in a position of receiving food offerings, as Buddhist monks do. And it came to my attention that young and beautiful women were coming up


in quite frequency to make offerings to me and, of course, tempting me. This was my background. And so my teacher came out and I said to him, oh, he said, how's it going? How's everything? He said, well, these beautiful women, Master, are coming and they're really tempting me. And what should I do? And he said, well, they're only coming because you invited them. I said, no, no, you don't understand. I didn't invite them. I'm just out here on a pilgrimage. He says, no, you didn't understand. He says, they're only coming because you're inviting them. You want them to come. If you didn't want them to come, they wouldn't appear. And I said, no, no, no. Well, then I started thinking, what was going on in my mind? Where was my awareness? He said, you know, really, there are no objects of desire. There's only the subject that desires. He said, the Buddha saw all living beings as potential Buddhas, as his brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers, not as objects of desire. He said, and even the subject desire,


if you understand it, is also empty. Bye-bye. This was a teaching to me about the importance of having a living teacher interpret a text for me that I said, oh, just cut off desire. Well, how? And he was saying, you know, or I guess Narma was saying, he seemed to have two. Repression or expression. You know, catharsis, hedonism, or and, of course, the Buddha said, no, neither of these work. There's that middle ground that has to do with attention or awareness, and then the transmutation of that into something else. Well, I wasn't attuned to that at the beginning, so this being the case, then, this path of self-cultivation led to some kind of mastery and understanding of karma and also the shared and universally accepted law of causality, or what we call karma, that every action has a corresponding reaction, effect, and it's impossible to avoid, whether it's moral and eternal, or even physical and external.


It's the law of nature, and it governs our particular and collective destinies. So, some form of seeing through this illusion, which was called maya, the world, and mastering one's karma was essentially the moksha, an entry into what I'm going to call the divine, for want of a better word, although the Buddha would call it nirvana, liberation. This truth of basic laws were the mainstay of all things in that Dharma. This was a shared worldview in the Indian matrix at the time. This is where the Buddha emerges from. By the time of the Buddha's birth, this was taken to be the way things were. And he came out of a tradition in what are called shramanas, or munis, wandering ascetics, of which all of us in a monastic tradition are to some extent heirs to, and parallels very closely, I think, the monastic tradition of the West, with some differences. But they wandering ascetics, they practiced meditation, asceticism to overcome the limitations of the world,


and discipline their minds. They left home. They left the home life, and they left their families, and eventually left the life of passion and worldly involvement to transform that into something else. And that shramana comes from the Sanskrit word shram, which means to do austerity, to make effort. They beg for food, they retire deep into the forest, which I just noticed this morning. I came and I didn't realize you had a forested mountain around here until the fog lifted. I guess that's a pretty good metaphor too, isn't it? We've been working that one too. That was meant for me this morning. Usually they ate fruits and vegetables, and they continually moved to avoid forming attachments. They wandered, which is a little bit different, but maybe not so much psychological give them the vow of stability, the travesty. And so this is the karma, samsara, moksha, nirvana,


and dharma as the components. Now, let me jump ahead a bit.