I like having a roomful of things and a roomful of people. So my plan for this talk is to say a little bit of some of the things I’ve
been thinking about as I sit with this koan, and talk a little bit about retreat, and then to have some time for conversation and questions and observations.
I think we’re there. I wanted to start out with something that includes all of us, real
quick, although there’s a lot of us. We’re going to try this anyway. It’s really nice to be in a
room with all these people, and in some ways our meditation really supports each other’s
meditation and our insights and stuff we’re doing silently does too. And as part of that it’s
sometimes nice to just hear a voice and a name and I’m going to add onto that one more
thing, so we’re going to go around and you’re going to say your name, and the other thing
you’re going to say is since 10,000 things are mentioned, could you say the name of just one
of them. That’s animal, vegetable, mineral or anything else. So your name and a thing, and
then we’ll have a room full of 10,000 of them. Am I too quiet for the person in the back?
Anybody who can’t hear me in the back – should move forward. [laughter]
S: Slow down.
Rachel: Slow down. Speak more slowly, that. So let’s go around. Start with you:
Chris. Buckbrush. Harold. Waterfall. Dave. Fog. Renee. Water. Judith. Getting older.
William. Tree. Sasha. [inaudible] Denise. Lightning. Dennis. Dance. David. Incense.
[inaudible] Jessica. Mist. Will. Helicopter. Trisha. Watercolor. [inaudible] Andy. Snow.
[inaudible] Susan. Thoughts. Catherine. Redwood. Carla. Foot. Dolly. Cat. Kristin. Air. Alice.
Stone. Kirsten. Oneness. Joan. Silence. [inaudible] Jeff. Carrot. Michael. Pen. Dee. Doggies.
Kevin. Kangaroo. Kristi. Zucchini. Jason. Maple tree. Heather. Paper. Cory. River.
Rainbows. John. Toes. Seaweed. Tim. Morning flight. Margaret Ants. David. Jungle.
Amaryllis. Deer. John. Touching.
Rachel: Is that everybody? Odin. Camera on. You’ll have to do me.
S: I don’t know what we’re doing. Odin. Rachel. [laughter]
Rachel: Rachel. Pencil. Thank you. That’s helpful. I like having a roomful of things and a
roomful of people. So my plan for this talk is to say a little bit of some of the things I’ve
been thinking about as I sit with this koan, and talk a little bit about retreat, and then to have
some time for conversation and questions and observations. So we’ll see what we get.
So I’ve been thinking about Lin-ji coming into this retreat, which is supposed to be
about this old teacher Lin-Ji Yixuan, who is probably, if you’re going to look for a father of
koans, if you’re going to settle on one person, he might be it. And he’s this – I’ve had so
many different opinions of him as I’ve gotten to know him. My first opinion of him was that
he was very opaque and wordy, but of course that was translations and I wasn’t sure that was
him and it wasn’t me. Later on I had an opposite opinion, I thought he was very clear and
said things simply, so that is interesting. He comes with a backstory of him being really fierce
and yelling and hitting people a lot. It seems like that may have been a made-up story. Some
evidence of that, and it’s interesting, the more I read what he wrote, the more that feels not
compelling. I don’t see it. I don’t see him judging, I don’t see him punishing, I don’t see any
of that. I go into it and I realize – huh. So any of you who come in with that – the fierce
version of him, I invite you to look at the koans and see if in your heart you find a Lin-ji that
– he seems very kind. And the koans, even when I read through everything, it’s over and
over again about how you already have it. Just act ordinary, that’s the beginning of one of his
sermon/koan things. Don’t add things. Don’t go out trying to learn stuff. Don’t put a head
on top of your head. He’ll lead you along how you can be perfect and proper and you’re
going to fall directly into hell for that, so don’t even go there.
And over and over again it’s trust yourself. It’s have confidence in the light that’s
always working inside you. So this seems a wonderful way to have a whole week of making
him again, with all of us, we’re making Lin-ji alive again. I’m looking forward to that. So if
that’s the practice, act ordinary, don’t add anything and trust yourself, that’s quite a practice.
For a week I can do that. Or I can try.
So the koan. I was going to say that at the beginning, the koan:
When something confronts you, don’t believe it. Whatever appears, shine your light
on it. Have confidence in the light that’s always working inside you. When the heart rises, the
10,000 things arise too. When the heart is still, the many things cease. They come to rest.
When the heart does not rise… when the heart is not anxious, as John put it last night… when
the heart does not rise, the 10,000 things are without blame. So when something confronts
you don’t believe it. Don’t believe it. That’s been such a kick to sit with. I just noticed that I
start suffering, and when suffering comes it, it doesn’t even name itself. I’m not even aware
of what I’m wrong for doing or not doing. I just feel this sort of – there’s a grayness comes
in. And it’s been interesting to notice as I feel it start to stick to me, Don’t believe it comes,
and I get to be Teflon. It’s like oh, whatever it was that made me feel that way, I don’t have
to believe it. And I don’t even have to notice, actually. I mean sometimes I know, and I
could dig for it. But it’s nice to have Don’t believe it and here I am. Here I am.
So what’s a belief? I was thinking about beliefs. I have a lot of them. I have a lot I
could probably write down. If you’re not going to believe things, at least for this week,
would you be losing anything is a question. I think the thing about beliefs, as opposed to
observations or perceptions or feelings is there’s an end point, there’s a verdict in a belief. So
the door is shut at the end of a belief. I should have done that differently. I stop there.
There’s no place to go. So I have a whole memory that ends with the belief I should have
done that differently, I really fucked that one up, and so with the verdict, the end point, the
belief, there’s no curiosity possible. The whole story just ends there. But if I can peel off that
last bit, if I can just do what Lin-ji says, and he says I can do it, so I kind of believe him
S: An end point.
Rachel: Huh. I believe him. You can believe that. So Lin-ji says I can just drop that. So I do.
I drop the end point and suddenly there’s a door and I can walk around in this whole space,
this whole thing, this whole – I should have said that thing to my mother so she would have
known that I cared. I should have said it then. I could have called back. there’s a lot of – all
of our lives have little tragedies which have a little point at which the curiosity ceases and it
becomes a verdict.
Some of them aren’t big beliefs out of the past, they’re just present ones like I need
to do something I can’t do. A lot of us are carrying around the possible problem, the person
we don’t know how to deal with, or just in general. If I’m myself I’ll be rejected, or I’m
unforgivable, something. Something like that. There’s a cut off there, and with the Don’t
believe it, suddenly it’s kind of fun. There’s a beautiful place to explore that doesn’t end with
that door. A little example. I was – in order to get here I needed to pack for two trips. I’m
going to my Jungian psychoanalysis, what do we call it – analytic psychology – a program in
Switzerland. I go three times a year. It’s in a building on a lake. It’s right next to Jung’s
house. They’re done things the same way for a long time. I’ve been taking classes there for a
couple of years now, and in order to get credit for the classes you have this little booklet,
folder over pieces of paper, little lines in it. You write down the name of the class and the
number of credits, and at the end of the class you take it up to the teacher and they sign it.
And you don’t lose it. Last time I looked at it I added up and I had 250 of the 400 hours I
need of classes. I was so proud of myself, and I have no idea where it is. I think I put it
somewhere special because I was afraid of losing it. Anyway I have no idea. So instead of
having my packing be really easy it suddenly hit this wall of oh god I’m screwed. How will I
explain to the Swiss that I’ve lost the one thing they said I shouldn’t lose?
So that’s interesting. But what I notice is that in looking all over the house for it, and
in looking in all the special places, all sorts of great things happened. I threw out a zillion
other half-sheet folder-over booklets that were full of crap I didn’t need. That was good. I
found journals with things in them I’d written that I thought were cool. I found books I
want to read. I organized myself a bit more, and I realized that I’m going to be all right
somehow, some way. I can’t be the only person in the world who’s lost this thing. There are
other Americans going there. [laughter] Other American women of a certain age perhaps
even. So it’s like a little minor thing. There’s so many Don’t-believe-its that sometimes you
just can’t believe it because you just couldn’t live anymore with those beliefs.
Then he says this thing where he says shine your light. He says shine your light on it.
Which I don’t know if you notice, it says your light. That means don’t shine somebody else’s
really great light. It doesn’t mean shine the Buddha’s light or shine the light that was in the
sutras, which is what his people were always studying, or the best book you ever read on
spirituality. You don’t even need to shine that light on it. It’s something inside you that
mostly you discount. So your light is the one you’re looking for. And it’s right there. And we
get this whole retreat to figure out what that light is like, which is so great, because it’s the
thing you didn’t imagine was your light is what your light is. It’s quirky. It’s not like other
people’s light. It’s not even like that best book you ever read. It’s like yours. That’s one of
the things I like about Lin-ji is that it’s really yours.
Confidence. This is a tricky bit for some people. It’s funny, you raise the word
confidence and some people just get this tidal wave of how un-confident they are. But I
think that word is great. I guess it’s kind of like my light – what’s my confidence look like. I
was thinking about squirrels. I was thinking: are squirrel confident? You know, they’re
running around and they’re looking over their shoulder and they’re always running away.
And I thought yeah, squirrels have their own squirrel confidence. They know how to do
what they do, and it looks like this. [laughter] So that’s kind of – anyway. Squirrel
confidence, or whatever kind you have. Bear confidence. Maybe it’s really slow. Maybe it’s in
the dark confidence. Maybe your confidence comes through what you love and chasing after
– oh I really want, it looks so great over there – that trail, I want to go down that trail. It
might be that one. So that’s the exploration. That’s the curiosity. What’s my confidence look
And then we’ve got the 10,000 things. So when the heart rises, the 10,000 things rise.
When the heart is still, the many things come to rest. When the heart does not rise, when the
heart isn’t worried, the 10,000 things are blameless. So for me that’s a couple of things. Part
of it is there’s a bodily sensation, and that’s something – if you have a body, notice what it
tells you. Sometimes you can just feel that rise and fall, maybe even in your breath, and you
can just watch the way what you see changes. Maybe even just with breathing in, breathing
out. Maybe it’s moods that send you to knowing different things about the world. Waves of
something. When the heart rises, the 10,000 things arise. All the things, all the things we
spoke about that come into imagination. There’s nothing wrong there. Sometimes my head
fills with thoughts. It fills with memories. Things go running through it. It rises. And then if
I don’t make that a problem, sometimes it’s also just going to go phoo, and I then I’m not
going to have anything. There won’t be things rushing around, and that’ll be a sweet
moment. It’ll be a sweet break, and you don’t have to go looking for them again, because
they’ll rise again.
But you can have it like oh, suddenly my perception spreads out and I feel all of you
and I feel the room and I feel at peace and we get that. It’s one of the gifts of being human is
we get to have that. And when we don’t make trouble for ourselves, the 10,000 things are
without blame. That’s another way of saying that there’s no part of us that’s not included,
and that includes the parts of us that we don’t even think are parts of us. We see there’s a bit
we see, the front side, there’s the bit we think isn’t us but comes up in the bad dream or in
the thing that sweeps through meditation. They’re all without blame. Elsewhere Lin-ji and
others say we’re enlightened by the 10,000 things. That means all the things. That means if
what happened in Florida creeps in and shows you pictures you didn’t want to see, those are
the 10,000 things, and have the capacity to enlighten me, because I have to be able to be
everything and I can be. So I’m just going to say it that way. You’ll notice. You’ll notice the
stuff creeps in and you say not that. But if you can just let that koan tell you it’s blameless,
it’s all blameless, then that folds in too, and the practice includes it.
So the koan’s been taking me all those places and I think in a way that’s how to do
retreat. The koan will tell you. I wanted to say a few more things about the culture of retreat,
just because sometimes at the beginning it helps to hear kind of what we’ve discovered, and
for some people who this is the first time they’ve been in one of our retreats, this might be
unfamiliar. I don’t know, if you haven’t been for awhile it might still be unfamiliar. So
looking after yourself. John brought that into the room yesterday. Believe it. That’s the thing
you can do, you can look after yourself. You’re not expected to sit still until your body
breaks. You’re not – there’s certain things that people associate with Zen retreats that
probably don’t help, and one of them is to beat yourself up, in any way that you do that. So
if you can intervene when you’re starting to make yourself wrong, that’ll be good. Sometimes
that means questioning whether you really are feeling bad – maybe you’re not. Maybe you
said you couldn’t possibly sit here for more than ten minutes and now it’s been fifteen and I
feel terrible and you go: wait! Maybe I don’t feel terrible! It could be. Maybe you do love
being in here and you just didn’t notice. Maybe what I used to do is I used to take walks in
the hills and I used to take the koan for that walk. And sometimes my legs moving, walking
just made all the difference. So I recommend that. I recommend letting yourself be with
yourself and letting your feet tell you where to go, or your heart or whatever part of you
doesn’t usually get to make decisions.
Emotionally it’s the same as physically in a way. Don’t believe the same old story, it’s
boring. You probably notice that. Like the koan says, don’t believe it and that means the end
cap that you put on it, don’t go there. Let yourself keep going. Let yourself look around. Let
yourself leave the story if you want. You don’t have to work it out right now. Let yourself be
moved and touched by what’s around you and let yourself feel what you feel, and allow
yourself to be surprised.
Another feature that you will notice is under the heading of both community and
conversation. So it’s always true that we’re waking up together. It doesn’t matter if we’re in
retreat or if we’re out walking around, but this is a really good place to notice it. You can feel
it in the silence. If you open yourself up to what’s going on in the room you can feel that
what comes through your mind is shared. There’s some way that you feel everybody else’s
mediation, so as you sit there you’re holding them and they’re holding you. As you sit there
you can notice that if you want to. You can notice it right now. Some people are sleepy and
some people are curious and some people are leaning back, but you can feel that’s all you.
All of those ones.
The question and answer or the conversation that comes at the end of the talk is
really important. If you have anything to say, and you can just open your mouth and let it
come out, even if you don’t have a conclusion, perhaps especially if you don’t have a
conclusion, it’s really helpful, because people can hear and it sparks something for them and
you can just feel the way people start to get things when the words come out in different
places. And if you’re not talking, by feeling what other people are saying, you’re helping. So
that conversation is really important. Allow yourself to be part of it, and have the courage to
be part of it too. If you notice that you get all fluttery because you’re starting to judge
yourself and imagine that everybody else will to for what you’re about to say, whatever it is,
just take a breath and be generous. It’s worthwhile. Listening with your body, with your
heart, letting yourself be changed by what you hear, that can happen with anything. That can
happen with teacher talk, with somebody else speaking, with hearing someone breathing.
I think the last thing I just want to make a comment about all this stuff you can ask
questions about or say what you’ve experienced. Seeing a teacher is something that’s
available here. You’ll hear a little more about the process of that. We’re going to do it a little
differently this retreat than we have in the past to try and simplify.
Of course you can never do that with anything, but seeing a teacher if you haven’t done it – you’re not proving
anything, it’s more about going and having a chance to shift your consciousness through a
meeting, and that meeting… you have no idea what will happen in the conversation but you
know it’s something about what’s moving through you. The teacher is there to feel you and
be shifted by you and give something back. Check it out. You don’t need to impress them,
and if you remember that it will be a kind of a mirror. So if you go in and you feel like
something didn’t go the way you wanted it to go, look inside and imagine that that might
have been – you may have created something for your benefit. So whatever that was –
sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it’s unsatisfying, whatever it is you get to take it back,
you get a little piece of a relationship you get to take back and tie that into your practice, fold
that into your practice, your meditation.
I think that’s all I want to say right now but I would love to hear how it’s been. I
think you all got to take a walk and take a koan for the walk probably, and you’ve been
sitting here. You may be wondering things that I didn’t touch on. Speak. Say what you’re
S: I have something I’d like you to talk about. You were differentiating between a thought
and a belief, and you see a belief as in the nature of a verdict, its closed end. And it strikes
me there’s an emotional component that energizes a belief and that’s why it’s hard not to
believe it. Maybe you could talk about okay yeah, I believe. I don’t just predict I’m going to
be arrested tomorrow – I’m going to be arrested tomorrow. And then how do you deal with
that emotional undertow…
Rachel: Yeah I totally believe – could you possibly give me one to work with that you
actually believe? I don’t think you’re going to be arrested tomorrow –
S: Someone I know, yes. I think that they are.
Rachel: You think somebody’s going to be arrested tomorrow.
S: Yes, and I think I would like to stop it.
Rachel: You would like to stop that from happening. So probably the belief that’s of concern
is it would be a very bad thing if this happened. And I’m not telling you what to do, but
notice if Lin-ji can help you take that off. It would be a very bad thing. What’s life without
that verdict? What’s your path look like without the verdict it would be a very bad thing?
S: Yeah, but for my friend it’s a very bad thing and I can see that, and it’s something I think
needs to be explored. I don’t just say I’m not going to believe it. I need to experience what’s
Rachel: Yeah, and meditation’s really good for that, so the time you’ve got – yeah. Is it what
do I know about bad things? What do I know about the future? And then suddenly I feel it
gets bigger, when I don’t say my friend flunking out of rehab is bad. I think I wonder, I’m
curious. What is it? Is that a reasonable response?
S: Yeah. I think that’s why it’s hard. You can say don’t believe it, but there’s more work to
Rachel: Yeah, you find out what’s underneath it. You find out what you’re talking about, that
emotional resonance, and that’s where there’s some play in there, there’s a lot of play. It’s
not cut off your emotions. It’s cut off my assumptions. The world is so big and my view of it
is always so small. So there’s that. Yeah?
S: I try not to believe everything I think, and it has to do with one of the downsides of
beliefs is that they’re very sticky. So even though it’s a rare opportunity when a belief I have
has something to do with reality – reality changes, things change. And beliefs are so sticky
it’s hard to let go of them and flow into what’s the new reality, stay with the moment, keep
going… your beliefs are just opinions and I find I have way more opinions…
Rachel: Yeah we just get to be such fuddy-duddies, because… beliefs that are ten years old,
twenty, my mother’s beliefs…
S: It might be that you can’t do away with beliefs, but you don’t [inaudible]
Rachel: Maybe I just have a great swirl of beliefs. Maybe I just have a giant salad of them and
they just keep picking different ones. There’s something about movement. Something about
S: We had this interesting conversation after we had had a meditation in Santa Fe last week
and the conversation came up about fairies, and I said I believe in fairies. And then we had
this sort of dialogue back and forth and what I came to is but it makes me feel joyful, I mean
I like this. So I don’t know if it fits with your definition, but I love these fairies and I believe
in fairies and there’s no harm done. It’s delightful.
Rachel: So the question is where’s the belief that’s causing the trouble?
S: I don’t think there is any.
Rachel: Well right now it seems the belief is that I’m not believing the right thing here or
S: I think it has more to do with, and I actually wrote it in here – I got this sense that the
definition of beliefs is that they were limiting and there was an end point, and I was sort of
thinking but there really isn’t in this particular thing. It’s sort of open and –
Rachel: For me it’s more like what am I believing that closes things down? Do I know there
are no more dinosaurs? Personally? No. I don’t. So I can live in a world where they might
turn up somewhere. Do I know there are no such things? Do I know there are no fairies? I
have no ability to know that. So the world’s pretty big, and I can start to notice when I have
things that shut me down that are belief in not, not this and not that. So there’s that.
S: I have a similar experience of taking great joy in my beliefs. I believe – I don’t know, there
may be fairies and a lot of things – but I believe there’s this great communion of saints, that
there’s these invisible advocates in the universe that are always there to help me and my
children. I just need to ask of them. And in some ways I know I’ve created that belief, but it
opens me up, it brings me joy, it doesn’t shut me down. So I don’t have that experience of
beliefs being constricting verdicts. I have the experience of chosen beliefs being opening and
a way to frame curiosity in a way that enlivens me.
Rachel: Yeah. I don’t think Lin-ji is worried about your belief in fairies or saints. I think
when he says when something confronts you, don’t believe it. When something confronts
you, don’t believe it. So just try that. You don’t need to make trouble. Making trouble is
looking for something that might, where Lin-ji might disagree with me… Yeah, you probably
can find beliefs if you look that shut you down?
Rachel: Ok. So there you go.
S: So you’re not saying…
Rachel: I did not tell you that you have to have no beliefs and you can’t have your fairies.
S: I do find, however, no matter how wonderful the belief is, at some point it will abandon
Rachel: Interesting point.
S: And that’s an interesting… what’s it like without that belief that was so helpful and now I
can’t seem to get it?
S: Yeah, but see that – if I may – that’s because as I listen to this – if the expectation about
the saints is they’ll be there and they’ll help me, that’s just different than wow! There’s saints!
S: Well, no. I know that feeling of bereftness. Many things I’ve believed have left me, and to
me that is a great opening into emptiness. And sometimes at the other side of that you can
go back and say hm, now I’ll [?] my saints.
S: First of all I don’t know why we’re still focused on beliefs necessarily. Those were the first
two lines in the koan and I don’t know…
Rachel: It is rather long and there are other things, so go ahead.
S: To me what became very interesting, because it didn’t look at it as beliefs, but just
whatever confronts you, what happened in Orlando confronted me, and consequently I
recognized that whatever the story I was hearing I don’t believe it. So you go with that, but
what struck me is really interesting, the koan, was primarily how our internal state affects
how we experience the world. When our heart is quiet, then the world is quiet, even the
world with Orlando in it. And when we are anxious, fear is another one – I was thinking
even of dislike. When there is dislike in my heart, this is how I see the world, or particular
individuals I dislike. So the whole notion of – I don’t know how that relates to the light (?),
however there is the sense that whatever happens, it eternally determines how I will
experience the world. Now where do I find the light to shine on that? That’s my challenge.
Rachel: Yeah and I think that’s such a great question. Where is the light? That kind of thing,
koans are really great for that. This falls away to a deeper question. Thanks.
S: Sometimes I think in meditation there’s a very compelling movement toward looking at
the darkness and what’s under that, and I wonder how that relates to shine your light on it.
Sometimes I feel like I can call forth light, which occasionally feels like I’m summoning a
chorus of everything’s coming up roses. You know, when does it, when is that appropriate
versus just going deeper and deeper into the negative feelings that you were referring to and
seeing if you can get under them. I don’t know if I’m making sense…
Rachel: I think it’s all your light. I think the way of this teaching, in the darkness, that’s your
light. You’re searching around, you’re feeling, you’re blind, but that’s your light. Your senses
are taking you, you’re discovering things, you’re being moved around. That’s your light. So
the question is what’s my light. It’s not, you’re pretty sure that we’re not asking for
everything to come up roses, because… you can sit here for a week and do that, and you’d go
away feeling depleted. That’s clearly not the project. It’s to find out what’s really here, and
the world does get bigger. Sometimes going into that darkness, I mean everybody’s going to
navigate their own way. Sometimes you get stuck to that, and you can feel it. You’ll feel
stuck, and then bring the koan back. There’s another piece that’s going to help you find
your way through that, so you’re not just stuck in a dark place. You don’t need to be. Trust,
have confidence. You’ll do it, and you’re not doing it wrong is part of it. You’re not
supposed to be finding some particular mind-state. You’re not supposed to be finding clarity
or calm or peace, because you’ll get that sometimes, but you’re not going to get it by going
for it. It’s one of our natural states, to have clarity, calm and peace. But if we cling onto it
with your little claws, probably not.
S: When you were talking about your mother, and the word should seemed to be either said
or implied, I should be x, I watch myself reframe it, and it’s interesting to hear about shining
a light on it, because I don’t think I’m seeing a light, but… clearer, I found myself saying “I
regret” and as soon as I found myself saying I regret, as if I was you, the whole dynamic
changed, I was actually in the equation. With “I should” I wasn’t even in the equation. So I
was standing outside and I can’t drop that habit saying(?) as an idea, because it’s actually not
real in the first place. So when I said regret it was interesting. It went to: wait, am I regretting
now? Because I knew I regretted then, that seems pretty accurate. Oh, I’m not regretting
now, so now I’m actually really taking the step because I’m not actually regretting what I did
then but I was regretting then and that’s true. Now I’m actually sort of free because whoa,
I’m here. And I may still be regretting, then that would be true. It was an interesting kind of
reframing that changed the whole thing.
Rachel: Yeah, I can have a bigger life if I let myself have all those things, including I’m going
to always regret. That’s a big human emotion, regret, and you get more of it as you go along,
because you have more to remember. And then you can also question was it necessarily, was
it a bad thing that came out of that? I can regret it, but – yeah, it’s a good word.
S: Part of the koan for me is confront, whatever confronts you don’t believe it. What does
that mean? What comes up for me is what’s in front of me is stories I make up about
situations. If I see something that’s frightening and my experience is fear, I notice that and
stay with it, that’s one thing. If I say oh my god I’m terrified, my god I must be a coward
then that’s probably going to wind up in my life being destroyed next week, that’s my sense
of what confront means.
S: And the less I believe the story, the narrative, and the more I stay with my experience,
that’s my sense of turning my life around(?)… [inaudible]
Rachel: Thanks, and I think the second half of the koan, which talks about the heart rising
and then it becoming still, there’s that dynamic of something comes, then I notice I start
making stuff up. And at some point, who knows how far out, maybe I notice, whoa,
suffering. When something confronts me, ah, and I pull it back. There’s this process of, oh, I
can live in this world and if I do this, if I say I’m screwed because I’m wrong, then it goes
S: Rachel can you say more about the phrase “the heart rises”?
Rachel: I think Lin-ji is playing with – may be playing with this idea that people come in
with, that the heart should always be at rest. When it rises, there’s a problem, when it comes
to rest, that’s good. And I think he’s showing it – to me, anyway – the koan reads: you watch
as it rises, you watch as it falls, and when it’s like this, it’s like this. And when it’s like this, it’s
like this. So your experience of what that might mean is as good as anyone else in the room,
and – tell me what you get.
S: The word heart… I’m open to understanding…
Rachel: Yeah, and I feel ya. That word “heart” for a person who’s more of a mind person,
say me, I like trying it on for size and finding out what’s here. And often it means, it has me
experimenting with what if I made fewer explanations. So.
S: When I was younger and even now, I would notice that I was whistling or humming or
singing, and then I would notice that I was happy…[inaudible]… every single time in my life
there’s been a correlation. So I don’t necessarily know my heart, but what I’m learning in this
community and in my life now too – that was so wonderful, the word… and then just
watching the heart rise and fall or whatever, not sure, like you were talking about the teacher
and a mirror or something. And I noticed like in the small group with the koan, people were
saying things that they never ever, ever could have imagined and [inaudible] and then
without koans that people know about, there’s more of that showing up before, it was like I
could sort of predict what somebody would say or something. I don’t know … and it just
doesn’t seem to happen so much anymore, and it’s, I think it’s like listening or something
Rachel: That’s great. I remember I was at a retreat once and I was thinking – it used to be
with retreats that I would want the take-home goodie, like the souvenir, the good thing that
would happen, and I took a nap and I woke up laughing, and I’d never woken up laughing,
and I thought oh good I got my thing. Yeah.
S: It was interesting for me the first time I heard when the heart rises the 10,000 things rise
too, I felt like a positive flavor and an opening flavor, and then to hear when the heart is still
the 10,000 things cease… and for me it’s – it’s like do things even exist when I’m not engaged
and activated? So kind of made it almost more like a quantum consciousness thing rather
than oh it’s positive, the heart rises and things rise, it’s more like oh, the heart’s still, they
cease. Like is Orlando actually happening.
Rachel: Well, I think the come to rest aspect is… part of it might be to notice oh, do I feel
like there’s something I need to do to keep everybody alive. And that might be something
the meditation’s showing you. Oh, isn’t that sweet? I feel like I always have to be on or
something will happen, and you can notice that probably you’re going to be all right but
that’s part of you. Like maybe I never thought I was very good at being a mother and I
swear to my adult children I still think I’m going to drive away and leave the baby sitting on
top of the car. It’s just going to be me. Haven’t heard from my son, I wonder if I left him on
top of the car? So it’s like, you care for the world. And it’s probably not all on you, but it
probably does matter, you matter. So is that all right?
S: I realize I don’t want that Lin-ji that you described in the beginning to disappear, because
I feel very identified with the idea of being very warm, benevolent, generous, open-hearted
and mean and horrible, and that’s kind of what I’m looking at a lot I suppose at the moment.
It’s not something that’s altogether new to me, but it gives me heart to imagine that Lin-ji
might have been (bad? bored?).
Rachel: That’s a good point. And I think I’m still in an exploration of that. I think some of
the words are wrong, and I don’t know what I think of the culture. I don’t know what I
think of the – I know that sometimes you do want to shout at somebody and say: cut it out.
Wake up! And I imagine if you had a stick culture – whack! I think that’s an interesting
thought, and also that he’s a complete human being who was also sometimes just irascible.
S: That’s the piece, that he would just lose it.
Rachel: That might be there too. He had a big community full of monks. He must have
gotten pissed off sometimes. Thank you.
S: I sort of got hung up on the first line too, when something confronts you, and for me it
was like what we were talking about at first was something bad, something negative. But
supposing something fine confronts you? Maybe confront sort of eliminates that possibility?
I don’t know, but as a person who doesn’t sometimes shine your light on something really
wonderful but makes an opinion about it, a belief before doing that, and kind of quelches
the light by doing that, that’s sort of how it seems to work for me. And it’s like okay when
something confronts you, just skip to the light. Just shine the light, don’t make an opinion
about it, don’t decide something about it.
Rachel: Well and you can play with that too, like what am I believing. When I say I think
you’re a really great violin player, the thing you might be believing when I say it is she
doesn’t really mean that, or what does she know. That’s the thing you’re believing. Don’t
believe it. Whatever your automatic thing is, even with something that’s positive, notice how
your belief makes even that small, even your fairies and your saints small. Maybe there’s way
more than I can even imagine, that I’ve narrowed by calling it this. So yeah. The light that –
S: The more you skip the second line action, the more you can engage in opening up to
whatever it is.
Rachel: Yes, I notice that. Sometimes the thing I’m believing isn’t what I think I’m believing
too. So yes. It’s like finding a way through. Thanks.
S: It’s me again, I’m sorry.
Rachel: No, in some ways that’s a really great thing, although I’m probably going to have to…
S: I was thinking that – I was hearing when people were talking is that there are good things
which we should just accept, because they’re good so why should we worry about them,
because they make us feel good, and then there are things that make us feel bad, and those
are the ones we should pursue. And okay, that’s it.
Rachel: Yeah, that’s what I was saying. I think it’s a wonderful thing to experiment with even
my beliefs that I think are good and what if I let those fall away too and maybe the world is
bigger than I thought… even there…
S: I was thinking more of coming to a still point where there isn’t good or bad, just clarity,
rather than… and I think then there’s keep on being openness, rather than looking at things
as this feels good and this doesn’t. I think that’s what made me uncomfortable.
Rachel: Yeah, it’s something to explore I think. That’s one of the things as you go into the
retreat you’ll find more and more things you thought were true, and you go beyond.
Rachel Boughton – Dharma Talk at Retreat, Summer 2016 -Transcribed