10,000 Things

Description

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.

Rachel: 

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. Corey. River. John. Toes. Seaweed. Tim. Morning flight. Margaret Ants. David. Jungle. Amaryllis. Deer. John. Touching.

Rachel: Is that everybody? Odin. Cameron. 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 [laughter].

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 like? 

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 noticing.

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 underneath it.

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 do.

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 – yeah?

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 something.

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?

S: Absolutely.

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. [laughter]

S: I do find, however, no matter how wonderful the belief is, at some point it will abandon me.

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! period.

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.

Rachel: Right.

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 there. 

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 like that.

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 that. Oh, huh, what if I try that? I think, I feel as though I should call it. Is that all right? We’ll have a bit more meditation.

Thank you.

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