PZI Teacher Archives

Loving This Life


June 2016 Retreat – You might have noticed that we started out with music and then saying a
koan. The koan is from the great old Chinese Master Lin-ji Yixuan and it’s
not so important what – When something confronts you, don’t believe it.

June 2016 Retreat
A few things to say today. Coming on retreat together is part of a noble and
ancient path. It’s a great tradition that humans have done for probably tens
of thousands of years… longer, hundreds of thousands of years perhaps.
Taking time out to let things fall away and let the universe remake itself.
And so the interesting thing about retreat is that we’re used to finding
something and then adding something to it, and with retreat it’s sort of the
other way around. We let the world unmake itself. We let things that we
thought were true but didn’t really, we let them fall away so we don’t have
to hold up our ideas of things. We don’t have to – one especial thing is we
don’t have to improve ourselves, because we did that already and look at the
results. So cut it out. [laughter] That’s what my mechanic says to me when I
ask him a particularly dopey driving question: cut it out! So I thought I’d
try it on you.
So there’s something sweet that happens when we realize that we’re not
living the wrong life, this moment is not the wrong moment and you’re not
the wrong person to be inhabiting it. In fact this moment is good already,
before we added anything to it or decorated it. And before we reached to
make it special it was already something. And that reaching, reaching itself
is okay, it is something, but when we’re reaching for something, the
something’s always over there, so what we have is the reaching. So that’s
the core of koanville. The core of koan meditation would be here it is and
you know, it’s good. So we have that.
You might have noticed that we started out with music and then saying a
koan. The koan is from the great old Chinese Master Lin-ji Yixuan and it’s
not so important what – When something confronts you, don’t believe it.
“Whatever appears, shine your light on it. Have confidence in the light that
is always at work inside you.” So all of those are kind of  gestures,
really, to open a space that we might fall into and be touched by something,
touched by our own experience. “When the heart rises, the then thousand
things, everything in the universe rises with it. When the heart is still,
everything comes to rest. When the heart is not anxious, the ten thousand
things are without blame.” Kind of cool. We’re for that. And so you don’t
have to be assessing, judging, critiquing your meditation, because even if
you did something you think, god that was dopey, you don’t have to fix it
because it’s already gone. And you don’t even know if it was dopey, because
it’s part of your path and it’s here. If you stop judging yourself, that’s
great. If you do judge yourself, don’t judge that. If you do judge yourself
for judging yourself, don’t judge that. It’s turtles all the way down. It’s
not judging all the way down.
And you’ll find that the compassion appears somewhere, and if we start

having compassion here, it’s easier to have it with each other. So there’s
that. And you’ll notice that we try to give you an experience of what it’s
like to have the koan sort of goes round in your head sometimes in fragments
so it’s like a song really. And it doesn’t really matter what piece of the
koan you have in your heart, it’s enough. And that’s a kind of marvelous
thing, really, because we’re always trying to tune our meditation, get it
right. But we’re actually trusting the universe to give us the meditation we
need, and not interfering too much. And sometimes you might think god will
that koan shut up, all those people stop saying it, and that’s fine too. And
then the next fragment of the koan appears and you forgot you had an
attitude or you forgot what you felt. And the next moment appears and it’s
always fresh, so the moment you have is always the first moment that has
ever been. Everybody knows this, but if we can have it it’s really a cool
thing. In spite of the fact we know it, we could also have it. So there’s
Then the other thing I wanted to say was, I’ve been very aware of and
touched by the terrorist attack in Florida, and some of you may have been
that, and so I think it’s part of the meditation tradition is that we’re in
it together. And hateful, difficult, painful, horrible things have happened
and will continue to happen and will happen again, things we cannot imagine.
And some of them will happen to us and people we’re very close to. So if
we’re going to walk this ancient and noble path, we walk it without thinking
we can change that. I mean if we get a chance to change it, great. But you
know what I mean, these vast things come through and we don’t really have a
choice but to keep walking our path. And we don’t really have a choice, if
we decide well hatred would be a good solution, I’ll try that – you know
what that’s like, but then your own heart is divided, because it doesn’t
feel right to you, and we know how narrow that makes us and also how stupid
that makes us. And so we blunder around making things worse. So the
bodhisattva path, it’s a path of meditation, the koan path is a path of
meditation in the world we have, not the world we should have that we’ll get
one day. It’s the world we have now, and there isn’t any other world. And
somebody’s got to not abandon the world and be in it, and that’s us.
Anna Akhmatova, the great Russian poet, lived through the Russian
Revolution, the civil war, the starvation during the Second World War, all
that, and lost husbands and sons into the prisons, and she has this
wonderful line: “During those years I was with my people where,
unfortunately, my people were.” During this time we are with each other
where we are. This time. It’s kind of obvious, but you know. There’s no way
to be safe in this world, so what we can have is freedom and awakening. What
we can have is love, because love actually depends on not needing safety and
depends on having an open heart with each other. So you can be safe if
you’re not gay, if you’re not a school kid, if you’re not – it was a Latino
LGBT club, I think it was a Latino club in Florida. If you’re not any of
these things; if you’re not black, if you don’t go to movie theaters… so
it doesn’t look like there’s a way to be safe. And it doesn’t look like much

fun to say well that was them and it’s not me, because it is me.
And that’s one of the beautiful things we realize through meditation is you
know, we are participating in each other. We’re part of each other. And
that’s one of the great, profound truths of awakening, when I’m not obsessed
with I’ve got to survive and be afraid and be anxious, my heart has to be
anxious. When I don’t have that, then there isn’t any blame, and also we can
walk together.
So I think that’s our path this sesshin, is our way of finding peace at the
moment is an inward way for this week. So we will love the life we have, and
the best thing we can do for that is love this moment we have and these
people we’re with, and the people in our hearts who are with us, who may not
be here, who may have died, or like that. But that’s our contribution to not
have a war in here.
And you know the meditation tradition has always been aware of the need to
walk through the world with some sort of loving attitude while the world
does what the world does, war and mayhem and famine and so on, but also with
love and beauty and art and music, and wonderful dance and wonderful things.
So we don’t have to pretend – we’re not going to shut it out, but we can be
free and full of life. We can have confidence in the life in us while it’s
happening, and that’s a beautiful thing to have, and to know that that’s
always available to us, that’s what we have this week… whether we have
weeks like this or not, but when we have weeks like this, we’re more
inclined to notice it and be nourished by something, that great energy that
holds us all.
So I think that’s pretty much it. I’ll just say a couple of things. You’ll
find silence is valuable, in spite of the fact that we say it [?]– and if
there’s an intimate conversation you need to have with a friend – I know
this is a sangha that comes together from far places, and it’s so intimate
and beautiful to sit together. So if you do want to have a conversation with
a friend, have a real conversation. No shit. Have a real conversation, and
don’t do it in the meditation hall or the dining hall. And we call that
silence [laughter]. And so trust that loving quality, and look after
yourselves. Look after your [?] – I know some people have health issues.
Look after yourself, and find out what’s the truest, deepest thing for me to
do right now.
Years ago I was diagnosed with a heart thing, and I kept getting really
tired and exhausted, and meditating and falling asleep. I remember falling
asleep on stage while I was teaching once. It was great. Next to a Rinpoche.
It was like, Rinpoche, you’re supposed to keep me awake. And it was an
interesting thing of just finding out how I could work with my body
condition. I could surrender to it and go take a nap, and that could be
great. Or I could sort of follow it down through the koan and have the koan
lead me through the dark passages of sleep, and sometimes I’d just fall
asleep while meditating. Other times I’d be in a very deep place and it’d be
fine and nourishing. So whatever, if you have a physical condition, trust it
as a guide, not as something you have to be frightened of, but something
that’s a path and practice for you. So love it, in other words, because it’s
your life. Then go take a nap, whatever it is you need to do, go take a
walk, whatever you need to do. Do that.  So that you’re not tyrannizing
yourself, but at the same time you’re really truly listening to what you
truly most need. Hard to do. Most people don’t. We just take the
off-the-shelf thing. That’s part of the common(?) meditation, is to truly
listen to what is happening, what is real.

So silence, and I guess the rest would be, have a good time. It’s a sacred,
beautiful thing, exhilarating thing to do a retreat, so I’m glad we’re all
doing it. Thank you. I think – we’ll explain the routine, if you want to see
a teacher, we’ll explain that tomorrow. We’ve crossed the boundary into
retreat now, so we’re here, so everything will work itself out so you don’t
need to worry about it.

So for now let’s go back and we’ll sit a little bit
more, and thank you.