PZI Teacher Archives

Stop the War


And so the certain categories of koans are designed to help us see the implications. We’ve been playing with a few this week, and the one I’d like to do today is “Stop the war.” It’s kind of succinct. Cut it out! Stop the war, or can you stop the war?


So, hi. Here we are. I’ve been talking about some koans that are traditionally very simple, and traditionally given fairly early in koan work, and the notion is that we suffer, at some stage it comes to our attention that we might have something to do with our suffering and we meditate, and now traditionally we work with a koan. And at some stage we get more and more glimpses of what it’s like when the mind becomes free. It’s as if we walk through a gate. At that stage there’s a sense of peace and usually a sense of some sort of joy, or at least we’re not struggling and fighting with ourselves. And immediately, for most people, or at some stage, or soon, there arises the thought of: well what are the implications of this? Can I do this at home? Is it okay if I’m not supervised? And what about on Wall Street? What about in the mines? What about doing the dishes, what about with a child?

So then the whole issue of implications appears, like oh wait, I can see something but it may not yet feel like it’s running all through every cell in my body and stuff like that, so that’s the issue I’m calling implications. What are the consequences of this? Because we are creatures that exist in a shape and we have thoughts and feelings, and what’s it got to do with that? And there’s a sense of vastness and a sense of peace that we might have. And so the certain categories of koans are designed to help us see the implications. We’ve been playing with a few this week, and the one I’d like to do today is “Stop the war.” It’s kind of succinct. Cut it out! Stop the war, or can you stop the war?

You’ll notice that the koans were invented in an era partly in response to civil war, one of the most difficult and painful of external wars, and people had an intimate and close experience of war. Their time was actually not that different from ours. There’s a lot of war in the world. It doesn’t seem like there’s getting to be less. Hard to measure but it doesn’t seem like it. And places that seem very peaceful erupt in war. It’s more common for a really peaceful place to erupt into war than for a really warring place to erupt into peace. Peace seems hard, in our experience of the external world, peace is a hard and sometimes fragile thing to achieve. In the meditation tradition it became obvious to people that if they wanted to be helpful in the external world and if they wanted to be in a way helpful to themselves and those close to them, they had to have some kind of inner movement toward peace themselves. So peace is – stopping the war inside is some sort of beginning of something, so this koan is definitely directed in that way.

There are a lot of ways to go into this, but one of the ways might be to notice who’s somebody you can’t stand. It could be that there’s somebody in your life you can’t stand. Maybe they’re in this room. If you’re lucky. So think of somebody you really have a lot of difficulty with right now in your life. Go ahead, right now. Get into it, have a ball with it. And you’ll notice then what happens with that, there’s a lot goes on inside, right? One is, you might disapprove of yourself straightaway for disapproving of someone. Or you just might not be able to bear them enough to even spend time thinking about them. Or you might start explaining yourself immediately. So there’s a lot of things we do, and they’re all part of being at war.

One of the standard tactics is we criticize and judge other people. It’s kind of always an interesting thing, because as we start noticing in meditation, that spacious airiness starts to get in things, and still there will be all these intense judgments, and fire, war will appear in the mind, and sometimes in other places, like the kitchen or the meditation hall, or in me. And you’ll see that the fighting breaks out. What it’s like is, it’s sort of not much fun inside. There’s an exhilaration to it and it seems like life is at least interesting. It’s not boring. I’m busy fighting for my life, hating someone, or just judging them, and then I feel kind of superior, which might be… there’s a kind of comfort in that perhaps, but the more we start really noticing, which is what meditation does, it helps us really notice, we’ll start noticing that it constricts us and we feel unhappy. We ourselves feel conflicted internally.

So I mean, I don’t know, try it. Try hating somebody. Who’s a favorite person to hate? Go ahead. I mean really, have a go at it. Who’s somebody you can’t stand? In sesshin sometimes it’s hard to find that, but… who really let you down and misbehaved and treated you badly? Like in the Dhammapada it says that: he betrayed me, he beat me, he stole from me, he treated me very badly. That person. What’s it feel like? What happens in the mind? Is everybody so enlightened they don’t have an experience like this?

S: Tension.

S: Blood pressure rises.

S: I feel unfree.

John: Yeah, that’s nice, isn’t it? It’s great. I’ve put myself in prison again. It’s that thing: let me into the prison! What else?

S: Not a lot of light. Closed and dark.

S: Narrow.

John: Tight and narrow, yeah. It’s like… give me[?] my joy. It’s in my throat or it’s in my heart. What else?

S: All the reasons come out.

John: Yeah, I get that too. I had a smaller life as a professor, so I explain things. I could even do a typology of the person.

S: Strangling.

John: Strangling! That’s honorable! Yeah, it’s better than explaining. At least you’re noticing what’s going on. So what else?

S: Heat.

S: Hurts. Chest hurts.

John: There’s an ache, anguish in it.

S: Fear.

S: Intense energy.

S: Feel like a failure.

John: Feel like a failure. Where’s that? Who’s that? Yeah, great. I can’t quite see you but thank you. You failed to become visible. And what else?

S: Resistance.

John: Resistance. Yeah, that stubborn ox-like thing we get into.

S: Run away.

John: Flight.

S: Strategize and plot.

John: You forgot scheming! So you get the point, right? And notice how when we just say it, there’s something kind of a little bit joyful about it and it’s great. Yes! I hate your guts! [laughter] And there’s a kind of compassion in beginning to notice. So what we might say is that when the light has started to appear, there’s a peace appears at the same time, and it spreads out and there’s a kind of wonder and joy, and then it’s like we have to test-drive it and the first thing we run into is what we can’t stand. So it’s not that there isn’t a light, that we didn’t see a real light or have a real joy or peace in our lives, because we did and we do and it’s right here now, but it’s also that – oh, does it go into this? I have a freedom and a joy. Can I have it doing the dishes? Yeah, probably. Even if I don’t much like dishes, I can probably realize that not liking doing dishes is some silly prejudice and I can drop it. But then can I have it with the person who I feel I have a long story that really hurt me? Oh, that’s more interesting. So that comes up. So if you start to burn, or start to sort of be at war and be fighting in your meditation, that can actually be a good sign. Fortunately I’m burning during my meditation. And you’ll see there are figures who – they’ve got a skull in flames, and they’re deities. So that war has a quality to it.

Then you’ll notice, often it’s usually more subtle than that. You just see somebody and you think oh, whatever it is – what a pig. There’s some judgment but you’re more refined than that, you say: he could use some improvement. And the judgments come before we got consent from our intelligence. They just appear, right? If we’re honest about it, like we look at someone and think: he’s cute or he’s ugly or he’s fat or whatever we think, and it’s just there. It’s this sort of instant animal-level thing. Or it’s a cultural thing. You’ll notice that the kind of family you grew up in, we don’t do that. Whatever it is somebody else is happily doing and you’d probably like to do yourself [laughter]. So there’s that.

I was talking to another person who wasn’t born in America the other day and said: Don’t you think Americans are barbarians? And she said yes. And isn’t that why we came? [laughter] Because you can be a barbarian here. In other words you can start exploring things, and that’s that relief of oh, I can’t stand this person – there’s a kind of compassion in just beginning to notice that. And then what happens is the koan, I think, as we’ve often been saying – I heard Martha said today why don’t you let the koan take you for a walk. The koan has a kind of autonomous quality to it, and it starts to work away at these things. In some sense, it’s like it draws out the fever and you’ll notice what you have a conflict with. So have it. Just notice it. And then it makes us skeptical about it. Can I really not stand this person I don’t even know? Or this person who hurt me five minutes ago or five years ago or fifty years ago, do I really want to be spending the rest of my life in bed with them like that, in the same room with them? Am I sure I got the story right anymore? That sort of thing.

And so we’ll start noticing that all those things we’re judging the other person as, there’s something interesting about them. Like think of the person you were thinking of. Give me a quality of theirs. He’s violent or that sort of thing.

S: Self-righteous.

S: Selfish.

S: Manipulative.

S: A bully.

S: Controlling.

S: Rude.

S: Paranoid.

John: Paranoid. Wait, that’s me! [laughter]

S: Not trustworthy.

S: No boundaries.

S: Defensive.

S: Entitled.

S: Frightened.

S: Bossy.

S: Irresponsible.

S: Haughty and self-righteous.

John: Haughty and self-righteous! It’s a daily double. [laughter] What else?

S: Cruel.

S: Barbarian.

John: Barbarian! That’s me!

S: Dominating.

S: Pompous.

S: Selfish.

S: Oblivious.

S: Devious.

John. Devious. It’s hard to stop when you get on a roll. It’s kind of exciting. [laughter]. Okay so think of the thing you said, and how are you like that. I mean, it’s kind of obvious. This is one place to go with this, but it’s sort of fun, isn’t it? It’s interesting. How am I…? Can you notice that there’s a part of you – it’s not the same way or something, but there’s a part of you that hooks. Can you see that? And also what about all those other things? Is there part of you like that too? I’m pompous, I’m a barbarian… All Zen teachers are pompous, that one’s easy. [laughter] Barbarian? That’s not a problem. Entitled? Yes! Paranoid? Yes, but only because people are after me. [laughter] So you know, it really depends where you put the marker on the scale, what you call yourself, right? Do you get it? Can you feel it?

I’ll was talking to one friend today who was really interested in his judgments. Maybe it was yesterday. Sometime I was talking to him and he was really interested in his judgments and noticed how unpleasant they were, and how sort of unshakeable and right he was about them, and so we got into this, well, abiding nowhere, and really abiding in I can’t stand this person, and what if I didn’t abide there, and then what if I’m like that. So then he said well it’s great. I can go and have lunch and sit next to the person and then feel how difficult it is to be with them, and then I notice it’s me and then I get free and it’s wonderful! So that kind of thing can happen, right?

You’ll notice the freedom, if you let it arise and then you see through it, that’s stopping the war. You can feel that. You don’t stop the war by: I shouldn’t be feeling this. That’s continuing the war. Or, you know I’ll just be peaceful and ignore all that. That’s more war, really. It’s a subtle form of coercion. That’s the who’s the person that’s controlling? That’s you, yes. Zen teachers are never controlling. So you can see how much fun it is then to admit oh yes, I’m that way. I’m controlling or I’m bad-tempered, or I scheme and plot. I noticed it was another meditation teacher who said that.

And you notice that it’s kind of fun. We see oh, I’m everything everybody says, I’m that. And why not? Like, of course. The idea of the bodhisattva path is we share each other’s, we walk together. So we have some sort of inner knowledge of the way we all participate with each other. So suddenly there’s a kindness in it, and then we start appreciating that person. Wow, she’s angry, isn’t it great! Or whatever it is. I really like his pot belly. And it gives you an appreciation for the world and also for yourself. There’s a forgiveness. And then you realize, oh the person I’m really hard on is me, and then you look and you notice if you say well I’m scheming or I’m angry or I’m entitled or judgmental or whatever it is, then you’ll notice that maybe I’m not even that either. Maybe nobody’s anything, abiding nowhere and the mind appears. Making sense so far? Stopping the war.

Sometimes the best you can do with stopping the war is just be in it. You notice I’m in the war, and in a literal war of course that’s true. I’m in the war but I don’t have to believe in that stuff that’s going on. And you’ll notice another – you’ll notice the assessments and critique about people just appears in your mind. You didn’t ask for it. It just volunteered. It showed up before you – you didn’t even open a door or something, it’s just there. And so just to begin to notice is to begin to find out, well what are the implications of waking up. Just beginning to notice is an implication.

And so then we begin to notice oh, it’s really about me, it’s for me. It’s not about the other – I could change the other person completely and it would not make one tiny bit of difference to my happiness, right? Sometimes we’re mad at someone who’s dead. I can improve them all I want. It’s not going to make a lot of difference to my happiness. So then this rather sweet thing happens. But let’s say the person’s alive and in your life. You’ll notice that you’re mad with them or whatever, but if you get free and say oh, that’s me, then you’ll notice the next time you see them they’ll be different. It’s a mystery whether… they chose, probably got wise because you did? You just improved them secretly. Or you’re seeing them with clearer eyes, and maybe they respond to that or maybe they were always great, and you just didn’t notice, because it was clouded over. Those things, as far as I can tell, it’s easiest to assume they were always wonderful and you hadn’t noticed. But it doesn’t matter, because you’ll find that something that was probably likely to be very difficult isn’t difficult anymore because you took your, you woke up and you stopped the war. Okay? Making sense so far?

Then another thing about he internal war is we do transfer it to meditation. And the war in that case is I’m not good enough, I’ve got to improve. I’m not doing my meditation very well either, and if I just force it a bit here, then it will work. And if I just got my mind to be… fill in the blank. What’s a desirable meditation state? Calm, concentrated.

S: Spacious.

John: Spacious. Superpowers. I’d like superpowers. Spacious. If I could fly. Spacious, calm, warm, loving. Loving’s high on the hit parade?

S: Relaxed.

S: Focused.

John: Focused. In that eighth enlightenment state, whichever one that is. What else?

S: Happy.

S: Different.

John: Different is good, yeah. If I just had a state that was different [laughter]. That’s the first noble truth at work isn’t it? Yeah, and so you’ll see that there’s a kind of violence in that. You’ll see that if awakening is here, you can’t get here from there, because you’re already here. So if you’re trying to get here, you’re not here. And it’s so obvious that we completely ignore it most of the time. If you’re truly not finding fault with whatever your current condition is, it’ll open for you, because there’s nothing really wrong with it and you’ve stopped constricting it. You’ve stopped constricting yourself.

When you’re finding fault, when you’re criticizing your enemy, or whoever it is, when you’re criticizing your most intimate friend whom you can’t stand today, if you’re criticizing them you feel how it hurts you, so that’s kind of clear, and that’s one of the great treasures of the meditation path. Oh, it’s not much fun to be at war. But then you’ll notice if you’re finding fault with yourself it hurts, and it’s also not true, either. I shouldn’t be in this meditation state, I should be in that one. Well, good luck. How’s it going? And we’ll see that if you want loving-kindness and compassion, it’s got to be here. It’s not there. It’s not when I get calm I’ll be loving to my state. I’ll only love my acceptable states. It’s like I’ll only love my acceptable children. In fact, none of my children are really acceptable. [laughter] And we notice that when we love someone, we just love them right? So it’s the same with life.

Meditation… we often take it on because we’ve found life to be difficult and painful, but that’s a kind of opening that got us to start noticing, and then we realize that meditation is all about loving life, and in fact falling deeper into it, allowing ourselves to fall deeper into it. So the most difficult thing you’re dealing with right now is for you, and you don’t need to be at war with it. Even if you feel like you’re the survivor of – one of my friend’s metaphor’s today – like the survivor of an airplane crash wandering around dazed and confused. You don’t need to be at war with that either. You don’t need to be at war with sorrow, with anything that comes up.

And then if you’re not at war with it, the kindness appears, and the kindness starts to open things. There’s a voluptuous quality about meditation then, about kindness too, that loving quality just keeps opening if you let it. And you’ll find it’s kind of frightening. It’s easy to sort of feel bad about ourselves and be annoyed and so on, but when we start feeling loving, that might… then we might notice can I bear this? Can I bear getting what I want? Can I bear getting what I love? Can I bear happiness? Can I bear freedom? No no! I’m having a good time but now I really need to worry about my divorce!. Perhaps not. And so it’s all right to just be here, and then if you are worried about whatever it is, that’s fine. Then if we can be kind about that. So that’s stopping the war again.

And you’ll notice how subtly coercive a lot of our initial meditation strategies were, but that’s okay because you can’t really mess meditation up that much, because you just get tired of being coercive, it wears you out and you just sort of screw it up. In other words the flaws in your meditation are on your side. We’re always doing it wrong, so relax about it, and have a good time with it and you realize oh, it’s that dance that’s the thing. It’s just the same way with a relationship, it’s that dance, anybody you’re close to, with each other in the meditation hall. And these rhymes run through the meditation hall. You know, people come in, five people in a row come in with the same thing. They’re all angry, or they’re all [inaudible], or they’re all, and it’s kind of great really. We think it belongs to us, probably not.

[water spilling] Whoa! it’s a water blessing [laughter]. That’s kind of nice. Somehow we started out… I’ve started tipping water on the floor for the drought and I’ve been doing it ever since.

And so maybe what’s going on with us, the implication of enlightenment, of awakening, of freedom, is just that any moment of peace is enough, and that you can have it now, and now is all you need. There’s no other now you need. And you’ll find that the more you can just bear being at peace, the easier it gets. And it might feel weird to you, not to have a problem. That’s weird. And again, that’s all right too. If you feel oh I don’t have a problem, that feels uncomfortable, that’s kind of a problem, then you can have compassion for that, and again it just keeps opening up. Everybody’s got allowable and non-allowable emotions, and meditation’s going to give you the ones you’re not allowed, because you’re going to get more freedom inside them. So we can trust that.

So what else here? The other thing is, then you’ll notice – when I first was meditating, I couldn’t stand interruptions. It felt so fragile to me, I think because I didn’t trust meditation or myself, and so it would drive me nuts when a guy started a lawnmower next door, and I’d have fantasies about putting sand in the tank, sneaking over… [laughter] It’s the kind of thing they wouldn’t have let me into the country if they’d known about that. And then after awhile I realized that I hadn’t heard it anymore. He was still moving his lawn every day, but I wasn’t mowing his lawn every day. So that was kind of a nice thing. Oh, here comes the clean-up crew. You know, I think it’s all right. Let’s just put it down there and we’ll leave it, thanks. It’s a blessing for the hall.

S: What were you saying about interruptions?

John: Yeah. I can’t – what interruption? So yeah, then everything we turn to is some sort of gate, some sort of possibility, and it’s sort of, that makes life really exciting, so the lawn mower, or actually the water is kind of interesting. And the quality of, then I really begin to notice, oh, I thought I couldn’t – I used to sit through walking meditation because I just couldn’t trust myself to walk, to meditate well when I walked, so I’d just sit through. Then I realized oh, what’s wrong with walking meditation? That’s kind of rigid of me. And then I realized I could talk to people and be in meditation. I could move, I could chant, I could dance, I could weep and be in meditation. I could be free while I’m weeping. I could be free while I’m joyful and dancing. In other words we begin to notice meditation is really just life without us messing with it. That’s kind of a nice thing.

And the final thing is that then you can have fun with it all, a really kind of cool… I was thinking about, in a certain sense meditation is really just not messing with what we’ve got. So there’s a deep appreciation for what we’ve got when we’re working with a koan. So then whatever our mind does, it’s all right. There was a guy I knew who was a Thai abbot, and some of you may have known him, because he would come and teach in the West a lot. He was a kind of interesting guy, a very deep meditator, but he really encouraged people not to go for deep meditation states and not try to keep their mind more still but to engage in the world. And he had this funny thing, because as an abbot in a culture like that people are always giving him stuff. They’d come up and they’d give him money, they’d give him an ipod, they’d give him whatever it was. And so he got this sort of fishermen’s vest made, this sturdy sort of thing, and whatever people gave him, he just hung it on the vest. Like, Rolex watch? Pow. Timex watch? Pow. Alarm clock? Pow. An ipad? Pow. It weighted about sixty pounds, and he had to take it off to sleep, but he wore it for some years he decided as an experiment with stuff, really.

It was his relationship with stuff and it was his poem about stuff, and there was something kind of rather fun about that that I really liked the sense of humor in that. I said what are you learning about and he said I don’t know really. It’s heavy, it weighs about sixty pounds, that’s what I’m learning. That was fun too, it wasn’t like some big, profound thing, it was just like, it was for him, and I liked that. So I think that’s – it’s not so much always even abolishing something; you can go deeper into it. It’s like when your cell phone rings. Well it always rings at the wrong time, right, so why shouldn’t it? Or like I noticed the water keeps coming back to me and it keeps thinking – putting my hand in a glass of water is an odd thing to do and maybe I could have done that more elegantly, so my mind keeps offering that, but it’s just water’s what I’ve been doing this sesshin. There we are. The water tugs me back and I think that’s all right. Down, down. So you can start having fun with it. It’s what it is.

So in a minute we’re going to do something else, so it’s only a short time, but stopping the war – how’s that for you, any comments, anything you want to say about it? Anything interesting has occurred, interesting to you that’s occurred?

S: I noticed I think I practice the cold war variety of war a lot. Build up a wall and whatever it is that’s annoying me, just shut it out. Still kind of a war, isn’t it?

John: Yeah, and other people can feel it too. They either think you’re pissed off and you hate them, or you just can’t stand them and you’re avoiding them, all of which are probably true. But really, what I’m avoiding is me when I do that. It’s that great thing when somebody says something and it’s really disappointing and you say: it doesn’t matter, I’ll just do it myself. Whatever it is, yeah. And that’s an interesting thing, but it’s kind of I suppose a silent treatment with the world or something. But it’s nice to notice ourselves doing that. And there’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing, but when we notice it, it starts to change in a way. It’s not like we usually have to get a five-point plan for changing my putting walls up against the world. It’s just if I admit to myself I have it, then I start noticing I’m doing it, and then it’s not so much fun as it was. It was never fun, I notice it was never fun. I notice it changes. And I think because we really like the warmth that comes when we drop the wall. That’s the big mystery of meditation. We all think: oh, meditation, I’ll be untouchable, I’ll be calm, and actually we’re completely more immersed in life and it’s great. Falling in love with people’s toes or something. Knocking over water jars.

S: I found a really simple one that’s easy to remember and it’s succinct and I could do it on a daily – you know, wherever I was it felt like one that I could carry, and it had an immediate result. Even though it might not stay, staying result, but stop the war, I would notice something and I could stop that conflict just in my mind for the moment and then maybe it would come back. There’s something that it was very easy to just go in and out of it and have some kind of result in the moment.

John: Nice. Yeah and I suppose it’s just oh stop the war. Is there a war? If there’s not a war going on then it’s not a problem, and if there is I’ll probably stop it. Nice, that’s nice.

S: I notice most of my wars are trying to change things, trying to change people and wanting them to be like me or think the right way or whatever.

John: Yeah it’s remarkable how clueless they are. And it’s kind of sweet when we say that, then we notice there’s a kind of fun, hearing you say that, it’s kind of exciting, because then there’s a kind of gate just opens when you say that. And you start realizing well next time somebody does something I know you’re not allowed to do in the Zendo, I’ll say to myself: oh isn’t that cute? Whatever it is – the person’s getting away with the thing that I’d like to do. Or maybe not, maybe whatever it is. But yeah that thing of like enjoying people.

That was one of our big discoveries in koan work was we realized we could trust people with their koan. Can’t trust a person and their koan, what can you trust? And I think that’s a natural movement, because when you’re starting a tradition in a new country you’re kind of a bit over-tight because you don’t know what’s important, and you try and do it all right. You think maybe holding my mouth right is what this is about. Folding my robes a certain way. But then after awhile we realize there’s this big thing going on that’s carrying us all, there’s this bigger light that’s under our feet and coming up from the earth and it’s going to be okay. So thank you. I like that.

Who else notices stuff?

S: I think the fight is with reality not being the way I want it to be.

John: You disapprove of what’s happening?

S: Yes. Yes.

John: What’s happening is usually at fault, in fact.

S: Exactly.

John: I like that. What’s happening? Baaad. Now. Bad. It’s kind of fun to get into that.

S: But if it’s truly bad.

John: Like what? You mean something out there?

S: Like an actual war or death, or something that…

John: There’s lots in the world that’s painful.

S: Very painful, and you see having that war…

John: And it’s painful when we have that – like you’ve got Fukushima inside you. Like if you bring Fukushima inside you. How’s it helping Fukushima?

S: It isn’t.

John: So it’s like that I think. It’s painful. Nobody wants the planet to be poisoned, all the things that are happening to people. Even to us. We don’t want to be sick, we don’t want to get old, all those things that no doubt we’re doing. And so one of the things I think I agreed to when I got born, without even noticing I had, was well here I am.

S: Didn’t read the fine print.

John: I know. There should have been some guy with wings saying you know, if you go into this place, there’s this thing, this is the deal, like sign here. But I think in a way we did, and we came here for this. We can’t stop people bombing marketplaces, there’s a lot of things we can’t stop in life. We can’t stop our teeth hurting. We can’t stop our feet hurting, we can’t stop our knees not working when they don’t. All these things. Sinus infections, whatever it is. We can really show up for life, and we can be with each other and accompany each other through this, and that’s a grand thing. And I think the thing meditation does is instead of being frightened and angry and alone we’re participating, we’re doing it together. And that’s the whole notion of the bodhisattva path, that we’re in this not just for ourselves, to get peace and freedom inwardly, we’re in this for each other, and that’s a grand thing. and if fact we’re kind of participating with each other in life, and we’re participating with the trees and the animals and the grass and the fish, you know. And that’s not so bad. It could be worse. We could be all silent and alone and frightened and protecting ourselves. So I think that’s –

S: I notice – if I can jump in here for a minute – that it’s more internal than it is external for me. It’s not so much that person should do this or not do that. It’s more I should be better or I should be this or I shouldn’t be that. And what I noticed today, the idea of stopping the war. For me stopping the war is let’s go back to the breath. Let’s refocus your attention someplace else. What I noticed is that that doesn’t really stop it, it postpones it. So something about letting the war happen. David made a suggestion today of being with it like I’ve never seen it before and it’s brand new instead of the old tape and relationship that I have with what arises, but to be curious. Something about that turning toward it and being curious about it transforms it.

John: Yeah. I mean just admitting we have it is good, and then you might notice other things. Usually it’s in some way postponing intimacy as awakening, right? It’s defending against intimacy, because intimacy, I’m not in charge. Which is news to us for some reason. And then we notice oh when we disarm. That’s why even if we admit to some inner condition it’s kind of fun. I admit I’m angry, it’s kind of fun. But then if I stay angry, I’m developing anger into a fixed principle and it’s not fun anymore. Because the anger wasn’t fun, it was the noticing that was fun. And because there was the disarming and intimacy there. So it’s always that dance move in Zen, and I think that’s what we defend against. Going back to the breath is just really a way of postponing the dance move, and in fact it’s kind of continuing the war by more subtle, sneaky means.