I would suggest a mind that is awake, and that settles, and that finds love, joy, and ease in precariousness, so that we can be with each other, and love each other, and support each other. In very real, concrete meaningful ways.
I have hope because I think the virus has actually caught our attention. I have hope because it has stopped us in our tracks. I have hope that maybe this time we will rethink our relationship to the Earth, to this living miracle. […] That maybe we can live in gratitude for this gift of life.
My deep gratitude for the many people taking care of those who are suffering. Boundless gratitude. And for all the people who are courageously keeping the basic functioning of our city going. Of course, the medical workers who take care of the sick, the people who drive the ambulances, the truckers who are delivering us food from the farmers, the people who are selling and delivering our food to us, the people who pick up the trash, the people who deliver the mail and the packages. And deep gratitude for whoever it is that is keeping all this technology going at this time. It’s a mystery to me how it even works but I know there are human beings working hard to keep us in contact. Deep gratitude to all of them.
Resisting reality is a mistake. Because reality will win. No matter what that reality is. It’s safer and better to face whatever is happening with as clear a mind as you can possibly muster. And it’s from there that we respond to the world.
This is an updated podcast version of the dharma talk offered by BZC’s root teacher Teah Strozer on March 21, 2020, which includes the Q&A portion of the talk.
For me the most powerful things the vows do are because of their impossible nature — they are humbling. They have a kind of leveling effect. In the face of this impossible vow, I’m one person in a community. So there is an aspect of confession in that vow, of acknowledging our humanness and our limited view. So there is a humbling and tenderizing effect of the vow, that enables us to open up to the functioning of the universe, we actually open up to possibility. We become tender in the face of new possibilities, our imagination is liberated.
One day you may be serving food. One day you may be ringing a bell. It’s all the same. It’s all about doing that practice together with intention and with, dare we say, love. And it’s about getting in each other’s way. And it’s about knowing when to move. And knowing when to say the appropriate thing, when to correct. When to accept correction.
We are doing this work of undoing, which is not easy. It’s really having this courage to go into places that you actually don’t want to see. A lot of times we don’t want to see how we oppress others. We don’t want to see how we oppress ourselves. Gender wise, or it could be race, class, age — there are so many kinds of ways that we oppress in this world. And so to really look at how we do that is to really see clearly the pain that is real in our bodies. And that is the most difficult work we are doing because it is so physical. This practice is not intellectual practice, it is physical practice.
[The Dharma] is always between us. It is always the conversation that is happening even when we’re silent. It is going on between us; that is where the Dharma always lives. Even when we’re at home in our apartments and we’re not next to each other, the Dharma is being expressed between us, and throughout us.
On the forth day of Rohatsu there’s an effort, an energy that is coursing through the zendo. But it is no longer our energy or our effort. We are all sharing it. So I think that is something we can enjoy and can rest in.
Oryoki has become this dual choreography of giving and receiving. You don’t need to play a part in it anymore. You just need to be there and bow to the server and the nourishment is there.
It could be confusing when we hear that instruction: the middle way between gentleness and discipline. As if we’re trying to find some quality that’s halfway between discipline and gentleness. That’s kind of a watered down discipline, or an insincere gentleness. And I don’t think that’s what’s meant by that instruction. The middle way between gentleness and discipline is fully gentle, and fully disciplined. It contains both of those without holding on to either.
What would it be [like] this week to be completely devoted to the infinities that are sitting with us everywhere. To the mothers of our being that are sitting with us everywhere as dishes, as people, as prostrations, as clocks, as thoughts, as moods, as knee pain – whatever they are. However they’re showing up, to bring complete devotion to them.
The buddha didn’t talk about evil, but he did about talk what are sometimes called the three roots of evil …. greed, ill-will, delusion. And again historically those have been understood individually. We work on them individually ourselves and we help other people work on them, but I think what’s become clear in the last generation or so is that today the three poisons are institutionalized.