White Wind Zen Community

A Community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985

Every Breath You Take 97: Seeing a Prince

Dharma Talk presented by Ven. Shikai Zuiko O-sensei

Dainen-ji, January 29th, 2011

Good morning intrepid practitioners,
students who have stepped past whatever commentary came up this morning,
or at whatever time, self-image, old patterns:

Seeing a king,
"May all beings
Become sovereigns of Reality,
Always displaying the Teaching of Truth."

too cold, too tired, too this, and even: too keen,
doesn't matter what the content is, any time you notice anything,
which of course includes thoughts,
you've experienced a moment of clear seeing,
you've noticed a thought,
you've noticed part of reality.

The practice of feeling the breath,
sitting up straight,
opening the eye gaze,
allows attention which may have started to fall into old patterns,
to open
and that present moment is completely seen,
the whole bodymind in the whole moment,
Knowing as you,
you as Knowing.

The next verse in Every Breath You Take is:

Seeing a prince,
"May all beings
Be born in the truth
And be children of Awakening."

Well that's pretty straightforward, isn't it?
We see a prince walking down the street [students giggle]
and we say: "Oh! May all beings be born in the truth,
(just as the prince was born in the truth of the king and the queen)
and be children of Awakening".
So it's encouraging us to use every moment to actually practise.

But wait a minute, wait a minute...
aren't we missing a verse?
We went through "Seeing a king"
and now it's "Seeing a prince"...
Okay, maybe the next one would be...? [O-sensei flips pages]
No, no queens, no princesses.

So we're going to spend just a brief amount of time talking about something that's not here,
which is queens and princesses.
Now what do queens and princesses have in common?

I'm not going to give you the answer,
you can figure it out yourselves, [students laugh],
nor am I going to launch into any kind of tirade or dogma or riff,
but isn't this interesting?
Now this text, "The Pracitce of Purity", was written 1600 years ago.
So at that time, we can easily say you know,
the way it was then,
that females were basically for reproduction, and okay, sex.
That's it, that was their value.

But this is Eastern,
surely things were different in the West?
Well think about Henry VIII, for example.

So we have a situation where what's missing can point to a whole segment,
a whole closet full of patterns about humanity.

Now why might we, as students of Reality,
be interested in looking into that kind of thing?
Well, those patterns unquestioned occur to all of us,
so as we look into, say the content of patterns,
as we look into the disposition of bodymind according to unquestioned patterns of self-image,
all sorts of interesting things can be uncovered.

Now, I received a little note from Mishin godo
who is responsible for making sure all of these Dharma Talks have the right title and the right number,
and there are a lot of them, this is 96,
and she had asked for the text of the verses
because she had noticed and gotten thrown
because there was no "Seeing a queen" after the king,
or "Seeing a princess" after the prince, and this caused her to think:

"Hey, wait a minute, I must have accidentally deleted something."
Well, you're not alone Mishin godo, [O-sensei and students laugh heartily]
a lot has been accidentally deleted since... [more laughter]

And then I was having a meeting with another student the other day
and this student was quite excited because he had experienced a moment of [O-sensei snaps fingers]
waking up to Reality.

Now we won't grade these things,
but what he did notice, he was all caught up.
He was in a produce store, and he had bought some turnips,
two little turnips and on the till it said "$2.80".

He said: "Wait a minute, $2.80 for two little turnips?"
and he started to get angry,
and then through that state,
he spoke to the cashier and said:
"How come these two turnips are so expensive?" and she said:

"Sir, you're looking at the wrong cash register, look there."

80 cents. [students laugh]

Now, he started counting out $2.80
because he hadn't heard anything that she'd said and all of a sudden,
for no reason whatsoever,
there he was,
in the moment,
seeing the woman in front of him
and recognizing that sounds were actually coming out her mouth,
and he was aware of the sights and sounds and smells
and his feet and his hands,
and the breath,
and the eye gaze opening
and he realized he hadn't heard a darn thing.

So he said to the woman:
"Excuse me, I'm very sorry, I didn't hear anything that you said,
I was all wrapped up in my state about the cost of these turnips."

And she said: "You're actually admitting it?" [students laugh]

And then she said: "Marry me!" [loud, loud laughter from the students]

And he said: "I already have a wife at home I don't listen to." [more laughter]

Now, he saw years and years tumbling with this pattern,
he hadn't seen it ever before.
So, he was quite pleased
and had recognized that he had something he could work with
that might make a lot of things a lot better for him and for those around him.

So, when we can see patterns, cultural patterns,
which is what we acquire, we don't go and shop for them,
and say: "here, I'd like one like that,
which makes sure that I will not pay any attention to one half of the population,
give me that one..." 
No, that doesn't happen.

But, unquestioned assumptions about how things are
and how the world is can be seen,
practised with as they come up,
and that allows us to more clearly see what's going on.

You know, we have a situation now where, for example,
the suicide rate amongst girls between 15 and 25 is on the rise.
Why would that be?
Their grandmothers were involved in making a world of equality.
Well, I guess some parts just got left out,
and those parts that were not big enough were added to,
in the hope that if they were big enough,
then they would have a life of happiness forever after.

Plastic surgery didn't answer the problems,
didn't deliver love ever after,
may have promised it, but didn't deliver,
and maybe these granddaughters are starting to see that what they see as reality
and what they experience is a pretty dull picture...
But we won't go into that,
I just throw that out so that it's available,
it can perhaps help open your eyes to more of the things that are going on,
you children of Awakening.

Now, China doesn't have enough girls. Why?
They threw them out, literally.
Girl babies: not wanted.
Girl fetuses: not wanted,
and it's affecting the ecology of the species.

Not everything,
only a tiny little bit can be introduced in the course of this Dharma Talk,
which is about your practice in this moment,
but a sense of history can be interesting, and it is important.

When I first came across this practice,
when I first saw the Roshi
and made an appointment to go and see him
and he taught me what the practice was and he said:
"Go and do it, and if you don't do it, don't come back."

It was pretty clear, no arguing with that.

Then very shortly afterwards,
I took monk's vows and all of a sudden,
I was Shikai shamini.

Hmm. The masculine is shramon.

Then, after a little while,
I was going to become godo-ni.
The little "ni" at the end, the feminization of words.

Now, come on: godo versus godo-ni?
We talked about this, and the Roshi,
wanting to make sure that practice was available,
as it should be,
to anyone regardless of parts,
changed language.

The Lineage of Patriarchs became The Lineage of Ancestors.
Shramon, and shramoni became anagarika.
Godo-ni lost its "ni", became godo.

This is significant because without compromising the integrity of practice,
the integrity of practice was made available to anyone who walks through the door.

You may have noticed that in this sangha,
there are not special sittings for survivors of Catholicism,
people who prefer their steak medium rare,
those who like to dress in dresses on the weekend...

However, you may see, when you see sanghas described,
that there are groups who have formed to practise what they call the Dharma
according to the colour of their skin,
according to their lifestyle and sexual orientation.

Now, the Dharma is available to anyone.
What you do with someone
and how you do it when you are not sitting in the Zendo or in the Hatto
should not affect your interaction with
and presence in the practice place with the rest of the sangha.
That other stuff is nobody's business.

So the creation of ghettos within any lineage,
within any practice community indicates to me very clearly
that what we have is another reenactment of social culture
with all its patterns of exclusion,
and it's not the Dharma.

It might be nice calming meditation...Okay.
So, back to

Seeing a prince,
"May all beings
Be born in the truth
And be children of Awakening."

So, kids, when you notice anything,
feel into the truth of the matter:
that bodymind breathing in and out,
pulling up through that breast bone so that
the spine straightens
the shoulders drop back and down
and recognize that you're the Knowing of experiencing,
the bodymind is how Knowing knows,
and you are not any of the knowns.

Have fun with it!

Thank you for listening.