Sharing The Mountain: Dharma Talk by Roshis Bernie Glassman and Eve Myonen Marko
Living a Life that Matters #1:Â Sharing the Mountain Top
By Roshis Bernie Glassman and Eve Myonen Marko
Given on March 5th, 2015 at Sivananda Yoga Retreat at Nassau, Bahamas
Transcribed by Scott Harris, photos by David Hobbs and Rami Efal
Introduction: We would like to welcome all the new guests that arrived at the Ashram today. And we would like to welcome that came for the program on âLiving a Life That Matters,â that will start tonight. And to those that are here to participate in the annual gathering of the Zen Peacemakers Order. So itâs a great honor to have our distinguished presenters. And weâll introduce them shortly, and their groupâlike we mentioned last night.
So tonight weâll begin a four-day program called, âLiving a Life That Matters.â And it will be presented by Roshi Bernie Glassman, and Roshi Eve Myonen Marko. And weâve been holding this program for several yearsâin fact we just had it in December. And itâs always a great pleasure to welcome Roshi Bernie and Roshi Eve. Theyâre great masters in the Zen movement in the United States, and in fact all over the world. And they do wonderful things, very good things, for the worldâgreat believers in social action, and turning social action into spiritual practice.
But this time we have a special occasion, because we started talking about it two years agoâto actually hold the annual gathering of their organization, which is called the Zen Peacemakers, and to have it here at the Yoga retreat. So itâs really wonderful to hold this event here. And tonight weâll have the opening lecture in this program.
So Iâd like to introduce the presenters. Roshi Bernie Glassman is a world-renowned pioneer in the Zen movement, and founder of Zen Peacemakers. Heâs a spiritual leader, author, and businessman, and teaches at the Maezumi Institute and the Harvard Divinity School. A socially responsible entrepreneur for over thirty years, Bernie developed the Greyston Mandala to provide permanent housing, jobs, job-training, child-care, afterschool programs, and other support services to a large community of formerly homeless families in Yonkers, NY. Bernie is the coauthor with Jeff Bridges of The Dude and the Zen Master, and with Rick Fields of Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Masters Lessons in Living a Life That Matters, and the author with Eve Marko of Bearing Witness: A Zen Masters Lessons in Making Peace, and Infinite Circle: Studies in Zen. Bernie is also the coauthor with Hakuyu Maezumi of Enlightenment: On Zen Practice, and On Zen Practice: Zen Writing Series.
Roshi Eve Myonen Marko is a founding teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order, and a resident teacher at the Green River Zen Center in Massachusetts. She serves as a Spirit Holder at various Bearing Witness Retreats of the Order, and is also a writer and editor.
And so tonight weâll have the first talk on âLiving a Life That Matters.â We would like to welcome Roshi Bernie, and Roshi Eve. Letâs welcome them.[applause]
Bernie: Thank you. This feels like home to us. Iâm not sure how many years, I canât remember years anymore. Weâve been coming a long time. But I first met Swami-ji actually in Canada, and then later here. Weâve been coming here a long time. But for many reason for us itâs a veryâyou may not know the word hamishu, homey.
Eve: So, good evening everyone. Actually I think our first time here was 1999.
Bernie: She knows dates!
And whatâs been very important in our life was we met Krishna Das (the Kirtan singer, not the accountant) here that year. And weâve been since then very friendly and involved in many things together.
Eve: And we also enjoyed meeting the other Krishna Das.
So Rukmini mentioned that we were here just three months ago. And all that has to do with the vagaries of weather, because we live in New England. And New England has gone through some rough winters, which effects how often we get here.
Now three months ago this conversation started. And itâs been in my mind, and I think in Bernieâs mind these three months. I canât even remember who it was that first put out the questionâthis metaphor for enlightenment. Someone saidâand it was someone here, I donât remember who, we had a number of teachersâand said that âenlightenment is like going up a mountain.â
Bernie: It was Swami-ji.
Eve: So it wasâand if I get it wrong, youâll correct me. Itâs like going up this mountain. And depending on your tradition, and who you are, and your practice, you have your path. And youâre going up the path. And you have your opinion about your path, and how itâs important, and how itâs maybe the only real path there is. And you have your things you do, and your rituals, and the chants, and all those things. And then right next to you thereâs another path. And thereâs somebody else going up their path. And they have their stories, and their opinions, and their practices, and all the things they do. And as long as weâre on the path, and weâre working very hard to get there, all we can see is our path. You know, weâre just sort of climbing up, and falling down, and having our obstructions, hurdles, whatever. And what we see is our path. The few who get to the top, look down, and they realize that all these things that they thought was the mountainâthey were all just paths, and they were leading up to the same placeâthe height of the mountain. So if you were a Christian and you were working very hard all those years, and you thought that was it, when you finally got upâor same if youâre a Buddhist, or youâre a Hinduâyou get up there and you realize that they were all different paths coming up to the top of the same mountain.
And then somebody asked the question, âSo what happens to the group that gets to the top of the mountain?â You see, âwhat happens to them?â And you know, we all have different opinions about that. So somebody might think, âOh itâs all very nice on top of the mountain. It always shines like it does when weâre here. Thereâs a golden glow. Itâs all pink. Everybody loves one another. Thereâs no more problems.â Thatâs the top of the mountain. And I know that there was somebody here, and there are different teachersâand again, different pathsâwho said, âWell, you know, once we get up there, thereâs no more opinions, or stories about ourselves or others. All of that disappears.â And that day, three months ago when we were here, Bernie said, âNo. In my opinion [because thatâs his opinion] all there are on top of the mountain is our opinions and stories. Thereâs nothing else.â Now what did he mean by that? So heâll talk more, but Iâm gonna sort of take it up to a certain point.
What he said is, âYou know Iâm a Zen Buddhist. If I have my opinion about Zen and how important it is, and itâs this, and itâs all that, and I have my story about it; I know that itâs just my story and my opinion.â You know, itâs not anything else. Itâs not the truth. Itâs not the only way to be. Itâs just my story. And Iâm enjoying my story. Iâm enjoying wearing this. This is a Rakusu, itâs like a lay robe worn by Buddhists. I enjoy my sitting practice. I enjoy all those things, and I no longer think that itâs the only way.
So that conversationâs been in my mind all these months. And we were in Israel just two weeks ago, talking with different activists and groups. So Iâll get to that. But you see, the thing that remained in my mind about this conversation is how difficult it is to just let each person have their opinion, and their story, and be who they are, without some notion that âYes, but one day youâll change.â You see?
I mean, here we are. This is a beautiful place. Weâre probably pretty like-minded. You know, we probably like Yoga. We like the Bahamas. Maybe we like the ocean. You can imagine some common factors we have. But Iâll bet you anything that this day you talked to someone, and in this very loving supportive environment, you said to yourself something like, âEh, you know, heâs really wonderful, but he really has to watch what he eats because look at the belly. You know, he has too much of a belly.â Or you talked to someone, and you said, âYou know, sheâs a wonderful woman, but I wish she wouldnât talk so much.â Or you know, maybe itâs somebody you live with, and youâre saying, âYou know, heâs a wonderful guy, but I know when he reaches the top of that mountain, heâs gonna stop smoking cigars, because he will know that this is not good for his health.â You know?
So thereâs something. And a long time ago I first heard the term triumphalism. And it was first expressed by the Rebbe Zalman Schachter, who was the founder of a big Jewish Renewal movement. He said, âInterfaith gatherings are very nice, except that many people who do them, deep inside feel, âWe love you. Weâre ready to go to church with you, to synagogue with you. Were ready to do meals with you. Weâre ready to do a lot of things. But one day, one day, youâre gonna see that our way was right. When Jesus comes, and whoever isnât saved goes straight to Hell, youâll know.ââ But, you see, thatâs the obvious one. Itâs the subtle ones that are much harder to detect. That deep inside, if I see someone, I live with someone, I love the person, all thatâbut somehow, one day, heâs gonna change. When he becomes enlightened, everything is gonna straighten out, and heâs going to be more like what I want him to beâreally. You see, thereâs going to be this kind of equality. Weâre all gonna kind of come in together, and be more alikeâusually more like me. Itâs a subtle thing, but itâs quite insidious.
And I remembered that when I was in Israel, and it was Saturday night, and we had a meeting, and this wonderful woman cameâan Orthodox Jewish woman. It was a meeting of activists, and she was a widow of a man called Rabbi Menachem Froman, who we had met, and who was an extraordinary Rabbi who lived in the West Bank, and forged tremendous connections with Palestinians, and especially Palestinians with Islamic leaders. Thereâs many stories about him. And he felt that all these different negotiations being done were not that important, because the Earth doesnât belong to anyone, but to God. And thereâs a lot that we could say about him. He died just a year or two ago, a fairly young man in his sixties. So his wife continues his work, and she came. And at some point, you know, we asked her how she felt about this. And she said, âI feel really good about it.â And she said, âIâll tell you why. Itâs all about peace.â
So you know, earlier we chanted, you know, âpeace, peace, peace.â She said, âThereâs human peace. And thatâs the peace that human beings make.â And who do we make peace with? Mostly we make peace with people we like. We make peace with people we approve ofâpeople who are like us, share our values. Those are the people . . . and thatâs âhuman peace,â she said. And then she said, âBut my husband used to say, that âpeace for the sake of Godâlâshem shamayimâfor the, in the name of heavenâpeace in the name of heaven is made with all of the people who we donât like, and we donât agree with, and we canât even stand, and sometimes we canât bear to talk to them. We canât have them in the same room. All those peopleâwhen we can be with them in peace, thatâs peace in the name of heaven.ââ And she said âthis group [and there were many different people there] that reminds me of peace in heaven.â
So thatâs how this conversation continues, you see. What happens on the top of the hill? Who are we at peace with at that point? And do they change? Or are they the exact same people that weâd see day by day? What happens on top of that hill?
So Bernie, I thought this was a good way to start.
Eve: So thereâs different questions that come to mind that maybe could kind of . . . like, what does it mean to make peace on this basis? Does it mean that you just accept everybody as they are? And then, why do anything? You know, and what that has to do with the work? And also we really invite you to ask questions. So maybe at some point, I think what we did last time that we were here is we had people come forward . . . Oh, there is a mic out here? And so if you have questions that youâd like to ask, at some point come forward. Thereâs a couple of seats there. And at some point just talk into the mic, so that we can all hear your question, and all have the benefit of it.
Bernie: Yeah, I really encourage that, because we love dialogue. So please come up and ask anything.Â But as Eve was talking, and to say a little bit more about what Eve just said, thereâs a new initiative that may be happening in Israel. And I want to speak with Swami-ji about it. It goes back to old days, a gathering, a group of people that are leaders in their own right, but very different leaders, and people who would never normally talk to each other or meet each other (except maybe to beat each other up). So Iâm talking about . . . this is particularly the Middle East. And Iâm talking about settlers, people from Hamas, people from Gaza, people from refugee camps, people from the army, business people. There was a young woman in Tel Aviv who saidâan Israeli woman who said, âI can talk with Palestinians, I can not talk with settlers, other Israelis.â So this is a group of people that normally would not talk to each other. And now, weâre gathering. And the first thing isâwhat is there? Is there something that we share as a common vision? In a way itâs a questionâIs there something on top of the mountain for all of us? Is there a common vision?
I threw out one possibility, which is sort of I think obviousâwe would like our children to be able to play what they want to play. I think that would be common to everybody. Is that something on top of this mountain that we can talk about? We can share our opinions. Is there some other things? What is the discourse on the top of the mountain? Can we come to some vision that in a way brings peace? And as Hadassah said, âit has to involve the differences.â You canât have a lasting peace if you leave out the people that you donât want to deal with, even though it may be very complicated.
The man who is starting this initiativeâheâs a Palestinian, and he trains people in nonviolent work, so heâs sort of a Gandhi Palestinian, lives in Bethlehem. Heâs been doing it for many, many, many years. And weâve been involved with him for many, many, many years. And heâs come to Auschwitz a number of times. And he sends all his staff to Auschwitzâour Auschwitz retreats. Some of you may not know, we lead an annual retreat at Auschwitz. This will be the twentieth year. And a methodology of those retreatsâwhich weâre now doing several more in different placesâwe call them Bearing Witness Retreats. And one of the factors is to try to bring as many voices as possible, as much differences as possible, as many factors as possible. And then we work with the stuff that comes up. We work with the differences. And if we can bring ourselves to a common visionâthat is, if we can get to the top of that mountain, or some mountainâthereâs mountains, and mountains, and you keep going upâbut if we can get to the top of some mountain where we can have a common vision, that can be a beginning of something.
In our own life, if youâre a family person, do you have a common vision with your spouse, with your kids, with your grandchildren, with your siblings? Is there somethingâcan you find a common vision out of the differences? That means you gotta, whatever are our differences.
So in a way, thatâs sort of a practice thatâs aiming at just getting up a little hill. And what is it coming up? âOh, I have common vision with my sister that we both want to breath.â But, how? How to breathe? Itâs in the Hasidic tradition . . . well you guys work on breathing as a practice. In Zen itâs extremely important, working on breathing as a practice. In the Hasidic tradition there are different words for breathing. Breathing can be âthe wind of God.â Thatâs a breath. âThe soul,â thatâs a breathâthe continual breath. There are different kinds of breathing. What kind of vision do we have of breathing? And can we share these opinions?
If weâre at the top of the mountain, the key thing to me as a way of recognizing that youâre at such a place is that you can share opinions with somebody without saying, âNo, no, youâre wrong!â Opinions canât be wrong, see? Opinionsâin my opinionâopinions is the language of non-duality. And thatâs an opinion that I just formed about three years ago. So for sixty years Iâve been practicing, and for me non-duality was something you couldnât express. But finally, I said, âWow!â Realizing that whatever I say, and whatever I hear are opinions, brings me into the state of non-duality. And in our practice in Zen Peacemakers, thatâs an extremely important place of having people experience that state. And weâve created all kinds of techniques and whatever.
But itâs fascinating that one can think of having a language in non-duality. Itâs simple. Itâs an opinion. You canât have right or wrong. Opinions donât have rights or wrongs. Theyâre opinions, they donât fall into duality.
So now weâre looking at this initiative of this group of people from many walks of that . . . Itâs hard to imagine. When we were just there, we heard that this couple thatâs part of the Zen Peacemaker Orderâtheyâre big peace activists in Israel. If I go back enough years, the husband, he was a Colonel in the I.D.F.âthe right wing. He formed a very important school for the I.D.F. in creativity. And then he had some kind of epiphany, and shifted from very right wing to very left wing, and became an activist. Heâs still creating organizational things.
Whyâd I bring him up? I lost my track.
Eve: Opinions and non-duality.
Bernie: Yeah. Itâll come up later.
This group in the Middle East, for me was very important. Not just for the Middle EastâI could see groups like that, with leaders of very different opinions, very different styles forming around different issues. The environmentâwe have so many catastrophic issues. Forming groups, and then forming groups that support those groups. I know a lot of wonderful, wonderful people. And there was a time that I was trying to collect us, so that we could be voices at times of these catastrophesâor at times of catastrophes-in-waiting. And you can think of so many catastrophes-in-waiting. Can we leverage our different voices, our different opinions in something that could make changes, that could create a life that matters? I think we can.
What do say about that, Tootsie?
Eve: Oh, TootsieâI have to explain what that is. You see, thatâs more differences. When we get bored with being Bernie and Eve, we call each other Rocky and Tootsie. Because Bernie was a fighter when he was a kid, and he was known as Rocky, believe it or not. And I had my history, and was called Tootsie. So we sometimes, you know, just get bored and you know, âletâs do this,â so we become different people, and have fun with it.
Eve in Tootsie voice: So you know what my question is Rocky?
Bernie in Rocky voice: What, Tootsie?
Tootsie: So, if everybodyâs just different, you know, so what happens? Somebody says, âIâm different, and you know what? Iâm gonna kill you.â So what, thatâs OK? What do you say about that, Rocky?
Rocky: Iâll punch âem.
Bernie: Yeah, so this becomes all of our practices, huh? What we didnât mentionâand this came up tooâin our meeting in Jerusalem, there was a man, what does he do?
Eve: Heâs an organizational consultant.
Bernie: So he threw out this question to us. He said, âWhat do you mean by peace?â And so I gave him . . . because we call ourselves Zen Peacemakers. I gave the history of how we came to the word, which is a little . . . if you know Hebrew, itâs easier. But Iâm gonna explain it anyway. Because when we use the word âpeace,â we have a certain connotationârightâthere everythingâs OK, or something like that. And in fact, in Israel, people say âhello,â to each other, they say âShalom.â Shalom means peace. âshalom, shalom.â Palestinians say âSalam, salam,â Peace, peace. We were doing work in Israel, and eventually we became sort of unwanted people, because in our name was âPeace.â And many organizations in Israel that have the word Peace are looked down at now. Itâs peace, except for saying âhelloâ to each other, has become a dirty word.
But I didnât come to the word âpeaceâ in that way. The root of the word ShalomâShalom is peace. And in Hebrew each word has a three-letter root word. Iâve been told that the three-letter root word of Shalom is Shalem. Shalem means to make whole, to reconnect. And in the Jewish mystical Hasidic tradition thereâs a metaphor where the cup thatâs holding the light of Godâthe light of God is so intense that the cup breaks into millions and millions of pieces and fragments. And then the role of the Hasid, of the righteous person is to bring those fragments back togetherâto reconnect.
In Buddhism itâs all built around trying to help people experience the interconnectedness of lifeâthe oneness of life. So in many mystical traditions itâs about experiencing that oneness of life. That oneness of life is that state of non-duality. And you canât have oneness of life if youâve got dual stuff going on there, man. So that is to experience being on top of the mountain.
So I explained thatâs how I came to Zen Peacemakersâtrying to bring those fragments back together. And then afterwards, he came up to me. He said, âI want to be part of this, because thatâs how I see it. I donât think peace will work. But trying to get all the fragments together, that can work.â And that room was full of so many fragments.
Eve: You know, Bernie, what this reminds me of too, is when we went to Indian country. So, you know, we were in Israel a few weeks ago, but in late January we were in South Dakota planning this big Native American retreat in August. So we met with a few Elders. And thatâs not easy, because theyâre very distrustful of white people. And actually the Lakotaâyou know this is the reservation, the big Pine Ridge Reservation, right next to the Black Hills. And they have good reason to have no faith in the white people, given how many times we violated our own promises, our own treaties. And to be on that reservation, and to see the enormous percentage of poverty. . . Till I was there, I didnât know that in the United States thereâs a place where the mortality rate for men is forty-eight. I didnât know that existed on the Continental United States. Iâd never seen a poverty like that. And weâve lived in urban ghettos, but Iâve never seen anything like that. No hospitals, no doctors, just this empty land, and trailers. So thereâs stories, but the thing I connect with what Bernie was just saying is that we met with you know, a few Elders, including the Head Holy Man of the Oglala tribe, which is the tribe of the Lakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation. And he was very ornery, and kind of unpleasant, and argumentative. And basically, I donât know what it was that somebody said. And he just turned on him, and said, âYou know, donât fix us. Donât fix us.â So, what was implied there was, âYes, I know weâre dreadfully poor. And yes, alcoholism is rampant. And yes, thereâs tremendous drugs, and tremendous suicidesâespecially by young people. And tremendous incidents of domestic violence. And yes, we lost our sacred grounds, the Black Hills, which are right there, and where once people went to do vision quests, and to get medicines, and to bury the dead. People now go to play in casinos, because thatâs what was built up thereâcasinos, and western-type clothing stores, big motorcycle ralliesâyes, thatâs what happened in our Black Hills. But donât fix us. Donât come to us and say, âOh weâve gotten something for you to change you.â We donât need to be fixed.â
And you know, we had to talk all that out. And at the end he actually invited us that evening to take part in the sweat lodge on his own family property. But none of this would have happened without this wonderful man who is our friend, and part of the Zen Peacemaker Order, Genro Gauntt. And what Genro Gauntt didâheâs this very, very white man, I mean you canât imagine someone whiter than Grover Cleveland White III . . .
Eve: Really. I mean tall, white, almost pink skin, blue eyes, you know, he used to be blonde before he turned grey. And in 1999, he had the idea that he wanted to bring one of the Lakota people to our Auschwitz retreat. And after talking, they actually sent someone. So then he thought to himself, âYou know, they came to usâIâm gonna go over there. I think itâs the polite thing to do.â So he goes over there to Pine Ridge. And he has these wonderful stories of what happened when he went to Pine Ridge. And thereâs these Indian cowboys, and they look at him. And they look at this very tall, very white man coming in and sitting down. And they say, âYou ride, man?â
And he says, âA little.â
âOK, good. Youâre coming riding with us.â
And they had one of their big annual rides, you know. In the dead of Winter they goâI think this is the Crazy Horse Rideâand they go in the dead of Winter for like nine days, tracing this route of what happened when people started, and ending at the site of Wounded Kneeâthe last big massacre of Indians by our government, by our military. But he started coming there twice a year. Twice a year he cameâeach time for two weeks to two months. And he did that for sixteen years, he would come to Pine Ridge. And people would say to him, âWell, what do you do there?â
He says, âI donât do anything.â
And they say, âDo you bring stuff? Do you bring money?â
He says, âNo.â
âDo you bring any teachings?â Because heâs a Zen practitioner, now a Zen Teacher.
He says, âNo.â
âDo you teach them how to meditate?â
âWell, what do you bring?â
He says, âI donât bring anything.â
âWhat do you do?â
âI donât do anything. I just hang out there. And I learn, and I participate in the rituals. You know, and I just stay at this big trailer with my friend Tuffy Sierra. And I help his wife cook dinner. And you know, I help them with their horses, and help them fix the tires on their broken cars. Thatâs allâand then I go home. And six months later, I just come back. And Tuffy fixed me up, and the car breaks down. And we kind of worry about the car together. And then I go with him, and I hang out with him for two months, and do all this. I donât do anything.â
And after sixteen years of doing nothing, we are finally able to have this retreat happen in Augustâbecause of this guy who did nothing. He didnât come to fix anybody. He didnât come to bring things. He just stayed with them. He just bore witness to them. And it is the relationships that he built with them that are really the foundation for this retreat thatâs coming up in August.
Bernie: It will be about 300 people, and about 150 Indigenous folks. And it will be a tremendous experiment in not-knowing. We will be on Indian time. We will have certain schedules. You have a fixed schedule here. There, we will have a schedule, but there is no chance that any of that schedule will happen. Things will happen as they happenâthatâs the Indian way. If itâs supposed to happen, then it should happen. And if itâs not supposed to happenâeven if you schedule itâit wonât happen. So weâll have multiple things happening at the same time.
One thing for sureâthereâll be so many differences there. I mean there were, like I say 150 Native Americansânot all Lakotas. There will be Indigenous folks coming from Columbia, from a tribe that just emerged. They were completely unknown to civilization, except to themselvesâuntil about ten years ago. So a couple people from there will be coming. A couple of Shivananda Yoga teachers will be coming. I think there will be a couple of Aborigines from Australia coming. Many different kinds of Indigenous, but the majority will be Lakota. Many Elders, and the Elders all fight with each other. Theyâre so different. And the internationals will be from the States, from Europe, Latin America, from all over.
So itâs gonna be another experiment in how can all these differences share opinions? Can we come up with a common vision? And then can we expand? You know, in all these cases where Iâm looking at usâcan we come up with common visions?âthe next question is always how to expand that common vision? Are there are practices that we can do that will help us expand?
So for example, this group of thirty to fifty leaders in Palestine, Israel areaâtheyâre going to be trying to come up with a common vision. And then theyâre going to do Bearing Witness Retreats together. Theyâll have to break into pieces, because theyâll be in refugee camps, settlements, in Arab villages, in all kinds of places. And then after those retreats, theyâll come together again, and in fact where they come togetherâs been decidedâGush Etzion. Itâs a settlement where settlers and Palestinians are holding discussions. And they have a place thatâs big enough for those thirty to fifty people to meet, and to share out of these Bearing Witness Retreats. Has anything come up that allows us to increase our common vision?
So what weâre talking about is practices, people that are doing different practices. And then also coming together with other people that are doing practices, and seeing if thereâs some kind of shared vision.
We should open this to questions. Weâre talking too long.
Audience member 1: Thank you for being here, and thank you for inviting us to ask questions. Iâm only up here because I was told that thereâs no such thing as a stupid question. So, I would like your opinion on my opinion about peace and why there seems to be so little peace in the world right now. I think itâs because of our relationship with our egos. We all, each and every one of us have an ego. And we are meant to have an ego. But I think the problem is that we donât have a good relationship with our egos. I think, in my opinion, we need to acknowledge our ego, respect it, and give it itâs place. We need to instead of treating it as the enemy, we need to embrace our ego, and say, âOK, I know your place. And Iâm aware of you. And Iâm not going to let you control me.â Because if somebody is attacking me, or threatening me, I feel like the part of me that wants to fight back is because the ego is taking over. But if Iâm able to distance myself, and say, âOK, thatâs not me. This is me.â And I can just, I donât know, let it go. And I would like there to be more education, and more awareness of the ego. And I would like your opinion on whether you think the ego has anything to do with peace. Thank you.
Eve: You know, so the egoâitâs a concept. Itâs a psychological word. I think the practice itself of non-attachment, letting go of ego, or I would say what is to letting go of all thingsâmy fears, my stories, my anxieties, my wishes, my desiresâall those things that I get attached to, and prevent me from living fully the life Iâm given, moment-by-moment? That for me is the question. And I think thatâs the same question youâre asking. And I think thatâs a very, very strong and long practice. Even for people who might haveâand certainly Zen has itâs stories of these enlightenment experiences, where suddenly somebody experiences fully the unity of life. What we also no is that even if youâve had that experience, youâre still gonna have to work out all that stuff. That stuff doesnât just go away forever because you had an extraordinary experience here in Sivananda. You had this wonderful chance, and wonderful meditation, and BOOMâsomething happens. And you go out there and see the full moon. And you see something, and experience something wondrous. That doesnât mean that tomorrow morning youâre not gonna get up andâmaybe not right awayâbut soon the same fears and anxieties, and patterns of behavior will come right back. So I think thatâs hard work. And I think itâs very important work. And I think that all of usâhere, of course, there are practices to deal with that, and we have our practices to deal with it. Iâm not sure itâs just a matter of educating everybody about ego.
Bernie: Thatâs another concept. Educating about ego becomes another concept. Youâve got to experience this letting goâI think. And weâve developed, there are many, many practices working on individual ego. And I think weâre talking about practices that are working on not just our individual ego, but on a systematic ego, of society. So itâs going a little beyond. Itâs important to work on oneâs self, and come up with those methods. And there are lots of different methods, and you can choose the ones you want to do of course. And, we have to also look a little broaderâI think. We donât want to become hedonistic, and only think about ourselvesâin my opinion.
Audience Member 1: Thank you. So, what I mean by âeducation of the ego,â is to become aware of whether the personâs behavior towards me is because theyâre not at peace with their ego, and theyâre driven by that. The whole peace thingâitâs very upsetting to me why thereâs so much war in the world. As it is to everyone, upsetting. So I just thought of this.
Personally, what I know about Zen is the book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I have very little knowledge about Zen. And I will go, and Google it, and find out what it is. And if I were to think of something that Zen means, having not really studied it, besides that book, I would think of like the horizonâjust what the horizon looks like. But Iâm very naĂŻve to the whole Zen thing.
Bernie: Well, I want to thank you for the plug, because this is the first year in many years that the Ashram asked me to bring some of the books I wrote. So weâll have some books, and you can read about Zen. You could read about Bearing Witness. You could read about, as was mentioned before, The Dude and the Zen Master, and their rapping. Then you could read Infinite Circle, which is more technical about Zen. Anyway, thereâs a series of books, and they will get to the bookstore by tomorrow morning. So thank you for the plug, Maâam.
Audience Member 2: Good evening Roshi Eve, Roshi Bernie. Iâd first like to say that I think itâs amazing how when Bernie, you donât remember something, or Eve, you donât remember something, the other one remembers the date or the name of the place. Your collective consciousness is adorably fantastic.
Bernie: âCollective Consciousness!â
Audience Member 2: So my questionâgoing back to the mountain, weâre all trying to climb this spiritual mountain, to get to the top. And in the Hindu tradition, we talk about Samsara, this endless life cycle, trying to realize the self, and attain this inward epiphany of ultimate reality, and that sort of thing. But we say that even when Samadhi is realized, when we find this state of bliss, this self-realization, eventually that soul needs to go back down to Earth, and attain a human life again. So my question for you is, once you reach the top of the spiritual mountain, does one have to go back down?
Bernie: Iâd like to leave that for tomorrow night, because that leads me into my whole opinion about reincarnation, and all that kind of stuff. And it takes me about fifteen minutes. I donât have that much time left for tonight.
So tune in tomorrow night and I will give you all of the answers about Karma, and reincarnation, and all that stuff.
Eve: And now you see, Krishna Dasâs phone rang, just now. And the funny thing is that the ring was the exact same ring as the man who took us in Rwanda to different places. [Eve imitates the ring.] Iâve never heard that, except in Rwanda, and now in the Bahamas. So donât tell me things arenât connected. You know, and they all have this resonance. You see? It all resonates very deeplyâeven with a phone ringing.
Bernie: So come back tomorrow night for Part Two (of three). Weâll give you the penultimate opinion. But please feel free to take us off track by bringing questions, and stuff youâd like to hear about.
Thank you. And see you tomorrow.
January 17, 2018
November 21, 2017