Orientation: This talk is the first of six from our April 2013 sesshin. Click here for the full playlist from this sesshin.

This dewdrop world
Is but a dewdrop world
And yet—

Issa – written on the one-year anniversary of the death of his firstborn child.

What I would like to talk about tonight is the path of becoming like this. Becoming more and more into clarity about what this is and what it asks of us: the earth as it is right now, our lives as they are right now in each dewdrop world that we are constantly entering….The first great turning of the dharma wheel is the revelation, one that every stubbed toe had already revealed, is that if you are here there will be suffering. What the Buddha looked into was unavoidable suffering he was tripped into this great search by noticing, profoundly noticing, the unavoidable suffering of sickness old age death. And so he began to ask the question what is suffering and if we look into the truth of suffering what does suffering turn out to be when we offer ourselves to it in an undivided way…. The turning of the Mahayana is the declaration that there is no vast ease, there is no clarity and relief and ease, if there are others who are not at ease. If there are other beings that are not at ease the Mahayana has the preparedness to stay in the world. This is tied up with the teachings that come along with Buddhism about rebirth and about ending of rebirth of stepping off the cycle of endless rebirth…but I think we need to look into this question of staying in the world much more broadly than this….What is this staying in the world, staying with the constant cycle of birth and death, birth and death, birth and death…The Mahayana impulse has at its heart this willingness to be with suffering, to stay in its presence, to not slip off into nirvana and retire forever from worldly matters…

So it is the process, and it is our process with every breath we take, of including and including and including, of including the mixed nature of this, this. From a human point of view it is a profoundly mixed world, we find wisdom, when we find wisdom, emerging out of ignorance, right out of our own ignorance: that’s where we find it. We find suffering constantly right in the midst of great beauty. It is a mixed world, and I love the Mahayana preparedness to say yes to that, and I think the alternative is something less than human.

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