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Why is the perfection of generosity the most important quality in Mahayana Buddhism? What is true generosity, and true love? Katagiri Roshi explains how generosity relates to emptiness, or vastness, by sharing a poem from the Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke. Embracing the words of the poem, he says that human destiny is not something that forces us to be always “face to face,” trying to “get” something from each-other, but that we can also know a different way to live, to sit side by side in peace and harmony. Illustrating the problems we create when we are “face to face”, he tells a story about adult children living with their parents in Japan, and a story about his own experience attending Hiroshima Day in Omaha, Nebraska.
Listen to this talk on mnzencenter.org
0:00 start of recording
(The recording begins toward the end of Katagiri Roshi quoting the passage below. He then repeats it.)
The Lord then asked: “What do you think, Subhuti, if a son or daughter of good family had filled this world system of 1,000 million worlds with the seven precious things, and then gave it as a gift to the Tathāgatas, Arhats, Fully Enlightened Ones, would they on the strength of that beget a great heap of merit?”
Subhuti replied: “Great, O Lord, great, O Well-Gone, would that heap of merit be! And why? Because the Tathāgata spoke of the ‘heap of merit’ as a non-heap. That is how the Tathāgata speaks of ‘heap of merit’.”
(From “Buddhist Wisdom: The Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra” by Edward Conze, pp. 34-35, immediately following the passage quoted in the previous talk.)
The commentary by Conze here is very interesting. Let me read it first:
The merit to be derived from giving depends, among other things, on the preciousness of the gift, and the quality of the recipient. The gift consists of the seven precious things, mentioned also at chapter 11, 19, 28, 32a. They are gold, silver, lapis lazuli, coral, gems, diamonds, and pearls. When this most precious of all material gifts is given in abundance to the Tathāgatas, who are the most exalted persons of all, then this act of giving produces a quite exceptional amount of merit. This sounds strange to modern ears. The Tathāgatas have all they need, they certainly can make no use of all this gold, silver, etc., and so how could this gift benefit them? Would it not be very much more to the point to relieve the sufferings of those who are in want, and to give them what they need, and what they would use so gladly? Is there not a complete and callous disregard of the poor in the Buddhist statement that the best gift is that which is given by the dispassionate to the dispassionate? Common sense as we understand it must withhold its approval from this statement. Some meditation on the subject is perhaps called for, and it will be all the more fruitful when preceded and accompanied by actual acts of generosity.
In Mahayana Buddhism, the practice of perfection of giving is one of the most important practices for us, because it is one of the six paramitas. Giving is the first item of the six paramitas. But in primitive Buddhism, the most important practice for Buddhists is to view in the proper way; to view the world, the human world, human beings, in the proper way, which is one of the Eightfold Noble Truths (the Eightfold Path). But in Mahayana, the practice which is important is a little bit different from primitive Buddhism, it is giving. The first important thing is to practice the perfection of giving.
If you read Mahayana Buddhist scriptures, very often they say, “give offerings decorated with seven precious treasures to Tathāgatas, to Arhats, to noble enlightened men.” According to modern sense, it doesn’t make sense to give in that way. Why don’t you give an offering consisting of seven jewels – gold, silver, et cetera – to the poor? But if you understand the practice of giving in that way, it’s pretty difficult to understand the real spirit of Mahayana Buddhism. That’s why Conze says, “Some meditation on the subject is perhaps called for, and it will be all the more fruitful when preceded and accompanied by actual acts of generosity.” I would like to talk about this point of view tonight.
Dogen Zen Master says, giving is not to covet. This is the meaning of the practice of giving: not to covet. More or less, we are very covetous – not only to money, not only to the material, but to psychological or mental situations, whatever they are, we are very covetous. To be covetous means to try to take something in your hand always; always trying to get more. Not giving something to others, but trying to get something from others. This is covetousness.
This is very common, very common in the human world. That’s why we always fight each-other. Arguments, disputes, and finally, we fight. Finally we separate, and… what is the term I always use… [he struggles for the term] divorce. [Laughter.] It very often happens in this world.
That’s why Dogen Zenji says the practice of giving is not to covet. This is very important. Here is a very interesting poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. This is just a piece of a poem by him in the late years of his life:
(Transcriber’s note: This seems to be mostly the same as a section of The Eighth Duino Elegy by Rainer Maria Rilke (see this source), but Katagiri Roshi appears to be missing a couple pieces of it, and he says “unfolded” instead of “unfolding.”)
Only we see death; but the beast is free
and has its death always behind it and God before it,
and when it walks it goes toward eternity,
as springs flow. Never, not for a single day
do we have pure space before us in which the flowers
are always [unfolding]. It’s forever world
and [never] nowhere without not
[the pure and unwatched-over air we breath,
know infinitely and do not want.] …
That’s what Destiny is: to be face to face
and nothing but that and always opposite.
(Here are a couple different translations for reference. Skip these if you are not interested.)
Translated by Robert Hunter:
We alone face death.
The beast, death behind and
God before, moves free through
eternity like a river running.
Never for one day do we
turn from forms to face
that place of endless purity
blooming flowers forever know.
Always a world for us, never
the nowhere minus the no:
that innocent, unguarded
space which we could breathe,
know endlessly, and never require.
This is destiny: to be opposites,
always and only to face
one another and nothing else.
Translated by J.B. Leishman and Stephen Spender:
We only see death; the free animal
has its decease perpetually behind it
and God in front, and when it moves, it moves
into eternity, like running springs.
We’ve never, no, not for a single day,
pure space before us, such as that which flowers
endlessly open into: always world,
and never nowhere without no: that pure,
unsuperintended element one breaths,
endlessly knows, and never craves.
That’s what Destiny means: being opposite,
and nothing else, and always opposite.
This is just a piece of chapter eight of Duino Elegies, composed by Rilke in the late years of his life. In this book, what he wants to tell us is not pessimistic of the human world, but it is of the oneness of life and death. The title, Duino Elegies, is something pensive, but behind this poem he really wants to say [something about] oneness of life and death.
[I want to explain the most important two points about this poem.] One is: “That’s what Destiny is: to be face to face and nothing but that and always opposite.” And also a second point is: “Never, not for a single day do we have pure space before us in which the flowers are always unfolded. It’s forever world, nowhere without not.”
[But] first, I would like to explain the first part of this poem:
Only we see death; but the beast is free
and has its death always behind it and God before it,
and when it walks it goes toward eternity,
as springs flow.
Only human beings can see death. We can see death in many ways, from many angles. Before you and behind you, to the right, to the left; there are many ways we can see death. “But the beast is free and has its death always behind it.” It means the beast – the animals, birds, dogs, cats, whatever it is – is free from the death, which we can see. [It’s] completely different. Death is always behind the beast’s life; death never attacks the beast. So the beast never despairs in death.
So that’s why [it says] “God before it.” God means, in this case, the vastness of space. He never sees death in front of him; he is always going ahead toward the vastness of space, eternity; that means “God before it.” That’s why he said, “when it walks it goes toward eternity.” [It’s] completely eternity: he doesn’t know that in a moment there is some destiny he doesn’t see. So that’s just to go ahead, and then only when he sees something dangerous is he scared. But he doesn’t see death. So death is completely one with the beast, always.
That’s why he said, “When it walks it goes toward eternity, as springs flow.” Just as springs flow: springs flow from the ground, always coming up. No suffering. So from this point, the beast never suffers from life or death. They have subjective feeling, according to their instinct, so they fear death or something dangerous only when they see something dangerous right in front of them. But they never think of death, they never think there is something dangerous in a second. So whatever happens, they always walk toward eternity; no fear. The fear appears only when they see it right in front of them. That is what Rilke said.
And then next: “Never, not for a single day do we have pure space before us in which the flowers are always unfolded. It’s forever world and nowhere without not. That’s what Destiny is: to be face to face and nothing but that and always opposite.”
This is a very common lifestyle of human beings: being present face to face. Creating the world, the world created by us, and thinking that world is the most important for us. That’s why we really cling to the world created by us. At that time we are always present face to face.
That way to live is sort of miserable. Because if you are present face to face, there is always argument, dispute, and quarrel, fighting each other. Look at the problem of divorce, look at the fighting between a man and a woman; look at the human world. Wife and husband, you and your friends, between people – we are always face to face, and fight.
This is very common for us. That’s why Rilke says, “that’s what destiny is, to be face to face.” That looks just like human destiny. But human destiny is not something with which your life is completely tied up. Destiny is something which allows you to be free. You can turn over destiny; you can cut your way to the fortune.
If you follow life face to face always, there are always human problems: arguments, fighting, complaining; finally, divorce, and living separately, and hatred – always.
So, what I want to tell you is: face to face is sometimes important, because we cannot escape from it. If you live with more than one being, you have to be face to face. But on the other hand, we should know a little different way to live. Instead of being face to face, sit side by side with your friends, with your parents, or with your boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife.
Or walk nestling close to each other, instead of face to face. And sit down on a bench, side by side; and why don’t you rest your head on the other’s shoulder, and take a deep breath. That’s wonderful, beautiful. Can you see the beautiful scene, walking around the lake? Old couples walk around the lake; I see them sometimes. Old couples walk around, and finally they sit on a bench, and take a deep breath, and the old lady sits very close to her husband and rests her head on his shoulder. That’s beautiful, don’t you think so? That’s a beautiful scene.
But when you sit face to face: “Hey, what are you doing there?” [The group laughs, and Katagiri laughs.]
Or sometimes you can be face to face and express your affectionate feelings. Well, sometimes it is important, but if you do it always, you get fed up with it, don’t you think so? Pretty soon you’re fed up with such love and human relationship. You cannot always face to face each other. Even though love is beautiful, you get fed up with love.
So if you really want to experience love, and not always face to face – well, forget it, and sit down side by side with others. Just do that. Love is not love which advances in consciousness. That love is really covetousness; very covetous, egoistic. Real love is before it advances in your consciousness. This is real love.
How do you know? Why don’t you walk nestling closely to each other, or why don’t you sit side by side with each other, without saying anything. That’s okay. Even though it is far from you, still you can experience real love.
So this is pretty nice for us. This is very important for us. If you don’t [live] your life like this, you always are constantly face to face. That’s a human problem. That’s why Rilke says, “That’s what destiny is: to be face to face and nothing but that and always opposite.” Always something opposite that you can see. Arguing, or quarreling, fighting – why do you fight, why do you argue? Because you can see something opposite from you, from others. That’s why you fight.
When you live with more than one being – even though you love them, or even though they are your parent, or your brother or sister – they are completely different from each other. But still there is a chance to live with each-other. How? Well, not to be always face to face. Sometimes, why don’t you go behind your parent and massage them on the shoulders when they feel stiff. That’s pretty good.
Well you always hate the parent, but the parents are your parents. If you’re always present with the parent face to face, that’s pretty hard, very hard. You should respect parent’s existence, because you are existent. Owing to your parents’ existence, you are existent, so you should appreciate it. For this, sometimes, why don’t you go behind them, or why don’t you sit side by side with each other, and why don’t you hold your parents’ shoulders with compassion? That’s pretty good practice for us.
That’s why next, Rilke said, “Never, not for a single day do we have pure space before us in which the flowers are always unfolded.”
Have you ever experienced the vastness of space in which the blooming flowers very smoothly enter into your heart, without “decoding” them? We are always decoding flowers. Do you understand decoding flowers? Without decoding the beautiful flowers, the beautiful blooming flowers smoothly enter into your heart. That is the vastness of space.
In Buddhism, that vastness of space is what is called emptiness. Emptiness is vast, unfathomable, boundless. [There is] no particular power, no particular force, [like] what you think. But it is there, which is unfathomable, and deep, and vast, and boundless. And then when you get into it, it’s very evasive for us to understand what it is, because it is vast, it is boundless. But when it is not there, when it doesn’t exist, it’s very difficult for us to exist. So that is space, that is what is called emptiness.
So, “Never do we have a pure space before us in which the flowers are always unfolded. It’s forever world and … nowhere without not.” We always see the world created by us; “nowhere without not.” Always we see the world created by us, and believe that is important for us. But the most important thing is the vastness of space. The world created by us is a tiny world. We can see it from each individual telescope. This is also important for us, because that is the world in which we live. But in order to live in this small world, we have to know the bigger scale of the world. That is the vastness of space. According to Buddhism, it is called emptiness. Emptiness is not the [world]. I don’t know what it is. But it is emptiness – anywhere, anytime.
(Transcriber’s note: For “nowhere without not,” Katagiri Roshi seems to interpret “without not” as emptiness, and “nowhere” as meaning the same as “never”, i.e., “never emptiness”. The poem – in German – actually says something like “never nowhere without not,” or “never the nowhere minus the no”. In that case, “nowhere without not” or “the nowhere minus the no” would be emptiness. However, the point is probably the same.)
But in order to experience the vastness of space which is called emptiness, unfortunately, we have to experience a big shock. A big shock… because we are really stubbornness of ego. Stubbornness of ego means the state of human consciousness which allows you to be covetous, trying to get something, not giving something to others.
If you always try to get something from others, we have to be present face to face, and finally, we fight. But sometimes we should stop doing this, stop trying to get something from others, and just sit side by side to each other, without being covetous. That’s pretty good for us both, in order enter into the vastness of space. Vastness of space is the human attitude which allows you to accept others, with whom you believe you are always face to face. If you sit side by side to each other without trying to take something from others … then at that time you can give something to others. And then, people can learn something from you.
If you try to give something to others, sometimes you can give something material, but sometimes a material gift doesn’t make sense. So, you have to give not only material things, but also spiritual things. In order to give spiritual things, you have to be present in the vastness of space that is emptiness, without being covetous. That is really the meaning of giving.
That’s why [Diamond Sutra says,] “The Lord asked: What do you think, Subhuti, if a son or daughter of good family had filled this world system of 1,000 million worlds” – this world system of 1,000 million worlds means the whole universe – “with the seven precious things, and then gave it as a gift to the Tathāgatas, Arhats, Fully Enlightened Ones, would they on the strength of that beget a great heap of merit?”
The seven precious things is not to be face to face always. To walk nestling close to each-other, to sit next to others, holding the shoulders with compassion, et cetera, for example. That way of practice, giving to others, is really precious, more than gold or silver, because people can get something from you, and you can give something to others.
For instance, if you become a Buddhist, or even though you are not Buddhist – most of you don’t believe that you are exactly Buddhist. Well that’s okay, but you are studying Buddhism, so when you go to your families, most of the families argue against your belief. And then many people ask me, “How can I explain Buddhism?” I don’t know! I don’t know completely how to explain Buddhism to people who don’t know about it. But still, if you try to be face to face with your parents who don’t know Buddhism, you really fight each other. Don’t you think so? So why don’t you be present with them, next to the people, side by side? When you get up in the morning, when it’s time to greet people, why don’t you say “good morning”? Why don’t you have breakfast in peace and harmony? That’s pretty good. This is very nice, a precious jewel, more than gold or silver. Then people can learn lots of things from you. And then finally the parents are curious, very curious of what you are doing. So someday, they ask you, “Shall I visit your center?” or, “Shall I visit your place, to see what you are doing?” This is very natural.
So, if you’re always face to face, it’s pretty difficult to teach something, or to be in peace and harmony with people. That’s why Rilke feels that human life is always face to face, always opposite. That’s pretty hard. So have you ever experienced pure space? Flowers just always unfolded. That is emptiness, which is vast, which is unfathomable – you don’t know what it is. But when it doesn’t exist, you cannot exist. And if it doesn’t exist, human life is very cold, miserable. This is vastness of space, or emptiness.
“Then give it” – the precious things – “as a gift to the Tathāgatas, Arhats, Fully Enlightened Ones.” These are not a particular person, because all are Buddha. We have to give these precious things to everybody – to the trees, to the birds, to all sentient beings – like this.
“At that time, can we beget a great heap of merit?” And then Subhuti said: “Great, O Lord, great, O Well-Gone, would that heap of merit be!” Of course you can get merit. People beget a heap of merit. Even though you don’t try to give, people can get something from you. Your parents, your friends can get something of what Buddhism is, from each pore of your body.
And then: “And why? Because the Tathāgata spoke of the ‘heap of merit’ as a non-heap.” We don’t know what is merit, how I can give something precious to others. We don’t know how we can teach Buddhism to our parents who don’t know. But if you just be present with them in peace and harmony, day after day, sitting side by side, and sometimes massage them on the shoulders – very naturally they can learn. This is the “heap of merit”. But there is nothing you can be covetous of, there is nothing to hold on to, because you don’t know when or how you can give. The only thing you can do is, just be present with them side by side, not face to face always.
If you are always face to face, you really want to give something consciously, idealistically or psychologically. And then, if people don’t accept your teaching, well, you really get angry. That is a religious problem, in the human world. Even though Buddhism is beautiful, if people accept Buddhism and try to teach it, they create a problem. [Where is the] real Buddhism? Christianity is beautiful, but if you accept Christianity and try to give Christianity to people, you create the problem – idealism. Because consciously, we are present face to face. That means we are really stubbornness of ego, which allows you to be always face to face. That means we are always based on covetousness, trying to get something from others … without giving something from you to others. That is a miserable life. It’s very miserable.
You know that Japan has a family system. So if you have children, parents expect the oldest son would take care of his parents: living in the same house, et cetera. But after the Second World War, the Japanese wife is more Americanized and Westernized. They want to enjoy their life, separating from parents and grandparents, et cetera. So their “motto” was keeping away three things: … Three things… [Pause.] I forgot the three things. [Laughter.]
… So, they try to live in apartments and mansions, separate from each other. That’s pretty nice in a sense, but there is a very interesting story. One couple tried to live in an apartment, and unfortunately that apartment was very noisy, because the people who lived next to this young couple were musicians, so they were playing guitar and making noise. They hated it very much, so finally they decided they wanted to go back to the parents’ home, because the parents had lots of room. So they asked the mother, “We want to live with you.” The mother was very happy to accept them, because this is a very nice relationship between the parents and the children. And then the mother was very excited, and she asked them, “What do you want tonight? I want to fix a dinner for you.” And then the wife said, “I don’t want to eat with you. I want to make dinner separately.”
And then the mother was very angry. [There is some laughter.] But at that time the mother kept silent. And then, the young couple was always asking the mother [for things], taking something without thinking of the mother’s situation, the father’s situation – always trying to take something from others. So, living separately, making a meal separately, always. “Don’t come to my rooms” … et cetera. That’s terrible, face to face always.
And finally the mother was very angry. She said, “I am the mother, I am your parent. So I am alright; but you exploit me. [He briefly consults with the group about the word “exploit”.] Even though you exploit me as a mother, that’s okay. I am a mother, I am happy to be exploited. But. [Laughter.] Even though I have something [that you want], [there is] one thing among the thousand things that I can give.” That means, if you want to use me, use the mother, that’s okay – but sometimes don’t be face to face. Why don’t you live with me without trying to get something from me? Because I have something to give you. The one thing among the thousands, I really want to give you.
Do you understand? There’s no one thing. That one thing she can give is not to try to give consciously, but to live in peace and harmony. Just be side-by-side, not face to face. Be present, and have breakfast and dinner with each other. That’s pretty nice. But the young couple didn’t say so; that’s why the mother finally was angry.
This is a very common type of human life, even though in the United States we create the same problem. So, that is why to give this precious gift to arhats, bodhisattvas, buddhas. Buddhas and bodhisattvas, all of us – we should give in that way.
And then that’s why Subhuti replied, “Great would that heap of merit be! And why? Because the Tathāgata spoke of the ‘heap of merit’ as a non-heap.” There is nothing to be covetous of. [Not] “you should receive something I can give” – nothing [to] give and take. Just be present; just sit side by side. Just to have breakfast, just to get up in the morning, greeting “good morning” – that’s all we have to do. At that time there is very naturally something you can “beget,” that is a “heap of merit.” That heap of merit has nothing to be covetous of. That’s a no-heap of merit. No attachment. But if you try to give, and if you expect somebody to receive something I can give, at that time there is always something covetous.
So, give and take, face to face: that’s pretty hard, in a sense. That’s why Buddha’s merit through begetting is no-heap of merit. That means, nothing to attach to merit from giving. That means, anyway, just like the beautiful poem.
Maybe I told you before, I gave a series of lectures on Buddhism for eight weeks this winter at the Minnetonka Center for Arts and Education. One of the students asked me, “I realize how compassionate Buddhism is. Why did the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor?” [Another thing is,] the other day I went to Omaha to attend Hiroshima Day. But if you understand in that way, face to face like this, it’s really miserable, don’t you think so?
Well, this is really how stubborn human beings are. Do you know how long, how many years, Buddhism tried to teach the people, the Japanese? At least for 500 years. Still they don’t understand, and create problems. Finally they attack Pearl Harbor. That’s why we cannot stop teaching [our way]; that’s why Buddhism continues to teach. You should know this. This is not a Japanese problem, this is a human problem. The damage and aftereffects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not an American problem, this is a human problem. Don’t you think so? If you believe always “this is Americans’ problem,” you really are dispirited, and feel guilty always. There is no way to be free from that, because you are always face to face; there is no room to exist in peace and harmony, side by side, holding each other with compassion. Because you cannot enter into the vastness of space, where beautiful flowers always unfold. We are always looking at the small world created by us. That’s terrible.
But in order to enter into that vastness of space, I told you before, we need a big shock. That’s why we shouldn’t forget what we did. Attacking Pearl Harbor, and the damage and the aftereffects of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – we shouldn’t forget. But it doesn’t mean you should be always face to face. You have to enter the vastness of space. That is emptiness. At that time, you can really understand what is the problem there. Is this problem limited to Americans or a certain race? No. This is really a human problem.
Buddhism, particularly the Mahayana scriptures, is always speaking about the vastness of space. We don’t know what it is. But it’s really [unintelligible]. Vast. Which makes you be free from. That is very important for us, because we are always looking at the small world created by us. But we shouldn’t forget. We have to have a big shock, because we have stubbornness of ego. In order to throw away stubbornness of ego, we have to have a big shock to our body and mind, unfortunately. That’s why we always try to have a Memorial Day for Hiroshima, and Pearl Harbor, et cetera, and the Second World War. We shouldn’t forget. But it doesn’t mean we should be bogged down in it. We have to walk toward the future. How? It shouldn’t be face to face. We should enter into the vastness of space. This is very important.
In our daily living, the vastness of space is something that basically we don’t understand, but practically, we can do. We can do it. That means, sit down, anyway. Sit down in the zendo, even though you don’t know what problem you have, or you don’t know why you sit here. Let’s open wide and sit down with it, in peace and harmony. Why don’t you have breakfast, in peace and harmony? This is very important for us.
But anyway, in Omaha we demonstrated for five miles, and had a religious service conducted by a Catholic priest, and I attended that. And last, the ceremony of floating the lantern boats. You know the lantern boats? In Japan, in the Obon ceremony – you know the Obon ceremony in Japan? It’s one of the biggest Buddhist ceremonies in Japan, inviting the spirits of your grandparents and ancestors, on August 12 or July 12. And [unintelligible], and then decorate the family altar, offering food, inviting a priest and performing a Buddhist service, in each family. On August 16, we try to send spirits of the family ancestors to their own home, by boat. That is a lantern boat, a little lantern. Make a little boat, and put a candle on it, and float that lantern boat on the river. Then the lantern boat is going away, forever. That’s the ceremony.
And then we did it in Omaha, on the Missouri River. But American people didn’t know what’s going on there. So motor boats, and, vrrrmmm! [Laughter.] Lantern boats turn over. [Everyone laughs.]
There was one boat on which a middle-age man and one girl, several times their motor boat ran wild around the lanterns, and then most of the lanterns turned over. And finally, right in the middle of the lanterns, the girl reaches down like this, and picks up the lanterns one by one. Then we said, “What are you doing?” They said, “Don’t pollute the river!” [Laughter.]
[Quietly]: “Don’t pollute the river.” Can you understand this in America? We are very serious. We tried to explain, the spirits of the people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki – that’s beautiful, entering into the vastness of space. And then those guys said these lanterns are just a cause of pollution, and they’re going and picking up each lantern, without saying anything to us. That’s a big problem, don’t you think? If they want to pick them up because they realize that is a cause of pollution, that’s okay – why don’t you tell us first? But they didn’t. First they pick them up. Maybe they didn’t understand. But why didn’t you understand at that time? And why don’t you sit side by side with us – anyway listen to us? We don’t do this every day, throwing away lanterns – [Laughter.] But look at modern civilization, industry, how much we can pollute the river. Ridiculous! But they don’t say anything about modern industry: “Stop it. You pollute this river.” They don’t say that.
I went to the convent in South Dakota, and from the convent I could see the Missouri River. Big river. But by the banks there are cars, always. For almost a mile, there are cars, right in front; water here, cars always here. I asked the monk; he said, those people believe that if they put their cars there, the water is theirs.
… Well, this was the first experience for us. We never did this before in the United States; only Omaha, once. And then people were angry, because there is “pollution”. But we should look at the United States, the human world, how much we pollute all the rivers. Spiritual life, materialistical world. It is okay to pick up a lantern. But I really regret that people didn’t ask us; people didn’t sit side by side with us, even for a moment; listen to us, what we are doing, and why we do this. That is so important. But they didn’t; just picked up. That is really a miserable lifestyle, face to face.
1:07:09 end of recording
This talk was transcribed by Kikan Michael Howard. Audio recordings of Katagiri Roshi are being used with permission of Minnesota Zen Meditation Center.
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