Every religion in the world has a drink appropriate to it. Christianity and Judaism are wine. Islam is coffee. Hinduism, milk or maybe pan. Buddhism is tea, appropriately enough, because Buddhism is the way of awakening. The word Buddha means the awakened one, and tea keeps you awake. Especially the kind of tea that is drunk and tea ceremony where you don’t drink steeped tea, but powdered tea very finely powdered which is whipped in with the water so you drink the actual tea. And there’s a kind of it called Koi cha, which is drunk very sick almost like spinach soup, and that really keeps you awake. I recommended instead of methedrine.
The legend is of course that Bodhidharma who is supposed to have brought the zen type of Buddhism from India to China, somewhere after four hundred fifty AD perhaps, if he would really was a historical character. That one night he was meditating, and fell asleep. And in a great fury when he woke he cut off his eyelids, and threw them to the ground and they sprang up as the first tea plant. Or as you know the leaf of the tea is rather shaped like an eyelid. And in the course of time it became customary for Zen monks to drink tea to keep themselves awake during long spells of meditation. And as the behavior in a Zen monastery is rather ritualistic and formal, the way they drank tea became in due course ceremonious. And then, much later, the drinking of tea in this way became a ceremony also for many people. And it was modeled in this way by the great Sen No Rikyu. And from him descend at least five different schools. Of the tea ceremony through various branches of his family. Some of them very formal and very difficult such as the common best known case cool which is the dominant school in Japan today, and which is the kind of tea ceremony that you ordinarily see when somebody puts on a performance. I find it excessively affected, very uncomfortable, and is mostly practiced by young ladies as a sort of accomplishment which they learn to be a lady. But it’s painful, it’s very very stiff and formal. On the other end is the Kankuan school. Which is very it’s very elegant but much less formal much easier but it’s practiced with enormous skill. And then there is a kind of peace out of many still so by Zen monks and literary men who are just entertaining their friends artists and so on, which is very informal indeed. And that’s the kind I should be showing. Now the interesting thing is that this ceremony has no obviously religious character. It is quite secular It is just drinking tea and having pleasant conversation in surroundings of peacefulness and simplicity. And this derives from an essential aspect of Zen and I want you to try and understand the blending of ritual with simplicity. First of all there was a… Huston Smith, you know who’s a professor of philosophy at MIT was traveling in Japan and a Zen monk was showing him around and he noticed that every time they passed the image of a Buddha or Bodhisattva in the temple it was in mouth stopped involved it and Huston Smith said I can’t understand why you go through this ritual of bowing to things I thought he was then people were above all rituals you know I just assumed spit at it. And the master said, ‘You spit, I bows.’
So, there is this question, why ritual, and why does Zen have a peculiar partial. For expressing itself in a secular way. Now ritual to begin with and something that makes Americans uncomfortable. I remember as a minister at one time whenever I went out to dinner they asked me to say grace. And after saying grace through the ghastly silence. And I had to stop the conversation flowing easily again. Because the something I don’t know I can’t find a proper adjective for an attitude which Protestants have to ritual. They don’t have much but they have some but when they do it they look down their noses and feel that somehow an element has entered into things of a Godhead who is wagging the finger at you and saying you should at this moment think seriously about whether you’ve been good or not. And so, everybody is then reminded on comfortably by some words addressed to the good lord, that they really are all too human after all and somehow got makes everybody on comfortable that’s why they’re getting rid of the mounting the debt. Because that kind of God would never live even except in people’s imaginations.
But this idea you see of being watched all the time by a loving but severely judging father you know how it is when you were children in school and you were writing a job desk and the teacher however much you respected the teacher wandered around and looked over your shoulder while you were working it puts you off completely. If you want to show the finished product and leave me alone while I get it together. As a saying never show anything unfinished to children or fools. So, in the same way this God makes everybody feel uncomfortable and therefore any ritual in which the lord is invoked it makes people feel uncomfortable and it passes on from that to many Americans are quite uncomfortable as a formal dinner. You dress up in black tie and tuxedo and everything is in order wine is properly handled and a lot sort of thing very beautiful. People feel that somehow it’s affected and Americans like to give the impression of be folksy, sincere, down to earth, no nonsense. And so frivolous are regarded as an essential but we have thereby impoverished our life enormously. And also, we don’t handle things skillfully as a result we a clumsy. Because actually, ritual is a mood that comes into any action performed with complete awareness. I don’t mean that you step up what you’re doing and concentrate on it with. A ritual to a thing helps you to do it in an orderly way. Just as a practical matter and also it is a way of turning every day action into meditation and Zen is particularly keen on this that meditation is not just sitting for so long and concentrating on a koan on nothing.
Zen is everyday life, and the enlightened Zen person doesn’t make any distinction between the Nirvana world of final reality on the songs our world of everyday life. Therefore to understand this, you must first realize that it is a basic principle of them, that you are it. That this whatever it is to which nobody gives a name because well it’s been called suchness, it’s been called emptiness it’s been called the Tao, the way of nature but its fundamental flaws then. That you do not think about it. That is to say you don’t have any concept of it because that which we really are and which all things are, you might say the fundamental energy of the universe is so basic. That if you have an idea of it it must be wrong. Just in the same way that you cannot bite your own teeth that you cannot look into your own eyes without using a mirror. That you cannot see the color of the inside of your head. So, that which is absolutely fundamental which is you, must not be conceptualized, and you don’t need to get it. You don’t need to hang on to it you don’t need to cling to it Rock of Ages, cleft for me, or anything like that. Because it’s what you are and it’s what there is and all that there is and that’s you and it is subject to all rather it appears as. Something and nothing. As solid in space, as light and darkness, as life and death. The Yang a positive force and the yin or negative force, are it’s outward manifestation. And as you well know you can’t have your own without you know you and without again. You can’t have life without death or death about life or solid without space or space without solid. They are polarized, like the north and the south pole of a magnet.
And so, just because they go together, however different they may look nonetheless they are inseparable and this indicates that there is something mysterious between them a sort of conspiracy. But nobody can say what it is because all thinking is either black or white or grey which is that the muddle. What it is in common between black and white between inside and outside between up and down. That can never be stated. Because everything we can talk about we talk about it by putting it in a box. Called classification. We sort our experiences into pigeon holed animal, vegetable, mineral. You see. Is you is or is you ain’t. And watch it is that cannot be sorted into any pigeonhole because it is what is in common between the inside of the box and the outside and. We have no way of conceiving, and therefore for this reason, Zen does not take any image any idea or any doctrine with essential seriousness. It has nothing to say. Only to show, and what it shows you is what you see all the time and you can’t miss. Because there it is and here it is. I am it and you are it and he is it and she is it and it is and this is it and that is that. And that’s the poem by James Brown.
Now, but you see, in the ordinary way people don’t feel any confidence. Because we are beguiled by the multiplicity of things that we see around us by this is distinct from that by life as distinct from death by life as distinct from darkness, and we think that the universe is an energy and energy is a thing that that to get time to wear out run out like an electric battery runs out of the gas runs out of your car, and therefore we always feel that the universe is very precarious and that the positive side may easily lose and fizzle out and only the negative side will remain and that blackness and nonbeing may swallow everything up. What are the Chinese at the perfect fantastic notion. Because the moment you get to the deepest dark, you generate the seed of the brightest light. That’s why in the union the circle with the through the middle you see the black cop of the white. And in the boat of the circle like the eye of a fish that is a dot of the opposite color that is the seed the seed of being within nonbeing and the seed of nonbeing within being. Lao Tzu says to be and not to be arise mutually. It isn’t that there is fast nothing and then something or it might come in that order but that’s like thing that the the egg come before them and. In a way it does and you can say that the hand is one a way of becoming another egg.
But it doesn’t make any difference where you begin it’s always the same thing because life is a pulsating process the tiniest pulsations of the propagation of light. Through deep sounds where you can hear the policy. Too much longer policy actions day and night. And finally the coming and going if you. So, one has beguiled, because you see, what is common to everything that you see. Well of course, we say sight is common to everything that we see but we don’t see the color of our eyes, I mean of the lens. Because we say that’s transparent if your lens was rose colored everything would look rosy, until you got used to it. And then it would be just ordinary except that you wouldn’t be able to differentiate reds very clearly. If our eye lens has a color we don’t know what it is. But it’s basic to everything what is the sound of the ear. It’s and the. Same way with the color of your head it’s empty doesn’t black it isn’t white just empty and so too when you hear music on the radio or talk on the radio, that is all a vibration of the diaphragm. Every kind of sound visit that the diaphragm vibrating. But the diaphragm’s own sound isn’t heard. And nobody announces that the sounds that you are hearing the vibrations of the dial.
So you see, what is basic absolutely basic to all experience to all our senses to everything. Cannot be named, cannot be classified, and therefore because of that you forget about it you lose it you think that the reality is all the multiplicity of things. But the substrata, called the Ground of Being which is these decontaminated word for God. Seems not to be there at all. And so we’ve forgotten that that is you. And the object of Zen is to rediscover that about to rediscover it in such a way that you do not grasp it in terms of some formula in terms of some ideas or even in terms of some particular practice. Because this thing has no terms. And therefore, you have to find it by ceasing to grasp yourself or your life in any way. By totally letting go. And of course that takes a lot of nerve. And the discipline of Zen has various functions but one of them is to convince you by hard work that that is no way whatsoever of getting hold of this thing. I remember Krishnamurti saying the same thing when I was having a talk with him once he was sitting on a couch and he had a couple of cushions. And he took one question and put it over here and said Now this is the real meditation. This is Mom he said it comes in wave after wave after wave it is. Marvelous beyond belief. Now this he said this is a sort of preliminary meditation and this he said is to understand beyond any shadow of doubt that that is nothing nothing nothing nothing you can do about it. But you see, until you know you can’t, you always have a sneaking suspicion that you can.
So then, when you have discovered through hard work, that nothing can be done. Then you let go. And you discover it. Only as the moment con and then textbook says you are like a dumb man who had a marvelous dream. Everybody who’s had a marvelous dream wants to explain and. Tell the story but you’re dumb. To say your mouth isn’t big enough. It would have to be so big that your head would disappear when you open. So then when this is understood, two things happen. One, all the energy that here the two expended on holding onto yourself and being anxious becomes available to something else. And you feel the zoom, this huge influx of energy. And it’s available, for just living. Second thing is there’s a curious kind of interior quietness goes along with this energy. A sense that there is nowhere to go, where is your rush. It’s here. In other words that this room in which you’re sitting now, and this particular time of day in New York City in November one hundred sixty six, is what there is. Because this, the basic reality, is not in time, it always is now. You can’t measure it with a clock. Any more than you can catch space and this is. It eludes all measurement. But it is just now, and here it is you see. So we are here. And the thing is actually this is no different from us I don’t want you to imagine some sort of formalism gloop that underlies all particularity. The particularity is not different from this. Nor is it quite the same. Sameness and difference don’t apply, to this which is beyond all categories but in a very real sense. This here, now, is it. And so please. Here you are see there’s nowhere else to go nothing else to attain. Or anything you have it, it’s here. So enjoy it.
And then you see, when that happens to you although you have an enormous energy which is available for anything you want to do, nevertheless you just don’t feel compelled to get up and fidget with it you can also just live. And then you discover, that your mind stops scheming. To seek in the ordinary way when we just let our faults run around as we ordinarily do we are constantly scheming. How to get this thing arranged, how to control that. That you shouldn’t be sitting here now because of something more important to you to do at least be improving your mind by reading a good book. And so, this constant scheming goes on and because that is in the head every a long long chattering, you only see the world in a very limited way. Because when you think your thought is always selected. And it picks up this is the thing that is the thing to notice and the other thing is the thing to notice and this is something important to do and that is a more important event than other events of C. and as a result you only notice what you think about. And so you are hardly noticing at all. In fact, you are there’s a certain noticing you see always mean selecting. Selecting something as being important to look at all think about. But when you stop doing that you discover that life is much richer than you thought it was. You see, we, when that when tailor went to see the pope. They often what is it like always it is about a size forty. Because he sees from the point of view of his interest and every one of us has a certain kind of interest in terms of we see and select what we think is important to look at. But the world as an infinity. There are innumerable ways of looking at it and then there is no way at all of them. And that is of course the maximum vision.
So when you let your thoughts go. You do this by allowing them to think of anything they like. And so when. Thought is not being pushed in a certain direction it eventually subsides. And you find yourself sensing as hearing, seeing, but you don’t think about it you just see you let your eyes see look at whatever they want to look at you let your ears hear whatever they want to hear. And you let your sense of touch feel whatever it wants to feel you you let go of it all. And then in the quietude that follows from this you make some very surprising discoveries and these discoveries are the basis of the tea ceremony. Namely, that the most ordinary things are magical. The great masters of the tea ceremony are kind of the taste setters in the whole of Japanese culture because it is at their bidding that architects design rooms in a certain way. That part of those make certain kinds of pottery that. Bamboo crops and make certain kinds of labels and do. That painters do certain kinds of painting and couldn’t do that gardeners make just such a garden. And so on so they are conductors of an orchestra. But what it was all based upon the original was that they discovered the marvelous quality of the everyday utensils used by peasants. Some of the most valuable Tea bowls in the world which now would sell for thousands of dollars in Japan where originally nothing about the cheapest kind of rice bowls used by Korean peasants. But there is a tradition of Korean pottery, so that even the humblest article carries with it the genius of the great Korean artist, and this was originally derived from the Chinese Potters of the Sun Dynasty. And they saw in that simplest most ordinary rice bowl. Which was not to see anything like possibly. But definitely a ceramic, with a rough glaze. Because these things were just turned up by the thousands. But every so often in those thousands, one as it were, escaped the infected. Wasn’t quite all of them. And it was a work of genius, but unintentional genius. Nobody had thought that he was making a marvelous bowl at the time. But the tea steps which sees eye was free from conception. Could suddenly see that boat.
So also they found that nothing in the world could be more pleasant than listening to boiling water. The sound of the rain on the roof. The thing I learnt when I went to Japan was still be buys and mouth them the most important thing I learned in Japan, was that the sound of the rain needs no translation. We were discussing translating Zen classics into English, and he said Don’t bother, the sound of the rain needs no translation. So listening to that, listening to water boiling smelling charcoal being made. And finally, making a fire. Drinking tea. Very ordinary secular everyday pursuits. They discovered that all this was really marvelous. And therefore, they went against elaborate art. Very ornate lacquer well very on a cost and very ornate clothing. And they induced in that spirit into Japanese art which today we call Shibuy. And she buoy is Zen taste and it said that the taste of then and the taste of the same it’s a pun in Chinese tea is cha, Zen is Chan.
So then it is from this basis of quietness that derives pleasure are not only in the most ordinary things. I mean you have this everybody loves the smell of coffee on. The smell of leaves burning on an autumn day and the hazy blue smoke that comes from. My father takes intense pleasure in untangling string, because he is a real contemplative. And things like that can become for a person who is awake as rich as anything you could buy with a million dollars. Although it is said that when you are awakened, and you are competent to spend ten thousand gold coins a day. Now, also, going back to ritual out of the state of appreciation of the most ordinary things the ritualistic attitude in using them comes. Why? Because in doing, anything you are not in a hurry. After all, it’s all here, and the preparation of a feast should be as enjoyable as the Feast itself. And you can tell when you taste people’s food whether they enjoyed preparing it or not. Most food in our world tastes as if it had been washed in detergents and boiled to be disinfected, and served out of a sense of duty because it’s good for you. Because you see, we don’t have any real relationship to the material world, to the present. We’re always living for something else for some abstract good. When you say something is good for you what is this good. Well, you’ll survive you’re see, you’ll go on living if you eat food that’s good for you but there’s no point in going on living just in order to eat more unpleasant food good for you. And you know, people have kitchens that look like bathrooms, because it’s a place where you do something that sort of necessary but you don’t want it out in front of me and do it and they have no color and. They’re just places to do something utilitarian, and when we do something utilitarian, boy does it look at. You see the kitchen should be the center of the home. And no food tastes as good as food that has been prepared under your nose. Watch it sizzling thing.
So we have to return to a thorough appreciation of this, because otherwise we would just be eating for the future. So, the great cook always. Loves the raw materials. Like what could be more beautiful than an egg or a potato. Or a slab of beef, or a beautiful long silver fish. And you arrange these things on a broad in your kitchen and before cooking, you should always lay things out and enjoy that appearance sitting. And then, cooking is the art of loving a thing into super that edibility. And you have to hover over it you mustn’t switch it on look at your watch and go away and read the newspaper and when it’s done and you have to be there, and this therefore induces the ritualistic element because it’s important too to have all the things you’re going to need laid out or hung in some orderly way so that you can get them exactly when you want it and enjoy picking the spoon up in the room or the knife the beautiful feel of slicing something and all that is a sort of a ritualistic thing and all that attitude is in every moment of the preparation of it is as important as the serving of it. And in serving of it, you’re not just passing someone up top you know here I have this as if the cop were my own part and vessel in which the thing was good for you is that. It is that the very act of having a pessimistic as it is. We don’t have to say it that would be too bad to say it or even think of it but this is the play of the cosmic energy. This thing’s going wammo, and there it is right there.
So don’t, it is saying don’t fritter away the moment. Every moment. The present moment is sacred. And live it. There’s nothing else to do it was a matter of fact. You can’t escape that. About so many people vote their lives like voting food. And then they wonder where it’s all gone. You can you know slow down time everybody feels in a rush of time time is a roaring Robinson Jeffer says time goes faster in California than anywhere else in America. Because that’s everybody’s been following the sun and then they got stopped by the Pacific Ocean. In the summer and down and are still going west as far as possible to lengthen the day, to lengthen life to hang on to this in the hope that somewhere along the line someday somehow that great good luck was good to you we’re looking for is going to turn up. Never does. Because you can’t seek it tomorrow. You can only find it now. So then, the ritualistic attitude is simply a delight in material things. In handling them, borne of inner serenity, which comes from knowing. Only. We can’t say what it is that we know but just that you’re it. And it’s very funny people say they don’t know but I can look into your eyes, and I can see the mother goddess of the universe looking right at me. People blinking their eyes and think what me? I don’t know anything, but those eyes wowee, look down into those.