2020 Zachary Smith

Nineteen Bullet Points

[Transcription notes (with editorial liberties) by Peter Crimmin.]

00:00 Upon awakening – the Buddha considered if it was a good idea to explain to others. Eventually he was convinced. This theme arises throughout the history of Buddhism: the knife edge between our practice and simple silence, and using our tools of speech and communication at all the levels we can communicate, to help each other to waken.

02:00 The first dharma list – Eventually, the conceived the most concise dharma talk and delivered his first sermon. It was the beginning of the long list of lists.

03:00 Four noble truths – suffering, its origination, its cessation, and the path of practice that offers freedom and relief.

04:00 Path – the path of practice is a list too: right view/wisdom, right intention/vow, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration (samadhi).

04:30 Samadhi – this is the theme of the 2020 pilgrimage.

05:00 Lists as trajectories – the lists are often seen as trajectories of practice, and a profile of the life of the Buddha. Wise up, intend to behave differently, take the precepts, study with effort…

05:30 Circles – this isanother way to look at it, a circle in which aspects of the path reinforce each other moment by moment. From the POV of experience, when you’re in the middle of it, the circle analogy is more relevant.

06:00 Areas of focus – view/knowledge/wisdom (conceptual and experiential): we can talk about and understand our experience on the path conceptually and we can allow an intimate exploration that brings a familiarity and acceptance with all the modes and aspects of experience. A Buddha understands all the myriad forms of thought.

09:00 This exploration leads directly to a kind of compassionate recognition of the consequences and vicissitudes that arise in life, and a natural wish to relief the difficult bits. Having realized this, what should we do?

10:45 How do you respond to such a realization? What do you do? You change the way you live (right speech, right thought, right action) to support additional exploration.

12:00 You live according to a set of precepts. You begin a course of study.

12:45 When Dogen returned to Japan he wrote, “To study the path is to study the self.” So… we deepen this intention and conduct ourselves to promote more awakening in ourselves and others.

13:45 Seven factors of awakening – Another list from the Buddha: what are the signs around correct practice? What is the experiential character of correct practice?

Mindfulness – awareness is key. Moment to moment engagement with what is actually happening that leaves as little as possible out and adds as little as possible in.

Group #1: Highly excited factors – a way of being in the world and the basic feeling tone of that being in the world

  • Curious engagement
  • Energetic eagerness
  • Joy/delight

Group #2: Relaxed, calm, and quiet mind – the flip side of the first group. To let the mind settle by doing one thing completely.

  • Quiet relaxation
  • Samadhi
  • Equanimity – where anything that enters is welcome

21:00 Why the two groups? – when we sit in practice, we want a posture that is simultaneously relaxed and energized.

22:00 We fill the body with breath energy.

23:00 Equanimity – the balance of delight and equanimity is the baseline feeling tone of mindful, deeply engaged, compassionate, inquiry.

24:00 Unconditioned gratitude for the pure experience of existing – that equanimous, settled gratitude when things are relaxed and blossom into unconditional delight when things are energized. And it does this naturally without any real effort on the part of the experiencer. It just has to do with the conditions that are playing out.

25:00 There you have it… 19 bullet points!