Tra Maestra e discepoli

Use Our Wisdom, Part 9 of 10



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So, the abbot said, “You can do more than you think.” Then he really could. Meaning the body is able to withstand more than what we think. We just pre-programmed ourselves into thinking that, “Oh, I need this, I need that. I need to sleep.” But if we have an interesting movie, sometimes we don’t sleep at all. Keep watching, watching, watching.

Dates. Green dates, green color. Dates, right? And I bought just a small amount in a plastic bag. And I went there and offered to the abbot at that temple, and he shared it with Roshi Kapleau. Roshi is Japanese, it means “master,” master of Zen. Meaning he already became a teacher, he could teach Zen already, so, Roshi Kapleau. And he talked in Taipei before. One time, he came all the way from America. He wrote a book also. He went to Japan and studied Zen there. I will get to the point soon. You know my calendar by now. It makes it more interesting. Otherwise, I’d just tell you in two seconds, finished, nothing else and no punch line or no waiting.

And then, I didn’t mean to sneak or anything. I just happened to be outside next to that window, outside of the window with other people, and they were eating inside at the table, and the abbot gave him these green dates. You eat it, it’s similar to an apple. It’s crunchy; it’s about this big only. Oh no, some are bigger, about this big. About like this and this big, and it’s crunchy. It tastes very nice. It depends on which one, of course, but mostly it tastes very nice. I like it very much. A long time I haven’t seen it, but if I see it, I will save one and show you, so you can drool, only one.

And the abbot offered my dates, the green dates, to Roshi Kapleau and said, “Oh, this is precious. This is precious.” He didn’t know it was from me. I did not give it directly. I gave it only, of course, to his disciples and they gave it to him. And, just by the way, I sat there and saw him giving it to Roshi Kapleau and said, “Oh, this is precious. This is precious.” But I don’t know why he said that. Maybe he sensed something. He was also a very good practitioner, Fourth Level at that time. I let him go up already.

And he said, “This is precious. This is precious.” He offered it and introduced that to him. But I wondered why he said that because this thing in Taiwan (Formosa) is nothing really precious. It’s nothing really precious, is it? And in season, it’s plentiful, and it’s pretty cheap because I even I could afford it out of my NT$500 per month. How much is that? NT$500. How much is that? ($15.) Ten? ($15.) Fifteen? Fifteen dollars. But I had to pay for the bus to go there, because I admired that abbot at that time. I was a nun, a freshman from precept school. So, I went there and then I accidentally saw him also, Roshi Kapleau. So, they ate it and then they seemed to really enjoy it. Oh, my heart felt so good, so good. Because they didn’t know it was me who gave it even. So, they did not know that I was so happy inside. Because the abbot, he was a big monk. Many people came and he had everything, all the offerings of the people, all the time. So, for him, this little green date was nothing. But he said, “Oh, this is precious.” He kept saying that while offering it to Roshi Kapleau. “Oh, this is precious. This is precious, precious.” He really meant it. His face and.... And then they ate, and they enjoyed it so much.

The silent giver just secretly knew about their secret. Oh, I loved… I never forgot that feeling. Felt so good! Felt so good. Because I didn’t have a lot of money. And this thing for me, I thought this was nothing at all. Thus, I didn’t even directly give it to him because it was nothing. Just like you go out and buy a few grapes or something. Grapes are even more valuable. So, I felt already very embarrassed that I didn’t have much to give. So, I gave it to whomever. I said, “Ah, this… Yeah, you know.” Like I didn’t even say for whom or anything. I thought they would just put it together in a bunch of oranges, apples, mixed together for everybody. I did what I could. I didn’t want to come empty-handed and that’s all I could afford. But they sat there and ate it all with appreciation and gusto and love and said, “Precious, precious!” Repeated it again, again, and again. For this monk to say that. He’s very famous in Taiwan (Formosa). He was very famous. He’s gone already, gone to Heaven already. But for him to say that, and I admired him. He went to my resided temple at that time and lectured. Though I did not understand much, but I saw him as a very dignified monk, a true monk. And the way he looked. Oh, I really liked him so much. So, I went to visit his temple and brought my little recording machine that I had, to record his teachings. So that when I came home, I could have it translated for me.

Because I love monks who are real, monks and nuns who are real, and even go out and preach to people. And the way he looked. Just like when you look at the picture of Baba Sawan Singh, you feel something, you feel He’s something. Not just any other Sikh gurus, but He has something. Immediately, the first time I saw, that’s how I felt. The photo only. He was gone then. So, I felt very good. But that’s not the end of the story. Remind me before the calendar gets too long.

So, this Roshi Kapleau, he had been studying Zen with true Zen monks in Japan. He also wrote something very funny. American. He asked, “Why don’t you eat beef or eat meat?” American. I don’t know if at that time, he was vegetarian or not. Maybe later he was. So the monk in the temple, the Japanese monk, not the abbot but a simple monk, said, “We don’t eat meat because we cannot afford it.” So, he wrote it – he thought it was funny – in his book. I had it, the book. I don’t know how I had it, but I don’t know where (it is) anymore. Gone with the wind, anyway. I’ve traveled too much. I don’t have many things left. So, he studied with Zen monks in Japan, the famous Zen monks. I forgot his master’s name. And then he graduated. But in Japan, sometimes, they do retreats, of course, together, for one week or two weeks. And one time, they did it for two weeks. The first time he went there, they were doing it for two weeks. After two weeks, they still made him continue to sit longer. He said, “Oh! I cannot anymore! First time I sit so long already.” Then the master abbot said to him, “You are more capable than what you think. Just sit extra.” And he did!

I want to say that our body is really a marvel. You can push it to the limit. Of course, we don’t always want to push. We want to enjoy a little nap here and there. Oh, my God, life is hard enough. But don’t nap too long. Don’t say, “Master said that.” You nap a lot already. Even during meditation, you nap a lot. Lucky you’re not in a Japanese temple. In Japan, the abbot or the assistant comes around with such a long, long, very long stick, flat, and they can reach you anywhere, like omnipresent, omnipotent, because it’s long. And mostly, the temple is not that big. So, even they can sit here, they see you’re napping, then they “puck.” Wake you up so rudely. But it’s not that painful. I’ve been hit. Once. But it’s not painful. It’s just the embarrassment. They want to emphasize that, “Hey, you cheated. You are not a good practitioner. Sleeping on the job! No good!” Seems like that. But it doesn’t hurt. They don’t do it to hurt you. But they have to do it correctly; otherwise, it might hurt you in a different way. So, it’s just on the shoulder. Tap one shoulder, two shoulders, that’s it. Once, and then you probably won’t dare sleep again because it makes a noise, and everybody looks at you and knows that you were sleeping. And for Zen monks, there’s a pride – a pride to sit straight non-stop and saying something like, “Moooooo.” Or maybe, “Ommmm.” Or maybe, “Whoooo am I?” Or, “I am whoooo?” I know who I am, but maybe you don’t know, so you keep asking yourself. Koan.

And they’re very diligent. They also sit outside in the night. And then he did it. So, he wrote it in his book. He did not think he could make it because: “How can I? Sat already two weeks, how can I sit another week? For what? How can I? How can I? We’re so happy it ended, that we can go out, do what we want. Now the abbot makes us sit again.” So, the abbot said, “You can do more than you think.” Then he really could. Meaning the body is able to withstand more than what we think. We just pre-programmed ourselves into thinking that, “Oh, I need this, I need that. I need to sleep.” But if we have an interesting movie, sometimes we don’t sleep at all. Keep watching, watching, watching. But if it’s going to do kitchen chores or cleaning the bathroom, “Oh, I’m so tired and sleepy.” The reason I was sleepy was also because I didn’t do what I wanted to do. I wasn’t really enjoying preparing my dress or cleaning some of the things, etc. I did not really enjoy it. I do it for the job. Not that I’m not willing, it’s just that willing and enjoying are different things. Sometimes you do things that you don’t want to do, but you do it willingly because it’s for a good cause.

So, another story about him is that, when he first came… Japan is cold in winter, believe me, it snows very high. You can see in one of my clips that I walked like this, with a big hat, (Yes.) flowing hat, flowing frill. Japan, near the wood cabin where I lived before. When he first came, it was maybe winter or something, so cold like that. So, they gave him these warm packs – you have it here sometimes – and told him to put it on his stomach, “Dantian,” the solar plexus, then it will warm the whole body. So he did that. And later, they discovered that he’d burned – the whole area burned, nasty burnt skin. They treated him but laughed, saying, “You idiot! Why did you put it directly on your skin? We all put it on the top of the cloth and we bind it.” But he didn’t say anything. He continued to meditate like that. Some funny stories that he told us. So that is his story, the story of Roshi Kapleau. He had students in America afterwards, and this abbot invited him to come. Because this abbot also had another temple in New York. He went Taiwan (Formosa), New York, Taiwan (Formosa), New York. He had a green card.

And that’s where I cleaned toilets at the beginning and then was discovered by the group of people, of black American people. They were my first disciples in America. And later, some of the disciples of the abbot also wanted to follow me. I also taught them. Might as well, I already began, why not? And afterwards, I left, because they saw many people came to see me again and again, and it began making smoke. And also, I didn’t eat for a long time, for a while, so they began to get curious and asked me, and then blah, blah, blah, and then I taught them. And then the abbot also got wind of it.

Correct? Heard about it; got wind of it. I don’t know where I learned that. I didn’t even use that before, ever. I don’t know where I even read this kind of thing. These people don’t talk like that. Often, no. I haven’t heard it before. It just comes out. Must be from you. Thank you. Your blessing. Yeah! Sometimes you sit with intelligent people, they rub off on you, or vice versa. Or you rub off on them, and you become stupid. Truly. No. If I stay too long with some people who don’t speak a lot of English and who are a little bit less than low IQ, then I become also kind of dull, and sometimes think a long time for one word, and talking but don’t make good sentences. Then I know it’s time to “sayonara” (goodbye) for a while. Otherwise, I become where, I don’t know where I go, become what.

So, of course, then the master knew about it. And one of the sisters in the temple, she took care of the master. Maybe helping with clothes and something like that, she and her mother. Oh, she was very jealous because the abbot was very fond of me. And one time… I didn’t know much Chinese at that time, but I knew they were fighting about me. That’s the first time I heard the abbot’s loud voice and very serious face. Normally, when he taught, he didn’t smile a lot, but he had never raised his voice like that. Afterward, I left anyway.

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