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Intoxicated with Reality, by Eugene Cash

About Eugene Cash:

I am intrigued by how we can live the ‘holy life’ as lay people. How do we erase the imaginary line between formal sitting practice and the rest of our lives? How can we bring full engagement to formal and informal practice? Is it possible to embody, in our lives, the understanding and insight that comes with intensive training? And can we live our lives in a way that expresses and continues to deepen our realization? These questions fuel my practice and my teaching.


So, tonight, I’d like to continue our exploration of the Dharma that’s all sitting here with all of us. And if people at the back, let me know if the sound should be a little higher or good, I don’t know what that mean. Little more. How about now? Is it a little better? Thank you.

So, last night, Benny was pointing at a certain component of a practice that we’ve been pointing out a little bit since we began, all of us have pointed at it to some extent. How we end the first night’s talk, and Annushka in Metta, we’ve been pointing out the kindness, the care, the love, and the way that Benny was talking about it last night. That was a really important part of the practice.

And I used the quote, there was a quote the first night from the Buddha that I felt like Benny was expanding on last night, and the quote was from the Buddha, because we hold ourselves dear, because we hold ourselves dear, we maintain careful self-regard, both day and night, and I love the quote, I love what Benny was saying, I was pointing at the, what it means to hold ourselves dear, what does it mean to care for ourselves, to value ourselves, to appreciate ourselves, to love ourselves, given who we are, not we are supposed to be, or who we could be, or what might happen, but actually, given that we’re alive here, right now, and this living reality is what the Buddha was pointing out when he said, “Oh, this is what can awaken. This is where Buddha nature is. This is where the truth of the Dharma is sitting. It’s right in our sits.” And then he gave a lot of teaching to help illuminate that truth for all of us. And of course, we’re here in this lineage that has continued for since the Buddha that we could really be saved and before the Buddha because he was nourished by other lineage before he woke up.

And Benny said a lovely thing last night. I hope you all heard it. Did you? No? No. He said, “You can’t do it wrong.” Right? Did anybody notice that? Right? You can’t do it wrong. And I appreciated that very much, because I very much appreciate the paradox of the Dharma or the paradox of what it means to be alive and wake up, because it’s not just a straight through line, right? It’s not just oh, you do this, and then this, and then this, and then you’re done. Right? I hope we’ve all noticed that right? Because especially for some of us, we’ve been practicing for thirty years or more, you know, it’s not that how it goes. And so, I appreciated what Benny said, “You can’t do it wrong,” because the paradox is, “You can’t do it right either.” Right? And I mean that actually quite humorously and sincerely, because we all are trying to do it right, so we get, okay, how much longer this is enlightenment going to take? And are we going to done by the end of the week, or do I have to do another week, or you know.

But I thought I would talk a little bit about the Buddha and what happened for him, because one of the things I love about Buddha and the Buddha’s teachings is its personal and impersonal, both, which is part of the paradox. It’s personal on what it’s happening here and it starts to reveal components of what’s happening there that are also impersonal at the same time, and one does not negate the other part of the paradox.

And so here, I hope you’ll hear a little bit, this is the Buddha talking about his life, right? His peace, talking to some of the monastics, and he says, “I lived in refinement.” He’s talking about his life before he became a monastic. He said, “I lived in refinement. At most refinement. Total refinement. And I’ll do a little Eugene translation as it goes, meaning he was like an upper class guy, right? I lived in refinement, at most refinement, total refinement. My father even had a ___ pants made in our palace, one ___ bloomed, one ___ bloomed, one ___ bloomed, all for my sake. Right? So he was a highly valued child. Meaning, dad was doing whatever he thought would make the Buddha happy, so he had a nice pants and flowers, and then he goes on the sea, he said, a white sunshade was held over me day and night to protect me from the cold, form the heat, from dust, from dirt and from dew. So, he’s high class, he’s been cared for.

And he said, he had three palaces, he didn’t even just had one palace, right? He has a palace in San Francisco, and a palace up in ___, and a palace in Hawaii. Well, he has three palaces. So, he had three palaces. One for the cold season, one for the hot season, one for the rainy season. And during the four months of the rainy season, I was entertained in the rainy season palace by minsters without a single man among them. Okay? I hope you hear that. Right? Right? I was entertained in the rainy season palace by minstrels without a single man among them and I did not once come down from that palace. So, he’s describing his life with in his time and place and his culture was a high class life, right? He was a son of a king. The king had a domain, you know, a country.

And then he goes on to talk about it and then he says, even though I was indulged with that fortune, such total refinement, then I started to reflect what ___ ordinary person themselves subject to aging, not beyond aging, sees another who has aged, they are often horrified or humiliated, or disgusted or oblivious, to the fact that they, too, are subject to aging.

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