This is a classic, genuinely significant teaching-video: Richard Dawkins teaching evolution to a year 11 (ages 15-16) class at Park High School, London. He answers several questions of the students, most of whom are reluctant to accept evolution. This is an outstanding document of an apex thinker and educator reaching the minds of young people who have already been shaped by religious indoctrination. Absolutely fascinating must-see.
Like everything with Dawkins, I come away from the experience feeling so indescribably fortunate to have had the chance at this life, in this particular form, at this particular time, for this infinitesimally insignificant length of time to experience it to the fullest.
“Can you believe in both God and evolution?” a student asks at the beginning.
Dawkins: “Lots and lots of scientists do. And, moreover, lots and lots of senior religious teachers believe in evolution. So, if you were to talk to the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury, just about any bishop you could think of, you will find that they all believe in evolution. They also, of course, believe in God. And they will have various things that they might say [about the truth of evolution]. They might say, “Maybe God started the universe off, and then evolution took over later.” Or something of that sort. There are some people who, of course they believe that evolution is true, and it obviously is — but they might say that God ‘helped’ the evolution along sometimes. […] I don’t believe that, but there are some churchmen who do believe that.”
A truly moving poem on a matter I have wondered about, many many times: Which is the day that I pass — unknowing, unawares — which will become the day marked as the calendar-date of my passing? Which season will be the last on my eyes, which temperature and brightness of air the last lingering after the last breath exits my nostrils? I have already lived through this date and this light and this scent and temperature and season many times, have tasted the closest phenomenal moment of my own passing. Only a fact is missing to fill it all out in some other sensibility.
I had thought that no one else would have such a thought, until this poem.
This is where poetry comforts the soul in ways few other things can.
[ By the way: the 17th Poet Laureate of the United States, Merwin died on March 15, 2019. ]
This video gives a wonderful feeling for this wonderful city. I sometimes used to send it to people before they came for a visit — to familiarize them with the general atmosphere and sweep of the Altstadt where we are located, just one city block from the main cathedral.
Unfortunately, seeing this little videoette brings a wave of tears to my eyes. It fills me with feeling for Kerstin, the precious soul who did so much to get me connected to this city. She was born in the next town, Regenstauf, and spent her whole life connected to this city, raised a family here, worked and played and loved and connected to the Dharma here. She helped me to establish this Zen community here: without her, and Gabe, this movement would never have taken root in Regensburg.
But seeing this short video makes me get so emotional, and full-teary-eyed. So I don’t watch it anymore.
《불교대사전》에 나오는 말이다. ‘야단(野壇)’이란 ‘야외에 세운 단’이란 뜻이고, ‘법석(法席)’은 ‘불법을 펴는 자리’라는 뜻이다. 즉, ‘야외에 자리를 마련하여 부처님의 말씀을 듣는 자리’라는 뜻이다. 법당이 좁아 많은 사람들을 다 수용할 수 없으므로 야외에 단을 펴고 설법을 듣고자 하는 것이다. 그만큼 말씀을 듣고자 하는 사람이 많기 때문이다. 석가가 야외에 단을 펴고 설법을 할 때 최대 규모의 사람이 모인 것은 영취산에서 법화경을 설법했을 때로 무려 3백만 명이나 모였다고 한다. 사람이 많이 모이다 보니 질서가 없고 시끌벅적하고 어수선하게 된다. 이처럼 경황이 없고 시끌벅적한 상태를 가리켜 비유적으로 쓰이던 말이 일반화되어 일상생활에서 흔히 쓰이게 되었다. [네이버 지식백과] 야단법석
This is a group photo from my first post-ordination Dong-ango Winter Kyol Che retreat, at Shin Won Sah Temple, in the Kyeryeong Sahn mountains of South Korea.
I had already sat one Kyol Che at Shin Won Sah previous to this one, in the winter of ‘90/‘91, taking a one year hiatus from Divinity school expressly for that purpose. That retreat gave the first taste of the possibility of monastic life, and inspired me to strive to ordain as a monk after completing studies. Without this long-term tasting of hard practice (yeah, I really aspired to that excess at the time), I doubt there would have been the confidence to sustain a jump into the unknown of monastic life in Asia.
So, for this reason and many others too innumerable to contemplate, I am so forever grateful to this temple for this opportunity to sit there during an absolutely crucial period of my life. (Of course, that goes without saying that there was gratitude to such a one as Dae Soen Sa Nim for opening up this opportunity to people like me, to the lay supporters and the teacher-in-residence at the time, Mu Seung Sunim, later Su Bong Soen Sa).
And, despite the smile in the picture, it was a bitter, brutal alchemy that needed to be passed through. I saw real heaven and hell there – – for the very first time, I tasted the true infinite bliss-state heaven of before-thinking not-moving mind (flickering glimpses only, at first), and the true bottomless-pit brackish rank-stench hell-states of unexamined Karma. Of the latter, it was an accustomed sight since childhood, living in these lost and alienated mental states and naturally taking them to be “reality“. But the unvarying regularity of the daily schedule and the absolute silence-practicing were essential to really getting deeper insight into the nature of mind. Except for these very rare visits of lay supporters from the head temple in Seoul, Hwa Gye Sah, we were left by ourselves in the mountains. We were basically locked into this poor temple in the last pre-internet days, with very little heating and washing ourselves in a freezing cinderblock-and-corrugated-roof-shed shower room with just two spigots to wash from and an allowance of two bowls of heated water per day to use for face washing, foot washing, etc. The full-body shower was permitted once per week, when your gender went in at scheduled intervals and shared a large tub of hot water which had been heated just for that day. You soaped up standing naked in the freezing air of the shed, and doused yourself with large ladles of steaming water. This was not done intentionally, for some extremist trial, but because this temple was just so darn poor, and its local supporters were humble family-farmers who themselves struggled to put food in their families’ mouths. It was a supremely humbling experience, and so you were forced to make every hour, every minute “count“.
In this photo, I am standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the great Nissim Amon, who is now a very prominent Zen teacher in Israel and around the world.
At least five of my co-retreatants in this photo are now dead, possibly six. At least three of the visiting laypeople arranged behind us are also dead.
“In the Great Work of Life and Death, time will not wait for you. When you die, what kind of body will you get? Isn’t this matter of utmost importance? Hurry up! Hurry!”