As you can imagine, I have heard a lot of dharma talks over the years, and I know that my response to them is less dictated by the quality of the talk itself and more by the quality of my attention. I had many strong experiences sitting at talks at Tassajara, where I was barely even taking in what was being said, but was completely focused on the experience of having the speaker in front of me, and conversely, sat through plenty of talks unable to keep my eyes open regardless of the fine dharma being presented.
Last night Vicki gave a talk; it was not the talk she planned to give, as she said she had not been able to find her notes. Speaking to me earlier she thought she might just invite questions from the assembly, but instead she spoke eloquently and movingly, and recounted some family history from the time of the Second World War.
Towards the end she talked about names, and how the dharma names of everyone who was wearing robes in the room mean something very deep about their intention.
I was not having a great day yesterday, waking up feeling fragile, and having a long and intense dokusan with Paul where a number of emotions came pouring out. He encouraged me to look at what this situation was teaching me, but I came away feeling unresolved - I still feel too enmeshed to see new lessons, though I see and feel only too clearly that a lot of old deep stuff has been re-activated.
When Vicki talked about names though, I connected again with a feeling that I had had during my trip, about my intention in life, which, as I mentioned to someone the other day, I recognised as being closely related to the second part of my dharma name, understood to be the aspirational side of one's character. In 2004 I was given Kennin as the second half of my name, and it was translated for me as 'building human-heartedness', with other renditions being 'benevolence' or 'the highest virtue'. Paul changed it to Gennin for my tokudo, 'manifesting virtue', and the way I have been relating to this recently, as I have expressed here, has been around the idea of trying to be able, and available, to meet everyone with love. I know I am not doing so well at that right now, but the feeling I had during the talk was of connecting with that as my deep intention, and having faith that, because it will remain deep inside me, it will continue to manifest .