In the old days there were sixteen bodhisattvas. They all got into the bath together and realized the cause of water. They called out, “This subtle touch reveals the light that is in everything. We have reached the place where the sons and daughters of the Buddha live.”
The Blue Cliff Record, Case 78
In the old days, when I was lifeguarding at a swimming pool at summer camp, two times a day we had “free swim.” This meant no swimming lessons, no lap swims or water polo matches. You could do anything you wanted. On hot days, the whole camp would descend and swim freely, throw the ball, jump off the board, play tag or Marco Polo, toss the ball or just stand in the water to cool off. Free Swim. No one ever knew what would happen. It is like that when you are free.

Full Immersion

To take the meditation path is to get into the bath, fully immersing yourself in life. Meditation is a gesture of inquiry, a willingness to discover what is here, without needing to control, judge or manipulate it in any way. No scheming. Meditation is a cleansing and a putting down of what we think about life, what we believe, as we open to life itself. It is free of technique and program, a “free swim.”  A “free swim” and a noticing. To meditate is to trust, not in any specific outcome or formula, but to trust as we trust the next breath to be there, the ground to rise up to meet us. It is to trust that life is happening and we are a part of it.


The good news is that we do this together. We are immersed in life together. Particularly that means our community that is Bluegrass Zen. I am thankful that we have taken this meditation path together. We find in community — in the joys and irritations, the sorrows and silence — the support here for exploration and discovery. With a meditation community there is a foundation for not-knowing, for not believing, for not having it figured out. It is a joyful thing to decide to get into the bath of life together, explore and notice.

The Cause of Water — Awakening at Last!

It is good that we do this practice together — actually there is no other way. We dive deep into the bath, and life works in and around and through us. When life as us meets life in the many things — crows, chickens, dogs, the trees, the sunflowers, the wind as she blows, the water as it flows, the warm weather, the sweat as it rolls down my forehead stinging my eyes, my joy, my sadness, the other 15 Bodhisattvas — we wake up: we had been together all along, no separation. At this point, the cause of water? No problem.

Those 16 Bodhisattvas had this to say:

“This subtle touch reveals the light that is in everything. We have reached the place where the sons and daughters of the Buddha live.”

Splish, Splash.

Free Swim!!