The moon sets on your knowing, on your images and ideas of self, well known and worn and you welcome what you don’t yet know. You begin to experience the vast and seamless dark on its own terms. You walk alone, dark, and in the dark. Your walk is one of discovery. There is no separation between you and what is. You are at-one.You begin to live and move with deep appreciation of life as it unfolds. You are alone here, for at-one where is the other? Life meets you, here, in this dark town. Then the awakening — this is how it has always been, before rank, before the suffering, before a self.
Awakening is not something we can conceive of, we cannot think our way to it. One old teacher said, “Move towards it, you move away from it.” Ok. Well, then it is always a surprise. We don’t find it, awakening finds us. Peach blossoms find us. The Universe finds us. And we stir, foundations shake. Lingyun rounds the bend, there they are, the peach blossoms across the valley — they find him — no doubts, no opinions either — just the peach blossoms, the intimacy of awakening. Lingyun disappears in a moment of peach blossoms.
Life in its ecstasy and in its misery is agonizing, a contest. In other words, life comes forward to meet you, calls. This is Guan Yin in all her guises – love, hate, kindness, sadness, anger, grief, and on and on. Life’s call beckons response, a step off the pole. The teacher, echoing life itself, asks, “how do you step from the top of the hundred foot pole?”
…the patriarchs and matriarchs and my mind and your mind, the music playing in next room, the dog resting in her crate, the horses in the cold barn, the dishes dirty in the dishpan. This Supreme Way reaches everywhere and touches everything — no inside or outside and no special way to be chosen over any other way. This Way is not easy or hard, not even Supreme. It is right here, in every action, every thought, every emotion
In life the big questions are lived. Thinking might help, but that is about. It is in the living that we find awakening. Zhaozhou’s koan is often the first koan given Zen students. The traditional instruction is to become completely “No.” Live, breath, move as No. That’s good, but today, for me, it is about the dog, the wound, the grief — the intimacy that love calls forth.
Whether it is the slow trickle of summer or the deluge of spring, to wade in the water is to no longer hold yourself apart from life but to be in it, soaked through, no separation. Having stepped off the well trodden path you are life’s constant change. You move as life moves.
Our practice is to be vulnerable to life, to be willing for the slings and arrows as they penetrate the hard walls of belief, expectation and self image. We are wounded. A wound is an opening of thebarrier that separates inside from outside. Physically that can be a problem, infection might follow. But psychically, wounds can penetrate the hard exterior of the fortress of self. These slings and arrows can open us to life, to the one light.
Here we are in November. It is a cool day, the sun shines, the clouds above are light and puffy against the blue sky. This morning I let the horses out into the lower field. There the sweet grass is long and plentiful. In the same field I hear calves calling out across the pond. In moments like this gratitude is easy
In Zen the heart and mind are inseparable. As we awaken we open to the vastness, or as Dogen said, we “Become one with the ten thousand things.” This is half of it. There is another gate, another side of the one coin, Call this the embodiment gate which will have us respond to the world in love and compassion for the ten thousand things.