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.
Zen is without belief. Zen is not about organizing life around some key concepts. Koans won’t participate in this project. If the concepts are the map, then the koans are the territory. If the map is topographical, one line indicating 10 feet in elevation, the koans are the surprise as the mountain begins to rise beneath your gait, as your thighs begin to burn, as you feel the exertion, your heart racing and your breath quickening.
The further we move into life and the more we trust the life before us, our hearts open and soften into connection, into deep comm-unity. Here we find a unity and integrity in things, an interpenetration of being where boundaries shift and the seamlessness of life/things/the world and universe becomes apparent. Life becomes one.
When Zhaozhou spoke of this he said simply, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”
Koans in this deepest sense are alive.