If you ask who I am I will have you close your eyes and walk behind you, or I may step to your left and take your right hand. If you are perplexed, I will ask you, do the four gates open into the city or out to the world beyond, and if I stand still sideways under a gate in which direction am I headed?
A reflection on case 46 of Dogen’s True Dharma Eye (Shobogenzo).
At first it was a checkerboard of ponds neatly arrayed, reflecting the sun, the work of man, for God so rarely plays geometrician with creation, less often still using right angles. Soon enough green blades reach up through the shirred surface, random, reaching for a sun they can never touch. It is a field soon, the water pooling at the roots is lost in the emerald sea its waves now generated by the wind from the distant mountain. It is marigold yellow now, fading day by day to curry, the spikelet slowly letting go their grip on the grains that will soon lie on the bamboo mats, drinking the last of the sun they will know.
They gather this time every week, they would feel lost if they did otherwise. The don’t do it out of any sense of duty or higher calling, and they expect nothing in return for having done so. They aren’t even following directions or obeying some unwritten rule. They object to most rules, demand logic before even pausing to consider requests for action. Holidays do throw off their schedule but they work around them as best they can. Theirs is a joyous group and only the swings groan under their laughter as their feet reach up to kick the clouds, before night falls on the playground.
If you are truly looking for the way why do you insist on using your eyes. Any teacher will tell you that your eyes see nothing, they are only lenses through which a delusion is created in the mind. The mind has no eyes, but it is all that enables you to see anything. So abandon the eyes that see nothing, and the mind that only thinks it sees. Settle on the cushion until you and the earth and the sky are one, indistinguishable from each other, and everything, which is nothing, will appear before you if only you refuse to acknowledge it.
A reflection on Case 4 of the Bring Me the Rhinoceros koans.
When you sit before the master he will ask you a question. Consider your answer carefully then offer it to the master. He will simply say, “correct.” Later, when you sit before the master he will ask you the same question. Offer your answer to the master. He will simply say “incorrect.” If you ask him how your answer can be both correct and incorrect, the master will look through you, and simply smile and say “Correct”.
A reflection on case 31 of the Blue Cliff Record koans.
If you go walking one day and meet a person you think may be the Buddha, ask him what is the heart of all of the sutras. If he answers you with Dharma will you be certain this person is not the Buddha? If, on the other hand, he says nothing at all, and merely holds up a mirror, will you be certain you are seeing the Buddha? Decide before he crosses the river and is gone from sight.
A reflection on Case 1 of Bring Me the Rhinoceros (Koans)