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 meals they sit elbow to elbow in silence, on the mat shoulder to shoulder staring into the wall. You know that most are searching deep in the silence and they grow sad, finding, the question is always just beyond grasp. She stays behind, sits alone on her mat calm in the interbeing.
Time seems frozen in the checkout line stuck between the Mars bars and the tabloids, you wonder how Liz could survive a total body liposuction, and further details of how OJ killed in a moment of lust. The old woman in front rummages in her change purse certain she has the eighty seven cents, the coins lost in a blue haze reflected off her hair. Two aisles over the young mother her jaw clenched in frustration keeps putting the life savers back on the shelf as her child, fidgeting in the cart grabs another roll, until she shouts and slaps his hand. His cry draws stares from all and she stares at the floor as he grabs a Three Musketeers and Certs. A man in the express line swears that the apples were marked 89 cents and wants to see the manager who calmly explains that Granny Smiths are a dollar twenty nine and only small Macintoshes are on sale this week. He puts the bag on the scale and stalks out of the store. I would shift to the express lane but I have 16 items and must continue to wait and wonder how many incisions it would take for a full body liposuction.
Previously appeared in Kimera: A Journal of Fine Writing, Vol. 3, No.2, 1998 and in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, 2008
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.