You have heard that when the student is ready the teacher appears, and you believe you are ready, but no teacher has appeared. I can tell you that you are ready, that you will never be ready, that I am not the teacher, that the teacher is here, and that the teacher will never appear. But the path you seek to find with a teacher is all around you, that there is not path to find. If I give you a small bowl and you stand by a lake of fresh water just how much water can you hope to drink?
A reflection on Case 11 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
They come when you least expect them appear seemingly out of nowhere at first so small they go unnoticed but never unheard, for what they lack in size, they make up for in volume. The get beneath your skin, take root, steal into your heart, and find themselves in the brain’s synapses. Before long they cannot be ignored like a drug for which you need ever increasing doses as they become more scarce. You know you are hooked, you know that cold turkey withdrawal is never an option, just something about which you read about and twice a year you cast logic and economics two winds of fate, spend lavishly for you know parents who spoil children must be admonished and abhorred and grandparents who do not should be treated equally so.
I was looking for you, he said, and I was looking for myself she replied, and here we are and neither of us has succeeded in our quest, for I have not found myself, so you cannot find me. I shall stop looking for you, he said and perhaps you will appear. for I am ready if you choose to. I have found myself, finally, she replied, but how long have you been standing there and what were you doing since I last saw you?
Perhaps tonight the slightly waning moon will bathe us in her presence. That presupposes the clouds, so very jealous of late, allow her to appear. They, and the unending winter, are the evil stepsisters, and they have neither justice nor compassion for the moon or for us. And so, to save their maleficent case, I shall again, tomorrow morning, take up the shovel and imagine my boots are crystal slippers.
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.
He came, stayed a while, and left, and it was only when he was gone that most missed him. Some say he will come back but others are skeptical, and no one really knows for certain. Some actually say that he didn’t leave, that he simply changed, and might appear when no one expects him. Several said it was a she, not a he. No one was quite certain of the person’s name, some said it was Jesus, some said Buddha, some said it was Tara, but the children said it didn’t matter really, that to see him, to see here, all you needed was a mirror, and the real name was simply Peace.
He appeared rather suddenly, and didn’t seem to stay very long. Some claimed they knew he was coming, most never saw him arrive, although some said they saw him clearly, that he visited frequently, that they knew his presence unquestionably and spoke to him at some length. She knew there was much wishful thinking and a dearth of reality, but she had come to accept that they got what they seemed so badly to need at no cost to her or any others. But her daughter, seeing all this, could only laugh, for though she might be young, she knew he didn’t appear, he was always there, they just wouldn’t close their eyes and see what every child did.
The Buddha said when the student is ready the teacher appears. My Rabbi used to say when you are ready the Lord will appear. But you may not recognize God, that’s okay. Both Buddha and my Rabbi might have said that when you are ready you will appear and it is then you will no longer recognize yourself.