In the dark heart of night time is suddenly frozen, the clock’s hands stalactites and stalagmites, unyielding denying the approach of morning, leaving the sun imprisoned under the watchful gaze of its celestial wardens.
It is then you appear, call out to me, beg me be silent, not asking the lifetime of questions I have accreted, providing my own hopes and imagination for answers, but you have faces, not those of that weekend but of other days, she younger, in college, he in a college yearbook at a school he never attended save as part of the ROTC contingent of the Air Force.
I bid you farewell, finally, and time again takes motion and morning welcomes the sun.
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.