It is coming, a little over a week now and it will arrive, always too soon, never ready despite knowing its precise arrival day and time.
We will be ready, but only after a scramble, for that is how it must be, how it has always been.
And again this year we will be thankful, as all claim on this day, but why do so many forget the giving part of things, giving to those without, to those within who lack, to those who only want to come within to escape a without we dare not imagine for the nightmares and terror we would suddenly have to feel.
When you come into this town we know you are coming, when you enter this room we know you will arrive. It is only when we cannot discern your presence that your spirit has truly arrived. Contemplate this over a bowl of rice shared with mountain and wind.
A reflection on Case 18 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
A single snowy egret sits on the lowest branch of a long barren tree, where hours from now a thousand birds will arrive for still another evening and night.
He stares at me as I am mindfully vacuuming, watching carefully.
I pause and ask if by chance he is a Buddha and he lifts his long neck and peers around in all directions.
I repeat my question, and he lifts one wing, which I know to be his way of saying, “I, like you, am imbued with Buddha nature, and I with mother nature as well, and if you doubt me ask one of the countless Bodhisattvas who will arrive in hours to study the Dharma well into what will be a wet night.
They arrive unannounced often not seen until they have been among us and won’t say how or when they arrived. Some claim to have seen their arrival as they have seen other visitors visible only to them, and predict their departure with a certainty born of a delusion or a sense beyond the understanding. Others say that the are merely us in masquerade, it is we who are deluded for there is no arrival by an ongoing presence. I say nothing, for I am one of them, just as I am one of us, I am recently arrived, while I have long been here and either you or I may or may not be deluded.
He divided time into neat, well organized segments, each precisely the equivalent of each other, some the perfect sum of lessers. This is how it should be and must be he thought, and it made things so much easier for him. He knew when to arrive, and always knew precisely what time it was and would be. He couldn’t understand why others couldn’t seem to arrive on his schedule, never mind that they had divided time into neat segments, each precisely the equivalent of each other and none the equivalent of his tidy temporal order.
He never wants to leave this place. He never wants to leave wherever he is at that moment. Moving is the hardest thing for him, arriving is easy. She points out that you cannot arrive here without leaving there. He reminds her that something being easy is not the same thing as something being desired. He can and does arrive, but it is easy only by comparison to the greater pain of leaving. She says, I am leaving now, but you can join me. He says I cannot even bear the pain of that thought.
They arrive ones and twos accrete dissolve reform, swell the cacophony grows takes on a joyousness as they ebb and flow; the food disappears the wine the laughter draws you in and you want only to circulate but how with shifting nuclei and then the scheduled end and hours later the last slips away and the space falls silent still echoing what went before.
It will arrive before you know it, will be gone again before you realize it was even here. This is how it is supposed to be, Even if not how we want it. We will know it had been there and that needs to be enough for we would try and grasp it, try to contain it, hold it. But we are a sieve to water, an hourglass to sand, and satori would have no other way.