How many times have we heard someone intone the never ending expression: “in the best interests of the child.”
Never, I imagine, has anyone asked the child what he or she thought was in their best interest, for children, we assume, cannot know what is in their interest.
A child would gladly tell you but an adult would often disagree, anchored to the memory of their parents always deciding what was in their best interest whether or not they agreed, and assuming that is how things always ought to be.
Sitting atop a hundred foot pole you are convinced there are only two directions: pole and down. Old Osho asks, how will you proceed and you stare back at this lunatic. How will you proceed, he repeats?
You release the pole step slowly away, looking at ten directions before you, you move your feet, each one touches the path of each of the three worlds and Osho gently touching your elbow walks a bit by your side.
A reflection on case 46 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate) Koans.
You want something. Tell me what it is. Don’t hedge, be open and honest. I may not give it to you. I may not have it to give. I may have it and give it freely. I may have and not want to part with it. I may not have, can get it and give it. Or not. You will not know until you ask for it. I may seek a reason you want it. I may not care. I may seek a reason while not caring. That is my prerogative. I don’t expect you to like that. I may or may not care whether you like it or not. But first you must tell me what it is. I will not guess but I will wait. I am very patient. Or perhaps I am not and you have already missed your opportunity. Life is difficult. You didn’t ask for it to be.
If you meet the Bodhisattva you don’t ask someone to carve the image from your mind. To the carver, she weighs but an ounce and can be carried on his fingertip but try and lift her and you will not be able to move her from her place.
All Buddhas are one Buddha but his Buddha will never be your Buddha.
Each morning I stare into the mirror and see the same white hair and wonder who I will be today and what I was on all of those other mornings. I ask the mirror what life has in store for me this day but it only smirks, never answers as if it knows something I don’t and wouldn’t tell if I asked.
First Appeared in Short Fuse, Issue 74, December 1998.
If you want an answer do not ask a question – your answer cannot be mine nor can mine be yours. Instead, ask the stone wall, it has nothing to say and in its perfect silence all questions are asked and all answers are found.
A reflection on Case 41 of the Shobogenzo, Dogen’s True Dharma Eye