JOSHU ANSWERS

Yesterday a small dog, walking its master down the block stopped and stared
at you, as you stood on your porch. You stared back at the dog, eyes locked
on each other, while the master fidgeted on the sidewalk, afraid or too bored
to look at either of you. You realized this was just the dog’s way of teaching
his master patience, or perhaps of simply delaying you from what it was
that brought you to your porch that you forgot in engaging the dog. Eventually
the dog dragged its master on, and you returned to the house, having done
nothing but stare at a dog. It was clear in that moment that a dog must
have Buddha nature but yours was deeply in question.

MORNING

Morning would find him sitting
calmly, cross-legged, under the apple tree
that sat on the edge of the park.
He would stare up at a small branch
and carefully watch the bud
begin to open, ignoring all who passed.
Morning would find him sitting
calmly, cross-legged, under the apple tree
watching the fragile blossom open,
staring at its translucent pinkness,
ignoring all who passed.
Morning would find him sitting
calmly, cross-legged, under the apple tree,
watching the apply blossom dance
onto his folded hands,
ignoring all who passed.
Morning would find him sitting,
calmly, cross-legged under the apple tree
watching the leaves, slide free
and rest on the ground beside him.
He turned to all who passed
and said “Come, watch Buddha with me.”

BUDDHA NATURE

Any good cat will tell you that there is absolutely no good reason to distinguish between here and there, night and day, good and evil, and the list is virtually endless. Cats will admit, if you ask them nicely, that they have no need for such dualities. Cats understand gray in all of its gradations, but black and white is simply wrong, a cat will say. They don’t comprehend why people need such dualities, for cats know that what they have, at any given moment, is enough, it is all really, to just simply be. A cat will tell you in secret that while Lin Ji gets all of the credit, it was the cat who shared its wisdom with him, reminding him, “When walking, just walk. When sitting, just sit. But above all, don’t wobble.” Cats will assure you that they do not wobble. They will tell you that having “only” to legs is hardly a good excuse for wobbling. Cats live in the moment, for it is all they have and they know it. This is their Buddha nature in practice. That, and their claws that they are more than willing to use to draw you back to the moment when, on the zafu in meditation the mind wanders. And, they note, it is more effective than any keisaku.