If you are able to speak maintain silence, If you can bear the silence, listen to the song the sea sings. If you can sing with the sea count the grains of sand that wash in on the next wave. If you lose count, begin again before the wave recedes. If the wave recedes before you finish counting, bid it farewell. After you bid farewell return to your cushion and listen to the silence which is the body of the dharma.
When you assume the mat and gaze at the wall, what is it you see? If you see nothing, what do you think? If you are certain that you see nothing, that is what you think. Do not see, do not think, and let the cushion fall away until the moment you no longer exist, but let the moment fall away as well and there is only the emptiness of peace.
A reflection on case 17 of the Entangling Vines Koans
He sits on the cushion staring through hooded eyes at the wall in front of him. He expects exactly nothing to happen, expects there to be no sound within his mind, only what happens without, expects that time will cease for him, or will at least cease to matter. He is not disappointed. The bell rings, he arises, and walks back into the world where everything happens, there is only sound, and he stares at his watch knowing time has moved on in ways he can never hope to fully grasp.
Settling into perfect stillness, each of us in our brown robes on brown chairs, benches, cushions, note his entry is somewhere between the thundering of a forgotten storm or the garbage trucks crawling slowly down the street. Despite the early morning heat there is no breeze, only a large moth comes through the open windows and dances around the rice paper light shades. The incense hangs over the burner on the altar waiting to be carried into the room. You return to thoughts of thoughtlessness, invite ideas to come and quickly leave. You grow heavy sinking into the earth, your weight suddenly great. The moth grows bored and slips out the window.
Sitting on the cushion staring at the wall yet again, the wall seems familiar, as if you should know it, the paint, the fleck of something embedded in the paint. Still you search for something beyond the wall, hidden by the paint, but you find nothing, always nothing. Does this nothing finding frustrate you? Are you certain there is something there to be found, eluding you? Be like Huike, for if you cannot see the wall, cannot find the paint, the universe that lies behind it will be exposed to your view. Simply close your eyes and see it.