He has been walking for hours, or, perhaps for days, it doesn’t matter since he is precisely where he should be at this moment. He is tired, so he sits in seiza and watches a colony of ants working away in a crack in the path, each doing his assigned task. He knows ants have Buddha nature for when they walk, they just walk, like he does, and when they eat they just eat and he has never seen a solitary ant wobble.
You may seek to follow the path of the dove, for a fool knows many roads. You may wrap yourself in fine linen, an infant wears only his skin and knows this moment is already gone.
Think long before you speak of how to walk along the path, of where it leads. The baby says nothing, will not speak of where he has been, where he is going, for to him there is only here, and silence is descriptive enough.
I thought I heard a woman singing somewhere in the distance, an ethereal song whose melody floated over me, dropping momentarily into my consciousness then as quickly flitting away. I walked off the carefully tended path stepped into the clutching brush, the smell of Juniper filled the air. Pushing through a thicket I thought I saw a woman retreating into the trees but the melody lingered and I sat and listened never seeing the singer only hearing the song.
There are those desperately searching, who stumble along the way, tripping over the dharma gems lying in their path. Others proceed slowly, pausing to examine each pebble, each twig uncertain if it, just possibly, was the key to enlightenment. I wander along, going nowhere, knowing that is where the path must lead, and I am always where the path and I must intersect in time and space. A young child seeing this merely smiles and returns to his seat beneath the Bodhi tree.
Outside, even the crows are quiet this morning, seeking a warmth that eludes us all. We all know winter has finally arrived as we shiver and try so very hard to remember the warmth of summer, the bloom of the lilacs and the magnolia petals falling gently to mark our path.
He finds it hard to believe that no matter which path he chooses, and he has chosen so very, very many over time, each path seems always to lead him to one particular place. The place always seems the same, here, though he knows it should be different each time he arrives. It frustrates him no end, but he is growing concerned that one day a path will lead him to somewhere that is not here, and he will have utterly no idea where to go from there.
When you find a teacher what is it you expect from him? Do you walk carefully in his footsteps insuring you do not stray an inch from the path on which he leads you?
A true teacher will ask that you turn away from him and give you a shove that has you stumbling forward struggling to regain your footing, finally aware of the path that you have always been on and never bothered to see.
A reflection on Case 92 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)