In setting along the path do you follow Hofuku covering your eyes so as not to see evil, ears so as not to hear it and close your mind to wandering ideas or is Jizo’s path yours as well?
With eyes shut tight the mind will still see, with ears covered sound will echo, growing louder with no hope of escape. With open eyes light is reflected, with ears open fully, sound passes freely and flitters away and the empty bowl is filled with potential.
He says he cannot believe in angels because he has never seen one. I do not believe in his sort of angels, but not for lack of visual confirmation, rather that I live in a world that now is so deeply in need, that an angel might be our last, best hope, but the scope of angelic miracles is not likely wide enough to encompass the utter disaster which we have created.
I tell him that I do believe in angels, that I have met several in my life, and scowl when he laughs so that he must consider that I am serious, and then he asks what an angel looks like, so he will recognize one when and if he ever sees one.
I advise him that you don’t have to search all that hard, that you merely need to be aware, and watch the face of the baby when you stop and coo at him or her as they lie in their stroller, staring up at the always welcoming sky.
It is a precarious balance, really, more an exercise in tottering and hearing than in standing still. Some prefer stasis, others, I included, find that leads inevitably to a loss of energy, to an entropy from which it is difficult to escape. I don’t walk along the edge of the precipice, but I do. peer over, amazed at what lies below that I hope never to see up close. Is a precarious balance, but one that can be maintained if you just close your eyes, and sense what actually lies around and beneath you.
If you come forward and ask no question the master will give you an answer, but if you approach with a question, the master will strike you with the stick. It is only when your eyes are blinded that you can take up the master’s staff and all is clearly seen.
Tell me what you see, he says,
and be as precise as possible.
I suppose I see exactly what you see,
we are looking at the same thing,
at the same time, so how can it be
any different for me then you?
Are you seeing through my eyes?
He smiles, for if so, I’d like you
to get out of my head immediately,
it is already too crowded in here.
You have a pondering look, you probably
want to know why I would like
you tell me what you see.
See, I have only one working eye
and in the kingdom in which we find ourselves,
that hardly makes me King.
The thing he wants most is to experience life and all it offers. By that he means he wants to see what is there, to smell it, to engage it with all of his senses, for those are what he trusts, they provide him reality, without them his mind could not frame the moment. The thing she wants most is to be in life, an integral part of what is offered, to be indistinguishable from life, so that they eyes cannot see it, the nose cannot smell it, the mind cannot frame anything, for she is that thing and that moment and there is nothing else, except perhaps him staring, sniffing and cataloging his own illusory world.
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
We walk forwards to try to see where we are going, always wanting but never seeing where we have been. Is it better to walk backward seeing clearly where we will not go without idea of a destination. Look down and decide.
A reflection on Case 92 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)