If you very much want something you must ask for it clearly, but if you ask for it, it will be denied to you. If you do not ask for it, you may be certain you will not get it no matter how much you want it. If you sit and think about this, you will miss out on living. It is only when you don’t want it, when you allow the silence without question, without need or desire, that you will discover that you have had it all along, right beside you.
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
Today we only speak silently and know everyone hears. Today we cry only dry tears, and others gently wipe our eyes. Today we mourn what we fear is lost and together vow to retain it. Today the sun shines less brightly and we know the dark cloud will eventually pass. Today we hug, each to all the others, though we sit alone as a sangha. This is but a single moment and we sit with and within it, breathing in and breathing out.
In this case, a Sangha meeting the day after the shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, but as easily the day after any tragedy of which there are too many.
I sat with the ghost again
this morning, the one who inhabits
the body that was once my father.
Ghosts find it difficult to speak
from within living bodies, so mostly
it squeezed my hand and offered
an occasional weak smile or nod,
said I looked good, but ghosts do have
trouble seeing out of human eyes.
He slept quite a bit, curled up
the better to contain himself
against the lights and prodding,
for ghosts want only silence and peace.
Sit down and be silent, you always want to speak at the worst possible moment, whispering incessantly in my ear when I cannot answer you. When I call on you, you prefer to avoid me, playing off in a corner somewhere sampling the joys of the day to be forgotten by nightfall when I seek to converse. You take great joy in teasing me dangling pearls and withdrawing them at my first grasp, playing hide and go seek while knowing all the nooks and crannies. You prosper in the dark flitting about, and I can only feel the breeze as you dash by, and occasionally touch your skirts as they brush against by leg. You are the spoiled child, petulant, pouting for days when I chastise you, mocking when I have little to say to you, frustrating to the point of distraction and loved nonetheless.
She only wants to know
what lies deep within silence.
He says he imagines it
is a place he can never visit
locked away from humans,
whose minds deny the quiet.
She says she is willing
to continue the search,
for even if she cannot find it,
she may find something like it,
and that respite would
be sufficient for her.
He says he fears silence,
for the loss of all
of his delusions would be
far too much for him to bear.
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.