If your teacher asks you to bring him all of the Dharma you have learned what will you bring him? If you begin to recite what you know of the sutras he will turn away and cover his ears. If you sit next to him in silence he will smile.
A reflection on Case 25 of the Book of Equanimity, 従容錄, Shōyōroku
There was the collectivist period, those years when I wanted a copy of every book on Buddhism I could locate, a full and nearly complete library, sutras and philosophical discourses included.
There was the moment when I realized the absurdity of all that, the attachment to texts to enable me to find the ability to practice non-attachment, and I gave the books away, and finally set off on the path the books only poorly described.
As you wander around looking for a place to build a temple, looking for eden, looking for nirvana, stop and simply sit, listen to the breeze teaching you the Dharma, the clouds chanting the sutras in a harmony beyond your hearing. Look down for you are in your temple, sitting in eden nirvana at your feet.
A reflection on case 4 of the Book of Equanimity Koans
If you go walking one day and meet a person you think may be the Buddha, ask him what is the heart of all of the sutras. If he answers you with Dharma will you be certain this person is not the Buddha? If, on the other hand, he says nothing at all, and merely holds up a mirror, will you be certain you are seeing the Buddha? Decide before he crosses the river and is gone from sight.
A reflection on Case 1 of Bring Me the Rhinoceros (Koans)
It always seems odd that the teacher asks me to think about my practice when the heart of my practice is learning how not to always think about things. But the heart of practice is exactly these oddities, for nothing is exact. In the fourth vow I strive to attain the great way of Buddha, but I know, as the Heart Sutra reminds me, that there is “not even wisdom to attain, attainment, too, is emptiness.” And so I sit in confusion each day, and bits of delusion fall away, like the hair on my ever balding scalp.
The true sound of the inkin bell can be heard in the instant before the striker and the bell meet. It is this purest of tones in which all of Buddha’s teachings are laid open for your inspection, if only you are willing to close your eyes and finally see.
On the road I found Tao. I held it and gazed at it from every angle, but seeing nothing placed it back on the road. On the road I found a sutra. I held the scroll and gazed at its strange letters, but reading nothing placed it back on the road. On the road I found a small squirrel. I held it and gazed at its broken leg. I set the leg and put it into my pocket stroking its head, and together we walked down the road chasing the sun.