Approach the master sitting on his seat. The fool will seek answers having slept through the lesson but the wise student will bow silently and retreat having learned all there is and knowing absolutely nothing.
A reflection on Case 44 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Mind)
The spider wandered around the corner of the ceiling and wall of the bathroom, one she called a daddy longlegs, although most spiders of my acquaintance have rather long legs using my proportions as a basis for comparison, and it was my task to deal with it.
It was harmless, as are most of his species, and I searched for a way to give him and give us our freedom, here perhaps, a reality, since it is no colder without than within, although the birds in our wetlands might have other ideas about the spider’s impermanence.
I paused, considered the options, and knew this koan would not be answered this day, and I bid my octoped friend farewell, but suggested he consider not trying to bring me into his web.
“There is an art,” the old monk said, his samu-e belted tightly, “to spreading peanut butter. Consider this carefully for it is a matter of gravest importance. Spreading peanut butter requires care just as meditation does. You wouldn’t think so, but try it in your robes and see how unruly your sleeve can be. It is like raking the sand in a dry garden. It seems easy enough to do, but you know how hard it is to ensure that your presence is unseen and unfelt when the job is done.”
As the seasons change I will stand with one foot on the highest peak and the other at the bottom of the deepest sea. But do not ask that I stand in a place where there is no Buddha, or my feet and legs shall fall away into the void.
A reflection on Case 68 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye) Koans
This morning I plucked a thread of silence from the dawn, watched, carefully by a cardinal who knew not to break the purity of the moment. I do this as often as I can sometimes grabbing one from the moon, as it sits overhead, holding out its promise of quietude as people retreat into homes. From these threads I have begun to weave a shawl, which, when done I will drape over my shoulders as I sit on the zafu and welcome nothingness into a space I create from everything around me.
Between now and then, between yesterday to and today, between night and day, between birth and death, between good and evil, between heaven and hell, between light and dark, between joy and sadness, our lives occur and we are so seldom there to see it happen, lost in dreams of what never will be, never was.