At meals they sit elbow to elbow in silence, on the mat shoulder to shoulder staring into the wall. You know that most are searching deep in the silence and they grow sad, finding, the question is always just beyond grasp. She stays behind, sits alone on her mat calm in the interbeing.
If I ask you to bring me an atom of oxygen, where will you search for it, how will you isolate it, so that you have captured a single atom that you can bring in response to my request? It may take some time and great effort to satisfy my desire. Or you may simply smile and tell me to breathe and choose the atom I wish from the multitude you have provided.
A reflection on case 3 of Bring Me the Rhinoceros (koans).
If I receive warm under robes to ease my winter meditation I will refuse them. If you ask me why, I will say I was born with such robes as I need. If you ask what I wore before birth I shall remain silent.
In the deepest winter there is no chill that can reach the empty mind for it is full of a warmth that cannot be replaced and one needs no shelter, for ashes know no temperature.
If you are patient and do not look for it, there is a still moment in each day when nothing at all happens, when the silence without demands a silence within, when thoughts evaporate like the mist of an early morning dew, when you have precisely enough and cannot imagine needing more, when where you are is where you must be, when the past and future float off and their gravitational pull on you breaks, and you simply are in the only moment there is.
If you want an answer do not ask a question – your answer cannot be mine nor can mine be yours. Instead, ask the stone wall, it has nothing to say and in its perfect silence all questions are asked and all answers are found.
A reflection on Case 41 of the Shobogenzo, Dogen’s True Dharma Eye