Wow. My undiluted gratitutde to every one of the 10 bodhisattvas who sat with Wind-in-Grass tonight. For one, it was our first full house. Yeah yeah I get it, no attachment and sure, on some hand, maybe not mine, I feel like a REAL buddhist would be divorced from this sort of result, but thats not the kind of buddhist I am, so I really enjoyed having a full hall with so many sincere and open folks. Second, I am nightly blown away by the wisdom that comes up like flowers from the cracks in sidewalks, unexpected, robust and perfect.
Tonight, the cream in the middle of our Zazen Oreo (tm - please don't sue us Nabisco), was Case 78, from the Blue Cliff Record, helped by bucket No. 3, from the Orchard Supply and Hardware. Both, it turns out, were perfect vessels of enlightenment.
The koan goes: In the old days there were sixteen bodhisattvas. They stepped into the bath together and realized the cause of water. They said, “This subtle touch reveals the light that is everywhere. We have reached the place where the sons and daughters of the Buddha live.”
Since our beloved Chris Wilson was enjoying a well deserved rest in Koaii (sp), the small group koan study was kind of up in the air. Instead, we looked at the koan in the middle of practice. I recited it during zazen. This required that I read it from my journal, because it is long and antique sounding and has a special way of wedging itself in the cracks in my brain.
We went around and said what we noticed. It should be routine by now, but it is still somewhat stunning, the wisdom and clarity of the sangha. People noticed that the words slipped around. T noticed the water reflecting. S talked about family and security and intimacy that she noticed when she looked at the last part of the koan. R noticed how light kept becoming the sun in this experience. M, noticed (well first he noticed that I need a copy editor, and he is right, but I am not sure he was volunteering, but I digress), "so what?".
Then we got the bucket. In an attempt to take the koan out of the past, and out of antiquity and bring it into the room, I filled a 3 gallon bucket up with warm water. 1) I was surprised we had warm water and 2) I was surprised it remained warm. Everyone was invited to roll up their sleeves and plunge one or both hands into the water. I asked people to notice of the water was warm or cold, and how they knew that. And how they knew it was time to remove their hand.
After our 10 Bodhisattvas [do you know bodhisattva is in the spell check? huh, no s$%^) had stepped into the bath, we talked about the cause of water. It was remarkable the perfection of the responses. People noticed a reluctance at the surface of the water. A pleasure, and a visceral interaction. They noticed how they felt connected with each other and how the experience opened them up to the universe inside them. They noticed please from the warm. S noticed, beautifully that she knew the water was warm because she felt herself smile. She said she felt at home, and amongst family.
Frankly, I was enjoying the moment so much, I am going to do only a piss poor job of capturing the experience here. I invite everyone who attended to add their recollections in the comments.
What was left for me, was a connection with everything. A warm pleasure in that intimacy. A sense of family. There was a sense of blurring boundaries, warmth, and water and hand. There was an opening to the koan, the 16 old bodhisattvas were gathered around and inside and the subtle touch of the water was everywhere.
Thank you all for the perfect evening.
“A Course on Koans” is the delusion-riddled work of Chris Kufu (“Wind in the Void”) Wilson, who began practicing Zen in 1967. He regards Taizan Maezumi, Robert Aitken, and David Weinstein as his root teachers. Each of them pecked at his shell until he “completed” the never-ending koan curriculum of the Harada-Yasutani lineage.
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