Chris Wilson lead us last night in playing with the koan:
"Idiots! Trying to escape Samsara! Where will you go?"
First of all, it was 90 degrees and we decided to sit outside in the sunset, so there was precious little reason to be suffering, but thank god that we are human, with infinite abilities to suffer, even on a balmy SF night.
Second, for those of you not fluent in bhuddha-speak, Samsara, traditionally, meant the wheel of life, death, and rebirth, but more conventionally, it refers to suffering. Its like saying mammals have hair. Humans suffer. Yet, in Chris's talk, he focused not on the causes of suffering, but on our fantasies about what a life would be like without the suffering. He told of the day his mother died, how that could be and was, a good day. Not a happy day, but not a day of suffering either.
I felt like this koan was really interesting. First of all, interesting that through the centuries (this koan is attributed to Lingi who lived in the 800s.), no one cut out the "Idiots!" part. Why would that be? Yet when I look at it, it seems intentional, and really kind.
Somehow it seems that many of the traps in my practice were set by thinking I might know what I was doing. once I accepted and even embraced my own idiocy, things got easier.
Idiots don't have to worry about being wrong. Only wise people need fear mistakes . So let's be idiots, lets make mistakes. Maybe one of those mistakes will be forgetting important things, like that we are supposed to suffer when our mother dies, or that we are uncomfortable when we look into our hearts. Maybe if we are foolish, we will stumble into wisdom, and trip over the boundaries of our delusions.
Where will we go? Where is there but here?
I remember as a kid at St. Isodore's, going to mass, and zoning in and out on the Good Word, and missing that one needed to die to go to Heaven or Hell, so growing up thinking that the Bible had meant that each of us, every moment, can decide if we are in heaven or hell. That the suffering was our choice and that God was wicked smart so we probably weren't going to get the whole plan of it so we might as well just enjoy (I did not do well in religion class if I remember). Heck, maybe that is the point, and if that's the case, seems like the same thing Lingi was saying.
What would that place look like.
Oh, well, there would be peace all the time. And I would never get upset. And I would always know what to do, and I would sleep deeply everynight. Also, my heart would never get old or weak and my hair would always be brown. I would be compassionate to everyone and everything boundlessly.
So there you go, thats my fantasy. And if I am honest and pay attention to feeling like I have made mistakes, and get caught up in forgetting what a good idiot I am, I know that fantasy of escaping samsara is still there for more. reckon for everyone.
What is yours?
BTW- if you like koans, or are interested in studying them for a relaxing day in October, please consider joining us for Wind-in-Grass' Second Meditation and Koan Seminar, October 23rd 10-3:30 in SF. If you know you want to come, you can register here.
“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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