Isn't it strange how every conversation goes exactly how it needs to? Even when you have no idea at the beginning where that will be? I guess if you don't think that is strange, you might be practicing zen. Or maybe not. There are, after all, many ways to eat that piece of cake.
Last night was the final community night for WiG. I had 8 people tell me that they would not be able to make it, so I was not expecting a large turnout. The turnout turned out to be exactly the right size for an exacting Zen experiment.
After we sat, I mentioned a koan on which I was recently working. One that, to me, begged the question of whether you could truly be given a gift, or a thing, especially a teaching, or if that notion was naught but a pretty dream. We rang the bell and asked everyone to spend a minute considering a gift they have received. To notice how it felt to receive it, to hold it. How it made them feel in relationship to the giver.
People responded that the gift they thought they were receiving, was not at all what they expected. Another pointed out that it was hard actually, to think of a receiving of a gift, and not of giving. Another person thought of his gift as advice from his mother, that she never knew would affect him so greatly and which would not bear fruit for many many years after received. Another person mentioned a new job and feelings of gratitude mixed with responsibility to receive the gift well.
We sat again, this time passing the Kesu around. As it reached each person, they were asked give a gift to someone. It could be a friend, a lover, a family member, someone they didn't know, even themselves. But give a gift, knowing that that person would never know it was given, and see how it felt to give when taking the effect out of the equation- then ring the bell.
People noticed how more sincere the gift was when they were not waiting for the receiver to feel a way they noticed they had been telling themselves the receiver should feel. One person noticed that she felt she always gave a gift that was slightly off, but in this format, didn't feel that way at all. Another gave the gift to his friend of feeling his pain. Not giving comfort or advice, just hurting with him. Being present. And we all looked at that idea. That a true gift was just that, being present. It made everything genuine and real and it gave the best gift, the gift of what is, of us.
Happy Holidays all, and Happy New Year.
“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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