Koan of the week – Lingyun was wandering in the mountains

This is a story from China twelve hundred years ago.

Lingyun was wandering in the mountains and became lost in his walking. He rounded a bend and saw peach blossoms on the other side of the valley. This sight awakened him and he wrote this poem:

For thirty years I searched for a master swordsman.
How many times did the leaves fall
and the branches break into bud?
But from the moment I saw the peach blossoms,
I’ve had no doubts.

Centuries later the Japanese teacher Keizan responded with his own poem:

The village peach blossoms didn’t know
their own crimson
but still they freed Lingyun
from all his doubts.

Buddha's Birthday

Next Thursday Night April 7, 2011
7:00pm Glaser Center
Bring spring flowers for the altar, pour sweet tea over the baby Buddha's head, have cake, celebrate life and springtime!

“In the scenery of spring, 
nothing is better, nothing worse; 
the flowering branches are of themselves, some short, some long.”
 – Ryokan

Most of the time we live on top of our life – going and doing, getting and having, taking stances and issuing judgments and opinions.

In Zen, we’re not very interested in supporting the rightness of our view, but in opening the door to what our life can be like when we’re not operating from within our usual stances. We find our refuge in what’s underneath life, what’s always resting just beneath the surface.

In the spring, life bursts forth once again. From what appears to be dry lifeless branches come plum blossoms, cherry blossoms, western red bud, and horse chestnut! Each time we encounter it, it’s a surprise. I think it’s true that if we can just do one thing truly, whether it’s washing a dish or really listening to the bell, we can be free, we can discover the springtime of our own life.

We come not to escape from the world but from the weight of our judgments and opinions about it, to experience again what it is to be human.

In these two spring poems by Onitsura we can experience this simply as things being right just as they are.

      When cherry-blossoms are blooming,
Birds have two legs,
         Horses four.
      Eyes horizontal,
Nose vertical;
         Flowers of spring.