A Well Not Dug
In a well that was never dug, water ripples from a spring that does not flow.
Someone with no shadow or form is drawing the water.
~ PZI Miscellaneous Koans
Sometimes to find freedom, at least in Zen, we need to stop making sense. By not making sense, we can find that even when parts of our lives seem barren and dry, we can find inside of ourselves a source of water that is pure, clear and sustaining.
David Weinstein recently visited our group in San Mateo. A few weeks ago, just back from a retreat, he was sitting in his office at a drug treatment center, a job he had happily held for 21 years. He suddenly got up, walked into his boss and quit. Someone asked, ‘Did you talk to your wife beforehand?’ David replied, ‘I did not talk to myself beforehand!’
‘This koan really spoke to me,’ he said. ‘Quitting my job made about as much sense as water rippling in a spring that does not flow.’ But he knew that somewhere deep down, there was water, and a spring that would support him.
‘After leaving my job, I no longer have the shadow or form of the person I once was. But I am drawing up water from this unexplored resource of my life,’ he added. ‘It is quenching a thirst for change that I did not even know I had.’
David, self-described as steady and habitual in temperament, has experienced other senseless acts of freedom in his life. Once while attending a week-long retreat in Kamakura, Japan, he got permission to leave for a few hours to teach a class. Needing dinner, he went into a Kentucky Fried chicken outlet, took his chicken filet sandwich upstairs, saw a woman at a table and asked if he could sit there. They talked, found they lived in the same neighborhood and visited the same local pub. Three days later they hooked up, and he and his wife Sarasa have been together for thirty years.
‘This un-dug well is an unexplored aspect of our lives,’ the unemployed David finished with a laugh. ‘When we open it up, the water can really gush forth.’