Yun Yen asked Tao Wu, “What does the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion use so many hands and eyes for?”
Wu said, ‘It’s like someone reaching back for a pillow in the middle of the night’.
Yen then added, ‘All over the body are hands and eyes”
Wu responded, “You have said quite a bit there, but you’ve only said eighty percent. Throughout the body are hands and eyes.”
~ Blue Cliff Record, Case 89 (abridged)
In koan work, it is often more clear to show than to explain. In various Pacific Zen forums we often hear deeply touching examples of showing. I recently found a scrap of notes I took at one such forum a few years ago, which I believe are wonderful demonstrations of the above koan:
“At the birth center, when parents see their babies for the first time.”
“Holding a friend’s hair back as she vomited.’
“When I shaved my wife’s head during chemotherapy.”
“The four seconds my friend looked at me after I had sat with her for hours of crying following a deep personal loss.”
Recently, a friend shared in a PZI forum how she was having a sad, tear-filled morning. The night before I had been invited to a concert with Nora Jones, among others, who sang:
When I saw the break of day
I wished that I could fly away
Instead of kneeling in the sand
Catching teardrops in my hand
I felt that I, and all of us, were catching our friend’s teardrops in our hands.