‘Day and night, keep digging into it.’

~Gateless Barrier, Case One, Wumen’s Comment

In cooking with a koan, the instructions to the chef are most often pretty simple: add an ingredient or two, and stir. Surprisingly, just following the simple recipe produces the most grand, and perhaps satisfying meal. As with Wumen’s instruction above, when I first started practicing, I really did not know enough to get complicated. Beginner’s Mind would be too generous a term of art. Let’s just call it Dweeb’s Mind.

For several decades, my dear mother had two special pictures on the wall in her home, taken at the reception of her cousin’s wedding, held in the early 1970s. At the wedding, my three sisters were the bridesmaids and I and my two brothers served as ushers. We were all dressed in a pastel blue of the times, and in one picture my sisters were smiling warmly and in the other my brothers looked like they were having a marvelous time. Of the six, only I was staring blankly ahead. Every few years one of my siblings would ask as we passed the picture, ‘Were you meditating when they took that picture?’ I would immediately deny all. But in fact, I was meditating. Only a few days before the wedding, I had read the Gateless Barrier and Wumen’s admonition: ‘Day and night, keep digging into it.’ So I did.

Soon enough, I became an expert and for years felt a twinge when I was visiting my mom and saw that picture on the wall; I alone was staring blankly ahead. I have tried recently, however, to lean back into my dweeb-ness. I am getting lots of toast crumbs and coffee spots on my zabuton mat as I eat breakfast during my solitary morning meditation. Sitting at my desk in my office, someone may ask me a question, and I refuse to respond, or sometimes I just hold up one finger. The grand part now know? Dweebs are a critical ingredient in the feast of life.