‘For twenty years I have suffered. How many times have I entered the cave of the Blue Dragon for you?’
Blue Cliff Record, Case 3, Verse
Not all koans are the main cases published in the great koan collections, or even those in our miscellaneous collection that our PZI people encounter early in their practice. Sometimes a koan is just a single word, or a line in a poem that grabs us. For me the lines above grabbed me, and I have been carrying them about for the last week, or so. They are lines of longing.
For twenty years I have struggled. For twenty years I have loved you. For twenty years I have practiced, picked weeds, washed dishes, gone to the office. All this time, again and again I have gone into the frightening cave to the Blue Dragon. All for you. That is it.
There is no: ‘I raised you, I fed you, now you must love me.’ Or: ‘I have done my best to keep healthy, so why am I now sick?’ Or: ‘I have been practicing hard for so long, why am I not enlightened?’
In Zen, the koan itself is often the answer. There is no ‘why’ in a linear sense. One plus one does not equal ‘two’. It equals ‘marsupial’. It equals ‘Blue Dragon’. For some reason, learning the math of no-math, where Blue Dragon is always the answer, is a freeing thing. It is a wonderful thing.