Master Ma and Pai Chang were watching some ducks fly by, and Ma asked, “What is that?” Chang said, “Wild ducks”, and Ma asked, “Where have they gone?” Chang said, “They’ve flow away.” Ma twisted Chang’s nose, who cried out in pain. “When have they ever flown away?’, he asked.

~ The Blue Cliff Record, Case 53

There is often a certain physical quality about Zen, particularly in working with koans. Koan practice recognizes a sort of wisdom, or knowing, that body harbors which the head may

not understand. Embodied wisdom, it is called. Allowing for differences in cultures and eras, that is why the ancient teachers in China and Japan so often physically demonstrated their understanding of the Way. Usually, they found, showing was much clearer than explaining.

Recently I was visiting with a friend who told me a story about her daughter. Growing up a straight-arrow, low-maintenance kid, when the daughter entered college age she began to rebel. She got into hard drugs, became infatuated with a drug dealer who was headed to jail and began to fail in college. Her situation became sufficiently critical that the parents decided to bring their daughter home from Colorado. The mother flew out and began to drive her daughter back to New York. The first day the daughter slept in the car but by the second evening she began to get agitated. That night, as the mother was checking into a motel in Omaha, she took off. Gone for some hours, the mother thought perhaps the daughter was hitchhiking back to Colorado.

Finally, very late that night the daughter came back to the motel and she started complaining that no one loved her. The mother, without forethought and surprised by her own quickness, grabbed her daughter by the shoulders, pinning her down on the bed and standing over her said, “Let me tell you something. This is what love looks like!” After lots of tears, the next day they finished their journey to New York. For the mother and for the daughter, when had love ever flown away?