Wu Cho asked Manjusri, “How (are the Buddhist teachings) being carried on hereabouts?”

Manjusri said, “Ordinary people and sages dwell together, dragons and snakes intermingle.”

“How numerous are the congregations?”, as Wu Cho.

Manjusri said, “In front three by three, in back three by three.”

~ The Blue Cliff Record, Case 35 (abridged)

In recent months I have felt a deep sense of richness and diversity in our community, which of course includes far more than just our Zen family, our neighborhoods or even our nation states. It is the greater community of all things, which are tied by mystic cords of interdependence, a kind of mutual support, both giving and receiving.

Our environment, our great community, is challenged. A couple of weeks ago, severe drought fed forest fires in the taiga of the Pacific Northwest, throwing off smoke so thick some people chose not to venture outside and others had to wear surgical masks just to go shopping. Northern California, where I have spent most of my life, recorded temperatures previously unthinkable ~ in some places as high as 115 degrees. And, of course, hurricanes cut wide paths of destruction through the South.

Yet the community of all things, with its rich diversity and bonds, shines in its wonderful way. It is a community where in a mysterious intermingling, the wise and the ordinary, snakes and dragons, dwell together. On the news, after Hurricane Irma was passed up the west coast of Florida, the owner of a mom-and-pop grocery store in Naples said, “We have opened up our doors. Anyone can come in, take some food if they need it, with no questions asked.” For me, that is front three by three, back three by three.