A student asked Dasui, ‘It is clear that the fire at the end of the kalpa will completely destroy the universe. I’m still not clear whether there’s something that won’t be destroyed.’
Dasui said, ‘It will be destroyed.’
‘It will follow along with everything else?’
‘It will follow along with everything else,’ said Dasui.
~ Blue Cliff Record, Case 29
As the End of Days koan, the above exchange does not necessarily come to mind while, say, having a cheery dinner with family and friends. But the ‘It’ above is love and it is light. It is Buddha nature, which we know can never be destroyed, as Dasui sometimes responded. So who better to share in the kalpa-ending fire than with those whom you love?
For reasons that are obscure to me now, several weeks ago my Netflix queue started
sending me nuclear apocalypse movies and documentaries, like Dr Strangelove, Radio Bikini and Trinity and Beyond, all about the early years of the U.S. nuclear program. As children in the Cold War, the threat of nuclear attack was ever-present, and in 1962, during the Cuban Missile crisis, perhaps imminent. Our third grade teacher, Mrs Terhune, was much loved and she was sure to show us how to ‘duck and cover’ under our wooden desks in the event of an attack. We somehow felt a bit more safe and brave being together and being with her.
Hitting fast forward forty-plus years, my wife and family put on a big party for my 50th birthday. It came time for me to give a speech, so I said a few words. Part way through I got kind of choked up. What I wanted to say and did not, was that I hoped everyone at that party, everyone who I most loved, would be with me when I died. It seemed too maudlin to express at the time; a real buzzkill. So I will ask it of you now: Will you be with me when the universe is completely destroyed? Somehow that makes me feel a little bit more safe and brave.
A must watch: Slim Pickens rides the Hurricane in Dr Strangelove: