Working alone, unobtrusively,

Practice like a fool, like an idiot.

Just to continue like this

is called the host within the host.”

~ Tung Shan’s Precious Mirror Samadhi

Maybe awakening is not about creating some exalted state of equanimity in our lives. Perhaps it is just finding a certain ease in any circumstance we encounter, including the uncomfortable ones.


avid Weinstein Roshi visited this week at the Portola Camp Zendo and brought with him the above koan. Always punctual and knowing traffic would be bad, he left the East Bay a half hour early and was still late by a half hour. Stuck on the San Mateo Bridge, he found himself irritated but not disturbed. Frustrated, but not becoming entangled in the blame-games ~ idiot this and stupid that ~ we usually indulge in while in horrible traffic. For him, this was being a host within the host. Being in traffic was just fine.

Maybe we all belong in traffic. Afterall, traffic jams and Pacific Zen have great karma, David pointed out: one of our senior PZI teachers had an opening experience in traffic by just noticing the river of lights of the cars ahead.

‘Wherever you are, just take the role of host,’ Linji once said, ’and that place will be a true place.’ Even if that place is CA Hwy 92.

Note: In traditional Zen literature, ‘Host’ means one who clearly abides in the essential world of Zen, while ‘Guest’ means one who is still stuck in the world of delusion.