Hsueh Feng taught the assembly, “On South Mountain, there is a turtle-nosed cobra snake. All of you people must watch out carefully!” Cha…
“These are extraordinary times.” I have heard and read that line time and again over the last several weeks regarding the Corona virus pandemic. Certainly, they are not easy times. But perhaps these are not extraordinary times, either. Perhaps right here and right now is the ordinary way.
Holding a cat hostage. Holding a community hostage. Holding a world hostage. I feel that I have been held hostage these past few weeks. Not by the virus itself, but by everything in my head peripheral to the virus. All of that obsession, all of that allowing for my capture, can, in a way, take away life. It can kill the cat.
As we mentioned last week, it is so easy for us to fall into the blame game: was it my fault? His or her fault? My parents, my teachers fault? If we take away the fault, what do we find? Freedom.
Form is also obviously central to this cart koan, but it is a form that accepts all circumstances; without judgment. All conditions, without measure. The important part of this practice is to understand, when the wheels fall off, what we get is a cart without wheels. And that is whole and complete, even beautiful, in itself.
In helping, and even saving, the people, in saving the rivers and forests, the birds and animals, we most often think there is a directional flow of effort: energy comes from us and goes to someone or something else. Through that action, we save them. In Zen, however, there is no “self” and “other”, so while we may help them, just as importantly, they are helping ourselves. In saving them, we save us.
We come to a point where we are caught fast in our life circumstances; and see no way out. But somehow, from there, we magically and mysteriously take a step forward into a world of complete freedom.
To advance from where you can no longer advance and to do what can no longer be done, you must make yourself into a raft or ferryboat for…
My friend questioned the notion that anything at all was worn, rent or torn. “Mending what?” There is nothing to mend. The world is perfect and complete, just as it is, so how could we possibly fix it?