When the light leaves your eyes and your body scatters to the four elements, where will you go?’

~ Adapted from from Gateless Barrier, Case 47, Dou-shuai’s Three Barriers

(photo of a man sitting on Glacier Point at night; Caters News Agency)

In some classic Zen circles enlightenment was called ‘The Great Death.’ Just right now I am a bit tired of talking and reading and fretting about death. Let’s make it ‘The Great Life!’ (The exclamation was added as a nod to the Presidential campaign season).

One summer, some years ago, I was anxiously trying to achieve The Great Life! I sat in about five long retreats in short order and practiced lots of extra meditation with friends during the week. Now it was the last night of my last sesshin and I was to leave Japan in about a week. Sitting on the veranda of a Zen temple built by the Jesuits, I stayed up much of the night to achieve The Great Life! Just before going to bed ~ sleep was to be my transport vehicle ~ I was in fulsome mood. I felt so generous that I sat up for a long time conciously blessing everyone I could possibly think of, friends and enemies. In the morning I awoke disappointed to find pretty much the same world I had departed. It took some years for me to appreciate the sweetness of that night and shrug off the disappointment of the morning.

So where will we go when our eyes close for the last time and our ‘star stuff’, as Carl Sagan would describe us, begins to scatter? Last night I lay awake listening to the rain guttering down the drain spouts as the drought continued to ease. I felt like someone somewhere had blessed me.