“Show me an immovable tree in a high wind.”

~Pacific Zen Miscellaneous Koans

In Zen, we come to know that the body ~ one healthy or sick ~ has a wisdom that the cognitive mind cannot know. The body works as if it is part of the world: it walks the dog, takes out the recycling, and eats breakfast. The “small mind”, however, has decided it is separate from the rest of the world, and pretty much schemes all day long to reinforce that notion. The “big mind” understands it is not separate. In response to a recent blog note, I got a letter from a PZI friend, who is a teacher in his own right, and who found himself encountering the above koan in the hospital and at home.

Hi Jon,

I’m just out of the hospital from another bowel obstruction, which they were able to clear non-surgically this time. Prognosis re recurrence is murky and unpredictable….Oh yeah, just like everything else!

While in there I read your “immovable tree in high wind” piece, and like koans are want to do, it kept showing up. I haven’t visited this one in a long time, but found myself inhabited by it as I was wheeled from test to test with people asking me ridiculous questions like: “How are you doing?”, and finding that the “wind” included my mind saying silently, “Pretty sucky, thanks.” But there was also a clear, immovable part that said with complete clarity and confidence: “Very well, thank you.” That happened over and over through a pretty challenging several days.

This morning I was attempting some yoga by standing in the tree pose. As I looked out through a large window and across the street I saw a large evergreen waving in the wind. The tree and I were waving together, immovable in a high wind. I can’t describe the feeling of utter intimacy and joy… not unlike the formation of geese that flew by right overhead during my morning sitting; clearly here, and then gone without a trace.

So, wishing you and your family a wonderful and healthy New Year. I feel quite blessed.

Warmly, Doug