We’re into the second week of the August Training period at our small zendo in the Lake District and it’s going well. Sensei was here for the first week and has now returned to Liverpool. We are now a group of 8 seasoned practitioners. We got off to a great start: the first week had 11 people 4 of whom were on their first visit here, and Rachel on her first sesshin – though you would never have known it. All sat like mountains – the focus was very strong. Sensei was very impressed. So thank you to all.
The weather is now rather mixed – as it is everywhere I suspect – and there is some concern that it brightens up for week 3. This is ‘Samu’ week when we do less zazen but spend a lot more time doing maintenance, DIY, painting etc. This is our way of repaying Sensei for his generosity in sharing his place with the Sangha. We have a lot of outside work to do, so whoever’s doing the rain dances please stop! We need warm and dry next week!
The koan I am working on, and which will form the subject of my talk at the Shuso Hossen ceremony in Liverpool on Saturday 30 August, is printed below. Please do look at this and prepare a question if you are coming to the ceremony.
Koan 28 Blue Cliff Record
Nansen called on Master Hyakujo Nirvana.
Hyakujo asked: “Have the sages since time immemorial had a teaching they didn’t tell anyone?”
Nansen said “Yes”
Hyakujo asked: “What is the teaching they didn’t tell anyone?”
Nansen said: “It is not mind, not Buddha, not a thing”
Hyakujo said: “You said it!”
Nansen said: “That’s all I know, what about you?”
Hyakujo said: “I’m not a great teacher either, how would I know whether it’s been told or not?”
Nansen said: “I don’t understand”
Hyakujo said: “I’ve already told you too much”
Zen masters and Buddhas never helped people;
Seekers past and present run as if racing.
When a clear mirror is set up, the range of images is distinct.
Each one faces south to see the Northern Dipper.
The Dipper handle hangs down; there is no place to look for it.
One may take up the nostrils but lose the mouth.
I look forward to seeing you in Liverpool.