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THURSDAY ZEN: Only Go Straight with David Parks

December 14, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Free – $10

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Go straight on the narrow mountain road with 99 curves.

—PZI Miscellaneous Koan

You’ve heard me say it, other teachers, too: “Let the koan come to you.” This is another way to say “Let the life come close.” I have found over years of practice with koans that this is something you can trust.

I was having trouble choosing a koan this week. In the Open Temple, folks have been sitting with the Buddha, the “World-Honored One,” walking with his friends then pointing to the ground, saying, “This would be a nice place for a temple.” One of his companions picks a blade of grass and sticks it into the ground: “The temple is planted.” I wanted to use that koan—it is one of my favorites. Yet it was not happening—no insight, no desire to keep Ananda and the Buddha company.

There was another koan beckoning, gesturing me to come a bit closer. These last weeks have been rough for Genevieve and me as we mourn the death of her father. The koan that kept raising its head? “Go straight on the narrow mountain road with 99 curves.”

As I was getting ready to write, I looked at some of my old files, still pursuing the “temple in a blade of grass” koan. One of the files coming up from that search was the funeral talk I gave for my own father six years ago. It turned out that a koan had been pursuing me: “Go straight …”

The thing about all this is that today, December 13th, is the anniversary of his death. Before the koan inserted itself, this anniversary had slipped my mind. It was as if “Go straight …” was tugging on my heart strings: “This is a day to remember.”

Below are some excerpts from my reflections of six years ago:

I live, and my father lived, on Panola Road: It is so narrow that it is difficult for two vehicles to negotiate the road together. It is narrow and curved with obstacles along the way. And ditches. My father knew these ditches intimately, having driven into them more than a few times in his seven years living in the country.

Of course, this road is the life road. It is filled with the twists and turns of the mountain road, the obstacles in life’s path. There are ditches. The sorrow and the disappointment, but also the joy and the love glimmering, like a small violet raising its head in the grass, catching the eye. Birth, death, love, relationships, disappointments, self diminishment, self aggrandizement. Our job? Go straight.

There is a certain grace as we face life’s twists and turns. A twist and then a turn, tumbling into the ditch (I am looking at you, Layman Pang), are all reminders, each calling us back to here. It is a mystery, that right here in this life with its twisting, turning, and falling, that the straight road emerges.

—David Parks


David Parks Roshi

 

COME JOIN US at 4 pm on Thursdays for koan meditation, dharma talk and conversation.
Register to participate. All are welcome.

David Parks Roshi, Director of Bluegrass Zen

 

Details

Date:
December 14, 2023
Time:
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Cost:
Free – $10
Event Category:

Organizer

David Parks Roshi
Email:
dparksbluegrasszen@gmail.com
Register here to attend:
https://www.pacificzen.org/product/thursday-zen-december-14th-with-david-parks/