Every Day Is a Doorway

Yunmen said, “I don’t ask you about before awakening, say something about after awakening.”
He answered himself saying, “Every day is a good day.”

The prospect of every day being a good day is attractive. Equanimity in the midst of chaos sounds like a preferred way for things to go. It’s not uncommon to think that after awakening everything is going to be fine: no more troubles, no more problems. Attaining Nirvana, paradise, is the goal, right? Depends on what Nirvana means to you.

Mark Twain’s book, Letters from the Earth, is a series of letters from Archangel Satan reporting back to God about his creation. One thing that puzzles Satan is the way that humans think of heaven. When they are alive, they do not look forward to the experience of spending Sunday in church. However, Satan notes, their conception of heaven seems to be an eternal Sabbath with angels singing and church bells ringing.

More recently, and similarly, David Byrne wrote in his song, Heaven: “Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens.” If nothing ever happens, nothing bad can happen—is that Heaven? The path of meditation is sometimes called the middle way. In pursuit of the ‘middle,’ we can practice in such a way as to cut off the highs and lows of life, leaving nothing but the middle, which is a kind of dead way to live. There are fewer traumas, but less life too, and that itself is a trauma.

Yunmen’s good day is not a day when nothing bad happens, when nothing unwanted happens, when there are no fires and no smoke, no positive Covid tests. It is the whole enchilada, containing it all. Our meditation practice gives us access to a doorway out of our small, safe, constructed life into something larger—and that’s good.

Join us.

—David Weinstein

David Weinstein Roshi


Come join us on Tuesdays for koan meditation, dharma talk and conversation.
Register to participate. All are welcome.

David Weinstein Roshi, Director of Rockridge Meditation Community