The teaching of suchness, intimately given by the buddhas and ancestors—
now that it’s yours, keep it well.
A silver bowl filled with snow,
a white heron hidden in the moonlight—
Apart, they seem similar; together, they’re different.
The clear-sighted person falls into a well.
What is the sword so sharp it cuts a hair blown against it?
Each branch of coral holds up the moon.
—The Blue Cliff Record, Case 13
David’s dharma talk during Bare Bones retreat about falling down a well. “How does the fully enlightened person fall into a well?” The koan brought to mind an old Maquire sisters song that goes, “Wella, Wella, Wella waiting for the Bella to go ding dong, ding dong…” We all fall into our own personal wells of suffering. David lends a hand to pull us out by sharing his own well stories.
Roshi John Tarrant gives the third of three koans for Bare Bones retreat. The head of the koan is: “What is the sharpest sword or the sword which will cut even the finest piece of hair in two?” The response to the question is, “Each branch of coral holds up the moon.” February 22, 2013.
On the second day of retreat, John Tarrant talks about the second koan of the triptych, “How does an enlightened person fall into a well?” How do we as practitioners handle major issues in our lives which cause us to fall into darkness or depression? When things are bleak or difficult, the opportunity is to turn toward our practice and the teachings or our community. January 21, 2013.
Allison Atwill Sensei describes the making of her amazing art piece inspired by the koan, “Each Branch of Coral Holds Up the Moon.” January 24, 2013.