The teacher said, “It’s as though you were up in a tree, hanging from a branch with your teeth. Your hands and feet can’t touch any branch. Someone appears beneath the trees and asks,
‘What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the West?’
If you do not answer, you evade your responsibility. If you do answer, you lose your life. What do you do?”
—Gateless Gate Case 5
Predicament koans give a nod to the perilous, loony nature of life right now. It is the dangerous situation of being alive—anything can happen. Linji said, “We can’t stay here long,” so relish it! Even in the middle of a disaster you can have a marvelous time. What constitutes a predicament? You oppose what is happening, by overlaying what should be going on. Music for meditation from Jordan McConnell & Michael Wilding. Recorded in the Sunday Temple on September 11, 2022.
So, rather than thinking a predicament is something we’ve got to get rid of, it’s just life—and it has its own dynamism. Maybe we have to walk through it, not run the other way. It’s all right to weep about it, or be frustrated and angry. You can’t be someone else, you are who you are. The gateway is yours, not someone else’s. From recording at Summer Sesshin, July 11 2013, Santa Sabina.