a. In the Sea of Ise, ten thousand feet down, lies a single stone.
I want to pick up that stone
without getting my hands wet.
b. Here is the stone, inscribed with three lines:
1 The top line is a signature.
2 The right line reads, “Cannot get wet.”
3 The left line reads, “Cannot get dry.”
– PZI Miscellaneous Koans, Case 27
From an 8th century C.E. imperial Japanese song. The Shrine at Ise is the most sacred site of Shinto, Japan’s indigenous religion. It is sacred to foxes. This is one of the few Japanese koans in the curriculum.
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.
Audio PZI Zen Online- The koan: Sea of Ise inspires Covid dreaming. Dream vacation: scuba diving in Brooklyn Harbor? What is feared opens to beauty. The dark Sea of Brooklyn held a surprise. As recorded May 18 2020
PZI Zen Online Audio: John takes us further into our lockdown descent with a predicament koan that interrupts our usual ways of navigating, into the Sea of Ise 10,000 feet down, to a single stone. Session includes meditation segments, John’s talk and koan, closing music, and participating teachers’ commentary. As recorded April 5 2020.