To turn toward the difficult thing is usually a move of compassion. We think it’ll be a fierce warrior move, but it’s not, actually. And when we turn toward what’s difficult, it becomes mysterious and unknown and strange and interesting. Whatever it is, your dilemma—if you turn toward that, it’s to let the koan be there. So we stop trying to flee. And suddenly we’re at peace, and instead of it being the thing that we don’t want to do, it’s the gateway into freedom.
John opens the Harvest Moon Retreat at the Angela Center with an ancient koan about a buffalo passing through a lattice window. “It is like a buffalo passing through a window. Its head, horns, and four legs have all passed through. Why is it that its tail cannot?” Meditation on the tail and the question of the tail. What is the tail, why could a huge buffalo enter but the tail cannot? —As recorded October 13, 2013.
David Weinstein Roshi continues the conversation during retreat regarding the ancient Koan about the buffalo passing through a lattice window. How can the buffalo get through the lattice window – all but the tail? What is it that is difficult for me to let in? Can we be compassionate with ourselves when we find the place on our life where there is a no trespassing sign?
John opens the evening with the koan “The True Person of No Rank.” It goes something like this: “There is a true person of no rank who is always coming and going from the portals of your face.” Who is that person of no rank? Linji was a great teacher and the ancestor of most of the koan lines of Zen and this is a koan of his. It has been used since ancient times as a meditation both for beginners and advanced students. Probably the best way to work with it is to play with it. Don’t rank how you are doing. Just let it keep you company, like an animal would. You forget about it, but every time you look, there it is! And after a while it doesn’t go away. October 17, 2013.