Tag Archives: koan

when the Buddha’s head disappears

As I walked to feed the birds these past ten days, I noticed how everything looks in the snow. Today is the third snowstorm SW Ohio has had in a short period of time. Lucky me, I’m retired though an active retiree. The first part of 2010 has seen me with less structure than I’m accustomed to.

So I have time to look. Yesterday, I chanted in front of the fireplace; afterward, just sat watching the flames. In the winter, it’s not the creek that’s the focus but logs burning into nothingness. Recently the ice and snow have captured my attention.

I have a small Buddha statue in my side yard. For most of the years I’ve lived here, I had him under what I call my “leaning tree.” This is a small pine that is close enough to my side window that I can watch the natural activity from my desk. I’ve made a commitment each winter to feed the birds. Sometime last year, I felt it was time for the Buddha to have a new view. I decided he should face west so I moved him several yards from the tree to sit under that window. Now he can watch the birds instead of being knocked down by the squirrels.

The second snow storm in this series, I noticed he was up to his head in snow. In a moment of compassion, I brushed several inches of snow off so at least he could watch his birds. This morning, the Buddha was gone. Disappeared. He was in a snow drift of his own.

Isn’t this what it’s about, anyway? Losing your head isn’t such a bad thing. For me, it’s usually been a good idea. Although I’ve been considered smart all my life, my mind has been my biggest tormentor. That is who tells me negative things about myself, assaults me with shoulds, and too often keeps that general worry current going. When I get a message from a statue, I take it seriously. As I sloshed past that window, I acknowledged, “the Buddha’s head has disappeared.” This my snow koan of the season.

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overwhelmed no more

Of course, I’m fooling myself if I think I’ll never feel overwhelmed again. But this morning when my old reliable Pocket PC bit the dust, I felt a moment of panic: I won’t know what I’m doing! I won’t know what I’ve promised! I’m lost regarding anything having to do with schedules!

And then, peace. The sort of Emptiness that Zen Masters speak of. Wide open space. Wow, I needed that.

I have a clean slate. A new beginning; well, fall always felt like a new year to me, fall equinox, school starting. In fact, most pre-Christian cultures — those going by lunar cycles — have celebrations coming up.

Context: I’d been feeling overwhelmed lately. Even when I had an afternoon or evening free, I’d find myself worrying about what I’d committed to — taking Mr. G to the doctor, when would I work out, what seva was I doing at the Meditation Center, etc. Who’s in charge of my life, after all? Now that I’m doing a/v and communications at the annual Intensive next month, I told the other leaders that overwhelm was my fear. Veena called me from work the other day and asked “Are you feeling overwhelmed today?” Great zen koan.

I know class #3 of the Mastery Class is this Tuesday so I’m taking myself on an artist date to a coffeehouse to write my heart out. It’s not only rainy today but there’s a lovely mist lingering over the creek and woods outside my house. Very dreamlike and inspiring.

On my way home from the coffeehouse, I’m stopping at Staples to pick up an old-fashioned paper scheduler!