using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : September 2007
“Wait, stay here. I’ll go get your mother. Do you promise not to move?” I nodded, leaning against the rail guard. Moments later my parents pulled up together. My mother ran out of the car. “Natli, what’s the matter?” I uttered three words: “I am lost.” I had no energy for a cover- up. Those words came from my core. Everything halted. My mother stood with her hands at her sides. My father looked straight ahead, his face frozen, his arm hanging over the door of the car. Nothing was to be done. It was a huge, unbearable opening between us. My parents became embarrassed. So did I. We’d never been so naked with each other. After a long, excruciating time my father’s head turned. “Now can we go eat? I’m starving.” THE MONK DID NOT have this distraction. No restaurant for him. My experience was that the monk stood his ground for all time. He did not reply after he showed his naked face. But like the rabbis making commentary on the Torah, later Zen teachers responded to koans, and in this case disagreed over the monk’s state of mind. Maybe the attendant in his silence had emptied his depths, so that the rhinoceros, the source, stood there radi- antly, painfully alive in his no reply. Or maybe he was just dumb- founded and petrified, thinking, what should I do now in front of my teacher? In the next sentence, in steps Zifu. He draws a circle and writes the word “rhino” inside it. I imagine that he picked up a nearby stick and drew the circle in the dirt or in the air and then wrote the Chinese character boldly in the center. I found out that Zifu was a Zen master who lived at least a hundred years after the interchange between Yanguan and the monk. These stories, passed on generation to generation, were kept splendidly alive. Sitting in his monastery, Zifu hears the situation and plunges in. Zifu’s dust circle is a stamp of approval. His response radiates back through a century and screams for- ward to us now. Attendant I see you, Zifu calls out. Yes, Zifu is saying, this exchange between student and teacher is complete. Nothing is left out. Even if the attendant was immo- bilized rather than inexpressively present, Zifu catches the whole thing and brings it to completion, enlightening the attendant, the rhino, the teacher, folding us all into the great circle. I SPENT THE AUTUMN of my fiftieth year roaming through these Chinese minds. I began to see everything as a koan. The news announced that bread burned in someone’s kitchen in Blue Earth and the house went down in flames. Everything now was related. The house, the bread, the town in southern Minnesota presented a koan. How could I step into those flames and burn too? Life became a revolving story. No matter from what age or country, it met me where I was. I watched my friend Wendy, an old practitioner and the gar- dener for twenty years at Green Gulch, a Zen farm outside of San Francisco, answer questions after a reading from her forthcom- ing book, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate. “How big is your garden?” one of my students queried. Wendy was struck silent for a full minute. The audience fidg- eted in their seats. I realized what was happening. “Wendy,” I leaned over, “this is not a koan—she’s not chal- lenging your whole being. She just wants to know in feet the area you garden.” Wendy snapped back. “Many feet are cultivated.” Then she went on to speak of once putting a dead deer in the compost heap and a month later nothing was left but hooves and bones. In the Book of Serenity, Guishan asks Yangshan where he comes from, and Yangshan replies, the fields. There are many fields to come from—playing fields, plowing fields, the upper or lower field, or the dharma field spread out before us. Soon after I returned home to Taos, I had a week of teaching with my good friend Rob Wilder. He is sharp and has a generous heart. Little goes by him. We sat together at dinner the second night of the workshop. I was eager to share where I had been. I told him about koans, then I told him about the last one I worked on. I laid out the case, how I entered it, what I understood. He was listening intently, the way only a writer can from years of developing an attunement to story and sound. He nodded often. I felt encouraged. I went to bed that night happy. I had been afraid, coming home from St. Paul, that no one would understand where I had been. The next morning was a silent breakfast. Almost everyone had already cleared out of the dining room when Rob sidled up next to me. “Nat,” he said in a low voice, “I was thinking how amazing it is. We can know each other so well. We can be such good friends, and I had no idea what you were talking about last night.” My head snapped back. What’s going on here? The fan of our communication was fractured? A student walked in and we shut up. I gulped down some water to swallow the ball of cornflakes that sat in my mouth. I felt almost lonely, walked to the brink of isolation. Rob was on one side of the old adobe dining room and I on another. Suddenly something in front of my eyes shattered. The rhino emerged glistening. I abruptly started to laugh, big eruptions through my entire body. This was one whole world. Rob Wilder was my relation. We had plunged right into the lineage together. No one left out. The water glass, the spoon, the flow- ers in the vase, all glimmered and shook. Who was laughing? Hours melted in my hand. The walls of the building dissolved. Everyone and no one lifted the spoon to take the next bite of cereal. ♦ SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2007 71 SEPT 66-71.indd 71 SEPT 66-71.indd 71 6/25/07 5:05:53 PM 6/25/07 5:05:53 PM