They say our weather, at last, is headed in a new direction. Over a week ago, one of the optimistic meteorologists wrote in the forecast discussion, “maybe just maybe, there is going to be a significant change in the weather pattern.” The forecast confidence has grown day by day, though the probability of significant rain seems to have diminished. Nonetheless, when they say a system is “Alaskan in origin”, there is reason for hope.
After nearly two weeks of dense smoke, week-end breezes mixed it up a bit on Saturday and we could see clouds high overhead, and the red sun at sunset. A few boats went out on the water, which feels so out of season by now. The smoke essentially ended summer and put us in this limbo zone where it’s not summer and it’s not autumn and we’re hovering in Purgatory. In a poem by Corey Mesler, he writes, “the heat was like a separate personality”, just as this smoke has become an omniscient power, controlling our fates, as in ancient Greek mythology. I find a certain comfort in explaining the unreliable forces of nature to the myth that Zeus, the king of all the weather gods, is pissed off and is exacting retribution over the earth with earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and fire. I just ordered an old book by the Korean Zen Master, Soen-sa, entitled Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, after I read a review which says it describes “the Zen practice to such perennial questions as why sanity requires befriending our insanity.”
Most events in my life remind me I’ve lost perspective, and as Sarah once advised, when I was having problems of another sort, “sell the goat”, referring to the old parable, described in Judith Lasater’s book. I randomly opened that book last night, looking for a way to soothe myself into sleep, and lo and behold, it opened to the goat story.
“A villager lived in a small house with his wife, mother-in-law, six children, a cow, and some chickens. It was driving him crazy. So he went to the village rabbi and asked for help. The rabbi said he could solve the problem: he advised the man to buy a goat. Overjoyed, the man immediately went out and bought a goat. Now he had a wife, a mother-in-law, six children, a cow, some chickens, and a goat. The house was even more chaotic than before. The villager returned to the rabbi and described the increased chaos. Once again the rabbi said he could solve the problem. He told the man to sell the goat. Obediently, the villager went home and sold his goat. Suddenly, all he had in his small house were a wife, his mother-in-law, his six kids, a cow, and some chickens. Things were positively peaceful without that goat… (From Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Lasater, p.37)
A kong-an is like a finger pointing at the moon. If you are attached to the finger, you don’t understand the direction, so you cannot see the moon. If you are not attached to any kong-an, then you will understand the direction. The direction is the complete don’t-know mind…Your situation, your condition, your opinions — throw them all away. From Dropping Ashes on the Buddha by Soen-sa