Lingyun was wandering in the mountains and became lost in his walking. He rounded a bend and saw peach blossoms on the other side of the valley. This sight awakened him and he wrote this poem:
For thirty years I searched for a master swordsman.
How many times did the leaves fall
and the branches break into bud?
But from the moment I saw the peach blossoms,
I’ve had no doubts.
Centuries later the Japanese teacher Keizan responded with his own poem:
The village peach blossoms didn’t know
their own crimson
but still they freed Lingyun
from all his doubts.
It seems like an early spring, if not in Boston at least here in Santa Rosa. The plums are in bloom. So, let's pull out a springtime koan. In this koan, Lingyun finds true intimacy with the peach blossoms across the valley.
In the spiritual search many of us are called what might be termed, "lifers." We are in it for the long haul, matters of spirit and meaning are at the very center of our lives. For me, this meant that I wanted to KNOW -- I wanted to fit in somehow, and sense that I was held withing love itself, that somehow things fell together. Sometimes this meant that I was ready to give myself to God, at other times it meant that, in protest (methinks that thou dost protest too much), I did not care one way or other. This spiritual journey means everything to a "lifer." Everything.
So, Lingyun. He searches for 30 years. He visits teachers, stays in hermitages, makes offerings, sits long hours in meditation. 30 years. Then one day he rounds a bend in the road and sees peach blossoms on the other side of the valley. The bottom fell out, he left himself, opening his heart, awakening him to the present moment. Peach Blossoms! He wonders at how this has happened every spring for those 30 years and he didn't see. In his poem, he declares, "From the moment I saw the peach blossoms, I've had no doubts."
Remarkable, reallty. No doubts. Not one? What must it be like to find oneself in this place of no doubts? Tomorrow evening let's meet there.