As Guisahn the teacher and Yangshar the student were strolling together outside the monastery, a crow flew past with a persimmon in its beak and dropped the fruit in front of them. Guishan picked it up and passed to Yangshan, who, after washing the fruit in water, returned it to his teacher. Guishan asked, "What do you mean by this?
Yangshan replied, "This is a reward for your great goodness."
Guishan said, "But you shouldn't come away empty-handed and he gave half the fruit to Yangshan.
As I type this I am reminded of Jesus's encounter with the rich man. The rich man comes to Jesus, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answers him, "Why do you call me good?"
This koan from Guishan has settled on me and stayed there for about a month. I find it incredibly intimate, revealing our relationship to our selves, to our teachers and friends, and to the present moment. The crow makes her call, dropping the persimmon in the path of the Yangshan and his friend and beloved teacher, Guishan.
Today it is a persimmon, perhaps tomorrow we will stumble on peach blossoms or if we were so inclined we could consult the Christian scripture where we would find, Jesus, teacher, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a woman who takes some yeast and places it in some dough." The universe will come to you, persimmons, a woman with yeast, the smile of a friend, the way the sun hits the finish on your car. The crow makes her presentation. The question is, What do you do with that? There is a call, what is your response?
Tomorrow we will touch life through this koan. This koan is a fiercely intimate one, uncovering the kindness that is the foundation of life forever present. This is a kindness unachievable which can neither be lost or taken away.
I look forward seeing you at The Open Door.
Here is a lovely story about a young girl who makes friends with crows: please click here