Once Shenshan was mending clothes when Dongshan came by. Dongshan asked, “What are you doing?” Shenshani said, “I'm sewing.” Dongshan asked, “What is sewing?” Shenshan i said, “Each stitch follows the other.” Dongshan said, “If my companion of twenty years says so, I guess there's some point.” Shenshan said, “What would you say, elder brother?” Dongshan said, “With each stitch the world spews flames!”
It is lovely to be back from retreat. The theme of the retreat was friendship – our friendship with one another, with the world, with the koans themselves. So with this koan you have this wonderful friendship between two teachers, Shenshan, the younger of the two and Dongshan. Fireworks ensue, indeed the whole world is aflame.
Every day I do stuff. Yesterday, I spent the day at home. I visited the farmer’s market, talked with vendors, ate peaches. Later I visited a family of owls nesting in a nearby palm tree. It was a nice day, perhaps like any other – visiting, talking, using my camera, eating, dancing to the live music at the market. All that is good enough, just like Shenshan’s response to Donghan’s “What is sewing?” “Each stitch follows the other.” There is a certain beauty. Sewing is sewing, one stitch at a time, and when eating peaches one bite follows the other. But, what else? Dongshan takes Shenshan’s response as a starting place and when Shenshan asks him what he would say you can feel the heat.
There is passion, a flame present in each moment, in all things. Life shimmers and calls us up and out of ourselves into the jumping flames. Each stitch spews flames? How is this for you in your life? This is what we will talk about on Wednesday evening – what a nice way to follow Lauren’s dragon!