In the sea of Ise,
ten thousand feet down, lies a single stone
I want to pick up that stone
without getting my hands wet.
It would be nice if these metaphors would stand still!! A few weeks ago we sat with a Japanese koan of the sieve. A teacher challenges a student to fill the sieve with water. She tries and tries to no avail and the water just runs out. Life is like that as we seek to fill ourselves with meaning, purpose, etc...a process that never ends. The teacher comes along and together they walk to the beach. The teacher takes he sieve and tosses it into the sea, immersing if and "filling it full of water." We are the the midst of life, we find our lives in what is here, immersed in it all. That was the koan of the sieve.
And now we have a stone, ten thouseand feet down and the koan asks us to consider picking up that stone without getting our hands wet. How can we be immersed without getting wet? So, let's dive in!
When I dive into the ocean I find layers. Near the surface the water is warm and the sunlight shines clear. Swimming deeper the water cools, and then becomes cold; the light is diffuse and the deeper I go, the less light there is. The deepest depths, yes, 10000 feet down -- no light -- you feel your way through the darkness. But the point here is the layers -- it is like diving through miy life, through the stories and experiences that I have embraced to create a self, a David with whom I negotiate this world. Through the layers -- circumstances of my birth, my upbringing, my parents with their successes and failures. Stuff that heppened to me along the way: a borken arm, bullied in High School, romance, successes, experiences in the outdoors. All those layers! Ten thousand feet -- that's a lot of life. And at the bottom one stone. I want to pick up that stone without getting wet. This journey thorugh life is filled with a desire to go home -- to pick up the stone, to greet my true self there in the depths. But how to do that, without getting wet? I assure you, it can be done. Here's a clue: Original Face.
As soon as you have the stone, life gets interesting again. There is some writing on the stone.
There is a line across the top of the stone. On the line is written a name. What is that name?
There is a line to the right it says, "Cannot get wet."
There is a line on the left. It says, "Cannot get dry."
So, this stone that I just picked up without getting my hands wet informs me that it "Cannot get wet." BUT, also we find it cannot get dry.
I remember about 14 years ago, I was with a man who had had a deblilitating stroke and could not speak. As I was visiting with him, communication was diffiicult, awkward at best. I remembered that he liked to sing and started to sing Amazing Grace. To my surprise he joined in (singing engages a different part of the brain than does speech), not a whisper but a loud fortissimo. I sang, he sang, we sang together, disturbing all the other patients on the nursing home floor. But, then, the lady next door joined in and then her roommate and on down the floor. I looked at Don, the tears were streaming down his face as they were down mine. About a week later, Don died. My tears flowed again as I remembers "Amazing Grace."
This stone ten thousand feet down cannot get wet, neither can it get dry. Like the sieve.
See you Wednesday.