One day, while the Layman was meditating in his sitting hut, he suddenly cried out, “It’s hard, hard, hard! And I’ve put two coats of linseed oil on this platform too!”
His wife said, “It’s easy, easy, easy! Just turn your eyes to the floor, lower your feet to it, and be on your way!”
Ling-zhao said, “It’s not hard or easy! The mind of the Patriarchs is in every blade of grass!”
This is a koan with the Pang family, Mr. and Mrs. Pang and their daughter, Ling-zhao. Mr. Pang, a layman, never took up monk’s robes, ever. Nonetheless, he is regarded as having a deep understanding of life. And in this family, it doesn’t stop with the “man of the house.” Exceptionally gifted, this family is shown in many koans as exhibiting a wonderful give and take, each member challenging and furthering the understanding of the others. Someone should write a story, shoot a film, or put on a play. I’d go. I especially love Ling-zhao. She is delightful, not at bit shy in the fullness of her living. In patriarchal China, Ling-zhao is a sensation. She shows herself as one with flexible, responsive and free in the moment. Take this koan.
Layman Pang is belly aching. it is hard and he deserves more from life, from his meditation. He is put out, despite his supreme effort all he gets is “hard.” I wonder how he felt as his wife makes her declaration, not hard, “easy,” she says. It is as simple as can be -- sit in meditation, eyes to the floor, feet on the ground and you’ll get it. If I were their counselor I might wonder if there was more going on here than a conversation about meditation of life. But, I really like Ling-zhao’s response, not hard or easy, she says. “The mind of the Patriarchs is in every blade of grass.”
Wowzers! The blades of grass that are difficult, the heavy thoughts, the grief, the pain. Or what of those blades that are easy? the thrill of a love affair? the feeling that you get when a toddler walks up to you and grabs your hand? In every blade of grass, regardless of what we might think or what we might feel, that is the mind of the Patriarchs/Matriarchs. This means that each experience in life is a gate to deeper appreciation, a movement towards awakening. Each experience, hard or easy, humorous or dead serious, big or small is a pointer along the way, an invitation….
Of course, here I remember Blake
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
And then, Jesus:
The realm of God is in your midst.
See you Wednesday! 6:30 pm.