Talking to Myself

Every day Ruiyan would call to himself, "Maste!

And every day he would respond, "Yes!”

Then he would say, "Are you awake?”


"Don't be fooled by others


I think I am always talking to myself. Sometimes, I might ask myself where I left my keys. At other times, I am explaining myself to myself -- as if I were trying to convince myself that it really isn’t my fault, or I would be a better person if only…..I have noticed that sometimes if I have nothing to say to myself, and I happen to check in, I find myself talking gibberish! To myself. Something like this, “chicken, motorboat, small potatoes, in the afternoon or was it yesterday” About that I haven't a clue -- mind needs something to do. So, talking to ourselves, even answering, this is something we all know. Finally, much of this small, self talk is about getting through my day with my self-image intact, David in charge. I have heard it said that if people could really read one another’s thoughts it would be mayhem and chaos -- a real mess!

Chan Master Ruiyan is talking to himself but it feels like something vital is going on here. Not small self talk, that would be being fooled. No Ruiyan seems to have found something more vast, larger than small self. That’s where he directs his conversation.

And finally you are Ruiyan. Here’s your dialogue:

“Master!” Who is calling? and to whom?

‘Yes!” And who answers?

“Are you awake?” What a funny question! If you are calling to yourself, how could it be otherwise? Ah, maybe he is asking, “Are you here? Present?” Or, “Are you lost in the reverie of that smaller version of yourself -- finding fault, fixing, worried or filled with regret. “Are you here?”

“Yes!” There is that Yes! again. He is present, here and now. What more is there other than this Yes! Yes! seems like a pretty fine place to be. As someone says in another koan, “Buddha has no address. Where will you find her?” Yes! seems good. Or No! just might do as well.

“Don’t be fooled by others.” Which others would those be? Within the seamless, boundless Yes! there is no foolin’. Seems like mostly I fool myself as I wander far from home.

“No!” See “Yes!” up above.

What a lovely koan! We will sit with it tomorrow night @ Open Door, 6:30 pm.





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