Haven't a Clue

Dizang asked Fayan: When you get up from sitting, where are you going? Fayan said, “I’m on pilgrimage?” What is a pilgrimage about? I don’t know. Not knowing is most intimate.

When you get up from sitting...

Meditation is about being present, occupying your life, whole-heartedly diving in, welcoming. Meditation is not separate from your life. As if. There is no separation at all. You can sit down and just be in it, without assessing anything, without finding yourself wrong. To meditate is to welcome the gift that comes-- no need to control or make it right. And that gift can be anything, pleasure or pain, sorrow or misery, a joy leaping in your heart. There is no right to meditation, no preferred technique. No wrong either. It is not mystical if you mean by that being focused on a “higher, separate, more real, reality.” I guess you don’t even need to sit down. Meditation is more like an inquiry, “what is here for me now? How is my life rising to meet me?” Right away with this koan, I wonder, “how can I get up from sitting and go anywhere else?” Wouldn’t that be to divorce myself from what is here? Dizang asks, “where are you going?” Where is there to go? And the dialogue continues…

I’m on pilgrimage.

Two years ago I visited El Santuario de Chimayo in Chimayo, New Mexico. In Chimayo there is a Holy Dirt Room (HDR). The story is this: anoint yourself with dirt, you will find healing, everything will be made right. And in the anteroom to the HDR you can find verification of the dirt’s wondrous power -- wheelchairs and crutches line the walls. Visiting Chimayo I was on pilgrimage. Fascinated, and in a dark period of my life. I thought maybe something is there in Chimayo that is not in the here of my life. Maybe there is this thing on the outside, Holy Dirt, that will bring healing on the inside, that will lift my crippled life. Another way of saying this is that I was finding my life out to be wrong, I was split off and maybe this, this will put me aright. So, if Dizang were to inquire of me, “where are you going?” “On pilgrimage,” I’d say, “off to Chimayo!”

There are lots of pilgrimages we make in life, ways of stepping out of life into some promise. Sometimes we look to relationships: I will be made whole in him/her. Or, religion: I am made complete in my adoration of this God or that Saint. Or, as I assent to a particular belief, I will finally find peace. I have walked many of these paths -- walk them still. In the old days in China, monks would use the summer months to wander, to seek out teachers, to venture out, hoping to find something. So when Dizang asks, Fayan, when you get up, where will you go? Fayan responds, I’m on pilgrimage. His goal: something out there, a home that he might discover, an answer that he might find out there, somewhere over the rainbow.

What is pilgrimage about?

Here the conversation between Dizang and Fayan turns a bit, becomes more intimate. Here’s a little prod from the teacher as if to say, “Oh, pilgrimage, that’s interesting, what do you hope to find? Maybe it was just because Dizang asked that Fayan began to doubt. That is how it goes sometimes, someone inquires about something “that everyone knows,” and our view changes a bit, doubt dawns. We do that in our close relationships sometimes, where we dare to ask one another, “really, what makes you think that I am the one who can cure your ills?” Or it may take a teacher like Jesus to turn things over for us, “You have heard it said, “love your neighbor and hate your enemies.” I say, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” So, Dizang asks about pilgrimage. Everyone knows we go to find something. Only here, Fayan hesitates, and says....

I don’t know

How hard it is to get to that place of “don’t know!” Doubt cuts through and what you always have believed about the world and salvation, life and meaning and purpose and love and hope and promise is eclipsed in a world of doubt. The light turns, the focus changes and moves from the outside, in. Linji, another teacher, once said, “If something confronts you, don’t believe it. Turn the light inward. Always trust the light that is within you.” Jesus put it like this, “You are the light of the world.” Either way, you are left with your life, the world as it comes to you, the skin you were born into, your beating heart, your hopes and fears, the churning of thoughts and feelings. It is just this, nothing else. So, Fayan let it drop…

Not knowing is most intimate

Intimacy is what we want, that place where it comes together seamlessly, inside and out. We want it and we have never left it.It is presnt before ever wanting and having. Before we even set foot on the road, it is there. That is why in the first line of the koan, Dizang asks, “After sitting where will you go?” As if there were anywhere. You life is here and you can receive it without opinion, assesment, right or wrong. A gift, life comes without expectation. If we have a life’s journey it is only this step and then this one. We open our hearts and receive. And we find that as we begin to live our lives as they are, it is not just for us that we live -- everyone benefits as we join the unfolding. We walk the great earth. Life is. Love is.

A funny thing happened in Chimayo: the Holy Dirt Room, while interesting, did not heal me (I do have 3 pound of the stuff in my church office if you are interested). It wasn’t the dirt, It was the crow. Coming out of the chapel, “Caw, caw.” That was it, for that moment I was free calling out to the others.


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