Monday, February 2, 2009

Leap, and the net will appear

Tired, it's late. But I wanted to record the small insight I had today, still being dogged by the koan "Man up a Tree." (And not stopping to think about rewriting it as Woman up a Tree. Or Wun up a Tree. I am fond of Wun, a sort of anonymous template human.)

The thought came as an image while I was carefully steering through the parking lot at the health club, where people seemed likely today to get in wrecks. I visualized a man hanging from a tree, hanging by his mouth, remember, in his dilemma, and then I saw the grass just a few inches under him. Aha, I thought. The koan cleverly omits to say how high in the tree he is. So, no problem. Just let go and fall out of the dilemma. Land on the nice soft grass. Sometimes we make our dilemma so convoluted that this is the only way to handle it.

The image reminded me of a saying that floats around Zen circles, said to be written by John Burroughs: Leap, and the net will appear. Someone I know told me that saying inspired him to drop out of his career and fulfill his dream to study for the ministry. Well, as Suzuki said about the building of a Zen Center, a lot of bad things will come out of it, but maybe something good will happen, too.

Lying there on the grass, Wun could think about the symbolism of grasses in the Buddhist tradition as Robert Aitken described it:
If you do not cut off the mind road, then you are a ghost clinging to bushes and grasses. 'Bushes' and 'grasses' are shorthand for the many fixations that provide the ghost with identity - such as money and possessions, old resentments, and persistent habits of thought.
That's what I mean when I say, I've really got to get disorganized. Lose some of those things. The possessions are really the least of the problem.

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