Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What is your place in karma?

I went through some years when I was fascinated by koans. I worked through Aitken's The Gateless Gate twice, consulting versions by two other authors as well.  I liked the koans my Teacher Ama Samy brought to us from the Sanbo Kyodan tradition.  People sometimes call koans "riddles" I see them as metaphors whose truth is realized only when you experience them in real life.  Some teachers, like John Tarrant, tell us just to carry the koan around, not thinking about it.  But I did think about them, often wrote my thoughts down. Then one day the koan would rise up and be apparent.

One of Ama Samy's koans was "What is your place in karma?"  This is a thinking-type koan.  I got it conceptually.  Then, today I saw it, a visual representation rising in my mind.  Karma, shaped like an elongated hourglass lying on its side.  Where it pinches in the middle, small as a pixel, that's me. A thousand megapixels flow into me, making me what I am:  DNA, moments in my culture, everything I ever saw and heard, every single experience with people, the natural world, changes in it - one cannot be exhaustive.  Moment by moment the little pixel I am, things flow into me, and I change, because the river changes but is still one river bearing me along.

Out of me flows that great river, now changed by every breath I exhale, every word I say and every action, maybe even changed by my solitary thoughts, angry or kind.

The work of art one might create to represent this would show the countless other myriad beings, flowing in the same great river, affecting me and being affected by me.  The big, bright blue jay who lands on the feeder, startling me and bringing a smile to my face, changing me.  Me changing him by keeping that feeder there.


  1. That's inspiring!!
    Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the visit. :)

  2. A perfect meditation, affecting me, shifting the planet.
    Thanks for inviting us into your garden to meet the blue jay.