One day, when Dongshan and a monk were washing their bowls,
they saw two crows fighting over a frog.
The monk asked, “Why does it always have to be like that?”
Dongshan replied, “It’s only for your benefit, honored one.”

(PZI Miscellaneous Koan)

The other day as I was getting ready to make some coffee, I reached for the scoop and it wasn’t where I always put it. The thought came to my mind: “Why does somebody always move that scoop!?” Next came, “Why do I always do that?”—noticing how quick I am to blame, even to blame myself for blaming.

Then my eyes drifted about six inches to one side and … there was the scoop.

Again, “Why do I always do that!?” came along. Why am I so locked into what I think I know about the way things are that I can’t see the way things are? Like that scoop, so close to where it was “supposed to be,” yet I couldn’t see it.

It was about then that this koan involving Dongshan paid me a visit. Hearing Dongshan say “It is only for your benefit,” was more confusing than comforting. How could blaming and misperceiving reality—due to my preconceived ideas—be for my benefit? Is it like bad-tasting medicine? And then there was the “honored one” part of the koan. Appreciating that it was for my benefit is hard enough, let alone that I was to be honored for having had the experience.

Sometime later, maybe the same day, Sarasa and I were sitting in front of the large picture windows in our living room enjoying the sunset as it sank exactly between two peaks across the bay. The sky was starting to be electrified and there was a cat on my lap, and again I heard Dongshan say, “It is only for your benefit, honored one.”

—David Weinstein, March 19th, 2024

David Weinstein Roshi


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David Weinstein Roshi, Director of Rockridge Meditation Community


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