“Secure and intimate with the whole of reality, experienced right here and now, so that you can directly undertake entering the flow and transforming things.”
— Blue Cliff Record, Case 55
Great questions are windows through which we attempt to glimpse the vastness and its intentions for us. They appear unbidden at critical turns in our lives, and intensify as we grow nearer to awakening.
In the ancient Chinese Oracle Bone character, Great—large, vast, huge—appears in decidedly human form, intimating just how inextricable we are from the unfathomable; and Question—matter, query—appears as a gate.
The koan tradition is a kind of travelogue of entering such gates, into the depths of our own being and the being of the universe itself. The old seekers were forever trying to corral things in terms the mind could understand, but the old teachers are still swinging the gates open wide for us to discover the vastness ourselves.
The journey to enlightenment is always going on whether we notice it or not, even if we are sure that we are headed in the wrong direction. Sometimes you just stroll along and one day a thought appears like a cloud, “Hang on, the fullness of this life, the vividness in my hands, is the same as the vividness in the stars.” Trees have it, birds have it, tortillas have it, and ants. Things have a perfection in them. Sometimes it’s a shock and sometimes it’s more like, “I knew this all along.”
Meditation is not a task with a known goal. It’s something you can’t do wrong, a chance for the things of this world to come towards you and to meet you, for doors to open by themselves, and for us to see where the ancient paths lead.