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“I’ve built a grass hut where there’s nothing of value.
After eating I relax and enjoy a nap.
When it was completed, fresh weeds appeared.
Now it’s been lived in – covered by weeds.” – Shitou
Recently I called a friend and confessed having difficulty with an unsolvable problem. This is a habit—to see my problem as unsolvable, and to see it as “a problem.” (And here I am, at it again.) In response, my friend read me Shitou’s Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage (a Chan ancestor.) Hearing it was an immediate balm!
And soon enough, I reverted to my querulous way in the world—becoming seduced by “my problems” yet again. I would only be happy if they were all solved for good, and that I was this close to solving them! A question has been lodged in my heart, “How do I live with happiness, ease, and delight—if I need to be vigilant and maneuvering for survival?” What do I do about the fear, that quiet panic, of not “making it to the finish line safe and happy”? This is making me laugh right now, you are seeing the workings of my fevered mind. But also, seriously…how?
I have really started to feel, in my bones, that having a practice is more vital, more life-giving than “making it to the finish line” (whatever that means!) What is it when I’m not defining and shaping my life around “my problems”, am I ok? The shift towards prioritizing practice (in my heart of hearts!) came when I exhausted myself prioritizing “survival.” It was the slightest shift, and sweet.
Shitou’s Song of the Grass Hut (as it’s also called) comes out to meet me (and you) from open-hearted space and from life in the grass hut. The hut itself is sweet, as is the space!