Yunmen said, “Sickness and medicine heal each other.
The whole world is medicine. What are you?”

—Blue Cliff Record Case 87

The first thing that paid a visit as I began keeping company with this saying from Yunmen was remembering that the medication Warfarin, which is used to prevent blood clots, is also the main ingredient of rat poison. Poison and medicine exactly correspond.

Then a saying of Hongzhi came to mind:

Medicine and sickness are a pair difficult to separate. When the bottom is filled with rubbish, just walk through the sludge. Do not laugh at the snail, meandering in its own slime.

In the Tibetan meditation tradition, people who practice meditation for the benefit of other people, bodhisattvas, are likened to peacocks: It is said that the brilliant colors in a peacock’s tail feathers come from the fact that the peacock eats poison and transmutes this into brilliant colors. 

As yucky as snail slime might be to us, it’s what allows the snail to glide along in the way it does. When my mind is filled with rubbish that gets in the way of my experiencing the moment as it is arising, trying to get rid of that rubbish creates more rubbish. 

To be able to find our life in the midst of the rubbish and sludge is not to “make do” with a bad situation, but to glide along like that snail, appreciating how rubbish and treasure are a pair difficult to separate.

—David Weinstein, July 9th, 2023

David Weinstein Roshi


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David Weinstein Roshi, Director of Rockridge Meditation Community


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