Zhaozhou Asks About Life after the Great Death

Zhaozhou asked Touzi, “When you’ve experienced the great death, how do you live?”

Touzi replied, “I don’t trust walking about in the night. Come back when you’ve given yourself to the daylight!”

Graduations are everywhere this month, announcing endings and beginnings simultaneously. Imagine a project, which has required all of life’s energy and intention and forbearance, and feel into the moments when it is coming to an end. When we graduate, or otherwise make great transitions, we can ask, “Who was I when I started?” And, “Who is here today?”

This koan makes me think of my coaching school, where we were told they were hoping to see a death in the year we would be together. At first I wondered at this until I lived my way into the experience. I think this is what the teacher is asking in this koan. The old way of understanding yourself, and even of being yourself, is departing. And this is in service of opening to a greater presence—not only with others but in our own experience of life itself. This is a koan about what it’s like to pass through the night journey and emerge alive.

Come meditate on what it means to experience the “great death” and “to give yourself to the daylight.” We’ll have tea and conversation and gluten-free treats, of course. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

Cindy

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