Damei asked Mazu, “What is awakening?”
Mazu said, “This very mind is awakening.”

This koan is Case 30 in the Gateless Barrier collection. In the verse he composed as a response to this koan, Wumen said:

“‘What is awakening?’ you ask. Hiding the loot, you declare your innocence.”

Wumen’s verse reminds me of a time when I was visiting my grandparents. I had snuck into the kitchen to get a cookie, which was in my grandmother’s ceramic owl cookie jar. After tiptoeing into the kitchen slowly to not make any sound, I carefully lifted the head off the owl and placed it on the counter, again careful to not make any sound. I had to stand on my toes to reach up and into the space where the owl’s head had been, and then down into the bowels of the owl to snag a cookie. Just as my fingers reached a cookie my grandmother came into the kitchen and said “What are you doing?” And I said, “Nothing.”

As I look back on that experience, I realize that the loot I was hiding was not the cookie. Had I not been hiding the ‘real’ loot, I would have said, “I’m getting a cookie.”

Got any loot you’re hiding?


David Weinstein Roshi


David Weinstein Roshi,
Director of the Rockridge Meditation Community


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