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A student asked the teacher, “This is not the present function of mind. This is not the matter before me. What is it?”
The teacher cried, “One teaching upside down!”
In the notes for this koan, it is said that the student in this story has had some kind of awakening, but is now asking a question from his attachment to oneness.
The teacher’s response points this out – but is also a complete response in itself.
As we approached Thanksgiving here in the U.S., there were, as always, an abundance of online articles with titles like “How to talk to your relative about politics”. One article I saw as I scrolled through my news app was “How to talk to climate change deniers”. I saw that the author herself was a climate scientist. I clicked on the article with relish, expecting her to describe how she taunted her adversary with rhetorical questions and snarky comments. But no: she described how she doesn’t even try to convince them of her reality; she instead looks for common interests related to environment. Perhaps they share a concern about air pollution, or even just saving heating costs. From this perspective, she talks to the person about practical steps that can be taken for their shared interests.