Everything seemed to be going wrong. The medical bills were mounting, an old friend was poking me with sharp words, and I could feel a virus coming on. Suffice it to say, it’s easy to get tied up in knots on a day like this. I opened up my computer and found a note from a friend. One of the things she asked in the note was, “How do you approach koans?” I told her, I plant koans into the loamy soil of my consciousness and watch them sprout up in odd and unexpected places throughout my everyday life. Sometimes the koan that pops up will be an obvious match for the day. For example, when I’m faced with a frightening next step, a koan such as take a step off the 100 foot pole might appear. When I’m loosing touch with my surroundings, a koan like not knowing is most intimate might appear. Sometimes the koan that shows up will seem to have little to do with what I’m facing. But somehow it will be perfect. On this day the koan that is showing up is:
When the wind blows through the willows,
The downy seed balls float away.
In the midst of upset, I watch and listen to the wind. It sings through the eucalyptus grove and plays its music on the wind chines on the back porch. The lyrics to the song are; life is mysterious, everything is moved by the wind. There is a koan where two monks are arguing about whether the wind is moving or the flag they just erected is moving. The sixth patriarch comes riding by and says, it is your mind that is moving. When I listen to the wind there is no difference between the tree, the wind and my mind. They are all creating the experience together. The mysterious and omnipresent wind-so alive!
Watching downy seed balls float through my imagination brings a sense of release and ease. Someone saying, “Just let go, these things mean nothing in the larger scheme of things”, is speaking the truth-but the words ring hallow. Watching those puffy seed balls float away in the wind of my imagination brings the feeling of letting go into my heart and body. I am the wind and the seed ball. We are all floating away together. Nothing to hang on to, no reason to hang on.
I have a tendency to want things to happen in my own time. A pretty human tendency. This koan reminds me that there is a more mysterious order than the one I would create. When the wind blows, the seed ball lets go. The seed ball doesn’t try to control which gust of wind will be the one that helps it leave the branch. It trusts that there is movement, there is always movement. If I become still and listen I can let myself relax into that movement and float along my way. A maddening day is just as real and alive as any other day. I can float along in the madness. Right along side the flotsam is the silver, shiny stone, the bubble of the brook and the still mountain. The little seed ball continues to float down the stream.