Sept 16 – 22

Sometimes the best we can do may be very good; sometimes it is only mediocre.

– Ayya Khema, Be an Island


Retreat! On 2012 Sep 27-30, Zen Teacher Valerie Forstman will be leading a retreat at the Gainesville Retreat Center. More info at the Retreats page.

Practice Meetings

Tuesday Sep 18, 8:30am
Friday Sep 21, 7:00pm

This Week’s Reading

Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path While Cloud, Chapter 12, “Kanthaka”.

This Week’s Koan

Book of Serenity #44: “Koyo’s Suparnin”

A monk asked Master Ho of Koyo,

“The great dragon has emerged from the ocean, calming heaven and earth. How will you treat him when he suddenly appears before you?”

Master Ho said,

“Suparnin [1], the king of birds, absorbs the entire universe. Who can stick his head within him?”

The monk said,

“But how about when he does appear?”

Ho said,

“It is like a falcon catching a pigeon. If you don’t realize it, you will learn the truth through the ‘inspection before the balcony.’ [2]”

The monk said,

“If so, then I’ll fold my hands on my chest and retreat three steps.”

Ho said,

“You black tortoise under the Sumeru altar. [3] Don’t wait to be struck on the forehead again and get hurt.”

[1]: A giant bird that eats even dragons.

[2]: A reference to a story in which Heigenkun Chosho, the brother of the king of Cho and a wealthy landlord with 3,000 dependents, built a grand palace with a balcony that overlooked the main road. One day a crippled person was passing by and one of the concubines saw him and laughed. The crippled person was angered and demanded Heigenkun her head. Heigenkun presented the head of an executed convict as the head of the concubine. His dependents knew of his deception, lost faith in their master and gradually all left him. His fortunes declined, so at last he cut off the head of the concubine and presented it for the crippled person to inspect. After that the dependents returned and his fortunes were restored. The story is an allusion to the fact that you can never hide away the real truth.

[3]: A reference to one of the four carved figures, representing black tortoises, underneath the Sumeru altar (with the Buddha statue). It is used here as a symbol of someone who has lost the freedom of movement.

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