|Beach in Costa Rica|
This morning I was reminded by a student of this lovely koan case from the Gateless Gate collection by Wumen, number 12. It was a special favorite of my first Zen teacher, and I have come to love it as well. This wonderful teacher, Ruiyan, calls out to himself and answers himself. Who is calling, and who is responding?
Every day Zen Master Ruiyan called to himself:
“Master!” and answered,
“Yes!” then he would say,
“Be aware!” and answer,
"Don't be deceived by others!"
Each human being is complex and made up of so many parts. Not one of us resembles anyone else who has ever existed in the universe. And yet, we find commonality in the patterns of response we have to life coming forward. Ruiyan reminds us that we can be humble about everything, including being a Zen teacher. Who is the master to whom he calls out? And every one of us, no matter where we are on the path, needs to remember to be aware. Being deceived by others is the follow-up: who are those others? Could they be all of the voices of praise and blame we are subjected to on a daily basis? The folks who adore us and the folks who are so irritated that even hearing our voice is grating? And even more, perhaps, the internalized voices of judgment that arise endlessly. Don't be deceived, Ruiyan tells himself, and us, in words that echo through the centuries. Every voice of judgment is caught up in right and wrong. Going beyond this, there is only what is arising right now in this moment -- which may, of course, be thoughts of right or wrong! Everything shines with the light of Dharma. We can be comforted by this teaching, and go on our way doing the best we can in every moment. Are you aware? Don't be deceived by others!