Posted inGateless Gate, Koans, Koans/Poems, Videos

10,000 Year Traveller: Summer Sesshin, Talk 3

July 28, 2022

Every step of the way was already the home you always longed to reach.

from 10,000 Year Traveler, by Henry Shukman

First, Henry gives a brief background about the Sanbo Zen lineage which is a hybrid of both Soto and Rinzai lineages. But, they are really the same and have the same root: This moment just as it is. If we get this, we’ve got Zen.

Henry then continues with Tozan’s Three Beatings koan, from the Gateless Gate which he began exploring on the previous day of this summer retreat. Tozan has approached Unmon and answers the master’s questions: Where have you come from? When did you leave? Tozan gives straight forward answers, but he completely fails. Tozan is utterly confused and wonders what he did wrong. The next day Tozan returns to Unmon and asks, how was I wrong? Unmon answers, “You are nothing but a rice bag. What are you doing, wandering around, west of the river and south of the lake?” When hearing this response, Tozan has a realization.

Henry delves into to Tozan’s realization which seems to be about wandering, the way Tozan is trying to find something. We all have a similar calling, we have the sense that our way of experiencing life is somehow misaligned (this is suffering). There is a hazard inherent within this calling – it has a goal. The discovery to make is that there is no where to go, no place to get to, except right here, right now. The destination is discovering there is no destination. There never was a journey. Thus: Rice bag!

10,000-YEAR TRAVELER,
isn’t it time to have a rest,
to put your feet up at the inn, 
settle by the fire, 
have a welcome pint?

Don’t you know your destination 
is reached only 
when you realize
there never was a destination,

and your pilgrimage finds its end 
only when you understand 
the sacred shrine is not
waiting further down the road?

Stand under the walls 
of your own citadel,
watch them fall around you.
See where you’ve been 
all along.

Then you’ll know 
that every step of your way 
was already the home 
you always longed to reach.
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