Message from Henry: Gone

Today’s Message from Henry is a short excerpt from Henry’s path of training as recounted in One Blade of Grass.


I had been sitting with a strange koan the past day or two, about Master Kyozan, in which he and a monk do a kind of charade. The monk makes movements with his body and arms, and each time Kyozan responds by drawing Chinese characters with brush and ink.

I hadn’t been able to make head or tail of it, but while I was sitting with the koan, it hit me that if everything was empty, that even the cherished “experiences” I’d had over the years were empty…

So what had I been doing all these years? What were the koans, the masters, the “experiences,” and the dokusan, the talks, the meditation even? What was Zen training? Was it all just a charade, like the two characters in the koan making their strange gestures, a hop-scotch going nowhere?

I was trying to put the pieces together. That long-ago experience in New Mexico: Was that the same as this? As my mind struggled to construct an understanding,  suddenly that former moment was immediately present. Time vanished. That time and this had never been separate. Then what had I been doing through all these years of “Zen.”?

… I felt as if I were perched on the edge of a great cliff. Before I had time to think about whether I might step off, a thunderbolt dropped on the drown of my head.

Falling off the cushion. Lying on the floor. Weeping.

Everything gone. All the hard work of holding together the world as Henry knew it – gone. No more Henry, no more world. Nothing. No more Zen. Truly, nothing. True nothing. Everything annihilated. Nothing left. Nothing at all.

Image: Freedom, by Pexels2013, from Pixabay.com
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