Posted inDharma, Valerie's Messages

Message from Valerie: Am I Enough?

July 27, 2023

This past week we formally welcomed Sarah Giffin as the new Executive Director of Mountain Cloud. With glad appreciation, welcome, Sarah! Thanks ring out to Bryan Baldwin for shepherding the MCZC organization during the generative transitions of the past year. 

Last Sunday, with Sarah’s oversight, Mountain Cloud’s 15-Day ‘Wild World of Koans’ course began. The opening session included the prompt, “What brings you here? What is your intention? What is your earnest question?” One participant wrote in response, “Am I enough?” 

Earnest, indeed.

Master Gutei (Juzhi) suffered similar doubts. Caught in concepts, Gutei was unable to respond to a wise woman who visits his monastery and asks for a word. Gutei her greeting as a challenge: say a ‘Zen word,’ a turning word, a special word of revelation. But the word the woman invites transcends any difference between special and ordinary, sacred and profane, timeless and right now. Just one word – nothing outside it. 

Gutei goes into the night beset by the question, “Am I enough?” He is certain of the answer. Enmeshed in a sense of lack. Stuck in the gap between ‘I’ and ‘enough.’ 

Then Gutei has an encounter that stops him in his tracks, stops the track of concepts, assumptions, judgments. An old master, listening to Gutei’s litany of dissatisfaction, suddenly holds up one finger. That’s it for Gutei. One finger and everything is consumed, any boundary dissolved. One finger and the whole world comes rushing in. 

When he is about to die, Master Gutei says, “I have used this one finger Zen all my life and never exhausted it.” Inexhaustible. One finger, one word, one step, one breath. Uncompromisingly one and unconditionally enough.  

With gratitude and love,

Photo by Ben Blennerhassett on Unsplash

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