Posted inDharma, Koans/Poems, Women in Zen

Message from Valerie: That Love is All There is

September 28, 2022

“Every single thing holds all things.” This is a line from the awakening poem of Kongshi Daoren, an early 12th c. Chinese laywoman whose name is recorded – and in some centers recited – among the ancestors, one of Zen’s female masters. Born Zhidong, Kongshi is the Buddhist name given when she was permitted as a laywoman – a Daoren or follower of the way – to study with the Zen teachers of her time. Kongshi was a scholar, a poet, a woman of means who chose a simple life, a life of practice. Her name means “empty room.” 

As I began to explore Kongshi – her experience and her teaching, it struck me that all the lives of the ancestors, like the koans, are love letters from the dharma. Like mu finding its way to mu, becoming one with mu; love addressing love. Inviting love to recognize itself, (the perfect match, so to speak); to see what is here, what is now; what you are. Nothing left out.

Emily Dickenson has a well-known poem that speaks to the homecoming of love and to Kongshi’s dharma. The poem is known by its first line, ‘That Love is all there is’:

That Love is all there is,
Is all we know of Love;
It is enough, the freight should be
Proportioned to the groove.

The freight love bears can seem quite heavy. And yet, proportioned to the groove. Like mu and mu. Love meeting its own freight. Empty room? Nothing to hinder anything. Or, as Kongshi put it, “Every single thing holds all things.” 

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

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