Three pilgrims set off by foot on a 90-mile (about 145 km) pilgrimage down a well-traveled path in the mountains. In a bid to impress the other two pilgrims, the first trekker attempted to hike thirty 30 miles (about 48 km) his first day…. far past any reasonable mileage. Consequently, he blew out one of his knees on the 28th (45th km) mile. Badly injured, the first pilgrim was forced to abandon his journey. The second pilgrim, in a vain attempt to impress his friends back home, tried to record his entire pilgrimage on his phone. However, on the first day, he covered only two miles (3 km) before falling off a small cliff trying to capture a dramatic “selfie”. He, too, was forced to abandon his journey due to breaking his arm in the fall. Meanwhile, the third pilgrim went humbly upon her way at a moderate pace. She stopped along the trail for brief intervals to give thanks to the spirit of the mountains that guided her feet and soul in tandem. After 7 days and 90 miles (about 145 km) of walking, the third pilgrim at last arrived at the destination: a glorious mountain top where soaring eagles greeted her with blessings of acknowledgment for a pilgrimage traveled without hubris or vanity.
One day an arrogant and wealthy politician encountered a monk at the center of the town square. The monk, clad in a flowing orange robe with a begging cup in hand, did not pay the politician any notice. He just strolled slowly by the prominent man with eyes staring straight ahead absorbed in a walking meditation. Enraged at having not been acknowledged, the politician ran up behind the monk and aggressively grabbed him by the arm and said:
“Don’t you know who I am? Everyone bows down before me!”
The monk locked eyes with the politician for a few seconds and then suddenly began laughing hysterically out loud. Growing even more enraged, the powerful and famous man raised his fists in the air and threatened the monk with violence. He then demanded to know what was so funny. Still laughing, the monk pointed down at the politician’s feet. The politician looked embarrassingly down at his feet and saw that he was standing in a pile of fresh cow dung! As the politician bent down to clean the dung off his shoes, the monk stood over him and said:
“I think I remember who you are now. You are that former politician turned humble servant of his people. Now allow me to help you clean the cow dung off your shoes.”
At that moment it has been said that a great miracle took place. An arrogant and wealthy politician was transformed into a kind and humble servant for the poorest and most oppressed among his people.
Today I will see my original face
And all will be well
For soon I shall dwell
As something more than this body
Into the void I’ve gone….
What makes you think you were ever born?
And what makes you think you will ever die?
You are the stars and the moon
And you are the sun rising and setting
You are the eagles soaring
And you are the seasons passing
Open and present
To whatever greets you
Nothing can ever prevent you
From being everything
Loving awareness is who you are.
One variation of a Zen koan asks: “What was your original face before you were born?” Today, I have the audacity to try(key word) and answer this question!
A dog chasing its tail?
Too many words?
The blind leading the blind!
The bardos between birth.
Your Buddha Nature.
Something not quite human but the essence of it.
Beyond space and time.
The past, present and future merging.
Fingers pointing at the moon.