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Jundo
07-11-2016, 05:02 AM
Case 58 never ends, and so we slither to Case 59, Seirin's Deadly Snake ...

Another Koan which plays with that which can neither come nor go (even as it comes and goes) ... right through "life and death" in a world of life and death ... that which can never be found or lost even as we bump right into it.

The English expression which comes to mind is, "Ya wouldn't know it even if it bit ya on the ass" ... and it is your ass too!

This life is the place where the rubber (snake :p) meets the road.

I am reminded of a couple of other traditional snake metaphors in Buddhism ...

There are the blind men who each grab a different part of the elephant, and the one holding the trunk says, "It is very like a snake".

There is the man who confused a robe with a snake ... many versions, here is one ...


There is an old Buddhist parable that tells of a man walking home one evening. In the half-light he sees on the path a snake apparently crossing in front of him. He starts and jerks himself away, heart beating fast, wide-eyed and alert. Peering closely he suddenly realises that he was mistaken, in fact it is an old piece of rope! Relieved and laughing to himself at his foolishness he goes to step over it and glancing down suddenly realises the rope is a string of jewels.

There is an old Buddhist Sutta in which the Buddha cautions that approaching and applying the Teachings incorrectly is like grabbing a poison snake from the wrong end!


"Suppose, monks, a man wants a snake, looks for a snake, goes in search of a snake. He then sees a large snake, and with a forked stick he holds it firmly down. Having done so he catches it firmly by the neck. Then although the snake might entwine with (the coils of) its body that man's hand or arm or some other limb of his, still he does not on that account suffer death or deadly pain. And why not? Because of his right grasp of the snake.

"Similarly, O monks, there are here some noble sons who study the Teaching; and having learned it, they examine wisely the purpose of those teachings. To those who wisely examine the purpose, these teachings will yield insight. They do not study the Teaching for the sake of criticizing nor for refuting others in disputation. They experience the purpose for which they study the Teaching; and to them these teachings being rightly grasped, will bring welfare and happiness for a long time. And why? Because of their right grasp of the teachings.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel048.html

The appreciatory verse on boating somehow seems a bit out of place in all this "snake" talk ... but is also might be about coming and going, gently poling, all intermingling, the moonlight of wisdom hazily illuminating. We had an early "boat" koan about coming with no place to come or go ... Koan 51 ...


Attention! Hogen asked Kaku Joza, "Did you come by boat or by land?" Kaku Joza replied, "By boat." Hogen said, "Where is the boat?" Kaku answered, "The boat is in the river." After Kaku left, Hogen asked the monk beside him, "Tell me: Did that monk who was just here have the Zen eye or not?"

Could that monk see the snake or not?

Gassho, J

SatToday

Myosha
07-11-2016, 08:51 AM
Hello,

"Could that monk see the snake or not? "

Yes


Gassho
Myosha
sat today

Kokuu
07-11-2016, 11:01 AM
Hi all

The pivotal part of the koan for me is in the preface:

Not leaving, not dwelling, he is without a country. Where can he be met? Anywhere. Everywhere.

This reminds me of the second verse of the Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva by Togme Zangpo:

Attraction to those close to you catches you in its currents;
Aversion to those who oppose you burns inside;
Indifference that ignores what needs to be done is a black hole.
Leave your homeland — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

Why is Shukke Tokudo also known as homeleaving? It is clearly about leaving ones physical home to go into a monastery but I think it goes deeper than that. Leaving home is to leave behind the certainty that our brains love. It is to have beginner's mind/don't know mind. Is that a snake? I don't know. Even if it is a snake our minds immediately want to push all our projections onto it and react with fear, whether it is a poisonous snake or not, a young snake, an injured snake, a snake just going about its business with no intent on harming us in any way. Snake is just a collection of all the ideas and stories we have about a snake rather than observing and seeing how that particular manifestation of snake is.

Not knowing is most intimate.

As soon as we attach certainty, we lose it. Some people fear snakes, some want to pick them up and hold them. Neither has anything to do with the snake.

That said, we would be foolish not to warn a child if we see a snake (or even think we see a snake) near where she is playing.

If you call this a staff, you deny its eternal life.
If you do not call this a staff, you deny its present fact.
Tell me just what do you propose to call it?

When I read or listen to The Heart Sutra, what strikes me is that it seems to take away all our handholds, even the Buddhist ones we usually rely on.

No ignorance, no end of ignorance, no old age and death, no end of old age and death. No suffering, nor cause or end to suffering, no path no wisdom and no gain.

I see us as cast adrift in the pool of experience in which we have to relate to the water just as it is and not from the comfort of the solidity of thinking we know based on our projections. Thoughts and actions arise and then pass.

This is true about the way as well. I find as soon as I think I know about something to do with Zen, life has a way of showing me that I don't. Impermanence is fine to understand in theory but the reality is completely different. Let go your ideas and the way opens up.

Don't bump into the sides or try to hold onto them or you lose your life. Leave home and you meet it everywhere.

Just ramblings from the archives of oblivion.

Gassho
Kokuu
#sattoday and someone might have put something in my tea...

Hoko
07-12-2016, 11:02 PM
I guess I'll take a turn at pinning the poisonous snake to the ground with my fork!

“You will meet a deadly snake on the great road. I advise you, do not run into it.”
SO to meet the poisonous snake and lose your life seems to mean to see reality as it is and in doing so lose the "small self".

“Precisely at such a time, what then?” Seirin said, “It is lost.”
At "such and such a time" means at a specific time. As reality simply is and time IS being (a la Dogen's Uji) then to say "at a specific time" means to enter the phenomenal world of linear time at which point you no longer view ineffable reality (the poisonous snake) as-it-is and thus "it is lost".

“I wonder where it is gone.” Seirin said, “The grass is so deep, there is no place to look for it.”
You can't actively look for it with the intellectual mind. There's too much crap (judgments, emotions, thoughts aka "grass") getting in the way.

“You too, Master, must be watchful in order to get it.” Seirin clapped his hands and said, “This fellow is equally poisonous.”
I think this is a compliment. If the monk is "poisonous" then he has the inherent ability to "kill the self".

Not sure about the Verse tho.

These are fun to read!
Gassho,
-K2

#SatToday

Jundo
07-12-2016, 11:29 PM
I guess I'll take a turn at pinning the poisonous snake to the ground with my fork!

“You will meet a deadly snake on the great road. I advise you, do not run into it.”
SO to meet the poisonous snake and lose your life seems to mean to see reality as it is and in doing so lose the "small self".

“Precisely at such a time, what then?” Seirin said, “It is lost.”
At "such and such a time" means at a specific time. As reality simply is and time IS being (a la Dogen's Uji) then to say "at a specific time" means to enter the phenomenal world of linear time at which point you no longer view ineffable reality (the poisonous snake) as-it-is and thus "it is lost".

“I wonder where it is gone.” Seirin said, “The grass is so deep, there is no place to look for it.”
You can't actively look for it with the intellectual mind. There's too much crap (judgments, emotions, thoughts aka "grass") getting in the way.

“You too, Master, must be watchful in order to get it.” Seirin clapped his hands and said, “This fellow is equally poisonous.”
I think this is a compliment. If the monk is "poisonous" then he has the inherent ability to "kill the self".

Not sure about the Verse tho.

These are fun to read!
Gassho,
-K2

#SatToday

Hi Kliff,

Good to have you back.

Your responses seem a bit analytical, describing the snake with words and ideas. but without feeling the poison of actually being bit.

Gassho, Jundo

SatToday

Hoko
07-12-2016, 11:53 PM
Hi Kliff,

Good to have you back.

Your responses seem a bit analytical, describing the snake with words and ideas. but without feeling the poison of actually being bit.

Gassho, Jundo

SatToday

Thank you for your insight!
I will stop beating the reeds for snakes and get back to walking along the narrow path.

Gassho,
-K2

#SatToday

Onkai
07-13-2016, 01:02 AM
This koan seems to me to be about inner struggle, maybe the struggle between the ego and the true self. Like Kokuu said of the Heart Sutra, it takes away all certainty. But then "Shield yourself, Osho! Then you'll be all right!" is that meant to be ironic? Or am I reading it all wrong?

Gassho,
Onkai
SatToday

Kokuu
07-13-2016, 12:04 PM
Salutations

Apologies for chiming in again but I think I have gone slightly deeper (although doubtless still thrashing hopelessly about in the shallows).

The dead snake on the road seems like the words of previous masters. Listen to them, learn from them but don't cling to them lest you lose your life. The path is yours and yours alone and even Master Mazu cannot give you a home.

"Shield yourself, Osho" may refer to not reading scripture but even that is poisonous advice. Beyond words and scriptures includes book learning.

Gassho
Kokuu
#sattoday

Jakuden
07-13-2016, 03:28 PM
I feel like I am constantly worrying about running into this dead snake. I like snakes. If I would just let go and allow the snake to be me without fighting it, then the struggle would end. As to being in a boat--there are water snakes too. No method of transportation will result in coming to or going away from the snake, it is in the boat with us.

Gassho
Jakuden
SatToday


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Tairin
07-15-2016, 01:34 AM
I find this part of the koan intriguing.... "The grass is so deep there's no place to seek". It is seemingly contradictory. In deep grass you would think there are lots of places to look. Admittedly playing off the commentary, I think of "the grass is so deep" as a reference to boundlessness refers to everything, every place, every experience yet "there's no place to seek" is a reminder to avoid grasping and be present in this place, in this moment. Maybe despite the boundlessness it is all right here, right now?

Admittedly this koan isn't making a whole lot of sense to me. We have a dead, deadly snake that is lying on the road. If you touch it you lose your life and you can't dodge it. It has a certain fatalism to it.

Still contemplating.........

Gassho
Warren
Sat today

Jundo
07-15-2016, 01:46 AM
I find this part of the koan intriguing.... "The grass is so deep there's no place to seek". It is seemingly contradictory. In deep grass you would think there are lots of places to look. Admittedly playing off the commentary, I think of "the grass is so deep" as a reference to boundlessness refers to everything, every place, every experience yet "there's no place to seek" is a reminder to avoid grasping and be present in this place, in this moment. Maybe despite the boundlessness it is all right here, right now?

Admittedly this koan isn't making a whole lot of sense to me. We have a dead, deadly snake that is lying on the road. If you touch it you lose your life and you can't dodge it. It has a certain fatalism to it.

Still contemplating.........

Gassho
Warren
Sat today

Dogen Zenji in Shobogenzo-Uji (Being-Time) ...


Know that in this way there are myriads of forms and hundreds of grasses throughout the entire earth, and yet each grass and each form itself is the entire earth. The study of this is the beginning of practice. When you are at this place, there is just one grass, there is just one form; there is understanding of form and no-understanding of form; there is understanding of grass and no-understanding of grass. Since there is nothing but just this moment, the time-being is all the time there is. Grass-being, form-being are both time. Each moment is all being, is the entire world. Reflect now whether any being or any world is left out of the present moment.

http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/Uji_Welch.htm

Gassho, J

SatToday

Jishin
07-15-2016, 11:14 AM
I think koans generally point to right action. In order to get to right action, one needs to see clearly. In order to see clearly, one needs to become empty and reflect reality as it is. This is done through intellectual understanding but realized through practice. In the Soto tradition it is by sitting and chopping wood and carrying water.

That said, where does this koan or any koan fit within the framework described above? If the answer is not immediately apparent I would not waste any time with the particular koan. Just chop wood and carry water. This is always the ultimate answer anyways. Chop wood, carry water, when hungry eat, when tired sleep. Wash your bowls and drink tea if you have any questions.

An answer is not apparent to me to the above koan. My dogs just shit and pissed all over the house this morning because it was raining last night and we brought them in early so they would not get wet. So I will chop wood, carry water, clean up the mess and get ready for work.

Just my 2 cents.

Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

Matt
07-15-2016, 09:24 PM
I am getting back to these koans after having taken some time off from our readings. Trying to be more disciplined about my study and practice.

"You're turning away from that black jewel at your feet and looking toward that sky that's filled with anxiety. You're creating something where nothing exists."

I create all kinds of threatening snakes in my mind on a regular basis.

In fact, the snake is a snake. Nothing more, nothing less.

No need to add anything to it, to make it more or less dangerous than it is.

Gassho,
Matt
#SatToday

Risho
07-16-2016, 02:45 AM
I think this is a tricky one, maybe more subtle, sort of like practice. This seems to be playing with form and emptiness/ relative vs absolute; I think I've got it one moment, but when its put a different way I realize oh wow I do not have anything at all. I like these koans because they express this inexpressible in many different ways so that one day, even boneheads like me will see it.

How do I save the sentient beings? How do I gain enlightenment? There's nothing to seek, you cannot gain what you are..... When we start practice, we are examining the words from our normal dichotomy so we think Im lacking, or I need to save those separate beings, or if I help that old lady cross the street Ill be Super Buddha! But thats not quite right and yet we still need to do things to become better, to do better. We still need to help people. Both at the same time!

And yet, I'm a seeker because I am still a beginner; these are just words, but I'm thankful that I realize this work is never done. There is nowhere to go, its right here yet we have to get lost to realize that; practice is enlightenment. The black jewel is right here, it is me but I dont know that without searching and getting distance from it; thats the rub.

This life is dynamic, something we are, not something to grab after. I dont know if Im making sense lol. But the point Dogen makes about the wise person seeing others as himself or in Genjokoan how we let things realize us is pointing to this. I go through life trying to impart my will on things. Thats very closed.

If I listen and open and stop listening to the weeds in my mind, that is when Im truly engaged in life, letting life live me, which it really does anyway but my self centered mind blocks me off from, then the snake gets me. The small closed off self gives way to something bigger and connected; I mean its aleays there anyway but how often do I see it?

The precepts all point to thus, but how often do I close off in greed, anger and ignorance. Its a constant practice be ause those things, thise habits are always there; that past karma takes time to dissipate.

"The ferryman in darkness turns the rudder." I feel that is pointing toward that subtly, the merging of self and other but still acknowledging self and other, at the same time! This is completely different from our normal me vs everyone or my tribe and your tribe, which is unfortunately something that has been happening a lot lately.

Watch out! Dont bump into it even while there is nothing to bump into. That bumping is good; it reminds me to keep practicing.

Gassho

Risho
-sattoday

Eishuu
07-16-2016, 12:06 PM
I really struggled with this koan. The only sense I could make of it was that thinking you could 'proceed' (ie get somewhere, progress) results in a dead snake hitting the road (ie you've killed it, you've created separation). If you bump into the snake, instead of trying to 'proceed' or get somewhere, then you die or your ego dies and there is no separation - I take bumping into it as being present with reality rather than searching or hiding. When it's not bumped into to there is no where to go, the snake is still present and everywhere even if you are not aware of it - it has in one sense 'been lost' but of course it can never really be lost. I like the phrase "The grass is so deep there's no place to seek" - that seems like a koan in itself - it does somthing funny to my mind, suggesting 2 concepts at once which don't quite make sense together - I think it's suggesting suchness. Anyway, just my attempt to grasp the ungraspable.

I really enjoyed all your reflections and comments, thank you all.

Gassho
Lucy
Sat today

Tairin
07-16-2016, 01:24 PM
That said, where does this koan or any koan fit within the framework described above? If the answer is not immediately apparent I would not waste any time with the particular koan. Just chop wood and carry water. This is always the ultimate answer anyways. Chop wood, carry water, when hungry eat, when tired sleep. Wash your bowls and drink tea if you have any questions.

gassho2

Gassho
Warren
Sat today

Mitty-san
07-17-2016, 04:54 AM
Hmmm. Like a lot of others, this one is difficult for me. It seems to be jumping around and going in a lot of different directions.

At least the monk conversing with Seirin seemed to be following it well enough.

Gassho, Paul.

Sat today on this SATurday.

Byokan
07-17-2016, 11:57 AM
Hi All,


Another Koan which plays with that which can neither come nor go (even as it comes and goes) ... right through "life and death" in a world of life and death ... that which can never be found or lost even as we bump right into it.

The English expression which comes to mind is, "Ya wouldn't know it even if it bit ya on the ass" ... and it is your ass too!

Jundo, thank you for this, it was very helpful in approaching this snake. I find this koan to be very joyful. It feels to me as a moment of shared understanding between two dharma friends, and even a playful celebration of the Dharma. Most times I just kind of 'feel into' koans, but for some reason I felt like looking at this one line by line. Apologies for the length of this, you certainly can just read the very last line down there at the end and skip everything in between, I wouldn't blame you one bit. Hereís how I kind of generally understand their words. This is a vast over-simplification but here goes:

How about when a student proceeds on the trail?
What happens when one sets out upon the path of practice?

The dead snake hits the great road.
You will come upon Emptiness. You will meet your True Self. Thereís nothing else out there.

I advise you not to bump into it.
Try to refrain from making distinctions.

When itís bumped into, then what?
What happens when we meet our true selves?

You lose your life!
Realizing the truth of No-Self is losing your life.

When itís not bumped into, then what?
What if we donít meet our true self?

Thereís no place to dodge to.
Sorry, you canít avoid it. It is everywhere and everywhen.

At that very moment, then what?
What happens when this truth is realized?

It has been lost.
It -- you -- truth -- Emptiness -- cannot be located. In the moment it is realized it expands and contains everything. All and Nothing manifest simultaneously with no separation.

I wonder where itís gone.
This wondering is chasing It with words and ideas and thoughts.

The grass is so deep thereís no place to seek.
Thoughts and concepts like weeds springing up all over.

Shield yourself Osho! Then youíll be alright!
Hey, look out, weíre doing it right now, trying to capture it in words!

Your poison is equal to mine!
Youíre a pretty smart cookie.

I like to think these two monks end this conversation laughing together!

I know itís very silly to try to do a line-by-line reading for something that cannot really be pinned down that way. What theyíre talking about is so alive and present. As piercing and acute as a snake bite. Strange and wonderful indeed! I havenít even begun to capture it. Oh well, Iím happy to fail and make a fool of myself.


The appreciatory verse on boating somehow seems a bit out of place in all this "snake" talk ...

Iím actually very moved by this verse and think it fits in nicely with the main case. Itís poetry so I may not make much sense, but I will share with you how I feel this:

The ferryman in darkness turns the rudder.
The lone boat at night turns its bow.
We are the ferrymen of our boats. No one turns the rudder but ourselves. We all must constantly maintain a right direction. This puts me in mind of vow and repentance. Constantly re-orienting. Not toward some goal we can see; we may not even be able to see just where weíre headed. Our compass only shows the direction, the way, not a destination. We have to have faith in the compass. Trust in the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. Sincere practice moves us in the right direction.

The snow of both banksí reed flowers intermingle.
Iím envisioning white reed flowers that look like snow. The two banks seem to represent duality. This speaks to me of illusion and delusion.

Smoky waters veil the autumn of one river.
I picture a misty haze over the water... Where is the dividing line between the mist and the water? They are one of course. The water comes forward as the mist, the mist drips back into the water. Maybe smoky waters are ignorance that keeps us from seeing clearly, seeing the true state of things.

Wind power helping the sail; going without poling.
We steer our boat carefully, but we can also relax and allow it to move forward and flow naturally with the wind and the current. We donít need to force our way. Let our boat become one with the river.

Flute notes calling the moon; sailing down to Paradise.
Who is playing this flute? I like to think, on this night, maybe no one. Flutes are made of reeds... We know it is autumn... The reeds will be drying out... Maybe the flute music is just the wind blowing in the reeds. Just nature taking its course and everything doing what it does. This is the music that calls the moon. Maybe the moon is enlightenment, maybe it is just the beautiful moon over the river on a quiet and peaceful night. Paradise.

Okay, thank you for reading all this if you made it this far. Too many words for something that is beyond words. I really appreciate everyone sharing their thoughts and insights here, itís very helpful.

Gassho
Byōkan
sat today

Jundo
07-17-2016, 12:12 PM
Byokan the Snake Charner ...

The bite which kills is the bite which brings life. gassho1

Gassho, J

Jakuden
07-17-2016, 03:30 PM
Beautiful Byokan! Gassho!

Jakuden
SatToday


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Risho
07-17-2016, 10:18 PM
Thank you Byokan; that was very helpful!

Which now leads to more questions which I didnt realize I had before I reread Byokans post several times and the koan again and again :)

Is the dead snake also the ferryman in the darkness, ie the True Self that is not always apparent but always there? I'm speculating and this imagery gets tricky, but is that why ferryman in the darkess is used?

I don't know if I fully understand this True Self either; Im not sure if we can fully understand it as much as realize it. Is this something we see in zazen as we learn to be with the thoughts, see through the thoughts, not push them away but settle in them, etc?

I dont know if self is a good word for it either, but is that stae of awareness where its not on the level of just form, duality etc, but a deeper level of interconnectedness where we are selves but also in touch with everything? In other words, is this True Self our self but way more than that, something that is all of us? Is this True Self the whole shebang?

Gassho

Risho
-sattoday

TyZa
07-18-2016, 03:18 AM
Thank you for everyone's insightful comments. I really enjoyed Byōkan's. I have nothing to add about this Koan besides respectful silence. Although, I will say sometimes Wick's commentary is a handful of Koans unto itself. Thank you everyone!

Gassho,
Tyler

SatToday

Toun
07-18-2016, 01:06 PM
Many insightful and wonderful comments.

What resonates with me is the imagery that the koan creates. When we notice the snake on the road, whether dead or alive, we have lost sight of the path. As mentioned in the commentary we must practice apart from mind, intention or consciousness. When we sit and an image, thought or emotion arises, a snake has hit the road. That's when the thought process starts to get in the way and grasping occurs. All things will arise and the then gradually dissipate into the Dharmadhatu, the absolute space of phenomena.

Oh well...just my musings

Gassho
Mike
Sat2day

Jundo
07-18-2016, 01:34 PM
I decided to let this Koan percolate for another week so folks can catch their breath. Give folks a chance to catch up a bit too.

Gassho, J

SatToday

Hoseki
07-18-2016, 03:47 PM
Hi All,



Jundo, thank you for this, it was very helpful in approaching this snake. I find this koan to be very joyful. It feels to me as a moment of shared understanding between two dharma friends, and even a playful celebration of the Dharma. Most times I just kind of 'feel into' koans, but for some reason I felt like looking at this one line by line. Apologies for the length of this, you certainly can just read the very last line down there at the end and skip everything in between, I wouldn't blame you one bit. Here’s how I kind of generally understand their words. This is a vast over-simplification but here goes:

How about when a student proceeds on the trail?
What happens when one sets out upon the path of practice?

The dead snake hits the great road.
You will come upon Emptiness. You will meet your True Self. There’s nothing else out there.

I advise you not to bump into it.
Try to refrain from making distinctions.

When it’s bumped into, then what?
What happens when we meet our true selves?

You lose your life!
Realizing the truth of No-Self is losing your life.

When it’s not bumped into, then what?
What if we don’t meet our true self?

There’s no place to dodge to.
Sorry, you can’t avoid it. It is everywhere and everywhen.

At that very moment, then what?
What happens when this truth is realized?

It has been lost.
It -- you -- truth -- Emptiness -- cannot be located. In the moment it is realized it expands and contains everything. All and Nothing manifest simultaneously with no separation.

I wonder where it’s gone.
This wondering is chasing It with words and ideas and thoughts.

The grass is so deep there’s no place to seek.
Thoughts and concepts like weeds springing up all over.

Shield yourself Osho! Then you’ll be alright!
Hey, look out, we’re doing it right now, trying to capture it in words!

Your poison is equal to mine!
You’re a pretty smart cookie.

I like to think these two monks end this conversation laughing together!

I know it’s very silly to try to do a line-by-line reading for something that cannot really be pinned down that way. What they’re talking about is so alive and present. As piercing and acute as a snake bite. Strange and wonderful indeed! I haven’t even begun to capture it. Oh well, I’m happy to fail and make a fool of myself.



I’m actually very moved by this verse and think it fits in nicely with the main case. It’s poetry so I may not make much sense, but I will share with you how I feel this:

The ferryman in darkness turns the rudder.
The lone boat at night turns its bow.
We are the ferrymen of our boats. No one turns the rudder but ourselves. We all must constantly maintain a right direction. This puts me in mind of vow and repentance. Constantly re-orienting. Not toward some goal we can see; we may not even be able to see just where we’re headed. Our compass only shows the direction, the way, not a destination. We have to have faith in the compass. Trust in the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. Sincere practice moves us in the right direction.

The snow of both banks’ reed flowers intermingle.
I’m envisioning white reed flowers that look like snow. The two banks seem to represent duality. This speaks to me of illusion and delusion.

Smoky waters veil the autumn of one river.
I picture a misty haze over the water... Where is the dividing line between the mist and the water? They are one of course. The water comes forward as the mist, the mist drips back into the water. Maybe smoky waters are ignorance that keeps us from seeing clearly, seeing the true state of things.

Wind power helping the sail; going without poling.
We steer our boat carefully, but we can also relax and allow it to move forward and flow naturally with the wind and the current. We don’t need to force our way. Let our boat become one with the river.

Flute notes calling the moon; sailing down to Paradise.
Who is playing this flute? I like to think, on this night, maybe no one. Flutes are made of reeds... We know it is autumn... The reeds will be drying out... Maybe the flute music is just the wind blowing in the reeds. Just nature taking its course and everything doing what it does. This is the music that calls the moon. Maybe the moon is enlightenment, maybe it is just the beautiful moon over the river on a quiet and peaceful night. Paradise.

Okay, thank you for reading all this if you made it this far. Too many words for something that is beyond words. I really appreciate everyone sharing their thoughts and insights here, it’s very helpful.

Gassho
Byōkan
sat today


Gassho
Adam
Sattoday

AlanLa
07-30-2016, 08:07 PM
Thank you, Byokan, for the line by line interpretation, very helpful. But i always read these koans in the context of my life at the moment I consume them. I am a simple man who goes for simple interpretations. For this one, I am the snake, and I am constantly getting in my own way, crossing my own road. Sometimes I am dead, and sometimes I bite myself on the ass, and everything in between. Sometimes I am poisonous, and sometimes I just hurt a bit and move on. Sometimes I don't realize I have been poisonously bitten until I am well down the path, and that's kind of where I am today.

I practice the precepts and vows, including those of atonement, as best I can, but then today, through slow and diligent practice, I finally realized that the snake bite of greed, anger, and ignorance that I attributed to someone a long time ago was my own snake biting me on my own ass. On the one hand, it hurts like hell to know you caused your own pain, that you are your own poisonous snake, but on the other hand it opens up a world of freedom to finally be free of your that poisonous pain. All this hit me with this passage from the commentary:


In his "instructions to the cook, Master Dogen said, Be very clear about this. A fool sees himself as another, but a wise person sees others as himself. You are not it. It actually is you.