Skip to main content

There's Nothing I Dislike

I'm talking to someone, our conversation has come to a stopping place, we look out the window. There is a koan we've been talking about but we're not talking about it right now. I look into the garden and see the scraggly early Fall lavender bushes. They look grey. I think to myself, lavender shouldn't be grey, the garden shouldn't be grey. And then I begin to wonder, are they really grey? I look again. No they are a pale purple color, really a quite beautiful pale purple. And the stalks, they seem to be yellow, no, glowing yellow inside, with a pale green outside. And I see that there are two different kinds of lavender side by side, the other is a powdery green, delicate. And under the powdery color is a deeper green, rich, also glowing. And its flowers, too, are lavender, but a different color. It's as if one by one, the characters in a play are stepping out from behind a curtain and shyly taking their bows. I'm amazed. It's not that I have looked harder, it's just that the world has stepped forward.

It's magic the way it does this all by itself.

There are a number of koans that have this flavor, that express and understanding that really, whatever I thought the problem was, it seems to have gone away. There is nothing I dislike. Thank you very much, I have no complaints whatsoever. Every day is a good day.

Danaid, condemned for all eternity
to carry water in a sieve.
When you meditate with a koan, all parts of it become pertinent, sometimes one at a time. For instance, the word "dislike" brings up all my familiar aversions. Possibly I am actively disliking this koan and its apparent coercive optimism. Maybe I'm just really uncomfortable in this chair, maybe I dislike myself or my job or someone who has behaved badly. Or maybe I'm thinking about something unassailably awful from my own personal history, or a particularly painful image I have stuck in my mind, an un-righted wrong, or something I've lost and I mourn. Sometimes I'm surprised at the variety of what I dislike, both the intense and the trivial.

Then there is the word "nothing", and the mystery of that. It's so vast, it covers everything, this nothing. There's nothing? Really? What could that possibly mean? In this way the koan seeds my imagination with two ideas that are almost impossible to hold at the same time. So it works on me in that way. It keeps me company as I go about my day and it takes apart what I thought I knew about the world. And what is underneath that edifice I had built is startlingly kind.

It happens sometimes that I can stop disliking something, but it's more deeply simply true, that there's nothing I dislike. Somehow I can tell, from time to time, that it's not possible to dislike anything or anyone. Everything, no matter what it is, shows me how it glows from inside. That's just the way the world is.

For You: Try it, find out what happens when you walk around with the koan, "there's nothing I dislike" ? What do you see? What reveals itself to you? Don't try to make anything happen, just watch the show. 


Popular posts from this blog

A Goose in a Bottle

Koan: A woman raised a goose in a bottle. When the goose had grown, she wanted to get it out, without harming the goose or breaking the bottle. How do you get the goose out of the bottle?

Once I bought a little tree at the store. It was the first tree I ever planted, at a new house when I had just started living something like an adult life. The tree was folded in half with the roots up next to the branches so it was short enough to fit, wrapped in plastic, in a basket with other little trees. The whole thing was about 2 feet long. I brought it home and dug a hole and planted it in the tiny front lawn in front of my house. Somebody told me I planted it too close to... something, maybe the fence or the window, but I didn't believe them. How can you anticipate that something will grow if you've never seen it? But it did, and it was too close, although it took a few years for me to see it.

When I was a kid we got a puppy, a bullmastiff puppy. He was really cute. Someone told me, …

Navigating a Disaster: How Do We Do this?

How to deal with difficult times is fundamental for a spiritual practice, and really, for any human life. There’s birth and death, to start with, and then there is all the conflict and uncertainty that happens in between. Right now the US, and the world, too, are dealing with a dramatic regime change and an upending of values that, while unevenly practiced, we’ve come to expect as foundational. Like many other people, I’ve been trying to understand what’s happening, prepare for it, and make a place for it in my life as woman, a Zen teacher, and a citizen. It’s important to be light on your feet in times like these, and that’s what Zen is about.
This is my particular story, yours could be different.
The World of Form, With a Vengeance
About 6 months ago I started to notice an apparent circus event, a bunch of men, and a woman or two, vying with each other to hold the spot of contender in what looked like it would be pretty clear cut presidential election. What followed you probably know.…

The End of the World as We Know It

Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.-from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle
Koan: Someone asked the old teacher Dasui, “It’s clear that the fire at the end of time will completely destroy the universe. But tell me, is there something that won’t be destroyed?”
Dasui answered, “It will be destroyed.”

“It will go along with everything else?”