by Yoshin Dave Klaus
Friday, April 14 was Jun Po’s birthday, and it was a fine day to do Mondo!
My client and I had an early morning session set up. We had previously gone through the first section of History and Context, and had worked our way through the 5th Koan; today we intended to complete the second five koans of the first ten.
In our last session, we had worked on Just Listening, listening without any opinion or judgment. I rang the bell over and over again. At first, I noticed I was listening, instead of Listening.
Thoughts and judgments and opinions arose.
“How interesting it is that the tone of the bell seems to change every time.”
“Sometimes the tone goes from clear and sharp to a sort of Wah-Wah-Wah echoing sound.”
“Should I ring the bell again, or should I let this tone ring out for a while?”
Thinking Discerning Judging Commenting Noting…
This is what my mind does, nearly all of the time. And indeed, this is the function of mind. Neuroscientists say that the mind pops out about 60,000 thoughts a day, like an endless bubble machine, pop pop pop pop, filling the mind space with gauzy iridescent thoughts.
Amidst all the bubbles, sometimes it’s difficult to see!
And so, it’s time to ring the bell again. Go Deeper.
Is your mind deeper than the thought “Listen?” Is this mind deeper and more spacious than what lies within it? Is the mind deeper than the sensations, thoughts, and emotional feelings that are experienced within it?
As I ring the bell, I can hear Jun Po’s voice saying these words, I can see him sitting in the center of the zendo at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, face to face with a new student, fixing them with his intent and piercing blue eyes, exhorting them, DEEPER!
I can hear him say “try to keep the sound out, Stop the Sound, Keep it Out!” and then to see the student attempt to do just that, only to find that the sound keeps on coming.
And then there is a shift as suddenly the student realizes that the sound is just the sound, it’s just happening, its everywhere, its all encompassing. It’s inside the mind, but also outside the mind. It’s a thing that’s happening, and it’s a a thing that has always been happening, has never not happened.
The sound Just Is.
Once the student has passed the first koan, it’s off to the races. We begin to notice where in the body this Deeper Listening is located, and are curious to realize that listening is not just about the ears and the head, it’s also about the heart and the connection of heart-mind. We realize that listening happens in the body.
At this point, Jun Po would likely say, “Now we are finally getting nowhere!”
And with his mischievous grin, he would turn to the third koan.
Who Are You?
Happy Birthday Jun Po! Thank you for this wonderful process, for this remarkably clear and sure path to realization and insight. Thank you for all you have gifted to us!
On your birthday, and on every other day, we are still at it, still practicing, still training, and still Listening.