Koans are flexible. They are metaphors we can take in our hands. They form in between the spaces where we apply pressure – a fist of emptiness. Koans expand into those closed off, open cracks. We tense and create pockets of space even as we flex these hands of emptiness. As we sit, stand, talk and eat – koans are always there. They are a living religion. A cold precipitate that over time crystalizes to cement those cracks – adding to the structure, building the foundations. One moment they are our birth. Next, our death. They are our family, our work and our place in this present moment. They fill the void.
Impossible to pin down. You can’t name the spaces they fill. When we speak about them we may be able to take a snapshot of the process. Take many photos as you wish and wave them around saying “This is my koan. This is Zen!” But it would be just as useful to take a photo of the floor-board of your car while on vacation and say “This is it. This is California!”It isn’t California. It is a floor-board. It isn’t Zen, only your fleeting perception of it. Your snapshot. Your moment. Your koan. Koans are flexible. We, decidedly, are not… But we still nurture them. We hold them. We eventually let them walk on their own. They fill the spaces left between the clenching stress of life. Soon they don’t look like the same koan. Sometimes around the eyes, you catch a glimpse of that brand new thing. That slab of conundrum…but by then they are likely driving down the road, cradling their own koan.
Our children handed
to us from past generations
only ours for a moment before
passing them forward.