Monday, September 30, 2013

Onomito's koan

10 years 7 months and 4 days since the day of arrest
Metropolitan Detention Center Brooklyn, New York

Onomito explained the importance Zen places on the moment. "It is difficult for the Western mind to understand Zen primarily because of the difference in emphasis on the value of the moment. For Zen, nothing is of greater value than the moment. Life is now. Yesterday is past and gone and therefore unreal, only real in its effect on the moment. The future is not real, and possibly it will never be more than simply a dream. This leaves simply the now, the moment, as reality. "Yet," he said, "so many people live only under the shadow of the successes or mistakes of the past or the possibilities and hopes of the future. They do not seem to realize that when they deal with these worlds of the unreal, they are missing the 'moments', the accumulation of which makes a life. Life, then, becomes a series of moments, either lived or lost. Since moments pass, as time, there is soon nothing left and life is over, leaving some poor, unfortunate souls having never lived at all."

Onomito's koan as it was told to Leo Buscaglia in 1970's:

"There was a Buddhist monk who one day found himself running from a hungry bear. The bear chased him to a cliff. There was nothing for him to do, if he did not desire to be food for the bear's hungry stomach, but jump. He did so and was able to catch hold, as he fell, of a branch of wood growing from the cliff's side. As he hung there, looking up at the hungry bear above, he heard the roar of a famished lion far below who was already waiting for him to tire, lose his grip and fall to its hungry jaws.

As the monk hung suspended, hungry bear above and starving lion below, he noticed the heads of two gophers appear from the cliff's side. At once they began gnawing on the small stump of wood to which he clung so desperately.

All at once the monk saw that just a stretch away was a small clump of wild strawberries. He calmly reached out, plucked the largest, reddest and ripest of the berries, and put it into his mouth.

"How delicious!", he said."


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