Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Go Straight Ahead

The Old Woman of Taishan

Master Dogen's 300 Koan Shobogenzo,* Case 29

Featured in Mountain Record 17.2, Winter 1998


 The Main Case

There was an old woman on Mount Tai path. A monk asked her, “Where is the path to Mount Tai?”
The old woman said, “Go straight ahead.” The monk went on.
The woman said, “My dear reverend, you too go off like that.”
Monks came, one after another, asked the same question, and received the same answer.
Later, one of the monks told Zhaozhou about it and Zhaozhou said, “Wait here for awhile. Let me check her out.”
He went to the woman and said, “Where is the path to Mount Tai?”
The woman said, “Go straight ahead.” 7 Zhaozhou went on.
The woman said, “My dear reverend, you too go off like that.”
Zhaozhou came back and said to the assembly, “I have checked out that old woman for you.”

Peter said 50 years ago why don't you just become Kim the photographer?  He was telling me to go straight ahead. He was an architecture student and then became a landscape architect. 

I didn't focus. I wanted to try everything. I had to ten majors in college. I moved from perfectly good jobs to other jobs. I taught new stuff all the time and always wanted to do new things. I never sensed that I was going straight ahead. Or was I?

I had a great uncle who had been a rabbi but gave it up partly because he realized that all religions had so much the same wisdom. He is my spiritual leader. The lamp I photographed was his. I am surround by his objects in my home. He taught me, as did my parents and teachers, to listen to everyone America believe no one. 

Maybe it is my ADD. Maybe it is how I see all things as so related to each other. When the wise woman told the monks to go straight ahead she was saying that you decide and do not waiver. But what do I do, where my straight ahead is rerouting continually? I guess that is my straight ahead. 

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