Koan 85 & the Vanishing Bluebird by Zhong Fen li Bao yu Di

Posted by on July 8, 2016

THE MASTER Ikkyu showed his wisdom even as a child. Once he broke
the precious heirloom teacup of his teacher, and was greatly
upset. While he was wondering what to do, he heard his teacher
coming. Quickly he hid the pieces of the cup under his robe.

“Master,” he said, “why do things die?”

“It is perfectly natural for things to die and for the matter
gathered in them to separate and disintegrate,” said the teacher.
“When its time has come every person and every thing must go.

“Master,” said little Ikkyu, showing the pieces, “it was time for
your cup to go. Collection of Stone and Sand #85

Vanishing Bluebird by Zhong Fen li Bao yu Di

Vanishing Bluebird by Zhong Fen li Bao yu Di

Comments on Practice: Vanishing Bluebird

When I look at images, paintings, photos, I immediately want to reach a conclusion, to know something. I am practicing to let go of that reaction and that desire and instead rest in not knowing. However, my desire to know repeatedly reasserts itself, especially when I write about what I am seeing. As I said, these days I am constantly practicing to both let go of wanting to know and believing that I can know.

That said, let me offer comment on the bluebird photos. The bluebird died this spring trying to nest in my chimney. This is a common occurrence on the prairie. I took the photo, I think, because I wished to hold onto its great beauty. Reflecting on it, I see my delusion. When the bluebird was alive, flying about, perching on tall grass, or nesting in a nearby box, I admired it greatly, wishing to see him again and again…..wanting more. When he was made lifeless, I still thought I could have more of him and his beauty, even possess him by preserving him. Much gratitude to whatever carried him off. The second photo captures a cold slap that I needed.

Vanished by Zhong Fen li Bao yu Di

Vanished by Zhong Fen li Bao yu Di

The bluebird vanished, but he did not become nothing. I am sure that I could make a list of what he may have become. But neither can I know nor do I need to know any specifics. It is quite enough to know that he continues to move and change.

Another point that I shall contemplate….who is the “I” that desires and seeks to know? Is it the “I” that wants to hold onto his own beauty, his vitality to, try to possess himself?

I recall something Sister Wendy Beckett said, ” I don’t think we are all that important. We are only important to God, not to ourselves.”

I will start there.

Zhong Fen li Bao yu Di


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