Monday, August 15, 2011

Every Day

Every Day
by Scott Bradley


"Every day is a good day" -- Yun-Men Wen-Yen

When first I read this, I thought I recognized a cliché, but when I understood that it is a koan, I thought again. Koans are anything but clichés.

The context is that the master asks the assembled monks to give him a good word, not about the fifteenth day of the month, but the day after. Using a lunar calendar at the time, the fifteenth day was always the day of the full moon, symbolic of perfection and the realization of satori, and explanations have been offered with this in mind.

But a koan is not something we are intended to understand; it must be experienced. It is not something to wrap up in the mind, but something intended to unwrap the mind.

Robert Aitken (A Zen Wave) brings this koan into a discussion of a Basho haiku:

A day when Fuji
Is obscured by misty rain!
That's interesting.

For the Japanese, to see Fuji is to see a god, if not truly, then aesthetically. But "every day is a good day." There is a way of being in which every thing and every moment is 'redeemed', because it is a realization of no need for redemption.

Zhuangzi taught something similar (if not the same): "Looked at from the point of view of their sameness, all things are one." (Taking this view), "you become free of all preconceptions....You just release the mind to play in the harmony of all Virtuosities. Seeing what is one and the same to all things, nothing is ever felt to be lost." (Zhuangzi 5:6; B. Ziporyn) Not even cherished views of Fuji.

"All Virtuosities" is te. Te, as I see it, is the expression in all things of Tao, which being Unknowable and Nameless, is 'understood' and experienced in things themselves. Apparently uniquely, the human being can recognize Tao in his or her own expression, and harmonizing with that, can be in harmony with every expression.

But every expression is the expression, harmonized or not; there is nothing that falls short of Tao -- not even you and I. Every day is a good day. Every expression is a 'good' expression. All is well.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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