What is Meant by Emptiness?

CASE
A student asked the eminent translator Tom Cleary what is meant by Emptiness? Tom Cleary replied it is innocent of concept.

PARTIAL COMMENTARY
…What is emptiness? Innocent of concept?
No eyes, no ears, no nose…
”In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in
the experts few.”

VERSE by Dairyu
At Tassajara it is easy to stub your toe on he rocky paths.
The vacant trail is totally alive.

Encourage Others

CASE
A student asked Nakagawa-Soen during a meditation retreat, “I am very discouraged. What should I do?” Soen Roshi replied, “Encourage others.”

PARTIAL COMMENTARY
Some will follow the way when they are discouraged, some when they are encouraged, and some when they are even tempered… Which are you? What should you do?…

VERSE by Dairyu
In the rainy village
or the sunbleached plain
the Dharma reigns equally,
still you are responsible.

The Brown Telephone

CASE
Richard Baker told the assembly, “I dreamt I was trying to solve a problem. A brown phone kept ringing in the background, distracting me. Finally, annoyed, I picked it up and the voice on the other end told me the answer to the problem.”

PARTIAL COMMENTARY
What is important? What has to be dismissed?… Is your daily life a necessary but unwanted adjunct to your daily meditation?… Don’t let your practice block your practice…

VERSE by Dairyu
Ruled by picking and choosing
A distraction may be to the point.
What are you trying to do?

Vending Machine

CASE
Dainin Katagiri once said, "You take care of your life as if it were a vending machine. You put the coins in from the top and then expect a soda at the bottom. You do meditation and you expect something. But life doesn't always go well. The vending machine goes out of order. Then you kick the machine."

PARTIAL COMMENTARY
...This was from a lecture given at Green Gulch Farm in 1986. It was given at a time when the Green Gulch community was undergoing considerable self criticism and evaluation. 

The masters of old ask over and over, "What do you want? What is your intention? What are you manipulating?"...

VERSE by Dairyu:
RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT, ONE... TWO... THREE.
The monkey mind is a helpful aid and a tyrannical master.
Is the tail wagging the dog?