Fox and buffalo, dogs and flesh eating demons, ghosts, people divided into two beings, tigers who befriend Chan masters, dragons, learned tea ladies—all appear in our koan stories.
Also there are refugees, exiles, widows, people having secret love affairs—all creatures of the summer dawn, each having their place in the totality of things. And their beauty too.
It’s good to spend time with people who aren’t people, and people who are.
In the Zen tradition, animals and demons and ghosts all have buddha nature and there are koans about their journeys, which are like ours.
I had a dog who came out at night to sit with me, leaning against my body as we sat. I have had other wild creatures, such as echidnas, birds and snakes approach me while sitting. When I went to visit a friend in Mendocino, a raven swooped low to greet us. I nodded and we went in.
Great horned owls and red-tailed hawks occupy the trees around our temple home and note, and sometimes comment on, our comings and goings.
All these creatures are present in our waking consciousness, but also they move around and call for us in our dreams and sleep. They occupy a place in the deeps where we enter the koan lands.
Join us for an exploration of our own true nature. —John Tarrant
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