Looking at the world around me, I saw a pattern of atoms. The sun, the moon, and the earth were part of an atom. I was standing on an atom and yet, atoms were in my body? They were all around me? What did that mean? I had many questions, and so, I had found my first koan. It took years for the koan to unfold into an understanding as it settled into a deep place in me and became a part of my soul.
Many of life’s mysteries are difficult to grasp. Not because they are intrinsically hard, but because they are simple. My brother said of the articles in “The Lion’s Roar”, “It’s not figuring out the answer. It’s living the answer.” That is the way of a koan.
KOANS EMBODY THE UNIVERSE
Koans have a whole form of mystery that surrounds them. For me, they are the embodiment of our universe, wonderful and magic filled. Here is an excerpt that might explain better than I what a koan is:
However, koans have always been with us, and always are. They arise naturally in life situations and out of the dilemmas we face. At times of crisis, as when we lose someone we love through death or separation, we can find that we are facing ultimate questions such as What is the purpose of life? In the instance of the death of a loved one, we may find ourselves asking, Where has the one I love gone? At such times, we may somehow find the tenacity to stay with a fundamental question until it resolves.
There was a darker side to life also. My mother was not OK and while my spirit soared in new dimensions, my foundation as it was, was crumbling eventually to fall away and disintegrate. It was about this time my family moved to Canada. I was 17.
I LOST THE ABILITY TO MOVE THROUGH LIFE EASILY
IT BECAME ABOUT COPING
It was a culture shock. All the beautiful people at school were so perfect with styled hair and exquisitely made up.
People were removed and conservative.
There was no singing in the streets and passion was perfectly kept.
I was in a box now, where before I was free. I turned to books again, looking for an understanding and a way out.
My reading took on new directions as I ate up William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience, books about the Kabbalah, teachings of Masters and Saints, Shamanism, the wonderful, wonderful works of Joseph Campbell and not last, psychology.
It was Alice Miller’s book, “the Drama of the Gifted Child” that showed me the first patterns in psychology. I had started going to therapy because I knew something was wrong. Everything on the outside looked fine. It was more about how I felt. I was not OK. I had begun the search to fill the hollowness I felt inside.
And then I lost the ability to move through life easily. It became about coping and eventually, I could not even do that. My world was shrinking and I became ill. This is a story all by itself and the illness was the result of living in a narcissistic home. At that time I had powerful dreams, shamanic in nature. My grandmother and her sister, my great aunt, died. My special friend died of aids. Death was all around me. And I too was about to die.
Here, my koan had an answer. It came to me as sudden comprehension:
The infinite is the exact, equal and opposite limitation, of the finite.
It was to be my new foundation. I would not understand this for some years to come nor would I understand the implications.