Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Host and Guest
"The head monks of two parts of the meditation hall caught sight of each other and simultaneously gave a shout.
A monk asked the Master, 'In this case, was there any guest and any host, or wasn't there?'
The Master said, 'Guest and host are perfectly obvious!' Then the Master said, 'All of you -- if you want to understand what I have just said about guest and host, go ask the two head monks of the meditation hall.' "
This passage comes from The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-chi, translated by Burton Watson.
John Tarrant Roshi gave us a koan, the continuation of Lin-chi's voice:
"Wherever you are, just take the role of host, and that place will be a true place."
So began my sitting with this koan for a while, and it returned to my consciousness from time to time. What does it mean to be a good host? What do I get out of this experience? What does it mean to be a good guest? What do I get out of this experience?
"...and to practice these principles in all our affairs." Some say the principle of Step 12 is charity and love -- isn't this a pretty good example of being a good host? Whatever (or whoever) comes into our life, "Welcome, come on in ... how may I serve you?"
It wouldn't surprise me to one day experience this koan working in all the Steps. Each Step offers a principle: Step 1 Acceptance, Step 2 Faith, Step 3 Surrender and Trust ... Step 11 Patience.
Could this be the Steps taking on the role of host? And I am the guest?
Host and guest, Steps and Koans, welcome.