We think our everyday lives are ordinary, nothing much going on. And especially during the holiday season, we want glitter, glamour, parties, excitement. This will make our season special. Or so we think.
So often, after all the commotion a hollow feeling appears. What was that all about? we wonder. Despite temporary thrills, an emptiness lingers.
This itself is a koan, a question or problem that cannot be solved or understood in the usual ways. Koans are questions given to students in Zen practice. They cannot be grappled with logically, or figured out. We may try, but as we do so, only become more trapped in the web. As we persist, however, we let that go, and something new dawns on us. Not only about our koan, but about our life itself.
“The real isn’t rational,” and koans are pointing to the real. Our life may not be real yet either, until we engage with it differently
There is another way to engage with koans and with our everyday life. We stop viewing them as problems to be solved but learn to enjoy them, accompany them, experience them fully. We become like a mother hen sitting on her nest, keeping her chicks warm. Then the chicks peck at the eggs when they are ready, and are born all by themselves.
Koan practice and everyday life itself, are just like that. Right in the middle of our days, we are being given one koan after another, one situation, challenge or relationship after the next. These, too are koans.
Best not to get lost trying to figure them all out or explaining them rationally. When we begin to view our very lives as an amazing koan, everything about it changes. Not only does the koan become revealed, but out lives themselves burst into bloom.