Karen Shoji Robbie

‘I learned this koan off by heart. Allowing it to seep into my skin and bones. Repeating the word ordinary like a mantra again and again. Asking the question, ‘What is it?’ again and again. Stopping and starting and not knowing what to do. The whole thing not doing anything. Not knowing anything but trusting that I didn’t know. Then beginning to experience ordinary. Everything ordinary. I kept going. And this ordinary got bigger and more spacious… Also at some point a fresh and unexpected word appeared. The word was love.’ (from the StoneWater zen site)

It was a little poignant to find this one in the archives, as it references the trip I did not get to make to help with Shohaku’s planned London retreat in March 2020. It is a commonplace, but nonetheless true, to say that it feels like a long time ago. And so this post hits slightly differently now – we are still stopping and starting with the pandemic, and not knowing what to do. I spoke about it in many of the talks I gave last year, and now it seems, as the current phrase in England has it, ‘baked in.’


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