Disoriented, distracted, unaware, and unmindful
At the bank of the river I sit for a moment to soak my feet
Hands cupped, I bring the cold, clear water to my face
Wet hands rubbing my neck
I feel the dirt running down my back
For the first time, I am aware of the smells surrounding me
Taking in a deep breath, I notice something…
Hoofprints in the soil, leading behind a bamboo grove
There is only one beast that could have left these prints
But in this fantastic forest which way should I look?
Even its ghostly snort is difficult to place
Whispering from the mountain deep
My first weekend in Korea, I laid out a map of Daegu city on the floor and stared at the lines leading from my building to the downtown area.
After about 20 minutes of twisting my neck around until it was stiff, I stepped outside and made my way downtown. Though I had a mental concept of what lines to follow, I had no idea what those lines would actually be holding. On the map it seemed like a 15 minute walk, but it took closer to an hour. But once I made it downtown, at the first corner I turned, there was my high school friend.
Finding the Buddha-Dharma was a similar experience. I read a few books, listened to a few Dharma talks, and thought, “Wow, this is going to be easy!”
Then, reality replaced optimism and I saw the amount of work that must be done. The mind in all its fantasies, elusive, difficult to see. To find the ox first I must pull myself out from this stinking pile of bull, dimming all my senses. It’s difficult realize your own stench when it’s been in your nose for so long.
But when encountering the Buddha-Dharma, I also found a Sangha, friends to help each other along.
Maybe the most important thing of all in finding the hoofprints is finding a direction, a path, a way.
Discovering the Footprints
By the water, and under the trees,
There are numerous traces.
Fragrant grasses grow thickly,
Did you see the ox?
Even in the depths of the distant mountain forest,
How could the upturned nostrils of the ox be concealed?