111 – Resisting Our Demons

In this podcast episode, I will discuss the Zen Koan titled “The Real Miracle”. I will also share the story/teaching of Milarepa and the Demons he resisted in his cave and how that story can help us with our own demons. I also share a new Zen koan at the end of the episode for you to work with this week.

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110 – Unhappily Headed Towards Happiness

Often we find ourselves unhappily headed towards happiness. Thinking that once we arrive, we will suddenly not be how we’ve been all along. In this podcast episode, I will talk about Bodhidharma’s beard and the koan that invites us to look closer at ourselves and others.

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109 – Finding Your True Self

What happens when we break through the conceptual fog that often blinds us from seeing ourselves as we really are? In this podcast episode, I will talk about the idea of finding your true self. I will also discuss a few more zen koans including “MU” and “Temper”.

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108 – Important Things To Think About Often

The Buddha taught that there are five important things we should think about often. These are commonly referred to as the Five Remembrances. In this episode, I will talk about the five remembrances and how remembering these important things often can lead to a more mindful and fulfilling life.

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107 – Learning to be Silent

In this podcast episode, I discuss three more Zen Koans: Joshu’s Zen, The Gates of Paradise, and Learning to be Silent. I will share what these koans mean to me and how I interpret the lessons of these koans in my own day-to-day life. Read More

106 – Everything is Best

In this episode, I share three more Zen koans and what they mean to me. Calling card, Everything is Best, and Inch Time Foot Gem. Thank you for listening and for being a part of this journey with me. Until next time!

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Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Secular Buddhism podcast. This is episode number 106. I am your host, Noah Rasheta. Today, I’m going to share three more Zen koans and talk a little bit about what they mean for me.

Keep in mind you don’t need to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist. You can use this to learn to be a better whatever you already are. I thought it would be fun to discuss a couple more years than koans and specifically what they mean for me. I want to emphasize that second part, what they mean for me. If you’ll recall, the whole point of a Zen koan in the Zen tradition is to be presented with a story, or a question, or an idea that essentially knocks you out of the conceptual thinking. It’s meant to pull the rug out from under your feet. And it kind of defeats the whole point if somebody tells you the koan and then just tells you what it means. Because the truth is there is no meaning to it. There’s only the meaning that you give to it, and that’s your job to figure out what this means for you.

So I want to be cautious about how I approached these Zen koans because I am not pretending in any way that I have the answers to these, or that I know what they mean, or that I have anything wise to impart when it comes to these Zen koans. I just want to share what they have meant to me. I hope that you keep that in mind with not just the koans, but … I guess everything that I’ve ever shared on the podcast kind of falls into that category. It’s like this is what this stuff means to me. And the invitation is for you to explore and figure out what this stuff means for you. So keep that in mind as you listen to these.

The first Zen koan I want to share is called Calling Card. The koan goes like this. Keichu, the great teacher of the Meiji Era, was the head of the Tofuku, a cathedral in Kyoto. One day, the governor of Kyoto called upon him for the first time. His attendant presented the card of the governor, which read, “Kitagaki, governor of Kyoto.” “I have no business with such a fellow,” said Keichu to his attendant. “Tell him to get out of here.” The attendant carried the card back with apologies. “That was my error,” said the governor. And with a pencil, he scratched out the words governor of Kyoto. “Ask your teacher again. Oh, is that Kitagaki?” exclaimed the teacher when he saw the card. “I want to see that fellow.”

Now, I like this one because it’s fun to imagine myself in the place of both the teacher and the governor of Kyoto. So in this story, you have someone who’s essentially presenting himself to go visit with a teacher, and the teacher doesn’t receive him because the calling card when he comes in and presents himself mentions his name, comma, governor of Kyoto. I like this because we go through life putting so much emphasis on the titles that we have, and I think often we fuse ourselves with our titles. What this koan means to me, you have the Zen master here who sees right through that, says, “I’m not interested in talking to the governor of Kyoto. I’m not interested in your title.” Then, when he presents himself again after having removed the title, he’s like, “Oh yeah, that guy. Yeah, I want to see him.”

I think how often do we feel like that Zen master talking to someone that we know, an acquaintance, family member, and often they’re talking to us or presenting themselves through the labels, the labels that are very important to them? And it doesn’t have to be a big one like governor of some province or state. It’s little titles, but it’s still labels. The labels that we use and we present ourselves with those labels affect the way that people interact with us, essentially because we’re not allowing ourselves to just be us. I think about that a lot.

I’ve mentioned it previously on the podcast the time that I used to identify so much with the label of being an entrepreneur. It was important for me to make sure that you knew if I was interacting with you that you’re interacting with someone who is an entrepreneur because that was a label that meant a lot to me. I’ve done that with other labels. I think we all do. I think it’s fun to kind of visit that, pause, and then ask yourself, “What are the labels that mean so much to you, and how do you use them? Why do you use them? Why do they mean so much to you?”

This is not an invitation to rid ourselves of our labels. Putting labels and having titles, that’s a human thing that we do. I’m not trying to insinuate that we need to get rid of them. They can be useful. But what happens when we attach ourselves to our labels? I’ve had labels that have meant more to me than other labels, titles that meant more to me than other titles. And I’ve often asked myself, “Why does this mean so much to me?” Then, usually what happens when I can spend the time and look inward, it’s almost like I catch myself and I’m like, “Ah, that’s what you’re really after.” Then suddenly, it becomes humorous that that meant so much to me. Often, it’s a way of trying to prop myself up. It’s a way of trying to hide an insecurity that I might have. I found this to be the case with almost any title or any label that I proudly tried to display.

And again, it’s not like I’ve eliminated all the titles and labels that I use about myself in my life. It’s not that. For me, this koan has been an invitation to remind myself that when I’m interacting with someone, what they really appreciate is that they’re just talking to me. Who am I? Me, the me that I am right now, not the me that needs to present myself with my calling card of some label of some sort. I found this to be the case even with the podcast. I don’t like to present myself as, oh, Noah the podcaster things like that, but I have some points. I’ve been able to recognize, “Oh, that’s something that means something to me. Why does it mean something to me?” And then the attachment to the label minimizes and suddenly it doesn’t matter anymore.

So for me, the invitation of this koan is to analyze what labels are very meaningful to me. Which labels or titles am I really proud to put on my calling card when I come present myself to you if I were to interact with you or with anyone? In understanding that about myself, then what happens if I present myself without the label and it’s just me and I allow you to see the me that I am under the label?

Now on the flip side, as the Zen master, as he’s sitting there, imagine the times, the opportunities that you’ve had in your life to interact with someone who presents themselves to you as raw and authentic, genuine, someone who’s not propping themselves up from behind their label or their title. I’ve had this experience many times interacting with people who just allow themselves to be who they are. Some of them very well-known people. I’ve talked to authors, or teachers, or famous musicians. I’ve talked to a lot of people, and it’s awesome when I get to interact with them and they’re not hidden there behind their title or their label, or they’re not attached to it I should say. Sure, the label’s there. The title’s there. That’s who they are. It’s part of what they do. But you can tell when someone’s not attached to it and they allow themselves to be seen. Man, that’s a beautiful thing. I think this is something that is growing in our culture now with all of Brené Brown, her books and her work, the whole concept of vulnerability, and showing up, and allowing yourself to be seen. That to me is the embodiment of this specific koan, the Calling Card, as a reminder for myself to look at how I allow myself to be presented to others when I’m interacting with others.

Moving on to the next koan I want to share. I’m pretty sure I mentioned this one before in early podcast episodes. But, this one is called Everything is Best, and that’s why the name of this podcast episode is Everything is Best. This is one of those that when I first heard didn’t really mean much to me. But the more time that went by, the more meaningful this has become, and I really like this one.

The koan goes, “When Banzan was walking through a market, he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer. ‘Give me the best piece of meat you have,’ said the customer. ‘Everything in my shop is the best,’ replied the butcher. ‘You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best.’ At these words, Banzan became enlightened.”

Now, I like this one because I feel like in our society it’s very common to get caught up in this idea of best, ranking things, wanting to have the best that we can. I want my car to be nicer than all the other cars, or my house to be better than any other house, and my job title, going back to the titles, to be more important than any other titles. That’s the game that we play. And in this exchange in this koan, this butcher was trying to help the customer understand that these items are incomparable.

Now, with the butcher, using the idea of meat, the insinuation there is if you asked for ribs and you try to compare those ribs to, I don’t know, some other flank of meat, sirloin or whatever it is, they’re not the same thing. Now, it doesn’t have to be with meat, right? You can do this with everything. It’s like saying walking into the store and saying, “Hey, please give me your best fruit,” and the person at the store saying, “Well, it’s this is the best banana, and that’s the best apple, and that’s the best grape. They’re all the best.”

The idea for me with this koan as it’s developed for me over time was the realization that I, like many others, have the tendency to rank things in good, better, and best, this moment compared to that moment, this memory compared to that memory. And the koan is an invitation to see the uniqueness of each thing. The moment you can see the uniqueness of a moment, suddenly the moments don’t compare anymore. There’s not a good moment and a better moment because the concept of good and bad in that sense is totally irrelevant. There’s this moment, and this moment doesn’t compare to that moment because that moment arrives and this moment is gone, and they’re both entirely unique. They’ve never happened before. They’ll never happen again that same way because it’s taken every event in the past to make this present moment exactly what it is. And when we can start to see life through that lens, suddenly everything becomes unique. And the beauty of the moment is the uniqueness of the moment, not the pleasantness or unpleasantness.

That was a really radical shift for me. I had those ranking phases of my life, this really unpleasant phase dealing with a bankruptcy, or dealing with marital problems, or dealing with whatever it was ranking that phase to another phase when things were good and I didn’t have this problem or things like that. And when you’re playing that game, according to this koan, my understanding of it at least, is that we’re not seeing things the way they really are. When we can see the uniqueness of each moment, the pleasantness or unpleasantness of that moment, suddenly takes a different meaning.

That was, again, one of those really strong radical shifts for me in my life was to suddenly appreciate the unpleasant, and the painful, and the downright miserable moments and experiences that I’ve had in my life because I can see them for the uniqueness that they are. To be able to see it that way has been powerful, to be able to think, “Well, man, I would never want to go through that again.” But part of me is glad that I know what that’s like because if I encounter someone else on this path of life who is going through that, well, I get to know what that’s like. I can identify with that person and show a little bit more compassion and a little bit more kindness because I’d been through that same thing. All of that arose out of this understanding of the uniqueness of the experience, not the goodness, or badness, or pleasant, or unpleasant. It’s like no matter what I thought of that moment, it’s a unique moment, and that in and of itself carries some preciousness.

That’s a powerful one for you to explore the experiences, the emotions, the thoughts, every whatever it is you’re going through in life from that perspective of, wow, this is a unique thing, this is a unique moment rather than ranking it on the pleasant or unpleasant scale. So, everything is best.

That kind of leads into this third koan, and the last one I want to share in this podcast episode, which is a koan called Inch Time Foot Gem. This is one of those that … There are several of these that don’t really make a lot of sense to me, but then there might be one or two words in the whole thing that makes sense and that’s enough for me to make sense of it.

I’m going to read this one to you. It says, “A lord asked Takuan, a Zen teacher, to suggest how he might pass the time. He felt his days very long, attending his office and sitting stiffly to receive the homage of others. Takuan wrote eight Chinese characters and gave them to the man. Not twice this day, inch time foot gem. This day will not come again. Each minute is worth a priceless gem.”

Again, that’s one of those that it’s like I’m not sure I understood any of that except the last two sentences, this day will not come again. That’s a pretty powerful realization. And each minute is worth a priceless gem. That koan, the end of that koan, speaks to me piggybacking off of the concept of the other koan of everything is the best. Every moment is the best moment because the entire concept of a best moment is already flawed thinking. I like that each moment is a gem, a precious and unique gem, whether that’s a pleasant moment, a painful moment, a joyful moment, a blissful moment, a painful moment. They’re all the same in that sense that they’re like precious gems because they’re unique moments.

And again, for me, that is the power of the shift in perspective that a koan like that can do. It causes you to revisit not the event that’s unfolding, but the way I’m viewing the event as it unfolds. It’s allowed me to pause and then analyze how much of my life am I going through it doing the wrong or the unskillful ranking of saying I want the best piece of meat, like the customer at the butcher store. I want the best experience. I want the best whatever the thing is I’m going through in life. What happens when I revisit that with this new set of lenses that allow me to see the preciousness and uniqueness of the moment, and then suddenly it all changes because I’m not after the best. I’m just trying to appreciate this for what it is because I know it’s unique.

I felt that in my own life as I’ve tried to practice this on multiple occasions. Being stuck in a line and realizing we’re not going to get on that ride because the cutoff was two people in front of us, something like that. A moment that could typically be unpleasant because you’re thinking, “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be,” turns into one of those moments where it’s like, “Oh, that’s interesting. I’ve never had that happen where I was literally two or three people away and I didn’t get to get on. Interesting. What a unique thing. I’ve never experienced that before.” Suddenly, the uniqueness of it became part of the experience. And in a way, it’s like, “Whoa, cool. I’ll put that on my list of things that have happened in my life,” instead of just being super upset and miserable that I didn’t get past that line.

And again, with lots of things, we start thinking of it this way, what you’ll see is a shift in the way that you see things. That’s how it’s worked for me, and that’s what I enjoy about these koans. That’s all I have for this podcast episode. But as always, thank you for listening and thank you really for being a part of this journey with me. If you enjoyed the podcast episode, you can share it with others. Write a review. Give it a rating in iTunes. And if you’d like to make a donation to support the work I’m doing with the podcast, please visit secularbuddhism.com and click the donate button. That’s all I have for now, but I look forward to recording another podcast episode soon. Until next time.

105 – Open Your Own Treasure House

We generally value answers more than we do questions but what if the bigger treasure in the pursuit of answers is to be found in the question itself? In this podcast episode I will share my thoughts regarding the koan: Open Your Own Treasure House.

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Hello and welcome to another episode of the Secular Buddhism podcast. This is episode number 105. I am your host, Noah Rasheta. Today, I am talking about another zen koan. This one is called open your treasure house. Keep in mind, you don’t need to use what you learned from Buddhism to be a Buddhist and use it to learn to be a better whatever you already are. I’ve been reading through some of my favorite zen koans recently, and I thought it would be fun to occasionally pick some and talk about them in the podcast. Today, I’m going to talk about one of these koans called open your own treasure house.

A quick reminder, the point of a koan comes from zen Buddhism is it’s a riddle or a story that’s meant to make you think. Perhaps you can say meant to make you stop thinking. Sometimes, it’s presented as a riddle that tries to set you free from the habitual reactivity of the mind. Something that would normally make sense suddenly doesn’t make sense. In that chaos or in that unsolvable riddle, there could be a moment of awareness or enlightenment. There are all kinds of koans. There are hundreds of them and you can find books that talk about them and share these stories.

I have one. That’s what I was reading tonight. I thought it would be fun to talk about this specific koan. The story goes that Daiju visited the master Baso in China, and Baso asked, “What do you seek?” “Enlightenment,” replied Daiju. “You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?” Baso asked. Daiju asked, “Where’s my treasure house?” Baso answered, “What you are asking is your treasure house.” Daiju was enlightened. Ever after, he urged his friends, “Open your own treasure house and use those treasures.”

That’s it, another quick little story that presents a concept. Then this one, to me, the key phrase here is what you are asking is your treasure house. To me, this is an invitation to compare the difference between the questions that I have and the answers that I seek, and to notice that the treasure that I have inside is the question itself is essentially a greater treasure for me than the answers that I’m seeking because the answers come from the outside. The questions come from the inside. This reminds me somewhat of that phrase that I’ve mentioned on the podcast before that what you are seeking is who is seeking.

To me, again, this is an invitation to go inward and to find in ourselves our own treasure house and then more importantly to open that treasure house, to open up the questions. This has been a fun process for me in my own personal practice to see the treasure of the question as a more valuable treasure than the value I was assigning to the answer that I thought I was looking for. I’ve mentioned this before how my personal journey or my spiritual quest of wanting to understand these big things evolved from prioritizing those answers, what the answers could be, to just seen value in the question itself.

Why do I want to know? Why does the question matter so much to me? The more I’ve come to understand the questions that I have, the less interested I’ve become in the answers. The answer almost doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t even know that I would care to hear an answer because the question itself has given me so much to work with and so much to digest and to understand about myself that I have found in that process of analyzing the question something that seems much more valuable to me than the answer could have been. I think that’s at the heart of what this specific koan is trying to get at.

I like to think of this in terms of the skillful art of asking questions, maybe not asking questions, the skillful art of being introspective about our questions. I feel like it’s common for us in our western way of thinking to be inquisitive and to focus a lot on answers. I mean, in school, we’re taught this from a young age, right? We have questions and then here are answers and here are the formulas that you follow to go from the question to the answer. You get the answer, and it’s like, “Hurray!” You get awards and you get graded over it. All the emphasis is put on the answers. I think that’s great.

I mean, the fact that we can answer difficult questions has led us out of the stone age, so to speak, and into this digital age that we live in, because of our ability to answer difficult questions and to focus a lot of attention on the answers. I do feel like on an inner spiritual trajectory, we’re paying a price for having the mindset that sees the treasure and all of this as the answer rather than seeing the treasure of the question. In my personal experience, again, with these big deep questions about life or questions I have about myself, about others, I have found that the question itself is the treasure.

What I mean by that is when I’m confronted with a scenario where questions arise, it can be at times satisfying and skillful and useful to find those answers, but oftentimes, like I said before, it’s the question itself that really ends up being the treasure at the end of the quest. For example, this morning, my wife went to… Well, I guess I should go back. My wife was taking a trip today to go back to Utah to do some business work with her dance studio auditions that they have. Her plan was to leave for a couple of days and then she’ll be back on Friday this week. I’m home with the kids alone.

In preparation for this trip, we’ve been trying to sort out the steps required for her to leave because I’m a Mexican citizen, but she’s not. She’s an American citizen, and she’s here under a temporary residency visa. Once you obtain that and you’re in the country, while it’s pending, you can’t just leave the country without having a letter that authorizes you to leave the country. She booked her ticket to go back home to the US and then started this process at the immigration office to be able to get her letter of permission to leave the country.

We thought about that ahead of time. We did all the paperwork necessary to do it, and she received the email a couple days ago that said, “It’s been approved. Now, you just have to stop by the immigration office to pick it up because you have to have that letter.” Last night, she’s packing her bags, and around 10:00 or 11:00 PM, as we’re talking about the next morning, it occurs to her that she never went to pick up the letter. She just, as you can imagine, gets really stressed and freaked out about it.

I did too because I thought, “Oh, well, you can’t leave. If you leave, it’s guaranteed that they will close down your immigration case and you have to start all over.” This was a process that she had started back when we were in Utah. She went to the Mexican consulate to start the whole visa process. It’s like, “Oh, this is just going to really complicate things and it’s probably not worth risking this.” We started trying to find solutions to this because she had to wake up early and go straight to the airport, and the immigration office doesn’t open until 9:00, and there was no way to be able to squeeze that in on the way to the airport.

We started looking at other flights. Of course to leave the very next day, when you’re looking at flights, they’re really expensive. The cheapest solution was to just get another flight, but that’s $1,600. It just wasn’t a feasible option. What we were facing at this point was the decision of just canceling the trip and her not going. She was really stressed about that. Her tendency, when she’s stressed about stuff, she goes very hard on herself. She’s talking about how she’s such a failure, and, “Why didn’t I see this coming, and why am I so disorganized?” Just being really harsh on herself.

I was reminding her, “I know what that’s like too. I’ve done that and I didn’t think about it. I missed out on this too. We both dropped the ball.” That’s where it started. Then the solution ended up being that she called the airline and the airline said they could delay, or not delay, they could put her on a later flight. That worked out well. It’s totally a surprised. It was JetBlue, and she’s become a JetBlue fan for life because of this, because they only charged her $75 to get on the later flight and made it super easy. Within minutes, they had emailed her the new itinerary, and she would be on a later flight allowing her to have time in the morning to run to the immigration office to get the letter that she needed.

We wake up this morning. She goes to pick up that letter, and then I’m waiting outside. She finally gets it. That process was stressful for her because she was counting down the minutes. We needed to leave by 9:15 in order to make it to the airport in time. The office opened at nine and she was running out at 9:15. You can imagine how stressed she was while she was up there waiting to do all that. She was already on edge, gets in the car. We start driving. Again, she’s just going off being really upset and down on herself.

At this point, it’s becoming difficult for me because I’m thinking, “I don’t want her to feel so bad.” I’m thinking, “Oh, I’m also stressed about this whole ticket situation and this whole letter situation and everything that we’re dealing with, and now we’re stuck in traffic, and I’m racing to try to get her to the airport on time.” I finally get there just a couple minutes past the deadline of when you’re supposed to be there a couple hours early when you’re flying on an international flight.

I dropped her off and then I turned around, and I started going. This whole time, our youngest is three. She’s sitting in the back. She’s really upset because she hasn’t eaten and she’s crying, and she’s like, “I just want to go eat.” I said, “Okay, we’re going to go. I’m going to pull over, and we’ll find something.” Then doing all this as I get back on the highway and my wife calls me and she says, “My passport’s not here.” At that point, I just immediately pulled over, and I was like, “Are you serious?” We start looking around the backseat, and no, it’s not there.

Then I looked in the front seat and there it is on the floor. It slipped out of her backpack where she had all of her documents. When she opened the backpack to verify she had all the documents, the backpack had tipped over or something and the passport fell out. Suddenly, I’m racing back to the airport to give her the passport. Long story short, she made the flight. It was stressful, but it all worked out. By the end of that whole ordeal on the drive back as my daughter’s just really upset and crying and really hungry, and I was feeling flustered and just feeling all these emotions arise, and that was a moment where I had this opportunity to exercise the skillful art of analyzing these questions that arise in me.

Why do I feel this way? In that moment, it occurred to me how much more skillful it was that I’m asking myself, “Why does this bother me?” It all worked out. It may not have worked out, and had it not worked out, then the trip would have not happened. I mean, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but as I’m sitting there thinking about this, I thought that’s cool that the habitual question that arises now is more along the lines of, “Why am I feeling this way?” Instead of what could have been the older version of me in the past that would have been thinking, “How can I get rid of this feeling?”

Because I’m feeling really uncomfortable with circumstances at the moment, and I would have been thinking, “How can I get rid of this so I can distract her? I can do this. I can say something rude like, ‘Oh, you need to get your stuff together.'” I don’t know, anything that would have made me think how do I get rid of the feeling would have been different than the train of thought that arose out of the question of, “Why am I feeling this way? Why does this bother me, and the introspection that took place on the drive home with regards to the feeling that arose in me?

That was, for me, a fun moment to recognize the treasure, the opening your own treasure house and saying, “This is the deal. This is what we just went through. This is how I’m feeling. It’s an unpleasant feeling,” and then to sit with that and say, “Why am I feeling this?” For me, this moment was actually a very powerful moment because I was able to get several layers deeper. It’s not about the passport. No, it’s not about the letter. It’s not about the what is it really about? I got to something deeper, which was in this specific case, it was recognizing that the discomfort I’m feeling with this whole situation as it’s unfolding.

It’s sad for me to see my wife be so harsh on herself. She texted me once she got through security and she was apologizing profusely and said something along the lines of, “I always mess up like this and make dumb decisions that cause stress, and it makes me hate myself inside and out.” That really stood out to me thinking that, “Wow, how could you hate yourself over something simple that anybody could have done?” My response was, “Your only flaw is thinking that you have a flaw or thinking that you’re flawed.”

That’s what I said. Your only flaw is that you think your flawed, and reminded her just of other instances in our lives where chaos ensued after a mistake or a poor decision. It reminded me of how I felt on our wedding day. We went to get married, and I forgot to bring the marriage license. We were getting married in a religious ceremony where you have to present the marriage license. It was scheduled. We had a room set apart. Everybody was there waiting. The wedding was suddenly on hold because I forgot. I didn’t realize I had to have the marriage license.

Everything got delayed, but at the end, it all worked out, but I’ll never forget how I felt that day. It’s like, “Oh, welcome to day one of marriage with the most stressful events up until that moment.” I reminded my wife of that. What I’m trying to get at with this, again, pointing it all back to this koan, open your own treasure house. To me, that’s a direct invitation to compare and to find the treasure that we assign, the value that we assign to the questions that we have versus the answers that we seek, because no doubt, you have your own sets of questions and you have your own sets of answers that you’re looking for.

How do you weigh those on the scale? Are the answers more important to you than the questions? If so, what would happen if you tried to focus a little bit of that attention and to see some of the value of the question? This is where Buddhism kicks in again where the non-duality aspect of this like, “How could the answer be so important and the question not be so important when you cannot have the answer without the question?” You can’t have one without the other. I love that way of thinking that just puts things… the way of oneness that puts things into perspective, that, “Well, the question is as important as the answer.”

What happens when the question becomes your treasure? Hopefully as I continue to practice that in my own life and the different aspects of life where questions arise, I hope that just as it did with the big existential questions, suddenly, the question became, the question is more valuable to me than the answer. I’m not even interested in the answer because the question tells me more about me, which is the inside than the answer could ever tell me considering the answer’s always on the outside, something from the outside. That’s what I wanted to share with you with this specific koan, open your own treasure house.

Now, I thought it would be fun to end this podcast with one more koan, but instead of deconstructing it and telling you my opinion of what that koan means to me, this time, I’m just going to share the koan directly as it is and not say anything about it, and let you stew over it for the next week and see what it means to you. I probably won’t mention it in a future podcast. It’ll just be a koan. Here it is. It’s called no water, no moon. When the nun Chiyono studied zen under Bukko, she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.

At last, one moonlit night, she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment, Chiyono was set free. In commemoration, she wrote a poem. The poem says, “In this way and that I tried to save the old pail. Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break until at last the bottom fell out. No more water in the pail. No more moon in the water.” That is the poem. That is the koan, now water, no moon. Have fun with that one this week.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to this podcast episode. I enjoy being able to share my thoughts and ideas with you guys. I really appreciate you being a part of this fun journey with me. If you want to learn more about Buddhism and mindfulness, you can always check out my books. I have them listed on noahrasheta.com. As always, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast episode, feel free to share it with others. Write a review, give it a rating in iTunes, and if you would like to make a donation to support the work I’m doing with the podcast, feel free to visit secularbuddhism.com and click on the donate button.

That’s all I have for now, but I look forward to recording another podcast episode soon. May you open your own treasure house and see the value of the questions. Until next time.