Steady. Present. Today

Steady. Present. Today
Sonoma County, March 2006

Here is a Zen story: Master Ummon (Yunmen in Chinese; d. 949) said to the assembly: “I don’t ask you about before the fifteenth day; try to say something about after the fifteenth day.” Ummon himself answered for everyone: “Every day is a good day.” (Case 6, Blue Cliff Record)

The first part of this koan is not as enigmatic as it may seem. In the old Chinese calendar the month was divided into two parts of fifteen days each, and the monks met on the first and the fifteenth days of the month to perform the Uposatha Ceremony, a ceremony of avowal of karma and of renewal. So Ummon was probably speaking on the fifteenth day, and his meaning was something like: Say something about the past, or about the future. Compare this time to that time. What is the difference between before you have avowed your karma and after? And he answered for everyone, “Every day is a good day.”




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