Sansaku: Discernment


When he came to the border, he had to cross a dark and misty pool of water. A lady lived there, in a grove both near and far. He’d been wandering and wondering, and wanted to know his fate. Maybe she would know.

At first, he didn’t see her. She announced her presence with a voice like breeze. He worded his question, “What do the gods want of me?” It began to rain. The ash trees gave them shelter.

She said, “If you would hear the message from the ancient ones, look for that which repeats and repeats, again and again. These are the life lessons you will need to learn, and they will come again and again until you make them a part of your soul and your enduring spirit.”

The seeker wants to know exactly what he’s looking for and the answer doesn’t please him. “What do you mean, what repeats and comes again?” She looked at him and smiled.

The sound of rain was everywhere, but they stayed dry. The lady said, “Just listen.” He waited for her to speak. That’s not what she intended.

The forest was deep in spell and he began to remember what he needed. He heard himself complain, over and over again, the same old stuff. He wanted things to change, be different than they were, and half-despaired they ever would. The lady seemed to know.

“That’s not the way,” she said. “Look at the forest, look at the sky.”

The clouds began to break and light filtered through wet leaves. Drops of water mirrored the world and looked like crystal jewels. The beauty was extreme. Nowhere to go and nothing to do. She said, “It’s always like this when you’re here.”

He had the feeling of a dreamer who was waking in his sleep. His inner eyes were open. He could see what he usually missed. “It’s time to return,” she said. And she was gone like the breeze that brought her.

He woke to the same bed in the same room, back on dry land. It hadn’t felt like a dream. Outside the clouds were darkening, there’d be rain today. He remembered water-drops on leaves, mirroring the world for one eternal moment, then gracefully falling to earth.

I sometimes wonder what the lessons will be when we come to the end and look back. It’s the question I asked my mother. I recorded the answers, and they repeated, again and again.

She talked about a friend of hers. She’d tried to help and couldn’t. Vivian was depressed and had that mantra going in her head, “Nothing will make a difference. Why even try?” Irma didn’t argue but suggested, “You can change the way you respond.”

She told me stories about her mother. “She had the most clear and certain feelings of anyone I’ve ever known. She was far from passive, although many thought her so. She knew her happiness did not depend on what happened, but on what she did and how she responded.”

She seemed to imply, like those ancient ones, “There is always a choice. Some blame and complain, some give up, and some respond with love and kindness. It becomes a creative act, and never doubt, the happiest people make remarkably similar choices.”

I was a bit surprised when I learned dreams didn’t discern big and small, rich and poor, young and old. In that reality, the small is big, the poor are rich, and the old is forever fresh. It doesn’t depend on that.

What did the lady say? Be a creator.











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