Songyuan Chongyue’s Turning Words
Why can’t the person of great strength lift up his leg?
There are so many great things happening in the world. Todd Hido is creating photographic images of incredible artistic depth, Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conversation Society is risking everything to save ocean wildlife, Ingrid Newkirk of P.E.T.A. makes it her life work to protect those who are defenceless against humans, students work long hours after school so they can pay their way through university. Great strength is everywhere we look.
Yet, when Songyuan Chongyue asks, "why can’t the person of great strength can't lift up his leg”, something deep inside us locks up. Most of us who look closely will see some place in our life where we are frozen, unable to even lift a leg. A person full of insight and knowledge gets up to speak before a group and freezes, a slim person is convinced she is too fat and won't eat, a woman steps into a deep awakening but is unsure of it and defers to others.
So maybe Songyuan Chongyue's question is valid, but I am guessing that he didn't ask it to make a point. His are turning words, words to change things, words to change us, words to change our life. The beauty and magic of working with a koan is that by just holding the koan things change. A while ago I felt completely stuck, all my abilities, education, training, experience, were of no use at all. Songyuan Chongyue's turning words came to mind, so I called them up whenever I felt stuck. I didn't do anything with the words - I just carried them with me. Whenever I felt stuck and frustrated I wore Songyuan Chongyue's words like a life jacket. After a while I noticed the life jacket disappeared, the koan had disappeared, the question had disappeared, the problem was gone. My legs worked just fine.