This is the dance of samsara. It may take life's hitting us on the side of the head to get us to wake up. It does take deliberate practice to sustain clear seeing. It takes work to go from our tubular, limited, ignoring way of looking at the world to appreciating the vastness and the infinite beauty and the depth of who we are and what this life is offering us.
Now imagine being greeted by a person drawing a huge circle in the air as you approach, as in this koan. Or imagine someone welcoming you, in word and spirit, with namaste—"I bow to your true form." I see you in your completeness, in your vastness, as who you truly are. What is that? What does Master Dogen mean when he says, "No creature ever fails to cover the ground on which it stands"? Whenever we turn towards the buddhadharma, that is the perspective we encounter. Are we ready for that degree of acceptance and space? Are we ready to match that degree of acceptance and space within our practice?
Through practice, you are welcomed in your completeness. You are welcomed in this monastery, in this zendo, on this cushion. When newcomers visit the monastery for a retreat, after registering, the first thing that is offered to them is instructions in zazen—the most direct expression of that very statement of welcome. They are introduced to themselves beyond any limitations. Sit down, we say. It's here that you are complete. You're accepted in your wholeness, which is expressed as every quirky detail of your body and your mind, your past, your hopes, everything knowable, everything unknowable. Here you are always welcomed as more complete than what you're used to seeing and living yourself as. None of you-no part of you—is ignored. The truth is waving in the apple blossom. It's the song of the robin outside the window. They don't hold back in seeing who you are.
Beyond zazen, as you start feeling the pressure of spiritual training—the push towards, against and through the barriers you encounter—you see the endless opportunities to unwind, to enlarge, to make manifest the implicit and hereto invisible completeness. It is like a good stretch in the morning upon waking up. Not hypothetical. You do not end here. Training and practice are a commitment to that attitude. Practice and training are a celebration of that way of relating with yourself and the world. And as we practice and get accustomed to this way of being, everything begins to be seen that way. There are ensos—complete, all-inclusive circles—everywhere. The kanji for enso stands for both an opening and a cage. The poem that goes with the image of the enso in the eighth ox-herding picture says, "Whip, tether, self, ox—all have merged. No traces remain. The vast blue sky cannot be reached by thoughts. How can a snowflake abide in a raging fire? Having reached home, you are in accord with the ancient Way." Our limited view has no chance in the midst of such vastness. Everything is on the table, laid out and intimately clear. Like a snowflake in a raging fire, a thought cannot reach it. Practice reveals how our way of dividing and compartmentalizing this reality has no chance of withstanding the truth of how things really are, how those thoughts collapse—evaporate—when we simply rest within the nature of our minds, precisely as we are.