There is a moon drifting in and out of this koan. Touzi was a Chinese master living at about the same time and one day a monk asked him, "When the moon is not yet full, what then?" Touzi answered, "Swallow, three or four." The monk asked, "After it is full, what then?" "Spit out seven or eight."

First, we need to recognize the completeness of this body as it is. We recognize our fullness, that nothing is excluded. Time and space become our body and mind. And then, we release. We release all of it. We step out beyond any completion, letting go even of letting go. And like the phases of the moon, this process just goes on, so completely and intimately that at certain points it's not clear if you're swallowing or spitting out. Soen Nakagawa had a haiku, Ascend the slope, descend that very slope—autumn of the dragon. Remaining among forms, you're not moved by forms. Remaining in the realm of thoughts, you are not encroached on by thoughts.

That image of the hazy moon comes out of a poem from Keizan, who wrote, "Though clear waters range to the vast blue spring sky, how can they compare with a hazy moon on an autumn night?" Most people want to have pure clarity, but sweep as you will, you cannot empty the mind. And Dongshan, in his poem on the fifth rank, speaking to precisely this says:

Who dares to equal the one
Who falls into neither being nor non-being! All of us want to leave
The current of ordinary life,
But he, after all, comes back
To sit among the coals and ashes.

Forty-two years tramping across the plains of India. The complicated affairs that are waiting for Xuefeng. Who dares to equal the one who falls into neither being nor non-being, the one who has passed beyond any measurements? How can you be equal to that? We frequently practice within the paradigm of wanting to escape. We're not even sure what is it that we're escaping—the tedium of life, the meaninglessness, the discomfort with ourselves. But we are always tuned to the thing ahead. When will we get there? What will it be like when we get there? We seem to have a low tolerance, ever dwindling, it seems, for remaining in this moment, and yet, this journey is about nothing but that. It's never towards some other time. It's never towards some other reality.