At times it seems like we're allergic to ourselves. Do you ever want to literally leap out of your body, out of your skin, out of your mind? What is that? And where does that part that's leaving want to go? How about taking that energy and allowing it to return to the source? Not chasing after the next moment, but truly coming to rest in the precision, the exactness, the vastness of this reflection of the moon in the water. All of us want to break free, to cut loose from the net, yet some of us return to sit amidst the ashes and the coals.

When Sansheng asks the question, please understand that he is operating within the vow of manifesting his clarity and dedication. At the time of this koan, he's on a pilgrimage after receiving transmission from Linji, and he's traveling from monastery to monastery, sharpening and testing his understanding. He's probing. "I wonder what does the golden fish who has passed through the net use for food?" Xuefeng responds from his vow, and his first response is exactly the same as his second one "My affairs as abbot are many and complicated." Here is one of them. "I'll tell you when you have passed through the net." He is nurtured by fulfilling his responsibility, his vow, to assure the purity, the genuineness of the dharma. He is having Sansheng for a meal.

Is Xuefeng being aggressive? Is he being mean?Is he being nasty? You're never quite sure what's mean and what's gentle within this koan. Just at the instant when you think, "Oh, he's being mean, "you can almost instantaneously see the other side of it—he's being extremely generous. At the moment when he is weak and turning away, he is most poisonous. At the instant when he is saying," The teacher of 1,500 people and you don't even know what to say," is it a compliment or a critique? They are having a good time. Is this a net? And if it is a net, how much more playful and free can you get? And if you're that free, is it a net? How do we get fulfillment within this practice?

Well, if your vows are your own vows, if they truly reflect the deepest aspiration that you have for yourself and what it is that most fulfills you, then to live those vows is to thrive. And that operates within any vow. Truly, if you find profound pleasure in brushing your teeth three times a day, and then you vow to brush your teeth three times a day, and then you do brush your teeth three times a day, you're having a good time. You are fulfilling yourself.

Now, take a vow that has no edge, that deals with numberless beings, inexhaustible desires, and boundless dharmas. When you are living a vow that represents the deepest desire and motivation of your heart, you are formlessly fulfilled. The reality created by living that vow is not disturbed by any circumstances. There is no need to be concerned about the future—there is nothing it can present that will stand in your way. When the vow embraces all space and time and condition, there is no space, time or condition. There is just the living of that vow. From the vantage point of those vows, there is just this moment. There is just the completeness of the true buddha body being like the vast, boundless, open sky. With the moon's reflection just so. With no intention at all, the hazy moon sets every night shadow aglow.