In the prologue, Wansong begins this koan by saying, “As soon as a single mote of dust arises, the whole earth is contained therein; with a single horse and a single lance, the land’s extended.” Bring anything up and the totality of this universe becomes available to you, the totality of your mind becomes available to you. That is the sufficiency that we’re talking about. To the degree to which you give yourself completely, you receive completely. One detail, and the whole universe is contained within it. One moment of practice and the universe is enlarged as that moment of reality. Everything still is the same, and there is something added. That blade of grass is the enlargement of the universe. Within that blade of grass, the totality is always revealed.

Shantideva teaches us to be careful what we think, to take care of our thoughts because the imprint of our thoughts perpetuates a particular reality. So if we think about interconnectivity, interdependence, emptiness, that’s what we’re imprinting on our mind. If we consider this world in terms of self-centeredness, isolation and possession, then that’s what we’re perpetuating in our mind. And that has consequences. The activity of practice includes deliberately using our mind so that it matches our understanding of what this practice is trying to reveal to us: the connectivity of infinite causality, the connectivity of the net of Indra, the connectivity through the inherent emptiness of all things, which is the ground on which we’re standing.

Michelle Hedgecock

In the verse, Hongzhi begins, The boundless spring on the hundred plants; Picking up what comes to hand, he uses it knowingly. The boundlessness of life’s sufficiency is everywhere, contained in every blade of grass, every thought, every feeling, every action, every encounter, every joy and every sorrow. Recognizing that, picking up what comes to hand, he uses it knowingly. The virtuosity of life becomes available when nothing is missed, avoided, or disregarded.

This makes me think of making art with found objects, as some of the sangha were doing with art practice this past ango. Never mind paints—just look around you. Pick something up—anything—and start creating. It’s an amazingly rich practice, because we can recognize the possibilities that are open to us and what that is pointing to. Do you see the creativity that suddenly becomes possible when we recognize that the canvas is this life, and the found objects are everywhere?