Prajnatara says, “When I breathe in, I don’t dwell in the realm of body and mind.” What does this mean? Breathing in is the original revolution; but this is not just taking a breath of air. When we spend our whole lives turning away, seeking outside, looking to others, and then one day we turn our attention inward, stop wandering and cease comparing—this is the first revolution. “The answer lies within.” We’ve all heard this before. But what does it actually mean? Where, exactly, is “within”? How do you get there? And then, what is “the answer”? This question appears endlessly in books and movies, poetry and late night conversations, but what’s typically found in these places doesn’t actually transform our view. The fact is that there is no answer. Just like there’s no answer to a koan. What is the answer to the question of a breath? What is the answer to the challenge of love? The answer is not in this realm, and it’s not an answer in the way we typically think of one. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no resolution. The resolution comes through one’s whole mind and body, the student’s entire self. That’s what the koan does—it helps to bring the student to the experience of that resolution, the realization that there never was a hindrance.

31.3 Shugen 1 of 2