Inka Speech, Anne Rudloe

[Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.] Zen is about experience, and yet it uses many words.

[Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.]

Speaking is an experience, and yet experience transcends words.

Words are words, experience is experience.

[Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.]

When should we speak, and when should we be still?


Inside today, many, many words, outside the sun shines silently.

Zen is also a tradition that's a storytelling tradition, so I have several stories I'd like to share today. The first one is a very old one from ancient China, about a young Zen Master and an old Zen Master. Tu-ja was a famous Zen Master in China, and at the time of this story he was a very senior teacher. He'd been teaching for 30 years, he had his own temple, he didn't have to prove anything to anybody. But as has already been pointed out, young masters and young teachers, when they're just starting out, go around to visit other teachers to test their minds against the more senior people. So one day, on the doorstep, appears a young man named So Sahn. And he's invited in, to sit down together. Tu-ja asks, "Where are you coming from?" The young man says, "Sword Mountain." Tu-ja leans back (probably) and says, "Ahh, did you bring your sword?" So Sahn just points at the ground. Tu-ja jumps up and leaves the room; which means, he thought he had probably lost the exchange. Well, he did- he made a big mistake. Later that day, Tu-ja asks his attendant, "Will you please go and find this young man; I'd like to talk to him further." His attendant goes and comes back and says, "Sorry, master, he left right after you had your first conversation." And Tuja slaps his forehead (probably) and says, "For thirty years I have ridden horseback, and today I was kicked from the saddle by a small donkey." This is a story about how to respond when things happen unexpectedly. Sometimes, in all of our lives, something may just come up, and we need a fast response: boom, boom!  And we don't have time to think it over, and we don't have time to call in a committee and debate and reach a consensus, we just have to act. So this is about how can we do that. How can our practice cultivate that ability. His comment about being kicked from the saddle was a good one because I've kept horses for over thirty years, off and on, and I've fallen off horses lots of times- Thump!, and every single time I've fallen off a horse it was because I wasn't paying attention. All of a sudden, the horse decided that some funny-looking bush was going to eat horses, and the horse reared back, and off I went. The horse was teaching me, "Pay attention! Pay attention!"

The other story is a little bit more recent, it happened just a couple of months ago, down in Florida. Jack, my husband, and I were driving on a little country road in central Florida, not too far from Orlando and Disneyworld and so forth. It was a little narrow country road, two lanes. And this is in an area right on the edge of a national forest, and this was an area that was all farmland and pasture, just a few years ago. But Florida has this astronomical rate of growth (or it did until the recession), and so where it used to be rural lands now have subdivisions everywhere. And the subdivisions mean that there's lots of traffic. So this little tiny road that was never meant to carry that much traffic is practically bumper to bumper with cars, and they're going 60 miles an hour, bumper to bumper. So we're headed up the road, it's Route 19, and I'm in the passenger side, and suddenly Jack says, "There's a horse coming!" I'm looking off to the side "A horse? Where?" "No, no, it's in the road!" "It's in the road?! Stop the car!" So he stops the car, I open the door and jump out, and there's this black horse, galloping up the center line of the road. And the cars are barely avoiding the horse on either side. It's got a bridle, it's got a saddle; evidently, somebody was trail-riding in the forest, a horse-eating bush appeared, and the horse knew its job. Dae Soen Sa Nim always used to say, "Every creature knows its job; only humans don't know their job." Well, the horse knows that its job is that when it's about to be attacked by a horse-eating bush, it's got to go, "Bleeahh!!" And the rider was probably not paying attention, and off she went. So, I leap out of the car, the horse is galloping at me, with cars on both sides, and I jump out in front of our car, "Whoa, whoa, whoa!!" jumping into traffic. It sounds kind of crazy, and maybe it was, but I knew from experience that if you do this in front of a running horse, it will usually stop or veer; it's not going to run you down, usually. So by this time the traffic coming at us is stopped too, so everybody's stopped, so there is this audience, same size as this audience. And then the horse stopped, and it's still right in the middle of the road, and I put down my arms, put them out like this, and I started sweet-talking the horse: "Come on, it's okay, it's okay." This animal is absolutely terrorized. I mean, imagine it from the horse's point of view- it's in the woods, it's riding along, it knows what it's supposed to do, a horse-eating bush leaps out at it, it reacts- and suddently it's in this insane reality that it's never been in before with these things going by. It was really scared; you could tell it was really scared from its body language. So I start walking up towards the horse, "It's okay, it's okay, it's okay", trying to get close enough to get the reins. And the horse looks at me for a second and it looks off to the side- it's about to bolt back into the traffic. So I just froze, "It's okay, it's okay, it's okay" and then I started walking towards it again, "It's okay, it's okay- I'm going to help you!" Well, horses aren't stupid. They're four-leggeds, and they know that female two-leggeds tell them what to do, and know what to do, and know how to fix insane situations, so it stood there and let me catch it. The traffic now is backed up, five miles in both directions. So I stood there a minute, still in the road, and rubbed the horse's nose, and did horse-whisperer stuff, and then I led the horse off the road. And all this happened so fast- it takes me longer to tell the story then it took to catch the horse. And it was just an example: just do it! like Dae Soen Sa Nim always used to talk about. There wasn't any time to think. It was just reflex, and knowing about horses. I get the horse off to the road shoulder, and then the thinking mind comes back. And the cars are starting to go by again, and Jack had pulled off the side of the road. So my thinking mind kicks back in and says, "You're standing on a road shoulder in the middle of nowhere with a horse! Now what?" And probably there's somebody hurt out in the forest, God knows where. So we moved the horse a little bit further, rummaged out a cell phone, and called 911, and said, "We're a mile north of such and such a town, on highway 19, and there's a riderless horse, and there's probably somebody hurt out in the woods, and you better do something.   And the 911 dispatcher's response was sort of like, "Now what?" They're going to have to find a horse trail somewhere, get out here, and it's going to take all day. Fortunately, about that time, the rider of the horse comes stomping up the road! You could tell that she was the rider. Stomp, stomp! And she had a dog, and she's still in the middle of traffic with her dog. She finally gets to us, and I ask, "Is this your horse?" "Yes." "Oh, thank goodness. Are you okay? "Yes, I'm fine." So, we sent her on her way.

That's kind of the end of the story, except that once it was all done, I just felt so alive. You know, it was that teaching of "only just do it!" really come to life, in a wonderful way. We go through so much of our lives half asleep, or thinking about something else, and then suddenly something happens and we're 100% right there, and then we can wake up and we can function at a level that we're all capable of, and mostly don't do. I certainly don't; I spend a lot of time just zoning out. It was a good feeling.

So right now, we're sitting here in this ceremony, and you know what, it's a good feeling right now. It's being alive for all of us. That's what our practice is about; learning how to do that. Sitting cross-legged on a cushion staring at the floor- it doesn't seem like that would do that, but it does, and I don't know how it does it, but it does it. It's a really amazing practice. So, I really hope that if you see a horse running down the road at you, you'll know what to do. If you do, it will come from your gut, not your thinking mind. I hope that we can all reach the point where we can be awake- it's not just moments of emergency or dharma combat when we wake up; we can be awake like that in every moment if we choose to be- it's something we can train ourselves to do, and that's what the purpose of retreats is. It's not something we have to force or to make happen; if we sit long enough, it happens. It really does.

After the ceremony, the schedule says we're going to have games and things. So I hope that everybody is able to be fully alive in that moment and really enjoy the games, and with the energy that comes from that, then to go out and do your job and I'll do my job in this world, and we can save all beings. That's what it's about.

[Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.]

So horses live in fields, and cars go up and down roads.

[Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.]

If you're riding, a field is a road, and the road shoulder of the roads has great grass for the horses to eat. But a road is a road and a field is a field.

[Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.]

Be very careful, don't mix these things up.

Can you find your way home?


If you go out here to Pound Road, and you go to the end of the road, there are several black horses quietly eating grass.

Thank you.