THE FINAL KENSHO

What are you doing today, Eve?

I’m going to do some writing and plan for the winter intensive in the zendo, add some finishing touches to next week’s conference, plan who will be here in my absence, do a yoga class, a few Skypes, make dinner, and do our bookkeeping for December.

What about walking me? asks Stanley from the rug under the table.

We’re sitting at the table having breakfast. Bernie’s eating the hot cereal he makes himself, combined with milk, peanut butter and banana, I with my breakfast shake of all the healthy things in the universe.

And what are you doing today, Bernie?

I’m going to have a final kensho [an experience of awakening]. Or maybe not.

What’s a final kensho?

A final kensho is maybe to see that kensho is not important, that everything is just as it is. It’s exactly what is.

Is anybody walking me? Stanley wonders.

At the same time, Bernie continues, I guess kensho has some use. It gives you something to work towards. Only that’s a problem.

I could go to Leeann, suggests Stanley hopefully. I love Leeann. She gives the best outings.

Beside, continues Bernie, how can anything be final?

You’ve been saying that a lot lately, I tell him. Do you want coffee?

Did I tell you that I had a dream?

No, you did not.

I had a dream too, says Stanley. I dreamt you took me for a walk.

All my life I never remembered my dreams, says Bernie, but after the stroke I started remembering them. I dreamt I got a phone call, and somebody told me that UCLA is up for sale and we should buy it.

UCLA? Your alma mater?

So I said okay, and you and I went out there, looked at the entire campus, and I said we’d do it. So we all get together in this big room, their lawyers are all there, and I ask what’s the asking price for UCLA and they say $10,000. $10,000? That’s all? But they all agree, the price is $10,000.

Back in the old days in Yonkers, I tell him, every time you walked down Ashburton Street from the Greyston Foundation to the Bakery or to the Child Care Center, you’d come back all excited about another rundown house you saw for sale. “We have to get inside,” you’d say, “get an assessment, figure out how we could afford it.” “Who needs it?” we’d ask, and you’d say, “We could use it for more housing, more offices, maybe a zendo, maybe a new business.”

Too bad I wasn’t around then, says Stanley. I could have walked with you.

And did you buy it? I ask him. Did you buy UCLA?

I can’t remember that part, Bernie says, drinking his coffee. Back in Yonkers I used to tell people not to drive from the Bakery to the Child Care Center, always to walk. You have to walk to get to know the neighborhood.

A sigh from the rug. That’s what I always say, says Stanley.