THE KOAN OF CHICKEN JERKY

“Boy, do you look dumb in that skin. Where’d you get it?”

“The Boss put it on me today because it got so cold. Makes me feel warm, Aussie.”

“Makes you look stupid, Harry.”

“Warm.”

“Stupid.”

“Warm.”

“I wouldn’t be caught dead in a skin like that, Harry.”

“It doesn’t matter what it looks like, Auss. I feel really comfy in it.”

“But it’s not your skin, Harry.”

“Stop arguing, you two. Harry’s absolutely right, Auss. I put that sweater on him because it’s freezing today. He doesn’t have your fur, but he’s warm and comfortable. You can be in your skin regardless of what skin you’re wearing.”

“Huh?”

The Book of Householder Koans has a koan that’s just about what it means to be in your skin.”

“How could you not be in your skin, Boss?”

“Precisely, Aussie. You really can’t not be in your skin, but humans feel prickly and itchy in all kinds of situations, and they tug on this or on that and don’t feel comfortable.”

“That’s because humans are dumb.”

“Aussie, I’ve seen you scratch and roll in the summer. I’ve seen you uncomfortable.”

“I hate bumble bees.”

“We all have things we dislike, Auss.”

“Who said anything about disliking? I hate the buggers!”

“The koan is called Old Bear and it goes like this: “Chosui would sing the following refrain again and again: ‘Old Bear, are you in there? Old Bear, are you in there?’”

“Bear? Is there a bear around? Where? Where?”

“Get a hold of yourself, Aussie. It’s a koan, and he’s asking: Old Bear, are you in there?”

“So what’s the answer? Is he in there or not?”

“It’s a koan, Auss, which means there is no one right answer. The point is that he’s asking: Are you in there? Are you living in your skin?”

“How could he not be living in his skin?”

“True enough, Auss, but so many of us feel basically wrong in our bodies, wrong in our minds, wrong everywhere—“

“Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!”

“We’re filled with self-criticism and self-reproach, we feel we can’t get anything right—“

“Right and wrong have nothing to do with it, Boss!”

“Precisely, Aussie.”

“Right and wrong, good and bad, yes and no—they have nothing to do with who you really are!”

“That’s absolutely right, Aussie. You surprise me.”

“It doesn’t matter what others think about you. It doesn’t matter if Penelope and Eubank growl and chase me around in the park, I don’t need anyone’s approval to feel in my body and in my skin!”

“I’m proud of you, Auss.”

“But if I don’t get my chicken jerky then something’s wrong.”

“Can you feel basically okay regardless of circumstances, Aussie? Regardless of whether or not you get chicken jerky?”

“That’s taking things too far, Boss.”

“Then that’s your koan, Auss. You can show me your answer when we get back home and I give Harry chicken jerky but not you.”

“Watch me kill him.”

 

You can pre-order hereThe Book of Householder Koans: Waking Up In the Land of Attachment  here.