The flowers of emptiness have five petals: compassion, expression, gratitude, love and generosity. But where do they open?
My first teacher, Nancy Amphoux, said that zazen was like a huge underground river. I imagined a large river, underneath the desert of the self, pushing up flowers through the bitter earth.
She asked a person, ” Is Bodhidharma here, or not?”. The person said “not”. She struck him. She asked again, “Is Bodhidharma here, or not?”. The person said “he is here”. She struck him.
The cancer in her bones latterly made sitting impossible, so she would do prostrations instead. We traditionally make prostrations to our teacher, whether our teacher is here or there, here or gone. All our teachers. Even though there are mountains and rivers between us. Even if there is life and death between us. Between us.
Alive or dead? Alive or dead? Answer! Answer!
Where do the flowers open? Answer! Answer!