Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > The Wisdom of Becoming


We are a cypress tree

Oct 19, 2022

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A follower said, "I think I'm slowly becoming myself, thanks to your help." The Sage replied, "Very interesting. So, a tree can become a tree?"

Spirit becomes ...
in spirit
no becoming

*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."

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A Zen monk was contemplating a koan, "The Cypress Tree in the Garden." While traveling, he stopped at an inn. The innkeeper assigned him a room on the first floor. Later, the innkeeper went out to collect wood. He looked in the monk's window. To his astonishment, he saw a cypress tree in the middle of the room - the monk sitting in meditation.

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We practice the Way to become one with the Way. This becoming one with the Way happens through fidelity over time, like any close relationship. And, like any intimate relationship, it keeps evolving. Our aspiration is for body, speech, and mind to be united with Truth.

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The late Zen teacher, Stefano Mui Berragato, in Zen Light, wrote -

The greatest recipe
is not equal to
a crust of bread

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Study is part of spiritual practice. We study and realize how limited teaching is, yet how important it is.

We engage wisdom teaching to become the teaching. And, the teaching reflects what we already know, otherwise we would not recognize it. How could we recognize what we do not already cognize? All wisdom learning is remembrance.

Yet, already to know does not mean I, Brian, already knows? I, as a person, may not recognize wisdom, for I, as a person, may be clueless. However, I am more than a person. I am part of everyone, and everything is everyone.

Everything wise is part of us. And, we do not have to limit this to place and time, as though, for example, our ancestors' presence is not living now as part of this communion of living beings (We have no proof anyone dies or has died before. We have proof bodies, of humans and nonhumans, in this realm cease functioning as bodies. If left alone, we can see bodies decompose.).

* * *

The monk becomes the cypress tree. This transformation is possible, for he has given himself to the koan. Without giving himself, he sits only as himself, isolated and alone, even in a room full of persons.

We can meditate for years and remain ourselves... sitting without giving ourselves. Intimacy, therefore, does not become, for we choose the Way to validate who we assume we are, or maybe for comfort or to become a more functional person. Or we may be sitting to get enlightened or become holy, or even please God. If God, however, is seen to be separate from us, separation remains, does it not? Yet, when we see God is not outside or inside, or there or here, separation from ourselves dissolves. In oneness with God, oneness with self arises - and this includes the body.

See, we can become better individuals, yet being better individuals is not what the Way calls to. We can be good individuals still sitting alone, the teaching over there, and we over here. Even the most evolved individuals do not become cypress trees.

* * *

In intimacy, we discover the teaching breathes. The teaching is not merely subject matter - it is the subject. It lives. The love affair can be enjoyed thoroughly.

In intimacy, which evolves through self-giving, a meeting with the teaching in varied forms arises. The teaching is not merely written or spoken, so the learning is not only through the eyes or ears.

So, in intimacy with the teaching, the teaching and the self are nowhere, for "here" and "there" do not apply. And we become what we are. We recognize ourselves at ever-deepening levels, before what we were trained to think of ourselves.

The bizarre-sounding thing is this unbecoming is becoming, as Jesus said, "To live, you must die." Now, does not that sound weird? Let us add some more weirdness... . No one becomes anything. Why? You recognize the illusion was that you are not a cypress tree. You treated the teaching as something other than you. You were chewing on a recipe.

Now, you see you are it, but you can not say what it is, so what you are? You do not know whether to call yourself a who or a that, nothing or something.

You see you are not a cypress tree among cypress trees. There is one cypress tree. This influences how you see and treat other beings. A cypress tree cursing, killing, and cheating itself does not make sense, does it?

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*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2022.

*Use of photography is allowed accompanied by credit given to Brian K. Wilcox and notation of title and place of the photograph.

*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse.


Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > The Wisdom of Becoming

©Brian Wilcox 2023