Are you there? I need to know what happened.
Sure. It started with a long walk and a begging bowl. Then it was time to sit.
I have some questions.
Who doesn’t? For answers, consider impermanence, inevitable extinction.
Yes, got it! To everything there is a season. A time to––
But don’t hold onto the idea, or any other. No more T-shirts or bumper stickers, okay?
Right. I’ll try to focus on action. How do I give?
What about appearances?
What about them?
Never mind. Let’s get to the real teaching. I’m ready.
What you learn isn’t supposed to be a trophy, but a raft.
Okay. Let’s talk fortune.
Give it away. What did I just tell you?
Right, right. Okay, what about this stream? How do I enter?
Um, like the path––you know, the levels?
Forget about those.
You say that a lot. What should I remember?
But I don’t know anything!
There you go.
But seriously. I can’t even control my mind yet.
Hah! Which one? The past, the present, or the future? None of them are made for holding.
Can you just give me some answer?
Fine. But I’m about to lose service here. The reception in these mountains is terrible. Ready?
This morning, I learned that on this day in the year 868, a copy of the Diamond Sutra was printed in China, making it the oldest known printed book. Prior to this, the teachings had long been conveyed orally. Naturally, I got to imagining an attempt to convey urgent teachings orally via cellphone. I have spotty service at home and pretty good service in most other places, so many of my conversations have at least a few moments where one or the other party is saying, “Are you there?” or “Wait a minute, I’m walking outside. I might lose you.” I consulted Burton Watson’s translation here.