Row, Row Redux
Has anyone here ever noticed what a beautiful little Zen koan "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" is?
Often thought of as an innocuous little children's poem, it's got some potent truths in it. Just about all of them, in fact! (potent truths, that is.)
I think even the fact that it's written to be repeated, over and over and over and over with
no end is surprisingly Buddhist, it's like a mantra or a chant.
There are quite a bit of specific instructions in that little poem, which could very well be called a koan in my book.
For one, it speaks to a point brought up here by Jinzang about actively engaging with life, as it instructs one to row their boat, and doesn't advise to just drift in your boat with the stream. That's important.
Far wiser than "Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream"
right into the ra-pids, right into the ra-pids....
Better to be rowing.
It also points out that one should row with the stream as opposed to against it, and it councils us to row gently rather than with much effort.
It reminds us to be happy, and it suggests that we decide whether we are happy or not by telling us to row Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily...
and it ends with the potent reminder that life is but a dream.
It really says it all, beautifully and succinctly.
Yet, in this culture, we're not encouraged to really think about it.