Land in the Sky: Peaks and Valleys

I remember once hearing a Dharma talk at the Zendo of the Outside Lands. The room was crowded with familiar faces. The Zen Master went through all the formalities that precede giving a Dharma talk—a dignified entrance, bowing, offering of incense, more bowing, a careful arranging of the zafu, more bowing, then finally sitting down just so. I’m leaving out many details—including more bowing—but you get the picture. At last the Dharma talk was ready to begin.

The Zen Master said: “The course of any human life is just a naming of the peaks and valleys.” That was it. Dharma talk over. He got up, performed the formalities in reverse, and made a dignified exit. I looked around at the faces in the room to see what was to be made of this. All I saw were peaks and valleys. They had names.