Monday, March 16, 2009

Leap and the Net Will Appear?


A month or so before our departure from St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Yarmouth (and from parish ministry after twenty-three years), Sukie and I received a card from our dear friend, Sarah.  On the front it read: " Leap and the net will appear (a Zen saying)."  At that point, it was just what we needed as, in fact, it felt like we were leaping into the great unknown, with little or no prospect of gainful employment.  It was reassuring to imagine that we might actually be O.K, that things would work out.

But I wondered about that quote.  It didn't feel like a Zen saying, at least not like the koans for which Zen is famous.  The net will appear part wasn't edgy enough, wasn't reminiscent of that practice of free-fall that I had come to know and love(!?!?) in Zen.  Just when you think you've gotten somewhere and have accomplished some spiritual feat, you are asked to jump out of the plane (or off the cliff) again and again and again.  It's relentless.

And, sure enough, when I googled "Leap and the net will appear" I found that the saying was attributed to several sources, none of them Zen.  The great 19th century naturalist and ornithologist, John Burroughs, was listed chief among them.  Then it was Julia Cameron of Artist's Way fame.  And there's a blog of the same name. Buttons and bumper stickers and cards abound with the saying emblazoned on them.

Creating this blog and then posting these initial comments feels a lot like leaping into that great unknown.  After twelve years of  practicing Zen, one would think that I'd be used to the free-fall by now. But I'm not.  I wondered:  Will anyone bother to read this stuff?  How in God's name will I ever come up with enough content to make a go of it, like my friend and blogger extraordinaire over at Monkey Mind?  Who do I think I am anyway?  Blah, blah, blah....

O.K, I'm jumping anyway, folks, so look out below!  It's scary as hell; maybe even a wee bit exhilarating.  No net in sight...

But wait a minute.  What about this blog's title: Distant Temple Bell?  It's a koan.  Or, more accurately speaking, it's a fragment of a koan from the collection Miscellaneous Koans.  Can you hear it? 




16 comments:

BeckyMaineMom said...

Congratulations...Your first time Blog and my first time responding to a blog...I love the phrase "Leap and the Net will appear"...My vision is that the net is there, it is just that sometime it doesn't look like a net...or feel like a net...sometimes you need to keep falling until the net appears....

aderby said...

Yes, congratulations David! a tremendously brave and generous act on your part.. I would love to hear more about the free-fall thing. I'll be adding this site to my Google Reader...
lots of love and support, Derby

Sarah said...

Dear David - I am honored to be a part of your first blog post...and a little sheepish - I thought it was a Zen saying. Thanks for setting me right. Christine Kane tells a hilarious pre-song story about the phrase (which is in her song "Right Outta Nowhere") and through the miracle of youtube, here it is: (I think you'll like it. A good theme song for your first post, eh?) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KAjvsyZv4Y
enjoy! Love and I, too, will put the temple bell right next to trusting delight on my google page. Is this comment too long? Oh well, too late!

David said...

Hey David - nice to have your voice in the blogoshpere - I think the Zen version of that quote is 'Leap and the net will appear...or it won't.'

Karlotta said...

Leaping lizards! I am glad to read your post, David. Leap makes me think of frogs, and spring, and your homily on the peepers, and I somehow just know you will tap into a deep source for your blog-fountain, as sure as the peepers are coming and the melt is on. Other leaping things... monkeys - Hanuman's leaps of grace - lords, as in Ten Lords a-Leaping... and hearts can leap too, can't they? well so sayeth over a million google hits.

Ellen Etc said...

Heh, like David said, "Leap and the net will appear, or it won't." Have faith! Things we want will happen, unless they don't!

I also have found various quotes ascribed to Zen, but when they were motivational and closed, they turned out NOT to be actual koans.

Greeting cards have a soft sofa quality, provoking a delighted "ah-ha!" response, while koans have more of a bang-my-head-on-the-refrigerator-door quality.

You put your foot out, and the world rises up to meet it. Unless it doesn't, and you fall on your keister in the mud. Either way can be pretty entertaining though.

Severino42 said...

Leap and you will fall

That's all

Ellen Etc said...

Severino42: I looked at your Sandbox blog and wanted to post a comment, but I can't post because I am not a "team member." Could you open your blog to "moderated comments" status, perhaps?

David Heald said...

I'm overwhelmed! Thanks for your many comments and keep them coming. Now I need to hold up my end of the deal! Stay tuned.....

Geoff said...

Congrats for the leap and all that comes from it.

If you need a net, we're it! But I'm thinking there may be no ground to hit anyway.

Barry said...

Thank you for having the courage to make this offering to us.

I've linked to Distant Temple Bell from Ox Herding and my other blogs. And I'll be a regular visitor!

Barry

wmonthey said...

David, Thanks for sitting next to me at the Cathedral the other day, and sharing that beautiful space and music. Hazrat Inayat Khan, a Sufi teacher and author, asked "Why is music called the divine art, while all other arts are not so called?" His answer "...in music alone we see God free from all forms and thoughts. In every other art there is idolatry. Every thought, every word has its form. Sound alone is free from form. Every word of poetry forms a picture in our mind. Sound alone does not make any object appear before us." For anyone who loves music in their lives, a great book to read is "The Mysticism of Sound and Music - The Sufi Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan" published by the Sahambhala Dragon Editions. Have a nice Spring week. Roger

David Heald said...

Thanks, Roger. I'll look forward to reading it.

Katie said...

It's now 2012 and I am reading your blog as I try to find out who to attribute the quote to :"Leap and the net will appear. Thanks for your contribution to that discussion.

Three years later, your words are still relevant and being read.

Alan Gregory Wonderwheel said...

FYI, "Leap and the net will appear" is not a Zen saying.

Alan Gregory Wonderwheel said...

"Leap from the top of a 100 foot pole" is a Zen saying.

But there is no suggestion that a net will appear, and in fact, the suggestion is just the opposite, that the leap should be made without any hope of a net appearing.