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"If  Zen Masters Wrote User's Manuals" by Jon Wesick & John "Jake" Gage 




Without the activities of the six sense organs, there is no dharma-nature Samadhi and no entry into dharma nature. This being so, all buddhas and ancestors have actualized the six sense organs.

Once Nicholson, Great Master San Gabriel, was approached by Zeppo.

“How do I actualize seeing and hearing?” Zeppo held out a DVD player.

“The meadowlark does not nest on the table nor does the wood duck swim in fire.”

“Where does the HDMI cable swim?”



“Put the DVD player on the table.”


Nicholson is the only one in the tri-state area who has authentically received the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow. Few can stand eyebrow to eyebrow with him. Thus students of the way should study his words.


How do I actualize seeing and hearing? Zeppo did not ask to actualize taste, touch, smell, or thought. Can seeing and hearing be actualized without thought? Investigate this thoroughly.


The meadowlark does not nest on the table nor does the wood duck swim in fire. A lesser master would have merely given a shout but San Gabriel uttered this phrase. Know that such a statement is difficult to encounter even in thousands of years. Nicholson alone spoke in this way.


A meadowlark is an insectivorous grassland bird of the genus Sturnella. The male has a black or brown back with extensive red and yellow underneath. Commenting on this phrase Julius Henry asked, “Why a duck?” Although his question shows some understanding, he should acquire straw sandals and seek a true teacher.


People who have not yet penetrated the way assume that since the wood duck does not swim in fire, it must swim in water. They know nothing of swimming in emptiness. The duck swims in emptiness. Emptiness swims in the duck. Duck swims duck. Emptiness swims emptiness. Swimming cannot exist without emptiness. Yet emptiness does not hinder swimming.


 Where does the HDMI cable swim? In this degenerate age there are many who say, “Spending money on an HDMI cable is unnecessary when component video works just as well.” Such a view does not even reach that of the Lesser Vehicles, and is inferior even to the teachings of Confucius and Lao Tzu. How can such people call themselves students of the way? They have not even heard of theConsumer Electronics Association Standard 861, the work of an authentic ancestor and true path of seeing and hearing, written with penetrating words. Such careless students are truly lamentable!


Zeppo! Even though explaining further would be like putting an SUV on the I-5 to head to New York City, the master speaks again out of great compassion.


Yes? Zeppo does not realize that Bernard Hermann is curled inside his ear canal.

Put the DVD player on the table. We should inquire further of Nicholson. Is the table round, rectangular or square? Does he mean a coffee table, bedside table, dining room table, or picnic table? What DVD would he play - drama or comedy? Does he prefer mysteries, science fiction, or westerns?


I would reply that not all tables have rounded corners and not all rounded corners belong to tables. As for DVDs, something with a meadowlark building a nest would be my choice.


Presented to the executives of the Blu Ray Corporation on the 4th day of the 53rd month of the Pixar Era while the warm wind of Santa Ana blows from the east.


We must always bear the proper method for actualizing the senses in mind. As Jiyu who would soon become Anshin of Mount Palomar said, “HDMI cables, the perfect device for the transmission of meadowlark's understanding to, lo, the many unfortunate, uninitiated souls caught in the most difficult of bardos. But the way out will be theirs if they can appropriately hail and salute the recent CES standards committees filling our store shelves with secret wisdom teachings hidden in undecipherable operating manuals.”







Jon Wesick is the host of San Diego’s Gelato Poetry Series and is an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. Wesick has published over seventy short stories in journals such as The Berkeley Fiction Review, Space and Time, Zahir, and Tales of the Talisman. He has also published over three hundred poems in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Pearl, and Slipstream. Wesick has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts. One of his poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest. Another had a link on the Car Talk website.


John "Jake" Gage was ordained as a Zen priest in 1996 and with retirement from school administration only a few years away, he made strides to complete his own training with Nicolee Miller-McMahon as his guide. Jake was made a dharma successor in 2003 and continued to be a part of the Three Treasures Zen Community until 2006 when he felt it was time to separate and implement some teaching ideas and techniques of his own. He also adopted the new name, Vista Zen Center. In 2009, Nicolee installed Jake as the abbot and the center became Hotei Temple, but continues to use the Vista Zen Center name for clarity purposes. Jake was given the title Roshi by Jikyo Roshi in a 2012 ceremony.





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