Dharma transmission can be appreciated on many different levels. There is the transmission from Buddha to Buddha, from country to country, from West to East and from East to West. In fact, the dharma is continuously being transmitted from moment to moment. A single hair penetrates many holes.* There is one dharma, and yet we can experience that same dharma from moment to moment however different these moments are. Our world is a moment to moment reality; it is a single hair that penetrates many holes, a string that connects moment to moment to moment endlessly. Every moment presents us with a new situation, and if we have seen the single hair, we easily welcome the next moment and open up to it. Yet if we have not seen the single hair, we will probably lose out by trying to hold onto one particular and isolated moment. Moments pass and new ones are born all the time.
The only thing we can really count on is the single hair. A clear experience of the single hair enables us to appreciate every fleeting moment. We feel less protective of what we already know and can enjoy new things, new perspectives. We may even feel less offended to see our opinions proved wrong since we can develop new ones; every moment is fresh and presents an opportunity to learn, to engage and to find other ways to live this moment completely. Every moment of the day I can look at the situation I am in and ask myself, “What is my role now?” or “What could I possibly do here?” I walk into a room. I meet somebody; how can I possibly contribute to whatever is happening right here right now? It is fascinating. Do I allow the single hair to penetrate a new hole? Can I be the new hole? Do I allow myself new roles? Who knows what the single hair has in store for us? Last month I suddenly found myself at a Buddhist conference in Sri Lanka talking with monks from China, Taiwan, Mongolia and many other countries, even Congo! Who knows what role a small pioneering Dutch monastery can play in the transmission of the dharma?
* Denkoroku, case 52.