Perhaps the most recognized of Hakuin’s paintings is of the blind men crossing a log bridge. Symbolically, the shore to the right is the world we leave behind and the one to the left is the shore of enlightenment. All paintings of the blind men tentatively feeling their way across are metaphors of our journey: gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bohdi svaha! gone, gone, gone beyond, gone to the other shore, yippee! In most of the paintings, Hakuin is kind enough to give us hope by connecting the end of the bridge to the far shore. But in the classic Three Bind Men on a Bridge, he doesn’t. The end of the log hangs in mid-air, tantalizing and foreboding. Hakuin wrote a poem on two of his paintings: Both the health of our bodies and the fleeting world outside us are like the blind men’s round log bridge – a mind/heart that can cross over is the best guide. It made me wonder. Is our own mind/heart all we need? Why does Hakuin put two or three of us on the bridge? In my rendition above, I put the first blind man at the edge of the bridge where he has to consider his next option. His staff is just past the log, likely telling him the end is at his feet. His companion is coming along behind him – far enough away that if he makes it across and he has time to move on without having to know what happens to his companion. What bridge does his mind/heart need to cross? Thank you for practising, Genju Remember the Hakuin exhibition at the Japan Society in New York and other venues!