Finding the Last Station – Yamada Mumon

September 01, 11
Kneeboard surfing

Yamada Mumon’s quote on play is one of my favorites:

“When you have reached the last station at the end of the line, there is nothing to seek, all one does is play.”

This can really be a beacon of guidance if we let it.

In this case, I happen to like the existentialist angle, and I don’t always respond well to the existentialist cold water bucket shower. The last station is not, of course, a physical place.

It’s the perfect symbol of a linear journey, and each “station” might represent the defining mindset we carve out for ourselves at various points along the way – the way we think we’ve sussed it all out or have it partially answered – but the last station can be reached long before we reach the physical end.

The last station can be reached at the same time we realize that there truly is nothing left to seek — a version of knowing through intuition and experience that everything we need is right in front of us.


If you think about it, play is the only possible response to this realization. Going backwards on this, if we were to frame play at the center of our own pursuits, would we start to achieve a loss of seeking? Either way is difficult, but extreme play does seem to cause a spontaneous loss of seeking.

Nothing feels more perfect than pure play exhaustion, and nothing can be added to improve the situation.

Hard for many to accept.
Harder still for many to act on.

Play turns out to be the most non-frivolous activity we might pursue.

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