CHAO CHOU’S FOUR GATES

 

Standing on the edge of the precipice
with your eyes closed,  what will you do?
If I turn you around, where is the edge
and where is the land from which you approached?
If I say you must take a step, do you
gently place your toe out and seek
to feel the earth, seek to know where air is,
or do you step out boldly, certain
that you will not fall into the abyss?
From your position on the mat,
the mind is an abyss is all around you,
so you may step out of your thoughts
without care, for all four gates
are open to the ungrasping mind.
And you just might meet Chao Chou
on the path on which you choose to tread.


A reflection on case 9 of the Hekiganroku (The Blue Cliff Record)

AROUND IT

It is remarkably simple, really,
a single circular brush stroke
in a monochrome black on rice paper,
always nearly perfectly round,
never is the circle complete,
always some small thing left wanting.
You stare at it, more
at the small gap, imagining
it filled, hoping it cannot be
for it holds out the promise
that this moment is all
that matters, that you are,
at any moment, where you
ought to be on your path,
that thoughts of tomorrow
is no more than an illusion ,
nothing other than 
the enso’s blank space.

TIME OUT

She is fond of saying
that time is on our side
although we both know
that time does not take sides,
is incapable of action,
is passive in passage.
It is something of which
we may never have enough
but we are certain
no one has more than we
in this moment. She
cannot imagine running out
of time, I know that
I will, but won’t know
when it finally happens.

TIPPING POINT

 

The hardest thing is knowing that this
precise moment, this precise place
is the tipping point, and things could
go either way from here, although the Buddha
would suggest that there are ten directions
in which everything always can go.
You cannot pause and reflect on this,
for this precise moment, this precise place
is also a tipping point, as is this one
and this one, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
But if you don’t know this, then just
perhaps, all ten directions are open to you.