TIMING IS . . .

 

The sweep of the second-hand,
the minute hand is constant, each
moment as long as the last, none
longer, none shorter and yet I know
that Einstein was right in noting that
things unpleasant take forever, while
all that is joyful passes quickly
even when the elapsed time is the same.
What Albert didn’t say is that
the unpleasant leads us to look
for the future, keeping us
locked longer in the present moment.
That which is pleasant keeps us present
and the future seems to come
too quickly, the pleasure slipping away.
It is, in the end, merely perception
and I prefer to remain in the present
for it is all that I have, and
all that I choose to make it.

LOST, AGAIN

It would help, she said,
if you would stop thinking
of yourself as Sisyphus
and all of life as the rock,
you might actually, one day,
begin to enjoy what you do.

It would help, he said,
if I could be like
a great blue heron,
grow wings and take
to a summer sky leaving
all of this behind me,
going wherever I wish.

Perhaps, she replied, it
is better that you see
yourself as Sisyphus, for
everyone knows that you
have no sense of direction.

NANSEN’S REJECTIONS 鐵笛倒吹 四十四

 

If you come before Master Nansen,
will you come holding the posture
of a monk or a lay person,
and when Nansen turns you away,
how will you exit the room?

Nested hands
and gassho hands –
both are so easily manacled –
why leave the room at all?


A reflection on case 44 of the Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui 鐵笛倒吹)

THE TRICKSTER RESPONDS

The man liked to cry out into the night,
asking questions for which he knew
there could be no answers, or if
there were, they would be things
he would never wish to hear.
The coyotes in the hills would listen
to his pleas, his entreaties, his
moaning, and they would remember
the spirits of the old ones gone,
and yet back in their now-animal forms.
One night a trickster sat on the mesa,
and when the man began his questions,
the trickster, orange eyes aflame
spoke clearly, loudly, telling the man
that the answer to each of his questions
lay within himself, and he need only
look there, if he had the courage,
which the coyote knew, he lacked.

SLIPPING AWAY

Each day I am certain something
more slips away, forgotten, no
longer able to be recalled, lost
in the vast abyss of yesterdays.
I would like to think this happens
because something new, something
better has taken its place, and I
had no choice but to displace it.
That is the convenient story I tell
myself, although I am rarely convinced,
and know that there is a good chance
it is no more than a lie of sorts,
but one that will slip away
and be replaced by something better,
or perhaps I will just forget
that it was a lie in the first place.

BUDDHIST RELATIVITY

Now then, he says,
and at once he is again
victim of the confusion
that he spreads in his wake.
She takes him to task again,
but he protests that what
was now is clearly then, now,
and this now, too, is now then,
for each now is gone in the time
it takes to recognize it as now.
Now is always then, he says,
as he quickly walks off
in each of the ten directions.

AN ALIEN(‘S) JOURNEY

He has just returned
from the land of Others, where
he expected to see
all manner of things
that would, could
never happened to him.
He thought he would be able
to explain why this was,
but now those things
are happening to him.
He suspects it is because
he came to close
to the land of Those People,
and he is certain
are the cause
of all the trouble
in his carefully
constructed world.
It is why, he says,
he never wanted
anything to do with them.

THE GIRL COMES OUT 無門關 四十二

She sits undisturbed
Shakyamuni by her side.
You can wave at her, she
will pay you no mind.

You cannot grasp her mind
and maintain a hold
on your own, you will grow
deaf from the chatter
but a child can curl
at her feet and she
will stroke his forehead
in perfect Samadhi.


A reflection on Case 42 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)

ENLIGHTENMENT

He wasn’t sure he wanted it,
was fairly certain he did not,
and in that moment,was certain
he would get it, so he began
developing elaborate plans
on what to do with it when it arrived.
He laid them out in painful detail,
each step, each move carefully choreographed.
He waited patiently, each minute
washing into the next until
it was hours, then days, then months.
He reassessed his plans for it,
fine tuned them daily.
He grew older, until one day
he could no longer remember
what it was, and moments
later it arrived, and there it sat
unseen and unrecognized.