A singe egret sits calmly
on the lowest branch of a long barren tree, where hours from now a thousand birds will arrive for still another evening and night.
He stares at me as I am mindfully vacuuming, watching carefully.
I pause and ask if by chance he is a Buddha and he lifts his long neck and peers around in all directions.
I repeat my question, and he lifts one wing, which I know to be his way of saying, “I, like you, am imbued with Buddha nature, and I with mother nature as well, and if you doubt me ask one of the countless Bodhisattva who will arrive in hours to study the Dharma well into what will be a wet night.
He’d been searching for ever, or so often seemed, for no-self, and he couldn’t fathom why it was so difficult to attain simple absence, nothing must be less than something, after all. He knew, like Sisyphus, he would continue to search until he succeeded, the gods of his soul decreed it and you don’t fuck with them. It was difficult recalling how much time had been wasted in the search for mirrors and when he found one, looked, there he was selfsame, self-filled, and he imagined, selfish. He took to always carrying a hand mirror and when he thought he might have found it he glanced at the polished surface in his hand and there he’d still be, his endless self older now, but there, very much still there. One day, frustration getting the better of him he wandered deep into a massive forest, hours later sitting on a fallen trunk, he reached for his mirror, gone. There was tree and sky and earth, that was all, as night enveloped everything, even his no-self.
The single greatest problem In writing about death Is that everybody does it, dies Sooner or later, so it’s hardly All that special unless, like Twain, it happens more than once. But perhaps multiple deaths are not All that uncommon, for Buddhists, Among whom I count myself It happens all the time, karma demands it. And if I had any doubt, Google will confirm it. I, for instance, died the seasoned lawyer in Calgary in 2009, the trade I practice for 36 years, And I ironically died on my birthday In 2011 in Palm Beach Gardens, though I’ll be damned if I felt 84 then, and I kicked bucket in 1754 in Orbach, France But I’ve never been a real fan of the French although it is my next best language And when the wine is good, it’s great.
We bow our heads and utter words not to the cicada speaking through a spring night or the beetle crawling slowly across the leaf searching for the edge. We bid the crow silent, the cat mewling his hunger, just to crawl under a porch awaiting morning, the child to sleep. The stream flows slowly by, carrying a blade of grass and the early fallen leaf.
If you come forward and ask no question the master will give you an answer, but if you approach with a question, the master will strike you with the stick. It is only when your eyes are blinded that you can take up the master’s staff and all is clearly seen.