USER’S MANUAL

In my dreams last night
I thought I came across the Buddha
while off wandering somewhere
I could not recognize.
I thought long and hard
about following Linji’s proscription
and killing the Buddha,
but while lost in contemplation
the Buddha took up his keisaku,
said “if you cannot follow
the simplest of directions,
if you are so lost in thought
you can never attain buddhahood”
and with one significant blow
instantly killed my dream
and allowed me to finally see.

NAMASTE

If you stare at it
very closely and carefully
you will soon see that deep
within it there is silence.
You may take it with you,
it will go along willingly,
but if only you
don’t try and grasp it.
It is soft to the touch, certainly,
and has a sweetness that settles
gently into the heart, it shimmers
as it should, so enjoy it, for it,
unlike you or I,
is truly immortal.

DREAMS

Dreams are a place
where the dead are free to walk about,
where they speak in voices
barely recalled, but which seem
so familiar to the ear.
They are willing to engage you
in conversations left unfinished,
you are always surprised
at what they have to say,
at how it is not at all
what you expected or wished from them.
You tolerate this in your dreams
because you know that you will
soon awaken, and the dead
will retreat from the sun
to await the dark night’s return.

KEMBO’S TRANSMIGRATION 鐵笛倒吹 六十七

 

Awakening in the morning
when you first see the sun
and the dew resting on thee leaf
which eye are you using.
When you stare into the mirror
through what eye do you see,
and what eyes stare back at you.

When you see the deer
lying in the road
which eye do you use.
In a nightmare, when you slip
into the deeper, darker world,
what eye is used then.
When a friend fades into death,
what eye sees his departure.
Think carefully on this
for only one eye can see
the answer lying within.


A reflection on case 67 of The Iron Flute (Tetteki Tōsui)

OH, NOAH

None of us can remember
what was here before.
We can search for clues,
develop elaborate surmises
and find telling relics
from which we can conclude
this or that, with a certitude
the gods would surely mock.
But our field of vision
is restricted, our memories
equally so, and we are left
with one certainty, supposition.
And that will be true
at least until the moment
we realize that we too are
antediluvian and we hear the sound
of the approaching flood.

 

THINKING MAKES IT SO

 

 

Words, words, words
Polonius, it’s all
this damn book
is full of,
but don’t let it bother you,
for your time
is so limited, I’ll
see to it soon enough.
It’s the price of doing
the bidding of the devil.
Did you really think
it would be otherwise?
This is, remember one
of his tragedies,
so the only real question
is how to count the dead.