JIZO’S NOT KNOWING IS THE MOST INTIMATE

When you come
before your teacher
and he asks you
what is it exactly
that you are looking for,
what is it that you
expect finally to attain,
how will you answer him?
If you say you are seeking
enlightenment, he will laugh
and send you away,
but if you answer
that you do not know,
he will hand you
an empty bowl
and tell you to go fill it.

A reflection on Case 20 of the Book of Equanimity ( 従容錄, Shōyōroku)

HARLECH CASTLE

I stood on the ramparts
that cold, wet morning
looking out over the waiting
Irish Sea, this day offering
only rain and a November chill.

Write haiku, she said to us
and I thought of Basho
and Issu who never stood
on a 13th Century Welsh
fortress and never imagined
writing about Llywelyn
great or not nearly so.

In the rain and chill
I scribbled furiously,
retreated to the outer ward
where I was joined
by a fellow poet who
suggested that a tea
in the village would
please even old Basho.

FAMILIES USE IT DAILY

If I ask you a
where you are standing
what will you answer?
If I ask you
where I am standing
what will you answer?
If I ask you a
if we are standing
in the same place
and you answer yes
a blow from the stick,
if you answer no
a blow from the stick,
if you answer nothing
a blow from the stick.

A reflection on Case 69 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Charma Eye)

HIMAGAN’S PITCHFORK

If you go in search
of the way, you
may come across a sage.
He will ask you
why you seek it.
If you answer,
he will strike
a deadly blow,
if you do not answer
he will strike
a deadly blow.
Grasp his arms
and carry him
with you.

A reflection on Case 73 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye) Koans

JOSHU ROTATES THE CANON

If you ask me
to grasp the Dharma
I will read each word
as I unroll the scroll,
but that is but a small part
of grasping it.
The rolling up,
the placing back,
the bow and the return
to my waiting cushion,
each is a reverent grasping.

A reflection on Case 74 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye) Koans

GANTO’S SIT STILL

How can I bring
three worlds together?
Sitting still,
deep in silence,
I can carry the mountain
to the shore,
where the sea,
land and sky
merge in perfect
harmony.

A reflection on case 75 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye) Koans