THREE CALLS 鐵笛倒吹 三十九

If your name is called
how do you answer?
If it is called again
and then again, will
your answer always
be exactly the same,
or will you grow angry
and deny even yourself?

Surely your teacher
knows who you are
but knowing yourself,
that is the highest mountain
you will be asked to climb.


A reflection on case 39 of the Iron Flute Koans

FELINE BUDDHA NATURE

The cat is curled
on my zabuton,
and stares up at me
only long enough
to say, “now
would be a good day
to test Buddha’s advice –
that you can sit almost anywhere
and still your mind.
So look around
I have left you
the rest of the room
and your sitting bench,
and if that isn’t nirvana
I don’t know what is,
but do be quiet
for its time
for another nap.”

BEING

“Be in the moment,” he says
repeatedly, imagining this
is what the teacher should say.
I want to tell him there is
no other possible moment
I could be in, but having to try
to find the words
instantly takes me out of this
and every other possible moment.
It is said that when the student
is ready, the teacher will appear.
I now seriously hope
the inverse is true, so I can
return to simply being in the moment
free of seeking what I know
cannot be found.

ALONG THE MIDDLE WAY

Each day he stops briefly
in the small park along the path,
and picks up a pebble which he tucks
in the coin pocket of his jeans.
There it rests until he comes
the pond where he sits on the shore
staring out into the heart of the water.
He pulls the pebble and tosses it
in a high arc, always trying to land it
in the center of the pond, where he
can watch the ripples slowly proceed
toward him, and hitting the edge,
echo back toward the center, diminished.
This morning he followed his pattern,
sat on the edge and let fly the pebble
which landed squarely, but this day
there were no ripples, just the mirror
still surface of the pond, and he
began the slow walk home, knowing
he would never visit this pond again,
for he was now on a very different path.