Yesterday is but a shadow
and tomorrow an illusion.
Do not wallow in the mud
of attempted memory, do
not sink in the mire
of deluded anticipation.
Stop, listen to the sun
and the moon sing
of the Dharma, hear
the silence it brings
for you are alive
in this moment,
and there is
no other moment
in which you can live.

A reflection on Case 3 of the Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku 碧巌録)


On the path you
may choose to ask
your teacher to give you
the heart of the dharma.
Accept his silence
and carry it with you
for it is the seed
from which the great lotus
will arise.
Peer within it
and see nothing at all
and cherish the gift
of the heart of the Buddha.

A reflection on Case 1 of the Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku 碧巌録)


When you ask
how you can get
from where you are
to Nirvana
a wise teacher will
tell you there is
no there.
There is only here
and this is Nirvana.
Then he will ask
you the greater question–
who are you really?
How will you answer?

A reflection on Case 31 of the Book of Equanimity (従容錄, Shōyōroku)


How often have I seen something
like WWBD – what would Buddha do –
but lately I’ve stopped
to think about that.

What if old Gautama Siddhartha
were to arrive here, now,
what would the Buddha do
in a world gone wholly mad?

Would he bother with sutras,
bother with teishos to the few
still willing to listen, or would
he check himself into a good
psychiatric facility where
he would be left alone
most of the time, to just sit
and contemplate how it is still
possible to find the emptiness
of the five skandhas and easily
sunder the bonds of suffering
if they think you crazy,
and just where does all that
leave the rest of us, pray tell?


If your teacher asks
you to bring him all
of the Dharma you have learned
what will you bring him?
If you begin to recite
what you know
of the sutras
he will turn away
and cover his ears.
If you sit
next to him in silence
he will smile.

A reflection on Case 25 of the Book of Equanimity, 従容錄, Shōyōroku


When you look
in the mirror
what do you really see?
If you say yourself
you are blind.
If you say nothing
you have grasped
the heart of the Dharma.
If you shatter the mirror
you have found Nirvana.

A reflection on Case 24 of the Book of Equanimity 従容錄, Shōyōroku


It was simple by definition
a neat orderly universe, but then
a Big Bang and all of the planning
went out in a monumental flash.

He could easily have corrected it
a simple thought would have
done the trick, but He made the rules
so He had no choice but to abide by them.

It was truly a godly mess, He
would be the first to admit it
had there been anyone to whom
He might admit it, but that lot

on Olympus were a poor joke,
and had long since ceased
to serve any purpose at all
save taking up library space.

So things were banged about, things
blew up spectacularly, things
disappeared entirely, and he
was left to practice meditation.


When you approach
the teacher what is it
that you expect from her?
If you ask her
to show you the way
she will sit
and face the wall
in silence.
What will you learn
from this?
If you are
facing the wall
in silence
you shout
your answer.

A reflection on Case 23 of the Book of Equanimity ( 従容錄, Shōyōroku)


Walking in an open field
when you come to a gate
which is inside, which outside?
If you straddle the gate
there is no inside,
there is no outside,
there is only a gate
with you balanced upon it.
Ask yourself
on which side
will you fall?

A reflection on Case 22 of the Book of Equanimity ( 従容錄, Shōyōroku)