The hardest thing of all
is that there is no one to entreat,
no one who has to sort the infinite
voices, note who requested what
so that delivery of the prayers, the few
that warrant granting, go
to the correct person, particularly
given that there is no system in place
to track the whims of the grantor.
Still, you take to the mat,
fold your legs, or tuck them
under the sitting bench, and unfocus
hoping those wishes will slip away
on a sea of intervening thoughts,
and there will be, just for a moment,
nothing at all, and that, you know,
would be as close as you get to everything.
The question is a simple one, really,
but not one you were expecting, which
is why you sit and grapple for an answer.
Ask yourself, what if no answer is needed,
what if there is no answer, can you
remain silent, or will you feel somehow
incomplete if you do not respond?
All answers are correct, but beware,
for all answers are incorrect as well.
Now consider the question again, carefully,
what do you respond when you are asked
once again, insistently, “who are you?”
Be very careful for if you gaze
into a mirror you will see someone else
and if you say that person is you,
you will most certainly disappear.
The search will be endless
the answer at once obvious
and incapable of being found.
You seek direction to it,
certain the right teacher
holds the key
to the critical gate,
inside which all of the Dharma
sits waiting for you.
If the teacher asks you
how many people live
in a distant city you
have never visited,
how will you respond.
The answer is the key and you
already hold it in hand.
A reflection on Case 5 of the Book of Equanimity
In a clockless world
all life is an approximation
and clear boundaries evaporate
like the mist off a morning pond.
In that world this moment
seeps into the next,
night becomes day,
only to return again.
The Buddha knew this
for in his clockless world
all that existed
was this moment
an instant that was,
as well, eternity.
In deeply hidden corners
of my memory
snapshots of my childhood reappear
from forgotten albums.
I want to know what
was happening just
out of frame, or
in the next picture in the series
but these negatives are lost
and so I am left
to draw my own pictures,
write my own story,
and accept it as truth.
As the moon begins
it’s slow departure
we step carefully out
into the receiving night.
The neighbor’s black cat
looks up at the sky
warily, steps around
the ladder leading
against the house, and sits
and contemplates the number
thirteen, though it holds
no special place
in the feline world, it
just seems the thing to do.
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.