KEMBO’S ONE ROAD 鐵笛倒吹 八十四

As you walk along a road
do you know where it begins
or where it will end
and what lies along it.

Perhaps the road
is a twisted loop
with neither beginning
or ending,
but if asked
where you are
on the road
you are always
here.


A reflection on Case 84 of The Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui)

DEEP INTO THE COSMOS

I want to tell her to look up
into the night sky and imagine
the stars are forming pictures
just for her alone, and what she sees
is what the cosmos intended all along.
She laughs when I say this,
says, the pictures were all taken
a thousand years ago
and given names, like Orion
and Cygnus, the Ursas.
I tell her that I see
many other things in the sky,
and when she presses me
for examples I point to what
she calls Orion’s belt.
What do you see, she demands,
and I pause, then say, ellipses.

AMONG ELDERS

I sit outside, on the mesa
having watched the mauve, fuchsia
and coral sky finally concede to night.
The two orange orbs sit
twenty yards away, staring back
and in this moment coyote and I
have known each other for moments,
and for generations, and we are content.
Coyote tells me he was once
an elder living in the old adobe
buildings, how he was a shaman,
still is, with his magic, and I
tell him of how I walked for years
in the desert, food appearing
from heaven, of how I crossed the sea
and some thought it parted for me.
Coyote and I are both old
and we know we each have stories
that no one would believe, and
so we are left to believe each other
and tell our stories to the sky gods.

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.

PURE DHARMA BODY 正法眼蔵 二十六

Standing at the foot
of the mountain,
what side do you see.
Standing atop the mountain,
what side do you not see.
Close your eyes
and you will see
that the mountain
has no sides.
Close your eyes
and you will find
that there is
no mountain.


A reflection on Case 26 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)