Once upon a time
is the oddest of expressions,
for nothing is upon time,
this one, or any other.
And can we be certain
what we think once was
is committed to a memory,
which is fallible
in the best of times.
or more precisely, in the
best of time, for time
cannot be plural, though it
is inherently evanescent
and is gone as we watch.

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



There is a reason –
there must be a reason
for everything, that is
just how things are supposed
to be, how we decree them.
And when things are events,
we are at liberty to
tell them to comply with our direction.
If they fail, then we consign them
to miracles or the work
of the devil, though we
expect him to obey the rules
as well, for otherwise
he, too, would be a miracle
and that would leave
a Gordian knot
we dare not try to unravel.