It happens every day,
when I arise from the cushion
and look, I see myself there.
If you look, you say you see me as well.
It will happen one day
that when I arise from the cushion
and look I will not see myself.
If you look, you will say you see me,
and I will nod in agreement.
Each day when I see myself,
I know that it is I who I am seeing.
But each day I see an illusion,
masquerading as I, a delusion,
and I see you seeing me, a delusion.
Each day you see me, you see
a delusion, but a different delusion.
Consider how strange this is,
for on the day I do not see myself
I see no delusion, but you see me
and see a delusion, but I do not
see you, for there is no me to see you,
and just then I am free of delusion.

A reflection on Case 94 of the Blue Cliff Record (碧巌録, Hekiganroku)


The lake is slowly receding, fading,
the lake we created arrogantly
assuming that when it came
to nature, we could be godlike.
It’s withdrawal has revealed
cars, boats and bodies
we had not expected there,
put by intention or accident,
laid bare by nature, once
our devoted servant we imagined
then a prophet we so callously ignored, now
in a retribution carefully ordained,
the angel of destruction
visiting singular plagues
of drought upon us, and we know
there are other plagues in store
unless we do what we should have
some time ago, and we know we will
collectively suffer for the obstinacy
of the few who value greed so highly.


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)


Stop and imagine for one moment
what it would be like if:

during hunting season
the deer were armed with AR15’s
and hunters with a bow and arrow.

the mud wasp, docile insect
that you go after with a shovel
comes armed with a can of poison spray

the raccoon eating your garden
that you wanted to trap and take
into the countryside instead
trapped you and left you
in the middle of absolutely nowhere

or even if none of those, what if
in your next life you come back
as a deer, a mud wasp, or a raccoon?


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)


Somewhere in the world
at this very moment,
something remarkable
is being laid to ruin.
It is our nature to tear down
what we cannot understand,
what we hold different,
what does not comport
with our present view
of how things ought to be.
Somewhere in the world
at this very moment
something remarkable
is being born,
is being created,
is arising
out of an idea,
a thought, an emotion.
We are all
somewhere in the world
at this very moment.

First apeared in Peacock Journal, February 2017


“When all else fails.” Oh, how I hate that phrase. Plan Omega perhaps, but how do they know all else has failed. Did they make a list? And just perhaps did one else succeed just a little. I mean failure ought to be complete. I know it never is, and if it isn’t tha complete failure then it was at least partially a success in that binary logic. So how do you ever get to when all else fails? God forbid you do, I don’t want to think about hearing “when all failed” for there is nothing to say after that is there?


There was a time when I
would steal away for an hour
and sit in the corner of my favorite
coffee shop, watching people.
There would always be students,
fidgeting in a hurry to be
somewhere for which they are late
but dare not face uncaffeinated.
There was an older man,
his white and gray hair an absurd
version of the Friars of old,
the man would always
have a book and a journal.
I thought that curious, a professor
perhaps, but I dared not interrupt him.
Now, as you have guessed, it is I
sitting in a coffee shop writing
in my journal, by hair silver
and white, bald on top
and I wonder if anyone
is reluctant to interrupt me.


If you ask your teacher
if the cat
in Schrodinger’s box
his dead,
he will say
the cat is dead .
If you ask your teacher
if the cat
in Schrodinger’s box
is dead,
he will say
the cat is not dead.
Dead and not dead ,
both the same

A reflection on Case 30 of the Book of Equanimity (従容錄, Shōyōroku)