NOT TWICE

It is said that you can never go home again
presuming, of course, that you have left at some point.
The fallacy of this statement is apparent,
for there is often nothing preventing your return.
What would make the statement accurate
is that you can never go home again
to exactly the same home you left
for your leaving alters the place and your return
creates only a new status quo, it can’t restore the old one.
It is like this with rivers, the Buddhist knows,
you never step into the same river twice
for each steps has you greeting new water
and even the rock upon which you step
has microscopically eroded.
So feel free to go home again, for there is
much to be gained from returning to a place
that is so familiar, and yet which you have
never before actually visited.

YOKUSAN’S LECTURE 鐵笛倒吹 六十三

If you go to a lecture
and listen carefully
will you become wise?
If you go to a hundred lectures
are you a hundred times wiser?

Where did the teacher find wisdom,
did he sit in endless lectures.
Watch him most carefully
is he not wise with sleeping,
and when eating, when he walks
to the lectern and from it?
Watch in silence
and find his wisdom.


A reflection on case 63 of the Iron Flute Koans

ECHU EXPELS A DISCIPLE 鐵笛倒吹 語十三

If you come upon Echu napping
do not disturb him
but retreat to the zendo
or walk in the small garden
where enlightenment may be found.

If the search is successful
leave quickly, tell no one,
for it is very fragile
and the tongue
is sharper than the sword
and infinitely more deadly.


A reflection on case 53 of the Iron Flute Koans

YAKUSAN SOLVES A PROBLEM 鐵笛倒吹 三十三

If you want to ask
of the path, do so,
only without breaking
the silence of the zendo.
Seek the answer
in a library without books,
take sustenance
from an empty bowl.

Bodhi is a glittering gem
that cannot be seen
that cannot be held—
do not stumble over it.


A reflection on Case 33 of the Iron Flute Koans

WHERE WISDOM CANNOT REACH 正法眼蔵 語十七

The wealthy man
has an ornate cup,
the working man
a very simple one.
The poor farmer,
nurturing the tea plants,
has no cup and all,
but for each of them
the tea is the same.
What is it
that you taste?


A reflection on Case 57 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dhama Eye)

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WAITING GAME

He had been there for days
although he’d stopped counting
since it didn’t ultimately matter.
He would leave when
the time was right although
he had no idea how he would know
when that moment arrived.
Some things you do on faith
he assumed, and this
had to be one of those things.
He wasn’t sure why he came
but he knew he had to be there,
And he knew that the cave
provided him shelter and there
was an allegory hiding deeper in.


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RINZAI’S ENLIGHTENMENT 正法眼蔵 二十七

If you ask your question
you will find an answer
but ask another and the stick
will respond each time.
If you seek another teacher
will you change the question
or the answer, and does it matter.
Take up the stick, who
will you strike, your teacher
or yourself, and is there
any real difference?


A reflection on Case 27 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

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STARE DOWN

I stand still, staring, as
you stand as still staring back,
neither of us yielding in what
will be a long played-out game
on a day of intense sunshine.

I am certain you will concede
will depart, and I am ready,
much as you assume I will tire
as my kind always do,
and turn to other things.

You have all day, this is
after all, your home, and I
have that camera around
my neck and arms growing
heavy keeping it poised

to watch your wings unfurl
as you take skyward, but
you are as close as I will
come to free flight and you
soon honor me with your departure.


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Bird-of-the-day.com 

KEEPING FOCUS

It is of little surprise that we find
this a dizzying world, for we always
try to look forward, but since the future
is often vague, we try and keep one eye
on the past to understand what
our other eye is poorly seeing.

The mind does not care to be
pulled in two directions at once,
objects with stabbing pains, and
when that fails to correct us,
a weariness we cannot overcome.

The Buddha would tell you
it is best to keep both eyes
in the present, to focus softly
and see what is there without
judgement or preconception, to simply

be, assured that all senses are
merely crude tools to shape what
is amorphous into something we
can grasp and file, but time itself knows
there is nothing more than now, ever.


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QUESTIONING THE BUDDHA 無門關 三十二

Sit in utter stillness,
turn away from words,
let non-words wash over you,
and give them no hold.

The shadow of the whip
will dance toward you
like a cloudless sky
blue and not blue –
take to hoof and gallop.


A reflection on case 32 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)

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