4/4 TIME

Musicians have a clock
that runs on its own time
and all that is constant
is the beat, in four
second increments.
They start, they say,
when the music
is ready, never before
and music is fickle:
tonight it wanted to sit
off stage and rest
an hour, another night
it begins precisely
as advertised
and it ends, always
and invariably,
after the last note
plays itself.

THE AVATAMSAKA SUTRA’S WISDOM

If you wish to find true wisdom
where do you begin to look?
Everywhere you look is the wrong place,
for true wisdom is everywhere.
If this confuses, first look for yourself.
Where will you find yourself?
If you say in the mirror, all
will laugh for the mirror is
nothing more than reflective glass.
Are you reflective glass?
So I ask again, where
can you find yourself.
The task is easy if you
realize there is no self
and no-self is yourself,
for you then have found true wisdom.


A reflection on case 68 of the Book of Equanimity>

TIME’S ARROW CURSED

 

He will be 90 in a few weeks.
He doesn’t think this is possible.
He says he wasn’t supposed
to live this long.
He asks again how old he is.
You’re still 89, I tell him.
He has a relieved look on his face.
Then he smiles at me, says,
that means you are pretty old yourself.
I begrudgingly agree, though only out of necessity.
Two weeks ago he was certain
he was on the verge of death.
Today he says he is fine, says
he heard someone claim to be dying
but can’t imagine who it was.
Perhaps it was in his dreams, he says.
He goes back to watching television intently.
Tomorrow he won’t recall what he watched,
or perhaps that he watched.
But he knows he will be 90 soon,
or something like it.

ONCE

It was easier being Buddhist
when I was young, despite
the fact I had no good idea
what Buddhism truly was.
for a child the moment is all
there is, the past so short that
it means nothing, the future something
that will arrive as and when it wishes.
For a child, things will go wrong,
and do so with fair regularity,
but children are also physicists,
and the Lorenz effect guarantees
that it was never really their fault,
and when all else fails, they
simply blame karma.

DIRECT ROUTE

He would rather be from somewhere.
Where he is or is not going
matters very little to him now,
he will be where he will be, will go
where he needs or wants to go
or is taken, and when there,
that is where he should be, so
being there is no problem.
But until recently he was from
nowhere and that is not
a comfortable place, it is
really no place at all.
Now, at least, he is half
from somewhere certain, and
the other half at least fits
on a small portion of a map
and somewhere, he will gladly
tell you, is so very much
better than nowhere, for somewhere
can be found if you have the right map.

GATE GATE

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.

KEEP THE NIRVANA

He was never one to go searching.
It took up too much time.
It certainly took far more effort
than the results usually warranted.
And there wasn’t anything in particular
he wanted to go in search of.
She said she was searching for ecstasy.
He said he could buy it downtown,
but it had grown rather pricey.
She said she meant that state of being,
that state of spiritual perfection.
He said you couldn’t buy that downtown,
though there were a couple of pastors
in the suburbs who claimed to be able,
for a proper donation, to provide it.
She said she couldn’t pay for what
was promised in the Bible,
she would simply search and wait.
She had faith.
He said he had searched
for faith once, and failed.
That, he said, was when
he gave up searching for things.