Awakening in the morning when you first see the sun and the dew resting on the leaf which eye are you using. When you stare into the mirror through what eye do you see, and what eyes stare back at you.
When you see the deer lying in the road which eye do you use. In a nightmare, when you slip into the deeper, darker world, what eye is used then. When you fade into death what eye sees your departure. Think carefully on this for only one eye can see the answer lying within.
Some people say religion is dead, or at least mortally wounded. In my generation, closer to death than puberty, there is some truth to that thought because God seems a whole lot less responsive these days, our peers beginning to fall like lemmings from the cliff. But the young clearly have found what has gotten so far away from us, and they have gone so far as to personalize God, something we never dared do for fear of hell for the wrath of our parents and loss of use of the car. Today, even in school and at the mall their faith is on display on their smart phone screens, secretly genuflecting each time they mention OMG.
Standing outside the Temple there is much to see. Enter the Temple zendo prostrate three times before the golden Buddha what do you see? Can you see nothing? Outside the Temple, Buddha inside the Temple, Buddha but only when you see nothing. Outside the mind, nothing, inside the mind, nothing. All Buddha.
Approach the master sitting on his seat. The fool will seek answers having slept through the lesson but the wise student will bow silently and retreat having learned all there is and knowing absolutely nothing.
A reflection on Case 44 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Mind)
I am honored that this poem was just published in the Fall/Winter Issue of the Atlanta Review,
I had dinner the other night with Rav Hillel in a small Chinese place just off Mott Street. I asked him what it was like in the afterlife, after all the years. It gets a bit boring, he said, now that old Shammai has lost his edge, just last month for each Chanukah night he lit four candles from the center out in each direction. I told him the steamed pork buns were beyond belief, he said try the shrimp dumplings even better if you eat them standing on one foot. I asked him how he spent his days and he only smiled, most days I search for Van Gogh’s ear though that alte cocker Shammai says it was Theo’s ear that Vincent lopped off, although Vincent wore a bandage around his head. It’s really not so bad he said, there’s even a lovely sculpture just inside the garden gate that bears a striking resemblance to old Lot’s wife, not that she was ever capable of sitting still all that long. He bid me farewell and though I looked for a fiery chariot, he climbed into his ’91 Taurus with the hanging bumper and rust spots, and drove slowly off. Thanks for dinner, he shouted, as I footed the bill yet again.