PURE DHARMA BODY 正法眼蔵 二十六

Standing at the foot
of the mountain,
what side do you see.
Standing atop the mountain,
what side do you not see.
Close your eyes
and you will see
that the mountain
has no sides.
Close your eyes
and you will find
that there is
no mountain.


A reflection on Case 26 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

TO BE, OR

The beauty and the difficulty
of being in the moment
is the realization that there is
no moment in which to be.
When you ask what time it is,
I can only answer by referring
to what time it is not, for time
must be relative to that
which no longer exists,
or has yet to come into existence.
Do not seek to be in this moment,
but rather simply be, for being
without seeking anything is at once
the most difficult task
you can undertake,
and the simplest.

BY JOVE

In a Jovian moment
Luna paused her wanderings
and sat patiently above the trees
that stare down on the street.
You know they are speaking, want
very much to listen in
on their conversation, but
the birds are busy singing
their evening songs, and pay
neither moon nor planet
the attention that they are due.
Soon enough Luna recommences
her nightly trek across the sky,
while Jupiter stands still
a moment longer, enjoying
his starring role
in this nights heavenly show.

DREAMS

Dreams are a place
where the dead are free to walk about,
where they speak in voices
barely recalled, but which seem
so familiar to the ear.
They are willing to engage you
in conversations left unfinished,
you are always surprised
at what they have to say,
at how it is not at all
what you expected or wished from them.
You tolerate this in your dreams
because you know that you will
soon awaken, and the dead
will retreat from the sun
to await the dark night’s return.

TEMPUS FUGIT

The problem with bringing then
into now is that now slips away
and then no longer really exists.
You may wish all you like for summer
to remain, but Autumn demands her due
and even the leaves grow tired
and need that final rest.
Do not deny the clouds, but treat them
like a stray thought, let them
be present, and let them leave
and take what they offer
without complaint, for they
are fragile and will flee
like the kitten, and you
will never be able to coax

a return until they are ready.
Now, where were you?

THE FACT OF ADOPTION

The fado fades
under the weight
of the Highland pipes
and dreams of Cascais
fade into the Scottish sky.
Where once I thought
of wandering Lisbon
looking for my face,
I imagine I see it
in the Grampians, reflected
off the lochs whose
headwaters now feed
my dreams.


One joy of being adopted is that what you imagine is not always what really is. For years, based on what my birth mother told the adoption agency, my father was “a Portuguese Jew.” DNA later showed that I had no Portuguese blood at all, and I doubt my Russell and McDonald paternal ancestors spent much time in Lisbon.