In entering, do you arrive or are you leaving. In departing do you leave or are you arriving. Can the gate answer or does it choose to remain silent. The mountain shouts the answer but only the river can hear it.
A reflection on case 30 of the Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Eye)
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.
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)
She wants to know where to look and thinks it must be either without or within, she assumes a Christian looks outward, a Buddhist within, and every other faith either aligns with one or plumbs the middle. She is searching for the answer to the inevitable question, the question that cannot be answered. She asks where you find a teacher, for teachers have answers. I want to tell her there is no answer and every answer is correct and every answer is incorrect and the only way to look is to close your eyes, to stop looking to stop seeking, and for once, just once, to simply be. She no doubt thinks me crazy as she walks away continuing her search for that which cannot be found. because she is that and that is everywhere and everything she imagines she senses.
The question of the day is would you rather be a turtle or a snail, not to be sung to any melody by Paul Simon. Think carefully, for one day the question will have real impact and you will get your answer with a permanence that merits the most careful consideration. Today may or may not be that day. And please note, your choice is snail or turtle, not a land tortoise, so longevity shouldn’t come into play at all. So, yes, it all comes down to this, some child may try and grab you and put you in a glass terrarium and try to make a vegetarian of you or people will moan, seeing your tail and imagine you served with shallots In a small pond of melted butter.
She could barely move her head the cancer climbed her spine reaching upward, clutching vertebrae reaching out, tendrils grasping tearing fragile organs. She would cry, but that would be an admission of defeat, a welcome to death.
I cried out for her, entreated our God for compassion that she might stand by her sons when they uttered the ancient words, by her daughter, adjusting the white lace veil, but he would not answer, drawn into catatonia, seeing severed limbs of children littering the streets of Sarajevo.
She clings tenuously to life as I cling tenuously to faith.
First appeared in Community of Poets Magazine Vol. 21,, 1999 and later in Legal Studies Forum 30:1-2, 2006