If you fall, 20,000 arms will lift you up, when you sit 10,000 join the Sangha. If you walk barefoot in the snow I will put socks on my feet for you. If you hunger, I will give you an empty bowl and this will be our shared dharma.
A reflection on Case 47 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
If I come before the teacher he will give me thirty blows. If I do not come before the teacher he will give me thirty blows. It is the same for everyone, his arms never grow tired but if I never see my teacher, I give him thirty blows and my arms are suddenly heavy.
A reflection on case 31 of The True Dharma Eye (Shobogenzo)
We often believe that the best way to honor the dead is to praise them. When my time is gone, do not praise me for your praise will fall on deadened ears. If you believe in the power of the word speak aloud in my name, if you dare, commit the deed as you believe I might have done, if you can, lift up someone else even though my arms may have been too weak for the task in my own day. As I am leaving you a world, you will soon enough leave one as well, and if that world is better than mine for the sake of your efforts that is all the honor I could hope to imagine.
If I asked you for one word how would you answer? In your dreams, do you have both arms, can you write your thoughts on a scrap of paper and tuck it away? You had a lover, once, and he would trace his finger along your thigh. Do you miss that touch as you rub the jagged scar? Can you taste the lamb simmered slowly, fragrant, the sauce dredged by the crusty bread, or do you only taste the hard tack tossed from the truck? If they gave you back your tongue and I asked you for one word how would you answer?
First published in “Eureka Literary Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2,(c) 1997, Eureka College