HAVOC

They took up shovels,
pickaxes, bare fingers
to pry up the seedlings,
the saplings just taking
root and the seeds
just planted still watered
by the sweat and tears
of those who lovingly
tilled the brittle soil.

They offered nothing
in return, barren ground
where only anger grew,
fertilized by fear, by
by greed, by blindness.

Will we sit by and watch
as promises wither under
an ever stronger, more
glaring sun, as hopes are
blown away by arid winds,
or will we again return
to the soil, start over,
our faith now perennial.

YOU THERE

We dance between wanting
to know what is out there,
and fearing that we are not
any longer unique, just one
more in an endless stream.

And then we have to wonder
if the others, such as they are,
wonder what is out there,
and fear that they are not
any longer unique, just one
more in an endless stream.

Has it always been this way,
have some already come
and gone in the flash
of a dying star, or grown
barren from neglect and greed?

Some want to know what
is out there, as out there
could become the only place
separating us from extinction.

HEART OF DHARMA

A single snowy egret sits
on the lowest branch of a long
barren tree, where hours from now
a thousand birds will arrive
for still another evening and night.

He stares at me as I am mindfully
vacuuming, watching carefully.

I pause and ask if by chance he
is a Buddha and he lifts his long neck
and peers around in all directions.

I repeat my question, and he
lifts one wing, which I know
to be his way of saying, “I,
like you, am imbued with Buddha
nature, and I with mother
nature as well, and if you doubt me
ask one of the countless
Bodhisattvas who will arrive
in hours to study the Dharma
well into what will be a wet night.

BUDDHA NATURE

A singe egret sits calmly
on the lowest branch of a long

barren tree, where hours from now
a thousand birds will arrive
for still another evening and night.

He stares at me as I am mindfully
vacuuming, watching carefully.

I pause and ask if by chance he
is a Buddha and he lifts his long neck
and peers around in all directions.

I repeat my question, and he
lifts one wing, which I know
to be his way of saying, “I,
like you, am imbued with Buddha
nature, and I with mother
nature as well, and if you doubt me
ask one of the countless
Bodhisattva who will arrive
in hours to study the Dharma
well into what will be a wet night.

SEASON OF OUR CONTENT

It is Spring
and I press my ear
to still barren soil
to hear the hypnotic thrum
of sap reaching slowly skyward
engine straining against gravity
earthworms beginning
their tunneling, marshaling
armies for an exodus
through ever night soil.
I listen to the bud
its velour face
unfolding before
the stillborn sky,
a robin, breast unfurled
stares at me in wonder.

JIZO PLANTS THE FIELD

If you truly want to walk
in the footsteps of the Buddha
stand perfectly still and unmoving.
If you truly want to comprehend
the whole of the Dharma
put down all of your books and scrolls,
roll up your sleeves
and plant the barren fields,
clearing away rocks and stones.
If you want to taste enlightenment
dip your hands into
a free running stream
and drink of its waters.
If you feel you must move
along the Way, simply sit
and allow the Way to move beneath you.


A reflection on Case 12 of The Book of Equanimity (SHôYôROKU)