FEAR

The old monk asked the young man
why he seemed so worried.
“Because, sensei, you are old and will die soon!”
“Why does that worry you?”
“Because, like everyone, I fear death.”
“Not everyone, certainly, I do not fear death.”
“How can you not fear death?”
“There is nothing to fear, I fear life.”
“Why do you fear life? This is hard.”
“No, this is easy, dying is hard
because dying is just the end of living.”
“So master, should I fear life?”
“Life is this moment and the next
and next until there is no next.”
And remember, you didn’t fear being born.”

TAIGEN FANS HIMSELF 正法眼蔵 三十二

When a leaf leaves the tree
it falls precisely where it should.
When a flower petal is carried
off on a strong wind it
comes to rest in the proper place.
When you smell the sweet aroma
of next summer’s roses
you must use the nose you had
before your parents were born.


A reflection on Case 32 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye)

PROPRIETY OF MORNING

There is a propriety of morning
that appears denied to the rest of day,
escaping Luna’s grasp the sun can sing
in a voice deep in prayer and yet at play.

The lives that quietly left in the night
are balanced by the days measure of births
but at dawn when the sun throws off its light
plants and man reach deeper into the earth.

Stare at the sky defiantly and dare
the day to bring its worst, not caring, we
having greeted the dawn in silent prayer,
we steel ourselves to what we will soon see.

Morning has that moment when battles cease
and all is silence in the too brief peace.

SPEAKING IN TONGUES

She said
you should try
astral projection.

 I said
I have tried
transcendental meditation
and even a bit of EST.

 She said
that biofeedback
was better than
most of the drugs
she remembered using.

 I said
that tequila
took far less practice
if you could stand
the inevitable hangover.

 She said
she thought
that dying
was something
like giving birth

 I said
that it was more
like an orgasm
that would last
an eternity.

 She said
your coffin
would have
a weird projection.

I said
that hers
would have to be
surprisingly wide.