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.
The greatest speech is given only when the mouth falls shut. To talk of peace is to be at war with peace, to speak of war is to be at war. When listening disappears peace reemerges, when peace emerges the listener appears.
A reflection on Case 12 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Eye)
The Buddha said that any task you do if done mindfully is a sort of meditation. We assume he said it, we’ve been told he did, but no one I know was anywhere near that bodhi tree, so we take it on faith. When it comes to things like chopping large quantities of onions, or roasting coffee beans I totally get it, it does seem like meditation, and deep at that. Walking the dog makes the list, and perhaps convincing the cat to do anything she didn’t think of by out waiting her. I can even accept washing the car or the dishes, but washing the dog is only so on rare occasions and only if I medicate her first, and the cat, forget it. But even Buddha would have to concede that no matter how totally mindful you are, driving anywhere in either Broward or Miami-Dade counties is as far from meditative as opting to commit sepuku with a butter knife.
Mockingbirds greet the morning
Great Blue Herons stare
imagining their voices
night sweetly welcome the dawn
The great temple bell
awaits the morning, the monk,
its daily purpose
cast deep within the metal
always verging on release
Smoke of incense too
prostrates itself to Buddha
soon a morning breeze
or the freedom of the sky
It is of little surprise that we find this a dizzying world, for we always try to look forward, but since the future is often vague, we try and keep one eye on the past to understand what our other eye is poorly seeing.
The mind does not care to be pulled in two directions at once, objects with stabbing pains, and when that fails to correct us, a weariness we cannot overcome.
The Buddha would tell you it is best to keep both eyes in the present, to focus softly and see what is there without judgement or preconception, to simply
be, assured that all senses are merely crude tools to shape what is amorphous into something we can grasp and file, but time itself knows there is nothing more than now, ever.