KEEPING FOCUS

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.


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QUESTIONING THE BUDDHA 無門關 三十二

Sit in utter stillness,
turn away from words,
let non-words wash over you,
and give them no hold.

The shadow of the whip
will dance toward you
like a cloudless sky
blue and not blue –
take to hoof and gallop.


A reflection on case 32 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)

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THE MIDDLE WAY

George Harrison said that if
you don’t know where you
are going, any road will
take you there, and on reflection
it was obvious he was correct..
Today, rising from the cushion,
the four vows recited, Buddha
put back on his small altar,
Harrison’s words echoed loudly
for he understood in a moment
what it has taken me years
to grasp, for all roads lead
to enlightenment if you
simply stop searching for it.
Somewhere the spirit
of our departed George
was laughing with me
in this moment.

HOFUKU’S TEMPLE 鐵笛倒吹 語十一

Standing outside the Temple
there is much to see.
Enter the Temple zendo
prostrate three times before
the golden Buddha
what do you see?
Can you see nothing?
Outside the Temple, Buddha
inside the Temple, Buddha
but only when you see nothing.
Outside the mind, nothing,
inside the mind, nothing.
All Buddha.


A reflection on case 51 of the Iron Flute Koans.

JOSHU ANSWERS

Yesterday a small dog, walking its master down the block stopped and stared
at you, as you stood on your porch. You stared back at the dog, eyes locked
on each other, while the master fidgeted on the sidewalk, afraid or too bored
to look at either of you. You realized this was just the dog’s way of teaching
his master patience, or perhaps of simply delaying you from what it was
that brought you to your porch that you forgot in engaging the dog. Eventually
the dog dragged its master on, and you returned to the house, having done
nothing but stare at a dog. It was clear in that moment that a dog must
have Buddha nature but yours was deeply in question.

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.