Approach the master
sitting on his seat.
The fool will seek answers
having slept through the lesson
but the wise student will bow
silently and retreat
having learned all there is
and knowing absolutely nothing.
A reflection on Case 44 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Mind)
She wants to know where to look
and thinks it must be either without or within,
she assumes a Christian looks outward,
a Buddhist within, and every other faith
either aligns with one or plumbs the middle.
She is searching for the answer
to the inevitable question, the question
that cannot be answered.
She asks where you find a teacher,
for teachers have answers.
I want to tell her there is no answer
and every answer is correct
and every answer is incorrect
and the only way to look is
to close your eyes, to stop looking
to stop seeking, and for once,
just once, to simply be.
She no doubt thinks me crazy
as she walks away continuing her search
for that which cannot be found.
because she is that and that
is everywhere and everything
she imagines she senses.
When you are parched
and come upon a dry creek bed
will you assume there is water
flowing freely beneath
the soil and rocks, and how
will you drink it?
If you give up your thirst
your attachment to life
may wash downstream
and the bitter waters
may run both sweet and deep.
You may bathe in them
alongside old Joshu
without need for drinking.
A reflection on Case 40 of the Iron Flute Koans.
If someone has much,
give him little,
if someone has little,
give him much.
If you have much,
give much, but
if you have little,
give only little.
Little and much
are both the same
when given and received.
A reflection on Case 56 of the Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
A wise Buddhist teacher
once told me that anything you do,
if you do it mindfully, can be
a form of meditation, and I have
taken this into my practice,
albeit with mixed success, but that
is one reason they call it practice.
Walking silently, following
your breath in and out, aware
of your feet, the earth, the sky
is definitely meditative.
Chopping onions, carefully drawing
the knife thorough the layers
creating neatly incised bits
is certainly meditative.
Sitting by a pond watching
the sun slowly set it ablaze
as the breeze ruffles the surface
is absolutely meditative.
But folding laundry, no matter
how mindfully I approach the task
always and quickly morphs into
a mindless search for the missing sock.
The spider wandered around
the corner of the ceiling and wall
of the bathroom, one she called
a daddy longlegs, although most
spiders of my acquaintance have
rather long legs using my proportions
as a basis for comparison, and it was
my task to deal with it.
It was harmless, as are most
of his species, and I searched
for a way to give him and give us
our freedom, here perhaps,
a reality, since it is no colder
without than within, although the birds
in our wetlands might have other
ideas about the spider’s impermanence.
I paused, considered the options,
and knew this koan would not
be answered this day, and I bid
my octoped friend farewell, but
suggested he consider not
trying to bring me into his web.
Both are asked
to bring more light
into the hall.
rolls up his shade.
One’s action is gain
one’s action is loss
there is only one shade
there is only one light.
A reflection on case 26 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)