So why, pray tell, does my gender even matter, it isn’t like we will ever. meet, and let’s face it, there is a fluidity now which calls binary thinking absurd, so we’ll go with whatever you choose, so long as you realize I am all about compassion and relieving the world’s suffering – thought that might color your opinion a bit, good you got the yin of it
And let’s talk about the whole name thing, I mean, sure, it changes when you change languages, I’m okay with that, I guess but if you are going to use me in Japan why not use my Japanese name, I am particularly fond of Kannon, I’m down with Guanyin, used that one all over Asia, but seriously do you really think I want to go around these days as Avalokiteśvara, I’m centuries old, so show me A bit more compassion than that.
He sits, suited in black, with 88 keys at his command, and we fall silent. He opens the lock of joy, the lock of sadness, the lock of elation, the lock of tears, the lock of laughter, the lock of darkness, the lock of light, the lock of surprise, the lock of compassion, the lock of love, and we peer through each door, unable to enter fully unable to turn away. As we walk out, we know we have tasted Buddha’s promise truth and we go off in search of the 63,999 remaining Dharma doors.
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.
You never know how the news will arrive you are just certain of its arrival. You know it on some level, even as the event is happening, but that doesn’t blunt the piercing tip of the blade that finds the soft spot in you and cuts deeply. You hoped for a miracle for her, for her son, her husband, for those who knew her gentle smile, warm compassion, cutting wit, when the situation demanded. She was a friend who would appear when needed most and slip away when the need began to dissipate. The news came today, the hole is fresh and you can only attempt to fill it with memories, knowing even as it seems again full as do so many others as you age, when you step into it you will plunge back into the well of loss and again struggled to find the sun hiding in a too often darkening sky.
He sits, suited in black, with 88 keys at his command, and we fall silent. He opens the lock of joy, the lock of sadness, the lock of elation, the lock of tears, the lock of laughter, the lock of darkness, the lock of light, the lock of surprise, the lock of compassion, the lock of love, and we peer through each door, unable to enter fairly unable to turn away. As we walk out, we know we have tasted Buddha’s promised truth and we go off in search 63,999 remaining Dharma doors.
I will be going soon and this is what I would leave you: I would leave you my dreams of a world at peace, where compassion comes as an expectation not a surprise, a place where the arrival of the sun is a source of joy for with it and the rains, you, no one, will ever want for food, centers where all can learn and knowledge, like the universe which we inhabit will continue to expand, but my dreams may not be gift enough unless we turn from those who care to leave no dreams, taking only for themselves in this moment, for who tomorrow will always be someone else’s problem.
Lao Tse, venerable one you would be pleased as I sit here drawing closer to the center quested for my Buddhahood be not seeking it amid the rain of fire from the hills above the blood congealing in the streets. I know not to ask and am unseen by the child and mother running through the street and untouched by the hail of ammunition biting at their heels. I smell the lotus mixed with the cordite giving scent to the morning and in the clouds see the approach of understanding.
The empty wine bottle nestling the foot of the postal box wants nothing more that to speak its mind but it is forsworn to silence, and stares into the old Maytag box tucked in the alley next to the dumpster. The bedraggled man sits against the wall and debates the meaning of knowledge with the Buddha lying in a fetal ball on the soggy asphalt.
Roshi left last week sitting in the garden of the Zen Center, there then not there, as though he let go his 91 year grasp knowing somehow, it was the right moment. He left so quietly those around him did not hear him depart. Half a lifetime ago I sat at his feet, unable to frame the simplest of questions. Watching my struggle, he smiled, gently touched my shoulder, whispered “the only guarantee we get with life is death – did you fear your birth?” Standing under the gray sky letting go of the flower
it falls on your coffin, Roshi, you are sensei yet again.