DAIZUI’S GREAT KALPA FIRE 正法眼蔵 二十四

All things are born and die
so if this world dies at the end
of its cycle of life and we
are here, do we die with this world
and which of us
will be first reborn.
Only when the mind collapses
is the world born
only when the mind collapses
does the world die.


A reflection on Case 24 of the True Dharma Eye (Shobogenzo)

MOTHER

 

I called my mother the other day
and she did not answer, which
she would always do when I called.
The dead, I concluded, no longer
play by the rules they did
when they were still alive.
Of course she will call me soon,
disrupting my sleep, and chastise
me for not trying again.
But she will quickly slip into
reading the list of what
she expects from me, for
either living or dead,
mother’s expectations must
always be met, no matter what.

TIME’S ARROW CURSED

 

He will be 90 in a few weeks.
He doesn’t think this is possible.
He says he wasn’t supposed
to live this long.
He asks again how old he is.
You’re still 89, I tell him.
He has a relieved look on his face.
Then he smiles at me, says,
that means you are pretty old yourself.
I begrudgingly agree, though only out of necessity.
Two weeks ago he was certain
he was on the verge of death.
Today he says he is fine, says
he heard someone claim to be dying
but can’t imagine who it was.
Perhaps it was in his dreams, he says.
He goes back to watching television intently.
Tomorrow he won’t recall what he watched,
or perhaps that he watched.
But he knows he will be 90 soon,
or something like it.

OF BEAUTY

We love the flower, more so
if it adopts the brighter shades
of nature’s palette, and even
tolerate the fern, but only if
it truly honors the greens
it is supposed to bear and unfurl.
We save our spite for the fungus
which reaches up to us
with surprising haste, nothing
this day, fully formed tomorrow
as if to suggest a resurrection
from something dark and dank
hidden below the surface.
Still, we turn our back on it,
wish it gone, find it ugly
and never pause to wonder how it
views us in the early light of morning.

PHOENIX

A Phoenix may rise
from the ashes, but you
and I have seen the aftermath
of the flames
and all that rises are
our memories and dreams.
We lack both wings
and a certain amount
of faith, for ashes
are all that is promised
and in the end we
are no more than dust
avoiding the breeze this day
and, we fervently hope
the next, until
all that is left
is the Phoenix.