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.
When you speak the words
of the Buddha you are lost.
Light is everywhere in silence
but the tongue must hide
in the dark of the mouth.
Buddha’s words are flowers
unfolding in the dawn
by the side of the still pond,
the eyes hear the song
and respond in silent chorus.
A reflection on Case 39 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate Koans)
What can you teach
in not mind
find no thing.
A reflection on Case 27 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)
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.
Eyes can look within
and discover a boundless universe
but the tongue alone
can speak only sounds
that go false
as they dance away unseen.
The silence of zazen
speaks the dharma,
the teisho is offered mutely.
The space between
eye and tongue
is but three inches
or an unbridgeable void.
A reflection on Case 15 of the Iron Flute Koans.
On the road, you
will meet many.
Greet each with a silence
that speaks loudly.
All of the books
of the dharma
are contained in
a single gassho.
A reflection on Case 36 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate) Koans
The young man asked the old Buddhist monk,
“If there are 64,000 gates, how will
I know through which I should enter.”
The monk paused, considered
the question, then smiled broadly.
“Why would you want to enter any gate?”
the monk said with a wink.
The young man replied, “because they
are the gates that lead to the dharma,
and that will lead to enlightenment,
so of course I want to enter the right one!”
“That is your mistake,” the monk
gently added, for there is no right gate,
they are all right gates, but your problem
is you want to go in through the gate,
but you must go out from where you are,
for that is how you enter the dharma.”