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.”
The search will be endless
the answer at once obvious
and incapable of being found.
You seek direction to it,
certain the right teacher
holds the key
to the critical gate,
inside which all of the Dharma
sits waiting for you.
If the teacher asks you
how many people live
in a distant city you
have never visited,
how will you respond.
The answer is the key and you
already hold it in hand.
A reflection on Case 5 of the Book of Equanimity
If you truly want to walk
in the footsteps of the Buddha
stand perfectly still and unmoving.
If you truly want to comprehend
the whole of the Dharma
put down all of your books and scrolls,
roll up your sleeves
and plant the barren fields,
clearing away rocks and stones.
If you want to taste enlightenment
dip your hands into
a free running stream
and drink of its waters.
If you feel you must move
along the Way, simply sit
and allow the Way to move beneath you.
A reflection on Case 12 of The Book of Equanimity (SHôYôROKU)
If you truly believe that you
will soon enough meet your teacher
you must gather together all
of your questions concerning the Dharma.
Carry them with you at all times
in a satchel thrown over your shoulder,
for you will be allowed
only a single meeting with the master.
When you meet the master, pull out
all of your questions for each
is a stick with which you will be hit.
When you meet the master, throw
your questions into the windy sky
and gather the answers
like leaves scattered at your feet.
A reflection on case 11 of the Book of Equanimity (Shōyōroku 從容錄)