RAISON

 

There is a reason –
there must be a reason
for everything, that is
just how things are supposed
to be, how we decree them.
And when things are events,
we are at liberty to
tell them to comply with our direction.
If they fail, then we consign them
to miracles or the work
of the devil, though we
expect him to obey the rules
as well, for otherwise
he, too, would be a miracle
and that would leave
a Gordian knot
we dare not try to unravel.

WHERE?

 

Take the pencil in hand
and grasp it firmly and flex
and extend your wrist until loose.
On a clean sheet of paper
mark a small X which will become
of great importance shortly.
Look around you in all directions,
starting as close to yourself
as possible and expanding out
as far as the eye can see,
noting the relative position
of things that you see which
might serve as points of reference.
Now imagine you are looking
down on this scene from high above,
and draw what your eyes have seen.
Once this is done, carefully
write next to the X you have made,
“I am here,” and then do not
move lest your work was in vain.

SEIGAN’S COST OF RICE

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

LOST, AGAIN

It would help, she said,
if you would stop thinking
of yourself as Sisyphus
and all of life as the rock,
you might actually, one day,
begin to enjoy what you do.

It would help, he said,
if I could be like
a great blue heron,
grow wings and take
to a summer sky leaving
all of this behind me,
going wherever I wish.

Perhaps, she replied, it
is better that you see
yourself as Sisyphus, for
everyone knows that you
have no sense of direction.

BUDDHIST RELATIVITY

Now then, he says,
and at once he is again
victim of the confusion
that he spreads in his wake.
She takes him to task again,
but he protests that what
was now is clearly then, now,
and this now, too, is now then,
for each now is gone in the time
it takes to recognize it as now.
Now is always then, he says,
as he quickly walks off
in each of the ten directions.

JOSHU’S FOUR GATES 正法眼蔵 四十六

If you ask me who I am,
I will have you close your eyes
and walk behind you,
or I may step to your left
and take your right hand.
If you are perplexed,
I will ask you: do the four
gates open into the city
or out to the world beyond,
and if I stand still under a gate
in which direction
am I headed?


A reflection on Case 46 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

TEN DIRECTIONS

It would help, she said,
if you would stop thinking
of yourself as Sisyphus
and all of life as the rock.
You might actually, one day,
begin to enjoy what you do.

It would help, he said,
if I could be like
a great blue heron,
grow wings and take
to a summer sky leaving
all of this behind me,
going wherever I wish.

Perhaps, she replied, it
is better that you see
yourself as Sisyphus, for
everyone know that you
have no sense of direction.