If you want an answer
do not ask a question –
your answer cannot be mine
nor can mine be yours.
Instead, ask the stone wall,
it has nothing to say
and in its perfect silence
all questions are asked
and all answers are found.
A reflection on Case 41 of the Shobogenzo, Dogen’s True Dharma Eye
A river may polish
a stone until
the morning sun.
A jeweler may polish it
and facet it
until it shatters the light
in ten directions.
A wise man will claim
it is still
the same stone.
A reflection on Case 117 of the Shobogenzo, Dogen’s True Dharma Eye
As you look out the window
you say the branches of the tree
are dancing, the clouds barely stopping
to gaze down on the scene.
Walk outside and feel the breeze
skitter along your skin, see
the seed pods of the maple
take wing and fly off.
Ask yourself why this is,
is it the wind you see moving things
or is it the things moving
creating a breeze, which?
Consider that it is only your mind
that is moving, for if you do not
look or think of these motions,
how can you know if they stop?
A reflection on case 146 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
If you very much want something
you must ask for it clearly, but
if you ask for it, it will be denied to you.
If you do not ask for it, you
may be certain you will not get it
no matter how much you want it.
If you sit and think about this,
you will miss out on living.
It is only when you don’t want it,
when you allow the silence without
question, without need or desire,
that you will discover that you
have had it all along, right beside you.
He spends considerable time
looking in the mirror
trying hard to see what is there,
to see inside himself, to truly
see himself as he imagines others see him.
The mirror denies him a static image,
it is always shifting, and try
though he might to grasp one single image
he finds it impossible and always
gives up in frustration. Still
he tries again the next day,
and the next after that, never
attaining his desired objective.
Ask yourself, what is his failure?
If he would become the mirror,
then, and only then, he might see himself,
rather than a mere image on glass.
A reflection on case 125 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye)
As you stoop
to pick up fallen leaves
are you cleaning spring,
summer or autumn?
What seasons are deep
within the winter branch?
How does your work
and that of the tree
truly differ, and
do you shed?
A reflection on Case 83 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye)
All singularities are naked
and it is only
when we clothe them
that they crumble away.
You step into this river only once
but it is this water
which will wet your feet
when you step in
the next and the next.
A reflection on Case 91 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)