THE GIRL COMES OUT 無門關 四十二

She sits undisturbed
Shakyamuni by her side.
You can wave at her, she
will pay you no mind.

You cannot grasp her mind
and maintain a hold
on your own, you will grow
deaf from the chatter
but a child can curl
at her feet and she
will stroke his forehead
in perfect Samadhi.


A reflection on Case 42 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)

ENLIGHTENMENT

He wasn’t sure he wanted it,
was fairly certain he did not,
and in that moment,was certain
he would get it, so he began
developing elaborate plans
on what to do with it when it arrived.
He laid them out in painful detail,
each step, each move carefully choreographed.
He waited patiently, each minute
washing into the next until
it was hours, then days, then months.
He reassessed his plans for it,
fine tuned them daily.
He grew older, until one day
he could no longer remember
what it was, and moments
later it arrived, and there it sat
unseen and unrecognized.

MINISTER PEIXIU SEES A PORTRAIT

You are perpetually searching,
but what is it you seek?
If you say it is wisdom,
how will you know it
if it finds you?
You may look
in a thousand mirrors
and no mind
will be seen
in none of them.
You are an oyster,
where is the pearl?


A reflection on Case 9 of the Shobogenzo, the True Dharma Eye

SOZAN’S FOUR DON’TS 鐵笛倒吹 九十二

You may seek to follow
the path of the dove –
a fool knows many roads.
You may wrap yourself
in fine linen – an infant
wears only his skin,
and knows this moment
is already gone.

Think long before you speak
of how to walk
along the path, of where it leads.
The baby says nothing,
will not speak
of where he has been,
where he is going, for him
there is only here,
and silence
is descriptive enough.


A reflection on case 92 of the Iron Flute. 

TE SHAN CARRYING HIS BUNDLE

Enter the room slowly and look carefully,
since you are here to find something.
There is much within this room, but you
can see nothing save the old man,
sitting calmly, staring at nothing, staring
through you at nothing in particular.
You know he is the teacher, the one
for whom you have been searching,
Still, he ignores you, staring at nothing.
You walk around the room, from end
to end to end to end and he does
not move or speak, and so you leave.

He has given a great lesson, do you
appreciate what he has taught you?
You walk away angrily, say that he
is no teacher at all, that you are no
closer to enlightenment leaving
than when you entered, for you
found nothing but yourself.
As you leave the old man bows
as teachers do to Buddhas.


A reflection on Case 4 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)