SEPPO CUTS TREES 鐵笛倒吹 二十三

Will you spend
all of your time
sharpening the blade
or will you use it on the tree
and if you strike the pith
what will you say then?

To speak of the sap
flowing freely from
the wound of the axe
is utter foolishness
it has no taste on the finger
better to feel
the blow of the stick.


A reflection on Case 23 of the Iron Flute Koans

JOSHU INVESTIGATES AN OLD WOMAN 無門關 三十一

In searching for the path
to the holy mountain
you may ask directions
of the old tea lady
sitting still at its base
and she may point

but placing one foot
ahead of the other
stare closely at the tea leaves
for they, too, know the Way.


A reflection on Case 31 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate) Koans

THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL 鐵笛倒吹 六十九

Standing at the window
looking down on the street
is the passing man enlightened?
Call out this question to him.
If he looks upward and says yes
what do you know of his enlightenment?

Looking at a flower
is it different than its seed.
If you hold a seed in your hand
what can you say of the flower
that may some day appear.


A reflection on Case 69 of the Iron Flute Koans.

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THE MIDDLE WAY

George Harrison said that if
you don’t know where you
are going, any road will
take you there, and on reflection
it was obvious he was correct..
Today, rising from the cushion,
the four vows recited, Buddha
put back on his small altar,
Harrison’s words echoed loudly
for he understood in a moment
what it has taken me years
to grasp, for all roads lead
to enlightenment if you
simply stop searching for it.
Somewhere the spirit
of our departed George
was laughing with me
in this moment.

ON THE ROAD TO NIRVANA

S: What are you doing, for heaven sake?
H: Isn’t it obvious, I’m searching
     for Nirvana, for enlightenment.
S: You silly fool, it’s right behind you!
H: (turning suddenly) It is not,
     I would certainly see it.
S: You might think so, but
     it is still right behind you!
H: But why, tell me, can’t I see it?
S: Because you’re looking for it
     always peering outward,
     but if you look inward
     behind your eyes, you
     won’t be able to miss it.

TEN FOLD PATH (PT. 2)

6.

Ox and man
walk the dusty
path to the small hut
sit along the fence
and look deeply
into the bottomless
night sky
as they have
for the endless
journey

埃だらけの道をたどって
男と牛は小屋をめざす
塀にもたれて腰かけ
果てのない夜空を見つめる
終わりのない旅路で
いつもそうしてきたように

7.

Each morning
the man senses the ox
is in the pen, the ox
smells the man
in the small
slowly collapsing hut.
there is no ox
there is no hut

毎朝男は
牛舎に牛の気配を感じ
牛はゆっくりと朽ち果てていく小屋の中に
男の息づかいを感じとる
小屋はなく、牛もいない

8.
No man
そして男も

9.

a brilliant sky
painted neon
a rhapsodic stream
stones clattering together
in equipoise rhythm
the cedar smells faintly
sweet in the honeyed rain
of early autumn.
All is present, unnamed
unnamable.

青く澄み渡った空
滔々と流れる小川に
小石が奏でる単調なリズム
かすかな杉の香りが
初秋のやさしい雨に甘く漂う
何もかもがここにあり
名前はいらない

10.

Old man, now,
steps toward the market
one among hundreds
he sips sake
speaks to many
many men, women, children
many oxen emerge.

年老いた男は市場に向かう
時折酒を飲みながら
数知れぬ男や女、子供たちと
道すがら言葉を交わしながら
ふと気づくと、
どこからかたくさんの牛が現れる