Pause and consider why so many questions require you, you feel, to consult your watch, to call up a calendar, to appoint time. Time has no appointments, time is not an arrow, though we strive always to aim it, to send it flying in our desired direction. Time is a point in space, surrounded by all ten directions, going toward none of them. Ask why this moment is not enough, why you need the next though it does not exist. What are you trying to escape by searching for tomorrow, lingering in yesterday? Yesterday no longer exists, so why do you assume tomorrow does, and what of this moment, which exists only now, and what of the red leaf sitting in mid-air awaiting your awed attention?
A reflection on Case 6 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
Today’s prayer shall be recited in silence, total, not even the breath indicating a longing for action. Nor will it invoke a holy spirit without us for it is we who we must inveigh to attain the desired actions for which we seek holy intervention, casting off free will, an accrediting poor decisions, a goat where we seek escape and atonement for the sins of all the others. Today’s prayer shall not be recited at all, but it is this prayer in which we find absolution.
In setting along the path do you follow Hofuku covering your eyes so as not to see evil, ears so as not to hear it and close your mind to wandering ideas or is Jizo’s path yours as well?
With eyes shut tight the mind will still see, with ears covered sound will echo, growing louder with no hope of escape. With open eyes light is reflected, with ears open fully, sound passes freely and flitters away and the empty bowl is filled with potential.
The hardest age by far is the one where you are stuck in the middle, children below, parents above, and utterly no hope of escape from the vise. Things your mother could do effortlessly now seem impossible for her, and those things now need doing immediately. Your children, ever wise at creating novel approaches to anything they want in life regardless of your opinion, suddenly cannot perform the simple tasks they once could, more so if the task takes them away from whatever is their pleasure of the moment. It is this middle period where you cease to live, at least to live fully, taken with tasks above and below, and only in the rare spare moment can you contemplate the tasks you will no longer be able to do as soon as your children cease to be a burden and can be one
It is a precarious balance, really, more and exercise in tottering and hearing than in standing still. Some prefer stasis, others, I included, find it leads inevitably to a loss of energy, to an entropy from which it is difficult to escape. I don’t walk along the edge of the precipice, but I do peer over amazed at what lies below that I hope to never see up close. Is a precarious balance, but one that can be maintained if you just close your eyes and sense what actually lies around and beneath you.
It was tacky then, it’s epitome and six decades and unknown views later it hasn’t changed at all. You don’t expect tackiness to accrete, yet like a black hole this is irrefutable evidence it has. To say it is garish to insult the term, since it is so much more, beyond anything the term can describe. It has grown uglier, something not thought possible, yet here it is. You cannot fathom why Mexico, which truly lies just south of the border, has not filed a diplomatic protest over this quintessential insult. In Jalisco state, you imagine A thousand Pedro’s would cringe if they knew what had been wrought in their name, and the South Carolina state police, you think, they just up the road knowing the wiser travelers will step on the gas in a vain attempt to escape.
In our small world night and day are separated by dreams that escape just beyond our consciousness. We search for deeper meaning even as we are certain they will leave us as they have long before we could remember. That is the trouble with margins, they ebb and flow without warning, their arrivals and departures unannounced, so listen carefully and embrace the silence.
The youngest child, her mind uncluttered, can answer any question unburdened by words, and her answers can only rebound across the universe. If you stop struggling to hear her, let the silence surround you both, you cannot escape the answers.
A reflection on case 84 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye)