SHE HOPES

Faith is something, she says,
that everyone has, it is just
that some don’t recognize it,
even while the coin is flipping
through the air and the desired
outcome is whispered in the mind.
She believes that life is a joy,
but that it is also
heaven’s waiting room, and while
there may be a trap door out,
she knows where it is and can avoid it.
She says she’s enjoying the show
but this is just the opening act
and it’s the headliner she came to see.
He smiles, imaging his next life
certain this is just one life in
and eternal groundhog day of existence.

THE SIXTH ANCESTOR’S “YOUR MIND IS MOVING”

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)

BORDER

He wants to know why
we draw a distinction
between dreams and what
we like to call reality,
as if the former is
somehow less than real.
We want to laugh at him,
but we listen anyway.
If all my senses end up
in my mind then all
that is real is real
only in my mind.
But my dreams exist
in my mind as well,
so they are just as real
as my daytime reality.
And, he added, with
a smirk, nothing is real
at all, but both dreams
and reality are equally real,
and with that, he
closed his eyes and we
all ceased to exist.

ANGUO’S “THE MASTER’S FLESH IS STILL WARM”

If you are asked “who are you?”
how will you reply, and who
is the person asking the question?
If you answer, you are blind
if you say nothing you speak loudly.
The sage will tell you
that there is no you and if
you doubt him he will hold up
a mirror and ask what you see.
If you answer “I see myself”
he will laugh because no one
can see themselves unless
they see everyone, for you
are both the reader
and the writer
of these poor words.


A reflection on case 131 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye)

GONE

The salmon people
don’t live here anymore
you have moved them
up the river, then inland
so they no longer need to wander.

The salmon
do not swim here anymore
you have dammed the rivers
to draw out their power
and penned the mighty fish
where the river first licks the sea.

The eagle doesn’t
fly here anymore
the great pines
that sat for generations
below his aerie are now
cut into neat supports
on which we hang our walls.

Our children
do not run here anymore
they have moved
to the cities, have gone off
to wars for fighting
is the only job
which they are given.

We have no rivers
we have no salmon
we have no sons, save those
who sleep under neat white stones.
We look for the eagle
a mighty spirit
but he, too, has been claimed
by the others
to decorate their buildings.
We have only our spirit
to guide us and we know
that soon you will claim them too
and leave us as you arrived
to repeat the sad story.

NOT OVER THE RAINBOW

It seems odd now, that he is here,
a place he never intended to be,
as it was a place he could not imagine,
yet he most certainly was here.
If you asked him why he was here,
he would answer that he had to be
somewhere, and here is where it was,
just as your being here is just
as it had to be, for you are here.
He points to a sign over his palette bed,
which simply reads “You Are Here,”
and says, I take it everywhere I go
and it has never been wrong yet.
The bell rings for the evening zazen
and as he assumes his place on the mat,
the Buddha seems to smile and say
to us both, You are where you should be.

A POINTED REPLY

Between this point and that
lies a vast uncharted space
noted on every cartographers chart.
If you ask how this
could be possible, I reply
it’s like listening to silence
and hearing each sound
deeply embedded in the one
next to it, a glissando of
what exactly? Uncertainty?
That is the whole point
in the final analysis, for
between that point and this one
everything exists in that one place.