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.

AN INKLING

 

He says he has discovered that the best
way for him to write is to ignore the pen
totally, to just let it lie on the desk doing nothing.
It should be in close proximity to paper,
for pens need that to complete their existence
or at least to give them purpose to go on.
He also needs to avoid the siren’s call
the emanates from the keyboard
far too frequently for his taste.
No one is willing to believe him, “Just write,”
they say, but he knows that words
are merely that, and meaningless without
the context only a reader can provide,
even if that reader is he, and so he stares
at the pen and page and in time
he becomes aware that the pen is ready
and then, and only then, does he allow it
to move his hand across the paper.

ROYA’S MOUNTAINS AND RIVERS

If I ask you
to look out the window
and tell me what is there,
what will you say?
If you say there are trees
and a house in the distance,
I will tell you
to tell me what is there,
not what you mind creates.
If you again tell me
there are trees and
in the distance a house,
I will walk away,
for you have given me
only words and that
for which I asked.


A reflection on Case 100 of the Book of Equanimity