JOSHU’S FOUR GATES 正法眼蔵 四十六

If you ask who I am
I will have you close your eyes
and walk behind you,
or I may step to your left
and take your right hand.
If you are perplexed,
I will ask you, do the four
gates open into the city
or out to the world beyond,
and if I stand still sideways
under a gate
in which direction
am I headed?


A reflection on case 46 of Dogen’s True Dharma Eye (Shobogenzo).

WITHOUT WITHIN

When you peer through the glass
are you looking out, or
are you looking in, and how
would you know which is true,
and does it matter.
When you walk through a gate
are you entering or leaving.
If you ask where the gate
is located, you cannot find
where you are going,
for all gates lead nowhere
except where you are,
and if you are not at the gate
you might as well
just look through a window
and ask yourself should you
look in or out of the window
to find the missing gate?

ENTER EXITS

He says doors
and windows
are to enable us
to come within,
to be safe from all
that is outside,
to make this space
a sanctuary.
She says windows
and doors
are to allow us
to merge with the sky,
taste the river,
and sing songs
taught us by the moon.
The doors and windows
know well they
do not divide
here and there,
the last moment
and the next –
they are illusions
stretched across
the margins of reality
and will disappear
with a fleeting thought.