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.
It is a precarious balance, really,
more an exercise in tottering and teetering
than and 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.
It 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.
When you speak the words
of the Buddha you are lost.
Light is everywhere in silence
but the tongue must hide
in the dark of the mouth.
Buddha’s words are flowers
unfolding in the dawn
by the side of the still pond,
the eyes hear the song
and respond in silent chorus.
A reflection on case 39 of the Mumonkan (The Gateless Gate)
You are forever seeking
the path, as though
it will give you a sign.
Seeking the Buddha is good
but looking for him
is ultimate futility
for the eyes are incapable
of looking within.
A reflection on Case 30 of the Mumonkan (The Gateless Gate)
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).
If you are truly looking for the way
why do you insist on using your eyes.
Any teacher will tell you that your eyes
see nothing, they are only lenses through which
a delusion is created in the mind.
The mind has no eyes, but it is all
that enables you to see anything.
So abandon the eyes that see nothing,
and the mind that only thinks it sees.
Settle on the cushion until you
and the earth and the sky are one,
indistinguishable from each other,
and everything, which is nothing,
will appear before you if only
you refuse to acknowledge it.
A reflection on Case 4 of the Bring Me the Rhinoceros koans.
Along the river this morning, the gulls
stood on fence stanchions watching
the parade of walkers, runners, bikers
like them ignoring the river, intent
on logging the daily miles, oblivious
to the panorama that lies just beyond
our closely focussed eyes.
The gulls offer a piercing commentary,
and that is something we notice,
and so unlike the Egyptian Geese
of our Florida home, who chatter
incessantly along our walks,
like so many old men sitting
much of the day in Riverside Park
staring out over the Hudson River
trying to clear phlegmy throats.