EPITAPH FOR ANOTHER DAY

When I write the story
of my life, it will not be
me standing by the sea
staff in hand, waiting
for the waters to part.
It will be sand, endless
seas of sand, piled
around my feet.
I will not recount ten plagues
for there is only one
that matters at all
and it was not
terribly exciting,
no generation perished,
we weren’t overrun
with frogs or vermin
save the odd infestation
of cockroaches
and the passing rat
that makes faces
at the cat cowering
in the corner.
I could have climbed
that damned mountain,
but the thought of dragging
two great tablets back down
with the poor footing,
it just wasn’t worth it.
It has been over forty years
wallowing around in the sand
until it caked between my toes
and not a cursed thing
has happened, just sand
and writing on the sand
grows tiresome
after the first breeze.
Actually I don’t care
if I never see this new land, just
get me away
from this godawful sand.

First appeared in KotaPress Poetry Journal, Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2000
http://www.kotapress.com/journal/Archive/journal_V2_Issue1/journal28.htm

NANSEN’S CONTENT AND CONTAINER

Bring me your mind
but leave the body behind,
this is what you must do
to attain enlightenment.
You may sit where you are
in total silence, or
you may come over here
and sit quietly at my feet.
Both paths lead
deeply into the way.

A reflection on Case 64 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)

HOFUKO’S POINT OF ATTAINMENT

You may ask many things
of any teacher you meet
but the wisest of them
will only offer you
unending questions.
When you look to them
to point you to the Way
they are doomed to failure
for your feet obscure
the Way, and it is only
by looking within
and down through your legs
and feet and toes
that you can see the way

A reflection on Case 63 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)

UMMON’S TWO SICKNESSES

As you wander
your path, what is it
that you search for?

When you seek
instruction from a master
what is it you expect
him to provide you?

When you sit
still on the cushion
you may find a moment
of kensho, but
labeling that moment
destroys it.

Enlightenment cannot
be described
for attaching words
brings it to the ground
as rubble around
your feet.

A reflection on Case 11 of the Book of Equanimity (SHôYôROKU 従容錄)

BASO’S WHITE AND BLACK

I know you have
a single question for which
an answer will enlighten you.
Neither Baso, Chizo nor Kai
are here so you are asking me.

The answer is simple:
cover your ears tightly
and listen while I speak
with closed mouth,
watch my feet dance
in joy as they do not move.
If the answer is not apparent,
ask Chizo, Baso and Kai
to speak from beyond the grave.

A reflection on case 6 of the Book of Equanimity Koans

SITTING WATCHING

Of course when we lived
up north we wouldn’t
have imagined this, sitting
on our lanai watching the sun
set the patchy sky ablaze
sipping small glasses of port
and wondering if a light
jacket might be in order,
as the beaver moon
of November waxes slowly.

The cat, curled at our feet
cannot imagine the icy wind
howling down the street,
the foreboding clouds offering
their first flakes, knowing
this is a small taste of what
nature will bring forth
before we could again sit
in shirtsleeves on our porch.

THE WORLD-HONORED ONE POINTS TO THE EARTH

As you wander around
looking for a place
to build a temple,
looking for eden,
looking for nirvana,
stop and simply sit,
listen to the breeze
teaching you the Dharma,
the clouds chanting
the sutras in a harmony
beyond your hearing.
Look down for you
are in your temple,
sitting in eden
nirvana at your feet.

A reflection on case 4 of the Book of Equanimity Koans

Atop the Pole 無門關 四十六

Sitting atop a hundred foot pole
you are convinced there are
only two directions: pole and down.
Old Osho asks, how will you proceed
and you stare back at this lunatic.
How will you proceed, he repeats?

You release the pole
step slowly away, looking
at ten directions before you,
you move your feet, each one
touches the path of each
of the three worlds and Osho
gently touching your elbow
walks a bit by your side.

A reflection on case 46 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate) Koans.

SEIGAN’S COST OF RICE

You may wander

endlessly in search

of the true dharma.

It is not under that rock,

not in those bushes,

not around the next bend.

Look down and ask

yourself where

are you standing

in this moment,

then gently lift 

your feet off

of the heart

of the dharma

A reflection on case 5 of the Book of Equanimity koans.