DOGO’S GREATEST DEPTH 鐵笛倒吹 六十六

If you walk into the room
and many are meditating
how will you know which
is the teacher, which the students?

If one sits on a higher platform
will you assume him teacher
and ask the depth of his Zen.
If he comes down to you
and says he has no depth to offer
do not think him a fool.
When you sit at the bottom
of the ocean and look down
the water beneath you is shallow
but the surface of the sea
cannot be seen.

A reflection on Case 66 of the Iron Flute Koans

FAITH FULL

It’s a question of faith.
You have to have some
even if you doubt it, in fact
your doubt is proof you have faith
if only in doubt, for you know
you cannot prove doubt,
you just cling to it
as a matter of faith.
Your faith need not be religious
though much of faith is,
it can be philosophical
or whimsical if you prefer.
It can be most anything unless
you are certain of everything
in which case you are immortal,
on death’s doorstep
or simply a fool.

ON A SIDE NOTE, TWO OF MY POEMS WERE JUST PUBLISHED AT GRAND LITTLE THINGS. YOU CAN FIND THEM HERE: https://grand-little-things.com/2020/07/21/two-poems-by-louis-faber/

IDEOGRAPHING MIND 鐵笛倒吹 四十六

If you will mark your gate
what word will you use,
what for the door, what
for the window?
The gate knows quite well
what it is, as to door and window
and need no marking.

Even the fool knows
through each you
may enter the house,
but even the wise man
cannot tell you
how the house may enter you.

A reflection on case 46 of the Iron Flute Koans

ISAN’S I HAVE EXHAUSTED MYSELF 正法眼蔵 四十四

Approach the master
sitting on his seat.
The fool will seek answers
having slept through the lesson
but the wise student will bow
silently and retreat
having learned all there is
and knowing absolutely nothing.


A reflection on case 44 of Dogen’s True Dharma Eye Koans

ISAN’S I HAVE EXHAUSTED MYSELF 正法眼蔵 四十四

Approach the master
sitting on his seat.
The fool will seek answers
having slept through the lesson
but the wise student will bow
silently and retreat
having learned all there is
and knowing absolutely nothing.


A reflection on Case 44 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Mind)

ON THE ROAD TO NIRVANA

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.

WINTER, AGAIN

The snow began falling this morning
the dry, almost greasy snow that defies
the plows running up and down the streets,
too shallow for the salters to begin.
Cars slide to a stop, or nearly so,
at the intersection, and you know
it is merely a matter of time before two
will simultaneously, and there will be
a loud crunch of metal, gesticulating of hands,
He would stay and watch, as he does
auto racing, but the temperature
has breached single digits, the wind
has taken up winter’s challenge, and
he knows only a fool would
venture or stay out in this.

TOZAN’S ADVICE 鐵笛倒吹 七十七

If I tell you there is
a still more precious gem
will you ask “what is it?”
If I respond “it is not a diamond:
what will you do then?

The wealthy fool
will throw off his rings
and begin a futile search.
Are you such a fool,
or do you look inside
secure in knowing
the greatest gem
lies waiting within.


A reflection on Case 77 of the Iron Flute Koans

A MONK IN MEDITATION 鐵笛倒吹 七十語

A man may own
may volumes of great knowledge
and never have time to read.
An illiterate may take such books
and fashion a stool
on which to sit in meditation.

Which of these is truly wise
which the greatest fool.
Wipe your mouth
with this page
at the conclusion
of the meal.


A reflection on Case 75 of the Iron Flute Koans.