What were you doing
three days ago
and what will you do
three days from now.
Are you the same person now
as you were, will be?
While your face in the mirrorKoan
seems much the same
each day you die a bit
each day you are reborn.
A thousand days
a thousand years
a passing moment,
how do they differ?
A reflection on Case 68 of the Iron Flute Koans
As it turns out, life
is an ongoing process of accretion
and deconstruction, of growth
and eventual shrinkage.
I started with 20 teeth
I am told, and got to 32,
only to fall back to 23
thanks to orthodontia and wear.
We start with 270 or more
bones, but we knit that number
down to 206, or in my case under
200, the orthopaedist’s handiwork.
And with time we progress
from diapers and being pushed
around to walking, running,
driving ourselves in many ways,
but in the end, for many of us,
we revert to childhood, but one
where the future is behind us,
and the past is that to which we cling.
He would be the first to admit
that he hated most things avant-garde
particularly when it applied
to either art or music.
It was simply a matter of being
in the moment, and he knew
you could not be ahead of time
for there was only the moment
in which you were in.
It would help, she said, if you
would stop imagining your life
as a barge moving slowly down
the Mississippi River, one
in an endless procession, following
like so many lemmings looking
without hope of finding a cliff.
Yes, she adds, from time to time
one may break free, it happens
but you have to admit that is
usually a disaster requiring
a significant clean up, not
to mention countless hours
of hand-wringing and questions
as to just how something
so untoward could have happened.
And, she concluded, it
just so happens that I
am sick and tired
of dragging you along
on my path to the Gulf.
It is of little surprise that we find
this a dizzying world, for we always
try to look forward, but since the future
is often vague, we try and keep one eye
on the past to understand what
our other eye is poorly seeing.
The mind does not care to be
pulled in two directions at once,
objects with stabbing pains, and
when that fails to correct us,
a weariness we cannot overcome.
The Buddha would tell you
it is best to keep both eyes
in the present, to focus softly
and see what is there without
judgement or preconception, to simply
be, assured that all senses are
merely crude tools to shape what
is amorphous into something we
can grasp and file, but time itself knows
there is nothing more than now, ever.
For Something Different, a new bird photo each day, visit my other blog:
He hangs on the guest room wall,
simply framed in black, adjoining
his more ornate, Cheshire-
cat smiling sister. He isn’t brooding
really, there is just a certain needful
sadness, as he stares out, imagining
how he pictured things would be,
how they were supposed to be,
realizing here, they never were,
never will be, and although there is
no failure, no blame, he wears it
as his personal armor, still
so easily pierced by dreams.
We spend far too much time
clinging to what was
as the flames fade,
and far too little time
feeding the fire
what could be.
If you are patient and do not
look for it, there is a still moment
in each day when nothing at all happens,
when the silence without
demands a silence within,
when thoughts evaporate
like the mist of an early morning dew,
when you have precisely enough
and cannot imagine needing more,
when where you are is where you must be,
when the past and future float off
and their gravitational pull on you breaks,
and you simply are in the only moment there is.
Before the after
now is present.
It was never
like this before
it will not be
again anytime soon
for there is
no time soon
that has yet to be
or just gone by.
After the before
we find ourselves
here and now.
It was easier being Buddhist
when I was young, despite
the fact I had no good idea
what Buddhism truly was.
for a child the moment is all
there is, the past so short that
it means nothing, the future something
that will arrive as and when it wishes.
For a child, things will go wrong,
and do so with fair regularity,
but children are also physicists,
and the Lorenz effect guarantees
that it was never really their fault,
and when all else fails, they
simply blame karma.