TIPPING THE WATER BOTTLE 無門關 四十

These few words
gathered neatly on a scrap
of simple paper,
what do you call it?

Answer carefully for you response
may carry the keys
to the doors of Mount Tai-i.
Better still, upend
the water bottle, watch
the ink and water form
a gentle pool into which
no pebble drops.


A reflection on Case 40 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)

THROUGH THE GATE: FURTHER REFLECTIONS ON THE MUMONKON

The Beardless Barbarian       無門關 四     

A young child

has no beard.

 

In one dream

you are bearded

and awake clean shaven.

 

In one dream

you are clean shaven

and awake rubbing your long beard.

 

When you meet your dreams

and when your dreams meet you,

which is real, Wakuan asks.

 

Man Up a Tree          無門關 語     

One armed monk

clings precariously

to the sagging limb

over the abyss.

 

Kyogen smiles, “Old man

you are starving

and soon

will be too weak

to grasp that branch.”

 

He places an apple

on the branch

for the old man.

 

“Your suffering

is completed.”

 

Buddha Holds Out a Flower     無門關 六     

Shakyamuni

holds up a fading

lotus flower

and we sit silently

 

awaiting, not knowing

patient, afraid to smile

to move, to shift posture

mudra

 

one smiles,

dharma is transmitted,

the kensho

of yellowed teeth.


Wash Your Bowl               無門關 七     

There is no stick, no shout

we go uninstructed

on a full stomach.

 

We do not see water

in the midst of an ocean.

 

We are given a sink

full of breakfast bowls, plates,

cups and spoons.

 

Handlessly we perform

our task and sit

to lunch with Joshu.