THAT DOES NOT COMPUTE

The key, he knows is to eliminate the impossible. Once you do that what remains, no matter how improbable must be the truth. Holmes, as it comes out might have been right. Oliver Wendell was, but how can you know when you’ve eliminated all impossibilities? Doyle (Roddy perhaps) would note that improbabilities can look a great deal like impossibilities, but may nevertheless prove to be the truth. We could enlist Watson’s superb mind, but we know just how possessive Gates can be, and it could swing shut on us at any moment.

CHAO CHOU’S FOUR GATES

 

Standing on the edge of the precipice
with your eyes closed,  what will you do?
If I turn you around, where is the edge
and where is the land from which you approached?
If I say you must take a step, do you
gently place your toe out and seek
to feel the earth, seek to know where air is,
or do you step out boldly, certain
that you will not fall into the abyss?
From your position on the mat,
the mind is an abyss is all around you,
so you may step out of your thoughts
without care, for all four gates
are open to the ungrasping mind.
And you just might meet Chao Chou
on the path on which you choose to tread.


A reflection on case 9 of the Hekiganroku (The Blue Cliff Record)

JOSHU’S FOUR GATES 正法眼蔵 四十六

If you ask me 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 under a gate
in which direction
am I headed?


A reflection on Case 46 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

MANDALA

Day one, and they are hunched
over the mat meticulously drawing
faintly on its deep blue surface.
Day two and sitting, leaning forward
they precisely place
the first grains of sand.
Day three, the same
and the picture begins to emerge
though they dare not breathe.
Day upon day, minute upon minute
hours on end they place the sand
until the almost electric mandala
rises off the mat, and even we
can imagine Buddha’s home,
only wishing we could enter
any of its four gates
and find the compassion within.
Today, day six it is done,
and they gently sweep
all the sand and carry it
to the river where its blessing
may go wherever the river
carries it, and we bid it
a sad and joyous farewell.