REFUSE TO RECALL

We have now forgotten what
it is like to take flight, to seek,
to finally find a true freedom
from an always grasping land.

Once we did it out of necessity,
lives incomplete, prisoners
who committed no crime
save those of thought and faith.

Now we only claim to admire
those who seek what we
once did, watch them with
mock awe, but deny them

perch when the journey
for them could end, and even
the birds now shun us, for our
lack of compassion and memory.

BLUES

He is for it or he is
against it, and if you could
predict the vacillations you
could develop the means
of measuring the flux of sanity.

You could as easily grasp
the water flowing downriver
and by asking select questions
determine the next heavy rain,

but the odds are good
you will be outside when
the deluge begins, and
only its ultimate weight
and duration remain to be felt.

It all comes down to the same
thing, if you could paint the sky
blue, precisely which shade
of blue would you use and why
that one for heaven’s sake

SOUTHERN MOUNTAIN

When you visit the Southern Mountain
what will you say
of its Northern brother?
Returning northward what words
will best describe the Southern peak?

Answer carefully after much thought
or remain silent, both choices
are yours to select, as both
mountains caress the passing clouds
and reach out for the sun
which neither may grasp.


A reflection on case 42 of the Iron Flute Koans

SOUTHERN MOUNTAIN 鐵笛倒吹 四十二

When you visit the Southern Mountain
what will you say
of its Northern brother?
Returning northward what words
will best describe the Southern peak?

Answer carefully after much thought
or remain silent, both choices
are yours to select, as both
mountains caress the passing clouds
and reach out for the sun
which neither may grasp.


A reflection on case 42 of the Iron Flute Koans.

RE-ENTRY ALLOWED

He sits on the cushion
staring through hooded eyes
at the wall in front of him.
He expects exactly nothing to happen,
expects there to be no sound
within his mind, only what
happens without, expects that time
will cease for him, or
will at least cease to matter.
He is not disappointed.
The bell rings, he arises,
and walks back into the world
where everything happens,
there is only sound, and
he stares at his watch knowing
time has moved on in ways
he can never hope to fully grasp.

NAMASTE

If you stare at it
very closely and carefully
you will soon see that deep
within it there is silence.
You may take it with you,
it will go along willingly,
but if only you
don’t try and grasp it.
It is soft to the touch, certainly,
and has a sweetness that settles
gently into the heart, it shimmers
as it should, so enjoy it, for it,
unlike you or I,
is truly immortal.

WORLD HONORED ONE ASCENDS THE SEAT

If you sit patiently enough,
and sit long enough, just perhaps
the teacher will acknowledge you.
If he holds out his arms and offers you
the heart of the Dharma, will you
grasp it and hold it closely?
If you try and grasp it
it will slip through your fingers,
disappear from sight, lost forever.
If you nod in appreciation,
hands in gassho and simply bow,
then turn and leave the room,
you will carry it with you
and no one will be able
to take it from you although
you are free to give it away.


A reflection on case 92 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)

ISAN’S TIME 鐵笛倒吹 十六

A cold day —
how many other winters
can you remember,
how many future winters
can your mind grasp?

Can you hold yesterday
in the palm of your hand
can you wrap tomorrow
around your thumb?

Between the palms
in gassho
lies all life and being.


A reflection on case 10 of the Iron Flute.