SILENCE

She only wants to know
what lies deep within silence.
He says he imagines it
is a place he can never visit
locked away from humans,
whose minds deny the quiet.
She says she is willing
to continue the search,
for even if she cannot find it,
she may find something like it,
and that respite would
be sufficient for her.
He says he fears silence,
for the loss of all
of his delusions would be
far too much for him to bear.

A MISTAKE IN SPEAKING 無門關 三十九

When you speak the words
of the Buddha you are lost.
Light is everywhere in silence
but the tongue must hide
in the dark of the mouth.

Buddha’s words are flowers
unfolding in the dawn
by the side of the still pond,
the eyes hear the song
and respond in silent chorus.


A reflection on case 39 of the Mumonkan (The Gateless Gate)

NOTELESS

He says, “I write songs
without music, my head
is a libretto warehouse.”
She says, “You string words
like random beads, no
two strands the same.”
He says, “Symmetry is
for those with linear minds,
who can’t see out of the tunnel.”
She said, “Dysentery
is a disease to be avoided
particularly by poets.”
He says, “I’ll sing a song
for you, if I can only
find the notes.”
Se says, “fine, but know
it is the silent spaces between
the notes where music truly lives.

HEART OF NIGHT

The morphology of dreams
is partially reliant
on the whims of a single
god, and Morpheus
is, to say the least,
a truly fickle bastard
who dangles before us
joy and nightmare
each always just
out of reach, but never
out of sight or hearing.
So we are left
to grasp like marionettes
operated by an unseen hand.

TOKUSAN’S ASSEMBLY 正法眼蔵 三十六

When the Buddha offered
true wisdom, no one
was present to hear it.
Those who were not there
understood it fully.
Where will you look
for true wisdom?
Will your ears here
what your mouth cannot say?
Only with closed eyes
will the light become clear.


A reflection on Case 36 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye).