When you look in the mirror
do you hope to see yourself,
and who is that face that stares back?
If you turn out the light, are you
still there in the mirror, or has
the illusion of you disappeared?
If you crack the mirror, do you
feel the pain of the scar across your face?
You cannot hope to see yourself, for
you would then cease to be you,
and the mirror would stare and see nothing.
You cannot search for the Buddha
for in looking you make finding impossible.
All this looking and so
very little being, so just be.
A reflection on Case 7 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
The question is a simple one, really,
but not one you were expecting, which
is why you sit and grapple for an answer.
Ask yourself, what if no answer is needed,
what if there is no answer, can you
remain silent, or will you feel somehow
incomplete if you do not respond?
All answers are correct, but beware,
for all answers are incorrect as well.
Now consider the question again, carefully,
what do you respond when you are asked
once again, insistently, “who are you?”
Be very careful, for if you gaze
into a mirror you will see someone else,
and if you say that person is you,
you will most certainly disappear.
A reflection on Case 8 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
You are certain the key
is to sit, for that is what
your teacher has told you, that
is the practice set out for you.
When you feel you have not attained
your goal on the path, you assume
it is because you have not sat
still enough, long enough, deeply enough.
A wise sage would tell you
that sitting is a step
along the path, but that you
can never be still in sitting, for
the place in which you sit
in this moment cannot be
the place in which you sat the last,
or the place you will sit the next.
So do not move and progress
along the path spread out before you.
A reflection on Case 17 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
You have heard that when
the student is ready the teacher appears,
and you believe you are ready,
but no teacher has appeared.
I can tell you
that you are ready,
that you will never be ready,
that I am not the teacher,
that the teacher is here,
that the teacher will never appear.
The path you seek to find
with a teacher
is all around you,
there is no path to find.
If I give you a small bowl and you
stand by a lake of fresh water
just how much water
can you hope to drink?
A reflection on case 11 of the Hekiganroku
Life is joy and pain,
two sides, one coin –
death is caused by birth –
stop and consider this.
Look into the face
of the evening sun,
will it retreat
from your eyes
or linger in memory?
Look into the face
of the full midnight moon,
does she have
the sun’s face
only until morning?
A reflection on Case 3 of the Blue Cliff Record (碧巌録)
TE SHAN CARRIES HIS BUNDLE
Walking in the room you
cast your eyes about, looking
for something, although you
cannot say what it is
that you look for, and you
cannot believe you will
not find it, for you think
you will know what it is
only when you see it.
The person who sees
an empty room and knows
in that moment that it
is full, that person
has found his teacher
and has learned the lesson.
The empty cup is full
and the full cup empty,
so listen to the silence
and learn well what it says.