SOZAN’S FOUR DON’TS 鐵笛倒吹 九十二

You may seek to follow
the path of the dove
a fool know many roads.
You may wrap yourself
in fine linen, an infant
wears only his skin
and knows this moment
is already gone.

Think long before you speak
of how to walk
along the path, of where it leads.
The baby says nothing,
will not speak of where
he has been,
where he is going, for to him
there is only here,
and silence
is descriptive enough.


A reflection on case 92 of the Iron Flute Koans

NOT HERE

Between now and eventually lies all of history. We are unable to see it
though it lies in our field of vision. That’s the problem, we only know
how to look backward. We are barely able to see where we are. It isn’t
that we don’t want to be here, merely that here is difficult to see, for
we have a tendency to block our vision. Imagine a map with an X or other
marker saying “You are Here.” Yet seeing that, we know we are not there, for
in that instant we will look down and see where we truly are. But the better
statement to the “you are here” sign is not to call it wrong, but rather
to simply ask it, how did you know. It will answer, your visit was history
lying between my now and my eventually.

ARRIVAL

He arrived this afternoon,
but she stayed only briefly
and then departed silently.
I did not see her arrive,
did not sense his stay
but am certain he was there,
just as I am certain
he has never been here.
When she is here, you
cannot see her, when
she is gone, your memory
is a mere delusion, and
grasping it is graspng air.
Breathing in, the air
is his breath, and breathing
out the breath is hers,
and this is kensho.

NOT OVER THE RAINBOW

It seems odd now, that he is here,
a place he never intended to be,
as it was a place he could not imagine,
yet he most certainly was here.
If you asked him why he was here,
he would answer that he had to be
somewhere, and here is where it was,
just as your being here is just
as it had to be, for you are here.
He points to a sign over his palette bed,
which simply reads “You Are Here,”
and says, I take it everywhere I go
and it has never been wrong yet.
The bell rings for the evening zazen
and as he assumes his place on the mat,
the Buddha seems to smile and say
to us both, You are where you should be.

WHERE?

 

Take the pencil in hand
and grasp it firmly and flex
and extend your wrist until loose.
On a clean sheet of paper
mark a small X which will become
of great importance shortly.
Look around you in all directions,
starting as close to yourself
as possible and expanding out
as far as the eye can see,
noting the relative position
of things that you see which
might serve as points of reference.
Now imagine you are looking
down on this scene from high above,
and draw what your eyes have seen.
Once this is done, carefully
write next to the X you have made,
“I am here,” and then do not
move lest your work was in vain.

DIRECT ROUTE

He would rather be from somewhere.
Where he is or is not going
matters very little to him now,
he will be where he will be, will go
where he needs or wants to go
or is taken, and when there,
that is where he should be, so
being there is no problem.
But until recently he was from
nowhere and that is not
a comfortable place, it is
really no place at all.
Now, at least, he is half
from somewhere certain, and
the other half at least fits
on a small portion of a map
and somewhere, he will gladly
tell you, is so very much
better than nowhere, for somewhere
can be found if you have the right map.