DONGSHAN’S ILLNESS

When someone says you are
not looking at all well,
who is it that is ailing?
When that person says you
looked better the last time
he saw you, which you did he see?
If you look in the mirror
do you see someone looking ill,
and if you do, who is that person,
for you are the one looking
and not the one looked at.


A reflection on case 98 of the Hekiganroku, True Dharma Eye

MIRRORED

It isn’t the seeing of something
that matters, for what is seen
was there to be seen so seeing
is just its natural consequence.
It is only when you label it, give
it a name that it ceases to exist,
for you at least, for at that moment
what exists is the label and no longer
the thing that was labeled, so
language always keeps us
from experiencing life, renders us
observers of the things we
no longer co-experience.
It is much like looking in the mirror
and imagining you see yourself
when all you see is the polished
surface of the glass, and while
you may be many things, we
are reasonably certain that
reflective glass was never one of them.

DEAR CASS

She’s getting downright boring,
every night lying up there,
staring down when she decides
to part the clouds, saying nothing,
as though all of the words of praise
for her must come for us, unreturned.
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised
by her vanity, it is why, after all,
she is up there now, unable to move
and we have to accept that our words
are small salve to her when the gods
invert her, and she is left
to gaze down upon us in her mirror
when she bothers to stop
gazing at her own image, but she says,
“I have all eternity, Poseidon be damned.”

KANNON’S STATUE 鐵笛倒吹 語十八

If you meet the Bodhisattva,
you don’t ask someone
to carve the image from your mind.
To the carver, she weighs but an ounce
and can be carried
on his fingertip
but try to lift her
and you will not be able
to move her from her place.

All Buddhas
are one Buddha
but his Buddha
will never be
your Buddha.


A reflection on case 58 of the Iron Flute (Tetteki Tosui)

TREACHERY

René Magritte was born and died
in Belgium, neither happened
on this day, but he painted
a most realistic picture of a pipe,
which he captioned “Ceci N’est Pas
Une Pipe,” which of course it was not
since it was only a picture of a pipe
and he entitled the work
The Treachery of Images.
This brings to mind a question:
if I say, Ceci est une poeme,
is that true, or am I engaging
in a mere treachery of words?
Draw me a picture of your answer,
if you would be so kind.

CREATION

God created man in God’s image
much as man created God in his.
If there were no God, there
could be no man, and yet,
if there were no man,
there would be no God.
Perhaps Aristotle had it right
but certainly easier, noting
that bird and egg must
have always existed, and so
for that moment, Aristotle
without knowing it,
created both man and God.