ETERNITY OR A WEEK

He only wants to live
forever, or if not, at least
until a week from Thursday.
Important things always happen
on Wednesdays, he is convinced.
He has no logical reason
for his belief, but it is his
and he will not be shaken from it.
“It is a matter of faith,” he says
“and you can borrow it or leave it,
but it’s mine.” He does like
to own things, and ideas are
the greatest things in his world.
He is certain he will die
on a Wednesday, not that his death
will be all that important, though
he wouldn’t mind it so,
but he wants to be cremated,
wants some of his ashes left
in a church, any church, just
to let them know we are all
created in God’s image
and this Wednesday will
for him, Ash Wednesday.

COSHAN’S DHARMAKAYA

He spends considerable time
looking in the mirror
trying hard to see what is there,
to see inside himself, to truly
see himself as he imagines others see him.
The mirror denies him a static image,
it is always shifting, and try
though he might to grasp one single image
he finds it impossible and always
gives up in frustration. Still
he tries again the next day,
and the next after that, never
attaining his desired objective.
Ask yourself, what is his failure?
If he would become the mirror,
then, and only then, he might see himself,
rather than a mere image on glass.


A reflection on case 125 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye)

WWJD?

He walks into the room
hoping he won’t be seen
and if seen, won’t be recognized.
Not many know him,
none, he is certain, truly
know him, merely his image
and the idea they have of him.
It has been this way
for centuries, and he can barely
recall the acts done, the words
spoken in his name.
He has been here forever
but they wait, patiently,
expecting a return
he cannot make until
they let go of their dreams
and see the reality of him.

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)