TIPPING THE WATER BOTTLE 無門關 四十

 

These few words
gathered neatly on a scrap
of simple paper,
what do you call it?

Answer carefully for you response
may carry the keys
to the doors of Mount Tai-i.
Better still, upend
the water bottle, watch
the ink and water form
a gentle pool into which
no pebble drops.


A reflection on Case 40 of the Mumonkan (The Gateless Gate)

TRUE MEASURE

If you ask me
the true measure
of a passing moment,
I will tell you
it is at once invaluable,
and by equal measure
useless, lost in the detritus
of time’s wave, now receded.
Do not try and cling to it
for your memory is
all that is impermeable,
and then only
in a moment already
carried off by yet
another ebbing
wave of time.

TIME

There is never sufficient time
no matter how I adjust the clocks,
he said with a profound sadness.

What, she said, would happen
if you did not consult the clocks,
would there be time enough then?

But how would I know
if there were time enough
without clocks, he replied.

The cat watched this scene, perched
on the back of the chair, noting clocks
are how people punish themselves.

VAIROCANA (NARA DAIBUTSU)

Daibutsu, you sit placidly
staring down at the throng
that slowly bows before you.
You can small the faint
essence of the joss sticks
wafting from the great cast iron pot
outside the massive doors.
“Do not act as if the world were real”
you whisper, or so it seems
to my chilled ears, “it is
all but an illusion.”
I see a faint smile
cross your lips, then fly off
on the early winter breeze.
“The path is Noble, but it is
no path, turn from it
and you will find it,
but seek it and it will be gone.”
I turn from you and feel
the touch of your hand
between my shoulders.
As I walk through the gate
a deer nuzzles up against my leg
“nothing in this world
can be enjoyed forever”
the deer says, “but would you
have a scrap of cake for me,
a tribute to our enlightened guide?”