ETA

I can assure you I will be there
one week from the date I
was supposed to arrive, not a day
sooner and only possibly a day later.
If, by any strange chance I am not
please feel free to contact me
immediately at the number
I have not given you and won’t.
And if you cannot remember when
I was supposed to arrive, that is
perhaps because I have never told you,
but rest assured I will do so
immediately upon my arrival.

MINISTER PEIXIU SEES A PORTRAIT

You are perpetually searching,
but what is it you seek?
If you say it is wisdom,
how will you know it
if it finds you?
You may look
in a thousand mirrors
and no mind
will be seen
in none of them.
You are an oyster,
where is the pearl?


A reflection on Case 9 of the Shobogenzo, the True Dharma Eye

SOZAN’S FOUR DON’TS 鐵笛倒吹 九十二

You may seek to follow
the path of the dove –
a fool knows 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 him
there is only here,
and silence
is descriptive enough.


A reflection on case 92 of the Iron Flute. 

NOW LISTEN UP

I read a poem
today, about a cat
and it reminded me,
actually the memory
of my last cat came to mind,
that cats
have an innate sense
of people, that people
utterly lack.
It may be that cats
are completely unfooled
by the masks we wear,
or simply that
they could care less
how we see ourselves,
and only measure us
by what we offer them.
In that sense, of course,
they are people, too.

GENSHA’S BLANK PAPER 鐵笛倒吹 四十九

If you ask me
to write on paper all
that I know of zen
I will hand to you
three empty sheets.
Study them carefully
for upon them
the Dharma waits
to be seen.

I will draw you a circle
almost complete
a bounded space
having neither inside
nor outside, another
gateless gate.


A reflection on Case 49 of the Iron Flute (Tetteki Tosui)

HUANG PO’S GOBBLERS OF DREGS

The old monk, leaning on his cane
smiled at the man prostrating himself
before the great Buddha repeatedly.
The monk gently interrupted the man,
“what is it you hope to achieve
by all of these prostrations, you clearly
are seeking something, you clearly
have not found what you are seeking.”
“I am seeking the wisdom that only
the great Buddha can provide,”
the man said, looking into the eyes
of the old monk, who only smiled.
The monk reached within his robe,
pulled out a mirror and held it
in front of the man, who stared
deeply into it, smiled and walked away.
The monk prostrated himself three times
to the great Golden Buddha, who smiled.



A reflection on Case 11 of the Shobogenzo