USER’S MANUAL

In my dreams last night
I thought I came across the Buddha
while off wandering somewhere
I could not recognize.
I thought long and hard
about following Linji’s proscription
and killing the Buddha,
but while lost in contemplation
the Buddha took up his keisaku,
said “if you cannot follow
the simplest of directions,
if you are so lost in thought
you can never attain buddhahood”
and with one significant blow
instantly killed my dream
and allowed me to finally see.

LINJI WAS(N’T) HERE

I very strongly doubt
that Linji ever walked
along this path, given
that it wasn’t even here
fifty years ago.
He never saw the egret
staring back across the pond,
or the flock of ibis doing
what seem like prostrations.
He did not see any of this,
which saddens me a great deal,
but taking careful steps,
and following my breath,
I walk gently
in his footsteps.

MEETING BUDDHA ON THE ROAD

In my dreams last night,
I thought I came across the Buddha
while off wandering somewhere
I could not recognize.
I thought long and hard
about following Linji’s prescription
and killing this Buddha,
but while lost in my contemplation
the Buddha took up his keisaku,
said, “if you cannot follow
the simplest of directions,
if you are that lost in thought
you can never attain buddhahood,”
and with one significant blow
instantly killed my dream
and allowed me to finally see.

THREE MORE VIEWS OF THE SHOBOGENZO

BASO’S HEART SUTRA

When my teacher asks
of my practice
I shall be still
for the eye speaks volumes
and the mouth sees
all that lies before it.

HŌON’S AWAKENING

A fool always asks
how do I get to
where will I find
what will come.

A wise man
can swallow an ocean
in a single gulp,
hear symphonies
in a cricket’s chirp
and light up night skies
with the lamp within.

MASTER LINJI’S ORIGINAL PURITY

The mirror, you say
reflects your face
but how do you know this?
It could be
a raging river,
a still pond
or a mountain.
Close your eyes-
what is your face now?

CRIMES AGAINST WORDS

I spent considerable time this morning
murdering my darlings, though
I am convinced the time would have been
better spent hunting down old Quiller-Couch,
but his advice given, he had left town.
It wouldn’t have been an issue, really
but in my damned manuscript, I had a gun early on.
It was just to be ready in case, and only in case
I happen to meet the Buddha,
but Henrik was probably right,
and once the gun was introduced
what choice did I really have?
Truth told, it is all Linji’s fault really,
though I do so admire him, but in my next book
I’ll just go along with Dongshan, any writer ought
to be able to deal with three pounds of flax.
Sadly, though, my novel has now been
reduced to an extremely short story.