Bring me your mind but leave the body behind, this is what you must do to attain enlightenment. You may sit where you are in total silence, or you may come over here and sit quietly at my feet. Both paths lead deeply into the way.
A reflection on Case 64 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
In that moment when the gentle chirping of a small bird resounds as a pounding spring deluge, washes away the creak and thrum of passing cars, when she sings only to you, her small voice drawn in to your ears, your mind, until it fades slowly like the bell and you wait for it to strike again, to feel it seep down your spine, ooze into your fingers and toes, pool in bent knees and elbows, folded hands. In that moment the gentle chirping is your voice, and you are perched in the weeping cherry tree in the garden preening in the morning sun.
Children have an innate sense of their ancestry. I was a child of the city it’s streets my paths, always under the watchful eye of my warden – mother.
Dirt was to be avoided at all possible cost, so I never dug my hands into the fertile soil of my village in the heart of Lithuania, or tasted the readying harvest that dirt would remember.
I never stole a nip of poitin only the Manischewitz which, in our home, masqueraded as wine fit for drinking. It is only now in my second childhood that the ancestry very deep in my DNA has finally found purchase in my mind and soul.
In the community parking lot in the center of Taos, and old pickup sat complacent more than parked, rusting in spots, last painted by someone in the late ‘70s perhaps. It might have been able to move, but it showed no desire to do so, tires not flat but wishing so.
That was thirteen years ago, and it is likely no longer there, or collapsed into rust, but in the mind’s camera it still sits there, beckoning, unmoving, waiting for an owner who has moved on, glad to be rid of the hulk at last.
You came into my life last week, your name forever locked away inside her mind. My life, she felt, would never be the same and therefore left all thought of you behind. You loved her, I suppose, that summer night then left her, bearing me, until she turned me over for adoption, that she might forget the love that you so quickly spurned. A Jew, she said, but would say little more a father, Portuguese, is all I know, who cast his seed, then left and closed the door and me, the son, he never would see grow. You left her life long before I was born, the father I won’t know but only mourn.
First published in Minison Project, Sonnet Collection Series, Vol. 2, Sept. 2021