The thing with mirrors is
that they always want
to tell the truth
where we what is lies,
or at least a little fibs,
some wrinkles smoothed,
hair now a color the mirror
is more than capable of reflecting, but
mirrors don’t bend
to our wishes, and when
they do, at carnivals mostly,
the result varies between
horror and hilarity.
When you look in the mirror
are you real, is your reflection real?
Be careful what you say,
for if I look into that mirror
and see you, is the you I see
anything other than real?
When you go through the gate
you say “I am exiting”.
When I follow you through the gate
I say “I am entering”.
Are we both liars?
A Reflection on case 58 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye)
If you come upon
both beggar and nobleman
see neither wealth or poverty,
smell neither the fine rosewater
or the crying need of a bath,
hear neither the ravings of one
or the philosophy of the other,
taste neither the fine curry
of the moldy bread crust,
feel neither the tattered rag
or the purest silk.
In the mirror of Zen
both men have your face
and there is no one
standing in front of you.
A reflection on case 57 of the Iron Flute Koans.
Each morning I should take a moment
and seriously question whether I have
any history or should want any.
Each day I know in that moment that
I have the option of being reborn, of being
someone who never existed before,
and the price of this is shedding all
of my former selves, an erasure I fear
without reason, for reason says
that this moment demands my naked
presence bereft of the masks and
trapping I so easily choose to hide within.
This morning I did pause in front
of the mirror, and asked if it knew me,
and it laughed, said, “never seen you before.”
Tomorrow I will deny today and most
yesterdays, this I know is the right
course for what will be a ghost ship.
You want holy teachings
boiled down, synthesized
digestible in bites
so dine on the holes
look at me, at a window
as you do a mirror
a familiar face
the face will depart
yours or his
you will awaken
to endless absence
A reflection on Case 1 of the Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku)
If you think about it,
it will suddenly disappear,
if you do not think about it,
it will reappear, but do not
try and understand
for understanding can
only come from
the final surrender
It is the back of your head
in a mirrorless world
which others see
but you can not.
A reflection on case 76 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
He often comes to me in dreams.
In most he is faceless, but intently present,
speaking in a voice I instantly know,
nothing like mine and totally mine.
On occasion his face appears, blurred,
as if seen through a scrim, back-lit,
vague, an actor in some film I have seen,
but yet not that person, that character.
For a while I saw my own face, but I knew
that was just my wishful mind filling in a gap
which has yet to be filled, knowing
that it likely never will.