HUI CH’AO ASKS ABOUT BUDDHA

When you look in the mirror
do you hope to see yourself,
and who is that face that stares back?
If you turn out the light, are you
still there in the mirror, or has
the illusion of you disappeared?
If you crack the mirror, do you
feel the pain of the scar across your face?
You cannot hope to see yourself, for
you would then cease to be you,
and the mirror would stare and see nothing.
You cannot search for the Buddha
for in looking you make finding impossible.
All this looking and so
very little being, so just be.


A reflection on Case 7 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)

TS’UI YEN’S EYEBROWS

The question is a simple one, really,
but not one you were expecting, which
is why you sit and grapple for an answer.
Ask yourself, what if no answer is needed,
what if there is no answer, can you
remain silent, or will you feel somehow
incomplete if you do not respond?
All answers are correct, but beware,
for all answers are incorrect as well.
Now consider the question again, carefully,
what do you respond when you are asked
once again, insistently, “who are you?”
Be very careful for if you gaze
into a mirror you will see someone else
and if you say that person is you,
you will most certainly disappear.

KEMBO’S TRANSMIGRATION 鐵笛倒吹 六十七

 

Awakening in the morning
when you first see the sun
and the dew resting on thee leaf
which eye are you using.
When you stare into the mirror
through what eye do you see,
and what eyes stare back at you.

When you see the deer
lying in the road
which eye do you use.
In a nightmare, when you slip
into the deeper, darker world,
what eye is used then.
When a friend fades into death,
what eye sees his departure.
Think carefully on this
for only one eye can see
the answer lying within.


A reflection on case 67 of The Iron Flute (Tetteki Tōsui)

JOSHU’S DWELLING 鐵笛倒吹 七十

 

If a poor man offers you
the finest diamond
do you take it, and what
of the gift of a crust of bread
from the wealthy man.
Each gift, in its way,
is worthy of rejection.

Once I grasped at great thoughts –
now I can forget my own name
and wonder whose face it is
that I see in the mirror.


A reflection on Case 70 of The Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui).

ULTIMATE TRUTH 鐵笛倒吹 四十三

When the stick is raised
a truth hovers nearby,
will you accept it?

When the student is struck
does truth leave
the polished wood, sinking
into the student’s shoulder
or does it rise up
within the student
to meet the falling stick?

Sitting zazen do you ask
directions to the zendo?


A reflection on Case 43 of The Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui)

TRICKSTER

He imagines what it might be like
to come down out of the foothills
and roam the mesa, unseen unless
he wishes, a complete freedom.
And even if he chooses to be seen, he
can take whatever shape he wishes,
and they would see him only as he
chose, for only as long as he chose.
Even now, he knows, they see him
as they wish, see what they take
to be him, but which is an illusion,
for even the mirror presents
only illusions — you cannot see
others, cannot see your self,
can only grasp the illusory world
and imagine it finite and tangible.
The coyote knows better, and that
knowledge makes him a shapeshifter
with which man could
only marvel and fear.

WITHOUT WITHIN

Within a rock
there is another rock
that sits in the middle of the stream,
in sight, just out of reach.

Within a cloud
there is another cloud
whose rain has fed
a barren field.

Within this city
there is another city
whose streets I have walked
in countless dreams.

Within this mirror
there is another mirror
that reflects the face
within my face.