NANSEN AND THE LAND DEITY 鐵笛倒吹 十八

When you come
into this town
we know you are coming,
when you enter
this room we
know you will arrive.
It is only when
we cannot discern
your presence
that your spirit
has truly arrived.
Contemplate this
over a bowl of rice
shared with mountain
and wind.

A reflection on Case 18 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)

Nansen’s Reason Is Not the Way 無門關 三十四 

If you see the Buddha
you have certainly gone blind,
if you hear his words
you demonstrate your deafness.

Nansen will grow old,
hearing and vision will fade
and he will sit and shout
in a sun warmed rain.

A reflection on Case 34 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate) Koans

NANSEN CUTS THE CAT 無門關 十四

Thirty blows of the stick
if right, thirty blows
if wrong, or Namsen’s sword
and a severed cat

a half to each
a whole to none

Be thankful you
didn’t argue about a man
for with a shoe
on the head, your feet
may touch the sky.

A reflection on Case 14 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate Koans)

NANSEN’S NOTHING SPECIAL

Her greeting
is met with silence.
His greeting
is met with silence.
Your touch
is met with greeting.
You want to fly,
curse the Earth
for holding you,
while it is your mind
that is your
only anchor.

A reflection on case 87 of the Shobogenzo, Dogen’s True Dharma Eye Koans

NANSEN’S HUT

If you have fine china
you will be saddened when it breaks.
If your pantry is full
your anxiety grows
as the food diminishes.

But if you are alone
with nothing, the apple
that falls on the road
is a feast, and the stream
runs free with the finest wine.
The silence of sun and moon
is an orchestra.


A reflection on case 52 of the Iron Flute Koans

NANSEN’S REJECTIONS 鐵笛倒吹 四十四

 

If you come before Master Nansen,
will you come holding the posture
of a monk or a lay person,
and when Nansen turns you away,
how will you exit the room?

Nested hands
and gassho hands –
both are so easily manacled –
why leave the room at all?


A reflection on case 44 of the Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui 鐵笛倒吹)

NANSEN’S REJECTIONS 鐵笛倒吹 四十四

If you come before Master Nansen
will you come holding the posture
of a monk or a lay person
and when Nansen turns you away
how will you exit the room?

Nested hands
and gassho hands
both are so easily manacled,
why leave the room at all?


A reflection on case 44 of the Iron Flute (Tetteki Tosui)

THREE VIEWS OF THE SHOBOGENZO

SEIGAN’S WHISK

If a master asks
where I am from
I shall tell him.
If he lifts his stick
and asks if
they have this stick there
I will grab the stick
and cast it
into the ocean
so it may go
where it chooses.

HYAKUJO REMAINS SEATED

The gift of dharma
flies off
in ten directions
on silent winds.
Only your body
can bridge
the infinite abyss.

NANSEN’S WATER BUFFALO

Along the path
there is always the sun
but where do you find it
in the heart of night.
The moon is a mirror
even the water buffalo
knows this clearly
and a shrouding cloud
is but a million lenses
overwhelming the eye.
Only when you see this
may you stand
in the field
with the great beast.