DISTANT SONG

I thought I heard
a woman singing
somewhere in the distance,
an ethereal song whose melody
floated over me, dropping
momentarily into my consciousness
then as quickly flitting away.
I walked off
the carefully tended path
stepped into the clutching brush,
the smell of Juniper
filled the air.
Pushing through a thicket
I thought I saw a woman
retreating into the trees
but the melody lingered
and I sat and listened
never seeing the singer
only hearing the song.

ALONG THE WAY

 

There are those desperately searching,
who stumble along the way, tripping
over the dharma gems lying in their path.
Others proceed slowly, pausing
to examine each pebble, each twig
uncertain if it, just possibly,
was the key to enlightenment.
I wander along, going nowhere, knowing
that is where the path must lead,
and I am always where the path
and I must intersect in time and space.
A young child seeing this
merely smiles and returns
to his seat beneath the Bodhi tree.

FROM HERE TO

 

He finds it hard to believe
that no matter which path
he chooses, and he has chosen
so very, very many over time,
each path seems always
to lead him to one particular place.
The place always seems the same,
here, though he knows it should
be different each time he arrives.
It frustrates him no end, but
he is growing concerned
that one day a path will
lead him to somewhere
that is not here, and he will
have utterly no idea
where to go from there.

TEACHING AND NOT TEACHING

When you find a teacher
what is it you expect from him?
Do you walk carefully in his footsteps
insuring you do not stray an inch
from the path on which he leads you?

A true teacher will ask
that you turn away from him
and give you a shove
that has you stumbling forward
struggling to regain your footing,
finally aware of the path
that you have always been on
and never bothered to see.


A reflection on Case 92 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

SOZAN’S FOUR DON’TS 鐵笛倒吹 九十二

You may seek to follow
the path of the dove –
a fool knows many roads.
You may wrap yourself
in fine linen – an infant
wears only his skin,
and knows this moment
is already gone.

Think long before you speak
of how to walk
along the path, of where it leads.
The baby says nothing,
will not speak
of where he has been,
where he is going, for him
there is only here,
and silence
is descriptive enough.


A reflection on case 92 of the Iron Flute.