Do not pity the blind man for he can see much, and do not be sad for the deaf for they can hear you. Your eyes see nothing your ears do not discern the quietest sound. Rest your mind and taste the peace of blindness and silence.
A reflection on Case 113 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye) Koans
Perhaps it is waiting for the moon to draw our attention, but the moon is periodically irascible, as tonight, and has chosen to abandon Mars to the stellar firmament.
Mars has risen in the western sky.
I wander into the dark in search of the peace that only night affords, but the horizon is war and disquiet and I stumble and repeatedly fall, and the ground holds me denying me the sky.
Mars has risen in the western sky.
The plants that have reached for the sun, and borne fruit for months now shrink and wither under his unrepentant eye, and I know a cold foreboding wind will still blow and I will mourn the passing of summer, the season on peace.
Mars has risen in the western sky and Jupiter watches jealously.
First Published in Cerasus Magazine (UK), Issue 3, 2021
It isn’t my first Christmas although almost so, that part of me hidden for half a century, its twisted discovery filling a hole that I never knew existed, yet always knew.
This is the strangest Christmas, a time of gathering, now in isolation, only pixels and prayers on a too flat screen, and it is hard, in times of want and suffering, to recall why we celebrate this day.
A child was born, and now countless others will be, and it is only the children that recall his message, and truly understand peace.
The dog refuses to walk around the house and check the driveway, and so the shells will rain on the village as they do each time she senses fear.
She has a sight beyond that I can fathom, curled under the heat vent, as though the cries of children carry in her dreams, her tail dances against the grate.
On most nights when she makes her final trip, the automatic light over the garage flips on and we can all sleep peacefully until we realize that God has chosen a furry surrogate, lives resting between her paws.
In my dream, the world was at peace, and I was riding across Kansas on a unicycle, towing my car, packed to the windows, my dog walking alongside urging me to speed up because she wanted to visit South Dakota. I am due for a tricycle, I remind the dog, “the grave more likely,” she responds with a sneer that teeters between love and spite, always precariously balanced, as is her food bowl on the roof of the car. I could tell it was a dream which is not often easy from its midst, by the utter lack of churches, synagogues and mosques, none to be seen and the Great Blue Heron nesting in a scrub pine on the shreds of Holy Books.
Today in odd places, at the most unexpected moments, a child will smile without reason, a young girl will laugh, the young boy will stroke the neck of a wandering cat, and in that place at that moment there will be a simple peace. Only the children will notice this, though it gives lie to those who deem peace impossible. A child knows that it is only preconceptions and attachments that blind adults to the peace that surrounds them.
The greatest speech is given only when the mouth falls shut. To talk of peace is to be at war with peace, to speak of war is to be at war. When listening disappears peace reemerges, when peace emerges the listener appears.
A reflection on Case 12 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Eye)