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.

ALONG THE MIDDLE WAY

Each day he stops briefly
in the small park along the path,
and picks up a pebble which he tucks
in the coin pocket of his jeans.
There it rests until he comes
the pond where he sits on the shore
staring out into the heart of the water.
He pulls the pebble and tosses it
in a high arc, always trying to land it
in the center of the pond, where he
can watch the ripples slowly proceed
toward him, and hitting the edge,
echo back toward the center, diminished.
This morning he followed his pattern,
sat on the edge and let fly the pebble
which landed squarely, but this day
there were no ripples, just the mirror
still surface of the pond, and he
began the slow walk home, knowing
he would never visit this pond again,
for he was now on a very different path.

TIPPING THE WATER BOTTLE 無門關 四十

 

These few words
gathered neatly on a scrap
of simple paper,
what do you call it?

Answer carefully for you response
may carry the keys
to the doors of Mount Tai-i.
Better still, upend
the water bottle, watch
the ink and water form
a gentle pool into which
no pebble drops.


A reflection on Case 40 of the Mumonkan (The Gateless Gate)

THE LAKE

Sitting out in the middle
of the large lake
is a very small island.
It’s more of a large rock
just sticking out of the water,
but everyone calls it an island.
Moss grows all over the exposed part
so you don’t know it’s all stone
unless you row out to it,
which no one ever does.
No one goes out on the lake,
no one swims in it,
the lake is just there, growing
when it rains, shrinking
in the heat of summer.
And that is just fine
with the lake, although
it does like the occasional
pebble dropped into it
so it can ripple like a proper lake
even if no one sees.

TIPPING THE WATER BOTTLE 無門關 四十

These few words
gathered neatly on a scrap
of simple paper,
what do you call it?

Answer carefully for you response
may carry the keys
to the doors of Mount Tai-i.
Better still, upend
the water bottle, watch
the ink and water form
a gentle pool into which
no pebble drops.


A reflection on Case 40 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)