WITHOUT WITHIN

When you peer through the glass
are you looking out, or
are you looking in, and how
would you know which is true,
and does it matter.
When you walk through a gate
are you entering or leaving.
If you ask where the gate
is located, you cannot find
where you are going,
for all gates lead nowhere
except where you are,
and if you are not at the gate
you might as well
just look through a window
and ask yourself should you
look in or out of the window
to find the missing gate?

SOZAN’S FOUR DON’TS 鐵笛倒吹 九十二

You may seek to follow
the path of the dove,
for 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 to him
there is only here,
and silence
is descriptive enough.


A reflection on Case 92 of The Iron Flute koans.

REVEAL

You will, or may
see something today
that may surprise you.
It may reveal itself
in a quiet moment,
it may be nothing more
than a fleeting thought
or image, which you
are at first uncertain.
There won’t be Magi
not even magic, though
on reflection, it may
seem somehow magical.
It will happen openly,
but most will miss
its occurrence.
Only the rarest
among us will
contemplate its revelations,
but for those who look
too closely it
will be an empty feast.

ARRIVAL

He arrived this afternoon,
but she stayed only briefly
and then departed silently.
I did not see her arrive,
did not sense his stay
but am certain he was there,
just as I am certain
he has never been here.
When she is here, you
cannot see her, when
she is gone, your memory
is a mere delusion, and
grasping it is graspng air.
Breathing in, the air
is his breath, and breathing
out the breath is hers,
and this is kensho.

PRESENCE

He appeared rather suddenly,
and didn’t seem to stay very long.
Some claimed they knew he was coming,
most never saw him arrive,
although some said they saw him clearly,
that he visited frequently, that
they knew his presence unquestionably
and spoke to him at some length.
She knew there was much wishful thinking
and a dearth of reality, but she
had come to accept that they got
what they seemed so badly to need
at no cost to her or any others.
But her daughter, seeing all this,
could only laugh, for though she might
be young, she knew he didn’t appear,
he was always there, they just wouldn’t
close their eyes and see
what every child did.

NOT OVER THE RAINBOW

It seems odd now, that he is here,
a place he never intended to be,
as it was a place he could not imagine,
yet he most certainly was here.
If you asked him why he was here,
he would answer that he had to be
somewhere, and here is where it was,
just as your being here is just
as it had to be, for you are here.
He points to a sign over his palette bed,
which simply reads “You Are Here,”
and says, I take it everywhere I go
and it has never been wrong yet.
The bell rings for the evening zazen
and as he assumes his place on the mat,
the Buddha seems to smile and say
to us both, You are where you should be.