They arrive unannounced often not seen until they have been among us and won’t say how or when they arrived. Some claim to have seen their arrival as they have seen other visitors visible only to them, and predict their departure with a certainty born of a delusion or a sense beyond the understanding. Others say that the are merely us in masquerade, it is we who are deluded for there is no arrival by an ongoing presence. I say nothing, for I am one of them, just as I am one of us, I am recently arrived, while I have long been here and either you or I may or may not be deluded.
You imagine tomorrow will arrive without warning or notice, and even though you are skeptical, you accept the possibility, and if it doesn’t arrive what are the odds you will miss it? If, as expected, it arrives, what the hell, it was supposed to do that so nothing is odd about it, and if not, well you never really expected it to, it’s the blessing of a shortening memory, so you win either way. And so you go on with today, and when not if, tomorrow comes you’ll be there since you will recall your doubt and you’ll assume it is nothing more than the fall of the next domino in the perpetual parade.
I could never understand as a child why the moon was female, the sun always male, and most stars but ours had Arabic names. Now makes much more sense to me, the moon is never one to hog the sky and even when she commands more than her usual space, you only want to stare at her in rapture, while the sun is so vain you can stare only briefly and must look away, and he is as likely to hide or flee when he is most wanted, as a calming, steady presence. As for the names of all the others, they don’t sound like ours, and so we cast them off as aliens to our small, smug world
As the seasons change I will stand with one foot on the highest peak and the other at the bottom of the deepest sea. But do not ask that I stand in a place where there is no Buddha, or my feet and legs shall fall away into the void.
A reflection on Case 68 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye) Koans
They are arrayed like so much stacked cord wood, pressed against walls indifferent to their presence. They watch the double doors leading to the examining rooms with trepidation, wanting to be next, wanting more not to be here at all, knowing the options are none. He isn’t bothered by it all, this is old hat to him, he knows them, several of them know him by name. He will no doubt be here again and that doesn’t worry him, for here he knows he will walk in and walk out, the alternatives are far less pleasant, some involved simple pine boxes or urns suitable for a mantle, but none of his family have fireplaces and he would hate to be lost for eternity amid the toys and tchotchkes that so define their lives and homes. While others stare nervously, he hears his long dead grandmother whisper “Remember, boychik, pain is God’s way reminding you that you’re alive.”
If you are patient and do not look for it, there is a still moment in each day when nothing at all happens, when the silence without demands a silence within, when thoughts evaporate like the mist of an early morning dew, when you have precisely enough and cannot imagine needing more, when where you are is where you must be, when the past and future float off and their gravitational pull on you breaks, and you simply are in the only moment there is.
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?
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.