As you search for the source
of all wisdom, will you stop
along a beach and consider
that it can be found, fully
in a single grain of sand.
Be careful, for the beach
contains countless grains
of sand, so choose carefully.
If you are uncertain which one
contains the source of all wisdom
select one at random
and it will be the correct
bearer of wisdom, but only
if you look deeply within it,
and then cast it back
onto the beach, carried
on the gentle morning breeze.

A reflection on Case 19 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)


Day one, and they are hunched
over the mat meticulously drawing
faintly on its deep blue surface.
Day two and sitting, leaning forward
they precisely place
the first grains of sand.
Day three, the same
and the picture begins to emerge
though they dare not breathe.
Day upon day, minute upon minute
hours on end they place the sand
until the almost electric mandala
rises off the mat, and even we
can imagine Buddha’s home,
only wishing we could enter
any of its four gates
and find the compassion within.
Today, day six it is done,
and they gently sweep
all the sand and carry it
to the river where its blessing
may go wherever the river
carries it, and we bid it
a sad and joyous farewell.