If you are able to speak maintain silence, If you can bear the silence, listen to the song the sea sings. If you can sing with the sea count the grains of sand that wash in on the next wave. If you lose count, begin again before the wave recedes. If the wave recedes before you finish counting, bid it farewell. After you bid farewell return to your cushion and listen to the silence which is the body of the dharma.
10,000 origami cranes floated down over Tokyo each bearing the soul of one gone in nature’s recent fury. Each crane cried freely the tears flowing into the Sumida forming a wave that washes back to the sea, replenishing its loss. We, too, shed our tears and look skyward sad in the knowledge that with each passing day still more cranes will fill the sky more tears seep back to the still angry sea.
When you ask me of the sea, living, as I do, fifteen miles from the nearest ocean, it is not the sandy beaches of Hutchinson Island I recall, nor the crowded sandbox that is Fort Lauderdale’s beach.
If you ask me of the sea, it is perched on the horizon, far in the distance, looking out of the kitchen window, or perhaps that of the library, over the yard, with its deflated soccer ball, the fence, and finally to the Irish Sea, cloud shrouded at the horizon.
This is what Lloyd George saw each day, so it is little wonder eschewed burial in London or even England for this hidden estate in his beloved Ty Newydd in Wales.
First published in Dreich, Issue 10, Autumn 2020 (Scotland)
What I want, no, need actually, is to remember the smells of youth. The images I can recall, but they are aged pictures, run repeatedly through the Photoshop of memory, and cannot be trusted only desired.
The old, half ready to fall oak, in the Salt Lake City park had a faint pungency that lingered even as I departed my body as the acid kicked in, and drew me back from the abyss hours later,
and my then wife, cradling our first born in the hospital bed, the scent of innocence and sterility that neither of us dared recognize as a foretelling of our denouement.
Those moments are lost in the sea of time, washed away from memory’s shore, but the smell of a summer oak still promises a gentle return to self.
I was honored to have this recently published in Arena Magazine: A Magazine of Critical Thinking, Issue 162 from Victoria, Australia
This river has for endless time flowed from the distant hills on its winding path to the waiting sea. The river has no need of clocks, cares little whether the Sun, Moon or clouds shimmers on its surface. The river counts seasons as passing moments ever new, ever shifting, and our lives, and our dams are minor diversions. I sit along the banks and watch the clouds flow gently down stream seeking the solitude only the ocean will afford.
The hardest prison to escape is the one whose walls are built by the mind with fear and trepidation. It is like the open gate you dare not enter, fearing that you are leaving and will not be allowed to return. Atop a pole there are an infinite number of directions to go and only one is straight down, but you dread selecting any, for gravity is a fear as great his death yet you know you can feel neither. The prison of the mind is impregnable for there, fear and pain live in concert and you are a small boat on an angry sea, staring always at the roiling waves.
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