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
The shadow of the balloon
along the water’s edge
and onto the beach,
touches the dune
as the disk of the sun
drowns in the sea.
First appeared in Beachfire Gathering, 1999
Next week we will walk along the beach
and periodically stare out on the ocean.
The waves will wash in and out, and one
will look much like the last and the next.
If we get out early enough, perhaps we will
sit outside a café across the road from the beach
and drink our wet cappuccinos and eat our bagels
while watching some 20-something
perform yoga poses on the sand, poses that we
can remember, uncertain how our bodies
ever assumed those postures, certain
to do so again would cause breakage
that would put medicine to an unfair test.
We watch the elderly drivers, question
why they still have licenses to drive, and
to the extent possible, avoid looking in mirrors.
Why do you seek old Masters,
they have no special gift.
Your lineage is
the surface of the sea
never still, all waves.
Your teacher has no answers,
his silence instructs
close your ears and listen,
is that his breath you hear
or only your own?
In is out, out is in
depending on where you sit.
A reflection on case 20 of the Iron Flute Koans.
Dreams are the gentle sea
across which we float
as night embraces us.
This is the preferred view,
but in the stormy dark
our dreams turn violent
tossing us against thoughts
we have long suppressed.
It is how we row, how
we ride he swells, searching
for the calm on the horizon
that allows us to see
the shore of a new day.
The sea steals the edge
of the shore, replacing it
with something familiar
and yet different.
It is much the same
with the waves of sleep
that lap at my dreams
leaving fractured memories
and holes left to fill
with desire and imagination.
Walking along the shore
of dawn and awakening,
I feel time creep
between my toes.
I sit outside, on the mesa
having watched the mauve, fuchsia
and coral sky finally concede to night.
The two orange orbs sit
twenty yards away, staring back
and in this moment coyote and I
have known each other for moments,
and for generations, and we are content.
Coyote tells me he was once
an elder living in the old adobe
buildings, how he was a shaman,
still is, with his magic, and I
tell him of how I walked for years
in the desert, food appearing
from heaven, of how I crossed the sea
and some thought it parted for me.
Coyote and I are both old
and we know we each have stories
that no one would believe, and
so we are left to believe each other
and tell our stories to the sky gods.