HOGAN’S HAIR’S-BREADTH

What is it you are looking for,
what you expect to find
and how will you know
if you find it?

You expected your teacher
to present it to you?

What would you do with it
if you did receive it?

You must first see that you
are both the searcher
and the teacher and
you already have
what you are searching for,
for you find things when
you stop looking for them.

A reflection on Case 17 of the Book of Equanimity (SHôYôROKU 従容錄)

STARS

Once the winter stars
wrapped in their cloudy shroud
shed frozen tears, unwilling
to come out of hiding.
We searched for them in vain,
knowing our failure,
retreating to the warmth
of home, only to repeat
the failed effort on so
many other nights.

Now, here, the winter stars
are usually fearless,
some drowned by the moon,
but she waxes and wanes
and they reappear, the brightest
never fearing the chilled sky.
We stare at them in wonder
having forgotten for so many
years just how beautiful
they can be in their glory.

KYOZAN PLANTS HIS MATTOCK

In your endless search
for enlightenment,
the best course, the only course
is to stop looking.

It may strike you,
unexpected or it may
arise without your seeing
as you continue your practice.

You say there are many Buddhas
and you are correct, but I say
there is but one Buddha and I
am also correct, and you are
that one Buddha and I am
that one Buddha as well.

A reflection on case 14 of the Book of Equanimity (SHôYôROKU  従容錄)

JIZO PLANTS THE FIELD

As you search
through the Dharma
what is it you hope to find?

When you ask your teacher
to explain the Dharma, what
do you expect him to tell you?

Do you cling to Dharma
because it is there, unchanging,
a guide to the end of your search?

Better to live the precepts
fully, present in every moment,
waking, working, eating
and even sleeping for then
the path rolls out before you.

A reflection on Case 12 of the Book of Equanimity (従容錄, Shōyōroku)

TOO SOON

The leaves will soon begin
their descent from the small tree,
already brown, their beauty
departing before they do so.

They are bilobular, an odd word,
but one that belongs in a poem,
even this one it seems, and it is
their shape that you first notice.

The tree will all to soon be naked,
branches sticking into the air
as if searching for a breath
that refuses to arrive.

But we know that soon after
the small buds will open
and orchid-like flowers will appear
to our all too temporary joy.

NANSEN CUTS A CAT

You are a searcher, you
look for answers, you look
for the right path
that will lead you
to enlightenment.

You see everything
as black or white, good
or bad, right or wrong.
You are a master
at division.

Stop searching, stop
seeking answers, stop
dividing, then sit
with Nansen’s cat.
That will be enough.

A reflection on case 8 of the Book of Equanimity

SIEGAN’S COST OF RICE

How long have you wandered
always searching for the one
answer, the hidden truth
that, when revealed to you,
will show you enlightenment?

Where have you searched
for this one truth, one
that will collapse the past,
present and future into
a single moment of pure
presence which you can grasp
and carry with you through life?

Stop and ask the infant
strapped to his mother’s chest,
for he has the answer
and his silence will speak
of it if only you will listen.

A reflection on case 5 of the Book of Equanimity Koans

YEARBOOK REFLECTION

Knowing that my
biological parents’
pictures were somewhere
in the yearbooks
I had before me
I thought that I
would search without
looking at the names.

No one looked
at all like the me
I see in the mirror
nor the me I am
shocked to see
in my own yearbook.

Yet finding them
by name I quickly
realized that I
was their amalgam
a face neither
would have recognized
no matter how
small the crowd.

MADE IN

You learn to shop carefully,
always searching for where
an item is made, avoiding places
you know are not socially responsible.

The search is complicated
by the lack of nearby stores,
by the ubiquity of Amazon,
by the certainty that the product
won’t arrive for some time,
and when you find one
you like, you scroll down
and see the magic buzzword
“Imported” and you know
from experience that
is another way of saying China,
and the search goes on.

SEARCHING

I never imagined that
the search would take so long
or be so difficult.

I never imagined
I had set off seeking
the Holy Grail.

It once was easy
I recalled, little searching
and plentiful enough.

Now, hours spent
actually wasted, I conceded
that it was futile

and went back deep
into time to bring forth
what I never imagined

would be so hard
to find, a good, intelligent
romantic comedy.