BODHIDHARMA’S “VAST AND VOID”

You want holy teachings
boiled down, synthesized
digestible in bites

so dine on the holes
nothing, emptiness
is sustenance
enough

look at me, at a window
as you do a mirror
no knowing,
a familiar face
but whose?

the face will depart
yours or his
you will awaken
to endless absence

learn no
thingness
overflowing void


A reflection on Case 1 of the Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku)

WHO?

I was looking for you, he said,
and I was looking for myself
she replied, and here we are
and neither of us has succeeded
in our quest, for I have not
found myself, so you cannot find me.
I shall stop looking for you, he said
and perhaps you will appear.
for I am ready if you choose to.
I have found myself, finally,
she replied, but how long
have you been standing there
and what were you doing
since I last saw you?

NO MIND IS THE WAY

If you think about it,
it will suddenly disappear,
if you do not think about it,
it will reappear, but do not
try and understand
for understanding can
only come from
the final surrender
of understanding.
It is the back of your head
in a mirrorless world
which others see
but you can not.


A reflection on case 76 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

UNKNOWING

I don’t know what
                                               I am, the Buddha said.

I don’t know why
                                                my mother gave me up at birth
                                                or how many cousins walk
                                                                    the streets of Lisbon
                                                or where I lost my first tooth
I don’t know what
                                                became of the nickel
                                                or why the tooth fairy was so tight
                                                or who will wash the blood
                                                                    from the streets of Basra
I don’t know how
                                                my Walkman eats batteries
                                                                    like Hostess Twinkies
                                                or why fungus grows underground
                                                or why the Somali child stares through
                                                                    starving eyes
I don’t know why
                                                my dough rises, only to fall mockingly,
                                                or why forced to eat matzoh, the Jews
                                                                    didn’t go back to Egypt
                                                or why I poke my sore knee to insure it hurts

I don’t know
                                                my birthright name.


First Appeared in Children, Churches and Daddies, Vol. 141, October 2004.