BODHIDHARMA’S VAST EMPTINESS

If you go walking one day
and meet a person you think
may be the Buddha, ask him
what is the heart of all of the sutras.
If he answers you with Dharma
will you be certain this person
is not the Buddha?
If, on the other hand,
he says nothing at all,
and merely holds up a mirror,
will you be certain you
are seeing the Buddha?
Decide before he crosses
the river and is gone from sight.


A reflection on Case 1 of Bring Me the Rhinoceros (Koans)

HEART OF NIGHT

The morphology of dreams
is partially reliant
on the whims of a single
god, and Morpheus
is, to say the least,
a truly fickle bastard
who dangles before us
joy and nightmare
each always just
out of reach, but never
out of sight or hearing.
So we are left
to grasp like marionettes
operated by an unseen hand.

MIRRORED

It isn’t the seeing of something
that matters, for what is seen
was there to be seen so seeing
is just its natural consequence.
It is only when you label it, give
it a name that it ceases to exist,
for you at least, for at that moment
what exists is the label and no longer
the thing that was labeled, so
language always keeps us
from experiencing life, renders us
observers of the things we
no longer co-experience.
It is much like looking in the mirror
and imagining you see yourself
when all you see is the polished
surface of the glass, and while
you may be many things, we
are reasonably certain that
reflective glass was never one of them.

TOKUSAN’S ASSEMBLY 正法眼蔵 三十六

When the Buddha offered
true wisdom, no one
was present to hear it.
Those who were not there
understood it fully.
Where will you look
for true wisdom?
Will your ears here
what your mouth cannot say?
Only with closed eyes
will the light become clear.


A reflection on Case 36 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye).

THE MUSIC OF SPRING

The music hides, just out of sight,
beyond the edge of hearing.
We assume it must be something by Mozart
or at least Bach, a tocatta and fugue,
swallowed by the trees, the cardinal singing
faintly, mirroring the tune,
but there is only the wind
meandering throught the pines
which have cast off the weight
of winter and patiently await
the fullness of spring, swaying
and singing a song to the night.