NAMASTE

There was a time, still within
memory’s ever more tenuous grasp
that I imagined myself, at this age,
as a monk in a Buddhist temple
in Kyoto, that I had assumed a silence
imposed by lack of language, not faith.

I am certain that the Japanese
are pleased that I let that dream
pass unfulfilled, that I confine
my practice to that American form
of Zen, softened and gently bleached
from its shogun watered roots.

I recall my visits to Senso-ji, Todaii-ji
and countless other small temples
where I would often find a zafu and sit,
but only the youngest monks I met
could understand that it was there,
among them, that I felt spiritually at home.

JIZO PLANTS THE FIELD

If you truly want to walk
in the footsteps of the Buddha
stand perfectly still and unmoving.
If you truly want to comprehend
the whole of the Dharma
put down all of your books and scrolls,
roll up your sleeves
and plant the barren fields,
clearing away rocks and stones.
If you want to taste enlightenment
dip your hands into
a free running stream
and drink of its waters.
If you feel you must move
along the Way, simply sit
and allow the Way to move beneath you.


A reflection on Case 12 of The Book of Equanimity (SHôYôROKU)

WORLD HONORED ONE ASCENDS THE SEAT

If you sit patiently enough,
and sit long enough, just perhaps
the teacher will acknowledge you.
If he holds out his arms and offers you
the heart of the Dharma, will you
grasp it and hold it closely?
If you try and grasp it
it will slip through your fingers,
disappear from sight, lost forever.
If you nod in appreciation,
hands in gassho and simply bow,
then turn and leave the room,
you will carry it with you
and no one will be able
to take it from you although
you are free to give it away.


A reflection on case 92 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)