On the path you
may choose to ask
your teacher to give you
the heart of the dharma.
Accept his silence
and carry it with you
for it is the seed
from which the great lotus
will arise.
Peer within it
and see nothing at all
and cherish the gift
of the heart of the Buddha.

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


When you ask
how you can get
from where you are
to Nirvana
a wise teacher will
tell you there is
no there.
There is only here
and this is Nirvana.
Then he will ask
you the greater question–
who are you really?
How will you answer?

A reflection on Case 31 of the Book of Equanimity (従容錄, Shōyōroku)


How many times
had they almost met
over the years before that evening?

What if the Fates
had allowed meetings,
what would have changed?
Likely everything, nothing,
for when they might have met
neither was available,
he a student imagining himself
already in love, or both married
never thinking those relationships
would possibly end in divorce.

And how many times had they
been in the same place
separated by moments or hours,
so many missed connections.

And then the moment of convergence
two lives forever changed,
two worlds merged
in an unanticipated joy.


When you come
before your teacher
and he asks you
what is it exactly
that you are looking for,
what is it that you
expect finally to attain,
how will you answer him?
If you say you are seeking
enlightenment, he will laugh
and send you away,
but if you answer
that you do not know,
he will hand you
an empty bowl
and tell you to go fill it.

A reflection on Case 20 of the Book of Equanimity ( 従容錄, Shōyōroku)


If you must
follow the Way, you
may read the Dharma
for hours on end
or you may brew
a pot of tea
for your teacher, or
bring your student
a towel and basin.
Which two steps
along the way
will you take?

A reflection on Case 61 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)


You may ask many things
of any teacher you meet
but the wisest of them
will only offer you
unending questions.
When you look to them
to point you to the Way
they are doomed to failure
for your feet obscure
the Way, and it is only
by looking within
and down through your legs
and feet and toes
that you can see the way

A reflection on Case 63 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)


When you ask your teacher
what happens when you
stop thinking, allow
no new thoughts
what you expect him
to tell you?

The dead have no thoughts
but that is not the door
to Nirvana.

But if thoughts abandon you
without your effort, without
being asked to do so,
then the door you seek
will open before you.

A reflection on case 19 of the Book of Equanimity 従容錄, Shōyōroku


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)