ISAN’S EXPLORING SPIRITUAL POWERS

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)

HOFUKO’S POINT OF ATTAINMENT

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)

UMMON’S MOUNT SUMERU

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

JOSHU’S DOG

My teacher once asked me
“what do you have
to say for yourself,” and I
answered “absolutely nothing,”
or did I smile and remain silent?

You assume the teacher would
be upset with the silent student
and in most cases you would
be perfectly correct.

But if this occurred
in a zendo, having nothing
to say is a step toward no-self
and you can be
in that moment,
Joshu’s dog.

A reflection on Case 18 of the Book of Equanimity (従容錄, Shōyōroku)

UMMON’S MOUNT SUMERU

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)

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)

ONLY ONE LEFT FOOT AFTER ALL

We took private dance lessons,
she already versed in the dance,
a natural grace and flow, and I
moving with seemingly fused hips,
unsteady, bordering on clumsy.

As we went on, it began to come
to me, never graceful, but no longer
embarassing to myself nor her,
and the teacher said I could be
a natural, a kind and gentle lie.

At our wedding we glided around
the floor, a slower Eastern swing,
and when the song ended, I smiled
knowing that I had found the one

RINZAI’S BLIND DONKEY

When your teacher
hands you the dharma
what do you find in your hands?

What will you do
with the dharma you are given,
where will you keep it,
or will you give it away
in silence, and in such
giving have it with you
at all times and places.

A reflection on Case 13 of the Book of Equanimity (従容錄, Shōyōroku)

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)

JOSHU SEES THROUGH THE OLD WOMAN

When, on the path,
you com across a problem
you cannot solve
you may turn
to your teacher
and ask for
the solution.

Do not expect
an answer
for your teacher
has none, but
if you listen carefully
to his silent breath
in and out,
he will lead you
to the answer.

A reflection on Casew 10 of the Book of Equanimity (SHôYôROKU 従容錄)