MY RABBI (PART 2)

I tell him I am thinking of becoming
a rabbi, someone just like him,
a man who saw so many through
all manner of crises, joyous events.

He sits back in his unsteady chair,
one he refuses to replace, this one
finally broken in, he says with that
gentle smile that melts anger, anxiety.

You would do well at it, I know, he says,
and I will gladly write you a recommendation
but think about this carefully, it is
not the life you might imagine it to be.

But before you decide, he adds,
reaching among a stack of books,
read these, handing me two volumes
that I did not imagine would change my life.

And somewhere, I have my own copies
of Alan Watt’s “Beat Zen, Square Zen and Zen”
and “The Book:On the Taboo Against
Knowing Who You Are?”, and I then knew.

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

My mother surrouned me
with books, “read, read”
she would endlessly say.

And if I had a question,
“Look it up, it’s why we
bought the encyclopedia.”

I became a voracious reader,
skilled at finding answers,
never stopping to think.

Now, years later, I know
why I had to read, why
I had to look things up.

What she never said, but
what she clearly meant was
I can’t be bothered now,

can’t be bothered most
ever, so be self sufficient
so I don’t have to mother.

HE/HIM

When he says he thinks
that it is rather queer,
you wonder if he uses queer
as a non-gendered pronoun,
and if so you think he
might just be right.

But what if he is a verbal
luddite, locked in an archaic
lexicon, unable to deal
with an ever more complex
social and sexual world
where what was is, and what
never was is, and who is
what is what is in flux.

BLINDNESS

Our problem is one of blindness.
We are constantly seeking
for that which we have, that
which have no need of, that
which we think we need
but cannot be certain.

If we limited our blindness
to things life would be
simpler, but our blindness
carries over to our search
for enlightenment, for redemption,
for absolution, and we
fail to realize that we have
all of that already, if only
we would stop looking for them.

LANDING

She sends us a map

showing on which tribe’s land

we are now living.

This is not something

we have thought about,

not something we want

to think about, for that

would demand that we

are the usurpers, the horde

whose pogrom was

ultimately successful,

and that is a face that

refuse to see in the

polished mirror of history.

AMAZONIA

There will, I am certain, come a day when I will need to do nothing. My computer and my apps will know what I want, will obtain it without asking, will expect my thanks when it arrives, even if they are incapable of understanding what thank you means in a human world. They already plague me with offers and suggestions, if I liked that or even looked at it, I must like this. And they do it with a certainty that only an algorithm can possess. They know me, or so they are programmed, for they cannot think, and they cannot begin to imagine how fickle I can be, or what that term even means. But I know Jeff Bezos won’t give up without a fight. At least if there are a few more billion dollars to be made.

ORATION

Our cat has become a conversationalist. Her vocabulary grows larger each day. She seemingly shares her every thought with us, and admittedly we talk to and through her with some regularity as well. She does grow frustrated when we don’t immediately understand what she is saying, what she wants in a given moment. That is our assigned task, she will tell us. We ask for a cat dictionary and she scoffs. I may speak in cat, she says, but I certainly think in human, so figure it out, I am not that much smarter than you humans.

EXISTENCE

I imagine I am the creator
I imagine I am the created
and I am the creator
and I am the created
I am both, I am neither.

I exist because I think I exist
so I have created myself,
just as you exist to me  because
I think you exist, I am creator.

I say I can touch you so you
must exist, but I touch with my mind
so I cannot prove your existence
only the thought of your existence.

When I die, I will no longer exist,
and you will no longer exist
as far as my you is concerned
and that is the only you I can know.

YAKUSAN’S THIS BUDDHA, THAT BUDDHA

I think
therefore I am.
I think
therefore you are.
You think
therefore I am.
If either of us
stops thinking, does
the other cease to be?
If I see you as Buddha
you are Buddha.
If you see me as Buddha
I can be Buddha,
but if I see myself as Buddha
Buddha and I are
mountains and rivers apart.


A reflection on Case 86 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

QIANFENG’S “THREE TYPES OF SICKNESS”

 

When you assume the mat
and gaze at the wall,
what is it you see?
If you see nothing,
what do you think?
If you are certain
that you see nothing,
that is what you think.
Do not see, do not think,
and let the cushion
fall away until the moment
you no longer exist,
but let the moment
fall away as well
and there is only
the emptiness of peace.


A reflection on case 17 of the Entangling Vines Koans