Krevchinsky froze his ass off on the Siberian plain. The gray concrete box was traded for concrete gray skies, the whistle of the truncheon gives way to winter’s blasts. It was in many ways easier when the beatings came neatly marking the days dividing days between pain and exhaustion, all under the watchful eye of the meek incandescent sun dangling from the ceiling. In the camp day and night are reflections of an unseen clock, seasons slide from discontent to depression. The prison of the body is finite built block on block, the prison of the soul is vast, empty, dissipating life.
First appeared in HazMat Review, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1996) and later in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. 30, Nos. 1-2 (2006).
Morning slowly encroaches on your dreams, eroding images despite your tightening grasp. Clear lines blur, become hazy and dissipate, bleached by the first light creeping around the shades. The dreams do not care for they will arise again when they choose and this is for them a mere inconvenience. You are the loser here for the linear mind-string once cut never reties with simplicity and something is always lost in the tying.
As you look out the window you say the branches of the tree are dancing, the clouds barely stopping to gaze down on the scene. Walk outside and feel the breeze skitter along your skin, see the seed pods of the maple take wing and fly off. Ask yourself why this is, is it the wind you see moving things or is it the things moving creating a breeze, which? Consider that it is only your mind that is moving, for if you do not look or think of these motions, how can you know if they stop?
A reflection on case 146 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
In many ways thoughts are very much like cats. By that I mean that they are known to wander in and stay as long as they like and never a moment longer. If you feed or stroke them they may linger, but please rest assured that if you really want them to stay, try though you might, they will find an open window or door and be gone the next time you look.
The hardest thing, he said to his teacher, both sitting on their mats, is not not thinking, but what to do when the thoughts come anyway. I can’t seem to get rid of them no matter how hard I try.” “Do not try to do anything,” the Sensei said, “for anything you do introduces another thought, and soon enough you have an onion of thoughts to peel, layer by layer. When a thought comes, look at it with the mind’s eye, say, with the mind’s voice, look a thought, and do nothing more, and before you know it the thought will be gone and the next in line will enter your mind.”