As you stoop to pick up fallen leaves are you cleaning spring, summer or autumn? What seasons are deep within the winter branch? How does your work and that of the tree truly differ, and what leaves do you shed?
A reflection on case 83 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
In the center of every city there ought to be a park, an expanse of green, trees older than the first European to arrive, so old they need not feign indifference to the humans who have invaded and refused to leave despite the mother (nature)’s request that they do so immediately. Some cities comply, but only partially for they place the parks on the periphery and save their core for the tall buildings, stacked cubes chock-full of small cubes, little boxes and to which people go each day before returning to their own boxes, large enough and sometimes ghastly large that surround the city. This is where the city knows the Park should be, and if people don’t like it, the city doesn’t really care.
It was draped over the fence, a bridge for squirrels who would otherwise would go through the chain. There’s a sadness to its needles, many burying themselves in the accumulated snow, cast off by the great Spruce as extraneous, an old coneless branch, “that is the reason” the trunk whispers in the wind “why I am rid of it, why now you are free to take up lopping shears and make of it what you will or just haul it to the curb, it is of no matter to me.” There is a cynicism in the old tree’s voice, as if saying, “Look, I was here before you, long before any of this,” knowing it will go unchallenged. But I remind it of the fate of the Austrian Pine that one stood two dozen yards away and the Spruce sheds another cone and lapses into silence.
“I don’t want to” is hardly a sagacious way to run a country and “just because” probably didn’t work when you were a child, why would you think adults would accept it now? And when we all expressed our displeasure, disdain and contempt, which part of “no” did you have trouble grasping, Mr. President? The apple may not fall far from the tree, but let it sit on the ground long enough and the worms will have it. Ambrose Bierce said diplomacy is lying for one’s country, Mr. President, not lying to it.
First appeared in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, 2008.
Only the fool will wander from teacher to teacher seeking answers. They will offer only questions.
The wise one returns to the question again and again for she may find many answers within, just as the apple tree bears many ripe fruit if carefully tended, each with the seeds of a new tree. Pick carefully.
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)