CHAO CHOU’S FOUR GATES

 

Standing on the edge of the precipice
with your eyes closed,  what will you do?
If I turn you around, where is the edge
and where is the land from which you approached?
If I say you must take a step, do you
gently place your toe out and seek
to feel the earth, seek to know where air is,
or do you step out boldly, certain
that you will not fall into the abyss?
From your position on the mat,
the mind is an abyss is all around you,
so you may step out of your thoughts
without care, for all four gates
are open to the ungrasping mind.
And you just might meet Chao Chou
on the path on which you choose to tread.


A reflection on case 9 of the Hekiganroku (The Blue Cliff Record)

BOUNDARY

What is on the other side
of this wall that is just
too tall to peer over?
No one seems to know,
though many have surmised
it is a completely different world
looking little or nothing
like the one we inhabit.
Last week a young man
picked up a ginkgo leaf
and said “ahah, it is Japan
across that wall,” but we
mostly thought he was crazy.
Once, when the world was flat,
people knew if you sailed
too far you would fall off.
But the brave ones then
always wondered what sort
of world existed on the other side,
was it desert or tropical jungle
and when it was night here
was it day there or did the sun
simply sleep for ten hours?
This morning a young man
leaned a tall latter
against the wall and slowly
and carefully slipped over the top.
We shouted after him, asking
what it was like: did rainbows
look the same, was grass green,
but all we heard was his
retreating footfalls, and
his plaintive voice shouting:
“Eve, are you here?
I have the apple.”