IN VISION

As you slowly approach it
it grows perceptibly larger.
This does not surprise you,
for you are familiar with
the principles of physics.

What does surprise you is
that the details grow
ever less clear as you approach,
as though they retreat
under your slow advance.

You think this strange,
wonder what has gone wrong,
question your eyes, and
finally realize that the details
you saw were not there

that it all was, quite simply, what
your mind wished your eyes to see.

VISIONS

The small child peers through
the bamboo poles of the bridge
as he stares down at a turtle
who stares up at him with equal fascination.
His mother excitedly says, “see the turtle?”
Of course he can see the turtle
but he also sees an Ichthyosaurus
and giant whales and frightening fish.
Later, as she points out an iguana,
he will see the small lizard and all
manner of dinosaurs roaming,
a pterodactyl swooping overhead
mimicking a crow, for pterodactyl
have the same magical power as coyotes.
Tonight he will dream of all these beasts
the amazing lands he visited
while in the living room his mother
will tell his father, “Jonathan saw turtle today,”
for parents can only see with two eyes.

ROYA’S MOUNTAINS AND RIVERS

If I ask you
to look out the window
and tell me what is there,
what will you say?
If you say there are trees
and a house in the distance,
I will tell you
to tell me what is there,
not what you mind creates.
If you again tell me
there are trees and
in the distance a house,
I will walk away,
for you have given me
only words and that
for which I asked.


A reflection on Case 100 of the Book of Equanimity

MIRRORED

It isn’t the seeing of something
that matters, for what is seen
was there to be seen so seeing
is just its natural consequence.
It is only when you label it, give
it a name that it ceases to exist,
for you at least, for at that moment
what exists is the label and no longer
the thing that was labeled, so
language always keeps us
from experiencing life, renders us
observers of the things we
no longer co-experience.
It is much like looking in the mirror
and imagining you see yourself
when all you see is the polished
surface of the glass, and while
you may be many things, we
are reasonably certain that
reflective glass was never one of them.

PURE DHARMA BODY 正法眼蔵 二十六

Standing at the foot
of the mountain,
what side do you see.
Standing atop the mountain,
what side do you not see.
Close your eyes
and you will see
that the mountain
has no sides.
Close your eyes
and you will find
that there is
no mountain.


A reflection on Case 26 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)