He has been walking for hours, or, perhaps for days, it doesn’t matter since he is precisely where he should be at this moment. He is tired, so he sits in seiza and watches a colony of ants working away in a crack in the path, each doing his assigned task. He knows ants have Buddha nature for when they walk, they just walk, like he does, and when they eat they just eat and he has never seen a solitary ant wobble.
Each morning, as he went out on his walk, he would check the street light pole just down his block. He would carefully read the missing cat and dog posters, pause to think whether he might have seen any of the missing animals. He often wondered how many had been found, the missing notices left to fade in the sun and peel away after enough rain. He knew that some had found new homes, wondered briefly what they might have been escaping, hiding out from their owners. And each morning he scanned the pole to see if anyone had reported him missing, but he was the sort of person no one missed, he knew, and so he continued on his walk.
You may seek to follow the path of the dove, for a fool knows many roads. You may wrap yourself in fine linen, an infant wears only his skin and knows this moment is already gone.
Think long before you speak of how to walk along the path, of where it leads. The baby says nothing, will not speak of where he has been, where he is going, for to him there is only here, and silence is descriptive enough.
Birth, he said, is the first and only real terminal disease. You only realize that, of course, when it is far too late and there is nothing at all you can do about it. Cancer and all manner of diseases merely shift the timeline, but once you’re on the path, there is only one way off, and that is a step few are willing to take. For some, this is a source of terror, for others it is no more than a slow walk around the block, with the promise you’ll eventually arrive back at the place you began, although it is no longer the place you began but one from which you begin, not again but anew. Again. This is what the Buddha said 3000 years ago, more or less. He confirmed that the just the other day, outside the soup kitchen. “Hey,” Buddha said, “even the once or twice enlightened need to eat from time to time. Join me?”
Today I would like to walk to the river, fashion a boat from a sheet of paper, and set off on it to a far distant sea. Most would think me crazy, but most see only the water flowing by under the bridge, and not the sea that lies out of sight beyond the horizon, when each moment the sea washes by right beneath their feet.
Tomorrow, in all likelihood, the park will still be there, we will still be walking there, the Austrian Pines will still stare down at us on the path, and the cardinal will flash by, his cry for attention in a red blaze. Tomorrow all this will likely happen as it did yesterday and last week, and yet nothing will be the same, nothing, nothing at all.
Walking on the road today, I didn’t see the Buddha and thus had no need to kill him. I did find what I thought to be a dog’s Buddha nature, but it proved to be nothing- ness, so I walked on through the gate that led exactly nowhere. This evening it rained and I picked up each drop and when I had the last, threw them into the sky.