BODHIDHARMA’S VAST EMPTINESS

If you go walking one day
and meet a person you think
may be the Buddha, ask him
what is the heart of all of the sutras.
If he answers you with Dharma
will you be certain this person
is not the Buddha?
If, on the other hand,
he says nothing at all,
and merely holds up a mirror,
will you be certain you
are seeing the Buddha?
Decide before he crosses
the river and is gone from sight.


A reflection on Case 1 of Bring Me the Rhinoceros (Koans)

TEACHING AND NOT TEACHING

We walk forwards
to try to see
where we are going,
always wanting
but never seeing
where we have been.
Is it better to
walk backward
seeing clearly
where we will not go
without idea
of a destination.
Look down and decide.


A reflection on Case 92 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

 

STAR WALKER

His brother said that if you left
the windows open at night, the ghosts
would come in and might steal your soul.
He didn’t care, he wanted to hear
the song the stars sang every night,
to see them come down and move
in pairs across the mesa, for stars,
he knew turned orange when they
left their celestial perch, and would
certainly keep the ghosts away,
for ghosts were like rabbits and hid
when the stars came near, and
once in a while, if a ghost moved
too slowly he would hear its cry
as it was captured by a star.
And, he was certain, ghosts
preferred doors, and they kept theirs
tightly locked, for you never knew
what you’d find out on the mesa.

KINHIN (WALKING MEDITATION)

The entirety
of this practice
is to learn
to walk
with a lightness,
so that you
contact the earth,
the grass,
not tread on it,
so that the earth
and the grass
caress your feet
and not try
to push them away,
and all the while
there must be
a gentleness of breath,
so the sky
can fill your lungs,
lightening you.

JOSHU’S FOUR GATES 正法眼蔵 四十六

If you ask me who I am,
I will have you close your eyes
and walk behind you,
or I may step to your left
and take your right hand.
If you are perplexed,
I will ask you: do the four
gates open into the city
or out to the world beyond,
and if I stand still under a gate
in which direction
am I headed?


A reflection on Case 46 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

Basho’s Staff 無門關 四十四

Do you have old Basho
hidden away in your home?
If you do, I will gladly
give him to you, but if he
is not within your walls, you
should produce him immediately.

If you need to cross the river
walk carefully on his back
on a moonless night.
If there is a moon, walk
along a darkened road,
hand him your shippei
and he will light your path.
If there is a pouring rain
you will both be soaked.


A reflection on Case 44 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)