The greatest problem
with our language in the practice of zazen can seem insurmountable.
We are lovers of tenses,
a dozen to choose from, one spawning offspring, time ever important to us.
In zen, on the cushion
there is no past, no future, perfect or otherwise, nor our friend the conditional.
We strive to always be
in the moment, there is now and nothing else, and we ought to strive to never be tense.
In the middle of a rouund of zazen
I hear the bells of a nearby church, although I am nearby no church.
Zen teaches you to be present
in each moment, to be immersed in and not witnessing life around you.
The bells break my struggle
to not think, they introduce time again where there should be none.
Just as soon, the bells are silent,
and the silence of 1300 miles away pervades our small zendo,
so just perhaps Zoom, or the ability
to control its transmission, is after all, a mindful Buddhist tool.
The snow capped mountain
stares at the December sky shredding laughing clouds. I sit by the fire dreaming of the slow approach of spring.
There is a moment
when all is only silence the zendo in stillness. In that moment I can hear the entirety of Dharma
The temple bell tolls,
the deer assume their posture, afternoon zazen, I walk around Todai-ji in futile search of Buddha.
Buddhism, Buddhist, Japan, meditation, mind, Photography, Poem, Spring, Travel, winter, Zen
The true artist,
when asked to draw a perfect tree will lead you to the garden and have you sit under the great maple. The true master asked to speak of Dharma will silently face the wall in zazen.
A reflection on case 118 of the Shobogenzo, Dogen’s True Dharma Eye Koans
Buddhism, Buddhist, Japan, Koan, meditation, mind, Nature, Philosophy, Poem, Uncategorized, Zen
If you claim
this world weighs heavily on you, and ask what to do you will be told to simply sit. If this is not clear to you you may say so.
When you carry
another world to this place you will understand and be weightless
If you are able to speak
maintain silence, If you can bear the silence, listen to the song the sea sings. If you can sing with the sea count the grains of sand that wash in on the next wave. If you lose count, begin again before the wave recedes. If the wave recedes before you finish counting, bid it farewell. After you bid farewell return to your cushion and listen to the silence which is the body of the dharma.
First Published in The Poet: Faith Vol. 1, Spring 2021 https://www.thepoetmagazine.org/spring-2021—faith
Buddhism, Buddhist, meditation, men, mind, Philosophy, Photography, Poem, Religion, Uncategorized, Zen
It is only
in the deep stillness and silence of zazen that the words of the Dharma resound loudest
From the cushion
samadhi arises like a Phoenix takes wing and with the final bell all to often flies off mindlessly and it’s gone until the next sitting.
Eyes can look within
and discover a boundless universe but the tongue alone can speak only sounds that go false as they dance away unseen.
The silence of zazen
speaks the dharma, the teisho is offered mutely.
The space between
eye and tongue is but three inches or an unbridgeable void.
A reflection on Case 15 of the Iron Flute Koans.
Buddhist, Japan, Koan, language, meditation, mind, Philosophy, Photography, Poem, psychology, Religion, Zen
When the master
calls for a novice do you answer? When the inkin bell is struck do you begin or end zazen? As you follow your breath when do you leave your body, and who returns when you next inhale?
for an answer that has no question. Who is the novice now?
A reflection on case 31 of the Iron Flute Koans
You claim to seek sanctity –
will you know it
if you find it along the way?
What if it sneaks up on you
when you are lost in reverie,
what if it reaches you
in a strike of the teacher’s stick,
will you jump in fear
and frighten it away,
or sit with it
in endless zazen?
A reflection on case 37 of the Iron Flute Koans