If you come before Master Nansen,
will you come holding the posture
of a monk or a lay person,
and when Nansen turns you away,
how will you exit the room?

Nested hands
and gassho hands –
both are so easily manacled –
why leave the room at all?

A reflection on case 44 of the Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui 鐵笛倒吹)


You may seek to follow
the path of the dove –
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 him
there is only here,
and silence
is descriptive enough.

A reflection on case 92 of the Iron Flute. 


If you walk into the room
and many are meditating,
how will you know which
is the teacher, which the students?

If one sits on a higher platform
will you assume him teacher
and ask the depth of his Zen?
If he comes down to you
and says he has no depth to offer
do not think him a fool.
When you sit at the bottom
of the ocean and look down
the water beneath you is shallow
but the surface of the sea
cannot be seen.

Reflecting on Case 66 of the Iron Flute (Tetteki Tosui)


If you see an animal
sitting neck-deep in the mud
do you wonder how lucky it is
that, having fallen in,
its head has not been swallowed?
Or do you consider that it
stuck its head out of the mud
to gaze into the sky?
When you are immersed in dharma
do you hold back your mind,
clinging to worldly thoughts?
Tell me, are you emerging from the dharma
or are you slowly allowing yourself
to sink into it fully in this moment.
Look carefully through the lattice
window of thought and decide
which is inside, which is out.

A reflection on Case 16 of the Shumon Kattoshu (“Entangling Vines”)