Posts Tagged ‘zen poetry’

Leaves that have fallen 
Molder as mulch on the roots
Twigs are budding green

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Sticks and stones break bones 
While words shape our minds, our souls
Only love is real

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I am very well aware that the surest way to build your goals is to have a clear picture of what it would look like, and feeling what attaining it would feel like. My difficulty is creating that sort of focus. How can I fix a sure sensation of a goal if I can’t quite imagine what that sensation would be?

As a hypersensitive, I am constantly aware of very many conflicting and distracting images and sensations. It can be very difficult to imagine what it would be like to have those calmed, replaced by something tranquil, focused, and solitary. That’s why where, when and how I meditate is so important for my success, which I figure isn’t any different from most anybody else.

By practicing mindfulness, I’m prepared when I do come across something that helps me discover that mental or sensory hook. Just one concept, or even a sound, can help me finally grasp what had been eluding me.

For a great example, here’s a koan I’ve always loved.

No Water, No Moon

There was a Buddhist nun Chiyono, who was studying Zen with master Bukko of Engaku, but not quite getting the hang of it. She was studying, she was meditating, she was sitting in zazen. She knew that life and the world around us is illusion, but she hadn’t gotten her mind to let go of it.

One night, Chiyono was carrying water back from the well. She knew the bucket was old and wearing thin, so she was watching it as she carried it. She was looking at the reflection of the moon in the water, when the strap snapped. The bucket broke apart and fell, spilling the water and losing the reflection of the moon.

In that moment, she had the experience she had been searching for. There was the moon right there before her, as though it was real. Then, the container broke open, dispersing the water and revealing that the moon was an illusion all along.

To honor this experience, she wrote it into a poem:

In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about
to break
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!

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When someone asks you 
Just who do you think you are
Who is it who asks?

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We are but one heart 
If you should meet the Buddha
Bow to your true self

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Trees show how to bow 
Giving offerings to change
One leaf is enough

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Gold sun in blue sky 
Feet running on wet green grass
Look! There goes the wind!

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Halloween is my holiday. I use it to feel the blending of the barriers we hold in our minds the remainder of the year, absolving us of them as we enter the “end of year season”. So much comes up for harvest during this season, I like to use Halloween to celebrate the old idea of suspending the veil between There and Here, so that our harvest may enjoy the best of all worlds.

Here’s some thoughts from trying to find out how to express this practice…

Hallowing the Eve

Open your heart to the day,
with its twisting and its turning,
allow it to show you the way
it fulfills your greater yearning

Open your heart to the fey,
all that's mystical and Hidden,
to heal all your heartache away,
feel the glow in Truths Forbidden

Open your heart to the Way,
those unspoken words of wonder,
observe how realities play,
it may mend your world asunder

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The apple is red and crisp
Promising to lift my malaise
I do not feel I am hungry
Yet I know I should eat

I think of the apple’s myth
Granting us the first bite of knowledge
I do not feel wisdom’s lacking
And I know that means it is

For I know we are in the dark
When we most believe we can see
For though the bite can be bitter
The fruit of knowledge must be consumed

Beware the cries of the blinded
Who call Evil to those who would Know
For a mind and heart that is open
They alone can know and choose Good

So perhaps we should eat
When we do not feel hungry
Let wisdom heal and lift our malaise
The apple is red and crisp

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I was talking the other day about the difference between Hermit Zen versus Living Zen, I think I’ll call them. While the latter is about trying to better live our lives in this world, the former is more about escaping the world entirely. After all, one might say, if the world is such a grand scam of an illusion, the best thing one could do is to ignore it and not get caught up.

That’s all on my mind again, and I truly do understand the draw of Hermit Zen. The idea of chucking it all and going to live in the mountains can be very appealing. So much of the philosophical and mystical texts focus on the ‘unreality’ of our reality that it can get to seeming like there’s no point to any of it. So yeah, I do get where Hermit Zenners come from. Except for the fact that the world remains so very fun and beautiful that it’d be a real shame to waste it.

So I’m more of the approach of Ikkyu, our old wild-spirited zen poet friend. He saw the dangers of getting so wrapped up in the idea of enlightenment that you lose sight of the great, fun-filled life of enjoying enlightenment. See through the fleetingness of it all, yeah, but lifting those gloom-tinted glasses shows me not a graveyard of crumbling dust, but a garden of blooming beauty.

So here’s a poem by Ikkyu about a kind of study meditation I can enjoy…

A Fisherman

Studying texts and stiff meditation can make you lose your Original Mind.
A solitary tune by a fisherman, though, can be an invaluable treasure.
Dusk rain on the river, the moon peeking in and out of the clouds;
Elegant beyond words, he chants his songs night after night.

Ikkyu (1394-1481)

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