rivers into islands

rivers into islands

Monday, September 22, 2014

No-Present Moment

The Meaning Of Bodhidharma’s Coming From The West:  Chao-chou Ts’ung-shen/Joshu/Jojo’s  the oak in the garden or wash your bowl, or Tung-shan/Tozan’s three pounds of flax, or a contemporary perspective such as “Wherever you are at is here.”

Still, when you come to the oak or wash the bowl, mindfulness of what?  When you are here, where are you?  And who are you, and what are the oak and the bowl and the flax?  And what do you do?

Not facile, Bodhidharma’s coming opened the presence of buddah in the oak and the bowl and the flax, what is that?  Where are you?

Past/present/future are here (Dogen’s “Time-Being” and Huai-hai’s admoniton to no longer need to distinguish the idea of the present—not attached to the moment, not making time, not contriving apartness). 

And then, searching for substance, oak and bowl and flax (1+1+1) = 0.  Not a single anchor can be discerned.  This realization is relatively unhidden and only concealed by discrimination.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


The “chuu-chuu” of the sparrow rang out the song of the Unborn.

…even the utterings of sparrows profoundly expresses the Truth.
Sosan Taesa, Handbook For Zen Students

He hops calmly, from branch to empty branch
In an absolutely spaceless world
from “Sparrow In Winter,”

The sparrow stirs,
The universe moves slightly.
from “The Position Of The Sparrow,”

Snow in withered field, nothing to touch.
Sparrow’s head clear as sky.
from “Sparrow In Withered Field,”
Shinkichi Takahashi, Triumph Of The Sparrow [trans. Lucian Stryk]

Sparrow, breath, heart pulse, rain sound and rain itself, a motor’s hum and the hiss of tires, a shift in skin temperature, a thought arising: BELL, Bell, bell.

Oceanic, symphonic, luminous

All--composing and interplaying

Thursday, September 4, 2014

No Rule

Gotama Buddha proclaimed the Law for fifty years, and when his disciple Kasyapa asked him for the key to his teaching, the Buddha said, “From beginning to end I have not proclaimed a single word,” and held up a flower.
Ikkyu Sojun, Gaikotsu (Skeletons)

We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.
Marcel Proust

No physical, mental or verbal terms: no sutras, no chants, no prostrations, no special clothes or foods, no rules, no Buddhism—all empty.  So empty, then flower.  Mahakasyapa smiles.

Flower smiles.
What does Mahakasyapa see?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

All-Inclusive Way

Deeply thinking of it,
I and other people,
There is no difference
As there is no mind
Beyond the Mind.
Ikkyu Sojun

And so,

Free yourself from forms and return to the original ground of being.  From this ground, life issues forth, but let go of this too.

Break open
A cherry tree
And there are no flowers.
But the spring breeze
Brings forth myriad blossoms!

….Our Law is the Flower of the One Vehicle…  It is the original ground of our being—all is there.  All things are without beginning and thus all-inclusive.  The eight senses, the four seasons, the four great elements (earth, water, fire, wind), all originate in emptiness, but few realize it.  Wind is breath, fire is animation, water is blood; when the body is burned it becomes earth.  Yet these elements, too, are without beginning, and do not abide.
Ikkyu Sojun, from Gaikotsu [Skeletons]

We can conceptualize this way that our body—“the original body”—actualizes “the Original Place” that is “all,” but then, as Ikkyu admonishes, “Do not search / For what cannot be found.”   If the “all” cannot be found, then what to do? 

When the “original body” actualizes the “Original Place,” Ikkyu admonishes, “…we need not fear / Losing the Way.”

Without a bridge
Clouds climb effortlessly
To heaven…

Many paths lead from
The foot of the mountain
But at the peak
We all gaze at the
Single bright moon.

Ikkyu Sojun, from Giakotsu