Friday, February 26, 2010

great vows

that sacred vow
that now remains unseen,
always just below the surface.
it is there to remind me
how tenuous this life can be.
an ache that wants relief–
or that itch that cannot be scratched–
making itself known
on its own schedule
and within its own time.
yet knowing that you are still here
in my heart and I in yours
even if it goes unnoticed
or is pushed down again,
it remains there
as big and bright as always.
the longing soul
whose mate has somehow
gotten lost in the malaise
of life’s karmic unfolding,
but no simple act of defiance
can stop this love
from manifesting in this moment.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I will give you an example of a correct Zen Poem

the four elements 
disperse as in a dream.
the six perceptions, 
six senses, 
and the six consciousnesses 
are originally transparent.
to understand this,
the Buddhas 
and all the eminent teachers
return to the place of light.
the sun is setting 
over the Western Mountain,
the moon is rising
in the East.

March 22, 1975

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

moon poem in Gaelic

here is a tribute to my dear mother in her native language. The language of my ancestors...

anaithnid chailleann an gealach,
Bhí ndeachaigh an óige draíochta.
in ionad le tuairimí eolaíochaan dromchla,
ach ag breathnú ar an dromchla,
ach cad is féidir a discernedtríd an cuspóir senses.
Tá go fóill, 
tá roinnt eolaisthar an eolas?
Is féidir a eagnafoghlaimíodh ón leabhar?
na cúig choláiste agusdhá fhreastail ollscoileanna,
Ní amháin cúrsaí ar fáil ar eagna.
chreidiúint go bhfuil fós i bhfórsaí mysteriously dofheicthe,
Tá a n-éifeachtaí agus intomhaiste predicable.
an gealach an irresistible tarraingt ar tides aigéin,
an rince draíochta na filings iarainnlaistigh 
de réimsí maighnéadacha bhogadh;
fós, leid dhá lovers glacadhar oíche 
moonlitgazing le chéile ag gealagus spectre 
glowingardú ar an scóip soiléircaillte 
i n-ghráagus ar snámh ar tráthnóna aer fionnuar,
a bhfuil éifeacht iarmhartach evokedag 
an mbabhta orb boga i spás?
féachaint ar an gealach roinnt oíchemar 
atá sé arduithe ar na spéireina SOILSE 
go léir agus splendor,
Mothaíonn an awe agus an 
Wonderbhraith tú mar leanbh.
éilimh eolaíoch go bhfuilaon rud cosúil 
le cumhacht draíochtaD'fhéadfadh 
go mbeadh misconstrued, b'fhéidir,
ag an altóir an oibiachtúlacht.
tá a fhios agam thar eolais?
maidin an-an fear ar an aoibh 
gháire gealach -agus gach 
bhí soiléir go leor.

Monday, February 15, 2010


loosing awe of the moon,
the magic childhood was gone.
replaced with scientific views
of superficiality,
looking just at the surface,
only what can be discerned
through the objective senses.
yet, is there some knowledge
beyond the knowing?
can wisdom be
learned from a book?
of five colleges and
two universities attended,
not one offered courses on wisdom.
believing still in mysteriously invisible forces,
their effects are measurable and predicable.
the moon’s irresistible pull on ocean tides,
the magic dance of iron filings
within moving magnetic fields;
yet, suppose two lovers embrace
on a moonlit night
together gazing at a bright
and glowing spectre
rising on the clear horizon
lost in their love
and floating on cool evening air,
what resultant effect is evoked
by the soft round orb in space?
view the moon some night
as it rises on the horizon
in all its majesty and splendor,
feel the awe and the wonder
you felt as a child.
scientific claims that there is
no such thing as magical power
might possibly be misconstrued
at the altar of objectivity.
is there knowing beyond knowledge?
this morning–the man in the moon smiled–
and all became quite clear.

December 19, 1997
Costa Mesa, CA

Friday, February 12, 2010

An Ancient Capital

Xi'an is bathed
in a glaring yellow haze,
the ancient capital
surrounded by
farms and poverty
the south gate welcomes
barbarians from
the west.
the hyatt regency
an insert for foreigners.
a quiet stroll
down the long boulevard
this restaurant–no english
no menu in sight
a hot pot with
water and blood
fish heads float
in the boiling broth
with a tripe and
cucumber feast.
no meaningful words
were ever exchanged
the dinner
an interesting extravaganza
not knowing what to do
when visiting the east
you are only a guest
understanding this
the correct response
appears in this moment.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


to say my life
is a great mistake,
to think this is mine
is pure delusion,
to want something
is only a thought,
to believe in an ideology
is a human’s folly,
to make something
is what we do for entertainment,
to be present
is what the Buddha taught,
to have everyday mind
is what Nánquán expressed,
to only not know
is the way of Seung Sahn,
so what is your way
of seeing clearly in this moment?

Friday, February 5, 2010

one sword

one sword which replenishes,
one sword which takes away.
illuminated by lightening flash,
momentary objects come into view.
lions pounce and claw,
the dog runs after the bone.

March 6, 1975

Monday, February 1, 2010

beyond belief and ideas

there are moments that
transcend the times of life
and connect us to the ultimate
reality of the unfolding presence.
can this become more
than opinion,
or more that our expectations?

settling into the moment
we can not define a single
minute detail
for it is this indefinable
and unknowable
mystery that life
brings forth and we must
ultimately follow.

becoming or just allowing
the flow and the ebb of
our situation
free from any perception
or expectations
that may limit this
ongoing unfolding of eternity.

so we are
and we become
and we can see
but is it beyond
this ultimate idea
of life
that we have in our heads?

is not an idea.
is not an action.
is not being kind to parents.
is not a gift from god.

all of our lives
are perfect
and perfect.
just this
just now

Photo: Samantabhadra's Temple on Emei Shan, PRC 2004