Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wūyōu sì

the mountain mist floats in and out
of the crevices and valleys below my feet.
Jinding cliff falls off into a sea of vast whiteness,
Wūyōu sì means temple above the clouds,
where Zen Monks practice and
pay homage to the sacred Bodhisattva’s home.
one minute visible and then gone
in the very next instant.
many Monks living at the roof of China
in the perfection of blue skies
and bright sun
the thin air has me gasping for breath.
I bow to Samantabhadra
as an old monk strikes the bell,
Amidofu he says,
Amidofu I reply.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Emei Shan

mount Emei rises up
eleven thousand feet
from the Sichuan Valley
like a sentinel
protecting Samantabhadra’s
Western home.
cloaked in mysterious
white clouds,
the path up the mountain
is more than ten thousand steps,
some rising almost vertical
for more than two thousand feet,
monkeys wait patiently
on the steep slopes of the path
waiting for an easy mark.
next to me
an adolescent monkey
jumps off the rail
grabbing a bottle of
orange soda from
a hapless woman’s hand;
the woman lets out a scream
while on lookers laugh
out in genuine glee.
as he sits with his booty
at the top of a tree
along the path,
he drinks his bright orange
soda from a hole he has
chewed in the side of the bottle.
Samantabhadra’s protectors
are well feed in this lush kingdom
of China’s fourth sacred mountain.

Monday, April 19, 2010

the snow world melts

Think of the phoenix 
coming up out of ashes,
but not flying off.
For a moment we have form.
We can't see.
How can we be conscious 
and you be conscious
at the same time and separate?
Copper,when an alchemist 
works on it, loses its copper
qualities. Seeds in Spring
begin to be trees, no longer seed. 
Brushwood put in the fire changes. 
The snow-world melts.
You step in my footprint and it's gone.

It's not that I've done 
anything to deserve
this attention from you. 
Predestination and freewill: 
We can argue them,
but they're only ideas. 
What's real
is a presence, like Shams.

- Rumi, Ghazal 3071, version by Coleman Barks, from Open Secret

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Tsingtao melts into the hillside
at Chongqing City.
a veritable collection of mountains
and hills that once housed
the war-time capital on China.
a place where bicycles
are non-existent,
these strangers are lost
and travel back and forth
on an endless maze
of twisting and crooked roads.
flagging down a taxi
we follow these interesting
one way paths yielding
spectacular views and vistas,
eventually we find our
new temporary home.
Chongqing is a city of
lights and happiness.

Photo of Chongqing by Paul Lynch © 2003 double click on the photo to view more detail

Friday, April 16, 2010

the lesser three gorges

bright green jade waters
running fast towards the Yangtze,
sampan crews skilled in navigating
the shallow green tributary
one time running aground
we almost spin completely around.
caves in mountain sides
and unexplored valleys
rise up to heavens
paying homage to this sacred river.
white water rapids
part of some resident’s daily commute.
an army of laborers cutting
down brush and trees below
the projected new waterline.
further downstream we finally
gaze upwards at the hanging coffins
jutting out from shear
cliff faces and seemingly inaccessible.
we are within the eyes
of the mountains
that reach out towards the sky.

Picture by Dochong 2003 on the Lesser Three Gorges

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

a wedding ceremony

for infinite kalpas
a warm breeze has blown.
between regal lotus crowns
and pomegranate blossoms,
a drawing together
of two wayward souls.
how many lifetimes before
gathering in humbleness like this?
how many more
endless yearning beyond words and speech.
sacred union
a merging of spirit,
divine inspiration
the dancing of love’s heart.
today friends and relatives
come to witness in friendship
Bob and JaeHee
have finally come home.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Laozu once told us:
“true words aren’t eloquent
eloquent words aren’t true.”
poetry resonates our heart of hearts
rather than stimulating
some intellectual response.
heartfelt truth transcends
all imagined boundaries,
allowing our souls
a glimpse of this universal.
beyond all space,
beyond all time,
beyond all dogma and thought,
the light shines within you.
my devoted dog Barney
lying quietly at my feet.
Benedictine monks
softly sing Gregorian chants.
the evening sun cascades upon
a peach and orange landscape
for the bright lovers orb tonight,
rises low in this early evening sky.
a voice inside my heart says;
“be still...for,
 you are the way home.”

December 16, 1997
Haean Sŏnwŏn

Friday, April 2, 2010

loss of an icon

there used to be
something about you.
an unknowable essence
which was out of my reach.
there used to be this
dynamic, unyielding presence.
I thought that was
the ultimate goal that I sought.
now I see the frailty,
the desire slides through
and exposes in the sunlight.
it can’t be hidden
by the years on your head.
we are all simply human,
none of us exempt
from wanting and desire—
the relentless chain of events.
some play the game
of appearances better than others.
but, let’s just be human
and screwed up and vulnerable
let’s be honest
and not try to hide
it from ourselves.