Monday, May 31, 2010

kyolche forest walks

twenty one days walking in the woods
didn’t hear a sound.
too busy thinking
to pay attention,
today the gurgling brook
and birdcalls echo
deep in the forest.
clodding of boots
reverberate on the path—
blue lichen and green moss
cling to rocks and trees.
dead leaves
and decaying branches.
cover the forest floor
new life springing forth
from winter weary branches
today is the last day of kyol che
what am I?
when the walk is over
we clean the mud from our boots.

Diamond Hill Zen Monastery
Cumberland, RI

Monday, May 17, 2010

Buddha's Birthday

two thousand five hundred
and fifty four years ago
a child was born
to Queen Maya
and King Suddhodana.
they named the child
Siddhārtha Gautama
and  the hermit seer Asita
prophesized that the child
would be a great king
or a great sage who
could save the world.

no one knew the path
he would take
not even the holy Asita was sure.
at twenty-nine
he walked away from wealth
and power and fame
to seek the path of the truth,
and from this selfless action
he has allowed us to discover
the holy truth for ourselves.

as we celebrate
this sacred event together
let us wonder what would have happened
had Chán Master Yúnmén
actually been there
at the time of his birth
and beat him with a stick
and fed him to a hungry dog,
what would we be celebrating today?

Asita’s prophesy was a big mistake,
Chán Master Yúnmén’s statement
was also a big mistake,
also, this poem is a big mistake.
look at the person
next to you and you
will see Buddha–
look in a mirror
and in the reflection
is also a Buddha.
outside the sun is shining–
inside there are many smiling faces
all come to pay homage
to Śakyamuni Buddha
and thank him for choosing
to be here today.

Friday, May 7, 2010

life and death

This is a poem I wrote when I had to leave a Zen Training Session held by my then teacher in Long Beach.

to my loving teacher Jibŏng Sŏnsa and our future Jido pŏpsa teachers Tim Colohan, SDPS, Anita Feng, SDPS and Eric Nord, SDPS

life and death,
coming and going,
is the true way
of the cosmos.
sŏnsa-nim will be teaching
each of you the Dao
through which we might open up
our students to this realization.
we, each of us, have been touched
by the sadness of parting
as well as the joy of reunion.
tonight, the five of us had a joyous reunion;
tomorrow, I pray I am in time to say goodbye
to my bless’d father.
I am sorry to leave this teachers meeting,
yet I know this is the correct thing to do;
you are in good hands
with our teacher
and this was what I most importantly
wanted to convey.
most of us in this universe
do not want to think about mortality,
yet this the very essence of what
makes us human beings,
we understand there is an endpoint
to this journey that we come to call life.
my sister informed me tonight
that my father almost died while
we were sitting and having dinner,
how strange the play of life is,
and how quickly situations can change,
yet this is the journey of a bodhisattva.
I must leave you in the good and skilled
hands of our bless’d teacher jibong.
I wanted so much to support this
event and to share in your insights,
but life has told me it is not to be.
I regret having to leave abruptly
and pray you will forgive my indolence,
but I know that each one of you
would do the same
had you been given this situation,
and this very knowledge
fills my heart with overwhelming joy.
Tim took such complete and utter
care of me tonight,
I felt warm and comfortable
in his love and compassion
and this is the essence of why we practice.
the question I have for you is simple,
can you help your students to see,
that cause and effect are clear?
that understanding our
correct situation
our correct condition
and our correct situation,
can cast away the confusion
and we can learn to function
completely in this world.
life is brief
and fleeting,
it is precious
and should be nurtured.
please pay attention
to our guide
and trust him completely
as I do,
I will see you all in February,
train hard
and know that the Dao
will help us all
attain a mind
which is clear
like space.
kwanseum bosal,
kwanseum bosal,
kwanseum bosal………….

Dōch’ŏng, JDPSN
January 26, 2008

my father passed away the next day while I was holding his hand.