Monday, December 12, 2011

These Spiritual Window Shoppers

These spiritual window-shoppers,
who idly ask, 'How much is that?'
Oh, I'm just looking.
They handle a hundred items and put them down,
shadows with no capital.

What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.
But these walk into a shop,
and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment,
in that shop.

Where did you go? "Nowhere."
What did you have to eat? "Nothing much."

Even if you don't know what you want,
buy _something,_ to be part of the exchanging flow.
Start a huge, foolish project,
like Noah.

It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A few people have posted DESIDERTA on Facebook today and I couldn't resist posting this Video on my blog. I will probably get some shit for it, but lighten up and eat a bagel with loads of cream cheese. I first heard this on the National Lampoon 'Radio Dinner' album when Desiderata was making the rounds of my local High School back in 1971.

the original

desiderata -
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
 Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser
 persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
 But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
 Be yourself.
 Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
 Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
 You are a child of the universe,
 no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
 whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
 it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
 Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann c.     1920

Sunday, September 11, 2011

the door

A man went to the door
of the Beloved and knocked.
A voice replied, 'Who is there?'
The man answered, 'It is I.'
The voice said,
'There is no room for 'I' and 'Thou.''
The door remained closed.
After a year of solitude
and deprivation he returned
and knocked again.
A voice from within asked,
'Who is there?'
The man said, 'It is Thou.'
The door was finally open.

 Jelaluddin Rumi

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rambling in the Eunseon Ravine

no sound of mountain or beings,
flock of birds fly accompanying a cloud.
water flows down and flowers in full bloom,
I forget the time to return.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mt. Yeonam

The day was getting dark and I saw the snow blossoms
 On snow capped Mt. Yeonam,
 A young student informed me that
 The drum had been already been struck for the evening meal

The Collected Writings of Gyeongheo

Monday, August 1, 2011


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,
Wumen-sí 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.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

renegade ji do poep sa nim

sitting quietly in the upstairs dharma room
the early morning stillness envelopes me
participants are scarce
only hang ja nim and I are present
after some period of time
the stillness of the morning is suddenly broken
the door creaks open, thudding footsteps resound,
and the slick rustling of nylon clothing
thinking immediately arises
who is it who doesn’t understand
correct situation and correct function
trying to return focus to the floor
the noise irritates me
suddenly a tap on the shoulder
reveals the culprit
a renegade ji do poep sa nim
who has snuck out of kyol che
the irritation vanishes as she
invites me to an impromptu breakfast
teacher and student,
wonderful to have such friends
catching up on events
the realization arises
that we are not two and not one
the eggs, hash browns and toast are delicious
the conversation is clear
don’t attach at all to the process
seize the moment before it is gone.

March 8, 1996
Providence Zen Center, RI

Saturday, May 21, 2011


we sometimes find ourselves
in the the craggy places in life
there is no warmth
the sun always seems to be obscured by clouds
as the dampness sets in
we realize our place in the cosmos
good and bad
right and wrong
these are merely constructs
if we attach to our situation
we lose ourselves in the process
it is this subtle understanding
that blocks the path
to our true selves
whether our situation is good
or our situation is bad
has nothing to do with our lives.
we must see the truth
in this very moment
and transcendence all of our thinking
to arrive at the present
and say hello
to our true selves

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


a man took off
all of his clothes
then went
running down the street.
one mouth said,
another mouth said,

but, you are crazy,
I am not crazy.

a tree penetrates
the center of the sun,
while the stone boy
eats the brilliant moon.

who repaired
the sun and the moon?
in a nest,
baby birds

only for
their mother’s mouth.

November 13, 1975


the cat
only waits
at the mouse hole,
a crying boy
only calls
for his mother.
there is nothing,
so why
does the western wind
shake the eastern forest?
the sun
is setting
over the southern mountain.

November 12, 1975


a dream—is a non-dream,
a non-dream—is a dream.
who has made dream?
who has made non-dream?
if one mind is clear;
infinite time is manifest.
the sun shines everywhere,
illuminating and bright without end.

June 17, 1975

Sunday, May 8, 2011

inclement weather

dense fog fills the valleys.
the grey cold creeps into my bones.
mossy peaks jut out of clouds,
their outlines a blur—
out of focus and
stopped in time;
they float on the horizon.
my mind is a mess—
just like
the confusing mist.
floating just where
I want clarity—
hiding it from my sight
I strain to see,
with all my might—
when I stop
and just relax—
out of the corner
of my eye.
a fleeting glimpse
tells me
it will all be
all right!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

for sŏnsa–nim

grey beard
soft as white clouds
his clear eyes manifest
in the azure blue sky
the old man said;
‘soft is better,
like yielding water
wears at the granite.”
I will meet you
in ten thousand years,
when spring comes
snow melts
and water
flows to the ocean.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

bismillah road kill

listening to Coleman Barks[i]
recite a poem by
Jalal ad-Din Rumi[ii] about sacrifice
and the heaviness of karma.
so many attachments
we hold in our breasts.
how could we ever be forthright,
with such heavy burdens to bear?
metaphorically speaking he said;
“say Bismillah[iii], in the name of God,
 as the priest does with a knife when
 he offers an animal at the altar.
 Bismillah your old self
 and find your real name.”
at this same exact moment
on my way to work,
I have lost who I am.
what is it that this life really means,
out of the confusion,
comes the clarity
and now I understand completely,
Jalal ad-Din Rumi said Bismillah
for me in this place,
yet at that time.
realizing now that time and space
have no meaning.
just now, the ageless
blue sierra mountains
are sentinels of time immemorial,
whose vibrant peaks
in this bless’d morning air
are cloaked and hidden
in dense grey clouds;
yet, the sky above the pacific ocean
is transparent and neon blue,
dancing with the souls of
the tens of billions who went before.
a single thread of clouds connects
between the mountains and the ocean,
while seagulls float effortlessly
on the morning air.
Jalal ad-Din Rumi is alive in my heart
as smoke rises from a distant chimney
a smile appears upon my lips.

December 22, 1997
Highway 39

[i] Coleman Barks: an American poet and renowned translator of Rumi poetry and other mystic poets of Persia. Barks has published several volumes of Rumi’s poetry since 1976, including The Hand of Poetry, Five Mystic Poets of Persia in 1993, The Essential Rumi in 1995 and The Book of Love in 2003. Coleman Barks himself does not speak Persian, and bases his translations entirely off of other English translations of Rumi. In addition, while the original Persian poetry of Rumi is heavily rhymed and metered, Barks has used primarily free verse. This has led some to criticize Barks’ works as essentially original creations, while others laud his efforts at providing the essence of Rumi’s poetry in an accessible format.

[ii] Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (Persian: مولانا جلال الدين محمد رومي‎ ​, Turkish: Mevlânâ Celâleddin Mehmed Rumi) ‎ (1207 — 1273 CE), also known as Muhammad Balkhī (Persian: محمد بلخى‎ ​), was a 13th century Persian poet, jurist, theologian and teacher of Sufism. Rumi was born in Balkh (then a city of the Greater Khorasan province of Persia, now part of Afghanistan) and died in Konya (in present-day Turkey). His birthplace and native tongue indicate a Persian/Iranian heritage. He also wrote his poetry in Persian and his works are widely read in Iran and Afghanistan where the language is spoken. He lived most of his life and produced his works under the Seljuk Empire and his descendants today are Turkish citizens and live in modern day Turkey. Rumi’s importance transcends national and ethnic borders. He has had a significant influence on both Turkish and Persian literature throughout the centuries. His poems have been translated into many of the world’s languages and have appeared in various formats. He was also the founder of the Mevlevi order, better known as the “Whirling Dervishes”, who believe in performing their worship in the form of dance and music ceremony called the sema.

[iii] Bismilla: (Arabic بسملة) is an Arabic-language noun which is used as the collective name of the whole of the recurring Islamic phrase bismi-llāhi ar-rahmāni ar-rahīmi (listen). This phrase constitutes the first verse of the first “sura” (or chapter) of the Qur’an, and is used in a number of contexts by Muslims. It is recited several times as part of Muslim daily prayers, and it is usually the first phrase in the preamble of the constitutions of Islamic countries.

Friday, January 14, 2011

technologically dependent

This one is kind of dated, ha ha ha...... wrote it in 1996
damn, my modem’s not responding,
how am I going to get my e-mail?
last week it was the hard drive
on my computer that caused the anxiety.
and when I lost my pager
I had to change the link to the
zen center voice mail,
my personal voice mail,
my business voice mail
and my automatic fax notification
not to mention the business cards
and printed matter.
what if someone’s trying to page me on the old number?
when I forgot my electronic organizer
on my last business trip I couldn’t call anyone.
as I leave the zen center
to go to work this morning,
there is a single rose blooming
on the bush by the front door.
delicately white, the edges are
faintly trimmed in scarlet.
bending over, the fragrance is overpowering.
of course......that’s it.
the front lawn is vibrant green
with new growth from the recent rains.
the air is crisp this morning,
breathing out
the warm air condenses
and the vapor slowly dissipates.
January 8, 1996
Hae An Soen Won

zen master fortune cookie

Photo of an open fortune cookieImage via Wikipedia

Christmas Eve party, conversation with a monk
about a koan interview I had
with a teacher from another zen tradition.
“he gave up his center
  and asked me to teach him.”
surprised by the monk’s response,
“this is a great man!” hyon mun said to me.
pretending like I also understood, I smiled.
today, at lunch, after eating ma-po tofu—
the fortune cookie read;
“yours is the role of host wherever you may go.”
I had to laugh out loud!
it finally struck me.
host and guest are not important,
one is not better than the other.
to ask a visiting zen student to teach you,
when there is something to be learned—
is the mark of a great man.
how blind I am—stumbling about this way and that.
how lucky I am—to have a teacher like this.
outside the restaurant the air is warm,
a good friend is smiling.
we have managed to escape
the drudgery of work—once again.
how lucky I am to be so blind.

December 28, 1995
La Habra, CA

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