Monthly Archives: April 2013

every moment

every moment
is simultaneously
a small death
and rebirth

Some thoughts on Right Speech

Sometimes – more often than not – Right Speech means silence in a matter, not in ignorance or in ignoring something (not wanting to know or wishing its nonexistence) but refraining from speaking in the understanding that to talk about it will not help the situation, and that speaking out may even make the situation worse.

We share a reality (thoughts on the bombing of the Boston Marathon)

It saddens me that people feel they need to hurt others in order for their pain and dissatisfaction to be heard. Whatever the problem may be there should never be any reason why one should take life even if the human condition is seemingly unbearable. Solutions can only be solved as a collective for we share a reality. We are dependent beings in a common environment at a certain time. So your problem is essentially my problem and we should live with this understanding and find solutions together. You, terrorists, are wrong if you believe you are alone in this world. You, America, too are wrong if you think they alone are the problem. So when we “talk with guns” and not words we are not really talking but shouting in pain, shouting in anger. And no one is listening in such an atmosphere.

Prayers go out to those who lost someone.

How to Build a Buddha

Like everything else,
You build a Buddha
From the ground up.


clockwise ascent

more progression
sideways, slow 

doesn’t describe you

procession of souls 


as life 

views far

beyond mountains, seas

sees before again 

gentle decline 


your anticipation

a rebirth 

before next ride

The Printed Word

“Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.”

Carol Burnett

Sounds like good advice for Right Speech.

Why did the neighbour cross the street?

“We have been all the way to the Moon and back,
but we have trouble crossing the street
to meet the new neighbour.”

Dalai Lama

Basho’s Frog Poem and Gutei’s Finger

Old pond
A frog leaps in –
Sound of the water

Furu ike ya
Kawazu tobi komu
Mizu no oto

Perhaps the most well known haiku.

Often said to embody all that is Zen in it, the old world and now are linked by the sound of the water.

I wrote a poem which goes like this:

There is no old pond.
There is no frog that leaps in.
No sound, no water.

This is a pale imitation of the style of the old masters like Mumonkan or Hakuin. Our fixation with the old pond, the frog and the sound will ultimately undo us. To reach enlightenment it is necessary to forget – so to speak – these things which belong to the mind’s illusion.

There is a koan – Case #3 in the Mumonkan – that is similar:

“The Zen master Gutei used to raise one finger as a gesture of Zen. Once a visitor asked Gutei boy attendant what does his master teach. The Boy raised his finger. Master Gutei hearing this cut off the boys finger. In pain, the boy ran crying. The boy called by his master turned, only to see the master riase his finger. At that moment the boy was enlightened.”

I doubt Gutei really cut his finger off and so the boy was also crying in mock. But doubtless was his enlightenment.

The point is Gutei’s teaching has nothing to do with the finger or the gesture. So the boy’s raising of the finger has no meaning, no power. It is as ordinary as Gutei’s gesture. But Gutei’s gesture has all the ability to bring about enlightenment, as does Basho’s poem, but no the boy’s finger.

Why should this be so? If you can say then you have glimpsed something.

One further note: the visitor to Gutei no doubt was pushing the boy. He had seen something in him. He knew he needed one more nudge to be pushed over the edge. In other words this was no ordinary visitor but someone with insight. Zen koans and their dialogues are not accidental. They are carefully orchestrated for the benefit of the student, to bring about enlightenement in him or her.