Intangible exoticism of the Gymnopedie
as a subtle saraband of piquant, melancholic
harmony gleaned in an orb-curved heart-cage,
birth and death in a day mirage at the edge of
a sea-streaming dream, with reverence for all
jewel-blood glints in the lifespan of a mayfly,
swept into a frequency of sun-colored carp
rising to feed on remains of a night, timed
to the rhythm of the drift, the lifting tide,
light-mind untied from any memories,
rippling more stillness over stillness,
water in a leaking bucket, dripping
sweet silence everywhere.
Master Xuyun: “Mental speech arises from the mind, so the mind is the origin of speech; thought arises from the mind, so the mind is the origin of thought. The mind gives birth to everything and it is the origin of everything. In fact, the origin of speech is the origin of thought. The place before thought is the mind.”
The mind –
what can be said of it?
It is the sound of the breeze
that blows through a skull,
posed on a post in a pasture.
Since there is really no such thing
as mind, with what wisdom
can it be enlightened?
Still, the riotous buttercup party
carpeting the glistening springtime hillsides
reveals the dynamic union of heaven and earth,
all smiling faces manifesting the mutual permeation
of spontaneous beauty and pristine emptiness.
Master Xuyun: “To put it straightforwardly, where a thought is not yet to arise is the origin of speech. Thus we know the observation of the origin of speech is the observation of the mind. The original face before our birth is the mind. And to see the original face before our birth is to observe the mind.”
When original wishing,
which is only water seeking
itself, surveys this water world
with clear moon eyes of recognition,
every molecule responds by appearing
just as it does, is, the elemental moisture
maybe pregnant with wild things, like
the perpetual combustion of galaxies
invisible to the day eye, not a thing
thought, a trick in time, a child’s
nursery rhyme, empty and full
of any wish – reflected moon
in a dish of rain water, left
out before the rain.
Master Xuyun: “And so the final problem the practitioner faces is actually to enter the Void that beginning students like to theorize about. He must attain ‘no-mind’. Instead of proceeding in any one direction, he has to expand in all directions, or as Han Shan (Cold Mountain) would say, ‘into infinity’. In Chan we also call this “letting go of the hundred-foot pole.”
It sprawls in perfection in all directions!
Now gone the grab, the stab’s gone on
to pierce itself full through, whittled
down to the diamond tip of itself,
the masthead of momentum,
balancing on a flame tip,
pulsing in the ashes,
spilling out in
now open your mouth
and try to say it,
see if your tongue
Master Xuyun: “[The practitioner] has discovered what it means to be egoless, but now he must live out the results of that discovery. His actions can’t be deliberate and contrived. And so he achieves spontaneity and becomes one with reality. No need to struggle further.”
Standing here where the river
merges with the sea, all flowing
motion has halted, and only some
soft-winged wordless sound still lingers
in the motionless air, an echoing memory
of a great sea bird hovering, changeless, in
a still-life pose above the frozen tidal scene.
I open my mouth to speak, but
not a word comes forth.
If you wander this strip of beach someday,
you may find me standing still, rooted
in a primal, timeless scene, and if
you listen without ears, you
may hear a certain sound –
the breathless sound
of this small poem,