Ah, Friends, Hearts of Faith —
a moment of your attention, please:
We have been checked into these drab motels
of restlessness and discontent for so long
that we have begun to think of them
as our actual forwarding address.
We are driven hither and thither by a little
imaginary machine percolating beneath our skin,
so that we never can pause, relax, and rest.
In the fervor of our archaeology, we gather up
pieces of colored glass and hold them high above
our heads, crowing about our latest treasures,
yet in solitary moods of desperation, there
lurks a secret craving for that of which
we’ve long despaired – some taste
of truly blessed certainty.
At this virtual Ghost Festival, I have spirit money
to burn. Still, the Law of Balance allows no exceptions.
Luck and misfortune are inexorably intertwined,
and although I’ve been playing with these two
dice my whole life, they seem useless
to me now, as does any pretense
I’ve heard it said that those who
don’t make flowers, makes thorns.
“If we’re not building a home where love and wisdom
can thrive, we’re only building a prison.”
Truly, the slightest hint of arrogance and conceit
can pull us unawares inside those prison gates,
where only the most heart-felt, genuine
humility can finally release us.
All strategy and effort are merely artificial contrivance,
all willfulness only sinks one further into quicksand.
Perhaps this is why the King of Masks remarked:
“The dragon in the shallows is toyed with by the shrimp.”
In this trickster carnival of chameleons, you ask:
what is it that really matters, why am I here,
for what purpose have I descended
down into this serpents’ den?
Certainly, this world can seem to be a cold place,
and yet somehow we can bring comfort to it.
What nobler purpose can there be in life,
but to lighten another’s burden?
What greater satisfaction is there, than for
hearts to pour warmth into each other?
A drop of compassion can bring wellsprings of gratitude.
Claim personal credit for it, however, and it’s no longer
true compassion, but merely crafty self-promotion
in the earnest guise of mercy.
“Is there fate or free will; is the mind in the body,
or the body in the mind; do we live on after
death, or is that the end?”
When such questions are posed,
my eyes now drift wearily skyward.
I came to this raucous street party
to drink the wine and disappear, not
to champion any provisional position.
Now I stagger, nearly blinded,
from The Tavern of the Drunken Idiots,
but the gods take pity on fools such as I.
I hold this tattered heart of mine in the space
where it gently opens and blends with eternity,
where something utterly quiet lets me hear
the whole world deeply sigh in relief.
They say the heart acts as a translator between
mystery and intelligence; that it has its own
ancient dwellers who do not speak with
those who are merely passing through.
Today, the darling Queen of Infinite Qualities
arrives on a flower-laden float of Kindness,
and all along the crowded festive avenues,
intoxicating perfumes of Jasmine and
Honeysuckle run giddy riot
through the senses.
Spring’s first Buttercups are enough to quiet
all dispute, just as Fall reveals the destiny
of our own brief dreamy appearance.
Right or wrong, good or bad, beautiful or ugly –
in this festival of immortal souls, what use
are such grossly empty distinctions?
What makes any of them more than mere
words inscribed on water — surely not
our preconditioned thoughts?
Is it this or is it that, is it so or is it not –
all just traps where mind is caught!
When we finally see things clearly,
we find the seeker is the sought.
Realizing that every life is precious and dear,
we can at last discard our cynical charades.
After our death, we’ll remember what we
truly are, we’ll forgive this fading dream
with all of its poignant masquerades.
Not until we stumble and fall
can we know where we truly stand.
In the grace of this free falling,
there is really no solid place to land.
Not chasing after things, not running away
from them either – that’s what it means
to simply relax and let life be.
The less we dwell on what appears,
the happier and more at peace are we.
Whatever arises in mind, body, or emotions
now, I just observe and let it go, like an
old man watching children at play
in the lightly falling snow.
One after another, each will cross over
in their own time, and these words I’ve spoken
will be like forgotten toys, scattered over playgrounds
in crumbled towns and cities, abandoned long ago.
I have emptied out my pockets, there is nothing
in them worth a care. If you throw your arms
around me, you’ll only be embracing air.
Just so, this story has rambled on long
enough, though sharing nothing new.
Please forgive my indulgence here,
my sand has now poured through.