Ah, Friends, Hearts of Faith —
a moment, please:
We have been checked into these drab motels
of restlessness and discontent for so long now
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 under our skin,
so that we never rest.
In the fervor of our archaeology,
we gather pieces of broken glass
and hold them high above our heads,
crowing about our latest treasures,
yet in solitary moods of desperation,
there lurks the secret craving for that
of which we’ve long despaired –
some taste of blessed certainty.
At this Ghost Festival,
I have spirit money to burn,
but the Law of Balance allows
for no exceptions.
Luck and misfortune are intertwined —
and though I’ve played with these dice
my whole life, they are useless
to me now, as is any certainty.
It is said that someone who
doesn’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 inside those prison gates, where
only the most heart-felt humility
can finally release us.
Wherever we walk, the monkey
is surely not far behind.
Perhaps this is why
the King of Masks remarked:
“The dragon in the shallows
is toyed with by the shrimp.”
Yes, this world can seem to be a cold place,
but we can bring warmth to it.
What better purpose can there be in life,
but to lighten others’ burdens?
What greater enjoyment, than for
hearts to pour into each other?
A drop of Compassion
brings wellsprings of Gratitude.
Make it personal, however,
and it’s no longer true Compassion.
Even tiny eyes
can see immense things.
What are you looking for?
Is there truly free will, or
is life pre-determined?
Is the mind in the body,
Or the body in the mind?
When such questions are posed,
my eyes drift skyward.
I stare, still somehow disbelieving,
at the charred ruins of my own boat.
How swiftly the fire, once ignited,
showed me there is nothing we can own.
You ask from whence I come.
I answer, “Here”.
These ashes made a womb, and somehow
a living sprout has pushed up
through the mud.
Deep gratitude for light!
Whichever way I turn in the mirror
of this vastness, my own light
reflects back at me.
What’s awake is awake in darkness,
as well as in the light.
It’s the light within both, the light
in which both light and darkness
appear and disappear.
We create the world from our own light,
yet we are not that luminous world, nor
anything with a name or form.
To the mind, the light appears as darkness,
known only by its reflections – this world
afloat in a sea of light.
All is seen in the light, the light
behind the mind, except
the light itself.
To itself, is it even light?
There’s a light we shine to illuminate
the parts of us that still resist the night,
and all that lingers within our darkness.
Shine on, Dear Light!
I’ve heard it said that,
within the dark night of despair,
there still awaits a hidden joy.
And yet within that joy itself,
there is a desolate, crumbling ruin
of a palace, stripped of any regal treasure,
rain freely entering, gently soaking
the remnant ashes from which I’ve come,
quietly washing them down my cheeks
like tears shed for no one, nothing –
not a sorrow, not joy, not anything
but rain mixed with ash
with no place to land.
Now I stagger, blinded, from
The Tavern of the Drunken Idiots,
my limp more evident now,
but the tricks of the monkey
are wasted on me in my condition.
The gods take pity on fools such as I.
I hold you here where we both are
blended with eternity, where something quiet
lets me hear the whole world sigh in relief.
I sit astride the toenail
of the Goddess of Infinite Qualities,
yet without any qualities found in myself.
Where She roams, a percussion of thunder
echoes from Her footsteps, and yet
I hear only the glad murmur of reception
from the earth on which She treads.
They say that 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, but I ask:
“Who is there on this shining floor
not spellbound by Her Dancing Feet?”
The Beloved arrives on a boat of Kindness,
while all along the river banks the intoxicating
perfumes of Jasmine and Honeysuckle
run riot through the senses.
Spring’s first Buttercups
are enough to quiet all dispute,
just as Autumn reveals the destiny
of our own dreamy appearance.
Yes, no, maybe so –
in this blissful garden of perfect souls,
what use are such distinctions, except
to fuel a game of wry charades?
When life is this dear, can we not feel
the One who summons us Home,
even now, even Now?
Don’t stop anywhere!
Not until we finally fail and fall
can we know where we truly stand.
After this death, we will remember what we are,
and in that remembrance, be able to forgive the dream
with all its poignant masquerades.
Here, I have emptied out my pockets –
there is nothing in them anymore.
If you throw your arms around me,
what you embrace is only air.
Whatever appears in mind, body, or emotions,
I just observe and let it go, like an old man
watching children at play.
One after another, each will cross over
in their own time, and these words, like
forgotten toys, will be scattered through
playgrounds of cities long abandoned.
But please forgive my indulgence here –
my sand has now poured through.