BY WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA
Retrieved and reposted by Poetry Foundation website.
Retrieved and reposted by Poetry Foundation website.
A poem by Lightning Heart
The White Orchid
Remember when you offered it to me,
It was after Shiva touched my shoulders and
Sent seizures through blood, skin, and bone
You came with a lion’s mouth and nose, stringy haired,
Downed in frayed gossamer.
I would not accept it at first out of
Fear for what it meant
Dew lived on its petals, even in the desert
Its yellow mouth, frozen in a seductive smile
They say never to accept an orchid
If it is in bloom,
Something about shocking its system,
Stagnating its growth
Then again, I’ve never been a rule-follower
Now that it is here, I stare at it,
Especially that face–
like butterfly wings suspended on a corkboard
only the pin does not kill it,
for there is no pin
Not this time.
The clay pot is too small
It has to break someday
when tubers burst through
. . .or better yet. . .
When they devour the pot with new life
–a poem by Lightning Heart
I hiked at Phoenix Mountain Preserve on Good Friday with quail, lizards, saguaro, and chipmunks. At the top of the mountain I sat on the ground and waited for nothing.
A man and his two children –teenager and a tween—soon arrived.
What did they say when the reached the top of the mountain?
“Nice job, buddy,” the man told his son. “Alright, we’ll chill for a minute.”
They posed for photos of themselves against the cityscape: selfies, group shots, never turning to view the side that held no streets. What did they capture inside their camera?
I heard the flies buzz, felt the sand against my palms.
“Okay, let’s go down, we’re done,” said the man after three minutes.
A middle-aged couple soon came to the top.
“Is this it?” said the woman, disappointed. She searched for a higher point, found it, and led her husband to the next crest. I watched them climb and once they reached that peak, they immediately turned for the descent.
What did they find at the top of the mountain? More rocks and sand perhaps. Something they climbed for, but could not name and could not touch; something always there, but unseen, untouched, unheard, un-experienced by sleepwalkers.
What do you find at the top of the mountain?
In Paradise Valley I have a neighbor named Jane. Jane’s bamboo plants creep into my patio area, dropping dead leaves onto my rock garden.
Each week I clean the dead leaves from the rock garden; sometimes twice a week, sometimes more.
Within half an hour after each cleaning, a slight breeze blows and more dead leaves fall from Jane’s bamboo.
Jane’s bamboo carries a great teaching about the impermanence of all things.
“The core teaching of the Buddha always has been that all things are dependently arisen, hence fundamentally devoid of any independently lasting substance. All that’s happening in the phenomenal world is an interplay of form and energy that creates a transitory phenomenon in time and space. In our ignorance, we continue to interpret this interplay as real-in-itself. Moreover, as captives of linguistic formulations we even interpret our conceptual thinking to represent something real.”
–from Mu Seong’s The Heart of the Universe
Much water imagery lately, in journeying as well as meditation; in dreams as well as in synchronicities of everyday life. What does it all mean? In the wise words of an old man by the fire, “It doesn’t mean anything.” Reading the Teachings from the Huainanzi today, this was the message:
“Of all the things in the world, nothing is softer than water. Water is accommodating and yielding, but its depth cannot be plumbed and its boundaries cannot be measured. Rising to the sky, it becomes rain and mist. Falling to the earth, it becomes springs and underground lakes. Life cannot exist without water, and crops cannot be cultivated without it. Water benefits all and has no favorites. It nourishes the smallest insect and the largest mammal and does not expect gratitude. It enriches the world and does not begrudge those who use it.
“Water is soft yet strong. Strike it, and it cannot be injured. Pierce it, and it cannot be punctured. Grasp it, and it cannot be held. Its strength can wear down stone and metal. Its sustenance can nourish the whole world. It can float in the sky as clouds, squeeze through narrow valleys as streams, and spread across wide-open plains as lakes. It takes from the earth and gives back to the earth. Unbiased and nonjudgmental, it does not have notions of first and last and does not distinguish between us and them. Everything is equal in its eyes. Separating and merging, it blends with its surroundings and is at one with the sky and the earth. Not conforming to the left or the right, it can be straight or meandering. Not restrained by space and time, it can be present at the beginning and the end of all things.”
-teachings from the Huainanzi, The Natural Way, translated by Eva Wong
It means nothing. It means everything. Such is the Dao.
Shared by Zen Master Wonji Dharma.
“Everything is already determined and has no meaning. I had met with Zen Master Seung Sahn in a private interview back in about 1992. I have spoken often about this particular interview and even posed Zen Master Seung Sahn’s comments to many of the other teachers in the Kwan Um School of Zen, many of the comments I received were less than satisfying. Apparently, he hadn’t made this particular statement to very many people so they weren’t sure how to respond.
“I don’t remember the particular gongàn I was working on at the time, but I had a question about it and honestly, I wish I remember what question I asked him at the time; yet his response really shocked me at the time and I was extremely confused. Nevertheless, his response to my question was “You don’t understand! You have no choice!” I remember thinking, “WHAT? This isn’t Zen Buddhism.” So, I said to him, “Did you just tell me that I have no choice?” Daesonsa-nim said, “Yes, everything is already determined and you have no choice.”
“This confused the shit out of me, so in desperation, I said to him “That sounds like Catholic Determinism, are you telling me that everything is written in a book written by the Dao or God?” He then looked me squarely in the eyes, “You don’t understand, so you are confused.” I asked him to please explain it to me and he said “Look, everything is already determined, and you have no choice. And until you realize that you have no choice, only then do you get a choice.”
“He continued, “Everything has no meaning, no reason, and no choice, and we have our practice to help us understand our true self. Then, we can change no meaning to Great Meaning, which means Great Love. We can change no reason to Great Reason, which means Great Compassion. Finally, we can change no choice to Great Choice, which means Great Vow and Bodhisattva Way.”
“At this point, I bowed to him and thanked him for the interview and frankly I wasn’t sure what it meant. His statement became a huàtóu for me and I sat with it for a very long time, and eventually I digested his comments.” –Wonji Dharma
“Creativity and ego cannot go together. If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment.
“You must not be your own obstacle. You must not be owned by the environment you are in. You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you. You must be able to freely move in and out of your mind. THIS is being free.
“There is no way you can’t open up your creativity. There is no ego to speak of. This is my belief.” — Jeong Kwan, Buddhist monk (nun)