THE UNSAYABLE

Each person enters Mystery in their own way;
this is difficult to understand, let alone explain.

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Unsayable

Spring 1967 –
one night in the kitchen
two friends stand talking when . . .
words! stopping the world.

Emptiness . . .
Light . . .
Laughter . . .
Words . . .

The world beginning again,
one night in the kitchen.

(for GG)

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Through My Doors a River Runs

Granted a shattering glimpse of crystalline quiet early,
I came to understand it late.

Finding no one to explain the Unexplainable,
I kept a different kind of quiet;
drifted along some usual ways –
school, jobs, careers, a run in public life.
Now and then would peace descend –
alleviating for a while the dis-satisfaction of dis-ease.

These days I dwell within a large and fertile plain.
Through my doors a river runs. I do not interfere.
Without reason I read poetic lines revealing Way;
Living unfolding within a gift of ease.

(with thanks to Wang Wei as translated by David Hinton)

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Naming the Unnameable

Whether to speak of the One, the Emptiness of Emptiness, God, or even in the philosophy of Zen, the Nothingness beyond God, is not to describe reality, transcendental or otherwise, but to make a poetic choice.

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Notes on the Notion of a Path

1
A path doesn’t show up in the walking, it shows up in the telling.

2
Your path is always behind you.

3
You discover your path at the end, if there is one.

4
There is no path from here to here.

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The Way

1
While the Way is beyond words, words are not in the way.

2
The pointers of a master never reach the Way.

3
The Tao,
immortal Way,
is no way.

4
Right and wrong are not part of the Way; they arise with the conversations that make us human.

5
There is no way to the Way.

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Surrendering

1
At some moment, perhaps, protesting the wayness of things simply stops.

2
At some moment life may disappoint us into the realization
that it turns out only as it does, not as we wish –
afterwards, a certain ease may appear.

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Sitting in the Garden

Sitting in the garden, drinking Chinese tea,
smoking a favorite cigar,
speaking aloud lines from worry free poets,
finding myself the same.

February sun receding into shade –
simple pleasures, simple life, simpler man.

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All gifts come from the gift of this moment.

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Gratitude

1
With life not turning out
as wanted, expected, hoped,
why this gratitude?

2
When everything is given,
nothing is required,
gratitude alone remains.

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Pushing the River

1
Pushing the river does not affect the outcome of the voyage; it’s just tiring.

2
When you no longer push the river, the river no longer pushes you.

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In the amusement park of life we don’t take the rides, the rides take us.

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Life is like a roller coaster: it’s not obvious that you can relax and enjoy the ride.

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All Idleness in the Back Patio

All idleness in the back patio,
away from the world for a while,
poetry, a cigar, a pot of tea.

One moment empties into the next…
the Protestant Ethic has fled this life.

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The peace that passeth understanding can’t be understood…worse, it can’t be experienced.

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No Longer Concerned with Place in the World

No longer concerned with place in the world,
time relaxes, days fill with quiet mystery.
Everyday life unburdened, cooking, once a chore,
loses tedium. I cook and eat at home.

A sapling soaks in the garden after planting.
I sit in the radiance of things as they are.

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Even the darkest clouds do not refute the sky.

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Enough

Little to show for this life:
few things the world desires.

The early summer sun cool,
light breeze empties passing thoughts.

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Growing Older, My Idleness Perfects Itself

Growing older, my idleness perfects itself.
Morning I drink tea, afternoon gaze into empty clouds
drifting so slowly they seem forever in the sky.

Reading poems of ancient masters, notebook at hand,
thoughts triggered, then captured before
they disappear into a silence without name.

Tranquil in this valley town, I savor passing time.

(With thanks to Po Chu-I as translated by David Hinton)

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Morning Arrives with Blues

Morning arrives with blues,
the afternoon brings bliss.

Questions of why, no longer asked –
who knows which of 10,000 things comes next?

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Koans

1
How can you get somewhere you already are?

2
What can be said about the Unsayable?

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Multiple Choice

You can never see Original Mind because

1) you’re looking for it

2) there is only Original Mind

3) there is no mind, Original or otherwise

4) all of the above

5) none of the above

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Life resolves in mystery, not explanation.

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There is only the One, which, as it happens, is Empty.

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at all times,
if you look, listen closely,
Nothing is happening

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True idleness is Nothing doing.

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What you are is immortal; who you are is not.

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The Unsayable

1
The Unsayable speaks for itself.

2
The Unsayable when spoken is silence.

 

 

 

 

 

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