January 07, 2009

Reading Our Poems of Practice Together

January 7, 2009

Not long after we began Zen practice in Olympia, the sangha took up the practice of writing a poem in the new year.  We read our newly composed poems together on the first gathering night after January 1.  Sometimes this date fell on the anniversary of Ryokan's death day, so it was a  nice gesture to offer to his memory.  It always gave each one a chance to speak in a different way, by heightening our language of practice and giving the opportunity to articulate our understanding of Dharma in poetic form.  After all, Dogen Zenji and Ryokan both used poetry for the deep heart of awakened expression.
On this evening then in 2009, we come together and bring our poems rolled up and tucked into the shirt pockets and sleeves.  Slowly, one by one, we unravel the words and allow them to hang in the silence.  It is one of our treasured practices.
So, perhaps you'll take a moment to write a few lines that express your spiritual life.  Straightforward, simple, honest language is best.  Perhaps one sentence a day.   The Dharma singing out of "Emptiness, like the mouth , open, hanging in space." (Dogen)
Eido Frances