January 08, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere

January 8, 2009

Rivers in Western Washington continue to swell.  A photograph of a rushing stream swallowing everything in its path makes us realize the power of water.  I'm thinking of the very poor whose modest homes are flooded.  They have so little and yet they lose so much.  In today's practice we keep in mind all those who are challenged by the flooding waters; we remember to claim their essential Buddha Nature even as they grapple with the severity of loss.  Constant mindfulness of Sound Observer, the Compassionate One, is always in our midst.

We read poems of practice last evening at Olympia Zen Center and had a brilliant time.  Some who could not be here sent poems coming from as far away as New Zealand.  Sorry that I did not collect them, but I'll offer my own today.  Here it is.

Buddha's Enlightenment Day

A bodhisattva knows the hour of failure and loss
knows to pray with a heart intent on the moment
the body trembling with a weight
that almost cannot be lifted.

Across the trail a pile of branches
as if a pyre had formed of itself
out of the fallen arms of trees
waiting to turn into fire.

Beside the solitary hut, a black crow
poised in shadow
its yellow eyes intent on all
that moves from sleep.

Through the long, hard night
toil of witness undoes the day's labor
dark into light, light into dark
one done, another undone.

Here, with all its rubble and confusion
querencia, the peaceful abode,
despite the castle turrets and flags
that build in the day's pronouncements.

There is nothing perfect here
nothing disturbed by hurry or reason
no obstacle to sight and sound
in the miracle of the empty hand.

Each being throbs and moves in this
existence in its own time and pace
absolved by an incurable with-ness
that yearns to open the collective song.

This is Buddha's promise
this is Buddha's peace -
waiting in faith in silence
the wish to pray already prayer.