Late Winter Shikantaza

The sound of cicadas swells outside; a unified tide of tree-chanting at dawn.

The day has barely begun

and already the heat is driving its way into these bones.

The spirit-eyes of this wandering heart-mind,

which often dwell beyond the embodied,

have taken flight again, without leaving this seat.

I think back to late winter shikantaza;

sitting like a mountain but hearing myself weep. 

Now: a set of eyes all cried out

becomes a wandering stone lantern.


..and the tumult

In the middle of the night, I heard the voice of Dao-Sentiment River.

We spoke of partings and losses.

Those by our own volition. Those by others.

Those that pack a wallop and take a year to grieve.

A friend turns to cinder in a final breath of fire.

Another is lost at sea.

Another lost to disease.

Then there are those losses beyond the fading edge and the tumult.

Dao-Sentiment River asked, "How is your heart-mind-river?"

"Lighter everyday," I replied.

Hearing my heart's voice say that,

I realized the locking pin holding my last shackle together

had been knocked loose.


Mid-Afternoon Dream: Outer Moon-Inner Moon Alignment

- in advance of the July 2018 lunar eclipse -  

I see an old man counting moons.

He names them as he goes.

He looks like an accountant sitting there, thumbing at his abacus.

His gaze raises and turns sideways, just as I begin to wake.

My eyes look up at the ceiling fan's spinning blades,

yet I still hear his voice echoing from the land of dreams:

Brace up. Brace up.

This corridor of time is a teacher.

A shredder-of-tapestries and illusions.

A revealer of hidden things.


Nightwalk: Sweating Prayers

One step after another, I take what was once an ancient trail.

It's been paved over and renamed

but its firefly luminosity is maintained.

Ten-thousand steps later, I take a deep inhalation of thick summer air.

And just like that...

a spinal adjustment given by the cosmos

and the fragrance of bushido pours forth again from my pores.


The Most Difficult Practice Within the Hands of Each Traveler

Bearing in mind that the first glance

ensnares us in a mirage of entanglements,

always take a second and a third glance.

Notice how you get hooked. Notice how you project.

Pull the projection back. Therein is freedom, for all

projection leads to fetters on the soul of self or other.

--Kuma-sensei


(c) 2018 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

sound: Nami / Magical Imaginary Child / Chihei Hatakeyama + Federico Durand

 

Glossary:

kokoro: from the Japanese; literally translates as "heart" but essentially means 'the heart of things.'

shikantaza: a Zen term that literally translates as 'just sitting' - sitting without agenda, sitting without aspirations for enlightenment, sitting without ideas of "is this the wrong or the right way to sit?"; shikantaza...sitting...just...being: just-sitting.

bushido: the code of the warrior in the context of old samurai culture, but still very much a vibrant orientation in Japanese culture, spirituality, and martial arts today; bushido is governed by eight core principles, namely: rectitude or justice, courage, benevolence or mercy, politeness, honesty/sincerity, honor, loyalty, character/self-control.

 

 

 

 

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