"We rarely converse about it really,
but it's a topic we all have in common."
--Kuma-sensei, reflecting on the importance of shadow-work
We don’t need the prickling cautious skin of deep ancestors to inform us.
We don't need the tilting ears of brother fox
or the sudden shiver of frightened birds
to relay the same signal to the center of our brain:
Something has gone awry in the world.
The Bright Essence Mind is closer at hand
under the surface
and reminds us each day
from the Reservoir of Quiet-Seeing-and-Knowing.
It may arrive as a faint sensation, or a full-throated roar.
It may be a subtle uneasiness, or shouts heard through a wall.
Unseen threads being clipped.
Fragile filaments of life being snipped.
The Holy Mother's Ritual of Soul-Restoration.
We maneuver through the trembling world
look at faces
hear them as voices:
Is this the time of feast or famine?
Are we in the time of flood or fire?
Have we landed in a hellish corner of the Bardo
or are we "right on time" in this churning gyre?
Some days I am convinced we’re all misfired souls
whose parachutes failed to open.
was the lush green pleasure palaces of Sukhavati;
having shot-short, we landed in the Boneyard of Innocence.
Then my own shallow breathing
calls heart-mind back to Heart-Mind,
reminds me of the bodhisattva's intent,
and a luminous compass
pointing toward the western mountains
suddenly 'rights itself' inside my chest.
It makes me think of a roadside shrine I once saw,
rain-drenched and gentle in the soft blue night,
and the spirit of homage that fell over me
for a saint they say was good
at "burning through his shadows"
and I think he'd say
that's what's happening here
and what we are
and are not doing,
When we don't do the work
of burning through our own shadows,
we project them outward
and force everyone else to shoulder the burden.
If the holy work
of lightening-up the world
by lightening-up ourselves
is left undone at the very end,
will find on that day
that the hole is too small
to receive our coffin.
Only by unbinding our hidden joy
from the prison of ribs
and chains of memory
are we granted free passage
to and through
the paradise promised us.
(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com
To learn more about the music of Steve Roach, and to listen more to the collaborative album Second Nature with Steve Roach and Robert Logan, visit the Second Nature Bandcamp Page.