having exhausted all roads, the mind turns to words.

having exhausted all words, the heart turns to roads.

having exhausted all roads and words, the heart-mind turns toward silence.

hollowed out, words and roads fade...into...cloud-light.

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

sound: Projected Formations, Roy Mattson


The Bodhi Lullaby


The Bodhi Lullaby

I heard a woman singing in my dreams last night.

Her voice was like a gentle bird.

She was not next to me, but was somehow close-at-hand,

as if she'd alighted on a branch outside.


Everyone is made of light.

Everyone is made of light.

Everyone is afraid to give away the light;

to give away the light,

to give away the light.

Everyone is afraid

to give away the light.


With every passing day,

every passing hour,

the world is becoming the one

where people's light is dampened

where people's light is taken

where people choose to dull

all but the last sliver of their light.


Only through ignorance do we think

the light is in limited supply.

We think the light is in limited supply.

The light is unlimited.

Unlimited is The Light.

Everyone is made of light.

Everyone is made of light.

Unlimited is The Light.

The Light.

The Light.

The Light are we. 

We are The Light.


I awoke,

 fell apart,

and fell open with terrible shaking.

A final wall of inner fortressing falling down?

A sword finally retired and put back on its shelf?


I saw the slow-unbinding cord of my whole life behind me.

I remarked to myself in the gray morning light:

'I have only ever wanted the lotus, and wanted nothing to do with the mud.'

Quiet Brother Thay's words then came to mind: 


No Mud, No Lotus.


A gentle pointing-out of the obvious;

but this time, like a Dharma seed cracking open,

I could finally see something taking root.


The woman who was not next to me,

but who was somehow close-at-hand,

guided me back into sleep with a lullaby for the road:


When the lotus seed opens, there is no longer a lotus.

When the lotus seed opens, there is no longer the mud.

There is only fresh sunshine in the heart, and fresh sunshine from above.

Maintaining luminous awareness even in the midst of the mud of life;

that is the lotus and the Path of the Lotus-Born.

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

image: Guanyin (Kannon), Female Bodhisattva of Compassion - from Java House Imports / Silver Lotus, New Orleans. 

sound: "Escale A Odawara" / De Retour / Ujjaya (Hery Randriambololona) 



三倍上昇 (Threefold Arising in Reverse)


三倍上昇 (Threefold Arising in Reverse)


Top of the Mountain:

The Lantern-Lit Mind


To illuminate The Way (道), study (調查) the wayfarers (詩人) of old.

Take up the Timeless Work (禅) of untangling the soul (雑草の庭).

Align heart-mind (心) with Nature's flow (自然流れ気).

Journey (巡礼) into the dark (潜在意識) to mine the hidden gold (仏心).


When the Lantern-Lit Mind abides in Silent Illumination (只管打坐),

the wayfarer's poems bear the mark of the Great Transformation (自然).



The Path Up The Mountain:

Pure Land Walking

after Chofu


When trumpeter Louis Armstrong

was asked to explain jazz, he said,

'If you have to ask what jazz is, 

you'll never know.' If you have to ask

what Zen is, you'll never know.

--Gary Chofu Snyder, "Mountains Walking"


When you send your spirit up and out,

even from down in the lowlands

cicada song fills your ears

while fresh mountain air fills your lungs.


You don't have to move an inch to hear the water cascading over the falls.

This is one way of understanding mountains walking.

This is one way of understanding listening to the wind.

This is one way of understanding

how an imperfect human

can be an imperfect human one moment

and a wandering stone lantern in the next.


Soon, these old sit-bones will be lifted up off the ground

to leave this dirty old town for the forest's embrace.

East toward the Sun.

North toward the Moon.

Into the Silent Interior of shaded path and mountain lake.

Silence. Stillness. Three-day 'Dark Retreat.'


Little yamabushi chickadees

will be delivering long talks on the nature of Dharmakaya.

The spirit of the high hills will carve away what is no longer needed.

The craggy ridge-line path will polish smooth a soul's pile of rubble into small bits of gold.


This is one way of understanding rivers dreaming.

This is one way of understanding flowers blooming in the sky.

This is one way of understanding the way beyond suffering.

This is one way of understanding how a pilgrimage begins

days before a traveler departs in the middle of the night.



After Cosmic Seppuku #49

If you really knew what the first major wallop

of an authentic kensho-experience feels like, 

you wouldn’t want anything to do with it. 

You would run for the hills and stop this work with me

in an instant. I don’t know anyone who is ready

for it when it happens.




My late teacher used to talk about "First Ring Buddhism": the initial draw to the buddhadharma (the teachings of the Buddha) because a person thinks it will eliminate their suffering once and for all, as if waving a magic wand. "Second Ring Buddhism" is the slow-and-sometimes-sudden understanding that enlightenment is precisely not the elimination of suffering; rather, it is a 'peeling-off' of such futile efforts; a ceasing of the search to be free of suffering in the first place because one has finally stopped clinging to a 'fixed self in time', has finally stopped the temper tantrum of the ego, and learned to embrace the true nature of reality-as-it-is (which, in part, includes suffering). This doesn't mean we make a doormat of ourselves. This doesn't mean we keep ramming our head into a wall. It doesn't mean we stick around and keep allowing ourselves to be abused. The call is not to martyrdom. The call, to the best of our ability, is to have clear-seeing in a time of burning. And, like layers of an onion, there are always more "rings" that guide all of us deeper into the great matter of things.

--Wandering Stone Lantern (FRANK LARUE OWEN)--


Cosmic Seppuku #49

Final surrender to the Pure Land.

No more 'exertion alone'

when you finally see

you can't do it on your own.

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

sound: "Cosmic" / Hiroki Okano / Sacred Landscape











The Luminous Cavalcade


The Luminous Cavalcade

That spinning 'Wearer of the Wool' was right!
Don't fight the Dawn Bird's proclamation!
Get up! Get up!

There'll be plenty of time for sleep when we're dead.
Get up! Get up!

The whole diamond lotus of creation is awake and ready to greet us!
Get up! Get up!

Wasn't it just yesterday you were crying,
saying to yourself that you are ready for a change? 
Get up! Get up!

Take it from this old lazy lion.
No one knows the drowsy dharma of wasting time better than I.
My youth is a dreamy blur; my adulthood too.
Do as I say and not as I do. Get up! Get up!

Can you hear the Great Cosmic Clock going tick-tock, tick-tock?
Get up! Get up!

Like an old cowboy used to say: "You're burning daylight! Get up!"

The visioning of change is the work of night.
The making of change is the work of the dawn.
Get up! Get up!

The Lords of Languishing are counting on our complacency.
The sultry tempters of mindless slumber are just another incarnation of Mara's daughters.
They rise even earlier than we, whipping up an ambrosia of entranced-sleep.
Don't drink their stupifying poison, for the days of our lives are passing us by.
Get up! Get up!

Put your feet on the floor like a warrior wearing the dawn armor of the Great Eastern Sun.
Hail the luminous light rays of Dainichi coming across the Eastern horizon.
Meet the new day as if encountering your face in the mirror of Lady Amaterasu.
It has been a long time since we were standing on a path of our own making.
Get up! Get up!

The visioning of change is the work of night.
The making of change is the work of the dawn.

The Keepers of the Dawn Tablets of Future Unfolding Karma
have handed each of us a horse-hair brush fashioned from the golden manes of all the fallen bodhisattva-warriors who ever came before us.
They're counting on us to make our days count.
Breathe deep to gather the scattered, sleepy self. Dip the brush into the Morningstar's ink.

Hold the Great Sun Buddha inside your own chest.
Intone your soul's deepest life intent.
Place the brush to paper and make your mark.
Now, get up! Get up!

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

sound: "Saint" from Talking Clouds by Markus Guentner


Throwback and Quantum Forward


Throwback and Quantum Forward

Pausing On The Road


This ‘Turning Away from the World’ is taboo.

The Glitter Giants keep the House of Mirrors spinning for a reason.


They don't want you to slow down.

They don't want you to stop and think,

or ask the age-old question beneath all questions:

"What is my soul here to do?"


The World of Red Dust

is like a sticky net

that catches the mind like a spider in a trap.

Its unspoken mantra suggests there is poverty in stillness and silence.


Hear this:

The space inside you

you think you need to fill up

wasn’t intended to serve as a trash heap;

it is an ancient cauldron handed down to you

into which

you were meant to pour

that soul of yours

so you could cook up

some much-needed medicine

for generations who are not even here yet.


When the Spirits Return


It was one of those days that started like a hammer;


teeth aimed inward

softened only by a Mozart's Mule,

or some other concoction from the waiting wall of bitters.


All the luster seemed to have worn-off everything.

I pondered how every relationship seemed virtual, passing, surface;

how people rarely seemed to be who they say they are these days;

how the times we're all living through seem to be a phase

when everyone is merely going through the motions

just to satisfy agreed-upon-civil-pleasantries.


A Time of Retrogression-With-Aggression,

'tea and sympathy' isn't going to cut it;

least of all with all the ferocity, deceit, aging, and rust.


Suddenly, I felt the "spirits" call out to me.

'How interesting,' I thought, 'that we call spirits spirits and bitters bitters.'


I looked around and saw waif-like men displaced from themselves,

("No Hara", they would say in Japan);

men trying to squeeze 'some-elusive-something' from Life

but going senseless in the process.


Some of the women seemed to be trying to find themselves, too,

either in the Fawning Cult-of-Image,

or, worse, in a man.

Blind leading the blind.


One of the Apothecarians saddled up across the counter from me

and asked, "What'll it be?" 


'What'll it be, indeed,' I thought.


I started to say: 'Surprise me'

but a deeper wish caught these words in my throat.

I responded:

"Everyone here is trying to forget. I want to remember."


His eyes flashed wide.

He nodded knowingly from behind his heart-length beard

and stepped away to do his alchemical calculations.


Moments later, a solid-base Old Fashioned glass

was lowered to the swirled marble in front of me.

I raised it to my hawkish nose and inhaled.

Tanned women on white sandy beaches somewhere south of the equator.


I opened my mouth and inhaled again.

The 10,000-step, blue-tiled rose garden of the Alhambra.

I took a first sip.

A flash of lightning on a mountain in China.

A flower thrown over a shoulder into the center of a golden mandala.

Sparks bubbled up and down my spine.


Orange citron and coconut on the front.

Smoke, Earth, and Freedom on the back.

Umami bitters, pear sake, Zirbenz pine, Campari.

Thick pine winds swirled all around me

as if I were a feather-cloaked Taoist flying through clouds.


As I settled in for another, I paddled my way through the sumptuous nectar like a river.

I named the elixir: "Goma Fire Burns Brightly, Becomes A Liquid Bonfire Sutra."

My spirit was overtaken by Essence of Smoky Lapsang Souchong Reduction.


The I Ching hexagram for Mountain Above, Lake Below floated in front of me;

it, too, is all about reduction.


In the words of mountain immortals:

Reduction is very auspicious and blameless if there is truthfulness.

It is appropriate to be steadfast and upright.

It is worthwhile going somewhere.

There is a lake below a mountain. Reduction.

Thus, cultured people eliminate wrath and stop cupidity.


I stepped away from the counter,

bowed to the Memory Conjurer,

and walked out into the late Spring night.


Having climbed the ladder of memory again,

a soul-part that had been in-hiding was returned.


Once again, I felt a sense of at-home-ness on this precious earth,

my oldest of memories rewoven into this pulsing DNA

that stretches back to a time

when the feel of the road beneath one's feet

and the words of one's poetry were one and the same.

(c) 2018 / Pure Land Poetry / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

--a place-centered poem: The Apothecary, Jackson, MS

sound: Memory Shell / Aes Dana


The Once-Lost, Gradually-Recovered Sutra of the Threefold Nocturnal Wisteria Body


The Once-Lost, Gradually-Recovered Sutra of the Threefold Nocturnal Wisteria Body

The days are bleeding together again.

Passerbys even remark: I can't believe it's May already.

I can, but what year is it, really?


We are not immovable stones in time's river.

We don't even abide in one singular dimension.

From moment to moment, we are made up of wind-song

bright stars whose light is still concealed

invisible birds in flight

shimmering shells stripped of their pearls at the water's edge.


When we step through the gate,

the perfume of freshly fallen rain

carries us back a thousand years in an instant.


We are two sets of hands that have never touched this time around

yet, long ago we committed to the soul's vast storehouse of memory

the sense-remembrance of tracing life-lines in each other's upturned palms.


No one has written a travel guide yet

for multidimensional wanderers to orient ourselves.

If they had, it might start something like this:




Thus I have heard,

back in the Days of Wonder

a thousand lantern-lit minds

gathered along the gleaming shores of Tushita Lake

to sit at the knee of Miroku.


It was then that one of the bodhisattvas-in-waiting,

Atanataraka, Wandering Star, asked Miroku:

"O Compassionate One, here we all wait in this land of bliss,

destined to travel to the Realm of the Earth Womb Mandala.

Travel we will, for it has been woven as such, but what is best,

O Future-Born One, to travel with companions, or to travel apart?"


"O Traveler of Stars, equally thus a Future-Born One, it is not that one is

best and one is least. It is not that traveling with or traveling apart has

added or lesser merit. Travel with, travel apart; the path is the same.

Put your mind to this instead, one who is also destined

to travel to the Realm of the Earth Womb Mandala.


In which time-state are you dwelling: past, present, future?

Do you know your footing in each, any, all?

Where will you go?

To whom or what will you turn

to be reminded of the Great Peace of Infinite Light?

Do you have the heart-eye to recognize what and who is in front of you?

Will you remember the shores of Tushita Lake while gazing in their eyes?

Does your Past-Self, Present-Self, Future-Self know love if it is right under your nose?"




We have each taken many detours.

Whatever tutelage a particular detour brings, 

the Keeper of the Roads always guides the Traveler back

to when and where we most need to be.


In the quickening morning light,

we find ourselves on the roadside again

wrestling with the same exact questions

that have haunted us for years.


Traveling together, traveling apart, the path is the same.

(c) 2018 / Pure Land Poetry / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

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



Midnight Omelette


Midnight Omelette

Unlike the Before-Time,

I don't live in a place

where I can walk out the door

and face-off with the tengu --

the testing-spirits of the mountain.

I have to go to higher elevations for that.


Such testing,

such fierce facing-off,

has its time and place.


I still recall the tales of Ushiwaka

who became a master of the sword

under the watchful eye and beak of Sojobo.


But endless testing

and fierce facing-off

is not what I've ever wanted

from Cupid's Arrow.


Tending a garden.


Day-long walks among dragonflies.


Letting-down within a sanctuary of soft words and arms.


A gentle place for two world-weary souls to land.


Sharing a midnight omelette.


Daggers of doubt.

Swords drawn.

Once-flowering tongues turned to venom.



Cupid, stop aiming in this direction.

I go to meet the tengu of Akiyama;

I prefer to endure my endless testing that way.

(c) 2018 / Pure Land Poetry / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

sound: "Bello Revive" (Animatronix Remix) / Daniel Waples & Hang In Balance







It will not be obvious

from the confines of office cubicle

speeding train

or the time-bound, ghost-filled inner fortress

fashioned from the bones of wounding


but out there beyond the tree line

where the two worlds meet

the same spirits of renewal the second and third Buddha turned to

for resolve, buoyancy, and healing

await you too.


Within the embrace of that realm,

and it is nothing short of an embrace,

you will find the First Sangha.


Within the grace of that realm,

and it is nothing short of grace,

you will find the Dharma that predates the Dharma.


Within the soul-unburdening of that realm,

and it is nothing short of soul-unburdening,

you will feel the watchful gaze of Standing Buddhas.


They apply no filter to you.

They see you for the real you that you are, accurately.

They embrace you for all that you were

and will be...

...so that you can too.

(c) 2018 / Pure Land Poetry / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

sound: Roy Mattson, Intersecting Skies









The pampas grass sways in the soft rain.

Lanterns hover above water.

Amid the reflections, the joviality of night-smiles fade from memory to silence.

I feel spinning cells within me shift like a tide.

I once focused on how to bring things together.

Now I meditate on withdrawal into the forest's cycle of light, shade, and sound.

(c) 2018 / Pure Land Poetry / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

sound: Steve Roach, Early Man