"The obvious is usually profoundly significant."
--Edward O. Wilson

I. Open-Eyed Dreaming

I sat with a passing Traveler tonight.

As the old ones say, 'you know one when you see one.'

One whose pain-body provides a steady discernment.


We peeled away iron masks and armor

and, like Li Po and Santoka before us,

drank pitchers of the nectar

that moves wayfarers quickly to the heart-mind of things.


Amidst this time’s invisible churning flames,

we spoke of time's passage…

the fear of leaping...

the difference between love and control…

the shadow side of chivalry.


We spoke openly of the two worlds;

the many kinds of unseen ones that travel back and forth…

...and those that live in-between.


It is good to compare notes with others who know

there are quiet secrets in the heart of the ten-thousand things.


It is good to compare notes with others who know

part of the reason we are all here

is to peel away the layers of the onion-like self,

to travel closer and closer toward what is most real.


II. Closed-Eyed Waking


After the midnight hour,

I tumbled into my solitary slumber;

closing eyes in this world, opening them in another.

I entered through the shining gate

that leads to my life on the other side of the veil.


The days are much, much longer over there.

It starts with the sound of morning crows waking me,

and ends with dragonflies guiding me deeper

into the valley beneath the sun-setting hills.


A fellow wayfarer-in-spirit form

waits for me at the trailhead, usually in summer yukata.


III. Engawa

This time, they invited me to walk with them,

to sit on the low-porch engawa

alongside the courtyard in their house of dreams.


We sipped some of that special saké they have over there

that helps one remember rather than forget.

We talked about our respective stages of blooming;

how we've moved on from human teachers...

how we're learning directly from the kami themselves.


We discussed the Five Marks of the Lantern-Lit Mind on this nameless way within The Way:

Creating A Spirited Place:

A humble paradise for the senses.


Withdrawing From the World of Grasping:

Accepting the invitation of solitude.


Recognizing Sacred Connections:

Weaving past and present, embracing and letting go of each passing moment.


Embodying Simplicity:

A life of no excess. Not a thing out of place. Not another thing needed.


Opening to the Wisdom (and Healing) Beneath and Within Reality:

We can re-Source at any time.


Back on this side of the veil,

"Red Shield" - my 4 a.m. feathered friend -

pierced the dark pre-dawn silence with his usual callback.

I awoke with a start and a sudden thought:


I am really nothing more

than an old saké barrel

that's been storing memories for a decade.

In the next season,

when the leaves turn red

and the last cicada has droned its holy forest song,

I will crack open the lid of this barrel

and a moonlit river of story will flow all winter long.


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

sound: Morning Mist / Muichi Motsu / Maneki Neko

Liner Notes:

engawa: a Japanese veranda

kami: the spirits; can be elements of landscape, forces of nature, as well as beings.

yukata: summer cotton robe