In English, it sounds just the same:
a senseless string of words
embued with some sense of mystique
used to convince and tame you;
to teach you follow and not lead;
that first impulse is evil.
If what you seek you have right now,
then why the mad gyrations,
austerities, and endless rules
to curb now’s inclinations?
What higher purpose would you serve
that others claim is worthy?
A thousand saints are born and die
each day, and yet it makes no difference:
if an altered state of mind
could change the world,
it would be changed by now.
Who has convinced you that the truth
is out there for the finding?
If they possessed an ounce or two,
what good is that to you?
They are no different, save for this:
when someone gave them manna
they asked after the recipe
and did not stay for dinner.
What meal can satisfy your urge
that has no form or substance?
What is the point of starving, then,
to merely birth a vision?
The gods, if they exist at all,
have no need of your mantras;
they will enlighten who they will.
Your efforts make no difference.
In that case, why expect reward?
Instead, just go on living
as if this one was all you had;
and nothing will be missing.
31 JUL 2006
The words that rend my soul’s speech are my own;
they are not borrowed from another’s lines.
From someone else’s field, of their seeds sown,
come not the fruits due me at harvest time.
To posit otherwise is to admit
my life only an actor’s walk-on role,
with no responsibility or wit
of my own — no true joy, love or control.
So, each new moment becomes mine to make,
immersed in self-wrought ecstacy or hell.
How then, to keep from making more mistakes,
or at least, to recover from them well?
The secret: admit what you do not know.
From that small bit of knowledge, all things flow.
21 MAR 2006
It may be that the swath through life I cut
runs down a different seam than I once thought
would turn into a finished garment; what
great pattern looked so perfect when I bought
it, now seems out of style and so ill-fitting
that it more suits a clown, like a disguise
designed to fool my parents, and their unwitting
support of crazy dreams, sad notions and white lies.
What were once intended as fine robes of sable
turn out to wear so quickly, and to fray
along the dragging edges; I’m not able
to hide the muddy edges where the lining’s worn away.
Yet pretending that my world is still defined
by clothes that make the man who isn’t there
is little more than dress-up play. Only a blind
fool would pretend they haven’t noticed, or don’t care.
And who would go to Mardi Gras in rags,
or celebrate a ball in some worn, shabby gown?
Even the poorest ne’er-do-well will drag
a pompous get-up from the closet to paintroll the town.
So that loose-fitting, monstrous thing I’ve sewn
will never do to be seen in or see;
‘tho built with care, its appeal has not grown,
nor does it portray who I’d like to be.
I stand, quite sadly, naked to the mirror,
that will not, though I’ve bribed it, tell a lie;
The bright light overhead just makes much clearer
those flaws I’ve tried to cover, by and by.
These yards of cloth, whose colors seemed to suit me
some years ago, now seem too bold and garish;
and scars from scissors mar the look completely.
I cannot leave the house. I’m too embarrassed.
Yet, I can’t bear to don a robe and sandals,
or throw some shapeless mumu round my girth.
Besides, such things just fuel the neighbor’s scandals
who like to cast aspersions on my worth.
Am I these clothes? This look? This sense of fashion?
They hardly seem to fit me or my dreams,
or match the style and vigor of my passions,
which masquerade in a t-shirt and jeans.
02 MAY 2005
Two saints of diametric views
one rainy Sunday morn, did choose
to spend some time in long debate
on gods and men and life and fate;
each sought to prove his deity
more just and great (such vanity)
imagining the sad world pined
for their opinions, wrought sublime.
While neither knew the other’s gods
(or quite why they were at odds),
their hearing dulled and eyesight poor
each stood on their respective shore
with little buckets rimmed in salt
distilled from the sea, to assault
with proofs that just their deity
encompassed true salinity.
They splashed each other well enough
and neither one could be rebuffed
until both soaked through to the skin
they paused; and as the tide came in
a voice was heard above the swell
that neither knew (at least, not well)
and it said, “just act like the world
is not for man, but for the squirrels.”
Then buckets half-lost in the sand
the two saints laid down, hand in hand,
and in the fading daylight’s spark
saw the horizon’s distant arc
and gained perspective, sitting there,
the ocean in their underwear —
and laughed, because their points of view
were equal parts hogwash and truth.
Two saints went to the shore one day;
and from that beach, none went away.
If you see the Buddha by the roadside,
stop, and ask him how his day is going,
inquire if perhaps he might need a ride …
if you do not, there’s no way of knowing.
Give him a break, for a minute – don’t just
ask for yet another explanation,
without even smiling – you know, that must
make his a depressing situation.
After all, he’s here ’til we are all free –
judging by the state of things, a long time;
at night in his motel watching TV
does he shake his gold head and wonder why?
Of course, being beyond all the drama
helps; at least he’s not still just a lama…
(’cause nobody thinks they need hugs, either)
17 JUL 2003
But who cries for God? — Ramakrishna
How does one, not having enlightenment (or grace or whatever you like to call it) recognize that someone else is enlightened? How does someone without the benefit of having seen Nirvana (or the face of God or the underlying principle of the universe whatever you like to call it) know that someone else HAS seen it? How does someone who has never seen Niagara Falls understand the description given by someone who has seen it, has felt the spray of the mist, heard the roar of the tumulting waters?
Is it any wonder that a prophet is never accepted in their home town?
The guru appears when the student is ready,
at other times, they pass by un-noticed;
only when the thirst for truth is steady
can one drink from the cup of the lotus.
Because to discern the saint from fool
one must be open to the options
beyond lessons, wisdom and rules;
one becomes a student by adoption –
recognizing the whole behind the parts,
looking past the illusion of knowing;
there is where the guru’s work starts,
tilling soil where seeds already are growing.
Unless you can envision the other shore,
the bridge is but a pier, nothing more.
26 JUN 2003