Saturday, March 18, 2017

Jack Scott writes

Postcards Hurt

Nobody said it wouldn't hurt. 

Nobody said it would hurt so much.

Softly spread your wings; 

you wound me with your elbows 
attempting flight. 
If anyone says love 
once more tonight 
I'll scream.

Home is where, 

when it is time to leave, 
they have to put you out 
to fly or flail from aerie nest.

Mind visits places 

that torment body, 
with their inaccessibility, 
makes it jealous left behind 
without a home sweet home, 
ill at ease in rented room, 
hugging oneself for heat 
and also love.

Home is having door to lock,        

and choice to turn the key 
or locking it too tight -
so much responsibility. 
I didn't lock it snug enough 
I thought it needed airing, 
had been locked too much 
from too much caring. 
And, so, cast out again.

How do you forgive 

a lock for locking 
and leaving you outside 
while letting others in?

Homeless, naked turtle, 

unarmed fortress, vulnerable, 
a runaway repelling home 
like magnet in love at one end only 
allergic at the other, ousted, 
having much in common 
with permanent embrace 
in which the welded two are one. 
Postcards hurt.

If that were me 

could I live with it? 
I’d need to understand, 
though not too much. 
Homelessness can fill the mind, 
take up all its space 
with the gnawing trivia 
of yesterday’s disgrace

One glove fits over pleasure, 

the other over pain. 
It is pain that does the work; 
while pleasure takes the credit -
the sound of one hand clapping.

Tantalus bending over withdrawn sleep     

touching only wooden pillows 
on cast iron sheets 
insomniac on mudflat bed. 
 Key Keepers -- Ilya Zomb


  1. Buddhism was introduced to Japan via China. Chan, one of the schools of Mahayana Buddhism, originated during the Tang dynasty; it was derived from the Indian practice of dhyana ("meditation") but was strongly influenced by Taoism. It emphasizes rigorous self-control, meditation-practice, insight into Buddha-nature, the personal expression of this insight in daily life, especially for the benefit of others, and favors direct understanding through zazen (seated meditation) and interaction with an accomplished teacher rather than a scholarly knowledge of sutras and doctrine. The Japanese pronunciation of Chan was "Zen." Zen evolved into three enduring sects, including Rinzai-shu, which was the Japanese form of Línjì Zōng, founded by Linji Yixuan (known in Japan as Rinzai Gigen). Rinzai practice is regarded as severe, especially in contrast with the gentler, more popular, Sōtō sect. ("Rinzai Shōgun, Sōtō Domin" -- Rinzai for the Shōgun, Sōtō for the peasants). After the sect went through a moribund period of stagnation, it was revived by an 18th-century monk Ekaku Hakuin, who refocused it on its traditionally rigorous training methods integrating meditation and kōan practice. All contemporary Rinzai lineages stem from two disciples of Jitō Gasan, regarded as a dharma heir of Hakuin even though he did not belong to the close circle of his disciples and may not even have been one of his direct dharma heirs.

  2. A kōan is a story, dialogue, question, or statement used to test a student's progress and also to provoke what Hakuin called "taigi," the "great doubt." In the system developed by him or his followers, students are assigned kōans by their teacher and then meditate on them. The students may regard it as an object to focus their attention on during meditation, but as they become more experienced they start to realize that it is also the activity of seeking an answer; it is both an object being sought and its relentless seeking. Only with incessant investigation of a kōan will a student be able to become one with it. The self sees the self not directly but under the guise of the kōan. The psychological pressure and doubt the struggle provokes creates the necessary tension that may lead to awakening. When the students believe they have solved the puzzle they demonstrate their insight in a private interview with the teacher. If the teacher feels they have attained a satisfactory insight, another kōan is assigned. Hakuin's main role in the development of this system was the selection and creation of kōans to be used. Formerly Rinzai Zen relied on the 13th-century Chinese collection, the "Mumonkan," "The Gateless Gate," which began with "Joshu's Dog," which came from "Zhaozhou Zhenji Chanshi Yulu" (The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu): "A monk asked, 'Does a dog have a Buddha-nature or not?' The master said, 'Mu [Not]!' (Because the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvaṇa Sutra" had stated, "All beings have the Buddha-Nature," Joshu had originally continued, "The monk said, 'Above to all the Buddhas, below to the crawling bugs, all have Buddha-nature. Why is it that the dog has not?' The master said, 'Because he has the nature of karmic delusions.'" A longer version appeared in the "Hóngzhì Chánshī Guǎnglù," the Book of Serenity: "A monk asked Master Joshu, 'Does a dog have Buddha Nature?' Joshu replied, 'Yes.' And then the monk said, 'Since it has, how did it get into that bag of skin?' Joshu said, 'Because knowingly, he purposefully offends.'") In Japanese practice, only the negative response was emphasized, though Joshu had responded both negatively and affirmatively; both answers are correct and wrong, since everything is Buddha-nature but there is no particular thing called Buddha-nature. So, the correct response would be to unask the question, since no answer can exist in the terms provided; categorical thinking is a delusion. Hakuin replaced the Mu kōan with: "Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand?" When the practitioner makes the self-identity real, the two hands have become one; when the practitioner becomes the kōan, that is the sound of one hand. "At the bottom of great doubt lies great awakening. If you doubt fully, you will awaken fully," according to Hakuin, and he believed the kōan of his invention was more effective in generating taigi, remarking that "its superiority to the former methods is like the difference between cloud and mud."

  3. Hakuin developed a fivefold kōan classification system:
    1. Hosshin (dharma-body kōans) such as the Mu kōan, are used to awaken one's first insight; they reveal the dharmakaya, or Fundamental, and introduce "the undifferentiated and the unconditional." Hosshin koans represent tai, substance.
    2. Kikan (dynamic action kōans) help understand the phenomenal world as seen from the awakened point of view; they represent yu, function.
    3. Gonsen (explication of word kōans) help one understand the sayings of the masters; they show how the dharmakaya is expressed in words though not depending on them or getting stuck to them.
    4. Hachi Nanto (the "difficult to pass" kōans) create a new taigi by shattering the newly-attained self achieved by one's earlier understanding.
    5. Goi jujukin koans, the five ranks which describe the stages of realization, the interplay of absolute and relative truth, and the fundamental non-dualism of Buddhist teaching. The ranks are referenced in the "Song of the Precious Mirror Samadhi" (and two sets of verse commentaries) by Dongshan Liangjie (Tōzan Ryōkan), as translated by Thomas Cleary:
    In the third watch,
    beginning of the night,
    before the moon is bright,
    do not wonder
    at meeting without recognition;
    still held hidden in the heart
    is the beauty of former days.

    A woman who's overslept
    encounters an ancient mirror;
    clearly she sees her face -
    there is no other reality.
    Nevertheless, she still mistakes
    her reflection for her head.

    Within nothingness is a road
    out of the dust;
    just be able to avoid violating
    the present taboo name
    and you will surpass
    the eloquence of yore
    that silenced every tongue.

    When two blades cross,
    no need to flee;
    an expert is like
    a lotus in fire -
    clearly there is a spirit
    spontaneuosly soaring.

    If you are not trapped
    in being or nonbeing,
    who can dare to join you?
    Everyone wants to leave
    the ordinary current,
    but in the final analysis
    you come back
    and sit in the ashes.


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