For Ikkyu

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Spoon strikes cup,

Sound made flesh

 

Each time the door opens

Something is given and given up

 

 

 

Upon waking: The corpse dances

In the empty casket

 

Rock on the ground

Moon in the cosmos –

Breathe this.

 


Red Pine: A Timely Interview On Release Of Yellow River Odyssey

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The Sinosphere blog of The New York Times has published an interview with Bill Porter, who also publishes translations of Chinese texts under the pseudonym of Red Pine, upon the release of his Yellow River Odyssey, a travel journal written just prior to China’s emergence into the modern world. His extensive photographs of the trip capture a China that has largely disappeared. Many of Red Pine’s books are now bestsellers in China, after being translated from English into Chinese, including his translations and commentaries on Buddhist poems and  sutras. The interview is by China correspondent Ian Johnson, and can be read here.

Yellow River Odyssey is published by Chin Music Press.

 

 

 


Zen Teacher Ruben Habito: Good Interview

039Interview Ruben Habito, my Zen teacher for many years, who will always be a core presence in my life, continues on his path, bringing Zen to Texas, writing his many books on Zen, and opening himself and his zendo to teaching anyone who seeks a way into Zen practice or a way to experience their own religion more intimately. Over the years, his students have been agnostics, Jews, Christians, and members of other faiths, all  seeking to experience life more deeply and simply. This interview, which appeared in Tricycle, is typical of Ruben, gently building bridges that can lead Christians and others into Zen practice, pointing to the connections that bind us all to each thing. I wrote a chapter on Ruben in my travel/memoir, which is sitting silently now unable to find an agent or publisher. If for no other reason, I would like the book to be published if only to spread the word about Ruben’s unique life, profound understanding of people, and his unwavering commitment to compassion. As more years pass without seeing him, I miss him more and more while at the same time feeling his presence grow even deeper.

Koun-Yamada

Roshi Koun Yamada, Ruben Habito’s teacher


Kyoto: Walking One Step at a Time

91tBYwzKLjL._SL1500_“Mountains walking is just like humans walking. Do not doubt mountains walking even though it does not look like human walking.” ­­– Dogen, Jan. 19, 1200, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.

Where else better to take a thoughtful walk than in Kyoto, home to so many worthies who have graced its streets and paths. Ted Taylor and Michael Lambe have put together a paean to walking through Japan’s most intimate city, savouring the ancient temples and today’s artful graffiti. The anthology, Deep Kyoto Walks,  includes Pico Iyer and others, and this is one of those books that takes you to where you didn’t know you wanted to go. Sixteen writers who know Kyoto pay tribute to life in the city of “Purple Hills and Crystal Streams,” offering a testament to the art of contemplative city walking.

I had to acknowledge that I had to come to Japan in order to see that a 7-Eleven here was just as Japanese — as foreign — as any meditation hall, and no less full of wonder…” – Pico Iyer, Into the Tumult

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About That Bowl

About That Bowl

Round it is, the bowl I placed

in a hut in a mountain valley.

For a moment, its dominion

arises, a matter of form and space,

or so one thinks – that bowl and

emptiness – giving and taking

like nothing else.

But it’s not about one or the other –

or wilderness or hearth. In usefulness,

wildness is swept away,

for a moment, but then it returns

like nothing else.


Morning Practice

Morning Practice

When my eyes open at dawn’s light

the question naturally arises,

whose arms are these – flaccid pink

skin draping off brittle bones?

On the pillow there’s some long hairs – mine

or the two dogs, Roxy and Daisy, sleeping on

the bed? Before, the long hairs were always

a woman’s, her body pressed close

in the morning chill.

Now part of my lung is gone, infiltrated

by swarming molecules hungry to

devour my breath. It’s rationed now.

My heart beats harder to help

its neighbor. My heart’s comforting

sound fills my chest, but my morning

cough sounds like a sick man.

 One beat, one breath….

 Good practice for a lazy man.

As Su Tung p’o said,

“I’m a tired horse unharnessed at last.”

 


Minding My Time

Minding My Time

Awash in mind time. Mind’s always mattering,

mothering: words, sensations, feelings always

forming stuff. Words always mattering

in Universe of Matter. That’s all (not really for

Roy & Laddawan and the Thai band playing Eric Clapton).

Mind called self is just the go-between

for no-body. Big Self mothers every thing

– knows like a bone every thing’s just co-

existing meaning-matter like mothering sky.

Right now in Chiang Mai at 1:18 a.m.

as a tiny candle lantern rises golden

in the night like a star.

 


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