Poem o’ the Day


Every once in a while, synchronicity happens.

I’ve got a scene coalescing in my head for this current story, in which the stark contrasts between beauty and horror come up. My folks are warriors. They see the worst. But they’ve also seen extraordinary beauty, which just about makes the ugliness they have to deal with worthwhile.

Today, looking for Zen poems to post, I ended up on A View on Buddhism, and found this wonderful one by Ryokan:

Where beauty is, then there is ugliness;
where right is, also there is wrong.
Knowledge and ignorance are interdependent;
delusion and enlightenment condition each other.
Since olden times it has been so.
How could it be otherwise now?
Wanting to get rid of one and grab the other
is merely realizing a scene of stupidity.
Even if you speak of the wonder of it all,
how do you deal with each thing changing?

And that just about sums it up right there. It’s utterly perfect for that scene.

One of the things I adore about Zen is the acceptance of the world as it is. Another thing I like is the acceptance of change. Layman P’ang, one of my absolute favorite Zen sages, put it like this:

The past is already past.
Don’t try to regain it.
The present does not stay.
Don’t try to touch it.

From moment to moment.
The future has not come;
Don’t think about it
Beforehand.

Whatever comes to the eye,
Leave it be.
There are no commandments
To be kept;
There’s no filth to be cleansed.

With empty mind really
Penetrated, the dharmas
Have no life.
When you can be like this,
You’ve completed
The ultimate attainment.

With a philosophy like that – basically saying the scriptures are meaningless – even an atheist can practice Zen.

After all, this Zen poem by Master Seung Sahn just about could’ve been written by one of us:

Good and evil have no self nature;
Holy and unholy are empty names;
In front of the door is the land of stillness and quiet;
Spring comes, grass grows by itself.

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