Thirty Raven Verses, I

Responses to Robert Aitken, Zen Master Raven.

Mutually Dependent Arising
Jackrabbit knows about the chase,
And cuts right to it.
But that wasn't Raven's way in.
Everything is because everything else is, and vice-versa.
So what else could Raven do?
2017 May

Metaphysics: Oneness
What really happens
When you see a star?
Easy to say oneness --
It's not a star.
2017 May

The difference between mutually dependent arising and delicious waterweed?
Or between oneness and waterweed?
Standing on the doorstep
There is no difference to be found.
2017 May

Something Still Missing
A tiny portion of the rain fills up a few water barrels.
A larger portion carves out the deep canyons.
The teacher does not fill your lack
But arrives to be with you in absence.
2017 May

She has lived under 1,000 full
moons by the mouth of the river.
Say it's a metaphor, and
she does not understand.
2017 Jun

Faith: No having or lacking.
Only doing or failing to
commit to the fullness of (your) being, with
heart and mind open to
the unknown, to
hints of new meaning.
2017 Jun

The Unborn
You and your questions
Your self and its jones on for meaning
From where does all that come?
From the unborn? The void?
2017 Jun

Turning Points
Cancer, maybe. Or heart disease, or a traffic accident, or "natural causes."
Something is coming for you, loaded for bear.
Bang! As old as it is new.
Bang! The turning point.
2017 Jun

"There is a Universal Love that has never broken faith with us and never will." (Walther Herz)
Winter winds, shivering chill
Summer mug, sticky sweat
Blue jay at noon, clear stars at night --
They are always keeping their promise.
2017 Jun

Birth and Death
We croak.
Startled croaking, calculated croaking --
Is this birth or death?
What else is freedom?
2017 Jul

Retreat. Preparation? For advancing? Maybe.
Or perhaps advancing was preparation for this retreat,
Accouterments reduced to carryable.
This temporary eternal world-self never stops shining.
2017 Jul

Early Students
Wander. Find something abandoned and tall.
Fix up. Sit with what gathers.
Take a perch. Rinse. Repeat.
How could anything be grander than life?
2017 Jul

The Dream
Of whose dream are you the child?
You may choose, or, rather, it is for you to discern
Whose dream -- what teacher and tradition
Gives birth to you, becomes present
2017 Jul

The Pivot
Everywhere: things in their place.
Everywhere: things turning --
themselves, each other,
thee and me.
Nowhere: a place that isn't a turning point.
2017 Jul

"As I was going up the stair, I met a man who wasn't there! He wasn't there again today. Oh how I wish he'd go away!" (W.H. Mearns)
Every day, climbing that stair,
Meeting the self-centered one:
The companion who acts in your name.
Not there! Won't go away!
Like an unforgettable fictional character.
2017 Aug

The Spirit of Practice
The better question isn't Why? It's What?
What is this? What is now and here?
This sensation, this emotion, this world presenting before me, This!
What is it? Curiosity is the path;
It leads not to knowledge, but to intimacy.
2017 Aug

A Key Issue
Are we not here to be eaten, the substance of our life consumed by more life?
To die and turn our bodies over to the nourishment of a grander thing?
To flee in terror only to get caught?
To see amid safety and friends that this is so?
2017 Aug

Timid and Truthful
Declarative sentences come in true and false.
Sycamore trees, not so much.
A river, even as it winds back on itself, flows nothing but truth.
The moon, even as it blocks the sun, shines nothing but truth.
2017 Aug

Essential Nature
Kidneys and intestines and lungs and heart,
Liver secreting bile and brain secreting thoughts:
This is called "inside."
Trees and chipmunks, rooms in buildings, people,
The kitchen sink and the Hudson River:
This is called "outside."
Inside and outside, essential nature everywhere,
Nowhere to be found.
2017 Aug

Bedrock Buddha
Signifier and signified
All over the place, standing alone.
My finger points to the moon, yes,
Also, the moon points to my finger.
2017 Sep

Peekaboo! Where are you?
There you are! Here I am!
The inspiration in your own heart. Where?
From somewhere else. Where?
Peekaboo. There it is.
Parent and child convulsed with giggles.
2017 Sep

Murder, etc. Before it outs,
It ins. And it's sticky. Atoning
Doesn't always succeed. Not atoning
Lives the lie.
2017 Sep

It's a murmuration of boomerangs
Doing what they are
Going around coming around
Less coordinated than starlings
They frequently bump
Leave marks and nicks
Work themselves pure
2017 Sep

The Purpose of the Practice
The practice is the enlightenment, the doing is the purpose,
The doubting is the faith, the asking is the inkling.
What am I saying? Badgers dig.
On the whole Blue Planet, nothing is missing.
2017 Oct

Brown Bear's Purpose
What do the maples have in mind, their red leaves falling?
What does the moon have in mind, its crescent resting in the branches?
Something, perhaps, though they seem
To have forgotten what it was.
2017 Oct

Buddhist Terms
Save every being, end every delusion.
Do this twice every morning before breakfast, and after.
Gain wisdom from every sensation, embody the entire Buddha way.
Like the rain, like the rain, like the rain.
2017 Oct

Being present to. Becoming the proof of.
These two things only are to be done
With and in this brief and florid stay:
Witness, and bear witness.
Heaven, hell, and a planetful of blue,
Are sitting here, sitting here.
2017 Oct

The most basic most eludes definition.
Would you constrain the stream of love poems?
Or otherwise delimit the limitless?
When a single leaf is clear,
what the master is talking about
doesn't much need to be.
2017 Nov

Names lie. A cup or tree: infinitely more than
Its cupness or treeness. And less.
Not merely the falseness of categories, this --
For proper names lie as blatantly and remorselessly.
To dress in such lies: a risk.
To step naked into the truth of presence:
Also a risk.
2017 Nov

"Everybody needs to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer." (Fear)
The believing's in the doing. The holy
Emerges from the worship. Trees
From sylvics, dendrology, forestry, timbering, carpentry.
On the question of what is really,
The steadfast practice needs not opine.
2017 Nov

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