Thirty Verses on Koans, III

Responses to koans of the Gateless GateBlue Cliff Record, and Book of Serenity

Book of Serenity #45
The way the sun's warmth is pleasant before I think "pleasant" --
The way it's just there, abiding.
The way the thought "pleasant" arises before I notice it has --
The way it too is just there.
I can't not dwell in the luminous.
2017 Nov

Blue Cliff Record #43
Asking how, answering why.
Asking where, answering when.
No what, no who: suffering cannot arise.
From the beginning, we are dead ones walking.
2017 Nov

Book of Serenity #77
First, the myriad things. Then, the practice.
Third, the empty oneness. Then, guarding the dharma.
Yangshan and company put on a flashy show,
But there's really nothing to it.
2017 Nov

Book of Serenity #62
"Second class enlightenment"?
It is the way of my house to speak thus,
Goosing one another to notice conceptualizing
And serve the greens fresh
As befits a house of the homeless.
2017 Oct

Book of Serenity #32
One side of the mystery.
How many sides are there? (None. One. Two. More than the square of the number of all the grains of sand in the world.)
From the mountain peak of faith to the village street of person,
Wherever you are, you're needed at the other.
2017 Oct

Book of Serenity #26
The white, whole and beautiful, pure and radiant.
It goes beyond
the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
What goes beyond the white?
The red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
What's all this beyonding?
2017 Oct

Blue Cliff Record #68
I am the pine trees
For all that
If I bump into one
I say excuse me.
2017 Sep

Blue Cliff Record #34
There are peaks and there are valleys
But it is all the peak.
Even so, it is, at the same time,
A big mistake.
2017 Sep

Gateless Gate #25, Book of Serenity #90
There I was in Professor Maitreya's class,
Was it the second or the third seat?
Someone in a monk's cowl called on me
Did he bang the gavel first, or not?
Anyway, I took that gavel and banged it.
I had some point to make that seemed important.
Or I'd already made it.
I wanted the class to get it.
Something about propositions and negations and beyond.
Then I woke up and the dream
2017 Sep

Book of Serenity #68
No dust! Clear Buddha!
But the mind soon makes dustless clarity into "dustless clarity."
With Jiashan's sword, cut off those marks --
Or, with Shishuang's understanding, unhook them.
Fly, you fish. Swim, you birds.
2017 Sep

Book of Serenity #35
"It's no use walking anywhere unless our walking is our preaching." (St. Francis)
St. Francis never said,
"Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary use words."
At least, he never said it using words.
Perhaps he walked it, tongueless.
Perhaps, when he spoke, he spoke the same way.
2017 Aug

Book of Serenity #14
"Where have all the past saints gone?"
A finch song, a broken cup
A harsh word, the pang of being judged
The vast sky and the unanswerable green of the fern,
Brooks, roads, subway cars, scents of flowers, of garbage,
All of it, each of it, complete,
Quietly displays all that ever was or will be
Brings our noble ancestors so fully and plainly before my face --
So present --
That for a moment I wonder at their absence.
2017 Aug

Gateless Gate #13, Book of Serenity #55
Deshan, deep student of the Diamond (his beginning, his first word)
Burner of all his notes (no further words on that!)
At last becomes himself the Diamond.
In this fleeting world he comes --
   an ancient man
   bowls in hand
   no bell rung
   no drum struck
In this phantom dreamland he goes --
   an ancient man
   bowls in hand
   bereft of clue
   bereft of luck.
2017 Jul

Book of Serenity #22
Common or holy?
No, not in the least.
That's why Yantou
and I bow.
2017 Jul

Blue Cliff Record #10
Where did you come from, after all?
Conceived in a shout and birthed from silence,
As was the Universe, Dao, God --
As is each eternal moment coming forth.
2017 Jul

Book of Serenity #95
Sell your shout for a whack, or your bow for the same,
Sell all that you've grown, lose your load, lose your name.
Still that trace of the staff is beyond an exchange
'Cause what's given for free is in no one's price range.
2017 Jul

Book of Serenity #38
Right where you are is everywhere-nowhere.
Without rank, position, business, affairs,
The no-rowing rowing of your no-boat boat:
Gentle, merry, carried by the stream.
2017 Jul

Book of Serenity #13
I think of praying: "dear God, when my time is nigh, let me enter
that good night as Linji did:
teaching with my last breath,
learning with my last awareness."
But never mind.
Linji's dying words granted that prayer long ago
And laid bare our imperishable treasury of the true dharma eye.
2017 Jun

Blue Cliff Record #32
So the essence of Buddhism is: you get slapped and shoved.
Also: Bowing in gratitude.
In this gentle roughness
Gnawing hunger is itself the food.
2017 Jun

Gateless Gate #28
He shone with the light of his knowledge.
It was a beautiful, wonderful thing, really.
Also beautiful is how much farther it is possible to see
In the dark.
2017 May

Book of Serenity #83
The stars at night: sick or healthy?
The room where Daowu tends a patient: a sick or healthy room?
Perceiving the sickness of health, the health of sickness,
Is a single step down an infinite road --
A sick or healthy step?
2017 May

Book of Serenity #21
Working hard is taking it easy.
Taking it easy is working hard.
The moon, for instance: nothing works harder --
Nothing's more at ease.
The river, for instance.
The flower beside the path.
2017 May

Blue Cliff Record #89, Book of Serenity #54
Compassion, in the darkness, seeing nothing,
acts with unthinking naturalness.
Being awakened is like being asleep --
Nondiscriminating, responding spontaneously.
A patch of violets beside the path --
What could be more awake?
What more could Compassion do?
2017 May

Blue Cliff Record #55
Alive or dead? Form or emptiness?
Meaning or no meaning? The body,
beautiful and poignant, presents all that has passed.
For a while it moved; then it stopped.
2017 May

Book of Serenity #57
The nothing returns again to something.
If the nothing returns as something to obtain, have, grasp,
Scrape off that sticky something nothing.
Wash it away.
Otherwise, the nothing returns to mere being, the self-world river.
Float downstream;
Smile softly over the fall.
2017 Apr

Blue Cliff Record #96
Mud clay, gold metal, wood
Every strength depends upon weakness
Your destruction is incorporated into your being, as usual.
"The true Buddha is sitting in the recesses of the house."
2017 Apr

Blue Cliff Record #80
There's a babe inside the adult,
Overlaid with learning, skills, delusions.
There's no going back, and what is going forward?
This, then this, then this . . . Watch and see!
"Not by your will is the house carried through the night."
2017 Apr

Blue Cliff Record #59
Take it to the end: Give every bit of yourself!
"I only meant this much." He's made his choice and chosen small.
The Great Way, helping people:
Only take it all the way to the end.
2017 Apr

Blue Cliff Record #58
The old man was 80 before he consented to teach.
By then, decrepit, and so unattached to whether or not he was attached,
He had nothing to left to teach -- nothing more than
a stone, a brook, or a breeze teaches.
2017 Mar

Blue Cliff Record #57
"Alone, alone, all, all alone/ Alone on a wide, wide sea!"
The picking and choosing that picks nor chooses --
The alone that knows no aloneness --
The Great Way becomes you.
2017 Mar

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