"...a person of the Way fundamentally does not dwell anywhere..."
—"Cultivating the Empty Field", Hongzhi Zenji (1091-1157)
I would be lying if I say that I don't dwell anywhere
I could never leave my rent control apartment
the last bird I saw flying far into the distance
was the pigeon that splattered the sidewalk
narrowly missing me, from the vast sky
and the lazy fish that I see
are the ones slow enough to get caught
and sold in downtown markets and sturgeon counters.
where are those white clouds
the green mountains
the clear bottomless water?
day after day
I see the tears
and suffering of the angry
the neglected, the abused
they sit across from me
and it's hard to see the way through all the gloom.
but then some days I help them sit with stability
and hope they can find the freedom to reengage the world
with some energy.
sometimes a fish is just a fish
and a life, a life
as I walk by the Hudson
I just might catch the reflection of the moon cherishing
and at home
in my sink
there are always bowls to wash
but first I sit
at the end of a long day
and drink my tea.
Photo: Navah Steiner
When I sit Zazen
My dog is always beside me
Each of us on our respective pillow
Her sleek body slowly stops twitching
Like my thoughts
Her eyelids grow heavy, gentle hoods over her eyes
One seeing and one blind.
Sometimes I can't stop myself
I look over at her
My little Zen master
Who has awakened me
fully alive in every moment
Eating, sleeping, panting, jumping
the sweet sorrow of parting each morning
the pure joy of return
and of greeting a loved one at the door.
and I am aware, that one day
Just as she has shown me how to live
She will pry open my blind eye
To the reality of death
When she leaves me.
But for now
We are our own Sangha
And we sit together