29 July 2011

Clinging to the Shore

I can't exactly put words on it.  Maybe ache-urge-shame-wonder-awe comes close.  It's what wells up when I read something like these lines from Baisaō:
Pain and poverty
poverty and pain
life stripped to the bone
absolute nothingness
only one thing left
a bright cold moon
in the midnight window
illuminating a Zen mind
on its homeward way
Here's the thing, though:  I don't want just to read about it.  I want to see that very same moon with that very same mind.  I want know exactly what Baisaō knew (and, yes, I read the first two lines of the poem, too, and, yes, I realize just how überinflated, übercomfortable and überpadded my own life still is).

Is that so very much to ask?

I still feel like I'm looking at the water afraid to get wet.  I see Baisaō in the waves.  I see Ryōkan in the waves.   I see Saigyō in the waves.  I see Mahākāśyapa in the waves.  "Come in," they call, "the water's fine." 

"But what about my stuff?"  I call back.

"Just leave it. You won't miss it once you're in here."

And I both believe and don't believe them.  So I shout out, "I'll be in in a little bit," and I wait on the shore feeling that same ol' ache-urge-shame-wonder-awe for yet a while longer.

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