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#2587 - Sunday, September 17, 2006 - Editor: Gloria Lee
This issue features poetry from the blog of naga moon rai. Many poems are accompanied by his own photography.
no breath as in
spider silk against skin
drops of meaning
dried by the moon
no ground under the feet
as if dream wavering
still the silence
old music in the air
like unwashed dishes
like a wingless fly
perched on a rose
filled with pollen
I step to the songs of leaves
the dances of snails
the dreams of grass.
Morning sun drops light poems
through trees onto sleeping birds
who sputter into wonder.
My hands find night cathedrals
spun by spiders now glistening and dew wet
looped around raspberries and thorns.
Joy runs up my legs and leaps to my skin.
It devours me till I twirl with blind ants
and fly out of the mouth of God.
It's a caterpillar dance
a sky punctured by names forgotten,
like the scent of extinct volcanos.
bounce like fireflies
creating minuscule firestorms
but each one is a universe
of alternative views.
A convoluted birdsong,
slips by underneath our minds,
And so we sit like shamans,
tossing pigeon bones on campfires
inscribing lines into the future.
Poems that breathe
from the innards
of our own dreams.
Empty of What?
If I am holding a cup of water and I ask you, "Is this cup empty?" you will say, "No, it is full of water." But if I pour out the water and ask you again, you may say, "Yes, it is empty." But, empty of what? My cup is empty of water, but it is not empty of air. To be empty is to be empty of something. . . . When Avalokita [Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion] says that the five skandhas are equally empty, to help him be precise we must ask, "Mr. Avalokita, empty of what?" The five skandhas, which may be translated into English as five heaps, or five aggregates, are the five elements that comprise a human being. . . . In fact, these are really five rivers flowing together in us: the river of form, which means our body, the river of feelings, the river of perceptions, the river of mental formations, and the river of consciousness. They are always flowing in us. . . . Avalokita looked deeply into the five skandhas . . . and he discovered that none of them can be by itself alone.
. . . Form is empty of a separate self, but it
is full of everything in the cosmos. The same is true with
feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.
--Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of Understanding
The Buddha always told his disciples not to
waste their time and energy in metaphysical speculation. Whenever
he was asked a metaphysical question, he remained silent.
Instead, he directed his disciples toward practical efforts.
Questioned one day about the problem of the infinity of the
world, the Buddha said, "Whether the world is finite or
infinite, limited or unlimited, the problem of your liberation
remains the same." Another time he said, "Suppose a man
is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out
the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow
removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why
he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these
questions have been answered, the man might die first." Life
is so short. It must not be spent in endless metaphysical
speculation that does not bring us any closer to the truth.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh, in Zen Keys
Alan Larus presents a Kabir poem and his photography, along with a composite that must be seen to be believed.
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