on popping the pink pill and dissolving into aware space

Alan Perriman, Fog

 

This is what I love about fog:

space is rendered opaque

so I get to see

Creation’s cauldron,

to see the emptiness I ordinarily move through

oblivious

to its strange solidity.

 

I had it all back to front –

assuming my solidity and its, well, nothingness.

One night a few months ago I asked how

Dōgen’s “aware space” *

might be made evident, physically perceivable,

experience-able beyond conceptualization

and next morning I woke up to thick fog.

 

I thought, OK let’s color it pink

to make it even more evident

– no problem for a visual mind like mine –

but then I noticed that my hands,

the exhalation of my breath,

my table, my room, my coffee,

everything was permeated with pinkness.

 

In high school science class I was taught:

An atom consists of 99.9999999999996% “empty space”

and should all the “empty space”

be vacuumed out of one’s body

the solid matter remaining would fit

on the point of a pin.

(Along with all those dancing quantum angels.)

 

And I lost it, almost wet myself laughing . . .

“You mean . . .?”

I’m leaving it to you, dear reader,

to join the dots for yourself.

If you do, you’ll never again be puzzled

by the paradox of the Prajñāpāramitā.

 
– – –
 

That’s how teachings arrive for me:

a question goes out

and the universe serves a set-up

perfectly calibrated for comprehension

by this old cow’s unique version

of craziness.

Mu!

 


Painting by UK artist Alan Perriman, Fog – one of a series where he sets out to express in visual language a short Japanese poem.

Because fog engulfs
the house where I am
I feel as though
I have floated into the sky
– Myōe
1173-1232

alanperriman.co.uk


* Dōgen’s “Aware Space”:
I was sitting with a commentary on Dōgen zenji’s Being Time, given by Anzan Hoshin roshi.

He said, “Dōgen is pointing out the way Aware Space embodies itself as each of you, and how each of you unfold yourselves as each other and as all things, as all beings, all times, all worlds.”

Gulp.     God I love Dōgen.

White Wind Zen Community, Ottawa.


the birds come to my birdbath

 

Philip Sutton, The Tree, 1958

 

emelle says:

I’m a fool with little need of company.

There’s no one deemed respectable here,
so how could I demand respect?

When recognition only brings busyness,
how could I not love invisibility?

Knowing that mind is the slayer of silence
why would I want “the last word?”

Saturated by streaming aliveness
how could I be lonely?

I cherish the extraordinariness
of ordinary suchness
but few know what that looks like,
so I’ll tell you:

The birds come to my birdbath.

The dogs wag their tails
when I open my door.

My luna-lover beams at me
without reproach or expectation.

My cup runneth over
and the ants make the most of it;
they even cart off my toenail clippings.

When the tide of breath runs out
they will claim every scrap of this body
and have a banquet with the worms.

And their scats will feed the earth;
new grass will grow in the summer,
sap will rise in the trees
and they will exhale my smile.

I will be breathed back
into the fecundity of space.

Just like that.
And that’s enough for me.

 


Image: Philip Sutton, The Tree, 1958
philipsuttonra.com


 

zen moments of the senior kind

Happy Hermit

 

The continuation of the spiritual journey really depends on how crazy we’re willing to be.
– Reggie Ray

I had no idea I’d end up this crazy. Or this contented. Or this fulfilled. Don’t ask me about happiness – it’s a sub-category these days. Imagine being happy to be unhappy? Imagine being contented to feel like shit? Imagine being at peace with pain and weariness? Imagine being ok with depression, flatness, confusion? If this isn’t your version of liberation I totally understand. (We all start out on this journey imagining ‘waking up’ will magically erase all discomfort from our experience.)

But this absurd liberation lives here, and this is what the crazy cow offers tonight: five three-liners of the slightly nonsensical variety. They like to think they are haiku, but would duck and hide in the presence of ‘real’ haiku. Apologies for my warping of noble zen aphorisms, koans and haiku. I mean no disrespect; after all these years they are deeply embroidered in the fabric of this brain and have a life of their own.

My sanity does too. Where the hell did I put it?


old flesh, old bones

on the zafu, aches come and go

just like I used to

~

weary old mind

data flows in, data drops out

plop!

~

music to my ears…

the sound of someone else

chopping

~

puddle on zafu

old cow’s melted-down stories

moo!

~

relentless koan:

what is the sound of my neighbor’s dog

barking?

 

~

 


About the image.  This delightful brush drawing comes from the cover of an exhibition catalogue: L’Au-delà dans l’art japonaise. Paris 1963. Nowhere in the book does it mention the name of the artist whose work is featured on the cover. My instincts tend towards Sengai… what do you think?


 

on turning seventy three

 

alone in my hut

[no one here to invent me]

eyeballing emptiness

 

Rainbow Lorikeet hovering by Trevor Andersen

 

Seventy three missions

around the sun and not

one thing of worldly value

to show for it.

 

No savvy safety-nets:

investment portfolios, insurance policies,

plans A, B and C.  I walk the way

of not-knowing and wonderment.

 

Lofty notions of enlightenment, bliss,

exalted understanding have no buyer here;

I’ll take this uninvited, serene,

free and priceless fulfilment.

 

See, today I heard the air sing

as it danced through the rainbow wings

of a Lorikeet suspended

in space.

 

Today I watched cumulonimbus

massing in the west, those

sculpted edges alive with flaming gold

as the sun went down.

 

Tonight, as dusk fell

bringing cool relief to the sweating forest

I giddily inhaled a draught

laden with night-scented Jessamine.

 

And it is enough. Whatever may lie ahead

for this beloved bag of bones

the simple sensuous joy of being Presence

 

is enough.

 


Rainbow Lorikeet hovering. Photograph by Trevor Andersen.


breathing with the lake

Here I am.
Sitting in Paradise
breathing.
Breathing the tide of clarity – in it comes
crystal-clear, out it goes,
often muddied by mind –
and I smile as this lifestream flows on
saturating each sensation, yet
paying no heed;
never cocking an eyebrow or casting a vote,
only ever reminding me:
Here I am
I-without-name-or-boundary
here and now
as This, and This and This.


The current version of Paradise finds me staying in a place of great beauty, beside a large lake. This entire year has unfolded as a series of deep retreats. It is a time for, and of, integration. Health issues are being lovingly tended and their emotional causality explored. It’s both harrowing and heart-swelling: Grace delivers whatever is needed, reminding me I signed up for the Full Monty.

Apropos of nothing (I never go fishing) these three small poems landed in my net:


Miriam Louisa Simons, Lake Macquarie, dawn

 

breathing with the lake

I am

Monet-mind beside the Seine

 

 

black swans glide by, curious:

pounding the lakeside path

a rainbow!

 

 

fog hiding the lake

one solitary oarsman

rows through melting space

 


Photograph taken from my zafu.


dances with bunnies

She-who-scribbles has been in d-e-e-p retreat for some weeks; don’t expect sense anytime soon.
 

Beatrix Potter - Dancing to a Piper, detail

 

Everything is dancing today.

 

Light,

sound,

motion,

all movement.

 

A rabbit pulls a pipe

from his waistcoat pocket,

then winks.

 

Breathes deep and fingers

a scatter of twinkling

starlight.

 

This causes a few planets and I

to go nuts

and start a little jig.

 

Someone sees us,

calls a

shrink,

 

tries to get me

committed

for

being too

happy.

 

 

Listen: this world is a loony-bin.

It’s only real if you’re chronically

sane,

if you haven’t made the

free-fall

into wild foolishness.

 

Even with its firmness

beneath my feet

and the mailman knowing

my street number

 

I hang out somewhere else:

with partying bunnies

and a cosmos spinning

in giddy delight.

 


Reading Hafiz’s poem Then Winks catapulted my brain over to Beatrix Potter and her partying rabbits. Or was it the other way around?
Purists will protest my highjack and mash-up of Hafiz’s words, forgetting that they aren’t even his – rather, they are the Hafiz-inspired outpourings of Daniel Landinsky.
Beatrix – who knew the truth about bunnies and most things – would smile knowingly.
Daniel – well, he knows what it is to be gripped by a verse and taken for a ride.
As for Hafiz – I’ll ask him next time we’re in our cups and jiving…


Beatrix Potter watercolour from bibliodyssey blog.

Then Winks, by Hafiz [Daniel Landinksy]


time forgets to tick

New Years Day, 2016 – according to the calendar. Three micro-poems which might or might not be haiku. I offer them as they landed. The first one is a selfie and makes me chuckle. The last – well, if you’ve experienced an Australian morning you’ll know about the predawn antics of the rowdy kookaburras… In between, a quiet reflection on – how it is.

 

Gerrit Dou: Old Woman with a Jug at Window

 

xliv

the caged bird long flown

an old woman waters flowers

time forgets to tick

 

xlv

abandoned at last

by meaning and purpose

I sit with my tea

 

xlvi

3am – seems they know

it’s the dawn of a New Year

kookabloodyburras

 


Image: Gerrit Dou, Old Woman with a Jug at Window, c 1660 – 1665
Oil on Panel, 28.3 x 22.8
Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna