This is what I love about fog:
space is rendered opaque
so I get to see
to see the emptiness I ordinarily move through
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
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
* 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.