Ablaze with the City

Look they are here
Roaming along the street
My wandering thoughts
Among the fallen leaves
The abandoned litter
And a creaky bicycle passing by

Listen it is here 
Visiting among the trees 
A random feeling 
Among the neatly parked cars 
A stray panting dog
And birds flapping above my head

See and feel it now
Ablaze with the city
The aliveness of being
Gently taking its place
Down from the cobbled alley
To its soaring among the clouds

You had a sweet friendship with it
Amongst the busy crowd
You felt its warm embrace
And its soft company
Between the blast of a horn 
And the gust of a passing truck

As you crossed the avenue
Meeting glances from the cafe
It rose to a presence so vast
That you felt enlarged with it
Like a long standing friendship
That burst into a sudden love

You knew it was home
Where you wanted to be
As the first large drops of rain
Began tapping against your coat
You opened your heart to it
Disappearing within its space

Now the whole city was glowing
And the few happy rays of a sun
Sent rainbow lights amongst it all
There was a hum and a throbbing 
It was the life surrounding you
The whole place, the whole of it, was you

.

~~~

Text and photo by Alain Joly

~~~

.

Suggestion:
Voices from Silence (other poems from the blog)

.

Overlooking You

So you have abandoned me
At least it feels like it
You have let me drift on the shores
Of helplessness and suffering

For you were too humble
Never showing your qualities
When I needed specificities
Preferences as good and bad
That’s why I didn’t notice you

You were reaching far and wide
Never complying to any border
When I wanted something to rely on
That was solid and densely felt
That’s why I missed your embrace

You had no place in time to be
Never travelling in linearity
When I desired to grasp you so
Within a thought or a moment
That’s why you left elusively 

You had no care for a distance
Always standing so merged and close
When I liked you slightly remote
To catch you in my wilful gaze
That’s why I overlooked you

You had no taste for the personal
Always averse to belonging
When I sought you in my puny self
And discarded the world for it
That’s why I shrugged at your beauty

You kept away from conditions
Always shining unreservedly
When I expected you in the bright
Not in the dark and the lowly
That’s why I misunderstood you

You were with me shining and clear
Always loving all beings and things
When I was torn in suffering
And thought you had abandoned me
I must have simply looked away

.

~~~

Text and photo by Alain Joly

~~~

.

Suggestion:
Voices from Silence (other poems from the blog)

.

Verses on the Perfect Mind

‘Huike thinking’ – Shi Ke, 10th Century – Wikimedia Commons

信心銘
鑑智僧璨

 

It is only recently that I have heard the first two lines of this Zen poem called ‘Hsin-hsin Ming’, which can be translated as ‘Verses on the Perfect Mind’. It is an ancient poem, one of the earliest and most influential Zen writings. It was allegedly composed by Chien-chih Seng-ts’an, who is referred as the Third Zen Patriarch. Very little is known about him, except that he was initiated into the Dharma by Dazu Huike (487–593) and died in 606. It has been multi-translated, and given various names. The title literally means ‘Inscription (or record) on the Believing Heart (or the Faith Mind)’. Verses on the Perfect Mind seems to be a good translation, considering the deeper meaning of the word ‘perfect’ which is ‘completed, accomplished’. The perfect Mind here is an ‘is-ness’, the natural mind, the Buddha mind. As the Nirvana Sutra says, “Great faith is no other than Buddha nature.”

What makes the translation of the poem difficult is the tension between conveying the right meaning and rendering the brevity of the poem. There is a passage in the present translation that goes: “When things can no longer be faulty, it is as if there are no things. When the mind can no longer be disturbed, it is as if there is no mind.” This was translated by Prof. Dusan Pajin: “No blame, no things; no arising, no mind.” The poem consists of 146 unrhymed four-character verses, which is shorter than the usual lines in Chinese poetry which have five or seven characters. So the form is concise, scarce, and that is in line with the Zen meditative form. 

It should not be read as a succession of individual quatrain, but more as a vision, something whole, indivisible. I think it was written in this spirit, for the original work is really just a succession of undivided characters. Maybe it was recited fast, concentrating on the meaning behind the words, the felt-understanding. It starts with these famous lines, so often quoted: “The Great Way is not difficult, for those who have no preferences.” It develops as variations on these lines before ending and finding completion — we could say vanishing — with this strong reminder: “Words! Words! The Way is beyond language, Words never could, can not now, and never will describe the Way.” The present interpretation is by Eric Putkonen. Eric is a Modern-day house-holder yogi and lover of what-is who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida where he hosts nonduality satsangs. I hope you will enjoy…

 

至道無難 
唯嫌揀擇 
但莫憎愛 
洞然明白 

 

The Great Way is not difficult, 
for those who have no preferences. 
Let go of longing and aversion, 
and it reveals itself.

Make the smallest distinction, however, 
and you are as far from it as heaven is from earth. 
If you want to realize the truth, 
then hold no opinions for or against anything.

Like and dislike 
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning (of the Way) is not understood, 
the intrinsic peace of mind is disturbed.

As vast as infinite space, 
it is perfect and lacks nothing.
Indeed, it is due to your grasping and repelling 
that you do not see things as they are.

[…]

Continue reading this old poem by the Third Zen Patriarch… (READ MORE…)