The Meeting of American Culture and Buddhism

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i was very right
thanks picked up it's also time to come up close because she can't hear me by all means come to come close
i never did full lotus half lily i was a specialist than half lily and still am to this day
well when when i think about zen and myself as a poet and the connection between them what comes to mind first for some reason is the story which i first met in zen mind beginner's mind of
of non gocco and puzzle and the tile which i'm sure most of you know but in case anybody doesn't i will briefly repeat
one day basso who was a strong young zen student who was nicknamed the horse master which i of course like lot cause i like horses a good deal he was sitting zazen and his teacher out in the garden and his teacher non-gaap who came by and said
to him what are you doing and bustle answered i'm trying to become a buddha and mnangagwa said ah and went on his way and a few minutes later when bustle got up non-gaap who was sitting down in another part of the garden with a tile and a cloth rubbing and
rubbing and rubbing very vigorously and faso said to his teacher what are you doing and non-gaap who said i'm trying to make a job mirror out of this tile and bustle said you can't make a jeweled mirror out of a tile by rubbing it and the reply was you think you can make
make a broader by sitting meditation
and when suzuki roshi tells this story he also gives dogan his commentary on it of from the thirteenth century dogan says when the horse master becomes the horse master zen becomes them
that's for me the connection between poetry and practice
that when things become completely themselves they are a sin
poetry for me is
a path towards awakening in language
i'm not a zen poet the way one thinks of zen poets as being last month when diane talked in the series she gave a very wonderful description about how zen came into the arts and america in the nineteen fifties and nineteen sixties are the be
critics of spontaneity and allowing chance into your work and presenting the moment as you found it
allen ginsberg's saying first thought best thought none of that applies to me i'm afraid
i don't fit the description of a then poet
so i have to find some other excuse besides the fact that i can say two things one is i can say that
i'm not as a poet i'm a poet who has practiced since since nineteen seventy four so maybe that lets me off the hook a best as all labels are kind of difficult for me
none of us i think it's very comfortable even saying i'm a poet or even saying yeah i'm a buddhist nobody really likes to say i'm a buddhist and you might be able to say with a bit more comfort i sit i write verbs verbs are much more
comfortable than nouns
and one thing which i mean for me this whole question of categories and language had been quite acute over the last two years because one of the projects i've been working on an addition to my own poetry is this anthology called women in praise of the sacred which draws on
all traditions in which i basically booked for poetry which i found awake and alive and that lifted my heart and it made me feel more deeply human from every tradition by women there've been a lot
of books about women's spirituality in the last fifteen years and none of them has been only the words of women describing their own experience they tend to be the the and again this is a it's a question of the fuzziness of language when you talk about
feminine the feminine and the spiritual most of these books are about female images of the sacred or the divine or whatever
the it the goddess inanna or even one could say the buddhist moon
which i like very much i liked the buddhist moon because of course it's quite genderless it's without gender but still you know this sort of hackney cliche is that the sun is the mail image and the moon is the female image so one could say that the moon as a figure for enlightenment as a sort of feminine image but i wasn't looking for feminine images i was look
thing for what women say about their experience and what i found was that
there were women in every tradition whose words could be found that i didn't know about starting with the world's earliest identified author who was a sumerian moon priestess in two thousand three hundred bc in and and had a wanna who we have a portrait of now she's quite a historical figures his woman who got caught
in a political conflicts in the middle east got caught between warring sides
right through the on
twelfth century taoist women teachers who thomas cleary brought into english for the first time so that that was how i found out about them rabeeah a sufi woman in the eighth century who lived in basrah a town familiar to us from the gulf war
women in northern europe in the twelfth through fourteenth centuries who
make a marvelous example for something i've been very interested in one of the reasons that i was drawn to zen center and zen practice was because you could be a lay person and still have monastic experience which for me was an amazing opportunity for me to be able to live
at tassajara
fully and completely and accepted as an equal there but still be a lay person you know not not sign onto the western idea of what it means to become a mat monastic that was a tremendously important part of my life and remains at the center of my life well women in northern europe in the
twelfth to fourteenth century there was a movement called the big games where the church stopped opening new contents and
women who really there was an imbalance of population between the plague and the crusades men were dying you're a lot of extra women the church didn't want to take care of them so they said no more contents but the women who really wanted to practice wouldn't be stopped and so they began by meeting together in one another's homes five time
times a day for shared prayer and by the apex of the movement in the thirteenth and fourteenth century you could find cities with fourteen thousand women moving together within the walls practicing voluntary poverty chastity and good works they do
a lot of hospice work they took care of people they took care of each other and this was all done as lay people there was no institutional support whatsoever from the church they simply made up the forms for themselves and they weren't held by lifetime vows they could come and go if they wish he could do
do it for a while and then if he wanted to go marry that was all right and that kind of flexibility which i recognize from my experience in this community to find that that had existed to that extent in the western tradition was an amazement to me but all of this
long circle i was talking about language and categories and and the difficulty and here i have created a book with a title that i myself am somewhat uncomfortable with women in praise of the sacred i've already fallen into a problem by the time i say even the word sacred because
is that the horse master becoming the horse master has nothing to do with the sacred it has nothing to do with an idea of something other than ourselves and yet in putting together this book there was no language where i
could both communicate what i wanted to communicate to someone who might see a title on a on a bookshelf and pick it up that would also remain true to my own sense of things and so the only solution for me was to give up my own sense of things to some extent and to merely press
sent these various other realities always in their own terms to take on their language and allow them to speak and i was simply the person who was lucky enough to get to do the project
and it was good fortune to get to do it i think so that's something about language and another thing about language to come back to poetry and zen and me is that of course
poetry is an ultimate case of endeavoring to practice right speech it makes you question what right speech might be
because in trying to make a poem that works that wonderful word we use in poetry workshops at works we said
everything in it has to be right speech if you have lied or hesitated or fool yourself or last your awareness or last year concentration the speech won't be right and the poem will stumble
so this is another way that my sense of practice and my sense of poetry coincide i think that that for me they've always been terribly linked because i've found out about buddhist ideas through poetry i know most people of my generation first encountered them through listening to alan watts
or you know something like that gary snyder allen ginsberg i didn't i first met buddhist ideas in no drama plays and in chinese classical poets and i also met the ideas of zen not even in the tradition of buddhism which
is something that i was thinking about in terms of the title of this whole series not present in the arts title which is this year's theme but the big title which is the meeting of buddhism and american culture
and it seems to me that long before then
where buddhism or dharma or any of those words was ever named in this country in this culture still the ideas of buddhism have always been a part of who we are because the ideas of buddhism don't come from buddha
awesome they come from the truth of our experience they come from paying attention to the nature of our own lives and so the concept of everything changing of transients i first met that reading the roman poets
it's probably horace and catullus talking about carpet diem seize the day because the day will quickly pass a theme which has one through english poetry
has won through western poetry
there's even something that i can't claim influenced made particularly before coming here but there's a wonderful a stream of poetry in native american poetry in the ancient aztec palms of the fifteenth century there is a series of posts
ng's which talk about the transience of the flowers and that talk about how our life is here but for a moment who can say that our life on this earth is real and the palms you could lift some lines of them and put them into japanese or chinese poetry and you wouldn't know which tradition they had come
i'm from so i don't think that american culture is devoid of the ideas of awakening of transience of interconnection
before buddhism comes into it though goes ideas are about the way the world is and so the those ideas we're always here and i know when i first was attracted to zen buddhism from finding the description of them in palms in asian poetry
it wasn't a matter of seeing something new it was a matter of recognizing a description of the world that i already agreed with that confirmed my sense of ah this this i understand this i agree with
so why then know if it's already completely present and if we already think we understand it what why come spend eight years as a full times and students and of course you know that again is duggan's question if we're all already buddha why practice and i guess for me there were two reasons why
one was i knew i needed help you know
that know it's one thing to have a a moment's insight or understanding or some experience which i think many people have in their childhood or teenage years some taste of what buddhist practice then leads us back to but we don't know how to integrated into our lives and i could have
you know there could have been another path perhaps but this is the only one which made sense to me this made a lot of sense to come and sit and examine and question everything for a long time until i got some sense of how to do it into my body into
to my mind and only then did i feel like i could go back to poetry and it never even crossed my mind to go to a right in graduate school and fewer people did it back then than do now now almost everyone does but i knew that if i wanted to write which i did want to do i have
i always wanted to write
i felt as if the only way to do that was not to go to a school and read books and fallen and out of love again which was the only real experience i've ever know i knew was book experience and falling in love but it was to look more closely at what it means
to live in this world and so i sometimes when i'm talking to poetry students say that tassajara was my graduate school i didn't get any degree but but that's where i chose to go to graduate school
what a what i'd like to do for the rest of my time here is i don't know
how many of you came because you have an interest in the anthology michael had directed me when i asked him you know how do you want what do you want me to do with with as even he said please concentrate on your own work or not the anthology so what what i'll do is i'll reduce some poems from the new book which i feel even though i
hardly ever use the language of buddhism in my poems i'll have one poem that are do that actually tells a a story in it and it tells a lot of western things in it too but palms which to me feel like they they have a close relationship to practice and then
after that we can have a question and answer and if people want to her some of the poems from the anthology i flagged a bunch of the early buddhist poems and i can read you some of those or whatever and or we can talk about anything you want together but i'm
first out or with you some of these and this is sort of enjoyable for me i've just begun giving readings from these books on i've only had copies of them for a couple of weeks and what's nice about reading in this context as i get to read different poems and a different way than what i've been doing in books
doors are so it's a privilege for me to be able to give them to you for example with this poem i can tell you what is not said anywhere in the poem for which he will recognize which is it's upon which comes out of zazen experience
the door
a note waterfall steadily through us just below hearing
or this early light streaming through dusty grass what enters enters like that unstoppable gift
and yet there is also the other the breath space held between any call and it's answer
in the querying first scarf of footstep the wood elves repeating the to counting heart a little sabha minnow whose brightness silver's past time
the west note unwritten hinged between worlds that precedes change and allows it
so it's a poem about the fact that if you don't let emptiness in
form can't become form truly the space between are breathing as important as counting our breathing the gap the place where nothing is being just as important as the space where something is
this next poem i was thinking for a long time one of my favorite sayings is a saying by ganesha quoted by dogan all the world is one bright pearl
there's also in every mystical tradition every tradition where people see for themselves you find some variation of this idea in the gnostic gospel of thomas it's phrased as the kingdom of heaven is already here on earth only men do not see
the idea of the perfection of things as they are the idea that you're already buddha you may not realize it but you're already buddha and thinking about that is what this problem came from
each step
nowhere on this earth is it not a place where the robbers turn lightly and sleep in each other's arms the blue pastures of dusk flowing gladly into the dawn
nowhere that is not reached by the scent of good bread through an open window by the flash of fish in the flashing of summer streams or the trees unfolding their praises apricots pears of the winter chill nights
briefly briefly we see it and forget as if the spell were too powerful to hold on the tongue as if we preferred the wait to the prize
like a horse that carries on his own back the sacks of votes he will need unsuspecting looking always ahead over the mountains to were sweet springs lie
he remembers this much from his youth the taste of things cold and pure while the water sound sings on and on and listened to in his ears while each step is nothing less than the glistening river body we entering
at home

the house in winter
here in the years mate tired wash a corner cupboard suddenly waivers in low flung sunlight cupboard never quite visible before
it's jars of last summer's pictures have come into their native gold not the sweetness of last summer but today's fresh from the tree of winter the mouth swallows pitch and says gold
though they dazzle and are gone perhaps a fruit the winter light the cupboard it has swept back into shadow
as inhaled swiftly or slowly the sweet words cent goes out the same saying not world but the bright self breathing sang not self but the world's right breath saying finally always gone
on the deep shelves of the heartbeat empty
or perhaps it is that the house only constructs itself while we look opens rome from room because we look the would the grass the menin flinging themselves into form at the clap of our footsteps as the hard dormant pitch
tree wades into blossom and leaf at the spring sons mac neither surprised nor expectant but every cell awakened at that knock

when i was saying that the ideas of buddhism are found everywhere are ready and the culture one of the places that interested me was a chemist who i met told me reminded me about lavoisier
yeah the guy who's considered the father of modern chemistry and he was telling the story and he said the sentence which love was yea and came up with in order to talk about the law of the conservation of matter and
and what struck me is it's a perfect embodiment of buddhist teaching what he said was so this is and seventeen eighty nine the year of the french revolution in his radical textbook elements of chemistry he said nothing is lost nothing created everything is transform
the experiment with which he proved this was one in which he took me a clerk mercuric oxide and separated into mercury and oxygen weighed them separately weighed them recombined and it never changed and that's how he knew that oxygen to was matter and had weight and substance
and all of that and that comes up later in the problem so it is a poem in which i was trying to
bring a little more peace with myself
to the creations of modern chemistry to the technological world i was thinking about love was a and what he made for us all and one it has come to and and what did i have to think about that i don't know if any of you will try cycle there was a wonderful section in the last issue about
deep ecology in which on
one of the writers suggested that you can't take belching smoke stacks and nuclear warheads and diesel trucks and say everything is buddha accept them
everything's buddha everything's buddha which doesn't mean you don't then try to get rid of the nuclear warheads but you know to remember to include them in the protection of things as they are
the wedding
the high windows stream with fish the gold luck of carp the tiny silver luck of minos while the earth gives back her buried wealth of skunks and star-crossed badgers
pure stripes of seeing unfold themselves out of moonlight and the dark bodies follow as closely as both follow sale and no no harm will come to them in their wholeness
all beings rise uncaught for this beginning
cousin death joins a table at the wedding the white cloth gleams the waiting plates oh i made welcome
mother wore smooth the silk of her dress she feels young and will dance again after years with her husband pity
still the guests are arriving carrying gifts small appliances vases a big set of towels ramps of heaviest brass
they say each other's names charity hope and ask of nieces and nephews after school
a rabbit edges near outside the grass
and the river a barge float softly it's tugs at slack night herons and pelicans brain an iron bell worms with the slow ringing fire of rust and the burj imperceptibly lowers
imagine nothing created what it might look like try to envision such peace
now see the dark shelled flowers have thought unmade the petals of little boy unassembled the plague past donkeys on flung over city walls the dead undead the survivors and lonely
we're think of a world in which nothing is lost its heaped paintings the studied statues keeping their jaws now see this very world where all is transformed quick as a child who cries and then laughs in her crying now ingot now blossoming as
shh now table now suckling lamb on that table how each thing meets the other as itself the luminous changing mirror of itself mercuric oxide tipped from flask to flask first to than one
weathered for life in that vow

this is a rather different story which also has a zen thing stuck into western culture and it sir
the official name for it because granted an end so a calligraphy circle which crops up in a story told by vasari in arrives at the artists and i think i've tipped you off sometimes proms are meant to be read twice but they only get to be heard once so what's being described in the beginning of
this i was looking at an art book
which had pictures of the johto trip chapel so it so it's johto
a plenitude
even from a book of aging plates these frescoes intricate tracer is dazzled the i with their crazed china fourteenth century glaze and gold walls gold violence flickr and rise in intertwining diamonds in red bedding damask blooms
each swath of floor or cloth a plenitude that binds each pick roof canopy er worked geometry of ladder tiles or stones who's almost cemetery is repetition as in nature invented always knew
for this storied rooms seem not so much built up by plan as breathed until at times they seem to break as if from sheer exuberance to dapp lings spilled out selfless as animal pelts or roots whose autumn pattern nets a hill against the reins and trading bit
to join in falling
other times though they seem delicately revealed as if some smooth and outer rind had been peeled back to show the web of sweet sold seed on said that is the world but there is the story to have a young pain
after meeting the envoy of a poke
asked for a work by which is art could be weighed against others he dipped his stylus with great courtesy according to vasari in red ink and drew a single perfect oh
shocked the messenger asked will this be all
young johto whose deer fly his teacher had tried in vain to brush from a painting replied it is enough and more
think i'm going to introduce one
not not explicitly practice from but because i have a friend here from the well
this is a poem which came out of a different kind of interconnection of the indra's net of the internet
during the gulf war which was i was put on the well which is a computer bulletin board based in sausalito two days before the beginning of the war and i followed the war and the well which was an amazing new source because people were posting not only a huh
huge range of their own ideas and responses and reactions and a huge range of factual information because of the different backgrounds of people on there but also they were importing in information that was being posted elsewhere on the internet one of the most interesting things was a diary being kept by
an israeli writer named robert vermin are giving his day by day experience of waiting for the bombs to come in and that got turned into a book which has just been published i meant to note the name of it it just finally came out but now he would say
ah okay you know that the they've just put off the sirens excuse me a minute and then he would take his computer and move into the sealed room with the nine members of his family who are there that night because it was the sabbath and then he would continue to write his experience and one day he's quite a good writer and one day he happened to mention
in passing that the narcissus had just begun to bloom in tel aviv and i looked out my window and my narcissus had just begun to bloom and i realized that everywhere the narcissus had just begun to bloom and so that became
this narcissus tel-aviv baghdad san francisco february nineteen ninety one
and then the precise opening everywhere of the flowers which live after all in their own time
it seemed they were oblivious but they were not they included at all the nameless explosions and the oil fires in every cell the white petals like mirrors opening in a slow motion coming apart and the stems the stems rising like green flaring missiles like
smoke like the small sounds shaken from those who were beaten like dust from a carpet into the wind and the spring centered rain
they opened because it was time and they had no choice as the children were born in that time and that place and became what they would without choice or with only a little choice perhaps for the lucky the foolish or brave
but precise and in fact holy peaceful the flowers opened and precise and peaceful the earth
opened because it was asked again and again it was asked and earth opened flowered and fell because what was falling had asked and could not be refused as the sea birds that asked the green surface to open or not refused but are instantly welcomed that they may
enter and eat as soon refuse battered and soaking the dark mahogany ring

one of the things i've been practicing within the last few years is a question what is the emotional life of a buddha
and i haven't very about this which may be meeting me and all who listened to hell realms i don't know i could be very very wrong
but i think the emotional life of a buddha is a very full emotional life i realized that justice nor i have preconceptions about what i'm supposed to be as a zen poet that i'm not i had preconceptions about what i was supposed to be as a buddhist that i'm not
and i began to look at them and realized that
i mean that and i really am now i'm not falling when i say i couldn't really wrong a bath is this could be a disaster but i realized that i had the image of the serene buddha sitting and the lotus with the half smile of detachment in my mind as the only pay
possible way and that everything else was some mistake departing from that and i didn't even know until the moment when i went all i didn't even realize how strong this idea had been in me in all of my years of practice that that was right and that anything else was some failure or some
falling away and of course there are models in the tradition that don't say this but that was somewhere deep in in my mind
and i began to think maybe not so maybe not maybe a brutal looks just like we do maybe a brutal rafts and cries and rages and there is some difference because a broader would do all those things without self into
that would be the difference not on her or his or its own behalf
but simply because this is the life of the world certainly it's the life of the human realm that we're practicing am
and so that's something i've been thinking about a great deal and this is a poem which speaks about that a bit and oddly enough it speaks about it
through a western story rather than an eastern one
i think it was from the animals that st francis learned it is possible to cast yourself on the earth's good mercy and live
from the wolf who cast off the deep fierceness of her first heart and crept into the circle of sunlight and for wariness and wolf hunger wagging her newly shy tail and was fed and lived from the birds who came fearless to him until he had no choice
choice but turn that courage
even the least a neighbor touched on all sides by the opulent other even the belly and plankton fully immersed in their fate for what else might happiness be than to be porous opened went through by the beings and things
nor could he forget those other companions the shifting ethereal shapeless hopelessness desperate nurse loneliness even the fire tongue to anger for they to waited with the patient lion the glossy rooster
to step out of the trays protection and come in
i think it has to do maybe with the difference between detachment and non attachment but i used to think we had to be detached and now i think non attachment will suffice
and that the broader would rather have a full life
although the other is good too
no to say it's not good to have the other but that there are many possibilities
and this is a poem about writing and about it comes from a day there's a place i go in upstate new york which i think of as my writing tassajara it's called yaddo it's an artists' colony and i've gone five times now every other year for me
month and i trade it very much as a retreat i spend a lot of time in silence there i don't go to the communal breakfast they give you a lunch in a bucket that you can take away to the writing room that they give you and so i spend the whole day without speaking to anybody else and and i make a fire in the woodstove and i
sit zazen and i have all the time in the world and it's quite wonderful and then when for thirty rolls around i play tennis with for exercise essential and i talk and i and i meet the other people there at night which is also wonderful
and that is the one time when i asked myself to write every day i'm not a person for whom it works well to keep a daily writing schedule i believe that all of the people who suggest that one keep a daily writing schedule if one wants to be a writer are right
this is very good advice where everyone should try it it's a good idea i can't do it
my news just doesn't cooperate but at yaddo she cooperates so that's where i've got the pact one new thing every day
and this is pretty much the accurate tale of the day when i didn't have an idea at all nothing came to me so it's a kind of pep talk that i gave myself towards the end of the day i was getting desperate and everything that happens is true except for one thing i chew
changed those of you who know your chinese stories will know the story actually is that the monk became enlightened when the little pebble he was sweeping hit a bamboo but i didn't have enough syllables in the line for bamboo so my palms says stone on stuff rather than stone on bamboo rather than that it's all true it has lots of references if sosa
with that then it refers to emily that's emily dickinson then it quotes a bird brook and it's an actual bird broken it's a verbatim potent i loved it because it has lots of internal rhyme minutes and very good advice to boot it makes a reference to a poem called the brought fox by the english poet ted hughes and
it quotes a zen master with the quote that i bet a lot of you have heard and then the last line i wrote myself
so this is called inspiration
think of those chinese monks tales years of struggling in the zendo than the clink while sweeping up of stone and stone it's emily's wisdom tooth and circuit lies or see grants common birds and how to know them new
york scribner's nineteen o one
the approach must be by detour advantage taken of rock three mound and brush but if without success this way lose artifice throw off i'll still appearance watchfulness look guileless or lawyer purposeless stroll on not
to directly toward the bird avoiding any gaze to steadfast or failing still in this your voice to sundry whistles to your quarry may stay on to answer more briefly try but stymied give it up do something else leave the untroubled
i thought go walking ideas buzz the air like flies returned to work a fox trots by not uses sharp stinking but fox but quite real outside the window with cream dip tail and red fire legs doused watery brown
emerges from the woods dark margin stopping all thinking and briefly squats not fox but vixen then moves along and out of sight
enlightenment one master is an accident though certain efforts make you accident prone
the rest slats fox like in and out of stones

in this rain that keeps us inside the frog wisest of creatures to whom all things come is happy rasping out of himself the tuneless anthem a frog
further off and more like ourselves the cows are raising a huddling protest a ragtag crowd that can't get its chanting and time
now the crickets seeming to welcome the early come twilight come in of all orchestras the most plaintive
still in this rain soft as fog that can only be known to be wayne by the windows streaming surely all being at bottom is happy soaked to the bone sobbed the route seventy sit through yielding as coffee grounds year
il to their percolation blushing completely seduced assenting as they give in to the down rushing water the murmur of falling the fluvial pearling wash of all the ways matter loves matter riding it's gravity down into the body
the rising through sell strands of xylem leaflet and long flower back into error
i'll just read one more palm and then we can talk or if you want you can hear some stuff from the anthology this is a short poem
within this tree another tree inhabits the same body

and a few more human okay other people
and the
there is no other world ah this is it called you get
know you personally
yeah i've written since i got taught how to write and i wrote steadily throughout my whole childhood and always thought that i would simply continued doing that and then when i realized that i didn't know what it meant to be human being and that you can't write it
you don't know what it means to be a human being that's when i came to the and center and i stopped writing when i don't know what people say now but when i was a student here we were told don't do anything but this so you weren't supposed to do yoga or play an instrument or write poems
you are just supposed to practice sin in the strictest sense
and i knew that there would be nothing for me if i didn't do that that i was interested in and that maybe i would write again when i came to that point and maybe i wouldn't in either was okay with me i was willing to let whatever happened happened and i was very pleased
when poetry came back as i began returning more to my life after the intense part of a practicing here i'd very gradual transition back where i was living at green gulch working at greens driving the town truck truck but also they let me take a night off to go out
to a workshop at uc berkeley extension and sleep in the next morning because i got home so late and so i started a tip toed from zen practice to poetry and terms of the world that i lived full time in but i still consider myself as and student it's just i look more from the outside now like a poet and i do
as and certainly don't get to where this very often anymore it's kind of fun
what kind of for
immature poached i was very young
the a lot of love
what a sad life phones i mean i also on it was interesting there was something which i realized i didn't look at my poems for quite a long time after i came here i think it was maybe during my second year at tassajara that i pulled
out the collection of poems which had been my senior thesis and read them over and i was quite shocked because i saw something i'd been completely unaware of that the time i was writing them which was that all of my poems have endings that drifted off into v
paper they had very misty endings they just sort of dot dot dot in their way out of themselves
and i was appalled when i saw this because i hadn't realized how repetitious i was in my poetic strategy and at first i was appalled because i thought this is terrible all i ever seem to have wanted was to drift away into emptiness and then i went to
that's interesting so something in me wanted to drift away into emptiness and what did i end up doing even not knowing that that with what i wanted i went into a rather rigorous exploration of what do you find when you really look at emptiness and you know i don't know what kind of impression you
all had but i sort of hope my poems don't dot dot dot their way into the mist anymore when they and those are what they end it okay
so so bad i remember but i weren't very young i was twenty one when i came to zen center so it's not like i had a lot of grown up poetry under my belt when i arrived here and i don't know what kind of poet i would have become if i had not been here i have no idea
how can one know


blue and branch where the first two people i ever met at zen center i didn't know about this place so i went straight to tassajara which i knew about because a friend of mine had owned the bread book and some early edition of the bread book had the schedule in the back of it
but fortunately i had forgotten the schedule a whole i had remembered was that it with a zen monastery called to us are on california who provide remember the schedule have know what time i was going to have to get up in the morning i never would have driven down out
but i arrived at chains berg and lou and their daughter trudy were living there taking care of james byrd at the time and they somehow let me talk my way in you weren't supposed to be able to go into tassajara without practicing here first and i knew i wouldn't do it if i wanted the monastery and i do i just knew if i drive away from
i'm here it'll never happen i'm not gonna go to someplace in san francisco and know kindness of their hearts they took me and they gave me as and instruction i sat with them there that night and the next morning i get sent over the road and told to tell blanche that lewis said it was okay
i'm very happy to have you here
within this tree
within this tree another tree inhabits the same body within this stone another stone risks it's many shades of grey the same it's identical surface and wait and within my body another body
whose history waiting since there is no other body it sings there is no other world

i know my palms don't leave people in the mood to ask questions

are those two things one of courses day to day life is what you're doing here it's not that different
this is it you know it's i guess there's a schedule and yes there's a community and yes there's someone ringing a bell but this is pretty much day to day life i never found i never felt like my years at zen center were even tell sahara i mean yes it was an incredible refuge in terms of the amount
of silence and rack of distraction but still everything with their ego was their pride was their inability with there's you know friendship and love and lust and all those things where they are so i i never felt i'd get to escape the world what zen practice gave me was and i have to be careful because the man
who i live with his here and he going to know if i don't practice right speech
one is always aware of how how we don't live up to our ideals but what i feel like it gave me was a and almost continual internal request to made my life in the knowledge of what's up
in practice taught me as possible and it's a very physical thing for me it's in my body it's it's it's like a radar that got implanted in my horror that tells me when i'm going off track when i'm not living up
to what i know as possible from what i experienced during the period that i was in this community and a continuing flowering of what started here because you know it's not like there were some pinnacle of zen practice that i bet you know that from twenty nine i knew it all and now i'm just trying to stay there i mean
i a continuing desire to keep unfolding from that place which for me i know viscerally and and without words which is interesting i mean here i am i supposed to be a person of words and yet it's quite difficult for me to talk about zen practice because for me than practice
exists in a realm which is not particularly a language realm it's much it has many more axes then language does it's much more multi dimensional than language can be language really attempts to point at it but you almost every morning
and when i wake up and i go down my driveway in the dark to get the newspaper and it's cold and it's either raining or the stars are out or the moon is out i feel what it was like to wake up at tassajara in the morning
that's bearer
and so that experience is a reminder and request
to continue practicing even if my practice doesn't look like what it looked when i was sitting five periods of thousand a day i do believe that i am trying to practice in the way that i conduct my life and i can't imagine any other thing being satisfying the what could be interesting what could be satisfying
once you've tasted what it feels like to try to practice
how could you possibly meet your life under any other request
so kind of an answer is because i should talk about trying to wash dishes mindfully or something but michael does the dishes
i try to type mindlessly

other question discussion

you know i thought i was gonna stay for three months and learn all about this buddhism business and then continue on my merry way and become a poet's oh that's what i thought and of course what happened was after three months all i'd found out is that you don't learn anything in three months
and so i think by the time i've been here three months i knew i wanted to go to tassajara and i knew i wanted to stay there for three years which at the time was the longest anybody stayed and i imagine that's from the traditional asian idea of with thousand day retreat is where that came from so so i knew
new by then the that i was seriously hooked my family i was raised on secular jewish very little observation of anything almost no communication of a spiritual tradition when they're just there was not any sense of
spirituality in our household life we did do a passover seder so there is a tiny since original i actually remember when i was very young and i don't know why i remember this because i've forgotten most of my childhood but i remember when i was five or six saying to my mother i'm so sorry we aren't catholic because i can never be a know
that them something appeal to his monastic life and i don't know what it was in your eyes or chuckled to myself ever since i got to be a non
i got to wear robes i got the bottle and schedule you know it's amazing to me that i got to do these things which for that were impossible i grew up in new york city and i got to live in a canyon with mountain lions and a stream and no electricity and no hate doing extraordinary that i got the babies things
they were extraordinarily gracious about it they did not say to me you're crazy you're brainwashed don't do this i only found out after the fact when i heard that they were telling all their friends that i was doing something else while i was in california how appalled they must have been
met what their daughter when doing because they wouldn't tell anybody what she was doing
but my parents are unusual in that they don't actually
re many trips on me it's something i'm grateful to me for because i would have done it anyhow but it would have been you know just a fight and it was a nice for me but it didn't have to be afraid that they just got i was peculiar but didn't complain to me or try to talk me out of a


so well and there's some diane could do that oh no you don't want to do that
the next book should be called the emotional life of the buddha
it's my job oh dear
oh no this book has a lot of poems which could be called the emotional life of the but it's just a hidden title in their choice ago is going to do a special segment on it she told me which i asked tries to go a long time guys that i want to know what other people think about this and so she she
he is in fact sending someone out to try to answer my question of what do other people thinks that's so i can find out whether i'm wrong
but i think i'll read you know maybe two or three something from here and then maybe one more posts from here unless other people have questions that they want her
but let's see who we've got in here
a one
early feminist statement you all know about the terror gotta that the women who were allowed to join the forest community of monks with the buddha
wrote songs or sang songs about their experiences which were gathered together the songs of the monks were gathered and the songs of the nuns were gathered so here right at the very beginning of buddhism you have women's voices telling their experience and this is the only sort of stridently feminist
home in the book come because most of the palms are supposed to be about the sacred and affirming the sacred but i couldn't live seven kalamata out
her husband it helps to know made a woven frond umbrellas and hats
at last free at last i am a woman free no more tied to the kitchen stained amid the stained pots no more bound to the husband who bought me less than the shade he woke with his hands no more anger no more hunger i sit now in the shade of my own tree
meditating thus i am happy i am serene
i wrote commentaries on all of the poems some of them are just biographical some of them say no so some of my thoughts about the issues raised by them and i did point out that i didn't want people to get the idea that daily life as a bad thing and so i tried to correct for that and
and what did i say here it is not so much that such tasks and relationships were necessarily problems and themselves that the attachment and distraction that they represented were and as much as anything seven gallon matters delight came from having the time and opportunity unity to devote herself holy to meditation yoga
i kept sticking my two cents him through the book and i hope people will be able to you know the women are not corrupted by my opinion only by my taste and people can ignore the commentaries and draw their own conclusions if a reich
here is let's see
this is a vietnamese woman i knew that if they were women writing in japan and china which there's a long tradition of women poets in the classical period there had to be women writing in other asian countries but these women were next to impossible to find
and what i was told was that it was either you know sort of
and just general sexism which prevented their words from being kept or in some cases a strong influx of confucian culture in which case the words of the women were systematically destroyed this is what i was told happened particularly in korea that the women's texts were burned
but this woman for some reason escaped or the poem was given to me when ernie kotler was going to go visit tick not han and from the village i asked him to ask not hon if he knew any poems by women and he gave me a rough draft you know just very literal english verb
version of this and said you know feel free to turn it into poetry if you like and then i later found it in a book in the library of a french collect women poets of vietnam translated into french and it was a slightly different version and that was very interesting to me
me to see the version which had been corrected by the french and the nineteen thirties versus the version that tick not hahn was giving today so this is a very
no buddhist gotta type poem it says doctrine but the interesting point is at the end it speaks about returning to silence and i found everywhere in all traditions eventually you find women and male mystics for that matter if it's not a
women's thing it's in this six thing where they say eventually you just can't talk anymore so there are several poems from different traditions in the book with that idea are always at the end
so i don't know how to pronounce this may not cure she lived from ten forty one to one thousand one hundred and thirteen and she was a buddhist nun the daughter of a prince goddaughter of a king married district chief and when she was widowed she took vows
and she then became the abbess of a temple
birth old age sickness and death from the beginning this is the way things have always been any thought of release from this life will wrap you only more tightly in its snares the sleeping person looks for a buddha the troubled person turns toward meditate
ocean but the one who knows that there's nothing to seek knows too that there's nothing to say she keeps her mouth closed
that's the only surviving thing we have by this woman
i'll read you
one taoist woman since it's a nice poem speaking about the relationship between effort and realization and how yes you have to make effort but that's not what realization comes from in the end then again i found poems all over the place that make the same
statement this is a woman named son bou or a chinese woman who began her dallas practice at the age of fifty one after having raised three children she and her husband began practicing together and they both became on what's known as immortals and she is known as one of the seven
and immortals whoever they are and she's the only woman among them she became a renowned teacher and had many women initiates and left not only poems for them but also pros practice treatises
cut brambles long enough sprout after sprout and the lotus will bloom of it's own accord already waiting in the clearing the single image of light the day you see this that day you will become it
yes i like that when people asked me to rid of and i won't impose it but if you want to hear it i love to know
cut brambles long enough sprout after sprout and the lotus will bloom of it's own accord already waiting in the clearing the single image of light the day you see this that day you will become it
i think i'll give you a second one of hers
it has a hidden cottage that's where a dallas term it would be living and it talks about apricots and the apricots are it it actually the same image comes up in one of my own poems that i read you each step where i talk about how the fruit is the result of the winter
don't think i knew so explicitly when i wrote that poem as i did after having put this anthology together that apricot and plum blossoms or i did because dogan talks about it on their a traditional image for the opening of its own accord of realization which follows the severe concentration
of deep winter frost and stillness so this problem has those apricot senate it's also very appropriate because only way in california know that in fact it is possible for the apricot trees to begin blooming in december people on the east coast bank know but we know they sometimes do
mate indian summers soft breezes fanning out the sun shines on the hidden cottage south of the river december and the apricots first flowers open a person looks the blossoms look back clean heart seeing into
two plane heart

shall we do one more minor the book
one image yeah that's a tough question what he's supposed to say hooked on the dilemma that was sunburn or and i know i can't pronounce the chinese know if someone can i can't

this is a big game a big game talking buddhism the big games remember where those women the catholic women and twelve through fourteen centuries or read your to very short poems of hers her name is had a week to and we know nothing about her accepted her poems are on the end of a manuscript by how to week
but the handwriting was different vocabulary was different the sensibility is different and so she's known as had a week to
titan to nothing the circle that is the world's things
then the naked circle can grow wide enlarging embracing all
now that seems to me individually to be a poem about concentration about meditation
and here's another short one of hers new who want knowledge sick the oneness with in there you will find the clear mirror already waiting
you know you could just
shit what excuse me
yeah yeah this this is the big game that the lay woman catholic
isn't it
you know the same image the mirror the dustless mirror which is why i think that you know people everywhere you know it's all available to be seen for yourself most of us are a little slow and need teachers and teaching but it's all available
this one's a little longer
it's called the stone of heaven and as quickly becomes apparent that the chinese name for jade and i'm going to have a sip of water first
and it's again about this sense of my problem with calling the sacred the sacred when it ends up it's just this
here where the rivers dredge up the very stone of heaven we name it's colors mutton fat jade kingfisher jade jade of apple skin green
and here and the glittering hues of the flemish masters we sample their one
rest in their windows son warmth cross with pleasure their scrubbed tile floors everywhere the details lit like fish white shards of water out of water prasad cut swift moving on the myriad bones
any wood thrush shows it he sings not to fill the world but because he is filled
but the world does not fill with us it spills and spills words with our wings rises sets stuns us with planet rings stars a carnival tent a fluttering of banners
oh baker of use center loaves sword dancer same stress waiver of shattering grass a warrior of wins boat swallow or german and seed or seasons that sing in our ears in the shape of oh we name your colors mutton fat kingfisher j
should rename your colors anthracite orca growth tip of pine we named them arpeggio pond we named them flickering he looks within the cell burning coal tunnel blossom of salt we named them roof flashing copper first center morning smoke
zend of pearl from black flowering too late flowering we named them from barest conception they almost not that of to heaviest matter renamed them from glacier that blue to the gold of iguana we named them and naming begin to say
see and seeing begin to assemble the plane stones of earth
thank you
our next month will because