Dojo Poems: A few scattered poems from a young monk’s life

Unbearable joy, profound loneliness and sadness.  Liberation!  Wild energy and self reflection.  Some short poems giving a window into what it was like to be a young monk in a Japanese Zen Monastery.

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bitter cold

    winter full moon

still erupts my heart

what a relief

this state of mind

     even suffering is forgiven

long walk to town

    nothing to grasp

karma like a chronic smirk

  my heart is pierced

the light so vibrant

solitary  and sublime

it pushes comets across the sky

      this fragrance

   connecting my heart and belly

this life

what to do?

   The Sun and the moon

shattering my pelvis

what is going on?

my body

  responding to the infinite?

  Preparing to put on a robe

  all I ever wanted

  was to be normal

destiny called to me

  slowly I am overthrown

  destiny

  my heart burning

  what is this life?

faith faith faith

all of these tests

  dharma relentless teacher

so thankful for this training

  robe of wild indigo

lights off,

in the moonlight

  I can see everything

   monk, lonely monk

I don’t feel mine is a life to shine

this state of mind

this light

no one to share it with

no one to meld

in this

This lonesome old temple

first plum blossom

  candle and Ryokan*

ordination in two months

  how can I ever explain this love?

*Ryokan Taigu (1758 -1831) was a beloved eccentric poet and Soto  Zen Master

  beaten down

           pummeled

          grace

Mu: bring everything into oneness

walking by the pond

my body feels

the pond as me

sword of prajna, floating on

the dragon’s breath

in the azure sky

Sitting by the bell

and the patriarchs reveal themselves

there we sit,

the universe an unfolding vacuum

and my mind weeps love

this honesty

  can the world take it?

this unchanging

amidst the changing

Bucket shatters

you don’t know nothing

moon and me

-what joy!

(Kensho poem)

twenty seven

what will become of me?

the eternal lamp

but will I be enough?

Dharma, a name

truth bends to me

through this heavy moon

love and loss

sometimes too much to bear

    This evening warm Spring wind

my mind forgets all cares

what does it mean?

this loss and suffering?

the lessons of the universe

relentless, and yet, this spring evening

sure is humming

walking along

and then

what is it? That which is constant in this

changing world

And the mind unwinds as the patriarchs

whisper the answer

Ordination

   because that is not enough

Hanshan*

  candlelight

   time and space beyond me

          *Han Shan was a Wild Chinese Hermit of the Tang Dynasty beloved by Chan and Taoist practitioners

Roshi away

time to play

  but this old Japanese temple

        and no lover to become one with

Freedom

   my belly

 and the waves grow light through my skull

Full moon

  Spring is here

  My heart leaves no escape

Missing my mounatins

Sake and Ryokan

What freedom is this life!

Destiny

    who will see it

these days,  as always,

    I am lonesome to talk with someone wise

I have no desire

  for control

  wave upon wave pummels me in ecstasy

I’ll let all of you cool guys

  be good at this life

     I am broken leaves

pummeled ten times a day

Awakened mind

I receive

  and accept

Heaven and earth

  unfold beneath your feet

  please know this

  joy of true freedom

you must be so honest

you must be so curious

you must be so courageous

  and you must make a choice

  to die or realize it

out in the open

exposed and unguarded

not asking permission

shining in broad daylight

behold the roar of the common dandelion

Do not be afraid

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Robert Willis says:

    Wow beautiful 🙏

  2. Robert Willis says:

    Wow thanks for sharing this poetry it’s so intimate , honest and amazing frankly🙏

    1. I am so glad you liked them! Thanks, Robert!

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