No Agenda

On the distant horizon, the thunderheads
are piling up like a cloud armageddon.

Rain would be welcome — a drenching
downpour — but all the best wishes
still won’t make it so.

Here in the baking valley heat,
nothing moves, save a vague hint
of an occasional hot breeze.

Somehow, it seems my eyes have left
my body, and are traveling on their own
through dreamland — silent observers
with no special agenda but to see.

From their impersonal vantage point,
nothing is good or bad, better or worse.
Without judgment, vision is clarified.

Everything is just as it is — changing
inexplicably like a kaleidoscope
of interconnected images.

In an astonishing feat of choreography,
nothing is independent from anything else —
when one thing changes, everything does.

Without any sense of regret or expectation,
these eyes are like twin mirrors, instantly
reflecting whatever happens or appears
with neither desire nor aversion.

Back here, in the withering summer heat,
the eyes have actually gone nowhere —
nothing is moving but the mind.

This amazing mind can’t see itself,
neither can it grasp itself, for there is
nothing to see or grasp, only one thought
following another in endless succession,
piling up like some cloud armageddon,
or traveling on through dreamland
with no special agenda but to be.

 

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Shikan Taza

You’re ready to be removed from the list,
to cross over unnoticed, to have fire walk
behind you, obliterating every step of the path,
to let the silt slowly settle, to be without recourse
or remedy, to abandon all hope, to just sit still.

There is nothing romantic about true stillness,
not the empty stillness of absence, but the stillness
of that which remains when even absence dissolves,
when it all has crossed over unnoticed, when neither
observer nor observed is left to admire the exquisite
bliss of quiescent extinction without remainder.

In the heat of a summer day, you find a bit of shade.
The willow branches hang limply, barely moving
in the slight breeze. You stand in the shadows
for a long time. Eventually, the last thought
has surrendered itself. You sit down.

You remove your costume. You remove
your skin and bones. You discard memories,
beliefs and perceptions, all sensations, emotions,
and identity constructs of every kind except one —
the one that makes you you, the basic delusion.

Self is the final impediment, disguising itself
as effulgent radiance, transparent clarity,
pristine knowing, tacit liberation.

Recognized at last for what it truly is —
a transient, imaginary, non-binding mixture
of causes and conditions, a mere modification
of consciousness — the complex superstructure
of the deception itself crumbles and disintegrates.

You rise and gaze around. Realizing that nothing
has changed, you do not tarry, but place one
foot in front of the other and walk on.

Paradox

From this vantage point I can look down and see myself. I am standing in a green field flooded with daylight, and as I look up I am also looking down. Neither of us is real. Even so, our gaze meets in the middle of empty space, like two arrows launched at birth from opposite directions finally meeting each other in mid-air. From above, there is a sense of vague detachment. From the ground, a sense of mystery, as if I am finally transparent to myself, but even more bewildered now.

Moment to moment, selves vanish and new ones appear. It is a mistake to imagine there is simply one continuous and enduring me-person. The truth is much more innocent. Consider a tree. There is no actual tree. Based on causes and conditions, elements combine and dissolve, molecules spin into ephemeral formations of soil, oxygen, seed, bark, branches, leaves, light, and rain. We come along with our little word which we then arbitrarily apply to this swirling, compounded mass of transient energy and then imagine we know something, when all we really know is another word for an incomprehensible mystery.

Likewise, we don’t truly know what we are. We have names, concepts, symbolic representations of what — pure mystery. Without relying on names, concepts, memory associations, raw sensations and filtered perceptions, what is really happening? To contemplate the mere existence of a thing without superimposing some borrowed fantasy story, but to really just sit silently with the resonating appearance of anything at all, is enough to at least grant a bit of humility to our endeavors as we wander through this inexplicable landscape of mind’s conditional projections.

Consciousness is ceaselessly modifying itself, and we try to claim it. “Look at me!” This is why the sages recommend a sense of humor to see one through this whatever-it-is. I seem to be vibrating in mid-air, but I am also home, sitting with my Loves, speaking to myself with fingers fumbling on a keyboard, making little marks and lines on a glowing screen in the midst of vast emptiness, laughing a little at the paradox.

Thus

Falling awake in the midst of deep sleep
with no reference point or position, no fixed
matrix of perception — infinite expanse of is-ness,
but without any concepts of infinite or is-ness.

We’re not waiting to land, nor is there a future,
past, present, nor such a thing as solid land.

This is the legendary ascent to nowhere,
like descending and rising simultaneously.

The only way to truly endure it is to be
neither here nor there, not engaged
or detached, but just as we are,
just as it is: thus.

We’re shuffling alone through the dark —
none of this will repeat itself, none
of it will ever come again.

We don’t know what we are, and it’s alright,
it has always been. See, our fears were misplaced,
our reluctance to let go — a kind of arrogance.

Even so, none of that really matters now,
nor did it then. We are already perfectly liberated
by the transparency of our intrinsic emptiness.

We possess none of this, not even a thought.
The pristine expanse is just a fantasy phrase.

This is not a level of sleep, nor is it a state
or some kind of extraordinary condition,
a shift in consciousness or epiphany.

A subtle smile drifts across our lips,
like the last light of dusk before
the dark victory of night.

A half moon tumbles through the sky,
celebrated by the metallic rubbing
of countless insect legs.

We naturally blend with that incessant sound,
we have no real choice — it is simply thus,
and thus it was, is, and ever shall it be.

But listen now: a shriek at midnight
and the rustling forest falls silent.

From a distance, but closer now,
something else approaches.

 

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Traces

It’s like writing a long vivid poem in your sleep at night.
You wake up and jot down a few words, maybe a phrase,
and then fall right back to sleep. In the morning, you read
what you had written, and it doesn’t really make any sense.
You keep this up for many nights, many notes, and then
you finally put it all together. Now it really makes no sense.

This is how we can understand consciousness, and yet we
are so accustomed to nonsense that we take it for reality.
Only when we actually do awaken do we see it for what
it is: ridiculous, yet painfully poignant, and so our hearts
go out to all the beings still entranced by traces of dreams,
and we may even choose to join in, or disappear in seclusion.
Without limits, anything is possible. That’s the point: anything.

 

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How Shall We Know Them

A thousand casual little cruelties pockmark
the emotional body of the usual man.

They can be healed, forgiven, but never
erased — we’ll wear them into forever.

Some claim to recognize an old soul
by their light, but I say by their scars.

I’ve heard it said that all will be forgotten
in the end — every wound and blemish.

Perhaps it would if there were an end,
but whatever we are, and whatever
this is, just might keep on going.

The Quiet Place

This is the quiet place
the poem has brought us here
the poem is not a word or words
not a muse nor an angel, though angels
are always going in and out streaming light
light that is its own poetry, ineffable
before any reason for salvation
before any word but one
the source word
the poem

the poem is the light of ordinary mind
when allowed to sink back into itself
before the self-sense comes upon us
before the body, this world, life,
experience, relationship
come upon us
here it is

this is the quiet place
the original silence
pure grace

from the perfect
comes the perfect

here it is

rest