Saturday, March 6, 2010

Gray Beginners, A Tanka

Friends gather at dark
Sutras, candles, silence, tea
Daphne blossom drops.
Gray hair, or dyed, worn eyes close
He strikes the bell, "Shall we start?"

And here's a resonant poem by Chinese poet, Wang Wei (701-761)

A Meal for Monks

I came late to the dharma,
but each day, deepen my retreat.

Waiting for mountain monks,
I sweep my simple hut.

Then down from cloudy peaks
you come through knee-deep weeds.

We kneel on tatami, munching pine nuts.
We burn incense and study the Way.

Light the lamp at twilight:
a single chime begins the night.

In every solitude, deep joy.
This life abides.

How can you think of returning?
A lifetime is empty like the void.


Dan Gurney said...

I use the title "Gray beginners" keeping in mind what Shunryu Suzuki had to say about beginners: "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few."

Among us are practitioners with decades of Dharma practice.

Sarah Lulu said...

*happy sigh*.. just lovely Dan.

Dan Gurney said...

Thanks Sarah Lulu. I'm glad you liked it!

jinksy said...

In every solitude, deep joy

But is anyone ever alone?

Reya Mellicker said...

Beautiful poems, thanks for these.

I had many past lifetimes as a monk. Also as a nun. That way of life resonates for me even during this very unmonastic life.

Dan Gurney said...

jinksy, in every solitude, deep joy. Is anyone ever alone?

I don't think so. Even alone we're crawling with all sorts of sentient beings bacteria in our digestive tracts, on up to worms and mosquitoes, not to mention the crows, buzzards, rats and raccoons who keep watch over us and keep us connected.

and yet, Is anyone ever not alone?

Even in a gathering of close family and friends an ill-conceived remark or a fleeting facial expression, a errant tone in the voice can set us leagues apart from each other and feeling quite alone indeed.

Dan Gurney said...


I think it's cool how you can so clearly remember past lives. Are your memories clear recollections with lots of detail? I don't know many people who can remember past lives. I have only hunches about my past lives, but nothing I feel solidly about enough to say anything about.

But I believe in the validity of their ability to do so. The Tibetans have evidence that's convinced me that people can remember past lives.

I guess it's like dreams....

Some of my kindergartners tell me they don't dream... I think they cannot (do not) remember their dreams, but they actually do dream.