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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Let fall body and mind

"身心脱落!" T'ien-t'ung Ju-ching shouted,
finding a sitting monk half asleep.
He meant it kindly, but his urgency cracked

the air, a thundernote. "You must let fall
body and mind!" the old man pleaded. What
effect this might have had on the sleeping monk,

we are not told; Dogen, sitting nearby,
moved from a stuck place toward a resolution
he had sought. He then traveled home

determined to teach his people the simplest way
of letting go. "Sit," he told his students,
"just sit. In so doing you are already

Buddha; there is nothing to obtain."
I think I did not "have" a body or
a mind before I came into this life,

so far as I can tell, and so will likely
not have more when it's all over. If
there's a lesson in this, it's not much;

perhaps to take ourselves lightly, lightly,
giving without a thought as to return,
taking with thanks whatever will appear.

I watched my mother die, and held her hand;
it was her hand; then her breath came ragged.
Three times more her rib cage rose and fell,

but that, as they had warned me, was not breath.
The hand I held already was not her.

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