THE FLAME IN THE LOTUS

XLVII.
Sometimes the holy sits tight
Waiting for recognition among the pens
And paper clips on the desk.
Sometimes, I talk to the spider plants while watering
And I know they hear me.
Around the lake I walk and near one corner, on the southeast side
There is a small white ash, too remote
To be visited, alone in the moss, higher than the path.
I see it and bow my head, but sometimes it calls me
In its majestic silence, so mysterious, so just there,
And I don´t know what to do, what to say.
Holy is the path, holy are the steps, holy the reward.
But this dumb priest gets too caught up in his own mess
To breathe in the sparkling Life all around him.

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THE FLAME IN THE LOTUS

XLVI.
Have you seen the excitement, the glittery
Distraction today? It jingles
Among a thousand smaller pin-prick flurries
Competing for my attention.
Hey, priest! Wake up!
A belly with food, enough to drink
And a roof over the head
Are meant to support you.
A few blocks away, the cemetery
Holds the remains of hundreds who may never have
Wondered about the Light, or truly lived in the Life.
On top of each grave are faded flowers
Which once looked beautiful too.
Wake up!

THE FLAME IN THE LOTUS

XLV.
They don´t say much, staring back
With the blankly benign faces of those who have
Gone beyond, so far beyond… I´m not going to get there.
When the rains come I will drip my way home,
Leaving irritating tracks behind me.
In the mornings, I will climb the stairs
And again face the stony ones who smile behind
Clay-burnt glosses. Above the statue of Amida
I put the Name, framed with care, hooked with a small nail
Into the wooden beams holding up this little
Alcove space I call the altar, where I press my hands together
And whisper a thousand times every morning the
Words which hold it all together:
Namo amida butsu…namo amida butsu…

THE FLAME IN THE LOTUS

XLIV.
Dance away!
Dance the troubles, the worries, let them
Leave you and melt on the rocks of lava so they can be
Overgrown with moss after the next rain.
Just dance it away! Sit on the grass afterwards
And when the clouds cover the blue up there
Lean back and let the tiny red spiders on the blanket, too.
There is a rhythm, a beat to all.
And when we can, move with it
And leave the rest into better hands,
Warmer embraces can handle.
When the fly lands on your smiling face,
Laugh, Amida is here, too, just visiting!

THE FLAME IN THE LOTUS

XLIII.
There are dreams.
Low-flying, hugging Earth, belly to belly
Zooming above trees and lakes.
There is Life, walking on the damp pavement, smelling the car fumes
Passing the canals, tracing their trash with the ducks down to the sea.
I have raised my head to feel the spray of salt winds
On my face, holding back tears, sometimes laughing.
In the million moments before the next sunset
My heart jumps a bit and wonders about the rest
Of my days: will they be so keenly felt?
Sometimes in the dark, the Light
Holds more pain than promise.
Yet it is all I have left.

THE FLAME IN THE LOTUS

XLII.
The Name is given to remember
And in remembering we are concentrated, and
In our concentration all the junk falls away
And we are left to flow in the Light and Life
Of Amida.
This is how I understand it.
Whether I am incapable of practice,
Or we live in a Degenerate Age or not
It is always there for me still and therefore I don´t need
Doctrines anymore or debates.
It´s a small thing, yes, but I am no longer in desperate need
To justify it to anyone.
The Name was given to me to hold onto
And, holding on, I am held.
This is enough.

THE FLAME IN THE LOTUS

XLI.
Stillness doesn´t need to be danced away,
Silence doesn´t need words to make the space comfortable.
In the minutes in between, a world is formed
And dissolved; with every breath
Heaven and Hell arise, stay a little and then pass.
It all passes.
The sun watches its charges with noble silence,
The moon, hovers close to home.
We can hold the photos of life so close
We miss seeing the Pure Land
In the daily grind where there is no other movement
Other than the arising, staying, and fading away
Of it all. This is fine.
If we just heard the Light in everything, in
Every moment, we would
Sing daily and raise our hands high
Happy that all is as it is!

THE FLAME IN THE LOTUS

XL.
Oh priest! When did you let it all
Become so small, so shorn of big ambitions
And dreams of greatness?
How did it get to this: day after day, marking time
As the space between vacuuming, emptying the dishwasher
And hanging the laundry out to dry?
There are sunsets to feel, rocks to chat with
Birds to follow for so long the eyes grow tired
While the spirit soars behind them.
Don´t forget-
These too are Light, these too
Are Life.
Oh priest… don´t forget.

THAT SLIPPERY SENSE A WORLD IS OPENING

THAT SLIPPERY SENSE A WORLD IS OPENING

Silver-blue brightness coats the streets
with quiet glitter,
ice covered in powder, run over
by thinning rubber & diffident rain.

Car lights dart like
furtive animals on a night chase,
while reds & greens change with
predictable precision.
The destination is local.

Near the pier he rests, across the bay
dancing luminescence is taken in silence,
broken only by the salt smell &
bubble burps of water splashes
on the sea wall;
he kneels
where he takes a stone
& washes it with longing,

tossing it back to the
water
where it might
dream of the future.

Faithful, he rises to leave,
reaching
out between the
trees behind him,
smelling the night,
catching wolves in
his palm.

THE FLAME IN THE LOTUS

XXXIX.
What would it look like if I painted it,
This knowledge from the heart, arising
From the Light, full of Life?
It would be simple, yes, a little something
Derived from the deepest part, expressing the Light
Arising from the muck of daily life
Transforming into Infinite Life.
It would be born from the lowliest depths and
Shine brightly as the Infinite Light it is.
Burning brightly from the delicate depths.
Ah! Like a flame in a lotus!
The Flame in the Lotus!
It is precisely like that!