May 17, 2010

When asked about the difference between a slow-witted boy and a sage, a rabbi said, “Humility and Praise.” His students were puzzled. He went on, “The unaware one grows like a stone—solid and enduring. The awakened one breaks through the dark like a sapling breaking ground—its reach mirroring its roots. The self-conscious one darts like a rabbit, never in the open for long. It watches for others and watches itself chew. But the embodied one lives like a turtle crossing… Read more

May 10, 2010

What we want and what we’re given often serve two different Gods. How we respond to their meeting determines our path. Read more

May 3, 2010

It could be the letter never answered, the one in which you declared your love in such a tender way, admitting to every- thing. Or when the shell you brought all the way from the Philippines is dropped by some loud stranger you never wanted to show it to in the first place. It could all unravel the moment the shell shatters on your floor. Or on a summer bench, your eyes closed, your fear about to vanish, the heat… Read more

April 26, 2010

For a poet whose fidelity has been to the timeless voice of that underground stream in which all that is wiser than us sings, speaking of God has produced an interesting echo throughout the years: like singing the same question in different weather; first into the wind, then into a crowd, and now before and after the crash of ancient waves. All the while, critics have been reflexive in their reactions: leaning in, backing away, looking puzzled, getting angry. Yet… Read more

April 19, 2010

In speaking about the non-dependence of the mind, Dōgen says, “Coming, going, the waterbirds don’t leave a trace, don’t follow a path.” There are many ways to understand. Driven by our need to be seen, the mind can understand in the manner that a plow cuts the earth, overturning everything it encounters; leaving nothing as it was found. Or as Dōgen suggests, in our need to see, the mind can understand in the manner that a waterbird enters and leaves… Read more

April 12, 2010

This is the world of Grandma Minnie, the Brooklyn of my youth so full of unknown wonders and windows as far as I could see, out of which countless heads would lean and call for children I didn’t really know. But the open windows everywhere made me feel we were all connected, made me feel that each living room washed into the next. I would sit on the cement stoop and watch one drama waft into the street and mix… Read more

April 5, 2010

I couldn’t keep the damn glasses clean. Kept wiping them and curs- ing them. And my left ear was get- ting worse. Those across the room were shouting secrets behind a water- fall. But I wasn’t ready. Kept wiping the damn glasses. Kept trying to make sense of things I couldn’t hear. I didn’t feel stubborn. And I want so very much to see and hear. Then after a long un- folding, the cocoon my soul was eating through gave… Read more

March 29, 2010

How this ache stops me, old teacher that it is. Often on the way home when the wiper won’t clear it away. Or after a call with a friend who longs for something he can’t quite name. After utter companionship, not knowing what to say, when everyone has gone to bed, and the moon has stopped being shy, I put my tongue on the table like a paper weight and walk wordless through the night. The place where beauty meets… Read more

March 22, 2010

It is raining lightly and the sheep are standing still in the wet field, stopped by beads of water from the sky on their ears, their eyes, their mouths. They look like statues breaking their trance. Alive for the first time, they wonder, what is this magical place where the very air kisses you everywhere. Falling in love with the world is like this. Read more

March 15, 2010

The lost bird remembers how to sing as it splashes in a puddle and forgets how to fly. This was the teacher’s answer to his student’s complaints about living on earth. Read more

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