Vajra Essence

Considered to be vast
in its extent, the universe
which encompasses all

that could be imagined is enlarged
by the tightness, the constraint of a
mind deluded by grasping.

The smallness of the self
is what begs large the reaches
of the heavens. To interrupt

even briefly, this ghastly inflation
of the considered real, exposes much
—settles nearly everything.

The cultivation and continuance of
such interruption leads to realization
—the condition beyond conditioning.

-:-

Following is the foreword from the book Fathoming the Mind: Inquiry and Insight in Dudjom Lingpa’s Vajra Essence, translated by B. Alan Wallace, with commentary, much of which touches on the seemingly intractable divide between the rationality of materialist science and the direct cognition methods of tantra.

It’s an excellent book for those studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism, and for people like me who tend toward morbid fascination with this controversy, which has been churning ever since they divided learning into the two branches called science and religion.

Spinners

an innocent thought
effects follow like shadows
drought and flood alike

~

karma ripening
shaping on its potter’s wheel
goblins of the night

~

conceptual frames
stacked together so neatly
this game has no end

 
 
 

(illustration by me, 2009)

Fetch

“When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick: every time a stick is thrown, you run after it. Instead, be like a lion who, rather than chasing after the stick, turns to face the thrower. One only throws a stick at a lion once.”—Milarepa

Source: Wildmind

Hang Loose, the Bathrobe Cinches of Destiny

like peace in the Middle East
sleep seems a remote possibility

the hospitalized dim of my bedroom
has lost all interest in color
(I know the feeling) and
shows signs of developing fog

illuminated by a laptop screen
a weak glow, folding sickly shadows
into their hiding places
among the clutter: I am awake

(though not awake in the Buddhist
sense, alas, luckless pilgrim
it’s the other kind of awake
the kind that taunts your desire
to be asleep) but wait
here comes darkness, as if to mock
my wired-wide dog-barking brain

—the idling display has timed out

sucking the tween appearance of
the room right out of my eyes
and into its greedy dark
little screen, snatching away
what my reasonless eyes had
set their sights upon

my bathrobe hanging from a hook
on the wall by the closet, with its
long flannel waist-cinch dangling
from a couple of droopy side loops
like hanged men, or drape cords
(innocent, in other words)

side by side, hanging as they are
loose, no orders to follow, fretless
the robe doors open to the night, and
the destiny of a naked, sleepless
man is his alone to ponder
as they now slumber

Gnawing

Understanding is alright
as far as prisons go, though

not understanding is better
than misunderstanding.

One foot follows the other.
Once movement is begun

it is difficult to stop,
hence, the strange treasure,

the halting dissonance of
“I don’t know.”


Knowing things obviously is fine and necessary. The insight of the East is that attachment to knowledge as the vehicle of truth is an error. We gnaw at what we know. We can never leave well enough alone. Is truth something that would submit to such nonsense? Consensus maybe, but consensus is just an agreement to stop arguing. To stop gnawing.

Photo: my old bird-feeder, nay rat-feeder.