The Incomparable Nāgārjuna

“The mind is a mere label, and it is nothing other than a label. Recognise awareness as a mere label. Moreover, a label has no intrinsic nature. The Jinas do not find it inside, nor outside, nor in-between those two. Thus, the mind is of the nature of an apparition, and the nature of the mind does not exist as any type of colour or shape, as something apprehended or as an apprehender, as a man, a woman, or a neuter, and so forth. In short, the Buddhas have not seen it and they will not see it; they accurately see it as having the nature of being without an intrinsic nature.”

— Nāgārjuna

via Gary Wong’s Buddhist Quote for the Day

The Tao is None of Your Business

Every moment is bundled
with a multitude of beginnings
and endings and we feel we’re right
in the middle of it.

But this locale, this fixation
is penciled in with a wink
and cannot be held, numbered
ordered, kept or used.

Gathered up, possessions
summon the negations, come
then clap, the knowns disperse
like startled pigeons.

Who can make way in all of this
without faith or handholds
when enlightenment is the activity
of no one in particular?

A tricky business
this name-dropping the Buddha.

Existendencies

I’m accused of believing in deities
like an irrational dummy, while
the material world in every direction
teases our intellects into a
puzzle-solving mania, clamoring
for the victories of knowing
and having known.

Happily, these elaborate conceptions
serve as a handy basis for making
offerings to the deities.

And they do supply the
handholds we’ll need, if we’re
determined to get a grip.

Beyond that, I don’t much bother
with ‘that is’ or ‘this isn’t’
unless I have to.

Every conclusion is a
leaf on the winds of inquiry.

Ephemeral as a raspy little fart.

As If It Is – (four tanka)

AS

beautiful sunshine
pain lodges in a shoulder
weary and aware
wonder at the cause of kinks
life of a mischief-maker

IF

being this and that
vast gathering of causes
wind tickling leaves
gusty augury of rain
weather precedes the weather

IT

pebble in a shoe
statue chipped and crumbling
earth touching mudra
we all circumambulate
offer mantra and blisters

IS

fever dreams at night
in the daytime distracted
single-use body
prayers muttered, beads fingered
moon eclipsed by this fat head

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.

The Guru Rinpoche Rehab Clinic in the Sky

Sober, now and then
the color of copper makes
a halo behind things.

Molecules of alcohol bond happily
with any old synapse, but not me.

In group, I do nothing but argue.

But salute! A toast to this nature
that outwardly would cling to sobriety.

Inwardly, it was never
drunk on anything, nor has it
ever sobered up.

Externality TV

we sentient beings
following our impulses
meeting and parting

~

enchanting display
conjoined with experience
sterile, yet pregnant

~

externalities
are appearance as the mind
they do not persist

 
 
 

(illustration by me, 1990s)

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)