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.
pain lodges in a shoulder
weary and aware
wonder at the cause of kinks
life of a mischief-maker
being this and that
vast gathering of causes
wind tickling leaves
gusty augury of rain
weather precedes the weather
pebble in a shoe
statue chipped and crumbling
earth touching mudra
we all circumambulate
offer mantra and blisters
fever dreams at night
in the daytime distracted
prayers muttered, beads fingered
moon eclipsed by this fat head
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.
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.
we sentient beings
following our impulses
meeting and parting
conjoined with experience
sterile, yet pregnant
are appearance as the mind
they do not persist
(illustration by me, 1990s)
an innocent thought
effects follow like shadows
drought and flood alike
shaping on its potter’s wheel
goblins of the night
stacked together so neatly
this game has no end
(illustration by me, 2009)
The Buddhas are the emmisarial activity
of ordinary reality, which serves to unconfound
the Herculean elaborations of dualistic thought.
No place in mind.
No mind in place.
Between these, rest your case.
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