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Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
buddhadharma| 73 |summer 2005 (Shall we say “nature” for garbha, as in “buddhanature,” or “buddha matrix”? “Mindfulness,” or “remembering,” for smirti?) Schelling’s introduction illumines literary translation of Asian poetry (as well as poetry itself, and dharma). And not for nothing his bibliography lists thirty-six books of Asian poetry in translation. Confucius once said (literally): “New day day new,” which North American poet Ezra Pound translated as: “Make it new.” Michael McClure makes haiku new. And he makes it his. We don’t practice because distant ancestors from far-off continents did so. Rather, we discover the skillful means to make their wisdom true for us, in our day. Not because it’s written that it is so, but to make it so – to make it real for us, rather than repeating it by rote. I’m riffing here on the etymology of poetry, from a Greek root meaning “to make.” Meanwhile, I haven’t even grazed this haiku’s surface, but like a droplet it contains the whole ocean of poems herein. Schelling carefully introduces the gathering with a fine survey of the role of poetry in ancient Buddhist societies, and although it’s worth the price of admission alone, it is but a table setting for the works of thirty-four poets to follow. Contributors range from young poets to old masters, all but one currently active, and reflect various lineages. Sam Hamill’s “Midsummer” uses traditional haiku’s 5-7-5 metrics for a heart- felt vision into the heart of nature. Andrew Schelling offers his own haibun, concentrated prose capped by haiku. And selections by Nathaniel Tarn, and others, could be called prose poems, or “proems” (isn’t that form inherently Buddhist in being neither one nor the other?). Shin Yu Pai pays homage to Yoko Ono’s pioneering perfor- mance art. (It’s now fifty years since her Lighting Piece: “Light a match and watch till it goes out.”) And aren’t many spiritual wisdom teachings, including those of the buddhadharma, rich in rituals and instructions that are a kind of performance art? Will Alexander, Haryette Mullen, Leslie Scalapino, and Cecilia Vicuñia each treat us to poems that seem to create their vocabulary before our eyes; “alba del habla,” a dawn of speech, as Vicuñia says. Lawson Fusao Inada journeys the Middle Way on Highway I-5, as far as the eye can see. Everyone will find favorites they’ll want to copy and share with special friends; will discover new dharma poet friends; and will find their horizons extended at least a bit beyond what they’d previously defined as poetry or dharma. So, to wrap up, a half-inch or so further, please consider this opening of a poem by Zoketsu Norman Fischer: During lecture garbage truck drums / Street cleaner hums / Someone thumps keys onto hardwood floor / And words, mad- dingly meaningless and foolish / Drone on / All heart no head / No purpose makes Jack etc. / Here in the hold or anteroom / Thoughts buzz incontrovertibly / Hard to arrest a linear progress / Of night into day or vice versa ... Subject-wise, it’s a moment practitioners in the city all can recognize. But the poem doesn’t describe or narrate an experi- ence. Rather, it enacts it. Better, it is the experience itself. Fischer, a Zen priest (he heads the Everyday Zen Foundation) as well as poet, conveys the sense of being aware of the pres- ence of thought, without thinking. But he doesn’t lecture us on nonthinking, nor try to narrate the unreconstructable. Instead, www.indochinehomeimport.com statues accents furniture HOME IMPORT Indochine donates 10% of its online sales to Tibetan relief organizations Direct importers of quality, handcrafted, natural material objects and furnishings from Asia and the Pacific Rim. Many rare finds and antique treasures. Visit our website www.indochinehomeimport.com orseeusatoneofour three Colorado locations 303-444-7734 Mon–Sat 10–6, Sun 11–5, MST wall decor rare finds