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Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
buddhadharma| 75 |summer 2005 there’s a refreshingly everyday quality to his poetry, close to the nose, which, like his Zen, is daily practice. The title is sim- ply “Monday, 3 December,” the day he’s writing. As with meditation, the subject is ... no subject. (Another of his poems is entitled “Poetry’s a way not a subject.” So, too, Soto monks sit not to attain enlight- enment, but to be it.) Fischer doesn’t begin with an idea – preconception is a setup for failure, and intention is the long arm of the grasping ego. No, he knows how to get out of his own way: rather than search for a poem, he lets the poem find him. And he knows that when the nonin- tentional poem comes, it will be through words, so he’s receptive to them, as bud- dhas, in and of themselves. Please listen again to the music: the vowels of those verbs that drum, hum, thump, and drone; all evocative of the humdrum, the ordi- nary, the “ten thousand things” of daily life. They set off the keener insistence of the vowels inside the nouns: street cleaner, keys, meaningless(ness). (Eeeeee!) In order for us to come to the poem, we must put ourselves in its mind, pay- ing attention and creating it for ourselves, making us poets as well. This takes some imagination. For instance, what exactly does “etc.” refer to? Here, it refers to the homily “Jack a dull boy...” (i.e., roof brain chatter). But it also points to the inherent “linear progress” of language and thought. If you think about it, I think you’ll agree “etc.” is pure poetry, referring each of us to our own active imagination. I won’t give away how the poem ends. But in just a poem and a half we’ve seen how poetry can activate imagination, strengthen insight, open the mind, and soften the heart. From one perspective, one might say Zen is a special case of haiku, or of poetry – but certainly not mere words. A forest monk once compared words to a canopy of trees, filtering the sun. Buddhist poetry sees the play of light and shade below, while keeping its wisdom eye open to the sun as seen from above. Here’s a whispering forest that makes that so. Or rather, in this poetry forest sangha it’s up to readers to make it so. Walt Whitman announced that great poetry needs great audiences. Today, we can drop the part about greatness, and enjoy what is. Please see for yourself. The Mirror Newspaper of the International Dzogchen Community of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu The Mirror is the newspaper of the international Dzogchen Community of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in publication since 1990. Subscribing to The Mirror keeps you up to date on all the activities of the Community, including Rinpoche’s teaching schedule, teachings by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, courses and retreats offered around the world, the activities of Shang-Shung Institute, an organization founded for the preservation of Tibetan language and culture, and ASIA, an organization established to help build hospitals and schools in Tibet. There are also book reviews, biographies of great masters, interviews, and a wide variety of material of interest to Dharma practitioners. 6 issues for $35 The Mirror, PO 277, Conway, MA 01341, USA Tel: 413 369 4208, Fax: 413 369 4153, Email: Mirrornk@cs.com Subscribe on line at www.melong.com with Visa or Master card. on line only $25 on line and paper $45