Being and Time (Meditation 7)

Sitting in the train compartment, I look at the ticket in my hand – as big as a tablet, thick as animal hide, stamped so many times with the same origin and destination that it is nearly solid black with ink. Stealing glances at the other passengers, their random faces and bodies continually changing as if a hundred tiny storms sped over their surfaces, easy voices rising and falling in a chorus of shifting keys and accents.  Anxious, I feel my face for the thousandth time, relieved to find the pins still hold it in place.  The conductor appears abruptly beside me; it’s forever shocking, even though I always carefully rehearse this moment. Looking at me with something like sympathy, it gives me back my ticket. “We’re not stamping it this time,” it says in a multitude of language and voice. The wood of my compartment begins to warp and crack; frantically, I feel the pins holding my face give way, the flesh snapping like rubber bands. “This is all I packed for,” I manage to dribble through my crumbling lips, but the conductor is gone, and I am swept up in a river of morphing bodies onto what is already changing into something other than a train platform, everyone melting into each other with boiling faces and spattering conversations, me with my precisely composed face giving way, clutching my ticket relic, not at that destination I had persistently imagined but a bewildering array of shifting gates like a house of mirrors that the others are happily flowing through like water, and with a surprise of excitement I realize I have no idea how to work my new body, or what a step forward even means.

(Thoughts on chapter 7 of Each Moment Is the Universe: Zen And the Way of Being Time, by Dainin Katagiri. My intention is to write a poem or brief meditation on each short chapter as a way of summarizing my understanding.)

Being & Time (Meditation 6)

I’m failing at this god thing.
The plants on the patio rebel in their pots.
I have given them a home, however cramped,
And I water them when I’m not too busy.

Clearly it is not enough.
Their brown stems, their shriveled leaves,
Drooped in prayerful mockery.
They are not impressed with me.

I hover over them, annoyed and confused.
I worry if they still have time to please me.
Over my shoulder an oak tree towers,
Imperfections on proud display.

Look at me, it implores endlessly.
See how my branches never make sense.
Some of me giving birth, some of me dying,
And all of me right now. What other place to be?

(Thoughts on chapter 6 of Each Moment Is the Universe: Zen And the Way of Being Time, by Dainin Katagiri. My intention is to write a poem or brief meditation on each short chapter as a way of summarizing my understanding.)

Being & Time (Meditation 5)

How do these things happen?
A bell rings. A door slams. Someone laughs.

It’s enough to make one think,
And we’re eager to oblige.
That bell is too loud.
Why slam the door? Who’s angry?
Who laughed? Did we miss the joke?

What holds us prisoner
Is missing the joke,
Wondering who’s angry,
How to not hear the bell.

Laugh sometimes without knowing why.
Feel the silence after the slam.
Let the bell toll on, and on.
Know that prison is only for those
Who want more than anything to be free.

(Thoughts on chapter 5 of “Each Moment Is the Universe: Zen And the Way of Being Time”, by Dainin Katagiri. My intention is to write a poem or brief meditation on each short chapter as a way of summarizing my understanding.)

Being & Time (Meditation 3)

Out of the endless blue sky appeared that bomb again, the usual sudden mote in my perfect day’s eye. As it tumbled, every square inch was revealed: sinister labyrinths of pipes; bristling nests of wires, LEDs blinking like eyes. I tracked its fall, my network of sirens going off like they always do. I began the usual routine of screaming and starting to run. This time, something made me stare up into its terrible redundant complexities. So many mechanisms, I wondered, just to create the chance of an explosion. Then, for the first time, I recognized my own hand in the baroque wiring. And I realized I had not only built and launched every bomb every single day, but mapped out the alarm system as well. I stopped in my tracks. The bomb slowed its descent, the air around it whistling uncertainly.  The sirens sputtered. Still looking up, I slowly spread my arms wide.

(Thoughts on chapter 3 of “Each Moment Is the Universe: Zen And the Way of Being Time”, by Dainin Katagiri. My intention is to write a poem or brief meditation on each short chapter as a way of summarizing my understanding.)