Uchi Junrei / 内巡礼 / Inner Pilgrimage
In these swift dreamy days,
all manner of layers are being re-set.
Visible and invisible worlds
have resumed negotiations
amidst all of this billowing and hollowing out.
Unfurling leaves and blossoms
are faithfully expounding the sacred teaching:
*True and precious growth
is possible without artificiality.
Push through surfaces to locate the light.*
As the season slowly turns
toward steamy air and "cicada dharma,"
dappled sunlight on the shaded path
asks for our devotion.
The first line
of the long lost
Sutra of Travelers
'And thus I have heard,
with gladness in his heart-mind,
the bodhisattva Earth Storehouse
said to the assembled:
Even when you find yourself
in troubled times and places,
you are always on the path.'
You are always on The Path.
Oto no Mitsu / 音の蜜 / Nectar of Sound
What is this pure nectar we drink
in between breaths
bursts of air
The rattling scales of a midnight dragon.
Satogokoro / 里心 / Homesickness
(inspired by Ryūzen-sama's shamisen music on 4/30/2020, Day 31 of his inner pilgrimage)
There is an ache inside this heart
for a village in which I have never lived
for a love I have never known
for elders I have never had
for a song my soul knows
but which these ears have never heard.
Alas, the pluck of a string brings it all back.
Despite Buddha's teaching on non-attachment,
my spirit leaps toward old memories ---
a life before this one.
my satogokoro: 里心
The village one carries inside the heart.
Kongō / 金剛 / Vajra Diamond Thunderbolt
we may have forgotten our earlier request.
it usually happens that way.
we develop amnesia from life to life it seems.
even the familiar sigh of the sea
doesn't stir the memory sometimes.
when the diamond-splitter
falls from the heavens
and cuts open the husk of the self,
the Thunder-Perfect Mind
makes it all clear just in time.
Hoshi Ki no Ryokō / 星気の旅行 / Starry Travel (Astral Journey)
is made of ashes
in a world on fire.
to the stars beyond
for our future job descriptions.
Hōrō Ishidōrō / 放浪石灯籠 / Wandering Stone Lantern
O, dear Wayfarers!
We are each unique.
Yet, when the Way-Seeking Heart-Mind
feels an ache for the spirit of the road,
we share in the same Traveling Lotus-Body.
Tonight, in dream, we take the road into the high hills
where towering star-crowned cedars lean closer
in their welcoming.
By the time we return,
we will have all become
wandering stone lanterns.
Kyūki / 吸気 / A Study in Inspiration, 1
Inspiration - Kyūki
Two kanji characters: “suck” + “ki” (intake).
Bringing ki-filled air into the lungs.
directly from the Mother Kami herself.
A Practice-Antidote for the exhaustion of these times.
Nyū Shin / 入伸 / A Study in Inspiration, 2
Inspiration - Nyū Shin
Two kanji characters: “enter” + “kami” (deity).
Stepping through the gate of time and place.
Entering the energy of Daishizen (Great Nature).
hikari no hashi / 光の橋 / bridge of light
every dream -- a bridge of light
every embrace -- a bridge of light
every honkyoku -- a bridge of light
every new season -- a bridge of light
every hazy moon -- a bridge of light
every journey -- a bridge of light
a bridge of light,
a bridge of light.
Jimoku / 耳目 / Attention
A tendril twines its way through all of this.
It is The Holy Attention.
It was there for you as you spun in your mother's womb.
It was there for your mother as she
-- hands on belly --
sent her quiet 'love-messages' to you
deep in your watery dreaming.
Now, here we are
out and navigating
this imperfect world.
"World" is not "Earth."
You can't be faulted
for losing your breath in these times.
This time of fools and folly
There are places
where kami and buddhas
There are times
when ears and eyes
This becomes the trailhead
of The Holy Attention.
Jikan no Kairo / 時間の回路 / Circuit of Time
(written on Ranjo - 40th Night - Ryuzen Inner Pilgrimage)
Soft rain speaks of it.
Cold surf speaks of it.
Worn-away rocks on the coast speak of it.
Sun-warmed pine needles on the path speak of it.
Thunder in the mountains speaks of it.
The wind-blown norito (prayers) of this
Flute-Priest of the Void
speaks of it.
Dragon scales are falling to earth.
Dented armor is falling to earth.
Tears are falling to earth.
Tender hearts bruised by loss are received by earth.
Bodies weary from age are received by earth.
With release (honoring)
and putting down (misogi, purification),
Spine straight and unburdnened
lungs fully ‘inspirited’
line of sight...horizon-aligned,
move along this circuit of time
with full awareness of your own.
Rise at dawn.
Present yourself to the sun, O Newborn One.
Draw in the light.
Breathe in the light.
Radiate the light.
This is how a human being
becomes a living shrine.
Kokatsu / 枯渇 / Exhaustion
Exhaustion combines two characters:
枯 = withered
渇 = thirst
Exhaustion is a "withered thirst for life".
May we all remember
the salt-sea prayers flowing in our spine.
May we all remember
the deep river of longing
that brought us into this,
the Earth-Womb Mandala.
Akarui Ito / 明るい糸 / Luminous Threads
Despite vast oceans,
despite national boundaries,
there are luminous threads
that connect all travelers of the Way.
Kotodama / 言霊 / word spirit
wind riding wind
cloud riding wind
a slight pulse in the air
molecules of sound and light
essence of water-blessings stir
raincloud pays homage to mountain
offerings of life cascade downward
kissing cypress, pine, cedar
to thirsty soil below
into the life-giving veins
of our mother the mountain
twitch of feathers
talon clutching branch
piercing eyes scan the horizon
green blades heavy with rice
swaying in the breeze
a great banquet is prepared
for the Moon Kami
Let there be no doubt about it…
A two-thousand-year-old rain cloud
has placed a blessing into this saké cup.
I gaze upon the surface.
A word-spirit leaps.
Takamagahara / 高天原 / Plain of High Heaven
The world of red dust blinds us.
Spirits darkened, we quake in our deafness.
We fall silent in awe of the Unstitching.
A soft voice whispers:
Chaos always precedes
the birth of a new world.
Go back to the beginning."
Like that first day
on the High Plain of Heaven,
suddenly our ears and eyes
are made fresh again.
particles of sound.
Master Basho's instructions still stand:
"Follow the Creative, Return to the Creative."
Tonbokiri / 蜻蛉切 / Dragonfly Cutter
In this fractal tapestry
constantly being woven
our hoops of connection
are but cells
within the body
of the Great Dharmakaya.
We wish we were steadfast
like one of Masazane's spears.
we are *all*
landing on that infamous blade
being split in two.
Gōryū / 合流 / Confluence
cluttered mind suddenly stilled
no dreams tonight
THIS is the waking dream
Grandmother's lantern is bright
A wind in the pines whispers:
"Close your eyes. Have faith.
Your feet know the way."
Rising from the hot steam of our origins ---
a sudden hiss!
A dragon dances
in the humidity of remembrance.
All ways converge within The Way.
semi no kara / 蝉の殻 / cicada shell
now I see
now I hear
Amaterasu's bright rays
have made this heart clear
season after season,
we are all "cicadas"
from our shells
the song never ceases
even when the breath does
when dragons come down to earth
riding the winds of heaven
even their slow-lightning
reminds us of the fruits of practice
melodies lifted up ---
comfort and guidance
to travelers traveling
it is not a one-way offering
the lantern-light of those who've gone on
shine upon us through the veil
a blank wall at night
pine branch brushes the window ---
first evening of May
Yūkyo / 幽居 / Hermitage
The sound arrives.
Echoes of thunder
and mountain waterfalls
drives us inward.
Suddenly, I'm reminded
of one of the old words
for 'hermitage' or 'retreat':
yūkyo (幽居) - "residence of a ghost"
the residence: these four walls
the "ghost": us
and all we are letting go.
Kettō / 血統 / Lineage
that beats within all hearts
as a lantern in the dark
A great spiral binds us
those on this side
those traveling on the other side
breath extends outward
multiple realms align
a feeling of 'home' permeates the veil.
Long the road
fierce the churning waves
we who are the dreams of ancestors,
At the threshold of seasons,
in between passing storms,
long after first blossoms have dropped,
a different blooming begins.
This is how sound becomes fragrance and vision.
This is how the silence becomes a doorway.
O, how we tumble.
to the unseen powers
that hold our tumbling.
Fukukaze Nembutsu / 吹く風 念仏 / Wind-Blown Prayer
Ryūzen’s flute guides us
across Samsara’s ocean ---
Jiko no Genryū / 自己の源流 / Headwaters of the Self
Have we reached the end?
The end of melody and rhythm?
The end of verse and poetry?
The end of breath and dreaming?
The end of journeying?
behind your ribs
will smile tomorrow.
in The Great Eye
between your eyes
We have reached the Headwaters of the Self.
We have tasted from The Source.
We have been guided
by a wind-spirit
into the Great Silence Behind the World.