Friday, July 15, 2011

Dogen's Cypress Tree


“Why did Bodhidharma come from the west” is studied by all the buddhas,
but cannot be answered by the buddhas.

What object could ever answer my question?
What intention, what thought?
One cannot say “This is it.”

And yet old master Zhaozhou points to the cypress tree in the garden.

The monk is unsatisfied, saying “don’t show this person an object,”
but he is not admonished, because he, his question, the master,
and the cypress tree are all echoes from emptiness.

We do not make a pilgrimage to an ancestral shrine.
We bury the shrine and study this together.


“The cypress tree becomes a buddha
when space falls to the ground,
and space falls to the ground,
when the cypress tree becomes a buddha.”

This is not a matter of mutual dependence
or circular thinking.
This is not a matter of time or space
or becoming.
This is not a matter of “once it wasn’t but now it is.”

A cypress tree does not practice to become what it is.
Buddha nature is not a seed within the cypress tree
that one day will be expressed when the time is right.

And yet, old master Zhaouzhou sees the space that exceeds
a hundred thousand claps of thunder
and a time not yet measured,
where we become buddhas together.

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