FREEDOM TO OR FREEDOM FROM?

Power aims
at Freedom To;
finds itself
on a collision course
with all the other Freedoms To
that inhabit gods and men and beast;
storm and drought and pestilence;
sickness, old age and death.

Wisdom aims
for Freedom From
discovers that all the competing Freedom To’s
struggle within the stadium of life
and win and lose and win and lose
and lose at last at the gates
of old age and death.
Discovers that he who enters not
the arena of the breath
suffers no loss and dies no death.

 

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AN EDUCATED CROCODILE IS STILL A CROCODILE

Rabbit
with a habit
lived in a hole
next to Vole.
And his habit was his link with the beginning of it all
and kept him looking different from his next door neighbour, Vole.

So they laid a proper treat on,
washed his face and brushed his hair;
and they took him off to Eton
to be educated there.

There, they dressed him in a boater,
smart black jacket, white bow-tie;
and then they took his photo,
just to please his Auntie Vye.

And they fed him on cucumbers,
Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats.
And they taught him compound numbers
and such-like intellectual treats.
He learned to say, “What rot!”
And would ask, “How do you do?”
So they popped him in a pot,
part of a rabbit and rhubarb stew!

(MORAL: AN EDUCATED HABIT IS STILL A RABBIT!)

 

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STOPPING THE MIND

If stopping were easy,
a thought beam
properly directed
would thread silently
through atom after atom
and bring the entire universe
to a standstill.
An empty mirror
reflected in itself.

If stopping were difficult,
the spider mind would jumble on,
piling thought on thought,
trapped in its own web;
the threads spreading out in all directions,
the atoms like so many jostling beads
dancing and tangling in ever clashing patterns,
keeping the entire universe
in eternally pulsating chaos.
A many-headed monster
glaring at its own reflections.

Not easy.
Not difficult.
A judicious response
to the Problem of Pain.

A letting go
of all phenomena.

Again.

 

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HERE

NOW
runs like a crack
through the universe.
Through it
beings escape.

Between each step
Between each movement
Between each breath
Between each heartbeat
Between each living cell
Between each thought
Between each impulse
light shines.
Through the crack
that runs through
the universe now.

No-one who grasps after
even a speck of dust
can squeeze through this crack.

 

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GET UNSTUCK

Leaves from the Tree of Life;
brown and withered,
dried with growing old,
dislodged by the touch of Time;
or green,
with veins still swelling
with rising sap,
torn free by an untimely wind.

What are they,
these dancing treasures?

The more the tree creates,
pushing and budding
out of reaching, branching fingers,
the more they spiral down
and spin and congregate
like giant midges
in every gust and eddy.

What are they,
these dancing treasures
separating
from the Tree of Life?

Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts.
Each contains in its form
the whole tree.
Each contains in its form
nothing
the denuded tree
cannot do without.

Spiralling, spinning,
congregating,
they clog drains
and streams
and waterways;
make paths treacherous.
Good for nothing
but rotting down
and feeding
the insatiable hunger,
the thousand breathing mouths
of the sangsāra!

 

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MINDFULNESS

Watching the flow
of middle-earth
as all things go
from birth to birth.
Here, one can know
what it’s all worth.

An empty tide
of rise and fall.
Nothing outside
is mine at all;
nothing inside
nor large nor small.

The mind reflects
vague shadowy drifts.
The mind connects
blank mists with mists.
The mind projects
meaning – where none exists.

Rich and poor
in ragged procession
pass the door
and dispute possession
of what they cannot own;
like dogs, growl and groan
over an imaginary bone.

Ever so long ago. Today.
And ever-after.
Tears will wash away
your broken laughter.

 

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CHRYSALIS

Livingness, held in place,
projects the image of a face.
The face itself no more form has
than moon on water or shade on glass.
Yet fathers forth both tears and laughter,
a story of before and after,
which sports itself upon Life’s waters
until the blood–beat rhythm, strangely, falters.

Then, tears and laughter, livingness and face
stumble here and lose their place.
And all things human are here unmanned
at the granite doorway into no-man’s land.

Say, at this parting of the way
where all things hurt you,
what have you learned to pray
that will not desert you?

Here, where you find you are quite deaf and dumb,
what home-made lifeboat have you made/become?

 

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