This week’s guest blogger is Jake Jiyu Gage, Roshi. He wrote a reply to my last post entitled “What Are You Presently Listening to?” Because his response was in the form of a poem, I decided to publish it as a post.Since poetry is one of the most useful expressions of a spiritual practioner’s inner experiences, there has been a close association of Zen and poetry throughout history. If you haven’t already, I would suggest that you read the previous post before enjoying the poem below. For those unfamiliar with Zen, the description of Koans, below the poem, may be helpful. Jake is
the founder of the The Vista Zen Center in Vista California.
“What Am I Listening to Presently”
featuring Jake Jiyu Gage
The Hotei-ji Chamber Orchestra
(with special thanks to “System
of a Down”)
All at once
In the Zen Symphony
“What Am I presently listening to?”
In Collection Found
In Trailing Off
In Main Case
In Capping Phrase
Ring, Ring, Ring
In Starting Over
In Trying Again
In Gaining Acceptance
*Koans (from Chinese kung-an, literally “public notice,” or “public announcement”) are based on anecdotes of Zen (Chinese: Ch’an) masters. There are said to be 1,700 koans in all. The two major collections are the Pi-yen lu (Chinese: “Blue Cliff Records”; Japanese: Hekigan-roku), consisting of 100 koans selected and commented on by a Chinese priest, Yüan-wu, in 1125 on the basis of an earlier compilation; and the Wu-men kuan (Japanese: Mumon-kan), a collection of 48 koans compiled in 1228 by the Chinese priest Hui-k’ai (known also as Wu-men)
in Zen Buddhism of Japan, a succinct paradoxical statement or question used as a meditation discipline for novices, particularly in the Rinzai sect. The effort to “solve” a koan is intended to exhaust the analytic intellect and the egoistic will, readying the mind to entertain an appropriate response on the intuitive level. Each such exercise constitutes both a communication of some aspect of Zen experience and a test of the novice’s competence. A well known koan is: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
Here is an old Zen story I just found that seems to relate to Roshi’s Poem.
The disciple was always complaining to his master, “you are hiding the final secret of Zen from me.” And he would not accept the master’s denials. One day they were walking in the hills when they heard a bird sing.
“Did you hear that bird sing?” said the master. “Yes” said the disciple.
“Well now you know that I have hidden nothing from you” “Yes.”
To leave a comment, click on the white bubble at the right of the title. To make an anonymous comment, write “anonymous” when prompted for a name. You can also send comments to me directly.