my life a broken house


 

Today

while begging,

I got caught in a shower.

For some time, I found shelter

in an old shrine. Laugh if you like at

the one jar and one bowl I own!

Humble and cleansed —

my life a broken

house. 

 

Ryokan

 

shake, loosen, and open


 

Someone

who does not know

the Tigris River exists brings

the caliph who lives near the river a jar

of fresh water. The caliph accepts,

thanks him, and gives in return

a jar filled with gold

coins.

 

“Since this

man has come through

the desert, he should return by water.”

Taken out by another door, the man steps into

a waiting boat and sees the wide freshwater

of the Tigris. He bows his head, “What

wonderful kindness that he

took my gift.”

 

Every object

and being in the universe

is a jar overfilled with wisdom and

beauty, a drop of the Tigris that cannot be

contained in any skin. Every jarful spills and makes

the earth more shining, as though covered in satin.

If the man had seen even a tributary of the

great river, he would not have brought

the innocence of his

gift.

 

Those that

stay and live by the

Tigris grow so ecstatic that

they throw rocks at the jugs, and 

the jugs become perfect. They shatter.

The pieces dance, and water…

Do you see? Neither jar nor

water nor stone,

nothing.

 

You knock

at the door of reality,

shake your thought-wings,

loosen your shoulders,

and open.

 

Jalal al-din Rumi

 

allow tao to carve you into a vessel for tao


 

To know

the masculine and yet

cleave to the feminine is to be the

womb for the world. Being the womb for

the world, never departing from the

eternal power of tao, you

become like an infant

once again:

 immortal. 

 

To know

the bright and yet

hold to the dull is to be

an example for the world. 

Being the example for the world, 

not deviating from the everlasting

power of tao, you return to

the infinite once again: 

limitless. 

 

To know

honor and yet keep

to humility is to be the valley

for the world. Being the valley for

the world, rich with the primal power

of tao, you return once again to simplicity, 

like uncarved wood. Allow tao to carve

you into a vessel for tao. Then you

can serve the world without

mutilating

it. 

 

from The Tao te Ching of Lao Tzu,

Chapter 28


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