Toward Light

This life—
my feet first spied
and trod the path
among the proud trees
and serene lakes
among precious flowers
and mountains soaring
into the crystal air
of the land of Upanishad

Here I dwelled for many
enraptured whiles
ever attracted to
and amazed by the
rising suns of the Aryans
for I knew that they knew
and I knew that they knew
that I knew they knew
and that I thirsted for
their ancient knowledge

And so, for years I dwelled
in the land of the ancients
content and ever rising
into early sky with their suns
and sensing that yes, yes
Atman and Brahman are indeed one
and I was Atman and I was Brahman
and I was Brahman and I was Atman
and this made such perfectly lovely sense
intellectually (though not experientially)
that so often I laughed

And so, here I dwelled
until one dawn I came upon
the meadow of Dhammapada
—trove of distilled knowledge
and crystalized wisdom
courtesy of one Sakyamuni

In verse, the Bodhi shone
his light upon my path
which I now danced with
joyous certainty that I was
dancing in the right direction

And so, I explored the land of
Dhammapada, truth by truth
until one day I spied
the soaring peaks of Jhana
somber with wisdom
but glistening with promise—
Come, they whispered
We are as real as any dream

Approaching them
as I ascended
their foothills
I came to hear not far away
the ancient voice of Ananda
reciting the Sutta Pitaka

I heeded this beautiful voice
and rather than scaling the
allure of Jhana
I acquired these scriptures
and sat me down
in my reading chair
to absorb and understand
which I did
page by page
day by day
year by year

Until they came to form
a good and true foundation

Until they grew me good
and true courage

Until they sparked
ever rising curiosity

Until they charmed
my intellect to thirst

Which is what it took
to now scale the Himalayas
and so reach and enter
the wind-wind-winding and
think-think-thinky trails
and byways of Tibet

Here I wandered and
think-think-thought
for many a while
grappling
with the storms
of myriad words
that blizzarded
and puzzled their way
toward and around emptiness
though they never quite landed
upon or within nor truly touched
this precious nothing

Yes, here I wandered and
think-think-thought my way
along these cold logical roads
until one freezing dawn I saw with
stark clarity that think-think-think
was not easing my chains
but rather
was fuse-fuse-fusing them
ever tighter

Then I stirred and rose
and shook my head
to clear the busy
think-think-think
to let the tentacled
words-words-words out
and let some air in

And then I made my way
down (or up) from this
plateau of high reason

Relieved, I traveled
east and then east again
and then crossed the water
to eventually find the gentle
slopes of Japan and there
the peaceful haven
of the house of Zen
where to this day
I still and happily
reside in ever-widening

Zazen

Ulf Wolf
February 2019
© Wolfstuff


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