I came across this book at Bookmans in Tucson during our apartment-hunting trip a couple weeks ago. I’d never heard of the book or of Soshin O’Halloran, but I’m an admirer of books about the lives of Buddhist monastics and other practitioners. Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind is a collection of diary entries and letters published after O’Halloran’s death in a car accident at the age of 27. She was on a tour of Asia following three years as a Buddhist nun in Japan. It’s a lovely book; honest and forthright and brimming with zeal for her newfound Buddhist practice. At times the focus on kensho (englightenment) was a little much for me, but that’s because the flavor of Buddhism I practice doesn’t emphasize that aspect of Zen to the extent that Soshin’s did. It’s a worthwhile book, made bittersweet in the knowledge that she died just weeks after receiving transmission and being given permission to teach.Leave a Comment
“that which would kill you /
bursts into flowers”
— Jessica Smith
an iris on the page.
She herself gone
You & I seek
the same permanence;
faces turned toward the sun
till a breeze carries us away.
/ / /
19 February 2020
State College PA
I Got Me Babe
Curled up before the fake fire,
wrapped up in a book about
the Great War
(wars not make one great),
I am myself.
I’ve spent minutes & hours & days
& years peering intently into
the 6 or so inches inside my skull.
It’s all in there, or so I’ve read.
Some days I think I can see me.
I see my face in my mind’s eye
& it looks just like me.
I run my fingertips over
the denim of my jeans
& feel like I’m supposed to feel.
Other days I sit at a metal desk
with fake wood on top,
entering data & answering phones
& helping things get from here to there.
Well, I say “I” but it isn’t me.
Whale Dave says you can be yourself
at the 7-Eleven. Or at the Pentagon.
Or in a shed on the Cape. Hmmm. Maybe.
I haven’t tried any of those spots yet,
but I’ve tried 40 or so different towns,
an equal number of jobs, and it’s only
occasionally, just every once in a while,
that I’m myself. Like on a Sunday afternoon
or a Wednesday morning.
Times like that.
My radio plays “I Got You Babe”
one morning, like the guy in the movie.
I reach over to shut it off but I can’t find it.
I open my eyes to see my bed
floating through space.
/ / /
25 November 2019
State College PA
A fun and fast read that is a real boon to anyone hoping to (a) figure out when things attributed to the Buddha are wrong, and (b) learn more about what the Buddha actually said (knowing, of course, that the first couple hundred years relied on oral transmission). Recommended.Leave a Comment
while breathing in & breathing out
I picture myself on my deathbed
tearful family surrounding me
it’s just a few years from now
which is so disappointing
I waited & waited until I was free
but I was never free
I treated my life like a prison sentence
waiting for a red parole stamp
to mark the beginning of the happy phase
I thought my argument to the board
was convincing but I never quite got over
always ending the day with a slow march
back to my cell
what does it mean to be unhappy
from the moment you’re born till the very end?
back in the present I return to the breath
again and again back to the breath
I feel it deep in my gut
but the anchor slips and I’m adrift again
in four-and-one-half years I’ll be 50
29 April 2019
State Motherfucking College PA
the world’s breath
I’m in some
as the wind
tries its many hands
against the walls.
Are we ever so
29 December 2018