Friday, July 4, 2008

My Altar Stands

My altar stands
Directly in front
Of me.
I kneel…
Feel wool harsh
Beneath bare knees.
...I k-neel…
...Feel wool harsh
...Beneath bare k-nees.
...I k-notice Ks
...Like Bill K-near:
...He too
...Is silent k-now.

I take up sandlewood beads,

Still pungent after
All these years…
Rub them together
Between prayerful palms…
...As I've been admonished
...K-not ever to do.
The sound comforts
And focusses
Mind to heart
And back again.
Slow intake of breath, now.
Makes foundation
For what's to come.


With eyes searching…
Pin-point in heart
I chant.
And chant and chant.

At first

There is intention.
Then only chanting.
...Again, I k-notice
...Bill's Kin-ear.
The SOUND of chanting
Becomes link to
Wayward thoughts
And returns
Me to myself.

Other links vie

Like forks in roads.
The many giving way
To the chosen…
Obvious in tone
And time.
...Time beckons.
...Chants want haste.
I rub beads again…
Let sound gently
Waft me back to
Vibration of chanting
In my chest.
Breath remains constant,
Flow of chant
Belies movement
Within my soul.
I chant and chant
...Told and guarded
...Give credence
...To trust-
Here lies truth
For the taking.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Forest Primeval

Great orb of sun makes
Dapple green and yellow.
Sweet fruit swells
To unrelenting ripeness.
Pungent perfumes mix with
Rich humus odors,
Permeate air that
Hangs so heavy as to be
Almost visible.
Velvet leaves rustle
Against each other
In endless breeze-dance.
Day again becomes night
In rhythm
Of action and sleep.
Spend and renew.

This night
Relinquishes its rest
To clamour of thunder
And piercing of lightening.
This massive tree snaps
As world’s first intimation
Of matchstick.
Quick. Brittle.
Mighty tree cracks.
Crashes to ground.
Smolders with internal smoke.
This one may flame into fire.
Or it may not.
Acrid smell does not predict.

Time and time again.
Before Adam.
No ears... no sound.
No eyes... no light.
No nose... no perfume.
No hand... no touch.
No mouth... no taste.
No existence without witness.

Adam brings
Five brand new senses.
All in perfect working order.
Now all forest performs
For an audience
In celebration of its
Own existence.
But Adam is lonely.
How does he know?
Alone he does not speak.
No voice... no record.
No words... no subtleties.
No language... no connection.

Eve's arrival gives
Voice to existence.
Fusion with Life.
Observers connect, define,
Enlarge universe.
Sentient beings together



Caledon Reflections

I find myself here today
As if by chance:
Circumstances have conspired
Over the past twenty-or-so years
To bring me here to Caledon.

The first evidence
Of this conspiracy of chance:
An ad for a job.
I applied.
I got the job and
There I met Jennifer in the early months
Of her Buddhist practice.
Her chanting filled her with confidence.
Some days her not-chanting
Filled her face with tension.
As if by chance, I noticed.

The conspiracy continued with
A chance meeting
Of Mrs. Izumi on Bloor Street.
Her radiant life filled
An aura for a mile around.
As if by chance, I noticed.

I heard Jennifer chant for the
First time

On a shared trip to New York.
We wanted tickets for a play
That night.

As if by chance, we got our
First choice:

A Chorus Line.
I later learned

As if by chance, it was written
By a Buddhist
Based on district meetings
Among members
Who were young performers.

The next step
In this chance-full conspiracy
Came from my own inner longings:
A series of repetitive dreams.
In each dream I chanted
And I felt a beautiful contentment…
Only to awake to disappointment
Because I didn’t know
How to chant
In my real life.
Oh, I noticed that!
So, I asked Jennifer to teach
Me to chant.
As if by chance, we both had time
On our hands.
I practised with her each day
And, as if by chance,
My relationship with my mother
Got back on track
After years of estrangement.
Yes… I noticed.

Oh, my!
Twenty years of this conspiracy
Of chance
Have wrought great changes in my life.
Nurtured and protected by the warmth
Of my Soka friends I have stretched:

I sang for President Ikeda in Japan

And he did magic tricks
For us.

Because Veronica asked,

I wrote plays for the
Junior Pioneers
And they, grown up now,
Greet me with hugs.

At the WG General Meeting

I tap-danced for the first time
In 35 years.

Now, I’ve played drums

At Caledon
To find a renewed
Spirit of unity.
And Mrs. Izumi
Played the piano
For us.

All by chance… I know.
But now I understand
The spelling is C-H-A-N-T-S.

By chants I now know
I am Soka Gakkai.
I am kosen-rufu.

What a truly remarkable
and fortunate
Bunch of people we are!


29 June 2003

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kindness of Strangers

As I move around this city every day, whether walking or riding the TTC, I frequently encounter glorious evidence that we're all happy being human together. On Monday I saw two such instances and decided to start a new blog to mark these warm happenings.

Kindness of Strangers

This city is Toronto.
TTC is the Toronto pub trans, aka Toronto Transit Commission.