Untamed Circles

Sunset Shadows – yamabuki
“I’m saddened by the peonies before the steps, so red,
As evening came I found that only two remained.
Once morning’s winds have blown, they surely won’t survive,
At night I gaze by lamplight, to cherish the fading red.”
–Bai Juyi – Tang dynasty poet
“I do not know much about gods;
 but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god—
sullen, untamed and intractable”
–T. S. Eliot
The strong brown of a river god
Or the fading red of peonies
We paint our visions in color
Be they humble flowers
Or untamed river gods
Who are we to believe
Ancient Chinese poet Bai Juyi
Or 20th Century poet T. S. Eliot
May not the two share our attention
I asked my wife:
‘Who is Bai Juyi?’
And she knew immediately
That he is one of the most famous
Chinese language poets
I asked her about T. S.  Eliot
She had never heard of him, saying
‘He is not famous, right?’
I once heard it said
That women shed tears
Breaking our hearts
And men shed blood
Keeping our secrets
We need both wings to fly
We need both feet to run
We need both eyes
We need both ears
We need both hands
On and on it goes
Where it stops
Death only knows
Tears and Blood
Filling our seasons
Biding their time
Their rhythms are our rhymes
Showing us the way
That we might live through them
I’ve heard it said
That Shiva gives
And Shiva takes
Last night I dreamed
That I went to a huge hall
That was full of stone & ceramic statues
Statues of Gods and Buddhas
Statues of Saints and Angels
Statues of the holy and sacred
All of them had been destroyed
Broken into unmade rubble
I knelt down among the ruins
And entered an reddish orange vision
My being cried out in anguish
And I wailed like a newborn
Loudly I cried in that carnage
Others were there too
Most sat in meditation
One woman came over
Sat close to me in quiet
And put her arm around me
As I continued in my anguish
Leaving aside the mysteries of transmigration
I feel that there is another aspect
That needs our consideration
Specifically the problem of listening
Have you heard the song the Zelkova sings
Are you able to quiet your mind
Enough to hear what trees say
Are you able to hear the sky
To hear what the wind says
To hear the words behind the words
This is not easy for us in our rational mind set
And when we do happen to hear their ghostly words
We are inclined to refuse them
What is being said to us is part of the mystery
What we call waking life is really but a dream
Some would say it is God’s dream
But I think God would say
Don’t worry about whose dream it is
Listen instead to what is being said
Pay attention to the non-verbal words
That come from your non-verbal brothers and sisters
This is not to say that you need to follow their advice
Each of us walks our own path
Each of us pays the price for our choices
Though words may not be enough
To describe what the real price is
For who knows really
What happens after death?
We are sometimes bothered
By arguments that go in circles
Circles are said to be un-logical
When used to think rationally
They go round and round
Seemingly never getting us anywhere
But so too does the Earth
So too does the Sun and Moon
Or rather seemingly so do they go

If continued on endlessly
They wear down our thinking mind
They wear down our resistances
They wear down our days and nights
They torture us with their repetitions
Yet without the turning of the Earth
The circling of the Sun and Moon
Where would we be?
April 2011

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