Monday, April 12, 2010

Poem: April Dharma Talk

Here is a poem by Seido Ray Ronci.
April Dharma Talk

Spring speaks for itself.
Better to go outside
And enjoy the day
Than to sit here
Listening to me.

Seido Ray Ronci is a Zen priest in the Rinzai tradition (in Chinese, it is called Linzi, thus Thay's root Zen tradition). This poem is from his collection The Skeleton of the Crow: New & Selected Poems, 1980–2008. I saw the poem from Tricycle, along with an interview with him, in which he said,

For me, poetry has always been a practice in and of itself. It's not only the practice of using language -- it's also the practice of being aware: of using all the senses and being absorbed by each moment. Zen practice is always about returning to that place where there are no words. Early on, I realized that to use words, you have to live life beyond words, before words, without words. Only then do you have the right to speak.

It's always heartening to me to read about someone who is committed to practicing that present-moment still-point, and also writes. Words are very much the tools of the mind, and can make even a bad idea sound reasonable, even beautiful. Yet they can also be conduits to the dimension of no-mind, before-mind, beyond-mind. In fact, I think that words communicate most fully when they reflect that place of no-mind. Words that connect people soul to soul are not the words that have been put together most thought-fully. They are the words that express something that has been deeply experienced, that one has been fully present for.

As a writer, when I am writing (even this), I don't feel caught up in any dilemma about whether this process of feeling around for words is aligned with my practice. It feels enough like practice, or the fruits of practice, of both the meditative and crafting kinds. I feel caught in dilemma when I find myself commenting, mentally, on what is happening, or what has just happened, or what may happen. As I have previously confessed, I find myself commenting and composing this way all the time. Sometimes this activity is tinged with anxiety, sometimes with excitement, sometimes with no feeling tone at all. It feels automatic. My very mind betrays my practice!

But wait, isn't that the very nature of mind?

Maybe I'm not crazy after all, just human.

These photos are from last spring. This spring is just as lovely. It's been that kind of week -- no chance to pull out the camera.

Check out:
An interesting article about Seido Ray Ronci

A retreat he will be leading in July at the Zen Mountain Monastery in Phoenicia, NY

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