“My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.” –Mizuta Masahide (17th century Japanese poet)
The barns seem to be aflame
everywhere I turn my gaze.
Our storehouses of what we think we need
are perhaps more fragile than we thought.
No one wants to lose the multitude of things
we’ve gathered against the threats we feel.
No one wants to be uncomfortable,
without the toys we play with.
But the price we paid for all the things
we think are bringing safety,
has been dearer than we thought.
We seldom see the moon,
or any of the wonder she reflects.
Our walls, and all they symbolize,
have separated us from life itself
and substituted videos and words.
Roofs have cut Divine light off
and cocooned us in a dark illusion.
Perhaps we should celebrate the burning,
frightening though it is at times.
It might bring hardship and discomfort.
It may require faith and trust and courage.
But we may again, when all is said and done,
see the Moon, stars, and recover wonder.
We may view each other fresh and new,
and find creative ways to see and be
the deeper life the Earth asks of us now.
When the smoke lays thick around the mountains
and obscures the view and clogs my sinuses,
my default mental setting is that, “something’s wrong.”
Of course a smoke-filled morning is of some concern,
as smoke and fire go together and fires are becoming
quite familiar in my changing world.
Of more concern to me is the way my mind reacts.
It takes the smoke and uses it to tell me stories
that do not relate to either smoke or fire.
The reflex feeling that, “something is wrong,”
contaminates my entire thinking process.
Once my mind is tuned to, “something’s wrong,”
the wrongness crops up everywhere I look.
COVID is raging. The climate is in crisis.
Politics are absurd and society is dumb as rocks.
Health care is in shambles and the rich get always richer.
Billionaires fly their rocket penises into space
and a billion poor walk miles to water.
Wrongness is rampant everywhere I turn
because my mind has been tuned to it.
“Something’s wrong,” controls our lives
and self-fulfills its own perverted views.
It worries and blames and does not change a thing.
It only saps our mental power
and drains our life force dry.
Then I flip a switch within my being
and tune instead to “Something’s right.”
and a new experience of life arises.
I am alive. I am here. I walk. I talk. I write these words.
I see. I hear. I feel the north breeze wafting through the pines.
I taste the spices in the soup. I touch the soft skin of my spouse.
Courageous men and women fight the fires day and night.
Compassionate and brilliant people are doing hidden work
in unseen worlds to sow the seeds of change.
The hare bounds across the field to find the moist grass
where we have taken care to water.
The stag wanders in and drinks from the bird bath.
The birds don’t mind.
Of these minds, which mind draws from the flow of Life?
Which mind will heal and tend the Earth?
Which mind will fuel the joyful dance again?
Which mind will make the crucial difference in these times?
Which mind is Tao?