Wednesday, July 07, 2010

One Hundred More Moon Reflections

Your own understanding, or lack thereof, of the precise character of your association with another human being can tear out your heart when you least expect it.

It can take years to get over the surprise.

A little thing can haunt your mind: a picture that will not stop flickering.

It is just no use to ask why, or wish it otherwise. Rivers of rice whiskey spilling into oceans of  tiny tears do not wash even one moment of it away.

Much, much worse is the long, dry day when a wild July wind brings it all back, and you are forced to tell yourself yes, it really happened, and yes, this is all that's left. It doesn't have anything to do with love. It has everything to do with being human, and a random trigger that squeezes the memory of the excited sweetness of summer past.

Take a deep breath.
Those songs I composed for you; really, I also composed them for myself.
Those poems I wrote for myself; really, I also wrote them for everyone else.
Those things I did for myself and others; really, I did them for nobody.
Those prayers I never offered because I stopped running from moon to moon.
Back and forth on the Kowloon Canton Railway, every stop from Tsim Sha Tsui to Lo Wu engraved in bone: the white birds that rise when we pass through the New Territories, circling over the backyard gardens, where the city of the fragrant harbor and stinky streets turns into green before it meets another gray. The flowers shift their faces to watch the flashing windows pass as the train's long, rushing breath inhales the afternoon.

Cyclic existence is cyclic existence.

Everybody is either talking on a cell phone or staring at a cell phone. Everybody changes SIMS between Tai Wo and Fanling. The younger ladies are establishing rank with luckless variations on Louis/Luxury Vuitton/Vinyl. The floor is blocked with cheap plaid carry totes so big you wonder how the older ladies manage. Are they smuggling Hong Kong back to Shenzhen in pieces, one trip at a time?

Where does Hong Kong go when 九廣鐵路 disappears into 深圳地铁 ? Even Mong Kok isn't Mong Kok anymore but Mong Kok "East."

Ah ya, Mong Kok is Mong Kok. They say that if you stand in Mong Kok, you are standing in the most heavily populated place on planet earth. If you stand there long enough, you will see everyone you ever wanted to see. 

The catch is, you can never get tired of waiting. If you get tired of waiting, and blink your eyes, you'll miss the one you've been waiting for.
I know this from experience. 
I went there, and I waited for what seemed a very long time. 
Finally, I got tired. 
I did not see you there.
Maybe I did not see you there because I had already seen you there?
Because I did not see you does that mean I have extinguished you? The thoughts and emotions are finally dead? Are they cremated on the fire of your memory or buried in the memory of your fire? It doesn't have anything to do with love. It has everything to do with being human, and the appeal of rhetoric between stations.

I close my eyes. 

Is your only reflection at Mong Kok?

Songs, poems, things, and unspoken prayers unravel over and over, like a string wound and unwound around a finger. When the very fact of any given situation negates any conceivably useful  question, the only thing left to do is make an offering of all forms appearing.
All forms appearing in the vast three thousand worlds,
I offer as the supreme mudra of body.
Please grant the siddhi of unchanging form.

All sound, and sources of sound, appearing in the vast three thousand worlds,
I offer as the supreme mudra of speech.
Please grant the siddhi of unimpeded speech.

All mind’s discursive thoughts in the vast three thousand worlds,
I offer as the supreme mudra of mind.
Please grant the siddhi of undeluded mind.

All happiness and suffering in the vast three thousand worlds,
I offer as the mudra of auspiciousness.
May all sky be pervaded by great bliss.

If suffering, I will bear the suffering of all beings.
May the Ocean of Samara’s suffering dry up.
So, my dear --

It is again July everywhere people measure by months and summer where they measure by seasons and I am not waiting in Mong Kok with songs, poems, things, and prayers spinning around my finger anymore. Every "I Love You" is engraved in bone just like the KCR stations. The birds have not yet come to rest and the old gardens are faded snapshots along the railway river. The narrow wind is now but a desultory breeze.
I am an old garden
beside a river
no better than its shores,
where flowers no longer
turn to the light
but become stained glass
that admits color, not life.

I am an old garden
no one is left to harvest,
where nothing else matters
except the weathered glories
of sun, moon and stars
fallen to the ground
like neglected bounty.

I am an old garden
where once you paused
and inhaled the afternoon;
where the things you planted
grow wild without you,
as careless as your promises;
careful as wind across long grass.

What was it that guided your heart?
The wind, the long grass,
or one hundred more moon reflections?
My dear! If you ever find yourself struggling to fix a situation you simply cannot fix, stop traveling back and forth, struggling to fix the situation.

Fix your gaze instead.

This is for a flickering picture of the Kowloon Canton Railway, as it was for me one summer past. In the key of A, for guitar, and the rabbits.

Lao Dongxi

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9 reader comments:

Jeanie said...

This is a masterpiece. Thank you over and over.

Lu Yi'ar said...

You are not lao dongxi you are great laoshi.
When translate this to Chinese language is like written by Chinese I get on train with you.

Anonymous said...

Rinpoche would you happen to know the name/author of that offering prayer beginning with ''all forms appearing in the vast three thousand worlds'' mentioned above?

Many thanks

TENPA said...

Lama Gyurme recorded it as "Offering Chant (Unplugged)" on the Rain of Blessings album, where it is described as "traditional." Lets ask him!

Anonymous said...

Can you say who wrote the poem that begins "I am an old garden?" Thanks so much.

TENPA said...

That one is my fault. I wrote it in 2003 after reading John Updike's "Of the Farm," with its line about "a river grander than its shores," so I wanted to work in the concept that a river is no different from its shores.

Anonymous said...

I really loved reading this! It is such a beautiful painting of concepts

Anonymous said...

Haha (regarding the Lama Gyurme chant) that's precisely why i wanted to know where it's from. The beautiful tune really made the words shine through for me. For me certain music seems to be a great method to arouse some sensitivity compassion and love; I wonder if it's okay to recognize music as being able to do that ''within a buddhist context''? !

TENPA said...

Well, when I wrote about Lama Gyurme elsewhere, I said that his is not mantra set to music but music set to mantra.