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Poem: Buddha's Dogs

Posted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 2:11 am
by MalaBeads
Just a poem i like. I once lived in the town mentioned and the meditation center in the poem was near my house. And I like dogs. And know these thoughts and feelings. Enjoy.

Buddha's Dogs
- Susan Browne ~

I'm at a day-long meditation retreat, eight hours of watching
my mind with my mind,
and I already fell asleep twice and nearly fell out of my chair,
and it's not even noon yet.

In the morning session, I learned to count my thoughts, ten in
one minute, and the longest
was to leave and go to San Anselmo and shop, then find an outdoor cafe and order a glass

of Sancerre, smoked trout with roasted potatoes and baby
carrots and a bowl of gazpacho.
But I stayed and learned to name my thoughts, so far they are:
wanting, wanting, wanting,

wanting, wanting, wanting, wanting, wanting, judgment,
sadness. Don't identify with your
thoughts, the teacher says, you are not your personality, not your

then he bangs the gong for lunch. Whoever, whatever I am is
given instruction
in the walking meditation and the eating meditation and walks
outside with the other

meditators, and we wobble across the lake like The Night of the
Living Dead.
I meditate slowly, falling over a few times because I kept my
foot in the air too long,

towards a bench, sit slowly down, and slowly eat my sandwich,
noticing the bread,
(sourdough), noticing the taste, (tuna, sourdough), noticing
the smell, (sourdough, tuna),

thanking the sourdough, the tuna, the ocean, the boat, the
fisherman, the field, the grain,
the farmer, the Saran Wrap that kept this food fresh for this
body made of food and desire

and the hope of getting through the rest of this day without
dying of boredom.
Sun then cloud then sun. I notice a maple leaf on my sandwich.
It seems awfully large.

Slowly brushing it away, I feel so sad I can hardly stand it, so I
name my thoughts; they are:
sadness about my mother, judgment about my father, wanting
the child I never had.

I notice I've been chasing the same thoughts like dogs around
the same park most of my life,
notice the leaf tumbling gold to the grass. The gong sounds,
and back in the hall.

I decide to try lying down meditation, and let myself sleep. The
Buddha in my dream is me,
surrounded by dogs wagging their tails, licking my hands.
I wake up

for the forgiveness meditation, the teacher saying, never put
anyone out of your heart,
and the heart opens and knows it won't last and will have to
open again and again,

chasing those dogs around and around in the sun then cloud
then sun.

Re: Poem: Buddha's Dogs

Posted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 3:33 am
by lobster
Thanks for sharing.
We have contemporary poems about Buddhism
and it's practice.
For example below from long time practitioner Dick Allen an excerpt.
What about quality Western poems of realization?
Where are those hot dogs? Maybe they are already here
not labeled . . . ?

the industrial landscapes so remarkable." Often
we'd catch him staring at the intricate face
of a digital wristwatch, or contemplating
a simple button-down shirt on a white shelf in a Wal-Mart.
All things. "Throw your computers into the eyes of children,"
he loved to tell us. "Work for the Federal administration,
if that's what you must.
Wear last year's fashions, re-endure the 80s.
Take the last train to Clarksville.

Re: Poem: Buddha's Dogs

Posted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 3:48 am
by MalaBeads
lobster wrote:Thanks for sharing.
We have contemporary poems about Buddhism
and it's practice.
Yes, I see more of them all the time. I can think of another poem by Billy Collins called "Shoveling Snow With Buddha" which I will find and post.

As far as contemporary poets of realization, there are many such poets around: Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Gary Snyder, Lew Welch, Philip Whalen are just a few that come to mind. I'm sure there are many more that are unknown.

And of course, the Kagyu lineage is known for dohas, or songs of realization. The list there is long - Milarepa, Saraha, Gampopa, Tilopa, various Karmapas, right down to Chogyam Trungpa. And Ponlop Rinpoche has started writing poetry in English, no less. Amazing! Can you imagine a westerner writing a song of realization in Tibetan??? It'll happen one of these days!

Poetry is wonderful because it bypasses the logical mind and communicates directly with aspects of ourselves that we often do not tune into.


Re: Poem: Buddha's Dogs

Posted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 3:50 am
by MalaBeads
Shoveling Snow With Buddha

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.

Re: Poem: Buddha's Dogs

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 2:40 am
by lobster
MalaBeads wrote:Just a poem i like. I once lived in the town mentioned and the meditation center in the poem was near my house. And I like dogs. And know these thoughts and feelings. Enjoy.

Buddha's Dogs
- Susan Browne ~
Many thanks.

. . . talking of dogs . . .

I lied about my I pad
it lied before me
and padded around bear paw
in a cotton night shirt

I told the truth
to a dog I never had
and it lolled and rolled
it's head, scenting the air

I said Nothing
and no one
listens to the Ocean

Re: Poem: Buddha's Dogs

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 9:15 pm
by MalaBeads
It's very difficult for me to read Susan Browne's poem without tearing up.

I'm just a sap, in the heart of a tree.