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Lions Roar : July 2006
don’t hesitate get laid that’s wisdom POEMS BY THE ABBOT, HERMIT, LOVER, AND CRITIC OF INSTITUTIONAL ZEN, IKKYU. FROM CROW WITH NO MOUTH a well nobody dug filled with no water ripples and a shapeless weightless man drinks hear the cruel no-answer until blood drips down beat your head against the wall of it I hate it I know it’s nothing but I suck out the world’s sweet juicy plum peace isn’t luck for six years stand facing a silent wall until the you of your face melts like a candle don’t hesitate get laid that’s wisdom sitting around chanting what crap I’ve burnt all the holy pages I used to carry but poems flare in my heart inside the koan clear mind gashes the great darkness I love taking my new girl blind Mori on a spring picnic I love seeing her exquisite free face its moist sexual heat shine white-haired priest in his eighties Ikkyu still sings aloud each night to himself to the sky the clouds because she gave herself freely her hands her mouth her breasts her long moist thighs only one koan matters you one pause between each crow’s reckless shriek Ikkyu Ikkyu Ikkyu Rinzai did it without a care no clouds wind sky a heart that simply sings my death? who was it anyway always where he was never no not once ever seeing himself an eyeball speaks self other right wrong wasting your life arguing you’re happy really you are happy ♦ Selections from Crow with No Mouth, translated by Stephen Berg. Reprinted with permission of Copper Canyon Press. © 2000 Stephen Berg. point Tangen—I recognized his face from a photo—the Zen master of the monastery, who was in his seventies and had rarely left in the last thirty-five years, glided into the courtyard and he and the head monk (I figured out who the beefily built man was) grunted at each other. The head monk then grabbed my pack and I followed him. Near twin sinks he stopped and pointed, holding out my sack. I took it and walked alone through a set of doors. Ten thin mattresses were on the floor and five Japanese nuns with shaved heads were lying on them. Near the entrance was a small, spare woman—the only other Western female at the monastery—who introduced herself and pointed to a rolled bed. I nervously set out my few things, unrolled the mattress, and laid down. I didn’t know what the routine would be, but I knew it would be in silence. I tried to rest. How did the say- ing go? Rest when you rest, sleep when you sleep, cry when you cry. Et cetera, et cetera. I could have made the list go on: be nervous when you’re nervous, feel your tight chest when you feel your tight chest, want to go home when you want to go home. I noticed how hot and humid it was. My straight hair was curling. No one else around me had any hair. I re- membered my friend who’d been to Japan saying, there is nothing like the humidity. For emphasis he repeated himself: Trust me, Natalie, in all the world, your clothes will not get wetter than in Japan. Obama was on the sea. I was in for it. Bells rang. All seven of us in the dormitory sprang up. They put on their robes; I put on my black long-sleeved tee- shirt and black long pants and we sat through two periods of zazen in the upstairs zendo across the court. I had no idea how long each sitting was. It could have been twenty-five minutes or forty. I was just happy to know how to do some- thing and proud at the end to recognize the Heart Sutra as it was shot through at a speed no American could follow. At dinner we ate cross-legged in the dining room in a rit- ualized style, with three oryoki bowls, chopsticks, napkin, and drying cloth. The actual meal was a mush of colors. What hadn’t been eaten from breakfast and lunch was consumed at night. What hadn’t been eaten from the meals of the days before were also in there. If mold was forming from a week ago, a high boil took care of it all. At the end of the meal, we fingered thin slices of pick- les to clean our bowls, ate the pickle slices, and drank the washing water. The bowls were then wrapped again in the lap cloth with a formal knot. I could do all this and the Japanese nuns clucked in surprise. We sat zazen again and went to bed. I hadn’t spoken a word to anyone. I didn’t know what time we would wake the next morning, but I could rely on the tight structure. Don’t think, I told myself. Take care of your life—connected to all life—moment by moment. I did not sleep for one moment the entire night. I was drenched in sweat. I think it was three a.m. when the bells SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2006 68