Beyond Impossibility

 Living in a world of "conditioned existence" as Buddhists say,
is living in a world of possibilities, and impossibilities.
Freedom lies beyond impossibility.
All the Teachers know it.
Hence the koans:
What is the sound of one hand?
How does one pinch smoke?
What did you look like before your grandparents were born?
The voice of God from the whirlwind:
Can you bind the Pleiades?
Were you there when the morning stars sang together,
and the sons of God shouted for joy?
The eternal questions of the gurus:
What am I?
What is happening right now?
Is reality really real?
The questions of almost every child
until they learn that one shouldn't question
the things that others no longer question:
What is beyond the end of space?
Can God make a stone so heavy he can't lift it?
Who made God?
The questions that we don't laugh at
because they return years later:
Why am I here?
What am I supposed to do?
Beyond impossibility
is this. 


The mightiest redwood grew from a small seed in a cone, and that, in turn, sprang from a seed from a cone from another redwood, and so on. For generations, centuries, millennia.

Every seed stores not only the raw potential of the mature plant enfolded within it, but of that plant’s future generations.

Every action taken or not taken today, every word said or unsaid, changes the timeline of the Universe forever.

And all futures spring from this present moment, as this moment in turn arises from all the past moments that have ever been.

The seed from which the whole Universe blossomed is the One.

The seed from which that One came forth is unfathomable.

My faith lies not in answers, nor questions, but in that mystery beyond, behind, beneath, within Everything. There is no surer foundation, no wider reach, no grander canvas, no presence more persistent. Or intimate.

When you can dance on nothing at all, you can never fall.


 Last Monday, I lost Buddy. Apparently he was jumping from a tall wooden fence, caught his paw on a shorter, chain-link fence, lost his balance and broke his neck. I’m certain I found him only a few minutes after he fell.

Other than a instant of having a cut paw, I don’t think he felt any pain. I, on the other hand, felt quite a bit.

Simply put, it tore my heart out to lose him.  I cried a river the night I found him, and when I buried him the next day. But even though he’d be alive still if I hadn’t start letting him out six weeks earlier, I know I made the right decision. The last six weeks of his short life were simply packed with joy.


Remember when you came to me,
Barely more than a kitten?

Remember when you were at first frightened
of the big black cat in your new home?
And how soon you became friends and brothers?

Remember your aikido matches on the living room rug?
Your daily lessons with Talbot,
Throwing you as you’d try to lunge at him unseen?
You a white blur, him, a black,
together a yin and yang of fun and fight.

Remember how you enjoyed sleeping next to me
And telling me that when the sun comes up,
I should too?

Remember the massages I gave you when I came home?
Kneading the loose skin between your shoulders,
putting my hand on your back
and beaming all the love in the world to you?

Remember discovering how wonderfully warm a seat
my monitor was,
with the benefit of putting you in petting reach
while I surfed the Web?

Remember rocketing and ricocheting from room to room,
inviting Talbot and me to the chase?

Remember watching the great outdoors on the windowsill with Talbot?

Remember when you decided to seize your freedom
by breaking the window screens?

Remember the first time I let you run and play outside?
How I told you to be careful? How worried I was?

Remember jumping and landing vertical on tree trunks?

Remember the food you killed and brought home to me?
Four squirrels and a pigeon, Buddy, mighty hunter.

Remember how the neighbors laughed
to see you come running at my call?

Remember when you were kidnapped by a do-gooder
who thought you were lost?

Remember how you left, jumping off a fence, and onto a cloud?

I will never forget.

Bonan nokton, mia kara katetĉjo.

I awoke this morning

I awoke this morning
a poem flowing out of me
taking me from dreamland to morning light

An acknowledgement of all the Shadows
and the rightness of all the things I hide

A poem that wouldn’t end
because everything is part of it
A poem I couldn’t share, wouldn’t dare
for fear no one could understand but me.

A cat nuzzled me awake
Odor of an acrid litterbox
All perfect.

Before my feet touched the floor,
I realized
I am the poem I dreamed,
My life is the poem
written not for forty-seven years
But written from the first breath
I breathed,
the first body I owned.

Now there are billions
as much me as I am
living life in different circumstances
As I live life in mine.

All rage is mine, all love is mine,
all indifference and confusion mine.

I somersault naked off of water buffaloes behind the Taj Mahal,
And in Norfolk share the laughter.

I’m not alive
I’m life.

I’m awake.

Already dead

I am already dead.
Died, many times.
Every moment, I shuffle off
another body,
as I shuffle off
the moment to which it belonged.

I stand on the corpses of
a billion Jon Zucks
and on the billion corpses
that belonged to each of a billion other names.

Amazing, how dead meat
holds this pen?
I pull the strings
and make the mannequin
seem to write.

All the moment-bodies
of all the Jon Zucks
are all already all dead,
animated only for an instant
as I pass through them.

Dust coalescing before me,
dust dissolving behind.
It has died, is dead,
and always is dying.

I am a survivor
with millennia of experience,
past and future,
in endless realms,
known and unknown
to me.

Shaking up and chillin’ out

On Monday, it was announced at my work that we’re changing platforms. That sounds minor, but for people who have spent years honing their talents in PHP, it’s not. Many of my co-workers are having to seek positions in other departments. Contractors are being sent away much sooner than they expected. And although I’m staying on where I am (and I’m glad about that), I need to take a crash course in ASP.NET.

There are confusion, morale problems, and frustration. There’s also hope, compassion, and reaching out. People are helping each other with the next step, from learning what positions are opening and brushing up résumés, to lending each other books on ASP and .NET. And there’s also a lot of mutual encouragement. It seems to be bringing out the best of us, even though it’s always difficult dealing with the fact that change is the only constant. Anicca, anicca, anicca.

Monday night, after work, I went with some friends to a bar where I had a great (and effective) Long Island iced tea with the world’s best crab-and-shrimp-stuffed jalapeños. And after that, we went to a hookah bar, and for the first time, I smoked a hookah.

Sharing a hookah with friends… you have to do this! It’s got to be one of the greatest pleasures in life.

But things didn’t end there:

After the hookah

cool peach smoke has filled my brain
the laughter of friends, my ears,
peppermint, my mouth,
peace, my soul.

leaving, i walk,
winged heels barely touching the ground.
Mercury among men, sans message or mission,
i sit on steel stairs and a stranger comes singing.
he laughs and asks me for sixty-five cents,
i give him some change, and he sings some more,
spilling joy with every note, every beat a blessing.

leaves, and i listen to the soft
Doppler glissandos of traffic,
and falling.

The Sweet Pain

In 1998, I began writing a long poem, an epic poem, on the life of Christ. After about six weeks, I stopped writing it (though it didn’t leave me). What I was unprepared for was the intensity of his Presence as I wrote. Writing was prayer, and prayer was writing.

But it was more than that. I wrote about his love, and it was my love, and it burned so strongly that burned me. I truly felt like I couldn’t take it. It was just too much.
I never forgot it, though, and a year after I made my Bodhisattva vow, I also vowed to finish it. But I still couldn’t return to it. It was just too much.

Then over the next few years, all of my conceptions of God were destroyed. Yet, tonight, I find my thoughts again turning to writing this poem. I believe now I can return to it, and now I can relax in the Presence that burned me with his love a few years earlier. I don’t know how I have changed, and why I have that confidence. But it’s time to start writing again. (And a big thank you to Trev, for recommending Pronoia).


Speak of it, and you’re lying.
Think of it, and you’re deceived.
Write of it, and you set errors in stone.

Ignore it, and you bind yourself.
Look at it, and you are bewildered.
Realize it, and you are free.

Emptiness, clarified

A friend of mine left a comment on my post on The Mystery of Emptiness and said that the term emptiness bothers her, and she’d like for me to clarify it. Well, how could I resist?

In the past, I’ve used the word “God” quite liberally on this site… in plain and simple language, That is what it’s about. Yet, I find after this latest glimpse, whch I wrote about in, The Suck, I want to write more carefully, and avoid words which easily give false impressions. False impressions are unavoidable, but “loaded” words like God can’t come to anyone without years of conceptual and emotional baggage that prevent communication.

So when I want to write carefully, I make up pronouns like This and That, and It. Eckhart Tolle usually uses the words “Being” or “the Unmanifest” instead of “God.” Other teachers say “the One,” “Consciousness” or “Awareness.” Kabbalah calls This Ein Sof, Endlessness. Zennists speak of Emptiness, the Void, and No-Thing. I agree with Julie–there is something unsettling about those last three. Our mind wants Something, not Nothing.

In that poem, I tried to show something of how wonderful pure Emptiness is. All Creation streams from It, like an empty glass that you can drink from forever without it running dry! Yes, it doesn’t make any sense, and that’s what’s so amazing!

Emptiness cannot be clarified, because it is the essence of clarity.
Emptiness writ large, is spaciousness.
Emptiness writ small is no-Thing.
Emptiness held by a form is capacity.
Emptiness holding a form is boundlessness.
Emptiness explored is void.
Emptiness manifest is everything.
Emptiness loved is God.

Emptiness can be quite frightening when you’re attached to Somethingness. As that falls away, It feels very different, like a white movie screen the Universe is projected upon. Or it’s like an empty canvas holding all possibilites, which you approach with a brush, whittling away the potential images until the one you paint is the one it presents.

Meister Eckhart wrote that when our soul is pure and empty, God cannot fail to shine in it, just as the sun cannot fail to shine on a cloudless day.

I’ll stop with a thought from Lao-Tzu:

Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole which makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that maks it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.

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