three monks

Poems and Reflections from Opening the Book of Serenity: Case 1

One day the World Honored One ascended the seat. Manjusri struck the gravel and said, “Clearly observe the Dharma of the King of Dharma; the Dharma of the King of Dharma is thus.” The World Honored One then got down from the seat.

The entire Universe sits on the Throne of Suchness, including those who bark at the moon.  What else is there?

- Tony

The whole great world from light to dark
lives the dharma king’s great dharma!

Manjushri announced it again just now!

-Myozen

Buddha up, Buddha down,
What’s the difference?
Thinking mind makes it so.
Manjusri should know better!

- Susan

We are the night ocean
Filled with glints of light
We are the space
Between the fish and the moon
While we sit here together

- Rumi poem offered by Cindy

Driving home,
The full moon rising in the night sky
Fills my senses.
A moment of sheer ecstasy.
Magnified,
Knowing it could only be that moment.

- Cindy

Clearly observe
In a circle, how a hundred koans bloom.
Could it be
Uncertainty
Jostling the heart of doubt?
Arising, abiding, fading away.
Only the thumbprint of a throne remains.

- Laura

I reach the bridge and see the line-up of birders, and know I’ve found the spot.

The White Wagtail was reported a few days ago and we don’t expect it to stay long. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America says that the White Wagtail is “Uncommon and local in western Alaska, where it nests among large boulders. Solitary. Forages on open ground along edges of ponds and lagoons.”

This bird foraging along the edge of Rodeo Lagoon in the Marin Headlands has caused quite a stir. It’s been here for two days and no one expects it to stay for long. A frantic email popped through on the bird list earlier this morning. “Which parking lot at the lagoon? There are two!” — Dea is worried she’ll miss it.

We line the eastern bank and bridge. I see someone I know, Scott, and he offers me a glimpse through his scope.

But the bird has disappeared. We laugh. Just my luck.

We move further south for a different angle. Then the bird appears again, at the edge of the reeds, easy to see in my binoculars. It moves quickly. I get a closer look through the scope, too. It dashes in and out of the reeds as it feeds. An excited Asian man in a floppy hat calls out every time the Wagtail appears, “It’s out!”

We all stand, chatting about the bird. Is it from the small population of Alaskan birds, or could it be from the much larger Eurasian population? We are all feeling good, having seen the bird on this bright morning. The wagtail disappears into the reeds, then runs out to forage. “It’s out!”

As we watch, three river otters roll in the water. They’re hunting the ducks. The otters gather together, three heads just above the water in a tight group as they stalk the mallards and wigeons. Suddenly the otters disappear, and we see nothing but a strong wake coursing toward the bank the ducks rest on. But the birds move away, and the otters are out of luck.

I take a few last looks at the White Wagtail, then say goodbye to Scott and the others, and continue my trip into the city. I drive away, wondering what possible use it is to go see a bird like that, when really every bird is its own miracle. Or, how many of these rare vagrant birds do we never notice? There must be more than we see. It’s kind of silly, really. Still, I’m glad I went.

The next day, others report that the wagtail is gone.

I make a checkmark in my field guide, and pen a notation, “Rodeo Lagoon, Marin Headlands, 10/22/2015.”

Sibley says that the White Wagtail is “Very long-tailed. Note clean black and white plumage with black breast-band.” The White Wagtail is thus.

But he doesn’t say anything about the otters, or about the easy camaraderie of birders, or if Dea ever found the right parking lot.

- Terrie

Manjusri pokes a hole in the universe.
Deflated, the Great Golden Buddha becomes a shadow of awakening.
Even as the shifting shadows close in, a cool, refreshing breeze.
The wind of the House of Dawn is in our hearts.

- Korin