Posts Tagged ‘enlightenment’


it happens daily —
the world turns, the sun rises
— my own blindness kills

This poem was born out of a feeling of regret. I dreamed I turned up to play French horn in an orchestra, but then realised I had no French horn. Awake, I fell to thinking of my teenage years and how lazy I was in regard to French horn practice. I now practice yoga on a daily basis, and because my body is old, I notice the stiffness immediately if I miss a day’s practice. I fell this morning into wishing I had realised the importance of practice. Who knows I might now be a professional musician. And this feeling of regret forced me to consider the totality of what we owe to this life or to ourselves by being alive. I suppose you could say I fell to regretting not having achieved enlightenment in this life. The subject of enlightenment was already fairly close the surface of my preoccupations since Friday night when a Buddhist friend used the term in a Buddhist sense and I found myself rebelling inwardly — I doubt whether it’s either helpful or meaningful, to accept enlightenment as something the Buddha achieved and the rest of us can only strive after in a futile sort of way. My poem wanted to bring back ‘enlightenment’ to the literal meaning of the literal light which fills our physical world. But of course I end up, in the poem, with a metaphorical blindness nevertheless.


symbols of nirvana

the going out of
a candle — the shutting down
of a computer —
death — waking up — breathing out
— symbols choose us, not we them

Poor attempt to capture a dream in which a computer had insufficient power with which to complete the task of booting up. Apparently this was experienced by the computer as a dangerous situation, and it displayed an image on its screen of fire and flames, before shutting itself down. The meaning of the dream has to be something to do with powerlessness, and feelings of powerlessness, but I got distracted away from this by remembering Buddha’s classic symbol of nirvana (the going out of a candle).


magic, white or black?
— a cup of tea or coffee
lovingly prepared

Funny how magic can be either white or black. Likewise tea and coffee. This is a very odd little poem, triggered in the short term by my dream last night which included quite a lot of Christian ritual. The subject of ritual led me to think of the Japanese tea-making ceremony. Way back in the nineties, I stumbled across a book that meant a lot to me — Street Zen — a biography of Issan Dorsey who was a Californian Zen monk who died of AIDS. In the book, there is a quote where Dorsey is trying to describe a moment when he feels he sees into the nature of reality in a flash. It’s triggered by something as simple as seeing someone carry a cup of tea. That has always stayed with me. Magic so often enters our lives via tea or coffee. The most conventional of all drugs. The most mundane of all possible things to be concerned with. Yet who would deny that, in preparing a caffeine drink, we touch routinely on some sense of ritual. And so many of us treat the drink itself as a magic balm. There was nothing about tea or coffee in my dream though: so I am puzzling a little, as to why these thoughts precisely now.