Sunday, February 21, 2021

hidden beneath the leaves


a six mat room off the lecture hall, veranda sliders opened to slick black rock round with age and gravel awash in white snow, ink mixed, the abbot's scroll complete, brushes clean, master ko considering the small tiger sawn oblong of ancient oak, its patina gently scraped, him crosslegged, considering, but some hesitation stalls emptiness, clarity: beneath the stout little cup of mashiko clay on his pine shelf is the crumpled letter from oregon, much traveled that, his book of poems published, would he come? feeling indifference or? and what might he reply? ... while a thief in the night has stolen two bags of rice and one of radishes, the abbot's harsh words, the gardener's curse, the professor saying, so, who dares befriend this degenerate reprobate?

friend: Japanese, tomo; Chinese, pang jau

The kanji for friend is often thought of as two hands, right and left, reaching out to each other. However, the old kanji for two right hands clasped is considered the origin of this character. The notion expressed is one of mutual support.

Tao Te Ching 27 (Feng and English):
If the teacher is not respected,
And the student not cared for,
Confusion will arise, however clever one is.
This is the crux of mystery

Sunday, February 14, 2021

hidden behind the leaves


peeling potatoes on back stoop,
purple skinned, gap toothed grin
roads clogged with snow
with well shoveled path to refectory door
bowls ladled full with sweet glutinous oats

photograph by M Simoni

Tao Te Ching 26:
The sage travels days on end and never loses the way
always full, emptiness is his path
through noisy byways, silence is his shelter

Sunday, February 7, 2021

hidden behind the leaves


dawg kneedeep in slow eddy of graygreen water, creek softly over shallow ledge, through snow covered banks, rimed gravel, riffling white over rock on its way to the sea, down and down ineluctably, seams unseen, paths unknown, flowing, beguiling to human kind, beyond our ken, though how different are we from this watercourse way

ineluctably: unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable.

suggested reading: The Watercourse Way, Alan Watts

Tao Te Ching, Feng and English - 25 '... something mysteriously formed ...'
man should follow the earth,
for earth follows the heavens
and the heavens follow the Tao.
The Tao ... just and only natural

Sunday, January 31, 2021

hidden behind the leaves


parasitic, they seem, said the abbot, hands behind back, rising forward and up, up on his toes, then down to his heels and up again, to rise above the hoi polloi ... how nebulous, how fragile these webs that join us to family and friends, offered the professor, and more tenuous still to those just passing; rather something less than parasitic, i think, i do ... and later, master ko, sitting still and silent on his lumpy futon, a vacant storage shed now home, one pine shelf with tin cup, and mia's gift, dawg coming and going, aren't we all parasitic, getting our rice and pickles at some other's expense, yes, maybe so, but too pejorative, that, too judgmental ... slight shake of head, then, donne's poem, no man insular, each man's death ... did shakespeare know him? and chinese fellow, lao dan, 2000 years before that, too many names, too many labels, too much this and that, splitting hairs into them and us, us and them, how nebulous, how fragile these contentious distinctions

hoi polloi: a Greek expression which literally means the people, but has taken on a negative connotation referring to the so-called unwashed masses
Lao Dan (or Lao Tze): purported author of Tao Te Ching


He hunts not fish, but as an officer,
Stays in his court, as his own net, and there
All suitors of all sorts themselves enthral;
So on his back lies this whale wantoning,
And in his gulf-like throat, sucks everything
That passeth near.
        John Donne (1572 - 1631)
        (Shakespeare 1564 - 1616)

Sunday, January 24, 2021

hidden beind the leaves


This is the 23rd of 81 installments of the prosepoem hidden behind the leaves. The first poem was published August 16, 2020.

chirps and peeps and tweets and sudden brittle laughter from the children gathered around the richly robed abbot; hanging apron on hook, out up the shoveled path between the drifts of snow, a dim glare of sun blanketed by high gray mist, cold past the still buried garden to the steps up and up and the silence of the wood, the palpable stillness of this silence, the silence that is the essence of the natural world filling the void behind the susurrus of leaves and limbs and the glare and blare and the chatter and clatter of industrious little men

photograph by M Simoni


Tao Te Ching 23 extract:

Sparse are the explications from nature's creations.
Strong winds come and go;
Rain rarely lasts the whole day long.
No reasons why; just the way of the world.
Surely something man should emulate.

Those who know don't say; those who say don't know.
Sages have always argued for taciturnity. East or west, the message is the same: "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin; but he that refraineth his lips is wise." (Proverbs 10 : 19.)

Sunday, January 17, 2021

hidden behind the leaves




This is the 22nd of 81 installments of the prosepoem hidden behind the leaves. The first poem was published August 16, 2020.

dense fog, freezing rain, wind harsh in cedars whose limbs but bend and sway, dog down hillside through thicket of shriveled rhododendron, prancing, haunches up, head down, biting at crisp snow, a copse of ancient cryptomeria, the thick trunks humbling all my pretensions

tree (Japanese: ki, Chinese: Shu)

Tao Te Ching 22 extract

yield yet remain whole
bend yet remain straight
empty and become filled

The essence of #22 is a mild argument for humility, and the avoidance of hubris.
hubris: (Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods leading to nemesis
nemesis: the inescapable agent of someone's or something's down fall
aphorism: pride goeth before a fall, Shakespeare (the original, it seems---somewhat different---is a line from the Bible)

hidden behind the leaves, winter, begins with this post. The first 21 sections of the poem, entitled 'autumn', is available in Other Pages.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Synchronicity, again

Many people are bamboozled by intellectualizations. Some people enjoy exhibiting their polysyllabic vocabulary. Synchronicity is a word rarely used in conversations at the corner five and dime. Not many people know what it means, and fewer still understand the meaning.

The definition of the word is this: The simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no causal connection. Coincidences in time.

Synchronicity is a concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.

Synchronize your watches is a not uncommon phrase particularly in military circles. The idea is there.

Never mind. Think kaleidoscope. Every child has had one some time or other. Pick one up, give it a turn, and have a look. What do you see? Beggars description, it does. Think synchronicity. Everything seems to be happening at the same time together.

Time is the problem. If time did not exist, then everything indeed would be Now. I tried to draw the concept once. A cyclone came to mind. Everything swirling around, inside, outside, up and down. Without time, everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the gurgle of your stomach would be coincidental, happening all at once now.

Kaleidoscopic, dude.

photograph by M Simoni

I spent most of my classroom time teaching remedial classes. Two of my students, both considered well below the normal range of measured intelligence, came to me asking if they might combine their science project with their metal shop assignment. I agreed. The photo above is the result of their efforts: a fine strand of DNA, complete with color coding.

It occurred to me that a double helix of DNA, with its colored segments entwined, also makes a nifty example of synchronicity. Are all cells synchronized? Yours, mine, and the crow in the tree? This would mean, given the nature of genetic machinations, that each one of us is happening right now, everywhere and forever, individually and together. Phew!