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[Great Western Vehicle] [Vedic & Buddhist Studies] [Pali-English Dictionary] [Pali Language Resource Guide] [Ecstatic Meditation Archive]

Poetry from a 150 day solo wilderness retreat in 2004

By the contemplative recluse monk Sotapanna Jhanananda (Jeffrey S, Brooks)

(copyright 2005 all rights reserved)

The 6 o’clock news in the Wilderness

August 2004

Almost every day something

Newsworthy happens here

In the wilderness.

What, with monthly

Meteor showers, and

Frequent sunrises and sets

Of awesome beauty.

There is of course rain

In the wilderness,

Which can be beautiful,

As well as snow, and

Observing the other ways

By which the hydro-cycle

Is just far more interesting

To observe than to study.

But, then there are those events,

Like a really bright meteor

That streaks across the sky

Before bursting into blue light.

Or, the red tail hawk

That decides to use

Your campsite as its

Hunting platform.

So, you get to watch

The hawk fly back and

Forth just over your head

While hunting its prey.

Or while meditating at dawn

You might be so still that a bird

Will mistake you for a rock

And land on your head

While he dances for his lady.

In the city there is a different

Kind of excitement.

On your way to work

On the expressway

You are almost killed

three times

In one day.

In the city

A taxi almost runs you over.

The IRS sends you a tax audit.

Your ex-wife petitions the court

For more child support.

You tell the judge

your children deserve a home

At both parent’s house,

He disagrees

And has you sent to jail

With drug addicts

and drunk drivers

For an indeterminate time.

The drunks and drug addicts

Get out before you do.

This afternoon it rained,

The third day in a row.

This morning I saw

A 2 thousand year old tree.

It had a large fire scar

That reached into its heartwood.

The scar oozed

Amber colored sap

that dripped

Like icicles

from its zilum.

On my way back

From the Methuselah of trees

I collected two quarts of rose hips.

They were as big as grapes.



Scorched Shofar

While gathering wild seed

I found the bones of burned sage

That were twisted and whitening

In the sun, like ram’s horns

Buried in the sand.

And I thought of the wasteland

Of the seven religions

Where the shofar

Has been lost in the sands of time.

So, I meditated

Before alters of stone

Where no craven images

Had been laid.

Mono Lake became

A Zen garden

In a black basin

Filled with volcanic ash.

Scorched shofar reached

Out for the Shekhinah

from the pumus

And one small barley plant

Grew dried, rust red.




The Future Buddha

Buddhism has been waiting

for the future Buddha for

Twenty six centuries.

Christians have been waiting

for the “second coming” for

two thousand years.

Oddly they have not figured out

The future never comes.

The Buddha, the Christ,

can only come in the present.

In fact I am certain

there has never been a time,

During the period of humans

on this planet,

When enlightened ones

have not been here.

But, the proprietors of religions

Want us to believe

Enlightened ones only come

Ever few thousand years.

The future Buddha

Is the man across the street,

Who leads a quiet life,

Who does not go into debt for things.

He simply begins and ends each day

In the silence of internal refuge.

The future Messiah is the mother

Next door who never yells at her children.

And, before and after her day,

When all are asleep,

She communes with the Divine.

The future Avatar works

at the convenience store,

And two other jobs,

to put food on the table-

While going to college.

He is always patient,

Even when his customers are not,

Because, he begins and ends

each day in union with the Infinite.

The future Prophet

is never unkind.

He never raises his voice

to his wife or children,

because he faces Mecca

Every day at noon

In submission to the One.

The future enlightened one

is not just one divinely inspired being,

Who Moses-like, parts the seas,

Buddha-like turns into a rainbow,

Or Jesus-like walks on water.

The future Buddha

is you and I

Beginning and ending each day

In communion

with what we hold as sacred

And, by connecting

all of the moments

Of each day

with a calm and still presents,

So that we walk all of our days, upon days,

In the presence of the Shining One.

The future Avatar, Buddha, Christ

is now

And, we are emerging,

Not in grape-like clusters,

But thinly dispersed,

like wildflowers in the desert.

It is you and I

bringing our craving

To rest,

and becoming

living Embodiments of peace,

patience and compassion,

In every moment.




Bodhisatva, for Sherman Alexie

When you are billions

Of years old

What is that fragment

Of a moment we call

A lifetime?

The dust of my bones

Blanket the planet

From tens of thousands

Of life times,

And you say I am not

One of your people

Because this body

Carries the blood

Of the conqueror.

How do you know

That on some good day

To die, your cavalry-

Bullet did not pierce

My war-shirt, and

My blood did not soak

Into the red, red earth

As I lay on the sweetgrass?

When you are all of space

What is that speck of dust

Called a human body?

What is that cluster

Of particles we call

Clan, race, gender, species?

I have felt the fullness

Of man inside of me

And given birth and death.

My skin has blistered

In the fire of the stake,

And I have lain in heaps

Of bodies in large pits

Under fresh snow.

The greed of humans

Knows no end,

But as many times

As you strip my soul

From its temporary home

I shall return.

[Great Western Vehicle] [Vedic & Buddhist Studies] [Pali-English Dictionary] [Pali Language Resource Guide] [Ecstatic Meditation Archive]