Of his owners shouts
Down the path
A poodle strolls-
Prettier then its owner
“Why the leash”
Says the Black Lab
Blooming cherry blossoms
Do they even make a sound?
As their petals fall
One by one
Blown with the wind
Stained. Stained are the halls and shrines of Western Buddhism with worldly dusts and the material decay that comes with it. So obsessed with their material circumstances, their material fortunes which have been gained with deceit and fraud, they forget the modesty that came with grass huts, torn robes and begging bowls, and instead take up rent in the hearts of noisy urban centers, and charge laypeople an admission like learning the Dharma is some sort of attraction. This modesty which has been forgotten, in Modern Buddhism, is key to understanding the True Dharma however, for this modesty is the truest form of both Wisdom and Compassion, which are the founding blocks for all true Buddhist teachings, and are interchangeable and one; Wisdom is Compassion and Compassion is Wisdom, they cannot exist without the other, true wisdom is always compassionate, and true compassion is always wise.
Crowded are the Meditation Halls
with chairs that offer comfort at a cost
when Bhiksuni and Bhikku of kalpas past
would of smiled for a seat on some dirt floor
with the sound of running water, not an air-conditioner
to help guide in their meditation
The West however adores the idea of “easternizing” itself while staying primarily western and Western Buddhism is no exception. Supposed sacred sites and Buddhist centers go up in buildings fit for businesses, not devotion, and then operate as businesses, selling to those who are genuine in their want of learning the Dharma, a watered down, westernized sham, that can be marketed and sold as such: (Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Meditation, Vispassana, Pure Land, Thai etc.) like they were merely individual products or commodities, and completely separate, never containing even an ounce of similarity, let alone an identical origin, The Buddha himself, and the Dharma that he shared.
In Western Buddhism, while Wisdom and Compassion may be taught, its right practice is not. Compassion is only practiced if it offers a good public relations image, or can be sensationalized in some way, likewise Wisdom is only honored when books or online lectures can be pumped out and sold that can backup just how “wise” a piece of paper can make one by measuring it with economic profit. True Practice is diverted in favor of a pat on the head for meditating and book titles that contain pretty words like “tranquility” and “peace” which form in certain states of mind, into material things, that cloud ones perception of what the Dharma is all about. Wisdom and Compassion leave the realm of practice and subjectivity, and enter into the realm of theory and objectivity, where only the old unpronounceable names to western tongues of old Dharma Masters and Enlightened Beings who were able to practice both Compassion and Wisdom. Western Buddhism has become a hobby, a pastime, an aesthetic and an art decor. Faith and True Entrusting in the Dharma, which means not only to believe in the teachings of Buddha, but to practice those teachings, has become a bourgeois fetish, and an elitist commodity, only worthy of a mention when one is forming an identity of oneself, an ego, and collecting material goods based around this created ego.
So yoga studios and dental offices, all across the west fill up with Buddhist statues that people don’t know the name of, or story behind, let alone how to practice and venerate it properly, all to fit a certain image or identity: they wish to be “tranquil”, they wish to offer “peace” etc. Likewise interior designers, furniture makers, landscapers have landed on the gold of selling anything remotely “eastern” or “minimalist” in aesthetic, as “Zen”, often times incorporating Buddhist iconography, even modernizing it and commercializing it, all to market off of the Dharma. Now a question arises, well has the Dharma succeeded in its growth and flowering in the west? No, Mu. It has only succeeded in speeding up the Dharma Ending Age by spreading ignorance and intolerance, rather then Wisdom and Compassion. However there is a hope, and that hope is in those who take up the practice of Wisdom and Compassion, and who understand or come to understand their totality and oneness, as being the Truest Dharma, when one can do that, their practice will be unhindered and they will reach Buddhahood, even in this Dharma Ending Age.
Cutting through the glass to touch the moon-
I wonder if Mahakasyapa would break his smile
maybe even laugh at the thought
of zen being some kind of household decoration
or would he continue just to watch the Buddha spin
the flower, counting and then uncounting every twirl
not hearing, but listening to all
Vision of the Pure Land:
The stars are in our eyes, and the sun too, followed closely by the moon, in deep blue, or brown, or green gilded cages that contain everything really because these cages are eyes, and these of ours, are the eyes of hidden Buddhas. Though we may think otherwise, it is so because we cannot see our pure reflection under layers of thick silt and grimey dust, not because it isn’t there! This silt and dust, the silts and dusts of our worldly desires that come to haunt us and plague us, wearing us down daily with all sorts of birthes and deathes, sicknesses and the dreariness of old age, filling us with all sorts of ignorant and defiled logic, saying to ourselves:
“oh in this day and age to practice the Dharma is much too difficult.. best to leave it to the “professionals”…best to leave it to the Dalai Lama”
But all it is, and all everything really is is dust, dust creating ignorance that puts up all sorts of barriers like greed and lust so we cannot see the true potential of our own Buddha-Nature. Siddhartha might have been a great and virtuous person, but that is all he was, a person, and we, we who are reading this are all persons too, individual persons with individual virtues and merits, and each and every one of us can be just as great as Siddhartha, all we must do is witness our pure Buddha-Body underneath all this ignorant dust. Like the old Zen riddle goes, what is your face before you were born, just remember “Buddha” and “Tathagata” are just titles, titles that we too can carry, even the most defiled of us, so long as we blow off all this gathered dust and give into the will of compassion and knowledge contained within the Dharma and practice it earnestly, to the best of our individual potentials.
“Buddha” is just a title
A title that anyone can have
Turning away from the dust
So long as they practice the Dharma
Dilligently, they too become Buddhas themselves
Be weary that in this life
The “professionals” aren’t just thieves
Done up in the helpless robes of beggars
Just to hide the handle of their knife
How much can we cherish the things that gather dust in this realm? Yesterday bowing at the temple gates, tomorrow basking in the ruins, taking photos as a tourist. So it is, even great megalithic statues of Glass and jewel covered Buddhas crack, even more so, do the mortal beings who erect them, and venerate them. No worldly glass lasts forever, karma is a smelter melting everything down eventually, the only pure glass which it cannot break down is the Nembutsu.
Likewise those beings who take up the practice of the Nembutsu, take up this position of unbreakable glass so long as they hold it up and use it to reflect themselves and their inherent Buddha-nature. Their karmic evils will be erased with one pure thought, one pure reflection of Amitabha’s compassion. They see the dust that covers them and shake it off to reveal their glorious Dharmakaya bodies glittering gold just like the sutras state. This is faith in the Pure Land, and it is extremely difficult, given the numerous afflictions of ordinary beings, and yet it is for us loathsome and defiled beings that the Pure Land exists, therefore hold faith high and above all things, treat the Nembutsu like you would your own mother, with utter devotion until the very end when you see those oh so glorious gates of the Pure Land.
The mirror having become a lake
Lets shine in, the moon and all its beauty
With two fingers outstretched to the sky
Saying “why they’re both just reflections”
Knowing that a stone
Can only ripple this reflection
No boulder am I afraid of
Nor tigers fangs behind me
Just to ruin this here reflection
Of a hairless ape practicing Dharma
We are all defiled beings, each and every one of us who are caught up in this world of birth and death, spare the odd reincarnated Bodhisattva, during the age of the Dharma’s Decline. If this were not the case, we would not be born into such a world of defilement nor would we have a strong attachment to these defilements. Thus we endure, in countless forms, following countless karmas, that lead to countless births and deaths that lead to countless sufferings. Rare is it for beings to encounter the Dharma, but rarer still, are beings who practice the Dharma, and successfully escape this world of suffering. For many beings, our heavy karmic weight makes encountering the True Dharma very difficult, this is even more the case when it comes to practicing the True Dharma. For us, defiled and ignorant beings so lucky to have encountered the True Dharma because of our karmic merit, no greater practice exists then the Nembutsu, which offers salvation to us deluded beings through the compassion of Amitabha which extends to all beings, pure or defiled, who earnestly chant the name of Amitabha and vow to be reborn into his Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Despite all this, generating faith in the Pure Land, here in the west especially, is increasingly difficult, for not only are we beings filled to the brim with the three poisons, anger, greed, and ignorance, Buddhism, and spirituality as a whole are alien to us, they are concepts which are foreign, which we do not necessarily understand or even wish to include in our daily idle lives of constant suffering. To make an ignorant being mindful of its own ignorance is a difficult task, harder still then, is to convince this ignorant being of their own inherent Buddha-Nature under the muck of defilement, and of a Pure Land which they can be born into, no matter their karma, which does not discriminate and is free of all defilement. Ignorant as I am, I have only this one wish, that all defiled beings living in this world of suffering, take up aspirations to be reborn into the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. Defiled as I am, I offer the way to beings just as defiled, which is the Nembutsu and faith in the compassion of Amitabha. Like a fox spirit with a stolen sword of virtue, my wisdom exceeds me and comes from other sources, but it also makes me stronger. My faith alone, in the compassion of Amitabha, allows me to continue on my Dharma Path. I have no Sangha to fall back on, nor a teacher to follow and press my doubts upon, however knowing that Amitabha’s compassion extends to all beings without discrimination, is enough for me to take up the Pure Land Path, and urge beings everywhere to practice the Nembutsu and take up vows to be reborn into the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. A warning however, for I am neither monk nor layperson nor do I aspire for any typical titles that follow around dusty robes, I am a Kitsune with a stolen sword of virtue, who hides out by forest shrines and whose favorite food is fried tofu. Knowing this, take what I say with a grain of salt, it could be mere trickery or it could be some divine message.
Fill my belly up
With fried tofu and faith
That the compassion of Amitabha
Extends out to all defiled beings
Who earnestly chant his name
And take refuge in his Pure Land
Even me, some lowly fox spirit
With this here stolen Sword of Virtue
Taken from the graves of ancient Pure Land Sages
Now covered in fox slobber