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Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Stone Girl Dancing

[This essay was originally posted to "The Third Tale," a blog on Weebly. In transferring it I have updated and made corrections where necessary.]

Someone recently posted this on FaceBook, and it reminded me of a few poems.

First, a poem made up of various well-known Zen lines by Korean teacher Seung Sahn:

The Great Way has no gate.
Clear water has no taste.
The tongue has no bone.
In complete stillness, a stone girl is dancing.


That last line comes from an old ko'an (a Zen saying meant to break us of the habit of conventional "thinking"):

Zen Master: "When you hear a wooden chicken crow, you will understand your mind." What does this mean?

Student: "A stone girl dances to the music of a flute with no holes."


And both of these always make me think of the poem "Natural Music" by one of my favorite poets, the Californian Robinson Jeffers. (I don't know WHY I think of it when I read them, because the girl in the last line is not stone. I guess it's because she's dancing?) Anyway:

The old voice of the ocean, the bird-chatter of little rivers,
(Winter has given them gold for silver
To stain their water and bladed green for brown to line their banks)
From different throats intone one language.
So I believe if we were strong enough to listen without
Divisions of desire and terror
To the storm of the sick nations, the rage of the hunger smitten cities,
Those voices also would be found
Clean as a child's; or like some girl's breathing who dances alone
By the ocean-shore, dreaming of lovers.


Chewing on any or all of these will be time well spent. Enjoy.

Categories: Art, Buddhism, Facebook, Photography, Poetry, Spirituality, Zen

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