It’s been almost 6 years since I have posted on my website. It’s not that I haven’t been doing interesting things or witnessing the world in all of it’s changes, but the reflection and then the writing is something that is a challenge. I like the idea of it and so, it seems I will try to put some intention into it. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, for those of you who find your way to this…I will post this poem by one of my very favorite contemporary poets, Frank Owen. He speaks through his words and images the way that I would hope to. Since he does this so well…perhaps that’s why I don’t feel the field needs so much of what I have to say. Following the poem are some notes from him to further elucidate a few terms he uses.
With every turning glance I mutter to myself: Mappō! Mappō! Mappō!
How deep we are into the red dust.
Breath seizes like a sparrow caught in a net.
I observe-through-feeling the Fear and Strain of These Times.
People Seeding Hell Realms with Body-Speech-Mind.
Trauma-Bodies Exiling Dharma-Bodies.
I step out into the cool night air.
A subtlety arrives.
The perfume of Kannon.
Something loosens within me.
The echo of a single nembutsu I uttered in another time returns to me.
I am hurled into remembrance; another age —
becoming a True Time-Companion.
Brand new world.
Welcome to a peek into my world of images, thoughts and connections.
Mappō: Many schools of Mahayana Buddhism recognize a working cosmological reality called the Three Ages of the Dharma. Shōbō (Age of Right Dharma) is the first thousand years of Buddhist activity when the teachings are transmitted and people are able to uphold the practices, both exoteric and esoteric. Zōbō (Age of Semblance Dharma, sometimes called “the copied law”) is the second thousand years when conditions decline considerably and there is only a simulated sense of right Dharma. The teachings spread, but there is also widespread corruption, with some teachings weakening or decaying, and people’s aptitude and exertion for practice wane. Mappō (The Degenerate Age, or the Degeneration of the Law), believed by some Japanese Buddhists to have begun in 1052 CE, is characterized by unparalleled societal upheavals and natural disasters, and people are unable to enter the Dharma gates of numerous practices, schools, and paths. [I would add to this the characteristic of Dharma teachers slandering the Dharma and causing harm within sanghas]. The conditions of mappō are said to last 10,000 years, at which time a new flourishing is predicted to occur. Until that time, increasingly the only gates of the Dharma that will remain open (translation: that people will manage to be able to practice) are the condensed, simplified paths.
Nembutsu: A phrase (and meditation visualization) used by practitioners in the many lineages of Pure Land tradition, and by some Shingon, Tendai, and Zen practitioners as well.
Shinjin: clear heart-mind, true-entrusting faith, non-retrogressive devotion