Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Door Itself Makes No Promises

Torii Gate at Boundless Way Temple

I was thinking this morning about the open-hearted invitation of Zen practice, at least as I understand it:  to truly know the heart-mind, without retreating into some fixed narrative or view.  It can be dangerous work, this facing everything.  The poet Adrienne Rich had some sense of this, as she writes in one of my favorite poems of all time:  "Prospective Immigrants Please Note."   I love how clear she is that entering and not entering the Great Way are both honorable options. 

Prospective Immigrants Please Note
Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.

If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.

Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.

If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily

to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely

but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?

The door itself makes no promises.
It is only a door.

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