Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Storehouse Of Treasures Opens By Itself - A Thanksgiving Day Reverie And Homage To John Tarrant

NOTE 3/29/2018:  Happy to say that I was misinformed (my mistake) that John Tarrant, zen master and writer, had died in 2010.  He is alive and kicking zen rocks up and down zen non-hills still.  I will just let this essay stand as is.


So the grackle wrestles with the tree top...

These pentitential psalms of David play while snow flurries out over the creek below, the spruce trees sift-sort out just which large bird will try their tips to rest upon...grackles and, yesterday, an enormous eagle regally perched in stillness as the tree top bent from feather weight still, a day after the grackle's heft, gently sways. 
No need to watch the breath here in Keene.
What is seen is enough to nestle one inside and out.
Cold feet. Too ensconced to move and search - sort for socks.
Upstairs a toilet flushes. Two year old feet clumsily thump
as David laments, 
"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. . .My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?"
Meanwhile baking turkey aroma, and sage cornbread (NO sugar) dressing, wafts downstairs where I am beside the large plate glass door waking up, espresso cup full and steaming, taking in the what is seen. And heard.
Pondering this offering from John Tarrant, Western zen teacher who, I am sad to say, I discover online just this morning, passed in 2010 and, I am surprised to read, had been living in Jersey City just a Hudson River away from my East Village perch. Had I known he was so close by I would have gladly trekked over bridge and river to sit with him. 
I discovered Tarrant years ago via an anthology of American Buddhist poetry, Beneath A Single Moon, and fell madly in love with his poem, Poem To Be Recited While Banishing Loneliness (posted in comment section below this post) where I instantly memorized the phrase, "he does not shut out any part of himself." This is the essense of Jungian psychology, Jung's notion, or more-than-notion but arrival again and again to an authentic experience of wholeness (what I experience as hold-ness) which includes everthing (natch) and does not exclude or shut out or prefer/value one quality over another. Conscious wholeness, conscious being the operative word, is what Jung means as does Tarrant's line and poem entire. 
So the grackle wrestles with the tree top where I sit with fullness and grief knowing that a remote teacher has been dead 7 years and I had often enough entertained sitting with Tarrant and perhaps find some help with my own wresting a poem, my life's too big to wrestle with, the mind not withstanding, into some good-enough resonant holding/beholding (my frozen fingers just typed "begolding", thank you Mr. Tarrant).
This koan comes to me from Tarrant now, fitting for the present view through the glass, a black cat named Shadow now at my feet, news of Tarrant taking off "the tight shoe of the body" seven years now and now the word year means nothing at all, and while I sit watching the world is shaking off its dusty robe. And will continue to do so. Did so while I slept with cold feet and nose tip, the room being frigid inspite of a heater hissing away, its blue flame, gold too, somehow burns without any motion that I can see, my eyes trying to catch some fire to warm from the outside in. Evenso, in spite of discomfort up here in winter mountain cold is the thing, reminds me that I am heavily ecstatically (a rare event in older age) alive.
Having lived in a giant city for half my life now I wouldn't exchange my freezing toes and nose, these flannel sheets, red red, for all the miracle of its bridges and its parks, the mourning dove on my fire escape waking me to receive the noise of the all too human world mugged by machines and machinations, odd treasures that they are or can be or we must alchemize into.
From John Tarrant a fitting koan for Thanksgiving day:
The storehouse of
treasures opens by 
You can take them,
you can use them,
anyway you wish. 
I look up from this just in time to see a large black wing disappear behind a stand of spruce. What eyes and wings are for.