Thursday, August 31, 2017

Stone Formation, Sonnet #367


The experience of enlightenment
Is the arrangement of a few beach stones
On an old wooden deck, not an event,
Not a vision, not a handful of koans.
Ikkyu had this moment of insight
On hearing the song of a soldier's slight
That drove two girls into a nunnery,
Leaving their general his gunnery:
“Sixty blows from my master’s stick would serve
As well to achieve what I don’t deserve.”
These four stones have been carelessly arranged,
Each chosen for its one flat edge to rest
And have in wind and rain remained unchanged.
In their presence I’m an unwanted guest.

Note: Much of Ikkyu’s life is apocryphal, though
the story of his enlightenment upon hearing the
blind man’s song about two women ill-treated
by a general is a central part of his legend. The
quote I attribute to him is consistent with the
legend, though partly my invention.