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Dharma Wheel by Bob Jacobson

A View on Buddhism

Zen Poems and Haiku - A selection from a 'non-zennist'



Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.
The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.
Although its light is wide and great,
The moon is r
eflected even in a puddle an inch wide.
The whole moon and the entire sky
Are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.

Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma
see no Dharma in everyday actions.
They have not yet discovered that
there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma.

It is as though you have an eye
That sees all forms
But does not see itself.
This is how your mind is.
Its light penetrates everywhere
And engulfs everything,
So why does it not know itself?
Who is hearing?
Your physical being doesn't hear,
Nor does the void.
Then what does?
Strive to find out.
Put aside your rational Intellect,
Give up all techniques.
Just get rid of the notion of self.



What is this mind?
Who is hearing these sounds?
Do not mistake any state for
Self-realization, but continue
To ask yourself even more intensely,
What is it that hears?

Few people believe their
Inherent mind is Buddha.
Most will not take this seriously,
And therefore are cramped.
They are wrapped up in illusions, cravings,
Resentments, and other afflictions,
All because they love the cave of ignorance.

Hell is not punishment,
it's training.
Shunryu Suzuki



The most important thing is to find out
what is the most important thing.
Shunryu Suzuki

Well versed in the Buddha way,
I go the non-Way
Without abandoning my
Ordinary person's affairs.

The conditioned and
All are flowers in the sky.

Nameless and formless,
I leave birth-and-death.
Layman P'ang (740-808)

If you want to be free,
Get to know your real self.
It has no form, no appearance,
No root, no basis, no abode,
But is lively and buoyant.
It responds with versatile facility,
But its function cannot be located.
Therefore when you look for it,
You become further from it;
When you seek it,
You turn away from it all the more.
- Linji



Where beauty is, then there is ugliness;
where right is, also there is wrong.
Knowledge and ignorance are interdependent;
delusion and enlightenment condition each other.
Since olden times it has been so.
How could it be otherwise now?
Wanting to get rid of one and grab the other
is merely realizing a scene of stupidity.
Even if you speak of the wonder of it all,
how do you deal with each thing changing?
Though I think not
To think about it,
I do think about it
And shed tears
Thinking about it.


Nobly, the great priest
deposits his daily stool
in bleak winter fields



The monkey is reaching
For the moon in the water.
Until death overtakes him
He'll never give up.
If he'd let go the branch and
Disappear in the deep pool,
The whole world would shine
With dazzling pureness.

Food and clothes sustain
Body and life;
I advise you to learn
Being as is.
When it's time,
I move my hermitage and go,
And there's nothing
To be left behind.
Layman P'ang



A world of dew,
and within every dewdrop
a world of struggle

Look for Buddha outside your own mind,
and Buddha becomes the devil.

Old pond,
frog jumps in
- splash




How reluctantly
the bee emerges from deep
within the peony

Heron's cry
Stabs the darkness

Even though I'm in Kyoto,
when the kookoo cries,
I long for Kyoto.

The past is already past.
Don't try to regain it.
The present does not stay.
Don't try to touch it.

From moment to moment.
The future has not come;
Don't think about it

Whatever comes to the eye,
Leave it be.
There are no commandments
To be kept;
There's no filth to be cleansed.

With empty mind really
Penetrated, the dharmas
Have no life.

When you can be like this,
You've completed
The ultimate attainment.
Layman P'ang (740-808)

Just stop your wandering,
Look penetratingly into your inherent nature,
And, concentrating your spiritual energy,
Sit in zazen
And break through.

Cast off what has been realized.
Turn back to the subject
That realizes
To the root bottom
And resolutely
Go on.

Look directly!
What is this?
Look in this manner
And you won't be fooled!

1. Experience Chan! It's not mysterious.
As I see it, it boils down to cause and effect.
Outside the mind there is no Dharma
So how can anybody speak of a heaven beyond?

2. Experience Chan! It's not a field of learning.
Learning adds things that can be researched and discussed.
The feel of impressions can't be communicated.
Enlightenment is the only medium of transmission.

3. Experience Chan! It's not a lot of questions.
Too many questions is the Chan disease.
The best way is just to observe the noise of the world.
The answer to your questions?
Ask your own heart.

4. Experience Chan! It's not the teachings of disciples.
Such speakers are guests from outside the gate.
The Chan which you are hankering to speak about
Only talks about turtles turning into fish.

5. Experience Chan! It can't be described.
When you describe it you miss the point.
When you discover that your proofs are without substance
You'll realize that words are nothing but dust.

6. Experience Chan! It's experiencing your own nature!
Going with the flow everywhere and always.
When you don't fake it and waste time trying to rub and polish it,
Your Original Self will always shine through brighter than bright.

7. Experience Chan! It's like harvesting treasures.
But donate them to others.
You won't need them.
Suddenly everything will appear before you,
Altogether complete and altogether done.

8. Experience Chan! Become a follower who when accepted
Learns how to give up his life and his death.
Grasping this carefully he comes to see clearly.
And then he laughs till he topples the Cold Mountain ascetics.

9. Experience Chan! It'll require great skepticism;
But great skepticism blocks those detours on the road.
Jump off the lofty peaks of mystery.
Turn your heaven and earth inside out.

10. Experience Chan! Ignore that superstitious nonsense
That makes some claim that they've attained Chan.
Foolish beliefs are those of the not-yet-awakened.
And they're the ones who most need the experience of Chan!

11. Experience Chan! There's neither distance nor intimacy.
Observation is like a family treasure.
Whether with eyes, ears, body, nose, or tongue -
It's hard to say which is the most amazing to use.

12. Experience Chan! There's no class distinction.
The one who bows and the one who is bowed to are a Buddha unit.
The yoke and its lash are tied to each other.
Isn't this our first principle... the one we should most observe?

Master Xu Yun


Good and evil have no self nature;
Holy and unholy are empty names;
In front of the door is the land of stillness and quiet;
Spring comes, grass grows by itself.
Master Seung Sahn

However deep your
Knowledge of the scriptures,
It is no more than a strand of hair
In the vastness of space;
However important appears
Your worldly experience,
It is but a drop of water in a deep ravine.




If you have never taken
The principles of the teachings to heart,
You have no basis
For awakening to the hidden path.
Kuei-shan Ling-yu

Whether you are going or staying or sitting or lying down,
the whole world is your own self.
You must find out
whether the mountains, rivers, grass, and forests
exist in your own mind or exist outside it.
Analyze the ten thousand things,
dissect them minutely,
and when you take this to the limit
you will come to the limitless,
when you search into it you come to the end of search,
where thinking goes no further and distinctions vanish.
When you smash the citadel of doubt,
then the Buddha is simply yourself.




When mortals are alive, they worry about death.
When they're full, they worry about hunger.
Theirs is the Great Uncertainty.

But sages don't consider the past.
And they don't worry about the future.
Nor do they cling to the present.
And from moment to moment they follow the Way.



There are thousands upon thousands of students
who have practised meditation and obtained its fruits.
Do not doubt its possibilities because of the simplicity of the method.
If you can not find the truth right where you are,
where else do you expect to find it?



All sentient beings are essentially Buddhas.
As with water and ice, there is no ice without water;
apart from sentient beings, there are no Buddhas.
Not knowing how close the truth is,
we seek it far away
--what a pity!
Hakuin Ekaku Zenji


Not believing in anything I just sit,
listening to my breathing
After thirty years
It still goes in and out.
Albert Coelho
One step
A hundred crickets
Jerry A Levy
Adding father's name
to the family tombstone
with room for my own.
Nicholas Virgilio
When you hear your inner voice,
forget it.
Hyoen Sahn
in one gust
the last leaf decides:
Robert Henry Poulin


first on a track
night spider webs
catch my face
Yao Feng (Tasmania)

Brown mimosa seed
where blossoms once invited
hummingbirds to feed.
Ethel Freeman

troubled night
no resting place
for my thoughts
Phil Adams

The beggar's shouting fingers
find no listener's eye.
Owen Burkhart

loud window thud
in my cupped hand
the little bird dies
Yao Feng (Tasmania)

Empty morning streets
Cold path to the castle
Castle colder still


robin feathers stuck to the frosty window
-- just the cat's tail moves




A cross-legged monk
Silent awareness
A battle for peace.



The cry of a child
The cry of an ambulance
The cry of a newborn.

I am so tiny
The Universe so endless
All my creation


Yellow young spring
Sky full of hope
Future won't come.

Frenzy of insects
Heat of our star
The past has dissolved.

Red humid forest
Light rays in fog
Shattering silence.

Black naked trees
White topping of snow
A perfect year gone.

A dinner with friends
Love, laughter and trust
Dukkha disguised.


Grasping attachment,
Insisting on trouble:
My life as a fool.

Grasping a Path,
Insisting on my view:
My life as a fool.

Grasping, Insisting:

Schoolyard with children
Shameless screaming and fun
When did I loose that?



Thundering silence
Colorful darkness
Wanting to be free

Buddha is dead
Not even born;
Light without darkness.
Dust from the mirror
Cleansed with much care
Gone is the mirror.


With metta to act
With wisdom to be
The struggle to end.

All is so many
All is but One


Nowhere is here
Never is now
End of the tunnel
No tunnel
No me.


Who am I?
Am I?



A tree in the wind
The wind in a tree
All in me.



Links on Zen Haiku and more:
'In the moonlight a worm... silently drills through a chestnut'
- including a course how to make your own Haikus
An Introduction to Haiku

The Daily Zen site - good newsletter


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Last rebirth of this page: November 24, 2006