Kyoto Haibun

1 October 2015

(In Memory of Harold Stewart)

          They say great blessings wait in the temple of a thousand goddesses. But on entering, the gold arms and faces of mercy statues stare with a penetrating purity that scares hungry ghosts out of your pores, and suddenly you are walking blind into a hell sauna of burning flesh, trees of lascivious knives, wards of addicts, a giant cauldron boiling with parent killers and Buddha murderers. Where the hell have you landed? asks the mind on vacation. What is real? Fear has entered and dribbles down a leg forming a piddle puddle on marble. You flee the red-pillared hondo with its dragon roof of orthodoxy and gasp for air.

          With great relief you find yourself on a green bridge inside a forest of plum blossom. It is a garden. A garden is a breathing space. Some pre-disposition for chimera-shaping has caused you to see hells or heavens inside icons or under ordinary leaves. Temple, garden. Garden, temple. What is the difference, what is your role in this? Maintain composure without losing face gazing at the grandfather carp of yourself, knowing this, too, is just another illusory standard flashing in the clear current that carries all your metaphors like beliefs.

                              Old white koi you wear a spot of red.
                              The flag of Japan swims on the riverbed.

 


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