sound of the breeze
in the painted pine ~
caught in the paper branches.
I crumple the sheet
to kindle a fire-
vow to free you…
Sitting in the back of the meditation hall, I watched the dharma teacher walk in. And I burst into tears. He talked about his journey to Canada as a (war) refugee and all that it required of him to adapt. A surgeon in his country, he decided it was too complicated to get his certification to practice in Canada so he opted for manual labour. After the first day, he limped over to the social welfare office and applied for re-certification as a physician. The sight of the powerful yet quiet dignity he embodied as he entered the room had brought me to tears.
It stirred up memories of my father, returning home from the steel mill each evening, body wearied yet wrapped in dignity. An accountant by profession, he was unemployable in this new country and his soft hands blistered quickly from lifting lengths of harsh metal. Yet he did what he had to do despite feeling unworthy when measured by the concepts that had once given meaning to his life. I caught a glimpse of the Ox in the labels that defined these two men in my life. Again and again, this bovine bodhisattva shows up in the labels that define my own.
The Ox takes on what I see myself to be. Infatuated with the idea of who I am, I infuse the Ox with this idea of Me and set off in pursuit. Sounds of the breeze in sumi-e pines and painted rice cakes: at this first sighting, the Ox is just another play of ink and fibres. But oh! how I long to rescue it.
Thank you for practicing,
Daughter of immigrant grandparents, the voice of the home land resonates. Watching the struggle and the suffering they endured, so that I might have this life of ease and joy. Gratitude.
This is a wonderful poem – to crumple our ideas about self and other – to crumple the ox itself and burn it up – the intense heat of freedom.
Thank you. I was re-reading it when we were hit with an earthquake! Talk about crumple! Actually, let’s not… 😮
Pingback: Tricycle » Seeing the Ox
Pingback: Tricycle » Catching the Ox
Pingback: Tricycle » Taming the Ox
Pingback: going home « 108zenbooks
Pingback: Tricycle » Riding the Ox Home
Pingback: Tricycle » Returning to the Source