3 Aug
Posted in: Poems
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It Does Just Fine

Tonight’s KM group will move on to Chapter 20 in Joseph Goldstein’s Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening. The title of the chapter is Material Elements, Feelings, and Perceptions and in it he writes about that most-difficult-to-disucss aspect of the Buddha’s teachings…the empty, selfless nature of all phenomena (or “non-self”).

To this end, he quotes a wonderful poem by Nobel Prize-winner, Wislawa Symborska:


View with a Grain of Sand

We call it a grain of sand,
but it calls itself neither grain nor sand.
It does just fine, without a name,
whether general, particular,
permanent, passing,
incorrect, or apt.

Our glance, our touch means nothing to it.
It doesn’t feel itself seen and touched.
And that it fell on the windowsill
is only our experience, not its.
For it, it is not different from falling on anything else
with no assurance that it has finished falling
or that it is falling still.

The window has a wonderful view of a lake,
but the view doesn’t view itself.
It exists in this world
colorless, shapeless,
soundless, odorless, and painless.

The lake’s floor exists floorlessly,
and its shore exists shorlessly.
The water feels itself neither wet nor dry
and its waves to themselves are neither singular nor plural.
They splash deaf to their own noise
on pebbles neither large nor small.

And all this beneath a sky by nature skyless
in which the sun sets without setting at all
and hides without hiding behind an unminding cloud.
The wind ruffles it, its only reason being
that it blows.

A second passes.
A second second.
A third.
But they’re three seconds only for us.

Time has passed like a courier with urgent news.
But that’s just our simile.
The character is invented, his haste is make believe,
his news inhuman. 

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