Wednesday, January 28, 2015






Doin Hoshi (monk)

Though in deep distress
Through a cruel blow, my life
Still is left to me;

But my tears I can not stall;
They will not my grief endure.


I'm told he
came to his
vocation by

sighs and tears.
What if one comes
to one's vocation

by smiles and joy?


Denied his love by the hierarchy, the young poet shaved his head. But then he lived a long time in the midst of warfare and disaster. Morse points out that in his very old age, already famed for his poems, he prayed that he might master the art of poetry, and that Hokusai said much the same of his painting and drawing. I would add that Kurosawa, upon receiving the lifetime Oscar, gave a short speech expressing the hope that he might yet learn to make movies! Undoubtedly echoing his predecessors consciously.

The Old Nurse shows us a young courtier in exile, head not yet shaven and attitude not yet centered, perhaps. But it looks like he will get the hang of it. A servant is preparing tea. A half-buried wheel is prominently buried in the garden. The usual Buddhist wheel has eight spokes, and is the emblem of the eight ways to relieve unnecessary suffering. This may be intended as a thirty-two spoked wheel, reminder of the thirty-two marks that will identify Amida Buddha, who invites us to come to the Pure Land. Doin Hoshi has his work cut out for him.

Risa is not a nun, though she always felt a pull in that direction. It is also a time of wars and disasters. When she was young she struggled to make the world better. Then she grew tired, and began to work within the system, making an effort to live "a normal life." She has had a largely happy middle age, working in academia and maintaining a household. Her children are all grown, and the house has become quiet. She has increased her zazen practice, and after sitting often has tea, looking out on the gardens and orchard around her. What is different about such a life? What is the same? Is it too late to learn poetry?