Friday, July 20, 2012

Sword-Horn Sutra

I've never seen a monk
Without another monk
Or several or hundreds
Nearby. Plurality
And uniformity
Seem the nature of monks

As much as of armies
And police and so forth,
If not more so. It's strange,
Then, to read these verses
Translated from birch bark
Sheaves preserved in clay jars

For two millennia,
Collecting earlier,
Perhaps preliterate
Sayings centuries old,
Purportedly among
Buddhism's earliest,

Repeating the advice
To wander off alone,
Cutting family ties,
Abandoning offspring,
Lovers, and friends alike,
Consorting with no one

Except maybe someone
Even more unattached.
The verses link loosely.
Most make analogies
To noble animals
That shun society.

Browsing, one imagines
Humans surrendering,
En masse, human nature,
Everyone wandering
Off to enlightenment,
No one hoarding birch bark.

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