So this is where you sat,
having vowed not to move
until you’d grasped what you were looking for–
the root of human suffering.
To see things as they are. Girders
of life, architecture of light
underlying all creation. You met
demons, temptresses, your own
body’s fearful trembling, heartbeat
slipping sideways into a crack of time
no bigger than a sliver, torso held upright
by implacable will. So you sat,
vision turned inward, cross-legged
in the shade of this Bodhi tree. Emerged
at last from your long quest, simooms
blowing through the sockets of your eyes.
Stripped to the bones, this
is what you saw. All phenomena annicca—
impermanent as a flower,
death sprouting darkly with the seed.
Sunyata–emptiness–at the heart of all
being. You smiled,
offered a lotus blossom to your faithful disciple
in lieu of a doctrine.
Now, 2400 years later, an adamant temple
towers hundreds of feet into the dusty ochre sky
of Bodh Gaya. Carved with images of your face,
your serene smile repeated over
and over, ubiquitous as the Golden
Arches. Your radical discovery of nothingness
is surrounded now by an economic empire.
Priests, pilgrims, vendors of yak tea
and prayer flags. Rivers of coins empty
into temple coffers. Young Tibetan monks
perform a hundred thousand prostrations
in the cobbled walkway,
kneepads and mittens cushioning the scrape
of shale on flesh. Enlightenment
without dukkha. And you smile, oh Buddha,
at these lonely stances on the rim
of the Great Void.
As always, I’d love to hear your own poems, thoughts and insights in Comments. Let’s share the voices of our hearts together.
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