Tea House

Daily Perspectives and Stories on Buddhist Trends, People, and Ideas

Tag: poetry (Page 1 of 2)

Bodh Gaya

A poem about the life of the Blessed One. By Tom Donovan

Bodhi Tree by Maranda Russell

It is a place and nothing more,
No different to behold despite particulars
Than any village in the district.
Still it is here,
In the public park,
Under the pipal tree,
On my mat of kusa grass,
I have apprehended the sorrow
Of myself and of all people,
And have understood the Unforgiving Law,
Seen the bleached and desolate fullness of it,
The devouring hungry emptiness of Craving.

And it is here that Mara has come to me,
In his fever to tempt my mind from its new way,
And I wonder that this bloated demon
Has not seen these wide eyes,
Which bid men open up their view,
To see between the dead habits of the Brahmin,
And the living folly of the poor Samana,
Between their expansion and reduction,
Between the cruel formal and the cruel nil,
Straight to Chanda,
The line through vain desire,
Through the irrelevant beginnings and ends of things,
The acceptance of the ambiguous and the unanswerable.

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I was Siddhartha’s Mother

They carried me into the forest.
The sal trees, shaken by our clamour
Showered small soft flowers on us.
The trees’ slender trunks rose column-like
Into the leaves, and everywhere, that scent.

He was born on a floor of petals.

Later, he will talk about impermanence:
Bodies are flowers, fading.
Faded, the newborn.

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The Names of the Name

Ivan Latham

Homage to Amitabha,
Lord of Life and Lord of Light;
Before Whom all beings bow,
Whom all Buddhas adore and honour;

Amitabha, Breaker of  Chains,
Bestower of Merit,
Refuge of All Refuges
Liberator, Lord, and Friend.
Namo Amituofo!

Devotion to the Guru

Padma Drolma

And if in all the beads nothing comes up

I won’t forget you
I’ll give another turn
Despite my thousand stumbles

For I know that thin are the lines which separate mastery from fear
They are tiny and do not define
Space is the shelter that does not welcome
It afflicts me with the idea of freedom 


And I see that your coiled rope was firm
That your guidance was accurate
Yet I sought to anticipate the route
Instead of holding 
Your hand

In reverence I address you with my voice
May my words not err
In conveying my vows of prosperity

Give way to obscuration
In the gallop of the Tupi nation
Paired with Kham 

Lord of the Dance
Our Master 
I hail

I request for passage
To him I prostrate
And in deep gratitude
I exalt his steps

Seed of Dharma planted
In the cold and damp soil
Among crowns 


Amitabha All Around Me

Massimo Claus

Amitabha is to me the air I breathe, the sounds I hear, the colors I see, the music of the sea, the chant of a child. I saw Amitabha among the flowers of a cherry-tree and in my stupidity feeding my fears.

Shandao is His hand approaching me, so I chant the Sacred Name in order to see and feel in a better way. One can see the colors of Pure Land by listening to the sounds hidden in the Name. They will show up just for a moment and you won’t be able to hold them.

Namo Amitabha!

This is just to say


I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

By William Carlos Williams

I was reminded of this poem recently when it was recited in the film Paterson, by Jim Jarmusch. The movie is as counter-cultural as it gets: nothing (or almost nothing) more dramatic happens than a bus breaking down. It has no sex in it, but breathes tenderness, right from the starting scene, where you see a couple waking up, entwined in each other’s’ arms; streaks of golden-white morning light playing on their skins. You see this scene repeated throughout the film, with variations in posture and light, as the days of the week unfold. He is a bus driver in Paterson, the town William Carlos Williams lived and wrote in, and also writes poetry, jotted down in spare moments around his shifts. She is a designer/artist in waiting, developing her style at home, by painting every large enough surface: crockery, curtains, clothes and even homemade cupcakes in black and white patterns.

This slow-paced, meditative film has generally been very well received, which, in itself, gives me hope for our media and action saturated world. Paterson, the film’s unpublished “hero,” doesn’t own a mobile phone or other screen device. He still writes everything by hand, into a notebook with un-ruled pages. As the camera bouncily follows the familiar bus route you are impelled to view the scene through a poet’s eye. Ordinary house walls in juxtaposition to other ordinary house walls, the rambling conversation among passengers or with his colleagues are given significance as potential material for poetry. They are worth taking note of.

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Good Question, Good Quest

Steve Braff

From quotesgram.com

From quotesgram.com

A sense of ease
this settling down
wonderfully absent worry.

Till I feel the old hunger
to capture and codify
to make it all ways always mine.

And in this very grasp
to witness the diminution
of that subtle grace.

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Border Dancer

Steve Braff


– to 4/4 swing at a 140 tempo –

Left Deer Gods’ land by way Siddhartha
cemented Highway six lanes south
bused on bumpy from Lumbini
Buddha born by Maya Devi
hip right holy to Shravasti
hit the border, pay the Levi
waiting, waiting toll booth stall
India sign some four foot small
drivers peering silent leering
spy the damsel up the by way
sari swathed she stand sway tall
slow her dancing lane to lane
wistful flowers bright for telling
prayers for selling, selling all.

Note: ‘Border Dancer’ is my homage to the woman who danced, blossoms for rupees, just past the tollbooths straddling the Nepal/India border.

Click here to listen to Steve’s reading of this poem on his Bandcamp profile.

A Monkey’s Tale Retold

Steve Braff

By leoplaw on DeviantArt

By leoplaw on DeviantArt

It is said that in the ninth year of the Buddha’s ministry a quarrel arose between two parties of monks. One party consisted of experts in the disciplinary code, or the Vinaya laws; the others were experts in the Dharma, or the teachings. The Buddha tried to settle the quarrel peacefully, but finally, when his efforts failed, he left them without a word, taking only his bowl and robes, and retired to the Paileyyaka Forest.

During his time in the forest, a monkey king, ministering to the needs of the Buddha, brought him honeycomb as an offering. The Buddha first refused the gift, for living larvae were in the comb. So the monkey king brought fresh comb of which the Buddha gratefully ate. The monkey was so overcome with joy when the Buddha accepted his gift that it broke his heart. The monkey king died but was rewarded for his generosity by being granted a place in heaven.

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Five Worms – A Preamble

Steve Braff


From wclimate.com

I saved five worms today
as they lay plump and limp
upon the wet pavement –
blind altar of ignominious death
by the coming heat or passing car.

I saved five worms today
as I plucked their slippery bodies
stretched supplicant, almost inert
from the indifferent asphalt
and tossed each to shelter
in the wet grass.

I saved five worms today
only to recall and regret
the child I once was
absent care or concern
who blithely walked by
– no doubt upon –
their benevolent bodies.

I saved five worms today
only to see my path forward
scattered with their unsung dying
the inevitable suffering
the immensity of it
till I refused to look down
eyes locked on the horizon
mumbling poetry
as I made my way home.

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