The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

October 24, 2005


For Joanna and Eugene, married today -



Some writings from Shih-Wu (Stonehouse)


Study the patterns of transient existence
the outcome of a game of chess isn't fixed
a monk in the mountains needs to be free
people in the dust grow old unaware
wind blows tea smoke over my bed
the stream drops petals into a pool
with thirty-six thousand days
why not spend a few being still

The Master said, "When Bodhidharma lived at Shaolin, he faced the rocks
for nine years. But the walls and moats were not impregnable. When
Shu-shan sold cloth, he traveled thousands of miles to pay someone a
visit. But the roads were confusing.
    "Here at Fuyuan, the walls and moats are impregnable, and the roads are
straight and smooth. Whenever you walk, walk in the middle of the road.
Whenever you stop, stop where it's safe. And if you encounter a piece of
farm land in between, why shouldn't you set foot on it?"

At the beginning of retreat, the Master said, "Before the fifteenth day of
the fourth month, the nights are short, and you don't get enough sleep.
After the fifteenth, the days are long, and you're always hungry. Today
it's the fifteenth, and all you Zen monks here at Fuyuan get enough
porridge and rice and enough sleep.
    "As you wander through this monastery of perfect enlightenment and take
refuge in undifferentiated wisdom, may I ask how you ended up in such a
place? A welcome breeze enters the door, and you feel cool. Lake water
reaches the gate but without any purpose."

(Red Pine trans.)

...So I tried to find something here relating to marriage, to marriage in
relation to Buddhism, and found a ground or a clearing and nothing
specific but something in relation to writing or waiting-on. And

now of course there's no waiting, and I find it hard to locate anywhere a
position for the consequence of any vow grounded here. But there's waiting
and waiting and renewal and we change things as we go along. And given the
dreariness of the world, this marriage is blessed, by us and perhaps by
Bodhisattvas, or perhaps not. This is a wonderful commitment among
remarkable people, committed people, brilliant people, who can only grace
us with their presence, and their presence together, and among each other.

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