A leaky pot cannot hold the Dharma’s jewels,
my guru scolds. Almost all he has poured
into me finds the floor, spots the carpet.
I can’t remember the sacred sutras
or absorb their meanings, I blank
on the chants. Even the Diamond Sutra,
an instant after our lesson, dims.
Patch the pot! Guru stamps his doll-sized feet.
Concentration! he growls in my ear
so close it’s a kiss, and forces cup after cup
of tea into me so I may continue.
The chances of a blind tortoise
swimming the vast oceans, he says,
and surfacing its head—
my head, he means
—through a life preserver are more
favorable than the odds of finding
enlightenment. And that’s a good pot!
Gurus get angry. It’s called wrath.
Purposeful rage. Patience in disguise.
I get it. My progress is his
after all. His illumination
hinges on mine. So I meditate
on the pot, as he instructs,
visualizing the leaks stopped. Tell me what
you see. The pot, I say, dented, scoured
past its shine. Good! Worn from use.
Shiny is lazy. Where is the pot?
On a windowsill. Her hands bring it to
the sink’s spout. She has arrived! Auspicious!
But the pot is leaking. No-no! The pot
is solid. The pot is complete, whole.
Water is running out. How can
she boil tea, meat? She wants to feed
the plants. Generous heart. But when she gets
to her garden, the pot is near dry.
Garden? She has a nice place! There are
puddles around her feet. She dances
in the puddles! No, she apologizes to
the shrubs, trees, flowers. Ah,
compassion. Bodhicitta. Drop by
drop, back and forth,
she tends to each. Joyful effort!
I open my eyes.
My guru is drenched.
We are getting there, he says.
—from Rattle #71, Spring 2021
Tribute to Neurodiversity
Michael Mark: “I have so many voices blathering inside me and then there’s the swarm outside, so I write to see what to believe. I’m not saying what I write is the truth; I’ve learned that’s a fool’s errand. It’s merely my attempt at cracking whatever’s in front of me, putting the flashlight between my teeth and looking around. This poem is about compassion. I’m trying to figure out the Buddhist tradition of Tonglen, in which practitioners dedicate themselves to others’ happiness, even trying to absorb their suffering—pretty challenging for humans.” (web)
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