Notes to Self
(Isshin Glen Snyder)


notes to self on howto of zen and poetry writing
hold the ink brush loosely and near vertically and trace an invisible enso on the table top.

then collect loose papers from desk and all around apartment.

gently flatten out papers with palms of your hands and stack in a neat pile next to brush.

once stacking is completed, return brush back to storage place.

take papers out to recycle box.

sit upright on cushion in quiet place.

place left foot against right thigh.

if fatigued and troubled, don't struggle if you nod off.

notice brief dreams that are interrupted when lurching forward.

observe generosity by which stomach provides mind with gentle perceptions.

notice how stomach allows happy-busy mind stay happy-busy while stomach just sits.

let your mind be just as gentle to your mind as your stomach is to the rest of you.

set out three shoe boxes, nesting each in its own lid.

in middle box add old photographs, seashells, used ticket stubs, and travel souvenirs.

Gently mix contents and distribute between the other two boxes.

close boxes and notice if lids fit snugly.

if sunny, go outside barefoot on sidewalk.

glance downward and jump three times.

quickly observe if what the sidewalk reveals is a shadow of the tops of your feet.

or a reflection of the bottoms of your feet.

return at night and do the same thing.

observe any hesitation about someone else noticing.

sit with left foot crossed over right thigh.

lighten self as if the whole universe were glowing neon hotel vacancy signs.

allow all beings of ten directions and all three times to come and sit within sheltered realm of your hokkaijoin.

don't forget to allow self to sit within sheltered realm of your own mudra.

take note of where you are sitting.

share afternoon sun with green chameleon that lives in damp drainspout.

observe any stillness or motion.

after some time, observe if your own color has changed.

sit with right foot placed over left thigh,

let self be deep inside body of buddha on the altar.

observe sensations from crown of topknot down to toes of both feet.

sense lotus throne beneath and bodhisattvas at your side.

glance across the buddha hall by looking out both buddha-eyes

listen through long-lobed buddha-ears.

delight in all the altar offerings and make slight buddha-lipped smile.

take note if this feels at all like sacrilige.

drive i-45 southbound with the windows rolled down at a moment when things are both bright sunny and pouring down rain.

observe how the vehicle belonging to self maneuvers the fish school of other vehicles.

recall last time the pebble smacked the small star in windshield and observe the steam rising off hot freeway.

recall all poets no longer alive, not omitting those alive right now and those not yet born..

between each pass of the wipers, observe on windshield the intensity of raindrops like inkdrop kanji.

observe any similar kanji strokes repeated in tears running down cheeks.

take note of any concerns about upholstery getting wet.

sit with left foot resting on right thigh through early morning hours.

experience each occasional dog-bark, grackle-caw, radio salsa car-passing, leaf-rustle with equal intensity as an inseparable part of self while still being uniquely individual.

on another morning during a thunderstorm, see if each individual raindrop can be viewed with the same such equanimity, as it splatters on rooftops, sidewalks and lawns or as it leaps under whispering car tires,

notice sounds and smells when the drops merge and soak into the ground.

once home and before going to bed

arrange living space as if you might awaken in a void of perfect darkness with no light switches or street lights.

before turning out lights, take careful note of where things are so you might comfortably maneuver through personal belongings without groping around, grasping, or pushing away.

once morning arrives, promptly forget that you had arranged anything.

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