In this passing moment

by Hogen Bays

Original Language English

"In the presence of Sangha, in the light of Dharma,
in oneness with Buddha -- may my path
to complete enlightenment benefit everyone!"

In this passing moment karma ripens
and all things come to be.
I vow to choose what is:
If there is cost, I choose to pay.
If there is need, I choose to give.
If there is pain, I choose to feel.
If there is sorrow, I choose to grieve.
When burning -- I choose heat.
When calm -- I choose peace.
When starving -- I choose hunger.
When happy -- I choose joy.
Whom I encounter, I choose to meet.
What I shoulder, I choose to bear.
When it is my death, I choose to die.
Where this takes me, I choose to go.
Being with what is -- I respond to what is.

This life is as real as a dream;
the one who knows it can not be found;
and, truth is not a thing -- Therefore I vow
to choose THIS dharma entrance gate!
May all Buddhas and Wise Ones
help me live this vow.

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I find this personal vow poem to be both delightful and really challenging.

He sums everything up at the beginning:

I vow to choose what is

You would think the unavoidable nature of "what is" would make a vow like this meaningless, but the human mind and heart are not entirely sane. ;) They often choose fantasy, imaginings, shoulds and coulds, possibilities, even impossibilties, over what is. Very few of us truly dwell in reality. Very few of us sincerely experience the moments of our lives.

We don't need someone else's life. We don't need a perfect marriage, better finances, a better place in society. We don't need to be a saint living in the mountains. We just need to stand in our shoes, be utterly ourselves. We just need to witness, with honesty and open heart, the drama already given to us.

When starving -- I choose hunger.
When happy -- I choose joy.

When we are hungry, is there a choice to choose hunger? When happy, isn't joy automatic? The correct answer is, we constantly choose; nothing is automatic. Rarely do we choose to experience our experiences.

The power of a practice like Zen is that it defines the human journey, not as escape, but as coming home, of settling into our own skin, our own experience, the living moment that continuously passes and continuously renews itself. By making this journey to "what is," we finally meet ourselves, and learn what this thing is that we call life.

May all Buddhas and Wise Ones
help me live this vow.

Recommended Books: Hogen Bays

Morning Dewdrops of the Mind: Teachings of a Contemporary Zen Master Path to Bodhidharma

In this passing