Jackrabbit.

One thing about living a more settled existence is that people can be confident of getting letters to me via the mail system! I have an address where I live and will reliably stay put for some time. (A year actually.) Having been here five weeks I’ve accumulated a lot of papers on my desk. While sorting through them this morning three hand-written letters, received since I arrived in Canada, sifted to the top. What a rare and beautiful sight! There is something so special about receiving a hand-written letter. The writing styles are unique and something of that person them selves is communicated through the flow of the pen on paper. So, just receiving the letter is a gift in itself and then there is the gift of what the words speak of. The considered and thoughtful snapshots of lives being lived in distant and often lonely places, the silent reflections put onto the page with obvious care.

I was contemplating these letters while out walking in the neighborhood this afternoon. Yes, and thinking about my own poor writing style and spelling ability in comparison with these works of art. Thinking of my habit of purposely scrawling letters when not sure of the correct spelling. Yes, and I was also wondering if the honorable thing would be to write back in kind, by hand or if a phone call or an email would be good. Yes, and I was all the while mentally writing a posting about hand written letters for movingmountains. Personally I regard this kind of walking and thinking as ‘unhelpful ruminating’. Then I happened to look up from the pavement where my eyes invariably focus when….‘unhelpfully ruminating’! A jackrabbit bounded into the road and then crossed the urban lawns and flowerbeds, disappearing eventually behind some bushes! Not something you see every day of the week and it certainly caught my attention. It also distracted me from my thoughts.

There is a saying in Zen that goes something like, when walking just walk, when sitting just sit, when eating just eat, and so on. Then there are those things and incidents that cross ones path, so to speak, which bring one back to this simple teaching.

Here are words from Noygen Senzaki before he died, sometimes called a death poem. He was a well-known Zen monk who lived a wandering existence in America and died in1958.

“Friends in Dharma, be satisfied with your own heads.
Do not put any false heads above your own.
Then, minute after minute watch your steps closely.
These are my last words to you.”

The Iron Flute, 100 Zen Koans,
With commentary
by Nyogen Senzaki,

Tuttle Publishing.

Came across this poem while having a cup of tea after returning from my walk.

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3 thoughts on “Jackrabbit.”

  1. Hi Rev. Mugo, I’ve been reading your site for a while now. It was wonderful to see all the places you visited! I had a similar experience with letting my thoughts take me away from where I was. I was riding my bike to work and thinking about the lesson plans for the day and not at all paying attention to the bike path and someone came by in the other direction and yelled, “What are you blind?!” I was snapped back to the moment and instead of feeling angry and thinking in my head: “That &/§”/&”)!!!” I felt a sense of wanting to say, “Thank you! Thank you! You’re right I wasn’t paying attention!”

    I guess there is a Bodhisattva everywhere, even on the bike path to remind us!

    All the best from Germany…Jack

  2. Hi Rev. Master Mugo – my favorite “wake-up” to the present moment incident was the day that I was hurriedly crossing the parking lot at work and walked into a canoe!

    I was busily reviewing some issues that were going to come up at the next meeting I was late for. My gaze was on the ground just in front of my feet when a blinding light alerted me to the fact I had been struck in the head. It seems someone had parked their camper truck with a canoe tied on it that stuck out low enough to catch my forhead.

    Any anxiety over the meeting immediately dissipated and the goose egg on my forehead provided enough levity to lighten up the meeting (rough bunch those coppers!)

    At any rate, it brought to light the price I was paying in that position and within three years I retired.

    In Gassho, Jim

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