We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not dread bleak dusty imageless locomotives, we’re golden sunflowers inside, blessed by our own seed & hairy naked accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our own eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sitdown vision.
~ Allen Ginsberg Sunflower Sutra
Yesterday. Walgreens. 11th and Main. At least it is cool in here. The woman ringing me up was young, large, long black hair and open face with a number of piercings. She wore a snug double- breasted heavy black jacket. Underneath the jacket, a neon pink t-shirt. Not in this coat, she said. I know how she feels. The layers of Kimono, Koromo and O’Kesa, the Zen robes are really hot. All summer, sitting, flashes of heat.
When I slide the O’Kesa out of the silk envelope Jean made, place it on my head and chant Great Robe of liberation, far beyond fields of form and emptiness, I start to get queasy. The chant continues, wearing the Tathagata’s teachings I vow to be with all things. The burden overwhelms. Mind alternates between no, no, no and help! Body feels heavy, dense. I flip O’Kesa on shoulder, stretch it, tie, tuck it around me—I am so deeply tired. Then, this thing happens. If I were a poem I’d call it a Volta. After a moment of wearing the robes every single thing turns—lightness, buoyant relief. I can’t even say I surrender. It’s like I am held, in stream, by a giant lineage of hand- stitched fabric.
The cashier at Walgreens wishes someone would hand her a summer uniform. You would think they would figure it out! She said. Maybe you could just wear the t-shirt? I said. My pink is wrong. The Walgreens t-shirt is light pink like that nail polish. I said that the bright looks good, with the black. She thought so too. The other shirt I have, she said, the light pink, is covered in blood— from the accident. She told me how a new shirt is ordered but she can’t wear the bloodspattered light pink. That would be crazy, she said. So what choice do I have? I think the cashier at Walgreens is a Bodhisattva saving all beings. Are you allowed to unbutton the jacket at least? She didn’t think so.
Zen Master, Blanche Hartman says that awakened mind is like the bulb of a daffodil. The bulb is easy to pass by. Looks like a clod of dirt. With the right conditions it has everything it needs to bloom into a daffodil. It already is a daffodil! In our case the conditions are our practice. If I am awake to my original nature then all beings are awake too. If I realize this, and we are not separate, then how could one be practicing and another not?
In the “Sunflower Sutra” by Ginsberg, he sees this old dead sunflower and asks, When did you forget you were a flower?
This business dude, Simon Sinek, says Leaders Eat Last. I like the feel of the title in my mouth. That’s his new big seller book. Sinek’s transformation occurred when he was lying in a cot in Afghanistan and couldn’t get on a plane home because the wounded soldiers took up the seats. At last he’s on a plane with a body in a casket in the middle. The soldiers were crying for the person, the body. Sinek says he had it all wrong before. His obsession with what he wanted trumped everyone else’s. Now he lets others go first. He saw his own suffering, attachment, stupidity, wrenched, bottom of the bucket, rusty nails in your face, busted ego suffering. He saw and he wept— the almost dead and the dead.
Kobun Chino, Roshi said a Bodhisattva is nobody saving no thing. An eccentric translation. When I am sitting, eyes open—I am nobody waiting for anyone to stand in front of me to say, could you make sandwiches for the tea? Or waiting for my turn, a tap on the shoulder, the teacher is ready for you. Or the cat comes rubbing through, or the letters are now in the box. For the paycheck, for lunch, for the day to be over. For the day to begin. I am waiting for the phone call that says my friend has now died. For my turn to speak or to be locked in safely while riding on the Ferris wheel. Or finally to be unhitched from my fear of judgment, death, sickness.
At the store, after the long line, it is my turn to place my things down and watch as the clerk shifts into the other hip, wipes the back of her neck, as she types in the numbers and announces the very specific amount I must now pay.
Ring everyone up. When the line of people disappear, when all the customers have gone out through the electric sliding doors, at some point, finally, sit down. Rest your ears.
O Bodhisattva! Take off your brilliant shirt and heavy coat.
~ o ~