Universal Instructions on Cultivating an Empty Field

The garden of your life silently illuminates

the neglected patches where the weeds grow thick.

It will be impossible to disentangle them.

Start instead by gently loosening the soil.

Go easy.

Say a prayer.

Place the wet, wriggling worm

on a different path.

Keep loosening more soil.

You’re looking for the tap root.

The little ones that pull up easy

are a distraction.

They’ll make you think you’re

on to something.

Don’t be deluded.

Dig deeper.

Pull in the direction of least resistance.

Find the direction the root

is growing and follow.

A trowel or spade may help,

but don’t forget the tender

power of your two bare hands,

able to feel when the root

finally exhales and starts to give,

just a little.

When you finally reach the tap root,

marvel at its thick, functional sturdiness.

It did only what roots know how to do:

grow deeper, in search of water

and ever darker, more expansive dark.

Feel around it, reaching down as far as you can.

The moment it snaps,

let the shock of separation reverberate through

your body.

Let it shatter everything to

a hundred thousand pieces.

The fragments of your heart/mind

will cleave together in the loosened soil,

now more porous, softer,

able to let in the silver light

of the half moon.

That’s the first weed.

Now let your hands find the next one.

written during Rohatsu Sesshin, December 1-8, 2019

Dharma Rain Zen Center, Portland, OR