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Credit: exoticindia.com

A poem by the late Rick Fields occupies a place at the top of my anthology collection of poems I treasure. Though it is an imaginary Buddhist Sutra it conveys a cardinal truth about the essential unity of spirit and matter in our being, quite inseparable – two facets of the same coin as doubtless our maker is too. Rick fields was a journalist, poet and leading authority on Buddhism’s history and development in the United States. The beauty of his poem and its inner depth takes my breath away whenever I read it again. So I thought I should share it here for friends and readers.

 

THE  VERY  SHORT  SUTRA  ON  THE  MEETING  OF  THE  BUDDHA  AND  THE  GODDESS

 

Thus have I made up

                                      Once the Buddha was walking along the

forest path in the Oak Grove at Ojai, walking without

arriving anywhere

or having any thought of arriving or not arriving

 

and lotuses shining with the morning dew

miaculously appeared under every step

soft as silk beneath the toes of the Buddha

 

When suddenly, out of the turquoise sky,

dancing in front of his half-shut inward-looking

eyes, shimmering like a rainbow

or a spider’s web

transparent as the dew on a lotus flower,

 

—the Goddess appeared quivering

like a hummingbird in the air before him

 

She, for she was surely a she

as the Buddha could clearly see

with the eye of discriminating awareness wisdom,

 

was mostly red in color

though when the light shifted

she flashed like a rainbow.

 

She was naked except

for the usual flower ornaments

Goddesses wear

 

Her long hair

was deep blue, her two eyes fathomless pits of space

and her third eye a bloodshot

ring of fire.

 

The Buddha folded his hands together

and greeted the Goddess thus:

 

‘O Goddess, why are you blocking my path.

Before I saw you I was happily going nowhere.

Now I am not sure where to go.’

 

‘You can go around me’,

said the Goddess twirling on her heels like a bird

darting away,

but just a little way away,

‘or you can come after me.

This is my forest too,

you can’t pretend I’m not here.’

 

With that the Buddha sat

supple as a snake

solid as a rock

beneath a Bo tree

that sprang full-leaved

to shade him.

 

‘Perhaps we should have a chat’

he said.

‘After years of arduous practice

at the time of the morning star

I penetrated reality, and now..’

 

‘Not so fast, Buddha,

I am reality.’

 

The earth stood still,

the oceans paused,

 

the wind itself listened

—a thousand arhats, bodhisatvas, and dakinis

magically appeared to hear

what would happen in the conversation.

 

‘I know I take my life in my hands,’

said the Buddha.

‘But I am known as the Fearless One

—so here goes.’

 

And he and the Goddess

without further words

exchanged glances.

 

Light rays like sunbeams

shot forth

so bright that even

Sariputra, the All-Seeing One,

had to turn away.

 

And then they exchanged thoughts

and the illumination was as bright as a diamond candle.

 

And then they exchanged mind

And there was a great silence as vast as the universe

that contains everything

 

And then they exchanged bodies

 

And clothes

 

And the Buddha arose 

as the Goddess

and the Goddess

arose as the Buddha

 

and so back and forth

for a hundred thousand hundred thousand kalpas.

 

If you meet the Buddha

you meet the Goddess,

If you meet the Goddess

you meet the Buddha.

 

Not only that. This:

The Buddha is emptiness

the Goddess is bliss,

the Goddess is emptiness

the Buddha is bliss.

 

And that is what

and what-not you are

It’s true.

 

So here comes the mantra of the Goddess and the Buddha, the 

unsurpassed non-dual mantra. Just to say this mantra, just

to hear this mantra once, just to hear one word of this mantra

once makes everything the way it truly is: OK.

 

So here it is:

                Earth-walker/sky-walker

                                     Hey, silent one, Hey, great talker

                Not two/Not one

                                    Not separate/ Not apart

                This is the heart

                                  Bliss is emptiness

                                  Emptiness is bliss

                Be your breath, Ah

                Smile, Hey

                And relax, Ho

And remember this : You cannot miss.

 

 R I C K     F I E L D S

 

 

 

 

 

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