Rashel Lytle

Climb This Mountain If I walked this pathwhere above me the treeshit the bluest of skiesthat clouds swim inand birds fly high inmy feet would feel only the rich earth and I would breathe deepthe easy oxygen Within me thereI would know the differenceBetween beauty and vanityand time wasted. I would step and climbEventually reaching the placeWhere I have stood 100 timesor less than a dozenNo difference. My breath is heavywhen I reach that mountain topAnd I stand therecloser to the sky and cloudsalongside the treeswith a valley between my next stepand the lastI wait there and want nothing morethan to have my awe and honesty resonate toward every living thing100 timesor just oncewould be no difference Water flowing cleanlyso far belowThe birds callingand wind whisperingto the clouds crawlingstill so high above I know the difference when I stand thereI am a witness washed cleanand this mountainis all the memory and emotionI need take with meI need ever recount or describe. My Time Today the stars are visible my internal conversations Are universal I believe There is no true loneliness just grasping it prevents listening Yesterday was nowhere Today the stars are visible and the ancestors are speaking in that language That clarifies our tangled Thorny little efforts They have seen and done while we stumble We break today into bits (But, they have seen and done) In my time I am watching them Not us They are the stars my love and seriousness There is no meantime Its not just this and not just today Saturday Zazen Entering the zendoShoes are put under benchesWhite lilies& a golden Siddhartha at the far end of the roomZabutons& zafus are placed on the floorWe each sit& get settledMonk Zenshin is speaking, explaining etiquetteSaltillo floor, rice paper-backed windows, his black cotton robe I wish to re-connect, be with a sanghaSo, I feel content, alertAs I settle into half –lotus, adjustingCorrecting my thumbs in the mudraMonk Zenshin is describing, suggestingWhat are our relationships to things?Notice your relationship to the person seated beside you…your relationship to the windows, to the doorI notice my ankle, uncomfortableAnd monkey mind, is sitting with me Monk Zenshins voice continuesThis is a place for realization…discussions get left at the doorWithdraw from the outside, just breathe Posture should be still, mind can become openAs eyes loosely gaze the tile, we become still, quietBirds become audible, traffic, an airplanePractitioner, student of awareness of impermanenceI inhale, breathe out- without strain, but with focusI go back to my breath, just my breathMy relative anchor, weightlessRelationship to the room -feels unified, wide open I’ve left all else outsideI have only my breath, tight knees, and hearing the birds outsideMonkey mind is active, so I redirectHearing the others breathe, I’m aware of the life in the room…This place is NOT where hermits come…This place is where ALL the hermits have been Practitioner, student of awareness, of impermanenceI am the same as the mist of the clouds, the same as rain collecting on leaves…Zenshin monk had said, no koans here, NOT a place for intellectualizing… Trying not to follow monkey mindI inhale, exhale, count my breathBegin to sense that unification can be manifestedWith just stillnessBuddha-nature is apparent, it’s always availableSitting this way, practitioner, mere student My awareness causes the notionThat I existI fill a space, senseThat I travel in the Now inhale, exhaleEyes loosely gazing the tileJust my breath, my relative anchor, weightless Empty mind becomes realizationof an expanse, as wide as the cosmosThis practice manifests a connection with all elseBreathing, sittingPractice leads to liberation, no attachment The tea, weight of it in my hands, scent in my nostrilsIts fluidity as it passes from clay cup into meIt is the work of everythingIt means nothing This place is nowhereAs we sit, acknowledge the vastness of all else After 25 minutes of sittingWe unfold ourselves, stand, and put on our shoes.Slowly transition to the outsideWe forget our breath, we forget the birdsWe simply walk away
Rashel is a single parent who found Buddhism several years ago while being treated for invasive breast cancer. She feels that the process of poetry can be similar to meditation in many ways. The process requires the poet to open her eyes in a unique way in taking the time to focus on little letters and how to convey meaning with them to translate herself to others. A deeper relationship from one to another is often realized through poetry. Understanding is a universal desire, and a gift when it can be shared.