Sandra Becker

Classified: Lost and FoundMay 22, 2003
ISearching for my beloved, well-worn zafu,buckwheat hull filled, fine-pleated edges.Last seen, Now or Never Zendo,Boulder, Colorado, 1974.Somehow I find myself thinking of you today. You must thinkI chose to leave you all those years ago.How would you have known one bright, white,snow-blinding Colorado morning,I’d find the Zendo door bolted closed,windows boarded up, having for once left you there,thinking I’d return the next day?
You’d never know me now.I no longer wear baggy linens,shapeless as old burlap rice sacks from India,that blunt any trace of a human form.And, this will disappoint you, I’ve stopped sitting zazen.There’s only one thing worse than being trappedin a body and mind and that’s the endless struggleto break free: Bloody hands, bruised limbs,aching head – exhausting. I thought, no,I was driven, to try to make peace with the rigid barsencircling me. Perhaps a mind less filled with despairwould make the cage seem larger. Maybethat’s what the masters meant all alongby “no future, no past, no hope, no regret.” I don’t know.
All those years counting breaths!Remember how every now and then someonewould tap me on the shoulder, tell meI was sitting with a slight tilt?It was as if I would not admit either heaven or earth.I never forgot that you bore my weightno matter how heavy or how lopsided.
IIIt’s me, your old Zafu; crushed,flattened, mangled. Used, betrayed, abandoned.I remember the days - our 5 a.m. walksthrough the streets of Boulder,past the humming stream to the Zendo,me tucked in the cove of your arm,We thought we could achieve anythingtogether, a higher goal, Nirvana.I gave my best to serve you,perennially crowned by your lowest chakra, I might add,for hours, days, sometimes weeks without complaint,absorbed the trembling energy of your body and mind,its lofty thoughts, sweaty anxieties,complicated fears and hopes.I allowed you to punch me into shapebefore each sitting (okay, I enjoyed that part).I suppose you run your own Zendo now,practice the Dharma, commune with Sangha,give out numberless zafus at no costor freed from all Sanskaric bindings, as a Bodhisattva in Calcutta,you live as and serve the poorest of the poor.Would you even care that I’m confinedto the back of a closet no one ever opens,our cherished zendo now a Karaoke bar –vulgar – no one cares to just sit anymore.Time has no meaning here – didn’t we hope for that? –one moment drones into the nextand I’m full of the ghost of your mind-wrangled days.

No Body, No Mind
Night screeched and jammed its brakesearly at our doorstep. Dad’s death, mom’s Miltown,kids’ relentless jeers. The sun might have shonefor all I knew, but the days choked closed.
Young boys threw rocks at seagulls on the beach,the government told us what to dowhen the nuclear bomb would strikeand from what I could tell, God was inconsolablypissed off at the whole lot of us.
I did not believe the mind and bodycould sing in its own holy voice,deliver its own pregnant dirge.
Buddha’s words: life is suffering, desire its roota liberty bell to my old Sadhu ears:Amputee of the sea, strangled weed, shard of shell,dried mollusk, abandoned anemone, beached whale,food for the piper’s belly – if only to mergewith ocean, Bodhidarma, no body, no mind.
I would not bow to moon and tide.I renounced life before I had lived enough to die,before I had self enough to empty and forget. My refusal, a cilice, lashedagainst the soft skin of each new day.

Now and Then
Then suddenly, I simply step into the momentas naturally as a tongue to taste, an ear to sound,a moment with no consciousness of timein which my hands know exactly what to doand my legs lead me exactly where I’m supposedto go, a moment exalted as Raw Sienna eclipsingBurnt Umber eclipsing Cobalt Violet eclipsingGarnet Lake eclipsing Lunar Black occurringat the most unlikely moment, Winter Solstice,the sun’s light furthest away, as if I’d never suffereda migraine, never made a zillion mistakes,as if I’d never known the sorrow of an orphaned child,never had a mother committed for shock treatment,as if life had been the dream and this moment the reality.And then, just as swiftly the moment banished, I’m backinto the world of alarm clocks, mourning the singularMorning Glory that knows precisely when to raise its headtoward light. Now the particles and waves that composewhat I am seem muddled and perturbed and although I’m toldby others that every moment is exactly perfect—I refuseto believe it and grieve the next lost one, resume sitting zazento find the universe without, the universe within.