3/25/00 Thoughts on Nyogen Senzaki (1876-1958), “Zen Talks & Poems”:

fr. Nyogen Senzaki (1876-1958), “Zen Talks & Poems” [Shambhala Sun, Mar 2000, p46-53]:


“Early in the morning

In the Western sky,

One star blinks at me.

I love its green light.”




“Man is destined to fall at the very moment he thinks he has attained the summit.  Those who declare themselves as having attained something are not genuine Zen students.  We say in Japan, ‘The mouth is the cause of all troubles.’  It sure is!  When it takes in too much, it causes indigestion; when it speaks too much, it hurts even a friend’s feelings.  Basho once wrote a haiku on this; here is an English translation:

‘When I say a word

Oh, my lips shiver

In the cold wind of autumn.'”


That haiku rather reminds me (oddly) of an austere, sad story, I think by Jean Genet, in which one man cruises another on the subway.  They play cat and mouse from stop to stop and eventually end up in bed together.  At the end of it, the narrator-character wakes before his trick and muses to himself on the necessity of leaving before the man awakes to avoid the necessity of a morning-after-exchange-of-numbers-and-hopes-to-get-together-again, when you know you won’t and, in fact, it’s easier not to.


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