Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Buddha's last instruction


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"Make of yourself a light" said the Buddha,
 before he died. I think of this 
every morning as the east begins to tear 
off its many clouds of darkness, 
to send up the first signal-a white fan 
streaked with pink and violet, even green. 
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An old man, he lay down between two sala trees,
 and he might have said anything, 
knowing it was his final hour. The light burns upward,
 it thickens and settles over the fields. Around him,
 the villagers gathered and stretched forward to listen. 
Even before the sun itself hangs, disattached,
 in the blue air, I am touched everywhere
 by its ocean of yellow waves.
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 No doubt he thought 
of everything that had happened in his difficult life. 
And then I feel the sun itself 
as it blazes over the hills, like a million flowers on fire- 
clearly I'm not needed, 
yet I feel myself turning into something 
of inexplicable value. Slowly, 
beneath the branches, he raised his head. 
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.
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~  Mary Oliver
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