Saturday, April 18, 2009

Perspectives on the Path of the Bird

This last week on his blog, Wild Fox Zen, Dosho Mike Port has asked readers to work with perspectives on the path of the bird from several sources within the Zen tradition, such as this one below. In today's comics comes this perspective from Zen inspired cartoonist Patrick McDonnell. The way of the bird is not the way of the cat, especially not when the cat is at the wheel of a toy car!

The Record of Dungshan has the following dialogue in #94, p. 55:
A monk asked, "The master normally tells us to follow the bird path. I wonder what the bird path is?"
"One does not encounter a single person." replied Dungshan.
"How does one follow such a path?" asked the monk.

"One should go without hemp sandals on one's feet," replied Dungshan. (note: "hemp" and "self" are homonyms and so the sentence could also read "One should go without the self underfoot" - later versions follow this reading)
"If one follows the bird path, isn't that seeing one's original face?" asked the monk.
"Why do you turn things upside down so? asked Dungshan.
"But where have I turned things upside down?" asked the monk.
"If you haven't turned things upside down, then why do you regard the slave as the master?" replied Dungshan.
"What is one's original face?" asked the monk.
"Not to follow the bird path," responded Dungshan.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


In a tower, bells are ringing,

In the trees small birds are singing,

And a peacock calls from

Down on Lone Oak Lane.

I am waiting for a barn owl to appear.

Mine has been a fortunate birth,

Among the many on this Earth,

So what's a war or two between old friends,

Or some time spent with the doctors 

Now and then?

I'm just an old guy in his garden

But one thing is clear to see,

As I think about what's been and going to be.

In my next life I am coming

Back as me.